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The hood of my sweatshirt was bunched up between the back of the chair and my neck. As I reached back to straighten it out, the door to the classroom opened. A girl walked through who looked slightly familiar. I was puzzling out how I knew her when a slightly taller girl walked through the door after her. The first girl walked to an empty seat and sat down, while the other girl talked to Mr. Newsome at the front of the class. Everyone in the room stopped talking and stared at her.
I checked her out while she was talking to the teacher, noticing her hair first. It was a cool dark blonde, but with really dark brown streaks running through it. Mr. Newsome cleared his throat, “Class, we have a new student. Avery, why don’t you introduce yourself to the class.”
Avery. The name gave me a jolt. As she spoke briefly to the class, the room stilled. Everyone started moving in slow motion except myself, Avery, Summer, and that other girl that walked into the class with Avery. In the next instant I was surrounded by a soft glow of light. I noticed that it was really warm, generating heat, but I didn’t feel my temperature rise noticeably. I locked eyes with Avery, noticing her raised eyebrows and surprised look. I nodded at her, which seemed to break the moment, because the light diminished, and everyone started to move again.
This had to be her, I thought. My mind was racing with instructions and possibilities. I kept watching her as she took her seat. I noticed Summer getting up from her assigned seat across the room and switching with another girl. She, Avery, and the other girl spoke softly and nodded at each other.
How was I going to work my approach? Avery gave me a quick glance through that cool hair, and our eyes caught again. She held my gaze for a minute then looked back up at the teacher. I reached up to the barbell in my eyebrow and gave it a tug. When my finger hit the barbell, I sent a small jolt of electricity through it. I stretched out my fingers and popped my knuckles, letting the air roll between my fingers like I was moving a pencil. I shrugged off the current and tilted my head forward to listen to Mr. Newsome’s lecture. I could take some cues from Romeo and Juliet, I thought. My eyes swept Avery’s body, noticing her lithe curves and delicate features. She is cute, I thought.
After class, I met up with Ben in the hallway. We bumped fists and walked towards our lockers. He and I had gotten pretty close, being on the same soccer team. Ben was an amazing goalie, with an incredible reach.
“Dude, that physical was lame. I got a little closer to Nurse Ratchet than I wanted,” he gave a small shiver. He leaned up against the locker next to mine and watched me open the lock. I touched the dial and it started spinning to the right on its own. The wind moved the hair on my head and a piece fell forward. I quickly brushed it back.
“You passed, though, right?” We had a big game coming up next week and we needed our star goalie.
“Absolutely!” Ben ran a hand through his sun-streaked hair, leaving it sticking straight up. “I wouldn’t mess up our chances against Oxnard, don’t worry!” He glanced lazily around the hallway. His attention caught by a girl walking down the hall, her hips swaying gently. A tail peeked out from under her jacket and twitched. Looking back at me he asked, “Did Newsome give us a load of homework?” He looked slightly worried.
“Nah, but you did miss the new girl,” I said, putting my books in the locker and slamming it shut. I put my hands in the pocket of my hoodie and we started moving down the hall.
“Cool! Is she hot?” Ben looked around like he was trying to spot her.
“What do you care? You’ve been hooked on Summer since that party on the beach in August!” I bumped him against the wall with my shoulder, and when he bounced back continued, “She’s alright. The interesting thing about her was this thing she did with the room when she entered.” I told him about the light spotlighting the four of us and how everyone seemed to be in super-slow motion.
“Dude, that’s awesome! Man, I wish I hadn’t had to deal with Nurse Ratchet.” He shuddered again. “You’ll have to point her out to me at lunch.”
“It shouldn’t be too hard, Summer moved her seat close to her, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they were buds already.” Ben and I approached my next class. “Let’s meet up after next period and we’ll scope them out.”
“Do you think she’s like us?” Ben raised his eyebrows and wiggled them slightly.
I shrugged. “I don’t think she’d be going to school here, if she wasn’t, but I guess we’ll find out.”
“Cool.” With a hop in his step, Ben moved off down the hall towards his class, joining up with some of the other guys from our soccer team as they opened a door down the hallway.
I took my phone out and sent a quick note to my dad as I entered the classroom.
3 Years Ago
Right before my 13th birthday, my father came into my room and sat down. I had been doing some homework, but at the serious look on my dad’s face, I sat up and put my pencil down, straightening up in my seat.
“Son, I have some things I need to go over with you.” He looked at me intently so I nodded my head gravely.
