The cheerful sun's gleaming rays cannot hide the dark ambiance surrounding the black-stripped school bus driving across a bridge.
Young teens sit on the bus, armbands somewhere on their limbs. The armbands were displayed on their arms, legs, or other unconventional places such as their necks or foreheads if they were lucky enough to stretch them that far. The armbands did not have any differentiations, they were all colored red.
Contrary to the depression within the black-stripped bus, teens across the sides of the bridge talk with one another happily. Innocent expressions of enjoyment are displayed, absentminded to the dissatisfaction on board these buses. There were multiple black buses, for those who were unlucky enough to not have someone to drive them to school, or at least those who didn't want to walk.
As the buses drive by, some of the other teens whisper to each other from outside, watching the young boys and girls who look out of the windows. Some of them looked sad, others looked angry, but there were a few who looked unnaturally happy about their situation.
If it weren't for the matching uniforms with the golden star emblem on top of the breastplate, you'd never know that the people on the bus were all students at the same academy as the others who were outside.
One young gentleman was smart enough to not get on the bus, drawing attention away from himself. The young man had brown hair and was looking down at a phone in his hand while he approached his destination—a massive school that was supported by four bridges, on a mystical island at the center of an ocean. His brown eyes reflect from the darker spots on the screen, but he pays it no mind.
However, what he does pay mind to is the tall woman who he can see behind his reflection. Tall, muscular, and wearing the standard issued white button-down shirt and a black skirt. Her arms were crossed, her long crimson hair complementing her eyes masterfully. The young man hated to admit it, but just looking at them through the reflection, this woman had a wonderful pair of bosoms. He stops in his tracks, turning his head only halfway to look at the woman.
In a voice only befitting of authority, the woman speaks down to the young man. "You should know better than to be walking so carelessly, Tainted, if it weren't for your aura, you'd be distracting the Gifted students during their walk." The woman scolds him, for whatever reason. He examines her for a moment, spotting the purple tie she had on. This would help him remember her in the future.
"Hm? Do you mind repeating that, please? I was dozing off." The young man says, scratching the side of his head. Sweat drips down his cheek.
"You were wide awake!" The woman shouts down into his ear, leaving him to flinch and back away a little. The young boy was no different from the kids on the bus. On his right arm, over his uniform's long sleeve, a red armband was displayed. "I am a member of the Disciplinary Committee, Pamela Briggs. Through my unbiased judgment, I was selected by the president of the Committee to exert order onto those who need it! And, I'll warn you now, Tainted," she places her hand down on the young man's shoulder.
"I will not allow you or your delinquent friends to ruin our academy's foundation or reputation. I bet St. Charlotte's would love to have you back if you misbehave. Your parents can't protect you a second time." The woman's words were like venom, to anyone else.
The young boy's expression did not alter during her speech. He seems too relaxed, almost emotionless if you will. "...Sorry, can you—"
He is cut off by a frustrated howl from the red-haired woman. The young boy is released from Pamela's tremendous hold, giving him the freedom he desperately desires. "I will be keeping my eye on you troublemakers. Now keep going, I don't want to be responsible for your tardiness at the ceremony." She points over his head, in the direction of the shining academy, akin to a castle.
This woman was easily six feet tall and counting. It didn't intimidate him, but it made him wonder if he was too short. He stands idle for a while, thinking deeply until the woman's hand slaps against his back to send him forward. "Go!" This time, it wasn't an option.
He obeys, obviously. "They don't even try to hide their discrimination..." He mumbles as he continues his walk to the school. His brown eyes shine for a moment, subtly glaring over his shoulder in the direction of the woman. "Whatever, I don't think she'll be a problem in the end."
Hexia, The Academy of the Gifted. The most prestigious school in the world. It houses hundreds of Gifted children, the best of the best globally. Children from all around the world come together here to learn and make a name for themselves, and this year unlike any other, they've finally begun to accept Tainted children into their academy after facing heavy scrutiny!
Tainted children who meet the high standards of the academy are allowed to attend the school under the condition that they're given limiters that serve several purposes. The first purpose, it will restrict some of the person's abilities while they are wearing the limiter. The second purpose, it will allow the school to keep track of the person on school grounds as long as they continue wearing it. The third purpose... is not officially documented.
"The discrimination between students is downright horrible," rants a young man with a bald head. His armband was wrapped around his left leg rather than his arms. His hands are behind the back of his head as he walks alongside another group of 'Tainted' students.
