A new generation of Heroes
Part IV: Meet the teachers
The Classroom building was a large squarish ‘c’ shaped building in a mid-Atlantic colonial style; all bricks and white paned windows. Our tablet map directed us to the second floor of the classroom building, to a small room on the corner on the north-western side of the floor. It wasn’t huge; being meant for a little over a dozen pupils. Sixteen desks were paired in two rows facing a large wooden desk and an electronic blackboard. I took the first seat I found in the front row, most people going for the back.
“Mind if I sit here?” Mace asked, coming up to me.
“Didn’t get enough of me this morning?”
“How could I have?”
Our little chat came to a close when a tall, muscular black man in his late fifties walked in, his right knee supported by a brace over the camouflage pants he wore. Despite his age, grayed hair and salt and pepper beard, he looked in good shape, although a few noticeable scars marked his faces.
“Good morning students.” He began, his voice strong and booming. “My name is Joshua Martin, although most of you have probably known me better as Defender. Which I’d like to point out that despite what the media seems to believes has no ‘the’ before it.”
I knew Defender had been one of the longest running heroes in the Detroit area before retiring several years ago.
“You may address me as Mr. Martin from now on. I’ve been assigned as your homeroom teacher for the year. Now, you may be wondering ‘What exactly are you teaching Mr. Martin’ and that would be a very good question. First and foremost I want to remind you that we are a school and are by law required to provide you with an education.”
Admittedly it wasn’t exactly the most exciting thing in the world, but it was understandable.
“Due to your difference in grade levels across the class you will mostly be working individually with grade-appropriate textbooks and I will provide help should you require it. Before you panic, I am a certified high school teacher. Of course, academics aren’t the only thing we teach; in addition to regular curriculum we have power mastery classes, security training, self defense instruction, parahuman history and various other specialty classes focused on teaching you the skills you might need in the field. Any questions?”
“When do we start the superhero gig?” Tyler asked. I hadn’t really interacted with him much yet; he was this tall and bony looking guy, he gave me some ‘I don’t give a fuck’ kind of view with his ‘WYSIWYG’ shirt, unkempt appearance and bored expression.
“Short answer; when you’ll be ready. Long answer; we’ll be judging your progress as you go along and once deemed sufficient we will allow you to embark on aptitude-appropriate missions. However those are a privilege and students who do not meet our academic requirements will be benched. But before any of that; you have to earn your costume by showing us diligence, moral principle and talent. For any of you who already have one, you are not allowed to wear it until you have earned the right to. Is that understood?”
“Yes.” Most of us replied.
“Yes Mr. Martin.”
“Much better. Next question?”
“What if we’ve already finished high school?” Sanjay asked, his voice bearing the hint of a British accent. He was someone else I hadn’t really talked to and didn’t know much about; he was obviously Indian, had the build of a football player, short spiky black hair and wore a baggy shirt and cargo pants.
“Then I’ll find something to keep you busy; personal projects, dissertations and et cetera.
I hope you’ve brought your tablets along as they will serve as your number one instruction tools. For those who haven’t we have spares, but don’t forget next time.” He opened a locker next to his desk and took out a box containing keyboard plugin for the tablet before going through the ranks and passing them along.
The rest of his class went simply; he gave us a quiz on the tablets to evaluate our educational level and then called everyone to his desk to talk to them in private as the rest worked on their own first lessons, which the computer assigned depending on our quiz performance. Eventually the bell rang and we packed what little things we had.
“Before you go, I want to remind you that today is only a half day; you should take the afternoon to get to know each other, after all you’re going to be a team for your stay at Ravenhold, and to go to the administration to get your identification card, locker assignments and requisition account.
“Our requisition account?” Caroline asked.
“All students are given a weekly allowance depending on their familial financial means for personal goods; clothing, hygiene products, non-standard foods and entertainment. Administration will give you the details, as for food, it’ll be delivered every day during class, if you have special needs, contact the administration about it. I suggest you start heading to your next class now before you’re late.”
Next class was Parahuman history, given in the same building but on the lower floor. We only had a few minutes between classes so nobody slacked off. We sat down, Mace apparently had decided he liked me, which I didn’t mind too much. Surprising everyone, a Gimelian walked into the room wearing a tweed jacket with button shirt underneath.
Hailing from the alternate earth code named earth-Gimel, Gimelians were these tall and muscular gorilla-like creature that existed on that world instead of humans. Although to compare them to gorilla wasn’t entirely accurate; they stood straight and had a slimmer, more streamlined body.
“Good morning students.” As he spoke in a deep baritone voice, he took a stylus and began writing on the board. His hands traced an intricate series of letters I’d never seen. “My name is…” —the sound coming out of his mouth weren’t the type I knew I could make or even spell out— “…of course, that is a an unpronounceable mouthful for homo sapiens. Instead you may call me professor Apex. Get it; Ape-X, Apex.”
We all sat there with an uncomfortable silence, not sure how to answer what seemed like a joke. Well, everyone except for Ahti who began laughing hysterically like it was the funniest thing they’d heard. Itharii laughter was odd; weirdly high pitched and squeaky.
“Bah, you kids have no sense of humor. Except you little Itharii, I’m already liking you.
You might be wondering why I —a xenoform— teaches history. That’s a very good question so let me answer with a bit of personal history. I emigrated to earth aleph in 1990, about two years after first contact between our worlds was established. In the twenty-six years I have been here I’ve written twenty-one books on Earth-Aleph history; both mundane history and parahuman history. Sixteen years ago I was approached by the Legion to teach here in exchange for a regular salary and access to the legion’s own historical files, which was an easy offer to take. I believe that concludes introductions. Let me just take roll call and we’ll get right on to our first lesson.” He quickly took the roll call, even calling me Mx. Walker, the honorific I’d selected on my application, which made me happy. My previous school had a nasty habit of misgendering me.
“Alright, who here can tell me when the Legion was founded?”
“September third nineteen seventy-one.” I answered.
“And what prompted the creation of such a team?”
“The foundation of the liberty league to combat the spread of communism through the third world by any mean necessary.”
“Once again, right answer. Why was the Legion opposed to the League?”
“Centurion believes that heroism should be accomplished devoid of any political agenda but also that a person can only be as moral as the person or organization that they answer to. A belief born from his experience as a black man under government sanctioned racial segregation.”
The professor walked to his desk, opened it and I heard the shuffle of a bag. Next thing I knew he threw a caramel candy at me, which I barely caught.
“I think you deserve a little reward, Mx. Walker.”
“Oh man, I didn’t know you were such a colossal nerd.” Mace said.
“Oh shut up.” I answered jokingly.
“Didn’t say it was a bad thing.”
I absently gave him the candy, which I didn’t like, and focused on the rest of the lesson. The professor went over the following decades; the McCarran act that made all non-league heroes into enemy of the state, beginning the dark age of superheroes. It’s abolishment ten years later after the Legion and other independent heroes had successfully fought off the Red Sons’ attempt at turning america into a communist junta lead by parahumans.
He briefly went over other important events in parahuman history; the 1999 Red Guard attack on New York, the death of the first Raven and how he’d given away most of his fortune and Priest Island land holdings to create Ravenhold. The arrival of the Itharii refugee in 2002 fleeing their world’s destruction, the 2012 invasion of the Tzari Empire. As he spoke, he questioned individuals in my class and it became clear that most of them didn’t know as much as I did about parahuman history.
Soon enough the bell rang indicating the end of class and the beginning of lunch time.