A large, white pillar archway led into the lightly colored, modern, extravagant campus. Buildings followed a strict palette of seasonal colors, mostly muted reds, oranges, yellows, and whites. There were also excessive amounts of glass. Windows were plastered on every building like electricity didn exist.
The map of the campus looked like an enormous diamond. Four points, or how the map referred to them, zones. The main entrance, assembly hall, and central offices were where he entered at the bottom-most zone.
The other 3 points were color-coded, so they looked more like territories.
Each zone had a dedicated library, café, dormitory, and even class buildings.
The leftmost point of the campus was colored yellow, the top was red, and the right was blue. Vin assumed the color of his tie dictated where his dorm and classes would be fixed.
Everything within the diamond shape was facilities for students. It had it all: race tracks, skate parks, dojos, gyms, fields, everything. No color possessed these, so students could intermingle in these sections.
On foot, it would take two hours to walk from one side of the campus to the other. And since the university owned the island, smaller campuses were scattered around the state.
The scale was far too large for Vin to wrap his head around, so he simply went with the flow and awaited explicit instruction.
The crowd slowed at the foot of an extensive, white, and round three-story building. A hovering hologram message had read, ”Welcome Students, Entrance Ceremony Starting Soon! ”
At the door of the pristine facility was a cast of employees that searched all the students before allowing them entry. Vin had heeded the prior instructions and didn bring anything except his uniform, cellular device, and Miyo. Even still, he failed the clearance because he had a personal phone. The employee confirmed Miyo was allowed to be summoned but took his device away and stored it in a crate with hundreds more.
A new phone was provided, although call service was limited to folks on the island. Students needed to visit a communications building for international transmission and have their calls screened.
He was also given a digital wristwatch before being directed inside. The lights were ominously dimmed, and the first and second floors were already packed. So, he sat on the balcony of the third floor.
Approximately ten thousand students had been admitted into the university while millions had attempted. The vast collection of cameras and reporters reminded them all just how remarkable a feat it was to be selected.
Vins hands were clamped to his seat in transparent jubilation. He found it riling to be surrounded by so many like-minded individuals and competitors. ”Well never be bored again, ” he said, an honest smile bearing across his mug.
A few minutes passed before the lights dimmed further. All noise was cut, and a single miniature yellow light moved from the left side of the stage toward the center. Vin had to lean forward to make out the image, but he eventually discerned what appeared to be … a lion cub?
”Wait for me, pepper! ” yelled a woman with a faint Australian accent. She ran on stage after the small glowing lion while reaching out her limbs. The creature circled and eyed her before yawning and unhurriedly sitting.
”Good boy, ” she complimented, leaning down to pick up the cub. Oddly, after she did so, she just jogged back off stage.
A few rows ahead of Vin, one of the guests groaned, then slapped their cheeks in dismay. ”Fuuuuck, I knew it. This was all just a scam. ”
Bewildered expressions and dubious chatter doused the hall. The whole world had been watching through a camera lens, so they were likely awestricken as well.
Squawking babble and childish tantrums had persisted for a minute before digital feedback was emitted and the internal speaker system turned on.
”Welcome! Racers and fighters from all over the globe! ” At this time, the same womans voice had been reborn.
”Comon pepper, just like how we practiced, ” she whispered, clearly unaware the coms were still picking up on her chit-chat.
From off stage, marvelous golden flames detonated like an explosion. The fire whirlwind onto the center set and engulfed everything in a dazzling blaze.
Very slowly, the same woman outstepped, riding a fully matured and fiery lion. She appeared to be in her thirties, with a well-trained body and ginger reddish orange wavy hair that reached her elbows. Even from his seat, Vin noticed her bright red eyes.
During that age, It was widely assessable, though expensive, to have eye color change surgery, and many did it.
The room temperature spiked. Vin had never witnessed that scale of power in person; it was at least epic, if not legendary grade.
In a friendly yet powerful voice, she began. ”For those unaware, my name is Jane, and I am the founder and principal of Seasons University. ”
”My story? Well, twelve years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting the minds that developed several SFX events. We fought together on many battlegrounds, which developed me into the person I am today. From there, I decided to dedicate my life to furthering their vision for SFX. ”
Jane dismounted the beast and withdrew a long, poled axe from its striking mane. ”The SFX competition they believed in was indistinguishable from reality. ”
”Wick, if you would, ” she requested. Succeeding the invitation, a giant man wearing a gray staff shirt strolled on stage and stood in wait.
She twirled the polearm in her hand, which looked genuinely lethal, then continued. ”FX Carbon. A synthetic material my company created for events. Its as hard as bamboo but contains minimum metal traces for stability. ”
Jane widened her legs, tossed her arm back, and hurled the weapons blade at the helpers gut. Ferocious flames flared following the impact, and the man was propelled several yards away, where he crashed into the rear wall and fractured it.