The halls of the school are massive, as expected from an academy that will house thousands of children from around the world.
"You should've expected this much, Bond. Since the dawn of time, we 'Tainted' runts have all been seen as folklore tales, horrible creatures that parents will warn their kids about before bedtime." A young woman walking alongside the bald delinquent narrates dramatically. Her long blonde hair drifts down all the way to her bottom and is held into a tight ponytail by her armband, shrunken down and wrapped to act as a hairband.
There is a snicker from Bond at the blonde girl's words. "That makes things all the more fun, you know? I was locked away in St. Charlotte's for a few years before I was released. They're out of their minds for letting bastards like us walk around their school so casually. I mean think about it, Andrea. When you were locked up in your center, there had to have been some real nightmares in your unit."
Andrea, the fair-haired girl, taps her chin in a thinking expression. She stares at the ceiling while they walk, trying to recall her time in St. Yuria's Disciplinary Home. "There were definitely some powerful kids there, but in my time at my center, I was the Ace. I've heard rumors that Charlotte's houses some unmatched heavy hitters though. I can't wait to see some of—"
While Andrea is speaking, someone bumps past her—a towering, muscular young man with messy teal hair. His bangs are overgrown, perfectly shielding his eyes. Andrea, not one to take disrespect, is obviously the first person to confront him. "Hey, watch where you're going fucker! You're pretty massive, I'll give you that, but that's not an excuse to go bumping into people, dickface!" Andrea scolded, clearly annoyed by his rudeness. More importantly, Andrea is a delinquent. Something as minor as being bumped into can be classified as disrespect to her.
The man was massive, probably eight feet tall at the bare minimum. As he turns around, his eyes are concealed by his overgrown bangs, but the most defining feature about him that sticks out is his lack of an armband. This massive fellow wasn't even one of the Tainted students, he was just a normal Gifted! "Andrea..." There is a warning in Bond's mind, giving him an unsettling feeling about this massive tower of a man.
"This isn't the kind of guy you want to mess with," Bond warns Andrea, taking the time to recount his memories. "Bryant Schwartz, the son of the notorious 'Unbreakable Wall', Atwater Schwartz. His body's only half the size of his father's, but if you two were to butt heads here, you wouldn't come out of the situation in one piece."
Bryant had an aura around him that Andrea could not see. His uniform was customized to fit his massive stature, his rolled-up sleeves looked like they were pleading for release against his massive arms, and the steam that came from his mouth meant that Andrea had pulled one string too many when confronting him. The Schwartz family were men of few words, and Bryant was no exception.
Foolishly, Andrea continued, "I don't give a damn who he is, he's going to watch where the hell he's going!" Bond's concerns fell on deaf ears. Andrea begins to walk forward, as does Bryant. With each step, Bryant leaves the ground shaking, his bright aura not bothering Andrea in the slightest, as she herself could not detect it. Her emerald eyes stab at him with an unrivaled edge. Even though she can't see his eyes, Andrea is certain that Bryant is meeting her with a matching gaze.
It is only when Andrea is about to send the first punch that the two of them are interrupted by an invisible force, forcing them apart.
"Stop at once! I will not stand for unauthorized fighting on academy grounds!" The voice of a young woman calls from across the hallway. Black hair that could reflect the light from the moon, tender lips that were soft enough to have a man swooning, a body that any woman could see as perfect, and purple eyes that compliment her natural colors. She stands proudly before the two who've drawn the attention of many in the hall.
Her hand rests on her hip, and Andrea can at least recognize who this girl is out of anyone else. Andrea, helpless to the girl's ability, can only sneer, "Alivia Cardenas—the silver-spoon princess—of course you'd butt in."
Alivia Cardenas is the youngest daughter of one of the most important families in the country. She's entering her first year at this academy, just like everybody else. Unlike the others, though, her standing in the school's hierarchy is solidified because of her family's connections and her reputation. After all, she stands as the Head of the Disciplinary Committee, even though this is her first year at the school.
"You juveniles have been given a chance to attend the finest institute in the country—no, forgive me—the world, and you can't even remain civilized until after the opening ceremony? I'm disappointed in you especially, Bryant!" Something taps Bryant's forehead, just barely nudging his head. Bond looks in horror at the nudging of the tower's head, mesmerized by the sheer power behind the girl's ability. To be able to move Bryant means that Alivia's ability could crush anyone beneath the weight of whatever that power is.
