Raven watched as several people dressed in dark green came into the room and began cleaning the debris. Once they finished they walked out of the room, shutting the door behind them. As soon as the door shut the walls once again opened up. Raven tensed, but relaxed when she saw that it wasn’t the miniature helicopters this time. Instead, ten floating targets flew into the room. They were discs with an outer white ring that led to black, blue, and red rings until reaching a yellow bullseye. The targets bobbed gently up and down.
“Your next task is a simple one,” Mr. Rosco said, his voice filling the room from the speakers. She glanced up at him, watching him speak from the window. “You must hit all the targets. Anywhere on the target is sufficient, but you must do it without destroying or breaking at least nine of the ten targets. Superficial damage is fine. Once hit, they will light up. Do you understand?”
Raven’s brow furrowed, but she nodded.
“Good. You have ten minutes. Begin.”
The targets began to move. Raven’s eyes widened in surprise. For some reason, it hadn’t occurred to her that they wouldn’t be stationary targets. This was supposed to be simple? She sighed and unscrewed the cap on her canteen. One minute for each target.
She couldn’t help a grin spreading across her lips. “Easy,” she muttered.
Raising her hand, a stream of water rose out of the canteen and formed into a floating ball. She pressed her finger against the cool surface. The ball of water split at the touch, dividing into multiple smaller globes. Satisfied, she looked at the targets.
The water scattered at her words. Each sphere rushing through the room as it slid towards the targets. Some lagged behind, but they each gave chase. Raven didn’t even have to move. One-by-one, the globes splashed against their target, most hitting the bullseye. In under a minute, each of the targets lit up, not a single one damaged.
Raven looked down at her shoes, trying to hide the smirk she knew was on her face. She pretended to concentrate on putting the cap back on the canteen.
Yes, Raven, you are the woman.
Once she felt she could control her inner gloating, she looked back up at the window. She frowned. Mr. Rosco was talking adamantly to a tall man in a lab coat. The man shook his head and pointed at her, before saying something. Mr. Rosco frowned and leaned forward, obviously angry about something as he spoke to the man. The man in the lab coat said something and folded his arm, his face set. Mr. Rosco frown deepened and then almost reluctantly he nodded. He turned back to the window, glancing at her and then back down to his microphone.
The speakers in the room crackled to life. “Well done! We will be moving to the final task.” The walls opened up again and the targets flew inside. “In this task, you will be once again facing the miniature helicopters. This time there will be one red helicopter. It is your job to capture the red helicopter without destroying it or causing major damage. The other helicopters will be guarding it.”
Raven took a step forward. She noticed the man in the white lab coat was still standing there, watching her. “Am I allowed to destroy the enemy helicopters?”
“Yes,” Mr. Rosco said. “Only the red helicopter should remain undamaged. Superficial damage is acceptable.”
Raven nodded. She wasn’t particularly excited about dodging electric bolts. Even so, she was determined to get her Illusion permit. “I’m ready.”
She uncapped her canteen, waiting to hear the buzzing of the miniature helicopters. Nothing happened. Confused, she looked back at the window. Mr. Rosco stood in front of the microphone, not moving. The man in the lab coat sighed and stepped forward, nudging Mr. Rosco out of the way. He reached out and typed into something Raven couldn’t see, but guessed had to be a computer.
The buzzing started. Raven turned her head to see the miniature helicopters spilling out of the wall. Her eyes widened as more and more filled the room. There were more than before. Thirty? Thirty-five. Raven turned back to the window. The man in the lab coat stared at her with a warm smile that didn’t quite match the almost fanatic zeal in his eyes.
He leaned towards the microphone. “You have 15 minutes. Good luck!”
“Wait you can’t-” Mr. Rosco’s voice cut in, but the speakers turned off.
She turned to the window to see Mr. Rosco’s face red with anger and shouting at the man in the lab coat. The man in the lab coat’s attention never left hers. He reached out and tapped the window and then pointed. Raven turned, almost afraid to look.
The helicopters started moving. This time they weren’t just shooting little bolts of lightning. This time the helicopters had entire spheres of electricity around them.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Raven said, gaping. There was no way she could attack them with the whips without being electrocuted.
