Grave of Heroes (Original Novel)

Discussion in 'Original Stories' started by Daoist Darknorth, Aug 9, 2018.

  1. Daoist Darknorth

    Daoist Darknorth New Member

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    Synopsis:

    Facing an apocalypse of its own making, the people of Earth reached for the stars. Unfortunately, they grabbed more than they expected. When disaster struck, the population was decimated. However, from the ashes rose a new force for humanity. 500 years later, the world has changed in ways that no one foresaw. In a world where titans of men compete for survival, Braden Nolan must find his own way in this world, balancing the expectations of his clan with his own values.

    ToC:
    Prologue - http://forum.gravitytales.com/threads/grave-of-heroes-original-novel.810/#post-3681
    Chapter 1 - http://forum.gravitytales.com/threads/grave-of-heroes-original-novel.810/#post-3682
    Chapter 2 - http://forum.gravitytales.com/threads/grave-of-heroes-original-novel.810/#post-3683
    Chapter 3 - http://forum.gravitytales.com/threads/grave-of-heroes-original-novel.810/#post-3684
    Chapter 4 - http://forum.gravitytales.com/threads/grave-of-heroes-original-novel.810/#post-3691
    Chapter 5 - http://forum.gravitytales.com/threads/grave-of-heroes-original-novel.810/#post-3692
    Chapter 6 - http://forum.gravitytales.com/threads/grave-of-heroes-original-novel.810/#post-3693
    Chapter 7 - http://forum.gravitytales.com/threads/grave-of-heroes-original-novel.810/#post-3694
    Chapter 8 - http://forum.gravitytales.com/threads/grave-of-heroes-original-novel.810/#post-3695
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2018 at 3:13 AM
  2. Daoist Darknorth

    Daoist Darknorth New Member

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    Prologue: Operation Two Graves

    Year 2080

    Jace Nolan stood alone. Bodies lay strewn around him. The sky overhead seemed tinged red, or perhaps that was just his vision. His ears rang, and he looked around groggily. To his right he saw someone lying on the ground. He looked familiar. "Who…" He started to say, before getting cut off as a blast shook the ground, causing him to stagger and fall to one knee.

    He stuck his hand out to support himself. It landed on something wet and squishy. He turned and saw Alex.

    "Alex?" He thought, but then shook his head "Wait, who is…"

    It all came rushing back to him. The body in front of him was his best friend, Alex Blackman. Like Jace, Alex was part of the operation sent to this god-forsaken planet.

    "Why did we have to come here? Why couldn't the damn politicians just leave it alone?" Jace bitterly queried the alien sky.

    But then Jace shook his head. "No. It's all of our fault. If humanity had acted sooner we might have been able to save ourselves from climate change. Then we would never have gone to space, never found these stupid Outsiders, and we wouldn't have ended up dying in this damn war!"

    However, even as he said it, his mind remembered the scene of the Outsiders ships descending on planet Earth. He remembered the screams as buildings crumbled under their attack.

    Above all else, he remembered their abilities. They controlled the elements, flung fire and lightning from their hands, striking down men, women, and children with no mercy. It took the combined effort of the world's militaries to finally push them back.

    "Even then it wasn't over," Jace weeped as he remembered. He could remember his family huddling together in a refugee camp, thinking they were finally safe. But reality was cruel. The virus took them quickly. He didn't remember much of the death of his brother and parents. He had been stuck in a world of fever dreams when it happened, his body desperately fighting the virus.

    When he woke, his family, and most of the rest of the world, at least most of those who had caught the virus, had died. They say war changed people. This war changed them more than most. When the few people to survive the virus woke up from their comas they found they had developed abilities. Like the Outsiders they could do incredible, terrifying things.

    Remembering the congratulations from the doctors when they discovered his ability, the excitement of the military, Jace didn't feel pride. He only felt despair. "I would rather have never had this cursed ability. The price was too high!"

    But the military didn't think so. Where Jace cursed the virus, the militaries of the world joined together as one under the name Pangea to take advantage of the opportunity these new superhumans, or Supers, gave them. Whatever their motives were, the way they convinced the survivors of the invasion was simple: this was their chance to get revenge. They called it Operation Two Graves. A near suicidal revenge mission that made people remember the phrase: let he who seeks revenge dig two graves.

    Jace couldn't help but think to when he'd left. His wife, belly huge with their child, stood, watching him enter the space shuttle. The tears on her face still haunted him. He'd promised he would come back. Jace's brain latched onto that thought, pulling it's way out of the chaotic whirlpool of thoughts.

    As sanity returned to Jace, he looked around. All the comrades he could see lay dead on the ground. It seemed that others had retreated. "Just my luck that I would get left behind." He thought, shaking his head. The world around him was burnt and broken as far as the eye could see. Space itself seemed distorted as a result of the clash of powers.

    In the distance, Jace saw people moving towards him. For a moment he rejoiced, thinking his comrades hadn't left him behind. Then he saw their armor and realized that they must be Outsiders. They moved towards him in scores. Jace knew in his heart he would not survive this. He fingered the ring he wore. "I'm sorry my love."

    He caressed the ring one last time, his thoughts of his wife and their child whom he would never meet. Then, activating his ability to the maximum, he let loose a cry of anguish. In the span of a second, his body and everything around him for miles was pulverized.

    Meanwhile, on Earth, a baby cooed in the arms of her mother, not even realizing that she, like so many others, would grow up without a father.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
  3. Daoist Darknorth

    Daoist Darknorth New Member

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    Chapter 1: The Lazy Student

    Year 2560

    "Wake up Mr. Nolan!" A sharp voice exclaimed. At the same time Braden felt a pain on his head as he blearily looked at the woman in front of him who had just hit him with a ruler.

