Jian Chan looked at the building. It was the 10th floor. It was always there in a room which was reserved always for them that they met. There were seven of them. Would they have arrived? He did not know. It was a hotel. He entered and did not even go to the reception. The room did not require a key. Only the seven of them could open the door. No one else could, not even the hotel staff.
He pressed for the elevator and waited. He had called the meeting. There had been not a meeting in a long time. But such a situation had not arisen in many years. How many players were involved? What the hell had his father planned? Even after his death he controlled people’s strings. He gritted his teeth as he thought about his father. Feelings of love and hate both clashed in him.
The elevator arrived and he got in. He pressed the button for the 10th floor. Before he could go up, the doors opened and someone else entered. He recognized her. He could not remember her name. She had pressed the button for 6th floor. She smiled at him. She had recognized him but she did not say anything. She seemed incognito as she was wearing a scarf over her head and had put on thick dark goggles.
Sixth floor arrived and she left. Before the elevator doors closed she said, “Good bye Lord Cyberton. Give my regards to Forum.”
It was then he realized who she was. So she had come back. He smiled. This was interesting. Forum would be happy to see her old friend. He got off on the tenth floor. He went to the room and opened it. He entered it to see that it was dark. He could see the silhouettes of the other six. So they were already here. He was the last one.
He looked at them. They were sitting around a circular table. The seat in front of him was empty. To the left of the empty seat, sat Tyrin Redd, then Kazin Strong, and Tyra Strong. To the right, there sat Doug Young, May Walsh and Tempest Angel.
Jian sat on the empty seat. He said, “The Shadow Council is now assembled. I have called to discuss about one particular person: Marcus McKnight.”
Marcus McKnight sneezed. He had fallen ill. It was a mild flu and he was ordered bed rest. Instead of resting he would be found in the media room playing on the PlayStation. Brock put his head in the media room and shouted, “Someone to see you mate.”
You needed to shout in the media room because you could not be sure if the person would hear you over the insane home theatre system Marcus had installed. Marcus paused the game he was playing and sighed. He slowly made his way to the living room to find Flora and Selena waiting for him.
Flora said on seeing him, “There you are. Did you think you could hide from me?”
Marcus said, “Are we playing hide and seek?”
Flora said in a confusing way, “No.”
Marcus said, “Then why would I hide from you?”
Selena said before Flora could retort, “You need to sign the contract.”
Marcus frowned and said, “What contract?”
Selena said, “The contract to make me your official stastician.”
Flora said, “Yes, you know, that Emma Knight has already signed it. Came with Lord Cyberton she did. She is a nice girl. Looks lonely though.”
Selena said, “Anyways, since you were ill, we brought the contract with us. You need to put in your terms and then we both have to sign.”
Marcus said, “Give me a minute”, and he went to his room slowly. He came back soon; well, as soon as he could in his current state. He had few papers in his hand. He gave them to Selena. Selena read the papers and raised an eyebrow.
Marcus said, “These are my terms.”
Selena said, “How do you know?”
Flora snatched the papers and read them. There was a deep frown on her face.
Flora said, “How do you know?”
Marcus sat down in a relaxed manner and said, “How do I know what?”
Selena said, “That I am looking for a trainer?”
Brock said, “Ah, so you are. I did not believe him when he told me.”
Selena said, “Do you know the whole story?”
Marcus shook his head and said, “I know you have the energy in you to become a power fighter and you have been honing it. I could sense it easily. However I don’t know why and I also don’t know why you became a stastician with such potential. I could also tell you don’t have a person teaching you as you have not been developing this energy as you would under a master. So are you going to tell me why do you train or do I have to train you based on trust?”
Selena was having doubts now. Had she made the right decision? This was not the same Marcus whom she had fallen for five years ago.
She said, “You will know when the time is right.”
Marcus nodded. He said, “You accept my terms then?”
Selena said, “Do you accept mine?”
Marcus waved a hand as if he did not care about her terms. He said, “They are simply a formality. I have no issues.”
It was decided. Selena was now officially the stastician for Marcus.
Evana said to Forum, “Did you get an invitation for a party tonight?”
Forum said, “Yes, a party at the Chimera. Isn’t it a hotel?”
Evana said, “You know what hotel that is, don’t you?”
Forum nodded. Forum and Evana knew about the council. They knew the council met in the hotel Chimera. They had not told Jian about it though. It was their secret. They had not even told Brock or the others.
Evana said, “So what do you think it is about?”
Forum shrugged and said, “No name on the invitation. I do not know what the party is for. This is utterly ridiculous.”
Evana said, “Do you think it is Marcus?”
Forum said, “Let’s find out. We will call Brock.”
Forum called Brock and inquired. Brock was surprised. It seemed that it was not Marcus as Brock had not received any such invitation. He asked whether he should come with them if they are concerned. Forum told him no and hung up. They called up others to find out if they had gotten any invitation. It seemed that it was only them.
