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Chapter 4

The morning was fresh with dew as President S. strode up and down the ranks of his army. The President knew that this would be a historic morning, as this morning would decide the fate of Scelsia in his attempt to defend against the Galaxian invasion.

In addition to the songs of the birds and the rustle of the trees in the wind, nervous shuffling of men could be heard throughout the Scelsian ranks. President S. decided to make his stand outside of his city of Switzi. This city was just a short distance away from Veltron’s army while being of utmost importance for Veltron to capture if his invasion was to be successful. The city of Switzi provided access to the rest of the Scelsian Kingdom.

The morning wore on and the troops began to get restless.

“Steady men. The time to fight will come soon enough.” President Snow reassured.

Sure enough, the time to fight as near. For in the distance, the shadowy figures of the advancing Galaxian army could be seen. At the command of President Snow, the whole Scelsian army rose and was poised for a fight.

The men of both armies glared at each other when both armies were in their fighting formations. The Scelsian army was divided into three divisions with the first division at the front with the other two divisions flanking it to the rear. The Galaxian army however, was divided into ten different divisions, each one seemingly random in placement.

As both armies stared each other down, Veltron strode to the front of his army. Calling out, he said, “President Snow, my old friend! How are you after these long years? We need not to fight each other over such trifles like the crowned jewels I seek. Just hand them to me and I shall be on my way out of your country.”

President Snow calmly strode to the head of his army, mirroring Veltron.

“I am no longer your friend Veltron. You lost that privilege long ago. As for your jewels, you cannot have them. If I gave them to you, you would be back within the month. No, you will not have them.” He said to Veltron defiantly.

“I’m sorry to hear that Snow. I was hoping I would not have to destroy the one who once cared so deeply for me. Very well, you brought this upon yourself.” Veltron said with a hint of regret.

Veltron raised his arm and his army readied themselves to fight. As his arm dropped by his side, the Galaxian army leapt into action, their movements seemingly random and chaotic.

“Prepare the defence and prepare to counter attack!” President Snow ordered.

The Scelsian army prepared for the impact of the Shadow Elite’s initial blows. As one, the Scelsians combined their power to form a protective shield around their whole army. While the Shadow Elites unleashed energy balls and energy beams, the Scelsians were unharmed.

Veltron saw that no progress could be made while the shield was up.

“Break formation A, commence Formation B!” Veltron yelled to his men.

The Shadow Elites faded back towards their own line of defence. While this was taking place, one division of Veltron’s army moved into position for a quick attack as soon as the Scelsian shield went down.

The Scelsian President saw the fade back from the Shadow Elite and ordered the shield to be brought down in preparation for a large scale assault. As soon as the shield’s power faded, the right flank of the Scelsian army was struck with quick, but effective, Shadow Balls.

President Snow silently cursed to himself. He let his guard down to one of Veltron’s favorite tricks. Veltron loved to lull his opponent into a false sense of security and then strike a quick blow before they can react.

“Prepare to march forward. The rear two ranks will sustain a shield that will block all but the most powerful energy attacks. Move now!” President Snow barked.

The Scelsian army moved like clockwork as they began their slow slug forward towards the enemy who had come to dethrone them and rule their country. Veltron was confused momentarily at his old mentor’s strategy. Why would anybody march into an enemy with as many divisions as Veltron had?

“All divisions back to King, group up and match the enemy march!” Veltron barked. He would not take any chances against Snow’s antics and would match him the whole way.

The Galaxian army formed up to match the formation President Snow had put together. The two armies grew closer as they advanced on orders. A smile started to form on the President’s face. He knew this setup favoured his side and that Veltron had made a rash error.

When the armies were within fighting distance, President Snow doubled the march of his army.

“Double marching men. Row 1 to 4 fire energy beams while Row 5 to rear fire bombarding energy balls.”

The Scelsians perfectly executed their leader’s orders. The Galaxian army instantly suffered heavy casualties with their front line falling first. Veltron watched in horror as his army started to dissipate.

“Fire back! Destroy them!” Veltron was frantically screaming at his army.

The slow and unpractised group formation of the Shadow Elite allowed the Scelsian army to steam role over them. Veltron was heated at himself for calling an unnecessary group of his army that had cost him his campaign. Without another look towards his minor Shadow Elite army, Veltron fled for his life.

“Veltron as last spotted crossing the border from Scelsia to Galaxia. He took his sentry’s from each town he captured in his campaign and has made a full retreat. For now, Veltron has been defeated!”