    "Sleeping in class again? Go stand at the front of the class," said Ms. Shapiro, Braden's teacher.

    Still trying to shake off his sleepiness, Braden looked around and saw the grinning faces of his fellow classmates. Realizing he must have fallen asleep in class again, Braden stood up and moved to the front.

    It wasn't the first time it happened, so he felt comfortable standing up front even with everyone whispering and snickering.

    Ms. Shapiro returned to her lecture after giving Braden another withering glare.

    "Now then class, the semester is halfway over, so I am going to ask you all a few questions to make sure you've been paying attention." She shot another glare at Braden at this point.

    "Tell me, what are the three stages of cultivation of superpowers?"

    A girl raised her hand and answered, "That would be Internalization, Externalization, and Altering Reality"

    Ms. Shapiro nodded her head and turned to Braden asking, "Mr. Nolan, would you care to explain to the class what each of these three levels entails? As a member of the Nolan clan, I'm sure you must be familiar with them."

    Braden rolled his eyes. He resented when people brought up his family. His ancestor had been one of the original Supers who died during Operation Two Graves. Since then his family had continued to produce Supers in each generation. That being said, not everyone in the family was a Super; it just came down to genetics and luck. Every clan that grew from the original Supers had such descendants. Braden was one such non-Super. Still, he did have more exposure to Supers than many in society, especially since most of the people who attended high school had never known a Super. Supers went to schools run by Pangea, and the ordinary public didn't have much opportunity to interact with them.

    Clearing his throat, Braden concisely stated, "Internalization is the beginner stage which occurs right after awakening. You can only use your ability internally at that point, not affecting the external world. Externalization is the next stage, when you become capable of affecting the world around you. Finally, Altering Reality is the peak stage of Super cultivation. Those who reach that point are capable of affecting the external world on a much larger scale."

    Ms. Shapiro harrumphed, grudgingly acceding, "Yes, that's at least a basic description. Though you forgot to point out that not all powers of capable of achieving each stage. Some powers, such as physical enhancements will forever be stuck in the Internalization phase. Very well then, who can answer a more analytical question: why have Supers become such an important part of society, to the point that Pangea grants them such privileges as tax exemption, immunity from misdemeanor charges, and even implemented a separate legal system for them?"

    The class remained silent. Clearly they didn't expect that a teacher would actually ask them to think.

    Ms. Shapiro shook her head, disappointed. "No one?"

    Braden remained silent for a moment, before shrugging. "The Intergalactic Tournament."

    Ms. Shapiro looked at him in surprise, before nodding and asking, "How so?"

    Braden shrugged again. "After the Great War, a treaty was brokered between the Parisians and Earth. The war was ended, and instead, every year, a tournament would be held in which the strongest Supers from each planet would meet on an uninhabited planet and fight it out. The loser had to give resources to the winner."

    "Though initially each Tournament was bloody and deadly, as time passed, and other planets joined the Tournament, it turned into more of a sporting event, like the Olympics or the World Cup. As the planets began to interact, an organization known as the Intergalactic Alliance formed. Under the Intergalactic Alliance's influence, the tournament became known as the Intergalactic Tournament, and rather than exchanging resources, it changed to exchanging favorable trade policies. Earth, as a planet that only recently developed Supers, was at a disadvantage. Thus, Pangea placed emphasis on training strong Supers."

    "As a result, many of the original Super families formed alliances, and eventually were absorbed into each other, to increase the chance of strong Supers being born. With the increase in the Supers in these families, Pangea started to give out special privileges to the clans with the best results in the tournament. With those as an incentive, not to mention the fact that the tournament became much less deadly under the influence of the Intergalactic Alliance, Super clans began to put great importance on training each generation of Supers, resulting in superior performances in Tournaments, and thus cementing the importance of Supers to society."

    Most of the other students' eyes had glazed over during this explanation. Ms. Shapiro looked pleased that someone could think critically in her class.

    The bell rang, and Braden moved back to his seat to grab his bag. Students began shuffling out of the room. Braden moved to join them, but Ms. Shapiro held him back.

    "Braden, I know you look down on a normal school like this, but if you don't stay awake in class, no matter how intelligent you are, you won't even be able to graduate." She warned him, "How would your clan react at that point?"

    Braden shrugged, gave a half-hearted reply that he would try harder, and left.

    As he walked out of the school building towards the parking lot, a car pulled up to the curb and a man got out, and opened the door to the backseat. "This way, Mr. Nolan."

    Braden got in the car, and settled in as the man returned to the driver's seat. As the car began moving, Braden stared out the window.

    Ms. Shapiro was right. He did look down on normal school. As a member of a Super clan, he would never have to worry about a job, or money. The clan would always provide for him. However, unless he awoke to a Superpower, he would be a second class citizen within the clan.

    Though Supers were forbidden from starting trouble with normals, normals were required to take care of the day to day aspects of life for the supers. Though clan members would not be forced to do menial work like cooking and cleaning, they would be forced to run the businesses of the Clan, to manage the accounts and expenses, and to be otherwise responsible for keeping the mundane parts of the clan running.

    Moreover, despite having to toil away at this work, they would not be allowed to participate in the executive level meetings, where the clan leaders discussed strategy, conflicts and alliances with other Clans, and above all else...the Tournament.
     
  4. Daoist Darknorth

    Daoist Darknorth New Member

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    Chapter 2: The Bastard of the Nolan Clan

    Braden sat quietly staring out the window as the car rolled up to a large gate. Beyond it one could see a number of buildings. A placard hung on the gate, emblazoned with the words: The Nolan Clan.

