Categories > Cartoons > Class of the Titans > Practice

Remember When?

by Lutrani 0 reviews

The day of the Arena display finally happens, and several paths inexplicitly cross.

Category: Class of the Titans - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Published: 2008-09-03 - Updated: 2008-09-03 - 3400 words

He was nervous, the sweat bands on his wrists barely preventing the javelin from slipping out of his sweaty palms. He could hear the crowd cheering outside, but that wasn’t what had him on edge. In fact, usually the crowd made him feel truly alive, as if it was in his blood to grandstand and enjoy himself while doing it. But today, he couldn’t get that red-headed girl out of his thoughts, the one he’d hit with an errand soccer ball yesterday. She lingered at the back of his mind no matter what he did, like the vague reminiscence of a good movie. He’d even dreamed of her last night. But it had been a confusing dream, with other people he did not recognize, and a river that was trying to drown him. The red-haired girl had been there, and he remembered being angry with her.

He shook his head, physically trying to clear the image from his mind. He normally didn’t think this much before performing, it was messing with his concentration. Readjusting the brace on his leg, a nervous habit he’d begun to recognize in himself, he heard his name being called in the ring. Trying one last time to put the red-head out of his mind, he grabbed his javelin and headed out to the ring.

“And now, Archie ‘the Achilles’ King!”

Archie stepped out onto the sand pit, raising both hands to the cheering crowd. In the arena, with the people and his sport, the red-head was finally driven from his mind.

“Archie here comes to us from New Jersey USA, and has been a student at the New Olympia Coliseum for 2 years.”

He took his place on the track and ran through his routine in his head as the announcer continued.

“Archie here got his nickname “Achilles” from his impressive performance in the javelin, high jump, and sprinting events. All sports that Achilles traditionally excelled at. Interestingly, Archie also has a weak heal as Achilles did, and must wear a leg brace in order to compete.”

He couldn’t help but cringe a little inside every time the announcer went over his leg brace. He hated having a weakness, and imagining he needed extra help just to be at a competing level with his peers drove him crazy. But the crowd loved it, and what the crowd loved, the announcer said.

“And now, Archie “the Achilles” King!”

That was his cue. Archie took off from his starting point in a cloud of dusty sand. Javelin in hand, he negotiated the track around the ring. Leaping over obstacles and sailing above the ground at break-neck speed, to the oohs and ahhs of the audience. Then he reached the pole jump portion of his routine. Plucking the pole from the ground while still running, he approached the jump with javelin in hand. He’d perfected a method for high jumping while holding his javelin for balance, before throwing it as he descended after passing the bar. It was one of his favourite moves, and always drew cheers from the crowd. But as he dug the end of the pole into the ground, he heard gasps instead of cheers. Confused, but too far to stop the manoeuvre, he began sailing upwards towards the bar. Only to smack into something that felt like a wall, and be sent crashing to the ground. Usually graceful, he landed painfully on his back, high-jump pole falling uselessly to the ground beside him. The javelin was still gripped in his white clenched fist.

“Hope I’m not interrupting anything Archie.” A deep voice purred. Archie, still collecting his wits, looked up at the sound of the voice. A dark clothed man was looking down at him, face twisted into a sneer which stretched an old pink scar over his face. Archie couldn’t explain why, but the sight of this old man sent a foreign streak of fear up his spine. As if someone had once told him of something terrifying, something that reminded Archie of this old man. But he couldn’t quite remember who it had been, or exactly what they had said he should be scared of..

The man leaned in suddenly, putting his face inches from Archie’s. “BOO!” he yelled. Archie jumped, immediately regretting it as the old man threw his head back and laughed. “Ah Archie, you never fail to entertain me.”

He then looked up to the crowd, and Archie took the opportunity to scramble to his feet. “But this,” he yelled, raising his hands in an embracing gesture to the crowd, “this charade of sport does not amuse.” He looked down at Archie again, hands still held high, and met the boy’s eyes. He was still smiling. “I think we need to show these morals what a real Coliseum is!” As he finished his statement, the crowd suddenly erupted in screams. Archie spun away from the old man’s gaze, and saw inanimate hands forming from the faux-stone of the stands. They chased down spectators in the crowd as they tried to flee, and cemented them into place on the seats.

