It’s the morning of the first day of The Battle of Elementals and everyone is suiting up into their battle uniforms. They are similar to their everyday uniforms, which is an all-black collared top lined, with the color of their element. The difference is that they are resistant to elemental energy, providing some protection. They also have an insulation effect that helps to amplify elemental energy conduction.
They all congregate in the social room and are met by Tahno, who waits with his usual agitation. Once they are all gathered, he makes his announcements. “Good morning cadets, you all are rather quiet this morning. To what do I owe my gratitude to escape your usual petty, over-emotional drama?” No one responds to his comment, not even Noah who’s normally pretty quick to give a witty comment back.
“Ok then, I guess I’ll just take my small blessings and not complain. So down to business then, today you five are going to take part in the Battle of the Elementals, which will determine your future. You should already know this, but just as a quick review I’ll explain the process. The first round is the class battles. This means that each of the 2 classes of each of the elements will battle their opposing class. The top 4 of these battles will then face off against the top 4 of their opposing class again, that is; fire vs. water and earth vs. air in Round 2. Round 3 is the semi-finals round, where the top 2 cadets from each elemental class in Round 2 will team up to face off against the top 2 of the opposing element class. Although you’ll both be fighting together, you are still competing against one another as you are trying to take down your opponent faster than your partner. Whichever of the two has the fastest time will move on to the Final Round. Ultimately, the top single cadets unspecific to class, will face off in a free for all battle until there is only one remaining. This person will be the champion and win the opportunity to pick a legendary weapon and a guaranteed position as General in the Junsui Hunters Armed Forces.”
No one speaks and so Tahno continues. “Although this may sound like fun and games and you may not care much about the prize, you still need to be on your toes as this will also serve as your final exam. You don’t have to make into the advanced rounds unless you wish to receive high honors, but you must qualify in Round 1. This means that you must stay in the battle for the minimum allotted time, which is ten minutes this year, if you wish to pass. If you are defeated even a second under that ten-minute mark, you will be forced to stay behind a year, no exceptions will be made. Ten minutes may not seem very long, but when you’re in a free for all battle against a class of twenty elementals coming at you with your opposing element. You’ll be under fire from every direction, so naturally you’ll have to be on guard for yourself, but you’ll want to look out for your comrades as well since helping each other will be the key to your longevity in battle. I hope you’ve all improved on your miserable teamwork since then.” No one takes the bait of his intentional jab, but he still finds himself thoroughly amused regardless.
“Alright, you losers are boring me so let me just finish with a final note on rules that you should already know. One, you are to use only one single element during the battle, this doesn’t apply to sub-elements however, such as water’s secondary element ice, but to the 4 main elements only, though I think it’s quite pointless to even state since Noah’s the only one who can use more than 1, but I digress. Two, you may only use one weapon type, so no switching it up in between battles. Three, you are to fight to debilitate, not kill. Anyone responsible for causing another student’s critical injury will face dire consequences, so basically, control yourselves and remember that these are your fellow cadets and possible friends. Finally, and this really only applies to you Noah, nothing but your weapon and innate elemental energy may be used in the battles. This means no hand to hand combat, no outside gadgets such as smoke bombs or whatever may be used and for you Noah, no beasting out! I’m sure you understand this already, but no one but us and the council know of your true state and we’d like to keep it that way. It also follows for your own efforts, that you should probably scale back your strength as much as you can, being your full power would definitely send someone to the infirmary. Is that understood? Any questions or concerns?” No one responds. “Good! Then with that, let’s get going, it’s time to report to your classes. I wish you all the best of luck, though I’m expecting nothing less of greatness from all of you. May the odds be ever in your favor.” He cracks up from his own joke which referenced a popular series of the Old Age as he goes.
He leaves before them and as if they have suddenly been rejuvenated, they begin to be more lively. Noah, to everyone’s surprise, even sends them off with a pep talk. “Ok guys, today’s the day, so we’ve got to do our best. I know that we’ve been a bit at odds lately, but today is all about teamwork. Even though we’re technically competing against each other, I promise I’ll stay out of your way until the final round. I expect to see all of us there, except for you Nik sorry, and all bets are off then. I’m not gonna go easy on you guys because I know you can handle it. So let’s make Tahno proud, ok guys? Actually, let’s impress the whole damn council and show them how amazing we are and what they missed out on all these years!” Everyone smiles, agreeing with his sentiment to put aside their squabbles and put their best effort in, especially if it means showing off to the council. They won’t let their weekend surprise distract them from their goals. They each respond one by one as they put their fists in. Nik starts them off.
