Hugh’s heart stopped as he saw Aric on the ring. He was supposed to fight Tanner, but Aric was the one standing in front of him.
He looked around and found his professor, but it seemed that he was busy dealing with other students. His eyes spotted Tanner in another ring, and they stared at each other.
Tanner jeered at him while letting his tongue out, taunting him as he flexed his muscles. He looked towards Aric again and guessed that Aric switched places with Tanner to fight him.
Hugh’s eyebrows furrowed together as he was in a predicament. His fists balled up, trembling as he gathered all the strength in his arms.
He knew that fighting with Aric would only lead to a loss or worse; he would be forced to use his transformation. Hugh decided that he should not fight Aric, so he walked away from the ring and ask professor Kain to switch him with someone else.
Aric moved quickly as he pushed his hand on Aric’s chest, successfully stopping him. Hugh frowned at Aric, annoyed at his arrogance.
Aric smiled, seeing that he had riled up Hugh. He still had his smile on his face, yet it was not charismatic like the one he always had. It was more of a sneer with a tint of anger. He looked towards Hugh and found nothing special on him, just his plain weak self.
He could not stop his anger as reddish flames burned in his hair.
“Where are you going, fatty?”
Hugh did not want to back down from a fight with Aric. With Hugh’s feet planted firmly on the ground, he activated his armor on his left hand and tried to push Aric away.
Aric seemed to have guessed his thoughts as he slid away from the hand, making Hugh lose his balance. His hands tried to grab Aric’s clothes, grasping at anything to keep him from falling.
Aric slapped his hands away while he used his other hand to push Hugh down the ground.
Hugh fell on his face, eating the ground. His weight only served to increase the damage when he fell. His eyebrows knitted together as he spat out the soil in his mouth. He used his strength and gathered it on his legs as he tried to stand up.
Aric was not going to let this chance slip by as he pushed Hugh’s head on the ground. He used his hands to keep Hugh from getting back up as he squatted and whispered next to his ear.
“Where’s your transformation now, bastard.”
Hugh’s face contorted into anger as he felt the humiliation from Aric’s actions. He was once again forced into submission, even when he thought his life had changed because of his Desire.
He only felt a split second of self-pity until he channeled it all into his rage. He activated his armor again, leaking silver and brown liquid on his left arm. It solidified into explosive power, ready to be released at any time.
Hugh reared his left hand and punched Aric’s body. Aric already saw Hugh’s preparation as he separated from his body, dodging the attack.
This left Hugh to recover from his fall and try to regain his footing. He wiped the dirt on his face, stood up, and faced Aric. He was ready for a full-on fight after the humiliation he just endured.
As he stood up, he noticed an eery lack of sounds coming from his surroundings. He looked around and saw that everybody was looking towards the ring where he and Aric fought.
They were not fighting like they were supposed to, but instead were chatting and gossiping about his fight. He looked to the right and saw the professor observing him with interest. Hugh looked at his hands and saw a pamphlet; it was the same pamphlet that Veer, the mysterious reporter, had given everybody.
It became clear to Hugh that everyone wanted to watch the fight between him and Aric. They wanted to know if the contents of the pamphlet were correct; even the professor was interested.
It seemed that it would be useless to complain to the professor about the sudden change of fighters in the ring. The professor probably noticed from the beginning and did not want to change it.
This fight got harder. With everyone’s eyes on him, Hugh would not be able to use his transformation. He felt truly alone with everybody against him and out to get him.
He backed into a corner of the ring as he faced Aric with anger plastered on his face. He had no choice but to fight to the best of his abilities without the transformation.
“Why? Why do you want to fight me?”
Aric did not answer him as his whole body flared up into a reddish flame. The ground beneath him burned into a crisp as he accelerated towards Hugh.
Hugh did not back down any longer as he activated his armor on his left arm. Hugh matched Aric’s attack as their fists met at the center, creating shockwaves throughout the surroundings.
Aric did not stop his attack as he used his other hand to punch Hugh in his gut. Hugh reacted by releasing the tension in his arm, retracting the silver and brown liquid back into his body. He gathered it all into his core as his armor transferred to his belly, making it as strong as steel.
Aric’s punch collided with a solid gut, negating its damage and creating reverberations in his arm. His eyebrows furrowed as it seemed that Hugh improved his Desire.
Previously, Hugh was only able to defend for a moment until his Desire ran out. Aric planned to take advantage of that fact and attack Hugh in different parts of his body so that he would not be able to defend himself.
In such a short amount of time, Hugh was able to improve his Desire. It was almost a monstrous rate of improvement that seemed to rival S-rank talents. Aric threw the scary thought out of his mind as he continued to attack Hugh.
Aric lifted his right leg and reared it back. The reddish flame gathered in his foot, almost looking like it would explode. The sole of his foot spout intense flame, accelerating the kick and doubling the damage.
The attack was too fast for Hugh to dodge. The only possible way out of this was to tank the damage by gathering his armor on his thighs.
His silver and brown liquid gathered at his thighs, just in time for the kick to arrive at his body.
The kick collided with Hugh’s armor, but the force was too great as Hugh was forced back. Hugh felt a stinging pain from his thighs that made him limp away.
Everybody watched the fight with awe and interest. Judging from the first few attacks, it seemed that the two of them were at a stalemate.
Serena was observing the fight without any visible expression. Her thoughts were mysterious as she eyed the dispute closely.
“Serena, who do you think will win?”
One of her friends tapped her shoulder and asked her about her opinion on the fight. She did not look back as she answered confidently.
“Aric will win.”
The declaration was like a cheerleader who was proud of her boyfriend in the varsity team. This made the girls in her circle giddy with excitement.
“Kyaaaaa. You’re so sweet cheering for your boyfriend!”
Even though Serena and Aric had just met, the people around them were already assuming they were a couple. They ignored the fact that they had not even spoken a word at each other.
Serena was silent at the girls’ implication, essentially a stamp of approval in the girls’ eyes. They laughed and teased each other as they felt the sweetness of love in the air.
Jane looked towards the fight with disinterest. She observed the battle for a mere moment until she turned around and minded her own business. She took out a tablet and scribbled some notes as she practiced her Desire.
Professor Kain crossed his arms as he watched the spar between Aric and Hugh. He had received a mysterious pamphlet in the desk of his office that wrote about his class. It was easy to guess who the subjects were in the report.
Hugh had a veil of mystery in his eyes. He had suddenly appeared in his class only a day before school started. The only way for that to be possible was to have powerful connections, but Hugh did not seem to have any connections at all. Hugh was a poor kid with an F-rank talent.
Two other students came into his class the day before school started; that was Dempsy and Balen. He knew that they were from the special troop squadron in the CDA, which made it even stranger that they enrolled in class. Could they be connected to Hugh?