I stand in front of the mirror and take a deep, insecure breath.
I can feel by body shake from within, my nerves taking flight. I stand in the locker room with Lila as we both stare at ourselves in the mirror. I have not talked much to her this entire time, so I really have no idea what she is thinking. Is she nervous? Scared?
“So, you an Ajax have a thing?” Lila looks at me, her brown eyes searching my face. I can see hint of envy in her stare.
I shoot her a look in the long mirror, she knows nothing . “What makes you say that?”
She shrugs. “My agent Suzume, says the entertainment news is saying so, and Flix is bragging about it on the agent’s chat room. Saying some very obscene things to the other agents.”
“Don’t take anything Flix says to heart, he calls me broke hooker on a regular basis.” I frown, “What do you mean the news?” Fear flashes over me.
“At the banquet dinner the cameras apparently filmed Ajax watching you constantly. It’s just speculation, since everyone knows Sarya and Ajax have a long history.” She looks at me.
I wonder if Ajax has seen the news, I’m sure he has, and Sarya. Butterflies take flight in my stomach, not allowing myself to think of what just happened in my room earlier. Good thing no cameras where in there. Mercy.
We were on fire, who knows what would have happened if Aaron didn’t come to wake me, banging on my door like he did. I close my eyes, I broke him in the most erotic way. He is angry at me probably, and I am not sure if he will let himself get to that point again, seeing how the media is onto us. I am willing to bet he is catching a lot of heat from it. Especially his parents after hearing the rumor, Ajax is their golden child.
“Has any of the other girls made any progress with Ajax?”
They better have not.
She shrugs. “Unfortunately, I think just you, though not from a lack of trying from what I hear. But I did hear a lot of connections are happening outside of Ajax. Suzume says as long as Ajax falls in love with one of us, then rest of the men are fair game.”
“Interesting.” I look at Lila. “I like your purple hair,” I say, changing the subject.
She looks in the mirror. “Might as well follow the fad of our color revolution. Alok has the same color as mine and McFolas did actually dye his bread green. It looks funny.”
“Wow,” I say then grin at her, feeling like I am a part of something bigger than just a dangerous game. “So, you sweet on Alok? The man is extremely hot.”
Her faces redden. “No.”
I roll my eyes, seeing her embarrassment. “Lies.”
“Look who is talking,” she snaps back.
I look at myself in the mirror. “You know what? I would love to be sweet on Ajax, he is just a tough cookie to crack, but I’m trying. I feel that he does not like the fact that he may be very attracted to me,” I reveal.
She shifts her weight and sighs. “Oh yea, these Fey are pretty uptight. I am just concerned because if you do not snatch Ajax, we are all screwed. You are the only one that has a chance.” She pauses with a pinched expression, “I see a storm coming with Sarya, Delon is on her team and she said that Sarya is one cold bitch. All she talks about is taking you out, they are supposed to target you and you alone.”
“Are you serious?”
“Shit,” I whisper, feeling almost sick.
What If I lose an arm or leg?!
I am getting cold feet.
We both tense when we hear McFolas’s voice boom in the doorway. “Ladies! Let’s go!”
We look at each other and nod, both of us pale. I glance once more in the mirror and note that I actually look like the real-life version of Wonder Woman. Something tightens in my chest, my childhood fantasy coming to life before my eyes. We are in tight, shiny body suits the color of cobalt, fit for any female superhero.
My breast plate is rock hard and fits perfectly, thanks to my heated fitting session. Ehem. I look sexy as hell, my hair hanging in long waves of fire down my back and my battle proof make-up is on point. We must look the part, it’s for their entertainment, after all. I am wearing heeled boots that are thigh high, them being armor in themselves, blue flickering lights on the sides of them.
I walk out and see the men seated in chairs in their cobalt uniforms as Ajax stands in front of them. Immediately my pulse is hammering as I take a seat, don’t think about what happened, please.
“Good of you ladies to join us,” Ajax murmurs as he is glances down at some virtual iPad.
He looks just as hot as he did in my room, that Gothic-rockstar swagger is mouthwatering. Ignore it, focus because I could be going home.
He looks up and his gaze barely flickers over me then to everyone else. I get a sense of tension in him and his stiff body language. He looks distracted, and I bet I can guess why. “The first games are always the easiest. This game is simple, it’s a race to the finish on ion bikes. A projection image shoots up from his pad showing a motorcycle that would fit perfect in the movie Tron.
