"In that case didi, you have to remember, you must absolutely not reveal your strength in front of your schoolmates."
Devon Solaris adjusted didi's tie, stepped back and took a good look at him. The boy was wearing a navy blue high school uniform, carrying a proper school bag and, in addition to a pair of large spectacles, his hair was styled neatly by Devon. Daren Solaris looked just like an ordinary high school student.
A very nerdy high school student. Theodore Avery very wisely decided not to comment from the back as he continued drinking his coffee. He felt that Devon's concept of a high school student stagnated in the previous century.
Devon nodded with satisfaction and reminded once more, "Remember not to let your schoolmates discover your strength..." after some consideration, he worriedly added, "But if there is any danger, you still have to protect yourself, understand?"
Daren obediently nodded in affirmation.
It was the 28th reminder of the day. Theodore silently added another stroke of ketchup on his breakfast dish. So far his plate had five sets of completed chicken scratches and the sixth was two ketchup strokes short to completion.
"Also, your current identity is Theodore Avery's son, Daren Avery. Can you remember that?"
"Yes, I remember." Daren nodded, in fact, he had been nodding the whole morning.
"You'll be late if you don't leave now," Theodore blandly reminded, emptying his cup of coffee in one gulp. If he had to listen to more of this, he would have a break down.
"In that case, Dar, follow the doctor, he will take you to school."
At this point, Devon became dejected; he really wanted to walk didi to school hand in hand. Alas, if he were to do so, Daren's identity would instantly be exposed and henceforth he would be unable to live the life of an ordinary high school student..
Theodore simply unfolded his newspaper with a frown upon hearing Devon, and casually replied, "He can go by himself."
"No! What if he loses his way?" Devon protested loudly.
"He's got GPS implanted in his brain."
"What if he gets mugged by delinquents en route?"
"Half his finger nail is enough to throw a dozen delinquents."
"What if he gets kidnapped by a weird uncle?"
"Don't worry, you, as his master, have ordered him to go to school. Even if it was the end of the world, he would get there in time."
Theodore remained buried in his newspaper, not showing the slightest inclination of getting up to taking Daren to school. Meanwhile, Devon clenched his jaw and his face took on a dark and ominous hue.
A hole appeared in the newspaper
Devon narrowed his blood red eyes, his BHP 9mm glinting beautifully in his hands.
"Sigh! Why does an unmarried man like me need to bring a kid to school?" Theodore grumbled as he held Daren's hand, stalking briskly forward as if propelled by a jet of flaming anger.
"If someone were to see this, how am I ever going to get a girlfriend?!"
Theodore sighed again. Originally, he was an eligible bachelor, but who would have known that, in order to hide Dar's identity, Devon would forcefully register Dar as his son! Bastard! He had initially protested vigorously to have Daren registered as his younger brother, but a resounding crack from the BHP 9mm dispelled any lingering complaints.
Theodore unconsciously quickened his steps, afraid to be seen by a passing beauty and then lose the chance at a wholesome relationship. Suddenly, the object he was dragging along stopped in its tracks. Unfortunately, this object had the strength to tow a truck, and under the threat of the BHP 9mm, Theodore was forbidden to release this object's hand until they arrived at school. Therefore, with one stalking forward while the other stood stock still, Theodore's momentum caused his feet to slip, and the ground promptly met his head.
"D... Dar, what's the matter?" Theodore asked from below, his face now pale.
Daren seemed not to have heard Theodore. He tilted his head, looking at the blue sky, the streets, the trees... he couldn't stop looking. Various emotions flashed through his eyes... curiosity, excitement, happiness... like a kid on his very first excursion.
So that's how it is, a caged bird seeing the blue sky for the first time. Theodore sat up, silently observing for awhile before saying, "Dar... if we don't get move on, you'll be late for school."
Daren gripped the doctor's hand firmly and poised himself to run. This action gave the still semi-reclined Theodore a feeling of great unease. He stammered, "W-wait a second, what are you doing... AAaaarrrgggghhhhh!!!!"
A human tow truck was towing a wailing doctor, leaving a cloud of dust in their trail. This magnificent trail of dust meandered all the way to a spot near YeLan Academy before screeching to a halt with emergency brakes.
Once the human tow truck halted, Theodore hastily flung Daren's arm away and sat himself on the ground panting. After panting for some time, the echo of the school bell roused him. He lifted his head to find Daren still standing at the same spot. He hurriedly reminded, "Dar, go quickly, the bell has rung."
Daren nodded, raised his leg to go... hesitating for a second, he turned around to ask with some apprehension, "Doctor, when emotions and orders clash, I should follow my feelings right?"
