Honestly, despite all the trouble that Basa had caused me in these past few weeks, I was at least able to use one of the four mana principles. And I honestly found it to be the most important of them all. With the practicing of my metal, combined with my mana flow, I had gained an all-new perspective on the element. With every touch I could feel the minerals in the earth, it felt like a resounding pulse that spreading out into something more. It felt like a part of me was finally starting to show itself. Between that, I felt on top of the world and ready to take the next step in my legend. It was one day before mana training was complete and I decided it is most beneficial if we all made lessons with our teachers so that we can work on them together.
After my spectacular defeat in Beterano and with my new teammates seemingly needing my assistance, all the more I knew that my latest technique had to be an absolute smash hit! However, because of the behemoth Basa, my progress was significantly impeded. However, mountain high disadvantages only made my light shine brighter and use my notes in secret to learn the mysteries of mana. Did it completely mess up my circadian rhythm? Yes, but it proved it's worth in maintaining my poor endurance and came to a head in my brutal battle with blustering beast Basa. So much so that I in my class, I showed off my new technique right away to the master of mana.
"So Deon what do you have for me today?"
"I'm still working on the name sir, but I came up with something that would work wonders at a distance. Would you mind setting up a moving target for me?"
He complied by hovering a flask in front about 50 feet away while also darting around in a predictable pattern. In response to his challenge, I set up two light decoys, and while they set up multiple shields I charged up a blast of light and fired. It rebounded off the barriers in a breakneck pace completely changing its original angle, so that manages to take a small chunk of the flask with it. Frustration grew within me at my missed failure, but I still managed to open myself to the Drippy's advice.
"You need to work on your aim; also you would need to be wary of enclosed spaces like forests. Your nearly there though I suggest trying to see if you can do this with fewer decoys and make sure your shots count on a fast-moving opponent. But on a side note, what name did you pick?"
'Reflect Ray sir."
"I like it Deon, and when you perfect it, I think that your enemies will love it just as much. Keep your head up and about, and you will do wonders."
And as I walked away all I could hear the parents whispering failure in my ear. But I push them away as I think of what Aphele and Mai said about helping me. But I push that away as well. My drama is unimportant; my light will overshadow any flaw that presents itself. I've been dealing with my burdens all my life, so why should now be any different?
After the whole mess with Basa was dealt with ,she has been proven to be incredibly helpful. All that conditioning paid off as Basa stated that I was strong enough to learn the King Leo grand slash finally. I've been working nonstop on replicating the form, and my mana augmentation/mana flow into my feet. Honestly, it's a little hard focusing on my training. I've always had a singular focus, but I couldn't shake the feeling of needing help from someone. I was always taught that I would need to work harder than those who had the "true" elements. I was never angry at Mai but still had a sense she looked down on me and not in the big sister way. And as evidence with my reunion with Basa, I always hated a debt or a regret unpaid. But even still, I will live to take another breath in making sure that I pay my dues.
Out of all the mana principles reviewed to me, I'd say that mana stealth could have proven the most beneficial for "problem." Suppressing one's mana could prove beneficial to a walking talking time bomb such as I. And trust me I had a lot of practice at suppression for every extra lap that Basa had me do. Seriously I had my fair share of crazy people, but Basa was definitely at the list even if she did have surprisingly little negative activity off her. Anyway, from my battles against Zero and Basa, I fare better as a more trap setter/ support of the team, so naturally, the best thing I could think of was a technique that could captialize on that. So when I went up to my Guru, I already had something in mind.
"So Lunaire what do you have for me today. Judging from your test scores, I expect something particularly creative."
"Oh, trust me, you'll get something."
A dense ball of darkness collected in my hands within seconds, and when I felt as though it was ready, I launched my attack! Instinctively Guru Drippy tried to escape, but at the last second I spread the ball open into a larger size and fully entrapped his upper body. I held my hands in an outstretched grasping position as I explained in a very tensed tone.
"I call it Shadow Prison: a small condensed ball of shadow designed to latch on to anything it comes into contact with the bonus of moving my prey in the direction I wish. I already know of some refinement, but I think that it works well, don't you think?"
"Now that my dear is where we have to disagree."
The prison exploded in a cloud of mist-filled where Drippy had stood. I fell to the ground in mild shock, but I could already figure that a hydro bullet was snuck in a hydro bullet underneath his confines as Drippy explained.
"Great concept but the delivery is slow and direct. Also, my advice would be focusing it on particular body parts to increase effectiveness. Keep in mind most people need gestures to use their elements to the fullest. A small mistake could work wonders."
I store the knowledge in my mental library of info as I headed off proud that I was making it so far with so much against me.
Unlike the others, I had the pleasure of Drippy coming to me first when mana conditioning started. He has shown you are particular interest in both a couple of students there and me. He explained curiously that was blessed with a curse.
