The young Amazons were already waiting for us when we arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were all gathered together, just a few weeks ago, they would have been separated into small groups, but they have been united under my tutelage. They saw me and moved to form a single line, waiting for me. I felt their surprise at seeing both Kimball and Spike walking with me, but most of them decided to ignore them, at least for the moment.
“Is good to see all of you, and I’m glad that none of you suffered any harm during the war. I know some of you got to be in battle, some of you didn’t have the opportunity, but all of you did your part to win the war and I’m proud of you.” I felt Spike’s feelings, he was uncomfortable with the talk, he was on the losing side after all. “I heard that you were desperate to continue my training, and I wonder why.
“It’s because we need to be stronger,” Euryleia said. She was the one that had been the most active during the battle, she had a lot of resentment to get out of the way, and she did that by killing as many Militaries as possible. “The war was worse than we imagined, we lost a lot of people in the battles. We are Amazons, we are supposed to be stronger, faster, better, but many of our people died during battle. We could have done more, we need to be able to do more.”
“Many Clans think they are better than others, many groups proclaim their superiority over others, but is not just a matter of saying you’re better. Is true that some Clans have advantages over others, but at the end of the day we are all the same. Discipline and training: that’s what is going to give you the true advantage, and you are on the right track here, you are not better than others because you are an Amazon, you can be better if you train more than your enemies. My mother used to say that there is always someone stronger than you. That no matter what you could never let your guard down, because no matter who you are or what your power is, there is someone that can defeat you.”
“Even you? Are you saying that there is someone better than you?” Molpadia asked.
“For years I had to face warriors far stronger than me,” for a moment I felt the memories of those dark times surround me, trying to cut, to destroy. I felt Areto’s singular power around me and forced myself to block her reading. “I didn’t have an easy life, I was weak once, and many people took advantage of that fact. It took me years of training and effort to become who I am now. I built a better self so I would never be at the mercy of others. Because of that it’s been years since I have found someone capable of defeating me, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no one capable of that. I think that my mother’s lesson is that you can’t take anything for granted, you need to keep working to be a better version of yourself.”
“So how do we start? What new trick are you going to teach us today?” Ainia, one of Euryleia’s sisters, asked.
“Today we won’t be doing any actual training, I want to take this time to talk about your experiences in battle. After that I will decide how to move forward.”
“And here I was thinking that you have brought your new slave to give us an opportunity to beat the crap out of a Military.”
I knew that the Amazons were always willing to hurt a man without remorse, and I knew that sparring with Kimball was a frustrating exercise for them, because they were unable to hurt him, most of the time they couldn’t even touch him. For them, having Spike, was an opportunity for redemption, they felt like he was going to be an easy target.
During the rest of the week I kept Spike out of their training, and Kimball kept driving them crazy with his ability to dodge all of their attacks. The next week I decided it was time to let Spike show what he was capable of.
Spike spent most of the time watching the Amazons, analyzing and planning. Despite his efforts to hide his thoughts I could see that he was actually impressed by the Amazons. While the Amazons were doing their warm ups I decided we have waited long enough, since the day before they had practiced with weapons, it was time for close combat and for Spike to spar with them.
“Spike, I think is time for them to see what a Military is capable of. I want you to be their sparring partner today.”
“Me?” I had caught Spike in a moment of distraction, and his voice had betrayed more emotion than what he would like to show.
“Poor baby,” Areto mocked him, “the Military slave is afraid of the big, bad Amazons.”
“I’m not scared,” Spike raised to his whole height and threw his shoulders back, trying to appear bigger than he was. He was still a teenager, he still needed to grow into his adult body, the Amazons on the other hand have all already reached their final heights, even young Ainia was taller than him.
“You can lie all you want, but I always know the truth.” Areto said.
“You would be scared too if you were the only Amazons in the middle of a group of Militaries. Don’t mock him for being afraid, Areto, is not fear that makes you weak, is how you handle it. You have to learn not to underestimate your enemies.” Areto dismissed my words, but I knew that I wouldn’t affect her way of thinking with just a few words. Her power made her able to read people, and she never doubted her power or her readings. “Why don’t you start? Spike, your first opponent will be Areto.”
“This will be fun.” Areto smiled and walked to the area we had delimited for training, it was just a circle on the ground, the first one out would be the loser.
Spike went to the circle without a word, but he was glancing at me. As soon as he entered the circle Areto attacked. She was trying to take him by surprise, but his quick reflexes helped him to dodge in time.
‘Don’t hold back, I want you to fight with all you have, don’t be afraid to hurt her, I won’t be mad if you do.’ I told Spike telepathically when I saw he wasn’t attacking, just defending. I felt his doubts lifting, Areto did too, but she didn’t interpret the change in him correctly, she thought he was giving up.
Spike started to fight back, Areto had the advantage because her power warned her when he decided to fight back. She couldn’t read his mind, she didn’t know what his plan was, but he knew what his intention was, that allowed her to know when to defend, when to attack. For a few minutes it seemed like Areto had the absolute advantage, she was just toying with Spike, but she was making the mistake I knew most of them was going to make, she was underestimating her enemy.
