A new generation of Heroes
Part IX: Sage
“What’s Jaeger like then?” I asked once Sage had taken their place back beside me.
“He seemed nice, although kind of guarded. Although I guess that’s understandable. He’s in a whole other country,” They answered.
“Well, if you ever get homesick and need to talk I’m happy to help,” I said with a smile. I could just see their cheeks light up. They tried to hide it by focusing on their tablet but it still displayed their test score results. I admit, they were kind of adorable with how timid they were.
Sadly, Mr. Martin called them over to their side to talk and I was left to myself. Still, they came back rather soon and we finished our daily lesson.
Once class was over, Sage stuck to my side, which I didn’t mind. From a bit further, I could see Mace shooting me glances and I felt a little guilty… I’d been a bit harsh to them earlier… I just struggled with feeling like someone was judging my feelings… It’s what had ruined my relationship with Sheila…
“Hey, can you give me directions to the administration building?” I heard Jaeger ask Charlie. In answer, Sage took my hand and rushed over to their side. The move surprised me, but I didn’t mind.
“Oh, Me too, me too.” Sage said, once we were close. They suddenly realized that they were holding my hand and let go, looking a little sheepish.
“Oh you just-”
“I’ll show you both.” I offered. Sage and Jaeger turned my way and Charlie gave me a thankful nod before skipping over to Caroline’s side.
I noticed that Jaeger was staring a bit at me. I wasn’t sure why… I mean; I’d gone for fairly feminine presentation that day, although I’d lost my makeup already. Still, I shrugged it off and introduced myself.
“I’m Allison. They pronouns.” I said. “You’re Jaeger, right? Well done on dealing with that Allen guy by the way.”
“It’s nothing, I would’ve called out anyone using those sort of terms,” He said with a shrug. We started walking and after a moment he looked around, like he tried to see if anyone was around. He then turned toward us.
“I’m trans.” He said, looking a little uncomfortable.
“Cool.” I said, although I didn’t think he heard as Sage just let out the biggest squee in the world.
Sage reflexively covered their mouth, realizing the sound that had come out of their moth. “I am so happy to be around so many trans people, seriously. There was like no one back home.” They explained, still visibly happy.
“I didn’t know any other trans people where I’m from either.” Jaeger answered. I could see that his mind was thinking about saying something but he didn’t add anything.
Out of the three of us, I was apparently the only one who’d been with queer folks. My synagogue actually had a youth group for queer youth and the dozen of us or sometimes hung out together.
“So where is this place?” Jaeger asked.
“Follow me, it’s not too far and-”
“Erm, are you going to the administration building?” Allen asked, rushing toward us like a cockroach to spilled food.
“Sure.” I said, trying my damnest not to sound hostile, last thing I wanted was to get pissed in front of Sage. So I switched to a quick walk, Sage matching it while Jaeger and Allen trailed behind.
I tried to think of anything except how much I already hated Allen. A few hours ago, I’d been happy to have another Black classmate, now I just wanted to acquaint his face to the sidewalk. I banished the thought from my head and turned to Sage.
“So, what’s Iceland like?” I asked, saying the first thing that came to my mind.
“Erm, Dark. It’s so bright here, my eyes kind of hurt,” They said with a laugh, I wasn’t quite sure if they were serious or not. “We have sun boxes but they don’t really compare.”
“Your family must miss you.” I blurted out.
“I know my mum would’ve cried after I left, but my dad knows how to help her through stuff. I think neither of them expected me to be so serious about the hero thing when I was younger,” They answered with a nervous laugh.
“Why Ravenhold? Do Europe not have schools?” There were a few others schools in America, Myrmidon being the second most well known, but they were minor things. Often just cash cows for retired parahumans.
