XXVII. Duos

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The following day, the competitors had all made their way back to the arena. As they did, Raina was researching on her phone as she and her friends headed for the nearest available dugout.

Luke had his hands behind his head, looking back at her.
"Who ya texting?" he asked slyly "Someone special?"
Raina grunted in annoyance, "No, Lena, Aria, and I saw a guy yesterday and he looked familiar."
"Familiar how?" Jace asked.
"Ah!" Raina exclaimed as realization dawned upon what her phone displayed, "That's where I know him from."
"What?" Aria asked.

She showed Aria her screen.
"You know the legend of the Gods?" she asked.
"Kind of," Aria admitted, "There's a god for each Gift, but that's... really all I know."
"The belief is seven Gods came down to Earth and shared each of their powers with the world, continuing to to this day," Raina explained, reading off of her phone.
"Okay," Lena said as they entered the dugout, "So, how does the Gods relate to... stupid hat guy?"
Luke and Kai snickered, but Raina ignored them.

She then showed Lena a photo of a mural. The figure depicted in the mural looked a lot like the boy they saw.
"This is the mural of The Heat at the Holy Shrine they built in D.C." Raina explained.
"So you think the guy we saw... was The Heat?" Lena asked, skeptically, "I doubt it."
"Why?" Raina asked, "It's the same exact hat. Who have you seen that wears a hat like that??"
"I would like to remind you, Raina," Dai interjected, "That there's no proof the Gods exist today. Lena is justified in doubting it. In all honesty, I'm sure the guy you saw was just that; a guy."

Raina pocketed her phone, grumbling to herself irritatedly.
"So, wait, you really think you saw one of the Gods?" Jace asked.
"Again, yes. Though, I seriously doubt it," Lena said, "Like Dai said, if the Gods were still around, they'd probably be out and around."
"That's... not exactly what I said, but, same point," Dai corrected.
"Shush, guys!" Kai huffed, "Ms. Danford is getting up to the mic!!"

Indeed, Danford had approached the mic in her tower, and cleared her throat before addressing the crowd.
"Welcome, ladies and gentlemen of all ages, to the fourth day of the tournament!" she announced as the chatter of the audience died down, "Today, our esteemed nature Symbol; Flora Lawson, will commentate today's events."
Competitors and spectators alike turned their attention to the opposite tower, where a dark skinned woman with braided hair approached a mic.

"Welcome, one and all," she greeted, a warmth in her voice, "Today, we dispense with the events, and go strictly to battles. With sixteen competitors remaining, the next phase of the tournament will be duos."
Excited chatter rose from both the crowd and competitors.
"What this means is each competitor will be paired with another. Each pair will do battle with another pair. The pair that loses will be out, while the four pairs that persevere will go on to tomorrow's events," Lawson explained.

"Duos?! This will be mega fun," Luke said excitedly.
"I just hope I'm not paired with a dumbass," Raina groaned.
"Hunter's still in the game, so, there's a chance of that," Dai reminded grimly.
Both Lena and Jace looked uncomfortably at the floor at the mention.

"The pairings will be as follows, so I advise you all competing to pay attention," Lawson announced, and cleared her throat, "Mary-Ann Roux and Yang Arkadas. Raina Fray and Melany Topal. Hunter McAlister and Daniel Peixegato. Lena Prasylova and Jace Verrater. Ezekiel Nunez and Mari Azeri. Kai Fray and Janice Kaiser. Dai Fray and Maxwell Charmaine. Luke Rochester and Aria Draven."

"Looks like we're partners for today," Jace smiled at Lena.
Lena blushed, but a smile crept across her face, "I guess so."
"Ariaaaaaa!!" Luke said excitedly, wrapping an arm tightly around the more petite girl, "It's you and me, babyyy!!"
Aria chuckled, trying to hide her blush.
"I'm stuck with your ex?" Kai asked Jace, incredulous, "Damn."
"Sorry," Jace shrugged awkwardly.
"At least none of us have Hunter," Raina said, "That's one big stroke of luck."
"Maxwell..." Dai pondered, "That's Max, right? From class?"
"Yeah," Lena said, "Don't tell me you forgot his name already."
"I'm not great with names," Dai admitted, "If we hung around him more, it'd be easier to remember."
"We'll make a note of that," Kai said, "Listen now, y'all, I think the first battle is about to be announced."

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