“Jason fixed his shaggy hair and left the room. He was 19, and had to get back home to study. He was on the basketball team, but not considered buff. He had a short temper and always needed something to do.”
He walked back to the clinic. “How’s life?” Jason asked.
“Fine, for someone with cancer,” Jack responded, who was in his hospital bed.
“Well, if there’s anything I can do, tell me.” Jason paced around the room.
“Ugh, I hate this waiting. I wish you would either get better or… or something would happen!” Jason exclaimed. Jack had been diagnosed with cancer when he was 12.
“Well, it’s not like I can do anything!” Jack yelled.
Jason fixed his shaggy hair and left the room. He was 19, and had to get back home to study. He was on the basketball team, but not considered buff. He had a short temper and always needed something to do. He was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 14. He was walking back to his dormitory on 118th street when his friend walked up to him.
“Hey, how’s Jack?” asked Brian, the star of the basketball team.
“In his words, ‘fine for someone with cancer,’” Jason replied.
“Well, that’s not that great of an answer,” Brian responded.
“What do you want me to say?” Jason said.
Jason walked onto the college campus. He went to Columbia University. He was in his second year of college and was hoping to graduate with a master’s degree in engineering. People were all over the campus. He walked to his dorm building and sat on the steps, contemplating all that had happened that day. He needed to calm down. He had almost lost his temper on the basketball coach during a game, but Brian had gotten him out of the jam. The coach said Jason had a real problem and that he might need to see a therapist.
Chapter 2 (2 Weeks Later)
Jason knocked on the door. “Who is it?” the person behind it answered.
“It’s Jason, for the 7:15 appointment.”
“Ok, come in.”
He opened the door and laid on the couch. The therapist was sitting behind a desk with bookshelves to his left and right. He was wearing a sweater and a button down shirt with yellow jeans.
“Ok, Jason. Tell me, what angers you?”
“Well, a lot of things, but mainly, my friend Jack has cancer and I can’t deal with the waiting and not knowing what’s going to happen. It’s just scary, I don’t want to lose him, but I can’t wait much longer.”
“It seems you need to get your mind off of Jack and try to understand what’s happening to him.”
“Well, Jack isn’t having any surgeries and besides basketball, I do nothing else. What do you suggest?”
“Maybe try and get more involved in your school work.”
“Well, I’ll try that, but I’m not so sure it will work.”
Jason left the room, took the C train to 110th street and walked over to campus. “So, what did the therapist say?” his dorm mate asked.
“He says to get my mind of Jack by becoming more invested in my schoolwork.”
“That’s not the worst thing recommended by a therapist.”
Jason put down his school bag, pulled out his homework and laid down on his bed. Today had been good for Jason, something new happened. He tried to focus more on his schoolwork but he would always lose focus, even when he tried to work on the tiniest of things. He blamed it on his ADHD.
One day, he looked outside to the lion statues on campus. He looked back at his schoolwork and five minutes later when he looked outside, the statues were right outside his dorm! He was surprised and scared but also wanted to go outside and prove they had really moved. Finally, his curious got the best of him and he walked outside. When he opened the door, the lions spoke to him. “You are the only one who can see us. We can show you magical things but you cannot tell anyone. If you do, you will never see us again. Do you promise to never tell anyone?”
“Yes, I promise,” Jason said.
“Good. We will contact you when we need to.”
Jason walked away. He was puzzled by their words, “When we need to.” What did that mean? He turned back to them but saw the usual college students, chatting away. He resumed school as normal, but always had the lions on his mind. He wondered if what they had said was true, if no one else could see them but him. There had to be someone else.
Three Months Later…
It was a late Tuesday night, about 10:30 p.m. and Jason was studying. Then, the lions appeared. They seemed to pull him outside. It was like the lions could control his curiosity. “We need you now. Come with us.” The lions were being very conspicuous. A black sedan appeared out of the ground directly in front of him. “Get in,” the lions said. He got in the car.
“I have to say, for a car that just came out of the ground, this is pretty comfortable,” Jason thought.
“Wow, really, Jason, you’re thinking about that. Why did we recruit you?”
“Wait, what? How do you know that?”
“Put two and two together, Jason. Figure it out.”
“Oh, ok, so you can read my mind now? Can I read minds now, too?”
