Authors note: I would like to dedicate this chapter to Chaosconetic (hope I spelled that right) for giving me some wonderful ideas from your review for this chapter! Thank you for sticking with me and this story!

Chapter 11

Justin was right, things only got harder from there. My competition was putting up a fight and after Justin had defeated me it was made abundantly clear that I needed to get stronger, I was a lot stronger and faster than I used to be but I still wasn't strong enough. At this point I wasn't sure If I ever would be.

Missions were a good way to train but Alex didn't send me on them often, I never knew why. So, I trained in other ways. I sparred with Justin, but less than I used to it felt odd knowing that he was holding back so that I could win.

Roman was around more, he watched me fight and on occasion would spar with me, I put up much more of a fight than I had back when I'd first come.

One night sitting on my bed I decided to figure who I would need to fight next. I pulled out my scroll which I had rarely used for anything other than before a match and clicked on the list of members. There was a small profile for each member simply stating their name, age, rank, and semblance. I searched my name and began to look at my own profile. There was a picture of me, I didn't know when somebody had taken it,

Name: Neo

Age: ?

Rank: 53

Semblance: ?

I found it odd that there was no semblance listed for me, I'd used my semblance several times now in from of a large group of people, it didn't however surprise me that there was no age, I didn't even remember my own age, I remembered vaguely when my birthday had been but I hadn't celebrated it in so long, not since mom died and I didn't even know how many years had passed since then, maybe five?

I shook my head; I didn't like thinking about it. I swiped to the next file. The person I would be dueling next. There was a picture of a grim looking girl with short purple hair and several scars.

Name: Aspen

Age: 23

Rank: 52

Semblance: Ice

I began to look at other members, some were people I recognized but I didn't know their ranks I only bothered to know the persons rank who was directly above me. I stopped when I reached a particularly familiar face.

Name: Justin

Age: 15

Rank: 3

I stopped, I didn't read his semblance, I was too shocked. I'd know that Justin was higher ranked than me, but I didn't know just how much higher he was. Anger began to rise within me, he'd been going easy on me for far too long. Justin was the closest thing I think I'd ever had to a friend. Roman was different than a friend. But I was angry at Justin, someday and I didn't know when, I was going to beat him, he would have to stop going easy on me if he wanted to keep his position.

One day I was in what I called the common area eating a meal, food wasn't free here but Roman paid for anything I wanted, It wasn't good by any means, but it was food and I would eat it, there really wasn't anything else to eat.

I was sitting at a table, alone, Roman was gone today eating when I was interrupted by a man, he sat down next to me, "Hey kid," that made me angry, Roman could call me kid, this man, could not.

I turned to him.

"Your number fifty-three, correct?"

I nodded, hardly paying any attention to him, "Who know," he said, "A little kid."

I glared at him.

"Ah a feisty one."

I continued to glare.

"Well kid, he said, "I just beat fifty-two which means, your next," he stood a little straighter, "I, number fifty-two challenge you, fifty-three to a duel. See you at five."

I stared after him as he walked away, he didn't even wait for me to except the duel. He'd just assumed I had, I didn't have to show, but nobody here turned down a duel. If you turned down a duel you were weak. I wasn't weak.

So at five o' clock on the dot that night I walked into the practice room, a crowd had already accumulated around the man I recognized from earlier, I walked over to him and shoved my scroll into his hand, he laughed and handed me his. After entering information, we stood ready waiting for somebody to call start.

I looked him up and down in the few seconds before we started and thought. He was big, a lot bigger than me at least and he had to be strong, the previous fifty-three had been heard to beat this man would have had to beat her to get to me.

Before a duel it's always decided if we will use sparring weapons or no weapons, this man had chosen no weapons, he must be accustomed to a more hand to hand style, he must have assumed because of my small size I would have relied on a weapon, and that's where he'd made his mistake. Hand to hand was my domain as well.

"Start!" Someone who's voice I didn't recognize called.

The man threw a punch the second the word was said. He was fast, I was faster. I dodged effortlessly. The fight went on like this a few minutes. I wasn't losing but I sure wasn't winning, though a single hit hadn't been landed on me, I hadn't landed a single hit on him.

I needed to rethink my strategy, I was fast and normally that's what I would rely on, I would dodge and then in the moment it took for that person to regain themselves I would strike. This man was too fast, he regained himself almost instantly after a failed strike.

I was so lost in thought that I didn't even see his next blow coming, he landed a solid punch to my stomach. I stumbled back then fell. He smiled, "Seems you're not everything you've been cut out to be."

He punched me again. I rolled away. I smiled when an idea struck me. He punched me again and I let him. Just as he was preparing to land another blow I rolled away, leaving a solid image of myself for his fist to collide with.

When the decoy me exploded on impact the man jumped away, while most of my opponents would have seen this trick coming as I'd use similar one's multiple times to defeat previous opponents, I knew this one wouldn't. Before the fight I'd been looking at his profile, Roman had just returned and noticed it he mentioned that this man was a new member. He was rising in the ranks fast, faster than I had in fact, but he had never seen me fight before. I counted on this to my advantage.

He stared at where my image had been, he didn't even notice the real me stand from over to the side. I landed a soil punch on his nose. Moments later the fight was over, I'd won.

The victory of this fight felt different than the others, I had maintained my rank but I wasent getting any higher, it annoyed me.

My opponent left the room mumbling to himself, on his way out the door he punched someone, I didn't know who this person was but soon enough there was a four-way brawl going on outside the door. I rolled my eyes at it, brawls like that weren't uncommon, this was a gang after all, but I'd always found them childish and never once joined in.

I began to walk out of the room but was stopped by a familiar voice, "Nice work kid," Roman said from behind me, "You've thoroughly impressed me."

I didn't show it but the feeling that praise gave me was probably the best feeling I'd ever had, I didn't even know he'd been watching. He ruffled my hair, I scowled.

"Keep it up and pretty soon you might be better than me."

He laughed as he walked away, and nobody saw it but I smiled.

Authors Note: Life's been crazy for just about everybody this past while, but this social distancing thing hasn't been all that bad for writers, gives us a lot of time away from people to write. Thank you all so much for reading drop a review/favorite/follow! See you all next chapter!

And please stay safe and healthy!