The combat cell shuddered, concrete flying in every direction as a body made impact with the wall.
Harmony shook her hand, trying to remove the tingle still present from hitting something that you really shouldn’t. Grinning, she kept her eyes on Adrian as he climbed out of the indentation, shaking his head to remove bits of wall clinging to him.
“Hmph. Lucky shot.” He grinned back. Slowly circling each other, they gaged the distance and carefully watched each other’s movements.
A burst of air to her right was the only warning she had. Smashing down in a vicious elbow strike, she used the sudden turn to carry her momentum into a side flip but still wasn’t fast enough.
Adrian slipped her elbow and grabbed her waist in an arm lock before directing her energy towards the floor, adding his own boost for good measure.
She hit hard, gasping as the air was compressed from her lungs. Dancing back, it was Adrian’s turn to smile as his opponent pulled herself from a hole in the floor.
“So…” He paused to readjust the sparing wraps around his fists. “How do you want to handle the freshies?”
Resting on her knee for a moment, Harmony considered the question. “Well, last year we did the good cop, bad cop routine. It kinda worked. Got any better ideas?” She jumped back to her feet, stretching just a bit to relieve the pressure of a bruised rib.
“Yep.” The conversation paused for a moment, until the next impact reverberated throughout the entire underground level of the HCP faculty. “I was thinking of shock and awe. Heard through the grapevine that a couple of the other 1st year professors were doing something similar. Might as well try and see if it works.”
Pausing as he adjusted to the stove sized fist flying at his head, Adrian missed the much smaller foot descending from above. For a minute afterward, everything was stars and pink ponies.
Finally shaking off the concussion, he saw Harmony’s outstretched hand above. Grasping it, he was quickly leveraged to his feet.
“So what, we fight each other in front of the whole class?” She shook her head. “I doubt they’d appreciate that until 2nd Year at best.”
“Nah, I was thinking we’d split them up, and each takes half. Really put the fear of God into their freshmen hearts. Maybe you take the boys, and I take the girls? Ha! I can see their faces now!”
Adrian’s infectious laughter caused Harmony to join in, and only after a few minutes did they regain their breath long enough to start walking towards the showers.
Dean Jackson paused in the middle of his signature, reaching out to steady a pile of paperwork that had been edging towards the side of his desk.
It was pure insanity that he could be feeling the repercussions of the friendly sparring match between two of his instructors, but such was the nature of teaching in the HCP. Hell, he was just as bad before the years of being a dean had caught up to him. Now, he much preferred to let his reputation speak first. Saved more paperwork too.
Nonetheless, the small earthquakes had their reasons. Adrian’s sparring sessions were just one of the ways the faculty relieved stress and got back into the proper mindset for the upcoming year. Just that fact that Adrian was versatile enough to go up against all of them was impressive, not to mention the fact that he usually won. Secretly, the first year after Jackson had hired the slick-talking and charismatic hero Revert; they’d had a match themselves. The Dean won but it had been a lot closer than he would ever admit.
He’d been lucky with picking up Adrian. Really, it was all about timing. There had been a serious incident involving a lawsuit, and though Revert had been absolved of all charges, the stain of such a public event didn’t go away easily. Jackson’s offer of an HCP instructor position gave the Hero the perfect excuse to lie low for a while, and he really was an excellent teacher. The last two years had proven that.
Shaking his head from the contemplation he found himself in, Jackson returned to the pile of paperwork. It would be another late night. At least he wouldn’t have to do much with the students tomorrow. He’d been through so many orientations he could probably say them in his sleep.
Still, he did enjoy seeing so many bright eyes focused on becoming a hero. Inevitably most would fail in that goal. Some would return to try again, but there was always something fascinating about looking out over a sea of fresh faces and wondering which Ten would be graduating four years later.
Herbert Jackson had been many things over the course of his life, but there was a reason he had remained as the dean of Sizemore Tech for so long. His fellow instructors and many of the senior students were aware, but eventually, even the younger classes would find out just how passionate their intimidating Dean could be.
