*The mountains of Arainea are staggeringly high, as though you're gonna come out of the sky if you reach the summit. Damn, I'm starving. I haven't had good meat in days. It's all just leaves and freaking herbs here. Gods, I miss the city.*
I kept hiking up the mountain, and eventually I got tired. I put down my bag beneath a nearby tree, sat down and rested. Trees block out most of the sunlight, but the fog has enveloped part of the mountain. That's why it was hard for me to see my surroundings this high up. I took out my water bottle and drank ALL OF IT. Luckily, there was a nearby water pool. I would have passed out by now if I hadn't refilled my bottle. After a while, I stood up and continued upwards the mountain.
After a while, I reached the peak. The fog was a bit thinner here. Lying on the ground, I found what I came for: a shard of black glass. A piece of the Black Mirror.
*What a relief. Good thing I didn't go so high up just for nothing. I'm gonna treat myself to a nice bowl of noodles because of this.*
I begun to descend down the mountain. I rested for a while near the water pool I found earlier. All of a sudden, I felt uneasy. Like something was watching me.
*I think I heard rustles earlier. I wonder . . . . *
I picked up a rock near where I was, and threw it to a nearby bush. And as I thought, I heard a yelp from the bush.
"Hey! Bushes don't talk, so I can only guess you're here for me." I shouted.
From behind the bushes and the trees, a number of people emerged. 4 humans, and a guy with sparks coming out of his arms, which I can only guess . . . . .
"An Essence user, huh? I'm guessing you guys are here for the shard." I said.
"Hand it over, or we make this bloody. Very bloody." the Essence user said.
I sighed with disappointment. I wanted to make my way down the mountain peacefully, but, well, that's not gonna be possible now. I put down the bag I'm carrying, and readied myself for battle. My robe fluttered with the wind as I put my hood on.
"Game on, bitches."
"Hi! Can I have a moment of your time?" I said to a bystander, faking a smile.
He just stared at me, looking like he's holding back getting annoyed by me.
"No? Well, thank you, then!" I said.
*This is getting really annoying. I stand here asking people if they want a job, and everybody refuses. Even the ones who look jobless refused!*
I continued what I was doing for the whole day, until the park I was handing out flyers in closed for the night. There was really no reason for me to stick around, so I went home to my apartment, which was just a walk away.
I opened the door to the apartment, and I found the living room as messy as I left it earlier. This was rented by me and my brother, but now he's living in a dorm somewhere near his university. Our apartment was on the 5th floor of the building, so it's a quite a ways up.
*Gods, I really hope he passes. I need the money.*
I smirked to the thought of me mooching money off of my brother after he becomes a lawyer. I changed to my house clothes, then I turned the TV on as I sat down on the sofa. Some kind of game show was on. It wasn't very entertaining, though. But I kept watching, until I dozed off.
I woke up the next day with one hell of a headache.
*I am never watching that show again. Oh gods, I feel like my head's about to burst. That player was so fucking stupid, a mouse could beat him. Like, who would answer "pineapple slice" to a Pizza Toppings category?*
I stood up and took some eggs out of the fridge. Omelettes are always good alternatives for headache medicine. Not because it has medicinal properties, but because it's so delicious, you forget you have a headache. I proceeded to eat my omelettes, and I did indeed forget that I have a headache. I also forgot to put on my deodorant after I showered. I took my body bag, my headphones, and my stack of flyers, then I stood in front of the mirror. I looked at myself. My hair's messy, but I like it that way.
*You're a fucking piece of shit, but you're still alive, so good for you, I guess.*
I touched my bracelets on my left arm. All in all, I have 9 bracelets: one with beads, three stainless steel chain-likes, two leather ones, two metal cuffs, and a baller. I have a ring, which is black and has a kind of "flames motif" on it. Guess I just really like accessories.
I opened the door, and to my surprise, there was a woman standing in front of it.
"Oh, sorry. I was about to knock." she said.
