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Angel Misery: Chapter Sixteen

“Pure Talent”

It was the day of the High School Fair, where High School students from across notable schools attempt to win over the Heart of the 8th Graders at Maria’s Middle School. Determining the High School you are most interested in could determine the shape of your entire life from there on out. At least that would be the case if you were not friends with a Heavenly Being.

Maria walked around slightly annoyed. “I guess I shouldn’t complain because at least we get the day out of normal classes, but I would prefer to be at home, than at school if we weren’t going to do class work anyways.” Maria said to Aiden.

“Do none of these High School Stands peak your interest?” Aiden asked Maria, gesturing to a few. “That High School seems to focus on Athletics, that may be a good fit. And over there focuses on Chemistry, you could probably make explosions there.” Aiden tried to get Maria excited.

The prep Students were all together talking to the River Valley High School, an extremely prestigious STEM school.

Maria and Aiden looked over in that direction when suddenly a loud roar was heard on the other side of the Gymnasium. It was at the Black Bear Mountains Highschool’s Athletic Obstacle Course and Climbing wall.

A girl had just matched the score of a Freshman Male Highschooler at that school. The 8th Graders who were watching cheered her on.

“What’s happening over there Aiden?” Maria asked, trying to see what all the noise was about, but unable to see over the crowd in front of her.

“Seems that one of our classmates broke a record at that school.” Aiden responded.

“Who was it?” Maria asked quickly.

“Her name is Alayna Munez, she’s in our homeroom. Sits in the second row, third column. Close to where Rebecca sits.” Aiden detailed to Maria.

“Alayna? The really tall girl with the strong forearms?” Maria asked.

“She is taller than most, so I think you have the correct person in mind.” Aiden responded. “Matching a Highschool Boy is a rather impressive feat for someone in the 8th Grade though.” Aiden said, trying to understand why so many cheered.

Maria looked up at Aiden. After hearing Aiden practically compliment Alayna, Maria gained a scowl on her Face. 

“What’s so impressive about climbing a wall, anyone can do that.” Maria said to Aiden.

“While that is true, anyone could do that. It’s really about the speed of doing it that’s important.” Aiden said to Maria.

Maria then began to walk towards the Obstacle Course and climbing wall. As she got closer she started to realize how tall the wall actually was, and the length of the course.

Maria went up to one of the High Schoolers. “I want to try!” Maria said to them.

“Are you sure, this isn’t some game, you could get hurt if you aren’t careful. Passing this course takes a lot of Physical Strength.” The High Schooler said to Maria.

“You’re calling me too weak?!” Maria responded.

“How about you try the pull ups part of the course first, and see how you feel about it. The Climbing Wall is at the end of the course, so we can’t just skip you to it.” The High Schooler said.

Maria walked over to the pull bars. For Girls they needed to complete 5 Pull Ups, then run to the Monkey Bars and climb across them. Following that was three ropes Swings to three separate platforms. After completing that would be the end of the first part of the Obstacle course.

Maria looked over at the bars. Aiden finally caught up to Maria.

“Why are you doing this? Are you interested in this High School?” Aiden asked Maria.

“It’s about the Principal.” Maria responded.

“The Principal?” Aiden thought to himself confused as to what Maria meant.

Silvia, Rebecca, Issac, and Joshua came over to watch Maria attempt.

“You got this Maria!” Rebecca cheered.

Maria grabbed the bar with both of her hands. She then started to bring herself up slowly.

The other students around started watching Maria. “Hey look, the tomboy is trying it now.” One of the students said.

“Come on stupid muscles, lift me up!” Maria frustratingly said to herself.

Maria was slowly lifting herself up, but she was barely making any progress.

“Oh, she’s actually going to get one.” Silvia said, looking at Maria’s forehead clear over the bar.

Maria with the last bit of her strength lifted her chin over the bar. “Okay, that’s one…” Maria said with extreme exhaustion.

The sweat on Maria’s hand eventually made her lose grip of the bar and she fell off of it. Aiden then dashed over to Maria and caught her.

“Aww.” The students said watching this.

Some of the girls now wanted to attempt so that they could slip and have Aiden catch them.

Maria went over to the side. A few more students attempted the pull ups in the background but couldn’t do one.

“Are you all good?” Joshua asked Maria.

“Of course I am. I am great, never better.” Maria responded to Joshua.

“I didn’t even think you could do one, that was definitely a shock.” Silvia jested at Maria.

