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Trial by Fire
by Byron Molix

16:Pomp and Circumstance

   "Will Ryan Moore, the newest of our number, step forward," the High Councilor said. He was sitting on a simple chair at the center of the room. The highest members of the Guardian organization formed a path to him from the open archway at the far side of the room. There were balconies and areas below packed with Kel's people. All of them were team members if not Guardians.
   Ryan walked forward, through the ranks of stiff-backed Guardians in identical ceremonial dress. He was dressed in the height of earth teen fashion. Kel had told him that all Recruits begin the ceremony in street clothes. Ryan hadn't been able to get Kel to explain everything to him, he had clammed up after Ryan had barely asked about half the things he had on his mind. He moved slowly and with reverence, but his steps faltered periodically. Images flashed through his mind, images of his parents, his recent actions, and guesses about the future. Next, Ryan noticed that he was at the head of the column, looking directly at the High Councilor.
   "Ryan Moore of Earth, do you understand the responsibilities of a Guardian?" The High Councilor said; all about him, a shimmering cloud of silver flew. He looked gravely at Ryan.
   "Yes," Ryan said after a moment of contemplation. He considered what Kel had told him the first time about the responsibility of being a Guardian.
   "Do you accept the duty and responsibilities of this post?" The High Councilor asked. He looked at Ryan and it seemed to the earth boy that they were the only beings in the chamber. Ryan searched his soul, trying to find any shred of his being that wanted to deny this duty. He found none, and marshalled his strength to give the requisite answer.
   "I accept this post, and all the responsibilities that come with it," he said. The High Councilor raised his hand, and his spinning Matrix burst into brilliant light. Ryan could feel the power before him in every pore of his skin, and every hair of his body. He was on edge, so distracted that he did not feel the change that had begun to creep its way up his body. Then he felt the familiar tightening, as his clothes changed. A wave of light passed over his body, from the neck down, changing his clothing. He didn't have to look. He knew that he was being dressed in one of the ceremonial uniforms that the others wore.
   All around him, the Guardians wore red and white uniforms, made of one-piece multicolored and patterned cloth. Ryan's street clothes became an all-white version of this ensemble with embroidery denoting the diferences. A pedestal rose out of the floor, and as he looked the fine silver powder that was lying on it moved and began to clump together. It became a simple plate of silver metal, so thin that he thought it was surely fragile. He placed his right hand upon the plate, as Kel had prepared him to do, and sent his thoughts to the plate. It glowed for a few moments, as his concentration trained it to respond to his thought patterns, then it burst into a bright light, obscuring him and all around him in its brilliance. When the light had faded and Ryan opened his eyes, the Passion Device Matrix was a metallic bracelet formed around his right wrist, and he stood proudly in the red-white uniform of the Guardians.

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Copyright 1995, 1997 by Byron Molix