Every student has their own individual aura. Not one that was the same as the physically manifesting auras seen from those who are powerful, but instead the aura that said something about their character. Bond's aura told that he was a rowdy but prideful young man, eager for battle. Bryant's aura told that he was a cold young man, selfish and firm. Andrea's aura told that she was a narcissist, believing herself to be of a higher standing than others.
The shining aura around Alivia showed that she was a leader, a natural-born royal. Her voice brought a sense of balance to every school she's attended until now. She's gained a following over the years, earning a presence in the media due to her father's work. Many were jealous and others looked up to her.
"All of you move along, I will not tolerate tardiness on the first day of school! Whether you are a delinquent or an outstanding student; I won't spare you from facing rightful judgment!" A poundage of authority pushes down on the group, forcefully bringing them all down to a knee before the woman. "...Yes, this is a much better position," Alivia says under her breath.
"Do I make myself clear?" In a stern voice, she asks the group. Unfortunately for them, this obviously is not a question—it is a threat. They would move along or they'd face the consequences. This is the system that Alivia has put in place, the system that grants the Disciplinary Committee so much power. The extent of their discipline has increased following the admission of Tainted students.
All of the students agree to separate and do just that. Eventually, the flow of the hallway is steady once again.
By the time the brown-haired young boy reaches the hallway, it's already half empty. Everyone has already made it to the auditorium.
"I think I should pick up the pace..." He scratches his cheek, then suddenly feels a chill inch up his spine. Someone was watching him.
When he turns around to see who it is, he cannot find anything. "Someone's creeping on me?" The brown-haired boy looks around the hallway, finding no one there. Eventually, he shakes his head and turns back around to continue walking. 'I'm becoming delusional.'
Disregarding the sensation, he continues on to the auditorium. The entrance ceremony is mandatory, it'd be a problem if he missed it because of his own foolery. The interaction with Pamela set him back a bit—he'd have probably been late one way or another. At least he won't be the only one.
A voice goes through the speakers surrounding the massive auditorium, housing a crowd that you'd only expect at the greatest of concerts. "Vice-Chairman Luciferus Blasio will now step forward to greet you all." An attractive, mature woman made the announcement on the large platform at the front of the auditorium. Her hair was tied into a neat silver bun, there was a mole under her eye, placed so perfectly that it'd be unnatural to imagine her face without it.
As she steps away, her curves lure the gaze of many of the young males in the audience, leaving them drooling and swooning. "The body of a mature woman is so wonderful," says one of the students across from the brown-haired boy, speaking with his friends.
The brown-haired boy examines the mature white-haired woman as she walks back to a seat on the stage where all of the other faculty members are sitting. Her name is Riva Lemaire, she's a professor at the academy. The boy couldn't help but forget what class she taught since he wasn't actually paying attention to anything besides her name. Though, he is aware that she teaches the 2nd year students. He won't be bothered by her breasts during his lectures, which he also wouldn't be paying much attention to.
Then, a 'man' steps onto the stage. His body proportions are unnatural, his body has been mutated by his ability.
Gasps of awe flap across the crowd as the tall obsidian-colored humanoid steps up to the microphone. His entire body was void-like, the only thing with color was the clothes that he wore. His white white suit let the audience know that he was there. "Settle down, children." His deep voice caused the speakers to quiver, whispers were behind his words—he was a demon. Though demons were not a race that should've existed in our world, it's possible for someone to have their bodies transformed to accommodate their ability.
The brown-haired boy brings a hand to his chin, slowly descending deeper into his thoughts.
His deep thought is interrupted by a familiar sensation—for the second time today, someone is goggling at him. Only this time, he can clearly see who it is.
He did not stand out too much in this crowd, however, because he was not paying attention he drew the stare of Luciferus, who was still in the middle of giving his speech. Luciferus did not have eyes, but somehow, the brown-haired boy could tell that he was being stared at. 'I should probably pay attention. I don't think it'd be wise to get on the bad side of a chairman,' he thought.
'His speech isn't very interesting, he's trying to give us words of encouragement, acknowledging the discrimination that's to come, and trying to get everyone here to unite to avoid the divide that is to come. All of it is a load of bullshit.'
Luciferus truly didn't wish for discrimination, but there was bound to be plenty in the following years. Things won't change, and in a way, no one hoped that they would.
