Mac looked for Bluster while he was getting his food, but once again, Buster was cozied up to Xela, and it put Mac into a foul mood. He found a corner of an empty table and kept his gaze on his food until his plate was empty. Without really seeing his surroundings, he went and put his plate away and meandered his way back to the classroom. When he walked in, he saw that the benches had been pushed to the edges of the room. He grinned to himself, because he was pretty sure that this meant they were going to do something physical. He needed it to let his pent up stress and frustration out.
Regis stood at the front of the room, looking over something on his podium. Other than the instructor, no one else was there. Mac cleared his throat as he came a little further into the room. Regis looked up and smiled at him.
“Welcome back. I hope you had a good meal, because you’ll need all the energy that you have.” A gleam went through his eyes.
“I did have a good meal, and I’m looking forward to some exercise.” Regis smiled, somewhat condescendingly at Mac, but the young bunny was so riled up already that he didn’t catch the context of the smile. More bunnies began to come back into the room, and Regis turned his attention away from Mac.
“Welcome back, class! For the afternoon session, I’m going to make you sweat a little. Look at it this way, every night when you go to bed, you’ll go to sleep almost instantly, or you didn’t work hard enough.” Adrenaline pumped through Mac, giving him a little bit of tunnel vision. “Now, I have a bucket of training staves over here, and I want you all to come grab one.” The bloodlust that had started in Mac deflated. Training staves? He was joking, right? Each and every one of these bunnies had weapons on them, and they were the best weapons suited for each bunny. What the hell were they going to do with training staves? Mac took a minute to look around, and he saw that quite a few of their faces were showing what he was thinking. He took little to no comfort in the fact that he wasn’t alone, however, because the instructor was the one calling the shots, so it didn’t really matter what they thought of the situation. A flash of white caught Mac’s eye, and he looked over to see Tiger eyeing the staves hungrily.
A flurry of movement started the line of bunnies moving towards the staves, and Mac grumbled under his breath as he joined it. He took a staff and found an empty place in the corner to stand. Regis was the last to make his way to the staves, and he picked one up deftly, setting it to spinning in his paws. There were a few appreciative looks, but no one said anything.
“One of the things you’re going to learn here at the Academy, is how to use any weapon. I know you all have your own personal weapons that distinguish you in your Clans, but while you’re here, you have no Clan. You will learn the best of every Clan, forging yourself fresh in the way of the warrior.” There was a slew of muttering, and Mac understood completely. Staves were for young bunnies playing in the mud. He felt like they were telling him he was a child, and that he had no skills to boast of at all. It angered him and set him stewing in resentment. If that’s what the instructors wanted, then that was what they would get. Mac was angry and he would show them just how great he could be at playing soldier with a toy staff.
Regis began to call out names, pairing them together for some initial sparring before they started to learn attack sequences. Bluster was with Xela, and Mac ground his teeth together. He’d made a friend, who happened to become his roommate, only to lose him to the one female in the bunch. He was livid. He barely looked up when his name was called, and when he learned he was being paired with Tiger, he grinned. It looked like he would be getting some revenge on somebody at least for the way things were turning out. Tiger’s red eyes flashed in anticipation, and it sent a small chill down his back. Maybe he’d have a little harder time of it than he’d thought. Regis blew a whistle and the room exploded into movement.
Tiger took the offensive and immediately started banging away at Mac with his staff. It caught Mac by surprise, because he didn’t really think that anyone was going to go all out with these feeble chunks of wood. He learned very quickly that he was going to have to be on his toes with Tiger, and he quickly started to treat the situation as if he were fighting an enemy out in the wild. Mac started watching every move that Tiger made, cataloging it all in his mind, letting his brain calculate a weakness from what he saw. Unfortunately, so far, he hadn’t found one, and he was doing his best just to block the blows coming his way. Tiger never had to go on the defensive, because he was constantly whacking away at Mac. That had to change, if he had any chance of winning this fight. Biting his lip, Mac planted his left foot, bouncing around on the ball of his right. He used the staff to poke and prod at Tiger, making the other bunny take a few steps back. He couldn’t understand where the fight in Mac had come from. He took a few more steps back, trying to put some distance between them, and that was when Mac struck. He feinted a jab that made Tiger duck and put his staff up high to block, then dug the end of the staff into the ground, using it to propel himself forward with a flying kick. Mac’s feet landed squarely on Tiger’s chest, and it sent the white bunny flying into another pair of sparring bunnies, who, almost as one, turned on the newcomer and began to fight him. Mac chuckled low in his throat, feeling a little satisfaction. His gaze caught Regis’ and he sobered quickly. There was disappointment in his gaze, and Mac was surprised at how badly that look made him feel.
