《Elysium: Diamond In The Rough》Chapter 5: Orientation
With my food issue taken care of my gaze slowly makes its way to the saline drip inside of my forearm.
“Yeah, she’s crazy...I have to get out of here” I mumble to myself. The tube is quickly pulled out of my arm as I begin to get out of the bed. A quick scan revealed some gauze and bandages, and a speedy application stops the bleeding at the needle’s insertion point. Hands on my hips, I lean from side to side and the only soreness is in my stomach and face. I can work with that.
A slight smirk creeps on my face at the thought of being free of this surreal experience and as I cross the threshold into the hallway, a sense of dread filled my heart.
“Looks like you’re feeling more chipper than I thought, that’s great...it means you can start your training today!” the feminine voice sings out from under the mask.
“Her cute voice doesn’t do a very good job at hiding her sadistic side” I think to myself and my thoughts are abruptly cut short by the Rabbit wrapping her arms around me and letting out a yell.
“Johnathan! Alex has healed up faster than we thought! Let’s bring him to the Nursery!”
I hear a small grunt and around the corner of the hallway the same gas mask wearing figure slowly makes his way towards us. His hand finds its home on my shoulder and I’m surprised to hear a hint of youthfulness in his voice when he speaks.
“Alright kid, don’t try to put up a fight. We’re just gonna bring you to your new home for the foreseeable future, The Nursery.” He says and gives me a slight shove in one direction.
The smell of the sterile, recirculated air begins to fade away the more passageways we go through. Tile is eventually replaced with dark grey concrete and the three of us come to a stop at a set of massive double-doors, roughly twenty feet tall. The regular gas mask wearing figure named Johnathan grabs hold of one of the handles on the door and begins to slowly pull the massive gateway open. A loud reverberating lurch engulfs the room as the large hinges begin to move. As one of the doors is completely opened, the smell of sweat, iron, and gunpowder finds its home in my nostrils and I can almost taste the pungence of it.
The room opens up into a massive cavern and in the center of it shape of an oval looks like it was neatly punched out of the floor. As we pass by the pit I can see the massive set of steps that rim it and would take some unlucky soul to a smaller secondary oval thirty feet down. Dried blood spots pepper the pit and my skin starts to feel like ants are crawling under it. Passageways snake in and out of the cavern and the actual magnitude of it all pulls the breath out of my chest.
“That’s The Pit, a lot of your physical training happens here,” Johnathan gruffs out gesturing towards the concrete maw.
“What kind of physical training are we talking about? Pushups, situps, what?”
I hear a deep inhale come from the gas mask. “Yeah all that and more, fighting….you’ll find out when it happens kid.”
The pitter patter of our footsteps echo off the walls as we go further and further down one of the tunnels and it finally stops at a massive circular dead end. Massive doors are all around the cul-de-sac like dead end. The numbers one through eight are carved in each of the doors and Johnathan points at the door showing ‘3’.
“That is gonna be your spot for a while kid, Team 3, a bunch of misfits and good-for-nothings, time for you to meet them.”
The door opens to reveal a sweaty group of people ranging from my age to the later teens.
“These are you new teammates Alex, get to know them and learn from them.” I look at my new team and my eyes bounce back and forth between their faces for a couple seconds and I hear the door begin to close shut. “We have training in the morning, give your new Omega the rundown.” The door closes shut and I look back at my new family only to see that one of the teens, a guy with the skin color a few shades lighter than charcoal and a sleek muscular build, has already his way up to me with his hand out. I grab it and am surprised by the firm grip that follows as a smile sneaks across his face. “Hey, sup Omega, I’m the Delta in this team. Infiltrations Specialist. The name is Andre...feel free to call me Delta or Dre or Andre. You?”
“What’s a Delta? I-I’m Alexander, Alex for short, and why am I being called Omega? What is all this?” Andre smiles some more and points to me then himself and all the others in a specific order bringing my attention to two more guys and a girl. “Omega, Delta, Gamma, Beta, Alpha. This is how the teams are set up and usually have a job associated with them.” Taking a deep breath Andre looks at the others and the larger of the two guys in the room nods in affirmation.
“That’s the quick rundown, you should talk to the others to learn about their jobs. The Alpha is in charge, and the Omega is kinda the bottom of the totem pole.”
A sigh escapes my mouth, but for some reason I’m not surprised, of course I’m the lackey.
