Arc. 1 Chapter. 7

As prevalent as the magic had become in the world in recent years, the outside world didn’t convey it as such. Or at least, that was the case compared to here. It was like stepping into a novel or a movie. That moment when the rambunctious heroes of the story get welcomed to the real world, the behind the scenes, behind the curtain. To think that it was a short three years ago I had entered into college with a vow to do things right, the best way I knew how. I had a feeling that I would be breaking that vow, for nothing could prepare me, prepare us, for what we were experiencing.

The three of us just sort of floated through the room as Lille and her pet guided us. Our constantly swiveling heads warranted looks as we passed through the crowd. The air was thick, the heat from everybody rolling off and creating a cloud of sweat and excitement. People continued to dance around, with plastic cups in their hands; the alcohol inside swooshing around as droplets careened over the edges and onto the floor. We were going somewhere in particular, and it was getting louder and louder.

“And this is the highlight of our club,” Lille said as she came to a pause. At he far side of the hall, opposite that of the entrance, was a large glass window. People were pressed up against the glass, cheering frantically and spewing profanity like it was no ones business. Lille ushered us to draw closer, and after finally pushing through the tight crowd, our eyes were soon met with the very thing that had everybody in a frenzy.

“Dude. That guy is huge!” Lyn said in awe.

“And that other guy is so small in comparison. And they are going to fight?” Aleema questioned. A man to our right began to chuckle loudly. He looked completely out of place, wearing khaki pants, and button up shirt and thick, brown rimmed glasses. His hair was the same shade as his glasses, cut in a bowl-style. His voice was slightly cooler than his appearance.

“You three must be hatch-lings, huh?” he began. “That big guy doesn’t stand a chance against Skylar. That “little guy” hasn’t lost a match in three months. I can’t wait to see him take on the league champion,”

We returned our attention to the arena beyond the glass. It was a large platform, probably about the size of a basketball court. The ceiling reached up several stories, probably to accommodate for those that you could use flight magic. There was a large, holographic screen that floated in the air in the middle of the stage. I also noticed that multiple holographic screens has appeared in multiple areas throughout the hall, and everyone was crowded around them in anxiety. I could barely make it out, but it appeared like there were two elevated seats on the opposite side of us, but I could make out who was sitting on them. A voice suddenly overcame the entire hall.

“The match between Skylar 100 and the challenger, Robbie Hilton is about to commence. The rules are as follows…Shit you know how we roll here. Just don’t kill each other. And if you do, you’ll be suspended for a month. Last time I had to used my attorneys for this it cost me a fortune. Remember, if you hear the gong, that means the match is considered over. Are we ready to go, my children?!”

The entire hall erupted into applause. It was like going to a professional sporting event. I had never seen so many magicians in one place, let alone acting like this. Then again, they were people too. Glancing over to the twins, I noticed the large mischievous smiles had returned. I had lost them, and honestly, I wouldn’t doubt that I was about the lose myself. There was this energy in the air that made me just want to scream.

“Without further ado…Rubian, make some fucking noise!” The crowd somehow increased in volume as the large and muscular Robbie Hilton began to charge towards Skylar, who remained still.

“You little punk!” Robbie shouted, spit flying from his rabid mouth. He then materialized a club twice his size with large black spikes in it. “You need to sit your ass down!”

“That’s a big ass club!” Lyn exclaimed, her hands pressed against the cerulean, clear glass.

“And he’s wielding it like it’s a feather!” Aleema responded.

“You two should be commentators,” the nerd-looking guy said. “How about I treat you two to drinks later?”

“No,” the three of us said in unison. The twins quickly glanced at me, as I felt some heat building up in my cheeks. I swiftly looked back to the action, although I could see the happiness in their eyes.

Skylar 100 still stood there, just smirking, as the club was mere yards from crushing into him.

“You simpleton,” he taunted. In an instant, he vanished, as the club came crashing down on a the void where Skylar once was. Robbie regained his posture and began swinging around violently.

“Where are you, you damn pest?”

“Really? Pest? Haha, big guys like you always try to pick on small guys like me. But if you can’t even see me, how can you fight me? Funny thing is, I can see you all too well!” The crowd continued to cheer on, as a chant for Skylar began. That alone made the brute, Robbie uncomfortable, as he sent out a war cry and began flailing around.

“Damn, must you be so impatient? I don’t even get to play with you. Fine then, you asked for it,” Skylar’s voice echoed. Out of nowhere, a plethora of smaller Skylars began to run towards the flailing Robbie, who began smashing them one by one. However it was futile, if one fell, three more appeared in its place. Soon, a bunch of small Skylars were crawling all over Robbie, who was swatting at them like flies. The crowd’s intensity grew as Robbie’s defeat was becoming quite certain.

“Should I finish this, guys?” Skylar’s echoing voice came one once again.

“One…Hundred…Slash!” The crowd roared. The tiny Skylars pounced off Robbie and formed a circle around him. With blinding speed, they all jumped up, as a storm of red light appearing as cut marks bombarded poor Robbie. Screaming out in pain, he was soon brought to his knees, as the Skylars molded back into the original body. He held a tiny blade in his hand, and with one final swoop from above, crashed down past Robbie, who’s dilapidated body fell hard against the floor.

“Skylar is the victor!” the voice from before roared, as the entire hall began to vibrate with cheer.

“That was…amazing!” the words barely escaped from Lyn’s lips.

“He didn’t kill him did he?” Aleema naively asked.

“No,” I stated. They glanced over to discover my gloved hand against the glass. They hadn’t an idea that I was analyzing the match from the on start. “Robbie stood no chance, though,” The glow of the glove began to fade back to his dim pulse.

“You were able to see into his magical code from way over here? Beyond the glass?” Lyn asked. I nodded.

“His code was nearly completely illuminated, I’d say about 90%, which means he hasn’t even reached his full potential yet, or at least I assume. He has the ability, as you saw, to split his body into 100 smaller versions. He can also regenerate these clones as soon as they are destroyed, however, there is one out of the lot that contains is real “spirit” so to speak. If that one is hit, then all of them disappear and he reverts back to normal. There’s no way to distinguish it from the others though. He also appears to be rather proficient with that butterfly knife,” I explained. Somehow above the roar of the crowd, we could hear clapping from behind. Swiveling around, we saw two people, a man and a woman. He stood a foot taller then her, half a foot taller than I. He was wearing what appeared to be a solid white military uniform, with gold trim, gold buttons, and three purple stars in a row where the chest pocket would be. His pants matched the whiteness of his shirt, as did his shoes. He himself was peach in color, with dark brown eyes and silvery gray hair. He looked very young, however. She was wearing a modest, office-style navy suit. Her hair was purple and tied back into a bun. She also wore navy rimmed glasses, that guarded a pair of icy blue eyes.