Theodore nodded imperatively.
"Gege ordered me to go to school, but... I just want to go home and spend time with gege, can I go home?"
Theodore was momentarily dumbfounded. He stood up, and patted Daren on the head saying, "Your brother didn't order you, Dar, he has your best interests in mind; that's why he hopes you will go to school, hopes you will be like an ordinary youth, hopes you will be happy. Dar, if you requested not to attend school, to stay by his side, I believe he will not turn you down, but Dar, he will be very worried about you."
"So Dar, for the sake of your brother and for yourself, why don't you give school a try?" Theodore gently asked.
Daren nodded, Theodore rewarded him with another pat on the head before turning to leave, "Your brother placed a mobile phone in your bag, call home when school's over, I will come pick you up. If you want to hang out with your friends, give your brother a call to inform him, he will be very pleased that you made new friends."
Daren nodded once again, watching Theodore's departing figure until he rounded a corner and went out of sight.
Daren was a little afraid; he did not like watching someone he trusts leave. It made him recall the scene of being separated from gege. However, he also did not want gege to worry. Quelling his discomfort, Daren tightly grabbed his school bag to his side and walked towards the school...
◇ ◇ ◇
"Alright, alright, everyone quiet down. I have an important news for everyone."
A shinai flew across the room.
"Stop playing! the bell rang ages ago."
A broom flew across the room.
"Today, our class will have a new student..."
The teacher stopped mid sentence and hid under the lectern, the very next second, two sturdy wooden tables collided in the air, sending table legs and splinters everywhere. Everyone hurriedly hid and dodged.
The teacher emerged from beneath the lectern and wiped the sweat on his brow before continuing, "This is our new transfer student, Daren Avery. Everyone please welcome him."
The teacher clapped his hands while dodging rolls of toilet paper, pencil boxes, books and other projectiles.
Daren Solaris slowly walked in, feeling a little astonished. School was very different from what he had envisioned.
"Daren Avery, why don't you introduce yourself to everyone." the teacher crouched low, dodging a lunch box while speaking to Daren.
"Uh... hello everyone, my name is Daren Avery." Daren blinked as he witnessed the airspace of the classroom filled with flying projectiles, feeling even more shocked.
A piercing feminine laughter derisively remarked, "What the hell! So nerdy! Where did this nerd come from? Hahaha."
"...erm, I just transferred schools today, I hope I can get along well with everyone." he lowered his head, as for whether they could get along or not... he already knew how well that would pan out.
The teacher looked around the classroom with a troubled expression, mumbling under his breath, "What to do? There are no more seats."
Daren looked at the teacher in confusion, and then back at the furthest row of tables where a student was sleeping flopped over on the table. His surroundings were clearly unoccupied, yet the teacher said that there were no more seats. Daren, not reading between the lines, simply pointed to the seat next to the sleeping student saying, "Teacher, there's a seat there. Can I sit there?"
Silence. For a second the whole classroom was devoid of sound, even the person about to hurl another desk remained stock still with the desk held high, his line of vision following Daren's pointed finger.
Everyone was staring at the seat Daren pointed to. The seat to the right of the sleeping student, among a group of unoccupied table and chairs, standing empty as if they were the executioner's electric chairs. A fair few gulped nervously.
"Student Avery, that, that seat... is not ideal..." the teacher's sleeve was no longer sufficient. He took out a handkerchief to wipe his sweat, his expression clearly unwilling to allow Daren to occupy that seat, and yet there was no other place for the boy to sit. He was stuck between a rock and a hard place and revealed an anxious expression.
"It's okay, any seat is fine."
Daren considerately replied, not wanting the teacher to be troubled. But he had obviously misunderstood the situation because those words turned the teacher's face pale, while frightened expressions emerged from the crowd of students.
Daren felt increasingly strange. He could not find the answer to what he should do even with the help of his microchip, and even the teacher, standing on the lectern, was withholding the answer. Being stared at was so uncomfortable. Daren unconsciously lowered his head, slowly inching forward towards the seat he had pointed at earlier.
With every step he took, a student would suck in a breath. The closer he got to the seat, the more uneasy everyone became.
"Hey! Quick! Advise him not to commit suicide!"
His classmates whispered among themselves, but all of their conversations were picked up by Daren's super hearing system.
"He's so pitiful, he just transferred here and now he's going to die..."
Daren was puzzled. He was going to die? After listening to this, Daren's imperative for self protection became activated. He rapidly analyzed his surroundings, trying to identify the possible source of his demise. However, whichever way he analyzed it, Daren was unable to detect any threat to his life.
So he continued walking, all the way to the seat and pulled out the chair.
