Chased by the Past
Part VIII: Sage’s Power
Our team didn’t win, however we did a pretty good job. The only person to tap out was one of the wonder twins on the other team. There had been a close call when I ran into the Tzari and Harley together but Gabriella and I proved to be fairly formidable. I showered and dressed quickly – I always used the stall for a variety of reasons. When I left the stall Harley was leaned against the nearby lockers.
“Hey,” they said, grinning. “You’re really good.”
“You weren’t bad yourself,” I replied. “Were you in the auditorium this morning as well?”
“Yeah, by halfway through her speech I was ready to go back to bed,” they joked.
“We could’ve made a drinking game for how many times she said the word ‘hero’,” I pointed out, making them laugh. When we left the changing room the Tzari was there whom Harley introduced as Shekaree.
“Nice to meet you,” she said, awkwardly holding out her hand. “I am doing this right?” she asked Harley when I didn’t immediately shake it. I made my left hand a fist and tapped it against my chest.
“You’re were a really amazing fighter,” I said. Harley blinked at me.
“I did not expect anyone here to know Ren-Ta,” she said. Harley was now looking back and forth between us in confusion.
“I only know the basics,” I admitted. “I had a friend who was Tzari a year ago,” I explained.
“Oh, thank you,” she said, making the same gesture on her chest. “You were a good warrior too.”
“Ren-Ta?” Harley asked. I let Shekaree explain it.
“Shekaree has the bad luck of being one of my housemates,” Harley joked. “Wanna grab some food? My mum’ll be joining us, hope that’s okay.” I didn’t have anything better to do so I agreed.
“I distinctly remember making you Gulash earlier Dragă,” a woman said, walking over to us. She was a plump lady with dark skin, her friendly face etched with laughter and stress lines. Like Harley, she had a eastern european accent.
“I know, but I’m not sharing,” Harley replied, arms crossed. I made two assumptions from this conversation. One; she was Harley’s mum. Two; Harley was an only child. The cafeteria was a lot busier than usual today with the influx of visiting parents. Somehow we were able to find a table.
Harley and their mother quickly slipped into a conversation in their native tongue, leaving myself and Shekaree to talk.
“So, what was the Tzari you knew like?” she asked.
“She was nice, and an amazing mechanic. Any car I broke she could get back in working order,” I said.
“You broke a lot of cars? How?”
“Bad luck mostly,” I lied. In my various jobs with the Syndicate a few involved protecting important persons. A fair few enemies of these persons had no issues trying out a public gunfight. I only got caught for the speeding once and the police were too busy dealing with other trigger happy folks to really care about the ticket.
“She hated the way I hot-wired cars though. Said I left the motherboard in tatters,” I laughed.
“Hot wired?” she asked, having not heard the phrase.
“It’s a way to start a car if you don’t have the keys,” I explained.
“Oh, how did you lose the keys?” she asked.
“Like I said, bad luck,” I lied again. She frowned at me but didn’t pursue any further.
I sensed someone watching me and looked up to see Sage walking over. They motioned towards the open doors and I nodded. Outside there was a light breeze but summer was still clinging on. We found a more isolated spot and I turned to face them
“About yesterday … I want to thank you for your help. Even if it was a dumb thing to do,” Sage said,
“You’re not the first person to tell me off about it. I’ve already apologised to Allen about it.” They nodded in response.
“Look, I don’t want to alarm you or anything but see…my powers are mind ones, and…” I couldn’t hear the rest of their speech. Mind powers. Like…but now, Sage wasn’t like them, were they?
“Jaeger?” they asked.
“What…what kind of powers?” I asked, fighting back shudders.
“Oh, erm, I can do some mild healing stuff and calm people down if they’re panicking. If I’m touching someone I can get surface thoughts. I’ve only tried it with animals, but I can go into their minds and experience the world as they do.” I knew that right now, whatever having mind powers meant, they were describing it in a ‘I’m safe’ fashion. It still didn’t calm my heart rate any.
“I never got a chance to ask, what are your powers?” they asked.