They were curious and so they went to hotel Chimera. A concierge came up to them as they entered. He said, “Miss Chan and Miss Rain, I have been instructed to guide you. Will you please follow me?”
He took them to the 6th floor. They were prepared for any attacks. They had already powered up. The concierge knocked and the door opened. He bowed and left. They looked in the room to see what it was all about.
What they saw made them gasp. A figure leaped on them and hugged them fiercely. It was her. She was here.
“It’s so good to see you guys”, the figure who had leaped at them said. As she stepped back Forum and Evana were gaping. Taylor Warren had come back.
Brock said, “Christmas is approaching.”
Marcus said, “I know that.”
Brock said, “What are your plans?”
Marcus said, “Arya informs me that Christmas is normally celebrated by staying two days at the Coroner manor.”
Brock said, “I will be going home too. It feels odd.”
Marcus said, “So you want to talk to me about that?”
Brock said, “No…” Brock phased out.
Marcus simply said, “Weird.”
Brock said, “Marcus Christmas is approaching.”
Marcus was not getting irritated. He said, “What are you trying to say Brock? Just spit it out.”
Brock said, “Will you be okay?”
Marcus understood. He looked away and tried to say in an offhand voice, “I will be okay. It’s been 15 years now. I know I cannot get completely over it but I can bear it.”
Brock nodded. He knew Marcus could bear it but he always wanted company before Christmas; each year. That is how he dealt with the grief. Brock did not know what he wanted this year. His friend had changed and he could not do anything about it.
Marcus knew what Brock was talking about. He had walked to a photo amongst the many kept on the mantelpiece; yes they had a mantelpiece in the living room. The four of them were happily waving at him from the photograph. He smiled sadly as he looked at them, his parents who had died in front of his eyes on the 23rd of December.
Taylor had been Evana and Forum’s friend during high school. After high school she had gone to Oxford to major in history and literature. She had ended up becoming a theatre actor. They had kept in touch all these years but they had not seen her for two years now. She had come back after two years now.
“Why are you staying in a hotel Taylor?” asked Forum.
Taylor sighed and said, “You forgot Forum. Mum and dad moved to New Jersey. I have no one else in L.A.”
Forum said, “You have us. You could have stayed with one of us.”
Evana said, “She means why you did not come to her first.”
Forum said, “Shut up”, but the others laughed. They both knew that Forum was very much attached to Taylor after Evana.
Taylor said, “As I said, it was supposed to be a surprise. I will move in with you the moment you want me to.” They all laughed this time.
They talked for some time. They ordered room service.
Evana asked, “Why are you here Taylor? I thought you would be in New Jersey.”
Taylor said, “I have come here to find a certain person and pass her a message.”
Forum asked, “Who is she?”
Taylor did not reply and changed the subject. Forum frowned. Even Evana looked a bit confused. Their friend was hiding something from them. What was it? What had Taylor gotten herself into?
“All right then, I need all your details”, said Selena to Marcus and Emma.
Marcus said, “Wouldn’t it be better if you took our power fighting details separately?”
Selena shook her head. She said, “You would think it would be better but no. You see the power fighters of the same stastician should know the skills about each other. Flora says that it helps them grow and also helps them to become stronger. You see all the power fighters of Flora know all the skills of each other. And that has brought them closer and has made them strong.”
Marcus rubbed his chin and said, “That is true. When I saw them in Musings I could feel their aura. All of them together formed one heck of a force.”
Emma said, “I do not mind sharing information regarding my skills with you Marcus. I have seen you fight. You are a strong fighter and I would like to fight and defeat you one day. However I would like to do it with honesty and not by hiding my skills from you. It would be a fair fight.”
Marcus said, “I doubt it would be. Okay then Selena, fire away.”
Every stastician needed to have a database of his or her fighter. The power fighter stastician bond is a bond of trust. Every stastician knows his or her power fighter inside out. Selena would need some time but she was determined to do this.
She got the common questions out of the way first. Now began the important questions.
Selena said, “Name of the trainer.”
Emma said, “Albert Goodson.”
Marcus said, “What if there was more than one?”
Selena said, “Are you saying that Master Kami was not your only trainer?”
Marcus shook his head. He said, “He taught me majorly but for some things I had different trainers.”
Selena said, “I will still write Kami Chan. You normally need the name of the primary trainer.”
Marcus nodded. Selena then said, “Now I need a list of all the masteries which you have achieved.”
Emma and Marcus both looked uncomfortable. No power fighter liked to share this information. Even though Emma had said she had no problem, she was still feeling uncomfortable. It was she who spoke the first though.
Emma said, “Water Mastery. Energy Mastery…”
Selena interrupted, “I want the levels too.”
Emma said irritably, “So you want to know what all masteries I have tried my hand at and at what level I have reached?”
Selena said, “Why don’t I say the name of the mastery and you tell me what level you have reached at?”