“No way Noah, I’m gonna be apologizing to you because I’m taking that spot in the finals. We both may be part of the fire class, but unlike you who choose to make it your primary element, mine is all natural.” He smirks and Noah just grins back at him as if to say, “Bring it on.” Mai speaks next.
“I don’t really have an interest in fighting any of you, but I won’t go easy on you either in the finals. Still, I wish you all good luck.” She turns to Lili and says, “I’ve got your back until then, I promise.”
Lili smiles and then says, “Thanks Mai, but don’t worry about me. I just want you to do your best and I don’t want to drag you down. I’m not sure if I’ll make it, but no matter what, I’m really happy to have met you all and I hope we’ll always be friends.” They all look on sympathetically, but say nothing. They all mentally decide that they’ll see that she makes it through no matter what. Gunther is last to speak,
“Well guys, it’s finally that time. I can’t tell you enough how happy I am that I could be friends with you and I know we’ll be friends forever. Even when we fight, I truly believe we’ll always be there for each other when it matters. I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday than with you guys.”
“Oh yea, it’s your birthday isn’t it Guns? The big 18, where you can finally join us in adulthood. I’m so sorry I forgot buddy, happy birthday. We’ll definitely have to celebrate after this is over, right guys?”
Everyone agrees and echo Nik in giving Gunther his birthday wishes. Noah makes the final comment. “Alright, let’s do this guys. Let’s bring home the gold!” They all cheer in unison and then one behind the other, they make their way to the battle arena and prepare themselves for the battle at hand.
The halls are bustling with chatter and crowds as everyone scrambles to get to the arena. It’s a huge stadium, located behind the academy and it’s the BoE is the only event outsiders of the general public can enter the academy grounds or interact with the students. The graduation ceremony that follows immediately after the event is also the time in which the graduating class may meet their parents, whom they’ve never seen since they were taken immediately after birth. It’s one of the most anticipated moments for the graduates though some parents and students choose not to meet or there are even some students whose parents may have died or deserted the prefecture. The occasion can be very bittersweet.
The first announcement is made, requesting all cadets participating in the event to report to the arena immediately. Noah’s group makes their way there, arriving in the last wave of participants to the competitor sector. At the entrance, there are two council members on each side greeting each cadet as they pass. Noah’s group notices them at the same time the council notices them and both parties suddenly stall, the tension quickly building. Lili is the only one to make a move to greet her mother.
“Mama!” she yells as she runs and hugs her mother who returns her embrace snuggly. The council members look on in discomfort as do the others. Several other students look on in confusion.
There is a loud sound of someone clearing their throat and Kira can see its President Hiro signaling her to wrap it up. “You should get going now Lili, I’ll be watching you so do your best. The best of luck.”
She lets go, making Lili a bit sad, but she also understands that it’s not appropriate for her to be doing that when no one else gets to see their parents yet. Taking that as their cue, the others quickly begin to file through the entrance one by one. Noah is first and he doesn’t make eye contact with any of the council, but he knows they’ve got their eyes on him and he can just feel their discomfort and fear. He can’t help but grin, making the few seconds even more tense.
Nik passes through next and as she had with all the other fire elementals, Vera greets Nik and wishes him good luck in a neutral tone. He simply glares at her and walks right by without missing a beat. Gunther follows closely after, getting the same greeting from Liam, making him stop momentarily. He feels conflicted on whether he should say something back, but before he has time to really think about it, Nik is pulling him along, giving Vera another glare as he does. She makes no visible expressions or motions in response.
Mai approaches next and looks at Lili, but doesn’t say anything. However, Lili understood that she was encouraging her to come along. Mai reaches Viktor and like the other’s he gives the standard greeting. Mai doesn’t falter in her neutral expression, and simply salutes him, then moves along quickly. Lili looks at all them apologetically and says, “I’m sorry, they just…they’re not sure how to….”
“It’s ok Lili, go on ahead, your friends are waiting for you.” Kira gives her another reassuring smile and then nudges her along. She gives a polite bow to them and then hurries along to meet the others.
“Well, I guess that answers your question Liam, they obviously know we’re their parents. Not that you’d think so with such cold greetings.” Vera has a tone of aggravation and hidden tone of disappointment.
“Well, it’s to be expected. We’ve been in front of their faces all this time, we even, met with them that one time, yet we never told them the truth. Anyone would feel slighted by that, no matter the reason.”
