"Well done everyone" Mr. Bené remarked.
"I think you all did a great job demonstrating what we are capable of here at SCS." "I'm going to give the floor to O'Brian for any last remarks he'd like to make."
O'Brian got up from the bleachers and returned to the center of the field in an instant. The transition was so fast it was hard to tell if he hadn't been standing there the whole time.
"Thank you very much Mr. Bené," said O'Brian taking the center stage.
"Today I have gained quite a bit of information about this school and its students," He said taking a look around the bleachers.
"To be completely candid, you all have exceeded my expectations in more ways than one." "I think all of you here could easily become agents."
A roar of applause came from the students rallying. Until O'Brian said those words his critical analysis had given the students an inferiority complex of sorts.
"With your limited knowledge of dark energy and its manipulative forms, not only have you managed to strengthen and nurture your powers, some of you have actually gone to the lengths of customizing them for specific tasks, a skill which we don't teach but comes with the acclamation of time."
"Many of my contemporary's at S.P.A headquarters fear the spread of knowledge, and have made investigations into dark energy and its contingencies a near illegal act, limiting your pregressions at this academy "
"I however find myself a more progressive type. I see a coming threat that requires a new perspective on Shifters education and development. Thus by the powers not given to me by the S.P.A but the president of this island, I have come on a special mission."
Mr. Bené's mouth dropped to the floor with O'Brian's announcement.
"You mean to say the highest power in the land has asked you to come here?" Mr. Bené asked.
"I wouldn't say that" answered O'Brian
"It's rather I have asked the highest power in the land to come here."
"Let me explain, my presence here actually isn't for the S.P.A exams, although they are of high importance. To be completely honest with you I have no say or power in their selection process, instead I have come here for an alternative purpose."
"Right now this island is seeing a great threat emerge in terms of gang relations and violence. Every day the number of criminals is rising innumerably while the S.P.A is succumbing to attrition. Right now we need agents more than ever and I actually came scouting to take a select few of you as Agents."
The students were at full attention now. They began staring at the most prominent students in envy anticipating their announcement.
"This is gonna be easier than I thought." remarked Lanced
"There is a catch however." said O'Brian as he adjusted his spectacles.
"Listen closely, after a Shifter has taken the exam He becomes a recruit at S.P.A HQ. After that, a minimum of two years of training have to be accomplished before becoming an agent. However due to the impending threat in the badlands I have asked HQ to skip this requirement under special circumstances.
"Rather than take you through the regular examination process, I have recommended to enter you all in the gauntlet," he said, adjusting his glasses.
Mr. Bené gave O'Brian a look of incredulity, almost as if O'Brian had suggested his students be wrapped in bacon and fed to lions.
O'Brian's spectacles seemed to glisten as he said the word. Whatever the purpose, he clearly had his own intention for what he was about to reveal.
"WHAT!?" Mr. Bené exclaimed "You want to bring children to that hellhole without any formal training?"
"Yes", answered O'Brian, "And based on what I have gathered here, I think they could be rather successful."
Murmuring and chatter broke out among the students as they turned to one another seeking an answer to O'Brian's remark. It seemed none of them had heard of the gauntlet before and were taken aback by Mr. Bené's response.
"Wait! What is the gauntlet exactly?" Reggie asked
O'Brian turned to the crowd of confused students and let out a sigh as he began addressing them,
"The gauntlet is the yearly set of examinations that decides the hierarchy of the SPA." "It is the rite of passage each agent must proceed through to become an officer." "In the world of Shifters, while we are not completely ruled by might, combat ability is by far the most important strength." "At the end of the exams, there is a tournament that determines what rank each member resides in."
"The moment I have been looking for…one step closer..." Lance thought.
O'Brien grinned at Lance, he could see the eagerness filling Lance's eyes, and couldn't wait to see what he could do.
"Not everyone is ready for something like this, let me give you a fair warning" "In the Gauntlet, anyone who enters will have to place their life on the line." "Killing is against the rules and will result in disqualification of course, however!" O'Brian said briefly pausing. "It is not illegal! Students are forced to sign a waiver before entering, and any student that kills another can retake the exam."
"However be warned, once an examiner has decided a battle there can be no retribution. Any unnecessary roughness or noncompliance intentional or not that compromises a student's safety, will result in a permanent ban to entry into the SPA."
"We agents will do our best to prevent unnecessary casualties but in the end, in order to take this exam you have to be willing to bet your life." "You won't be going up against just any other shifters either. You'll be going against those who have been trained for at least 2 years or longer, have a clear understanding of their powers, and have a will of fire to die for what they believe in. If you don't have the most resolute will, you'll be obliterated before you even have a chance. That's why I've come early.
"At the end of the school year, or in two months the S.P.A exams will take place. Before we even give anyone a chance at coming into the S.P.A, we must first examine their skills as I have today. However the officer in charge will use a different mechanism, what it is I cannot disclose but I assure you there are only a few here I would be concerned about passing."
O'Brian quickly glanced at Axel before continuing his speech.
"Two months from now will be the final checkup. At that time you guys must show your greatest strength. After that the examiner will choose the select few he believes to be capable of fighting in the gauntlet, and after that you can decide for yourself whether you want to come or not."
O'Brian peered over the students checking their reactions to the information he had just given them. The majority of the students looked anxious and confused but there were a few standing out. Lance, PB, and Reggie, all smiled with avarice at the thought of the tournament.
O'Brian smiled wildly, his job was done.
"Very well then, good luck to you all, I will see you in two months' time." He said concluding
"Remember, both beauty and chaos are in the eye of the beholder." "And while the gauntlet does seem a fearsome place, it is also a place to display your skill and unique abilities."
O'Brian created the two bulbs of electricity in his hands again filling the field with bright blue and red flashes.
"I will see you all again in two months' time in the place where beauty and chaos meet"
O'Brian slammed the two bulbs of electricity together and in a flash of neon excellence he was gone.
Mr. Bené slowly walked to the center of the stage examining where O'Brian had just stood. He looked around cautiously making sure he had truly left before proceeding forward.
"Well…." he said admiring O'Brian's disappearance, "I guess that's it for today! Class dismissed!" yelled Mr. Bené
"Aaaaaaccept you folks in detention I'll see you in just a bit." he said chuckling softly.