“How did you become the Infiltrations Specialist, err the Delta? What job does the Omega have?” Andre lets out an audible chuckle then looks me straight in the eyes with the visage of a statue “ Cause when it gets dark, I blend in. “ then he starts to laugh harder without any restraint. He puts his hand on my shoulder “ I was jokin’, kinda… it actually does help bein’ as dark as I am, but I’ve always had a knack for being sneaky. Creeping in ‘n’ out of shop stalls stealing whatever I needed to make end’s meet. That’s how I ended up in here though, I got caught tryin’ to lift some cash from a rich guy’s house. They were gonna kill me, but I guess if you can pick out guard routes and bypass some easy locks it impressed the right person and instead of getting killed….well I ended up in here.” He shrugged and both of his hands, palms up, came up to his head for a moment. “ Yup that was a few months ago I suppose. “
Andre who was now in a low squat, stretching out his lean legs, seemed to be entranced by this routine and done talking for now. “Hey new kid, come over here” the only girl in the room said gesturing to a seat next to her at the table she was working at. Taking a seat I realize the copious amount of gadgets and electronics littering the table in front of her. “Uhm, you wanted me to come over? What are you doing with all that?” I looked at her inquisitively as the tiny gizmo in her hand sparked and released a small trail of smoke. She jerked the hand that was closest to the spark away and sucked on her forefinger for a moment. “Shit, that one hurt” she said with a slight chuckle. “Yeah I wanted to introduce myself, my name is Ruby, but feel free to call me Gamma.” With a wink she slid a few pieces from the electronic graveyard towards me.
“What do you know about electronics and wiring?” Her eyes narrowed waiting impatiently.
“Not really anything, the basics that anyone would know I guess?” One of the corners of her mouth dropped down into a half frown. “But I’m a fast learner though!” I stammered out and the smile returned to her face. My stomach felt like it weighed a thousand pounds and like it was fluttering at the same time. “That’s good! Being a fast learner is a good thing, here touch those two wires together.” She pointed at a bright green wire and a blue wire coming from two separate pieces of scrap electronics. All I could see was a bright flash and my hands went numb. A laugh brought me back into the moment and Ruby seemed to be wiping a tear from her face. “You’re funny, and you were right...you don’t know much about electronics, but it’s okay I’ll teach you! Welcome to the team - - -er what’s your name?”
“Welcome to the team Alex, as you probably figured out, I specialize in communications and electronics.” The sense of pride was almost tangible when she mentioned the type of work she did. “Ruby, how’d you end up here?” I said as I rubbed my hands together to get the feeling back.
“I used to fix up people’s stuff in a shed outside of my house- - - I don’t know how much you know about regulations, but that isn’t allowed in Elysium” she said in a matter-of-fact tone.
“I have a friend who fixes up things for everyone in our neighborhood, she replaces the filters in my gas mask for me.” Before I could be even more confused by her story she chimed in “ Yeah, your friend also probably has a permit and permission from the city to work on those. If you own a business in the town it has to get evaluated and approved before you can provide your service legally. I got arrested for my little operation I had going on in my shed. I never ripped anyone off, but I just never cared to get permission. I was too concerned with helping people and making money to help my parents out.”
“That’s crazy, they just arrested you? You’re still a teenager, I’ve never heard of the police arresting kids unless it was murder or something” I said as I fiddled with one of the wires that shocked me. Ruby let out a slight chuckle “ Rules are rules they don’t care how old you are if you break them. The original punishment I was given was to just pay a fine to the city, but next thing I knew I was here. I’ve only been here a few weeks more than Andre” her eyes darted to Andre’s direction who was still stretching. Her hand gently found its way on my shoulder “You should go talk to Beta and Alpha.” Nodding and standing up I made my way towards the two remaining people in the room.
“Hey I’m Al--”
“Stop. Just stop right there” the smaller of the two who sported a blond mohawk raised one hand. “ I’m Beta, hand-to-hand specialist. He’s Alpha, the team leader” pointing at the muscular and older looking teen standing next to him. “ Alpha was about 5’10 and five inches taller than me. A few years older too, he had to be at least sixteen, if not older. Beta started up again “ We’re not buddy buddy, I don’t know you and we need to keep the rank structure and maintain order, kid. You’re an Omega, a no one, most of your type don’t even have specialties” he said in a slightly disgusted tone. “That’s enough Beta” the stern tone of Alpha’s voice rang out and he gave me a small acknowledgment and nodded towards an empty bed with drawers under it. “That one is yours, it belonged to the last Omega.”
A couple hours passed and Andre blurted out “ Y’know I’ve been thinkin’...Alex what’d ya do to get here?”
“What do you mean?” I said confused.
“I was arrested for Theft, Ruby was arrested for illegally running her own business, Beta stole some food, got caught then assaulted the officer who tried to arrest him the first time. Are you seein’ the theme here?” he said anxiously.
“I didn’t do anything, I took part in The Arbitration test and next thing I knew I was getting my ass kicked, thrown in a room with just water for a week or two, and now I’m here.” Saying it out loud, I realized how hectic and weird my life had become recently. “ You guys didn’t get beat up or locked in a room? Like not even a little bit?”
“No.” echoed the others, including Beta. “Actually…” Beta began “ that sounds kinda similar to how Alpha got here, one day he was living normal, next day he’s here.”
“What exactly did they say about the test Alex?” Ruby asked.
“They said my scores were the highest they’ve seen since the inception of The Arbitration.” A barely noticeable ‘psh’ escaped Alpha’s mouth and he looked slightly upset then went back to his normal expressionless face.
“Alright everyone grab some sleep we have a busy day tomorrow” Alpha said sternly.
“Yes sir!” said everyone else and half a beat later “Yes sir!” I stammered out.
Ruby let out a chuckle, Beta looked pissed, and Andre whispered “ You got to work on that man.”
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