"There are two ways to access your septima. One of those is through intense emotional strength."
Nova was standing in Training Room 1, hands folded behind his back as he talked. Before him was Jota, who stood with his back rigid, and his favourite katana hanging from his belt. "And the other sir?" He asked. "Sheer will power," Nova answered, a stern look on his face. "That's how I did it. But let's see about you."
Jota nodded, took a deep breath, and closed his eyes. "Can you feel it? The photons in the air... in your body?" Nova asked. "Yes..." Jota replied, his hands balling into fists. "Now, focus on that power, that energy, and turn it into your own... your light... your speed..." Nova continued. Jota nodded, and got into a track start. Breathing slowly, he focused on the light in the room, the dormant speed inside him, and tried to funnel it into some kind of energy. He began sweating as he focused all his mental ability towards making him move from one side of the room to the others. Veins became visible and he began trembling. "Come on Jota," Nova encouraged. Jota remained in his position for a few more seconds, before suddenly letting out a cry and collapsing.
"I can't... I can't do it..." He groaned. "I can sense the power in me... but I just can't release it..." Nova shook his head and turned around. "Hmph. Maybe this is too difficult for you. I'll admit. I expected you to fail."
He EXPECTED me to fail?!
Am I... that pathetic?! Was I really that doomed from the start?
Jota felt his ego reel back in pain, then rear up in fury.
No... I have to show him I can do this...
I am... Sumeragi's Shining Sentinel!
His pride filling him, Jota again got into a track start. He closed his eyes, and focused on the feeling inside of him. The light... the speed... the pride...
"Let's see, what else could we do?" Nova continued, his eyes closed, still facing away from Jota, thus failing to notice as the soles of the latter's shoes began glowing a dark green. "Perhaps we could focus on emotional strength..." He muttered as he opened his eyes.
It took him a second to notice that Jota was now in front of him.
The split second later, Nova felt a sudden blast of air that sent him stumbling back several steps. Jota himself was still in the track position, panting heavily. Nova blinked in surprise, then turned around. Where Jota originally was crouching, instead were two glowing green footprints, shimmering with heat.
Jota slowly got to his feet, and turned around. He seemed just as surprised as Nova when he noticed his change in location. "Well?" He asked. Nova turned to face him, a grin on his lips. "Looks like we know where you get your title from..."
"Ghhh!" Viper cried as his back slammed into the hard metal wall. Groaning in pain, he pushed himself off it and swayed on his feet. "Is this the best you can do, hmm?" Nova asked, enveloped in a dark purple aura. "This... this is torture!" Viper yelled, glaring at the other adept as he regained his bearings. "This is the only way to bypass your glaive and access the power within," Nova replied. Breathing heavily, Viper stared at Nova, his gaze radiating fury. "I... hate you..." He said, trembling with anger. Nova grinned. "Good..."
Stretching out his arm, Nova opened his palm, shooting three large, purple rings towards Viper, who quickly leapt to the right. Nova smirked as a small, dark ball of psychic energy formed in his hand. "Dodge this!" He yelled as he threw the projectile at Viper. The redhead tried to dodge, but the ball was too fast, and it slammed into his chest.
"Ahhh!" He yelled, spiralling through the air until he crashed onto the floor. He struggled to push himself up, sweat pouring down his forehead. "Hmph. You don't seem to have enough emotional strength," Nova noted. "The... the heck you saying 'bout me?!" Viper demanded. Nova shook his head. "Your power is linked to your rage, but you still aren't able to access it..." Nova muttered. Then, a dark grin spread across his face as an idea popped into his head.
"Do you have any ideas..."
Viper's eyes widened. "What did you just call me..." He asked in a quiet, trembling voice. Nova's grin widened. "Call you what, Day-ton-a?" He said, stretching his vowels. Viper began shivering as that name echoed throughout his mind. A name that he'd used once. Before Sumeragi. Before Maiden Blood. Before everything.
"Shut up," he whispered. "Hmm? What was that Daytona?" Nova asked, still smirking. "Shut up," Viper repeated, this time slightly louder. "Oh? Why should I Daytona?" Nova said. "Shut up!" Viper said, getting to his feet, his breathing getting heavier. "Don't... call me... that name..."
"Call you what Daytona?" Nova asked, taking a step back. "Quit it already!" Viper yelled, his temper rising. Nova grinned.
He's almost there...
"Honestly Daytona, I don't know what you're talking about Daytona!" The lieutenant said. "Shut up shut up shut up!" Viper shouted, covering his ears. "What?! I can't hear you Daytona!" Nova yelled back. Finally, Viper snapped. He lowered his hands, and turned to face Nova, the amount of raw, intense hatred in his eyes capable of melting steel.
"SHUT THE HELL UP!"