    "We've arrived Young Master Braden," said the driver as he rolled down the window to input the gate code.

    Braden remained silent in the backseat. The gate opened and the car continued on into the compound.

    The car approached the largest building located in the center of the compound, slowing and eventually stopping. The driver got out to open the door for Braden, but he had already opened it himself. Braden got out of the car.

    As he did so, he noticed a group of teens walking towards him, with a familiar face dressed in rich clothing leading the way. He felt like frowning, but maintained a calm exterior.

    "Well look who it is," The leader drawled.

    The boys around him snickered, and one, bolder than the rest, said, "The clan's biggest failure, the unwanted bastard."

    The leader's name was Liam Nolan. He, and his cronies, were Nolan clan members from the same generation as Braden. However, unlike him they had all awoken as Supers.

    Braden resolved himself to ignore them and simply pass by them on his way into the main house.

    He'd heard insults like that all his life. His mother was the daughter of the current clan head. Logically, he should have enjoyed a high status in the clan. However, his mother had been killed in the tournament when he was still little.

    Furthermore, she'd never explained who his father was. No one else in the clan knew either. She had returned home from the Academy prior to the Tournament, and, much to everyone's surprise, had been pregnant. As a result, Braden had born the name bastard from birth, though it was only spoken behind his back at first. Then, when his mother died, people began to say it openly. His grandfather never spoke out about it, and seemed to avoid Braden like the plague.

    However, as Braden tried to move past the group, two of Liam's cronies stood out and blocked his way.

    "Where do you think you're going, bastard?" One said snidely, as he and the other crony reached out to grab Braden.

    This behavior may seem odd, but in this world, Super clans fostered such bullying and abuse. Often times it took intense emotions to awaken as a Super. As a result, so long as no one in the clan was killed or permanently maimed, the clan turned a blind eye to acts like this.

    However, Braden was far from helpless. As a member of the Nolan family main branch, he had been trained since a young age in physical combat. Though he had never been naturally gifted at fighting like the Supers who were gifted with speed or strength, he learned how to fight uniquely. To defend against his trainers and some of his fellow clan members, he had to learn to fight against Supers without the benefit of having an ability himself.

    Over the years, Braden had come up with a simple recipe of success when fighting against Supers: act first, fight dirty, and don't hold back. He was already disadvantaged, so he needed to seize hold of every opportunity. The longer a fight went on, the more his disadvantage would grow.

    Implementing his three step recipe for fighting against Supers, Braden dodged forward toward the crony on the left and rammed his knee into the crony's crotch. As the crony fell, Braden turned and swept the feet of the guy behind him. However, this particular Super must have had a physical type ability related to speed, because he was able to quickly jump and dodge the leg sweep.

    Bending low to the ground, Braden grabbed some dirt from the ground as he completed the leg sweep and threw it in the Super's eyes.

    The crony cried out, blinking his eyes rapidly as tears streamed down his face. Braden took advantage of his distraction to finish him off with another knee to the crotch.

    Liam snorted in disdain, "To think a couple of Supers got beaten up so shamefully. You're really showing the limits of Physical Supers. Let me show you how it's done."

    Super abilities were separated into four general categories: Physical, Psychic, Elemental, and Unique. Due to the nature of physical abilities, Physical Supers were limited to the internalization stage as they could only boost themselves.

    Physical Supers could still be very strong, and served unique purposes such as scouts with enhanced senses, strategists with enhanced thought processing, and even teachers with perfect memories. However, at early stages, Physical Supers were the weakest, as they had to accumulate long periods of training to really differentiate themselves from ordinary people.

    Psychic Supers were the next strongest category. Unlike Physical Supers, Psychic Supers started off in the externalization stage from the beginning. Their abilities inherently affected their surroundings. Psychic Supers had abilities like telekinesis, mind reading, and even foresight. However, they were as weak, physically, as a normal human. Furthermore, their powers often proved burdensome on the individuals who awoke to them.

    Elemental Supers were the top category of supers. As the name suggests, they could control the elements. While Elemental Supers did not start off at the externalization stage, they were guaranteed to reach it with training. Furthermore, most altering reality stage Supers came from the Elemental Super category. While not every Elemental Super could reach the altering reality stage, even externalization stage Elemental Supers were forces to be reckoned with.

    Finally, there were Unique Supers. The rarest category of Super, but not necessarily the strongest. This category consisted of Supers whose abilities didn't fit into the others. The abilities were varied, some of limited use and only capable of reaching internalization, others starting out in altering reality.

    Liam lifted his hands and they began to glow red. He was an Elemental Super with the ability of fire. He may have only been in the internalization stage, but that didn't change the fact that his power was fearful. The air in front of him shimmered with heat.

    He grinned evilly and said, "Careful now or you're going to get burned."
     
  5. Daoist Darknorth

    Daoist Darknorth New Member

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    Chapter 3: Last Chance

    Liam grinned evilly and said, "Careful now or you're going to get burned."

    He sprinted forward and simply grabbed at Braden. The intense heat surrounding his hands forced Braden to retreat. Liam continued to maintain his momentum, throwing a blistering punch at Braden.

    Braden dodged back again, but lost his balance. As he stumbled, Liam reached out to grab him again. As the hand approached his skin, Braden could feel his arm begin to blister and burn.

    Right before Liam could grab him, a splash of water exploded in front of him, hitting Liam square in the face.

    "Who?" Liam spluttered as he lost control of his ability and his hands returned to normal.

    "I think that's quite enough of that," A cool voice sounded out.

