A new generation of Heroes
Part V: Powers
The cafeteria galleria was one long open building with retractable panels to close it up for colder days. There were seven food counters lined up on the long side of the building, facing long cafeteria tables; including a Japanese hibachi, a Mexican, an American fast food, sandwich shop, an Italian, a Chinese and a Lebanese restaurant.
Of all the restaurants I picked the Italian; it had a short line and it was guaranteed to have tomato sauce pasta. After a quick menu read, I ordered spaghetti bolognese before finding a mostly empty table.
“So, you and Mace seem to get along.” Charlie said playfully as she sat down in front of me with a hero sandwich.
I shrugged. “I think he just likes flirting with people. Last night he was flirting with Annabelle and Amber, though that didn’t seem to work out so well.”
“What do you think about him?”
I shrugged. “I dunno, I guess he’s not bad.”
Mace wasn’t bad looking, rather short but not in an odd-looking kind of way. However I’d never been too terribly interested in boys, I was more into girls. Also, Mace looked rather young for me; thirteen if I had to guess. Two years younger wasn’t huge but at our age, it meant a lot. I looked around and saw him in line for the Mexican food counter along with Yikaru. Like him she was some form of Asian person; mostly likely Japanese by the name, but I hadn’t asked.
Yikaru seemed a bit stuck up to me; dressed in what looked like a uniform; shirt and tie over a long coat, a military cap holding her hair and army boots. She had this deadly seriousness about her too. We hadn’t had the chance to interact as she’d gone off into her room the previous night and had spent most of the morning outside having a work out.
“So, what exactly do you do like powerwise?” Charlie asked, bringing my mind back to our table.
“I’m a pyrokinetic.”
“Cool, can I get a demonstration?”
“I can’t use my powers untransformed.” I answered. “I have an energy form I change into.”
“Talking powers, are we?” Caroline said as she approached the table. She had Yougen with her and carried her tray so that Yougen could use both of her hands on her wheelchair. The two of them had various Chinese-American dishes.
“Well, if we’re going to be a team, we outta know what each other can do.”
“We could have some power reveal party. Not sure if you’ve seen but the back garden of the house is amazing; it’s got a pool and everything.” Caroline said.
“Ooh I like that idea We could all get to know each other.” Yougen said and I took a good look at her; other than the fact that she used a wheelchair she wasn’t too terribly noticeable; average height and body, brown hair verging on reddish tied up in a ponytail. She wore a simple blouse and baggy sweatpants.
“What are we talking about?” Mace asked, having arrived to our side. Yikaru had seemingly ditched him because she was nowhere in sight.
“We were thinking about having some kind of power-reveal party later.” I said.
“If there’s a party, count me in.”
“So, we have to do the stuff at the administration, but what do you say five pm in the backyard?”
We all agreed to it. The rest of lunch wasn’t too terribly noteworthy, lots of small talk. One by one people left the table for the administration. Getting everything done was fairly boring but it went by relatively quickly.
When I arrived at the dorm, I found Ahti sleeping on one of the couch. Which didn’t surprise me. Itharii were really meant for the twenty-hour days of their home world. To adapt to earth days, they typically napped in the afternoon. I took their example and lied down for a nap in my room, setting my alarm to four and a half. In the end, I didn’t really sleep but a little under two hour of rest in a dark room was better than nothing.
The back of the house had a large garden with a patio, pool and a winding path that passed through arrangements of plants and other decoration. A tall trimmed hedge provided us with privacy from all sides. Caroline and Charlie apparently had cooperated on a small buffet on the patio underneath a pergola; sandwiches, tiny canapé and other bites. It wasn’t anything fancy but a nice touch.
People were scattered into small groups. Charlie and Caroline hung out together on adjacent patio chairs, Mace was talking to Amber, who looked utterly disinterested. Ahti and Rowan had their feet dipped into the pool. Sanjay, Tyler and Annabelle were talking in a corner while Yougen was clearly raiding the buffet. Yikaru and Jaime however were nowhere to be seen.
“There they are.” Charlie said, seeing me. “Last person we needed.”
“Aren’t we missing two?”
“Jaime blew me off and Yikaru was nowhere to be seen all afternoon.” She answered with a shrug. “Everyone ready to get started?”
As an answer everyone gathered up.
“Why don’t I start.” Charlie said. She opened the bag she carried and took out a belt lined with sheathed boomerangs, which she attached around her waist before putting some gloves on. “Birdarangs. Lightweight but highly durable composites, perfectly balanced and if you throw them right…” She threw two of them in the air and we watched as the arced around. She expertly caught them as they came back. “They turn back perfectly, provided they don’t hit anything. I can also load them up with explosive, concussive or foam charges, but I don’t want to waste them.”