“I was certainly impressed, I also thought talks about you being an athletic girl was all because of your boyish appearance. But I can see that you have some strength.” Alayna said to Maria. Alayna extended her hand to Maria. “My name is Alayna, we are at the same first bell. Though we never spoke to one another.” Alayna said with a smile.

Maria reluctantly shook Alayna’s hand. “I just slipped, if I didn’t I probably would have beat your score.” Maria said to Alayna.

“Oh, then try this.” Alayna said, as she went into her bag and pulled out some chalk. “If you use this, you won’t slip as easily.” Alayna gestured for Maria to use some.

Maria was stunned that her bluff was called. Maria slowly brought her hand to the chalk bag.

“Whoa, you got some speed kid.” A Senior Guy from the Blackbear Mountains High School said to Aiden.

“Don’t worry about him calling you kid, he calls everyone that.” Another Senior, this time a Gal, said to Aiden.

“Yee, you went from 0 to 100 in no time flat. You should give this course a try.” The Senior Guy said to Aiden.

“I’m okay, I don’t think I should.” Aiden responded.

“Come on Angeal! It would be cool to finally watch you fail- I mean dominate the course.” Joshua said to Aiden, with obvious motives.

“I think that would be interesting to watch.” Silvia said, looking up at Aiden.

“The Great Angeal is afraid of a little course?” Alayna said to Aiden.

Aiden looked down at Maria. Maria exhaled. “Just go and do it, at least one of us has to keep the ranking of our Military force high.” Maria said to Aiden.

Aiden looked back over at the seniors. “I suppose I will try.” Aiden responded.

“Awesome. Okay, so for boys. You have to finish 9 Pullups, then cross the monkey bars, and the rope platforms. Following that you climb over the 3 meter wall, and grab the 50kg Medicine Ball, carrying that 10 Meters. After placing it at the end, you pull up an 80Kg weight with a rope until it hits the top. After finishing that you go to the Climbing wall and climb up until you hit the bell, then that is time.” The Senior guy explained to Aiden.

“Sounds straightforward.” Aiden responded.

“As your General, I order you to get below 1 minute!” Maria said to Aiden.

“That’s practically impossible, even at the top levels this course takes about 2.5 minutes to complete.” Alayna said to Maria.

“I bet it’s not.” Maria smiled with a cocky look at Alayna.

Alayna turned to watch Aiden.

“Whenever you’re ready, kid.” The Senior Guy said to Aiden.

Aiden immediately grabbed onto the pull-up bars and did 9 Pull Ups in under 9 seconds. Then Aiden got down and walked to the Monkey Bars. He moved across them as if he weighed nothing.

The Seniors stood in awe of the agility Aiden displayed. However, between each Obstacle Aiden walked.

Aiden cleared the Monkey Bars in 5 seconds, and proceeded to the Ropes. He dashed forward just using the ropes to steer forward without swinging back once. He cleared the ropes in 3 seconds.

Aiden walked over to the second part of the Obstacle Course, starting with the 3 Meter Wall. Aiden nearly vertically jumped over it and continued. 

Alayna looked at the time that was showing on the course. Only 30 seconds had passed. Aiden was now at the Medicine Ball. He carried it as if it was a Book. Aiden had been so used to carrying Maria everywhere that this medicine ball was only slightly noticeable. Continuing on it was the weight.

At this point only 37 Seconds had elapsed. 

“Yeah Angeal! Show them our Power!” Maria cheered.

The Middle Schoolers began to cheer watching Aiden destroy the course. It was like watching a Ninja traverse a jagged environment.

Aiden now was at the Climbing Wall. He placed both of his hands on the holds and planted his feet on the lower holds.

With a simple move Aiden tossed himself up and cleared about a third of the wall. He then carried himself all the way to the top, grabbing one hold after another.

The time hit 51 seconds and Aiden hit the bell at the top.

Aiden had just shattered the old record by more than a minute and a half. The gym let out another roar. Louder than the one from earlier with Alayna.

Alayna however wasn’t sour about this. On the contrary she cheered at the success that Aiden had. Maria looked over at her thinking that Alayna was going to have a defeated look on her face.

“Hey, you can’t be cheering. You said that he couldn’t do it in under a minute.” Maria said to Alayna.

“Why can’t I? I celebrate any display of Human Physical Accomplishment. Are you sour when you watch the Olympics?” Alayna asked Maria.

Maria turned away from Alayna.

“Yet again Angeal shows why he is the number one student in the school.” Silvia said with a smile on her face.

