Chapter 1 - Orientation
August 11th, 2049
His relaxed body never matched the seriousness of his eyes, nor the seriousness of his situations. Even as a lightening bolt flew past his face, that expression never changed. Nothing could break his focus, or so he believed. Pax Myro was quite confident in his abilities as Pyro ABN. The way his body relaxed into a boxing stance was proof of that. He let his fist hover slightly below his line of vision while locked, his eyes only on the opponent in front of him.
Another lightening bolt cut through the air only to be dodged once again. With each attack thrown and missed, the roar of a crowd would fill the void of an arena. Excitement oozed from the audience, yet the two giving them joy were in a test of survival.
The crowd boomed each time Nikko Williamz targeted Pax with his lightening attacks. Pax was able to dodge them, but that was it, unable to close the distance and playing right into Nikkos’ hand. They both knew that whoever gained ground would most likely be the victor; at that moment the scales tipped in Nikko’s favor.
Nikko punched the air with a one-two combination that shot duplicate bolts of lightening at his target before doing a spinning back kick to cast a stronger and faster lightening attack.
The attacks were blindingly fast yet Pax’s eyes never wavered. He crouched down with his fist still protecting his face and dashed towards the attack. He twisted his body to left as the first attack barely missed him, then he stepped into the next attack and ducked underneath it. Pax felt like he could do anything in that moment. His body and mind were perfectly in sync. He knew without a shadow of a doubt he could and would dodge the next attack.
As Pax and the burst of energy approached one another, Pax begun his attempt to dodge, but something in the audience caught his attention. No, more like stole his focus from him entirely. For a split second, a strange presence could be felt. His eyes darted side to side, up and down, yet he couldn’t pinpoint the location.
A sharp sting to the ribs and being cast backwards snapped Pax out of his daze. He knelt over, clutching where he was hit. His breathing became heavy, that was the first sign of the end of this bout.
Pax knew it.
And so did Nikko.
Nikko saw his wounded opponent and ran towards Pax. Tiny bolts of electricity danced around his body, barely able to keep up with his blinding speed.
Pax clenched his teeth. There was only one thing to do now. Fight it out. Injured or not, that was his only option. He took a deep breath, inhaling all of the pain and confusion before exhaling. His eyes returned to normal. Calm. In control. In a flash, he dashed forward to meet his target head on.
Pax punched the air and a fire attack went straight for Nikkos.
Nikko dodged as he continued to press forward.
The distance between the two teenagers was growing short. They each pushed off their back legs, launching at each other.
Nikko stepped into a side kick. It was so fast most of the crowd couldn’t see the kick.
Pax launched his own attack, sending a straight right hand, covered in fire, at his opponents attack.
Before either attack could land, someone appeared in the middle of Nikko and Pax, grabbing Nikko’s ankle in one hand and Pax’s wrist in the other. This man wore a serious set of eyes, yet his face extended with one of the biggest and brightest smiles.
“And that concludes our opening ceremony!” The smiling man announced and the crowds roar exploded even louder than before.
Nikko and Pax stood up straight as their limbs were released, but just as quick as they returned to their normal posture, their hands were grabbed and raised into the air by the smiling man. The sun bounced off the metallic bracelets they all wore.
“Give it up for this year’s Trials Co-Captains!” The man said, gaining the same cheering and screaming response.
Nikko looked over at Pax and smiled, but Pax just rolled his eyes and looked off in the opposite direction into the crowd causing Nikko to look down in defeat.
Pax’s back hit the wall, his lips were attacked, and his body locked in place. He was powerless against this allure of the opposite sex.
Mir RyaGon always seemed to get what she wanted, being apart of one of the strongest and wealthiest families in the world, so there was no surprise when her and Pax were spotted tongue locked in the dormitory’s hall.
Pax pushed away to catch his breath. “Wow... Just wow!”
Mir pushed her tongue back into Pax’s mouth. He struggled a bit to break it once more.
“You could at least buy me dinner first,” Pax said, looking down at her with his serious glare.
Mir blushed. “That fight earlier was so hot... It really got me going.”
Pax grinned, becoming putty from having his ego massaged. “Yeah, but you’re a RyaGon. Daddy isn’t going to let you date a Pyro ABN.”
“Well,” She said in a sweet tone. “Maybe I need to find a new daddy.”
Pax rolled his eyes, looking off to the side like he did earlier, but this time he looked right in the direction Nikko was standing.
Nikko was about to enter his dorm when he witnessed Pax and Mir dry humping each other. His face did not seemed all to pleased to see this sight.
Pax pulled Mir into a kiss as he stared at Nikko.
Nikkos sighed and proceeded into his dorm.