“Woah, that was amazing.” Caroline said. “Uh… My turn I guess? I’m honestly not sure why they picked me, I’m not that great.” She turned to the pool, raised one hand and all the water moved with it, forming an orb in the air. Although she probably hadn’t noticed that Ahti was in it. At some point they had removed their clothes and had jumped in the pool. Ahti began to glow and floated down from the blob of water. They hovered over the patio for a moment before touching down. Their skin was wrapped in a shimmering blue force field
“I was swimming.” They said.
“Opps. Sorry… Wait, why are you naked?” Caroline sheepishly asked.
“I was swimming?” They repeated like it was obvious.
“Don’t you have a swimsuit?”
“A swim what?”
“Swimsuit.” Ahti just looked at her, blinking like she’d just said something stupid. “Clothes you wear to swim in?”
“Why would you wear clothes to swim? They’re going to be wet.”
“Well, it’s really awkward having you buck ass naked.”
Ahti shrugged and went to put their pants on. “Humans.” they muttered with a sigh.
“Who’s next?” Charlie asked.
“I guess. I’ll go.” I answered.
I unleashed my power, transforming into energy. A few people let out audible expression of surprise. Charlie however seemed more curious than anything or at least I assumed it was Charlie. Telling things apart in that form could be hard; everything was replaced by blobs of heat and cold spots.
“You don’t even have eyes or organs. Can you see? Feel anything? Talk?”
“Yes.” My transformed voice was different, almost guttural. “I only see heat sources and rough shapes.”
I noticed there was one of those ugly tiki torches and pointed my finger at it, a stream of bright hot white flame shooting toward it. My demonstration over, I shifted back to normal, Charlie making a comment about how lucky I was to keep my clothes intact.
“I’ll go next.” Mace said.
He removed the sword and its scabbard form his back, one hand holding the hilt the other the sheet. “Laevatienn, I need you.” He muttered, eyes closed. The sword’s hilt shifted and tendrils flowed out onto his hand, attaching themselves. When he opened his eyes they glowed with sickly blue-green light. He unsheathed the sword and I could see it for the first time; It was long, its edged jagged and the back side of the blade covered in a chitinous-looking material similar to the hilt. He raised the sword slowly and projected a stream of green-ish blue flames at the pool.
As he sheathed his sword again, he went back to normal and the sword returned dormant.
“So, Tyler. What’s your deal?” He asked.
“I’m the new Orion.” Tyler answered with a smug grin. “You all know what it comes with.”
“Nope.” He took flight and began glowing with the white pure radiance the past two Orions had displayed. He almost certainly wasn’t lying.
Amber went next. She leaned down and took one of the rocks that adorned the garden, crushing it to a fine powder with only one hand. She then blew the result at Mace before ditching him to raid the buffet.
Next came Annabelle, she muttered something and electrical arcs began dancing between her fingers. She said something else and faded into mist. She showed us a few of her tricks; levitation, a soothing glow that briefly made my aching muscles at ease. her repertoire was wide, which was odd; most parahumans typically had only a few closely related things.
When Yougen’s turn came, she tensed for a second and her body began twitching, her flesh moving about and bones twisting. When it stopped she wasn’t recognizable; having gained a foot in height, doubled her body mass. Her hair had turned into a long white mane, her eyes red and slit, horns had sprouted from her forehead, long claws ended her fingers and black veins scoured her ivory skin. To our surprise, she stood up.
“This. Is what I am.” She said somberly.
She sat back down and the transformation reverted. Going back to her normal form was less grotesque than turning into it; she sort of shrank and black ooze dripped down before sizzling away into nothingness.
There was a moment of silence as we all recovered from that. Until Tyler broke it. “Don’t you have something to show Jay?” He asked, nudging him.
“I would love to showcase my gear but it hasn’t arrived yet due to legal issues. Transporting weapons across countries can be a bit of a snag.” He took out his tablet and showed us a series of schematics and pictures. “This is the Nandaka prototype high mobility armor system with integrated weapon system; Ionic propulsion, particle bolters, strength enhancing servos, self-repairing smart systems, atmospheric sealing, and modular equipment slots to allow for a greater range of configurations.”
“Where did you get that?”
“I made it. My father and I work in military designs. In five to six years this little baby will become the standard equipment of Direct Action Security.”
DAS was the world’s top security contractors, well known for their high tech armors and equipment that gave them an edge over mundane organizations and allowed them to easily match parahumans. Of course they weren’t the most ethical bunch; so long as it didn’t break international accords they would do it.
Last but not least was Rowan. Their abilities were fairly obvious; they were built like a tank. As a show of strength they lifted one of the boulder that decorated the garden, pushing it above their head before putting it back in it’s place.
“I think we’re going to rock the heck out of any supervillain who cross us.” Charlie said.
I couldn’t agree more.