“Who are you, exactly?” I questioned.

“Oh, forgive my manners. My name is General Thomas Whitehouse, and this is my personal assistant, Hera Pultzier. It is a pleasure to make your, acquaintance,” the two of them bowed politely.

“The people here are weird, Alex. Who are these clowns?” Lyn asked grabbing my left shoulder.

“I agree with my sister, this is strange,” Aleema held onto the other. I sighed and shrugged the two of them off.

“Forgive my friends, General Thomas and Hera. They don’t know when to stay quiet sometimes,” I said. The twins stuck their tongues out as me. The man however replied with a generous chuckle. Hera’s face remained stern.

“Oh no, it is quite alright. We are quite a weird bunch, as they have said. But, hopefully, you’ll come to value us as companions of yours,” he responded, waving his hand back and forth.

“What do you mean as our companions?” Lyn chimed up.

“Yes, I am sure you all have many questions for my assistant and I, and they will be answered in due time. That is of course, if you allow me to explain why it is that I sought you out?”

The twins glanced at me for an answer, of which I responded with a nod. The night was not boring , that was for sure. “Very well then, we’ll listen to whatever it is you have to say,”

“Splendid!” He clapped his hands. “Hera, please secure us a large booth if you will, while I fetch us some drinks,”

“Understood,” she simply stated and disappeared into the crowd. We followed General Thomas over to one of the several bars in the hall. There was a rather large crowd at this one in particular, and I could see why. The guy behind the counter had six, ethereal hands protruding from his back making separate drinks, in addition to his two real hands. As we walked up to the counter, the crowd parted like the red sea, allowing the General to slip to the front.

“Tommy! My boy! How are ya doin’?” the bartender responded with a voice canon to 1920’s New York City.

“I’m just swell, my friend. I see you’re showing off as usual,” General Thomas responded with a smile.

“Haha, anything for the ladies, ya know what I’m sayin’? Your boy lookin’ good up there and stuff. Crazy to think he’s just been flyin’ through opponents!”

“Skylar is doing a fine job. Be sure to treat him to whatever he wants, on me of course,”

“You got it, my friend. Ahh, I see you snagged up three hatch-lings. You’re always on the ball so early, Save some for the rest of em, will ya?” the eight armed bartender said, winking at the twins. They took a step back behind me.

“You know I can’t do that. But I have different things in mind with this group actually, but I’m sure they’ll be interesting in the fray as well,” General Thomas said. I saw this as my opportunity to speak up, for I had been quiet for too long and just observing. It wasn’t like me to be this quiet.

“My name is Alex Cristoph. A pleasure,” I held out my hand. On his free ethereal hands reached down to encompass my entire hand. I could feel it!

“They call me Hands here, which is a dumb nickname I know. Call me Earl though. And yes, they look transparent, but I can turn the solid factor on and off with my choosin’ Neat huh?”

“I’d say,” I simply responded.

“So, what can I get for ya? The normal, Tommy?” Earl asked. The general looked down at me, but I simply shrugged. I didn’t think I would be drinking this much tonight.

“Yes, four regulars please,” The General said gingerly. Earl nodded his head and began making the drinks in a dazzling display. He soon placed four tall glasses for a bluish green concoction on a tray and slid them over to us. The General pulled out a $100 bill and placed in directly in Earl’s hand.

“Thank you my friend, this’ll buy me something nice this week!”

“No problem, and thank you. I’ll swing by later to take care of the tab,” the General said as he floated away.

That was only a tip! Who is this guy I wondered. We made our way over to a large booth, away from most of the commotion. Hera had remained standing, almost like she was a guard dog. She ushered a hand out for the General to sit on the side she was pointing to. We filed in on the other side, as the General began handing out the drinks to everyone except Hera.

“So I’m guessing you’re his DD as well?” Lyn questioned Hera, who didn’t respond.

“Hera and alcohol…simply do not mix very well,” the General’s voice was a little shaky, as if hinting to some hidden reason. I took a cautious look at my drink. Of course, the twins had already taken a huge gulp.

“This…this is amazing!” Aleema screeched in glee. Lyn nodded, as they continued to sip the mixed drink.

“Great right? Came up with myself when I was your age,” The General responded. “Go ahead, my boy. Try it.” I simply nodded and took a small sip, which turned into multiple swallows. It was exquisite. You could barely taste the alcohol. It was like there was a tropical beach party occurring in my mouth. I put the drink down quickly, for I didn’t want to get too distracted.

“It is good,” I stated flatly. “However, I am still very curious why you wished to talk with us,”

“Ahh yes,” he said. “I can see you are about business, which I find that to be admirable. Alex, was it? And your friends are?”

“Aleema and Lyn at your service sir!” they replied in unison with giggly voices. “Would it be too much to ask for more?” I flashed them a look of disapproval, however, the General raised a hand.

“Not a problem. Hera, if you will?” The purple haired lady nodded and left to retrieve more drinks. “I’m glad you girls like them!” Aleema and Lyn nodded wildly, their smiles drunk with pleasure, quite literally. Light weights.

“Why are we here?” my voice grew more stern and agitated.

“You could learn to loosen up, like your friends here,” The General said.

“Yea, Alex!” Lyn began. “Listen to the smart man!”

“We try to break him, but he’s pretty stubborn. We still love him though,” Aleema finished her sister’s thought. Lyn’s face flushed red as she clamped her hands on Aleema’s mouth and the two began to whisper to each other, frantically. I merely shook my head and General Thomas laughed.

“Truth is, I was mainly interested in you Alex, although your friends are certainly I nice bonus. You see, you and I are a lot alike. We can see the potential in people before they can see it themselves. It gives us a sort of edge. It is was has made me very successfully in doing what I do,” the man in white declared.

“And what would that be exactly?” I asked. The General, who had yet to touch his drink, grabbed it and downed the entire thing. Wiping the remnant droplets from his lips, his posture remained perfect, completely unaffected.

“I’m what you would call…a sponsor,”

Arc. 1 Chapter. 6

The most interesting things happen in the most unexpected places. The docks of Blueport were that of a fading dream. It wasn’t completely gone, hadn’t completely evaporated. However, it had seen its peak and was on the decline, which made it the perfect spot in town for people do conduct activities in the shadows. The three of us had left the restaurant a while ago and were now walking along the wooden sidewalk. Moonlight refracted off the dusty buildings, as the air picked the salt off the sea, carrying it around. The sea itself was rather calm, as meditative waves came in and out. It was a surprisingly clear night, and luckily, Blueport wasn’t the largest city, so we were graced with an impressive knitted blanket of stars. The wood creaked with every step, not completely dilapidated from much use, but certainly on its way. Considering the increasing number of people we passed, we assumed to almost be there.

