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The Elementals



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Gender: Genderfluid
Points: 5175
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Tue Jun 01, 2021 4:51 am
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winterwolf0100 says...



The Elementals


The year is 2021. Fifty years ago, the first child with an elemental power was discovered near the African West Coast after being caught in a storm on their boat. They were the only one to survive, and somehow, their encounter led to the development of water powers— scientists called it the world's most mysterious phenomenon. Except now, the child is not alone. Approximately 1/3rd of the world's population has developed elemental powers and are Elementals. Most children born as Elementals are in third-world countries because of population growth. Many go rogue and create natural disasters that devastate populations and the environment. As global warming continues to increase though, rogue Elementals may be the least concerning problem, because tropical storms, earthquakes, sinkholes, and volcanic eruptions have all been increasing exponentially as Elementals continue to increase: and that's where you come in.

The United States has created a new branch of military, the Elemental Forces, and has been sending troops all over the world in an attempt to combat the increasing natural disasters from both climate change and rogue Elementals. The selection process of recruits is tight, and unlike some other branches of the military, they will not accept most applicants— if you want in, you have to earn it through tests of physical, mental, and elemental power and strength. For whatever reason, your character has enrolled in the Elemental Forces training camp, and with six months of training ahead of them, it's going to be the trial of their life.

Be warned: this is not a journey for the weak of mind or faint of heart. And even with six months of training ahead of them, the call to duty may come sooner than expected.

(Note: In celebration of PRIDE month, all characters must be queer. More will be explained below!)


Elements and their Paths:


Spoiler! :
Elemental powers are extremely limited across all categories and variations. Because of this, most Elemental Forces teams are divided with at least one or two members of each element. Working together is crucial for most things to be accomplished. A Temperature Elemental, Water Elemental, Air Elemental, and Electricity Elemental are all needed to create even the smallest storm, and there would need to be multiple of each to create something large. Keep this in mind as you are determining not only the element of your character, but the skills they have chosen to specialize in as well. Depending on the element, only one to two skills is usually recommended. Keep time for training in mind while you're selecting this!

All children who develop Elemental powers have access to all their elements have to offer, but they cannot control them. Depending on the element and path, it can take years to master a certain path, and most hone their skills for a certain path they have in mind as they grow older. Professional training is always recommended, and if someone trains outside of professional training, then it will likely take longer than the years listed below. As young children, Elementals can have problems with accidental usages of their powers, but in most cases, they are not strong displays of power, only small and usually harmless.

Earth: Earth Elementals can shift the sand, soil, rocks, and metal. Most Earth Elementals only stick to mastering one of those categories however because of how vastly the training for each differs.
  • Sand: Earth Elementals who focus on sand can manipulate it through space to a certain degree, as well as create and manipulate glass. This can be used as a weapon or as a mastery of a job. Many who dedicate themselves to sand become glassblowers and go on to create beautiful creations. Moving sand takes one to two years of constant study to master, and the creation and manipulation of glass is an additional year, with complete mastery taking more time. It is the second-easiest path for Earth Elementals to follow.
  • Soil: Earth Elementals who focus on soil can manipulate dirt and mud through space to a certain degree. Most who follow this path have a strong affiliation towards plants and can use this power to help find nutrient-rich areas as well as use the soil to identify the types of plants and whether or not they are edible. Moving soil takes one to two years of study to master, and the plant connection is built through research of plants, roots, poisonous varieties, and general knowledge built up by the person. Depending on how dedicated they are, this can be mastered before or at the same time as the manipulation of soil. Soil is the easiest path for Earth Elementals to follow, and the most common.
  • Rock: Earth Elementals who focus on rock can manipulate rocks and minerals through space to a certain degree, as well as create and manipulate crystals and specific forms of rocks. This can be used as a weapon or a business, and many who dedicate themselves to rocks sell jewels, gems, and crystals for a living. Moving rock takes one to two years of study to master, and the creation and manipulation of crystals and gems takes an additional two to three years of study and practice due to the complex manner of the process. Instead of creating crystals, many who follow the rock path choose to use their power to find pre-existing crystals and mine them from the Earth. Rock is the second-longest path for Earth Elementals to follow, and is the second-hardest to master completely.
  • Metal: Earth Elementals who focus on metal can manipulate metal through space to a certain degree, as well as shape metal. Most Earth Elementals who go into this field have an interest in the creation of weapons, metal designs such as jewelry, or engineering. Moving metal takes one to two years to master, and the shaping and manipulating of metal takes an additional three to four years. The precision of moving melted metal makes it not only a rare and difficult skill to master, but most Metal Earth Elementals need some sort of Fire Elemental to run their business with. Metal is the longest and hardest for Earth Elements to follow and master completely.

Air: Air Elementals can control existing winds, create new winds, learn to ride on air wave currents, or control sound waves. Most Air Elementals learn to control existing winds before adding onto this with an additional skill, and often stack skills on top of each other.
  • Existing Winds: Nicknamed Existence Elementals, the Air Elementals who choose to focus on existing winds can change the paths of current air currents and redirect them. Existing winds are the easiest of the air paths to control, and most Air Elementals can begin to master this on their own outside of study or supervision. Under professional training, existing wind control takes between one to two years, but most Air Elementals master these skills while growing up. This is the easiest path for Air Elementals to take, and most take this path before building upon it with other skills.
  • New Winds: Nicknamed New Elementals, the Air Elementals who chooes to focus on creating new winds can create new air currents and use these to boost or decrease current air currents. Most Air Elementals who choose this path go into travel careers, such as becoming pilots or sailors because this builds upon their Existing Winds skills and allows for quick and fast travel. New Winds often take professional training and can last between one to two years. This is the second easiest path for Air Elementals to take, and the most common addition to skills in Existing Winds.
  • Riding Air Waves: Nicknamed Travel Elementals, the Air Elementals who choose to focus on riding air waves learn to control preexisting winds in a way that can evenly carry a person or object. This can be extremely difficult to master without learning New Winds first, and as such, it is usually something that Air Elementals don't begin to consider until their late twenties or thirties. This is used most often in transportation fields, and many Air Elementals find it a cheaper way to travel than the traditional methods. It's highly discouraged in public places however, and many other people secretly look on it with disdain. However, in tactical missions, it can be extremely useful. Training takes between two to three years, with experience continuing to build it as a skill. It is entirely dependent on the amount of time spent practicing it, much like learning to ride a bike or skateboard. This is the second hardest path for Air Elementals to take, and is usually only considered if the Air Elemental has already mastered both Existing and New winds.
  • Sound Waves: Sound Elementals are extremely rare because of how difficult it is to master. This is not a skill that will grow with practice; it takes a certain amount of talent already possessed. Sound Waves can be used to interfere with radio transmissions, to block out the sound of voices on an undercover mission, or, potentially, as a weapon. Air Elementals only pursue Sound Waves if they are hoping to go into the Elemental Forces. Sound Elementals rarely learn to control New Winds or Riding Air Waves, which means they use already existing winds to manipulate noise around them. Sound Waves can take anywhere from six months to five years to master, depending entirely on a person's connection to sound and sound waves. A basic understanding of the science behind sound waves helps tremendously when pursuing this path. It is by far the hardest of the Air Elemental paths.