The Seniors walked up to Aiden as he was returning. “That was impressive, actually that’s an understatement, that was an exemplary performance kid. Have you thought about joining our High School next year, we would love you. With your ability you are guaranteed a spot on any Varsity Team. And with four years in Varsity it is certain that you would receive a full ride scholarship at any University in the Country. Heck, maybe even the world.” The Senior Guy said to Aiden.

Aiden looked over at Maria. 

“Ahem, where was my offer?” Maria asked the Seniors.

“You weren’t able to pass the Obstacle Course, so sadly you won’t be getting an offer.” The Senior said to Maria.

“Well then Angeal won’t be going to your school then.” Maria responded.

“This is ultimately his decision.” The Senior Girl said to Maria.

“Thank you for the offer, but I’ll have to decline on that basis.” Aiden said to the Senior Guy.

“Well that sucks, but if you change your mind by the end of the school year just send us an email and you’ll be enrolled.” The Senior Guy said to Aiden.

They recorded Aiden’s name. 

Aiden and Maria then walked away from the course. “That was so cool Aiden, none of them could believe their eyes. Of course I always believed in you, afterall you are my very own Corporal.” Maria said to Aiden as they walked through the gym.

“That was just about on the edge of Human Capability, if I went any faster it probably would have raised an alarm to study me.” Aiden responded to Maria.

Alayna then rushed in front of Maria.

“Why’d you stop Angeal from going to that High School? That is one of the most, if not the most elite of Athletic High Schools on Earth!” Alayna said to Maria.

“It’s obvious, since I wasn’t given an offer, Angeal didn’t get an offer. It’s just that simple.” Maria responded.

“If all of Angeal’s offers depend on you then he is going to get placed in a school way below his capabilities. Maybe you shouldn’t be so selfish and actually let him live his life to the fullest.” Alayna said to Maria.

Maria then became frustrated. Aiden walked in front of Maria.

“I don’t mind it, wherever I go I will always be at my peak. I plan to do that with Maria as my Best Friend.” Aiden responded.

“But think about it, Angeal, this is High School we are talking about. Sure, Maria is your best friend now, but what you’ve known her for a year. You have four whole years to make new best friends.” Alayna said to Aiden.

“You heard his answer. He is staying with me.” Maria responded to Alayna and stuck her tongue out.

“No wonder everyone speaks badly about you.” Alayna said to Maria.

“At least I will be remembered. I didn’t even know your name until today.” Maria quickly responded.

Silvia walked up to the three. “I agree with Alayna that Angeal should be going to a school that matches his ability, and not one limited by Maria. But I don’t think it should be the Blackbear Mountains High School. It should be the River Valley High School where he will be able to use his intelligence for the betterment of Humanity.” Silvia said to the group.

“Ah! You both are more annoying than usual. Whichever High School I am going to is the one Angeal is going to. Now you both can shut your mouths about it and just accept it.” Maria said to the two.

“You don’t tell me to shut up.” Alayna said to Maria.

“Shut up!” Maria said again to Alayna.

“Easy Tiger, we don’t want you to get suspended, that’s going to kill your chances.” A fellow athlete came and grabbed Alayna.

Alayna shook his hand off of her wrist. “If you are really his best friend then you will let him grow.” Alayna said walking back over to the Blackbear Mountains High School Booth.

Silvia, Maria and Aiden were now standing together.

“Showed her.” Maria said with a smile.

“I think what she was saying is right though. But with the wrong conclusion. Maybe Angeal will get lucky and end up in a good school despite all the efforts you make to prevent that from happening.” Silvia said as she left and joined the prep students.

“Jealous, that’s all they are. They wanted you to go to their schools so that they can get close to you without me around.” Maria said to Aiden.

“That may be part of the reason. But I think they were also genuinely trying to think about what was best for me.” Aiden said to Maria.

“What? You want to go to one of those schools?” Maria looked up at Aiden with disbelief.

“Of course not, I am a heavenly being, I am only at school because you are at school. So going somewhere without you is a pointless adventure.” Aiden responded to Maria.

“See, so ultimately I was right. How about we leave this place and go to some breakfast restaurant in another state.” Maria asked Aiden.

“I’m pretty sure they are keeping track of Attendance while we are here, so we can’t just leave.” Aiden said to Maria, looking at all the teachers around.

Kayla was looking around the corner, hiding behind one of the booths. She had overheard the conversation that Alayna, Maria and SIlvia were having.

“All these witches are trying to force my boyfriend away from me. My heart aches to no end.” Kayla said watching Aiden talk to Maria.

Kayla then thought of an idea.

