Standing at the entrance to Ivy University, Nick stared up at the tall main building in challenge.
Today would start the next four years of undergraduate study to become a lawyer (and an art student). Nick was excited. He was ready and willing for the next several years of study.
I’ll make sure to save him, Nick thought, clenching his hands.
“Oh.” Reaching into his pocket, Nick pulled out a crumpled piece of paper. He smoothed it out and looked at the dorm room number. “Room 316, huh….?”
“What are you just standing around for, Nick?” a voice asked as a head popped up from the depths of Nick’s backpack.
Nick glanced over his shoulder at the toy-sized red bird staring at him, wings holding onto the edge of the backpack. “Hey, Apollo. I was just checking my room number.”
Apollo tilted his head. “Well, yeah, but it’s about to rain.”
Together, the two stared up at the gathering storm clouds beginning to form.
“Oh. You’re always on top of the weather, aren’t you, Apollo?”
“I hate rain.”
Apollo squawked, ducking back into the backpack.
Nick glanced behind him to see a boy with spiky dirty blond hair running up to him. “Oh. Hey, Larry.”
Larry Butz was an old friend of Nick’s. They had been friends since grade school.
“Are you going to Ivy U as well, Larry?” Nick asked as Larry stopped in front of him.
“No! Yes! Not the time, Nick!” Larry grabbed Nick’s shoulders and began to shake him. “Is it true we get to room with other…dudes?!”
“Huh?” Nick made a face at Larry’s statement. “Who did you think we would room with?”
“Hot chicks, dude! Not other dudes!”
I think you’re confusing dorm rooms with something else, Larry…
“What room are you in, Nicky boy?!”“
Larry grinned, giving a thumbs up. “I’m in 320! We’ll be so close to each other!”
Larry slapped Nick on the back, causing Apollo to squawk when he was squished.
“Huh?” Larry stared at the backpack curiously.
“U-uh! That was….me! Your hits are getting harder!”
Larry narrowed is eyes, rubbing the patch of hair on his chin before he gasped. “Oh, you still have it!”
Nick blinked before he looked at the backpack, spotting the beat-up keychain hanging from the zipper. “Oh. Oh! Yeah, of course.”
The keychain was from an old show that had ended a while ago.
Nick had chosen the blue one and Larry had chosen the yellow one. The red one had gone to an old friend of theirs who had moved away years ago. Miles Edgeworth.
Edgeworth had moved shortly after his dad had died and Nick hadn’t heard from him since.
“What about yours?” Nick asked. “Do you still have it?”
Larry frowned before crossing his arms and looking away, cheeks puffed out. “Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. I doubt Edgey boy has kept his, so what’s the point?”
Nick smiled, shaking his head. “I’m sure he does. He wouldn’t throw away our friendship so easily.”
Larry snorted, sulking even more.
A raindrop hit Nick’s nose and he looked up just as more rain began to fall.
“Oh, crap! Rain!”
“What’s wrong with a little rain, Nicky?”
“Oh…uh….” Nick grinned, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. “Well, I wouldn’t want to get a cold before classes start, is all…”
And if Apollo got wet, he wouldn’t hear the end of it.
Nick ran off in the direction of the dorm rooms. “Come on! Let’s check out our rooms!”
Larry appeared doubtful but he ran after Nick anyway as the drizzle turned into a downpour.
“316…” Nick stopped in front of the door to his dorm, taking off his wet jacket and wringing it out.
“Mine’s two doors down from yours!” Larry said, pointing to his room. “We can visit each other every day!”
Probably just to copy homework…. Nick thought as Larry bolted to his room.
He sighed, shaking his head then opened the door to his room. Stepping inside, Nick glanced around. He didn’t see his roommate, but they had obviously been there.
A backpack lay on one of the beds, obviously to mark that as their bed.
Nick set his backpack on the second bed then shook out his jacket.
Apollo poked his head out of the bag, glancing round to make sure it was safe before he flew out of the bag. He landed on Nick’s shoulder, stretching his wings above his head. “Man, am I glad to be out of there.
“Sorry about that, Apollo. I don’t have any other place for you to hang out.”
“It’s fine.” Apollo flapped a wing dismissively. “You have to keep me by your side at all times anyway.”
Apollo was something called a Mystic, a strange being that was connected to a Magatama. Apollo’s Magatama appeared as an ordinary gold bangle which Nick wore around his left wrist.
