Chapter XIV – Victory and Frustration

With reminders of taking rests before taking a bath, Jonathan left Rem in the dome. There, he was met by Dricks and Jimmy, who were quite surprised seeing him with the Swazoki Knife.

After cooling down, Rem went straight to the locker room to take a bath as he was covered with dirt probably getting them after rolling several times while soaking with his sweat.

Even at the shower Rem was still carrying and looking at the knife he can call “mine.”

After, he went to the livingroom. There, he dropped himself on the carpeted floor using one of the bean bags as his pillow. He again picked his knife and stared at it. He was quite happy. He eventually fell asleep.

When he woke up, Rem knew he’d been sleeping for about an hour and wondering why Marybeth wasn’t around. He then went outside and asked his escorts if they saw her. Dricks shook his head while Jimmy raised his two arms up.

Rem asked if he can just walk around. Both escorts agreed. He went straight to the shooting area to test his new knife. There, he positioned himself, made a full swing and released it. There was nothing new, he hit the bullseye. But, hitting it with his own knife sent chills to his veins.

After several shots, Rem went outside and saw Dreyford, Randolph, and Tatiana entering the dome. He walked fast to meet them.

“How’s the training outside?” asked Rem showing the three an awesome smile.

“Still great bro,” said Randolph. “I think someone’s having a great time. You are smiling as if you won a lottery.”

“Where is Marybeth?” Tatiana interrupted.

“I don’t know maybe still training,” said Rem.

“And you? What are you doing here?” asked Dreyford.

“I think I’m done with the training inside that huge room with those gruesome shooting machines,” Rem replied.

“No way!” said Tatiana. “You are done with the defensive shooting? You are probably sent home early.”

“No. I just got my prize,” said Rem showing them his box.

“Oh my goodness!” said Tatiana who looked like a woman being shown with a Gucci bag. “You are kidding me!”

The men, on the other hand, widened their eyes but still smiling. Tatiana opened the box and after confirming, she cringed, picked the knife and laughed out of amusement.

“Damn you Rem!” said Dreyford who just snatched the knife to Tatiana. “I received millions of bruises before getting mine. And you?” he added while pointing the handle of the knife at Rem.

“I am happy for you, Rem,” said Randolph who brushed his body towards Dreyford. He took the knife from Dreyford and stared at it for a couple of seconds before returning it to Rem.

“Me too,” said Tatiana mildly punching Dreyford’s stomach.

“Alright, alright! I’m just joking,” said Dreyford who raised both of his hands surrendering to the two. “Me three, Rem. Very proud!”

“Guys I really don’t know what to say,” said Rem. “I just did my best there and then, hualla! I got my gift and I’m really happy right now.”

“We know that feeling,” said Dreyford hitting Randolph at his side using his elbow.

“Come with us and there are lots of things we wanted to hear,” said Randolph who wrapped his arm around Rem’s shoulder.

All four of them walked towards the locker room. Tatiana smiled and signaled that she will go ahead to take a bath. Before she completely separated from them, she squeezed Rem’s ear. The three went inside the locker room where the two immediately removed their clothes and wrapped a towel around their waists.

While the two were taking shower, Rem locked one of the cubicles in front of the two and leaned on it.

“Seriously Rem, me and Dreyford were able to get our Swazoki on our fourth attempt,” said Randolph. “Tatiana got her on her seventh try. And you, just on the first try. You might be really great!”

“I think Mr. Cooney helped a lot,” replied Rem. “He’s been there with me all the time.”

“All of us here were guided all throughout the defensive shooting until we were able to get the prize,” said Dreyford. “You are great I can say. I just can’t imagine when you reached our age, what can you already do?”

“Anyway, what we do here is for us. For us to become a great Arkiman,” added Dreyford.

“You will become one great Arkiman after years of stay here, Rem,” said Randolph who turned around for him to be able to see the younger trainee. He laid his arms on top of the door. “And after you left this place, look for me, or Dreyford and we would love to spar with you.”

Rem smiled. But, deep inside him, he felt bad knowing there was a possibility that when he got out, he won’t see them anymore. While the two were enjoying their baths, their talk went on different topics.

After a few minutes, the two were done and went straight to the locker room and their talk continued. Rem was already comfortable with them, so there are times that he will go along with the conversation. When done putting clothes, the two kept all their toiletries inside their lockers and went outside.

The three decided to go directly to the dining table and waited for Tatiana there. Already waiting for 30 minutes, Randolph decided to stand and walked outside the dining room to go to the girl’s bathroom room. The two immediately followed.

“Tatiana, what happened to you?” Randolph shouted.

“I’m here,” Tatiana replied, also shouting. “I’m just helping Marybeth out. Just wait for us in the dining area.”

After knowing the Tatiana was ok and Marybeth was out of the training room, the three found relief and went back to the dining area.

After a few minutes, Tatiana and Marybeth appeared. The three boys were shocked with what they saw — Marybeth had lots of bruises on her face, arms, and even at her neck. Despite, she looked ok they can’t help but worry.

“Are you alright Marybeth?” asked Dreyford.

“I’m alright guys, don’t worry about me,” said Marybeth, who smiled and flexed her right bicep in front of them. “These are only little bruises and if I wanted to become a great Arkiman, I should get more of these.”

“I actually explained to her that there are more bruises and even wounds – deep wounds – along with the way,” said Tatiana. “So, Marybeth is ok.”

While eating, Rem can’t help but look at Marybeth’s bruises, especially that one huge on her right cheek. He doesn’t want to sound arrogant, but he never had those bad hits.

After eating, all of them went to the living room to take a rest. Randolph wrapped his arm around Marybeth’s shoulder, giving her brotherly support. The young lady held his arm to show appreciation.