Scores of people in the classroom held their collective breaths.
Daren looked around, gingerly lowering the bag from his shoulder.
Girls started screaming, boys gaping.
Daren sat down impassively.
"Oh my god! Manslaughter! There's gonna be manslaughter!"
The crowd fled screaming, throwing objects, creating a scene of utter chaos... though it had initially been chaotic enough already.
The crowd paused for a moment. Daren too, was momentarily dumbfounded. In the end... nothing happened. Only the school bell rang, signalling the end of class. The crowd dashed from the classroom as if escaping from a disaster, eyeing it from a distance. A few of the braver ones dared to walk closer to the window to peep inside.
Daren remained seated unaware. Looking at his watch, he realised it was noon. Gege once instructed him to eat well, so he stood up in search of the canteen to eat a good meal.
Daren glanced to his side and realised that the sleeping student was still flopped over unmoving. He recalled that gege had also told him to get along well with his classmates; best to make a few friends...
"Classmate, hey classmate, it's noon already, do you want to eat with me?"
Daren gently pushed the sleeping student's shoulder, not noticing that this move of his made tens of people outside drop their jaws.
"Who is it?!"
A loud boom destroyed the table, a roar shook the dust from the ceiling as the sleeping student gradually raised his head. Eye-catching orange hair, spiked like a porcupine; a fierce gaze unsoftened by the blue of his eyes; bronze skin with the tattoo of a dragon, with its fangs and claws bared, stretched from the forehead to the jaw. The boy's image was one that brought fear upon those who looked upon him.
In fact, his classmates outside the window had all said a prayer. Though they didn't have a good impression of this nerd, he had still been a classmate for 10 minutes; it was only proper to pray for his early reincarnation.
"It's me. It's time for lunch; are you going to eat?" Daren blinked and continued asking, seemingly unaware of how different this person standing before him was from his other classmates.
"Duh!" the porcupine head bellowed once again. Once he was done, he cast his eyes on Daren, eyeing him up and down and realized that he didn't know him. Porcupine head impatiently asked, "Who are you?"
Finally, a classmate is speaking to me! With happiness in his heart, Daren answered with a smile, "I am the new transfer student, my name is Daren Avery, nice to meet you."
Porcupine head was at first dumbfounded, evidently taken aback by Daren's behaviour. He then raised an eyebrow and sneered, "What are you doing? Trying to find a mountain to lean on since you're new? Get lost, don't bother me!"
Daren revealed a puzzled expression. "I'm sorry, I don't understand. What does 'mountain to lean on' mean?"
"Finding a mountain to lean on is to find someone to depend on... Fuck! Why am I explaining this to you?!"
Porcupine head jumped off his chair and kicked the table by the side, which subsequently crashed into the ceiling and shattered into tiny pieces
Force of 300 Newtons, using this attack as a point of reference, he has the ability to generate an estimated maximum of 1500 Newtons, belonging to the class possessing a high explosive power. Daren rapidly analyzed porcupine head's capabilities.
Porcupine head saw him staring at the splinters, thinking that Daren must have been scared witless. He would not even get pleasure from bullying this kind of a country bumpkin. He shoved his hands into his pockets and sauntered out of the classroom.
"Wait, wait a second, you haven't told me your name." Daren was a little surprised, usually after introducing oneself, shouldn't the other party reciprocate? This was the information he received from his microchip regarding human interactions.
Porcupine head paused in his stride, looking at Daren from the corner of his eyes and said coldly, "Ezart1. Remember it well! Don't mess with this name!"
Daren nodded with what seemed to be understanding. As Ezart turned to walk away...
"So are you actually willing to eat with me?" Daren asked with puzzlement.
The floor slipped beneath Ezart's feet, he almost did a dog-eat-shit tumble in front of an audience. Barely regaining his balance in time, he turned back to glare at Daren, suspecting that the latter was infuriating him on purpose. Yet Daren was a face of unawareness, which, coupled with his nerdy outfit, was undeniably transmitting the signal that said --- "I am nerdy, what can you do about it?"
Nerd! It was the only word reverberating within Ezart's mind, there was no way he could use his fists against such a nerdy person, he could only scowl as he bellowed, "Are you stupid? I am not willing! No! Do you understand? If you do then get lost, if you say one more word I'll beat you so that you'll be hospitalised till the end of term!"
Daren was startled, he nodded somewhat dejectedly, "I understand."
Ezart snorted loudly as he departed the classroom, leaving Daren alone. Dar lowered his head and stood still for a while before remembering his brother's instruction to eat well. Looking at his watch, lunch break was almost half over, therefore, he hurriedly fished out his wallet and rushed towards the cafeteria.
