Age of Ember
After the energetic yet powerful words of the Principal faded, the void of silence was quickly filled with whispers and murmurs. The new students had just come to the realization as to the reason why every seat was placed into pairs. They began to gauge each other, and there were those who were wracked with self doubt as to whether or not they can beat their opponent next to them. A palpable tension was in the air, mixed with fear and excitement. Landon chuckled to himself- A smile crept across his face. He stood up from his seat and walked away with a knowing grin of the situation that had just unfolded.
“I see nothing to worry about. It's not like there is any reason they should be mad I didn't stick around to watch.” He pushed his glasses closer to his eyes using his middle and ring finger.
“Landon! Do you know what's going on here?” A fellow classmate who stands blocking the door from the upper floor with a slender frame shouted, her soft voice betraying her. She began barraging him with questions.“Every other year it was just a skill and knowledge test that you had to pass.” She said matter of factly. “So why is it we're having a student vs student battle this year?” She swept her crimson red hair aside from her pale skinned face. Landon looked askance at her.
“You don't think Victor will fail do you?” Landon knew this girl very well; an honor student who skipped past 3 grades and got into this school with flying colors. “Kris... Kris Valentine, you must have zero faith in your boyfriend's abilities.”
Kris pressed her lips tightly together, her eyes lowered to the floor sheepishly. “I do, bu-...”
Before she could finish Landon interjected. “Don't be so timid.” He said coldly, his eyes fixated on her coral blue eyes. The uneasy moment was quickly put to rest when they both heard footsteps approaching from around the corner. A female with golden cat-like eyes, fangs that peek from the corners of her mouth, and sky-blue hair with purple fading into the ends; walks up to Landon, pressing her c cup chest against him. She stands onto her toes and kisses him on the cheek; then whisper in his ear, teasingly. “You can't be so grim to everyone we're close to.”
Landon's heart begins to beat faster and faster as their eyes met. He loses a bit of his composure and was left with a lost for words. Before he could snap out of it, she walks away and his eyes follows her shapely, slim figure before she disappears through the door. Kris stood dumbfounded to what had transpired. “Who was that?” she asked; still quite astonished.
“Oh... I don't know how to explain her just yet, but her name is, Diamond.”
Meanwhile back at the arena. Sarah has been analyzing her opponent, Shakera. She fidgets with her ring on her finger nervously as she turmoils internally. She has only ever trained with her family and fought monsters. She doubted her strength. “I can't disappoint now...” She tries to reassure herself, but her lack of conviction made her apprehensive. “Ugh, what was I thinking; I'm not ready for this at all.” Sarah didn't realize during her internal struggle that Shakera stood before her. She was taken aback by her sudden appearance, but she remained silent.
“Let's have fun” Shakera said soothingly, although Sarah could tell her words were a facade to hide her true murderous intent.
An announcer steps onto a platform; with mic in hand, a slight bit of feedback was heard from the loudspeakers that bordered the entire arena. “All participants, please enter the battlegrounds.” The students began to congregate onto the grounds. Odrian walks far ahead into the crowd, thinking about how he has to defeat his newfound acquaintance. He is reminded of how cold the world can be. The announcer returns on the speaker. “Again, when all the students are inside the arena we will begin.” The last of them made their way in and a 1 foot thick metal door closes behind them. “Here are the official rules.”
“Rule number 1: No killing your enemy.”
“Rule number 2: You may only eliminate one person. Elimination is either through K.O, inability to continue fighting, or forfeit. If the person you have eliminated was not your established opponent, you will have to sit and wait hoping someone eliminates them for you”
“Rule number 3: You are free to use your abilities and Kogane, however you see fit.”
He then explained the different zones to the students; there is a Water Zone, filled with fish and non-lethal aquatic life. A Volcanic Zone, with oppressive heat and lava flow. A Forest Zone, populated with large trees and undergrowth. And finally, a City Zone; with towering sky scrappers and modern houses. “When the bell rings, the battle will begin, you will have 30 minutes to defeat your opponent. Once your opponent falls, you pass and will no longer need to fight, so be careful with who you take out, because if your opponent and you remain once the time runs up, you both will fail.” A countdown timer started at 10 seconds. All of the students stood still in wait as it counted down; 3... 2... 1, a loud horn blared out of the speakers and as soon as it happened the students scattered to the zones they believe best suited their strengths. It wasn't long before people were already being eliminated. Sarah pulled herself together.