Fire: Fire Elementals can control existing flames, create new flames from the Sun's heat, or control magma/lava. Fire Elementals all learn to control existing flames. Few Fire Elementals have the skills to even begin to pursue a path of creating new flames, and practically nobody chooses the path of magma and lava because of how useless it is— in most situations.
  • Existing flames: Existence Elementals of the Fire variety can control existing flames by moving the directions of the flames, stopping the flames, or moving the flames through air. This is the easiest path for a Fire Elemental to learn, and the only path most are able to achieve. It is VERY rare for a Fire Elemental to be powerful enough to pursue another path besides this one. Most Fire Elementals are not powerful enough for big moves— they can move a candle's light or a campfire, but they could not stop a forest fire on their own. However, in big groups of Fire Elementals, they can help slow or prevent forest fires, which is firefighter is a very common career path for Existence Elementals. On the flip side of this, many Existence Elementals struggle with issues of pyromania. Controlling Existing Flames can take two to three years of professional training. Any home training usually ends in disaster because fire is unpredictable and when a Fire Elemental panics, the fire will draw on emotions.
  • Create New Flames: Creation Elementals are rare, and are able to use the heat of the sun to create or expand currently existing fires. Most Creation Elementals have to work with a Temperature Elemental to use the heat of the sun which is partially why they are so rare. Fire is also one of the hardest elements to master because of how unpredictable it can be, and as such, extra paths are rarely pursued. Creating New Flames can take three to four years to completely master. A few months into training, Creation Elementals in training can usually produce small flickers of flame with the help of a Temperature Elemental. If a Creation Elemental has been training for several decades, it could become possible for them to translate the heat of the sun on their own. It is the hardest path to pursue.
  • Controlling Magma/lava: Magma Elementals are extremely rare. In order to be a Magma Elemental, three to four years of professional training in the area of readily available lava and magma is needed. This is way too dangerous for most people, and the practice of pursuing the Magma Elemental path is banned in most first world countries, including the United States. This is tied with Creation Elementals for being the hardest path to pursue.

Water: Water Elementals can control existing bodies of water, draw water from the atmosphere, start rain from pre-existing clouds, and identify any objects within water based on the water surrounding them. Water Elementals can start on any of the four paths, and generally only master two at most.
  • Existing bodies: Existence Elementals of the water variety can manipulate bodies of water through space. They cannot add to or subtract the amount of water. Hypothetically, if any liquid has water in it, then an Existence Elemental could control it, but it would take a lot more concentration and power than the average Existence Elemental. This path takes one or two years of professional training to master, but many Water Elementals begin the process on their own while growing up. It is the easiest path for a Water Elemental to take.
  • Draw water from the atmosphere: Withdrawing Elementals can pull whatever water is in the atmosphere to them. In order to use this skill, they MUST have already mastered the Existence path, otherwise, they cannot control the water they draw to them. No Water Elemental can create water, and if the air around them is dry, then Withdrawing Elementals can do nothing. Usually on missions, Withdrawing Elementals are paired with Air Elementals, who can either create winds with water droplets or bring winds with water droplets towards them. In real life, Withdrawing Elementals are highly sought after on the black market in third world countries as access to safe water. Many Water Elementals are kidnapped as children and put in human trafficking for their abilities, and because of this, Water Elementals are slightly more rare than other Elementals. Withdrawing Elementals usually take two to three years to master.
  • Rain: Rain Elementals can start rain, but only if clouds are already existing in the area. Again, they are often near Air Elementals, and many Air and Water Elementals are best friends as a result of the cohesiveness of their powers. Pulling the water to them is much like pulling water out of the atmosphere, but is usually easier. Rain Elementals only take six months to a year of training, and with practice, they can reduce the time even more. It is the easiest path to follow, along with controlling existing bodies of water.
  • Identify objects within water: This path is rarely chosen, and usually only used by fishermen or people interested in Navy or water-based jobs. Within a certain distance, an Identifying Elemental can feel the shape of the water and based on this, determine what objects lie in the water. This is mostly used for things like fish, or finding lost objects. This path can be hard to find a good teacher for, and can take one to two years of constant practice. It helps extremely if the person knows what they're looking for in the water. It is the hardest of the Water paths to master.

Electricity: Electrical Elementals can control and amplify pre-existing currents. Electical Elementals are the rarest Elementals and as such, nobody has had much of a chance to explore the different paths and uses of the element. Only five hundred have been documented in the fifty years since the surgence of Elemental powers, and most were believed to be rumors. Any Electrical Elementals would not be able to apply to the Elemental Forces without being in hiding because of how rare and valuable they might be seen as.
  • Control and Amplification: Simply referred to as Electrical Elementals because there are no other paths, these individuals can control an electrical current and occasionally amplify them. They can also redirect or stop them. This includes electrical devices and lightning. Electrical Elementals, due to rarity, must train themselves, and as such, it can take as long as four to five years to truly get a handle on their powers.

Temperature: Temperature Elementals have the ability to vary the temperatures of an environment or object. Temperature Elementation is a very precise art and is the second rarest Elemental to Electrical Elementals. They are not rare enough to not have been spotted, but most Temperature Elementals do not make it public or known, and they rarely apply for the Elemental Forces.
  • Variation: Temperature Elementals can cool or heat an environment or an object. This is most often used for the comfort of the user, to keep groceries cold while in the car, or small uses such as cooking food quickly. It is not often used as any sort of practical skill or as a weapon, though it could be used this way. This path usually takes up to a year to perfect, but it's more about experimentation than skill when it comes to Temperature Elementals.

Light/Dark: Light Elementals can control the amount of light an environment receives, can create light, and can manipulate light physically. Light Elementals usually master all three skills eventually, but the order is up to the individual. People who aren't Light Elementals often don't understand the differences between the different paths, and as such, they are just referred to as Light Elementals.
  • Amount of light: Light Elementals who follow this path can make an environment lighter or darker. All three paths are used heavily with each other, and each is needed for the other two, so on its own, this path won't do much. This path takes between six months to one year of training. All Light paths are equal in difficulty, and they are usually all mastered at the same time.
  • Creation of light: Light Elementals who follow this path can create rays of light in a certain environment or in a certain place, even if there is no pre-existing light. This path generally takes between six months to one year of training, and is often mastered at the same time as the other two skills.
  • Manipulation of light: Light Elementals who follow this path can manipulate rays of light to shine in a certain direction and not shine in others. Especially skilled Light Elementals can use this in such a way that they become nearly invisible. While training usually takes between six months to one year of training done at the same time as the other two, mastering becoming nearly invisible takes years of extra practice and precision training.


Rules and Structure:


Spoiler! :
Rules:

—Please follow all the usual storybook rules!

—Certain language is allowed. Attempt to keep it pg-13 if you can, and if you really feel your character needs to drop the f-bomb, run it by me first and we can discuss whether or not that is really what will deliver the most punch for your character. (HINT: I am most reachable through discord!)

—Good grammar and no backwards writing, please. Always run your posts through Grammarly! A post is much more enjoyable to read if the grammar is correct. : )

—Remember to like posts if you've read them! It lets the author know you've read it and appreciate it, and as an extension, them.

—Collaboration is preferred and encouraged; use the group discord or the DT if you are interested!

—Romance: Obviously every main character within this storybook will be LGBTQIA+: that said, romance will be allowed, but don't let it control the story, and no sex scenes! Kissing and hands in hair is okay— but if you need to describe genitalia, you've gone too far.

—No God-modding. If you're using someone else's character, run it by them first— including lines-- to get opinions. Again, collaboration is preferred. Do not make any decisions regarding a character's past without consulting the creator, and do not include anything that could seriously affect the character's future unless you talk with them (example: a long term injury, starting a relationship, etc.) And absolutely NO killing other people's characters!

—All NON-STORYBOOK posts go in the discord group chat or the DT.

—No posting without permission. Just run it by me first, please. There will likely be a posting order after the first round of introduction posts, so stick to it.

—Each post should be a minimum of 800 words. Don't look at this as the finish line. Look at it as the end of the first lap. You are more than welcome to write past that, and are encouraged to do so. This may mean it takes you multiple days ot even a few weeks to get a post out-- and that is absolutely fine.

—Each author should only have 1 or 2 characters, excluding NPCs. If you decide to kill off your character, then you are allowed to create another one to introduce them to the story, but you will need to talk with the entire group of authors first so we can figure out how best to insert and include this new character into the group.

—Gore and violence is allowed in moderate amounts. If it could be classified as horror, don't include it. I get squeamish easily, but if I can't bear to read the whole thing easily, it's too much.

—I already mentioned this, but in honor of PRIDE month, ALL characters must be queer! This can mean they are gay, bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, polysexual, asexual, or any variation romantic-wise, as well as trans or nonbinary! (This includes everything that falls under the nonbinary and trans labels!) Characters who are bi/pan and cisgender can be in relationships with the opposite gender, but it needs to be obvious to the readers that they are in fact bi or pan and not just a straight cisgender person. Your character does not need to be gay and trans, though if you are interested in that path for them, you are more than welcome to!

