Sitting on the horizon off the western coast of America, and surrounded by the Pacific Ocean; World's Edge was known to be a place of great mystery. The cause of the explosion that led to its creation was still shrouded in mystery. None of the seven great powers had any insight as to who or what could have caused that catastrophic explosion. All that they could do was speculate for the time being.
Due to the island being closest to America, it was quickly seized by them and used as a tactical outpost. After months of research and excavation, they discovered the most baffling phenomena in recent history. The island that was just formed from a volcanic eruption was overflowing with life. Scientist discovered countless undocumented organisms that have yet to be seen by the world - littered across the island. Many specimens were taken yet there were countless more scattered across the island. They also discovered that the island was overflowing with a high level of minerals, precious stones, and metals.
This newfound source of metal drew much of their attention as it could be used to immediately increase their strength several times over. After mining away almost all the precious stones and metals from the uppermost layer of the island they decided to take the risk and delve deeper underground. However, to their shock and disappointment, they came across an incomprehensibly tough metal that they couldn't damage in the slightest. They employed the use of various machines and chemicals, yet nothing managed to damage it, even slightly. They thought it to be the fabled adamantine of legend. It was truly, unbreakable. After mining away virtually all the precious stones and metals, the island was now destitute and was less useful in the eyes of the upper echelons and was thus given to N.A.S.A for their research.
After two years, the island began to overflow with lush vegetation. It seemed as though Mother Nature had personally cared for the place. The island was beginning to resemble a mini forest in the middle of the ocean. The scientists attributed this bizarre occurrence to the high level of minerals the island possessed due to the volcano.
Today, this mysterious island now played host to over two thousand young candidates who were vying for more power.
The sky was especially clear today, and the sun was now seated at its highest point; arrogantly looking down at all creation. It was about 140 degrees Fahrenheit at this point in time. It was unknown whether it was due to the sun or the fact that they were on a volcanic island.
A small group of candidates could be seen steadily making their way through the lush environment. The trees that towered above them gave them some shade from the rays of the sun, but they were still being cooked by the heat from the earth. The forest was so thick that even the wind found it difficult to pass through, this made the air extremely humid.
"We've been walking for about three hours now, how much farther before we get to the coast?" asked someone in the group.
"It's hard to say" replied Sebastian while wiping the sweat from his face. "If this were flatlands and an open road, we would've been able to see the ocean long before we even took a single step towards it".
"This terrain is a real pain in the ass," James said while pulling a long face. He stopped at the foot of yet another hill and turned to Sebastian. "We've already spent three hours walking 'south' but I can neither smell, see or hear the ocean. It feels like we're going deeper inland."
"That's nonsense," replied Sebastian. "We can still see the mountain behind us through the trees, that by itself should be enough to let us know we're not going deeper inland."
"That's what I've been telling myself for the past few hours. But if we're not going deeper inland, that means we're probably going around in circles." James argued while pointing towards the hill in front of them.
"Look! How many hills have we gone over already? I've already lost count! This island was made by a volcano, so doesn't that mean that the island should have a downward slope as we head towards its periphery? Why then are we constantly going constantly going uphill!?"
Everyone became surprised when they listened to James' observation. He was right. They didn't think too much about it at first but now that someone pointed it out, it didn't make any sense.
Jenell and Ashley were closely following behind Sebastian and James and overheard their conversation then started frowning as they continued to listen.
"Ashley, what James said just now..." Jenell said with uncertainty.
"He has a point. For a while now I've been wondering the same thing but assumed it was probably due to the mining they did after discovering the island." Ashely replied in a low voice. It seemed as if she was trying to find an explanation to convince herself.
"I have an idea," Jenell said as she moved towards the two team leaders.
"Huh?" Ashley didn't even have the chance to ask 'what' before she saw Jenell jogging towards the two team leaders.
Sebastian and James who were locked in heated debate simultaneously turned their heads when they saw Jenell approaching them.
"Jenell... was it? You alright?" Asked Sebastian with his usual warm smile.
"Speak," James said coldly as he looked over Jenell with his wolflike eyes.
"Animal," Jenell said under her breath as she walked passed James then stood before Sebastian.
"What did you say!?" James shouted, instantly growing incensed.
Jenell ignored James and spoke directly to Sebastian. "This forest is excessively thick and it's difficult to make headway. We have no tools to clear a path so it will take us longer to get to the coast. Since we're not familiar with the environment here, I think it would be best that we get some more information about the terrain so that we can have a more clear idea about the direction we're heading. The trees here are really thick and ridiculously tall. It's getting more difficult to see the mountain at our backs so we really do run a risk of walking around in circles if we're not already." Jenell voiced her thoughts in one breath.
"When you put it like that..." Sebastian pondered for a brief moment then continued. "What do you suggest?"
Jenell simply pointed with upwards "We can get a better view of where we are and where we're heading by scouting the area from atop a tree."
The two leaders gave her astonished looks. "Why didn't I think of that earlier?" But neither voiced their thoughts.
