Eclipse Star: Chapter 10
“And The Challengers Are…”
Recap: After an invitation was offered to all willing combatants for a tournament between Zanretha and Balobyn, our group made their way to the main gym to see if they could earn a spot to compete. Derek was first up, easily making sport of his opponent and earning him a chance to make it into the final 4 open slots in the tournament. Chris was next up and, after taking a severe beating, managed to end the fight with one solid knee to his challenger’s chin. Next up, Lindsey…
Lindsey: (Runs into the center of the ring, incredibly jazzed). My turn!
Derek: Pff, good luck in there little lady…
Austin: (Walks Chris out of the ring). Nice job there buddy, you had me worried for a second.
Chris: (Grinning like an idiot, completely in his own world). Heehee, she smiled at me.
Austin: What took you so long to fight back?
Chris: (Still paying Austin little mind). She hugged me, too. It was worth it.
Austin: Man, I may be one of your best friends but I doubt I’ll ever fully understand how that sick mind of yours works.
Jack: (Cheers Lindsey on). C’mon Lindz! This is nothing more than a small-time workout for you!
Lindsey: (Smiles and gives a thumbs-up back). Don’t worry Jack, I’m more than ready!
Referee: Okay, can we get the next challenger in here please? (Another one of the higher-ups watching from the sidelines walks into the ring). You ready son? (He nods back). Good. And…begin!
Lindsey: Hurrah! (Rushes at the guy, jumps into the air and kicks him in the side of the head. The guy falls to the ground and slams his face, though he quickly gets back up).
Jack: Great! That was a good hit! Do more of those!
Lindsey: (Raises her hands in the air as if entertaining a crowd). And now for the Ultra Special Lindsey Super Combo!
-Lindsey runs at the guy once again. He’s covering his head now and very afraid.
-Lindsey rolls around the side of him and back around to his front again, although the guy can’t keep up with her rapid movements. He turns his head around to see her right as she gives him a rapid succession of gut punches, her fists blurring together before she gives one last devastating impact.
-His eyes bulge and his jaw drops. Most everyone watching has the same reaction.
-Lindsey’s challenger falls to his knees and waves her off, giving up.
Lindsey: (Her hands in the air again. She’s jumping up and down). Hooray for me!
Derek: (Rolls his eyes). Oh I don’t believe this.
Jack: That was extraordinary!
Scott: (Once again with a cigarette hanging from his mouth). Keep jumpin’ honey, it’s good entertainment.
Commander: Damn female equality movement… (Folds his arms and slumps farther down into his chair).
Chris: Well Jack, who should we send in next?
Jack: Might as well step up and do my part. (Walks into the ring, hugs Lindsey on her way out, and stands with his hands in his pockets). Hey Commander! Any more decent challengers? Everyone seems to have grown rather unfond of us in general.
Commander: (Glaring Jack down). Jack my boy, you want a challenge?
Jack: You wanna give me one? Maybe encourage me from time to time?
Commander: Jack, I commend you on raising such fine talents such as these. Do you think you’re still stronger than them?
-Jack looks around at the group he’s trained and naturally, can’t say a word.
Jack: (Shrugs). I don’t know; I haven’t seriously sparred with them since the first month they were here.
Commander: Oh, wouldn’t it be fun to see how well you could do against them?
Jack: I’d much rather fight with someone who wants nothing to do with me.
Derek: (Under his breath). Look no further…
Commander: As much as I’d love to walk in there and fight you personally, I think it’d be much more fun to call your bluff in front of a larger audience. Jack, you and the first three will advance to the tournament.
Jack: (Looking the commander up and down, cautiously). What about the others? Don’t you want to see how good they’ve gotten before you pass judgment on us?
Commander: Jack, you wouldn’t be trying to back out of a chance to compete, would you?
Jack: I don’t want to get to compete like this; I’d rather have earned my spot.
Commander: Ahhh, how noble. (Brushes him pants off as he stands up). Well Jack, as far as I’m concerned, if you can train a group of rookies to fight like that within three month’s time, you’re more than qualified to fight.
Jack: (Still unsure of the situation). Thank…thank you.
Commander: No thanks necessary, really. Now go, you’ve got one week to prepare for this thing; I suggest teaching them some humility first, yourself included. For those in your group who didn’t get a chance to fight, I will be holding matches all day in order to see just how much you have improved. Does that sound fair to you Jack?
Jack: I suppose so.
Commander: Good, I’m happy that you’re content. So go start training, you’ve got a week.
Jack: Yes sir.
Commander: Hey Derek.
Derek: (Turns around, caught off guard). Huh? What?
Commander: How’d you like a chance to show Jack that he’s completely outclassed?
Jack: What’s he getting at…?
Derek: Didn’t you just grant me that with my spot in the tournament?
Commander: You’ve got the highest Pulse rating of your crowd. There’s an obstacle course that we use to break in those with higher levels similar to yours, though that doesn’t typically happen for another few years.
Jack: (Glaring at the Commander). That course is ridiculous. Half of the things in there could kill even you if you’re not careful.
Commander: Yes, this is true. You all seem so eager to advance; care to try the course Derek?
Derek: It could kill me, huh?
Commander: Depends on how risky you play it.
Derek: What the hell, just for kicks.
Commander: (Smiles). Heh heh, good. It’s a two-man course. So why don’t we have-
Derek: (Interrupts the Commander). Chris.
Chris: (Blank). What?
Commander: Uh…wouldn’t you rather see if Jack can-
Derek: No. I want Chris.
Lindsey: Chris…you don’t have to do this you know…
Chris: I know…(Looks back at Derek). But then again he’s not going to let me live it down if I don’t.
Derek: Good. Where’s the course?
Commander: (Walks down from the bleachers). Follow me.
* * * * *
-The group has been lead to a building nearby the training ring. Once the doors swing open a massive obstacle course is revealed that loops around the building, curving up and around several times.
Lindsey: (In awe). Whoa…
Chris: (Sees flames shooting from one section, various spinning blades in another, and a stretch that looks like instant-death from all the nasty things whirling and gyrating around). Uh…can I still change my mind…?
Austin: I’ve got faith in you Chris. It’s not…well it’s not that bad really. I mean, other than the death-blades up there, the worst could happen is maybe a few burns or bruises.
Commander: (Annoyed by the whole thing, he’s talking to his Subordinate). Derek was supposed to take the bait and pull Jack in with him. Why the weak kid…?
Subordinate: They’ve got a rivalry going. I’ve been keeping an eye on it for a while. It’s been getting more and more heated since they started getting past basic endurance.
Commander: Crap, how’d I not know this…? (To everyone). Alright, Derek, Chris, you two ready?
Derek: What are the rules?
Commander: Nothing’s off limits as long as you don’t mind getting injured as a result of bad judgment.
Derek: Sounds good to me.
Commander: It’s a test of quick thinking in the field as much as speed and endurance.
Clinton: Out of curiosity, what’s the fatality rate for recruits who challenge this thing?
Subordinate: Roughly 30%. Not too bad considering most people choose to forgo this in lieu of two more years of training.
Kyle: Hey question. We’re not all required to challenge the Agro Cragg, right?
Commander: Not unless you want to.
Kyle: I do not. (Sits down).
Everyone else: Agreed. (They sit as well, leaving Chris and Derek standing).
Commander: Once around the track. You ready?