    Braden relaxed as he turned to find Rachel Nolan standing behind him. Rachel was Braden's cousin. Braden had no brothers or sisters, his mom had died at a young age, and Braden never knew his father. Thus, Rachel had in many ways acted as an elder sister and guardian to Braden. She ensured he received the same resources as other children, and when he didn't develop as a Super she used her status and power as an externalization stage elemental Super to protect him.

    Rachel, though technically of the same generation, was three years older than Nolan. Being eighteen years old, Rachel had already been enrolled at Khargath City's Super Academy for three years now. Thus, she held an unmistakable advantage over Liam, even though they were both elemental Supers. Aside from the fact that her water ability naturally countered his, she had already trained at the Academy, reaching externalization stage.

    Supers only begin to attend the Academy at the age of 16. Liam, for example, had awoken to his power late, awakening in July at the age of 15. The reason for this cut off date is that in 500 years, no Super has ever awoken past their 16th birthday. Every year the Academy held two entrance exams, one on the last day of June and one on the last day of December. As of now, it was December 21st. The next exam would be held in ten days.

    "Don't think you're all that," Liam said angrily, "I'm entering the Academy this year, and after I do I'll quickly reach the externalization stage."

    Rachel merely sniffed disdainfully, linked arms with Braden, and walked forward into the main building. The building in question was the main mansion. It was spacious enough to hold all members of the Nolan Clan's main bloodline. However, only those main bloodline members who became Supers were allowed to stay there. As they entered, Rachel lead Braden towards her chambers.

    "Come on, I'll patch up your arm," Rachel said as she continued leading Braden forward. Reaching a door, Rachel opened it and entered into a spacious set of rooms that formed her chambers.

    As an externalization stage Elemental Super, Rachel should have been entitled to an entire floor. However, she had traded in a number of her benefits over the years to attempt to obtain opportunities for Braden to train. The unique training opportunities offered by the clan all came at a significant cost, but they couldn't be underestimated. Each one was designed to provoke the sort of strong emotion necessary to awaken as a Super, while at the same time ensuring that no member of the clan perished. Naturally, in order to so, the clan had to retain powerful Supers capable of protecting the clan members at the last second. Thus, each training session cost a fortune. However, for the sake of the Tournament, the clan was willing to shell out as much money as it took.

    Rachel gestured for Braden to take a seat in one of the chairs, and then walked towards a cabinet to grab medical supplies. She came back and began applying burn salve to Braden's arm, before bandaging it.

    "I would have won," Braden insisted stubbornly as she treated his arm, wincing slightly as she applied the salve, before relaxing as it cooled the burns.

    Rachel smiled slightly, and continued wrapping his wound as she said, "Maybe, but not without badly burning your arm. If your arm was that hurt, how would you participate in the Academy exam this time around."

    Braden winced again, this time from a pain wholly unrelated to his arm. "You know as well as I that I won't be able to take the exam. I turn 16 tomorrow. I still haven't awoken as a Super. That means I never will."

    Rachel's smile widened into a full out grin, "Oh? You'll never be a Super? Well, since you're so sure of that, I suppose you don't want my birthday gift then?"

    Braden asked halfheartedly, "And what gift is that?"

    "A slot to participate in the clan's top training exercise." She said proudly.

    Braden felt grateful, as he knew it must have cost her to obtain it, but at the same time he felt helpless.

    "It's been almost 16 years, and nothing has worked." Braden said negatively. "I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but what's the point?"

    Rachel glared at him, "If your mother heard you saying something like that, she'd beat some sense into you. She'd tell you to never give up. This is your last chance, you have to seize it!"

    Braden hung his head, half in shame and half in anger. It wasn't the first time Rachel had tried to prod him into action using his mother. However, even if he knew what she was doing he was helpless to resist the coercion. After all, it was true. From what he remembered of his mother, she was like a bright light encouraging him, encompassing him, protecting him.

    "Fine," He shook his head resignedly. "You win, I'll do it."
     
  6. Daoist Darknorth

    Daoist Darknorth New Member

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    Chapter 4: Planet Red Hell (1)

    "Fine," Braden shook his head resignedly. "You win, I'll do it."

    "Attaboy," She beamed, and immediately grabbed him by his unbandaged arm and dragged him back into the hallway.

    "Where are we going?" He asked exasperatedly.

    "No time to waste" She exclaimed. "You turn 16 tomorrow, meaning you have less than 48 hours to awaken as a super. You need to leave immediately for the training."

    As they left the mansion, they headed towards one of the smaller buildings. As they entered, they approached the front counter where a man sat looking bored.

    "We're here to join the current training," Rachel said impatiently to the man.

    "It's already started" He drawled slowly.

    "I know that, but there's no rule against joining late. Just take the stupid pass." Rachel flung the pass at him and proceeded further into the building.

    The man let her pass. Such was the advantage of status.

    They arrived at a bare circular room. A woman sat in a wooden chair in the center.

    "Two? That's more than your quota allows for?" She questioned as she stood up.

    "Just one," replied Rachel, gesturing to Braden.

    The woman nodded and then closed her eyes. She raised her hands and they started to glow. She proceeded to outline a large circle in the air. As she did, a portal began to form. This woman possessed one of the more useful variations of the Psychic Super ability of Teleportation. She was not only able to teleport herself, but could actually form portals that would allow others to go through. However, the portals obviously consumed her energy. In order to conserve her energy as much as possible, she made each portal only as strong as it needed to be to transfer the number of people required.

    "Hurry and enter," The woman said tiredly, her eyes still closed, as she held the portal open.
    I sighed resignedly one last time, looked at Rachel who nodded encouragingly, and then passed through the portal.

