They all decided to stay and watch the other matches until Cal was up. There were a couple of fun matches, but most were very uneven. Elementals who were not combat focused, up against combat oriented elements like fire. They ate a lot of snacks and jokes about who would win. Cal brought up the fact that he was going to try to hide as much as possible from everyone.
Eventually, he was called up. The match was him against an earth elemental named Pete. He was good enough that Cal had heard of him. He was in a lot of competitive sports and competitions. This would be a tough match. People expected Cal to go down quick like the other uneven matches, but up in the stands Sarah and Josh knew that this would be an intense match.
The horn sounded and Pete immediately sent a spike of stone up at Cal, but Cal dodged and then formed a wall of water around Pete. Pete didn't worry very much about it and just grew a pillar of stone from the ground that lifted him over it. Cal splashed Pete's face quickly to buy him some time to think.
He could try to cut things with fast moving water, suffocate him until he passes out, or...
His thought process was cut off as Pete wiped his face and sent a wall of rock slamming into Cal, trying to force him out of the field. Cal made a fast stream of water that sliced through the rock, and then made a hollow bubble of water around Pete's head that would seal off the air. He wouldn't inhale any water and drown, he just wouldn't be able to access the air.
He tried to pop it with spikes of rock and then went back to the offense while he could still breathe. He sent flying rocks at Cal, which cal dodged. One he would have failed to dodge, but he blew the rock very slightly off course with some air and no one seemed to notice.
Then, Cal started slicing and catching anything that was sent to him and also dodging, just buying time until Pete ran out of air. He also sped up the process by getting rid of the oxygen in the bubble, although he left the oxygen in Pete's lungs so that he wouldn't just suddenly and suspiciously pass out.
At this point, Pete was too distracted with not being able to breath. He tried to claw it off and then just ran out of the circle so that Cal would take it off and let him breath, unable to fight his survival instinct.
The horn sounded and the crowd cheered at the surprising match. He had beaten Pete, unharmed, when everyone thought that Pete would win easily.
He climbed back to the stage to a series of hugs and pats on the backs from his friends, some onlookers, and from Vera. He smiled. He was already ready for the next match.
"Congrats! You kicked his ass!" Josh and Sarah said to him.
"It was a little intense. I didn't have enough time to think about what I was going to do. If it wasn't for the fact that I had practiced, I would have struggled to even do the few things that I did." He explained.
They celebrated for a little while over at the food area of the stadium. Vera left pretty early on, because she had to go to a friend's match, and Sarah seemed a lot happier after that. Cal really didn't know what she had against Vera, especially since Vera still hadn't burned her opponent in her match. If she had, Cal could kind of understand that at least.
The ate mostly fries and nachos, but Josh also bought a pizza. They all sat around a small table and then got to talking about Josh and Sarah's matches.
"I don't really know much that I can do. If I am against someone with no combat ability I can try to just fight them off without my abilities, but I really can't do much until the restoration tournament." Sarah said.
"Yeah, I'm surprised they don't just assign people to the tournaments based on their ability." Josh told her.
"It's probably because of people like me who fit into more than one." Cal said.
They nodded. "I am just going to use my electricity to win, not much planning needed. It's pretty hard to block or dodge electricity, but even if you do, I am still right here able to try again or in another way. I am hoping that I can at least get into semi-finals. I know I still can't beat Cal here, even if he just used water, since he could just wrap me in water." Josh told them.
"Well, if you can juggle electricity between your hands, I imagine you could just not electrocute yourself if you practice. Maybe that could be your advantage. Everyone plans on using your own electricity against you, but you learn to make yourself immune to it." Cal said. "I could help you practice if you need to coat yourself in water or something." He offered.
They eventually went back to the dorms, since it was getting late, but Josh accepted Cal's offer and the next day they spent the morning and most of the afternoon practicing. It was almost like a spar in itself. Cal trying to get him out of the circle and Josh trying to stay in and not electrocute himself. By the end of the day they were really tired out and Josh even fell asleep while they were at dinner with Sarah.
"Jeez, you guys really went at it today, huh." She said to Cal.
He nodded. "The combat tournament is really the only one that Josh can excel at, unless he can find a way to make a pretty display out of lightning, or zapping someone's heart back into beating counts as restoration."
She nodded. "Cal, what are you going to do when you win?" She looked at him with a serious expression.
"Well, I have a long ways to go before-" She interrupted him. "Oh, quit it. You know that you can easily come first in any one of these as long as you can put your mind to it."
He sighed. "I want to finish what my mom started. Force corporations out of the United Elements." He said, solemnly.
"That's a good reason to win. That is important, you know. The why. Some people just want the money or power, and when the competition starts to hurt or be uncomfortable they are going to back out. But you, and the other people with good reasons, will fight until the bitter end. You will keep going until it kills you or that horn sounds." She looked at him with a strange expression. "Just be careful, okay?"
He just nodded, unsure if he even knew any words that would feel right to say.
Josh woke back up and apologized, and they continued eating. They talked more about Josh's plans, since Sarah didn't really have any, and tried to think of what could happen. Eventually, Cal had the idea for Sarah that she could try healing herself while she fought and then use that to give her a slight advantage if it did come down to just a wrestling match to push them out of the circle. After that, they all decided it was getting late and went back to their dorms, excited and nervous for what tomorrow would bring.