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|Just the Beginning|
October 4, 2013
The girl cautiously tip-toed through the junction, watching where she stepped while also watching her surroundings. Twisted metal beams and structures jutted from the ground as did scorched sections of the ground. "Where did everybody go?" she asked out loud, more to herself. The girl's brown hair fell into her face from a sudden gust of wind. "This is definitely one of those times I wish my hair wasn't so freaking long," she said. The girl set her staff up right in the ground and proceeded to brush it out of her face, spitting a few strands out as well. Without notice or warning, the ground beneath the girl opened up to form a pit filled with spikes. Blowing out a jet of wind, the girl pushed herself up out of the pit and back on solid ground.
Flaming whips shot up from behind a toppled wall and lashed out towards her. Grabbing her staff, she back-flipped away from the whips and right into a large wall of ice. The ice melted down into a wave of water that swept her up, directing her towards an oncoming wall of earth. "They really are trying to kill me" the girl thought as she remembered what she'd been told earlier.
"Your only goal is to make it through the field and back alive Maika," said the tan-skinned man known as Jung Li.
"But why am I walking through here If I can just fly on my brothers sky bison?" Maika asked.
"This exercise is to teach you how to survive well outside of your comfort zone," he said crossing his arms. "And without the aid of your brother or his bison". Nodding her understanding of her goal Maika moved to get up and enter the field while unbeknownst to her several students leaped down from the railed area Jung Li had been standing on and advanced towards the field as well though in a different direction Maika had taken.
As the water carried Maika closer to the wall, Maika spun herself into the air on a small tornado, freeing herself from the water. Keeping herself afloat Maika looked below to find her attackers but couldn't see them.
"How do they keep disappearing on me like that?" she said. A more powerful tornado swallowed hers up and trapped her in its rotation. Maika was soon tossed onto the ground where the tornado kept her pressed against the earth. Starting to suffocate from the encroaching wind, Maika distorted the air around her and used it to push herself out the tornado.
"So Lee's trying to kill me?" Maika asked. The ground trembled as several fissures raced towards her. Not waiting for them to reach her, Maika snapped her glider-staff open and took to the air. The fissure lines merged into one and the ground split apart, spikes shooting up to reach Maika. Soaring past the spikes, fire once again roared up to reach her, numerous balls of it streaking towards her. Maika dropped down towards the barrage, closed her glider up, and summoned the wind to form around her creating a barrier to protect her. Maika pierced through the barrage, and still falling towards the ground, used the flow of air to slow her descent, snapped her glider open, yanking herself back up before falling to the ground.
Just as she touched ground, a figure leaped out from seemingly nowhere, two swords drawn and poised to strike. The figure was a boy of about 19 with a mess of black hair on his head, dark green eyes and a grin on his face. He brought his swords down in the spot Maika had been. Bringing her staff up, the blow was blocked by the swords catching the staff between it.
"Not bad Maika" the boy said, his dark green eyes staring back at Maika's intense storm gray eyes.
"Thanks for the compliment Kaoru but you can't go complimenting the person you're attempting to kill" she answered.
Unlocking his swords, Kaoru swung them back around and attacked with a savage barrage of slashes, thrusts, and cuts. Maika nimbly dodged the strikes the way she'd been taught. Starting to bring her leg up to kick a blade of wind Kaoru's direction, Maika felt her foot sink into the ground as two newcomers emerged. A pale-skinned red-headed girl of about 18 appeared brandishing a sizable water whip. Beside her stood the culprit of her sinking leg, another 18 year old with a mane of black hair, brown skin, and earth forming on both his fists.
"Haysumi and Jared?" Maika said in surprise. She hadn't expected all her friends to be the ones assigned to try and kill her. Jared punched his fist forward, firing off the earth covering his arm in sections. Haysumi lashed out with her whip, splitting it in two as it arched towards Maika.
"It's definitely getting too crowded here" Maika said spinning her staff in front of her redirecting both attacks around her. She swung her staff at Kaoru throwing him off his feet and clearing a path for herself, Maika pushed herself forward with the help of the wind.
"Damn, I forgot how fast she can run" Kaoru stated sheathing his swords.
"We can catch her on the way back" Haysumi said pulling the water back into her water skin.
"Woah. Never thought I'd hear the 'princess' talk about ambushing somebody" Jared exclaimed. Kaoru wrapped his arm around Haysumi's shoulder pulling himself closer to her to kiss her on the cheek causing Haysumi to smile.
"Guys, we talked about this. No smooching when any of us are around. You can do that crap with strangers somewhere else" Jared said, pretending to barf.
"Sorry about that" Kaoru said laughing before removing his arm from Haysumi.
"Doesn't matter anyways. She might not make it past Lee" Jared added, Haysumi and Kaoru silently agreeing.
Maika continued her run farther into the field before she reached the end.
"I guess I can go back now" Maika said. The wind suddenly tore at her, wrenching her staff out of her grasp. "I thought I left you behind" Maika said aloud realizing who was attacking her. A tall, lanky 20 year old hovered before Maika on a wind spout, her staff resting in his hands while his own staff was strapped to his back.
"Took you long enough," he said before aiming her staff at her. Tendrils of air blasted from the staff point and drilled into the ground where Maika stood. 'I can't fight him. I can barely fight the others' Maika thought.
