Adventure of a Lifetime
Part II: A New Home
Together with a handful of cars and the two buses, we drove to the gate of Ravenhold. A massive fence surrounding the property where we came out of the car.
Being surrounded by other parahumans was weird. I’d only ever met other parahumans beyond my mother once. Two years ago, I’d pestered her for weeks on end until she had agreed to attend a special convention in Boston. Cape-con was an annual event held during spring break in a few cities. Mostly it was about superhero fandom but it had also become a place for parahumans to hang out and be proud of who they were. Despite the haters and the hysteria, we were people just like baselines.
I had fond memories of the show we’d put on and the excited expression as I’d created and animated animals with my powers and feeling more tired than I’d ever thought possible from the exertion. But now we weren’t just having fun. We were hero to become heroes, to learn how to fight. Playtime was over… My mom must have sensed my anxiety because I felt her hand take a hold of mine.
Once we were all packed like sardines in front of the gate, the Raven came forth in his black feather-like tights and armor which left only his mouth uncovered as to not garble up his speech. I couldn’t help but be excited, a member of the Legion was welcoming us personally and not one of the small time ones like Tonbogiri or Silver Stranger but the Raven himself. Well, the second Raven, the first had passed away three years before my birth.
“Students, let me welcome you to Ravenhold academy.” The Raven said. His voice just booming with confidence. “I know you’ve come from far and wide to be here and the journey’s been long and tiring so I won’t hold you for long.
Each of you have been selected by the Legion; because we think that you’re worthy, that you have the heart to be a hero, because you want to make the world a better place or because you needed a second chance to become better. Whatever the reason, Ravenhold welcomes you as its first year class of two thousand sixteen.”
The words brought forth a mix of anxiety and awe; the Legion wanted me there. I hadn’t been selected randomly or just because. The greatest heroes in the world thought I was worthy…
“Over the next four years we’ll make heroes out of you, it’ll be hard, it’ll be dangerous, but I know you will persevere. And for those who truly shine; both in deed and character there will be a place for you in the Legion.”
A few people clapped but I didn’t. It felt a bit awkward.
“Alright students, when I call your name, you will go to your assigned guide. Those with you will be your classmate and bunk mates.”
The Raven started listing names in alphabetical order and I turned toward my mom since I’d probably be called soon. There couldn’t have been that many names starting with A’s and B’s.
“I guess this is goodbye…” I said. My heart felt heavy. My mom had been my best friend and confidant all throughout my life and now we would be miles away. “Are you going home?”
“Not yet, I think I’ll stay in town for a day or two. Maybe more.”
“Mom, you don’t have to stay around to watch me.”
“I’m not watching you, I came all this way. Beside, how long have you been harping on me to take a vacation?”
“Only like forever.”
“You should be glad I’m taking your advice then.”
My mom was a workaholic; she’d worked virtually non-stop since she’d come back home from college where she’d gotten a degree in agricultural sciences to continue the family legacy. Even after my birth she hadn’t slowed down. The only vacations she’d allowed herself were the times I’d forced her to leave the house.
“Caroline Campbell?” The Raven called out.
“Oh, it’s my turn.”
“See you later sweetheart.” She kissed my forehead and gave me a gentle push forward.
I came out of the crowd.
“Sorry, I’m here.”
“Good to hear.” The Raven answered with a grin. “You’re in class three.” He motioned with his chin to my group and I joined them.
Slowly our group grew until thirteen of us stood together; quite few girls compared to only a handful of boys. There was even a paramorph — who were parahumans who had undergone physical transformations — and an Itharii among us; those cute adorable amphibian aliens. It was the first time I saw one in person but I tried really hard not to stare at… He? She? Them? I really had no idea what pronoun to call the alien or what gender it was so I made a note to ask later rather than risk misgendering.
Our guide lead us to a two floor brick house and went through the rules with us before handing IDs and key cards and letting us in.