Anytime there were droves of people out in a place like the docks, you knew something had to be up. We stopped several yards away from a small building at the end. There was a single door, with two rather large and brutish men guarding it. A group of people, that appeared to be our age, conversed with them for a bit, prior to going inside. The silence in the air was eerie, considering just how many people were out. What could they have been hiding?

“Ok,” Aleema broke the silence. “What’s the plan?”

“We have to get inside somehow. I think there’s like a password or code or something? What do you think, Alex?”

“I think you’re right and I have an idea,” I said, as I made my way to the entrance. The twins followed a few steps behind, as a I boldly made my way over. The two men grew in size as I approached them. They glared at me, with disapproving looks. More than likely, these men were used to the proverbial bullshit of people trying to pass off as insiders, so I opted to skip out on the acting.

“Hello, fellas. Me and my friends heard about your little club here, and we were rather interested in your activities. We’re students from Mozley just looking for something interesting to do. Hope you don’t mind if we come in?” My voice was clear and political.

“Passcode please,” the both rang in unison with deep, echoing voices.

“Come one guys, you already know I don’t know any passcode. Why bother to ask? You two also know that we’re going to get in without one,” I pressed on.

“No passcode,”

“No entry” they finished each other thoughts. The twins behind me were becoming frustrated with me and the looming, guard twins.

“Alex, this is stupid. Why don’t we just ask for it from someone else,” Aleema suggested.

“Yea, they’re not gonna budge,” Lyn responded. I smiled, looking back at them, and then returned my gaze up at the guards. They wore simple clothes, solid black t-shirts and blue jeans. Their faces were shielded under beanie caps. Arms folded, their muscles filled the gaps of their shirts, as blades of hair rolled off their skin. I didn’t even have to read their code to know what kind of magic they used. I could sense it.

“Interesting, is it not?” I continued my charade. “That the bodyguards employed by here are also scam artists. You hide behind these appearances, but you have other forms as well. Beastly forms, and most people can’t accept you whilst in these forms, because you’re deemed as scary, right?”

They remained silent.

“Well, I can certainly understand why you would take this line of work. Still, I’m sure all you two want is to be accepted, not that I’m saying these people don’t accept you, but you gotta find work somewhere right?”

“Alex, what the hell are you- I rose my hand to cut Lyn off.

“My name is Alex Cristoph. You probably haven’t heard of me, but soon you will. I have this gift where I can see the potential in people and I can sense how great you two could become. Are ya’ll apart of any Upgraded legions or anything like that?” There was no vocal reply, however, I noticed that the two of them had relaxed their shoulders just slightly, which meant I was in. “I’m assuming no. Well, that’s too bad. I know I’m just a student, but I have connections to a lot of teams, and they could use some guys like ya’ll. I could put in a good word, and you two could have an opportunity to make more than what you do now. Plus, you two will be doing more rewarding work. How does that sound?”

“Look kid,” the one on the left began. “We get smooth talking punks like you who think they can butter us up and get in here with ease all the time,”

“If you really think this ploy will work on us think again. We happen to enjoy this line of work. And this club is rather prestigious. We don’t need scum like you ruining it,” the other one replied.

“Hey! Who are you calling scum!” Aleema’s flustered voice rose. Lyn pulled her back, as I rose another hand to stop their commotion. I had never been called scum before. It was, strange.

“Forgive me if I offended you gentlemen. If you really feel that way, then I guess we’ll leave. It’s just a shame really. I can tell that you really liked my offer. I’m guessing you have been rejected by some teams in the past? I can tell. Don’t ask how I know,”

They both moved closer, with my nose just inches from their stomachs. I got a glimpse of their eyes, which burned a solid neon green. Luckily, despite their ghoulish glares, I had dealt with intimidation before.

“I have this crazy dream, that I tell everyone. I want to become the Face of the Sector. I know it’s a ridiculous goal to go after, but I always say, why not set your sights higher. I have no doubt I will achieve this goal, regardless of the ridicule I receive. This isn’t some sort of political move. I actually want to help you guys, because I am the same as you. My powers were viewed as useless before, believed to have no real application. It was this very ridicule that propelled me to excel in just about every subject. You guys are probably often seen as tools, but really, you want to be treated as regular people, who just happen to be special. My purpose in life is to give people like you and me a voice. So please, let me give you a voice,” There a long pause. All that could be heard were the cicadas chiming and the gentle etch and flow of the ocean.

“Clear our names,” the one of the right said.

“What?” I questioned.

“Our names, we’ll let you in, but you have to help us clear our names. We are innocent, that is all we will say,” the other one finished. I didn’t fancy the way this had turned out. I didn’t like dealing with criminals, as I had done so in the past, and several times had come to regret it. There’s always a learning curve I suppose.

“Very well then. When will you need me to do this?”

“We’ll find you whenever we are ready,” they replied in unison.

“Alex, this is crazy. You can’t actually accept these terms, can you?” Aleema protested. Lyn nodded in agreement.

“Sorry ladies, but this is the role I fulfill. I help those in need. I accept your terms,” I said. The two men backed up and moved away from the large metal door. There was a large symbol painted on it: A large golden-rimmed, black shield. Perching on either side of the top of the crest was what appeared to be a vulture. On the lower half were two snakes and a six pointed golden star in the middle.

“Memphis Night,” the two guards said, which triggered the door to open by moving straight back into the building. A thin blue light appeared around the edges, as the opening soon became large enough for us to walk through. I let the girls go in first. I looked back, about the say something, but the door closed shut before I could. Oh well.

The inside looked like something of an abandoned warehouse. There were no windows, just bunch of random machines. Cobwebs clung to the corners of the ceiling and dust collected on the ground. The only light in the room was a flickering, fluorescent light overhead. Faint drops, probably from a leaking pipe, could be heard, falling perfectly in sequence. If anything was happening here, it certainly didn’t seem like it.

“What the hell is this place? Where is everyone?” Lyn questioned, her voice reverberating off the metal and concrete walls.

“Ya’ll must be new here,” a foreign voice echoed. Aleema and Lyn quickly jumped into a defensive position, as their auras began to glow more vibrantly. Both of their bodies were gleaming red and blue respectively. “Whoa whoa whoa, calm down. You’ll get your chance to fight, if you want,” the voice came again.

“Who are you?” I demanded. Finally, someone rose from the shadows in the left corner. He appeared young, about our age, maybe a little bit older. His hair was a striking shade of lime green contrasted against his bronze skin. His eyes were a deep shade of red, as was the unusually long tongue he had sticking out of one side of his mouth. He was wearing a dark green vest over a white shirt with the same emblem from the outside door on it. A forest of chains hung from the pockets of his black jeans. The girls winced at his appearance, which he took note of.

