Brownie Points

The Human Hunter stepped off the elevator into the dormitory level for her class, Ghost floating just off her shoulder. It was a sight she wasn’t expecting, panels torn away from every surface and stuffed with plants. Sunlight poured through doorways held open by furniture which caused a stalker’s heaven of contrast between light and dark. If she didn’t know any better she could have sworn she was in an abandoned building on Venus.

A single Exo sat on a couch within the landing lobby, a tattered book in his lap, “Good of you to make it, lass. We’ve been expecting you.”

“But, I just got here,” she was taken aback, knowing she had been brought back to life by her Ghost a mere hour ago. Surely news didn’t travel that fast even with instant comm lines.

“I know, and that’s why I’m here,” the Exo lifted himself off the beat up couch, book tucked against his side as he stepped to her, “I’m Besk, I’ll be your mentor of sorts. I’m here to help you get your life back on track after how ever many ever centuries you’ve been dead.”

“I’ve heard of you,” the Ghost finally piped up, scowling at man, “You’re the ‘Vertical Killer’.”

“That is not here nor there, lad. Don’t interrupt, it’s rude,” Besk pushed aside the Ghost, holding the book out to the Human, “You’ll need to pick a name for yourself out of this, and one for your Ghost.”

“Oh, okay,” she was starting to feel overwhelmed, even if the conversation was relatively simple, being dead for so long had it’s cons. Coming to grips with the existence of Ghosts, learning that you’ve been decaying for decades and given the chance to take up arms again, it was alot. Not to mention that every person met was a brand new person. As she took the name book she looked up at him, perplexed, “Can’t I go by my old name?”

“Do you remember what it is?” Besk folded his arms, disbelieving that she did. It rare thing to remember your own name, much less want to go by it. Resurrection wasn’t like waking up from a long nap, more like coming out of a coma with a variable degree of amnesia.

“Sedna,” she answered without hesitation, though she did surprise herself, “It’s the name of the Inuit goddess of the sea.”

“Impressive,” Besk took the book in a snap, tossing it over his shoulder, “I guess you won’t be need this, lass. Although, you still have to pick a name for your Ghost you’ll have to do that later. It’s getting rather close to dinner time and I hate being last to the cafeteria, so let’s start your hazing.”

“Then why start this if you don’t want to be late?” the Ghost interfered, not liking the idea of antagonizing at all considering his Guardian was so fresh from the grave.

“Everyone goes through this, no exceptions,” Besk answered curtly, yanking a knife from his belt to hold it out to Sedna handle first, “There’s six of us in here, you have to tag one of us with a stab, lass. The prize is a full dorm room to yourself, if you fail before the dinner bell rings then you have to share. Unlike the Titans and Warlocks you have to earn the luxuries here because that’s how we rank ourselves. It’s a throwback to the old theory of Darwinism.”

The blade had been taken, Sedna holding it by her side as she silently acclimated to it’s weight and balance by readjusting her grip several times. The downside to this sort of test was that she didn’t have nearly the amount of abilities that the rest of them had. They were all veterans tried and tested in the field, having survived the horrors of war. Yet, the only comforting thought was they had died before as well, so surely they were prone to mistakes.

As soon as Besk had finished speaking Sedna lashed out, swinging for his chest to hopefully catch him off guard. The tip of it missed by mere centimeters, his reaction being a quick blink a few feet behind where he had been standing. A single finger was raised, shaking it with a low chuckle, “Very good, lass, but try to actually hit me.”

In the next second he had turned invisible leaving her to only her senses. Every leaf was watched, listening for a mere rustle of cloth. She knew that though he was invisible by sight he was still solid, which meant he affected the environment. Stooping low she started down the single hall, wondering if Besk had ducked into one of the dorm rooms. In the thrill of the hunt she nearly forgot to breathe, rhythm shallow and quick.

A shadow passing over the wall to her left had her turn, slicing outwards toward the origin behind her. She was met with a brief view of a grinning Awoken fading out of sight with no real trajectory considering he was vanishing into another dorm. In a twist of her body she tried to follow but was yanked backwards. A Human had taken hold of her cloak and pulled with all of her strength which made Sedna land on her back, cracking her head against the floor. Before she could swing again at the Hunter she was gone, melting into the foliage as she darted down the hall.

“…okay…think…” Sedna muttered to herself, Ghost having hovered above her to keep out of the way while she glanced about, “If I was a Hunter with a taste for pranks, where would I be?”

Regaining her footing she faced down the hall, putting her back towards the elevator, glancing to her left and right yet she didn’t advance further. Her quickened breathing slowed to deep inhales, exhales kept to pressured releases between her lips. It looked like she was struggling, unsure what to do next after the two embarrassed her.

With a spread of her feet she prepared to lunge forward, blade held in the standard grip as her arm started to reel backwards in preparation to strike. Just as it seemed she was about to lash out again she pulled her own little trick. The grip on the knife was switched, reversing it to where the tip pointed out behind her. It seemed like she was going to stab nothing at all, but instead metal met metal. The result was Besk flashing back into existence, his own knife having caught hers, particles washing off of him, “Well, lass, you’ve certainly earned your own dorm room despite being taken by surprise twice. How did you know I was here?”

“It was a gut feeling,” Sedna had a rather pleased smirk on her face when she turned to face him, offering his weapon back.

“Extra credit for trusting your instincts,” Besk took the knife, sheathing it in the back of his belt before he laid an arm across her shoulders, steering her towards the elevator, “And with half an hour to spare. You did better than I did, took me a whole hour to tag someone. Better get used to this game too, we play it every Friday night and use all of our dorm levels for it.”

“So that’s it? I’m in?” Sedna asked, looking over her shoulder to see the rest of the Hunters popping into visual existence as they talked among themselves, all heading to dinner. The camaraderie was strong, the volume of their boisterous conversing growing.

“Lass, you were one of us the moment you stepped off the elevator. We just like to make the new kids sweat a little to make sure they can handle it.”

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