There is a playground, hidden deep within Battery City, where the children of the city are allowed to play for a few hours each afternoon when they are given a break from their studies.
As a child, this had been Al’s favorite place to go. It was the reason she got up to go to school. Playtime was the best.
The playground was a small haven for the children, a seemingly colorful place in the black and white world that Battery City encased them in. Of course, it was also closely monitored to make sure that the children didn’t use “too much” imagination in their games.
Of all the days spent on that playground, one stuck out in Al’s head above all the others.
It was a warm afternoon. Not the fake kind of warm that usually permeated Battery City, where it was quite obvious that the City was controlling the temperature. No, this was an actually nice, warm day. On this particular day, Korse, the lead Exterminator, decided to come watch the children play. He said he had a special project and wanted to find the child who showed the most promise.
Of course, all the children wanted to be the chosen one, so they all took extra care to be a little more impressive. They ran faster, made extra sure to take charge in the games, and did all that they could to get noticed.
However, Al knew that she would be chosen, no matter what. Her parents were high ranking officials in the government, in charge of ridding Battery City of any and all deviation from the norm. They were in charge of the Exterminators, so that meant that Al had no choice in being chosen. She would follow in her parents’ footsteps.
And yet, as she ran about with the other little children, she noticed that Korse was barely paying attention to her. Instead, his eyes always watched a young boy with short black hair.
Al had never spoken to the young boy before, but she knew from the rumors that flew about the halls that he was really intelligent. She realized that maybe her victory in gaining Korse’s favor would not come just from her parents’ standing in the government.
She decided it was time to step up her game.
By the time they got around to playing tag, Al realized that none of her skills were having much of an impression. Her fast running, excellent hiding skill, and ability to lead to children in their games seemed to have no effect on the man.
As the game of tag began to come to a close, the school officials motioning for the children to begin lining up to go inside, Al noticed that the dark haired boy had climbed onto the monkey bars. Once recess was over, Korse would announce the student who would be helping him with his new project.
In a desperate plea for attention, Al climbed the jungle gym opposite the boy and perched herself on top of them. The boy was steadily climbing toward her on the underside, giving her an open shot at his fingers.
As soon as he was near, she stretched out her feet in, what appeared to be, an attempt at climbing. However, in actuality, it was a successful attempt to stomp at his fingers.
The boy let out a yelp as the hard sole of her shoes made contact with his fingers. She made a point of grinding her heel into his fingernails, barely keeping herself from cackling as he tumbled to the ground.
Tears streaked his face as he lay on the ground cradling his hurt hands. Guilt gnawed at the young girl as she looked down at what she had reduced the boy to. However, her stomach flipped a bit in excitement when she noticed Korse staring at her, a smirk playing at his lips.
One of the attendants rushed over to help the young boy, who seemed to be having difficulty standing, having landed at an odd angle on his right foot.
“I’m so sorry,” Al gasped, now playing the part of the innocent little girl. “I didn’t mean to. I guess I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
“It’s alright, Alarice,” Korse said before any of the attendants could interject. “Gerard will be fine.”
Al nodded, hiding her satisfied smirk behind her long blonde hair. Cautiously she climbed down the monkey bars, knowing that when Korse announced his chosen student, it would be her. She had shown dominance over the only other competition, and that was all that mattered.