“Hey, we don’t judge people here, Ok? We let their skills do the talking,” he said.

“Where are we? Who are you?” I demanded once more. He began to laugh as he moved closer. His movements were almost reptilian. He stopped a few feet from us.

“My name is Seth, and that’s all you need to know for now. I’m the inside doorkeeper here at the Rubian Monastery,”

“Monastery? So, are ya’ll like a church or something?” Aleema questioned. He snickered again, digging he hands in his pockets, the chains rattling as he did so. He began to walk around us, with his back hunched over, as if he was inspecting us.

“You can say that. We subscribe to the belief that everyone deserves a chance to show their power. We are one of several connected underground magical societies, where people can come to show their stuff, gain exposure, and just chill with other people like them. We function a little bit different than your normal magical training societies. Many people who are magic users try to take the conventional routes to gain awareness, but that takes far too much time and money. This place offers an arena for people to enhance their skills without all the legal windows and crap. Many people who come here actually end up getting recruited by Upgraded legions,” he explained.

“Really? That’s insane. So this is all illegal? How in the world do people still get recruited?” Lyn questioned.

“How do they get recruited?” Seth repeated her words. “Damn, ya’ll are a naive bunch. Don’t you know this is how the world works. The shadows operate so much more than you could imagine. People play both sides too. Sure, there are some risks involved if things get…out of hand. But, luckily, we here don’t have to worry about that, considering the founders of our monastery. Maybe, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll get to meet them someday,”

My expression remained flat, however it was shielding a mixture of emotions. I could appreciate what they were doing here, as it gave people a voice, even if it was frowned upon. Still, I believed there was a way to work with the system to change it.

“So people who want to fortify their magical skills come here if they can’t afford the legal ways to become an official Upgraded. Is that what I’m getting?” I said. His eyes widened, as he drew closer. His breath was cool, dancing on the skin of my face, as he peered deep into my eyes, almost seductively. I tried to remain calm.

“Ahhh, you’re right. You know, I have this sort of sixth sense for detecting deceit. I can smell it on you,” his voice turned serpent-like.

“You’re good,” I merely responded. He backed off swiftly.

“As are you, which I like. Not sure how you got passed Rift and Tiko without the password, but I have mad respect for you having done so,” his voice returned to a more normal state. “The door is behind that big machine over there,” he pointed to a large box that looked like one of the first computers invented. “From there, say the words “By any means necessary” and the door shall open up for you. Follow the passageway down into the main room. From their you’ll pretty much know what to do. Welcome to the monastery, my new friends!” he said before slipping back into the blackness. I looked back at the twins, who were beaming with excitement. It couldn’t be helped. We were already in, so there was no point in going back. I just hoped I wouldn’t see anybody I knew here.

As told, we used the code given to us by Seth to access the hidden passageway. The inside looked like that of old ruins; the walls were made of stone, as torches lit the way. There was a spiral staircase the descended far down. To think that this was in Blueport, let alone the docks was rather amazing. After several minutes, we finally made it to the bottom.

“Oh…my…God…” Aleema and Lyn’s voices quivered. My eyes were equally wide, my jaw dropped as low as theirs. It probably didn’t help to distinguish us as newcomers, though we couldn’t help it.

“Impressive, isn’t it?” A lady said sitting on bench at the foot of the stairs said. She appeared out of place, with her cheery appearance and sweet voice. She was wearing a white, sun dress and a large hat. In her lap was a golden and black striped cat. Its coat was immaculate, and it’s aqua blue eyes were enchanting. Her soft look was certainly deceiving.

“What…is this place exactly?” I asked. She smiled, as her cat purred a most elegant purr.

“The best place in the world if you ask me,” she replied.

It was a giant hall, with hundreds of people walking around and chatting. It looked like some sort of convention for magical users. There were young people, older people, people of all different backgrounds and ethnicities. Some people wore regular clothes, some wore costumes. Others neglected to use their human forms. The walls themselves were polished stones of obsidian and tan granite. The ceilings were tall, with large, black chandeliers and torches for light. Massive columns with tribal-looking carvings stood like trees, connecting the floor and ceiling. There were many tables and booths, where people were chatting and eating food. There was also a DJ playing some ancient-sounding,and yet cinematic-like tunes. A large group of people were dancing in front of him. Still, despite the seemingly chaotic chatter of the room, you could frequently hear excited screams and cheers from the distance. It was definitely a club, and a rather popular one at that. The place managed a polished and clean look, despite looking very ancient, and people were everywhere.

“Since ya’ll are new here, Jasmyn tells me, I will be your guide for tonight,” the lady replied, as she rose to her feet. “And my name is Lille. It is my pleasure to officially welcome you to the Rubian Monastery!”

Arc. 1 Chapter. 5

The incessant buzzing in my pockets wasn’t enough to pull me away from my thoughts. Whenever I had the urge, I went up to my spot. A lot of things I had experienced there, a lot of light-bulbs were fixed there, a lot of sweet nothings as well. In my first year, I had discovered a secret passageway that led to the roof of the student center. It went right up to the highest of the three steeples. The window was just large enough for me to crawl through and sit on the black roof. The way it was positioned, no one could see you from the ground, so it provided a sort of comfort for me. I was always an explorer.

I gazed out on the campus, still people scurried around amok in anxiety. Sure I talked to these people, but there were many times, where I didn’t want to. Not so much out of fear, but simply a desire to just keep to myself. It was a strange relationship. Putting myself in the limelight, whilst at the same time not caring for it as much as one would expect. I was willing to do it though if it meant accomplishing my goal.

Clenching my fists, I looked down at the gloves. They were still glowing, the sun bounced off the leathery parts. Thoughts rushed through my head, neither one allowing the prior one to settle in. Gryphon. Helix. Gun Girl. Succubus. Fire. Pain. Language. What was the language I saw? It mirrored something one would encounter in the pyramids or other ancient structures. Before the gloves, the writing was always so blurry and far away. I was allowed only a peak. That would explain the unexpected affects of me altering someone’s code before. There had been times when I intensified their powers, but I would eventually disarm them. This time, however, was different. The writing was clear.

“So this is where you ran off to. I should have figured as much,” a familiar voice said from behind me. I didn’t even turn to see her.

A part of me sighed, “How long have you known of this place?”

“I’ve followed you up here a few times,” Lyn admitted. She was never really discrete. I turned around and ushered her to take a seat next to me.

