Nikki vs. Faculty
The crowd all around Nikki was still roaring, the entire stadium buzzing with excitement, though Nikki’s only focus was her opponent.
The sun had just reached the middle of the sky, and Nikki hoped to use the heat to her advantage. If she could use her Sunstorm technique, she might be able to quickly overpower Avis and at least win the match. She took a deep breath, preparing herself for the fight.
It all made sense now. Avis had been the one who had been triggering her Clairvoyance all this time. Its potency was particularly strong during first period, and Nikki had always wondered why.
Everything was becoming more clear, and Nikki was going to get answers.
“Where is Professor Eminal?” she demanded.
Professor Avis folded her arms and cocked her head to the side, now clearly amused. “I believe you already know where he is.”
“Where is he?” Nikki repeated, her voice rising with anger.
Professor Avis paused for a moment, not moving or blinking, the sight of which unnerved Nikki. “I would stop to consider my current circumstances if I were you.”
Nikki narrowed her eyes. “What are you talking about?”
“Hey, what’s the deal?” Dale whined into the microphone. “What’s with these two?”
“Looks like a heated exchange between student and teacher,” Fritz explained. “Maybe Nikki didn’t like the grade on her last test?”
“Oh please!” Dale groaned. “Ask for extra credit then! Let’s get this match started, ladies!”
The crowd erupted into more cheers at Dale’s words, and Professor Avis looked away for a moment as if deep in thought. When she looked back up, her expression had become as hard and calculating as ever.
“What do you plan to do here?” she smirked.
Nikki raised her fist, her Fire Orb technique blazing to life just above her hand.
“I came here to stop Eminal,” she responded before balling up her fist, extinguishing the flames and resuming her battle stance, “and anyone who’s working with him.”
“You and I both know that’s a lie,” Avis folded her arms and chuckled. “You came here to find a way to get revenge on Legaros. You even helped that man named Chetachi pose as a deceased student. It’s time for the truth.”
A chill ran down Nikki’s spine as she stood there. How did Avis know anything about her wanting revenge on Legaros? Nikki had only told Chetachi her true motive for coming to the academy. Had he told Avis what Nikki was planning?
Nikki’s mind flashed back to when she was on the roof with Chetachi. She’d explained everything to him that day, but they hadn’t been alone. Tyson had been there as well. She looked over toward the stands to see Tyson now glaring down at Avis, his jaw set in a hard line. What else had Tyson told them when he revealed Chetachi was an imposter?
The thought made Nikki’s blood boil, but she couldn’t think of that now. If she wanted answers about Professor Eminal and a way to stop Legaros, she had to focus on the task at hand. She had to defeat Professor Avis and draw out Eminal. She running out of time.
“The truth?” Nikki scoffed. “You’re the last person to demand the truth from me.”
“I don’t have to demand any information from you,” Avis stated cooly. “I can access it whenever I please.”
Nikki brought her hands up to shield herself as Avis shot her hand forward once more. Yet, this time, her opponent didn’t launch a fake electrical attack at her. In fact, nothing happened for several seconds at first.
Then, Nikki began to feel slightly dizzy as she watched the trees in the distance melt into the earth, the grass shifting from green through several shades of blue before vanishing entirely. The surrounding crowd’s faces distorted and melded together, the stands collapsing in on themselves.
Nikki shook her head, pushing back as hard as she could against Avis’ presence as the professor tried to enter her mind. Though she could barely make out anything around her, Nikki could sense Avis’ surprise at her student being able to resist the illusion.
“I told you before,” Avis’ voice was dripping with condescension. “It won’t save you.”
Nikki blinked rapidly, desperately trying to maintain focus as hard metal walls shot up from the ground followed by steel beams sprouting like vines. The sun vanished from the sky as the metal roof closed them in, and it was pitch black for several seconds.
Nikki once again ignited her Fire Orb just as Professor Avis came into view again, her form illuminated by the flames.
“You are just an experiment!” Avis declared.
The dark room lit up as the tanks full of dead bodies came into view. Nikki shuddered as the strain to resist the illusion became too much. She knew exactly where Avis had taken her to, the testing chamber she’d led Bella and Kim into on that fateful day.
It was even more cavernous and sinister than Nikki remembered, the memories of that day returning like a flood. She clenched her fists, desperately trying to push back against Avis’ power. She had to fight it.
“What were you able to accomplish on this day?” Avis asked, her voice taking on a sinister edge as the illusion finally began to settle into itself.
Nikki never wanted to think about what she saw in those tanks ever again. She’d done all that she could to prevent herself from remembering how old many of the dead test subjects were, some clearly infants. She could still see them all every time she closed her eyes as if they were right in front of her.
“I just wanted to get away,” Nikki murmured, her voice shaking with emotion.
Avis scoffed at Nikki’s explanation. “So, why didn’t you? Why did you hesitate, Nikki?”
“Because I didn’t know what you were really doing!” Nikki screamed, her voice echoing off the walls. Even though she was shouting at Avis, the words were meant for Eminal, who she was certain was listening.
“And yet you still didn’t run like you promised the others,” Avis began to levitate, her expression growing ever more smug. “In the end, you were too weak, too cowardly.”
“I…” Nikki tried to speak, but her words got caught in her throat. She couldn’t look away from the tanks, but the sight of them made her nauseous. Why hadn’t she been strong enough to do something?
She felt herself slipping, her mind beginning to slowly give in to Professor Avis’ power. She could, at certain points, still hear Dale and Fritz shouting over the speakers, but their words felt distant, almost like a dream.
Then, Nikki’s vision began to blur, her body growing more heavy by the second. She knew what was happening; Avis would eventually put her to sleep and finish her off. No matter how hard she fought it, the darkness threatened to overwhelm her. Avis was giving her no choice but to surrender.
“You can’t save anyone!” Avis continued, her voice growing louder. “You can’t even save yourself!”
Nikki gritted her teeth, willing herself to speak, but the fear that Avis was right kept her silent. What had she truly managed to accomplish since she’d arrived at Legaros Academy? Bella and Kim no longer believed her, she’d lost Chetachi and Lorenzo, and Eminal had once again overpowered her.
She had no one left to help her fight.
Avis hovered closer, her expression now unreadable. “No sarcasm? No witty retort? Nothing?”
Nikki looked away, her breathing heavy as she fought to keep her composure. She closed her eyes as the tense silence filled the room. She wanted to scream, wanted Avis to feel her anger and anguish, but she took a deep breath and unclenched her fists.
“I can’t do this,” she whispered.
Avis cocked her head to the side, studying Nikki for a moment before finally nodding in what oddly seemed like understanding. Nikki slinked to the ground, her knees trembling as she tried to process what had just happened. She was defeated, and the only thing left for her to do now was wait for the punishment Eminal would soon deliver.
She could no longer bear to fight. There was no point.