Selena got the levels and had a table prepared. It looked like this:
7 of 7
7 of 7
7 of 7
1 of 7
7 of 7
5 of 7
7 of 7
2 of 7
7 of 7
1 of 7
3 of 3
3 of 3
7 of 7
1 of 7
5 of 5
2 of 5
10 of 10
3 of 10
10 of 10
10 of 10
1 of 3
1 of 3
So Marcus and Emma had an Angel form. However Marcus had hesitated before he had said yes. What was up with that? Selena looked at the table which she had prepared. She was gaping at Marcus’s column. Emma was also looking at the table. She had heard Marcus tell the levels of the mastery and she was looking at the table to make sure that what she heard was true.
Selena said, “This is not possible.”
Emma nodded and said, “I know. This is beyond human limitations.”
Marcus said, “These are all my masteries. And it is not beyond human limitations. I have achieved all these levels after all.”
Selena said, “You are not lying are you Marcus?”
Marcus sighed and said, “I am not lying.”
They looked at the table again. They still were not able to believe this.
Marcus said, “I have a request to you guys. Don’t tell anyone about my masteries. I will tell them when I am ready. Right now I am only a Martial and a Defense Master, okay?”
They nodded. Then Selena said, “Let’s move on. I want you tell me your ultimate move.”
Emma told Selena her ultimate move. Marcus hesitated and then said, “You need only one right?”
Selena rolled her eyes. She was not surprised that Marcus would have more than one ultimate move. She said that she needed only one and Marcus gave Quickstep as his ultimate move.
They soon finished giving Selena the data she wanted. Selena said that they would have their first fights in a few days and they should be ready. They nodded and left. Before he left Marcus whispered in Selena’s ear that he would call about the training. When they were gone Selena looked at the data again. Then she went on the website and looked up Kami’s training center. She was going to call them. It was time to know some things about Marcus McKnight.
Tisane looked at the house. It looked more like a villa and Marcus insisted on calling it a simple house. She sighed and rang the bell. Brock opened the door. Tisane frowned. She had not expected any one to be home. Yet there was Brock standing in front of her and inviting her in. Would Marcus be home too? She did not want to talk with them yet. She had just come to their house on a whim and she did not even now know why she had rung the bell.
Brock asked once they had sat down, “So what brings you here Tisane?”
Tisane looked at him. She did not know what to say. In the end she decided to simply ask him.
She said, “Why do you not want to be in a team Brock?”
Brock said, “Did Leopold put you up to this?”
Tisane frowned and said, “Leopold? No. Why would he do so?”
Brock did not say anything. Tisane said, “I believe that you would have known by now that I am forming a team for the upcoming tournament.”
Brock nodded and Tisane continued, “I was wondering if you would like to be a part of the team.”
Brock stood up. He started pacing. Tisane gave him some time. Brock said finally, “Who else have you asked?”
Tisane told him. Brock nodded. He said, “So even if I say yes you will need two more members, right?”
Tisane nodded and said, “You want their names?”
Brock said, “So you have some people in mind?”
Tisane said, “Marcus McKnight and Emma Knight.”
Brock thought on what Tisane had said. He muttered, “Marcus, Emma, AA, Forum and me with Lara as reserve”, aloud he said, “And what of the stastician?”
Tisane shrugged and said, “I still have no idea for that.”
Brock smiled and said, “I will make you a deal. If Marcus agrees to join your team I will join too. As for the stastician, I think you should ask Marcus. I have a feeling he might have an idea.”
Tisane was confused. What was Brock talking about? However one thing was good. Brock had not said no. Tisane could work with that. So, in a way, two more to go.
Marcus knocked the door. No one opened. He knew she was inside but no one was responding. He had a feeling about her when he had met her. She was sad. She was lonely. Marcus did not like that. He felt that she was important but did not know how. He remembered the prophecy which Kami had told him. Could it be true? Could he really be the one?
He had decided to carry out Kami’s plan but he had made sure that he would make modifications in order to fulfill his purpose. They had consulted a lot on it. They had come to a decision and it was better to stick to it.
He knocked the door and rang the bell again but no one opened the door. He could sense her inside. It was easy. Then why was she not opening the door? Break the door, said a voice in his head. He knew whose voice it was. He was always impatient. Patience, Marcus told the voice. He could feel resentment from him. He smiled and shook his head. DA would never learn.
He wondered what Emma was doing. Should he really break the door? He did not know.
He shouted, “Emma, I know you are inside. Please open the door. I want to talk with you.”
No response. He sighed. If she thought that he was going to give up then she was wrong. He thought of picking the lock but another idea came to his mind.
He said, “All right then, you win. I am going.”
He left the building and went to the back. He started climbing the fire escape. He came up to the fourth floor and looked inside the window of Emma’s apartment. What he saw shocked him.
With a cry of Emma he charged in.
Taylor had moved in the Chan residence. Forum was excited to have her. Too over excited, was the exact term Taylor was using. She smiled at both her friends’ excitement. She shook her head and brought herself back in the real world.