“Oh, my what do we have here?” The man exclaimed suddenly, “Oh, this is too sweet, really.” As he spoke, one of the hands broke away from the stands and began moving effortlessly across the sand arena floor, carrying a struggling form towards them. As it moved closer, Archie almost couldn’t believe what he saw. The hand was carrying the red-headed girl from yesterday. It brought her straight to where Archie and the man were standing, and threw her unceremoniously on the ground. She scrambled to her feet quickly, and gave Archie a confused look.

“Oh this is hilarious, you two really have no idea do you.” Laughed the man. Archie and the girl turned to look at him. “My daughter Fortuna must be smiling down on me today for me to have such luck. The only thing that would make this sweeter would be if you actually did remember.” He moved in closer to the two of them, leaning in as he spoke. Archie unconsciously took a step back. “Ah well, we can’t have everything in life now can we?”

A feeling inside Archie was screaming at him to do something, but he didn’t understand exactly what. Everything that was happening was confusing him, but at the same time, it felt vaguely familiar. Like a nightmare you’ve had so many times that it’s almost become reassuring.

“So children, let’s have a show shall we?” The man smiled, and as he finished speaking, four hulking forms stepped out from the arena archways and onto the floor. They were ugly, disfigured creatures; twisted shapes somehow given life by a force other than nature. The sight of them alone sent a shiver of fear down Archie’s body. They towered over the arena, easily standing twice as tall as him. Their eyes, some one and some two, scanned the arena slowly, and then settled on Archie and the girl. On a reflex, Archie looked over at the girl and realized that she was looking at him. She looked worried for a second, but as soon as their gazes crossed, she seemed to reconsider, and a broad smile spread across her face. It was a confident smile, a smile of challenge between two athletes. Archie couldn’t help but feel himself smile back, and the warm glow of courage flooded his body. He gripped his javelin tighter, and turned back to the monsters.

“Let’s do this.” She exclaimed. Archie took her words as a cue and started running towards the monsters. The track was littered with sports equipment which had been scattered in the confusion, and the girl scooped up some discus’ as she passed, before she came running after him. As he approached the monsters, he came to the sudden realization that they were even bigger up close. But the girl was close behind him, and he was determined not to give in. He hurled his javelin at the nearest monster, and at nearly the same time the girl threw her discus. Both weapons reached their targets, and then bounced off their thick flesh harmlessly. Archie was so shocked, that for a second he simply stood and stared in astonishment. He didn’t even notice as another monster approached him from the side and aimed a thick fist at him. But fortunately, the red-head did, and pushed him bodily out of the way as the fist came smashing down.

“Don’t just stand there doofus!” She exclaimed, picking herself off the ground and scanning the arena immediately. Archie felt his cheeks redden as he scrambled to get on his feet. As he did, they both saw one of the monsters hefting a javelin rack from the ground and hurling it there way. They had just enough time to scramble aside as it shattered into wooden splinters on the exact spot they had been standing. The red-haired girl began retreating to the other side of the ring, and after a moment of hesitation, Archie followed. These beasts were unlike anything he’d ever seen. Their skin seemed to be like armour, but they had to have a weakness. Everyone had a weakness, he should know. Then suddenly, it same to him.

“We have to go for the eyes!” The red-haired girl yelled at him across the distance between them. Archie’s mind jumped, wondering for a moment if she wasn’t reading his thoughts. He noticed she was looking at him for a response, and he quickly nodded his head. The monsters were slow to follow them, but Archie noticed they were gaining. Then, between him and the monsters, he saw his discarded high jump pole lying uselessly on the ground. It gave him an idea.