Nick still wasn’t sure exactly what a Mystic was or where they come from, but Apollo had answered it to the best of his ability when Nick had first put on the Magatama months ago.
Nick hummed as he looked over the gold bracelet he had found at a garage sale.
He wasn’t a big jewlery fan, but this bracelet. He felt like it had called out to him.
“It’s just an ordinary bracelet,” Nick muttered to himself, setting the bracelet on the desk he was at so he could continue his homework.
After a bit, he glanced at the bracelet then grabbed it. It wouldn’t hurt to try it on, he supposed.
With a nod, Nick slid the bracelet onto his left wrist.
Almost immediately it tightened around his wrist snugly then flashed brightly.
Nick covered his eyes when the flash blinded him before blinking when the light faded. He looked around then looked at the bracelet sitting on his wrist.
“That was strange…”
Hello! You must be my new owner!”
“Huh?” Nick looked around at the sound of the voice then looked down at his desk to see a six-inch-tall red bird sitting there staring up at him.
The bird raised a wing. “My name is Apollo! I’m the Mystic that resides in the Magatama you just put on.”
“Huuuh?!” Nick scrambled to his feet, knocking his chair down. “Where did you come from?!”
Nick’s mother’s voice wafted up from downstairs. “Nick, is everything all right?”
U-uh, yeah! I’m fine!” Nick looked towards the closed door of his bedroom then back down at Apollo. “I just…leaned too far back in my chair!”
"Oh. Well, be careful, dear!”
“I see you’re confused.” Apollo put a wing to his forehead, frowning. “How do I explain this simply…”
Nick slowly reached out a finger to poke Apollo.
“Hey!” Apollo swatted Nick’s hand with his wing. “Hands off!”
"Of course I am!”
Picking up his chair and righting it, Nick collapsed into the chair and held his head. “This isn’t happening…”
He looked at his bracelet.
“You came from this?”
Apollo nodded. “Yes. That is called a Magatama. They look like normal jewlery.”
"They…? There’s more than one?”
"Of course! There’s several! And each Magatama has its own Mystic. I’m Apollo, the Phoenix Mystic of your Magatama.”
Nick dropped his hands to his lap. “So what do you do?”
"I lend my powers to you to turn you into a superhero. For a limited time, of course.”
“A superhero.” Nick repeated. “Really.”
“Mm-hm.” Apollo nodded proudly, feathers fluffing up. “You want to try?”
Nick wasn’t sure if he should believe the strange bird but he really didn’t have a choice. “I suppose…”
"All right! I’ll give you pointers. So first, stand up.”
Nick stood up.
“Then you put your fist in the air.” Apollo held up his left wing. “And say, ‘Apollo, Flame Up!’ It’s easy.”
Nick stared at his hand then pumped it into the air. “Apollo, Flame Up!”
After Apollo had disappeared into the bracelet, a new outfit covered Nick from head to toe. He now donned a red-orange suit-like outfit with a long tail coat, the ends touching the ground and appearing like tail feathers. A crown of red feathers covered Nick’s head, shielding his unusual hair from view. An orange mask spread across the upper half of Nick’s face to help disguise his eyes.
Nick gasped as he looked himself over.
“Whoa….this is trippy.”
He lifted his arms, staring at the wings that were attached to the clothes, before flapping them a bit. That meant he could fly.
Nick wasn’t really fond of heights, though.
“But I’m not Nick right now, though,” Nick muttered to himself. “I’m…”
I’m Apollo, the Phoenix Mystic.
“Phoenix. I like that…”
Phoenix looked himself over before he realized something.
“Wait, how do I change back….?”
It had taken a while for Phoenix’s powers to wear out and once Apollo had left the bracelet, Nick was back in his old clothes, still buzzing with the energy of the transformation.
It had been amazing and even though he had yet to fully utilize his newfound power, Apollo had warned Nick of a villain called Demon Striker.
Nick had yet to run into any of Demon Striker’s minions, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t at some point.
Apollo was nice to hang around. He was interesting and even though he was young for a Mystic, he still answered whatever questions Nick had about Apollo’s kind or the Magatama.
The door to the bathroom opened and Apollo squawked, shooting off Nick’s shoulder to hide in his bag.
Nick was startled, not realizing his roommate hadn’t actually left the room.
“Ah, I’m sorry! I wasn’t aware you were still here. My name is—”
Nick paused, staring at the person who had just exited the bathroom, a towel around their shoulders.
The male that had left the bathroom had dark grey eyes and silver hair with bangs framing his face. Nick could never forget that face.
