It was around afternoon as the sun still shined brightly in the sky. Our backyard was the best thing about our home in my opinion. Clean, cut grass, clear blue pond, and a small field of flowers around the water's edge. As much as I had missed Rose and Lucas it wasn't as bad since I had this peaceful backyard to spend my days with a nice good book.
I waved to the spirits who splashed playfully in the water as Rose and Lucas fiddled with their SEE. They hadn't gone into much detail earlier so I was interested in what they were going to do.
There seemed to be a dial or something that they could turn and they would be able to choose different options with it.
"Alright, Nathan, Lucas and I are going to show you what a normal battle looks like!" Rose announced.
Both of them drew their weapon and I stood off to the side waiting. Suddenly, an odd feeling came over me. I wasn't sure how to describe it though. Like an aura of sorts blasted out from them and washed over me.
Rose launched herself towards Lucas, her katana ready to stab him straight in the middle of his body. I instinctively tried to look away but didn't want to get caught by Rose, which was scarier than any real battle.
Lucas cooly brought his ax down, intercepting the hit. He quickly raised it and swung full force down onto Rose, who caught the ax in a cross of swings. In some movies I watched the fighters would use shield during battle so they looked really cool just fighting with their one weapon.
Both of their brows had been narrowed in concentration and I doubted the heat helped at all. Their weapons crossed again and Lucas quickly tossed his ax to the side.
Then, to my immense shock, he picked Rose up and thew her into the pond.
The spirits quickly melted into the water and scattered away.
Rose submerged from the water, laughing.
"No fair! I was going to get you in here first!" Lucas laughed right back at her.
"I knew you were planning that. Edging closer and closer to the water like I wouldn't even notice." He snorted.
Two peas in a pod... I thought to myself. I really loved the both of them and seeing them like this brought back so many memories.
"So..." I started, "When in doubt, throw your opponent into a body of water?" Rose rolled her eyes.
"If it works then it isn't a problem." She said.
"Aaaaand you're wide open!" She yelled out triumphantly to Lucas.
She swung her katana, clearly slashing through his exposed neck.
I cried out but no blood or anything like that appeared anywhere on him thankfully. Instead, the SEE simply turned off.
"By the way, once you're a year two student you can buy different colors SEEs in shops around Aquablue if you want." Rose said. That was good to know, as I knew a black and blue one would be right up my alley.
Lucas took his SEE off and handed it to me.
"Since I lost I want you to try a test trial with this against Rose."
I looked at it apprehensively. "So I just hook this around my ear and it'll extend when the fight between Rose and I start?"
He nodded. "Put it on and you'll see."
I put it on and I didn't notice any immediate changes to my vision. I turned the dial and a main menu-like bar popped up.
I caught a few words before finding Battle. Sleep, Games, Info, Options... it was super cool.
"We were taught that the SEE was created by the gods in an effort to be more 'in-tune' with the demigods of today. Lucas told me.
It's...something." I said. I noticed a part that read CREDITS: $19.99 on the top right corner.
"What's this credits section?" I asked.
"Oh, that's how much I have to spend in Aquablue and Trifecta." He said. "You can earn more through good grades, ranking high on the leaderboard, or general services to the school."
Rose fiddled with her SEE and a notification popped up in my peripheral vision. I accepted the challenge and felt the same odd aura feeling as earlier. It probably takes a bit to get used to.
I took the knives out of my pocket and unwillingly and held them at my sides, pointed at Rose.
"Hm, we need to get you two sheaths for your knives." She said. That was the last thing I was going to disagree with.
I looked around. "I don't see any difference after clicking yes either."
"Look closer at Rose," said Lucas.
I narrowed my eyes and analyzed her appearance. She looked the same but behind her was what looked like ten small bright green lights.
"Long story short, if you lose all ten dots or if you're knocked out you lose." Rose said.
"Alright, GO!" Lucas shouted.
"Wha-" I started. But Rose, quick as lightning, lunged at me the same way she did to Lucas. The katana neatly stabbed me in the middle of stomach and I nearly cried out.
However, the group of ten at the top of vision lost three dots. That system seemed a little random but that didn't stop me from nearly having a panic attack at the weapon that was sticking out of my gut.
