Author’s Note: Last week I accidentally mislabeled and mis-posted this chapter. The mistake has been fixed, but If haven’t yet, please go back and read the actual Chapter – V .
Chapter – VI
Max and Tom quickly made their way from the observation room to the locker room. Looking around, neither of them saw Coach Alex. Instead, they saw freshmen huddling in groups around the room. Some of them looked nervous, others confident. Still more looked calm, though their eyes never stopped scanning the room. In the middle of each group of black uniformed freshmen, there was a gray uniformed student.
“Huh, I wonder where Coach Alex is?” Max asked “He said to come back here to get our opponents for our next fight.”
“Dunno. Do you see anyone we know?” Tom hopped up and down a couple times, straining to get a better view of the room around him. “I wish Erik was here. Damn tall people blocking everything. I’m gonna go drain the lizard before the next fight.”
“Heh, it’s not our fault you’re bitty. Have fun, but not too much.”
As Tom quickly walked off to the back of the locker room, where the appropriate facilities were located, Max caught sight of the brilliant green eyes of Mike, their RA. He went over to the older student intent on finding out what was going on. But as he got near him, Mike’s eyes lit up and a smile split his face.
“Awesome! One of my guys made it through. Did you kick some ass? We get bragging rights the better our guys do.” Mike said with a smile.
“Thanks! I think. No, not really. I fought Pete and he gave up when he realized he couldn’t make me submit. Kinda boring I guess. But Erik trashed some guy. So, what’s going on? Where’s Coach Alex?”
“Oh, he’s up in the professors’ observation room. The professors are overseeing the matches, so us RA’s get to do the grunt work.” Mike replied. “Speaking of which, I have your next match assignment.”
“Oh, okay. So, who’s my next match?”
“Report to cell seven. Sorry, you don’t get to find out who your opponent is until you get there.” He looked at Max for a second before chuckling “What? You didn’t think they were going to make it easy on you did they? Now you better get your ass in gear and get there before you forfeit. And remember, it’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game.”
With that Max scurried out of the locker room and on the way. As he left the room, Mike looked at the tablet in his hand and said. “Damn, I wish I can get a bootleg of this one. It should be interesting.”
Up in the professors’ observation room, Dean Smith and Coach Alex agreed with Mike’s sentiment.
“Well this one should be interesting. Who do you think is going to win?” Coach Alex asked the dean.
“Honestly, I’m not sure. This is a match that could go on for some time. I don’t believe either student can harm the other. Mr. Hall has the advantage of being able to shrug off any damage his opponent is likely able to deal. However, his evaluations indicate that he isn’t much of a fighter, and his power doesn’t lend itself well to offense. I suppose it might come down to endurance.”
“Huh. Well, tell ya what, I’ll take your boy Hall.” The coach said, as he reached into his pocket. “What? Don’t look at me like that. You already bet on that kid, and I’m not dumb enough to bet against you, even if I don’t see it.”
“You know I disapprove of such things. We are evaluating and training new heroes, not race horses. Besides,” the dean added, a half smirk tugged at the corner of his mouth “do you expect me to be dumb enough to bet against myself? No, let’s just settle in and watch the show. As you said, it should be interesting.”
Below, Max entered the cell with his mind buzzing about what was about to happen. Would he fight an advanced mind? Maybe an elemental? He could probably take whatever punishment they could dish out, but he had no way to really hurt them. And what did Mike mean with that last bit? Maybe he should probably try throwing a punch this time around.
As he took position in the far square, he looked at the scarred concrete of the floor and walls and wondered who used the cell before him. His wait proved to be a short one as the door reopened a couple minutes later. That, of course, wasn’t a surprise. Who walked through the door, however, proved to be something of a surprise, and not a pleasant one.
“Tom? What the hell? First I have to fight Pete, now I have to fight my roommate? I know there’s more than four guys in this school. I’ve seen ’em!”
“Hey Max, what’s up? Maybe this is what I get for taking a leak. I guess it could be worse, one of us could’ve had to fight Erik. He says ‘Hi!’ by the way.”
Before Max could continue, Coach Alex’s voice once again echoed through the cell, making the match official, and preparing the combatants for its start. In the stillness between the end of the announcement and the opening buzzer, the smile that had seemed tattooed to Tom’s face evaporated. His hands dropped to his sides as his stance squared. Darkness began to gather in his hands as the buzzer sounded and with that, the match was on.