“Yes, Liam is right Vera, it’s only natural for them to respond that way, so no use in getting angry.”
“I’m not angry Viktor!” Hiro once again clears his throat and she calms down. Kira then says,
“Let’s not fret on it at this time everyone, we’ll have times to make amends after the ceremony.” Everyone silently glares at Kira. It’s easy for her to say that when she’s in good standing with her child. Not to mention it’s her fault they already know in the first place. But they stay quiet and continue with their greetings as the last few students enter. They begin to make their way in as well, but then hear,
“Hey, what about greeting me? I was saving the best for last.” Everyone rolls their eyes as Tahno approaches. Just like him to make an entrance. He joins them as they make their way to their booth.
“Woweee! Look at this place! I’m glad I never had an interest in coming to any of our upperclassman’s events, it would’ve killed the fun of this view now!” Nik is excited, where he was angry just before.
“This is quite fascinating. I never knew there were so many underclassmen students. There’s a lot of people from outside the academy as well.” Mai takes a good look around at the rows of seats.
“Well of course there are. There isn’t much in way of entertainment in Wakaba outside Hokkaido City so of course people would get excited. It’s the only time of the year they get to see inside the academy.”
Following off of Noah, Gunther adds, “Yea that true. I wonder how many people there actually are, it seems like thousands! I know it’s other students and outsiders, but even still it’s so many people!”
Lili grips Mai’s arm. “I don’t know if I can do this guys, there are a lot of people. I’m super nervous.”
“It’ll be ok Lili; you won’t even be thinking about them once the battle starts. You’ll be too busy.”
“I hope you’re right Mai.” She pauses and then starts to say, “Hey guys, you know I think you-.”
“All cadets please report to your class stations immediately to begin roll and battle prep!” A coordinator yells out nearby, cutting off what Lili started to say. Lingering cadets quickly begin to scatter.
“Well, guess that’s our cue guys. See you in the finals. Good luck.” Noah gives his final words and then runs off, Nik following behind with a wave. Gunther waves and with a good luck, runs to find his class.
“Guess we’d better getting going too Lil. Just focus out there ok? Do your best and the rest will be fine.” She gives her one final reassuring handshake and look and then walks off to find her class. Lili watches her walk away and for some reason her heart feels heavy and she doesn’t want her to leave. She’s not sure if it’s some sort of bad omen or something else, but she carries that unease all the way to her class.
“Yo ho! Welcome everyone! My name is Callie and I’ll be one of your fabulous hosts today, yay!” A girl with Magenta hair in a side pony tail hops around rambunctiously to the annoyance of a boy with seaweed hair down to his neck and glasses. He’s not nearly as enthusiastic or cheerful in the slightest.
“Hello everyone, my name is Jason and I’ll also be a host today for the 106th annual Battle of the Elementals. We thank you all for coming out so early this morning and we hope you enjoy the show.”
“Ok, now that the stiff’s done talking, let’s liven this place up! Are you ready for an awesome show?”
There are cheers and clapping from the crowd as she fires the entire arena up. She dances around.
“Alright! Well we’ve got an awesome event for you all today, where these year’s graduate hopefuls are going to duke it out battle royal style! Of course, no one will be in crucial danger, but that doesn’t mean there’s not going to be pain to go around as our cadets mean business. After a boring qualifying round, the fiercest of the cadets will be facing off, elemental vs. elemental, that’s where the fun really begins.”
Jason takes his chance to jump in. “So what do you say we get this thing started? We’ve got several rounds to get through and I’m sure no one wants to be here all day. I certainly don’t.” There’s laughter.
“Ok then Mr. Sour Puss, let’s kick things off with our first qualifier. Class F-1, as in Fire Verses Class W-1, as in Water. Each of the 2 classes of 20 will face off and the top two from each class will move on to Round 2, for a total of 4 cadets per element class. That means 4 each for Fire, Earth, Air and Water!”
“You don’t have to break it down for them like that Callie, they know already.” Jason is annoyed. “Ok, all participants please line up at the starting lines and wait for the tone. Fight well, but safe as well.”
With each class lined up on either side, Nik and Noah stand side by side on their end and Mai stands on the other. They all grin at each other, ready to go all out. To Noah’s surprise, Ouran stands next to Mai. He also grins at Noah, but in a more sinister way, as if to say that he’s coming for him. Mai notices Ouran now too and she finds herself even more uncomfortable around him then she picked up on before. He notices her looking and says, “Don’t get in my way and I won’t get in yours. Sound like a plan?”