My father and I had gone away to the mountains together for some additional element training. My father was an elder on the Elemental Committee. As an elder, he and the committee were responsible for making decisions for all Elemental families in our city. My father was not the head of the committee because he was only able to control two elements, Earth and Air. However, holding two powerful elements is rare, so that has given our family a level of prestige that we wouldn’t have otherwise had. We live in a nice house and have a lot of land for training. My father didn’t always have time for getaways, so I had been surprised and pleased when he said he wanted to take a weekend trip together. Of course, I couldn’t leave my schoolwork behind, so I was trying to catch up on homework before my training this afternoon.
“Son, before your mother died, I made a promise to her.” I kept my face relaxed, but inside I jolted from excitement. My father never spoke about my mother. She died when I was small, and any reminder of her could set him off on a really bad mood.
“She wanted you to have a normal childhood, for as long as possible. I’m afraid that with your 13th birthday next week, that time has come to an end. I need to explain to you the journey that we are about to take. The mission that we have been given.”
I raised my eyebrows in surprise. Journey? Mission? Since my 12th birthday, when I inherited my powers, I had been on a strict training schedule. Working daily with my other friends at school, switching instructors when I quickly outgrew their strength. I had thought that I would go on learning those powers and then, like my father, eventually work towards being on the committee.
My father looked out my bedroom window. I followed his gaze, noticing the wind gently moving the leaves in the trees. He shook his head slightly, straightened his shoulders and faced me again. My eye was caught by movement in my peripheral vision. The tree branches started to bend in the wind, which had suddenly increased, showing my father’s agitation.
“You know of the prophecy?” I nodded my head. We learned about the prophecy when we were children in school. A female child born of an Elemental and Seer will, on her 16th birthday, gain powers so strong, tipping the power balance between our kind. Her powers would be so strong that she will be able to send the powerful Demon, Avadar, back to hell.
At my nod, my father started pacing the room, his shoes making no sound on the thick carpet. He turned, facing me directly. “Mathis and I have been talking about what to do about his daughter Avery. She and her mother have disappeared from Oklahoma City, and he has lost contact with them. He’s very worried.” My father stopped and ran a hand through his dark hair. “Diana, his wife, was supposed to wait for him to return, but since she’s gone, he’s not sure if the Demonids have caught up with them.”
My father and Mathis had been close since childhood. When Mathis first met his wife, Diana, my father told me that it was he that Mathis confided in. Since the separation of the Elemental and Seer kind, it had been against the law to even walk on the same side of the street as a Seer. Mathis, with my father’s help, met his wife secretly, eventually falling in love. When they decided to face their parents, intent on telling the truth about their relationship, their parents were horrified. Diana’s mother, a great Seer, had a vision many years ago, which foretold of an end to peace between Seers and Elementals. Until that vision, we had lived together in cities, cohabiting and living side by side, friends with each other. Because that vision was so vague, the heads of the two families, Seer and Elemental, made the decision to separate, discouraging their family members to no longer be friendly with each other.
The reaction of their parents was so drastic, that with my father’s help, they made plans to run away together, assuming new names. The prophecy that everyone had kept secret, you see, had possibly begun. Diana was pregnant with their child, and in order to keep them safe, they had to run.
At first, Mathis, Diana, and their child were happy, but their life wasn’t easy. Mathis, having three elemental powers, had been counted on by his family to raise them out of poverty. Diana had inherited only the ability to tell if someone was telling her the truth, which was a small power in an otherwise strong matriarchal line. Their positions in society had been very different. After Avery was born, they were happy for a time, but Mathis’s guilt over not helping his family started to eat away at that happiness. There were also factions within their two races that wanted them caught and tried. Wanted their child to be raised in a controlled setting and watched until she turned sixteen. The fact that they couldn’t settle anywhere didn’t allow them to keep jobs for very long. As soon as they felt hunted, they had to move, and move quickly.
Mathis had secretly kept in touch with my father. He convinced Mathis that if he came back, he could rise up in rank to become very powerful, and in that way, he’d be able to protect Diana and Avery. Maybe someday, he could bring them back home. So, when Avery was six, Mathis and Diana decided that Mathis would return to the Elemental community and work towards that solution so they could all be together again. Unfortunately, when Mathis showed up again without his daughter, the Elemental and Seer Committees refused to advance him, even though he was very powerful. He had to work to gain the Committee’s trust and respect. Years went by, he was now a powerful Committee member, as was my father, and they were still the best of friends.
My father paced towards me, “We will be moving to Dover, California, where Diana’s sister Brenna just moved. If Diana and Avery make contact, the committee has decided that you are to be her Guardian, ensuring that she reaches her 16th birthday.” My father looked at me nervously, rubbing his hands together. “If she is the girl prophesied, we will receive new instructions. Are you ready? This is our family’s chance to prove ourselves. Do you understand how important this opportunity is for us?”
“Yes, sir.” I nodded my head, thrilled to be a part of such an important mission and prove myself to my father. “You can count on me.”