The crows let up a roar of cheers at the President’s speech in the capital. The people were celebrating the victory as soldiers were greeted by their families when they showed up at home.

It was a happy time for the Scelsians. They had won a hard fought battle against their enemy Galaxia and deserved to celebrate. The President did not yet want to reveal the threat of Veltron’s invasion was still real and Shadow Elite were roaming Scelsia in small groups. The coming months would be hard indeed.

President Snow walked back into the Capital Building to his Security Council meeting that he had called. As he took his seat at the head of the table, he was confronted with a question.

“I think you better explain yourself Snow. There are events in motion around us that we, members of the Security Council, don’t know about. What happened to Veltron and what threat is he to us now?”

“Yes.” President Snow calmly stated. “There are events already set in motion and Veltron is little threat to us at the current moment. Veltron will be upset about his loss and will not make the same mistake again. However, it will be some considerable time before he tries to make another attempt at the Jewels. This gives us time to set up a defence before his next attempt.”

Silence met the President as the present members of the council soaked in what President Snow had just told them. The silence was broken with another question.

“President Snow. You have told us why Veltron is not a problem at this current point but what measures have you already put together to help us defeat Veltron once and for all?”

“You all must remember Operation Starlight correct?” President Snow calmly asked.

“Please don’t trifle with us President. All of us approved the missions and approved the creation of the group. However, you told us yourself that they failed to return to “get rid” of Veltron over a month ago now. Have they survived?” The Chief of the council asked in bewilderment.

“No Mr. Tems, I am sorry to report that I have no report from Starlight since that fateful mission.” The President said with grief. “However, I have taken the liberty of implementing with Mr. Williams, my good friend, Starlight 2.0.”

The council exploded into chaos as people bombarded President Snow with questions.

“Do you not trust our council anymore?”

“Who is Starlight 2.0?”

“Will this actually solve the problem?”

The council was finally silenced by Mr. Tems who was banging his folder on the table.

“Silence!” Mr. Tems commanded. “The President will not answer any questions in this squabble. Let him finish telling us about Starlight 2.0. I’m sure everything will be explained.”

While the council settled down, President Snow thanked the Chief of the council.

“Thank you Mr. Tems. Now, as for Starlight 2.0, they consist of teenagers from the high school here in the capital.”

President Snow raised his hand to stop any incoming questions.

“Let me explain.” He said confidently. “All the members of the original Starlight were single parents, save the Shadow wielders. We have recruited their kids. Jake is a fire wielder while Ben is an air wielder. Crystal is a water wielder and Jessica, although her parents weren’t officially part of Starlight, is an earth wielder. Lastly, we have Leith. He is the last shadow wielder on our side.”

The President was having a hard time reading the expressions of the council. He was not sure if they were going to agree or disagree with his actions regarding the creation of the second Starlight. Although he was uncertain, he hoped that they authorized the creation and use of Starlight 2.0. He hoped for their sake and for the sake of Scelsia.

“Is that wise President Snow?” Mr. Tems said softly. “Can we trust a Shadow wielder to resist Veltron?”

President Snow was abruptly brought out of his thoughts by the question.

“Is it wise?” the President repeated to himself. “Yes I think it is the right choice. Both his parents proved they could resist Veltron so I don’t see why Leith cannot.”

Mr. Tems seemed deep in thought for a second before replying. “I see you’ve already thought a great deal about this and have given Starlight 2.0 your full attention. If the rest of the council will approve, I move that we authorize Starlight 2.0 as our new special agents.”

Murmurs of agreement echoed around the table. Nobody seemed to be against the idea of the creation of a second Starlight, even if they were just teenagers. Everybody believed that the children of the original Starlight could perform just as well as their parents.

“Well snow.” Mr. Tems said. “Looks like Starlight 2.0 will be put into action. But where are they now?”

Alex had led Starlight through a seemingly endless maze of corridors. In the end, they actually ended up back at their bed chambers. Alex stood facing Starlight while leaning off the wall. They just stood there, waiting for somebody to say something, and it seemed as if Alex was waiting for Starlight to talk.

Leith broke the silence by asking Alex a question.

“Alex.” He said. “I know you are probably testing us for patience or something, but aren’t we supposed to be training? We might be needed at any moment to help against Veltron. Could we please get started?”

Alex gave a laugh before replying to Leith.

