Hey guys! Sorry this took me so long, but I'll post this up right now. Thanks to all of you who have encouraged me in my writing and tell me what you think. I love you guys!
They all got there gasping for breath and looked at the scene surrounding them. Surprisingly, there were not as many people as they thought there would be. There were still hundreds there, but not the tens of thousands they'd expected. The stadium seats wrapped around an open stage at the front of the room. They saw their team leader, Steinblik, and hurriedly sat by him. They started chit-chatting for a little while, but they were hushed as someone walked across the stage.
He was older than any man Ariana had ever seen. His eyes had a grey glaze over them. His hair was silvery white with hair down to the middle of his back and a matching beard that flowed close to his navel. He had boney fingers and his nails were sharply pointed. He had surprisingly fair skin for his presumably old age. That is, other than the scar that swept across his right eye. He wore an old, pale blue cloak down past his feet. He walked slowly and shakily to the center of the stage with a staff in his hand. When he got there, he turned to face the audience and stood straight up. It was easy to see that he was tall now that he wasn’t hunched over. He opened his mouth to speak and everyone leaned in to hear.
“Welcome my young warriors,” he said with a loud, raspy voice. “Today is the beginning of a new life for all of you. Everything in your life will change. You will see others around you change when faced with experiences they’ve never had before.” While he paused to prepare for what he was about to say, Ariana thought how much more fascinating it was to hear this coming from him compared to everyone else she’d heard it from over the past few days.
“This test is not for the light hearted. It will test every aspect of your souls. You will face your worst fears imaginable. It is imperative that you learn to work together as a team and help each other survive. I have seen many suffer and die because of the lack of support and teamwork. Let us avoid having problems of this sort at all costs.” He paused again, and then vaguely pointed his finger out to the audience.
“You may have noticed that those in your groups are your close companions throughout your lives.” Everyone exchanged looks of encouragement and smiled. He continued, “You may think this will make your test easier, but in thinking this you could not be more mistaken.” Murmurs were heard throughout the auditorium. How could it possibly make things harder? Friends know how to work together. Everyone had the same expression of confusion and they were all talking to their friends.
When the noise continued the old man yelled, “SILENCE!” and pounded his stick on the stage. A yellow, icy mist spread throughout the auditorium that shocked every into silence. As Ariana breathed in it felt as though her vocal cords had been frozen.
The old man cleared his throat and spoke again. “I can see that none of you believe me. But let me ask you something and I want you to really think about it. Have you ever seen a friend suffer beyond anything you can imagine? What do you think that would do to you to see all of your close companions suffer in such a way?”
A silent feeling of fear and dread instantly filled the auditorium. Pictures of all kind of torture played through Ariana’s mind. There was no way to know what inexplicable horrors awaited her and her friends, or how it would affect her to see them happen to her friends. Not only would she suffer on the individual scale but those closest to her would suffer the same amount if not more. She slouched in her seat and got that sickening pit in her stomach again.
The old man smiled slightly. As he paused, his eyes gazed off somewhere into the distance, as if his mind was seeking as escape from the mental burdens he must carry. He looked at everyone with his heavy eyes. “Unfortunately, I can tell you no more of what to expect. There is no way you can prepare for what is coming any more than you’ve already done. This will be an unforgettable experience for you, in positive and negative ways.” He then stooped over and shuffled across the stage. “Good luck to all of you, and may God watch over you.”
Everyone sat there, too shocked to move a muscle. Ariana’s mind infected itself with terrifying images. She had a deep, foreboding feeling inside that she would soon learn for herself what true suffering was.
Ariana wasn’t left alone with her thoughts for long. Soon a young woman softly walked to the center of the stage, almost gliding it seemed. She had fair skin like the old man. Her eyes were bright blue, almost bright enough to be luminescent. She was tall and thin with a long, silky white dress on that flowed beneath her as she walked. She spoke with a clear, angelic voice. “You have just met Gerick, one of the greatest men in the universe. My name is Galina, and before you leave, I need to give you some information on this test.
“You are no longer on your planet, Earth. You are on a different planet, light years away from Earth called Crotela. We have been in an alliance with your people for hundreds of years. When Earth’s population was nearly overflowing your planet, we suggested to your people that some of them be moved to another planet, the one you call Valtino. With Earth’s resources depleting, your people had no choice. Once it was decided to move some people from Earth to Valtino, we then had to decide how to choose who would go to Valtino and who could stay on Earth. We could have done it through random selection, but we needed to make sure that those who were on Earth were worthy to stay there. Valtino is not the most terrible place to live, but you will definitely have a higher quality of life on Earth. Valtino is a large planet not unlike the planet. It is dry, dusty, and has severe temperature differences between its coldest and hottest temperatures. Unlike Mars, however, the air there is definitely breathable. But because you were not raised on Valtino your bodies will react strongly to the differences between it and Earth. I don’t want to go into too many details about what will happen to you if that’s where you are sent, but suffice it to say that your life expectancy will not be quite as high as it would be on Earth.
“So you can see clearly it wouldn’t be fair to send random people to live at Valtino and then another random group to stay on Earth. After long discussions with your leaders, we had the idea for this test. It took us many years to design, but for several generations now your people have been taking this test and we have been successful in our quest ever since.
“Now that you are here, there is no turning back. If you stop now you will have no hope for a future and you will be sent to Valtino or be killed with no hope of returning to Earth for any reason. There is no way of escaping. You’re on a different planet, so where would you go?” She paused for a while, allowing what she had said to sink in, and then continued.
“You will begin your testing tomorrow. You and your teammates will be asked to complete a task. There is no time limit on these tasks, but you will want to get them done as quickly as possible. Some shouldn’t take more than a day while others will take up to a week or more. You will be given instructions on what you are to accomplish, but nothing more. There are no hints or secrets to get you out of your task faster; you will be completely on your own. Your group leader will be with you but only for observation and nothing more. Every night I will discuss with your group leader how you did on tasks and what positions you will have. I have no say in what goes on, but I will see you every morning to get your instructions for the day.”
Galina then looked seriously at us, as if she was staring each of us individually in the face. “This is not a game,” she said in a dark, looming tone. “Your lives will be at stake every day. The things that will be after you are real, and just like any other animal they will attack you. They will not use pity or mercy. Nothing will stop them other than the actions you take to defend yourselves. Your survival depends entirely upon you and your group members.” She paused and pulled back her dark voice. “Now, you must go to bed. You’ll need your rest for tomorrow. Best of luck to all of you.” With that, she walked gracefully off the stage.