Commander: Ready set GO!
-Derek and Chris take off down the designated path, hitting a rope meant to climb to the second floor. They both clear it with no difficulty.
-They come up to platforms teetering incrementally higher up. As they leap onto the first one it instantly topples, forcing them to ascend higher and higher very rapidly without a chance to time their jumps. Derek keeps making eager leaps, though Chris begins to stumble and fall behind.
-Once on stable ground again, Derek jets off to a series of ups and downs, a simple matter of running. Chris makes it to this part a few steps behind Derek. The two begins running up and down before starting to just leap from peak to peak.
Austin: The first half doesn’t look too bad…it’s that latter part that’s a killer.
Jack: In the very literal sense. I’ve had friends fail the test.
Lindsey: Oh God…
Jack: Don’t worry, they’re alive, but they sort of have to take desk jobs now.
-The up-downs completed, Derek and Chris rush on in a flat area, Derek still a few feet ahead of Chris. The next zone involves several poles going straight up. The two have to jump from pole to pole, shimmying up the poles to gain altitude so that they can make it to the next section located at yet another higher altitude. Derek has little trouble here, making more dangerous leaps every so often. Chris begins to show problems.
Chris: (Swaying from a pole, clutching tightly). Heights… Why heights…?
-They both mange to make it to the next part, the first half completed. The path then splits into two routes, one that goes straight up with enough space to either crawl or wall-jump up to the highest level. The other path has whirling blades jutting out from hi on a down slope, leading all the way to the ground-floor, though through any number of other deadly hazards. Derek comes to the fork and screeches to a halt.
Derek: That’s insane. (Looks the paths over before facing upwards and starting his wall-jumps to the top).
Jack: This is typically where everyone either gives up or goes the top-route. I haven’t seen anyone seriously try the slope.
Danny: Looks like a “Slope of Doom!”
Kyle: Yes. Yes it does.
Scott: This is some wild shit. (Pause). Anyone wanna take bets on who’s gonna win? (People chime in and begin chatting).
Lindsey: (Gets annoyed by this and takes a step forward, distancing herself from the others. She yells up to Chris). You can do it Chris! I know you can!
-Chris looks off at Lindsey a little worried. He turns right before hitting the fork in the paths. He stops and checks up, seeing Derek slowly leaping up, crawling in a few spots. He then looks straight ahead at the sloped-path and the whirling blades. He pauses a few seconds, counting as he goes.
Chris: (Quickly pointing at blades as they pop in and out). Onetwothreefourfive… (Takes a deep breath and books it towards the slope as he nods).
-Chris makes his first leap, clearing a blade as it pops up and retreats. A series of blades pop from nearly everywhere as Chris jukes around each, skidding every time he lands.
-Everyone is now silently watching this with their jaws about ready to hang open.
Derek: (Gets to the top and looks down to see this). What the heck?! Is he crazy?!
-Chris’ eyes close as he continues. The walls begin slamming closed, nearly crushing him every time. Fireballs shoot from various locales, missing him by inches as he ducks and sways around in almost a dance. More blades appear, this time as pendulums swinging back and forth. Chris leaps though one at a time, never breaking step, at times turning around in the air and sliding backwards as he lands.
-Derek is running at top speed along the upper-level through a fairly simple course in comparison, the floor mainly just jutting at awkward angles with drops every few paces.
-The slope that Chris is on ends abruptly, free-falling for a few stories with nothing but rotating spheres making the path look impossible due to their razor-edges.
-Derek reaches the end of his section, another straight drop to the ground-floor with more poles dropping off at random times, forcing him to leap from one pole to another before he falls straight down.
-Chris begins twirling around in the air as he falls, slipping through the center of each ring at it spins around him. Somehow he manages to avoid death each time, finally hitting the large pad at the bottom.
Derek: (Angry). I don’t believe this…
-Chris opens his eyes and gets up, sprinting to towards the end as Derek reaches the floor a few yards behind him. The final stretch is just a flat run as the two go all-out.
Austin: Who’s it gonna be…?
-The two are giving it everything they have, now neck-and-neck. Finally, the two blow through the goal and screech to a stop, whipping around to look at the Commander. The two are completely out of breath.
Commander: Uh…did you see who won?
Subordinate: (Checking the readings of a machine nearby). Just a second here… (A picture prints out. It shows Derek a few inches ahead of Chris). There.
Commander: Derek, looks like you won.
Derek: (Gets a huge smile on his face and starts laughing). Hahahaha! After all that fancy crap you still lost!
Lindsey: Chris, how the heck did you do that?!
Chris: (Totally out of breath). Do…heh, heh…do what?
Lindsey: How did you…not die?
Chris: Uh… (Thinks to himself). I thought I choose the easy path…
Derek: (Stops laughing). What?! Easy?! How the hell is that easy?!
Chris: Well it was just simple patterns. Once I looked it over a bit it was just a matter of repeating the correct part of the pattern at the right time.
Leena: Un-freaking-believable. Patterns. You’re making things up.
Chris: No, it’s there, I swear it is.
Commander: (Aggravated). Enough. The course is now off-limits to you all. Everyone else who wants to see if they’ve progressed, go back to the sparing gym. Otherwise be ready for the tournament in one week. (Walks away). Patterns…what will they think of next…?
* * * * *
(At the end of the day, every single member of Jack’s group had successfully challenged, fought, and defeated a member of the higher-class soldiers, although it was tough to force some of them to fight with the abnormal newbies. One week of training later, the lucky four are escorted to the Trillium City Grand Arena to compete. The rest of the group comes along to root for their team members, although their seats are miserably far from the ground floor).
Kyle: This is ridiculous; my head’s scrapping the rafters in these seats.
Austin: At least we were able to come.
Leena: My best friend is out there in the middle of all the action and I’m stuck up here in the nosebleed section to watch. This sucks.
Scott: The bitch is right, we got gypped.
Austin: Ah c’mon guys, when was the last time you were even able to score tickets to anything is the Arena?
Clinton: Well…I was able to come see a basketball game here once a few years ago.
Austin: See, that’s pretty cool.
Clinton: It was women’s basketball though so I guess that doesn’t really count.
Kevin: I’m just hoping that everyone’ll be alright.
Austin: Not to worry, the rules say no killing allowed, plus there’s hospital staff everywhere so if anything does go wrong there’ll be someone to fix it.
Kyle: (Shaking with frustration in his seat). Bah! It’s not fair! I wanna be down there!
Leena: Oh God, I’m gonna have to put up with that for the next few hours? Can someone trade seats with me or something?
Austin: Hey, where’s Danny and Willy?
Scott: Last I heard they were on their way back from the snack bar. (Lights up a cigarette).
Leena: You know, those things’ll significantly reduce your health and take years off your life.
Scott: (Looks at her patronizingly). Ahhhh, aren’t you a precious little thing?
Kyle: They’ll also make you impotent later on.
Scott: (Puts his cigarette out). That’s a fair argument. See hon, that’s the kind of argument that’ll get a guy’s attention. (Pats Leena on the cheek.) Useful information in case you ever want to learn how to properly talk to men.
Leena: Don’t touch me you jerk!
Scott: (Throws his hands up). I can’t smoke; I can’t touch you, what the hell can I do?
Danny: (Comes running up with Willy, both of them have their arms stuffed with food). Anyone want a hotdog?
