The assessments are meant to be brutal and tough for the participants. It is a fight to the top ten and proves your self-worth.
The assessment consists of three rounds. First rounds involving only the applicants. The juvies will fight against each other to the move onto the next round and it isn't just a quick tap out. It is a brutal fight until one is out cold. Ruthless and unrelenting like the real world. Only the strongest survive.
The second round will involve fighting Gamma Judah's five captains. Katya informed me that one of Gamma Judah's captain was out on family leave which was why I was chosen to replace. The last round is the selections where our leaders in the pack will select the new warriors.
The assessment is held in an old gym facility in town that was modified specifically for these kinds of competition. A total of five caged pentagon arenas inside. Along the red brick walls are three-row proves bleachers for the audience to sit. On one side are the leaders of the pack.
Standing on the sidelines, I listened to Katya, Gamma Female Rosemary and Beta Male Scott exchange excited and small conversations above me on the bleachers. They were here to see who the top ten members will be joining the warrior rankings. Alpha Hunter and Beta Ace sat amongst them. As time ticked on by, more and more pack members are filing in and finding themselves a seat amongst the bleachers.
Gamma Judah walked up to me with a black captain combat uniform in his hands.
"There is no need—" I began.
"It is a tradition that all captains wear this," Gamma Judah interrupted.
Without arguing further, I accepted the uniform. I have seen the uniform used for the assessment years ago. A black military combat training sport shirt and pants. The sleeves are a dark black camouflage that runs over my shoulders and pectorals. The lower half of the shirt is all black. The combat pants had similar dark black camouflage.
"Thank you." I nodded my head in his direction.
"No problem. You are an excellent fighter. So, it is only the smart thing to do and ask you to be part of the selection," Gamma Judah admitted.
"I am not going to go easy," I warned him in advance and we both knew who we were talking about.
Gamma Judah smirked. "Don't. In this assessment, there is no impartiality. She will have to go through it like everyone else."
We turned just in time to see the juvies entered the arenas. My eyes found her instantly. She wore a white combat sport long sleeve that clung to her skin impeccably. She has on matching white combat pants. Her hair tied up into a high ponytail showcasing a slender neckline, toned arms, and slim waist.
She entered her arena like a proud, dangerous tigress. Sage's eyes already on her opponent. Beta Male Scott called out Sage's name. Her eyes flew to the bleachers and a smile appeared on her face as she waved at them.
Then her eyes traveled to her father and me. She looked between us with a questioning cocked eyebrow.
"Believe it or not, I can set personal issues aside when it comes to these things," Gamma Judah muttered when he caught his daughter's suspicious look.
I chuckled. "She is quite a fighter."
Gamma Judah gave a short laugh just as we see her match begin. The other arenas started just as hers did. I watched Sage attack her opponent with aggression. She kicked off the ground slightly and grabbed her opponent's shoulders. Her knees coming up to kick him hard in the chest.
He blocked it with his hands, removed her hold on his shoulders. A palm sneakily landed on her chest, sending her flying a few steps. The impact makes her lose her breath for a second. Sage's opponent comes flying at her with his fist. She uses the heel of her palm to deflect the hit but wrapped her fingers around his forearm and flipped the boy to the ground.
She finishes off the fight seconds later by delivering a knockout blow to her opponent's jaw. Everyone clapped when they saw she took her first victory. Pride swam through me like a wave. She fought meticulously.
She might not have noticed but the second she knew she had won, she looked my way. Our eyes connected and she catches the last bit of what I was feeling before it disappeared. A scalding and unspoken desire ensued between us. I am impressed with her. She smirked my way before returning her gaze to her opponent.
She helped them carry her opponent out of the arena. It continued like this for the next hour. Gamma Judah walked around each arena, watching and examining each participant.
After she disappeared, I went into the men changing room to change into the uniform. Several of Gamma Judah's captains were loitering around talking and joking around. They nodded their heads when they saw me walked into the changing room.
After pulling on the uniform and stepping out of the changing stall I was in, I realized quickly that the captains were gone. I adjusted the sleeves on my shirt before walking out of the men changing room. To my surprise though, I found Tommy standing outside.
When our eyes met, I knew he had been waiting for me. I ignored him and attempted to walk past him but he moved to stand before me.
"I don't know why the Heavens believe you are a worthy mate for Sage. It is apparent you don't want her and you aren't looking to claim her any time soon. So, enlighten me, what are you planning on doing with her?" he questioned.
Tommy might be as tall as I am but he rolled his shoulder back and held my gaze. One corner of my lips lifted amusingly at him. We both knew why he was here and I have been waiting for him to approach me.