Structure-wise:

This is a personal preference of mine, but since I will be running the storybook, it's going to extend to everyone. This storybook will be a slower, more thought-out storybook. Focus on quality of posts rather than how quick you can put them out. Authors should collaborate heavily with each other— if you want to include another character in a post, try to find a time where both of you can write on a WFP together or a Google Docs!

There will likely be a posting order created, and once it's created, even if it takes someone a few weeks to get a post out, we're going to wait for them unless they choose to be skipped for a while. Please don't pressure others to write! Gentle reminders are okay, but nothing mean or impatient!

Again, I won't force anyone to collaborate, but I strongly encourage it! This means not just for the posting process but the character development process as well! Figure out your character's arc in relation to another person's! Work together! Storybooking is fun because you get to work with other writers on a story you're all interested in!


Character Sheet:

Code: Select all
[b]Name:[/b]
[b]Age:[/b] Earliest age to apply to Elemental Forces is 18, oldest is 40.
[b]Sexuality/up for love:[/b] Remember: Your character must be queer! This means through their sexuality or their gender!
[b]Element:[/b] Keep rarity in mind.
[b][i] - Specialization(s):[/i][/b] Keep rarity and length of time for training in mind.
[b]Gender:[/b] Remember: Your character must be queer! This means through their sexuality or their gender!


[b]Appearance:[/b]

[b]Personality:[/b]
[b][i] - Strengths:[/i][/b]
[b][i] - Weaknesses:[/i][/b]


[b]History:[/b]  What country are they originally from? What was their childhood like? How easily could they master their element and path?

[b]Why are they hoping to join the Elemental Forces?:[/b]

[b]Other:[/b] Is there anything else we should know about your character?


Current Cast:


1. Earth Elemental-- Winter (me)
2. Electrical Elemental-- HarryHardy
3. Fire Elemental-- Yoshikrab
4. Air Elemental-- Spearmint
5. Water Elemental-- PixieStix
6. Temperature Elemental-- PixieStix
7. Light Elemental-- Vincian

(More spots can be added if all are filled, and if you'd prefer an element that has already been claimed, you can talk with me and we'll see if it works! I'd prefer a diverse cast, but for common elements like Earth, Air, and Water, we can likely have more than one!)
he/she/they


winter you are an adorable bean and I love your bad social awareness xD ~Omni
omni played robin hood, stole winter's brain cell ~Silver
winter is the only person who would survive the machine uprising ~Europa




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33 Reviews


Gender: Genderfluid
Points: 5175
Reviews: 33
Fri Jun 18, 2021 9:08 pm
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winterwolf0100 says...



Benvolio Hill

🜃 Earth 🜃


When I was three years old, my father took me into his workshop for the first time. I don't remember it of course, but my father told me that I watched, wide-eyed, as he blew glass for the first time in front of me. The awe and amazement, like watching a performer on the stage or a magician with their card tricks. He told me I tried to touch it, reached out my small, chubby hand, and nearly fell off the work table he'd set me on. He said when I was younger and couldn't stop crying, he'd take me there, watch my face calm and melt like the glass into a fanciful expression as the glass took on fantastical shapes in front of my eyes.

Of course, we both know it was really because he couldn't afford a sitter– but still, a sweet story to exchange on a first date. That feeling though, eyes full as round marbles, staring and babbling at the glass– I remember that feeling. It has stayed with me, filling my heart with a warmth nothing else can contain. Hours after school spent in the sweaty heat of my father's workshop fetching tools and watching as he manipulated and wound the glass around rods and in his gloved hands to create the beautiful shapes. It was like watching a dragon let out a breath of steam, complete concentration as he blew it in different directions, moved and shifted it until it cooled in the window or vase it was required to be. Of course it was his job, so he had to follow the customers' orders, but still– for the few moments it remained in the air, coiling and twisting as if it had a mind of its own, the glass looked free. It felt free.

I began to apprentice my father when I turned ten and he had deemed me old enough to help in part with the actual glass, not just the tools. I mainly guided the torches, held them at the angles needed so they could melt the glass in the ways my father directed. My first encounter with my elemental power was also when I was ten. There had been signs beforehand of course, but when I began to sink into quicksand and became so panicked that the earth pushed me back out and shot me into the nearby river, I knew for certain the past incidents– the ground shifting underneath my feet, plants leaning slightly towards me– weren't coincidences. Eighteen years before I was born, they would've been coincidences, but ever since the surfacing of elemental powers, more and more children were being spotted with talents they shouldn't possess. And suddenly, I was one of them, expected to spend my after-school hours training, honing my abilities: not melding glass into colors and shapes, creating stories and histories and characters from the heated compressed sand.

Only I didn't change like people expected me to. Why would I? I was hooked. Marble eyes, gloved hands to keep from the heat. Glass-blowing had a rich history in Murano, the town in Italy I grew up in, and I was determined to learn it all. I studied my element, Earth, of course, but unconventionally compared to how most other Elementals grew up. We were still a new concept, something people were still wrapping their heads around, but eighteen years was a long time for the world to change. Long enough to create schools, conflicts– armies. Only I never wanted anything to do with any of those. Who was I kidding? I'm a shy, quiet, gay Italian man who blows glass for a living and grew up watching my father do the same. I wanted to learn everything about glass, about the sand it came from, the earth that encompassed it– but I wanted nothing to do with a war. I still don't, not really. But then family comes along, doesn't it?

I met Mercury in my third year of studying abroad in America for college. My English was horrible, I spent most of my time away from my roommates and in my workspace, and I never talked to anyone. And somehow, he still managed to stumble into my workshop, nearly getting his eyebrows singed off in the process. His dark brown skin, his tall figure, those thick, long sponge curls that he still keeps his hair in today– I think I nearly fainted when I wiped the sweat from my glasses to see who I'd nearly killed, and then there he was: an angel. That was my first thought. I'd nearly killed an angel. An extroverted, funny, Fire Elemental angel, with a confident smile that seemed a little too constant before I got to know him, but an angel nonetheless.

And then a week later I was on a date with the angel, and a year later I had my green card and was living with him, and then two years later, I was starting a glass-blowing business with the angel in America, and then a year after that I was marrying him, and then a year after that, I was on an adoption list with him. And then everything just... stopped.

I don't think it was just because we're gay– not really. I think it was because a black man had married a half-Italian, half-Egyptian man, and they wanted to raise a baby together. I think it was because people didn't think two people like us could love each other like we did– like we do. The same feeling glass-blowing gives me, that rare warm feeling in my heart, is the same feeling Mercury gives me every day. And maybe it's cheesy because he's a Fire Elemental, but he really does– he sets me on fire. When I'm with him, it feels like anything is possible. When I'm with him, it feels like the world stops.

But that's the problem, isn't it? I'm with him. And so the world did stop. We waited on that list for two years. My 31st and 32nd birthdays passed in quiet family parties and gifts of glass. It didn't help though– Mercury and I both knew the one thing we wanted was too precious, too valuable for even our hands to make. We could not shape a child out of glass and fire, and the world did not want to give us one. Learning to bend glass is hardest for those with the least nimble hands because of how easily it can break, and I had my fair share of cuts and scrapes growing up from accidents, getting too close to the liquid gold and watching it shatter. That's why I've always tried to distance myself from these things, from other people– it's why I avoid conflict, why I let my emotions roll through me until they pass. I don't want my heart to shatter. But the night it truly sunk in, the night Mercury and I both stayed up crying when it finally hit us, that the world wasn't going to give us the one thing we wanted so desperately– I think my heart did break.