Kyle: And where did you guys get all that food?
Danny: Um, the food stand…duh.
Kevin: I think he means, how’d you pay for all of it?
Danny: This thing’s comped…right?
Danny: Oh. (Danny and Willy look at each other for a second). …Anyone want a possibly stolen hotdog?
Scott: Right here.
Leena: Why not?
Austin: Sound good.
Kevin: (Muttering from under his breath). Thou shalt not steal… (Clears his throat). When do you think they’ll get things started?
Willy: We’ll know when they start lowering down the mega screen TV from the ceiling in the middle.
Leena: And how would you know?
Willy: I heard some people talking about it while we were waiting in line for food. It should be starting any time now.
-The lights begin to dim as a large television starts lowering down from the middle of the ceiling.
Kyle: Good timing.
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to this amazing event! Tonight, the Trillium City Grand Arena is proud to present to you a tournament between our great nation of Zanretha and the equally great nation of Balobyn! (Applause). It is my humble honor to introduce the one responsible for this tournament, the head of the nation of Balobyn, Octavious!
Octavious: (After more applause Octavious makes his way into the center of the arena). Good evening! It gives me great pleasure to see that so many people turned out for our little tournament!
Scott: Wait, now who is this guy?
Leena: Hah! You’re kidding, right?
Kevin: Octavious is the president of Balobyn and has been for the past decade.
Scott: Well I gathered that much from his introduction. Why’s he here though? Doesn’t he have a country to run?
Clinton: (Scratches his chin). That’s actually a good point; what is he doing here?
Octavious: In an effort to better relations between our two nations, I decided that a friendly tournament would be the best bet. So please, sit back and enjoy yourselves tonight while we watch eight people beat each other senseless. (Extreme applause and cheering).
Announcer: Thank you Octavious! And now, let’s bring out the four combatants from Zanretha! Straight from the Legion, here they are! Our first challenger, he’s been in the Legion for almost two years now and he’s already at the top of his class, JACK VOSS! (Jack runs out into the spotlights and waves to everyone). Next in line, a newcomer to the Legion, we have, DEREK TOLKEIN! (Derek walks out casually and hardly seems to care that he’s getting so much attention). Another new addition to the Legion, a very lovely lady, LINDSEY SONNEN! (Lindsey runs out pumping her fists in the air. She’s beyond excited). And finally, bringing up the rear, yet another new recruit, CHRIS COLLINS! (Chris runs out looking terrified at the thought of having to perform in front of a crowd this large).
Jack: Come on guys; let’s show them just how great this nation is, alright?!
Derek: Oh I’ll give ‘em a show alright.
Lindsey: This is going to be SO COOL!
Chris: I’ll just be glad when this day is over.
Lindsey: (Grabs Chris and frustratedly shakes him). Oh come on! This’ll be great, just have some confidence in yourself for a change, you’ll do fine!
Announcer: And now, our quests from overseas, the four combatants from Balobyn!
Derek: Wonder what kind of warriors they’ll be using?
Announcer: They choose not to give out their last names for this event, but here they are anyways!
Jack: Dang it, why didn’t we get that option?
Announcer: A strong fighter known for his strength and determination in the Balobynian army, ATLAS! (Large guy runs out dressed in black robes. He doesn’t look all too bright in the head though). Next, we have a man known throughout Balobyn as a dealer of death, THANATOS! (A smaller man hurries out into the arena. He’s dressed in the same black robes as the first man).
Derek: Hah, they must all be wearing uniforms. How cliché.
Jack: First guy looks kinda tough but not so bright, second guy could be dangerous…
Derek: What are you doing?
Jack: Summing up the competition.
Announcer: Third on Balobyn’s list, a man who’s got some pep to him, FERGUS! (A very small guy runs out with robes at least a size too large).
Derek: Ahahaha, what a loser. This guy’ll be easy to eliminate.
Chris: So we’ve got a good mix so far of duds and dangerous folk. Who’s the last place contestant?
Announcer: And finally, leading the pack for Balobyn, a man who’s a national hero to all of Balobyn, the one, the only, SYRUS! (The crowd goes absolutely crazy with excitement).
Chris: Holy shit.
Derek: Holy shit…
Group in the Stands: HOLY SHIT!
To Be Continued…
Eclipse Star: Chapter 9
“Prove Your Worth”
Recap: After three solid months of regimented endurance training, (as well as Jack’s private lessons), the group began showing unusual increases in their Pulse ratings. After their monthly power scanning, the results showed that everyone was well over a rating of 200, with the exceptions being Jack and Chris. Although Jack did his best to warm against excessive ratings, Derek couldn’t help himself but to demonstrate just how strong he’s gotten and blew their cover with a rating of 492.
Commander: (Serious). Derek, we need to talk.
Derek: (Raised eyebrow). About what?
Commander: I need to know exactly how you learned to focus your energy like that just now.
Derek: (Scoffs and turns his head). Feh, I’ve always been naturally gifted.
Commander: That is not a gift, it is a privilege, and should you decide to abuse that privilege there will be severe consequences. Already you know something that you wouldn’t normally have been taught until at least age 25, so where did you learn it?
Derek: My father showed me a few things he knew before I came here.
Commander: Did Jack teach this to you?
Derek: I just told you, my dad-
Commander: (Viciously stern). Answer the damn question. Did Jack teach you this, yes or no?
Commander: What else did your, “father,” teach you?
Commander: Alright, I can see that you’re not going to cooperate tonight. Go get some rest.
Commander: Tomorrow there will be an announcement on the bulletin board; I expect that you’ll read it…
Derek: (Starts to walk out, somewhat confused). Right…
Commander: (Speaks up once more). By the way, Derek- (Derek flips around). I’d be surprised if you didn’t continue surpassing everyone around you over and over again. With that sort of ability focused into the right avenues, I’d almost expect you to be sitting in my position within a small amount of time.
Derek: (Snarky). I’m not entirely interested at the moment, thanks.
Commander: I just don’t know why you let Jack tell you what to do. (Derek stops again, letting this sink in). Now out.
Derek: (Walks out into the hall where Chris and Jack are waiting for him. He looks up and sees them angry at him). What’s with you guys?
Jack: (Trying his best to contain his anger). Derek…you just…you couldn’t…what the hell were you thinking?!
Jack: God damnit! 492?! What……gah, damnit!
Derek: (Looking a tad bit surprised). How did you…know about that? Those tests are secret.
–Derek looks over at Chris for a second as Chris taps his ear and shakes his head, turning away.
Derek: (Annoyed). So you’ve been spying on all of us?
Jack: Just you, Lindsey and Chris.
Derek: Why us three?
Jack: Everyone else doesn’t have an ego problem, but you however…
Derek: Why Lindsey and Chris then?
Jack: Chris hasn’t been giving stable readings and Lindsey’s the strongest thus far.
Derek: (Hardly trying to contain his disbelief). Lindsey? Strong? HAH!
Chris: Who do you think held the group record before your little demonstration?
Derek: (Thinking to himself). I thought…maybe…no, but not Lindsey.
Jack: She has no idea how to harness any of it though, she’s just got it and it’s building to a dangerous point so don’t take it as a challenge to your pride.
Derek: (Flips Jack off). Forget this; I’ve got things to get ready for tomorrow…
Jack: Wait, what sort of things?
