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598 Award-Winning Drama

    fThe next morning, after freshening up, Zed stepped into the hall for breakfast. There, Rita and Hansen were sitting with "the family."

    Noticing his arrival, Stina introduced him to his family members. In a polite tone, he greeted Rita, June, and others, and they all responded warmly, even hugging him as if he was their younger brother.

    Though not related by blood to each other, the affections made it seem "the family" was far more perfect than even those related by blood.

    The Ivies proved blood doesn't have to be thicker than the water...

    At least, that was the impression they wanted to give to Zed.

    ...

    In the afternoon, as the family gathered for lunch, Stina asked, "What do you plan to do?"

    It was an open secret that his home was destroyed and that he had to leave Delta City due to the threats there. And while they didn't know the details, they were aware he has no functional relationship with the House of Hestia.

    "I haven't decided," Zed answered.

    Stina nodded, understanding that the threats he had faced gave him no time to plan.

    If it was possible, she wouldn't have wanted him to be associated with The Ivies either since he would draw attention of many powerful factions. But she then thought of the recent developments and felt he couldn't make the situation any worse. They were already in the spotlight due to the attack of that mysterious attacker.

    "We have great academic institutions here," Hansen said while passing him a dish. "Why don't you join the one you like the most?"

    "Thanks, but I have lost interest in studies," Zed replied, slightly embarrassed.

    "You might find girls of your age there!" Rita teased. "Or if you are shy, I can introduce you to my younger friends and help you get a girlfriend or even two!"

    "Even three!" June added.

    "...." Zed flushed at the idea of multiple girlfriends.

    "Don't tease him!" Stina refuted the girls before rubbing Zed's back in motherly affections. "He is a one-woman-for-life man!"

    Ashlyn - who knew him - slightly nodded in agreement of her adopted mother's words.

    She might not understand much about the relationship between men and women, but she knew, Zed was the opposite of his elder brother.

    ...

    For the next four days, Zed stayed in the mansion, enjoying meals that were no less than king's royal feasts.

    The "brothers and sisters" even helped him train by suppressing their powers to his level and going easy on him.

    In the training room, Lebeau launched a rain of diamond shards and Zed jumped in the air, retaliating with a flame tornado. The shards and tornado clashed, and through them, Lebeau chased Zed in the mid-air.

    "Never wait for the first attack to land before you launch another!" Lebeau said as he struck out with his diamond fist.

    With the help of flames, Zed quickly darted his body to the side, but the punch grazed his ribs, slashing through the layers of flames around him.

    His skin tore open, and from the wound, blood gushed out, dyeing his clothes

    "Your defense is weak!" Lebeau pointed out.

    Zed started dropping towards the ground, but he lifted his hand and cast a flame blast. It bombarded on Lebeau's face just as he lowered his head.

    "How dare you!" Lebeau turned berserk.

    Ever since his battle with the mysterious attacker, his face was his reverse scale for he was punched, kicked, and even slammed by a block there!

    Now suffering a flame blast on that same place, that too by a mutant far weaker than him, his eyes surged with murderous rage. Not caring that it wasn't Zed's faults as attacks have no eyes, or that his diamond covering saved him from any real harm.

    Turning into a crystalline beam, he appeared before Zed just as he was about to land. His right hand's knuckles protruded out with spikes and he thrust them at Zed's chest.

    Zed was shocked and he rippled out circles of fire, turning them into a shield. The shield crumbled and the hand moved unhindered.

    Just then, a thread shot through the air, and coiled around the hand, stopping the spikes from piercing Zed.

    "Are you out of your mind?!" June's angry voice followed.

    He was indeed out of the mind as he smacked at Zed with the other hand, this time aiming for his head.

    "Don't take out your frustration on this kid!" Rita appeared behind Lebeau and struck a palm on his back.

    "Argh!" Lebeau cried as his energy surged out of him and flew into Rita. His spikes and diamond skin vanished, and from Rita's palm, a brutal force detonated.

