With the meeting adjourned, Zayn returned to his squad while nursing a lump in his chest. Zayn was now a household name, everyone knew that Squad 4’s combat instructor was a superpowered, invincible bad*ss. Even the instructor of the Wolf’s Fang squad was no match for him.
Wherever he went, no one dared to look down on him.
His arrival was always accompanied by enthusiastic, venerating greetings of, “Sergeant Larson!” Even Squad 4’s position within the organization had improved.
Upon meeting his underlings, Zayn kept his inner conflict under wraps and began training the soldiers.
Thanks to his coaching, Squad 4 had vastly improved as a whole, so much so that it had progressed from being the weakest link of the collective to towering above Squad 3. They were no longer the targets of mockery and jeers, and with that change of status came undying gratitude and reverence towards Zayn.
Had it not been for him, they would have continued living in shame.
Zayn coached them for three consecutive days. He left the Insurgent Trifecta the day after, departing to Waltz City for his very last period of isolation training. Before that, however, he made sure to bring Faye on a full-day vacation.
There was a dark cloud of gloom that hung over them throughout the time that was spent. Despite using his new powers to halt the degeneration of Faye’s body, he could only sit back and watch as her life force was siphoned away with each passing moment.
She was left with only one-third of her vitality. Her condition had deteriorated so much that she was like a balloon; one with an unseen pinprick hole that gradually whittled her life away, no matter how much vitality Zayn pumped into her.
At that rate, it would only be a month before Faye’s life force was completely drained.
The day that it happened would be the day she was no longer tethered to the world.
It was the reason why failure was not an option. He had to succeed!
Zayn’s isolation training had begun.
He had locked himself in a tightly-sealed space without water, light, and food. Even the air was limited enough that it could only sustain a normal person for three days. No extra oxygen would be supplied into the room after three days, and the inhabitant would die shortly after.
Zayn had truly stacked his hopes on rising above these extreme adversities, believing that creation arose from destruction.
Researchers had performed experiments centered on sensory-deprived isolation in the past. Subjects were given light, sustenance, and nothing else. It bereft them the grasp on the passing of time. Only a few lasted more than two days, and none as long as a week. It was a distressing end for even more distressed subjects, because the thinking brain required stimulation and interaction, which an extremely enclosed space was lacking.
In the absence of external stimulation came an attack on a human’s psyche. Without an indomitable will of almost inhuman proportions, one would rarely survive for so long.
Zayn’s goal was to survive for more than a week. He was going to stay there for eleven days! It would be a momentous challenge, even for someone of his caliber.
In fact, the grueling intensity of his current training triumphed over the one he had faced back when he was training on the cliff.
Because there were now stakes. They were crushing weights on his shoulders, demanding him to either make it… or break it.
How was Zayn supposed to remain calm and enter the serene state of the Void with demons consuming his thoughts? There was not enough air in the room for him to breathe normally.
The moment he stepped into the room, he felt as though he had sunken into an entirely different dimension. There was nothing but darkness. There was no light! There was no sound, there was a stifling, foreboding, terrifying absence of any sound!
There was only him!
Then came the sounds scratching against that silence. Each time grew louder and louder, despite being so soft in comparison to the world outside.
Zayn started to hear his breathing. He could hear his heart beating.
And that was when his supposedly diamond-hard mental fortitude began to crack.