The inside of the house held one large open plan living room, kitchen and dinning room area. There was even a small spa in one of corner. There was a set of rooms on both sides; bedrooms on the left and a communal washroom on the other side.
It didn’t take long for people to notice the large stacks of pizza and enthusiastically jump in. I however didn’t touch any. I’d never really liked fast food, my mom and grandparents were all cooking nuts, a trait I had inherited from them, and so had never really taken me to those types of places. I could indulge the occasional meal, but after burger and fries earlier I didn’t have much appetite.
I took in some of the people, trying to memorize the names on their tags as well as their faces, something that I’d never been great at. Once the first person got up to check the rooming arrangement I followed suit. I went down the list until my eyes settled on my room. I was assigned to room with someone named Charlie.
So, I went through the people assembled, looking for my roommate only to find Charlie at the counter. For a second my heart skipped a beat until I realized that Charlie was in fact a girl. She had short hair and a boyish appearance which had made me think I’d been wrongly roomed with a boy, but my mom had been right about the school gendering me correctly. Still she looked nice, she had dark tanned skin making me think she was probably Latina, a cute button nose and big inquisitive brown eyes.
“Hi. I’m Caroline. Looks like we’ll be rooming together.” I said, giving her my best smile and offering my hand, which she shook.
There was a moment of quiet and I felt like she was staring at me. Which made me really self conscious. At that moment I would have sold my soul if it meant knowing what she was thinking about.
Did I have something on my face? Was I ugly? Did she find me masculine looking? I was normally open about being trans; not a lot of choice when you lived in a town with more cows than people where everyone knew everyone. Still, it killed me that I didn’t know…
“I’m Charlie.” She answered after a moment, as if she realized she’d forgotten to introduce herself. As she spoke, I noticed the braces on her teeth. She’d gone for colorful purple brackets rather than clear ones.
“Nice to meet you.”
“Uh yeah, same for me.” She said awkwardly.
Was she always this weird or was my fault?
“Want to go check out our room?” I offered.
Our room was a lot bigger than the one I had at home, even if it wasn’t huge. Our farmhouse was fairly small and the rooms had been divided to give my mom and her siblings individual rooms. Still, I didn’t spend a lot of time there; there was always something better to do with my mom or grandparents.
“Which bed to you what?” I asked Charlie.
“I don’t mind.” She answered, or at least I think she had… Being Deaf people had to talk clearly and face me to stand a change of being understood. And that was when I had my hearing aids on.
I put my stuff on the right side bed, it was the same side from the door my own bed was so I wouldn’t have to fight against force of habit. I unpacked my things and set them up around my designated space. I hadn’t brought much; mostly clothes and some of my favorite doodads. Once that was done, I pulled out my camera and took a few pictures of the room.
“What are you doing?”
“Taking pictures.” I said.
“I decided to start a blog.” I admitted.
“Oh that sounds nice I guess.”
That done, I went back into the common room and walked in at the end of what seemed to have been some kind of argument between a redheaded girl named Jaime and our group’s paramorph; some big dark creature called Rowan according to the name tag.
“Fine.” The girl said with a shrug. “Whatever.” She walked through the door to the outside before slamming it.
“What was that about?” I asked one of the people around, a tall and dark haired girl with a frown that was seemingly stuck in place. Her tag revealed her to be Amber.
“Big, dark and clawy here didn’t like her calling the alien an ‘it’” She said with a shrug.
I made a note mentally not to call the alien that…
“So… Are we still doing the movie?” A tall muscular Asian guy asked his tag identifying him as ‘Mace’ but without a family name.
“Sure, no need to spoil the evening.” I had no idea that they had planned to watch a movie, but it sounded pretty fun.
I scrounged through the kitchen and found some snacks and popcorn before sitting down with the others. As the opening credits rolled, I took a good look at the people around me.
These were the people who would be my teammates.
And hopefully my friends.