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March 16th

Somewhere off the Coast of Kenya

            It had been about seven hours since The Elites left London, and Sapphire was showing no signs of fatigue. The distant android was making his way to Kampala to find an Elite that had been considered as a candidate by Ruby months ago. About an hour later, he landed in an open field in the Ugandan Capital. He changed into civilian clothes and headed into the city. 

Kampala was a very large city, so Zach quickly got to work, searching for the other Elite. He went up to a crowded restaurant and walked up to the bar. “You can’t sit there kid.” The bartender said with a thick Swahili accent. “You gotta be eighteen to get anything from the bar.” Zach replied “ I don’t drink. I’m just looking for someone. I’m looking for Marquan Johnson.” The bartender replied “Yes. He’s a regular around here. The world needs more people like Mr. Johnson.” Zach then asked, “You have any idea where I can find him this late in the day?” The bartender said “If anything he’s at the Makerere University Campus. It’s a mile walk. And I would hurry if I were you. It’s not safe to be out and about as a tourist this late.” Zach headed for the door and said: “I think I can handle myself.” Outside the pub, Zach ran as fast as he could to quickly make it to the college. 

A few blocks away from the campus he stopped. There were a bunch of men standing at the end of the block, wearing masks that looked like the skulls of wildebeest. They noticed Zach immediately and started walking towards him. One of them spoke in the Swahili tongue “Je! Wewe ni mpiganaji, au wewe ni mawindo?” It took Zach a moment to realize that his translator was never repaired. He then said “Umm. Sorry. I’m looking for Makerere. There’s someone there that I really need to meet so I’ll just be on my way.” He started to walk past them, but then his arm was grabbed by one of the men. Defending himself, Zach kicked him between his legs. The man dropped to the ground, clutching his groin in pain. One of the other men then pulled a dagger. As he swung it at Zach, he caught the blade between his hands and gripped his arm. With the dagger now behind Zach, he pushed upon the man’s elbow, breaking it instantly. The last man standing then shot a dart at Zach, and it struck him in the neck. Unfazed, Zach said, “Is that all you got?” The man then pulled a trigger from his jacket pocket and pushed it. The tag that was pinned on Zach emitted a piercing screech, causing him to collapse onto the ground. The screech caused him to have a seizure. After a moment the screeching stopped, and the man in the wildebeest mask carried him off.

Berlin, Germany

0900 Local Time

            It was morning in the German city, and one man was running late for their project. When he reached the lab on his college campus, his partner asked in German “Running late again Doctor?” The Doctor replied “I’m never late. The Lab opens when I say it does. And I am on time I just had a late start.” He put his key in the door and opened the lab. “Now if any of you need me I’ll be in my lab upstairs.” The Doctor walked up to the spiral staircase of the modern building and unlocked his door. Inside the lab was a large suit held up by chains, a bunch of experimental weapons, and blueprints for a new stealth plane. Suddenly he heard a voice coming from atop his shelf. “Dr. Großel. You’re a hard man to find.” Großel was startled and replied in English “Hello Nicole. To what do I owe the pleasure. Another drive you need me to decode? Or maybe some new weapons to make would be nice you never visit darling.

            Doctor Albert Großel was fairly tall, about six feet, with untidied brown hair and blue eyes. He was also pretty young, no older than twenty. Nicole jumped down from the shelf and stood in front of him. “So this is your new lab huh. It’s nice, organized as always. Given it’s a lot harder to find, but that’s a good thing.” Albert said “Yes I like it here. But why are you here? You Elites have been all over the news here. The media is really loving you guys.” Nicole responded “Some things have gone down in the past couple of weeks. I’m not here to ask you to jump into action, but rather to warn you. Endgame is out to get not just us, but all of our kind. We just need to ask that you watch your back and stay aware.” Albert replied, “That can’t be all that you came here to tell me.” Nicole pulled a communicator out of her pouch and said “I also came to give you this. A communicator. It’ll allow you to stay in contact with us, and warn us if you’re attacked.” Großel paused, and asked, “So you’re gonna try taking the battle to them?” “I’m not sure. But we want to eventually. But for now, we’re staying low. Don’t tell anyone I was here.” Nicole said, opening a window. “Take care of yourself, Doctor.” In an instant, she leaped out the open window and into a bush below. Albert looked down to see Nic climbing out of the bushes and running off.