“So tell me, how many people have you told about this place?” I asked her. She gave a faint smile, as her eyes trailed off in the distance. There was a sort of softness to her bluntness. Though their eyes were similar, Lyn’s appeared more sleepy, sort of falling into her cheeks. She never smiled to wide, but she didn’t need to. She appeared soft, but was very outright with her thoughts. She was certainly a paradox.

“Besides my sister, no one else from what I know. Although, I highly doubt you’re the only one who has found this place,”

I laughed, “I know I’m not. I just like to think I am. Provides solace for me,”

“Alex?” she questioned. Her expression barely changed. “What do you think is going to happen? The Dean seems to be really worried about something,”

“I honestly can’t say,” I began. “All we can do is prepare. We live in a world of uncertainty, so who’s to say what can happen. It’s not like the 20th century. Life was simple back then,”

“Ain’t that the truth,” she replied. Her eyes became lost in the horizon again. We sat there in silence for a while longer, before she spoke. “I think Aleema is still mad at me,”

“Why do you say that? Ya’ll are best friends. No way she is still mad about what happened,” I said, trying to comfort her. She brought her knees into her chest and hugged them.

“Sure you say that, but you have to look at it from our perspective. We are more connected than you know. Everything I feel and see, she does too. It’s not just a twin thing, it’s our powers too,” Lyn explained. I didn’t respond immediately. I liked both of them, but I didn’t know how to deal with them sometimes. It was for this reason that I refuted to having any intimate relationships, at least until I accomplished my goal. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make, or so I fooled myself into believing. I knew that was quickly changing.

“I can talk to her, if you want me to. Hopefully she’ll understand, if you still think she is mad,”

“She is mad,” she said. “I can feel it, literally. The air about her is more heated than usual. Been that way for the past six months,” Lyn heaved a sigh. I didn’t respond initially, just continued to stare out at the landscape of the college. My eyes were out there, but my mind was in the past. If I could go back, if I could, perhaps I would change it. That was a lie though, because there was a part of me that regretted nothing, but if it meant causing a rift between two sisters, then I would have taken the hit. It was delicate situation to say the least. It was at that moment I remembered I was still wearing the gloves.

“Hey, Lyn. Do you think you can help me with something?” I asked. Her sleepy eyes arose a bit from their perpetual slumber.

“Sure, I’ll help you with whatever! That is, if you help me and Aleema with something tonight,” she responded.

I scoffed a bit, “What do you want?” my voice grew less formal.

“No no no. I’ll tell you after I help you, that way you can’t say no!” This girl was deceptive and mischievous, but I would bite her lure anyways.

“Very well then. I just need you to look at these gloves,” I held them up in front of her face.

“Umm, ok. What exactly do you need? My opinion?”

“Sure, let’s go with that. Gun Girl,” I gave the codeword. The rush from before came instantly, running from my feet up through my body and extremities, up to my head. I found myself flying through the rainbow colored vortex, and soon I was dumped into the pit of dark space. There it was before me, the neon green helix. Instead of walking up to it, I felt a strange sensation that sort of brisked against my skin like a gently breeze. Did I just teleport?

The helix was as large and impressive as it was before, but there was something different. There were multiple strands that weren’t illuminated. Instead, they were dark grey, almost black, while the rest was the neon green. The mystery language appeared again, and I was somehow able to know what it meant, but it too was incomplete. Words weren’t necessary, my thoughts rang loud like a reverberating gong in the infinite black room. What does this mean? What in the world is this language? What the hell Gryphon! My ears perked up to the repeated cries of Lyn from the outside. She was calling my name, for me to come back. I wonder how time is treated in this realm, was the last thought I had before I was sucked back up the colorful vortex and back into the real world. Lyn was literally inches from my face and her loud cries nearly shook my ears off.

“Alex! What’s wrong? Alex!”

“Damn it, Lyn!” I shouted back. “I’m Ok, I can hear you just fine.” There were tears welling up in her eyes, as she clutched onto my arm.

“What the hell happened? You just, z-zoned out like you were in another w-world or something,” she said, tripping over her words.

I shrugged, “That would be accurate actually.” She gave me a perplexed look, so I continued to explain. I told her about my summer at Gryphon Industries and all the amazing people I had met. I told her about all the new inventions they were working on and how I was the first person to try these gloves. I told her how they thought I was the perfect candidate considering my abilities, and that if the test run went well, I could keep the gloves and name them. All throughout the explanation, she just stared at me, like a young child would stare at their favorite program on TV. She was astonished, which wasn’t surprising. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

“That’s…amazing. So, what’s the “place” you go to?” she asked.

“Well,” I began. “It’s a little hard to explain. It feels like my mind is flying through a colorful vortex, like a wormhole or something. And then it’s nothing but blackness, which I assume is the lowest space in the human anatomy, because in the space I can see DNA,”

She stared out at the horizon for a moment. A flock of birds flew overhead in a V-shape formation, as the sun nearly reached its peak in the azure canvas. The university was still abuzz, but neither of us could hear it. We were trapped in our own world, atop the student center. It was peaceful indeed, and little did I know that all that had experienced day regarding these gloves, would alter my future forever. But I wasn’t worried about that, only the present moment, which was marked by a silence laced with loud thoughts. Her thoughts. I could hear the many questions racing in her head. I wondered if she could hear mine.

“So, you saw my DNA. What did you see exactly? How does that help you see people’s magical code?”

“Well, in addition to seeing the DNA strand, I see a group of letters and symbols, but I don’t understand what they mean exactly. They are foreign, almost ancient-looking hieroglyphics. The weird thing is, the meaning is downloaded into my brain, so I don’t have to read it necessarily, but I would like to learn how to read it. I think it would give me a better grasp on what is going on exactly,” I began. “As far as what I saw in you, it differed from someone I used it on earlier. Her helix was complete lit up, but yours was “off” in some areas. I’m not completely sure what it means, but if I had to guess, it means there are parts of your magic you haven’t used yet or haven’t learned. I’m willing to bet Aleema is the same way,”

“That’s so crazy,” she said. “You know, I’ve had my powers since birth, and it took me a while to learn how to control it. I used to make everything around me cold at random,”

“Yea, I know. You’ve told me the stories,” I responded.

“I know, and I feel now like I have a grasp on my magic, but there’s more? What separated that girl from me? Wait a minute…who was the other girl?” she became a bit flustered.

“Some random chick, I forgot her name. I just wanted to test them out as soon as possible, so I chose the first person I saw. She was ummm, well, what I saw was-

“What was it? Is it bad? Is she like some psycho monster demon thing?” she exaggerated. It wasn’t far off.

“You could say that,” I remained on the surface. “Anyways, now you know, so what do you need now?”

