A new generation of heroes
Part XII: Hurt
“Mama told me when I was seven I had asked for a younger brother or sister, but they didn’t want to risk drawing more attention since we would all have powers. They’re very private about their abilities,” They said.
It was understandable. Although mutants were generally well tolerated outside of specific extremist communities, family of mentalists were at more risk than most and with mutants as young as six keeping powers hidden wasn’t always easy…
“Ah that makes sense.”
“It’s part of why I changed my surname, as well to get away from the traditional way surnames are done in Iceland.”
To say I knew nothing of Icelandic culture would have been an understatement. Most of my history geography class had focused on almost exclusively on France, England and the ancient world.
“In Iceland the population is so low so rather than having family names surnames are literally ‘daughter of’ or ‘son of’ father’s first name, or the mother’s first name if it’s a single mother.” Sage explained seeing my confusion.
“Oh, yeah, I can see how that could be awkward.” I said. The tradition was far from trans friendly.
“The population is so low there’s a dating app that can check if you’re related to anyone else,” They said with a cute laugh. “Not that I’ve really done any of that.” They then added almost defensively.
I couldn’t help but find that odd. Did they think I’d judge them based on having had a partner? It wasn’t like I was in a position to judge; Sheila and I’s relationship wasn’t exactly normal… The thought of her made my head go into overdrive.
How was I supposed to bring her up? ‘Oh hey by the way my best friend is also my ex whom I still have sex with and I think I like you?’ And really I just didn’t know what I wanted… Sage who was right here with me, or Sheila who was nearly four hundred miles away… Did I really want to give one of them up?
My thinking was interrupted by a string of ‘beep-beep-beep’ coming from Sage’s phone.
“Shoot, we need to head to class soon.” They muttered clearly annoyed.
“Let’s go then.” I said, getting up and toward the door. My head still a mess.
Sage and I got our stuff before heading to the classroom building along with the others for the day’s homeroom session. Thankfully the only problems that period were math related, Allen just browsing internet a few seats away, clearly not doing the day’s lessons.
I was six spoonful into my Mexican rice and beans when I saw the Rook cross the cafeteria before stopping at our table. I recognized him from the recording of our class’ first combat training class where he’d beaten up the others in the name of performance evaluation…
“Uh oh.” That got Sage’s attention who looked at the Rook with confusion.
“Class three of year one. It’s nice to see you’re all assembled here, that makes everything easier.” Rook declared. “Some of you have had the luxury of skipping our first class. I believe it’s time we rectify this.”
Crap. We were doomed.
“Follow me. It’s time to test out how strong you newbies are.” He declared. We weren’t done with lunch but chances were we might not keep it down anyhow…
We got up, all the others following us, either for moral support or for the show. Rather than the trainer center, the Rook guided us to an open stretch of lawn with the odd tree scattered about, away from the common paths and other buildings.
“My name is the Rook, it’s my job to make sure you all prepared to fight villains.” He said, looking us over before his gaze ended up on Allen who was just a step or two in front of the rest of the class. “A volunteer?”
After Allen claimed not to have any weapon, the Rook let down his staff, deciding to fight hand-to-hand against Allen.
Needless to say, it did not go well for Allen. Not that was a bad thing.
“I don’t know how to fight,” Sage whispered when the Rook looked through the crowd once more to pick a victim. Their hand brushed mine and they clung to it.
“It’s okay, he doesn’t expect you to know,” I answered. The Rook had wiped the floor with the others, save for Caroline and Jaime, he wanted to see what we could do, not if we could beat him.
“You’re next.” Rook said, pointing at Sage.
Sage halfheartedly took a step forward.
“Here.” Charlie said beside me, unhooking a hidden utility belt hanging from her shoulder underneath her coat. She hadn’t done the same for Allen. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had issues with him.
Sage took the belt and examined the content before taking a step forward. That was all the Rook needed to begin the match, taking the initiative unlike the previous day where he’d let the students have it.
The rest of the class and I moved back, giving them space. Sage barely had the time to react and the Rook tripped them over with their staff. They fell down and let out a grunt of pain. Another blow came swinging down but they avoided it narrowly.
I could feel my blood boiling. I wanted to do something; Sage wasn’t a fighter, they stood no chance against the Rook…
Still Sage’s reaction time was impressive, as if they anticipated the Rook’s move, not that it did much good. Was that part of their powers?
They dodged a hit and ran past the Rook, dropping something.
Thankfully Charlie warned us and we closed our eyes, only for a bright flash to happen the next second. I opened my eyes and saw that the Rook hand their staff right around Sage’s throat, crushing their windpipe. The Rook wanted them to yield and stop struggling but they clearly couldn’t speak and the Rook wouldn’t let go…
So I ran, coming up next to them and yanking the staff away.
“Hey, stop it you’re straggling them!” I screamed at him.
Now freed, Sage fell down too fast for me to catch them, gasping for air. I wanted to check up on them but I was fuming in anger. They’d hurt Sage, might have seriously injured them if I hadn’t stopped them…
I expected to be scolded for interrupting the match, but what I didn’t expect was this: “Two versus one. I’ve had worse odds.” The Rook said.
He took his staff, stepped a few feet away and raised the weapon into a combat stance.
“Let’s see what you can do. Since you interrupted, let’s make it more interesting. The two of you versus me.”
I hesitated for a second, looking toward Sage who painfully stumbled back up, using the tree as support. Their hand clung to their throat and they still hadn’t caught their breath back. I transformed, letting the fiery fury within me out. The world turning into an array of heat sources and cold spots.
I saw the Rook was about to move but I was faster than him, I swung my arms from side to side and let out a pair of beams between the two of us, hot enough that the grass didn’t catch fire, it disintegrated.
That stopped him so I charged, flying toward him. He dodged and tried to hit me with his staff but I turned around fast enough to intercept it. Within a second the staff turned red hot, the bit that I’d touched transforming into slag.
I shot several bolts of fire at the Rook but he dodged them before taking cover behind a tree, behind which he threw all manners of projectiles at me; the boomerangs melting and the bombs exploding harmlessly against my fiery form.
They might have had skills and a thousand tricks up their sleeves but I’d transcended physical form. I charged my energy into a beam and shot it right through the tree, bisecting it in half. The Rook however hadn’t been hit.I had to give him credit; he was persistent.
He took out a bola, swung it around and I pelted his direction with more bolts, always missing him but incinerating a good chunk of his cape. He was becoming increasingly frustrating. He threw the Bola but it didn’t head for me. Instead it wrapped itself around Sage’s torso, destabilizing them and sending them to the ground, hitting their shoulder on a root.
“Sage!” I screamed.
I lost my focus, froze for a second and the Rook quickly made their way to Sage’s side, detaching the utility belt before hiding behind another tree. I charged toward him, read to hurt him.
The next thing I knew, there was a pop and something wet and cold expanded, covering my vision and my body. The submersion caused my power to snap off and I transformed back, covered in a weird sticky substance that wouldn’t let me move. Everything was dark but at least I could breathe without a problem.
I tried to transform again but I could feel the mental switch was missing. I’d hit my refractory period…
“I will consider this a win for myself.” Rook declared, matter of fact. Fucker didn’t even sound tired…
“What the hell is this?”
“Capture foam.” I heard Charlie said.
“Can you get me out?”
“I’ve already applied to dissolving agent, should take five to ten minutes.”
I snarled. This was going to be a pain…
“You!” I heard Rook said. “Last one up. Let’s get this over with.”