“I have an idea. Shakera, will no doubt hunt me down, she seems the type, so she will come to me.” she discerned to herself.“This can work.” Her intuition told her that Shakera was hot on her trail, but Sarah anticipated this. She heads to the forest zone to enact her plan. Shakera was growing tired of playing cat and mouse and her patience was wearing thin.
“I know you're aware that I'm chasing you! Quit running already. I knew the second I laid eyes on you, you were just some scared little girl who was in over her head.” Sarah disappeared into the brush out of sight. “Tch... hiding won't save you!” she yelled disparagingly. “Come on out! There is nowhere for you to run.”
Sarah taps into her Illusionary Forux and turns an unsuspecting student she spotted out in the open beyond the brush, into a mirror image of herself. Shakera scaled one of the trees in order to get a vantage point of the ground below, and soon spots Sarah. “Hmph! Amateur...” she sneered, activating her Forux; Arrow of Affliction. She fires the shot into Sarah's back causing her to double over in pain. Shakera hops down from the tree triumphantly and approaches Sarah. “See? Easy win... Now forfeit; if you don't, time will only just increase the pain.” Sarah screams in pain, but manages to stammer out; “R-Rebound....”
“Rebound?” As soon as Shakera questioned it, she was immediately wracked with pain. “Gah! You're Forux... turned my attack... against me?” It wasn't long until the pain became too much to bear. “God damn it all! I- I forfeit...” Shakera choked out in defeat.
The announcer calls out the next batch of names who have failed and the one among them was Shakera. “Shakera has failed.”
“This wasn't how it was supposed to go!!!” she uttered in exasperation. She snaps her head back to look at Sarah, but to her surprise an illusion slowly dissipated to reveal another student other than Sarah, who had fainted shortly after using his Forux. “An illusion?!” Sarah steps out from another illusion.
“What can I say, you're an easy win.” She gloated.
"Also I would never run from someone like you my brothers would never allow it"
“Sarah has passed.” The announcer broadcasted. Sarah was elated by the news and quite pleased with herself; she being the first of the three to pass.“Hah! Did you see that? I'm so smart aren't I?” She prances by Victor and Odrian.“Okay, I'mma head out now.” Victor has always been the competitive type and after seeing Sarah get her win he was pumped. He summons his Kogane and within his hand a giant shield wrapped in chains; with bladed edges and a metal dragons head in it's center; it's gaping maw protruding from it, and hidden within it's maw was a cannon.
“Oh I like this. I like this a whole lot.” He inspects his shield in content. He then glances to Odrian. “You're not going to summon yours, Odrian?”
“Naw, I don't want to push my luck just yet. Yours is cool though.”
“Yeah, you're right; we can't have another middle school event.” Victors eyes start to glow. “Looks like they found him.” Odrian notices the chains from Victors shield has dug into the ground below, they were pulled taut and began surfacing. The chains raised from the ground, leading all the way to the Water Zone; they snaked around, as if they were alive, reeling in their catch. A young student was pulled into view, struggling to break free; the chains writhing around him, restricting his movement. His opponent was then pulled into range and the mouth on his shield began crackling with energy. The shield drew in more power within it's epicenter, forming a large ball of condensed energy.
“I wish you gave me a challenge.” Was all his opponent could hear, before the deafening roar of his shield fired it's charged blast at point blank range, sending him careening through the air until eventually falling onto the ground unconscious.
“Victor has passed.” The announcer declared.
Victor heard his name among others who have also passed and released an exhale of approval. “Odrian, looks like you're up.”
Odrian raises his energy level heads towards the forest zone, where he saw his target last enter. He takes to the trees to cover more ground as he uses his senses to get a read on Shane's location based on his aura. Shane wasn't trying to hide, in fact he intentionally made his presence known for Odrian to find him. Odrian falls backward from atop the tree line, plummeting head first to the forest floor below, but just before hitting the ground he creates a white hole at the base of the tree; launching him forward at break neck speed, closing in on Shane's location. Shane was sitting on a tree stump patiently waiting.
“Took you some time to find me.” Shane taunted. “I wasn't even trying to hide.” He chuckled. Odrian paid no attention to his taunting.
“I wasn't aware it was up to me to find you.” Odrian responded flippantly.
“Oh well, regardless, I need to get in this school; not only will my family and I get a chance at a better life...” He closed his eyes as a debauched grin spread across his face. “But can you imagine all the girls that will notice me?!” He exclaimed perversely. Odrian recoiled from such a comment. “I hope you understand why you must lose, Odrian.”