    Nowadays, training on Earth was of limited value. Earth was truly a blessed planet, with very mild conditions that allowed humanity to easily survive. However, because of those mild conditions, it also limited humanity's ability to evolve further.

    This was especially the case for Supers. Supers often needed intense stimulation to awaken. Absent a war or similar traumatic situation, it was very difficult to awaken an ability. Thus, humanity set up various training posts within range of starships flight distance. These training posts were used to train Earth's Super forces. Additionally, those Super clans that had contributed significantly to the armed forces would be allowed to send their promising youths there for training. Each clan only had a few slots at each training. Thus, the cost that Rachel had to pay for this slot was not small.

    As Braden stepped out of the portal, he experienced a sense of disorientation. This was inevitable, as portal teleportation was instantaneous, such that he experienced an extreme change in environments when he went through. Just as going from a dark room to a light room can be a sudden change that shocks the body, so to can teleportation cause such disorientation.

    As his senses adjusted, Braden looked around and noticed some peculiar traits. First, he noticed he felt incredibly heavy, which meant this must be a planet with increased gravity. It was tiring just to move around. However, Braden had experienced such situations before and thus was not shocked. Additionally, he noticed that there was no visible sun in the sky, despite the fact that the planet was not dark. Instead the planet was covered in an eerie red glow that seemed to emanate from all parts of the sky.

    "Welcome to Planet Red Hell," a voice sounded out.

    Braden turned and noticed a woman standing there. It was the same woman who had teleported him.

    "Why are you—" He started to ask confusedly.

    "I'm not the same woman you met earlier," she cut him off, explaining. "That was my twin sister. We both awoke to the same ability, namely that we can create portals to each other."

    Braden realized he had made a mistake and apologized embarrassedly. This made more sense to him. Even the Super clans would not be able to hire a Super that could teleport people anywhere they wanted to go. Such an ability would be overpowered, and the armed forces would certainly keep such an asset on standby.

    "Welcome to Planet Red Hell," She continued. "My name is Stacy. I am one of the Supers here to guard you during the trial. Currently there are 10 other Supers guarding this area. The Nolan clan, in addition to you, has sent two other young Supers to train. There are also three other Super clans here at this time training. In total there are 12 young Supers present. Thus, we are shorthanded. We cannot watch all of you at once."

    Braden nodded his head in understanding, not bothering to correct her when she assumed he was a Super. Precious spots on training missions like this were hard to get, and generally no one would waste them on non-supers. As a guard hired by all of the Super clans present, Stacy wasn't privy to the inner workings of each clan, and thus didn't recognize Braden.

    "Since we cannot watch all of you at once we are providing you with these emergency transponders." She handed Braden a small device that looked like a silver pen with a red button on top. "If you find yourself in a dire situation, you may use this device. When activated, it emits a signal that is picked up by a corresponding scanner at our base. At that time an emergency response team will rush to your location. However, we cannot guarantee that we will get there in time. Moreover, once you activate this once, your training is ended. Thus, we urge you to exercise due caution when training."

    "I understand" Braden said, reaching out and taking the transponder. "Is there anything I should know about the planet?"

    "As you can already tell the gravity is extremely high. This is due to the presence of a nearby red star. This red star similarly is what creates the red lighting on the planet. The reason you can't see the star is that the sky here is covered by a thick layer of dust that prevents a majority of the radiation from seeping in. That being said, a prolonged stay here will have adverse side effects. For example, the beings that naturally live here have all been warped from the radiation. You will need to be careful, as they are very aggressive. Furthermore, due to the harsh conditions on the planet, they are extremely powerful."

    "It is our recommendation that you prepare to use your ability at all times. Furthermore, you should meet up with the others from your clan as soon as possible. They only arrived an hour ago and thus you should be able to catch up to them. The advantage of being in a group cannot be underestimated."

    "Thank you for your advice," Braden thanked Stacy, without indicating whether he would follow her recommendation.

    Either Stacy did not pick up on the fact that he was disregarding her advice, or she simply did not care. In any case, she simply shrugged and said, "Okay, that's all. If you don't activate your transponder, then you can remain here for a month. At that time, we will forcefully activate all transponders and pick you up from your location before leaving. Any longer than a month and you will suffer permanent side effects from the radiation. Make sure to grab a pack of supplies before heading out."

    Finishing her speech, Stacy turned and walked away, not bothering to wait for a response.
    As a hired hand, she did not care too much about the results of the training. She would simply do what she was supposed to do, and anything else that happened simply didn't matter.

    Braden looked around and saw a bunch of packs sitting on the ground. He went over, grabbed one, and opened it. Inside he found hydration capsules and food capsules. Each hydration capsule was full of highly condensed water. Simply by swallowing one at the beginning of the day, it would dissolve slowly releasing water to keep you hydrated over 24 hours. While it was not as satisfying as having a cold drink of water, is was much more efficient. Similarly, each food capsule contained enough nutrients to supply a body for an entire day.

    Based on the number of capsules in the pack, Braden had enough capsules to last him two months. Presumably, the extras were there just in case.

    In addition, the pack contained a utility knife. This blade, while short, could be used to defend himself. However, it's main purpose was to be used as a tool. It could be used to cut down vegetation that was in the way, or to make the parts necessary for a shelter. The importance of a good knife could not be underestimated in a survival situation.

    Finally, the pack contained a map. Opening it up, Braden found the map detailed the surrounding area, as well as the ideal training locations. It also indicated hazards.