On the left, there are the Tainted newcomers. They are troublemakers who are exceptional enough with their capabilities to join this academy even after all of the problems they caused in society. They are used to a dog-eat-dog world where the powerful stand at the top. Fighting, sex, drugs, and all other things that problematic teens are interested in—they are no exceptions.
On the right, there are the Gifted students who have remained in this society for their whole lives. They are normal, but if this were older times, they'd be the nobles and commoners, whereas the Tainted would be the peasants. They stand at the top of this world where the newcomers are harshly rejected. They'll wait for any chance to step on the left so that they can put them in their place.
The ceremony ended after an excruciating hour. They introduced the Student Council, the Disciplinary Committee, and the Faculty. None of that was important to the young man, he wished that he could just fast forward. He endured the pain though, and could finally make his way to the true trial—the class evaluation site.
There are certainly different grades and lessons with those grades, but the quality of the class you're put into is determined by how you're evaluated.
There are 10 classes in total for each grade. Anyone who's unlucky enough to end up at the bottom of this list will be seen as trash, even among the Tainted kids who've recently arrived. Class 1 is the greatest whereas Class 10 is the lowest. Class 1 are students who already possess enough power to beat most of their underclassmen singlehandedly.
"What are you aiming for?" A girl asks her friend as they make their way through the halls of the school.
"I'm thinking about trying to get into Class 5. That's the most reasonable, it's not too far down the list, but not too high either." Reaching Class 5 will bring you just out of the reach of the 'low class' which consists of Class 6 to 10. That girl made a good choice, in the brown-hair's opinion.
"You know, the selection process for this school has changed recently though. Before, they'd put you through numerous aptitude tests, but this year they've called in some researchers since there are too many students." Her friend seems to enjoy sharing bits of information; a bit that'd been explained during the ceremony.
The brown-haired boy steps past the two students, but one of them catches him by the arm. "Hold it." The girl who'd explained the evaluation stopped the brown-haired boy in his tracks. Surely she can see his red armband, why would she bother interacting with him?
He turns around and looks at her, as blank-faced as ever. "Yes?" He's curious why this girl has stopped him.
The girl pushes her brown strands behind her ears. "Your aura, why are you hiding it?" The girl asks him, tightening her grip on his arm.
In this society, everyone has a minor layer of their aura around them. However, this aura cannot be seen by ordinary people. There are individuals who specialize in 'sensory' and can track and identify people by their auras. Even when their aura is not willingly manifested, someone who prioritizes their sensory Gift will still be able to see it around them.
"If you have a good reason, I won't report you for suspicious behavior." The girl beside her looks skeptical about the whole thing, leaning past her to get a good look at the Tainted student.
"Maria, is this necessary? He's just one Tainted kid, it isn't like he can do anything with the limiter on him." Maria's friend lacks sensory abilities, so she isn't aware of how strange this situation is. For someone to hide their aura would require a great amount of skill, and it's also something used to stop oneself from being tracked by sensory Gift-holders.
Maria scoffs, refusing to lighten her grasp on the boy. "Emmy, don't be so naive. Hiding your aura isn't something that you do casually, not without some ulterior motive. Tainted boys like him have been arrested countless times for hiding their auras to sneak past security for peeking on pure girls like yourself!"
"...How would I—" The brown-haired boy is interrupted by Emmy's overripe gasp. Her long pink hair appeared to glow as her face became a matching tint. "You were trying to peek at us?!"
'No, wait, how did we even reach this conclusion?' He is about to open his mouth to defend himself, but a hand slaps him across the face.
Before he knows it, he's flying down the hallway, speeding past the other students and the few who hurry to move out of the way.
Just as he braces for impact with the wall, the wind starts to blow around him, spinning him around. Eventually, the wind slows and cushions him before finally letting him drop to the ground. "Holy shit, I thought I was gonna die there," The brown-haired boy pants, falling to his bottom. "I lucked out with this ability."
Down the hall, Emmy is standing with her hair blazing dazzlingly. She is an undersized girl for sure, but right now, she seems like the most dangerous person in the building. Sweat drips down his chin, and a nervous expression starts to show itself. "This is a big misunderstanding, you know?" He tries to speak to her, but his words don't seem to reach her.
Emmy flings herself down the hallway, allowing the ground and dust to rise up behind her. With one leap, she sent herself flying right into the boy.
The brown-haired boy brings his hand in front of himself, possibly aiming to shield himself from whatever she sends his way. "Hold it, wait!"
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.