    BAM

    He was blasted into a wall.

    "I'm sorry for his conduct," Rita said as she helped Zed. "Due to some accident, he loses sanity whenever his face is touched."

    "Ah!" Zed nodded, though visibly shocked. Consuming a healing pill, he rushed to Lebeau along with the two women, and apologized, "You have been really good to me, and yet, I offended you in the worst possible way. Please accept my apologies."

    Rita and June were stunned even though they have read a detailed file on him.

    "No wonder Stina feels he could be manipulated perfectly in a week!" June thought. "It wasn't just because of charity!"

    Lebeau suppressed the rage he felt, and with a sorrowful expression, stopped Zed and apologized.

    "Let me face you in this round!" Rita changed the topic. "I will only defend so don't worry!"

    "Yes!" Zed expressed his gratefulness to have a battle experience with a mutant of her ability. "I will try my best!"

    The air before him turned into the color of the fire, and through it, rays of heat swept out, like the rays of sun, melting everything in their path.

    "It is impossible to defeat me! Not even that Alpha could do it!" Rita thought as she absorbed the heat and transformed it into vitality. "Next time I would absorb him! But now, time to train this kid!"

    ...

    ...

    On the fifth day, Lebeau and June fought each other to help Zed learn about different fighting styles. In the heat of battle, as June was about to release multiple threads, her face suddenly turned dark and black blood sputtered out of her mouth.

    "Damn! Another poison backlash!" Lebeau said as he rushed to help June who fell on her knees. "Why does it have to be now when the researchers are on leave?!"

    The threads she released from her body were made of an alien poison. Its lethality was so high that even an Alpha-rank mutant would suffer damage.

    But since the poison was inside her, genetically blended into her very existence, it would sometimes react against her, making her suffer.

    Arriving before June, Lebeau quickly examined her and shouted at Rita.

    "Her condition is bad! Contact help now!"

    Rita swiftly nodded and left to contact emergency personals. Zed - who was shocked- quickly gathered his wits and ran towards June.

    "Please hang on!" Zed said as he took six mechanical orbs from his storage ring.

    "What are you doing---" Lebeau was saying but stopped. The orbs floated above June and released a transparent energy field to wrap her.

    Zed scanned her condition and read the readings on the virtual tablet, and then tapped on the screen, issuing commands.

    Alongside, he took out a few capsules with his eyes reading a sea of genetic data that left Lebeau amazed.

    In record time, June's face brightened and the poison started leaving her face. She was shivering but her condition was gradually improving.

    ...

    Meanwhile, in the secret facilities, a giant screen projected the live stream from the training room.

    "Lebeau's acting skills might be average but he has done his role well!" Stina remarked.

    "His act worked because June's genuinely suffered the backlash!" Hansen said coldly. "Had she taken her regular dose of medicine, the backlash wouldn't have come for a few more weeks!"

    "Well, she has taken a lot of pain for our sake!" Stina praised.

    "Only because it benefits her!" Hansen corrected.

    Stina nodded while observing Zed.

    "He has reacted as we expected! Our efforts weren't in vain!" Stina smirked. "With the stage set, now it is time for him to help Ashlyn!"

    Hansen chuckled.

    He wondered how the poor kid would react when everything was over and learn that his help has pushed his friend into the pit of suffering.

    The tragic irony made him laugh and he hoped he would be able to witness Zed falling into despair.

    ...

    An hour later.

    In June's room, the family looked over June as she slept. Stina and Hansen's expressions were filled with gloom and their eyes red from tears.

    Ashlyn's poker face showed slight traces of sadness, and her gaze moved to Zed.

    "Please don't worry," Zed said while showing her medical scans. "She's fine and will recover soon."

    Ashlyn didn't say anything while Stina and Hansen wiped their tears, and turned towards Zed.

    "I was right! You are God's blessing to us!" Stina wrapped her arms around him. "Thank you for saving my daughter's life!"

    Her acting skills could put award-winning actresses to shame...
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