“For me to ensure that Angeal isn’t taken from me, all I have to do is get him into a school I am going to. And since I didn’t do so well academically, it’ll be easy to get that witch into the school too.” Kayla thought to herself as she chewed her hat with excitement.

In the distance, at the Liberty Theatre High School Booth, Alvin was putting on a performance. He was performing “Mark Twain Tonight.” as a solo act. Alvin exaggerated every movement he made and his voice carried across the wide gym.

Maria and Aiden watched Alvin perform trying to pass the time.

The performance seemed to be more of a stand-up act that only those who understood Mark Twain would enjoy. So the Sophomores and Juniors of the High School enjoyed the performance. But the other students were a bit bored.

Maria in particular did not find it enjoyable at all.

Kayla walked up to Maria. She was nervous in front of her.

“Ge… Geo… High.” Kayla was saying slowly.

“Come on, out with it.” Maria said to Kayla.

Kayla then covered her mouth.

Maria placed her hand on her face. “Is everyone just trying to annoy me today.” Maria said to herself.

Maria and Aiden then went off to another booth.

“Geological Society High School has open enrollment right now.” Kayla said after the two of them had already left. “Darn, she took him away too quickly.” Kayla thought to herself.

It was now time for Lunch.

Maria left the Gym as fast as she could and Aiden followed behind her.

“Finally we can leave!” Maria called out.

“Did any of the schools interest you?” Aiden asked Maria again.

“Nope, I knew they wouldn’t. Guess I will just go to the local High School around here.” Maria said to Aiden.

“If there were one you were interested in I could probably get you into it. It should be as simple as when I got you fifth place in the Finals last year.” Aiden said to Maria. 

“Wow, that was almost a year ago. Time sure did pass by fast, didn’t it?” Maria said, remembering how things were back then.

“Well, you now know a lot more people. So that’s a notable change.” Aiden said, smiling at Maria.

“Yea, that also makes everything more annoying.” Maria responded quickly. “Okay Aiden, take me to eat something that is so meaty and harty that it would make you throw up.” Maria said to Aiden.

“Why’s that? Are you upset with me?” Aiden asked Maria.

“No, I’m just so annoyed, I need to rip something with my teeth!” Maria said to Aiden attempting to bite him. 

Aiden moved away playfully from Maria.

“Okay, then I will take us to a BBQ fair in the South.” Aiden said to Maria.

They both left from the front and flew off to the meal.

The students were in the cafeteria. Aiden and Maria’s seats were empty as usual during the first half of lunch.

“Everyone could hear that argument you were having with Maria earlier. It sucks that she isn’t letting him go to a worthy school.” Rebecca said to Silvia.

“Angeal is a smart guy, if he really wanted to, he could find a way to go to any school he wanted.” Silvia responded by eating her salad.

“You think he is some sort of Ninja, or maybe an Assassin, who was sent to our school to take out Maria. Maybe that’s why he has all those skills and sticks by her. He is just waiting for a moment to strike.” Issac said, shoving his spoon into his pudding.

“An assassin? No, he probably just has such a crush on her that being away for even a second would make his weak little heart break.” Joshua said, making fun of Aiden.

“You and I both know that Angeal is anything but weak.” Rebecca responded to Joshua. “Now you on the other hand. You can hit the gym maybe even once.” She said looking at Joshua’s weak arms.

“I’m a grower, not a shower. If I wanted to display my strength I could.” Joshua said, displaying his arms.

“I don’t think you used that saying correctly.” Issac said to Joshua.

Silvia was sitting down silently as the boys were discussing amongst themselves.

“What are you thinking about Silvia?” Rebecca asked her.

Silvia was looking over at the table that Maria and Aiden usually sat.

“A sudden wave of melancholy hit me. Maybe I’m just thinking that this is going to be the last two months that we are all like this.” Silvia responded.

“That’s much more sentimental than you usually are. Are you feeling well?” Rebecca asked Silvia.

“Silvia then turned back to her meal. Yes, I am perfectly fine.” Silvia responded in the cold manner that everyone was used to.

The School Counselor was walking through the Lunch room looking for students. She saw Silvia and walked over to her.

The School Counselor handed Silvia a letter. “Congratulations Miss Reiners.” She said in her ear.

“What is this?” Silvia asked.

“It’s an invitation letter.” The School Counselor responded. “Have you seen Mister Heavens or Miss Li around?” The School Counselor asked.

“Oh, Maria and Angeal. They usually don’t show up here until after half of the lunch period is over.” Silvia responded. And she pointed at the table they usually sit at.

“Okay, thank you.” The School Counselor said leaving the cafeteria.