I never wanted to be in a war. I never wanted anything to do with the conflicts, the armies. But when the newest ad for the Elemental Forces, the newest branch of the US Military, played on the television, an idea struck. If they wouldn't listen to a glass-blower, they'd have to listen to a soldier. They couldn't deny a soldier trying to adopt, could they? Companies were on the news for smaller scandals than that. So that night, I told Mercury what I wanted to do. We talked about it, we came to the agreement that I'm stronger with my powers, more likely to get accepted. We agreed to shut down our shop temporarily, that he could easily find a job at another place for the time being, that everyone needs a Fire Elemental. We knew that most people got rejected from the Elemental Forces, that the United States was building an elite army of powerful Elementals, that only the strongest even made it to the physical boot camp, that even more would get eliminated there. We knew that my chances of getting in were slim, but after a lot of discussion, we both agreed that even me just applying could be a huge advantage in the adoption process. And then I sent in the application papers, expecting a rejection letter for weeks before I finally got my letter in response and opened it.

I never expected them to say yes.

~~~🜃~~~


They wouldn't let Mercury drive me any farther than the front gates. When I first saw the entrance to the boot camp, my head spun a little. Huge iron gates that spread 35 feet wide at least. stood towering over me, a story tall, thick and imposing. One of the guards on duty walked out of the two-story building on the left side of the gates and approached the car. She wore a dull red camouflage uniform that blended in startlingly well with the Arizona landscape. She didn't have any visible weapons that I could see, but that didn't mean anything when I was about to enter an Elemental training camp. She could likely kill me easily if she needed to.

"State your name and show your I.D.," she said without looking up from the iPad she was carrying. She must be about to look me up on the database.

"Benvolio Hill," I said, though my accent made the 'h' virtually invisible. She raised an eyebrow but didn't look up from her typing.

"Identification, Mr. Hill?" She said, and finally glanced up. I pulled out my green card and held it up for her to see. She took it, studying it before handing it back. "Alright then Mr. Hill, I'm going to need you to step out of the vehicle. Gather your things. No unauthorized vehicles or persons beyond this point."

Mercury frowned from the driver's seat and said, "So I'm not able to go any farther?"

"No sir, you are not permitted access to anything further," she said shortly. I turned to look at him, trying to take in his face before I had to go. The dark brown eyes, his lips... the worried look on his face. Phones weren't allowed in the camp and all calls had to be done through phones that they provided, so this might be the last time we saw each other or talked for a while.

"It'll be okay," I said, which was weird because he's usually the one reassuring me. He gave a small smile.

"Yeah... I'm sure it will. I just..." he paused and shook his head. "You're right, it'll all be okay. And we'll talk again soon." I could see he was starting to get emotional and I'm sure he could see I was too.

"We will," I whispered, then unbuckled and leaned over to hug him. We stayed like that for several seconds, before I pulled back and gave him a soft, short kiss. Just enough to communicate how I was feeling– that I was going to miss him. Then we stared at each other for a few seconds, and I got out of the car and got my things.

The woman with the iPad held it up to my face and took a photo, which I wasn't really sure about the purpose of– to make sure they had a record that I came in? Or in case my I.D. was fake and they needed another way to know for certain I was there?

"Alright then Hill, I'm going to be escorting you to camp. Gather your things and we'll go." I nodded, glancing back one more time at Mercury, before following her.

That was half an hour ago. We're on an open-aired bus now like the vehicles people ride on safaris, making our way down a dirt path that barely differs from the dirt and red dust all around us. The woman, who introduced herself as Private Furgison, is mixed with fairly light skin, her hair pulled in a tight bun. She's currently telling me all about the gates. When we walked through them towards the bus, she told me it took three guards with separate keys just to open it, which seemed secure enough to me, but apparently it isn't, because now she's telling me there's more security surrounding it.

"The inner layer is a foot thick and titanium," she confides. "And around that is a layer of wood, then surrounding that is another layer of iron. With any gates so big and heavy, it would still take multiple Metal Earth Elementals just to open them. But with the layer of wood in the middle, it makes connecting to the inner rod of titanium incredibly difficult for any number of Elementals. With the outer layer of metal, it's hard for them to channel the inner one. And then, even if they had five or six Metal Earth Elementals working them, they'd still have to have multiple Soil Earth Elementals if they wanted to move the wood inside. The gates are impenetrable," she says, a hint of pride in her voice.

I try to nod along and look interested, even though my mind is focusing on a million things more important than the materials the gates are made of. The one thing that's making my heart skip a beat about being here is that it's Arizona. There's sand surrounding us, which means I'm in my element. This is what I'm trained with, and even if I get kicked out of this camp early on, for the time I'm here, I'm going to put forth my best effort.

After another fifteen minutes or so of driving, the vehicle pulls to a stop. No one else is on it except me, Private Furgison, and the man driving it, so it's weird to grab my bags and step off in front of a pristine three-story building that's bustling with people. "Let's get you checked in. They'll explain where to report from there," Private Furgison says, readjusting her hat slightly.

Everyone surrounding me is wearing uniforms, and it makes me question if I should already have one too. I haven't seen a single person without one. Like she read my thoughts, Private Furgison says, "You'll receive your uniform upon check-in." I nod but don't reply aloud as we walk into the building and are immediately hit by the air-conditioning. It's busy and crowded, with people looking over files, people talking to other people, and several people behind desks working. She walks up to one of the desks and says, "New recruit. Benvolio Hill, checking in at–" she holds up her wristwatch– "15:37."

"Alright then," the tanned man behind the desk says, typing in a few things and murmuring, "Benvolio Hill... ah, there you are. Earth Elemental with a specialization in sand. Got your green card six years ago after immigrating from Italy. Is that correct?"

"Yes, sir," I reply, and he nods.

"Alright then, I'll get you a uniform and then give you directions to your living quarters. Orientation for all new recruits will take place tomorrow beginning at 7 o'clock sharp, and skills tests will take place tomorrow afternoon. They'll likely bleed into the next day seeing how big the number of recruits in your group is. Then, training will begin if you are not eliminated at that point. Six months of training before a final set of tests and exams, at which point you will either be accepted as a Private into the Elemental Forces of the United States or you will be rejected. Is that all understood?"

"Yes sir," I repeat, watching him a bit nervously.

"Good. Let me get that uniform." He walks into a back room before coming out with a set of clothes that look like Private Furgison's, dulled red hues in a camouflage pattern. "These are the standard uniforms for all Elemental Forces enrollments and for all Privates. The outside is meant to blend into the landscape of Arizona as I'm sure you could guess, and the inside color represents your element. If ever asked for your elemental power by an officer, you should reply verbally with 'Earth Elemental' and also turn your collar downwards so the green is visible. Because you specialize in sand, your uniform has tan slashes through the green on the inside of the fabric. All elemental powers are color-coded and all verified uniforms will have the color coding on the inside of the uniform; any individual without the color-coding should be reported immediately as a possible intruder. Is that understood?"

It's a lot of information to take in, but I nod anyway. "Yes sir, it's understood." He hands me the uniform.

"Good. You'll be staying in Building 8, the 5th residential building. You'll exit this building and walk to the left along the path until you reach it. It will be clearly marked. When you're there, report in at the main desk and you'll be escorted to your shared quarters. You should change into your uniform upon arrival and unpack your belongings, though keep in mind that you should always keep a tidy space. And I believe that is all the information I have for you. With that, Private Furgison, you're dismissed to go back to your guard duties, and Hill, you are dismissed to go to your residential building. Have a good day."

He sits back down again at his desk and Private Furgison is already heading towards the door. I hold onto my new uniform and grab my bags as I scramble to catch up with her. "Private Furgison?" I ask as she's exiting the door. She stops outside the door to wait for me, and when I catch up, I ask, "what is your elemental power?"

She turns her eyes to me, then says, "I'm an Air Elemental. You are new, but I will tell you that you should not ask anybody who is in a superior rank about their power."

"Oh," I flush. "I'm sorry."

"No need to apologize. But now you know. If you'll excuse me, I have to get back to the gates." She walks to the vehicle that brought us here, which apparently was waiting for her. "I'm sure I'll come across you again, Hill. By then, perhaps it'll be Private Hill." She gives a small smile, and the vehicle turns and drives back the way we came. I watch it until I can't see it anymore, wondering if that's what Mercury did when I passed through those gates. Did he wait in his car until he could delay it no longer, then slowly back up, turn around, and leave? Did he watch me until I slid over the horizon? I hope he did. When I get the chance to call him, I'll ask.