    Scanning the map, immediately one area caught his eye. It was labeled: beginner training. As a non-Super, most of these training areas would be too dangerous. Thus, to be safe he would have to start in the beginner training area.

    Checking the map and orienting himself, he determined he was about 10 miles south of the beginner training area. Given the increased gravity, the hike there would be difficult. Taking a deep breath, Braden put everything but the map back in the pack, slung it over his shoulders, and then began walking, map in hand, to the north.
     
  7. Daoist Darknorth

    Daoist Darknorth New Member

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    Chapter 5: Planet Red Hell (2)

    Elsewhere on Planet Red Hell:

    Stacy Sage walked to a chrome facility. As she approached the door, a scanner popped out and scanned her retina.

    "Approved entry." A mechanical voice intoned, and the door opened. Stacy entered the facility.
    Inside, 10 other Supers lounged around. Monitors were set up, displaying different areas on Planet Red Hell.

    "Welcome back Captain," One of the Supers chimed. "You get the latecomer?"

    Stacy nodded her head, "Yeah. I swear these Supers the clans send look more and more green every year."

    Another Super laughed, "What did you expect boss? After all, most of these twerps grew up in luxury. How can their lives and training compare to what we go through in the military?"

    As it turned out, all 11 of these Supers were not hired bodyguards, but military personnel. The Pangea Superhuman Defense Force still existed to this day, and was the main strength of Earth in its fight to stay afloat in the galaxy. The best Supers from each clan entered the SDF.

    Of course, as a result, the SDF was largely divided into factions based on clans. However, the factions did not compete directly against each other with force. Rather they strove to see who could achieve the most merits. Similarly, by achieving more merits, they would then have a stronger influence, which they could use to support their clans.

    Merits could be achieved in a number of ways, such as advancing research, suppressing terrorist groups, serving aboard starships, and many other ways.

    Needless to say, the start of the military career always began the same way: the Tournament. The better you performed in the tournament, the more merits you received, and the better benefits provided to your clan.

    Of course, not every Super belonged to one of the clans, as not every Super family managed to establish themselves as an economic, military, and political force.

    Thus, for those Supers from small or scattered families, they could use their merits to apply to the Special Defense Force, or, if they already joined the Special Defense Force, they could be promoted.

    A third Super chimed in, "What's the deal with number 12 anyways? I thought there were only supposed to be 11 brats here. That's why Headquarters only deployed 11 of us."

    Stacy shook her head, "How am I supposed to know? Probably some sort of last minute maneuvering in one of the clans. It doesn't really matter to us anyways. All we have to know is that our job is that much harder in the event of a serious emergency."

    The third Super grinned, "Ah, c'mon boss, Red Hell is one of the safer training planets. Even if something goes wrong, it'll only be difficult for those twerps, not us. Besides, Pangea has always made it clear to the clans that if something does happen, well that's just the risk they run by sending green brats here to train."

    Stacy shook her head again. "In any case, just keep your eyes open."

    Turning her head to the monitors, her gaze passed over each monitor.

    "Hopefully nothing happens. I don't want to deal with the paperwork if one of these kids dies." She thought to herself.

    Curiously, she noticed that the Nolan clan kid was not heading in the direction she had expected. He seemed to be heading to the beginner area. That was a rare sight to see. Generally speaking, the clans would use the training spots given to them by the military to send Supers who had strong powers or had reached bottlenecks in their cultivation. Thus, most of the Supers, even the twerps like this batch, would at least go to the mid-level training areas meant for those around the peak of internalization.

    Same for this group, all four of the clans had gone to Lightning Canyon, which was an advanced beginner training area. It seemed like most of the trainees were in internalization. Normally they might find the Lightning Canyon difficult, but because they could group up they were able to train there without too much risk.

    "Why would this kid not go meet up with his clan? Did they not tell him where they were going ahead of time?"

    Stacy just shook her head. It's not like it mattered to her one way or another. She sat down and settled in to watch.
     
  8. Daoist Darknorth

    Daoist Darknorth New Member

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    Chapter 6: Planet Red Hell (3)

    Braden panted as he climbed a hill. Around him trees loomed like giants, casting shade on the soil tinted red from the nearby sun.

    He checked the map.

    "I should be close. It should be just on the other side of this hill." Groaning, Braden continued trudging up the hill.

    He could see the crest and knew he was almost there.

    The increased gravity didn't seem to be stimulating his potential, but it did give him a good workout.

    As someone who had never had powers, Braden didn't underestimate the importance of training his own body. Only by becoming familiar with his body and increasing his limits could he have a fighting chance against low level Supers.

    Take the fight that happened earlier at the clan. True, Braden employed strategy to win.

    But ultimately, if he wasn't familiar with how to move his body and exercise his strength, he would have been unable to dodge and attack as he did.

    The trees fell away as he walked close to the top. Braden finally crested the top of the hill.

    He bent double, catching his breath, before looking up and taking in the sight of the training ground.

    A lake lay below at the center of a clearing in the forest. Despite the eerie red light that permeated the planet, the lake appeared beautiful. A majestic ruby red, the lake glittered like a gem.

    Surrounding it was low grass. On the far side of the lake lay dense forest. According to the map, that was where the true training area started.

    The creatures in the forest feared water and wouldn't approach anywhere close to the lake.
    Thus, this was one of the "safe-zones" for the beginner training area.

    Beginning the trek down to the lake, Braden felt relieved that gravity was finally working in his favor.
    Ahead lay a small shack. It looked like it was falling apart. Clearly no one had come here in a while, leading to the residence falling into disrepair.

    The shack was a simple thing, made of wood. It was small, consisting mainly of a sleeping area.
    People didn't come here to play around or to vacation, so the facilities were kept to a minimum.