“What was that about?” Joshua asked Silvia.

Silvia opened the envelope and a letter was inside. The edges of the letter were lined with Gold. All it read was. “You’ve been Invited to become an Innovator at ‘The International Innovators and Developers High School for Global Leaders’…. . .– ” The rest of the letter was blank.

Silvia flipped it over and didn’t see anything on the back either.

“That can’t be real can it? Don’t you have to be like the daughter of a President or a Billionaire to even apply there?” Joshua asked, looking at the Label on the top.

“It doesn’t say anything else on it. What should I do next?” Silvia said to herself.

Silvia handed Rebecca the letter.

“It’s blank, other than those words.” Rebecca said, trying to see if they missed anything.

“Maybe you have to just wait on them to give you another letter with further instructions.” Issac said looking at the letter.

“Still though, that is unbelievable. That school makes the River Valley High School look like Kindergarten.” Rebecca said to Silvia.

“Well it doesn’t matter if this is all they are going to give me.” Silvia said, retrieving the letter from them.

“I bet it’s some sort of puzzle.” Joshua said, stuffing his mouth with a sandwich. 

“You watch too many movies.” Rebecca responded.

They table then started to discuss again. Silvia looked at the letter one more time. She realized that the dots at the end may not just be for a stylistic show.

“Those could be morse code.” Silvia thought to herself. “H, E, A, T…” Silvia read the dots. “Ah, so that’s what it’s saying.”

Silvia finished putting it into her backpack and joined the discussion.

Alayna waited by the door of the cafeteria for Maria and Aiden to return.

The two walked by the entrance and to their table. They sat down and Alayna sat down immediately after them.

“Oh come on, what are you doing here?” Maria said to Alayna.

“I was thinking, maybe I was being a bit rude about him finding a replacement for you just because you’ve known each other for only a year. So I am going to start off by apologizing for that.” Alayna said to Maria.

Maria didn’t say anything back. She just took a bit of her T-Bone. Alayna was looking at her waiting for Maria to accept the apology.

“Well?” Alayna asked.

“What? Just because you apologized doesn’t mean I have to accept it.” Maria said to Alayna.

“Gosh you are troublesome.” Alayna thought to herself holding back her temper. “Well, despite that, I do think you should let Angeal explore his talents more. Since you two are best friends, I’m sure a little distance isn’t going to hurt. Meeting once every few weeks isn’t so bad.” Alayna said to Maria.

“Or, a better option is to just be together, everyday, until I die.” Maria responded.

“I don’t even know why I tried. You can’t change your mind by talking, I can’t appeal to logic, and you are too weak to accept any physical challenge.” Alayna said before Maria interrupted.

“Too weak?! Ah, no. The only reason I didn’t finish the obstacle course was because I slipped. If I didn’t I would have destroyed your record.” Maria said to Alayna.

“Ha, no you would not have. I’m not even going to entertain that since you were so rude.” Alayna said to Maria.

“So you want Angeal to go to that school? Fine, only if you can beat the Mighty Maria in whatever you think you are physically better at!” Maria said aloud to Alayna.

“You can’t be serious. It’s honestly going to be this easy?” Alayna said to Maria.

“Easy for me, no sweat!” Maria responded.

“I would just say a simple 100 meter dash, just to get it over with, but I want to beat you a little. How about Pugil sticks?” Alayna suggested to Maria.

“Easy! When and where!” Maria said practically exacerbated.

“Okay Geez, I’ll ask the Seniors at Blackbear Mountains to set it up for us. So an hour after lunch?” Alayna said.

“Fine, I’ll see you there then.” Maria said. Alayna then left confused by Maria’s confidence.

The students in the cafeteria were also confused. They watched Maria struggle to lift herself up and watched Alayna destroy the course in record time. 

“Why’d you agree to that?” Aiden asked Maria.

“Generals and Battles my dear Corporal. It’s what makes me feel alive.” Maria said, ripping into another piece of meat. “Ah, I feel invincible eating this!” Maria said.

“If you lose, would you actually accept the terms of the deal?” Aiden asked Maria.

“Of course not, but that’s why I won’t lose. You as my Corporal are going to make sure I don’t” Maria said to Aiden with a smirk.

“Oh I get it, so we are going to cheat.” Aiden said to Maria.

“It’s not cheating! I am just using my resources wisely.” Maria responded.

“It’s not that I care too much if it was.” Aiden said to Maria without a slight hint of surprise.

“Ha, so we are on the same page. So whatever this Pugil stick or whatever she said, happens. I want you to control my limbs like a puppet so you can have me win no matter what.” Maria said to Aiden.