“Trust me, I won’t because frankly, I don’t like you. Just know that if you try and hurt my friends, I’ll hurt you.” She gives him a stone cold glare and he laughs. He can tell she’s serious, but so is he.
“Don’t worry, I’m not after your friends. In fact, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure we all get to the finals. So just worry about your own efforts, I’ll take care of the rest.” She smirks and Mai is only further disturbed, however she can tell she’s got no bad intentions at the moment, so she ignores it.
Across the arena, Noah raises an eyebrow, having heard their exchange. He wonders just what Ouran is planning, but he doesn’t have much time to think about it as the tone goes off suddenly and the battle begins. Despite having a delayed start, Noah quickly bounds ahead, making first contact with an opponent. He almost takes him down instantly, but he remembers Tahno’s warning and holds back.
“Ouch! The first hit of the competition and it already looks like that guy is in a lot of pain. Noah’s not wasting anytime. Guess he’s not called the Iron Man for nothing. You’re sure to be in for quite a show today folks, since Noah and the Elite Junsui Task Force Members are fighting today. They’re the best.”
“Please, don’t flatter them Callie, they’re not that spectacular. They just get special treatment.”
“Uh oh, sounds like someone’s jealous! Don’t be mad just because you can’t be good like them.”
“This is not a conversation to be having right now Callie, we’re supposed to talk about the match!”
“Ok then! The battle is getting fierce. There’s fire, water and ice flying all around! It’s mayhem!”
“It looks like we’ve just gotten our first knockout, such a shame, there were only 2 minutes left.”
“Well, I guess they’ll have plenty of time to get it together for next year. Good job though, yay!”
With just 1-minute left, the battle starts to slow down. They are getting tired or are just barely hanging on and in pain. A few more get knocked out within that minute, but with a ding, the 10-minute mark is hit and like flies, the cadets drop of their own will, bowing out of the battle. After another minute, only four remain on each side, including Mai, Ouran, Nik and Noah. They pair up accordingly.
“Looks like they’ve decided on their alliances folks. Fire elementals Noah and Nik battling against water elementals Emmy and Kyle and Fire Elementals Yare and Mike battling against Mai and Ouran. Only one pair from each side can move on, so who’s it gonna be folks? We’re about to find out.”
Nik and Noah naturally decided to tag team and go after the other water pair that wasn’t Mai or Ouran and they likewise did the same with the other Fire pair. They didn’t even have to plan it; it was more or less an unspoken agreement. In no time, they take down their opponents and the first battle is over.
“Oh boy! There you have it folks! We have our first two pairs of Fire and Water Elementals moving on! It’s not much of a surprise, but let’s hear it for Noah, Nik, Mai and Ouran!” The crowd goes wild.
The four of them wave as they walk off the field and once one the side, they high five. As they make their way back to their class sections, the crowd continues to cheer. However, as they pass the council’s table, they hear booing. No one even looks up other than Ouran, as the other three know exactly who it is and are not paying him any mind. Tahno continues to boo and then shouts, “Boring! Let’s see a real battle out there!” He gets a few look for nearby spectators, causing the council to shake their heads.
“That’s one battle down, 3 more to go for the Round 1, so let’s jump right into the next. Now it’s….” Jason announces the next battle between the second Fire and Water classes and it’s over in no time.”
“Alright! We’ve officially got our top 4 Fire Elementals, which are Noah, Nik, Killian and Zena! We’ve got our 4 Water Elementals as well, they are, Mai, Ouran, Naomi and Daria! Give it up for them!”
“Ok, now it’s time for the battles between our Earth and Air Elementals. Let’s start with E-1 vs. A-1.” Jason announces the first battle and it’s soon underway. It’s over in no time and the top 2 were decided.
“Ok! Now that we’ve got out first two pairs of the Earth and Air classes, let’s kick off the final battle of Round 1 between class E-2 and A-2! Everyone please approach your starting gates!”
On one end, Gunther lines up with his class and on the other Lili. They see each other and smile and Gunther gives her a thumbs up for reassurance and to silently say that he’s got her back. She responds with a sweet, but anxious smile. She’s so nervous she feels as though she might pass out right there, but then she looks towards the Water section and sees Mai. She can easily see pinpoint her and after she sees Mai’s smile of encouragement, she suddenly feels a bit more resilient and calm. She mentally cheers herself on, promising she’s going to give it her best as she promised. The tone sounds and it’s begun.