Her friends were important but she had not come for that purpose. She had to deliver the message. She was not happy about it. She liked her. She believed she had suffered much and yet they tortured her still. She was not a part of them but she owed them some favors. They had contacted her and asked her to pass along the message and they would be even.
She had been happy. They would be out of her hair; for the moment at least. But Taylor wondered about her. Taylor had met her once. It was when both their fathers were a part of them. Taylor’s father had died in their service and her father had died betraying them. They did not take betrayal lightly. However the sins of the father should not be borne by the child.
She felt sad now. Maybe she should go back now. No. It would be dangerous. She still remembered them. They had expected her to serve them just as her father had. She had refused. They had seemed disappointed but had let her go. They had killed her boyfriend as a warning though. It was a warning to tell her that if she told anyone about them or went against them then the consequences would not be good.
She hated them and passing this message would help her temporarily free herself of them. It would never be permanent though. She knew of it and did not like it. She had reached the house. Taylor knew that it was that person’s house. She checked the address again. It was right. The person lived with her mother.
She rang the bell. She was sure that both would be at home. The mother opened the door. The mother recognized Taylor. Taylor said that she wanted to see both of them. The mother took her to living room and called her daughter. Taylor looked at Selena Stone. It was a long time. Allison Stone, Selena’s mother looked worried.
Taylor said, “I am sorry about this but I have a message for you from them, The Dark Hand.”
“There will be five of them. The messenger will save five of them from different problems before he identifies him, the lost one. And the lost one would choose one of the five to be his bride. After that he will choose, choose whether to rule or to give up on his power”, said Kami.
This was a conversation which Kami had with Marcus when Marcus was still training under Kami.
Marcus said, “So this is the prophecy of the lost prince?”
Kami nodded and said, “Yes, it is the prophecy which has been in the Chan generations for ages. It is actually a part of the prophecy. This part refers to the current situation.”
Chen said, “What do you mean grandfather?”
Kami said, “The prophecy of the lost prince has many verses. However the verse keeps on changing depending on what is coming to pass. Does it make sense?”
Marcus said, “So this means that the messenger whosoever he is will save these five people. And we will know who the lost prince is.”
Chen said, “Who is this lost prince? What is he a prince of?”
Kami said, “I will tell you some other time.”
Chen said, “Then why did you show us this part of the prophecy grandfather?”
Kami looked at them. There was a glint in his eyes. He said, “Tell me truthfully, did any one of you feel different when you read the verse.”
Chen frowned and said, “Different? How do you mean?”
But Kami’s eyes had gone over on Marcus who had paled. How had Kami known? Marcus had felt drawn to the verse. He could not explain it but he somehow could relate to the verse. He had felt it, a feeling which he could not explain.
Kami mumbled, “So it seems that we have found the messenger.”
Marcus was not sure he had been the messenger or not but he had played along on Kami’s whim. He did not want to discredit Kami’s theory even though he thought it ridiculous. A part of him however thought it was right. The other three inside were already convinced that Kami was right.
Marcus had been unsure whether he was the messenger or not. But when he saw Emma lying like a zombie on the sofa of her apartment the first thought which came to his mind was, I have to help her. It seems that I have found the first one.
Brock was standing on his mother’s grave. He was thinking of Tisane’s offer. He really wanted to be on a team but he was not sure. It was true that he had become a power fighter because his father had wanted him to. His father had believed that Brock had become a power fighter considering his wishes but Brock had become a power fighter in order to be strong enough to be free.
His father did have a highly dominating personality and he did rule over the Young house. Leopold took after Doug but Brock was more like Sasha Young, his mother. He always wondered how her mother could have married her father. They were highly conflicting personalities.
Brock said, “What should I do mother?”
He was now living independently but did not know what to do now. He would be a power fighter but for how long. He remembered that he wanted to be a power fighter since he was a kid but after becoming one he was unsure. He felt doubt. Flora used to joke that Brock had not found his calling but Brock often considered it seriously. Maybe he had not really found his calling.
“You know your mother can’t help you decide don’t you?” said a voice behind him.
He turned around to see two people standing behind him. Brock smiled and said, “Detectives, so nice to see you.”
Detective Dorian Gregory said, “Hello Brock.”
Detective Trent King said, “You need advice from a live person.”
Brock nodded. Trent King said, “Anything we can help you with?”
Brock thought for a moment. Trent and Dorian were detectives on the police force Power Fighters division. They both were power fighters but they used their powers for catching criminals rather than fighting for sport in the arena.
Brock said, “I am not sure whether I should enter the tournament which is coming soon.”
Trent and Dorian looked at each other. Dorian said, “We came to talk with you about the tournament only.”
Brock narrowed his eyes. He said, “Yes, and?”
Trent said, “Would you come to the station with us? We would like to talk with you in private.”