“So, simply taking over the control of your body is what you want?” Aiden asked Maria, trying to clarify her meaning.

“No, I want you to control my limbs like a puppet. Not like going into my brain and mind control me. As the General I must maintain full awareness of the battlefield.” Maria said with her arms crossed.

Aiden then controlled Maria’s hand and made her drop the meat she was holding.

“Hey! I was still eating that!” Maria said to Aiden.

“I was showing you what it would feel like.” Aiden responded to Maria’s scolding.

“Well you could have let me know before you did that, what if I was going in for a bite. I could have bit my tongue or something.” Maria said to Aiden, grabbing the T Bone off her plate again.

“You wouldn’t have, I would not have let that happen.” Aiden said to Maria.

“Well anyways, if we have more than one round I want to do the first round on my own. Just in case I am actually stronger than her. I want to see if I can win without assistance.” Maria said, chewing on another bite.

“Despite the overwhelming odds against your favour, I won’t say that it is impossible.” Aiden said to Maria.

Aiden and Maria continued to speak strategy to one another. Until the Lunch period was over and the 8th Graders had to return to the gym for the second half of the High School Fair.

Many of the Students had received offers from the schools they were looking into and now spent the rest of the time enjoying the events that the High Schools were putting on at their booths.

Maria was at the other end of the gym stretching. She was feeling a little heavy from all the food she ate.

“Bleh, why didn’t you stop me from eating that much.” Maria said feeling like she was about to throw up.

“Technically I did stop you, and you scolded me for it.” Aiden said to Maria, looking around at the events.

“You need to be more pushy Aiden, just because I tell you not to do something once doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to try it again.” Maria said to Aiden, reaching down to her toes.

“I’m sure that runs counter to every other order you give me.” Aiden said to Maria.

The prep students found Maria and Aiden.

“Heard that you are going to be fighting Alayna in a short while. You probably don’t stand any chance.” Joshua said to Maria.

“Oh wow, thank you for the motivation. How about you go somewhere and annoy someone else.” Maria responded to Joshua.

“Ouch, sharp.” Joshua said, stepping back from Maria.

Silvia then stepped closer.

“Did the School Counselor talk to you two about something?” Silvia asked.

“No, why would they?” Maria responded.

“Nothing, I was just wondering.” Silvia said. “They probably got a separate offer somewhere else.” Silvia thought to herself.

“It’s Pugil Sticks, right?” Rebecca asked. “Are you worried you are going to get hit in the face?” Rebecca asked with a bit of worry.

“It takes more than some hits to make me worry.” Maria responded. She was now twisted her hips to loosen up her upper body motion.

Silvia then walked away as if she was in her own world.

“Hey, wait up!” Rebecca said following behind Silvia. The rest of the group went after them as well.

In the distance the High School Seniors of Blackbear Mountains High School were setting up the Pugil Stick match between Maria and Alayna.

There was a single beam that was padded. One half of the beam was blue and the other was red.

The sticks were also padded and were covered with red and blue cushions. The Seniors brought out padded helmets and vests. Alayna was over there trying to make sure they fit her properly.

“Looks like they are about to begin.” Aiden said to Maria.

Maria finished her stretches and tried to look over. “Are those Red and Blue things the sticks we will be using?” Maria asked Aiden.

“It seems like it. Alayna tried a few swings with them, so I can only assume so much.” Aiden said to Maria.

“Make one for me, I want to try it out.” Maria said to Aiden.

Aiden created a Pugil stick for Maria and handed it to her. Maria swung it slowly, but wasn’t feeling comfortable with the weight being completely on either end.

“This is awkward.” Maria said to Aiden.

“Looks like the goal will be to knock your opponent off of the platform using the sticks. So it’ll take a lot of balance and proper timing.” Aiden informed Maria of his observation.

“Knocking her off is going to be easy. I’ll be like one of those 2D fighting games.” Maria said with a smirk on her face.

“I suppose it is quite similar to that.” Aiden responded to Maria.

“Well, I’m ready. So let’s head on over Corporal.” Maria said to Aiden. The two walked towards the Pugil Stick arena.

Alayna watched Maria walk up. “Ha, I’m surprised you actually showed up. Guess you aren’t all talk.” Alayna mocked Maria.

“That’s right. Also I backup everything that I say with results. So when I say that I am going to win, that is a promise.” Maria said to Alayna.

