|1209 Hours, December 18th, 2521
SIGMA Facility, United Republic of North America, Earth
“Group Three, you’re up. 071, 085, 035.”
The metal doors to the circular arena-like room slid open, and three children marched forward. Clad in basic military fatigues, they stood to attention at the centre of the room, ignoring the glare from numerous bright lights as a shadowy figure addressed them from an upstairs chamber.
“We’ve changed the arrangements for today’s session. Instead of fighting other groups, you will be battling each other. The last one standing wins.”
The shortest of the trio, a pale, green-eyed boy, glanced to the side as his companions nodded in acceptance. His fellows, a skinny girl and another surly-looking male, betrayed no emotion as they strode towards the weapon racks, each grabbing a pugil stick.
“I knew something was up,” muttered Jack-085, twirling the weapon around. “They never use this room.”
“Sure you did,” replied the girl.
“What can I say, Elena? I’ve got a sixth sense for this sort of thing.”
“Or you stole Doctor Roe’s manifest again.”
“Or that. You ready, Marco.”
Standing nearby, Marco-035 gulped as he hefted his own stick. He’d been caught by surprise by the sudden change of plan, and felt infinitely less prepared to fight his closest friends compared to any of the other SIGMA trainees. Elena-071 playfully nudged his shoulder with her weapon as they walked back into the arena, standing in a triangle. A voice crackled through the intercom above.
“This will test your adaptability in combat against multiple foes. Prepare yourselves.”
Moments later, a klaxon blared and the three trainees leapt forward. Jack’s overhead swing was dodged by Elena, who ducked moments later to avoid Marco’s own attack. The two boys clashed for a moment, twirling blows keeping the other at bay before they were forced to defend themselves from Elena again. With each trainee unable to properly attack without having to leave themselves open, it looked as though they were locked in a stalemate.
“This is bullshit!” Jack grunted with exertion as he shoulder-barged Marco backwards, the other trainee keeping his balance long enough for Elena to intervene again. “We’re just gonna tire ourselves out.”
Given a brief respite, Marco backed away from the duelling pair, knowing he was being watched from above. He straightened up the pugil stick in one hand and took a moment to aim before flinging it at full force towards the struggling pair. Jack was struck in the side of the head and toppled over instantly. Elena turned in time to see Marco running full-pelt at her, and brought her own stick down towards the unarmed trainee. He ducked aside and to her surprise, jumped onto her weapon before tackling Elena to the ground. A klaxon sounded, indicating the exercise’s end.
“Average,” Doctor Roe’s bored voice sounded from the intercom. “You may go.”
As the three picked themselves up and walked out, Jack grabbed Marco’s shoulder.
“You should’ve won that.”
“You downed yourself and Elena. Why?”
“To mess with Roe. We fight best together, anyway.”
“Moron. That’s brilliant.”