Brock hesitated. Should he go or not? He knew they would have an important request for him. He did not know whether he wanted to get involved or not. He said, “All right, lead on detectives.”
“I thought you were down with the flu”, said Emma to Marcus. Marcus had shaken her out of her reverie and had given her some water. Marcus believed that she looked much better now. He wondered what had happened to her to make her so… so… zombified.
Marcus said, “You forget I am a healing master. I need only a few days to heal myself. My flu was healed day before yesterday.”
Emma frowned and said, “So when we met yesterday, you were all right?”
Marcus shrugged and said, “More or less.”
Emma shook her head. Marcus said, “Wanna talk?”
Emma froze. She said slowly, “About?”
Marcus said, “About what’s bothering you.”
Emma did not reply. She was thinking. Marcus did not say anything either. He was giving her time. He went to the kitchen and started to prepare something to eat for Emma.
Emma said, “What are you doing?”
Marcus said, “Did you have anything to eat?”
Emma blushed and shook her head. Marcus said, “I thought so. I will make you a grilled sandwich.”
As she saw Marcus busying himself in the kitchen she decided to tell him.
Emma started to speak, “I have never had many friends. I don’t know why. I was an introvert person. I did not have much confidence in myself. Then I met her, Genevieve. She became my best friend. She helped me open up. I had many friends then. Eventually I fell in love with her. She accepted my love. We were in a relationship for three years before we sort of broke up. It’s been three months now. I have not been able to get over now. I am afraid I am slipping back. She says that we could be friends if I would get over her because if I do not get closure then I would hurt myself and her. She is right. But I don’t know what to do. I can’t get over her. A part of me understands that it is time to let her go as my lover and accept her back as my friend but the other dominating half just won’t let go. I am confused. I am depressed and now I am alone in this unknown country. I feel lost.”
Marcus handed her the sandwich saying, “If you want more then tell me. I will make more.”
Emma said a Thank You and took the sandwich. Marcus sat in front of her, watching her as she ate the sandwich. He had not said a single word during or after her narrative. Emma wondered if he would be able to help her.
Marcus sighed and said, “You know, I could be your friend if you want me to.”
Emma raised an eyebrow. Marcus continued, “Come on. I like you and there is no chance of a relationship because of your… uhm… preference. So what do you say”, he put his hand forward, “Friends?”
Emma stared at him. Then she smiled, “Friends”, she said and shook his hand. The cloud seemed to be lifted.
Brock was considering what the detectives had said to him. He was thinking about what they wanted him to do. He was thinking that whether he was ready to do it, was he strong enough? He looked up at the sky. He sighed and closed his eyes.
“You look odd”, said a voice behind him. Brock opened his eyes and turned around. Wizard was standing behind him.
“Hello Wizard”, said Brock in a dull voice.
Wizard said, “Oh come one now, where is the excitement?”
Brock said, “Definitely not here right now.”
Wizard laughed jovially. Brock said, “Someone is in a good mood.”
Wizard said, “Why should you not be in a good mood?”
Brock shrugged. Then he said, “So what are you doing here Wizard?”
Brock was in the central park. Wizard said, “I came for a walk. I do that sometimes you know.”
Brock said, “Then let me not stop you.” He walked away from Wizard. Wizard looked at Brock with narrow eyes. Then he nodded to himself as if he had come to a decision and started walking after him. Wizard caught up to Brock and said, “Would you like to tell me what’s bothering you?”
Brock froze in his tracks. He said, “Thanks for the offer Wizard but I have already reached a decision.”
Wizard frowned and said, “Is it something illegal?”
Brock laughed and said, “No, no, it’s nothing like that.”
Wizard looked at him questioningly. Brock grinned back and said, “I am going to join Tisane’s team.”
Marcus looked at the stadium. It was a few days after Selena had taken his and Emma’s details. Selena had called him that morning and told him to get to the stadium in an hour. It seemed that today was going to be his first match.
“Hey, so she called you too”, Emma said while coming beside him. Marcus nodded. Emma asked, “Where is she though?” Marcus shrugged his shoulders.
Emma looked at him, grinned and said, “Not in a good mood are we?”
Marcus said, “I was sleeping when she called. I hate it when someone disturbs my sleep.”
Emma laughed. “What are you laughing about?” It seemed that Selena had come.
Emma said, “So, so, are we fighting?”
Selena nodded and said, “Emma your fight is first. You will be fighting after half an hour and you Marcus, after an hour. Be ready. Till then, please sit in the stands.”
The three of them started towards the entrance to the stands. As they entered Selena started to go towards the front benches but Marcus and Emma started at the back.
Selena said, “Hey, where are you going?”
Marcus pointed to the seats near the top and said, “I always find the view to be better from the top. Also, it is less crowded.”
Emma said, “I agree with him. I like it at the top.”
Selena huffed and said, “Very well. Sit wherever you like. I will be in front. Be sure to enter the stadium when your name is called. Understand?”