When it came to being a Hero, Dean Jackson would accept nothing but the best. And he would do everything in his power to make sure that goal was accomplished.
The morning of orientation arrived far too early for Casey’s liking. Stumbling to the bathroom, he joined Travis as they brushed their teeth and brushed their hair loosely into place.
Guzzling down a redbull as they awaited the clock to hit 7:30, Casey slouched on the couch watching his roommate and best friend pound out another dozen pushups. “You really think they’ll make us fight the first day?”
“It will be either combat rankings or pt.” Travis didn’t pause in his motions, steadily rising and falling as he responded. “Of all the advice I got from Terraform, one or the other is for sure on the first day.”
“Ya, but, like dude. Terraform is what, sixty? Surely they’ve changed things over the years”
“I don’t see why they should. I mean, it makes sense to weed out the uncertains right from the beginning, and both of those events will definitely cause a few to quit.”
“Really?” Casey looked a bit taken aback. “You honestly think people are that weak, just to give up on the first day?”
Travis stood up, shrugging as he plopped down on the couch. “Probably. This isn’t going to be easy man. You need to know that.”
“Ya ya. You know I ain’t about quitting. Only way you’re getting rid of me is if you jump out first, and we both know that ain’t about to happen.” Casey quickly finished the rest of his drink, and after crumpling the can down gave it a half-hearted toss towards the trash bin.
It missed and rolled to the side of the kitchen, where it rested quite comfortably.
Travis grinned and slapped his best friend on the shoulder. “I know that. I also know I’m going to physically drag you across the graduation stage if I have to. So why not save me some trouble, and get down and give me fifty.” He punctuated his statement with a shove, laughing as Casey grumbled from the floor.
Only halfway through his set, the doorbell for the flat rang, causing both friends to jerk a bit. “I got it.” Travis walked over to the front door and opened it after peering through the peephole.
A young man with a mane of red hair and a wide grin sauntered in, laughing as he took in the state of Casey just getting off the floor. “Well, that has to be a first. You guys legacy or something?”
Travis shrugged. “Nah. Just tried to research what we were getting into, ya know?”
The red-haired man laughed again, before holding out his hand to shake. “The name’s Kyiv. I’m your dorm RA and guide to the HCP facility today. If you’re ready to go, let’s head to the elevators. Yours was the last room, so everyone else is waiting in the lobby.”
Nodding in conformation, both boys scooped up their book bags and followed Kyiv towards the large double door elevators located in the middle of the 29 story dorm buildings.
Turning the corner, they were confronted with a rather large group of about thirty-two other college-age students, both boys and girls excitedly discussing the day ahead.
A sharp whistle pierced through the air, causing all noise to cease and all eyes to turn towards Kyiv’s tall form. He seemed perfectly relaxed, motioning for everyone to pay attention.
“Alright folks, I believe that’s everyone accounted for on my floor, so listen up. I’m not going to repeat myself. First, we’re going to get on the elevators, and yes, they will fit all of us. Then, I want everyone to pay attention to the combination I punch into the floor numbers. That combination can only be used by someone from this floor, which you’ll all be biometrically keyed for some time this next week. For now, I’m your chauffeur, so don’t miss the scheduled lift times.”
He paused here, making sure everyone was paying attention. “Cool. Now, once we get down to the HCP level, we’ll be heading straight to the lockers. You’ll find a personal uniform there, and are required to change into it immediately. After which, we head to the auditorium. You can’t miss it, cause it’s immediately to the left of the lobby area. Find your seats towards the front of the room, they should have your name on them. Today is orientation for all you freshies, so pay attention and don’t screw around. Dean Jackson is a good man, but he isn’t really known for having an unlimited amount of patience. Alright, any questions before we get going? No? Excellent.”
Kyiv called the elevators, which seemed to be waiting for that precise moment. As everyone began to move to follow him on, Kyiv turned to give a theatrical bow. “Join me, my fresh and delicious meat. Today, we descend to your destinies.” He then cackled as the students trooped on with quite the variety of expressions on their faces.