She was tall, and has red hair with a light skin tone, and she looked like she was my age. Her white coat was over a light blue top and brown capris pants. On the breast of her coat is a very familiar insignia. A moon inside a sun. LUSCRA.
"Oh, I'm a Bookmaster from LUSCRA. Our CEO, Mr. Sol, wanted to see you, and I am here to see you reach the Agency safely." she said.
My hands begun to shake. Sweat started to drip from my forehead. I couldn't stop my feet from tapping. Some awful memories are starting to resurface. I begun to space out.
"Mr. Ward? Are you okay? You don't look good. You look like you need to lie down." she said.
*What the hell? It's been 2 years since I last saw a person from LUSCRA. And now. I . . . can't move. My vision's . . . blurry . . . I think I need to lie down . . . . *
I couldn't feel my body anymore. I passed out.
*What did Mr. Sol think, bringing this guy in? He just passed out in front of me, without even introducing himself or acknowledging my presence.*
I looked at the sleeping Mr. Ward beside me.
"Bookmaster Chase, we are going to pass by Ridley's. Do you want to buy some burgers at the drive-thru?" the driver of the car I'm riding in said.
"Yeah, that's a good idea. And as I said before, you guys don't have to call me Bookmaster. You're all older than me so you could just call me Chase." I said.
"No, we have to obey the rules, Bookmaster. And the rules said that Higher Ranking Personnel should be properly addressed. Your usual, Bookmaster?" he said.
The driver passed through Ridley's' drive-thru and began talking to the cashier.
"Yes, and remember, no pickles, three slices of tomatoes, and--"
"Mayo and ketchup on both sides of the patty. I got you, Bookmaster."
He began to say our orders to the cashier. I laid back on my seat and sighed.
"You don't have to be a sucker for the rules, you know? We're outside work right now, so you can address me by my name."
"Bookmaster, we are on a mission right now, so protocols should still be followed."
He took our burgers from the drive-thru cashier, and drove to a nearby parking space.
"Hey, do you know what Mr. Sol wanted with this guy? He seemed a bit off when he first saw me." I asked the driver.
"I do not know, Bookmaster. All I know is that he needs to reach HQ safely. Maybe it's because of the new project he's initiating?" he said.
"Probably. We should be on our way, now."
I threw away the paper that the burger was wrapped with. The driver got us out of the parking space, and back to the busy road.
"Yes, we shall, Bookmaster." he said.
It's still about 30 minutes until we reach the Agency.
*I wonder why Mr. Sol wanted this guy. Is he an Essence user? He doesn't seem so. He looks like he's still in school.*
As we drived around Glywall City, I heard a whisper from Mr. Ward.
"Oh god . . . . "
"Looks like someone's awake." the driver said.
"Yep. Barely." I said.
"Ughhh . . . LUS . . . CRA . . . G-Grey . . . man . . ." the boy murmured, then fell back asleep.
"Nope, not even barely." I said.
"Well, that's okay, Bookmaster. It seems that we have arrived."
"Excellent. Now help me carry this hunk of sleeping lump."
*WHERE THE FUCK ARE THEY?! Sol told me to wait here for Chase and another guy, but I've been here two hours. TWO. FUCKING. HOURS. And I haven't eaten yet. I'm gonna kill them when they get here.*
I sat back down to the chair I was sitting on a while ago. I'm just outside Sol's office, and I'm getting annoyed.
*He could at least offer me a cup of coffee.*
I've been here for two hours, and Chase is still not around. So I decided to roam around the lobby. There was a bunch of people in here, mostly scientists, some Essence users, some staff cleaning up the floor, and a bunch of people I don't know. I went out of the building and into the garden outside. There's a statue smack dab in the middle of it. It was a statue of Saga, the god of knowledge or something. I'm not one for gods and deities and shit.
A light breeze passed by. I adjusted my jacket a bit. It's Summertime, yet I'm wearing these. But I don't mind. Gotta hide my arm.