I make my way down the road, which becomes more and more of a road and less and less of a path as I get further into the actual base. On the drive in, we passed lots of training grounds, equipment and buildings and obstacle courses clearly intended for specific elemental powers, or for people of a certain level, but the ground was still dirt that close to the gate. By the time I reach Building 8, I'm walking on concrete instead of compacted dirt and red dust. I pull to a stop in front of the building, taking a deep breath. This is the final step, the last thing to do before all the real things to do begin. And if I do this, then eventually, Mercury and I will be able to have a kid. The thought makes me smile, and my nerves disappear for a short while. I take in a deep breath, then start towards the building.

I'm ready.
he/she/they


winter you are an adorable bean and I love your bad social awareness xD ~Omni
omni played robin hood, stole winter's brain cell ~Silver
winter is the only person who would survive the machine uprising ~Europa




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KateHardy says...



Samalka Jayasinghe


Electricity


The day I learnt about the elementals changed a lot for me. Well, it wasn't exactly that very same day. That day I was just excited to learn that there were people popping up around the world with things that were technically actual superpowers. Of course those powers seemed a lot more limited than what you'd find in a movie or a comic book, but it was still a very magical thing to imagine that there were humans out there that could bend the elements to their will. That day I first became obsessed with trying to figure out whether I was an elemental.

It was the most logical step to take, people with elemental abilities were starting to pop up practically everywhere and from what I'd learned, it'd been going on for a fair few years now and a good third of the population were elementals. A one in three chance seemed like pretty good odds and if it turned out I was actually an elemental, well, that would be ridiculously cool. Everything about that plan worked out great except for the part where it turned out I was in fact an elemental.

Now don't get me wrong, discovering that I was an actual elemental was one of the best days of my life. It was something I'd dreamed of ever since I learnt about them. The catch came from the fact that the elementals weren't equally distributed among the seven currently known paths. If I'd been an Earth elemental or Air elemental, the ones that you heard about everyday, it would hardly be a problem to learn more about my abilities. There were so many ways to learn, so many places that were springing up giving professional training to those who followed those paths. Things would've been perfectly fine if I'd gotten the power I was secretly hoping I had, which had to with the a path of water. That was something that would've led to a lot less complications but no, I had to end up getting dealt the worst hand possible.

Well, I would be exaggerating if I put things that way, it's not like it was one I didn't like. The power I did turn out to have, electricity was really cool in its own right and would've actually been the elemental ability I'd hoped to have if it wasn't for the small detail that it was a very rare ability. Not just rarer than the others, but as far as the sources I could find mentioned, it was the rarest elemental ability and barely five hundred odd people had been found with that ability in the past fifty years and that number was including unconfirmed rumors. All of that meant that, I was not going to be able to find a way to actually get professional training, not to mention the fact that most people weren't even going to actually believe me. The worst part about my realizations that day was that these two facts weren't the worst of it. I also realized that due to the rarity of this power it was probably not a good idea to openly practice it and talk about it. Maybe I was just extra paranoid, but I couldn't shake the feeling that something bad could come off of that.

With that in mind, I made the rather difficult decision that I was going to conceal the fact that I had powers and go about life like I didn't have any. All I had to do was pretend to be very disappointed for a few months and it would all be forgotten by the people around me. It's not like I had to try very hard, I was already feeling quite down at having to hide my powers. In secret however, things were a different story, I was going to try and teach myself to master these powers and maybe once I was actually good at using them, I could consider telling someone about my ability.

It wasn't easy, trying to learn how to use my ability with basically nothing to help me. There was barely anything you could learn about controlling electricity from. Most books that even mentioned electricity elementals were more about speculating on what electricity elementals could do rather than how they do what they do which meant coupled with the fact that I had to hide my training from everyone, I had to also kind of make it up as I went along. For the first couple of years at any rate I managed to pull of this routine but eventually did slip up and get caught while practicing.

I was trying to learn how to control electric current. I knew that it was something I could do. There'd been plenty of weird instances when electrical devices around me would start speeding up more than they were supposed to be. I'd dismissed it as something I just didn't understand when I was younger but now I knew it was actually my powers acting up. So, there I was, trying to make the ceiling fan in my room go faster when my sister walked in on me.

Luckily for me, Niki, after getting the complete truth out of me with several threats to tell my parents, agreed to keep it a secret and with her help I actually managed to practice even more and learn more about my abilities. In fact, it was she who introduced me to the program that I'm about to enter right now. The Elemental Forces, one of the newest branches of the US military. It was a ridiculous plan, joining the military of all places to secretly try and learn more about my powers, but as silly as it sounded, Niki had a point. I had to somehow learn how to reliably use my powers, and while it was probably going to be very dangerous, if any place had to knowledge to help out the rarest type of elemental, this was it. Of course, I couldn't outright say that, that would be too dangerous.

After scheming a bit with Niki, I decided I would apply as a light elemental. It seemed like the easiest thing for me to convincely fake as long as I specifically said I only followed the amount of light path. Using that excuse, with any luck I'd be able to get them to only test me on things like light bulbs and the like which should not be an issue for me to control the brightness of. If I could actually control my powers that is, if I accidentally blew up a light bulb, they'd definitely know it was an electricity amplification gone wrong and nothing to do with light. It was a chance I decided was worth taking, considering the end result could be me actually being able to reliably use my powers. Perhaps I could eventually come clean once I was sure nothing adverse would happen from my powers being revealed or maybe circumstances would force me to do it. I wasn't going to think too hard about that. The longer I'd doubt myself on that front, the more likely I'd never have the courage to go through with signing up.

So before I knew it, the application was sent in and the wait began. After walking around with the feeling that I'd been rejected for weeks, half expecting not just a rejection but also some kind of legal action for lying on the application, I finally received an answer. Somehow, they'd actually accepted. Whether they'd bought the lie I'd come up with or they were just waiting to spring something on me once I got there I didn't know, but what I did know was that I was headed right in to find out.

******


My sister volunteered to drive me there. Luckily for me, my parents had work that day, and working together, my sister and I managed to convince them that they didn't have to take a day off just to drop me off. Making sure my brother didn't invite himself along for the ride was the next obstacle, but that turned out to be surprisingly easy to deal with. We just told him that besides me, only one person was allowed to be there to escort me to the gates of the camp I was going to and he actually believed that. So that was how I found myself trying not to completely freak out as I paced around our house until it was time for me to leave.

It was currently two in the afternoon, just about fifteen minutes till I had to leave. My parents had said their goodbyes' and left long ago in the morning. My brother had gone off to meet one of his friends a couple of hours ago which meant it was just me and my sister. She'd helped me pack for the last hour or so before she disappeared to change, telling me to do the same. Now having changed, I had nothing to do but think, and thinking about what I was just about to do was not helping me avoid freaking out. It wasn't like thinking about anything else was ever an option with my brain.

Then before I know it, I'm in the car with my sister, a small bag with all the essentials dumped into the backseat, and we're off to the boot camp. We drive mostly in silence. My sister is too busy making sure we actually arrived at our destination, owing to the fact that neither of us had even driven in that particular direction before, and I didn't want to distract her. Somehow or the other though, we must've made it because a pair of giant gates come into sight in the distance.