With a scream of pure fury, Viper launched himself at Nova, leg outstretched in a kick. As he got closer, his boot became engulfed in bright red flames, resembling a firework. Nova smiled wickedly, and flew back several feet just as Viper's foot landed on the space he previously had been.
The flaming foot hit the ground with a massive clanging sound, as the ground underneath instantly turning a burnt black. Viper stood there hunched over, panting heavily as he stared at the grinning Nova, his gaze still radiating hatred.
"Heh. This should be easy..." the purple haired adept said. "I imagine you'll make swift progress..."
"Now, from what I understand, you already have some experience with this, right?" Nova asked. "Yeah, so?" Merak asked, his voice as cold and emotionless as ever. "Then this should be easier than the others," Nova said. "Now, summon a wormhole," he ordered. Merak sighed, but did as he was told, opening a man-sized wormhole next to him without moving once.
"There. Can I go now?" Merak asked. "Not yet," Nova replied. "I want you to hold it." Merak raised an eyebrow, but kept the wormhole in place. After about ten seconds, the boy suddenly let out a sharp gasp and fell to his knees as the wormhole disappeared.
"It seems you can hold a average sized wormhole for about fifteen seconds," Nova noted. "Can I... go now?" Merak asked as he stood up, wiping the sweat from his brow. "Oh no!" Nova said. "We need to figure out how to push your limits! We also figure out if different sized wormholes have different limits before you collapse, and..."
Merak just sighed as Nova continued on, talking about all the work they'd have to do. "I need to get someone to punch Stratos..." he muttered.
"I... I can't do it!" Elise cried as she fell to her knees, her face flushed, tears streaming down her face. "Come on Elise! I know you can!" Nova reassured, walking over to her and offering his hand. Elise spent a few more seconds holding back her sobs, before taking Nova's hand and standing up. "Now, let's try this again shall we?" Nova said.
Elise reluctantly nodded, and walked over to the centre of the room. There was a regular punching bag hanging from a chain attached to the ceiling. Standing before it, Elise took a deep breath, before quickly swiping her arm in front of her. Nothing happened. Gulping, she did it again. And again, and again, and again. Nothing happened.
"Ahhh!" She cried, crumbling to her knees again, holding her face in her hands. "I can't... I just can't do it!" Nova, who was standing next to her, looked down at the adept with something akin to amusement in his eyes. He stared at her for a few seconds, before an idea struck him.
"I see... I'm disappointed," He sighed, putting on a frustrated front. "And with the others making such quick progress, I'm afraid you might be left behind." Elise stopped sobbing. "The... the others are doing... Well?" She asked, lifting her head up. "Oh yes!" Nova replied. "You should see how Viper is doing! At this rate, I doubt he'll have to use his glaive again." Elise's gaze drifted towards the floor. "Is that so..." she whispered softly, her brow furrowed.
"Yes it is..." Nova continued, still feigning disappointment. "If you don't make any progress, I'll have to drop you from this little project." He heard a sharp intake of breath from the young girl. "That's not fair..." Elise said, her voice suddenly an octave lower. Nova turned away. "Is that true?" He asked. "Yes it is!" Elise yelled, standing up. Nova looked back at her in a shaft tilt.
Elise was standing straight up, her face flushed, and her mouth twisted in a tight grimace. Her features suddenly seemed much sharper as she trembled with overflowing anger. "Why do I get left out huh?!" She asked. "I can do what they can! I can do more than what they can!" The girl yelled. Nova smirked wildly, and turned to face Elise.
"Why don't you prove that?"
Grinding her teeth, Elise turned towards the punching bag. With a yell, she swept her arm in front of her, as a large dagger suddenly appeared in the purple light, and flew towards her target. The blade didn't hit the bag, instead slicing through the chain, sending the bag crashing to the floor. Furious, Elise threw another dagger, this one piercing the bag and getting stuck, jutting out the side. Satisfied, Elise turned towards Nova, who's smirk only grew wider.
"Hmph. This should be good..."
"Please... somebody... anybody..."
"MAKE IT STOP!"
"Come on Stratos! Try a bit harder!" Nova yelled, thanking the gods that training rooms were soundproof. Before him was Stratos, who was locked to the wall by his arms with clamps. The adept was writhing around as best as the clamps allowed, screaming in pain. "I'm so... so hungry... SO HUNGRY!" He cried. Nova felt a brief pang of pity, but shrugged it off.
Remember... it's for the end result...
Due to Stratos's warped mental state, using emotional strength and will power were almost completely useless. Therefore, Nova decided that in order to release Stratos's powers, he had to be deprived of the one thing keeping them in check now. The Sumeragi issued drug known as S.E.E.D. "Use your septima Stratos! Your flies!" Nova ushered. "It hurts... it hurts so much..." Stratos whimpered, arching his back. "Come on Stratos... You can do it..." Nova said.