Derek: The Commander told me to check the bulletin board tomorrow, that’s all I know. You were spying; you should know, too. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to bed. (Walks away).
Chris: Well Jack?
Jack: Well what? I’m not your damned father; go do what you want… (Walks off).
Chris: …(Looks around the room and gets a random idea in his head. He checks the room he was in previously and finds it empty). Hello…? (Looks over at the scanning machine). I wonder… (Takes one last look around the room, checks the hall again, then runs over to the control panel and hits the start button. Chris runs into the taped off area and tries to concentrate). … (The humming noises are heard, some beeps and buzzes and just like that, the test is done. Chris walks over to the screen and checks the reading). 117…? Damn… (Heads towards his dorm room for the night).
* * * * *
-The next day everyone gathers around the bulletin board in anticipation of what the announcement could be.
Derek: (Leaning against the wall, arms folded). This is a jip; no one’s posted anything today.
Chris: It’s not even noon yet. Give it time.
-Ranked Officer walks up to the board and posts a notice.
Derek: What have we here…? (Reads aloud). “Attention all worthy combatants: The nation of Zanretha is hosting the nation of Balobyn for a goodwill tournament to better relations between the two world powers. The tournament will be held one week from this Sunday at the Trillium City Grand Arena. All who wish to participate must first pass a qualifying test today at 2 PM. There are only 4 slots open so only the very best shall be allowed to compete.” Signed, Commander.
Kyle: One of these days I’m gonna find out what his name really is.
Jack: (Scratching his chin). A tournament between Zanretha and Balobyn? That’s more than a little suspicious since they’re in war with each other.
Chris: But it hasn’t escalated into a full scale war. Maybe this is their way of preventing a global conflict?
Derek: Who the hell cares what it’s about? As long as I’m there I couldn’t care less.
Jack: And you think you’re ready to compete at a professional level?
Derek: Of course.
Ranked Officer: (Hears Derek talking). Excuse me, Cadet Derek?
Ranked Officer: I’m not entirely sure I understand what you’re suggesting. Are you serious that you want to try and…enter this tournament?
Derek: Of course. You got a problem with that, Scooter?
Ranked Officer: Hah, Cadet Derek, you are only a class 1 soldier, you’ll be lucky if you can even come watch.
Derek: I intend to compete and that is that.
Ranked Officer: Cadet Derek, I really hate to burst your hopes but all of the higher-classes will be competing for this chance. Trust me, you don’t want to embarrass yourself.
Derek: First off, if you call me “Cadet” one more time, I’m gonna bust your face just for the hell of it. Secondly, I will be competing, and I’m gonna win.
Ranked Officer: Hah. Hahahaha, we’ll see now won’t we? (Turns to Jack). And don’t tell me, you’ve got the same impression, right? (Walks off laughing).
Jack: Assemble the group; we’re gonna compete.
* * * * *
-Later that day, after everyone’s gathered in the main gym the group makes their way to the registration table.
Jack: (Already in a frustrating argument with the registration desk). …No I’m not kidding, I’m here to qualify, as is everyone else in my group!
Chris: ‘S true.
Registration Assistant: Ahahahaha! Fine fine, this’ll be worth watching just to see your smug face hit the floor. Hahahaha…
Jack: Okay everyone, you remember everything I taught you about holding back?
Jack: Today those rules don’t apply. It’s a known fact now that we’re above average in our class but we’ve yet to see how we compare to the higher-ups. Give it your best and above all…I don’t know, have fun I suppose.
Ranked Officer: (Walks up to the group and laughs again). I don’t believe it, they’re really all going to try.
Derek: Here’s hopin’ that you and me get a chance to go at it.
Ranked Officer: Hah! Oh that’s rich. You know what? I suppose I could arrange that, say, right now? I’m high enough up the ladder that my word is almost law. What do you say Cadet Derek? Will you meet me in the ring?
Derek: (Smiles). Gents, if you excuse me I’ve got business to attend to.
Commander: (Sitting up in the stands, watching the events of the day). What is that idiot doing…?
Ranked Officer: (Hops around to loosen himself up). Okay Cadet Derek, this will be a lot worse than whatever your drill sergeants have been putting you through. Though I’m somewhat curious who’s going to be rooting for you other than your group of misfits. (Turns to the crowd of soldiers watching the fights). And now we begin a fight between a level 1 cadet and myself! (Laughs can be heard from all over).
Derek: (Smiles and cracks his knuckles). Showing off before a match won’t prove anything.
Ranked Officer: Ready?
-Derek smiles and nods.
Ranked Officer: Good.
Derek: Pretty confident for a character without an official name, aren’t we?
-Ranked Officer punches at Derek’s face a few times and each time Derek simply dodges out of the way.
Derek: C’mon, show a little enthusiasm. There are people watching us you know.
Ranked Officer: (Sigh). Alright, if you insist. (Takes a much quicker swing at Derek than the previous few. Derek ducks under, grabs his arm, and flips him onto his back). Oof! (Flips to his feet). So he knows a few defensive moves after all.
Derek: I’ve got more than defense covered. Would you care to see my offensive skills?
Ranked Officer: Come!
Derek: (Derek runs at him, just egging him on. Ranked Officer kicks at Derek intending to catch him in the face but Derek flips over him completely and elbows him in the back, sending him onto the ground). Any more moves in there?
Ranked Officer: I don’t believe this… (Focuses his power. There is a machine off to the side that is keeping a running total of energy levels as the fights go on. It begins beeping loudly at this power flux). You need to learn some respect! (Runs at Derek extremely fast. Derek smiles, closes his eyes, and does a leg sweep of Ranked Officer. This knocks Ranked Officer’s legs out from under him, causing him to fall forward. Derek transitions instantly from his kick to a roundhouse-style elbow directly into Ranked Officer’s face. This pops him into the air as he falls backward and slams his head on the ground. He instantly grabs his face and screams). AAAAHA! (His face is bleeding quite profusely).
Derek: Ref, call it.
Referee: (Talking to Ranked Officer). If you don’t get back onto your feet this fight is over.
Ranked Officer: (Still clutching his face and whining). This is just…AAAAHHH!
Commander: (Stands up in his seat in astonishment). Son of a bitch, that was one of our top officers…
Derek: Well? (Walks over to Ranked Officer and stands with one foot on his chest). Are you getting back up or do I need to finish you now? (Ranked Officer shakes his head. Derek lets his foot up as Ranked Officer is pulled out of the ring by a small group of fellow higher-ups). Good call drill sergeant. Cadet Derek, ready for duty! (Mockingly salutes and laughs as he walks back to the rest of the group).
Jack: (Smiles back). Even I have to admit that I enjoyed seeing that. I’m just disappointed that I didn’t get the opportunity to do that myself.
Commander: Bah. (Sits back down in his seat and slumps).
Kyle: (Raises his hand). Hey Jack, question over here.
Jack: Yeah Kyle?
Kyle: That there, that flashy, zoomy moving and stuff, we can all do that, right?
Jack: Assuming that I taught you correctly, yes.
Kyle: Oh. Okay then.
Chris: I’ll go next I guess. (Chris steps into the ring with a very ready-looking higher-up). Heh, don’t…don’t expect me to be on par with Derek there. He’s a bit on the exceptional side; I’m not really that good.
