Chapter – IX
And suddenly the world fell away. Max’s stomach felt like it was trying to climb up his throat and out of his mouth. The wind began rushing past his ears as he fell, and he looked around to see that he was somehow falling from the ceiling toward the ground. Max could see Tom, his mouth was moving but he couldn’t make out his roommate’s words. Max brought up his arms to cover his head and tightly closed his eyes as he waited for the crashing end to the fall.
But instead of a sudden crash, the sensation of speed only increased as he passed through the hole in the floor and once again began his descent.
As he fell and continued to fall through the combat cell again and again the rushing wind grew into a roar, and the room dissolved into a blur. Max had no clue how fast he was going, or if he was ever going to stop. In a panic he poured every ounce of fear-filled will he had into his shield and suddenly the wind was silenced and the world went black. All Max knew was that was still falling, and that was only by the feeling of acceleration in his stomach.
And slowly Max started to wake up, if that’s the word for it. It was something like waking up from a deep dream after a late night, but that didn’t quite capture it either. He had this sensation of clawing his way back toward the surface of a deep pool, of trying to piece his consciousness back together.
Eventually, though time didn’t seem to have much meaning, Max was able to wrench his eyes open. He found himself in a hospital bed, with a light blue screen keeping most of the sterile glare hospitals always seem to have at bay. He tried to look around, but moving his head made the room spin and apparently drive white-hot spikes into his eyes.
“Oww…” he uttered pathetically, and that was when he noticed how dry his mouth was.
Through is the pounding in his skull, Max hear the sound of boots on the other side of the screen. Suddenly the screen was jerked sideways the the light of the infirmary lanced Max’s eyes in all its blinding glory.
“Wakey wakey!” a voice said. It might have been a young woman’s.
“UUNNGGHH! Fuuuh…” Max grunted, not even able to complete the expletive.
“Oh shit! Sorry!” Max was still blinking the spots from his eyes, but the voice certainly sounded feminine. The screen rustled and the glare went away. Max decided to take a chance and opened his eyes again, and got a good look at his visitor. The first thing he noticed was her hair. It was a brilliant red with streaks of copper. It was tied back into a pair of tails, and contrasted sharply with her pale skin. She looked like she was average height, though since he was laying down it was tough to tell for sure. Her black uniform didn’t do much to suggest her build.
“Sorry about that. They said you might be feeling a bit sensitive. I guess between your internal injuries and the way the healer who fixed you up works. I guess your body still thinks its hurt, and your brain is a kinda dehydrated” She said. “So, other than what’s basically a gnarly hangover, howya feeling Slick?”
“Ugh… So my roommate beats the shit out of me and all I got is this hangover?” Max said.
“That sounds like a country song I once heard. You know Slick, if this hero thing doesn’t work out for you, I think you’ve got a backup” she said
“Ha. Ha-ha. My name’s Max, by the way. Shouldn’t that be on my chart or something?”
“It is, but didn’t you ever play with those crash test dummy toys as a kid? You did a damn good impersonation in there. I’m Robin, by the way.” She replied, the last in a passable impression of Max’s tone. “We’ve got an IV running to get you hydrated, but here , drink this. It’ll help with the cotton mouth.” She held up a clear bottle full of blue liquid with a straw sticking out the top. “Don’t worry, it isn’t anything weird. Basically a goosed sports drink. Water, electrolytes, amino acids, vitamins… No sugar though. Oh, and its supposed to taste like blue raspberries. I’ve never had a blue raspberry, so I guess we’ll have take their word for it.”
After taking a couple sips from the bottle, Max’s brain got around to suggesting probably the most obvious question given the circumstances. “Who the hell are you, and what are you doing here?”
“Heh. Who is your daddy, and what does he do?” That she said in a bad European accent, but shook her head when she saw the befuddlement on Max’s face. “Don’t they have TVs where you come from? Okay, you already know my name is Robin. I’m a freshman healer. Part of our training is to work in the infirmary. Since we just got started, the freshmen can’t do any healing, but we do get to look after the recovering patients. Which in this case is you, oh loquacious one.”
“Oh, okay.” He didn’t say more, but smirk tugged at his lips after the brief answer. After a few beats and bout of laughter from Robin he continued. “So, how long do I have to stay here?”
“Just until your hangover fades. We don’t want you fainting or anything like that.”
“Okay, I’m actually starting to feel better. That IV and your blue goo must be working.” he said.
“Cool. Here, let me help you up. If you’re good to leave, I’ll walk you up to the observation room. We still have time to watch the men’s final match.” Robin said, offering her hand to Max. He took it and slowly sat up before getting out of the bed. At first he was unsteady on his feet, but before long the two were walking to a station being manned by a gray uniformed healer. The more experienced student removed the IV and signed Max out. Then the two of them made their way back to the observation room to go watch the number one rank be decided.
“Hey, what’s your power anyway? I know your blood pressure and resting heart rate, but not your power” Robin asked as the two walked back toward the observation room. Max was definitely starting to feel more like himself, though he wasn’t sure how much he felt like trying to keep up with his chatty companion.
“This might sound funny, considering how we met, but I generate a force field… Sorta. It’s actually more like an anti-force field. I’m not really sure how it works but energy, force, however you want to say it, just slides off the fieled. I’ve actually never really been hurt before now.” Max replied.
“You’re right, it is funny. You said you got messed up fighting your roommate, right? So what could you have done in the last twenty-four hours to make him want to fuck you up like that? Be honest, did you go for the “Montezuma’s Revenge” beef and bean burrito and hotbox him all night? It’s okay, you can tell me, I’m sort of a doctor. Seriously though, what did he do to you? Your uniform didn’t have a thread out of place, and you didn’t have a scratch on you, but you had some nasty internal injuries.”
“Umm… I’m not really sure” Max said. Truthfully, he wasn’t. Was what he saw before waking up what happened? Was it just a dream? “As near as I can remember, he trapped me and dropped me out of the ceiling a bunch of times. Then closed the bottom portal. I think.”
“Damn. That’s actually kind of impressive. Not that you fell in a trap, but that your shield held up to the impact. Just based on your internal injuries, you must have been hauling some serious ass when you hit.”
“I guess.” Max replied, eager to find some new topic of conversation that wasn’t about how he badly he failed in the ranking match. “You know my power, what’s yours?”
“I am super awesome.” Robin replied without missing a beat.
“Ya-huh… But what does it say on your application? I mean, I know you’re a healer, but how do you do it?”
“Oh that. It’s pretty boring. Still awesome, but not flashy like some healers. My body makes hyper-active stem cells. If they get into wounds, they take on the properties of the injured tissue and boo-boo goes away. Since they’re already in me, I heal really fast too.”
“You’re right, that is pretty awesome. How fast can you heal? Like, shouldn’t you still be fighting?”
“Awesome I may be, but I’m not much of a fighter, yet, anyway. I can heal from cuts and scrapes pretty quickly, but that didn’t help much when the girl I was fighting turned into a Big Foot and put me in a hammer lock. That seriously sucked.”
“A Big Foot?” Max asked, somewhat incredulously. “Okay, I guess I can cut you some slack.”
A short while later they reached the observation room, and the door slid open to reveal almost the entire freshmen class, quite a few gray uniforms, and even a couple white uniforms sprinkled in. It shouldn’t have been much of a surprise, and it wasn’t. Everyone wanted to get a glimpse of what should be the heavy-weight championship bout of the freshmen class.