“Again!” My instructor, Alec, yelled from across the training arena. I have been punching, kicking and jolting rocks into the wall for 5 hours. My hands and shins are bruised, and I am on the verge of collapse. He has been pushing me harder and harder lately and I don’t understand why.
I believe that his favorite word is, ‘again’, since that is all he says to me. I do as I’m told, stomping on the ground having a boulder flying up to the sky before I round house kick it to the wall. Where it splintered into smaller rocks. I have chunked rocks into the same wall for so many years, there are dents in the steel.
“Again, now punch it with you right hand.” Alec screamed for the far side of the room. He was pacing watching me work. Sometimes I hate him but he was making my stronger and helping me control my ability. I needed him to push me in order to survive.
I stomp again with my left foot and a piece of rock jumped up to my height before punching it into the wall. “Good, that was perfect. Let’s take a break. You have 15 minutes.” Alec said as he walked away to get a different section ready for the next activity. Once he released me, I immediately collapse on the floor, happy to have some rest. I sighed in relief as I layed on the hard ground. My body was already aching and I had a few more hours of training left but the cold surface felt nice on my hot skin.
“Gaia! No laying down. Last time you fell asleep. Get up and get water or we will cut the break short.” Alec screamed. I groan and slowly get back to my feet and drag my tired body to the water bin.
I hated practice and training. I wish I could just relax one day but Alec would never allow it. We are trying to save my life and he was training me to protect myself. He was a bit older than me, old enough to maybe be my father. Although he doesn’t look older, he still has a young face.
He is like an older brother I never had. Always watching my back and giving me new moves to bewilder my opponents. He might be the most important person to me, considering I haven’t really met anyone I really like.
I drank the water like my throat was a desert, trying to quench it. I needed it to gain strength for another 5 hours of training. I grab a quick snack and we are back at it again.
“Now, we will combat each other. Remember your defense moves. I wont take it easy on you this time.” He said as we entered the fighting ring. Alec says that every time we go into the fighting portion of practice and every single time he tries to knock me out. I gave out a dramatic sigh as I strode over to my trainer. He decided to take off his shirt to show off his abs that cascaded down his abdomen. I imagined that women were falling all over him outside these magistrate walls. I may not have seen the world but I do understand basic human interaction.
I stopped on the edge of the ring to tape my hands, getting ready for hand to hand combat. The ring itself was just chalk that outlined a circle in some dirt. I never liked this part of the training process.
Once tapped up, I was ready for combat, Alec always says that this part of training was the most important but it didn’t change how I feel about it. I hope that one day, people like me wont have to participate in events like what I am about to face.
Our world is consisted of people with abilities. Not everyone is born with it but they are saught after, and basically hunted down for the game. You would think people would protect their children or leave us alone to live our own lives but no. This game that was created decades ago from what Alec told me. It is where I have to die for others entertainment. It goes by many names, my favorite is Death ring but people usually call it the Game of Life. Odd yes but that’s what people call it. I have no idea why.
In this game there are people with a number of different abilities that fight each other to the death. Last one standing gets to live a life of luxury, and wealth. Basically the easy life of being a celebrity. No more fighting, no more training. Now that is the life I hope to acheive.
There were reasons people like me were born but now it is the most popular entertainment of society. I wish i knew why i was born this way, and I have to be condoned to this life. Maybe one day things will change but not for me. There are 12 of us, we are called the Gifted. I dont really remember my mother or father or any sort of family before the magistrate. From what I understand they figured out i was gifted and gave me up to the magistrate for the games. Couldn’t handle a Gifted daughter.
I remember when I was younger boulders would start flying whenever i was angry or upset. Ive started mudslides and earthquakes through temper tantrums.
The magistrate and i never got along so whenever my tantrums started it was because they were making me do something i didnt want to do. Whether that was fighting in these games or taking Alec away from me. So they don’t talk or try to control me after i accidentally killed some of them. The only one who could control me was Alec. He was the only parental figure i had and I know he cares for me. And i care for him.
For the past few years my training was cut down to go to meetings to learn about the history and the rules of the game. The basics of the Game of Life is don’t die and be the last one to survive. Of course, there were other rules that weren’t as well known.
For example, the last two contestants can both live, if and only if, they stay together as in marriage but only if they decided to enact that rule. Its a weird rule but the couples have to stay together for the rest of their lives, no separation except by death. I think it started when star crossed lovers refused to fight each other, rather die together and not let the magistrate have a winner, than kill each other.
Most of the time couples dont happen and usually the contestants would rather fight to the death than be tethered to someone forever.
Anyway, my ability is something along the lines of earth or nature. I can move rocks and grow plants at will. Sometimes animals or insects come to my call but we are in the city so that doesn’t happen often. My ability has only gotten stronger and sometimes people that have abilities can expand them.
Since i have an affinity for earth, i can control or manipulate everything associated with it. The connection I have with the earth is special, according to Alec. I can have trees sprout out of the ground in a blink of an eye, but the only one that knows is Alec. He doesn’t want me to use my ability too much, only try to do hand to hand combat because if you rely on your ability to much your basically handicap. Or so he says. I think he is only worried about one particular affinity which is someone who can possess is the ability to take away someone else’s power. Which is petrifying. Not having my ability, to feel the earth at my finger tips is something I do not want to experience. Although I experience a version of it everyday when I leave the training area. The walls are warded against the Gifted. Basically stuns my ability to be useless but it is not entirely gone.
So I know how to take someone down that’s twice my size without using my ability. I also know how to kill someone with a rock or strangle them with a vine. This is my life even though I didnt want it to be.
Abilities can range from elementals like air, earth, water and fire to more spiritual abities like telekinesis, astoprojection, visions, and healing. The list goes on and on. I have to be able to fight anyone that has different abilities and be able to squash them quickly.
I get in my ready stance in front of my trainer. “Lets get this over with, Alec.” I said with distain in my voice.
We sparred for several hours. Not using my ability always makes me feel like I am handicapped but i do see the importance. I know for a fact that not everyone will be well versed in hand to hand combat like me. Alec has pushed me over my limits everyday for the last 10 years. If anyone is winning these games it will be me.
Not many can say they had the same trainer or have lasted this long.
By the end i am exhausted and so glad Alec called it a day. He kicked my butt today but i got a few good throws and pins in. As i was gathering my stuff Alec was starring at me. “What do you want to say?” I said with a sigh.
But instead of lecturing me or telling me what I could have done better, he quickly turned me around and engulfed me into a hug. He has never hugged me before in fact i always thought he was allergic to that kind of affection.
“Just that i am proud of you and i know you will win this. I trained you myself but i wanted you to know that i.....uh.... I love you like a daughter i never had. Remember everything i taught you and you will make it out of that arena.”
My tense stance eased slightly at his kind words. He has only ever done this one other time when I opened the earth up and kill some of the magistrate. I didnt mean to kill them but they shouldn’t have tried to take Alec away from me as a child.
“I mean it Gaia.” he said as he released me only to walk away from me and out of the training field. He always confused me about how he really feels. But it doesnt matter to me, he was my only source of compainionship.
“Ill be okay, Alec. Dont worry about me, you trained me well.” I yelled after him but he was already gone.
Then i gather my stuff amd went to my room to get some shut eye. Tomorrow is the big day, where I fight for my life. I hope that if I don’t make it that my next life will be better than this one.