Outside the gate, I see a car pull up, and out comes the driver. He opened the door of the backseat, and Chase went out.
*Finally. Someone to smack one up on the head.*
A boy suddenly went out of the vehicle. He seems to be half-asleep and droopy. As he was coming out of the vehicle, his polo shirt over his white t-shirt almost came off. He also has a TON of bracelets. Weird. But he must be the other guy that Sol mentioned. The driver helped the guy out of the car, and accompanied him across the gate. Chase waved at me, and I went to approach them.
"Good day, Ms. Elric." the driver said.
"Yo." I said.
"I best be on my way. I'm afraid Mr. Ward is still unconscious. Or asleep. We don't really know."
He went on inside the building, carrying the guy beside him.
"Sol told me you were here two hours early. Came early to see a certain scientist, I presume?" Chase said with an annoyingly big smile on her face.
"Oh, shut up. Who was that?"
"I really don't know. His name's Kellin Ward and Mr. Sol seems interested in him. Though, he didn't say why."
"Well, Sol likes being all mysterious and crap so it's better if we ask him ourselves."
We went inside together. Across the lobby, in front of Sol's office, that droopy guy was sitting on the chair I sat on earlier. He's still asleep, so I guess it's not gonna worth anything if we wake him up. I approached the door and knocked. We opened it and Sol was inside, wearing his usual yellow longsleeves and black vest. We entered the office. It was a simple room, not that much design. Just the usual wooden walls and shelves. Looks very professional, like the owner.
"Ah, finally you're here. Raine here was already holding back her anger. Or hunger. I can't really feel it through these walls."
"Ha ha ha." I laughed sarcastically.
"Mr. Sol, why the hell did I have to go pick that guy up? Is he gonna be of any use to us?" Chase asked.
"Yes, he will. He's an Essence user, after all." Sol answered.
"Well, he doesn't look like it." I said.
"That's because he doesn't know it yet. His Essence was activated on that incident two years ago. He has it in him, he just doesn't know he has it, let alone use it."
"Then he shouldn't be here, right? You could've sent him to a Training Academy." Chase said.
"Ah, that wouldn't be possible."
Sol stood up from his seat. He urged us to follow him. We went out of the office, and we saw that guy Chase brought all the way here, except he was awake and standing in front of us.
"Ah, Mr. Ward. I see you're awake. My name is--" Sol greeted.
"I know who you are. Ms. Luna's older brother. I remember you." the guy said.
I don't know about 'bout anybody, but I don't think this guy's in a really good mood. He has a discernable frown on his face, and his hands are inside his pockets. This was the first time I got a good look on his face. He's short, and has a darker complexion than me. His short black hair isn't styled up like most boys, and his eyes are red like mine.
"Well, I'll be damned. This is Chase, the one who brought you here, and this is Raine."
He just waved at us shyly.
*What a nice guy.*
"Alright. Now that you're all acquainted, please follow me." Sol said.
We followed Sol up the stairs in the lobby, and into the large elevator at the end.
"Where exactly are we going, Mr. Sol?" Chase asked.
"You'll see." he answered.
He pressed a button on the panel beside the elevator door. It was blank, and at the bottom of the panel.
*Where exactly is he taking us?*
After a while, we reached our floor. I didn't know exactly, but it was underground. We stepped out of the elevator, and a large door greeted us. Sol went ahead and pushed it open.
"Come inside, everybody."
I was astonished of what I saw. It was a large room. The walls are white, while the ceiling and the floor is a shiny light blue. There were the typical Agency scientists there, except they're wearing black coats instead of white. There's a big wall dedicated to Essence Capsules, with dozens of monitors underneath. I see a room on the left side of the room. I couldn't see well through the large glass window, but I think it's empty.
*This is . . . . different.*
Sol was facing away from us, but I can tell he's smiling.
"Yo, Sol. What exactly is this place?" I asked.
Sol looked at us with a huge smile on his face, just as I thought.
"Everybody. Welcome to the Seekers Program."5