Lindsey: (Confused and a bit annoyed). Why does he always talk down to himself like that?
Austin: He doesn’t have any confidence in himself.
Lindsey: That’s crazy, he should be proud of how much he’s improved.
Leena: Pff, I’ve probably even improved more than Chris has.
Lindsey: He’s still one of us though; he’s got to have some of that potential we’ve all shown. I mean look at that day in the museum; he was the only one that got in a few shots at the guy in black.
Austin: He had some good motivation back there…
-The fight starts and Chris takes a few jabs to the jaw. He stumbles backwards a bit and rubs his mouth. His challenger doesn’t give him much of a break and rushes him with another series of punches in the stomach. Chris falls to his knees and huddles over as a result.
Austin: C’mon buddy! You can do it!
-Chris weakly smiles back, gets to his feet, and gives a few missed punches as his opponent dodges effortlessly out of the way. He punches Chris back in the face, kicks him in the stomach, and elbows him in the side of the head. Chris is now bleeding from the side of his mouth as he’s laying on the ground facedown.
Kyle: (The group’s excitedly cheering Chris on). Up! Up I say! As you attorney I strongly advise you to get up!
Jack: Chris! Keep on your guard! You’ve got enough strength to fight this guy!
Derek: (Smirks). Seriously Jack?
Jack: (Quietly back to Derek). My watch is clocking this guy at 357; Chris is toast if he doesn’t actually try.
Derek: Yeah but how high can Chris get?
Jack: (Begins to act as if it’s hopeless). I don’t know, I’ve only seen him get to 219.
Derek: Hmh. (Turns around and walks away).
-Chris continues to drop his guard and keeps taking solid hits to the face. His attacker runs up, grabs him, and throws him into the metal railing surrounding the ring. Chris slowly stands up.
Lindsey: (Watches very worriedly). Come on Chris, I know you’re stronger than this…
-Chris finally stands fully upright, although his arms are sagging at his sides. His opponent rushes at him once more ready to deal a finishing punch.
Lindsey: Chris! Fight back!
Chris: -Chris looks off towards Lindsey, smiles, and as his opponent comes at him he jumps up and catches him under the chin with his knee. This results in the challenger flying into the center of the ring with his eyes glazed over. Chris lands and looks a bit embarrassed). Oh man, I didn’t mean to hit him that hard…
-Paramedics rush into the ring and check the guy’s condition. They give a thumb’s up and carry him on a stretcher to the hospital wing.
Derek: (Standing in annoyed awe). Jack…what did that register on the scale?
Jack: (Looking wide-eyed at his watch). It didn’t…
Lindsey: (Runs into the ring looking very happy and excited. Chris smiles). Great job Chris! (Quickly hugs Chris and continues into the center of the ring). My turn!
Derek: Oh great, now the chick’s getting a chance?
To Be Continued…
Eclipse Star: Chapter 8
“Slow but Steady”
Recap: Last time, the group moved into their new home at the main headquarters of the Legion. Though Jack was reluctant to agree on giving private lessons to everyone, Chris and Lindsey were able to convince him otherwise. Elsewhere, the Legion commander is already developing an opinion of everyone…and it’s not good. He admits that he knows Jack has been overstepping his bounds and instructs his subordinates to make sure that the morning exercises are more than everyone can handle in order to break them in and break them down. After a long morning of hard endurance training, the group makes their way very, very slowly to the woods to meet up with Jack.
Jack: (Way too energetic). Well good morning everyone!
Kyle: (Panting heavily.) We…are not…in the mood…for bright smiles…
Jack: It couldn’t have been that bad, could it?
Chris: (Bent over, trying to catch his breath). It was suspiciously like our drill instructors knew we had things to do afterwards.
Jack: Are you all alright?
Derek: Pff, I’m more than fine. (Pats his chest). Self-conditioning training guys, do it.
Jack: Derek’s right in this aspect, everyone. In order to make solid progress, both with your drill instructors and myself, I highly advised that you do a lot of outside conditioning and stamina building.
Derek: So, looks like it’s time to learn all that fancy stuff, eh?
Jack: If you’re all feeling up to it.
Chris: Derek, I hate to rain on this parade, but how many of us can even stand up anymore?
Derek: Obviously I can, anyone else?
-Only Clinton and Kevin nod back. Everyone else is either sitting or lying down and exhausted.
Jack: Well, I guess we can see who’s built for stamina and who’s got some work to do. (Relaxes a bit). No worries, we’ll take it slow today.
Kyle: (Falls back down and rests.) Oh dear Jesus thank you.
Scott: (Lights up a cigarette.) My sentiments exactly.
Jack: You guys just sit and watch and when you catch your breaths feel free to jump in. We’re gonna start with some basic sparring. I’ll throw in some tips as we go. You and you, (points at Clinton and Kevin), you two pair off and Derek, you’ll be my partner.
Derek: (Cracks his knuckles). Oh I’m gonna enjoy this…
Jack: Just don’t get cocky, I’ve got a bit more experience than you on the matter.
Derek: (Hopping around in a fighter stance looking very excited). Ring the bell.
Jack: Ding, ding.
-Derek runs at Jack and tries to tackle him. Jack flips onto his back and with his leg, flips Derek over his head and onto his back.
Jack: (Leaps to his feet). That was good, but you’re going to have to develop basic fighting strategies first. I’ve got quite the leg up, so to speak.
Kyle: Hah, leg up, I get it.
Derek: (Derek quickly gets up and brushes himself off). Look, I don’t mean to complain, but even I’ll admit that I’ve got a serious handicap against someone who knows detailed…things. If however I were to fight, oh, let’s say Chris, I could show you guys just how good I really am.
Chris: (Still showing great fatigue, rolling his eyes at Derek). Yeah, you could probably hurt me pretty badly considering I’m about to fall over anyways.
Lindsey: C’mon Chris, give it a shot.
Austin: Yeah Chris, what’s the worst that could happen? Maybe you fall on the ground a few times, but you just get back up, no worries.
Chris: (Sigh). Fine, I’ll take the bait. (Stands up and shakes himself out). Okay Derek, any rules?
Derek: None, just the way I like it.
Chris: Alright, (Tilts his head, thinking that through), I suppose. Who starts?
Lindsey: (From right behind Chris). GO!
Chris: Bah! (Panics from the Lindsey’s outburst and quickly punches Derek in the face before he realizes what’s going on).
Derek: (Holds his nose and drops down on his knees). Ahhh, you son of a… (Punches Chris in the testicles).
Chris: D’oh… (Grabs himself and falls onto his knees as well. Derek and he are now facing each other at eye level. Everyone else is laughing). That…was a very low blow…
Jack: You guys, c’mon now, no one is going to survive a real fight acting like that.
Chris: (Both Derek and Chris slowly get to their feet and face each other). One rule: no crotch shots.
Derek: (Rubs his nose one last time). And stay the hell away from my nose.
Jack: Ready, and…begin.
-Derek and Chris rush at each other, ready to punch. Derek goes high, aiming at Chris’ face; Chris goes low, aiming for Derek’s stomach. Both of them hit their marks, although Chris doesn’t hit nearly as hard.
-Derek huddles a bit but Chris takes a shot clean in the side of the head from Derek, knocking him sideways and onto the ground.
-Instead of staying on his side, he flips himself onto his stomach and gets up to charge Derek.