A bolt of lightning shot towards her. She threw herself to the side, slamming against the floor. Water splashed out of her canteen. She twisted around, as another shot of electricity zipped towards her. This time the helicopters could shoot her from any direction. She rolled away, spilling more water out of the canteen. Scrambling to her feet, Raven ran.
Panic surged up through her. She needed to get away, but as she turned, more helicopters began moving in her direction. Looking around her, she realized helicopters had circled her while she was recovering from the shock of the situation. She raised her hand and the water from the canteen rose up. Fear slid through her, but she swallowed it down. Maybe she could short-circuit them?
If you do it, you’ll be electrocuted.
As long as she didn’t touch the water she would be okay. Right? But she was covered in water and there was water all over the floor. The helicopters didn’t wait for her to find an answer. Several jolts of electricity shot at her from every direction. She only had a second to react. She raised her arms, summoning up the water as she jumped to the side. Electricity hit her, and her body seized up from the hit. She clenched down hard, her teeth feeling like they would crack, as she flopped on the ground.
High above her, a bubble of water floated. It was the remains of the water that had been on her clothes and the floor. She didn’t even want to imagine what would have happened if the water had still been there when the electricity had hit her.
“This is definitely child abuse,” she panted as she pushed herself off the ground and stood up. Her body ached from the movement. Part of her wanted to give up, but a stronger more stubborn part of her wanted to show them she could do this.
From behind her, she could hear a humming sound that grew in pitch, like something charging up. Her eyes widened. She quickly whirled around and she saw a helicopter moving towards her. From the corner of her eye, she caught a flash of red.
I’m going to win.
Using the floating water, she slashed at the oncoming helicopters with as much force as she could muster. She hoped that not being in physical contact with the water would be enough to keep her from being electrocuted. When the water hit, she could hear it sizzle. The helicopters slammed backwards. The electrical current flowed through the water, but Raven was too close. She only had a moment to realize her mistake when the electricity jumped.
A lance of lightning hit her, tossing her through the air. The pain was so intense it was like her brain turned into static. Her throat closed and she couldn’t breathe. Her entire body clenched up and she shook uncontrollably, before dropping to the ground like a rag doll.
She couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t move. Was her heart even beating?
I don’t want to die.
Sound rushed through her ear. She blinked and suddenly she was gasping for air. Everything hurt, but somehow she could move. Distantly, the smell of ozone and smoke filled her nostrils. She wondered if she could walk. A flash of red passed by her. Gritting her teeth, Raven pushed up from the ground.
There was a slight ringing in her ear and her body was screaming at her to stay still. Her heart felt weird, but she couldn’t tell if it was beating too fast or too slow. Warning bells went off in her head, but she ignored them and began walking towards the red helicopter.
The other helicopters were there. She could sense them around her, readying up their bolts.
The buzzing stopped. All across the room, water swallowed up the helicopters. A perfect sphere, almost a mimic of the electric spheres, surrounded them. Simultaneously, she pressurized the water. The water crushed the helicopters like tin cans and discarded them. Raven felt a twinge of satisfaction, but her attention was still set on the red helicopter.
The red helicopter didn’t have the electric sphere like the other helicopters. It was a relief. She didn’t have to worry about being shocked. Still, she was concerned about damaging it if she used her water abilities. Her water magic felt unstable, like she was barely controlling it. She peeled off the raincoat from around her waist. Parts of it had melted to her, but she tried not to think too hard about that.
The red helicopter started to zip away. Instinctively Raven shot a stream of water forward, catching it by the tail. The water’s grip tightened and Raven felt her control shaken a little. She wasn’t sure if she could pull the helicopter in without damaging it.
She walked as fast as her body would allow and tossed the raincoat over the helicopter. She dragged it down, letting the water slid away from it. She gripped the helicopter and wrapped her arms around it. She held it tight against her chest, but a thought crossed her mind. How much time had passed? She couldn’t be sure how long she had been lying on the ground with the world muted earlier.
“Did I win?” she asked, waiting to hear the booming of the speakers.
If the speakers came on, Raven didn’t know. At that moment, her body gave up and she passed out.