Wayward: Part VI

The Wayward Son

Part VI: Inspiration Party

The class headed over to the cafeteria and I examined the menus before lining up to the Japanese grill. Unlike the other restaurants where you got the food as they prepared them so I ordered fried tofu soba noodles with vegetables and a cup of miso soup.

Rather than join the others, whom I found out had laid claim to one of the tables, I went outside and enjoyed the weather, sitting on a stone bench under a tree. I’d always preferred eating alone; at school and work people would always bother me when I tried to relax. Being a child genius made you like some circus freak show; people always came and gawked at you. So I had learned to enjoy some solitude.

A few other students ate outside just like me but we left each other alone. Among them I noticed Yikaru, with whom I shared a courteous nod but nothing more. My lunch finished I went back inside and dropped my platter and dirty bowl inside before going to the administration building, quickly getting my ID card. That done, I went to the dorm and dropped my stuff off in my room before heading out. As I walked out of the common room, I crossed Mace coming in.

“You weren’t with us at lunch.” He informed me.

“I like eating alone.”

“Oh. Where are you going now?”

He was a bit intrusive but I didn’t let it take it personally.

“My lab.”

“Is that the Trailer parked outside?” He asked, pointing back with his thumb in its general direction.

“Yeah.”

“What do you do in there?”

“Work.”

“I see.”

“If that’s all, I’ve got stuff to do.”

“Sure.” He said with a shrug. “Oh wait. Just so you know, the others are thinking of throwing a party later, something about revealing our powers to others.”

“I see. When?”

“At five.”

That left me about two and a half hours.

“Thanks for telling me.”

I left him and went into my lab. I sat down, booted up my workstation and got an update on the suit’s delivery, apparently it was cleared from the customs now but had to be transported by an armored truck, meaning it wouldn’t arrive until the next morning at the very least.

I set up an alarm for fifteen to five and got to work. I’d considered not going to the party, after all I wasn’t really the party type but opted against it. There had to be some interesting ideas to be glimpsed from the other’s powers. Since I didn’t have anything to show, I rushed through a making presentation slide just like I did whenever the board thought that ‘when it’s done’ wasn’t a good enough time scale and pushed me for results.

Soon enough five o’clock hit and I came out of my lab, going for the backyard. Most of the others were there; someone had prepared a buffet and people were hanging around the pool, sitting on patio chairs, sitting legs in the water or standing about. They had also found a boombox, had set it up on a table and it played the local music radio station.

“So, this is the party?” I asked, looking around.

“Yeah, we’re only missing Allison. Rowan said that they’re napping.” Charlie told me as she sat with Caroline on reclining outdoor chair. “The others aren’t attending.”

I nodded in answer and went to check the food. I hadn’t eaten since noon so it was a welcome gift. I made sure to remove the ham from the crostini, with Yougen taking them happily; she seemed positively famished, and got the other vegetarian options; watermelon salad, humus and guacamole dips and some crisps.

I found a place to sit down on a large flat boulder on the other side of the pool and began stuffing my face. After a few bites, a Tyler came forward, wearing a tee which I figured was meant to be some pop culture reference I didn’t get. Although it hugged loosely on him, I could still see his figure; he was tall but thin and bony; He really needed to eat a burger or something…

“Not eating like the rest of us?” I asked.

“I’m not feeling like it.” He said with a shrug.

There was a moment of awkward silence.

“So, what do you like doing?” He asked.

I shrugged. With how much work I did, I didn’t have a whole lot of time for myself. I generally liked to put some sports broadcast on while working; generally football, real football, not american hand-egg or Tsivah. Tsivah was basically Itharii football except it was played underwater; two teams faced each other and had to put the ball into their opponent’s goal. Although the player could use any part of the body, they couldn’t hold the ball.

“Do you like video games?” He asked.

For some reason, some people always assumed that I was some manner of geek; interested in technology and video games, but that wasn’t the case really. I worked in tech department no because I was in love with it but because I was good and it was easy for me.

“Not really. Never had the time.”

“Not even the popular ones like Dragon Dynasty or Heroes of the Metropolis?”

“Again, No.”

Tyler seemed a bit disappointed, he’s probably hoped to make a friend but Mace, who was busy flirting with Amber was the only other guy. Of course, I had vague ideas about those games were, mostly because I’d had coworkers talk to me about them, but that was it. Thankfully Annabelle came to my rescue.

“Oh what are we talking about?” She asked.

“Just games. Ever heard of Heroes of the Metropolis?”

“Hell yeah. I got three pages of maxed out alts.”

“Damn.” Tyler answered, seeming genuinely surprised.

“I have no life whatsoever.” She said with a chuckle.

“Oh yeah, like I’m any better.” He answered.

I let the two of them talk about gaming stuff; class builds and other things I didn’t know anything about. Instead I just sort of stayed there listening. Soon enough, Allison emerged from the house. They looked positively tired, their clothes all crumbled up from lying down in them.

“Everyone ready to get started?” Charlie called out loud for everyone to hear. In answer people gathered around her. One by one, the others showed their abilities; Charlie who had none demonstrated her ‘birdarangs’ as she called them. I made a mental note to ask about their construction and material. Then came Caroline whom with a movement of their hand lifted the pool’s content, Ahti included. Rather than wait for Caroline to let them down, Ahti wrapped themselves in what I presumed was a force field, which explained the glowing blue veins across their body, before flying down from the bubble of water suspended in the air.

After a shorts squab between the two about swimwear, Allison exhibited their power. It was impressive; In a second their body disintegrated and was replaced by something else; some form of plasma if I had to guess. Although most of the others were just awed by it, Charlie shared my curiosity; asking Allison questions on how they talked or saw if they had no organs. I took a closer look and found some form of darker core at the center of their chest, which I figured meant something. Mace went next, unsheathing that sword he always carried about. He spoke its name, Laevatienn, and the handle shifted, plunging tentacular bits into his hand and forearm. He raised his sword and sent a lance of turquoise flame at the pool, unleashing a cloud of steam.

Up next was Tyler, he unleashed his power and was wrapped in a pure radiance, floating above the ground before claiming to be the new Orion; The Orions had been some of the greatest heroes in history, chosen by some mysterious force and given powers. It had been years since the death of the second Orion. The rest went by quickly; Amber was strong enough to crush stone into a powder before covering Mace in it. Annabelle did things, I wasn’t sure what, she didn’t operate the way most parahumans did; instead she had some completely unrelated tricks down her sleeve.  Yougen could transform although it was a generous term as she mostly gained muscle mass, claws and horns. For some reason she seemed ashamed of it, almost as if she was expecting for people to react with horror…

“Don’t you have something to show Jay?” Tyler asked, making me internally groan. I didn’t like being called Jay…

Still, I ignored the urge to tell him not to call me that and took out my tablet.

“I would love to showcase my gear but it hasn’t arrived yet due to legal issues. Transporting weapons cross country can be a bit of a snag.” I declared before booting up the presentation I’d made. “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?” Charlie asked.

“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.”

Direct Action Security was one of our main client. We made the gears and they put it to good use. They’d become renowned for their power armor private security that could compete with nearly any parahumans on an equal footing. Last up was Rowan, who showed their hulkish strength by lifting a boulder above their head.

“I think we’re going to rock the heck out of any supervillain who cross us.” Charlie said.

A little overconfident, but we had some interesting powers. Some of which had given me some ideas to work on…

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