-Derek straightens himself and punches at Chris again, who blocks with his arm.
-Derek swings with the other arm; Chris blocks in the same way, making sure to protect his head.
-Finally, Derek rushes Chris and knees him in the chest. Chris recoils and huddles completely over.
-Seeing this as a good opportunity, Derek roundhouse kicks Chris in the side of the face, knocking him to the ground once more.
Jack: That was good, that’s what I want to see more of from you Derek; more controlled aggression.
Derek: (Smiling to himself). And I’m not even trying that hard…
Chris: (Getting up). Cocky bastard…
Derek: What? You want a round two?
Chris: As always. (Chris runs at Derek, the two ready to continue pummeling each other senselessly).
* * * * *
-Two months have passed by and everyone has been making incredible progress with their basic training. They have all gotten to the point of being able to run circles around the other recruits during morning exercises, and their drill instructors have been taking notice.
Commander: They’ve shown amazing improvement.
Subordinate: Yes, yes they have, sir. I’m very proud, as must you also be.
Commander: Don’t be a damned fool, you aren’t responsible for their rapid growth, Jack is.
Subordinate: But…we’ve been working them extremely hard, just like you said sir, and each day none of them can stand up, let alone crawl off to another day’s worth of anything.
Commander: You call that worn out? (Points off towards the field where Chris and Derek are lapping everyone else in a race of their own).
Derek: First to 100 laps wins the day.
Chris: What’re we at?
Chris: Forget this… (Speeds up and runs past Derek).
Derek: Don’t kid yourself Chris, you know I’m still faster… (Speeds up and rushes past Chris).
Clinton: 132… (Jogs past the both of them). Amateurs…
-Chris and Derek look at each other and run harder, trying to catch up to Clinton.
Commander: Explain that.
Subordinate: It’s… been an easy day?
Commander: Over there. (Points to a few others working out on the bench-press). How do you explain that?
-Scott is benching well over the standard weight limit for his supposed skill level and taking bets from other members of the Legion. He’s got a cigarette in his mouth as he slowly fills his pockets after each successful increase.
Scott: (Gathers up money from everyone standing around). Come now gents, surely one of you will realize that I’m just going to keep taking your money.
Solider: …D…double the weight!
Scott: Double the money then.
Crowd: (The soldiers exchange looks amongst themselves and begin nodding as they pull more money out). Yeah yeah! Double the weight.
Scott: (Smiles and lays back down on the bench). Alright guys, but I’m telling you, it won’t make a difference. (Begins easily lifting the next weight as everyone freaks out and pulls more money from their wallets).
Commander: That is not normal progress.
Subordinate: (Completely dry, almost sarcastic). No sir that’s…wonderful progress! Hooray… (Twirls his finger).
Commander: How about in fighting skills? How are they progressing?
Subordinate: Oh, very well sir. They’re at the top of their levels, of course.
-Another group of soldiers is huddled around watching Danny and Willy spar with each other. The crowd is cheering and getting excited as the two combatants grapple, throwing each other unrealistically large distances when they get the chance.
Commander: They’re far beyond their levels and you should be aware of it.
Subordinate: But I am aware of it, that’s why I’ve been giving them extra details.
Commander: Stop training them so much and just work them into the ground.
Subordinate: Yes sir.
Commander: Do I sense a hint of distain…?
Subordinate: Not at all. I mean, working them harder would only strengthen them more…but what do I know…? (Walks away).
Commander: (Standing alone now, annoyed with life. He looks off to the group and away from Subordinate). Someday, I hope someone kills that guy.
* * * * *
-Another month passes. Though their drill instructors triple and then quadruple their workload, the group does nothing but improve faster. Soon the group has shattered Legion records for their status and once again the Legion commander is more annoyed than proud.
Commander: How strong have they gotten?
Subordinate: I’m not entirely sure Commander; we haven’t taken their ratings for a while.
Commander: You might want to do that immediately.
Subordinate: Right. (Yells off into the distance). All of group C, regiment 5, report to the hospital wing for testing ASAP!
Derek: (Jogs off the track after running a ridiculous number of laps). Aha, so it’s time to see just how much we’ve improved, eh?
Jack: (Hurriedly runs up to Derek). This could be bad.
Derek: (Almost laughing). Why? Let ‘em see just how good we’ve gotten.
Jack: No, you don’t understand, you need to slip under the radar as much as possible. (Kicks the dirt in frustration). Damnit, I never got around to teaching you how to trick the readers.
Derek: Hmh, I’d rather not hide in the shadows.
Jack: (Contained anger). What shadows? You’ve all been acting like a bunch of kids with a fifty in their pockets. You’ve been showing off to everyone and it’s beyond me how you’ve managed to keep your drill sergeants baffled up to this point. If they find reason to suspect…(Throws his hands up in frustration). Gah, I don’t know, just be careful.
-After everyone assembles in the waiting room, Jack explains the situation to them and does his best to make clear the severity of what it could mean if they take this moment to show off any more.
Jack: Please guys, are we in agreement?
Chris: Don’t worry, Jack. I doubt we’ve even gotten much better anyway.
Jack: (Squints his eyes at Chris, somewhat mystified). You…really don’t know how much I’ve taught you guys, do you?
Derek: Well, it would have been nice if you’d have covered the energy blasts in greater detail…
Jack: I can only teach what I know. I’ve taught you guys how to increase your natural abilities and a few extra little tricks, all of which is not information that you or I were suppose to have known.
Nurse: Can I have the first patient please?
Jack: That’s you Leena. Please… (Franticly makes a praying motion with his hands).
Leena: Yeah yeah, I’ll be good.
-Everyone goes in one after the other until only Jack, Chris, and Derek are left.
Nurse: Jack, they’re ready for you.
Jack: (Stands up and walks into the other room. He is told to stand in the middle of a taped off area where many lights shine from all directions. He’s got a smug smile on). Hi guys.
Commander: (Complete lack of enthusiasm). Jack…so nice of you to show an interest in the new soldiers.
Jack: Well, I remembered how hard it was for me when I just started out so I figured I’d give them a few pointers to help them with stamina and the like.
Commander: Oh? That’s very thoughtful of you Jack. Let’s take a look at how much progress you’ve made. (Checks the chart in front of him. The Commander starts becoming more and more patronizing). Funny, says here that you were last recorded at a rating of 147. That’s mighty impressive for someone your age.
Jack: Why thank you sir, I’ve been doing a lot of-
Commander: (Instantly stern). Cut the crap Jack, I know you’ve been hiding things from me.
Jack: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Commander: Fine. Let’s just scan you then… (A large machine circles around Jack, beeping and making random noises. After a few seconds, it settles down with a final hum). The results say that your rating is now an even 180. Are you sure that you don’t have anything you’re hiding…?
Jack: (Turns his head away and quietly responds). No sir…
Commander: (Blank). Fine. Go take a few laps and get some rest.
Jack: Thank you sir. (Smile and begins to walk away).
Commander: (Flattly slips one last bit of information to Jack). Oh, and Jack, you might find it interesting that all of your friends have broken ratings of at least 200. (Jack is speechless. The Commander smiles and waves Jack off). On your way now, those laps aren’t going to run themselves. Next!
Chris: (Walks into the room looking very shaken up). Hello sir.
Commander: (Takes a look at Chris’ chart). Okay…Chris, was it?