“You are right Leith. I was merely seeing how you and your friends would handle a situation. It tells me how you would act in situations you may encounter along your journeys as Starlight.”

“Cool. Let’s get going.” Leith said.

Alex waved Starlight to follow him as he started to walk down one of the corridors.

“You guys can use the route I am taking you to get to your training sessions after breakfast. Just come back to your bed chambers and you can go to the sessions from here.” Alex instructed.

“As you will learn,” Alex continued, “The base here is divided up into elemental sections. On the route I’m taking you, the elements are in alphabetical order.”

“So we will encounter Air, Fire, Rock, Shadow and Water in that order?” Ben asked.

“Very close to that order.” Alex responded. “We will not encounter a Shadow section because, as I mentioned earlier, Leith is the only Shadow user in the country.”

Everybody was silent but thinking the same thing, though nobody actually wanted to ask the question. Leith finally asked the question because it was focused on him.

“Where do I train?” Leith said seeming so small.

Alex gave a reassuring smile to Leith.

“Do not worry; you will be trained in the best of hands.” He told Leith with a pat on the back.

As the group entered a small chamber, Alex presented their first destination.

“Our first stop, the Air training chamber.”

An old man with white receding hair and a white beard came out to meet them.

“Hello Mr. Breeze.” Alex greeted. “A good morning to train wouldn’t you say?”

“Ah yes, a very good morning.” Mr. Breeze agreed. “Which one of you is Ben?”

Ben stepped forward and introduced himself to the man.

“I am Ben sir.” He said.

“Ah. I should have guessed.” Mr. Breeze stated with a smile. “You have the complexion of all great Air wielders!”

“We will leave you in the hands of Mr. Breeze Ben. Come on the rest of you. Let’s keep moving.” Alex said shepherding them off.

The remaining four teens followed Alex back out of the entrance chamber to the corridor. Further along, Alex stopped the teens once again.

"Here we have the Fire training chamber." Alex said as he walked into the entrance chamber.

Unlike the entrance chamber for Air training which was tinted with green and held a faint breeze, the fire entrance was bright red with heat seeming to seep from the walls. A bulky man who bristled with muscle met Alex out in the entrance chamber.

"Fine morning for a brawl Alex!" The man said grinning.

"Yes a fine morning Mr. Flare. Just make sure you find another person to brawl with that's not me." Alex said with a grin of his own.

The two men laughed and exchanged slaps on the shoulder before Mr. Flare came to the point.

"So." he said with his heated voice. "Which one of these lucky lads is Jake?"

Remembering the way that Ben had introduced himself, Jake stepped forward and proudly stated, "I am."

Mr. Flame seemed to consider Jake a moment before breaking into a smile.

"You'll do just fine my boy. Come on let's get started." he said.

Jake joined Mr. Flame and Alex motioned the remaining three to follow him. As they left they could hear the hearty laugh of Mr. Flame being joined by the comic voice of jake.

"They'll get on just fine!" Alex said chuckling to himself.

After they turned down a corridor to the Rock training chamber, Crystal asked Alex a question.

"Alex, why does everybody we meet have a last name that corresponds with their element?" Crystal inquired.

Alex gave a hearty laugh and said, "That's not really their last name. We call them that because they are experts in their element and they are the most proficient teachers we have here. That is a symbol of authority. You will meet Mr. Stone in a minute."

The Rock training chamber that the diminishing group walked into was cool with damp stones and rock enclosing them in its embrace. True to his word, Mr. Stone came to greet Alex and the teens in the damp chamber entrance.

"Hello Alex. Mr. Stone said with his coarse voice. "What have you brought to me today?"

Alex clasped the man on the shoulder and spoke to him teasingly.

"Always down to earth and ready to get the stone rolling eh?" he said with a wink.

"You know me Alex." Mr. Stone said. "Always itching to train a new student. So who is he?"

"She." Alex said laughing. "You obviously did not read the briefing we gave you."

Mr. Stone gave a sigh. "You know I hate those."

Jessica stepped forward and introduced herself.

"Hello Mr. Stone. I am Jessica, the 'New student you are itching to train!" she said mimicking the older instructor's voice.

Alex and Mr. Stone turned to face Jessica. Alex was smiling while Mr. Stone laughed and went over to Jessica.

"Good to meet you Jessica! Mr. Stone exclaimed while shaking her hand. "I'm sure we'll have you chucking rocks in no time!"