Ajax shows us the crazy looking course that looks more like a maze. “This game is all about points. There are coins to pick up along the course but from what I see, it looks like a distraction. You get the more points for having all the players cross the finish-line and being the first to cross.” He looks at all of us. “You will all cross the finish line.”
The guys look intense as they listen to Ajax.
“Who has experience on an Ion bike?” Ajax asks.
All the men say they have except Lila and I, AWESOME.
Ajax nods. “That’s what I thought. Alok, I want you to be my speed. Lila you will buddy up with him, and I want you both to think of nothing except getting across the finish line first. I don’t care what is going on around you, you ignore it. If a player needs help, ignore it, you just get to that finish line, understand?”
Alok nods. “I can do that.”
“Aaron and Red, I need you guy to be careful and to just stay alive. You both will be targeted hard so you both will be in the middle. Just be safe as you can, your whole goal is to make it to the end.”
Aaron takes a breath and glances at me. “We will get there Ajax.”
Ajax’s stare pours into him. “You better Aaron, you will have the hardest job because you carry Red.”
I squeeze my eyes shut, feeling like a burden.
“Red,” Ajax says forcefully.
I look at him, feeling the impact of his intense stare.
“You get your ass across that finish line no matter what, do you understand?”
I nod, feeling sick.
“You are going to get hit hard.” Ajax says then glances at McFolas. “That’s where you come in. You are my guns, protecting Aaron and Red.”
McFolas nods. “I got your back Aaron,” he says and pounds him.
Ajax checks his watch and glances at me. “Let’s go then. We have an hour ride to the stadium, I want to get there with plenty of time.”
We all stand, and the force of my nerves is intense.
Ready or not, here I come.
The stadium sucks the air clean out of my lungs, it’s a massive ball of virtual reality, a swirl of all colors and projections of the different teams playing all around the sphere. A large crowd is in the stands cheering and screaming, the place is very intimidating and a complete mad house.
I feel like a gladiator as we all stand in Thunia’s section.
The stadium is so big it’s like a hundred football stadiums meshed together. The large finish line was in the center of it all, the course leaving the stadium for miles of dangerous roads and obstacles. This is real, and it looks terrifying.
I am putting my life in Aaron’s hands.
We all stand in a line, being able to see all the other teams. I try not to look, because I makes me more scared than I already am. Six teams are competing, for six nations.
The announcer is recapping each team in a loud booming voice.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, team number one: Thunia of the chosen Ajax Leocaryn! Team color is Blue!” The cameras are on us now as we hear a mix of cheers and boo’s.
Ajax steps forward and raises his hand in the air.
The crowd roars.
I can feel Aaron grab my hand and squeeze it, “You ready Red?”
I glance at him. “I don’t know how to answer that,” I say, I’m sure looking terrified.
“It’s okay, I am good on an ion bike,” he winks at me.
The announcer rings off the rest of the groups.
Nym Kearen of Ebrad, who won the last competition is Ajax’s good friend, according to Aaron. Their color is yellow.
Eroan Jomaer of Brae Shye looks like a mean prick, with his sneering gaze and gaunt face. Sorry but that man is ugly. Their color is Orange.
Raibyn Enkas of Broyrus doesn’t look nice either, but he is attractive enough with his long white hair. They all have long white hair except Ajax. Their color is green.
Deulara Daetumal of Claoye is a female who looks very intense, long hair pulled tight into multiple braids. Their color is white.
Sarya Eilquinal of Sescesh is the one I was dreading seeing all day. Their colors of purple are right next to us, unfortunately. She deliberately walks by our group and pauses to say something to Ajax, his features tense as he gazes down at her, arms crossed. She shoots a look in my direction, and I have a feeling she is asking him about said rumors. Flix had told me that teams are unable to communicate with one another, other than special events, in fear of team collusion. (Good thing Russia is not apart of this planet) So, this must be her only chance to ask him about it.
“Easy Red, your hair is starting to float,” Aaron whispers.
I look away in fear that the cameras will see me staring at them in jealously. Does Aaron know too? I glance at him. “She is going to make my life hell.”
Aaron alters his stance and glances at them. “She’s pissed, alright. Sarya has been trying for years to tie Ajax down, wanting to merge their nations. Have you been to Sescech?”
I have only been to Earth.
“It’s pretty strict, a lot more than here, and I think that’s why Ajax has avoided marriage. They would have to see eye-to-eye, which I do not think they do,” he murmurs. “I am so glad to have a ruler like Ajax, I would hate to have to answer to Sarya.”