The gates are quite a sight to behold. It almost seems wrong to call them gates. They are large enough to just be called movable walls, especially with their thickness. They look to be the sort of things you'd expect to find at the entrance to a secure nuclear bunker. I assume the gates were probably designed that way to protect against elemental attacks. While regular sized iron gates would be relatively easily defeated by a big enough force of elementals working together, these looked crazy enough that even an army of elementals would have a pretty hard time getting through.

As we get closer, one of the guards at the gates, walks over, holding out a hand in the universal sign to stop. Niki brings the car to a halt a few feet from the gates as I roll down the window. The guard is dressed in what I assume to be some sort of desert camouflage and she speaks with a brisk, no-nonsense tone that immediately lets you know that this was not a person in a mood to tolerate anything but exactly what was required. The guard asks me for my name and I.D, which I quickly provide. After checking something in an iPad that she is carrying, the guard asks me to get out along with my things. As I'd guessed, they were only going to let me actually go inside.

I turn to say goodbye to my sister.

"Good luck in there," she says, "I'm sure you'll do amazing as always."

"Thank you," I say, "for everything." From her nod, I can see that she understands I wasn't just referring to the drive here. With that, she made a go on gesture.

"I'll stay here till she gets inside. I'm allowed to that aren't I?" asks Niki.

The guard nods curtly before shoving the aforementioned iPad in my face and quickly snapping a picture. Why they need a picture of me, I don't know, but I try not to react to it as I quickly grab my bag from the backseat of the car. Looking back one last time at Niki, I wave goodbye and turn to follow the guard inside.

Getting through the gates takes quite a bit longer than I imagine. The guard explains that it's because it apparently requires three people each with separate keys to open it. She also goes into a long explanation about why the door was as thick as it was and why it was impenetrable even against attacks by elementals. I don't pay too much attention to the explanation. Part of me wants to comment on how cool it was and discuss the gate like I normally would, but the weight in my mind from what is to come keeps me from doing so. I'd been worried about getting caught out lying earlier, but now that I'm actually here, and being loaded on a bus that would supposedly take me all the way to the main camp itself, the magnitude of what could happen if they didn't take too kindly to my deception truly sinks in.

There is silence once again during the drive. The guard has clearly realized that I'm in no mood to talk and keeps to herself, talking about something or the other with the driver in hushed tones. I'm half worried that they're discussing how they're going to capture me and ship me off to the nearest prison for declaring a false elemental ability. The rational part of my brain is telling me that no one has any way of knowing my actual elemental power until I'm called upon to use it but that part of the brain is being drowned out by every other part.

It isn't long before the vehicle pulls to a stop in front of a pristine looking building. The guard explains that that's where I'm supposed to be getting checked into the camp and I assume this is some sort of office building for the entire place. She guides me into the crowded building. Its filled to the brim with people, all clad in the same type of camouflage that the guard is wearing, and they all look to be busy doing something or the other. No one seems to be idle. The guard informs me that I'll be receiving my uniform once I check in and then announces my arrival to one of the few people sitting behind desks.

The man confirms my elemental power. "Light Elemental with a specialization in the amount of light path, is that correct?" I nod, even as I'm internally screaming at myself that this is the point where it all goes wrong. But nothing happens. No one jumps up from behind the crowd to put me in handcuffs. I'm not ordered to be taken somewhere. The man simply informs me that orientation along with the skills test will be conducted the next day, starting fairly early in the morning. It's apparently likely to take up the whole day if not the next. Then he calls for someone to bring my uniform over.

The man behind the desk proceeds to launch into an explanation of how the uniforms are all color coded based on elemental power and elemental path. It's a pretty clever system to keep track of what everyone is capable of. Once again, I can't help but feel like an imposter as I'm handed the uniforms for a light elemental. As I peek inside to study the color, I wonder what color they use for electricity elementals, or if perhaps we're so rare, that there simply isn't a uniform color set aside for people like me. That wouldn't surprise me. And then before I know it, the man is telling me which building I'm going to be staying in, number 8, and that I should report to the main desk there. With that I'm dismissed and I'm walking out of the building along with the guard.

The guard then states that she has to get back to her position at the gates. She mutters a word of encouragement and wishes me luck before climbing back on board the bus that had brought us here. The bus had clearly been waiting for her, because it speeds off almost as soon as her foot is in the door. I turn towards the path that I was told to follow and begin my journey to the residential building that is to become my home for the next few months, should I pass the skills test. I wonder if there are any others who'd be like me, pretending to be from a discipline they're not. It doesn't seem very likely, unless someone was in the same situation I was and the chances of that are rather slim.

I manage to walk all the way to the 8th building, lost in thought and barely noticing the things along the way. Now in front of the building itself, I take a minute to pause and take a deep breath. It feels like this is perhaps the point of no return, once in there I'd have to stick to my story, and make sure no one got suspicious. Of course the actual point of no return was when I submitted the application, but now everything feels a lot more tangible.

Trying not to have too much of a guilty look on my face as a result of all of these thoughts, I walk towards the building and enter. I do a cursory look around and spot the main desk. I see a man not in uniform being escorted away, and I realize it's probably another recruit and considering he's in the same building, probably a part of my orientation group. I walk towards the main desk and state my name. The man confirms that I'm in fact supposed to be in this building, and then welcomes me before calling someone to escort me to my shared quarters.

A woman arrives from somewhere and then before I know it, I'm headed towards the quarters, trying to pay attention to the advice the woman is giving as I attempt to dismiss by troubled thoughts.
Stay Safe
The Princess of Darkness

Hello! You? Yes you reading this. Have a nice day because you're wonderful and you deserve it!

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Spearmint says...



Lyn Brooket

🜁 Air 🜁


For most of my life, I've had a love-and-hate relationship with the wind. Yeah, cool breezes feel good in the summer, but other times, the wind just seems so... so annoying. It's constantly whipping around outside, playing with leaves and snatching papers out of students' hands. In fact, it's almost stolen a notebook from me before.

It was on a windy day in December, while I was walking home from high school. I was checking my trusty little notebook. (Seriously, I carry that thing around everywhere. It's got my whole life in it-- from homework assignments to ideas for new recipes to random people's birthdays.) I was trying to remember some girl's name from class, and I was sure I'd written it down. But as I flipped through the pages, a particularly strong gust of wind blew right past me, and I lost my grip on the notebook.

Of course, I was horrified-- I kind of doubt I'd remember my own parents' birthdays without that little book. I tried chasing it down, but in my panic, I tripped over my shoes and landed on the ground. I remember just wishing desperately to get my notebook back somehow. And then, when I managed to pick myself back up again, it was like... like the wind had suddenly changed direction, carrying my notebook back towards me. It looked like a helpless bird with all its pages flapping about, and I was sure it'd gotten a little crumpled, but I was so glad to get it back.

Later, at home, I wondered if it'd just been a coincidence. I didn't want to tell my parents yet, because I was sure my dad would get overly excited. (He's a total comic book and fantasy geek, and he's been obsessed with the Elementals ever since they first appeared.) But I kept testing it out, trying to manipulate the wind whenever no one was watching. Over the next few weeks, I noticed more... incidents happening (I swear, that guy whose umbrella got flipped inside-out totally deserved it!) and I began to suspect I really was an Elemental.

My family's viewpoint on Elementals was pretty mixed. My dad was basically an Elemental fanboy. My mom, on the other hand, treated them with more caution-- she'd seen the news reports about rogue Elementals, and she knew the damage they could do if they weren't able to control their powers.

As for me, well, I guess I was sort of in-between. At school, I'd sometimes see Earth Elementals manipulating soil near the field, or Water Elementals doing cool tricks with water from their water bottles. Half of me wanted an ability too, because it seemed really neat, but the other half wasn't so sure. The thing is, I'd noticed that at my school, Elementals tended to hang out with other Elementals, and non-Elementals hung out with non-Elementals. If I found out I was an Elemental, I didn't know how that would change the friendships I had. But at the same time, I reasoned, gaining an ability might also help me make new friends...

So overall, I guess I was slightly more like my dad in my viewpoint of Elementals. And though I'd never admit it, I can't deny that there's been many a time when I've stared at a flame, trying to get it to move, or squinted at the ceiling light in my room and tried to make it dimmer.