After a while, Stratos's spasms became less violent. His screams suddenly subsided into whimpers, which eventually stopped altogether. Then, with one final, shuddering breath, Stratos closed his eyes, and stopped moving. Nova waiting a few seconds, before walking up to the insane officer. "Ahem... Stratos?" He said, hesitantly.
Stratos's eyes flew open.
With a scream of pure agony, Stratos's body suddenly burst into millions of black particles. Flies! Nova thought triumphantly as the swarm devoured the clamps and flew around the room. "Hahaha! Excellent work Stratos!" Nova praised, a grin on his face. However, his excitement was short lived, as the swarm was now heading directly towards HIM. An incredibly rare moment of panic struck Nova. Hurriedly, he pulled out a small glass canister of S.E.E.D. from his pocket, and threw it several feet away from him. The glass shattered, and the pale green liquid spilled out onto the floor. The flies suddenly changed course and swarmed over the puddle, devouring both the drug and its container. The flies then reassembled, forming the recognizable form of Stratos. The man turned towards Nova, and gave him a toothy, unsettling grin.
"Did I do good?" He asked, a sick kind of hope in his eyes. "Yeah... You did good..." Nova replied, his face slightly pale.
This... should be... interesting...
"Ha!" Carrera yelled as he thrust his fist forward at the metal dummy a few meters in front of him. Nothing happened, so he did it again. Still, nothing happened. "Curse this!" He said, grinding his teeth in frustration. "You can't just expect the power to come out," Nova said, standing next to him, having made sure in advance to remove all metal objects on him. "The power is there, but you have to draw it out."
"Forsooth sir..." Carrera muttered. "But I am using all the power my will allows, and my desires should make this task truly effortle-"
"Your desires?" Nova scoffed, raising an eyebrow. "I'm afraid the greedy lust for everything in general isn't a good enough emotion." Carrera flinched. "I detest my Lord!" He protested. "I am determined to possess everything, including the honour of possessing thee's ability!" With that, he thrust his fist again at the dummy. And again, and again, and again. Nova just shook his head at the display.
Tch... I'm getting nowhere with him... Simple greed isn't a good enough base for his power to emerge...
Although... Hmph... maybe it could be...
If coaxed out...
"Come out my magnetism!" Carrera yelled. "Come out and-Ghhh!" Suddenly, a force sent the man flying away and crashing to the floor several feet away. Letting out a groan, he looked up to see Nova surrounded by a purple aura, with a small ball of psychic energy in his hand. "Sir! What be the reason for this?!" Carrera demanded. "You say you wish to possess everything?" Nova asked, a grin on his face. "Let's see if that includes victory over me!" With that, he threw the psychic projectile at Carrera. The officer quickly leapt to the left, the ball hitting into the wall behind him.
"Very well. I'll play your game!" He said, thrusting his fist at Nova, who rose an eyebrow as Carrera focused on trying to unleash his power. "Is this all you've got?" The lieutenant jeered, launching a large ring at Carrera. The ring slammed into him, sending the adept flying into the wall. "Ghhh!" He groaned as he fell to the ground. "Come on, mighty avarice!" Nova yelled, a wide smirk on his face. "Show me what thou art made of!" He said, stretching his arm towards Carrera. Suddenly, the latter was engulfed in the same dark purple aura surrounding Nova, who grinned, then flicked his hand. Carrera was then lifted into the air, and slammed against the floor.
"Ahhh!" He cried, screwing his eyes shut as he pushed himself off the floor, and stood there, panting. "I'm disappointed Carrera," Nova said, grinning as wildly as ever. "I thought you would have at least gotten in a hit or two by now..." Carrera's fists clenched as Nova continued talking.
This cannot be... this cannot be... to lose without giving the slightly hint of a fight...
No! I shalt not be defeated yet!
Victory, like all things, will be mine!
Taking a deep breath, Carrera closed his eyes, and held his palm out towards the still standing metal dummy. "Hmm? What's this?" Nova asked. Carrera ignored him and concentrated fiercely on his task. "Well, this is going to be an easy fight," Nova said, not noticing the dummy, which had begun shaking. "Prepare for your first loss, Carre-"
"Not today sir!"
Opening his eyes, Carrera clenched his fist. Suddenly, both his arm and the dummy were enveloped in a dark purple outline, similar to Nova's, though much more solid. The dummy flew from where it was standing straight towards Carrera, who pulled his fist back, and punched the dummy just as it reached him. Nova grinned in amusement as the dummy was sent flying towards him.
"Not bad," he said, stepping to the side so the dummy smashed into the wall behind him. "For victory!" Carrera shouted as he pulled back his glowing arm and dashed towards his commander. Nova let out a small chuckle, before spreading his arms and awaiting his opponent.
