An Unlikely Hero
Part III: Unexpected Friends
I spent a few hours outside practicing flying, if I was going to be a hero being able to move about was the first thing I had to do. Going from point A to point B wasn’t hard. What was hard however was fine control or doing stuff while flying. It takes a certain kind of zen to not have your every movement alter your course. You have to divorce your body’s movement from your intention to move for lack of a better way to describe it.
By the time I came back to the house almost everyone was gone to sleep. However when I looked around, I saw that there was light coming of the tv in the living room. I walked up to it and found Rowan laying down on the floor in front of the TV which played late night shows without sound but with subtitles.
Rowan was kind of odd; —He…? She..? Whatever— was large and although humanoid in shape, Rowan was always hunched over and walking about on all four. Rowan’s skin was pitch black and in the penumbra, their shape blurred in with the shadows. Their limbs ended with wicked claws. A strong mane of hair grew down from their head and to their lower body.
I came up next to them and sat down on the couch.
“Hey, you’re Rowan, right?”
“Yep.” Rowan’s voice was all kind of deep and growly.
“Let me guess; you can’t sleep either?”
“I don’t really sleep. I mostly just take naps.”
“Oh.” I said. There was a pause. “Awkward question; Are you a boy or a girl?”
“Neither. Use they/them pronouns for me.”
I didn’t really get it, but it wasn’t worth arguing or asking questions, all that would’ve done was annoy them. It was best to roll with it really. I got up, went past them and into Mace and I’s room where he was already sleeping. I switched my sweat drenched shirt out and sponged myself with a clean towel. I considered going to sleep but my stomach was growling, reminding me I hadn’t eaten in longer than I could remember.
I went back out and looked around the kitchen for food. Although there was plenty of pizza remaining, I didn’t feel like eating any. After searching through the pantry, I found boxed mac n’ cheese and opted for it. It was one of those things I ate all the time at home; fresh food was unheard from in our house.
“Hey Rowan, do you want some mac?”
“No. I don’t eat pasta anymore.”
Once it was done, I served myself and stuffed it down my throat, gorging myself. Although the hunger went away, pigging out brought the usual guilt and disgust it generated out… With all the stress and exhaustion of the previous days, I didn’t have it in me to resist it, going to the bathroom…
Once I was done, I dragged my feet to my room, Rowan took a whiff of the air as I passed and their head turned toward me, staring but otherwise remaining silent. Although I just knew that they knew…
My first day of class went past fairly quickly, I don’t know what I was expecting from the one true superhero school, but our first day consisted purely of mundane class subject; english, math and history. Although our teachers had been nothing but mundane; Joshua Martin the famous, but now retired, hero of Detroit and A Gimelian dude calling himself Professor Apex. Although I’d met Gimelians, those ape-like sentient beings from a parallel earth, online before it was my first time seeing one in person.
Since it was only a half day we had the afternoon off. During the lunch period, I absently nibbled on a burger without appetite when one of the other; a white haired girl called Caroline proposed we have a power reveal party around dinner time which I guess was a cool thing.
After coming back to the house, I had plenty of time so I decided to boot up my computer. I wasn’t on for more than five second that my the chat window exploded with messages, I sifted through them until I saw Raaltrasha’s. Over the last two years, the Gimelian girl from Brooklyn been the closest thing I had to a best friend even if we’d never met in the flesh.
GimelGirlGaming: HOLY FUCKBALL TYLER YOU’RE ALIVE!
GimelGirlGaming: WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED DUDE? IT’S BEEN THREE DAYS.
BigBadPuppy: Hey Raal…
GimelGirlGaming: Don’t just ‘Hey Raal’ me. I was worried sick, we all saw the news and you’ve been gone since…
BigBadPuppy: Sorry, the last few days have been crazy…
GimelGirlGaming: Did you get shot? Are you hurt?
BigBadPuppy: I’m fine. Shit’s just been crazy.
GimelGirlGaming: Come on, what happened?
BigBadPuppy: What did the news say happened?
GimelGirlGaming: Student shot up the school, a parahuman student stopped him…
BigBadPuppy: That was me.