The pain was there but it felt extremely nuanced. Maybe there was a pain dial? I clumsily stumbled backward and tripped over my own feet. My face reddened but I didn't want to embarrass myself anymore in front of them.
I ducked under a horizontal slash and swung my knives wildly out in front of me, hoping to catch her once or something.
Rose easily sidestepped my "attack" and with a snort of laughter she was behind me, already swinging downward. Three more dots lost.
"Try to keep up with her Nate!" Lucas said.
I huffed, trying to keep my breath steady. "I-I don't have your guys' stamina." I said.
"C'mon Nate, try to match my movements instead." Rose said kindly.
I tried but it just wasn't coming to me naturally. Were they as good as this when they first started? I could feel my embarrassment growing but I tried to follow along with Rose's movements.
All in all, a few more hours had passed and by the end of it I wanted to go in with a nice cup of water a board game for the three of us to play.
I trained with Lucas too but didn't fare any better.
"It has only been one day Nate, don't worry," Lucas told me. All three of us were sweating pretty badly and the moon had come to replace the sun.
"Ah, I better head home guys." Lucas said sadly.
"Oh, tell them we said hi!" I told him. Mr. and Mrs. Hale we seriously like a second set of parents to Rose and I.
"Be here first thing tomorrow Lucas!" Rose told him.
He smiled in response. "You guys know it!" He walked through our backyard and through the fence that blocked his own.
"Wait...I think he left his suitcase in the living room." I said.
Rose patted me on the back. "Come on, let's head in and start dinner."
We headed to the kitchen a cool blast of AC hit me in the face. Dad must've turned it on while we were outside. Wile I went to the sink to wash up it struck me at just how dependent on Rose and Lucas I'd been for the past few, well, years.
They'd never complain at any mention of me not keeping up and would just push me to work harder and do the best that I could do. I was surprised that they never left me in the dust all those years ago. Being a shy kid, meeting Lucas was a miracle in itself.
My eyes grew daydreamy as I thought back to that day but Rose snapped her fingers in front of me and handed me an empty pot to fill with water.
"Let's go! I'm famished!" She said.
I smiled and filled the pot up quickly. It looked like Dad had gotten a sandwich to eat while we were outside as well thankfully.
Some time passed and we sat down at the dinner table together with two bowls of macaroni and cheese.
"So, how was your year at Trifecta?" I asked.
"It was super fun! So many pranks, fights with Yvonne, and rank climbing kept the both of us pretty busy." She said.
"I don't know you and him can just do that so easily, the fighting." I said.
Rose shrugged, her mouth full of food. "Just came to us easily, I guess. Trifecta put a ton of importance on them and it fit us like a glove." She said.
"I wish it did just as easily for me." I groaned.
"It's like what Lucas said earlier, you'll get the hang of it in time. Besides, there's five years of Trifecta ahead of you! Not many 14-year olds get to fight like that for credits every day!" She said.
"Sorry for getting mopey, you're right. Hanging out with you and Lucas in itself is super fun anyway." I said apologetically.
We finished eating and as I was gathering the dishes she snapped her fingers again.
"That reminds me, we'll need to start thinking out your schedule too." That definitely held my interest.
"Do you think they have a good English class and library?" I asked excitedly.
"Maybe, but we're going to sign you up for Fights and Training so you'll have a class with Lucas and me." She said.
"I will. These classes at Trifecta sound so cool."
Rose smiled. "I'm happy you're excited." She said. "We missed you too while we were gone y'know."
"I-I missed you guys too." I said. I didn't know what else to do except hurry to the sink and start doing the dishes.
Rose laughed. "Aw, did you miss your best friends a lot?" She teased.
"Yeah, but you don't have to rub it in..." I said. She chuckled in response.
"I'll make it up to you tomorrow, okay?"
I put the dishes on the drying rack. "You don't have to do that. Just you two being home is enough for me." I said.
"Yeah, yeah.. but I want to." She said. "Besides, going into the city tomorrow will find you a new friend, I'm sure of it!" I wished I had as much confidence in that as she and Lucas did.
I headed to my nice cool room and as I settled into my bed I heard my phone buzz.
It was a text from Lucas that only said a simple good night but it warmed me up to see.
I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Tomorrow was going to be a great day.