Further down the hall, another guy watched Nikko and Pax, this one a little smaller in stature compared to the two 17 year old giants. Timothy Giait may have lacked size but his brain made up the difference. He was a second year senior at Next Generation Academy at the age of only sixteen in a half. A prodigy, some would call him. His grades were high enough to carry the school
Tim pushed his glasses up onto his nose before turning to his dorm room’s door.
“I wonder what’s up with those two idiots?” Tim said before pushing his door open and entered the room.
Inside was a decent sized room with a window in the middle of two beds mirroring one another. Both beds had a desk in front with lamps on top. The only difference between the two sections were the mountains of books on Tim’s side. He had books on the bed, desk, and even a few stacked up on the floor.
Tim had a roommate he was still waiting to meet. He didn’t mind sharing the space. He only hoped that whoever it was would be at least half as focused on school as him, but deep down he knew that was an impossible wish.
Tim looked at the pile of books and sighed before beginning his organization process. In no time, hours went by. He didn’t even notice the time until he looked down at his left wrist at a metallic bracelet he wore.
“Ana,” Tim said to the bracelet and it produced a miniature holographic image of a home screen. The time read 8:35 p.m. Classes started the next day and he still hadn’t met his roommate, despite how late it was.
With this eyes closed, Tim fell back onto his bed. There was so much for him to do this year. Graduating, being the student representative, and an having intern in the administration office was going to keep him very busy. He had to take every break he could if he was to get through the next ten months.
Tim relaxed letting his body go numb, yet his mind never ceased. The assembly today was a success. He was responsible for setting it all up, despite the Next Generation Academy having a teaching staff. But he never complained. Tim enjoyed this type of work. Building. Creating. Orchestrating. Or whenever he used that big brain of his. He didn’t even mind coming to school a week before everyone else.
Tim dove into his mind, organizing days in advance. He was lost, so lost that he did not realize a large figure standing above him. Tim had no clue someone else was in the room until it was too late.
“You must be Timothy Giait?” The intruder said.
Tim’s eyes popped open and he sprung up like a mummy out of a coffin. His body went straight it to survival mode until his pupils adjusted to see a tall, dark skinned guy smiling as he scratched the back of his head nervously.
“Howdy,” The guy said, “Muh name is Porter, and I’m ur roommate this yeuer.”
Porter had a thick accent, the thickest Tim has ever heard. His voice soothed Tim and his body relaxed.
“Umm... Nice to meet you, Porter.” Tim stuck out a hand and Porter shook it. “I didn’t hear you come in. I must of dozed off...”
“Naw, I’m just fast and quiet, despite muh size.” Porter responded.
Porter didn’t resemble a normal fast or quiet person, standing six foot two inches. At his old school he was called the Giant Assassin. The only thing ever giving away his position is the tidal wave of a shadow that engulfed you.
Tim rolled his eyes and picked up a physics book before opening it. “Let’s hope that gets old soon...”
Porter continued to smile. “Yeah, so umm.. Yur the school body president, aren’t ya? I can’t believe I’m sharin’ a room with ya!”
Tim sighed. “Neither can I. You’d think that the student body president would get his own room, but nooooo. They only give private rooms to Trial Captains.”
Porter sensed irritation in Tim’s voice. “Notta fan of em, are ya?”
Tim fell back onto the bed using his arms as a pillow. “Heh... Actually, I’ve been friends with those two idiots since elementary school.”
In an instant, Porter was hovering above Tim’s small body. He took hold of the smaller guy’s hands, engulfing them in his own. “You know the Co-Captians?!”
Wide eyed, Tim blushed a beet red as he slowly nodded. “Um.... Yeah. I just said that....”
“Look at meh.” Porter blurted as his smile extended even further. “Roommats with the Apieron Captains best friend! How lucky am I?!”
Tim rolled his eyes before pushing the giant out of his personal space. “I didn’t know they had fanboys now...”
Porter looked away, nervously. “Well, yah. After Pax’s win last year, he’s pretty popular. Plus, Imma try out for tha team muhself.”
“Are you knew here?” Tim queried.
“Yah.” Porter started. “I was born-n-raised in the south, section 31. This year would’ve been the year I qualified for captain.”
“And what happened?”
Porter’s expression showed an uneasiness towards this topic. A lot happened in his life the previous year, and despite the smile he put on, a few scars from his past still needed time to heal.
“The team n I had a ummm... Disagreement.”
Tim raised a hand in the air, stopping Porter from going further. “Say no more. I have a strict no-drama policy that I will die to uphold. Just make sure to leave it at the door, ok? I’ll be studying a lot and would prefer if you kept our dorm peaceful, okay?”
