I joined the group just in time to see the reason the groups seemed to be getting smaller. There was a man surrounded by the rest of the soon to be students, he calls out two names and the two guys approached him. The authoritative man in the middle promptly grasped each of their forearms and they blinked out of existence then blink back in a moment after to call another duo.
Officially the second teleporter I saw in action.
Someone tapped on my shoulder “Hey Chase looks like we’re the same group,” a familiar voice went.
“Whats up Julian, I didn’t know where you were you didn’t answer your phone,” I said with a grin as I kept one ear out for my name being called.
Julian was looking a bit different then when I saw him at the facilities, his hair was brushed to one side and he seemed to stand a little straighter, maybe something happened when we left. Or maybe it was because of what happened that made us leave early.
“Oh, that’s… weird I didn’t get anything,” Julian stammered sullenly as he patted his pants on his phone.
“Chase Millers, and Ethan Sharpino,” A firm voice commanded from the center.
I glanced back as I recognized my name before responding to Julian “Good luck man, do your best!”
“Y-yeah I will, you too,” Julian called back while wringing his wrists, the first sign of his now-obvious nervousness.
Unlike Julian I was not nervous, rather the opposite. I was anxious to get this party rocking. What was there to be nervous about? Everything is entirely up to you, whether or not you will succeed is based on how hard you push yourself.
I physically and metaphorically shook this thought out of my head as I saw the guy they called Ethan, who which I assumed would be my first opponent. The first out of many, I mean sure this was an evaluation or whatever but it was also a contest. A contest that I intend to win.
We both reached the teleporter at the same time, just as the man grabbed our own wrists like the others before us Ethan and I locked eyes, my coal-black pupils to his similarly dark, void-less pupils, officially solidating each other as enemies.
The world twisted out of my vision and into nothingness then back into reality faster than you could say badonkadonk. Which is to say quite fast. It took a few seconds to catch my bearings, my eyes were rolling around in my skull as dizziness took its hold on me. But it must’ve been purely psychological due to it going away as fast as it started.
A stray thought popped into my mind as I took hold of my surroundings. That instant where everything went dark what was that? If teleporting was just moving at light-speeds shouldn’t it be white as the colors clashed together? Black was the absence of color so maybe we weren’t moving at all, and if we weren’t moving how did we arrive at this parking lot? Why couldn’t powers be rooted in physics? Or maybe it is but it’s so difficult to understand due to our level of technology.
But that was for nights where I wondered about life’s imponderables.
Now I had to get my head in the game and figure out what was what. Ethan and I were left in what seemed to be an empty parking lot that of all places. Instead of empty desert around us there, trees were scattered around the lot, and it was nighttime. Which was odd considering we were teleported in the morning? You know When it where it was daytime. There was even a black minivan parked at one of the parking spots near one of the light poles that illuminated the dim parking lot.
That’s when I noticed the two people that were staring at me oddly. One was a tall woman in a short skirt and button down shirt that I figured was some sort of referee or something and the other was a less pleasant sight. He was staring at me with a crooked, taunting smile that wanted me to punch him in the face. He had one of those douche-pretty boy faces that looked very punchable.
“What?” I asked innocently.
“I said good luck,” he answered slowly as if I was retarded.
I was just checking out my surroundings.
“Whoops, you too,” I said with a grin that I hoped would irritate him.
He murmured something under his breath that sounded like “idiot.”
I took a deep breath to calm myself down a bit, anger is a good tool in the right amounts and too much could cloud my technique and style. Plus, I had plenty of time to release my emotions in a few minutes.
A few seconds of awkward silence ensued until the women broke it, “Well now that your introductions are in place before I start are there any questions?”
“Yeah I got a few,” Ethan roled his eyes as if I was the idiot.
Hey, He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.
So really he’s the fool.
“Why is it nighttime?” I questioned as I stared at the twinkling stars up above in the sky.
“Cause, the sun’s on the other side of the earth dumbass,” Ethan replied sarcastically to a question that wasn’t intended for him to answer.
My right eyelid twitched.
She glanced at Ethan before answering “We have training areas all throughout the world to emulate different conditions for our training exercises and yes, matches between students. We simply were brought to one in the middle east perhaps.”
She must’ve been teleported as well I guess.
Ethan glanced at me before I shook my head no.
“I’ll start with the match rules and such, both of you are able to use whatever abilities you may possess and whatever materials around the parking lot to win the match. The ways you can win are simple, you can either force the other into submission for a minute which shows total control. You can force the other to surrender rendering you the winner by forfeit. Put the other in a state of unconscious, or a state that renders the opponent not able to do anything.”
I nodded in understanding while Ethan responded with a dismissive wave of the hand.