Man to man, we both knew what feelings he has for Sage. Underneath this cool façade, I am nothing but calm. I wanted to kill him. A sick part of me didn't give a fuck who he was to Sage. He was competition and that calls for death. The words are chanting through my mind and my skin is crawling with the urge to shift and fight him.
"What I plan on doing with my mate has nothing to do with you," I replied coolly.
His jaw ticked. "She's my friend."
"Is she? Does being your friend required being the woman in your heart as well?" I murmured.
His eyes hardened and he grabbed onto the front of my shirt before pushing me back a few steps. I used my heel to stop us from going further. My ears twitched when I heard the low beating of a drum. Homing in on the noise, I noticed the faint beat of his heart beating erratically in his chest. So, he isn't as unaffected as I think he was. He's afraid of me.
"She's too good for you," Tommy growled into my face.
"And you're good enough for her?" I retorted with an indifferent tone.
"Better than you! At least I will treat her right!"
"This dream of yours—it is best to forget it before it destroys whatever relationship you have with her. She isn't yours. She's mine by destiny. You can't change that fate."
"I can if she rejects you," he spat angrily.
Anger bubbled to the surface. My chest burned with an eerily inferno that heats up my skin lightly. Tommy realizes he hit a nerve because he smiles in front of me.
"And what about your mate?" I retorted, fighting off the anger.
He'll die. If I unleash him, Tommy will die.
Tommy's gaze faltered.
"Your actions and lack of understanding makes you pathetic, Tommy. She's not yours. Get it through your head. Release whatever feelings you have for her. She'll never be yours."
From the corner of my eye, I catch Tommy's raised fist. He pulled back and attempted to punch me. I caught it before he could land a punch. Squeezing it, I heard the bones in his hands cracked. He swallowed his own scream of pain.
"She's mine," I growled inhumanely. My beast lacing his own claim onto mine.
Tommy's breathing hard. Clutching his hand to his chest. He took a step back but I can see the defeat in his eyes. He's a boy. Unworthy of my mate. Useless. Defenseless.
A door to our left opened and my mate comes walking out. Her eyes fastening on us immediately. She stepped away from the door allowing it to close behind her. Sage's eyes traveled from Tommy and then back to me. Tommy has his back to her.
"Hey, what's going on?" she asked.
"Nothing," Tommy replied in a gruff, pained voice.
"Are you two having a private rendezvous in the men's changing room?" she teased with a lopsided grin.
"I have to go," Tommy turned and walked away.
I watched my mate's pouty lips turned from a smile into a frown while she looked at her friend from behind. Tommy hurriedly ran out of the building. Did I feel an ounce of remorse? Fuck no. He threw the punch. He should know how to handle his ass if he wanted a challenge.
Sage turns to me and her eyes does a slow sweep of my uniform. I can see the appreciative glint in her eyes. She gave a short, small laugh.
"You don't look so bad in that uniform," she stated.
"Is that a compliment?" I asked.
She snorted and I had to bite back a smile. Damn, I have a feeling my mate would rather jump in front of a flying silver bullet instead of answering that question. She'll never admit defeat.
I watched her turn her back on me and walked down the narrow hall to the noisy arenas. After a minute, I followed her out. I stood next to the captains while we watched the last of the competition come to an end.
Twenty-five juveniles attempted today to enter the warriors' rankings but only ten made it through to the next round. Now, each one of them will have to battle against all five captains. The only difference is that the juveniles only needed to end three calculated death blows to the captains to move on. It may sound easy, three measly hits but captains are strong and the elite of the pack. They weren't selected to command a group without experience and skills.
Alpha Hunter stood along with Katya. They watched as the juveniles formed a line in front of them with their hands behind their back. Gamma Judah and his mate were smiling at Sage who had successfully made it to the next round.
"You all did well today. Regardless if you make it through to the next round or had failed, we are proud to stand here today and have you as a part of our pack. For those who have lost the first round, I hope that you are not discouraged. As your Alpha, I sincerely hope you try again next year in your commitment to serve and protect your pack. For those who are going into the next round," he smirked, "I hope you are prepared to win."
My eyes slowly made its way back to Sage. Her shoulders are back and her chin is lifted. She carries a regal air around her. The way she holds herself up and ready to fight the world. She's proud and diligent. I watched those perfect lips slowly shape into a smile and those eyes glimmer with new excitement. She looks at everything like a challenge. Unafraid. My breath catches as I continued to look at her.
I don't know when it happened but I knew that this woman won't be going anywhere. She's mine.
I am keeping her.
I am fighting for her.
I will make her mine.
Yay! He finally admits he wants her! *squeals* NOW, all he has to do is fight her in the next round. Who do you think is going to win?