Zonda concentrated for a few seconds, eyes closed, face completely blank. Then, a man-sized, pink mirror materialized in front of the adept, who smirked wildly at the achievement. "Impressive..." Nova marvelled, a similar grin on his face as he stood next to Zonda. "Your septima truly is powerful, perhaps even a match for my own." Zonda turned towards Nova and giggled. "Oh boss! I didn't know you could be so loving!" The adept said. "My septima is truly lovely though, isn't it?" Zonda asked, gazing lovingly at the reflection in the mirror. "It truly is something," Nova agreed. "Come on! Let's try it out!" Zonda declared, grabbing Nova by the arm and running into the mirror. "E-Ehh? Wait!" Nova said, as he was dragged through the mirror.
There was a brief flash of bright pink, before everything returned to normal. Nova and Zonda looked around at the room. At first, nothing seemed out of place. However, it didn't take the two long to notice that the control panel and the door were both on the opposite wall they were previously on. "Haha! It works!" Zonda yelled triumphantly, jumping in the air. Nova just shook his head at the display, bemused. "Yes. Of course, changing the area doesn't do much in a fight other than briefly distract an opponent," he said. "Hmm? What are you saying?" Zonda asked, having stopped jumping around. Nova grinned at the officer. "Let's see if we can turn that mirror into a weapon." Zonda smirked back. "Sure thing boss." With that, The Lustful Mirage got into a fighting stance, only to be stopped by Nova.
"Umm, before we start, could you perhaps switch the room back to normal, before I get used to it."
Over the course of the following five days, the seven adepts improved immensely. Jota was able to reach controlled speeds of over 60 miles per hour, and had a record speed of 200 miles per hour, though at that speed he could barely control where he was going. He also figured out how to transfer his energy into his katana, turning the blade into a pulsing green laser. Merak once said it looked like a "lightsaber", something Jota had never heard of before.
Viper became able to summon his signature "Angry Bombs", and could throw them up to ten metres away. He could also envelop his body in flames, and combine that with his fighting moves, making them even more deadly than before.
Merak managed to increase the time he could hold a average sized wormhole for about a minute. He could also summon up to two different pairs of wormholes at once, increase the size of a hole to a radius of five metres, or shrink it to roughly a foot, all of which affected his time limit to holding them.
Elise became more adept in using her throwing daggers, and could throw two at a time now. She also figured out how to use a weaker version of Resurrection, which healed the target and temporarily increased speed and strength, though the move placed a great deal of stress on Elise's body.
Stratos, at first, made little progress, but after a few days, became better at controlling his power, and thus became slightly less reliant on S.E.E.D. He could now turn himself into a swarm of flies at will, and could even transform specific parts of his body, though the smaller the part, the harder it was to sustain.
Carrera could now empower his body parts with his magnetic energy, allowing him to use his self-created "Magnetic Arts" by combining his septima with his martial arts moves. His attacks also had the ability to used the "Chaff" effect, which temporarily left an adept unable to use his septima.
Zonda, in addition to changing the area using mirrors, could now summon and throw card-sized mirrors that shocked their targets, temporarily messing up their sense of direction.
The only thing the adepts hadn't been able to use was their respective special moves, something they were unlikely to achieve, though this was only a small inconvenience.
After the fifth day, Nova walked into his quarters after a session. Sitting down at his desk, he went over the adepts' progress. The secret teaching surprisingly had a positive impact on Nova. He was less tired and grouchy, his signature smirk had returned, and he'd made some good progress with Project Muse on the side.
Nova reached out and, using his septima, lifted the phone, which then flew into his hand. Pressing the RECEIVE button, he held it to his ear. "Hello?" He greeted.
Nova frowned. "Commander Kurai?" He asked. The chairmen never called anyone by their phones. It was always over earpieces or messengers. "Yes, it's me. Why so shocked?" Issei Kurai asked. There was something off about his voice. Normally, Issei would be screaming and yelling at him by now. But instead, he was calm, collected. His voice had an almost sinister edge to it. There was definitely something up.
"D-Don't worry sir! What is it you require?" Nova said, forcing his voice to remain calm. "Oh nothing. I'm just here to remind you that your monthly report is due tonight." Nova's eyes widened. He'd completely forgotten about his report. "Of course sir." He replied, keeping his shock out of his voice. "I'll be sure I arrive on time, as always."
"Well, that's good. That's real good..." Issei said. Even without seeing the man's face, Nova could tell that he was smirking as he spoke those words. "Oh! Tsukuyomi! One last thing," he continued. "I'm aware that there are seven adept officers under your direct command, correct?" Issei asked. "Yes..." Nova answered suspiciously.
"I want you to bring them with you. All of them."