GimelGirlGaming: Wait, back up. Since when are you a parahuman?
I paused for a moment, trying to gauge how much I should tell her.
BigBadPuppy: Three days ago. It happened during the shooting. And well long story short, I’m at Ravenhold now.
GimelGirlGaming: Oh come on! I’ve been trying to get in for three years and you just get in like that? >.>
Although Raal didn’t have any powers, and as far as I know no Gimelian does, she was crazy smart and when she wasn’t studying or gaming, she was building gadgets to fulfill her dream of being a superhero. If anything, the heart should’ve picked her; she was smart, courageous and driven to help others… I was none of those things…
BigBadPuppy: I didn’t really care for it, but Centurion convinced me to go.
GimelGirlGaming: Centurion? As in head of the Legion itself?
BigBadPuppy: The one and only.
There was a minute or two before she messaged me again.
GimelGirlGaming: Lucky bastard.
BigBadPuppy: Lucky’s right… Look, just promise me you won’t tell the others, I don’t want this to get out just yet… But I’m the new Orion.
GimelGirlGaming: You’re kidding? O_o
BigBadPuppy: *sigh* Wish I was…
I started explaining what had happened, omitting the Orion part to the others, virtually all of whom were fellow gaming friends, when activity started buzzing around the house, with people moving things out back.
BigBadPuppy: I’ve got to go. I’ll be back later tonight.
GimelGirlGaming: You better be. Otherwise I’ll find you and kick your ass. I already ought to for making me worry.
BigBadPuppy: Sorry… I should’ve told you I was fine earlier.
GimelGirlGaming: Take care Tyler. Also; keep me posted, you stole my Ravenhold dream which means you HAVE to tell me everything about it.
BigBadPuppy: Yes Ma’am! See you later.
I logged off with a smile and joined the others in the backyard. They had prepared a buffet but I didn’t feel like eating, I’d eaten a burger at lunch, that was enough. I scouted the place around, finding Mace obviously flirting with a dark, broody looking chick called Amber. Our class was really damn girl heavy, with only one other guy beside Mace and I: Some indian guy called Sanjay.
I came to him and waved.
“Not eating like the rest of us?” He asked. His accent took me a little off-guard, I hadn’t expected him to speak in a thick, posh british way. Which admittedly, might have been shitty on my part…
“I’m not feeling like it.” I answered with a shrug.
There was a moment of silence as he didn’t seem to know what to say.
“So, what do you like doing?” I asked.
In answer he just gave me a shrug. Somehow, I’d found someone worse than me at being social…
“Do you like video games?”
“Not really. Never had the time.”
“Not even the popular ones like Dragon Dynasty or Heroes of the Metropolis?”
Things went quiet again. So much for that conversation. Thankfully someone came toward us and joined the non-conversation, a heavy set asian girl, who admittedly was pretty cute… Her name tag declared her as Annabelle.
“Oh what are we talking about?” She asked.
“Just games. Ever heard of Heroes of the metropolis?” Although technically we hadn’t been talking about it as that conversation had been stillborn…
“Hell yeah. I got three pages of maxed out alts.”
“Damn.” I answered. With the very high level cap, maxing a character could take a well-over week of non-stop power-leveling, three pages meant she’d done that to over thirty characters.
“I’ve got just about any build, but I mostly play my tanks or sometimes healer, I prefer to have some control over the group so I don’t really do DPS, mezz or buff.”
“Yeah, me neither. I mostly heal.”
“Say, did you see the new story pack coming out? They put up a trailer for it saturday.”
“No way, I was too busy.”
“You have got to watch it.” She said with a smile, putting out her phone and typing stuff on it. “Let’s sit.” She nodded at a pair of chairs and I followed her.
Together we watched the new Shadow of Axis-Earth trailer, and then chatted about everything gaming related until the power demo finally got started.
Coming to Ravenhold hadn’t been so bad. In a way it was kind of weird; it’d taken me becoming a parahuman to stop standing out like a sore thumb and make a friend in real life…
And on top of it, she was cute and nerdy…