Chris: Yes sir.
Commander: Do you recall your previous results?
Chris: Somewhere around 100?
Commander: Says here that it was at 102. (Nods). That’s pretty good.
Chris: Thank…thank you.
Commander: How strong do you think you’ve gotten?
Chris: (Looks upwards and starts doing estimations in his head). Let’s see…it’s been a month so…125 or so…?
Commander: (Very sarcastic smile). We’ll see now won’t we? (The test begins and when it finishes the rating reads…) 117. Hmm…
Chris: Something the matter?
Commander: No, nothing. You do know that you’re obligated to demonstrate your full potential, right?
Chris: Yes sir. I’ve always been a bit on the slow side when it comes to improvement…
Commander: (Looking very disappointed). Be on your way then. Next!
Derek: (Derek walks in looking very confident). Evening, Commander.
Commander: Ah yes, Derek, welcome to your monthly scanning.
Derek: It’s gonna be a good one this month.
Commander: I would expect so, with all the training you’ve been doing.
Derek: How strong have the others gotten?
Commander: Oh, they’re progressing rather nicely. Most of them in the mid 200’s.
Derek: That’s it? Last month I was at 130, I’m betting that I’m at least twice that now.
Commander: (Starting to break a smile out more and more). Only one way to find out, right? (He starts the tests and the results come back as…) Indeed you have improved. 216, just shy of the record of your group.
Derek: Who’s got the highest rating?
Commander: That’s classified information Derek.
Derek: (Pauses for a second). …Hold on, test me again.
Commander: But Derek, that would be unethical. That’d mean you were holding back, wouldn’t I?
Derek: I just think I could try harder with the right motivation.
Commander: Alright, if you insist… (The test begins. Derek begins to close his eyes and concentrates. The machine hums and buzzes and beeps (louder than before) more like an alarm sound than anything. Finally the machine finishes with its usual hum. The Commander is smiling a big grin now). Derek my boy, you are clearly above your peers.
Derek: (Gets a huge smile on is face). What’m I at?
To Be Continued…
Eclipse Star: Chapter 7
“Nothing to be Skeptical of…”
Barbara: I really don’t see why you have to leave, Chris.
Chris: (Hurriedly packing his clothes into a backpack as he rushes around the house.) Grandma, I explained this all to you; I’ve got to go find out what’s going on. I don’t like to admit it, but something’s happening that I can’t explain and…I want to be able to help.
Barbara: It’s just…you need to be careful.
Chris: Well of course I’ll be careful.
Barbara: No, you’re not grasping what I’m trying to say. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you and all that cliché stuff. It was bad enough that you’re grandfather left before you got to know him.
Chris: You’d met my parent’s, right? I mean, of course you met my mom since she was your daughter, but what were they like?
Barbara: (Sigh). Yes, I did know you mother very well. I never met your dad, though. It was very odd. I never heard your mom talk about him or anything, just one day she left for a week, came back nine months pregnant, had you, then left again. None of it made any sense, but I didn’t get a chance to ask her about it. I know it sounds pretty strange, but I don’t know what happened and she didn’t come back after you were born.
Chris: And then grandpa left?
Barbara: He…well he left about a year later. Didn’t really give a reason or anything, just up and took off. Said he had a client to meet with and that was that. And I don’t want you to be the same way, just leaving one day without a reason or a return day and never coming back.
Chris: I see your point. (Hoists his backpack onto his shoulder.) I don’t know what to say to that other than I’ll try and make you proud.
Barbara: You can make me proud right here, around the house.
Chris: (Gives his grandma one last hug and a kiss on the forehead.) One year. I’ll be back in one year, no later. Does that satisfy you any?
Chris: Will it do for now?
Barbara: It’ll have to, won’t it?
Chris: Good. See you then! (Runs out the door to catch his bus.)
Barbara: (Sadly watches him drive away.) Good bye…
* * * * *
-At the Tolkien residence. Derek is also rushing around packing things.
Marshall: (A tall man, well chiseled. It’s obvious where Derek gets his looks from). You have everything?
Derek: Where the hell is my hunting knife?
Marshall: I told you, knives are for pussies. I raised you better than that.
Derek: I don’t plan on stabbing anyone with it; it’s purely for survival purposes. Assuming I was a pussy enough to need a weapon, I’d rather use a rock than a knife.
Marshall: Good boy. It’s under the sofa.
Derek: (Hustles over to the sofa and flings a cushion off, finding the knife). Great, it’s still sharp.
Marshall: I sharpened it myself when I heard you were joining the boy scouts.
Derek: Look dad, call the Legion whatever you want, but it’s the only chance I’ll have to get out and do something worth a damn.
Marshall: The Legion isn’t the only way make a difference in the world. There are other options available.
Derek: Like what? Terrorist groups or some crap like that?
Marshall: Depends on what you call “terrorist groups.” Some of them prefer to be called “extremist.”
Derek: Well I’m not in any of them now am I? So they’re inferior until I say otherwise.
Marshall: Just keep your options open in case something better comes along.
Derek: (Cocking an eyebrow). What the heck are you talking about?
Marshall: It’s just…you know what? Never mind. You’re late enough as it is. Come here.
Derek: Last time you see me for a while, old man.
Marshall: Last time I see you for a while, little boy.
Derek: Words of wisdom?
Marshall: Don’t zip your cock into your fly. It hurts like a bitch.
Derek: I’m joining the army and that’s the advice you impart to me?
Marshall: You think of anything more important?
Derek: Ye- (Stops). No you’re right. (Starts to turn).
Marshall: Derek. (Derek turns around). Son…come here.
Derek: (Walks over to his dad. He looks a little unsure of what he’s going to say). What’s up?
Marshall: Derek…there’s only one thing that most people on the planet pay attention to and that’s power. If you have it you were meant to, and if you don’t, then you were meant for something else like childbearing.
Derek: Mom wasn’t that pathetic. Jeez, let it go.
Marshall: No she wasn’t, otherwise I wouldn’t have wasted what little time I did on her. You are my son. I raised you to do something that matters. Either you do that or you don’t. You even know what your name means?
Derek: I means “Ruler of the people,” right?
Marshall: I didn’t name you that by accident. I don’t do things on accident. I wanted you to lead people and that’s what I intend you to do. Understand?
Derek: (Smiles confidently). I’ll make you proud.
Marshall: I’m already proud; you’ll have to do more. Make me speechless. Nothing less than absolute. Understand?
Marshall: Good. (Hugs Derek close). I love you son.
Derek: I love you, too, dad.
Marshall: Good. Now get the hell out of here.
Derek: (Walks away and waves his hand as he walks). Yeah yeah, I’m going. Keep an eye out for me on the news in case I end this whole damn war by myself.
Marshall: I expect it. (Derek leaves). One way or another I expect it…
* * * * *
Recap: Upon returning to school from their “fieldtrip”, Chris and the others came to a decision, making up their minds to listen to Jack and become members of the Legion. Every last one of them. But before they said one final farewell to their old lives, they were able to grab two more unsuspecting souls to come along; Scott, a guy with nothing to lose, and Kevin, an old friend from Chris’ childhood. Once arriving at Legion Headquarters on the far east side of Trillium City, our group was lead to their dorm rooms and told only to be ready to attend an instructional meeting that evening.