Porter nodded. He really didn’t want to talk about his past. The memories would send him to a dark place, one he wish to never revisit. NGA was meant to be a fresh start, but doubt always lingered.
Tim pulled out some folders and spread them over his desk. He had a lot of work to do as the Class Representative, not to mention the extra load of classes he decided to take this year.
“I have some work to do, but I’ll be meeting Pax and Nikkos for dinner.” Tim said, his eyes never leaving the pile of work in front of him. “Since you’re new you can accompany me. What kind of Class Rep would I be if I didn’t show my roommate who’s a new student around the school?”
“That uhhh... Sounds real nice...”
“Good.” Tim nodded, “We’ll leave at 1800 hrs.”
Tim and Porter sat in a large cafeteria filled with 80in flatscreens falling from the ceiling. Each section played different broadcast, but most of the screens just displayed NGA in the center of a white screen in gold letters.
The students filling the cafeteria all wore colors matching their nature. Tim sat at the table in his little brown vest, while Porter’s yellow tank top struggled to keep his many muscles in place.
Tim sat across from Porter since he needed the room to spread his work out. They waited for the Nikko and Pax. Tim had not noticed their tardiness.
Porter, on the other hand, felt ever second pass. He was nervous. This was his one shot to make a good impression on Pax and Nikko. He watched the two online many times, and had a good feeling about being on their team.
Pax and Nikko arrived at the same time, neither one of the other their attention. They both took a seat on opposite sides of Tim.
Tim noticed there was a bit of tension between Pax and Nikkos. He just sighed and decided to ignore it. The three of them had been friends for far too long, so he knew deep down they would work through whatever caused this distress.
“So how’s our favorite co-captains?” Tim asked without looking at neither Pax or Nikkos.
“Tired.” Pax picked over his food. “Classes, captain crap, and a sparring session broadcast over the whole world... and it’s only day one!”
“You’ll live.” Tim sipped his drink, his eyes closed as if it was nectar from the gods.
Pax rolled his eyes. “Eh.. maybe... Those teachers didn’t hold back with homework. Between that and setting up trials tryouts I won’t sleep for a few days.”
Tim pat Nikko and Pax on the back. “Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll have notes for all your classes.”
Pax grinned at Tim. “That’s going to be hard to do with you being at practice all of the time.”
Tim cocked his head to the side in confusion. “Huh?”
“It’s your best friends first year being Trials Captain.” Pax started.
“Co-Captain.” Nikko coughed, but Pax ignored him.
“You have to join the team this year, Tim. I need you!” Pax whined.
Tim shook his head side to side. “No thank you. My plate is full this year. I do not want to spend my final year being beaten up by a bunch of jocks.”
Nikko threw an arm around Tim and pulled them together. “We weren’t really asking, you know? This is mandatory. You can’t break the bro code.”
Tim sighed in defeat, but quickly though of something.
“HEY!” Tim’s head popped up and he pointed across the table at Porter who was quietly in awe. “Instead of trying to get lil ole me, how about my new roommate Porter. He wants to join your team.”
Both Pax and Nikko glanced at Porter causing the poor guy to break out into a nervous sweat.
Porter was barely able to wave, let alone speak.
“Hi...” He managed to squeeze out.
Nikko’s stuck out a hand, “Hey there Porter, It’s nice to meet you. Sorry you have to share a room with this guy...”
Suddenly, Tim punched Nikko in the side making he keel over in pain. “Porter was actually on his team down south.”
Pax continued his glare towards Porter. “Tryouts are on the twenty-seventh.” He said coldly before turning his attention back to Tim; a grin suddenly warmed his frozen expression. “You, on the other hand, have no choice but to join. We need that big brain of yours.”
Pax stood up and ruffled Tim’s hair gaining a glare from his smaller companion. “Think it over and give me an answer tomorrow. We really could use you this year. Plus it’ll look good on your college application.”
With that, Pax walked away from the table.
Nikko’s hand shot up. “I’m ok....”
Tim rolled his eyes.
Although Pax held the position of Co-Captain this year, something still bugged him and his clenched fist showed his level of happiness. He couldn’t keep back his growls and grunts as he walked down a decorative hall leading to a big red door.
Pax burst through the door without knocking to be met by a man, the same man who put a halt to him and Nikko’s spar earlier. This man was none of other than NGA’s Headmaster Thomas.
Thomas looked over his glasses as he placed a stack of papers aside.
“I guess students don’t knock anymore.” Thomas sarcastically said before sighing.
Pax slammed his hands onto the desk. “Formalities went out the window when people start giving away captain spots.”
“I knew this was coming.”
