Chapter 1: Application - a withering flower - 1058 words
1. Training Montage: Get loosened up! Work on your form! Do those crunches! Draw or write your character getting physically ready for their first assignment.
"Icarus!" A voice saturated with annoyance echoed across the rooftops of the cityscape. Icarus chuckled with a sneer, as he watched Karmen slowly get up again. A hasty maneuver could send anyone against the floor, it seemed.
"What?" He presented a rhetorical question, fanning his forearms outward with an unnoticeable shrug, "you're the one who wanted to train with me."
The bright-maned wyfex turned to Icarus. They scoffed.
"Training doesn't mean mortally injuring." Karmen took a quick glance behind them, the shards of glass jutting out of an upright metal sheet sending shivers down their spine. Icarus laughed exaggeratedly at the sky above.
"Come on," he turned to Karmen, "haven't you been through all kinds of shit with teaching that fucking twink to dance?" The wyfex was faced with the end of the other's staff.
"Speak of Caspian with his name," Karmen seethed at their partner's insensitiveness. Turning their side to face the other wyfex, they spun the staff in their hand, beckoning the other to continue. The movement was smooth and skillful, and no wonder - their performances on the streets didn't pull so many intrigued gazes for no reason.
Icarus' head lowered as a sign of aggression, one of his ears twitching lightly. Lifting his hand in one, swift movement, the prepared medium for his ill-willed work rose from the roof's flat surface. The glass shards jingled softly against each other like a quiet wind chime, glimmering under the sun with shifting reflections.
"A twink's a twink, even if you fry it in a pan," the wyfex stated flatly, his tone framed with a low growl. Icarus pulled his arm back as if throwing a baseball, and hurled the shards right at Karmen. They dodged effortlessly, and proceeded to flick any stray glass on the roof out of their way with their staff.
"What do you have against him?"
The question fell on deaf ears. Icarus pulled a haphazard clump of fragments together without touching them, and flung the whole thing at his practice target. His accuracy was deteriorating faster than he'd liked, and it annoyed him. As per usual, Karmen avoided the attack with a sidestep, and a turn of their upper torso. One had to be fast, if their significant other was as hotheaded as Icarus.
And that hothead was quickly approaching his hard limit. Icarus lunged at the long-maned wyfex, not surprisingly missing again, as his attempt was avoided with a simple step to the side. He threw his upper body at Karmen's figure, but his forearms were blocked by the wrapped staff.
"You're slipping," Karmen noted, their head twitching to the side ever so slightly - and Icarus pressed harder against his opponent. The two had talked, and trained, and talked, and trained - it always ended the same, and that tree seemed to be doomed to stay fruitless forever. Rage always got in Icarus' way, and even Karmen couldn't weed it out. But he didn't see what they saw. When Icarus searched for a quick way out, Karmen saw the minuscule changes that took place after every confrontation. There was hope, but it would take a lifetime of nurturing to bloom.
Karmen positioned themself, and effectively pushed Icarus away with their foot. The cranky wyfex stumbled, but got himself together swiftly enough - but would enough be sufficient on the battlefield? One wasn't allowed to kill - but the bright ribbon tied to Icarus' belt built structures of terror in Karmen's electronic mind. They turned their side once again at the seething wyfex, and placed their nondominant arm behind their back. The staff rose again.
No such luck - the flames had already engulfed Icarus. A sharp, mechanical whir rose from his throat, accompanied by background static, and an animalistic snarl. The crosses in his eyeholes started to fade, shifting into a solid fill of pure red. Karmen would've puckered, if their anatomy would've allowed it. Their own concentration faltering, as waves of concern washed over them, they lowered the staff. Their posture changed, but the tension lingered.
And the blackbird without its wings listened no longer.
Icarus opened his hinged jaw, and an ear-piercing screech permeated the air. He could see Karmen slipping. Their worry always got in the way - they just cared too much. About everyone. Not just their partner.
Icarus charged at the bright-maned wyfex once more. This time, Karmen was only able to skirt the outline of the attack, barely dodging it in the first place - and Icarus pounced again. Dashing and darting around in quick succession, he wore the other down - but as Karmen's battery drained, so did his. Even ire couldn't keep him on his feet forever.
And exhaustion was one of those things that tested this instructor's patience. Another lunge, and Karmen had had enough. Taking the blow with their staff, held in a defensive stance in front of them, it felt like the concrete roof became an ice rink. Icarus was like a bulldozer when anger blinded him, this time being no different - but Karmen wasn't born yesterday. Evading the bull's dulled horns, they swiftly stepped to the side, and swept his legs with their staff. Icarus landed face first, the front of his mask scraping the roof's rough surface. Unceremoniously, the other walked to him, and turned him around with their foot. The staff's wrapped end seemed to almost jeer at him, as it was sternly pointed at his throat.
"You're going to get yourself killed," Karmen growled, as their mechanical lungs chased a breath to catch. Icarus chuckled, clearly out of breath as well.
"The Asshole Collective doesn't allow such indulgence," he mocked the boastful association. Karmen turned away, scoffing vexedly. They walked further away, not saying a single word. Icarus stumbled up, and dusted himself off. His ears dipped, as he inspected the other's back. He could see them tapping on their elbow nervously with crossed arms.
Then they turned around. The staff lifted, the movement executing it strict, and linear - soundlessly furious.
"Show me," Karmen demanded, with a voice half-broken from worry, "show me, that you won't die out there."
Icarus scoffed with a malevolent grin, his fake eyes diverting from the other wyfex.
"I'll be fine," he reassured. His stern gaze returned to the long-maned outcast, as his posture straightened, his whole figure tensing up in anticipation.
"Pray for the others."