Marcus seeing that he got their attention once more spoke again, "This is but only one rift of many scattered about our entire world, hidden within remote lands or hazardous places. Although there's no danger at this time, we have come to find out that soon these rifts will erupt, releasing its creatures onto our world. We have termed this event as the Calamity of the Rifts as behind them are strange worlds, akin to those in fantasy. There are beings and creatures the likes which you've never seen, but to survive against such creatures using our current weapons and prowess is simply an impossible task. After doing more comprehensive research, we've found that there is also a potentially larger threat, but that is something we have yet to understand truly...."
When Marcus said this, a few students started to tremble, but before they could further break down, he added, "Still, it doesn't mean that there's no hope... although these worlds bring danger, there is also an opportunity for potential growth, but this is a detail for another time. Right now, each of you must solely focus on increasing your combat capabilities. So long as you achieve a certain standard, then our association will guide you, we will teach you how to become stronger, strong enough to save our kind..."
The students upon hearing these words showed a variety of expressions; some carried a distressed look while others became excited and hopeful. Soon, a commotion had started.
"P-Professor Marcus, can anyone even grow strong to face whatever is behind those rifts?"
"Indeed, will we be able to awaken special powers or something?"
"How strong are the beings residing in those worlds?"
Following a sequence of questions, more and more students began to speak out their concerns filling the silent auditorium with a hint of life again. The teachers were similarly concerned, but if one were to look around the entire room carefully. They would notice that only the old dean, Alton, Donna, Marcus, Rick, and Evan were a bit calm.
Marcus looked at Alton, who nodded in reply, Marcus then faced the crowd and spoke once more, "All these special abilities and gifts are traits which can naturally be earned from these rifts. However, say not of becoming powerful, if you simply venture into one of these worlds with absolutely no knowledge of combat or basic survival skills, then your bravery would be no different from suicide. Currently, I'd like to invite you all to refrain from having such thoughts. For the future of humanity, you must act and think with the intention of survival in mind. Only then can we strive to grow and endure the age of turmoil to the end..."
There was a moment of silence after Marcus spoke, but soon the students and teachers clapped as they shouted with warm-bloodedness.
"We shall do our best for the sake of humanity!"
"That's right; we can't give up! The road to evolving as a species is before us. We must rise and stand above all potential threats!"
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As the cheers grow louder, the scene became even livelier. Fatty Joe clenched his fist as his eyes shone with a firm light as he decided at the depths of his heart.
Emilia, on the other hand, who was previously filled with intense fear, now had a thoughtful look on her face. Not long after, she bit her lips as her beautiful blue eyes flickered with determination.
Evan, who watched them in silence, nodded as he thought, "Good, the first step to change starts from the mind. They both have firm wills, but this alone is not enough for them to truly transform. Next is for them to fall into real danger, only then will they be able to shed the weakness of fear that lies within them and reawaken our basic instinct to fight."
As Evan thought to here, however, he couldn't help but pay more attention to Emilia. He pondered, "She had more firmness than I'd initially imagine, in some... or rather many cases there are times when women are more brave and stronger than men. It seems that she's always had an unwavering will from the very beginning..."
Upon thinking to here, Evan's eyes shifted around the room looking a few familiar faces; he saw Layla, who was a bit pale-faced but had her slender palms balled up tightly. He then saw a person he had almost forgotten about trembling in a corner from the student's area, his cousin, Susie.
Evan shook his head before his eyes landed onto a few others had looks of vague excitement in their eyes. He couldn't help but glance towards the platform at Marcus and the others before speaking in his mind, "If they all think this is going to be all fun and games where they power up and kill monsters... then they'll be in for a different surprise. These bastards only told the surface of the story; they didn't even speak of the major threat being that of the Ascenders Rift. Sigh... but I guess if they did hear of it, then no one would be able to smile and have hope. I suppose that they must have thoroughly considered what to share and elaborate on for today's meeting... in this sense, their organization doesn't seem all bad, but why is it would they choose to assassinate those with certain gifts?"
While Evan was preoccupied with his thoughts, Rick was also keenly paying attention to the podium; his face looked dark as if he didn't buy some of Marcus's words.