“This year was supposed to be about promoting ME as captain. Especially after my win last year. Leading our squad to victory would have been icing on the cake for scouts.”
Headmaster Thomas sighed. He removed his glasses and placed them on the collar of his shirt. “We’ve gone over this before. Your obsession with being drafted early is overreaching. There’s rules. No matter how good you are, you still have to complete two years of college before any squad will even consider touching you.”
“You let me worry about my future,” Pax spat, his voice steadily rising. “So don’t act like you’re looking out for me. What’s the real reason, huh? Did the Williams family pay a pretty penny for the Church’s prodigy to be a star?”
Those words had their desired effect. Thomas scratched his head nervously.
That only pissed Pax off more as his pupils glowed red. “Don’t tell me they PAID his way in!”
“Not exactly,” Thomas started. “Astral Trials aren’t cheap, you know. Workout equipment, training areas, Trial arenas, and not to mention insurance. We’re talking about a multi-million credit expense each year.”
“Get to the point old man...”
“Patience. You may learn something.”
Pax rolled his eyes then his hands retracted to their respected pocket.
“That’s better,” Thomas began once more. “Where was I? Oh, yeah. You all cost us millions of credits, but there’s a bright side to this. Trials bring in hundreds of millions of viewers. Abnormals and Humans alike tune in to watch Trial matches every week. So as Headmaster, I must seek out sponsorships. Some of those sponsorships come with certain... stipulations...”
“Like your scholarship. One of our Sponsors made sure your whole career here at NGA was funded. Or have you forgotten?”
“Tsk” Pax looked off in defeat. “I remember. So does that mean one of the Sponsors requested co-captains between the rising star and the future Gatekeeper?”
“Bingo!” Thomas shot up, placed a hand on Pax’s shoulder, and lead him to a wall to wall window that overlooked the campus. “Some of our sponsors though it would be beneficial to all of us if both you and the future Gatekeeper became the face of this years squad. I couldn’t say no. These are some very big investors and they have high hopes for you.”
Pax’s mood seemed to lighten; his shoulders relaxed as him and Thomas gazed over the campus. NGA held the title of largest Abnormal school in the North America Sector. The campus was at least three quarters of a mile long surrounded by 10 miles of forest. Deep inside the woods were one hundred guards in position at any given time.
Down below children scurried to their destinations while others formed groups, talking, laughing, and having a good time. Everyone was at peace, at least for the moment. The next day would not be as easy going. First days are always the easiest.
“Fine,” Pax stared blankly. “But I won’t share the power to form my squad. Since Nikko and I are the only ones left from last year I can start from scratch. Anyone who wants to join will have to earn it, except for Tim Saunders. He’s the one exception, because, you know. He’s Tim.”
“Yes, yes,” Thomas smiled. “Tim will change the world one day. He’s truly a-“
“A once in a generation genius. That kid truly has no limits. But I doubt he’ll have the time for Trials with his schedule.”
The two gazed out of the window looking over the school in all it’s entirety. They could see everything from that view.
Pax touched the glass and like electricity, excitement spread through him. There was no place he’d rather be than back at NGA, and this year would be his best one yet.
As he withdrew Pax’s hand, two guys could be spotted at the edge of campus walking out of the forest. Pax didn’t know this guy, but for a split second there was a sense of familiarity. Something deep inside him felt warm and then boiling hot, causing his eyes to glow red for a moment.
The silver bracelet on Pax’s left wrist projected the image of 1%.
Pax quickly shoved his hand in pocket and mashed his free hand over his right eye, gritting his teeth in frustration.
“What was that?” Pax whispered to himself.
Thomas noticed the strange reaction, but did not comment. He simply glared at Pax out the corner of his eye with a small smirk.
“Better keep up, Oli.”
Two figures dashed through the forest at blinding speed, dodging trees and stones that blocked their path. While one seemed to be agile and flexible, the other moved with more discipline.
“You won’t win this time!”
Some would say it was the his combat training, others might blame the thousands of obstacle courses his father created for him. If you ask Oliver, he’d say it’s his destiny. But the lines on his forehead showed determination.
Side by side, they ran. Both seemed to be having fun, but the shorter of the two wore the biggest smile. He didn’t even seem tired.
Oliver noticed this and pushed even harder, yet his efforts made no difference. He gained the lead by a foot, but only for a second before a strong gust of wind shot the other guy forward.
“HEY! NO FAIR!” Oliver shouted. “ELI, YOU CHEATER!”
Eli couldn’t hear Oliver. He was busy enjoying the wind push through his light brown hair, massaging his scalp with the cool blanket of air. Gliding through the forest like this was the closest thing he felt to flying. He always wondered what it would be like to soar through the clouds.