During their stay in the living room, Marybeth used to joke around with all of them. But, Rem knew there was something wrong. He can’t help but assume that she was frustrated with the training. His thoughts were on her when suddenly…

“Oh, my goodness,” said Rem standing and immediately walked fast. He was going outside.

“Where are you going?” Randolph shouted.

“In the locker. I left something,” Rem replied who is already outside the room.

Rem ran to the locker because he forgot his Swazoki knife. He immediately found relief after seeing the box on one of the couches in front of their locker. When he opened it, he sighed seeing his precious knife inside. He then put it in his pocket and went back to his group.

Meanwhile…

“What’s up to him?” asked Marybeth while Rem was out.

“I think he forgot his knife,” said Randolph. “He’s so happy he got his reward for finishing…”

Randolph’s eyes popped out when he noticed that Dreyford and Tatiana were eyeing him as if he did something wrong. He realized his tactlessness.

“What knife?” Marybeth asked Randolph.

Randolph didn’t say a word. But, it was obvious that he was trying to hide something.

“Come on Randolph, what knife?” Marybeth stressed.

“Marybeth, Rem actually finished with the defense shooting,” Tatiana said who just rose from the couch to be seated beside her. “And, that reward for finishing it is a knife.”

“That’s it?” asked Marybeth.

Dreyford nodded at her.

“Bubububut, Rem actually is the greatest among us,” said a stuttering Randolph. “I got mine on my fourth try.”

“Me, whopping seventh,” Tatiana said stressing the number. “Way back, my trainer never lost his patience. He even jumped for joy after I got my knife.”

Rem entered the room.

“Where’s the knife?” Marybeth asked Rem.

Rem’s eyebrows crossed, probably thinking why she knew about his knife.

“Rem, I already know,” Marybeth said putting emphasis on his name. “These guys told me.”

Rem smiled, reached into his pocket and handed Marybeth a box. She knelt to reach it, returned to her bean bag and opened it.

“Oh, my! This is amazing,” said Marybeth who is looking closely at the knife. “You inspired me, Rem. You inspired me.”

“What the? There’s your surname!” Marybeth shouted. “I’m so excited to have mine.”

Marybeth returned the knife to the box and handed it Rem, who was already seated at her back. She then made a long and deep sigh that was heard by the four.

“You’ll get yours eventually,” said Tatiana to Marybeth.

“I know,” Marybeth replied, smiling.

Marybeth initiated a different topic. Again, she was acting strange and Rem can’t help but notice.

The escorts suddenly appeared asking the trainees to go back to their corresponding rooms to sleep. All of them obliged. Even before all bid their goodnights, Marybeth was still acting strangely.

A few minutes when the whole dome turned dim, Rem slightly opened his door to check if their guards were still on their posts. When he found out that the coast was clear, he went straight to Randolph’s room.

Rem peeked through the window of Randolph’s room and he saw him lying on his bed. He was still awake staring at his Swazoki knife. He knocked mildly but loud enough to catch his attention. The older trainee stood and opened the door.

Rem, without a word, took the knife out of Randolph’s hand and walked straight to the bed to sit.

“This exactly looked like my knife,” said Rem to Randolph.

“Of course,” Randolph replied. “There is only one design of Swazoki. So mine, Dreyford’s, Tatiana’s and yours are all the same.”

Silence took over.

“Young brother, I know what’s bugging you,” Randolph said. “We always bond at night, we were always together at the shower, and even during our free times. So, I can say, I know you,” Randolph noted mildly punching Rem’s left cheek.

“Uhh? I don’t understand.” Rem replied while looking Randolph acting confused. He was a bad actor.

“Come on! Me too. I also noticed that Marybeth is acting a bit strange from the time she appeared with the bruises all over her and when she found out that you already got your knife. And, it is obvious that you are also bothered with it.”

“Yeah, I think seeing my knife added more frustrations on her part and it doesn’t feel good,” Rem replied. “If I only knew, I wou…”

“Shhhh..” said Randolph while giving Rem a mild tap on his shoulder to interrupt him. “It will never be your fault. Don’t feel bad just because she can’t do the things you can do. Continue with that. I mean, just because one is weaker, one should adjust. That’s why you guys have separated pieces of training because every one of us has our strength and weaknesses, right?!”

Rem nodded realizing Randolph was correct. He shouldn’t be guilty because he did great.

“We are friends here,” Randolph said. “We all have one goal and it is to become a great Arkiman, right? I promise that I will help her go through that training so we can all have our knives.”

Rem smiled.

“Me too. I’ll help her,” said Rem with a bit of enthusiasm.

“Let me change the topic. I don’t know if Mr. Cooney is just too great, or you are just too great?” asked Randolph. “I mean, don’t get me wrong… I’ve been through the first part of the defense shooting and I know it’s hard. During my first time, I felt like it’s raining with knives. Did he hit some of the machines?”

“No. I only asked him to back me up from those machines,” Rem said. “So he did back me up and then I just concentrated in turning those off.”

While Rem was detailing what really happened, which included his counting to estimate the release of knives, Randolph was obviously mesmerized. He even recalled that Jonathan asked him to get his reward by using the ropes telling his methods on how he got on top.

“No way!” said Randolph.

“That’s true, Randolph,” said Rem. “Am I bluffing when I’m telling you what happened?”

“Alright, I believe you. That was quite amazing, “said Randolph, who then noted that they were talking for a few hours already, reminding the younger one that they should be already resting.

“Ok, I’m sleepy too,” replied Rem who stood and gave his brother a bro fist.

“Good night, Rem,” said Randolph to the young man as the latter walked outside.

“Good night, my brother,” said Rem who looked at him while already half-out the room.