They both nodded and started off towards the back. There they were joined by a fellow who grinned when he saw them. They recognized him.
Emma said, “You are Jax Parson, right?”
Jax nodded. He said, “So you guys have a fight today?”
Emma nodded and said, “Yes, our first.”
Jax said, “That’s good. I have already had mine. I lost though.”
Emma made the right reaction. However Marcus ignored them both. He went off to sleep on the seat saying, “Wake me up when it’s my turn will ya?”
Half an hour later it was Emma’s fight. Marcus woke up to see it. Emma won it easily. It took only 5 minutes. Sometime later his name was called. Jax woke him up.
Marcus stood up and stretched. “All right”, he said, “It’s time.”
The crowd around Selena was buzzing. Marcus was up. As he descended to the fighting ground Selena looked at the opponent. She gasped.
“Poor guy”, said one of the guys from the crowd.
“Yeah, I think it is first fight”, said another.
“Yeah, can’t you see it on the screen? It is written ‘Debut Fight’ for this Marcus guy.”
“Seriously, the first fight, and to go on against a person like him.”
“What are the guys doing the match up thinking?”
“I heard that it was his request.”
“No, the other guy’s.”
“Ah, that can’t be true. Why would he go for debutant?”
As the crowd around her buzzed, Selena was feeling a wave of panic concerning Marcus. His fighter was considered one of the best fighters in all of America. Selena saw Marcus grin as he faced him. It was Marcus’s first fight and he was facing Leopold Young.
“So, you are my first opponent”, said Marcus. Leopold nodded. He had a serious look on his face.
Marcus said, “Cheer up. You have not come to a funeral you know.”
The referee now exited the fighting ground and the barrier was put up. The match began.
Leopold said, “Marcus, I don’t want you to hold back. You attack me with all of your force.”
Marcus rotated his shoulders and said, “I see, you want it to be too serious. This is going to be fun after all.”
They both charged at each other. Their attacks reverberated across the stadium. Leopold was primarily using flame attacks while Marcus was trying to get close to Leopold to use his power attacks. Both were dodging each other’s attacks successfully. A few minutes into the fight Marcus said, “This is useless.”
He changed tactics. He punched the ground and a small earthquake hit the fighting ground. This destabilized Leopold a bit. Marcus took advantage of it and charged at Leopold. As Marcus neared Leopold he was ready to punch him but Leopold had a smile on his face as if he had anticipated Marcus’s attack.
He dodged Marcus’s attack, gave him a spinning kick which made Marcus lose his balance. As Marcus was falling down Leopold brought both his fists down on Marcus. Marcus saw that Leopold’s fists were on fire. He grinned as the attack connected and he fell down crushing the ground. Leopold smiled but the next moment his smiled was wiped off.
Marcus stood up and dusted himself. He said, “That was quite some attack. But I am a defense master so you see; this level of attack won’t even scratch me.”
Marcus could see that Leopold was angry. Leopold stepped back. He put both his palms together and spread his legs. He said, “Fire Mastery, release.”
Marcus saw two triangles form at Leopold’s feet. The triangles were opposing each other and Leopold was at the center of the tips which were intersecting. Marcus could see that Leopold’s aura was increasing. He was powering up for pure fire attacks. So, this was the power of a true fire master.
When Leopold finished powering up he was enveloped by fire from top to bottom.
“The aura of fire”, Marcus muttered. He had recognized it. Leopold attacked. His fire attacks were stronger than before. Marcus blocked and dodged each of the attacks.
“Useless”, he said. He started running towards Leopold. When he closed in to punch him, Leopold attacked him with a massive fireball on a close range. Marcus was hit with a full blast.
Leopold shouted a ‘hah’. There was a lot of smoke after the attack. When it cleared Leopold was surprised to find Marcus standing there unscathed.
Marcus said, “Now that’s what I am talking about. I had to use a lot of energy to stop that. So now, shall we get serious?”
He disappeared. The next moment Leopold felt a great pain in his gut as if someone had punched him hard many times there. Marcus reappeared and said, “That was Quickstep. Come on Leopold. This should have not been much for you. I think it was at the same level as that fireball you attacked me with.”
Leopold knew Marcus was right but he had been shocked by this attack. He knew what this was. It was Martial mastery, but at what level? He gritted his teeth and resumed attacking. His energy was getting low. He had to finish the fight soon. Marcus was still defending against his attacks. It was time. He put some distance between him and Marcus.
Marcus said, “So what are you up to now?”
Leopold gathered the energy for one last attack, one of his ultimate attacks. Marcus saw the energy being gathered but didn’t even flinch. He muttered, “This is going to be something special.”
Leopold attacked, “Fire Mastery, final attack, Fire domain.”