"Hmph, who's willing to do that? I'm sure you've noticed how tall these trees are, and there ain't no low branches to grab onto. The shortest trees here look to be least 100 meters tall. Who would even be willing to climb such a tree?" James replied flatly. He was still simmering in anger from before but tried his best to keep calm.
"You're such a girl" Jenell replied
The candidates were trying their hardest to not laugh at that comment. For some, their eyes grew watery and their face grew pink. It seemed they would 'pop' if someone were to poke their sides.
Ashley was also doing her best not to laugh but accidentally let a giggle escape her lips. This little sound completely destroyed the hard work and effort the other candidates had put in to not laugh; then, an instant later everyone started laughing at James.
"You wanna die!?" James turned around and howled at everyone. They all immediately stopped laughing and looked away, avoiding his eyes.
Jenell completely ignored James and went over to a nearby tree then placed her right hand on its trunk.
Ashley and Sebastian still had their eyes on Jenell and were curious as to what she was planning to do.
"If I'm right, this should work," Jenell said to herself.
Everyone suddenly heard a loud sound as though something was being crushed. They all turned their heads towards the source of the sound and saw Jenell's fingers embedded deep into a nearby tree. An ecstatic smile bloomed across her face when she saw what happened, then she placed her next hand higher on the tree.
Everyone was stupefied as they continued to watch Jenell climb higher and higher up the towering tree. The trees within this forest were all massive and were about 100 meters tall, some were even bigger. The most shocking thing was; the tree she intended to climb was one of the larger ones which would require about ten of them to completely circle the tree with locked arms.
"Jenell!" Ashley's face grew pale when she realized what Jenell intended to do and rushed towards her. However, by the time she arrived, Jenell had already made it halfway up the tree.
The candidates looked up to her in awe as she continued to climb the tree. After passing about 50 meters, Jenell picked up the pace. Within a few breaths, Jenell made it to the crown of the tree to everyone's astonishment.
The candidates stood on the ground looking up with their jaws threatening to hit the ground.
"How did she do that?"
It took them a while before a bulb went off in their heads.
Up until this moment, the candidates realized that they haven't done anything with the exo-suits since they put them on and have almost completely forgotten about them.
The moment Jenell made it to the crown of the tree she quickly passed through the branches and arrived at the top of the tree.
A strong gale passed over Jenell's body and swooped up her lithe figure. Jenell felt her heart clench when she felt the wind lift her body up off the branches as she wasn't expecting the wind to be so strong. She quickly grabbed hold of a branch beneath her and pulled herself back down.
"That was close!" Her heart was palpitating due to that near-death experience. She took a deep breath to calm herself, then glanced down at the candidates through the branches. "They look like ants from up here!" The moment she glanced down, her heart started beating furiously. If it had a voice of its own it would be screaming at her; "You cruel thing, do you want to give me a heart attack!?"
Ashley was on the ground watching Jenell closely the entire time, and when she saw Jenell suddenly grab a branch as though she was about to fall, her heart nearly stopped.
"Ah! Jenell are you ok?!" she shouted.
Jenell who was over a 100 meters away at the top of the tree heard a faint voice in the wind and recognized it.
"Yeah! I'm ok. I just lost my footing for a sec!" she replied.
"How does it look from up there" Sebastian shouted.
Jenell turned her gaze towards her surroundings and looked out into the distance. All around her, she could see nothing but a sea of leaves on the top of other nearby trees. The wind was still blowing very hard which made her have to narrow her eyes. The way the top of the trees swayed resembled a stormy sea. Jenell then looked back towards the mountain and raised her head to looked towards its peak but still couldn't see it from that height. "That mountain is too high, how's that even natural?"
Jenell turned her gaze south of their position expecting to see the ocean but became dumbstruck. Even at a height of roughly 200 meters she still couldn't catch a glimpse of it. Beyond the surrounding trees, all that she could see was a dense fog. What worried her even more, was that the wind was bringing the fog towards them. Even from that height of roughly 200 meters, she still couldn't see anything beyond that sea of leaves.
"It looks like we're heading in the right direction, but I can't see the ocean from up here. It looks like we still have a long way to go." Jenell replied.
"What? Can't see the ocean? Even from that height?" Sebastian frowned when he heard Jenell's reply. He wasn't too worried about the possibility of them walking around in a circle, but not being able to see the ocean from that height indicated that they were far, far from the coast. He was just about to relax a bit but then his face grew ugly when he heard what Jenell said next.
"There's a thick fog approaching us from the south. By the looks of it should be upon us within a few minutes" Jeneal added.
"A fog? Are you kidding me?" The candidates on the ground started looking at each other in dismay.
"A fog will make it even more difficult to find our way out of this forest," Ashley said while looking around at everyone. If they weren't careful they could easily lose all sense of direction and even worse, lose sight of each other.
"Alright, come back down. We need to pick up the pace, we need to cover as much land as possible." Sebastian shouted.
"On my way," Jenell replied. She was just about to start climbing down the tree when suddenly, she felt a piercing pain in her shoulders as if she was being stabbed by knives then felt her body get swept forward and then into the air.
Jenell let out a shrill scream as she found herself flying away into the distance at a terrifying speed.