◇ ◇ ◇
Due to gege's instruction to have a full meal, Daren's frightening stomach capacity, and the massive energy requirements for supporting his 90kg frame, he ended up with 2 mountainous plates of food, one filled with meat and rice and the other with vegetables.
(Gege's reminder: Have a balanced diet.)
With his food in hand, Daren looked around in search of a seat, but the cafeteria was fully occupied, he therefore had to stand impassively in a spot, waiting for someone to vacate a seat. However, everyone had eaten their fill and were leisurely watching the foolish sight of "someone" holding two large mountains of food. No one was leaving.
Daren had no choice but to walk towards the eye-catching orange porcupine head, apologising, "Sorry, I know that you're not willing to eat with me, but because there are no more empty places, may I sit here?"
Ezart's food was fairly simple, consisting of a few buns. He aggressively looked up at Daren, then asked threateningly, "Are you an idiot? Can't you see that no one dares to come near me? Are you tired of living or what?"
"No, I'm not tired of living, it's because there are no more seats and it just so happens that there are empty seats here, so I came over," Daren answered seriously.
The surrounding people started getting anxious, suspecting that Ezart will blow up this time. Ezart helplessly buried his face in his large hands, an action that made the cafeteria descend into deathly silence...
"Hahahahaha!!!" A booming laughter erupted, Ezart grabbed his abdomen, intermittently pounding his fists on the table to express his belly full of laughter. After howling for a good while, he saw Daren with his "I am just nerdy" look, still standing foolishly to one side, not knowing how to proceed.
Unable to contain it, Ezart burst out into another laughing fit. "You, you really, really have a screw loose! Haha!"
"Huh? Do I really have a screw loose?" Daren immediately activated his microchip to scan for any loose screws.
Ezart patted the empty seat beside him, motioning for Daren to sit down. Daren obediently sat down and turned to say, "I don't have a loose screw, you must be mistaken."
Ezart was momentarily dumbfounded, before hugging his abdomen sniggering, "You, you are just too great... god! My stomach... it hurts."
"Stomachache?" Daren was chowing on a chicken wing when he immediately became anxious. He put down his chicken wing asking with concern, "Are you ok? Do you want me to accompany you to the sick bay?"
Another bout of booming laughter.
Having laughed too much, his stomach was really starting to hurt, so Ezart was a little exasperated, "No need for that! Just quickly eat your food; if you stop talking with that nerdy look, I'll be fine."
Daren blinked, wanting to say that he does not have a nerdy look, but since Ezart was asking him to eat, then he had better finish it quickly since lunch break was ending soon. At that point, Daren began shoving food into his mouth, chewing at a rate of 10 bites per second, rapidly clearing his mountainous pile of food.
(Gege's instruction: Chew more when you eat to prevent indigestion.)
Ezart was dumbstruck by this method of eating; never had he seen someone eat with this speed, like a movie in fast forward. In addition, where the hell was this puny fellow keeping his food? As the peaks of the twin mountains crumbled, the uncontrollable twitching of Ezart's mouth increased.
"I'm done." Daren took out his handkerchief to wipe his mouth after finishing the last mouthful while simultaneously looking at his watch. Good, there was still time for a nap. He immediately flopped onto the table announcing, "I'm going to take a nap."
(Gege's instruction: It's a must to take a nap in the afternoon.)
"We're starting class in 3 minutes."
Ezart casually reminded, although he himself wasn't mindful of such things. He pulled out a martial arts novel and began reading. After a few pages, the person next to him suddenly raised his head saying, "30 seconds to the bell."
He actually grabbed Ezart's hand and dragged him towards the direction of the classroom. Ezart was initially shocked and therefore allowed himself to be dragged along. But as he regained his senses and tried shaking off Daren's hand, he realised that he couldn't...
This kid is strong! A trace of caution flashed past Ezart's eyes.
"Hurry up! There's only 5 seconds before we're late. We definitely can't be late for class," Daren yelled.
At the completion of his sentence, both the "tow truck" and the one being towed appeared at the door to the classroom with a "woosh", then into their respective seats with another burst of speed. Daren heaved a sigh of relief, feeling lucky that they weren't late; he happily took out his textbooks and stationary. As long as he did not violate gege's instructions, all was good.
T-that speed, wasn't it a little too fast... Ezart was stunned, belatedly realising that he was at his own seat. How was he already in his chair when he was last being dragged into the classroom?
Ezart looked at Daren suspiciously, the latter also realising that Ezart was looking at him, looked up immediately and flashed a brilliant smile. He realised that his glasses were knocked sideways from the "vigorous exercise" just now. He adjusted his glasses while he smiled, it slanted again, he adjusted it once more.