“What a shitty reason.” Odrian murmured under his breath.
Shane raised his hand chest level and yells out, “Clone Coffin!” 100 figures that resemble mannequins rose from the ground. Odrian decides to take the initiative and attack him, while he's wide open. He tenses his legs and the force from the energy welling inside cracks the ground beneath his feet. He dashes towards Shane; breaking the sound barrier with a powerful kick straight to Shanes stomach, sending him into the trees.
“No offense, but I needed to end this quickly.”
Odrian looking at the aftermath could only see dust and debris that has filled the air. After it had settled, he notices a shattered white mannequin in Shane's place. Odrian's ears perked as he heard the sound of something breaking behind him. He turns around and notices Shane, nonchalantly, snapping the arm off of a mannequin.
“I felt my attack connect, but here you are standing, without a scratch on you. What happened?” Shane decides to indulge Odrians curiosity, with a huge grin upon his face.
“My Forux currently only works if both people play.”
“Play? What is this- some kind of game?” Odrian hoped Shane was dumb enough to explain his Forux to him, and he wasn't disappointed.
“Yes, a guessing one. You see, once Clone Coffin is activated all players no longer take damage from each other; instead, you must find your opponents mannequin and destroy it. The damage done to the mannequin will then be inflicted upon them, also, we must take turns and only one mannequin can be destroyed at a time.” Odrian decides to attack a mannequin; breaking it's skull.
“Oh and here's the catch, our true selves are actually within one of these mannequins; so do try to be careful, you don't want to end up knocking yourself out.” Shane snickered.
They began destroying the mannequins one by one; being wary of the possibility that the next one could be either of them. Eventually there were only 20 left. Odrian was gretting tired of the repetitive back and forth. He grabs hold of one of the mannequins and throws it into Shane. The mannequin breaks on collision, causing Shane to stumble to his knee. Shane scowls at Odrian.
“Did I not explain that we are unable to harm each other while my Forux is active? What was even the reason behind that?”
“I was getting bored, besides, I wanted to see what would happen.” Odrian shrugs.
Shane rolls his eyes and approaches the next mannequin. “Looks like we're really getting down to the wire now. Are you nervous?” Shane scoffed. He attacks the mannequin, but something peculiar happened. This particular one did not break. Shane stood bewildered. “How is this possible?!”
“Could that be my mannequin? You couldn't even put a scratch on it!” Odrian points and laugh. “All this build up and you can't even put a scratch on me?.”
“Do you think you're better than me?!” He clenches his fist in frustration. “This isn't where my story will end” Shane dispels his Coffin Clones and bolts toward Odrian; closing the distance within seconds, he throws his first punch, but Odrian drops out of his view; seemingly as if he fell through the ground. Shane glances down and realizes that Odrian had created a black hole beneath him to avoid his attack, and just as soon as Odrian disappeared within the black hole he quickly reappeared to the side of Shane; blindsiding his with a right hook to his jaw. Shane's head rings from the sudden blow, causing his sight to blur and eventually black out. He falls limply to the ground.
“Odrian has passed.” The announcer declared.
Shane regains consciousness, although his vision is still slightly blurry. He stares at Odrian's back as he is walking away. His eyes begins to well up with tears. “Odrian... You will regret this one day... I've lost alot more than just my future because of you... I'll make you regret this” Odrian pauses and then continues walking.
“This isn't over!” Shane howls as he wipes the tears from his face.
Odrian meets up with Sarah and Victor to see how many students has passed. The timer reaches zero and a mass amount of students names show up on the screens for failing; everyone was so eager to go to where their abilities were strongest that they never found their enemy on this massive field in the time they had after separating. Those students walked out the battle arena in shame and disappointment some in tears with hands over their faces others completely broken by how they could make such a simple mistake. The metal podium raises from below the ground and the Principal suddenly emerges; seemingly out of thin air.
“Congratulations to the 18 students that has passed. I know today was rough, but only the strong survive in this world... So be strong! Because this is just the beginning. Welcome to G.O.U!”
A boisterous cheer erupts from the students; as the Principal finishes her speech.
“Your school uniforms will be delivered to your home by next week, please keep some clean for events. Enjoy the rest of your afternoon.”
Odrian and his friends gave each high fives in excitement of the things to come.
“Hey Victor, you want to come over to train today?” Odrian asked still with a smile on his face.
“Training with Ziggy like back in high school? Sounds like fun.”
“We made it into G.O.U!” The three of them cheered once again.