Ajax turns from Sarya and says, “It’s time!” He and his assistants are handing each one of us full-face helmets with a built-in computer and audio capabilities. I take a breath as I see him walk up to me, cameras watching everything. “Red, I will be communicating with you through your helmet, be careful. You better cross that finish line,” he says with harsh tones.
I pull my hair back and take the helmet. “As long as your girlfriend backs off,” I hiss and turn to find Aaron at the start line where all the bikes are lined up, engines loud. I can feel Ajax stare burning into me, but I don’t care. I put my helmet on and see all of the virtual information. I can even see coins floating in the air like this is a video game, like something out of the movie Tron.
“Wow,” I say.
“Red,” Aaron nods to me, and I get on the large cobalt colored bike behind him, feeling insanely scared. I see Alok and Lila in front of us, and I turn behind me to see McFolas. This is it.
“Don’t crash, Aaron!”
I can hear him laugh. “That’s not the plan.”
Red, can you hear me? Ajax’s voice comes through the speaker.
"Yes,” I say.
Lower you head into his back and squeeze your thighs around the bike, no matter what happens hold on tight. Your legs will be your strength here, understand?
Does everything Ajax says have to turn me on? Maybe it’s his accent, its got to be.
I need therapy.
“Yes,” I say and hold on tight.
“RUNNERS TAKE YOU MARK.”
I am going to die.
A loud siren rings through the air as Aaron hits the gas and the crowd goes wild. I scream, holding on for dear life. At first, I have no idea what is going on, my eyes are squeezed shut, all I can feel is the incredible speed and pull of the bike.
We turn corners so fast we are nearly on our side.
“Watch out, Red!” Aaron yells as he doges an explosion. I can’t even scream, and I have no voice I’m so scared. I can see purple bikes surround us, but McFolas follows close behind, his power being shockwaves.
Aaron is doing a great job dodging the other teams, a couple of grenades coming really close to hitting us, a part of my suit is damaged. I can’t even see Alok, for they must be way in head of us, I just prayed they’d get first.
We ride through the course dodging this and that, barely staying on course from our breakneck speed. The racers are neck in neck, different colors ramming into one another in a battle to stay on the track and a fight for coins. I saw a few bikers crash making me hold onto Aaron tighter. This is crazy. It’s been a long thirty minutes, I can see the timer on my screen, my legs hurt, and my whole body is aching.
Alright, you guys! Hang in there. This is the last lap, be careful. Alok is in second, but I think he can pull up on this last lap. Red, how are you doing?!
Aaron dodges yet another explosion as I answer. “N-not dead yet!”
Sarya’s team member just picked up more explosives, please hang on tight and keep your eyes open.
Great. We are speeding our way around each dipping corner, trying to make this last lap a quick one. I can hear loud crashing noises making me look back, we are being followed by two purple bikes and an orange, I cannot see McFolas anywhere. I hope nothing happened to him, and we now have no protection.
“Red! Hang on! Last corner!” Aaron yells.
I hang on tight despite my protesting muscles. Just a lil further, just hang on, it’s almost over. I can hear the roar of the crowd as we enter the stadium towards the finish line.
“Red watch out!”
Is all I hear as I’m flung from the bike, I didn’t even have time to scream, just a flash of white light.
Sounds and visions come in and out.
I feel discomfort at first then searing pain in my right arm, as if my bones are grinding with hot stone. I can hear my name being yelled but it’s very distant. I blink as I see McFolas hoist me up and quickly getting back on his bike.
I am in his lap as we finally cross the finish line.
I can barely hear anything over the loud crowd and the announcer’s voice, flashing lights everywhere. McFolas is handing me to someone.
He takes off my helmet, my face in his hands. “Red! Can you hear me?”
I moan. “Yes.”
His pale eyes look terrified. “Medic!”
I glance around and realize I am not the only one hurt, people from other teams suffered injury as well. “Do I have all of my body parts?” My voice sounds scratchy. I look back to him, scared for his answer.
Ajax’s pale gaze sparkles. “Yes.”
“He’s fine. You were the only one to get thrown from the bike. They hooked you from behind, the bastards. Alok was first by three-tenths of a second, a very close race, but we did it.” His eyes move over me. “You’re bleeding, maybe a broken arm, but you will be fine. The breastplate protected the most important things,” he murmurs close to my ear.
My eyes widen.
He winks at me as the medics put me on a bed to be carried off.
“I’ll come check on you later, Red. Good job today.”
“You owe me,” I say before I’m taken away.
I think I seen his dimple on his left cheek, which means he must have been smiling or fighting one.
I just moved my Queen closer.
I want checkmate.