“In time, Jason, you will learn. But for now, you need to learn the basics.”
“Basics of what?”
“The basics of controlling people.”
“Yes, manipulating people to get exactly what you want.”
“Oh.” Jason was quiet for the rest of the car ride. He thought about what the lions had said. Did he really want to do this? Yes. He had to. It was the only way to stop thinking about Jack. The car ride finally ended. He got out of the car. “Where are we?” Jason asked.
“You don’t need to know that, so we won’t tell you.”
“Our people do not like to waste time, so when we do not need to tell someone something, we do not.”
“That is a weird reason,” Jason thought.
“We can still read your thoughts.”
“Oh sorry, I forgot.”
They walked inside the building. It looked like a miniature castle with its and stone structure and towers. They walked four flights up a spiral staircase made of stone, with creaky wooden railings.
“Here is your partner, Jason.” A girl about 5’8” with long flowy blonde hair walked in with her own set of lions. “She will guide you through the basic training.”
“Nice to meet you, I’m… “
“I know who you are, Jason.”
“And who are you, then?”
“I’m Lara Walker. That’s all you need to know. Let me show you around the building.”
They entered the first door on their left. “What’s this?” Jason asked.
“This is the sleeping quarters.”
“Will I stay here?”
“While you participate in your training, you will stay here. After you complete your training, you will have the option to stay and be a mentor or work with the lions.”
“So, how many others are there?”
“We don’t know. The lions search around the world at campuses and school buildings for kids who can see them.”
“So how many are here?”
“Three others, making five altogether. I’ll introduce you to them when I’m done showing you around.”
They walked over to a set of white double doors.
“Is this the cafeteria?”
“We call it the mess hall, or the mess for short.”
“Ok, cool. Are there preset eating times or can you just walk in?”
“Well, both. From 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., you can get breakfast. From 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., you can get lunch, and from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. you can get dinner. These times work in with your practice schedule but if you have time for any reason, you can stop by and grab a snack.”
They came to a long narrow hallway.
“What’s this?” Jason asked.
“These are the training facilities and classrooms.”
“Is that all?”
“…All of the building, yes.”
“I thought it would be bigger, for a secret hideout.”
“It’s not really a hideout, more like a training ground. Follow me.”
“To the others, remember?”
“Oh yeah, sorry,” Jason apologized. “They’re in class?”
“Yes. Good improvement on self-learning, Jason,” Lara remarked.
They walked into classroom number 504. “Who’s this?” asked the class in unison.
“Class, this is a new recruit, Jason.”
“Nice to meet you, Jason,” greeted some of the class. “Hi, Jason,” greeted the rest of the class.
“So, what’s this class working on?” Jason asked.
“We’re studying how to figure out what a person wants so you can manipulate them.”
“Oh.” Jason sat through the rest of the class.
“Did you like the class?” asked one of his classmates.
“Yeah, but I thought it was a bit weird.”
“We all do. But it’s better than where we came from so we’ll take it.”
Four Months Later…
While everyone was eating, the lions walked into the cafeteria and asked everyone to silence themselves. “Students, we, the lions, have an announcement to make. The training you have gone through was not actually to learn how to manipulate. It was to learn offense and defense against…The Hidden. The Hidden are an elitist group who believe if you are inferior in one thing, you are inferior in everything. Our ancestors tried to show them otherwise. They were assassinated. The Hidden are extremely good at what they do, which is killing people. We have been training your type of people because you are open to magic. The average person will write off magic as a ‘weird phenomenon’ or will not believe it happened in the first place. Open people accept magic, which is why you can see us. All we are made of and anything we own is magic, which makes you the only people who can see it. You five were chosen to defeat The Hidden, and that is what you will do. Sometimes you will work as a team but sometimes you will have to work on your own. Even though The Hidden aren’t much stronger than you, they have the power to break you. We will keep you updated as you work. Also, you will now work with the other lions. Tomorrow, we will have a meeting ceremony.”
The five kids were slightly shocked but one or two said, ”I knew it!” What was even stranger was that the day carried on as normal. But over the weeks, their training got harder. Soon they had personalized sessions and were working and learning for 8 to 11 hours a day. They had tight schedules and barely ever had free time. Then, one day, the lions had another announcement.