"If you're going to run, you should've done it by now" the boy said. Drawing his free hand back, the boy lashed it out sending a slicing blade of wind Maika's direction. Maika slid to the left of the blade, crouched down low and pushed off the ground with her left leg, shooting her right leg forward. A blast of wind flowed down her leg and smashed into the boy's wind spout, disrupting its flow, causing him to tumble. Landing on the ground softly, the boy stood up tall and straight, a slight smile on his face.
"Not bad," he said as the wind began to pick up once more.
"You still have to teach me that slight hand airbending Lee" Maika said.
"If you make it past me alive, I just might teach you" Lee said sending a ripping storm of air her way. Air spiraled around Maika blocking most of the wind but she still suffered several slash marks to her arms, legs, and back. Sending the air dome flying forward Maika raced towards Lee, opting for a close-quarters fight with him.
"Gotta be quicker than that" Lee said dodging each of Maika's blows. Maika swung her leg up as fast as she could, aiming it towards Lee's head. Ducking back inches from her foot, Lee placed his hand on her heel and pushed downward sending her sprawling to the ground. Gritting her teeth in frustration Maika went into a tackle but aimed herself at her staff in Lee's hand. Yanking it out of his grip she tumbled onto the ground before popping up, a smile of satisfaction on her face. Without warning Maika took off at a dash past Lee, racing after Maika. The duo ran through the field, leaping over objects in their way with the slightest of ease. Maika chanced a glance behind, noticed Lee was still chasing her, and put on a burst of speed, leaving Lee behind her.
"Damnit, she is faster than me," he said skidding to a halt. "Guess I'll let the others deal with her."
"Home stretch" Maika said smiling as she could just make out the top of the building on the horizon. A wall shot up ahead of her, measuring about 5 feet wide and towering over her. Not stopping, Maika flung herself directly at the wall and began to run alongside it until she reached the edge and leaped off. Another wall shot up again but this time it instead crumbled before the pieces hurled themselves at her. Sweeping her staff around, Maika countered with a blast of air knocking the pieces aside. Kaoru leaped forward his swords drawn once more and brought them crashing down. Maika stepped back swiftly only to run into Jared's fist.
"Watch where you're going Maika" Jared said his earth-covered fist in Maika's stomach. Maika coughed up a bit of blood and bile and fell to her knees, clutching her stomach.
"Finish her off Haysumi" Jared called out and covered Maika's feet in earth. A flurry of ice spears ascended into the air before dropping down towards Maika. Sweeping her staff skywards, Maika launched an air blade at the spears, shattering them to pieces. Striking the stone shackles on her ankles with her wind enhanced staff, Maika freed herself. Kaoru aimed his swords towards Maika while Jared stomped his foot bringing an earth block up and punching it forward. Maika skillfully backflipped away from Kaoru's sword strike while simultaneously dodging Jared's earth. Landing on her hands, Maika spun herself into a tornado of air and kicks, sending Kaoru and Jared flying.
Haysumi leaped out towards her and lashed out with a water stream, sending her skidding back. Leaping up, Maika butterfly-kicked a powerful blast of ripping wind that sliced into Haysumi. Haysumi held her arms up to block as much wind as she could but she ended up blocking her own vision long enough for Maika to attack with a ball of air that struck Haysumi in the chest. Haysumi slammed into a broken off section of roofing, Maika racing past her. Behind her, Jared and Kaoru followed.
"Gimme a boost Jared" Kaoru stated. Jared ran ahead of Kaoru by a bit before skidding to a halt, the ground shooting up forward forming a makeshift ramp. Getting a running leap, Kaoru jumped off the ramp and into the air. Kaoru kicked off a barrage of fire blades as he fell towards the ground. The fire blades exploded in front of Maika throwing up a cloud of dust. Not long after Maika burst through the cloud and ran towards the city's inner limits. Maika raced into the city and ran towards one of its many bridges where she was greeted by a mob of people waiting for her. Coming to a complete stop one of the people approached her, a brown-skinned man with scarred muscular arms, spiked grayish hair and a large scar across his face stood before Maika.
"30 minutes and a few stray seconds. Average is about 25-27 minutes and the max is 33 minutes. Not bad Maika but you took to long to deal with each of the threats presented to you" he growled out. "And next time Jared or any of the others decides to go easy on you, you'll all be scrubbing the bison barracks barehanded for two months" he said before walking away from Maika.
"Jung Li's been a real hard ass lately" Lee said floating down towards Maika on a gentle spiral of air.
"He's always been a hard ass he's just been more aggressive lately is all" Haysumi corrected as she, Kaoru, and Jared walked up to the two.
"So you guys went easy on me?" Maika turned around to ask."
"Who do you think broke the earth I placed on your ankles? Sorry kiddo" Jared stepped up and said. "You guys aren't helping me by going easy on me" Maika stated.
"Well to be fair, we won't go easy on Yuki when it's her turn" Kaoru exclaimed with a laugh.
"Yeah whatever but you guys owe me dinner though," she said heading down the bridge. "Uh I don't agree to that deal sis" Lee called out ahead as the others followed behind him across the bridge, heading deeper into the city once revered as the fifth nation, the once great Republic City.
This chapter was lengthy mainly just to introduce several of the characters quickly. I also liked writing some of scenes between these characters so much I just decided to turn this into the intro chapter
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