The whole fighting ground was engulfed in flames. Marcus could feel the temperature rising fast. His energy would have drained if he had not defended. From within the flames Leopold emerged. He was attacking Marcus with a flaming fist. Leopold punched. The blow was stopped an inch from Marcus. Leopold was surprised. Marcus was unfazed by the flames around him. Marcus punched Leopold back. It was a power punch. That punch would not have damaged Leopold earlier, but Leopold had used up most of his energy while using the attack, Fire domain. He was thrown back.
As Leopold stood up, Marcus was right next to him, shoulder to shoulder. Marcus whispered in Leopold’s ear, “Martial Mastery Level 9 attack, Claw of Pain.”
He formed a claw with his hand and punched Leopold right in the stomach. For a moment Leopold did not feel anything. But the next moment he was attacked by a pain which spread throughout his entire body. He reeled under the pain and when it reached his brain, he blacked out.
Marcus muttered, “Normally my Claw of Pain would not have affected you much. But as you were low on energy, it is one of my best finishing moves at this time.”
The match was over. Marcus had won and a stunned silence had fallen over the stadium.
Brock looked astonished as his brother fell down. He knew Leopold was defeated but simply could not register it. Arya was sitting beside him. She whispered to Brock, “It’s over isn’t it?”
Brock nodded. Marcus had done it. Marcus had defeated the person who was in league with the strongest in all of America. Brock now believed that Marcus was really that strong. When Marcus had told Brock about his strength Brock had not believed it. But it seemed to be true now.
The countdown was over and Marcus was declared winner. Brock saw that Marcus sat down in exhaustion. The fight seemed to have taken a lot out of Marcus. He grinned and said to Arya, “Come on. We should go to the medical center.”
Arya said, “Yes let’s. I want to give him a piece of my mind.”
Brock looked at the expression on Arya’s face and shuddered. Marcus was really gonna get it. As they entered the medical center Brock saw his brother was still unconscious. Doctors were already taking care of him. Marcus cheered up as he saw Arya but deflated like a balloon seeing the expression on her face. Served him right. He had not told Brock or Arya about his first fight. Actually he had not told anyone. It was Selena who had called everyone. Forum and Evana were also in the crowd. He had seen them but he did not know whether they had seen him or not. He had sat with Arya. He did see Flora and Selena in the crowd too.
As he thought about them, Flora, Selena, Forum and Evana entered the medical center. Selena, Forum and Evana went towards Marcus who was getting an angry lecture from Arya. Flora came up to him. Brock smiled at her and said, “He is strong.”
Flora said, “And you know how strong, don’t you?”
Brock laughed. Flora had an amazing perception. He saw that Leopold had woken up. He said, “Yes”, and started off towards his brother.
Leopold said, “Hello Brock. Did you see the fight?”
Brock nodded and said, “You underestimated him didn’t you?”
Leopold gave a short laugh and nodded. Then he looked at Marcus who was now getting scolded by Arya, Forum and Evana together. Leopold said, “He is quite something.”
Brock nodded. His brother was right. Marcus was quite something. He was his friend and Brock believed the strongest fighter on Earth.
Tisane had watched both their matches. She was impressed. She decided to approach Emma first. When she asked Emma, Emma was excited. She agreed immediately and said when they were starting team training. Tisane gave her all the details and told her to wait patiently. Tisane was also happy because Brock had agreed. He had said to forget the earlier condition that he had put. He had said he would be honored to be in Tisane’s team. Okay, he overdid it a bit, but Tisane was happy.
Only Marcus remained now. She rang the bell. Brock opened the door.
Tisane said, “Why is it that I always find you at home?”
Brock said, “It’s my home you know.”
Tisane said, “Yes, but why are you home all the time? Don’t you have any matches?”
Brock simply shrugged and Tisane entered. She said, “Is Marcus home?”
Brock nodded and went to the media room. He shouted for Marcus who came out looked at Tisane and said, “You know, you could have called. I am in. You did not need to come over.”
Tisane looked threateningly at Brock and said, “You told him?’
Brock said, “Oh, well I simply told him that you were forming a team and that I had agreed to join it. I don’t know how he figured out that you meant to ask him too.”
Tisane looked at Marcus who said, “Forum told me. I don’t know what took you so long. Although, I was really expecting a phone call.”
Tisane grunted. This guy was going to be a pain. She said, “It seems that everybody has agreed. Time for a team meeting then.”
“Okay”, said Brock and Marcus together. Tisane smiled. She had her fighters. Now she needed a stastician. Her team was almost complete.
“You still don’t have a stastician?” said Lara to Tisane. The team had met at Lara and AA’s mansion. Marcus looked at the team. Him, Brock, Forum, AA, and Emma with Lara as reserve.
Marcus said, “It is normally difficult to get a good stastician for a team.”
Lara snapped, “Shut up runt, no one’s talking to you.”
Tisane sighed. This was going to be a problem. She saw that Marcus was not angry. He was grinning.
Marcus said, “Oh come on Lara, come up with something new. This runt thing is getting old.”
Lara muttered, “Shut up runt.” Marcus simply shook his head.
