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His Ego

Today school was closed for the weekend, out of habit; he went for an early jog. Instead of going down his normal routine, he jogged further to the next street.

Draven heaved, leaning against the brick wall, to catch his breath. He cussed, wiping the sweat on his chin. 'I certainly didn't expect it to be this far! Damn that old fart!'

A green thread of light, buzzed from the bracelet, he popped to the size of a little fairy. Vernon shouted "Hey, quit whining! This is just a warm-up!"

Draven said "But, I could have easily warmed up on the gym's treadmill."

Vernon replied "Running outside and inside aren't that different. But they make a big difference. Athletes of my generation, preferred training outdoors, making their bodies resistant to the temperature and the conditions of the track."

Draven stayed silent and continued running. 

Moments before daybreak, in a small corner of the street. People in their sports apparels went in and out of the building.

Draven entered the building, with a tiny Vernon hiding behind his ear. Vernon was curious to know how much the society has changed, a century after the great war of 2150 between the Justice Alliance and the villains of humanity.

Sadly, Vernon's party won and threw the world in a state of unrest, full of rogue supers. Until a few ambitious fractions, clans and organizations around the world rose and ruled the lands with their own form of governance, restoring some level of peace and order. 

Draven walked in the crowded elevator. Just when the elevator was about to close, Draven saw a girl in pink sweatshirt rushing through the slit of the elevator. He pressed the elevator door open, she walked in and it continued moving up, her chest heaved, she pushed the stray hair behind her ear.

She smiled, said "Thank you, for holding the lift!"

Draven waved his hand down "Don't thank me, it wasn't a big deal"

She said "My name is Cecilia and what's your?"

"Just Draven. Are you heading to the gym?"

Cecilia pondered, said "Yeah! Hmm, I have never seen you before, are you new here?"

"No, I live a couple of streets away." Draven said.

*Ting*

The elevator stopped at the last floor. They crossed the corridor, to the gym complex.

Cecilia said "Oh, if you need any help, just let me known… I'll be training with my buddies in the VIP section!"

"Okay, bye!" 

Draven replied "Sure, bye” walked behind her through the glass door, she hopped to a group of girls behind the glass window. 

It had a great atmosphere. There were multiple training grounds and arenas, full of the latest fitness equipments and weights taking the whole floor. Each room had their own theme and training gears. It even had a battle simulator and fight bots tailored for martial artists and superhumans. He admired the facilities while his hands clutched his bleeding pockets. 

Turning back to the reception, he asked the lady behind the counter, to show him their schemes and offers.

The receptionist tapped the black table, it lit up; displayed all of their membership and packages.

She tapped the table again, a high chair materialized behind Draven, he took the seat and swiped through the options.

The receptionist scrutinised him in detail and found him devilishly handsome.

She mentally wished; he wasn't underage.

She blushed and then astutely hid it behind a professional face.

Vernon within his ear, said "Take the premium membership. It offers a private room and your own personal trainer."

Draven said, inaudible voice "But aren't you training me?"

Vernon said " Yes I am, I can't wait to try all those fancy equipment… I feel so young!"

He selected a VIP membership without a trainer option. Internally, he cried.

'What the heck?? that's way too expensive…' patting his bare pocket.

'Fifty thousand credits for a freaking gym membership! That is ten times more than my house rent!'

The lady noticed his expression, said "Is there anything wrong? Sir?"

Draven replied with a small smile "It's nothing, Ma'am. I want to take the premium offer without a trainer"

Surprised, she asked him "Are you sure can afford it?"

Draven said "Yes, It may be above my budget but everything comes with a price"  hiding his wound.

She nodded. "Yes, so do you want to apply for a monthly, six months or year membership?"

Calculating the price in his head, he said "Is it possible to apply for a weekly membership?"

The receptionist replied "Yes it is possible, but most prefer monthly or yearly to save them from the hassle. Let me prepare it for you"

A digital form popped on the table, he signed it after entering the required details. And swiped his com against the gym's scanner. A second later a bank notification popped on his com.

'Beep'

Draven thought 'Don't tell me she made a mistake, deducted 10,500 credits instead of 11,600 credits'

Draven questioned her with my eyes. 

The receptionist smiled, said in a soft voice "I gave you a discount, so don't tell anyone ok?"

Draven brightened, 'What an angel!' he thanked her. 

'The heavens are finally looking after me.' 'From tomorrow onwards, I will take two jobs and work overtime!'

She chuckled behind the counter, handed him a receipt and a platinum membership card.  

She said "Room no.8 in section B is free to use. And have a good day, Sir!"

"You too!" He skipped inside with happy feet.

Inside, there were plenty of assistant bots to provide the member with refreshments or to uphold the peace of the gym. 

Once he reached the room, with a swipe of his pass, a door shone itself from the white walls and parted.

Vernon grew in size, donning a whistle and commanded him to do some stretches. And then started doing four sets of hundred push-ups.

In the middle of his push-ups, Vernon strapped a few bands on his neck, arms, back and my legs with lighting speed.

*Buzzz*

Suddenly, the pressure built up, forcing his body down, gripping the floor with his nails; holding still. "WHAT THE HECK??" 

Nonchalant, Vernon said "I’m just pushing your body! It's just hundred kgs more, surely it isn't a big deal for you!"

Smugly looking down, Vernon said "Is it too hard for ya?"

"Hard? Heh… C'mon, is that it?" Draven taunted with a fake brag. "I can do two hundred more!" He said, Vernon increased his load, and with a smirk, he pushed his body up.

Soon, he was able to complete the sets without any breaks, all for the sake of his fragile pride.

He jumped to his feet. "Ahh, that feel good" he said, cracking his neck.

Internally, he complained 'Man, that was intense! My back is killing me!' and unstrapped the elastic bands from his shoulder.

'Seriously?' I know it's hurting! But if he continues being reckless... the consequences will be severe!' Vernon thought with a solemn expression.

“Hold on, we aren’t done!”

“We aren’t” he repeated, mixed with emotions.

“Keep the weights on” a screen of different exercises played before him. “You must do this and this… with the weights”

"Do I really have to wear these?" Draven asked, talking about the weights.

Vernon nodded.

He grunted, and pulled his body up the metal bar. He worked out his full body, with the help of the +dumbbells and the training machines.

The +dumbbells were adjustable weights, which the user can increase or decrease the weight accordingly to their preference.

After long hours of working out; his sleeveless sweatshirt was drenched in sweat, kissing his back against the floor. 'It been some time since I last trained like this'

Past a minute, Vernon said "Now it's time for battle simulation. Let's go!"

Draven entered a dark room. Automatically, blue lights flickered on, lighting the control panel and the shelves loaded of weapons of all kinds. 

Vernon played with the settings while he picked his weapon. Draven choose a long, spikey whip, a short sword and a couple of daggers.

Admiring the whip for a moment, he thought 'This would pair nicely with my fire! Sure, I may be rusty..." As a descendant of the Castel Clan, it was a custom for them to be proficient with all kinds of weapons.   

Strolled to the centre and the dark room morphed into a tropical forest. He gasped at the surrealism.

His hand grazed the solid holographic tress and leaves, Vernon said "Take this seriously, I will be measuring your aptitude!"

The room glowed; as the numbers flashed.

3…2…1 Go!

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