“Students, you have trained around the clock. Now your time has come to see what it is like in real battle. You will all graduate by the end of the week and will be doing field missions around the world. Do not worry about your other life. When you entered this building your outside life paused. When we are done with your services, or you wish to permanently leave, your life will resume as normal and you have the option of you memory being wiped as well. Understood?”
“Yes,” responded the five students.
Graduation was ten times more intense than the previous training. They fought battles against each other, cast spells they had been learning and worked in teams. They were split in half and faced the instructors in duos. Jason worked with Laura in duels and 1v1’s. These were the hardest because they faced the lions as well.
Finally, Jason and the group went on their first mission. Apparently, one of the scouts for the lions had found a fallen member in one of the college campuses.
“What is?” Jason asked.
“We didn’t expect them this far up,” the lions explained.
“What do you mean?”
“They’re usually not as aggressive as going to a campus to hunt for us.”
They took the appearing car (the same one Jason took when he arrived at the castle) to the campus. “What do we do when we find The Hidden member?” Jason asked.
“Do what you were taught,” said the lion.
“You mean, attack him or her?”
“Thats what you learned, correct?”
“If they are The Hidden, what are we?”
“Everyone used to be human. Then came The Hidden. The attack was called the Fall. We are the Survivors. You are the Guardians.”
“The Guardians of what?”
“The last remaining of my species. Only special humans that can see us are The Guardians.”
“Well, do you have the same technology as humans? Are you an advanced race or…?”
“Can you ask us the questions later, like after we take care of this Hidden?”
“You sound like a mafia mobster.”
They approached the Hidden member. “What are you doing!?”
“Umm, stopping you?”
“You want me to battle you ruffians? I am Canakis The Great! Only kings challenge me!”
“Well, we’re gonna do something to you.”
The battle commenced, exhausting everyone to the max. Jason and Lara were very helpful, as they had been partners in the graduation duet battles. Before the group finished him off or before he retreated, the lions came over to extract some information. This gave the group of guardians some time to relax. They were all around the age of 18, the oldest being 21. They sat down on park benches.
“That was new.”
“Don’t know if I could have killed him though.”
“He deserved it. He was snobbish.”
“He wasn’t that bad.”
“Not the rudest person I’ve met,” Lara said.
“Really?” Jason asked.
“Oh. Trust me, I’ve had some super snobs as friends.”
“You sure are acting snobbish.”
“Be quiet!” They both laughed.
“Today was fun. We work well together.”
She smiled at him. The rest of the group had broken up into their partnerships they had used at graduation. As the months passed, the group became more accustomed to fighting The Hidden and altogether became more friendly with each other. Partnerships were formed and bonds were made. Jason was having a lot of fun. Then came his next big problem.
“We have scouted a new power that is threatening to overcome The Hidden, The Survivors, The Guardians and possibly humanity. It is called The Monstrosity. They are a group of aliens connected to one source, one body of plasma, which is The Monstrosity. You will have two months of extra training based on what we have recovered from our scouts about The Monstrosity,” the Lions announced. “You will also have a two month break to visit people before we start the training. Colleges around the world have teachers and students that are recruiting Guardians like we are. You may know some.”
Jason was happy but surprised at the break the lions had given everyone one. Was it a sign? Could Jack be a recruiter? Jason felt confused.
Jason finally left with one of the lions to go to his campus in the strange appearing car. He said hello to everyone: Brian, the therapist, his roommates. Then, he went to visit Jack.
“Jack, I know…”
“I know what you’re about to say, Jason. Yes, I am a recruiter, yes, I did try to push you to the lions, and yes, the therapist is also a recruiter.”
“Whoa, how did you…?”
“I was trained too, Jason.”
“Oh. Well, that was all I was going to say, so, bye? I guess…”
“We can talk about normal things, if you want to.”
“Ok. How’s cancer life going?”
“Fairly horrible with a hint of…” Jack sighed.
“Well, this is awkward.”
“No. This is fine. I haven’t talked to anyone besides doctors in weeks. No one visits me besides the lions and they are boring too. Please talk to me. I won’t see you for months, maybe years. Please.”
“Well, if you put it that way, then I guess…” Jason trailed off. “Are you seeing anyone?”
“What do you mean?” Jack asked.
“Are you…dating someone? Like actually,” Jason said.