“There’s a fine line between Arrogance and Confidence and an even finer one between Bravery and Stupidity. I wonder which line you fall on.” Alayna said to Maria gesturing for her to come up to the arena.

“Okay Aiden, remember the plan.” Maria whispered to him.

“Don’t worry, I got it.” Aiden responded.

Maria and Alayna stood in front of the two Seniors.

They gave Maria and Alayna each a helmet and a padded vest. “Okay you two, this is for fun. If you start getting aggressive we will end it and report you two to your principal.” The Senior said to them.

Maria gave him a thumbs up.

“It won’t last long enough for it to get to that point.” Alayna responded. Maria looked at her with a grimace on her face.

The arena was surrounded by fellow students. They all overheard the challenge while in the cafeteria. They were cheering on who they wanted to win.

Alayna and Maria climbed up on the beam and were given their respective sticks.

“Best two out of three wins. You win if you knock your opponent off of the beam, or if your opponent quits. Always hold the stick with two hands. Maintain control of your sticks. And have fun.” The Senior said to the two.

Maria and Alayna looked directly at each other.

“You could just give up now, any normal person would take my view on the situation between you and Angeal.” Alayna said to Maria.

“It sucks that your view is missing the valuable information that Angeal wants to be wherever I am. So I’m not stopping him from doing what he wants.” Maria responded to Alayna stepping closer to her.

“What? Are you blackmailing him or something, or is this some sort of Slave to Master type of relationship. Because I doubt Angeal would genuinely be attracted to someone as unremarkable as you are.” Alayna said to Maria.

Maria then swung her Pugil at Alayna and Alayna simply stepped back and the momentum of the stick nearly made Maria fall off the platform.

The audience all gasped at the near loss for Maria. Maria regained her balance.

“I am remarkable, you are the one who has no friends and wants to take mine.” Maria said to Alayna trying to regain her breath.

“How are you already out of breath, you are much more out of shape then I thought.” Alayna said before swiping her Pugil Stick underneath Maria and sending her off of the beam.

Maria fell onto the cushioned ground below and the crowd cheered.

“That’s 1 to 0.” The Senior said letting everyone in the crowd know the score.

“No one actually likes you Maria. I was even trying to be nice to you earlier but you are just a spiteful person.” Alayna said to Maria, as Maria was dusting herself off.

“I don’t need anyone to like me but my best friend.” Maria responded.

“I saw you a few times today, and you have several potential friends all over the place. There were the University Prep Students, the Glamour Trio, Katherine, and even the Bookworm girl. But I bet you never even considered having them join your group because you were so obsessed with preventing anyone from getting close to Angeal.” Alayna lectured to Maria.

“You’re speaking as if you somehow are in a morally higher position than me. As if you’d beaten me already. Well, theGeneral does not lose. I only allowed you to get that first point so that I could destroy your confidence from a higher position.” Maria responded with confidence that no one understood was coming from.

“Do you just live in your own world?” Alayna asked Maria.

Maria and Alayna were on the platform once again. “Round Two, begin!” The Senior said.

“I don’t want to play with you anymore, it’s obvious you don’t listen to anyone but yourself.” Alayna said to Maria coming in to strike her off the platform.

Aiden forced Maria to duck underneath Alayna’s stick, then struck Alayna on the side of her chest.

Alayna nearly lost balance but had a strong enough stance to remain on the platform.

“Wow, she is really sturdy.” Aiden thought to himself.

Alayna stepped back away from Maria. And cautiously watched her.

Maria got up and started laughing. “Haha, I bet you weren’t expecting that! Don’t get overconfident with me!”

“That was only a lucky shot, I think you are the one who is getting overconfident, Miss I already fell once.” Alayna responded to Maria’s taunt.

Aiden then had Maria move towards Alayna. Alayna struck at Maria but Aiden had Maria block the impact causing her to still remain balanced.

Maria then spun on the platform and went for Alayna’s feet. Alayna jumped over Maria’s strike and went for Maria’s head. Aiden had Maria bend back and narrowly dodge the strike.

Maria then let out several strikes at Alayna, and Alayna was able to handle them without losing balance. “Come on, just fall.” Maria said, trying to get Alayna to fall.

Alayna jumped over behind Maria and went to strike Maria from behind.

Aiden had Maria step forward and turn towards Alayna.

Alayna then went on the offensive pushing Maria again to the other end of the platform as Aiden supported Maria from falling.

Due to Alayna’s overwhelming strength against Maria, Aiden couldn’t use Maria’s muscles to generate enough power to knock over Alayna.

The back and forth was looking like a stalemate between the two. 

