An Unlikely Hero
Part I: Nothing for Me
Sitting on top of the church’s clock tower, I looked down at the town below me. Although really calling St. Colette, a town was a stretch; it was tiny village. Home to a few hundred people living in old bungalow and lots of trailer homes. The place only had one store and a single greasy spoon as its restaurant. We had to take the bus to the nearest town to go to school too…
That little piece of damp, suffocating Louisiana was my birthplace. The only world I’d known since I’d been little. I’d grown up there and until the previous day, I’d been certain that I was going to die there, having accomplished nothing of note with my life…
“So, what do you say?” Centurion asked, standing above me on the roof.
I glanced up at him. Centurion was more like a statue than a person. Nearly seven foot tall and made entirely of well sculpted muscle which his costume didn’t hide much. He wore a bronze colored breast plate with matching greaves and gauntlet along with a mask shaped like the face guard of a Greek helmet. Underneath it all was a simple bodysuit that covered everything except his head. Behind him, a thick red cape hung from his shoulders, attached to the breast plate. Even though the man was in his seventies, he didn’t look older than early forties, only the occasional gray hair appeared on his beard or his cornrowed hair.
“I don’t know…” I sighed. “I mean its not like there’s anything for me here… But why me?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Nobody does, the heart has never explained itself to anyone, it chose those it sees as a good host. That means that surely the Heart saw something in you Tyler, something worth exalting.”
I let out a dry chuckle. Something in me worth anything? No way in hell it had. Maybe it was just broken after it hadn’t manifested in the last four years since the previous Orion had fallen.
“You know, it’s funny. Everything think I’m some big damn hero for what I did…” I’ve had like the newspapers, the TV, radio and even random bloggers hound me all day.
“Tyler, your bravery saved people’s life.”
There was a pause and I just chewed my lip.
“Do you want to know what went through my head when I did it?” I asked, making him frown. “That if there was anyone Anton should shoot, it was me. After all, it wasn’t like anyone was going to miss me.”
“No really. My mom sure as hell wouldn’t. She’s always complaining about how expensive my existence is or how hard living with me makes it for her to get her billionth boyfriend. The only reason she didn’t abort me or give me away is because her church wouldn’t have let it slide… And really, what is there for me in life? No way I could ever afford an education and my mom already wants me to drop out of high school as soon as I hit the legal age so I can work to pay her…
So I figured that if I could take a few bullets for someone else, then at least I’d have done something right with my life.”
“Maybe that’s why the heart chose you. Because you needed a purpose.”
“Right, it chose me because I was worthless.”
“That’s not what I meant.” He sighed.
Inside my chest, I could feel the Starheart as they called it. It was like a miniature star that burned within me, its power coursed through me. For some reason, it’d had thought I was a good host for its power.
“But really, do I even have a choice about the whole superhero thing? It’s not like people are going to forget I exist.” I asked. Centurion had politely chased them, but they’d be back.
“I can’t force you to do anything you don’t want to. But if you hate your life so much, Ravenhold could be the gateway to something else. Something better.”
“I guess… What do I have to lose anyway?”
“Does that mean you want to go?”
“There’s nothing for me here. I guess anywhere’s better than this dump”
He nodded and we went Home. Since it wasn’t too far, we flew there. Or rather Centurion flew there while I struggled to remain stable while airborne. Flight was very much a work-in-progress….
Although calling it a ‘home’ was a generous descriptor. In reality it was a minuscule mobile home with a cramped main room and three closet sized bedroom. I went into mine and grabbed my stuff, throwing it into a backpack.
When I finished packing the few things I owned; my clothes and a half decent laptop I’d inherited from my mom’s previous boyfriend, I went into the common room where my mom was waiting for me there, a cigarette in hand. Thankfully something about the powers I’d inherited had magically taken away my asthma as I didn’t suddenly start to choke.
“So you’re leaving us?” She said, her voice neutral.
I nodded. “I have to do this.”
“I guess this is goodbye then.” There was a second where I thought she’d hug me but she didn’t. Instead there was just a second of awkwardness.
With that, I left the house and started walking down the gravel path to the curb. Just as I did, Elizabet, my older half-sister, came toward me. Still wearing her work uniform. Like my mom, she cleaned rich people’s houses for a living.
“You’re really going, eh?” She asked.
“You’re going to make a shitty hero.”
“You know what? For once I think you’re right… Goodbye Eli.”
She didn’t even answer me, just going inside the house. The two of us had never gotten along. All I knew was that she’d disliked my father and that had transferred on to me. Although she wasn’t the only one to despise him. He’d abandoned me when I was a year and a half old, running away with a younger, richer woman. If I had had the money, I’d have changed my name so I wouldn’t have his.
Centurion was waiting for me on the Curb, still dressed in his costume, which made him incredibly conspicuous.
“There’s a taxi coming. We’ve already prearranged the fare for you. He’ll bring you to Ryan Field airport which will bring you to New York, give your name to the Tera Airline desk for your ticket. When you’re in NYC, there’ll be a bus waiting at for you at six in terminal eighteen. Don’t miss it.”
“Good luck Tyler.” He said before flying away.
I had to wait about twenty minutes before the Taxi arrived. Just like Centurion had said, the fare was already paid for.
It was two drive hours to Baton Rouge. Then there was an hour wait in the terminal for the flight, then it was a four hours flight until we hit New York. I arrived in the middle of the night, a few hours before the bus was there to pick the new students up. Rather than go out, I just took advantage of the Terminal’s wifi to kill the time I had left.
When pick-up time hit, I joined a large crowd of teenagers piling into two busses heading for Maine where Ravenhold was.
It was an eight hour drive, so I had plenty of time to catch on missed sleep.