Vin jumped from his seat, which sent his little helper flying as well. He and many others gasped and wondered, ”how. ”
”Allow me to explain, ” resumed Jane. ”Majority of this campus, excluding private spaces like dorms, lockers, and restrooms, are made of the material I just mentioned. Even if a wall appears metal, it can be broken with enough force. ”
”As for the strength I displayed. On campus, your nanospheres will have their limiter adjusted. This means more output from your abilities. ” As she spoke, the man named Wick emerged from the hole in the wall. He casually took position next to Jane as an exhibition of his health.
”Of course, weapons and attacks only look natural thanks to special effects. Likelihood hood of death should be relatively low. ”
”Youll eventually become drilled into believing you can break structures you normally couldn . Youll be faced with more simulated environments during your events and subconsciously act upon them. Driving and punching through walls as if it were a given. ”
e all here because you want a guaranteed route into the pro league. ”
”Practice. Shed your blood, sweat, and tears for this university, and I promise your dreams will come true.
There was an obviously intended pause for the audience to applaud, but they were too captivated to respond. Thats when Jane tapped the golden lion she commanded, which erupted with a deafening roar that resounded within the room. It resonated with the spectators, who immediately broke into an unruly rally.
”Now, ” she loudly asserted, reigning in the crowd. ”Lets go over the details of your enrollment. You may have noticed that weve deliberately withheld information to ensure everyone has a fair start. ”
”First, your phone. Don lose it. It will act as your ID on the island and allow you access to the campus and its facilities. Second, this island operates under different laws than the rest of the world. Its residents are all pros or enthusiasts that came to watch the events. On that note, the entire island is cleared for your activities, race, or brawl wherever you want. ”
”If you look at your devices, youll see your profile. Itll show your wins, losses, and FX points. FX points are a digital currency the entire island employs, so burn the money you brought from your hometowns because its useless. ”
”You are all starting with 1,000 points, as congratulations for making it here. As a reference, one loaf of bread costs 2 points on the island, so budget accordingly. ”
Jane explained that students would not receive any pity points or loans. The currency would be earned solely through betting on and winning events.
Because it was a new school, there were only freshmen. Ages ran from 17 to 30 for entry because those were the ideal years for starting SFX athletes.
Every student had to take a general course explaining the universitys mission and fundamental career management. It lasted from the first semester till graduation and was taught by the same educator.
There were 26 instructors for the general course, so 26 classes. Each with a letter grade between A-Z.
The grade equated to the arbitrarily assigned tier of the students in the class. Higher-level teachers inherently teach more capable pupils.
Vin, who lost his race and was only recruited because he was ”interesting, ” was in class Z, the very last.
In addition to letter classes, there were assigned factions and internal ranking. The red belt and tie Vin wore signified he was in the Dragon faction. Blue was Sharks, and Yellow was the Lion faction. Informative, but he still didn know the significance of it.
Vin began to space out in his seat, slightly overwhelmed by the info dump. The womans words started to slur, and his eyes began to bat while his head gradually melted downward. For what he thought was seconds, he blanked.
”That concludes the assembly, Good luck! ” Finished the speaker.
Vin unhurriedly picked his head up and observed students standing from their seats. They began heading for the exit, so he wiped the fresh drool from his mouth and followed.
A man outside the building was directing students to the dorm locations, so Vin strolled in the general direction of the red zone. Later, his phone chimed and displayed an email with coordinates to his room. GPS made everything painless, and he only followed it to the Dragons dormitory.
Twin six-flight buildings that were conjoined at the waist. The outside was eye-catching, white, light red, and gray, but the interior was much more potent. White walls and glossy floors, but black and red decorations littered the joint. It couldve easily been misidentified as a luxury hotel or a large nightclub…. Or a cult meet-up. There was way too much red carpet.
Since there were only 6 levels, a wide spiraling staircase stood center of the building. Vin followed it up to the top floor, where he tapped his phone against a sensor and opened the door to his room.
When he drew back the curtains, he noticed It was bigger than he expected. But it was 400 square feet of pure nothing. No bed, chair, dresser, nothing. He did a quick lap around the square space, looking into the bathroom and glancing at the bare kitchen. ”Congratulatory points my ass. We need to use that money to buy furniture. ”
”If bread cost 2 points, maybe I can find a bed for 100, ” he muttered, taking a seat on the hard, white tile floor.
”Maybe a rug too, what do you think? ” He asked, putting Miyo down beside him. It scanned the room, then looked back at Vin and raised its right wing.
”Thats a yes. Ill start searching online, ” he declared.
After skimming the directory of shops, he found the cheapest bed was 250, and the cost of a decent rug was another 200 points.
”Just the bed then, ” he said, lying flat on the disagreeing floor.
While browsing for more necessities such as groceries, bathroom and kitchen utensils, and food, he received a notification on his phone. It set an automatic reminder to show up for a second assembly in one hour, and he sunk. ”Exhausting… ” he moaned.
Vin closed the report, then went through his phone more. Several apps were pre-installed, one being called Events. He opened it, then noticed several options, one called
ace. A few more clicks, and he found himself on a page titled Create Race.
It seemed too good to be true, but after analyzing the page, a slight chuckle escaped his lips.
Things were about to get a lot more interesting.
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