When I started suspecting that I was an Air Elemental, I alternated between delight and worry. Whenever I was able to affect the wind in some way, I felt a little thrill. But I wondered what my classmates would think of me if they found out I'd developed these abilities. It'd been hard enough getting them to use my proper pronouns, and combined with that short period of awkwardness whenever someone revealed that they were an Elemental... Yeah, I figured most of them would probably give me weird, hesitant looks for a bit, like they'd just realized I was completely different from the person they'd believed me to be. But at that point in my train of thought, I usually scolded myself for caring too much about what others might think. Anyways, I eventually came to the conclusion that being an Air Elemental was a good thing (or at least a neutral thing) and, once I was about 90% sure, I decided to tell my parents.

My dad, as predicted, flipped out (in a good, I-can't-believe-this-oh-my-gosh-yayy! way). He grinned like a student on the first day of winter break and-- I kid you not-- literally bounced around the room. I'm pretty sure he was walking on clouds the rest of that week. My mom, on the other hand, took it more practically. It was almost like I'd simply unveiled a hidden talent for tennis or something-- she immediately started looking up places where I could take lessons to better control my ability.

Over the next few years, I attended lessons at some place called the Elementality Academy. The "Academy" in its name made it sound a lot more formal than it was, though-- it was basically a semi-organized club for Elementals.

Every Monday and Thursday, I would attend class in a nearby park, and the other students and I would learn from more experienced Elementals. Sometimes we had guest speakers, which was pretty cool, but the best part was that the tutors brought chocolate once a month. It served as an incentive for us-- if someone managed to do something with a piece of chocolate, like if a Fire Elemental could bend a flame to melt it, they'd get to eat it. (Best bribe ever, am I right? Well... maybe except for the Earth Elementals. One poor guy always managed to get sand inside the chocolate wrapper somehow.) Overall, though, the Elementality Academy was fun, and I made good progress there.

However, what wasn't quite as fun was when I came home after classes and my dad grilled me (with endless enthusiasm) on what I'd learned.

"Hey Lyn, so can you use winds to move around small objects now? Ooh, here's a pencil! Wanna try?"

"Daad! I'm, like, hardly able to change a wind's direction; actually moving stuff around is gonna take years. Seriously, you're the one who's an expert on all this!"

I groaned about it, but to be honest, it was kinda nice to see my dad so excited. I feel like all the progress I made is about 70% due to my determination to get better, and like 30% due to my dad's constant encouragement.

There was one thing that disappointed me, though. I'd seen that some Air Elementals could control sound waves too, which seemed pretty epic. (There was one goofball at the Elementality Academy who, once she was able to control her ability, kept real-life muting our teacher and then laughing her head off.) But unfortunately, manipulating sound waves required natural talent, one thing I didn't have. No matter how hard I tried to control the volume of voices or interfere with the radio, nothing happened. But oh well. Air Elementals usually train to be Sound Elementals because they want to go into the Elemental Forces, but it wasn't like I was planning to go into the Forces or anything, right? ...Right?
Aha. Ahahaha. As it turns out, my family had different ideas.

Firstly, there was my grandfather: "Lyn. My dear grandchild. Do you know what an honor it would be for you to serve your country? Oh, I remember the good old days, when the boys and I would...' (I sorta tuned him out after that, because I've heard the same stories a hundred times. He's a war veteran, though sometimes I suspect he did more cooking than fighting.)

Then there was my cousin: "You're an Elemental?! Oh my gosh Lyn, that's so awesome! You should definitely apply to the Elemental Forces. I hear you automatically get, like, ten points cooler even if you just make it to the training camp." (Yes... she measures coolness in points...)

And my mom: "You know, Lyn, I think we've spoiled you a bit too much. Growing up in the upper-middle class, never having to go hungry or face physical hardship... It'd be a good opportunity for you to see what it's like in other countries. Of course, I don't want to put any pressure on you, but I do think it'd be a good idea to at least try applying to the Elemental Forces. If you don't get in, no problem. But if you do, I think it'd be a truly unique experience."

Finally, there was my dad: "Elemental Forces! Lyn Lyn Lyn do it please yes do it. What? Oh. Ahem. Like your mom says, no pressure, of course. But... *cough* it'd be so amazing..." (Yeah, sometimes it feels like my dad's more of a child than me.)

So... guess what? I applied. (Shocker, I know.) But it's not just because my family wanted me to do it. I knew that the Elemental Forces training program was super intense, but I also knew that it was a real opportunity to hone my elemental abilities. And... I don't know, maybe it was finding out that I had no talent for sound waves, or just my determination to get better, but I wanted to make the most of the talents I did have. Besides, I didn't even think I'd get in, so what was the harm in sending in the application?

When the acceptance letter came, we threw a spontaneous ice cream party. You know, maybe applying was worth it, just for that absolutely divine cherry-vanilla ice cream. But... it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. Once I got accepted, well, that's when I started worrying.

It's because my mom was right-- I was spoiled. Yeah, I liked running around the neighborhood in the mornings, but I was far from being in military shape. Sit-up tests in physical education were the terrors of my high school life (and no, I didn't use my ability to cheat on them; I'm a good, law-abiding student, you know... uh, well, most of the time. I-it was just that once, okay?). As for mental strength... I'll be honest. Horror movies freaked me out and blood made me squeamish. I'd just have to hope there wouldn't be any severe injuries at the training camp...

There was one thing going for me, though: my elemental prowess. I think all those lessons paid off, because (as far as I could tell), I had a lot more control over my ability than most other Air Elementals my age. I'd gotten to the point of being able to create new winds to cool me down in the summer, which was definitely on my top-ten list of good things about being an Elemental. I felt like that was the main reason they'd accepted me.

Anyways, I was looking forward to learning more about the subtleties of mastering my ability-- that kind of high-level training was hard to find anywhere outside the Elemental forces. So... I'd just have to make the best of the rest of it, and hope I didn't faint of exhaustion on my first day...

- o - (🜁) - o -


My parents drove me to the training camp, giving me pieces of advice and encouragement the whole way. I stared out the window, trying to think of all the possible scenarios that could happen at camp. What'll the other trainees be like? Will the gluten-free food there be okay? Ugh, I hope I won't have to eat salad every day like at that other summer camp I went to... Nope, nope, nope, Lyn. Think positive. Right. Um...

I was distracted from my thoughts by the entrance to the camp. I'm pretty sure my jaw actually dropped in awe-- the gates were like... like something out of a dystopian sci-fi movie. Taller than my school, maybe even thicker than my house, and made of hard iron-- in a word, they were intimidating. Very intimidating.

While I was still marveling at the enormity of the gates, a guard walked up to our car. She was pretty scary too, in her own way. You could tell, just from her posture and expression, that this wasn't someone to mess with. I wondered if I'd be able to gain that kind of confidence at the training camp...

The guard asked for my name and identification, then took a photo of me with an iPad. I winced, sure that I'd either look like I was about to fall asleep, or that my face would be contorted weirdly in the photo. All throughout middle and high school, my yearbook pictures had been consistently awkward. I'd just given up on getting a decent photo of myself at this point. But anyways, I pushed those thoughts out of my head and gathered my stuff. After a final round of hugs from my family, I followed the guard through the oversized gates and onto a bus.

The bus was open-air, but I couldn't feel much wind around me. I guessed I'd have to work more on creating new winds, rather than using existing winds. Caught up in thoughts and worries, I tuned out most of what the guard-- Private Furgison (I made sure to write down her name in my notebook)-- was saying. But a couple minutes later, I reconsidered, thinking that it couldn't hurt to ask for some knowledge and maybe get an idea of what was going to happen once training started.

"Excuse me, Private Furgison... um, is there any gluten-free bread here?" Ugh, why'd I start off with such a dumb question? I silently berated myself.

The woman quirked an eyebrow. "Well, I don't believe there's any in this bus right now, but I'm sure the facilities at the training camp are able to accomodate any dietary needs you might have."

"Right. Thank you. Also... I, just... um. What will the training camp be like?" I blurted out. "Is it going to be super intense? We won't get seriously injured, right?" I mean, I'd read all the information they'd sent out about what to bring to camp and all, but still... I wanted some reassurance that the training camp wouldn't be too bad.

Private Furgison gave me a half-smile. "Don't worry. Our training camp is state-of-the-art, and I assure you, the training might be tough, but it'll all be worth it in the end. Besides, you were accepted for a reason. If you stay humble and work hard, I have no doubt that you'll be able to succeed."

"Alright. Thank you, ma'am." I looked outside for the rest of the ride, slightly less nervous, but still not completely at ease about what was to come.