“No, boys in hospitals with cancer aren’t exactly popular.” Jack laughed.
“Nice to see your sense of humor. Always reassuring,” Jason said. “Anything else you wanna talk about?”
“Not really, but…”
“If you want to stop talking, that’s fine,” Jason said. “I know you can’t always talk and…”
“Jason, it’s fine. Go ahead. Leave if you want to, I don’t want to hold you back.”
Jason left and met back up with the lions. He asked the lions to go back to the facility.
“As you wish, but you don’t get to change your mind,” the lions said.
“Whatever,” Jason said.
He hopped in the car. The scenery around Jason drastically changed as they approached the facility. “Lions, do you know who trained Jack?”
“Yeah, only the best teacher. You should know who he is.”
“That’s cryptic,” Jason said.
The Lions ignored him for the rest of the ride. At the facility, he asked around to find Jack’s instructor, but couldn’t find him anywhere. He started get random headaches every now and then. They wouldn’t hurt that much but he would see flashes. Later those flashes got clearer. They were showing him something. But he didn’t know what it was. He told the lions about this. They seemed concerned.
“Can you see what the flashes depict?” they asked.
“How long have you been getting them?”
“Maybe two to three weeks.”
“Okay. Keep in touch. If you can ever see what the flashes are depicting, tell us.”
“Why?” Jason wanted to know.
“We think The Monstrosity may be trying to contact you. It’s been happening to Lara, too.”
“Is she ok?”
“She’s as good as you are.”
Jason left the lions and went back to his room. He traveled through the white hallways and contemplated on his talk with the lions.
Two Months Later…
Jason rushed to the lions. He had a flash of a pulsing piece of plasma and a fairly small circle was highlighted in red. As he started to talk, he saw Lara was saying the same things.
“I saw something in the flash!” Lara and Jason said together.
“What did you see?” the lion asked.
“I saw the location of The Monstrosity,” Lara said.
“I saw its weakness…the brain,” Jason said.
“So if we can get to the brain with Lara’s help, we can exploit its weakness thanks to Jason,” said one of the lions.
“Students, we have an announcement. Your fellow classmates Jason and Lara have had visions that tell us where The Monstrosity is and how to kill it. We have already made a pact with The Hidden, so The Monstrosity is our main target. You know how to kill it and you know why to kill it, so let’s destroy our last enemy. That is all.”
Everyone was a little shaken up by the last talk, so they all took a nap. Jason kept having the flashes about The Monstrosity. People asked him and Lara, “What does it look like?” and “Where does it live?” or “How do we kill it?” It got a little annoying. Eventually, everyone stopped asking. They went through different stages. At first, they wanted to do the mission, then they got scared, then they just didn’t care. Finally, they went on the mission.
“According to Lara’s flashes, we will find The Monstrosity’s core in Hamburg, Germania. We will go there and kill it!” said one of the lions.
They arrived at a huge volcano and started to climb it. It was very rough ground. Once they reached the top, they saw The Monstrosity. It was a colorful mix of blue and purple, uglier than a face that had been shot. It had veins on it and spanned the whole gap of the volcano. In its center was a red and greenish dot-like mark that looked like a target. Some of the kids asked Lara, “Is that what we’re supposed attack?” At first she was a little confused, because it didn’t look as clear as it had in her flashes, but then she said yes. They asked the lions what to do next but their answer was cryptic: “You should know what to do already.”
They decided the best idea was to head down the volcano so they could attack the dot-thing in the middle. Using some cables and black harnesses, The Guardians began to descend down the bottom of the volcano’s cavern. It was very dark. Someone lit a lantern so they could see. Finally, they reached the bottom of the volcano.
“Do we have to step on the plasma thingy?” asked one of The Guardians.
“I think so,” Lara said.
“I’m washing my shoes after this,” Jason said.
They walked over to the dot-thing and started attacking it. They even stomped on it. But nothing happened. Next, The Guardians started falling down. Jason walked over to one of them. He had tranquilizer darts in the back of his neck. Then, suddenly, black, white and sunlight. Jason woke up in a white room with two people in lab coats staring at him.
“What happened?” he asked.
“This might hurt a little.”
Suddenly, a needle injected him. As he screamed, the light fades. Jason woke up looking out of his dorm window. His roommates were staring at him. He didn’t care. He could see everything but the lions.