“While anything could happen, intentionally trying to fatally harm the other will lead to the automatic disqualification and consequences that may follow. If you are fatally injured, the match will be stopped and you will be treated to healing, whatever you have done in the match or matches before will be evaluated for admission. You will not be healed of any injuries between matches if you win so conserve your energy wisely.”
That could work to my advantage, with the whole not feeling pain shebang I could maybe take more hits than the average joe. Another thing was conserving my energy, I still get tired and I should be careful, but if I don’t work hard enough I could lose. So the smartest thing really was to go all out.
“Now before we start is there any questions?”
Nothing came to mind so I just stayed silent.
“Bring it on,” Ethan’s face twisted into a sneer as he taunted confidentially.
My knuckles itched with temptation.
“I’ll be ready to intervene on the sidelines good luck to the both of you.” She stated as she sauntered to the edge of the lot.
“Get ready,” She yelled from the outer edge.
Instantly I grasped onto my power and switched into an offensive stance, my heart was in my throat as information swirled in my mind. While my body was tense, he stood there lazily, his hands rested on his thighs and a cocky smile was plastered on his face as he saw me shift. Something about it was wrong, my instincts were in direct conflict with my brain as I waited for the go signal.
Opting for the safe choice to start, I visualized small root-like carbon-crystal to emerge and interlock around the ankles to trip Ethan up and pushed that visualization into existence. As quickly as my power surged through me it was ripped away, like water flowing out of a hose for it to freeze immediately in the air.
I tried again, I pushed and pushed, my neck straining with tension as my power kept pushing against something for it to be crumpled. My vision started to go red, something that hadn’t happened for a month, something fitting for an occasion like this.
“Having trouble?” Ethan remarked in feigned sympathy.
I glanced back at him, who hadn’t moved a muscle. Whatever this cocky bastard was doing it negated my power and that was the gasoline being thrown into the smoldering fire.
“N-no,” I stammered, the words getting stuck in the back of my throat.
“Strip someone of their powers that they’ve been relying on and everything goes to shit.” He said with a shrug as I struggled.
“Not only can I make it so your powers don’t work I can take them away, so even if you somehow beat me you won’t use them in the next fight. I’m thoughtful like that” He chuckled as he made his first move towards me.
A single step and I felt it. A tugging feeling caught hold of me one that my instincts screamed at, clenching my body I started to pull against it, a vicious superpower tug war. I’ll be damned if that was going to happen.
His expression shifted slightly as I took hold of that power in me and through gritted teeth and a guttural roar I shredded the metaphorical rope that tethered him to me.
“Not today bro.” I wheezed as a spike of pain, not unlike the one when I used my power pushed against my head.
“How?” Ethan’s shocked expression was nothing short of pleasurable to see.
Powers or not I hadn’t trained for years to lose to this self-centered asshole. Since I had him Lunging forward with as much speed I could muster I went for a simple knee grab, a tactical decision as I could offset his balance and topple him, but really I just wanted to feel the bones of his knee shatter.
Quickly clearing the few yards between us, I went low and went in for a tackle on his legs to a grip. As quick as a whip Ethan disappeared from view and a kick hit my stomach with a dull thump and I literally flew a couple feet before skidding on the pavement shredding the skin on my forearm to nothingness.
I bounced to my feet quickly before barely stammering “What?”
“I also have enhanced strength, speed, and endurance. Enough chit-chat though, I want to get on to someone who poses a challenge.” Ethan said before for the first time this match switching into an offensive stance and advanced.
Ethan didn’t rush in, his body was relaxed but coiled, he was sure he was going to win so he was going to conserve his energy.
Smart but stupid.
Ignoring the warm blood now dripping off my arm I moved in to try to set the tone for the fight, If I could get him to come down to my speed I could overcome him. But as quick as I got near him a flurry of punches pushed me back. Left right left right, I could barely get my arms up to block each hit before another one came.
“How’s it feel to be so outclassed? Did you really think you could make it in the Academy?” he taunted as he effortlessly carried on.
As much as I didn’t want to admit it he was faster, and stronger, had a counter to my ability, and probably had more training than me. But the tricks that I had hidden up my pants were my one of my strengths.
So I’m going to play to them.
The key to a feint was to make it believable, and if I didn’t know what I was doing, how would he? So I started throwing myself in different directions, I dodged another kick to my side and started to wildly throw different moves together in such a way that didn’t make sense.
It didn’t have to be showy, or effective for that matter, I was just soaking up hits as I got a feel for him and his patterns. Everyone had patterns I just had to find it. I went bananas, throwing punches in different directions while kicking and turning, jumping over invisible kicks and ducking non-existant punches, to be met with very real punches to my body. The hits began to pile up as I moved left and right to see an opening or weakness to him.
But when there is no weakness, you have to make one.
So I did.