Spike was a smart boy, he was methodical and patient, and he was analysis everything that was going on. Unlike Areto, I was able to read his mind, I knew exactly was he was planning, and I knew that his movements had a purpose, he had a plan. Spike learned Areto’s fighting style and prepared his attack. Spike attacked and then retreated, as he was dodging her attacks, he started to grow some spikes on his knuckles, something to cut and tear his enemies’ flesh. Areto didn’t notice his plan, she continued attacking, not knowing he had a new plan. Spike threw a punch and Areto used her arm to block, but as his fist made contact, his new spikes tore into her flesh, she screamed, part in shock and part in pain. As she tried to make sense of what was going on, he tried to punch her in the stomach, but she reacted in time and using one of the tricks that Kimball has used on her countless times, she moved to the side and used his own inertia to push him outside the circle.
“What happened?” Molpadia was the first one to ask.
“I’m not really sure.” Areto was taking her jacket off so she could see her injury. Blood was coming out of four cuts, half an inch deep.
“How? Did he cheat?” Euryleia examined the cuts.
“It’s not cheating if he is using his powers to fight, like is not cheating if you use yours.” Kimball said.
All of them turned to Spike, moving around him until he was surrounded by them. Spike had been smiling, happy about being able to hurt her, even if she had thrown him out, but his smile disappeared when he saw the angry Amazons around him.
“What is that?” Euryleia was the first one to notice the spikes protruding out of his knuckles.
“It looks a little like your mother’s power,” Molpadia pointed out.
“Not really, mom’s power is the ability to strengthen her hair and nails, making them act as a layer of protection, but that looks as if he had grown nails on his knuckles,” Ainia pointed out.
“Hair and nails are made of the same material, you could say that Spike’s power is a different manifestation of your mother’s ability. Don’t forget that you all have the same DNA, is not that strange that you share some similitudes.” Kimball said.
“Yes, don’t forget you are all family, Spike is your cousin, and I know that you don’t consider males part of the family, but just because you don’t recognize it, it doesn’t mean it’s not true. You can think he is not as good as you or whatever idea you have, but at the end you have to consider that he has the same potential as Molpadia, as they share the same parents. I hope you remember what a great potential can mean when properly developed.”
They all got really quiet, my words had really got them thinking. Before I arrived to their territory, Molpadia was just a joke to them, a warrior, not even worth the title of heiress, but once we discovered her power and realized her potential, things had changed. We have taught her how to use her power and transformed her from an ok warrior, into a powerful one.
“But he is just a man…” even young Ainia wasn’t as convinced as before, after sparring with Kimball she had learned that even slaves could be strong and capable. Not one of them had been able to defeat Kimball, something that frustrated them.
“What are you trying to say Pitonisa?” Molpadia asked. I could feel she wasn’t happy, she was actually jealous. “Are you going to start training him too? A slave?”
“I am curious as to what he is capable of, but I know that training him, like I trained you, would be a waste of my time, you are the future leader of this Clan, and he has nothing to lead.” At my words Spike’s plans floated to the surface of his mind, I could see everything he had been planning. Areto was listening too, but she couldn’t see his thoughts the same way I did, she knew his intentions, but not how he was going to do it. For the moment he was planning on keep learning as much as he could from the Amazons, but he wasn’t ready to throw his legacy, he was the true leader of the Militaries and wanted to get his Clan back.
“I just don’t get it Pitonisa, why do you even bother? The Militaries are history, he should be dead like all the others.” Euryleia said.
“Well, I don’t need you to get it, and I don’t need your approval. I can and will do whatever I want with him. Spike will be part of your training, and he will show you what a Military can do, he is the heir after all and not a person you should underestimate. Maybe with time you will learn a thing or two from him. Maybe you will even understand why I’m doing what I’m doing.” Some of them weren’t happy with my words, some of them didn’t care, and that was an improvement. “So, who’s next?”
“I am!” Little Ainia moved forward. “I want to see how his power works against mine,” she added with a smile. Ainia’s power allowed her to fortify her skin, making it up to three times stronger than normal skin. She used that power against her mother successfully, she was confident she could use it against Spike.
Spike fought with all of the young Amazons under my tutelage. He was able to defeat young Ainia, but she insisted it wasn’t really his victory, she had tripped and Spike had taken advantage of that to sent her outside the circle. All the others Amazons had managed to defeat him, but none of the fights had been easy for them, each victory was won by hard work and none of the Amazons had got away without injuries. Even Molpadia had a hard time fighting the boy, because he surprised us by being able to “see” sound, or more accurately, he could feel the vibrations and get away from her attacks and away from danger.
By the end of the day Spike had managed to win the respect from most of them, helping me complete the first part of my plan. The young Amazons had started to see Spike as something more than a slave, they were realizing he was a warrior. With a little more time they would accept him as someone deserving of respect, and maybe in the future even as part of their family.