Maria was dodging the hits Alayna sent out, and Maria hit Alayna but couldn’t generate the force to knock her over.

The entire gym watched the performance of the two.

Alayna was beginning to tire out from swinging at the air when Maria dodged.

“Looks like you are the one tired this time.” Maria mocked.

“I still have my second wind, so don’t get cocky.” Alayna said, catching her breath.

Maria then rushed towards Alayna as she was exhausted.

“Got you.” Alayna said as she saw an opening to knock Maria off.

Alayna struck Maria on the side of her abdominal causing her to completely lose footing on the platform.

Maria began to fall off the platform. Aiden watched Maria about to fail and he controlled Maria’s arms to use the Pugil stick to grab the platform and carry Maria back over. This motion caused the platform to rotate with Maria’s weight.

The flipping of the platform knocked Alayna off and left Maria on the underside having landed on her chest.

“What was that?! That was all luck!” Alayna said to Maria.

“That wasn’t luck, that was Pure Talent.” Maria responded with a cocky smile.

Alayna then rushed back up to get on the platform. “Okay, that one to one, last round.” Alayna said quickly.

She then got her Pugil stick ready.

“Okay, that’s enough for you two. This is supposed to be fun.” The Senior said stopping their match.

“Aww, but I was just about to win!” Maria said to the Senior.

“You aren’t going to turn these fun recreational events into a street fight.” The Senior said to Maria and Alayna.

“Okay, I understand.” Alayna said disappointed. “Looks like it’s a tie.” Alayna said to Maria.

“No, no ties! Rock, Paper, Scissors right now to declare the winner.” Maria said to Alayna, as she held rock in her hand.

“You can’t be serious.” Alayna responded looking at the fire in Maria’s eyes.

“Yes I am serious.” Maria said with her hand still out.

“I already said what I needed to say, if you don’t want people to question your friendship with Angeal, maybe start treating him like a friend.” Alayna said to Maria.

Maria still had a grimace on her face.

“Whatever.” Alayna said, extending her fist.

Both of them said, “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoot.” 

Aiden saw that Alayna was choosing Rock, and that Maria was about to throw out Scissor, so he forced Maria’s hand to become Paper.

“Ha, I won! In your face! I was right!” Maria cheered, having thrown Paper out to Alayna’s Rock.

“Whatever, I’m not bothered about losing a child’s game.” Alayna said leaving the area.

A crowd gathered around Alayna celebrating her domination in the Pugil Stick Match. No one was coming to Maria.

“Looks like she has gathered a few fans.” Aiden said looking at the crowd around Alayna.

“You both performed as Goddesses of the Colosseum. Mine eyes were raptured by the eloquent talent of Combat Strategy, Agility and Strength.” Alvin was saying to Maria.

“Thanks I guess?” Maria said to Alvin.

“I don’t know how you managed to pull off what you did that second round.” Silvia said, walking up to Maria.

Alvin saw Silvia and immediately backed away.

“Do you feel like challenging me now?” Maria asked Silvia.

“No, I just came back from the Office. And picked up these.” Silvia said, handing Maria and Aiden the same letters she received from the School Counselor.

“She was looking for you earlier, so I figured that I would just pick it up for you.” Silvia said to Aiden and Maria.

“What are they?” Maria asked.

“It’s for a High School, that’s all I can tell you though.” Silvia said to Maria.

“I know you have what it takes Angeal, and for Maria…” Silvia paused a bit. “Good luck.” Silvia said leaving the two.

Maria and Aiden stood in the gym and looked at their letters.

“You’ve been Invited to become an Innovator at ‘The International Innovators and Developers High School for Global Leaders’.- -.-. .. -..” Read Aiden’s letter.

“You’ve been Invited to become an Innovator at ‘The International Innovators and Developers High School for Global Leaders’..- …-” Read Maria’s letter.

“Oh, looks like we didn’t have to go to this dumb event anyways.” Maria said to Aiden looking at the letter.

Aiden looked closer at the letters. He was able to read that he said Acid in morse code. But he was able to see the hidden image in the blank area of the page. It was an image of a cat. It had a wide grin. It read: “Most everyone’s mad here.”; “You may have noticed that I’m not all there myself.”

Aiden recognized that this was from the book ‘Alice in Wonderland, and noticed that the stripes of the cat were missing. But the missing pattern was in a pattern that resembled that of a barcode.

“So the International Innovators and Developers High School for Global Leaders, is that a good school?” Maria asked Aiden.

“Who knows. We can find out together.” Aiden said to Maria. Maria grinned and started walking.

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