Derek: (Taking a look around the room.) Well this is certainly quaint.
Chris: Hmm…might as well make the best of it. (Starts walking towards the stepladder leading to the top of one of the beds.)
Derek: (Hopping forcibly onto the top bed.) I call top bunk bitches!
Chris: (Tiredly drops his bags where he stands.) This is going to be a long year, isn’t it? (Sits down on the floor with his legs sprawled out.) So, guys, anyone else get the feeling that something isn’t quite…kosher with all of this?
Austin: What d’you mean Chris?
Chris: I mean with the fact that the Legion is hiring members as young as 16. Doesn’t that seem just a bit odd?
Derek: Seems more desperate than anything really.
Chris: But aren’t there laws against this sort of thing? Age restrictions and such?
Clinton: Normally, but in the case of government there are loopholes and extra clauses and if probable reason is justified, laws can be skewed.
Derek: Exactly, what Clinton said. The government does what it wants when it needs to. So stop looking into it.
Jack: (Jack walks into the room smiling.) Awesome. This is going to be extraordinary guys.
Derek: That’s what you promised at least. You better deliver.
Jack: And I shall keep good on that promise. However…
Chris: (Points at Jack). Aha! A clause!
Jack: Well, aheh, you guys are going to be scrutinized very carefully for a while.
Jack: Although the Legion recruits mainly on the basis of talent, the higher-ups are gonna be skeptical of your ages.
Chris: And the reasoning is because…?
Jack: Because I was the youngest member they had ever recruited and my record is…sketchy at best.
Chris: Jack, what have you gotten us into?
Jack: Just what I promised: Adventure and mystery and all that jazz. But…
Chris: There’s always a but…
Jack: Don’t expect to be going on any missions for at least the first year or so. You’ve all got a long way to go to get to the level of a trained solider.
Derek: So start teaching us. (Hops down from his perch on the top bunk.) Show me a bit of that razz-a-matazz there Jack.
Jack: Like what?
Derek: Like that arm cannon…thing. With the lights and the explosions. That would seem to be the most useful thing to learn right now.
Jack: It took me about four and a half months to learn how to use Pulse energy, and I still don’t have it perfected yet, not that I’m even supposed to know how to use it anyway.
Derek: Well if it’ll take that long to teach, you’d better start pretty damn quick, don’t cha think? (Gets uncomfortably close to Jack’s face.)
Jack: I can’t just teach you out of order. There’s a progression to these things.
Derek: (Gets even closer and his eye begins to twitch.) Teach….
Jack: Like I said, BACK OFF! (Thrusts both his hands outwards, palms-first, into Derek’s chest, throwing him across the room and sliding on the floor on his back.)
Derek: (While lying on his back and looking straight upwards.) That was seriously sweet, but I’d still like to know how you did it.
Jack: You gotta learn to control basic energy before you can advance to the fancy stuff. (Looks around the room at everyone else.) Also…no one mention to anyone outside this room that I can do that. I’ll see you later this evening. (Walks out of the room.)
Chris: (Happy to see Derek smacked around). Heh, you all right Derek?
Derek: Hell yes I’m fine, you think that hurt me? What kind of a wuss do you take me for? (Limps out of the room.)
Austin: (He can hardly contain his excitement). Ah! I’m so excited guys! I wonder what they’ll tell us tonight?
Clinton: Most likely just the formalities, like hellos, schedule plans, eating times, the usual.
Chris: Say uh…where’re the girls’ dorms?
Austin: Down the hall probably. Let’s go look! (Drags Chris along.)
Chris: (In somewhat of a shock). Wow, there are a lot of rooms.
Austin: They must have a lot of members.
Chris: Wonder which room is Lindsey’s…?
Austin: LINDSEY! WHERE AAAARE YOOOOU?!
Chris: Bah! Keep it down man!
Lindsey: (Walks out from the room right next to theirs, smiling.) I’m right here, no need to yell. So, what cha guys want?
Austin: (Bows). We are here to welcome you to the building and wanted to let you know that our room is right next to yours, so if you get cold at night we can warm you up.
Lindsey: (Coy smile). Aha, and who’s in charge of warming duties?
Austin: Lady’s pick, naturally.
Lindsey: (Casually looks around). Wonder where Jack’s room is…?
Chris: (Quickly changes the subject). Um, so how’s Leena settling in?
Lindsey: She just got here, so…pretty well I guess.
Chris: Right, right, so I’ll just be…(Points off in the direction of his room and walks away.)
Lindsey: That Chris, such a goofy guy.
Austin: I bet it’s ‘cause he likes you.
Lindsey: Me? Nah, doubt it. (Looks off towards Chris’ room.) You think?
Austin: Meh, what do I know? (Walks back into his room with the others).
Lindsey: (Still standing, pondering to herself). Then why doesn’t he just tell me…?
* * * * *
-Once everyone has finished unpacking, they make their way to the auditorium where they are anticipating a very routine lecture. As they take their seats they notice a large man standing at the podium, ready to speak. He looks very much like Robert De Niro.
Commander: Thank you all for coming. I am the Legion’s highest-ranking officer and commander and you shall treat me as such. (Waves his hand in an annoyed fashion). Oh, and welcome to our new recruits. (Points sternly). You will not be babied here, so don’t expect us to integrate you slowly. Basic training starts tomorrow at sunrise, just like you’d expect. Don’t be late. Dinner in the cafeteria, that is all. (Walks off the stage. A few group members clap awkwardly).
Lindsey: Well he’s certainly not much for speeches.
Chris: No kidding. Jack, what can we expect to learn with basic training?
Jack: Oh, not much really. Very similar to the army where you’ll be trained in the most basic hand-to-hand combat and endurance strengthening.
Chris: When do we get to learn…you know…?
Jack: I’ve been here for over a year and they’ve yet to teach me any of it. Everything I know was learned through alternate methods that are heavily frowned upon.
Chris: Please teach us Jack, it’s important that we learn this stuff.
Jack: In time, just be patient.
Lindsey: Please Jack?
Jack: Not right away. Give it month or so.
Jack: (Cracks a smile). …Well when you phrase it so nicely, how can I say no? Okay, tell everyone that’s interested to meet me in the woods tomorrow after the morning’s exercises have concluded.
Chris: Yes! (Chris and Lindsey head back to the dorms with the others and let them know what’s up.)
Commander: (As he walks back to his office.) I just don’t care for this idea.
Subordinate: (This man is wearing sunglasses all the time, but clearly ranks highly in the organization). Sir, I assure you that no one really likes this idea, but we do have confidence in Jack’s judgment.
Commander: That’s exactly why I’m not that thrilled with it. He knows more than he should.
Subordinate: Like battle strategies and such?
Commander: Like how to manipulate energy ratings and such.
Subordinate: But…he’s only 17, sir.
Commander: And he’s already stronger than you, how does that make you feel?
Subordinate: I doubt he’s stronger than me. What with…you know.
Commander: I know that he’s been spying on us and studying private training lessons. Does he really think I’m that stupid? Hell, I know all about his forging documents and skewing Pulse ratings. Those kids that he has so much faith in could be very dangerous to us. I want to make sure that they get a very rigorous workout tomorrow. Make sure that they won’t have it in them to decide to do any extra credit. And keep your eye on them, Jack in particular. Tomorrow is going to be a very long day…
To Be Continued…