Oliver eventually caught up with Eli at the finish line. Eli posted up against a tree that sat at the base of the Forrest, his arms folded as he grinned. Oliver, on the other hand, looked a bit frustrated.
“We agreed no Elements.” Oliver snarled.
“You decided that,” Eli shrugged. “Its no fun racing your way. Doing things without our Element is so boring. I couldn’t enjoy myself playing by your rules.”
“We were testing ourselves, not having fun!”
Eli rolled his eyes.
“Not everything is a game.” Oliver punched the tree, missing Eli by a hair.
Eli grinned. “Yeah, yeah. I was just excited, is all. Watching Pax and Nikko earlier got my riled up.”
“Really? Don’t tell me you’re into that sort of crap.” Oliver spat.
Eli ducked under his friends arm and headed for the school. “My dad didn’t allow it in the house, remember? So that was my first real glimpse of Trials action.”
“I remember. That’s one of the things I liked about your dad.”
Eli rolled his eyes. “He didn’t share the same view as you for the support. He just didn’t want me to get my hopes up. Remember, he’s a huge reason for how the Trials are now.”
Oliver glanced at his left wrist. The early moon’s light bounced off the metallic bracelet. “He’s definitely made life better for everyone. Not like those Trial supporters. I hope you don’t become one of them.”
“Dude, give it a rest. Not everyone wants to become part of a police force.”
“So what, you want to like go to all of their competitions this year or something? That’s one way to blow your freshmen year.” Oliver said, pure hatred filled his aura.
Oliver let out a sigh of relief, but it was quickly retracted.
“I’m going to join their team this year.” Eli’s head turned slightly to smile at his friend behind him. Oliver’s mouth just hung agape.
“J-join... But why... Wait... Wait...” Oliver stuttered. “You don’t even know how to fight?”
“I’ll learn.” Eli shrugged.
“I’m a quick learner.”
With his forehead rested in the palm of his hands, Oliver shook his head in disbelief, knowing the discipline it took to acquire a martial arts.
Oliver sighed, “Your ego is going to get you hurt. Even though you have natural talent when it comes to your Element, doesn’t mean it will come that easy with everything else.”
“I guess we’ll have to find out.” Eli stopped outside a huge dome shaped arena. Above the entrance wore a gigantic flat screened tv like a hat. He looked up at it with the same smile as earlier. “I want to experience everything Abnormals have to offer.”
As soon as Eli finished, the TV turned on to reveal Dean Thomas and Pax facing their audience with the night sky as their background.
The camera zoomed in on Dean Thomas. “Good evening students! I hope you all are enjoying the remainder of your day-before-school-starts. Especially after the performance this morning!”
Students walking through the campus all stopped to watch the announcement.
“I really didn’t know how I would top that, but then this years Trials Captain came to my office and offered me a way to do so. As most of you may know, last year we lost a majority of our Trials squad due to them graduating. Only two members remain, Paxton Myro and Nikko Williamz, this years Co-Captains. And look here, Paxton has an announcement for all of you.”
Pax rolled his eyes, annoyed at being referred to as full name. His eyes fell to the camera as he stood straight with no arc in his back to be found with his hands in his pocket. He glared at the audience.
“Tryouts for this years Trials Squad will be held a month from Friday. Mark your calendars for September 11th. This year. NGA’s Trials Squad of 2049 will be built from the ground up, which means if you don’t have the skill or courage to win...”
Eli stood there, wide-eyed, taking in every word.
“Then don’t you dare waste our time.” Pax continued to stare at the camera.
Dean Thomas jumped in front of Pax, his smile full of worry and disbelief. “But EVERYONE is welcomed to sign-up. All you have to do is make your way over to the Orbital Dome and have your parents e-sign a consent form. Enjoy the rest of your evening and good luck on everyone’s first day tomorrow.”
Dean Thomas sighed and looked back at Pax. “Would it kill you to smil-“
The screen switched to the NGA logo.
Oliver walked over and placed his hand on Eli’s shoulder. “See, those tryouts are going to be for hardcore fans. You’ve never even watched a Trials...”
None of that mattered to Eli. In fact, it only fueled him ever more to go after this goal. Plus, Oliver was wrong. Eli had watched a match before, and that memory was etched in his memory.
Eli clenched his fist. A smile spread over his face. “You’d never understand. Pax does. I saw it in his eyes. That’s why he said what he did. He wants the same thing I do...”
Confused, Oliver’s head cocked to the side. “What’s that?”
Eli looked over at his friend giving the biggest and brightest smile.
“To have fun using our Elements without holding back.”
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