He went forward and helped Tiger fight his way out of the joint battle, so they could continue to spar in piece. Tiger didn’t look happy. He had a split lip, and a shadowy bruise under one eye. Mac knew that he hadn’t given them to him, but he did feel guilty for putting the bunny in harm’s way like that. He wanted to apologize, but part of his was reveling in the fact that he’d made someone else hurt. It was a darkness that popped up inside of him sometimes, and he’d always fought not to let it out. Now, he felt like it might be a weapon that he could hone and use for the future. He let it consume him, and lunged at Tiger. Tiger’s eyes blazed with fury, and Mac grinned at him. The white bunny was shaking with anger, and that made Mac happy. Anger clouded the mind, and that meant that Tiger would make mistakes. Mac was ready for him, and a deadly calm spread through him, like a hunter who operated only on instincts. Tiger started an attack sequence, but Mac could see what it was a mile away and was ready. Tiger’s left paw shot forward, bringing the end of the staff swinging for Mac’s nose, but the latter dropped down to a knee and swung his own staff, catching Tiger behind the knee and making the bunny topple backwards. Mac was back on his feet, staff in a ready position, waiting for Tiger to regain his feet.
Tiger’s face was flushed, but Mac didn’t know if it was from anger or embarrassment, because he was losing every match he had with Mac. Mac, on the other hand, was beginning to enjoy himself. The more he let the darkness inside him fill him up, the sharper his senses were and the more he was anticipating his opponent’s moves. Nothing Tiger did got past Mac’s defenses, and no matter how mad he got, or how hard he hit, Tiger couldn’t touch Mac. Mac was focused on his opponent so completely that he didn’t even notice when the closest pairs of partners started to turn their attention towards the pair battling in the middle of the room. It didn’t take long for all other fights to cease, and all eyes in the room to be on the pair of bunnies who were taking their practice just a little too seriously. Regis was stunned by what he saw in front of him. The bunny that they’d let in two years ahead of his time was proving his worth. He didn’t seem to be breaking a sweat, while the white bunny was giving it all he had, and he was making no headway at all. The worst part for Tiger, was that Mac didn’t even seem to be giving him as much effort as he was putting in. No sweat beaded his brow or matted his fur, and he seemed almost bored with what he was doing.
“Hold!” Regis’ voice rang out, and Mac didn’t even hear it. He only saw that Tiger’s attention now went elsewhere, and that allowed him to put the darkness back in its cage. He straightened, blinking, not really remembering the details of the last few minutes. Everyone was looking at Regis, and now Mac followed their gaze. “I can see that no ground will be given here today, so I will dismiss the class.” Mac still wasn’t quite sure what Regis was talking about, because he’d been on such a primal, basic level while he was in the dark cloud, that he couldn’t even think consciously. The bunnies formed a line to put their staves back in the barrel that they’d been in at the beginning of class. Everyone gave Mac a wide berth, but he didn’t care. He’d gotten through the class, and he’d won his matches against Tiger. As far as he was concerned, he had done well in class today. They were released for the day, and Mac decided he would just go back to his room and shower before dinner. He felt oddly at piece, and had nothing better to do. He didn’t really care to do anything, and nothing was weighing on his mind. It was a good feeling, and he hoped that he could continue to have days like this.
“Mac!” A voice rang out behind him, and he recognized it as Bluster’s. He turned and smiled at the bunny, not even holding it against him that he’d spent all his time with Xela today.
“Hey, Bluster. What’s up?” Mac’s tone was cordial, and it confused Bluster. He could tell that Mac had been in a foul mood earlier, and he knew why, but he’d been staying with Xela because other bunnies were beginning to bully her, and he was doing his best to help protect her. He’d wanted to explain it to Mac, but Mac hadn’t come near him at all. He was confused at the change in Mac’s demeanor, and wanted to ask about it, but he didn’t want to push his luck.
“What are you doing right now?”
“I was heading for a shower.”
“Well, if you want to meet up with me for dinner, just come find me when you’re done.” Mac smiled at him, and it sent Bluster a red flag for some reason that he couldn’t explain.
“Yeah, sure. I’ll come find you.” The gleam in Mac’s eyes was something Bluster hadn’t seen before, and he didn’t know if he wanted Mac to meet him for dinner or not.