I raced across Seventh Avenue to catch the skytrain to Elysium, the highest mountain in kingdoms, and the crest of Ao, where the Lionhearts reside. I heard that a Vice Admiral of the Lionhearts will be partaking in the assessments. I haven't read much on the assessments, but they were the same each year. Somehow, those who passed the assessments had managed to keep their mouths shut about them. I passed by the road to the wastelands on the bus to Elysium. I got an unidentifiable vibe from it that made me move uneasily in the train compartment. It was almost time for the assessment. I lived quite close to Elysium, considering I lived near the heart of the city. It took maybe 20 minutes via the skytrain.
The skytrain was a luxurious series of seven twenty meters long train compartments. The first compartment were reserved for the Lionhearts and nobles only. I'd never been in one, but Simon had once boasted about the luxury of being in one, the quality of food they served; the comfiness of their lounge, etc. I despised him more for his boastful attitude about everything that he didn't even achieve. The second to fourth compartments - were for the Steel Forces, power users, and notable norms of society (such as my father). The fifth to the seventh were for the regular norms, who did not obtain any powers.
I was sitting in the third compartment, while the skytrain moved through the air without anybody feeling anything. That was one of the good things about the skytrains. The compartment had a black theme - the carpets were black, the couches were black, the tables were black. It was all very soothing, to be honest. I had always had an affinity with the color ever since I started recognizing them. Something so evil, yet graceful about the color.
I scooched further into the couch as passengers flowed in from station to station, sometimes catching the glimpse of a few people I knew from school. I figured Thomas was there already, considering he was so excited about it last week.
"WE HAVE ARRIVED AT ELYSIUM." The station announcer spoke into the mic. All the business norms, the heroes, and those I knew stepped off. I had never been in Elysium before since we were prohibited. The instant I stepped off, I was overwhelmed not only by the power that surged everywhere, but also the graceful scenery that I took into my eyes. The sun was shining brightly this high up, with the fresh scent of nature, and everything felt contemporary. Although it was one of the most powerful places on the planet, I could only feel peace.
"Never seen such a grand place?" I recognized Simon's disdainful voice behind me. His goons were following him, as he knocked my shoulders while walking past, snickering all the while.
"Thomas," I spun around to my delight. "When did you get here?"
"Well, you know," he started scratching his head. "I couldn't really sleep last night so I got here at daybreak."
The Elysian fields, the Mt. Olympus of Ao, a massive green park-like field that spread across the plateaus of Elysium, with structures rising out of every corner, all of them grand, majestic, and iconic. There was the Hall of Heroes, and the Garden of Battles, the Institute. You could almost see the aura from the strong that were inside. We walked on the white, smooth asphalt paths through Elysium, occasionally going through the mountains. In every corner stood a statue of a Lionheart that shone in the high mountains that overlooked Ao. I almost thought we walked past a Lionheart. They tended to wear casual clothing, and concealed their badge. Though they were honorable men, they didn't boast about it. I liked that quality. From one corner, you could even see the wastelands, a vast land of darkness that contrasted the city. My eyes lingered on it for a while, sensing movement from where I couldn't see, until Thomas slapped my back.
"We're here, Gin," he says in awe, almost drooling from looking at the Institute.
A tremendous chunk of Elysium dedicated to the Institute, perhaps the most important place in all of Ao, where the scholars, leaders, and Lionhearts resided. It was coated in white, and almost looked like Dracula's castle, or a fortress. Rings Also the place we were soon to take our assessments in. I saw Simon Dent smoking with his goons in a far corner as Thomas and I crossed under the marble arch that led into the Institute.
Above the arch on the white 'castle' walls were maybe twenty soldiers of the sorts that stood at checkpoints along the walls in tiny viewpoints that looked like mini shrines. I figured they were among the powerful. To protect the institute from invasions.
The road after the arch was a straight line that led on for about 10 meters before diverging in a circular formation around a desk with a receptionists sitting behind. I recognized one of her, the blonde with a different uniform than the rest and sat in the center, as Elizabeth Dwight, with a memorize-by-touch power. She memorized the entire databases known and unknown to me.
"Students of Springwright College," she read with eyes that shone blue and white like robots. "Welcome to Elysium Institute, please follow the guard to the assessment hall."
Thomas almost whistled at the sight of her, before a tanned guard (who looked more like a butler) in a suit stepped before us, brusquely introduced himself, and started walking eastbound. Though he wore a suit, I could see the tones of his muscles leaking out from inside. He was strong, that was for sure.
I turned my head to check out the arch from the inside, and the slight angle that the walls were tilted at, the light that shone of the glossy white, it was just too majestic.
"The assessment hall, sirs," the 'butler' guard informed courteously, and then disappeared before we could profess our thanks. We were standing in front of what seemed to be like a gigantic modern house three stories high with black, white, and brown features in the center of the fields, with a circular ring of granite around it. It didn't look anything like an assessment hall. But then again, I read that they switched locations for assessment halls every couple of years, so something out of the norm would be expected.
"You ready, Gin?" Thomas asked, this time finally devoid of the slight mischievious tone he always had. Even the playful ones must tense up on these days. His eyes were serious, his face determined. The only one I haven't seen so nerve-wrecked was Simon, only because he was the son of an influential figure.
