Adventure of a Lifetime
Part VIII: Combat
Our first class was a fairly easy one: Basic physical training was simply a fancy name for physical ed. Once upon a time I’d dreaded PE but since I’d been chromed, I’d been a thousand time more active than before; enjoying the things I had never been able to do; soccer, tennis, badminton, basketball. Sure, I wasn’t exactly a sport nut but the fact I could participate just made me happy.
Our first PE class went along fairly simply; the coach, Rachael Carver or the Juggernaut, who had neglected to introduce herself until the class was halfway over, made us go through series of exercises to determine our overall fitness level.
While I was in a fairly good shape it was because I did physical work on the farm and often played sports with my mom, although she had quite the advantage on me. Still, I found myself a little annoyed that I performed below what I’d thought I’d do. I was still good, but I wasn’t used to exercises like push ups and sit ups.
Charlie on the other hand performed like a true champion. One wouldn’t have guessed from her stature and build but the girl had one hell of a body; she had far more strength and stamina than I would have guessed.
Once all the exercises were over, the coach gave us the rest of the period as free activities. Charlie and I ended up playing badminton and I utterly crushed her.
After the class was over, it was shower and changing time, where I hid in one of the private stalls; I was open as trans but I’d always been self conscious about changing with other people…
Next class was ‘Introduction to Parahuman’ combat. Rather than the gym, it was given in a ‘dojo’ a big room full of mattresses on the floor to cushion falls. I had a feeling we would be needed them.Our teacher was a tall muscular man in a bird-like costume. Similar to Ian’s Raven costume but darker.
“I’m the Rook and I welcome you to introduction to parahuman combat.”
The name was familiar but I hadn’t heard it in years. All I could remember was that he was related to the first Raven and had a bit of a nasty reputation.
“Didn’t the Rook use to hangout with your dad ages ago?” I asked to Charlie in a whisper.
“Yeah… He’s my uncle…”
“If you’d please quiet down over there, we’ll be able to get started.” The Rook said, pointing his staff at me.
I felt paralyzed but he didn’t follow through on that subject. Instead he gave us the rundown of the class; We’d learn how to fight people, use our powers, exploit other people’s weaknesses and learn to survive as a cape. And to achieve that, the Rook would beat the hell out of all of us… To start, he had us all line and one by one face him in single combat. Rowan went first and the Rook didn’t go gentle on them… Or anyone else…
By chance, I was the last one to go, Charlie being right before me. As the people had their asses handed to them, I found Charlie’s hand, squeezing it hard… I was scared of going; I’d never been in a fight before. Far too soon, her turn came and I wished her good luck.
Although Charlie was good, she was at a disadvantage; The Rook was in a super high-tech costume and had all of his gears as well as size on his side. Charlie was wearing her civvies and only had that one belt she carried around for emergencies…
As such she couldn’t do anything when the Rook flashbanged her, falling down disoriented. Thankfully the glass partition between us and the fighting area protected us from the flash and bang.
Incapable of fighting back, the Rook came toward her and kicked her right in the ribs before saying something to her…
Defeated, Charlie struggled to get back up. The partition went down and I rushed to her side, followed by Annabelle. Together we got her back on her feet and escorted her to the other students. Charlie looked crushed, staring at her feet and not saying anything. Before I could do anything to cheer her up the Rook parked himself right in front of me.
“I guess that only leave you.” He said. “Are you going to end up being a disappointment too?”
I didn’t know what to answer. Part of me wanted to defend Charlie; she was amazing and the match hadn’t been fair. But I was also terrified; This guy wanted to hurt me and I was all too aware that I was powerless to stop him. Resigned, I walked into the combat area and we took position.
“Alright. Do your worst.” He said.
I did another check: I could easily find water but it was all in the pipes running through the walls and under the floor, which I couldn’t use without causing collateral damage…
“I can’t… I don’t have what I need…” I tried to explain. I was about to say something when he spoke up.
“So, Is that it? You’re going to give up and not even try anything?” He said, contempt clear in his tone.
His harshness was like a punch in the guts and I froze.
“Fine, you know where the dropout forms for failures are.” He said, getting the wall to lower itself. Once more his words were like getting stabbed in the heart…
It was only when the tears reached my cheeks that I realized I was crying. I took a few steps toward the others and Charlie came out to me.
“I can’t drop out…” I said morosely. “But what can I do? There’s no water here.”
“Yes there is, you just need to look for it like I taught you.”
“But it’s all in pipes, I can’t access it without breaking the school.”
“Doesn’t matter. Improvise, go all out and kick his ass, show him that you’re not a fracking failure. You can do it; I believe in you.” She told me. I looked into her eyes and I could tell she was telling the truth. With her sleeve she wiped away my tears, I couldn’t help but smile at the gesture. Charlie believed in me… I couldn’t let her down. Not even if what I did might get me expelled for damaging the school property.
“I’ll try…” I declared, resolved.
I stepped back into the arena and the Rook took place, giving me a nod.
I closed my eyes and focused, feeling every muscle in my body tensing in concentration. I found the water easily and followed it, a map of the piping forming in my mind. A few doors away from the Dojo, I found a set of bathrooms, the water waiting to be released at the turn of a knob…
I gave it the push it needed to overcome the resistance offered by the sinks. In the bathroom water exploded everywhere and I guided its course, forming an artificial river that followed the path I imposed on it. The torrent flowed through the dojo and came to me, swirling in a vortex around my body.
I opened my eyes and looked at the Rook. He wasn’t relaxed anymore, having adopted a battle stance, ready for my opening move. With a swing of the arm all of water around me shot toward him. He tried to retaliate with one of his thrown weapons but I drowned it in the water.
The water about the hit him he rushed to the left to dodge but the water obeyed my thoughts, following him without so much as a slight delay. The water hit him with enough impact strength that he went down.
I didn’t give him the chance to recover, I focused my thoughts and part of the water coalesced into ropes attached around his body. It was one of the thing I could do; if I willed it, water could be as solid and resistant to being moved as steel.
I could have let him drown but instead I used the bonds that held him to lift him up above the water surface, keeping him immobile, arms apart from his body so he couldn’t try anything.
I took a few steps toward him and our eyes met. Or rather me eyes and his goggles. And then I brought my arms down. He followed, hard, hitting the the ground as the water came back to my side. I let him lie down for a moment and he painfully got up to his feet.
“I. Am. Not. A. Failure!” I screamed at him. Feeling all my frustration explode out at once.
“Guess not…” He said coughing water.
I took a few deep breaths and send the water back into the pipes. The Bathroom where I’d had it come out was now a flooded mess and I figured I’d be in trouble for it, but even if I’d get kicked out, it was worth it. I wasn’t going to go out as a failure…
I walked back to the others and they just stared at me. My eyes fell on Charlie and I came toward her, wrapping my arms around her body.
“Thank you for believing in me.”