Nick continued staring dumbly, feeling as if all the breath had been punched from his lungs.
It was Miles, no doubt about it. Miles, who had left ten years ago after the death of his father.
Miles, who hadn’t responded to any letter that Nick had sent to him.
Miles, who was standing before Nick like nothing happened.
“Hello, Wright.” Miles glanced away, staring at a spot in the floor. “It’s been too long.”
Nick grit his teeth, clenching his hands before pointing at Miles. “Like hell it has! What do you get off of, showing up out of the blue after all this time?!”
“You didn’t even reply to my letters or keep in touch with me or Larry! We were worried about you!”
“Nick!” Miles glared at Nick. “I came here because you said you wanted to go here when you got older.”
Nick sputtered, the anger fizzling out and leaving him with a bitter taste. “Huh? I thought—”
“I’d go to a private college? Yes, von Karma wanted me to, but I….requested I go here. He agreed, on a few conditions.”
“I obtain a part-time job to pay for my expenses. And after my undergraduate study is complete, I go to a law school of his choice.”
“Why go here, though?”
“You were here, of course.”
Nick blinked. Miles had really applied for Ivy University because he knew Nick would be there? Nick didn’t believe it.
With a sigh, Nick sat down on the edge of his bed. “How…how’s Missile?”
Missile was a cute Pomeranian dog that Larry had found wandering around during grade school. Of course, Nick and Larry hadn’t been able to keep the pup because of their parents so Miles had taken the dog home to see if his father would allow it to stay.
“He’s fine.” Miles dried his hair before slipping on a button-down shirt. “von Karma is watching him while I’m at college.”
“I see…” Nick glanced up at Miles, spotting a silver chain necklace around the other’s neck.
Since when had he been into jewlery?
“I kept all your letters,” Miles murmured, setting his towel in the hamper set within his half of the closet.
Nick perked up. “You did? Why didn’t you—”
“von Karma wouldn’t let me. So I kept them instead.”
“No offense, but von Karma sounds like a hard ass.”
Miles gave what sounded like a laugh, smiling tightly. “Yeah, he was pretty strict.”
Nick frowned before he hopped to his feet, grabbing Miles by the wrist. “Let’s go to the cafeteria to get some food. You, me, and Larry.”
“Larry’s here too?” Miles groaned.
“This is the only school that would accept him.”
“That, I believe.”
“Hey, Nicky!” Larry appeared at the doorway again. He gasped when he saw Miles. “Edgey’s here too?! Omg. This is the best day of my life!”
Before Miles or Nick could react, Larry had them both in a headlock that was probably supposed to be a hug.
“The Signal Samurai are reunited once more!”
“You’re choking us, Larry!” Nick gasped, patting Larry’s arm in an attempt to make the other let go.
“Oh.” Larry immediately released them only to grab their wrists. “This is cause for celebration! To the cafeteria!”
Nick sighed. There wasn’t any stopping Larry once he got on a tangent or his mind made up.
It took a good hour or so before Nick and Miles managed to sneak away from Larry.
“You’re still friends with that bumbling idiot?” Miles asked as he and Nick returned to their room.
“We’re not really friends. We just keep running into each other.” Miles gave a hum, glancing at Nick before looking forward.
Nick had managed to sneak some food for Apollo before he and Miles had left. He was certain that the tiny Mystic was hungry.
Miles grabbed the doorknob to their room, turning it only to find it locked. He tried again, pushing on the door to be sure it was indeed locked.
Annoyed, he scowled at Nick. “Did you lock the door?”
Nick rubbed the back of his neck before he quickly searched his pockets. He was certain that he had a key to their dorm room.
His pockets came up empty.
“I left the key in there…” Nick mumbled, watching as Miles checked his own pockets.
“As did I.”
Nick took out his phone to send an email to the dorm leader to tell them about the predicament.
It too less than five minutes to receive a reply.
“The dorm leader will be here in twenty minutes.
“I suppose we wait then,” Miles sighed, sitting down by the door.
Nick sat beside him.
The two fell silent as they waited for the dorm leader to unlock their door for them.
After a bit, Nick nudged Miles to get his attention. “Hey, I’m happy you’re in the same school as me and Larry.”
Miles glanced at Nick out of the corner of his eye before looking straight ahead. “I suppose I am as well.”
Nick smiled at the vague answer.
That was good enough for him. The next four years at Ivy University were going to be interesting.