My eyes opened to a dim lit reflection of my own face, a face I didn’t recognize. I could feel a sort of chillness around me, ensnaring my breath and capturing my mind immediately. How long had I been here? Why hadn’t I felt this coldness before? It felt as if I had been sleeping forever. My whole body felt stiff as I shifted in what seemed like a pod. There was a light colored mattress beneath me that was thin and fitted to the ovular shell I was in. The rest of it was black as far as I could tell, except the dome-like structure just in front of me. Tiny lights encircled me yet not emitting enough light for me to see much beyond my nose. Eyes heavy, I pushed my hands across my face and through my hair, both of which felt a bit waxy. Was this what being in a coffin was like? Suddenly a shiver ran down my spine, branching out to the rest of me. In reaction my hands began to rub my arms, which, to my surprise, were bare, as was the rest of my body, or so I thought until my hands trailed to my stomach which felt almost like rubber. When pinched at it soon came to my attention that whatever was on me, was me.
When enough strength was gained to push the glass up in front of me, a warm, humid burst of air rushed to my face and skin. I took in a deep breath, feeling that in the moment, I was somehow more alive than I had been just a few seconds before. Now with the pod open, a lip had appeared nearby in which someone such as myself could exit. But what was below? I peered over the side of the pod to gaze into nothing but pitch black, or maybe it was just my eyes again? I tried to scan the room however it seemed to be just as dark as the floor. This was just wonderful, what genius would make a floor blend into a room? And on top of that, a black room, or purple, no maybe it was brown…
As I moved to sit on the ledge of the pod I let my feet dangle into the darkness below and instantly felt the moisture of the warm air splash into my pores. It was refreshing really, from the coldness I had awoken to. What was this place? Even now I wasn’t too panicked, though it seemed weird to me that I wasn’t. Would most people in my situation be panicked? Either way, it wasn’t time for worries. I stretched my body off of the ledge, gripping the inside of the pod so as to not slip. My expectation had been to find my toes touching some sort of surface and, my expectation was wrong. I pulled myself back into the pod, was there something I was missing? Maybe this was a test, but probably not, I was probably just over-thinking the way I usually did… At least I think that’s what I usually did. Why couldn’t I remember anything from before this?
After awhile of sitting on the edge of the pod, lost in thought, I decided to just do it, to just slip off the lip and see what happened. After closing my eyes, breathing in deep, and a light thrust I was off the pod and falling, not landing. Warm, thick air below me and long hair trailing above me, the only noise being the rush of air around my arms and past my ears. In this moment, once again, no fear, no panic, was I supposed to be feeling these things? All I could sense was peace because any way I looked at the situation, I wasn’t in charge anymore and whatever was to happen would happen.
After what felt like just moments of falling, my legs and were wrapped in about a dozen, ribbon-like tentacles which carefully caught me from below. It seemed as if the tentacles had made a “chair” of sorts before they slowly lowered me through what I now made out as a grey-lit tunnel to a bottom- which was still undistinguishable, if there even was a bottom. Finally my feet lightly met a metal-holed floor in which the tentacles slipped through to continue on below. I was now gazing upon a hallway that didn’t appear to have an ending and along the sides of this hallway were similar tunnels to the one I had just traveled through, yet each lit up with a different color. And each tunnel had a different looking person being transported towards the base by unique methods. Some people were swimming down the tunnel while others came in cocoons and others in flashes of light or clouds of smoke. I had never seen anything so amazing.
I stared for quite some time before stepping from the tunnel into the hall, I watched each person, and the way that they looked, some with feathers and some with scales, some with tails and some with simply strange patterns or textured skin. In a moment I looked myself over. From my thighs to my chest was black with the texture and look of a tire, tread and all, only thinner and softer, and it seemed to be connected to me in a way. The sides of my body were trailed with black patterned tribal tattoos yet only large enough to barely be seen from a straight-on view. The sides of my face had light grey tattoos that came about mid-cheek or to the end of my eyebrows. Long blonde hair fell halfway down my back except for a black section that was carefully pulled from the front portion of my hair to rest behind my ear, which was also tattooed.
I slowly pursued the rest of the people I had just recently been watching, down the hall for what felt like hours. During the walk, each one spoke of their league, class and position within that league, and their division. Those of us who were left puzzled by their words stayed silent. There was a woman next to me who, little did I know, would become one of my closest companions. She was about the same height as me, with fire-red hair that was twisted into a bun and bangs that cut straight along her brows. Her eyes were golden and could distract even the most focused of people. Along her arms were feathers of red, orange, and yellow. And her voice was calm as she spoke:
“You nervous?” She asked with a glance towards me “about what’s going on.”
“What’s going on?” I replied, hoping that she would be less clueless than myself.
“We’re going to be sorted.” She paused for a moment, “well, kind of. More like, picked. Let me start over.” She smiled, I could tell that she was trying to help, yet at the same time I could sense that she felt uneasy around me. “Okay so all of us here combined are the Troop. Within the Troop there are four leagues, those are the “teams” so to speak. In each league there are different classes, those basically just define what “type” you are and therefore determine your position in the league. Based on your class you will have different abilities which will also determine who will want you in their league. That being said, there are a number of divisions in the leagues all with different status linked to them within the Troop. “
I nodded. It made sense, or at least I made it make sense. I still didn’t fully comprehend why we were doing all of it. I was still confused as to why I was in this place and how I got here. The more I heard, the more overwhelmed I seemed to become. I had barely finished processing my own thoughts and questions before she spoke again.
“First off, there is the dignitary, who is in charge of the league. The dignitary picks who they want in their league based on their own goals and motivation. Some of the dignitaries are focused on strength and power and will decimate anyone in their way to strength and power, friend or foe. They are normally very strong but dim-witted and have anger issues and are extremely selfish. This league is called Leoce because of their strength and fierceness. The second league is called Adela, this group is honorable, they are intelligent and pride themselves on their agility and stamina. The Adela are normally loved by everyone, yet love no one but themselves and their league. They are narcissistic- with good reason- and cunning. And the third league is Kiyel, this league is primarily based on self-control, along with this comes mind-control. The members of this particular league are helpful, strong, and honest if they are in control. These members are especially unique because of their ability to evade harmful situations.”
I tried my best to listen and understand what this woman was saying, but the more she spoke, the more confused I became. Suddenly a man from the other side of me spoke:
“Basically it’s a big game, with teams and captains and such. We’re going to go into this big room, do some fun obstacle courses, and then the “captains” will pick their “players” for the real challenges. The goal of the game, be the best in order to be recruited for different branches of the real teams, the ones who are at war in the real world right now. Names’ Blue, the feather-duster over there is Vivienne. And the other divisions below the dignitaries are the flags who are basically the MVP of the league other than the dignitary, the hydra who is the strongest, the chameleon who is most typically always the winner of capture the flag and is very good at negotiating, the assailants or main fighters, and the desperados who are always the first out or dead and are picked for such purposes. What’s your name?”
I looked ahead of me for a long while before answering his question. What if I were picked as a desperado? I was then hoping that I had just gotten lost in a dream and would wake up soon. Things had gone from confusing, to threatening in a matter of moments. After fully getting a grasp on all that I had just heard I responded:
“Nessa, my name is Nessa.” I continued to follow the group into a large arena that was full of different courses. I looked at all of them before turning to Vivienne “how do you two know all of this information?” And with a humored smile she replied:
“Blue is a hydra, I’m an assailant. We’ve been here for years.”
Copyright BarricadedBree/Confessions Of A College Nerd