“Cover me!” He yelled over his shoulder at the red-haired girl, and then he took off running. He could barely hear her yell back “huh?” over the sound of his own footfalls, but he wasn’t about to stop. He was bolstered by his own idea, and although he wasn’t aware of it, a desperate need to show himself capable. He was aware of a vague feeling of anger over his own poor performance in the face of this red-haired girl's capability. A feeling that felt almost familiar, but as an athlete he was familiar with competitive jealousy driving him to excel, and he was able to dismiss it from his mind. As he passed the pole and his hand closed over the smooth wood, he was only focused on the monsters ahead, closing in on him. He charged them, yelling, and plunged the end of the pole into the ground. He felt the familiar bend of the wood lifting him above the earth, and then he was sailing through the air. He spotted his target and tried moving his body to control his speed. With a grunt, he landed awkwardly on one of the monsters’ backs. The beast bellowed, flailing its arms wildly in at attempt to dislodge him, but he held on doggedly. Archie’s vision was fixed on the beast’s head, and he started scrambling up its back as the creature flailed. He felt assured of his victory as he got an arm around the neck of the creature to heft himself up, but then suddenly he felt a tug on his leg, and he was flying through the air again. He landed hard and lay stunned for a moment, his senses reeling.

“Archie?!” Yelled a voice, and Archie struggled through his mush-addled brain to place a face to the voice. It sounded so familiar, he felt deep down like he should know it. But then his eyes started to focus, and he saw the silhouette of a hulking form towering over him.

“Archie!!” the voice screamed in alarm. Archie, sensing something was wrong but still confused, raised his arm in defence, and noticed that he had a small shield strapped to his arm. Then suddenly the form over him bellowed in pain, and Archie saw it trying to wrest an arrow from its shoulder. The creature glared across the arena out of Archie’s field of vision, and he followed the beast’s gaze. He saw the red-haired girl there, but she had a short bow in her hands and was dressed in cloths that looked elegantly ancient Greek. The word “Atlantana” suddenly came to the front of his mind, but he wasn’t entirely sure where he’d heard it from.

“What?!” Yelled the black-cloaked man, his voice echoing off the arena walls in anger. Immediately all parties turned to look at him. “Who’s helping you from that miserable mountain?” He turned to the crowd, face contorted in rage. “Who’s out there! Show yourself!” After his voice an eerie silence fell over the arena. Not a soul moved in the stands. But on the arena floor, Archie was coming to his senses, and started to notice that it wasn’t only a shield on him. He was inexplicitly dressed in full armour, like an ancient Greek solider might have worn. As he became steadily more aware, he also felt the shaft of something in his hand on the ground. He looked down, and saw a large ornate spear in his hand, an “A” encircled was inscribed on the spearhead. Then suddenly the creature above him bellowed again, and Archie realized that the red-haired girl had let loose another arrow. The bellow seemed to break the eerie calm that had fell over the arena, and Archie took the opportunity to jump to his feet and retreat to where the red-haired girl stood, bow still drawn.

“Ready for a do-over?” she asked, shooting Archie a challenging smile. He once again felt himself helplessly smiling back. “Of course.” He replied. Neither mentioned the strangeness of finding each other in ancient Greek clothing. Compared to giant towering monsters and hands made out of living stone, mysteriously appearing clothing was almost normal. The creatures had regrouped around their injured comrade and were coming towards them. The girl released an arrow, and Archie took that as a signal to rush forward. Two more arrows met their marks before he’d even reached the monsters. And then he was on the towering beasts, jabbing his spear with a technique he hadn’t realized he’d possessed. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the red-haired girl being pursued by two of the monsters. She was keeping well ahead of them though, stopping long enough to get off a few arrows, before continuing to prevent the monsters from catching up. She was almost a blur in her efficiency.

“ENOUGH!” The black-coated man shouted suddenly. He looked around the arena angrily, his eyebrows drawn so close together that they seemed to be one entity. “I don’t have time for this nonsense!” He raised his hands, and in unison stone hands rose from the arena floor and wrapped themselves around the red-haired girl’s ankles. Her body was abruptly stopped in mid run, jerking her torso forward and throwing her to her knees. Her bow was flung from her hands, and skidded meters in front of her. She looked from her bow to behind her in panic, and Archie could see the two monsters she’d been tormenting baring down on her. “Now DIE!” Screamed the man.