“Aha! So this where you two have been hiding!” another familiar voice came from behind. We both swiveled around to see Aleema. She had changed her clothes into some tight gray jeans and a black t shirt with blue snowboard goggles in the front. She also had a little bid of makeup on. “So, is he helping us or what?” she asked Lyn, ignoring me.

“Oh yea, he agreed to help us, sis,” Lyn responded.

“Awesome!” the almond-haired twin exclaimed. “This is gonna rock!”

“Yea, I can’t wait,” Lyn smiled back. I was utterly clueless.

“Um, I am here you know. What do you need me for?”

“We’ll tell you later, ok? Let’s go get some food in town. I’m starving!” Aleema clutched onto her stomach.

“I second that motion,” Lyn said climbing through the tiny window. “Are you coming?” they both asked in unison.

I sighed, “I guess I have no choice. Just let me go to my dorm to grab some things.” I glanced out at the campus from above once more, before descending back into the chaos. At least we were leaving campus, but I still hadn’t the faintest idea where we would be going.

Blueport was what you would expect of any college town. There were a ton of restaurants, many apartment complexes, and one large mall everyone went to. It was a decent sized town on the coast of North Carolina. The town was separated into five parts: the docks, Bluewalk, Midtown, the historic district, and college town. Blueport was mostly a fishing spot, and had become famous over the years for the abundance and variety of fish in the area, especially during the month of July, which saw an unusual increase in the numbers of fish. The area surrounding the docks was, unfortunately, the poorest area of Blueport, but it still wasn’t bad compared to some of the ghettos of a larger city. Bluewalk, which was maybe a couple of miles from the docks, was an affluent neighborhood of rich people, from business owners to entertainers, as well as a few Upgraded. The headquarters for on the local legions, The Beckoning, was located there, and they weren’t very inconspicuous. It looked like a large lighthouse, except far more elegant. Midtown was where a majority of the residents lived. This was also where the majority of the restaurants, entertainment places such as the mall, bowling alley, arcade, zoom carts, and movies were located. The historic district just north of Midtown was a small area, but still full of life. Many authentic and unique eateries were here, as well as the fish market, theater, art galleries, and antique stores. This was also where the courts were and the police station. And of course there was Mozley and the close surrounding area, which included maybe six apartment complexes and a large park. Blueport was still a rather lively city, kept alive mostly by the college, considering the slight decline in fishing production. Nonetheless, people still flocked from all over to taste the exquisite seafood produced here, and we were heading to one of those places.

The Rusty Anvil was located near the Docks, and as it name suggested it, the outside looked rusty. It appeared like a shack, with wooden walls and a creaky door. Two giant anvils sat on either side of entrance. If you were able to get past the exterior, you would be greatly thankful to what you would discover inside. While it still maintained the wooden walls and floorboards, the interior was immaculate, with nifty trinkets and old photos all over the place. There was a large fish tank directly head, that housed a multitude of colorful fish, including one of my favorites, the Scorpion Fish. Not to eat, I just thought it was a beautiful creature. The host desk stood just in front of the fish tank in the lobby area. On either side of her were openings to the upstairs dining area. The upstairs was a large room, which could sit up to two hundred people easily. The kitchen was also on this floor to the left. There was a large square opening in the middle of the dining room that looked down on the lower level. The stairs, however, were immediately on to the right upon entering the room, leading to the lower level. The area down here was where mostly regulars would attend. It was also where they held special events and meetings. It was also where the most fun was, considering there was a large bar, equipped with the most extensive array of booze you’d ever seen. Though I wasn’t into alcohol that much, I never passed on any while I was there.

By the time we had arrived there it was nighttime. Naturally, the twins wanted to do a host of other things before going to eat. This only prolonged my anxiety for whatever they had in store. We sat at a small round table on the far side of the lower level. Light emitted from the lantern centerpiece danced on our glasses. I took a gulp of the Firecracker, a local favorite of two shots on cinnamon whiskey in the locally brewed, Gorgon’s Hard Cider. The liquid burned the back of my throat and slid down into my stomach, leaving behind a tingling sweet sensation. It was a local favorite, because you could barely taste the alcohol. Our food would soon arrive, as three large colorful palettes of food were placed in front of us. I had the Spicy Atlantic Salmon, which was perched on a bed of mixed vegetables and glazed with a spicy, basil sauce, with a side of homemade, garlic mashed potatoes. The aroma of the food overcame us, as we dug in. We were quiet, for the first few minutes. Lyn finally spoke.

“This place is just too good. How they don’t get more business is beyond me,”

“They get plenty of business, what are you talking about?” her sister replied.

“Yea, but I bet they could open up multiple locations. It would be a hit!” she exclaimed, tearing into some gator tail.

“I don’t think they want to expand,” I responded. It was an unusually slow night for a Friday. Only a couple of mid-age men sat at the bar talking to the bartender. One other group of five or so people sat in a large circular booth. Even the upstairs wasn’t packed like it normally was. It might of had something to deal with the opening of the new seafood eatery, Blueport Station, that had opened up a mile or so from the Rusty Anvil. That place was sponsored and owned by Max Rosenberg, a hotshot business owner that owned a line of superhero apparel. His partner was Flashbang, one of the members of The Beckoning. They probably had something to do with the lack of customers this evening.

“We have enough time, right sis?” Aleema asked Lyn.

“Yea, they’ve already started, but they’ll be going for a while, so we’re ok,”

“Ok,” I became frustrated. “What in the world do you two want from me, tonight?” I talked to chews of food. “You’ve led me on this wild goose chase, and still I haven’t the faintest idea of what we’re doing,”

The twins looked at each other and smiled a mischievous smile. This can’t be good.

“We overheard some students talking about this event going on tonight, near the north end of the docks. Some sort of competition thingy. We thought it wold be cool to check it out!” Aleema’s face lit up.

“Yea, we just wanted you to tag along with us really, in case something sketchy happens,” Lyn continued.

“So, I’m your bodyguard? Where are we going that is sketchy?” I asked.

“We don’t really know, we’re just going to follow the crowd. We overheard that you needed a password to get in and well…we were hoping you could use your talents of persuasion to get it for us,” Lyn said.

“What sort of nefarious scheme are you two planning? You don’t even know what you’re getting into, and now you involve me?”

“Oh come on,” Aleema pleaded. “Have some sense of adventure and fun. This will be cool. Plus, we’re already out here, so you might as well,”

“Pleeeease?” Lyn begged, placing her hand on top of mine. I sighed, and pulled it back. I took another gulp of my drink before responding.