Soon enough, we arrived at a three-story building, and the air-conditioning inside was a relief from the heat. I craned my neck back and forth, watching everyone talking and bustling around. I probably looked like a complete newbie, but I didn't mind-- this was the most exciting place I'd been, and I wanted to remember every little detail.

Private Furgison and I approached a desk, where I received information and a uniform. I made sure to take notes in my notebook: "Orient. 7am, skills test afternoon, 6 months training, exams, accepted or rejected, Building 8." When the person behind the desk dismissed us, I said goodbye to Private Furgison and wished her well with the other recruits, then started walking towards Building 8.

As I made my way along the path, I admired my new uniform. Wow... it really feels official now. I'm gonna get trained, experience more of the world, and... right, get those coolness points. I smiled at the thought of my family, and resolved to do my best at camp. Well, as long as there wouldn't be any sit-ups. I'd do anything except sit-ups.
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Omni says...



Colin McCormick

Light


As I pull of the to the exit where the military base was located, I glance at my phone. Service is definitely going to be spotty all the way out here. However, service isn't the excuse for the glaring lack of messages on my lock screen.

I sigh and toss my phone onto the leather passenger seat, where it bounces and plops onto the floorboard with resounding thud. Glancing ahead and behind me and seeing no traffic, I decide to risk it and reach for the phone. With one hand on the steering wheel and one hand awkwardly grasping around at the floorboard, I somehow manage to pick the phone up without crashing my car. I set it back down on the passenger seat, this time not tossing it.

It is a lone road, the road to the military base, and the Arizona heat shimmers alongside the horizon, making the road look even longer.

However, before long, I find myself staring at something... a bit different along the horizon. The first thing that catches my gaze beyond the parking lot are huge, imposing iron gates that was hiding whatever the base was holding behind it. I slow my car down, taking in the sight. I then notice what seems to be an outpost next to the gate. I pull up to it, my car idling at the by a window.

The officer glances up from whatever he was doing, and he does a double glance before standing up and opening the window.

"This is a restricted area."

I blink, and suddenly my mouth was very, very dry. "I'm --uh, I'm here for the Elemental--"

"Oh. Go park your car. I'll be out there in a second."

My cheeks started burning hot as I back out and pull into a nearby parking spot. I quickly glance at my phone. Still no messages. Unlocking it, I quickly go to my messages and select "Dad".

Made it safe.


I hear a knock at my window and click my screen off. Rolling down my window, I start shuffling the papers on my passenger seat. The officer presses a button on his iPad.

"Full name and your I.D." the officer drones out.

"Oh, here it is. Colin McCormick." I say while flashing my I.D. The officers grabs it and studies it for a moment. He gives it back and looks through my window. "Just you?"

I nod. Just me. No need to focus on it.

"All right, then. There are no vehicles past this point. You got two choices for your..." he taps the top of my car, "car here. One, you could have someone pick it up for you. Or two, we let it sit here for the remainder of your training."

A bit sheepishly, I say, "Well, I've no one to pick it up. How long is training, again?"

The officer shrugs. "Out of my pay grade. Gather what you can carry, lock your doors, and follow me."

I nod. I grab my phone and start reaching around to the back seat to grab my duffle bag.

"No phones, either. Those things rot your brain, don't you know?" The officer laughs at his own "joke".

"Oh, yeah. Forgot." I open my phone up quickly and look at the messages again. Still unread. I add another message.

They're taking my phone away. Don't worry about me. Love you.


I then turn my phone off with a sigh. Who wants to start a bet on whether that message will be read or not when I get back? I think bitterly.

I get out of the car and strap the bag on my back. The officer takes a picture of me. "Light Elemental, huh?"

"Yeah," I mutter.

The officer raises his eyebrows over his shades. "Been awhile since one of ya's."

I nod vaguely in the officer's direction, but my focus lies squarely on the gates that lay before me. The officer starts spouting instructions and directions and I think an order or two, but I am definitely not paying much attention.




The time up to this point, past the gate, were all a blur to me. I found myself in "Building 8", whatever that really meant, and before I could ask for like a pamphlet or brochure or something, the officer who escorted me to this place was gone, and I found myself now alone. It is truly a barracks, like the ones you see in the movies. Full of cots and not much else. A lot of the cots were empty of anything, but a few of them have belongings around them. I find one of the empty ones that has "C. McCormick" on a little note on some blankets.

I am alone here, which probably means that I need to be somewhere else, but all of the information the officer rattled off to me earlier went in one ear and out the other. Try as I might, I always have had horrible information retention and memory. My mom used to tell me that I was autistic, but yeah, I don't know about that.

I sort out the stuff in my bag. Next to the blankets is a uniform, so I decided my next step is to put on the uniform. Hopefully I'll look a bit more official when I go scrambling for someone to guide me in the right direction.

I strip my shirt and beanie and fold them up on the cot in front of me. Even in the Arizona heat, I didn't sweat that much. Yay. I could put it back in my duffle bag. Stripping my shorts, I folded them the same. I shuffle through the bundle of uniform and fish out the pants. I examine them, just to make sure they're in my size. It would be a shame and a particularly embarrassing mess if I tried to get into these pants just for them to be too small. I'm not a large guy in any means, besides my height, but I've always been a bit awkward to size in pants. I am mostly legs and not too much muscle.

As I awkwardly pull the pants up one leg and up the other, I hear someone walk in. Instinctively, I grab the undershirt I have yet to put on and cover what I can of myself as I turn to see who this person was.

It is another soldier, who's crossing her arms and she walks in on him. "You know, out here, no one cares about your bits, and you're gonna be seeing a lot of them. May as well get rid of that timidness now rather than later."

I manage to pull up my pants and button them, finding out that my shirt definitely was not covering my briefs. I pull the shirt on and tuck it in. All the while, I was just imagining that aspect of... well, seeing other people's bits. I definitely would care if another guy was stripping in front of me. I never really had to do gym locker rooms in school (but that's for another story) so I never really... had to deal with that before. Come on, Colin, you're going to be facing things a lot harder than seeing naked bodies. It's not like I haven't seen a naked body before, but they've mostly been in, like, a romantic setting...

Okay, Colin, get your head out of the gutter. I put on my outer shirt of the uniform and mumble some kind of an apology.

"The name's Private Furgison. I was supposed to be the one handling your case, but I was showing another cadet around. They were also late."

I gulp. Definitely didn't realize I was late.

Furgison seems to know exactly what I was thinking, because she adds, "This time, you're fine, but don't make it a habit. Next time, you won't have someone to tell you you're missing out on grub." Is mind reading an Elemental? No, can't be, right?

She turns to leave, and I quickly follow her after struggling on my boots. She leads me out of Building 8 and to a nearby building that isn't nearly as tall but is wide. I tug at the collar of my uniform as she leads me to the mess hall, where she steps to the side and gestures to the room in front of her.

I take my food quietly. There is no line for food at this point, so I was able to get my food quickly enough. Thankfully there is still food. For some reason, I was thinking I would just be a laughing stock while everyone pointed and laughed with their faces full of food.

I find a seat that isn't really near anyone. I'm definitely not really in the mood to talk to anyone right now. However, I do find my eyes wandering as I chew the kind of mystery meat loaf that they offered me. Some of these other people are in the same uniforms as I am, but some of them are still in their regular, their civilian clothing. Well, if only I had known that I didn't need to put on my uniform just yet. It is itchy.

I eat my food in silence, letting the commotion around me drown my own thoughts out. Just like that, I could feel myself as someone just going through the motions, like an NPC in a crowd, one of those characters you don't really look at, because your attention is focused on your own life and story.

Perhaps this is how my time will be here. Just kind of auto pilot. A prison sentence that will set me free. So, as I eat, I feel like I am enduring my first day in chains like an automaton.

And just like that, I found myself walking back with some others back to Building 8. It's nice to be walking with people this time, but I am in no mood to try and start a conversation. At least there are a few people around me who look just as nervous as I feel.

The room my cot is in is now much more lively, but I keep my eyes on myself as I slowly strip out of my uniform and avoid the eyes of the others as they do the same. I settle into my bed, with no phone next to me to distract me until I fall asleep. Now, I'm only around with my thoughts and my tinnitus.

"Lights out." Says someone in the corner of the room.

And my thoughts are of my ex as I drift into unconsciousness.
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