Clap! Soon, a clap was heard, bringing another wave of silence across the auditorium. At this time, the old dean had taken the stand once more to speak to the students, "Good! My students, it is the human spirit that will allow for man to strive to the end, I am proud to have such brave individuals among our ranks on campus. From today onwards, all regular classes shall be suspended and be replaced by survival sessions. Our academy, like all others, will solely be focusing on the HDP. To receive your copy of the HDP helmet, you must visit your classroom. The military has assigned the professional aid of specialists in the field of hunting, exploration, combat, and others. These people will be acting as your instructors in your daily sessions for roughly 2 hours; the rest of your time must be body conditioning and HDP training. Please do strive your hardest to overcome these harsh times and take care not to lose your spirit! For it is the first star of dawn that brings hope for the future, this is what it means to be a Morning Star!"
Having said his piece, the old dean made a national salute to everyone. As they saw this, all students promptly straightened their backs, their eyes flickered with hints of uncertainty, uneasiness, while some were filled with firmness as they saluted similarly.
Soon, the meeting had officially ended, as all students headed towards their various sectors. Evan, Rick, Fatty Joe, and Emilia were silent as they went on their way towards their classroom.
It seemed that each of them had too much on their thoughts even to begin a proper conversation, Evan knew that they needed time to adjust themselves, except for Rick, of course, Evan wanted them to speak first. Yet, before that could happen, someone seemed to be filled with even more spirit than the norm as a voice sounded from behind him.
"I-I didn't think r-rapist trash like you enter this academy, hmph! You better n-not tell others than we're related!" The voice stutteringly said in a disgustful manner.
Evan turned around and saw the somewhat frightened, looking Susie, who, despite her fear, seemed to have enough energy to vent on others.
As he looked gravely at her face, he could feel that her current state of mind was one of complete disorder. Evan sighed, not wanting to pay her any more mind as he continued to move forward with the group.
Susie was surprised, she wanted him to shout back so they could go back and forth, her mind was now a mess, and she needed to find a way to distract herself quickly. Now, she started trembling again as a few drops of tears fell down her cheeks. Soon, she fell on her knees and started to cry.
Evan, hearing this felt bad, he halted his steps and sighed before turning around and walking back. Fatty Joe, Emilia, and Rick looked at this in surprise, yet before they could say anything, he had already arrived before the sulking Susie.
Evan stooped over and looked at her, Susie seeing Evan appear was startled, her large round eyes flashed as her tears ran down her cheeks. Evan patted her shoulder and spoke in a gentle tone, "Come on, don't go sulking here. It's time for the survival learning session, get up."
Susie was having a mental breakdown; she gritted her teeth and shouted, "No! No-no-no! I don't want to! I want to go home and see my mother! I did not want to be a part of this!"
She shouted as she began to cry again, Evan seeing this sighed as he patted her head, causing her to look up in surprise. Evan spoke gently, "This isn't time for waterworks, fear will get you nowhere... but, if you can work up the courage to fight, the courage to be strong. Then, you can slowly carve out a path to the future... don't you think?"
Susie hesitated for a bit; she wiped the corners of her eyelids and asked, "C-Can I really?"
Evan seeing this smiled and spoke, "Mm. Anything is possible..."
Susie paused for a moment, as her tears died down, she thought back to her life and her mother before she gritted her teeth and balled up her small fists.
Evan seeing this knew his work was done; he turned around and started heading back to his group. But, it was at this time Susie's soft and embarrassed voice sounded from behind him, "I... I'm sorry..."
Evan smiled and waved his hand backward in reply as his eyes flashed while thinking, "Sigh... it appears that my past has limited my thoughts. What does a child know of her mother's wrongdoings? She is nothing more than a child in the end..."
As Evan thought back to it, he didn't even remember what happened to her and that wretched aunt in the end. He had forgone all things, leading a foolish life.
Fatty Joe was a bit puzzled, he asked, "Evan, why did you help such a girl with that sort of personality?"
"...." Rick also had similar thoughts as he looked on silently.
Emilia showed a curious look as the group started walking again, Evan seeing this merely smiled as his eyes shone with a bright light when he spoke, "A child sees only the world before him, but an adult sees the world beyond himself..."
As they heard this, both trio's eyes flickered as they showed looks of enlightenment. Rick couldn't help but murmur, "Indeed, it is the mature mind that sees the bigger picture that lies beyond the simple frame. Truly wise words Evan..."
Not long after, the group had vanished from this area, as they headed towards the first survival class session of the new year.