The elevator from the upper levels had had an amazing view of a great chamber, with multilayered curved stone that glowed from within in a blue tinted hue. The chamber seemed somehow dim and brilliant at the same time. At its heart, there was a great globe of glowing blue, with a gyroscopic construct surrounding it, and imageless projections of blue windows floating in mid air. It was enough to take Ritsuka’s breath away, and make him forget the lingering fatigue that had continued to plague him.
When he sat down at his designated seat for the orientation, though, that fatigue caught him like a snare.
The white haired girl who called herself a Director was talking, but hardly any words reached Ritsuka’s ears. But being Japanese, he had a secret technique that he had mastered on the trains to and from school. The Sleep-Anywhere-No-Jutsu.
With a rigid back and neck, Ritsuka’s head didn’t dip in any direction as he slowly sank partially in REM sleep, letting the words around him sink into his mind just deep enough to know when his stop on the train came up.
“-Animusphere. You have been selected-”
In Ritsuka’s dreaming mind, the chibi orange garbed character from the pamphlet was bouncing around, giving the self important speech.
“-low arguments. You’re all mere tools-”
Whoa, she makes a bad first impression too, calling people she just met a bunch of tools…
“Lineage is the most important asset for a mage! How can you brush it off?”
Okay, that mage eugenicist is kind of a tool. Nevermind.
“-a good example. No argument, no opinion. Good and obedient-”
Sounds like a really boring guy.
“-ther than expanding civilization, we will be the hands of God protecting-”
Oh, yay. God complexes always make things better.
“-Heroic Spirit Summoning System, Fate-”
Wasn’t that in one of the Light Novels my classmate was telling me about?
“-was considered highly classified, but-”
Hmm? Maybe I should have paid attention to that? Oh, well.
“Simply put, it’s time travel-”
With a Delorean…?
“-we’ll send team A, the top 8 scorers, to-”
I wonder how my finals turned out…
“Hey you, the one who was late!”
Oh, she was talking to me?
“You look confused.”
I’m really just drowsy…
“I’ll give you the chance to ask one question.”
Oh, uh, say the first thing that comes to mind!
“Is time travel possible?”
Now that Ritsuka was so close to her he saw that the Director’s hair wasn’t white, per say, but a platinum blond so pale that it may as well have been a kind of dull white. That was what he noticed alongside her sneer at his question. Then she started yammering about something called a singularity, but it took her focus off Ritsuka for a moment…
“What team are you with? …Show me your ID.”
After padding his pockets and realizing he didn’t have his wallet or any other belongings on him, Ritsuka realized he had his ID tag on his chest. He removed it and handed it over to the already quietly fuming platinum haired girl that was about the same age as him. Ritsuka tried smiling sheepishly to alleviate the situation, but there was no chance of it once the girl looked at Ritsuka’s ID card.
“What? You’re in the wrong spot!”
The girl threw Ritsuka’s ID back at him, continuing to yell the entire time.
“A civilian, and with no combat or training experience? Chaldea is much too important to be wasting valuable slots on people like you! Lev,” she called out to the operations people behind the pipe chairs that had been set up for the orientation meeting. “Lev Lainur! Get this amateur out of my sight! Let Romani handle him! At least get some basic training in!”
Feeling completely humiliated, Ritsuka stood up from his seat in the front row, and passed by the cold gazes of the master candidates that had been watching the whole thing. The gaze of the guy that had been sitting next to Ritsuka – a guy with long blond hair and elegance just pouring out of him – was especially cringe inducing.
Even Mr. Lainur seemed to want as little to do with Ritsuka as possible as he pawned him off on Mash as quickly as possible.
* * * * *
Aside from a squirrel-bunny attack that Mash just brushed aside, the journey to Ritsuka’s room was blessedly uneventful.
“Thanks for coming all this way,” said Ritsuka with real gratitude. He’d have never have found the correct pure white unmarked door on the pure white walls without her guidance.
“It’s fine. If you ask me, Senpai, I wouldn’t mind even if it’s treating you to lunch.”
“I might just take you up on that later,” said Ritsuka with a smile on his face that quickly died. “Which team are you on, Mash?”
“First Mission, A-Team. Speaking of which, I’ve got to head back now.”
“Kyu, kyu” chimed the mysterious animal from the floor between Ritsuka’s legs.
“Fou says he’ll look after you, Senpai. That sets my mind at ease. Now, then, I’m off. If we’re lucky, I think we’ll meet again,” said the self proclaimed kouhai to Ritsuka, preparing to turn around and depart.
“No luck about it, Mash. I’m already looking forward to that lunch you promised me, so make sure you come back from the mission safe. Promise?”
Mash was stunned for a moment before the faintest of smiles crossed her lips and she said, “Then I will also look forward to it. I… promise. I will see you later, senpai.”
Mash then turned and departed. Ritsuka watched her go until she’d been lost behind the curve of the facility’s rounded halls. The words Ritsuka’s mother had pestered him with, about finding a girlfriend replayed in his head, causing him to blush lightly before pushing the thought away.
She’s become a lot easier to talk to since she’s gotten use to me, thought Ritsuka, but I shouldn’t think too deeply about it. We’re still complete strangers after all.
Ritsuka pressed the button to open the door to his living quarters in order to get some rest before this Romani guy takes charge of him. The idea of a warm bed had never felt so enticing to Ritsuka before this moment…
“Okay, I’m in here- Wait? Whaaaaaat? Who are you? This is an empty room! It’s where I slack off! Who gave you permission to come in?”
Somehow, it felt like the only person in Chaldea who made a good first impression was Mr. Lainur.