"During my demonstration, I was able to sense some other mana signatures that were bigger than everyone else's. And after walking around, I was finally able to track some of you down because I felt as though you've all been blessed with the curse of abnormally high mana. And despite that huge advantage in battle, it leaves you with the unfortunate weakness of control or lack of it. You probably never even noticed it yourself but I have come across it many a time. That's why to circumvent such a struggle I will have each you do an exercise that could help tie into your special technique training."
In hindsight, I understood what he said, thinking back to my old days as a merciless bully. So I was already more than ready to take the training though I didn't expect it to be so haaaaarrrrrd! When it comes to my element, it's always been as effortless as breathing essentially so my test was a little uncomfortable. For it was all to combine both water and wind simultaneously to increase the power of both. But that was a bit like writing with your left while playing the piano with the other. Water was slow yet fast to change, but the wind was fast and almost abstract in its shapelessness. So my progress has been dodgy, and so I've kind of been banking that synchro training would help in my quest. Here's for hoping.
With many classes over another assembly for Synchro training was about to begin. I went through the motions of making my way there while the events of yesterday still on my mind. Instead of showing my overall progress, I instead was forced to speak of my problem in detail, but Drippy left me with a bit of confusing advice.
"As much as your progress is important, I think what fits best for you would be to stick with what you have. After all, you are a specialist. And I can't give you ever answer."
I don't know if it was my impatience or stress, but I found it a bunch of bullshit. And having synchro training didn't help either, but I relented in letting most of my attention overtake it just in time for Drippy to explain what the next step was.
"To all of you who paid attention to mana training this next step will be far easier. For today we engage in a phenomenon that has mystified even me for years. The ultimate union of elements: the synchro technique. By pooling their mana in resonance, the power of multiple individuals combines to create something far more powerful they could never do alone. Now in the olden days, it took 6 and a half months to develop a connection to the "Synchro Plane" however more experienced specialists like us were able to connect within spending ...lots of time together. Fortunately for you, the elementals have provided us with a refined version of the substance known as crystila, which will help you in your spiritual awakening with the synchro plane along with various activities. But be warned that this is a very arduous process. Enough, however, with the words time for bonding."
We secured our crystila and made our way far from the others. I did what it said on the card and cracked a piece on the ground hard, and we all engaged in a meditative stance. I didn't expect for them to be so powerful as soon enough we were all incapacitated from a purple haze. Next time I open my eyes, I saw a vast expanse. It was a neverending galaxy filled with so many stars I couldn't even fathom. However, I eventually focus on my teammates, all standing as bewildered as I. Even weirder was that surrounding our bodies was auras. I saw my body covered red flames combined with metallic liquid. I realized quickly that our auras were our elements.
"So, um does anyone know what we're supposed to do for here," Mai said.
"Well Drippy and Basa for their synchro technique we could feel their mana resonate. So I think that maybe here in the synchro plane with our bodies like this we could touch," Lunaire said.
In hindsight that did make a lot of sense but I guess in the expanse we were still a little bit wary. All of us except for Brandon that is as he took the bait and held out his hand to Lunaire.
"Well, Ms. scientist let's test that theory," he said with anticipation and a curling white aura."
Lunaire shrugged her shoulders and accepted his offer. White and black aura's intertwined at that moment, but it quickly became twisted into a violent twister that sucks them both in. Mai called out to Brandon and quickly tried to force her way inside. But she got an envelope to, and soon the twister turned into a chaotic abstract string of various states mixed in with Mai's aura. The storm of forms finally concluded into a void that explodes with a violence I had never seen! The next thing I can conceive was my very soul itself feeling a shock that turns my body cold. Like a virus, my mind fills with dark thoughts. But weirdly enough they quieted quickly. However, for Lunaire, Brandon, and Mai, it was a far different story.
"Get away from me you nut job! I knew you were bad news from day one! Why did I even come here," said Lunaire fear struck with shadows leaking off her body.
"I trained my ass off to get here! I train and train, and it never seems to be enough," Brandon said.
"Why should I be feeling sorry for her. I have the power I should use in whatever the heck way I want, Mai said."
They all stayed around in this state of madness until a few minutes later, they come back to their senses as if nothing happened. After a couple more minutes, we were all shaken to the absolute core as Lunaire instead looked at her archive. She then explained what the hell went on. The crystila was a refined version. Not as dangerous as it's an unrefined state that was often used as a drug and poison of the soul but a version that was still much stronger than the one used in recreational use. And then it all magically clicked. For now, we were not only being tested on simply our mana synchronicity but our knowledge on one another. And we failed miserably.