Really nerdy... Ezart turned his head back. Forget it! It's impossible for this kind of nerd.
"Battle has a long history... from the era of the existence of countries... there are Chinese martial arts, Japanese kendo, Western fencing, etc. From the formation of the trade groups till recent times, the world had been engulfed in disputes, with the people's emphasis on keeping whole... battle had became the generalised standard, irregardless of location or weapon, the last survivor was the victor; this has become Battle's cruel identity..."
Daren speedily jotted down the teacher's words while highlighting the important points in his textbook, his pen flying across the page. Although highlighting for revision was pretty useless as the microchip in his brain gave him a photographic memory, meaning it was impossible for him to forget something once he laid eyes on it.
His hands moved on their own accord, his eyes not required to follow the line of letters. He turned around and found Ezart still sleeping... He whispered harshly, "Ezart, Ezart?"
Ezart's sleeping skill was originally impressive - he could not be woken even if the whole class was in riot - but when faced with his name, he still possessed the reflexive response of all normal people. After ignoring Daren for a few times, Ezart finally went berserk; he ripped the table apart in one move, furiously yelling, "Ezart, Ezart, Ezart! What are you calling me for?"
Within the classroom, silence once again reigned, Daren blinked in explanation, "You shouldn't sleep in class, you must be serious in your studies!"
A vein popped on Ezart's forehead, this guy indeed had a screw loose... He prodded Daren's forehead with his index finger, "I'm warning you! I haven't pummelled you because you are a little interesting, but if you annoy me again, I will definitely let you lie unconscious in a hospital tomorrow, the day after, and the day after that!"
Facing this threat, Daren gaped and with a confused expression said, "I didn't bother you, I was just telling you that you shouldn't sleep when you're in class."
Ezart slumped back onto his chair. Who was rearing this heavenly soldier? He was so nerdy that he deserved a beating, yet so nerdy that others can't bear to hit him.
(Devon Solaris and Theodore Avery in their respective locations let out a big sneeze.)
"Here! I'll let you read the notes I made while you were sleeping."
Daren happily pushed his notebook over, sharing generously with his friend. No matter what Ezart may have been thinking, Daren had taken the fellow whom he had lunch with and attended class with as a friend. Now he was sharing notes.
Ezart's brain was engulfed in a maelstrom. He rubbed his face in defeat, tiredly replying, "For god's sake, no one pays attention to battle history lessons, okay?"
"Huh?" Daren blinked uncomprehending.
"Only physical fitness type of class is the true battle curriculum, the rest of them are for sleeping in, understand?"
Ezart impatiently explained while looking at Daren who was still exhibiting his nerdy expression. One look and anyone could tell that he definitely did not understand!
He stamped in fury as he roared, "Anyway, you listen to your class, don't disturb me - I will take practical lessons seriously when we come to it."
"Okay." Daren nodded, then as Ezart started thinking that he was finally free to once again slump over the desk and sleep, Daren shook him again saying, "So, do you want to copy my notes?"
"The so called practical curriculum is..." Ezart smashed his fists together forcefully, the lazy and sleepy attitude now totally gone, his whole body enlivened like a tiger preparing to hunt. "Smashing-your-fist-into-someone's-face class!"
Saying that, Ezart walked straight into the massive gymnasium. While Daren was still mulling over the meaning of that phrase, Ezart had already walked away. He hurried to catch up but suddenly heard "Ezart" uttered by the classmate beside him. He slowed his pace out of curiosity and widened his zone of reception and realised that half of his classmates were talking about Ezart.
"Ezart sent 3 students from class A to the hospital last time."
"Are you for real? It's class A! Isn't that the class that's known for having the guy2 who can single-handedly take out our whole class?
"Didn't you know, if it wasn't because he got close to zero for all his other subjects, he wouldn't be in our class."
Daren carefully analyzed these information. In that case, Ezart must be very strong. The microchip in Daren instinctively wanted to analyze strong individuals, because becoming strong in order to protect gege is his primary function.
Daren unwaveringly walked towards the gymnasium. Even the classmates calling from behind did not make it in time to stop him. His figure disappeared into the gymnasium...
"Oh my god! He just walked in there like that. Does he know what's inside the gymnasium?"
"This gym is a massive battle simulator..."
******************** Chapter 3 END ********************
1Ezart: (or Izatte) his chinese name is 伊萨特, pronounced Yi Sa Te. We named him Izatte before, but the author just published his official English name (Ezart)
2The guy: refers to a student in class A, different from Ezart's class. Previously this was mistranslated to refer to Ezart.