An Unlikely Hero
Part IV: No Instruction Manual
After the power reveals were over, where I’d opted to reveal my Orion-ness to the others much to their surprise, everyone sort of went their own way, some of them hanging out together. I saw Annabelle head back into the house and I caught up to her.
“Hey, since it’s still early I was wondering if you wanted to play HotM upstairs?” I asked.
“I’m going to pass, today’s just killed me.”
I felt a noose in my stomach form. Guess it’d been too much to ask… She went to her room so I retreated back to mine too. Mace seemed busy hanging out so that left me alone. Rather than ruminate over what had happened to me over the last few days for the thousandth time, I logged onto HotM and grinded a few hours away with Raal who kept bombarding me with questions about how Ravenhold was, who I’d met and those kinds of things.
After a short night of sleep, I joined the others as they prepared to head off for our second day of school. Although Caroline had made fresh muffins the smell of which had my stomach growling, I skipped breakfast anyway…
Our first class of the day was P.E. which was given by a giant woman in a wrestling leotard. She didn’t introduce herself before setting us to do a crap ton of physical exercises. Much to my surprise, I did well. A few days ago, I would’ve been coughing my lungs out, struggling to breathe and have my body ache like crazy after only a few minutes, but it wasn’t the case anymore. I almost felt like I was weightless as I did push-ups and all that jazz…
When it came time to do laps around the gym, I ran faster than everyone too without breaking a sweat. In less than 72 hours, the Starheart as Centurion had called it had transformed me from a sickly puny teen into something else. Too bad it hadn’t done anything about my look; I still looked skeletal…
As I finished my fourth lap, I saw Annabelle struggling to move, out of breath and every step causing her to grimace in pain.
“Are you alright?” I asked, slowing down to her pace.
“My everything is killing me.” She panted.
“Ouch. I know how you feel…”
“You look fine.”
“I used to have the stamina of a narcoleptic sloth but now my powers are keeping me going.”
The words we’d exchanged had apparently sapped away the last of her strength as she stopped and leaned against the wall, looking like she was about to collapse. I froze, I wanted to help but I didn’t know how and moreso I didn’t want to do something wrong. I looked around for help only to see the teacher coming our way. Our eyes met and she snapped her finger pointing at the direction others were running. I didn’t protest and started running again after giving Annabelle one last look. Hopefully the coach would know what to do…
Once everyone was done running, minus Annabelle and Allison, who had also needed to stop. The teacher introduced herself as Rachael Carver, better known to the public as the Juggernaut, who’d been a world class heroes a few years prior. She released us to do a some free exercise as she escorted Allison out after checking on Annabelle again.
With the three of them crowding Annabelle, I didn’t have the guts to approach her. And probably for the best, I mean what were the odds she’d think I was a creeper if I kept stalking her? Instead Mace offered me shoot some hoops. Thankfully for him, super-accuracy was not one of the powers granted to me by the Heart.
Once the class ended, I took a shower before going for the next class: combat training. The one I’d been looking for. I mean Ravenhold was nice, but so far it’d been just like a normal school… Combat training was given in a japanese dojo-like place, just with less tatami and more padded mattresses and more modern materials instead of wood and paper walls.
There we met our next teacher; The Rook. Unlike everyone else we’d met, he was in full-on superhero costume. A dark armored suit with a bird-like cowl and red goggles. There were gadgets and weapons strapped everywhere on his body.
“I’m the Rook and I welcome you to introduction to parahuman combat.” He declared his voice strong and powerful. Not far from me, I heard Charlie and Caroline whisper among themselves, but I didn’t get what they said. “If you’d please quiet down over there, we’ll be able to get started. In this class you’ll learn how to handle your abilities or gadgets as well as how to defend against other abilities and find how weaknesses and exploit them. We’ll also go over mundane weapons and tactics so you know how to handle facing them. These are the skills that will save your life in the field so if there is one class you need to pay attention to, it’s this one. Who here require gears for combat that they are not carrying?”
Sanjay and Amber were sent to get them and came back quickly, Sanjay wearing a red and gold suit of power armor he’d advertised during the power demo. Apparently, it had finally arrived, while Amber came back carrying as sword about as tall as she was it was almost comical but with the strength she’d exhibited during the power demo, crushing a rock with her bare hands, I didn’t doubt her ability to wield it.
With everyone ready, we took turns going up against the Rook and it didn’t matter if he was powerless, he kicked our asses ten different ways… Rowan, Yougen and Sanjay went before me and neither their strength, speed or tech matched the Rook’s experience, he always had a way to deal with them; whether it was bolas, explosives, blades or tech of his own… He was the embodiment of crazy prepared…
“Your turn. Orion.” He declared as Sanjay got out of the combat arena. “Better live up to the name.”
I charged at him, trying to punch him. It didn’t work. Faster than I could react, he stepped aside, grabbed my arm and redirected the force of my blow, sending my flying into the wall, leaving a crack in it. Thankfully, my new powers prevented me from turning the bones in my body into paste from the impact…
I got back up and this time more carefully approached him, which he allowed me to. The Rook had this intense yet nonchalant air about himself. He clearly was ready to answer any move but didn’t look all up in arms… I tried to punch him, alternating arms but he effortlessly deflected the blows before sweeping me off my feet. Super-durability or not, I couldn’t just ignore physics, so I ended up on my back.
“You’re now dead.” He said, a knife at my throat.
“Really? I doubt that’s going to do any—” I began but was interrupted as he nicked my cheek with the blade, leading to a warm flash of pain. When he raised the knife to my eye level, there was a splash of red on it.
“You were saying?” I patted my cheek and found a shallow cut.
“How did you even do that?”
“Impervium knife with a monomolecular edge. You’re not as invincible as you think, if you were the last two Orions wouldn’t be dead.” He said without any emotion to his voice. “Next!”
Defeated, I returned back to the others. It was clear there was so much I didn’t know about my own powers… Sadly, there was no instruction manual for me to read.