“Fine, I’ll do it,” The two of them nearly jumped out of their seats in excitement. I merely shook my head and continued eating. I still did not know  what was going to happen, and I didn’t really like that. Still, it would be interesting to see where the night would go. We were unaware, however, that we would discover something rather incredible, something that would forever alter our perception on the world. Hopefully, we would be ready.

Arc. 1 Chapter. 4

An anthill is disturbed by some snot-nosed brat. That was what Mozley looked like from an aerial view. People were everywhere. It was the Friday before the first week of classes. However, the opening weekend was always very festive at the college. The first day, today, was marked by an orientation for all the new students. People also moved into their dorms, had breakfast and lunch with their parents, of which was hosted by the school, and toured the campus if they hadn’t already. Clubs attempted to lure in unaware, wandering souls. The first day was always very fun, and it just got better as the weekend continued.

The following Saturday was marked by multiple sport competitions, including opening games for the Blitzball and Lazershot teams. The energy surrounding a Blitzball game at Mozley was something of an infectious disease. It took over not only the entire school, but the entire town of Blueport for that matter. People flocked from all over, the town and the surrounding populaces to see the team played. The stadium was not even that large, but it was always packed on game day. It wasn’t uncommon to see people with lawn chairs and blankets stretched out on the green hills behind the bleachers. This year was especially anticipated due to their opening match with the third ranked team from last season. The Lazershot match was equally as anticipated. The Lady Cores had been a strong unit for the past five years, having placed in the top four each of those five seasons. Last year they fell short in the final, however, the opening game this season was their chance at redemption against last season’s champs. You would assume that with magic running the world, sports would lose a bit of its luster. The opposite proved to be true.

If that wasn’t enough, Mozley always had some form of entertainment on Saturday night of orientation weekend. This year, a concert including three bands, one of which was Persephone’s Wish, a very popular electro-rock band that had just completed a sold-out tour in the European Sector.

The final day of opening weekend was perhaps the most anticipated, for it was the beginning of the Fresh Start Battle Royale. It actually began during the summer prior, where incoming first year students applied to participate in a proctored and monitored melee tournament. The 128 students that are accepted begin the tournament on the Sunday prior to school. By day’s end, the field of competitors would be brought to a meager sixteen. Despite its ten years in activity, the tournament saw little to no injuries. Naturally, out of hand fights would be ended immediately, but they rarely happened. The tournament was a great way for students to see where their skills were as a magic user, as well seeing where they fell in the wide spectrum. There were so many forms of magic and powers that could possibly be imagined; every year something new was seen by the spectators. It was such a grand event, that even many of the local and national Upgraded Legions came to examine potential recruits and apprentices. It was too bad that I was too late in making the cut for the tournament my freshman year. And while I’ve had my powers for much of my life, I highly doubt I would have made it that far in the tourney.

If the school was an anthill than the student center was the main chamber. It was the central hub where everything could and would take place. My destination: room 3215 on the third floor. Rushing past the flurry of anxious people, I sought refuge in the elevator. Their bustling noise was soon drowned out by the slow and deep hum of the cable pulling up the metal box. Most people I knew disdained elevators, or were incredibly impatient to enjoy them. As for me, they functioned as lapses of peace in an otherwise boisterous world. The silver doors opened to a less crowded third floor. It was made of four long hallways divided by two smaller ones. It wasn’t long before I arrived at the meeting room on the far left hallway. My name reached my ears through the door. I had no doubt who it was.

Swinging open the door to the windowless room, I discover twenty or so sets of eyes looking back at me. It  mattered not how much I entered into or spoke to crowds. The feeling was always a little unsettling. That changed quickly, as two of the members by the names of Aleema and Lyn ran up to hug me. They were the new members of the Student Services Brigade last year, doubling as the runner ups for the Battle Royale. Their power: Aleema could heat up her surroundings and Lyn could cool hers. In addition, their powers grew more powerful the closer in proximity they were to each other. Needless to say, they were really close.

“Hey Alex!” they exclaimed in unison. Lyn’s voice was slightly deeper than her sister’s. “How was your summer?” They stood a foot shorter than I, hugging me from both sides. With a skinny athletic build, both of them had sandy skin and lime green eyes. To distinguish themselves, Aleema kept her hair its natural, chestnut brown color, while Lyn’s was dyed jet black. Another distinguishing feature was Aleema had a small mole on her right eye and Lyn had one under her left eye.  I wouldn’t be lying if I said it still made me a bit uncomfortable when they were this affectionate, after knowing me for only a year. I wasn’t aware of anything spectacular I had done for them. Still, they were nice girls, so I saw no reason to say anything about it.

“It was eventful,” I put on a cordial voice. “How was yours?”

“We went snowboarding!” Aleema exclaimed.

“No, went went surfing!” Lyn followed up. Glaring at each other, they sighed and shook their heads. “We did both!” their voices nearly identical.

“Sounds nice,” I said. “Tell me all about it later okay?”

“Yes, please,” one of the guys in the front row said. “We can finally start this meeting now that the VP is here,” It wasn’t a requirement to dress nice to these meetings, or any of the events the SSB held really. This guy really took advantage of it. Faded, baggy jeans at least a size too large was accompanied by a dull black shirt. The color of his gray hoodie nearly matched that of his jeans. The bronze on his skin was so even and flat it would make even professional super-models envious. His hair was messy and black, partially hidden under a gray beanie that made the top of his head appear deflated. However, nothing could be farther from the truth.

“Ah, Gian. I see you’re still keeping tabs on me,” I said walking deeper into the room. Aleema and Lyn returned to their seats.

“Gotta know what my possible competition will be doing ya know,” his expression was smug. His full name was Gian Paolo Schumann. His magical ability: he could store the locations of up to five people in his head at any given moment. The only downside to his powers was that the direction grew more simple the farther away the target was. However, regardless of distance, he could find anyone, anywhere after having only met them once. I haven’t gone off his radar since the start of last year.

“Okay okay you two,” the young lady standing in the middle of the room. The Mozley Institute of Magical Arts prided itself on innovation in learning, which was why most of the classrooms and meeting rooms weren’t organized in the traditional classroom setting. Most of them were stadium style, with a spot in the middle of the room that was occupied by a large, four-way magic board, which was essentially a dry erase board, but used magic instead. This particular room was on the smaller side, with only their levels of seats circumventing the middle. Four, small flights of stairs separated the three continuous, black desks. The walls were even different, featuring a collage of blue and black, hollowed out circles on a white background. This was only one example of how the mundane was shunned at this school.

“I trust you had a wonderful break, Alex?” she continued, ushering me to take my spot next to her.