Brock spoke up, “I don’t know if this is a good idea or not but we could ask Selena Stone.”
Marcus looked at his friend with his eyes narrowed. What was Brock thinking?
Forum said, “Did Flora put you up to this?”
Brock shook his head and said, “No, this is my opinion.”
Tisane said, “She was still an apprentice till recently. Granted she had two power fighters now and so she has been promoted to be a stastician but she does not have much experience.”
Brock said, “Neither do all of us. Tisane, Forum and I have been licensed power fighters for about six months now. Marcus and Emma are new. I agree Lara and AA are experienced power fighters, but majority in this group are new. Even you are a new manager. So why not go for a new stastician?”
Alpha laughed and said, “Interesting logic. I agree with Brock. I don’t mind this Selena being our team’s stastician.”
The others agreed to. Tisane looked at each one of them. She said, “Are you guys completely sure?”
They all said yes. Tisane sighed. Then she smiled and said, “Then I will ask her. Hope she says yes.”
The message from The Dark Hand had shaken Selena. Too little time. Too little time had been given to her. She had to talk to Marcus. She needed good guided training; now.
She rang the bell and Brock opened the door. Selena said, “Is Marcus home?”
Brock nodded. He invited Selena in. He went to the media room and shouted for Marcus who came out a moment later.
Brock muttered, “Seriously, we need to do something about this. I am tired for shouting for you.”
Marcus said, “We can install an intercom.”
Brock said, “Will you be able to hear it?”
“I don’t know.”
Selena cleared her throat. They both turned their attention to her. She said, “My training Marcus.”
Marcus said, “Tell me, did Tisane come to visit you?”
Selena frowned. Tisane had indeed come to meet her. She had asked Selena to be the stastician for her team. Selena had refused. She did not want to be distracted with the tournament. Her goals were different. She had only wanted one power fighter and had been happy when it was Marcus. But now Emma had also joined and Tisane was assigning her a team. No way. She was not going to do it.
Selena said, “Yes, what has it got to do with my training?”
Marcus sighed and said, “I know you want to get stronger for a reason. I know that reason is serious enough for you. But you will never do it alone. You will need help. I agreed to help you. Although my help alone would not be enough. You will need help from many people. Do you understand?”
Selena said, “So was it you who suggested Tisane that I should be the stastician for her team?”
Marcus said, “No it was Brock. It was his idea. He thinks that all of us would be able to help you. But in return, you need to be our stastician.”
Selena said, “You will need to convince them though.”
Brock said, “Leave that to me and Marcus. We will take care of it. You just say yes to Tisane.”
Selena nodded. She wanted to get stronger. She would do anything for it. She said, “Why are you doing this for me?”
Brock said, “I am doing this for Marcus. He is bent on helping you.”
Selena looked at Marcus who simply shrugged. He said, “I don’t know. I simply feel like helping you. Maybe it is the guilt of leaving you.”
Selena simply nodded. Marcus was relieved inside. He had not told her the real reason for helping her. How could he. She would not understand at all. She was one of the five after all.
Tisane looked at the contract. There were eight signatures in all. All of them had signed. She had signed too. Her team was formed. Five fighters, one spare, a stastician and her, the manager. Her team was complete. Now only the team name was remaining.
She smiled. She remembered the last meeting. They had met to discuss on the team name.
Forum said, “Elements the Second.”
Tisane said, “No way. I and Lara were part of Elements. I will not see the name tarnished.”
Forum said, “We will not tarnish it.”
Tisane said, “Still no.”
Brock said, “How about Masters.”
Alpha said, “Too common.”
Marcus said, “How about Shield? You know Strategic Homeland…”
Brock interjected, “Yo Mr. Marvel. No superhero stuff.” Marcus looked dejected.
Tisane said, “Come on guys. Come up with a simple and effective name.”
Lara said, “How about The Ruins?”
Marcus said, “We are not an archeological site Lara.”
“Shut up runt.”
Selena said, “How about WAFEC?”
Tisane said, “WAFEC?”
Selena said, “Water, Air, Fire, Earth and Cosmos. Emma is water master, Alpha is air master, Brock is fire master, and Forum is earth master while Lara is Cosmos master. Well Marcus is a defense master but it does not form an element so.”
Marcus was noticing Selena. She hid well that he was a Cosmos master. It did not matter. Soon all the team members would know. But it was good to know that Selena was discrete.
Emma frowned at Selena but did not say anything. Tisane said, “It is a nice name. I don’t know about it.”
They discussed about it for some time and got nowhere.
Then Alpha said suddenly, “I have got a good one. How about Incognito?”
Alpha said, “Yes you know, Incognito. Our motto will be like powers in disguise. You guys see.”
Tisane said, “I like it.”
They all agreed on it. It was decided. Tisane smiled as she wrote their team name on the form which had to be submitted. It was official. Her team was formed. They were going to the tournament. She looked at the name again: INCOGNITO.