    Dropping his pack in the shed, Braden went to the lake and splashed water on his face. According to the information on the map, while the water here couldn't be drank, it was at least safe to wash with.
    Enjoying the cool feeling of the water, Braden looked to the far side of the lake. Although the trees over there didn't look different, they somehow gave off a sinister feeling.

    Drying his face on his sleeve, Braden went back into the shack. He grabbed the knife from the pack, put it on his belt, and went back outside.

    "Time to start training." Braden said to himself to alleviate the silence.

    He began to walk around the lake, heading to the other side of the trees. Despite being called training areas, these training areas were really about life and death combat. Each area had beasts of different strength. In the beginning area, every beast was one that could be defeated by a weak Super.

    Thus, to Braden, a non-Super, this area carried much more danger.

    After an hour he reached the other side of the lake.

    Walking into the trees, Braden took out his knife and held it in a strong grip.

    Advancing forward ten paces, he kept his eye around him.

    However, nothing jumped out at him.

    Relaxing a little, he advanced further in.

    "I thought there would be more beasts," Braden thought to himself, still eyeing his surroundings as he walked.

    Suddenly he felt a sharp pain on his leg. Looking down, he saw a vine had stabbed through his calf muscle.

    Shouting in pain, he took the large combat knife and hacked at the vine. The knife bit halfway through the vine. A shrieking sound rang out from deeper into the trees. The vine that had stabbed into his leg withdrew and began shrinking back into the forest.

    Putting the pain to the back of his mind, Braden went on the offensive and ran towards the sound he had heard.

    About twenty meters off the path, he saw what he could only describe as a vine monster.

    It must have been a carnivorous plant at some point, but the radiation from the nearby sun had clearly caused it to evolve in a freakish way. Sharp vines waved around all around it. At the center of the vines was a flower. At the center of the flower was a mouth full of sharp teeth.

    "It must use the vines to pierce prey and then drag it back to the flower to feed," Braden observed to himself.

    Out loud he said, "Pretty vicious for a dandelion aren't you?"

    He ran at the flower, and the vines reacted to his presence.

    Four vines flew out at him at waist height. He dodged to the left, avoiding them. Continuing to run forward he hacked at the vines that were now on his right.

    The knife cut into one of the vines, drawing another shriek from the freakish flower.

    Continuing forward, he saw the flower send all it's remaining vines chopping at him. Unlike before, they weren't trying to pierce him, but were being swung horizontally to whip at him.

    As the vine whip approached, Braden slid on one leg below the vines, getting close to the flower.
    Acting quickly, he rolled over and reached the knife towards the flower stem.

    He cut at the stem, cleaving it in one blow. The flower let out one last shriek before falling. The vines behind Braden went limp and fell to the ground.

    Braden panted as he stared at the flower in front of him.

    As the adrenaline faded, his leg began to hurt.

    Blood still dripped down the leg, soaking into his sock.

    "I was too reckless this time," Braden thought to himself, shaking his head. "If it had been a bit smarter or faster, I'd have been in trouble. Not to mention, I let myself get ambushed and put at a disadvantage."

    He couldn't help it though. He didn't expect for even the plants to be hostile here. Beasts were common, but carnivorous plants were something he hadn't seen before.

    Suddenly the surroundings seemed much more sinister.

    Gathering himself, Braden began walking back the way he had come.

    "It's getting dark anyways, might as well call it a day."

    Walking back towards the residence, Braden relaxed a bit, and shook his head.

    "After going to this all this trouble, I'd better awaken to a Super ability. Otherwise, I'm just putting myself at risk for no reason."

    Starting to limp, as the sun set over the red jewel that was the lake, Braden was filled with hopes tempered by a lifetime of disappointments.

    "Tomorrow will be a new day." He thought to himself, as he arrived back at the residence, and limped inside to bandage himself up.
     
  9. Daoist Darknorth

    Daoist Darknorth New Member

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    Chapter 7: Raiding Party

    Braden woke up.

    He felt the same as ever.

    "Most people are excited when they turn sixteen. They get to drive a car on their own, or, if they're a Super, attend the entrance exam for the Academy. For me, I feel nothing. No sadness, nor excitement. I am as I expected: normal." Braden thought to himself as it dawned on him he woke up on his sixteenth birthday and didn't awaken to a power.

    Thus ended his aspirations to become a Super. None of the descendants of the Supers had awoken to powers after they turned sixteen.

    Braden sighed, as he stretched, and wondered what he should do with himself now.

    ***

    Elsewhere on Planet Red Hell:

    Stacy Sage and her squad of ten watched the screens.

    Last night Stacy had been shocked. Not by any outstanding performance, but by what she had seen when Braden fought the carnivorous flower.

    "Captain, do you really think one of the clans sent a non-Super here?" One of the squad members said.

    Stacy just shook her head. Braden clearly had not used any Super ability when fighting the flower.
    Even when his life was in danger. If he had powers he would have used them.

    "I don't know what the clans were thinking." She shook her head in disbelief.

    Suddenly alarms blared, and the room flashed red.

    "Alert! Alert!" A robotic voice blared. "Unknown alien lifeform detected entering the safety zone!"

    The squad stood up simultaneously.

    "Hostiles spotted! Screen 8!" One squad member shouted.

    The screen showed 3 alien lifeforms.

    Stacy Sage drew in a sharp breath.

    It was the Outsiders.

    "It's a raiding party!" Stacy explained. "They must have been sent to kill the recruits here. It's common sense that the clans would send their most promising Supers right before the Academy exam."