“It was nice, yes. Very interesting. I hope yours was the same?” I replied. She smiled and gave me an approving nod. As you could guess, she was the president of the Student Services Brigade, Violet Clarissa Worchester. Her background was as fancy was her name, for she came from a very wealthy family in Europe. She was also quite attractive, her skin was light and fair. A vibrant, river of flames was her hair, that shimmered in the sun. Brown stones were her irises, that could cast a spell in their own right. Many men, young and old easily succumbed to her fiery appearance, most of which got burned if they got too close. She was nonetheless super sweet, her naivety of the world was a gift. Many members of the club urged to the two of us to date, however, I wasn’t interested, and I was pretty sure she shared the same sentiment. Oh yea, and her power was pretty neat to. In her bloodline was a long tradition of faerie summoning. She essentially could see, talk, and use them for combat. She even had one that often tagged along with her just about everywhere. She, however, was banned from attending club meetings due to…unfortunate circumstances.

“Ok now, can we get this thing started or what? I have some things I need to attend to,” Gian complained.

“Alright, alright,” Violet agreed. “We will now commence the first meeting of the year. We won’t be long, but there are a few things we need to address. As most of you know, our club is co-hosting the Fresh Start Battle Royale. We’re supposed to help with advertising, but I don’t think that’ll be a problem. There have also been rumors going around that some students are planning to cheat in this year’s competition,”

“How is that even possible?” one student, a short male with blond hair questioned in the second row. The girl next to him, her shoulders were at his head, also replied.

“The competition is one of the most secured, and highly monitored competitions in the sector. No way can someone cheat,”

“You two bring up valid points, but we still can’t let this go without further investigation and since the Discipline Committee now resides with us, this issue falls in our lap,” Violet announced. The Student Services Brigade was originally created to assist students in whatever they might need, so long as it was legal. It rivaled the Student Council in terms of popularity. However, last year, the council got caught in a huge scandal involving the Discipline Committee that was a subgroup of the club. As a result, all of the students on the Discipline Committee were suspended, and some members on the council. The Dean of Clubs and Organizations agreed to delegate the Discipline Committee to the Student Services Brigade. You could guess who the leader of this subgroup was.

“So, let me guess. You want me to keep my ears open and track the whereabouts of students?” Gian inquired.

The flame-headed President nodded. “Yes, that would be helpful. I need everybody to report any suspicious activity regarding the competition and back to the Discipline Committee. I know there are certain people you like to keep tabs on, Gian, but you may have to drop them for the time being,”

He folded his arms and chuckled, “Can’t be helped I suppose,”

“Ok, so the next order of business,” I took over for Violet. “We need to find someone to manage the website since Yuko graduated. She agreed to help us until we found someone, but she’ll be becoming very busy quite soon,”

“Didn’t she get a spot with the Jasper’s Star?” another one of the young men asked out loud. This caused a ripple of comments and murmurs.

“Yes, actually she did,” I raised my voice to cease the brief commotion. She should become a full member within a year, but knowing our Yuko, she’ll blaze through it faster.”

“Yuko was always pretty incredible, wasn’t she?” the student who stood against the wall voice quivered a bit. He was what women would call “tall, dark, and handsome.” His eyes, however, contradicted his skin, and were a bright gray. Yea, he was pretty much a knockout, quite literally. He was a boxer. His power? Anything Ramon Demps punched turned into metal, and the type of metal depended upon certain conditions. As a result he had to wear special gloves when he boxed.

“Well of course you would say that, Big Ramon!” Lyn said in a mocking tone.

“Have you talked to her since the incident?” Aleema asked. Ramon didn’t respond, merely dug his hands into his pockets and stared at the back wall.

“Alex, you better control your women!” Ramon jokingly threatened, almost.

“They’re not my women, I can’t control them,” I stated flatly.

“You can control me if you want to!” Lyn’s voice was far too eager.

“Shut up, Lyn,” Aleema punched her in the arm lightly. Her expression didn’t match her words.

“Anyways, can I continue,” I said. The room grew silent. “We lost several members to graduation, so we need to fill these vacancies as soon as possible. Now, I know we normally due elections the first week of October, but we’re going to move it up to the first week of September,” There was a reaction of perplexed looks and comments. I put a halt to it swiftly. “The reason why we are doing it early, is because the Dean wants us to be prepared earlier,”

“For what though?” Gian questioned.

“We don’t know,” Violet stepped in. “He contacted Alex and I a few weeks back and asked if it was possible we did it earlier. He didn’t give an explicit reason why, but he seemed worried about something. But, there’s no need to worry, we’ll be prepared for anything that may happen,”

“The Dean was always sort of, weird,” Ramon said.

“He’d probably be in a mental institute had he been born in the 20th century,” Aleema responded.

“He’s a kind man with a good heart,” I began. “Plus, he’s one of the most gifted staff members at the school and had a successful career as an Upgraded. You shouldn’t talk down on him,”

“I wasn’t talking down on him, I was just making a joke. Lighten up, Alex,” Aleema stuck her tongue out at me. I laughed and turned to Violet. She smiled back at me as she gave the final announcement.

“The last thing we need to address is our overall service to our classmates. Though it has been great the past few years, there is always room for improvement. So this year I thought it would be a good idea to do a sort of meet a greet type thing,”

“We already do stuff like that don’t we?” Gian questioned.

“We do, but not very often. Violet was thinking we could do it every week or every other week,” I explained.

“Right,” she continued. “We don’t just tutor students in their studies. We don’t just assist with events. It is our job here at the Student Service Brigade to help students have a great time here at Mozley. So you all know how we do the study sessions after school and stuff. Well, this would be a far more casual, almost leisurely get together, where we all just talk about whatever. It would occur off campus, at some restaurant, bar, lounge, or anywhere really, because we’re not just students. We’re people and the people here need assistance or just to have someone to talk to, in all area of their lives. It is up to us to make sure these students realize that they are here for more reasons that to just obtain a degree, but to also build relationships and a community that will support and love them,”

There was a small round of applause as she concluded her statement. She smiled brightly in response to their claps, as she walked forward a bit, ushering everyone to come forward. We all formed in a circle, about twenty of us or so, and put our fist in the center. This was another reason I loved this school. To be apart of this loving community, this loving club. We weren’t just a bunch of guys and girls that hung out with each occasionally and helped students. We cared about each other, and we made each other’s stay here all the more worthwhile. Honestly, if it weren’t for them, I might have left after my freshman year.

“Here’s to another awesome year at Mozley, everybody!” I shouted.

“Awoooo-ahhhhh!” the room echoed with our orchestrated voices. I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone didn’t come banging on the door. Our club chant distinguished us from many of the other clubs on campus. It wasn’t uncommon to hear others chant it after hearing us. Funny how contagious a positive attitude was in this world, or at least on this campus. I would soon discover than the outside world ran on a different set of rules.