Mr. Stone led Jessica through the door to the training chamber as Alex waved them goodbye.

"Two more stops to go." Alex said cheerfully.

He led Crystal and Leith down yet another set of corridors. The base seemed to get emptier the farther they went along. Crystal grabbed Leith's arm partly out of fear of the unknown, but partly because they had not much time together being thrust into this new training program.

Just before they reached the calm blue entrance to the Water chamber that radiated grace and beauty, Alex stopped Crystal and Leith.

"I have something to tell you two." Alex said with a serious face. His normal cheer and smile seemed to have forsaken him. "You two are probably the most powerful elemental wielders of your group and this serves just to caution you. you need the power of the rest of your companions to help you in your journey even if you are incredibly powerful. Keep your friendship with Jake, Ben and Jessica well because there are other groups here that are jealous because you guys are special. Just be careful okay?"

Crystal and Leith soaked up Alex's warning, contemplating every word.

"We already ran into Nightwalker this morning at breakfast." Leith said with a neutral expression.

"I know." Alex said. "I was watching the whole thing unfold. That is why I give you this warning. Nightwalker has been the top performing group here for about a year now. But because they are trouble makers and very cocky, they have been denied permission to join our wider special operation groups."

With a puzzled expression on her face, Crystal asked, "There are other special operation groups here besides Starlight?"

Alex seemed to have life return to him with a laugh. "Yes my dear Crystal. We have lots of special operation units, but none were as important as starlight because none were as powerful and as successful. None will ever be as important as Starlight because you guys are now Starlight. There is pressure for you guys to perform but we all believe in you. You have the capacity to become the greatest group in history." he said with belief shining in his eyes.

Crystal and Leith nodded understanding.

"We won't tell the others about the pressure. There is no need to stress them more than they will be already." Leith stated.

"Good idea." Alex agreed, already moving to the Water chamber entrance.

Upon entering the entrance chamber, Alex was greeted by a woman. She walked elegantly and had an air of peace about her. Alex bowed his head slightly while greeting her.

"Good morning Mrs. Grace. How are you doing this fine morning?"

Calmly, Mrs. grace responded.

"I am doing very well Alex. I presume you've come to drop off a student for training?"

Alex smiled warmly at Mrs. Grace as he replied.

"You presume correctly. I have come here to drop off Crystal for your care and guidance."

Mrs. Grace strode over to where Crystal was standing, seeming as if she was in a daze.

"Are you feeling the chamber's power my dear?" Mrs. Grace asked, already knowing the answer.

"Yes." Crystal replied. "I feel as if I was alive inside, but as alive as I feel, I feel peace and I'm calmer than I've ever been before."

"That is because you have the true power of the Water element." Mrs. Grace said to Crystal. "This one is special." she said to Alex. Speaking to Crystal once again she said, "Come child. Let us get started."

Once Crystal had been led into the Water chamber by Mrs. Grace, Leith was left standing with Alex. They both stared at the shut doors to the training chamber in silence. Alex walked over to Leith and put his arm around his shoulder.

"What will become of me now?" Leith said, feeling small and excluded for the first time in his life.

Alex gave a sigh before answering Leith's question.

"You have a very difficult case Leith. I appreciate your patience with me this far because you are right, you have been excluded from everyone else at this point. However, it is time that you start getting some answers."

Alex motioned Leith to follow him and once again they were turning some more corners, but this time they were going through secure areas. Alex stopped Leith before a door that was marked, 'No Entry! Authorized Access Only!'.

"Through here, Leith, are some answers to your questions. I must part with you here and tour the base like I do every day. Have fun!" Alex said as he opened the door. Alex waved Leith in.

Leith tentatively stepped through the door. When it closed behind him, he took stock of his surroundings. He was in a dull stone room that was massive. The only things in the room were a pure diamond throne with a purple carpet at the base of it. Upon the throne sat a man who seemed to be intently watching Leith.

Although he didn't know why, Leith did not feel safe. He kept his distance from the throne as he walked so he was parallel to the man sitting, always keeping his front to him. Leith came to an abrupt stop when the man stood up.

Leith's senses blurred when he saw a Shadow ball come flying towards his face. Instinct took over as he dodged the projectile with a side roll.

A thousand thoughts flooded Leith's head. They consisted of why Alex would put Leith in danger, but most of his thoughts focused on the face that this man was trying to kill him!

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