    "But we're at peace with the Outsiders!" A squad member exclaimed. "They wouldn't risk war by raiding us."

    "Naive," Stacy shook her head. "They can just claim that the raiders were outlaws. They probably already put them on a wanted list. No way to prove that this was a sanctioned operation."
    Stacy gathered herself.

    "Stop standing around wool-gathering. Signal Pangea, let them know what's going on. In the meantime, let's move out to protect the younglings from the clans."

    The squad began moving hurriedly, getting ready in the span of thirty seconds.

    As they prepared to move out, one of them hesitated.

    "Captain, what about the non-Super? Should we send someone to protect him?"

    Stacy shook her head.

    "The three Outsiders are clearly moving towards the Lightning Canyon. They must have a scout type ability. We can best protect everyone by directly confronting them."

    So saying, Stacy led her squad out of the bunker. One of the Supers used their power of telekinesis to lift the squad, and fly towards Lightning Canyon.
     
  10. Daoist Darknorth

    Daoist Darknorth New Member

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    Chapter 8: Prepare for Combat

    The squad flew for 10 minutes. The face of the Super controlling the flight had turned pale with exhaustion.

    "Enemies sighted! Directly ahead!" A member of the squad who had enhanced eyesight shouted above the sound of the wind.

    "Let's drop down and prepare to engage," Captain Stacy Sage ordered.

    The Super controlling the flight let out a sigh of relief as he began the descent.

    "The gravity here is no joke. It cut my flight range in half," He said shakily.

    "Good work soldier. Take a rest here. We'll handle the rest." Stacy said.

    As they approached, the Outsiders seemed to realize something and turned around.

    "Damn it," Stacy swore. "Their scout detected us."

    "Prepare for combat!"

    As the two sides drew closer together the tension built.

    Although the squad dispatched by Pangea had the numbers advantage, years of competition in the Tournament had shown that Earthlings were generally far weaker than the Supers of the Outsider planets. The Parisians especially, the race that initially invaded the Earth, were notoriously strong. It took the combined might of the Intergalactic Alliance that organized the Tournament to keep the Parisians in check.

    As the two sides collided the air shook as powers collided.

    Elsewhere on Planet Red Hell:

    Braden Nolan sat by the lake in the beginning training area.

    Things were peaceful, but rather than enjoying the peace, Braden felt bored.

    Letting out a sigh, he shifted positions.

    "I really wish I didn't have to wait here until the training ended."

    Suddenly Braden heard a muted but all encompassing concussive sound from the west.

    The wind picked up, causing rough waves to form on the originally placid lake. The leaves in the trees surrounding the clearing shook, creating an ominous sound.

    Braden looked in the direction of the sound, and noticed the air was wavering. As he watched, lightning struck in the distance, once, twice. Sounds of thunder rolled towards him.

    "Did something happen?" Braden wondered. "It looks like the bodyguards were forced to take action."

    As Braden considered this, he heard a sudden sound from behind him. Turning, he saw a man swinging a blade about to chop down on him.

    Shouting, he dropped down, trying to dodge the blade. His quick reaction saved his life, but didn't spare him the pain of the blade. It left a shallow cut on his back by his shoulder blades. If he hadn't moved so quickly, it might have decapitated him.

    He quickly rolled away and sprung up, gaining some distance.

    "*#%&@)(#*)" The man spoke, but Braden didn't recognize the language.

    "Is it an Outsider?" Braden trembled as he came to a conclusion.

    "How did he get here though? Why didn't the guards stop him?"

    As he panicked, the man grinned, and began stepping backwards. As he did, he seemed to fade from sight.

    Looking around, Braden tried to grasp the man's location. His senses felt heightened as adrenaline pumped through his veins. He noticed a patch of grass moving on his left side.

    Diving to the right, he rolled forward. As he did so, the air shimmered as the man appeared mid swing, the blade cutting through where Braden had been standing previously.

    The man cocked his head. "*#(@$$))@#*?" Braden couldn't understand him, but the inflection of his voice made it clear he was asking a question.

    The man realized Braden had no clue what he was saying and shook his head. Braden switched from English to Common and asked, "Who are you, why are you doing this?"

    The man looked surprised, then said in broken Common. "Not matter. You die. Use power. Maybe you die slower."

    He grinned like a fox in the hen house, and began fading from sight again.

    Braden calmed himself as he began to understand the situation. From the looks of things, this Outsider had come to kill the Supers that were training here. Such things, while uncommon, weren't unheard of.

    "Just my luck," Braden shook his head bitterly. "I'm not even a Super, but I'm still the target of an assassination."

    Resigning himself to the unfairness of the situation, Braden focused, trying to sense where the next attack would come from. The wind from the distant fight caused the grass to shake, making it difficult to determine the location of the Outsider.

    The air thickened, and lightning cracked in the distance.

    As the thunder roared and lightning flashed, deafening and blinding Braden, the Outsider appeared behind him slashing his blade. Throwing his arm up, Braden took the blade on his forearm. It bit halfway through, hitting bone. The pain nearly made him blackout.

    Reeling away, Braden clutched his wounded arm with his other hand, trying to stop the bleeding.

    The man followed him leisurely. He seemed curious about something.

    "You...no power?"

    Braden continued stumbling away, not bothering to answer.

    The man shook his head, "Unlucky. Makes no difference. You die either way. But I get money less."

    At this point Braden had managed to stumble his way into the small shack. Collapsing towards the bed, he flung his arm out to catch himself on the small table next to the bed.

    The man followed him inside.

    He casually walked up to Braden. Raising his blade, he said in a bored tone, "You die now."

    The blade began to swing down.
     

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