Kampala, Uganda

            When Zach awoke, he was bound to a chair. His face had blue markings on his forehead and cheeks. “What is this?” He asked. One of the men standing by replied in English “An opportunity. Your presence has been requested in The Ring. You’re gonna have to fight for your freedom now.” He spoke in English, and Zach recognized him immediately. “You’re that guy with the spazz darts aren’t you.” The man then pulled out the trigger and replied “Yeah, and if I were you I would be careful. It’s still armed.” Zach was released from the chair, but the chains still tied him to it. He was prompted to walk towards a wall with a vast array of weapons. “Choose your weapons of choice. And choose wisely, for there will be no weapon changes during the match.” The man said. Zach chose a sword with a weighted tip and a switchblade cleaver. He then asked, “Who am I fighting?” The man replied “The Champion. The most powerful of all our contestants. Some say he’s inhuman, but I think it’s just a deadly mix gone right. Beat the champion in a fight, and you go free.” Zach asked another question “What happens if I lose?” The man continued “You don’t lose. In The Ring, it’s victory or death.” “How can I meet this Champion?” Zach asked while walking to another wall. The wall he stepped up to then opened into a small room. “Step forward and face the wall.” The man said. “And what should we call you?” Zach said “How about Black Ice. That sounds cool.” The entrance he came in through closed. While he had no heart, Zach was terrified of what could happen in The Ring if the Champion was as dangerous as everybody said he was. Over the loudspeaker, it said “Let’s begin. Up first we have a newcomer to the ring. He’s answered the call to action.” The doors in front of Zach suddenly opened. He removed his clothing to reveal his black and white Sapphire suit underneath. “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, INTRODUCE TO YOU THE ONE AND ONLY: BLACK ICE!!!” Zach walked into the arena in full gear and raised his sword. The crowd cheered for him, knowing he would not last long. The loudspeaker came back on “AND NOW, THE MOMENT YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR. THE ONE AND ONLY CHAMPION OF THE RING. THE MIGHTY, BRUTAL, AND RELENTLESS MTU NYEKUNDU: THE REDMAN!!!!!!” The crowd went wild as the doors opened. Out stepped a tall and muscular man. He was wearing all red, with a silver chain around his neck and gauntlets on his arms. His hair was short and dark brown. He carried two mighty hatchets that shook the earth as he swung them at his side. “Oh damn, he’s a big one,” Zach muttered under his breath. The Redman then ran directly at him. As he got closer Zach could tell he was much larger than him. Redman leaped fifteen feet in the air with his hatchets raised. Zach rolled to the side just as the hatchets pierced into the ground, shaking the entire stadium. Zach then took his sword and tried to stab into Redman’s back, but when the blade made contact, nothing happened. Redman quickly turned around and swung his blade right at Zach. The force of the blade launched him into a wall.  Redman then ran towards the dented wall. He raised his axes again and swung down, but Zach managed to block them with his sword. This wouldn’t stop Redman from pushing harder on Zach. While he was up close, Zach recognized him immediately. It was Marquan Johnson. “I don’t wanna fight you!” Zach said. Redman replied, “You can’t escape fate, my friend.” Zach then forced his sword off to his right, which caused Redman to drop one of his hatchets. He then swung around and pressed his blade against Marquan’s throat, hoping to strangle him until he passed out, to no avail. Redman fell backward, crushing Zach underneath his bulky mass. However, he was able to lift Redman off of him. The crowd went silent as Zach picked up Redman, and pushed him backward. He grabbed his sword and one of Redman’s hatchets and ran directly at him. Redman used his only axe and blocked the sword, and grabbed the hatchet mid-swing. Caught in between swings, Zach then used the sword to disarm Redman again. As he did, Zach was tossed to the other side of the arena. “I’m done holding back,” Redman said. He spoke in English, and his accent was not very hard to understand. Zach dropped both his weapons and said: “That makes two of us.” He reached behind his neck, and clawed out the pin, holding it in his hands. Redman started walking towards Zach and ran faster and faster. He leaped into the air while Zach stood still. Just before Redman hit the ground, Zach leaped out of the way. He turned around and punched Redman in the jaw. With him stunned, Zach took the opportunity to slap the pin on his opponent’s back without anybody noticing. He continued to beat up on the downed fighter. The men in the box above noticed this and realized that Redman could not win this fight alone. “Kill it.” One of them said. The person that captured Zach now held the trigger. 

            Before Zach could lay the final blow, Redman swept his leg, laying him out on the ground. As Zach fell, the screeching noise came back. In an instant, Redman fell to the ground. Before the pin could kill him, Zach pulled it off his back. He threw it on the floor and crushed it. He put his hand to Redman’s chest to see if he was breathing. After a moment, he felt his chest moving. At this point, people in the stands were starting to rush down to take back their fighter. Zach then converted his hand into a cannon and held it to Redman’s head. “Get any closer and he gets it!” He yelled. “We’re getting out of here.” The man who captured him said “Guards Aim! You’re going nowhere. You’re one of those Elites. We know you’re bluffing.” Zach continued “Do you really wanna try that? Hey sniper! Pull that trigger and he’s dead before I hit the ground.” When nobody moved, Zach then said “Do you think I was bluffing when I rigged that nuke in Pyongyang? I’m the real freaking deal!” Zach then loaded his cannon, and Redman could feel the cold on his cheek. After a moment, the guards finally lowered their weapons. 

Zach took Redman and broke into one of the cars nearby. He drove him back to the College Campus and put him in bed. After a while, Marquan woke up with a massive headache. He saw Zach standing in the corner. “You’re lucky I didn’t kill you. Your band of criminals thought I was bluffing, and they were really lucky I was.” Marquan asked, “Who the hell are you?” Zach continued “My name is Zach, and I’m an Elite. I was sent to warn you before getting sidetracked. Anyway, my friends have reason to believe that you and countless other Elites are in grave danger.” Marquan asked, “What do you need of me then?” Zach replied “Nothing. I only came to give you this.” He handed Marquan one of the new communicators. “This will allow you to contact us if anything happens here.” “Does this mean I’m in your club yet?” Marquan asked, smirking. “No. This is just a measure to make sure you stay alive. The International Union is only for the living my friend.” Zach opened the window and was ready to leave. “I was supposed to be out of here in two hours tops. Now the sun is rising. What a night!”

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Jeremy Gay
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