Every attempt proved to be disastrous as we were all left with an overcoming madness that shook our very souls. Not even the team exercises were helping in the slightest. It got so bad that after a couple of days that we just gave up. We all sat in a stew of our loathing as we realized that looking at the past we weren't a team. We were, only at our best with an enemy to fight. Nothing more nothing else, even in a time of peace, all we did was retreat with our challenges. So the shocking question we must ask here at this moment. Are we team because of us, or forced circumstance?
After the three longest days of my life, I always thought about this problem over and over as I tried mastering my element again to little avail. And as I was passing by with my sheathed sword to go to bed, I saw Mai also training. Her arms were both extended away from her like water and wind combined in a seeming large shield in front of her, but it quickly dissipated just as fast as it started up. However, I could see from her expression(and dancing) that she had made a breakthrough. I decided to walk over to her.
"Thank you! You have no idea about how much that took me to pull off. I need to do some work, and I should be done. How about you? Have you figure your thing out yet?"
Her body language convinced me to tell the truth.
"No, Drippy's advice keeps on flooding my mind, but after what happened I haven't formed anything at all. I keep thinking about the advice of Drippy and Zero, but so far it seems that my weakness hasn't provided any strength."
"Hey, I get what you mean. It was hard for me to make my tempest shield as well. I thought about what I was doing again and again, and I even lost sleep over it, but then I calmed down and looked at the situation and came with a simple workaround. I was supposed to combine both of my elements, but I just realized why couldn't I layer my elements together really fast instead? And voila! Just goes to show you that sometimes a complex problem can have a simple solution."
And I swear in that instance Terra whispered in both our ears because at the same time we both stated.
"I have an idea!"
And just like that a couple of hours later we were all sandwiched in my small room.
"Why are we here," said Lunaire.
"We're going to fix our synchronicity by learning about each other," I said.
A shiver crosse Lunaire's face before immediately saying.
She was about to leave when Mai stopped her and stated.
"Lunaire, do you know Brandon birthday? Do you know what his martial art is? Do you know what Deon was going during the battle of Beterano?"
"No, but what's your-"
"My point Mai is that we need to be more than a team. More than allies, we need to be friends. We have to get to know each other, because it's just like Drippy said, our greatest weakness means that we can count on others to make our greatest strength."
Lunaire was about to fact but surrendered and soul we got to work.
It was a long process, but every night we would meet up in each other's room and discuss ourselves. Our little fears, find memories, favorite foods. It was seemingly mindless trivia, but I felt closer with each new fact on who I was going to fight beside. And when we were ready, we entered into the synchro plane. Once again, we transferred into the seemingly endless dream as I quickly found my friends. We all stood in mild caution, but I raised my hand saying.
"Look we aren't going to do this without all of us together. I understand why you're scared, but we have to leap of faith. Whether we fall together or not at least, we will move forward together."
We all put our hands together, and as our elements surged along into an unfathomable storm, I braved to feel the shaking of my soul, but that feeling never came. As the storm grows, so did our foundation as soon our element combined and swirled into something new. Our souls seemingly hummed in a shaky resonance until the ball fully came into focused and finalized into a golden ball of light. And as it finally formed, I realized that for the briefest of seconds, I felt something more primal and raw than any element. Something so universal that in essence, it felt as though we all were tethered to it. As if somehow we had tapped into a true element and before I could even comprehend our accomplishment, the synchro plane shook away. But unlike before we didn't leave in madness, but with a connection as even without the essence of the plane, the connection still was there.
With a hard-earned breakthrough achieved we planned for what tomorrow held as we knew that a lot of work was needed if we were to move to the next step. But unlike the others, I knew that if I needed to do that I still needed one problem taken care of first. When I walked in my room, I called out to the metal sword in my room and all the minerals inside. And in a simple raw gesture, the sword flew to me and morphed around me like a liquid and in seconds I grasped my metal-clad arm knowing that my first step had now indeed been achieved on my path to master metal. I know that my next will be with friends that fight by my side. So come on Terra, hit me with your best shot!
Have you ever had to do something that you don't want to do to get something done? I don't know about you, but that has always been an unfamiliar emotion for me. But hey a job is a job. Besides my superiors say that for this particular target I may have been the man for the job but I was still going to have to play dirty to win. And as I looked at my dozens of potential advantages from my binoculars, I sensed a call from my superiors. Silently I pulled out my archive and answered it.
"So Eridani have you accepted the mission? Because I'm telling you for the last time that there is too much riding on his for your honor to get in the way. "
"You know I still don't like this boss but-"
"But," the boss said in a commanding tone.
"I'll do it. I'll assassinate Guru Drippy, and I'll make sure no one stops me."
"Glad to hear Eridani don't make me regret choosing you ."
The call shut off and with it any hope of turning back as I steeled myself for what to come. And the terrible thing I'm about to do.