Author’s Note: I accidentally mislabeled (and mis-posted) chapters 5 & 6. My apologies for any confusion. I guess that’s what I get for posting while on I-95. I hope you enjoy the real Chapter-V, and Chapter – VI makes a bit more sense.
Chapter – V
Max and Peter hurried to the students’ observation room. It was a large room with a number of padded folding chairs and enormous TV screens, like the kind you would find in a sports bar. There were a number of students already in the room, most of them wearing gray uniforms, though there were about a dozen white uniforms. After looking at the various monitors, they found one of an empty cell with the caption “Danielsen vs Johnson”.
“I guess this is it. How many other ‘Danielsens’ can there be in the HCP?” Max asked.
“I don’t know, but it seems unlikely there are more than one. Perhaps we should bring a couple chairs over?”
“Yeah, I’ll go grab a couple.” As Max turned he saw a few other students with black uniforms on wander into the observation room. Most of them looked significantly more beat up than Peter or himself. Bringing the chairs back to the monitor, Max handed one to Peter and unfolded his. While he was gone, a young man had walked in. “I guess that’s Johnson” Max said to Peter. “Have you seen him before? Any idea what he can do?”
“No, but he looks extremely confident. Advanced minds are common, so perhaps he is a strong telekinetic.” Peter paused for a second before turning to Max “You spent last evening with Erik, did he happen to tell you what his ability is? We haven’t had much opportunity to talk beyond the normal new roommate pleasantries.”
“Oh, yeah. Well, sorta I guess. He said he gets stronger when he fights. Whatever that means. Maybe he’s a shifter like you?”
“Look, he found his way to the cell. I assume we’ll find out soon enough.”
Down in the cell, Erik Danielsen strolled through the door as though he didn’t have a care in the world. His opponent to be was already in the cell, a small smile on his face.
“Hey, howya doing?” Erik said to the other young man in the cell “Name’s Erik Danielsen”
“John Johnson, so you know who kicked your ass.”
Coach Alex’s voice filled the concrete cell. “This is an official ranking match between Erik Danielsen and John Johnson. The match will commence when the buzzer sounds. Make any final preparations you need and fight well.”
Erik nodded to John and shifted his weight forward onto the balls of his feet, ready to dodge or charge at the buzzer. In the other ready box John scoffed and then exhaled.
When the buzzer sounded Erik hesitated for a moment to see if John would rush right into an attack. When he didn’t Erik decided that it was time to take the offensive and charged. His massive form launched into motion with more grace and athleticism than anything resembling a human had any right to possess. But as he did so, his opponent inhaled deeply, making a disturbing choking sound. As Erik neared him, John spit out a slimy green blob of mucous, which hit Erik on the foot. As the blob hit it quickly solidified, sticking Erik’s foot to the ground.
His foot’s sudden stop combined with all his momentum led to an unavoidable conclusion, and Erik threw out his arms to break his fall as the concrete suddenly rushed toward his chin. It’s a testament to his reflexes that he was back up on his feet in an instant, but his foot was stuck fast to the floor.
“Nice, that is pretty effective” Erik complimented his opponent. “But ugh, kinda disgusting though.”
Rather than respond to him, John spit out another blob, sticking Erik’s other foot to the floor. As the massive youth started trying to free his feet, John began to walk toward him, laughing.
“Ha! Figures I’d get somebody like you first. Big, dumb, and no fun.” As John taunted him, Erik redoubled his efforts to free himself, reaching down with a hand to try to either smash the substance holding him to the ground or rip his foot free. In response, John spit another blob, gluing his hand to the floor beside his foot.
“Don’t bother dumbass. Your hand might as well be buried in the concrete. You’re not getting out, so you might as well just give up.” To punctuate his final words, he kicked Erik in the side, behind his stuck hand and well away from his other massive limb.
Another combatant might have looked at that as a mistake in retrospect, because after the taunt and kick a low sound started to rumble out of Erik’s throat and chest. It sounded more like something an upset bear would make than anything coming from a human throat. Had John been standing in front of Erik he would have seen a vein stand out on his forehead.
With a jerk Erik stood up, ripping his hand free of the floor, though the glob and good sized chunk of concrete came with it. With two more jerks he freed his feet, shattering the mucous and concrete still stuck to them with powerful stomps. When Erik freed himself, John scampered back in a panic and hurriedly tried to generate more mucous.
Rather than give John a chance to spew another disgusting blob of gunk, Erik simply palmed his face with his free hand, his thumb and middle finger easily providing enough pressure to hold his jaw closed. With John safely disarmed, Erik began marching him back towards the wall of the cell, Erik’s eyes narrowed in anger while John’s were peering through Erik’s fingers in abject terror. When they reached the wall, Erik reared his other arm back, his hand still encumbered by mucous and cement. With a grunt he smashed the glob against the wall next to John’s left ear, freeing his hand.
While keeping John’s jaw firmly closed, Erik used his newly freed hand and threw his opponent across the room and into the wall twelve feet away, where he collapsed into unconsciousness after bouncing off the concrete wall.
Rather than look at his defeated opponent, Erik looked up to the observation window and uttered a single word in a bone-chillingly frigid tone, completely alien to his usual cheerfulness.
Up in the observation room, Max and Peter looked at the monitor in stunned silence. During the fight Tom had wandered in and stood behind his suitemates. Fittingly, he was the first to break the silence. “Wow. Remind me not to piss that guy off! For your sake I hope you don’t snore Pete.”
The two seated freshmen jumped at the sound of Tom’s voice. “Once again, it’s Peter, thank you. And I agree, Erik certainly looked terrifying.”
“Yeah, he made that concrete crumble like it’s styrofoam.” Tom said “I just hope I never have to fight that John guy. Those loogies he hocked were freakin’ gross.”
“Yeah, I’m with you” Max said. Then he realized the second shift of matches would probably all be ending soon. “Crap, I gotta get down to the locker room and get my next fight assignment. See you guys later.”
“Oh yeah, me too” Tom said.
“You made it through too? Sweet!”
“I’ll be here when you finish, my friends. Hopefully your matches are on screens that are close together so I can watch both of them” Peter said as the two left for the locker room.