Gael stood at the observation window looking down into the training simulation room. She was fighting not to scratch the throbbing itch her wound was causing. The wave of pain from scratching was much easier to deal with. Like many of the people watching from all sides, she was there to watch the second and third place Theta teams duel.
That first day she was assigned into a team with Uroko, Niht, and Samuel was one of the best days she’d had at the Academy. Like all teams, they started in last place. They stayed there until Gael snapped during their twelfth match and started giving orders. Uroko flashed her a smile as they were off to follow her plan, she melted inside. That was the first day they tasted victory.
They rose through the ranks simulation after simulation. Some taking minutes others taking hours as they flanked the other team around the large circular room that measured a quarter mile in diameter. Then the day they finally championed their way out of the Omega ranks beating the lowest team in the Psi rank. Everyone was so happy, jumping and hugging, she felt like she could accomplish anything. They chose their challenges quickly, jumping three places at a time. It wasn’t long before they crossed into the second highest rank class, Xi. They reached second place in just over a month, faster than any team in the history of the Academy. They were ready to take on the first place team so that they could finally get a chance at the Theta ranks. That’s when Gael started feeling nervous, like she wouldn’t be able to lead them to victory. They faced probably the second best team in the Academy. A team that was more interested in keeping the lucky weak out of the high rankings than moving up themselves. Being the leader, Gael had to make the official challenge, but she kept putting it off. Until Uroko found her one night staring out at the sky. “Are you just going to stand here and look at the sky forever?” At first his words seemed cold. Until he placed his warm arms around her waist, his wings began to beat around her and they lifted off the ground “Or will you trust us to help you touch it?” After that night they did not come close to losing another fight, making it all the way to first place in the Theta rank. And no team since has been able to take that away.
The training simulator took up a large portion of the Academy. It could produce many solid holograms based on real or fictional places, some up to five stories tall. Any texture could be created It could create the texture of anything, but for all its complex capability, it lacked the ability to create the proper temperature to go with many things. Some cadets had found themselves waist deep in “lava”, eliminating them from the training exercise, but not killing them. Some exercises took place on four story buildings, being tossed off could cause the computer to create a soft place to land. The observation deck that circled the room was solid glass. Large monitors were set up all over the place to give those watching a closer view of the battles.
She had found the least populated area, not wanting to be bothered. The monitor beside her was counting down the time until the match began, 0:12:43. She looked at the glass in front of her, separating her from the simulator field, replaying Uroko’s attack over and over in her head. She felt a hand come down on her shoulder and tensed up, but immediately calmed down when she heard his voice.
“Hey, you okay?” He sounded really worried, though she couldn’t blame him. “The nurse and Dr. Sahlyana are working together to try and figure out what happened to Uroko.” he looked out at the field. “The Dean and Dr. Sahlyana want to see us later today. They sounded like they were nervous about something.” Niht looked over his sister. She hadn’t taken her gaze from the field. Then he noticed her arm “Gael, you shouldn’t be scratching it.” She looked down to see it had started bleeding again. “Come on, let’s go get that cleaned up.” He’d be able to watch the file of the match later, he was more worried about his sister.
On the other side of the observation deck Samuel walked up to the Velez sisters, placing his arms around them “How’re my two favorite twins doin’?” They were the only other set of twins in this Academy. Catherine was the more dangerous of the two, and hated Samuel with a passion. Caitlyn was more understandable. She didn’t try to harm him, but she never let his advances go further than the surprise hugs.
Catherine threw his arm away and turned so fast he thought she was going to slap him “Go evaporate somewhere you puddle of piss!”
He took his had off Caitlyn and gave a faux hurt look. “I love you too Kitty.” He winked knowing that using her most hated nickname would earn him a bad headache for days. Surprisingly it didn’t come.
Caitlyn quickly interrupted “How’s Uroko doing?” She wasn’t sure why, but she had a soft spot for Samuel, even though he caught an eye full of her on one of his perverse jaunts into the girls bathroom one day. But that’s not to say she didn’t send him away hurting badly. He was never really sure why she didn’t hate him like her sister, but he was glad and careful not to get near that line with her.
His mood changed quickly. “He’s still out. The doc is trying to see if she can get him to wake up, or at least find out what happened.” He looked sheepishly at Caitlyn, “Actually, I...I was hoping you could do me a favor.”
Catherine burst out laughing, catching quite a few glances from other cadets as they backed up. “You have some nerve you perverted asshole! Why the hell should she do anything for you?” She looked from Samuel to her sister and knew her sister would help. “You’ve gotta be kidding, You don’t owe this jerk anything!” Caitlyn turned to her sister, “Maybe not, but he is asking for help.” Catherine knew there was nothing that would change her stubborn sisters mind so she threw her arms up in the air, frustrated, and stomped off.
Samuel looked from Catherine to the ground “I know I have no right to ask you, and I’ll never understand why you don’t hate me like your sister does. But even so, this favor isn’t for me.” He looked Caitlyn in the eyes with more feeling than she’d seen in him since that night. It wasn’t rare for him to be sincere, but he wasn’t usually the begging kind either.
Caitlyn understood. “Is it Gael? You’re worried about Gael?” She’d seen Gael since the incident and could sense she was breaking inside. “Have you tried talking to her?”
He sighed loudly “You know she likes me about as much as your sister. But, yes, I did try. She isn’t even talking to her own brother.” That last sentence stung him more than he thought it would. If she wouldn’t talk to her own brother, he wasn’t sure if anyone could get to her.
Caitlyn put a hand on his arm. “I’ll see what I can do, but if she won’t even talk to Niht I doubt I can do much. At least without being intrusive.”
Samuel half smiled “Thanks, Caitlyn. I owe you way too much.” And with that he walked off to see how Uroko was doing.