“They do, but only the very rich can afford them. My best shot was applying here, not to mention the history behind this place,” I replied. “The cheapest school in Europe is also in Russia. Not exactly the best place for a trans person…”
In the last few years, Russia hadn’t done exactly well; pushing further into isolationism and far right ideology. Not helped by the fact there’d been clashes between the Legion and Russian parahumans intruding in other countries. The Cold war might have ended, but international tensions hadn’t.
“Ah,” I said, not sure what to answer. “Well, I’m glad you’re here.” I then added.
Like always, they turned bright red, looking down and at the ground in a futile attempt to hide it.
“So… What about you?” They asked.
“Ever since I’ve developed my powers, I’ve always wanted to do something with it. I grew up idolizing Centurion; not only was he the most stand up hero in history, but he was like me…”
Becoming a parahuman happened to everyone regardless of race, but the media had always exalted white heroes, often leaving heroes of colors out of the spotlight or painting them as dangers. But Centurion had always been there, loud enough so that he couldn’t be ignored and good enough that none could tarnish him.
“What about your parents?” Sage asked.
“My dad’s been supportive, he knows how important this is for me.”
“And your mom?”
“She passed away three years ago. Leukemia.”
“It’s okay, it was a long time ago.”
We went into the administration and I showed them around, also waiting for them to get their things in order and taking the moment to touch up my makeup again. Jaeger seemed fairly impressed that he got an allowance, but admittedly it was pretty damned cool. Once their things were done, we got out, ditching Allen behind. The less I had to see his face the better. I walked them back to the dorm, although they seemed to be aware of where it was. The moment we opened the door, we were faced with a flour covered Charlie and Caroline holding a cake.
“Welcome to the team!” Caroline yelled before giving us the biggest grin ever.
“Oh gosh,” Sage mumbled, clearly frazzled. Before neither Sage nor JAeger could recover, she’d already shoved plates of cake in their hands.
The initial portion of cake delivered, everyone relocated outside and Caroline shared her idea of redoing the power demonstration for the newbie’s benefits. Apparently nobody questioned Allen’s absence.
Sage and I found a seat on one of the big flat boulder that were on the property.
“So, not too intimidated by the team?” I asked as Charlie began showing her staff wielding skills to the crowd.
“They seem nice.”
“Yeah, they are and other than Allen, they’ve all been pretty chill with me being non-binary. Like I didn’t get bombarded with awkward questions and they’ve respected my pronouns. Got to say, it’s a step up from my previous school.”
“Mine wasn’t great either.”
“Ah, the wonders of public schools.” I said with a sigh.
Sage let out a chuckle at that.
“Are you hungry?” Sage asked, their eyes fixed on the buffet.
“I’m starving.” I said getting up and they followed my lead. While I got something to drink, they plated some sandwiches in two plates, which I assumed one was for me.
“What do you think of ham sandwiches?” They asked.
“They’re good, at least as long as my rabbi isn’t watching.” I said with a chuckle. Sage turned around and gave me a look. “I’m Jewish.” I then explained.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have offered you pork…” They said, looking uncomfortable.
“It’s okay, I don’t keep kosher outside of shul.” They didn’t seem to react. “Temple.”
“So yeah, pork’s alright. But those tomato grilled cheese sandwiches are just calling my name.” I said, putting a bunch of them on a plate.
Food in hand, we went back to sit at our spot. After a few minutes of conversation, I could see their eyes following Ahti as they swam around the pool in graceful loops. Water was the Itharii’s natural element.
“First time seeing an Itharii?” I asked.
“In person, yes.” They said a little flustered. “They’re just so adorable…”
“They are. And Ahti’s basically one massive ball of sunshine.”
As if they’d heard us, Ahti surfaced near us before climbing out of the water. Despite some people’s objections, they still walked around completely naked. Ahti took a few steps toward us and their gaze fell on Sage.
“Hello! I’m Ahti.” They said, extending a hand and giving us a smile. I couldn’t help but notice that Itharii have a lot of miniature teeth.
“Well, I’ll be back in a minute. You two play nice.” I said, getting up and skipping toward the bathroom.