Archie saw all this and was surprised by his desire to save her. It was like an emotion that had lived subconsciously beneath his own, one that he had never knew existed until now. But once released, was much stronger than any he had ever experienced in his life. Before he knew it, he was running across the Coliseum floor, leaving his adversaries behind. He reached the two monsters bearing down on the girl, and slid artfully between their feet, stopping himself between them and the trapped red-haired girl.

“What’re you doing?!” The girl yelled. “Get out of here!”

“I don’t know!” Archie shouted back, picking himself off the ground to face the giants “But it sure feels right!” After he said it, he was struck by what a strange statement it was. In fact, he couldn’t quite figure out why he’d said it. But the red-haired girl didn’t question him, she’d become oddly silent behind him.

“CRONUS!” Suddenly all action stopped on the field, as a commanding gravelly voice echoed over the arena. Even the scarred man was silent. “Cronus you will not escape me!” It growled again, and Archie finally located the source of the voice. In the middle of the arena and approaching was some kind of giant snake even larger than the monsters. But as he looked closer he realized that what he first thought was a giant snake actually had arms, hair, and what could only be described as a face resembling human.

“Kampe.” The man growled, “You have impeccable timing.” The snake-thing hissed in response, and speeded its approach. “But unfortunately,” the man continued in a level voice. “I have other business to attend to which does not involve Tartarus.” And as he spoke, a black hole appeared behind him, and inexplicitly he began to step into the dark space.

“Cronus!” The creature screeched, and lunged after the man into the hole. Then suddenly everything was gone. The black hole, the monsters, the armour. The crowd, silent until now, suddenly erupted into screams as they found themselves able to move, and began fleeing the arena in a panic. The red-haired girl stood up next to Archie, her leg bindings having vanished, and looked at him in confusion.

“Atlanta!” Both of them spun around at the sound of a level voice, and Archie saw a brown-haired dread-head running towards them across the arena floor. “Atlanta I saw everyone running from the stadium, are you-“the man stopped dead in his tracks as his eyes fell over Archie. And Archie couldn’t help but stare back. He was getting that feeling again, like an emotion hiding beneath his regular emotions. Except this time the feeling was of anger. He didn’t like this guy, but for the life of him he didn’t know why.

“Phil,” the girl cut in, breaking the awkward silence. The brown-haired boy shook his head and looked back at the girl, smiling. “Atlanta are you alright? What happened?”

“I’m not sure…” She murmured, looking a little dazed as she scanned the arena with her eyes, as if she was picturing the monsters and miraculous things which were no longer there. Phil touched her shoulder and Archie felt another unexplainable emotion rising at the back of his throat, jealousy. He was starting to be unnerved by these waves of strong emotion, he hadn’t felt this unstable since he was in high school.

“Com’on, lets get you out of here.” Phil said to her, casting a sideways glance at Archie, which the girl missed.

“Yeah, sure… okay.” The girl murmured, still visibly distracted. But as Phil was turning her around, she stopped and looked directly at Archie. “I’m… not sure what happened but, thanks for saving me.” Phil looked visibly shaken by this statement, and Archie felt himself smile on the inside. Although this time he wasn’t sure if this was his own reaction, or another strange emotion flooding his brain.

“Hey, I’ve always got your back.” He replied before he could think. Again, he caught himself balking at his strange response. He wasn’t even sure what he’d intended to mean. But the girl, Atlanta Phil had called her, just smiled. As if his answer was what she’d been expecting.

“Atlanta.” She said, holding out her hand.

Archie, although he had already heard her name, smiled and took her hand. It just seemed right. “Archie.” He responded.

“Com’on Atlanta, we’ve got to get ready for the plane.” Phil injected, visibly agitated.

“Okay I’m coming.” She replied. “Bye Archie.” She said to him, waving slightly as she turned to leave the arena.

“… bye Atlanta.” He muttered, waving weakly in response as she left, watching her get small in the distance with the man ‘Phil’.
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