“Just bat benefits. Mostly echolocation,” I shrugged.
“Oh, you just seem to be a very good fighter. I wish I was half as good.”
“It helps me in a fight. There are nuances to what I hear back that can tell me a lot about people. For instance.” I delved into echo and focussed on Sage’s body, immediately noticing more muscles and nerves in their right hand. I noticed the bones were shaped oddly in the left ankle, but it was old because their body had adapted around it.
“You’re right-handed,” I said.
“Most people are,” they replied, sounding skeptical.
“You also broke your ankle, probably when you were a kid at a guess.” Sage’s lips parted slightly.
“How did you know that?” they asked.
“The bones in your left ankle are abnormally shaped, but your other body tissues have grown around it now.”
“Sage….can you promise you won’t read my mind?” I asked. Syndicate mission aside, I did not like the thought of anyone freely delving into my mind ever again.
“Of course. I don’t go around doing that. Like I said, I was trying to help you after you fell and it sort of just happened. I don’t know what’s going on but if you need to talk-”
“I don’t. Thanks,” I said quickly, wanting to get away from them as soon as I could, even though I knew they were not like him. I looked around, to make sure no one had overheard our conversation and immediately saw Sanjay and his family cluttered around a bench outside. The words from our fight the other day swimming to the surface of my thoughts.
“You won’t understand, just go back downstairs to your nice, normal family.”
“You don’t know anything about me or my supposed ‘normal’ life and family, so how about you don’t just presume how my life is?”
“Okay, but the offer still stands. Us trans kids gotta stick together,” Sage said, pulling me back to present. I had to smile at the trans solidarity.
“I better get back to my parents, but thanks again,” they said, turning and heading off. I stood there for a moment, trying to collect and order my thoughts. Then someone tapped me on the shoulder, that someone apparently being Sentinel.
“What happened to you had work to do?” I asked.
“Hello to you too buddy,” she replied, one eyebrow raised.
“HithereI’mTachyon. Nicetomeetoyou.” I blinked at the girl next to her who was waving a thousand waves per second at me. Her right knee was wrapped up in plaster and she had crunches.
“Unfortunately someone has to make sure this girl doesn’t ignore doctor’s orders,” Sentinel replied to my original question, smirking at Tachyon.
“I’mfine!” she replied, sticking out her tongue.
“Uh huh,” Sentinel murmured. Her gaze then turned more serious. “I heard what happened yesterday-”
“You’re now the hundredth person to tell me off about that, I’m losing track of how many people I need to apologise too,” I sighed.
“I’m not talking about the punch you threw. I’m talking about sneaking off the grounds.” I froze, had they seen Kellen and I together? “You need to stop, or people might question how ‘reformed’ you really are.” I tried not to let my relief show on my facial expression.
“Right. I just find it difficult staying at the academy all day,” I shrugged.
“Why?” she asked. I blinked at the question.
“Ermm…I dunno, I just need a time out from the people I guess,” I replied, shrugging again.
“Ah, because you’re not making friends,” she said, raising a eyebrow.
“I talk to people, what more do you want?” I threw back. “It’s difficult, hearing the way they talk sometime…”
“From what I’ve been told you’ve not been doing yourself favours either, making derogatory jokes about capes and the like,” she pointed out. I snapped my lips shut and choose to remain silent. She just shook her head and chuckled.
“In all seriousness, I know this is a difficult transition for you. I don’t know the full details of what you went through Jaeger, but you’re safe here.” safe, yeah right…
“Ithinkthefirstteachermeetingisinafew,” Tachyon prompted.
“Oh, yes. Since I’m here I’ll be going to meeting with yourself and your teachers,” Sentinel declared, wrapping an arm round my shoulders. “You could at least pretend to be happy about it,” she joked at my frown.
“Right, guess we better go then. I’ll just tell my friends goodbye.” Admittedly I was glad Sentinel was here, it was nice to know she hadn’t just forgotten me. However I had a feeling my day was going to be full of ‘needs to interact with classmates’ type comments.