"Yeah, I'm ready," I confirmed, as I walked up and turned the black handle, feeling warm to my touch.
The inside of the house was like any I have ever seen. It was plain, simple, clean, and the interiors were as if it were designed by a Pinterest expert. Everything felt so soothing to the eyes. So complex, yet so soothing.
Thomas and I walked the hallway, past the stairs, in which a black sign had indicated were the assessment rooms. I wondered what the rest of the house was used for. I would find out only later. We turned the corner and came upon a living room where the entire class were waiting.
"You're slow," Simon sniggers.
"Mr. Exter and Mr. Zolcs," Mr. Anderson says, standing up from the stool. "Excellent. Let's get started."
I checked my watch, and noticed we were five minutes late. That's what I get for my super tardiness.
Only when Mr. Anderson exited the living room, did I notice the sheer size of it. The living room itself was maybe half the size of our penthouse. It was humongous, with a ginormous circular couch that faced the fireplace. Everybody exploded everywhere, sitting on the couch, hanging upside down from the chandelier, laying on the floor, it was like juvenile delinquents (which, by the way, we are) had broken in. The rest of the living room had a bar, a gaming station, a dining table, a meditation area, snacks cupboard, it was the designer's dream. I always had a passion for interior design, and this is the apex of what I had seen before.
"Tran," Mr. Anderson instantaneously manifested at the hallway all of a sudden, and Tran Axton stood up from the floor from his buddies. He had a muscular build, I'll give him that. "Follow me." Mr. Anderson said in an absolute voice. We all watched as Tran followed until we couldn't see him. I closed my eyes and heard them walking up the steps, I heard something metal move, and then nothing.
"So..." Thomas inched closer to me half a minute after Tran left. "How long do you think until the next person goes?"
I didn't have to give him a befuddled response, for aonther man appeared at the hallway holding a clipboard.
"Ms. Ashen?" He read with an African accent. Zoe, aka goth girl, stood up from the crowd and followed him into the hallways. I listened carefully, and this time they were on the third floor, for the stepping sounds were longer.
"Okay... then," Thomas said, nervous. "So Mr. Anderson is not the only one, haha."
I wiped my sweaty hands on my pants and said, "Normally there's about 3 high-ranking power users who would bring the attendants in."
"How do you know all this stuff again?" Thomas raised a finger at me and looked at me with his 'nerd alert' face.
"A lot, yeah," Thomas chuckled.
A red-haired woman in a business attire walked into the room. "Mr. Banshee?"
George stood up and walked towards him. I slapped a hand on Thomas' mouth before he could comment on her short skirt. This time it was Second floor. There was more than one assessment room per floor.
"Ohh myy god, this is in alphabetical order," Thomas shook his voice. "That means I'm in three or four turns!"
"Three turns, yes," I told him. "And I will be last."
"Wait! Gin! Do you know what this means?!"
"What?" I asked. I also noted Mr. Anderson nor anybody else came down to call for more people. The assessments had started.
"This means that chick is gonna bring me to the room!" Thomas shook with excitement. I sighed and buried my face in my hands. He's hopeless.
While Thomas was jittering with excitement, I rested myself against the couch. I tried to focus on the power that was inside me.
How do I control you? I ask. I felt something sentient stirring for a second, but it vanished a second later. That response was enough to let me know that my power was sentient, and it would only come out when it had to. I sighed and watched Thomas head over to the girl's corner to flirt.
For maybe an hour, we waited. If we had to wait an hour for every three attendants, this would take over 7 hours. Fortunately, everybody else were capable of being occupied by something else. I simply laid back and tried to contact the power inside of me. I almost felt like I had it, and then... it disappeared. Almost as if trying to tell me _don't talk to me._
"Jonas!" Mr. Anderson appeared once again. Thomas gave me a cheeky smile once confirmed it'd be the woman who brought him in.
"Mr. Dale?" The African man pronounced as Quentin followed.
"Mr. Exter?" The woman called out, nearly making Thomas faint. He winked at me before what I would assume to be _flirting_.
This went on and on for about six hours, until I was the last one in the room. Mr. Anderson leaned in at last and said with a cheer, "Gin. Follow me." I stood up from my resting spot and followed him. I hadn't seen any of my classmates since they'd entered. I was worried about Thomas too. I didn't say a word to Mr. Anderson as he led me onto the stairs, and we came to the second floor.
"Good luck, Zolcs," he said to me, patting my back. This would most likely be the last time I see him, and despite the frenzies we have had before, he was still my teacher for three years.
"Thank you, Mr. Anderson," I said from the bottom of my heart and shook his hand, to much of his surprise. I guess when you're the son of one of the most formal men in town, you can't afford not to be courteous. He walked down the stairs and I heard him go into the room on the other side.
I looked at the metal door in which he had brought me to. There was no visible handle to it. I walked towards it, hoping it was a sliding door, to bash my head into the metal.
A hand sensor unveiled itself from the center and nudged towards me. I presed my hand against the sensor as it scanned my hands. My heart was pounding with each millisecond passing. This is the day my future changes.
"GIN ZOLCS. PLEASE ENTER." A robotic, yet human sound came from the door.
I took a deep breath.
The door opened.