The first 8 minutes go surprisingly well for both Gunther and Mai and they hold their own. They start to think that they had nothing to worry about, but in the final minute, that all changed. Lili was tag teamed by a few Earth elementals who figured she was a weak link and she found herself becoming overwhelmed by them. Before she could even realize it, she was in a tough spot and just a blow away from being knocked out. Feeling it was over with 30 seconds left, she began to tear up. “I’m sorry Mai.”
She closed her eyes and was ready for the worst, but suddenly she heard a loud bash sound and multiple grunts. She slowly opened her eyes to see Gunther standing over her with his Warhammers in hand, breathing heavy. He looks down at her just as the tone for the ten-minute mark dings and says, “I told you I had your back.” He smiles widely and happily and it brings full tears to Lili’s eyes.
“Thank you Gunther. Seriously, thank you.” He smiles and holds out his hand, helping her up.
“Don’t mention it. No one’s getting left behind on my watch. We’re gonna be friends forever right?”
She nods and returns a smile, but then they suddenly get a wakeup call. “You traitor!” one of Gunther’s fellow classmates comes charging with his spear, shooting earth pellets at Gunther as he approaches.
“Guess I better pay attention to my own battle now huh?” He quickly blocks and battles against the guy who’s charging him. Through his fighting he calls out to Lili. “You’re good! What you do now is up to you!” She understands that he’s basically saying that now that she’s safe, she doesn’t have the pressure of failing anymore and she could just bow out now. She wants to and almost does, but then she looks at Mai again, and it gives her the strength to carry on. If she ever wants to be able to hold a candle to Mai she can’t give in yet until she’s done all she can. With renewed vigor, she charges at her next opponent.
“Alright! This battle is over everyone! It was a great match and now we’ve got out top 4 of each class!”
“Moving on for the Earth Elementals are: Gunther, Pax, Doug and Martha. Moving on for the Air Elementals are Trina, Hikari, Garth and against all odds, Lili! That’s quite surprising, but good job.”
The crowd cheers and especially loudly they can hear Noah and Nik chanting Gunther and Lili’s names. Mai can’t be heard, but Lili knows she’s proud, as is her Mom, she’s certain of that. Gunther gives Lili a massive bear hug and then they walk off the field together. As they pass the council’s table, Lili looks up and sees Kira smile gently, though she says nothing. Even Tahno, to her surprise has a half smile and she can tell that he’s proud of her in his own way. Gunther also sneaks a peak at Liam, but his face gives nothing away and he doesn’t stare for too long. They each make their way back to their classes. Everyone is given an hour break, to refuel and take a breather before Round 2 begins.
Everyone meets up and after a round of congratulations, hugs and praising, they take their break. The hour passes before they know it and Round 2 officially begins. As with Round 1, they all pair off and go after the opposite pair that none of their friends are in, a method that once again works like a charm. In no time, Round 2 is over and the final two pairs of each element class are decided and move on.
“Round 2 is over and we have our top 2 pairs for each elemental class. Going to the Semi-Finals Round from the Fire class is Noah and Nik. From the Water class it’s Mai and Ouran. From the Earth class it’s Gunther and Pax. Finally, from the Air class it’s Trina and Lili. Give them some applause.” The arena goes crazy with cheers, chants and applause, everyone thoroughly enjoying the show. After another hour break, Callie gives the crowd a breakdown of how the semi-finals will play out and its rules.
“Ok! I hope you all are having a good time; I know I’m having a great time! Now, we’re about to start our Semi-final Round. This round is only two rounds, as our pairs face off with their opponents at the same time. The first round will have Noah and Nik face off against Mai and Ouran. Our second round will have Gunther and Pax and Lili and Trina face off. Only the elemental with the fastest takedown of their opponent will move on, and their knocked out opponent will be out. The pair still fighting will continue to battle it out and whoever knocks out their opponent first will also move in. This means that it’s possible for both cadets in a single class to move on to the final round, however we always hope for a single opponent of each class for a more exciting show and it tends to go that way anyway. That’s about it, so what do you say we get the first round started huh? First up, Water vs. Earth! The council gets to match up the opponents in this Round and it appears that they decided…oh dear! It seems they’ve decided that Gunther will fight against Lili and Pax against Trina.” There’s a unison of Boos through the crowd. “The council has final say guys, so these two friends, Gunther and Lili will face off.”