Dropping my erratic behavior in an instant, letting a fist sink into my shoulder I knew the one-two punch to my head was coming so instead of dodging the punch I met it head on, literally.
His knuckles collided with my skull as I headbutted as hard as I could, a 50/50 that could prove extremely risky on my side. A crack that could be audibly heard came from either my skull or his fist sounded. It felt as if my brain hit the back of my skull and snapped back as his fist crumpled underneath my skull full force.
“What was that!?” Ethan howled in pain for the first time.
I staggered backward as the force had me seeing stars, but I stayed on my feet, falling would be as suicidal as literally closing my eyes. Although I paid for it I could see Ethan’s pain plastered on his face as he clenched his right fist. I blinked the dizziness away as his body slowly came into clarity.
I could literally see the white bone sticking through the back of his knuckles and the odd way his fingers twisted. And it felt hella good. I stepped forward to push the initiative when a wave of nausea rolled through me.
Okay, it didn’t feel that good.
“I took two to get one in,” I mumbled as I spit out a glob of blood.
Well more like twenty to get one in.
“You crazy?” This time Ethan was staring behind me to the women who had yet to intervene.
“My dad always said I was hard-headed,” I grunted.
The adrenaline was pulsing through my body causing me to shake slightly. I didn’t know what to do, I was out of options, I couldn’t keep on going like this or I would get knocked out before taking him out. I couldn’t use my power- wait, could I? Ethan made it seem like it was useless but the way it felt when I tried to use it was that it felt ripped away when I made something outside my body.
Sparing a few precious seconds as Ethan began to look murderous I looked at my knuckles… yes! The crystal-carbon seemed to be infused in my skin like a callous on my palms. Maybe when I headbutted, sub-consciously there was a growth of the crystal-carbon on my forehead allowing me to hit with equal force.
If so I probably looked pretty weird.
“I’m done playing around!” There was a murderous glint in Ethan’s eyes as he advanced with a ferocity not found in him before.
With as much speed as I could manage I met him in the middle, taking advantage of his shattered left fist I stayed on his left. Playing to his weaknesses and to my strengths was how I was going to win this. He was quicker than me but now that I felt his patterns and with my experience in fights It didn’t matter how fast he could move if I knew where he would be.
Stepping over a parking block I started to push us towards the car, any blockade would be beneficial to me. As fast as he was moving, the way I was weaving around his hits and returning some of my own was turning the tables. While I moved I started to push the carbon into my skin, but it felt like I was moving through syrup with it. So instead of both fists, I focused on the bony parts of the knuckles on my right.
“How’er you not feeling this!?” Ethan screamed as his fist connected with my jaw again.
Ignoring the buzzing in my teeth I returned one with my right that was so solid it caused his head to snap back and his whole body to stumble back the car (which was only a few yards away). His dazed eyes couldn’t focus on me as he tripped over a parking block. Seizing the opportunity I surged forward and half-carried half-tackled him into the minivan’s window headfirst.
Glass fragments cut me as Ethan crashed into the door, causing a human-sized dent into a not so human-sized door. The force sent me stumbling back as black spots began to appear in my decision.
Maybe it shouldn’t have, but the contact felt so good.
Whispers in the back of my mind that came not from me urged me on the finish it. Ethan moaned as he slowly peeled himself from the car. His perfectly styled black hair was matted with blood, and his face was stained with mine. He stared at me in dazed horror as I don’t think I looked much better.
“It’s not possible. You can’t use your powers,” he mumbled as he shakily walked back with his eyes glued on me.
“I didn’t, every Super has a weakness. I just found yours,” I taunted as I moved forward.
I just got lucky, but he didn’t need to know that.
Pushing my urges down, I really didn’t want to hurt him too badly, I mean we both had the same goal, to be a Hero.
“Quit and you can get healing, I don’t have to do this,” I pleaded as took a step closer.
Doubt flashed on his mind before it dissolved to resolve “No.”
And with that I sprinted forward, he stumbled away slightly and managed a weak punch that hit my torso before I grabbed his knee and slammed him down on the pavement.
“Give up,” I commanded.
He spat in my face in response.
“Shove it up your-”
I hyperextended his knee and exponentially increased pressure till I felt the snap and held it there while I counted to sixty seconds in my head.
His whimpers made me lose count once or twice.
“Let go you win Chase.” A dangerously stern voice commanded from behind me.
I obediently let go and took a few steps back, the women said something on her radio before turning to me.
“Congrationizations you made it past your first fight, you will have five minutes until your next match.” She said coldly.
“Is he gonna be okay?” I asked weakly.
“With healing, he should be fine.”
I nodded in response, we both played the game and I won.
And it felt good.
The same teleporter from before blinked in to touch Ethan and blinked out. I took off my shirt and started wiping the grime, sweat, and blood from my body as I waited.
I might as well stretch too.