Story Summary: Simon is the new kid at a school for people with superpowers. Problem is, Simon isn’t sure if his ability can even be described as a superpower, and if he will be able to keep up with the other students. But when his friends are stalked by a seemingly invincible danger, it’s up to Simon to prove he has what it takes to save his friends, survive Prometheus Academy and emerge a Superhero.
Chapter 1: The New Kid In School
“Hey, I’m Aaron. So what’s your power?” The abrupt question caught Simon unprepared as he adjusted his glasses, and he stared at the large blonde youth sitting in front of him.
“Mine’s super strength.” Aaron volunteered with a modest smile. Simon could well believe it. But he still couldn’t think of a satisfactory answer. “Err… well, I can… you know, change myself.” He felt a blush suffuse his face and was helpless to stop it.
“You mean like a shape shifter?” Aaron looked impressed.
“Er… no, not really.” Simon was beginning to color even more rapidly. “More like, I can… you know, change my mind and stuff.” He was starting to mumble, as other students were now turning to look at him as well. Fortunately, the teacher chose that moment to walk into the class. All eyes turned to him, and Simon sank back gratefully in his seat.
He had known this was going to happen. He had tried to prepare himself. It wasn’t like he was unfamiliar with the ‘New kid in school’ situation. But this was different. From the moment he had walked into the hallway, the moment he had seen a guy lift an entire cabinet over his head, the girl running at Mach one speed, the kid with the laser vision….
Yeah, fitting in here was not going to be easy.
“I would like you all to welcome our newest student…” The teacher was reading his name out from a card. “Simon Grantham. He has previously attended Vuxville’s public school in Denver and is a lateral entry freshman. Now open your notebooks and…” The teacher’s voice rolled on. Simon was glad he hadn’t been called to the front to introduce himself. But he also knew he had only avoided the inevitable.
A few hours of lying low in class, and then lunchtime. The cafeteria was certainly an experience in itself. Double the size of ordinary cafeterias. Decorated brightly but tastefully. Lined with food of the choicest gourmet meals served by an impeccably dressed staff.
Again, Simon was reminded that many students would kill to attend Prometheus Academy as he tried to make his way as inconspicuously as possible to a corner table that happened to be deserted.
“…they can be real jerks, and I’m not just talking about the ones who belong to a unit.” Aaron was saying to a tiny, blonde haired girl as he came to take the seat in front of Simon. “Hey, man. Mind if we sit here?”
“No, no, of course not,” Simon said quickly, glancing at his companion. It was the same girl he had seen before running at super speed.
“Not every guy who’s on a unit thinks like that, all right?” The girl said impatiently. She looked at Simon, as though for confirmation. He stared at her awkwardly, wondering what the right response was.
“This is Kaley,” Aaron said in the ensuing lull. “And he’s Simon. He’s new here.”
Kaley nodded to him. “I was just telling Aaron that we need to go talk to the majors more often, just to remind them we exist. After all, we’re majors, too.”
“I just don’t think we have to join any cliques because of that,” Aaron said in a low voice.
“Um… what’s a major?” Simon asked.
“The kids with the really awesome powers,” Kaley said. “You know, not everyone here can think of becoming a superhero after school. Some are just a little bit stronger than normal, or just a little faster, but not enough to make them a superhero. Like that kid,” She indicated a chubby boy eating at a nearby table. “He can talk in ultrasonics. And that girl,” She pointed to a red-haired girl talking to her friends. “Can hover over the ground for a few seconds. They’re nice people, but not superhero material.”
“So those people are the ones with minor powers,” Aaron explained. “Most of the athletes, on the other hand, are majors. And eager to show off the fact. They’re not easy people to be around all the time.”
Simon busied himself with his food, avoiding the eyes of the other two, hoping they wouldn’t include him in the ranking discussion. He already knew which category he would fall into. Or was there an even lower level that would be appropriate for him? Maybe ultra minor…
A distant boom was heard, and suddenly the ground shook beneath them. Immediately, an alarm started ringing across the cafeteria, a deep, strangely ominous sound that resounded against the walls as the students sat in hushed silence.
“What’s going on?” Simon whispered, staring around the room.
“A security breach,” Aaron whispered back. “Don’t worry; they’ll take care of it.”
Simon did not have time to ask more. The doors of the cafeteria opened, and twenty guards entered. They all wore armor that hid their faces and carried strangely shaped guns in their hands. Another tremor shook the floor.
“Don’t be alarmed.” The lead guard called out into a loudspeaker. He was a tall, powerfully built man, and his deep voice was steady as he spoke. “The source of the disturbance has been located and will be dealt with shortly. We-” The rest of his speech was cut short as the doors at the other end of the cafeteria were suddenly flung open. A dark figure entered through the doors.
Nearly seven feet tall. A black robe billowing around the skeletal figure, hiding most of it in darkness. The hooded face covered by a hood, but with a shaft of light illuminating a steely pair of coal black eyes. Simon felt a chill as the figure passed by him. He could have sworn that for a split second, the apparition’s eyes flickered towards him before moving on.
The wraith’s pace did not slow down once, and students and guards alike scattered in front of him. The apparition gestured wordlessly, a small motion, and immediately, five of the guards formed a line behind him as he moved out the other end of the cafeteria, towards the source of the noise.
The Captain turned back to the students. “As I was saying, students are requested to stay calm and stay inside the cafeteria until the all clear has blown. We will stay here with you to ensure your safety. Please do exactly as we say.”
The guards spread out around the room. The students started forming groups, with one guard overseeing each group.
“It sounded like it was coming from the lab,” Kaley muttered under her breath. “It must be Tristan.”
“Yeah.” Aaron agreed. “But it’s probably nothing serious like last time. I’m sure they’ll sort it out.”
“Only one way to know for sure,” Kaley said. And then she was gone.
“Kaley!” Aaron hissed at the space where she had been standing. But she had already zigzagged across the room, avoiding the guard’s notice, and passed noiselessly through the cafeteria door.
“Where’s she go?” Simon asked, staring at her in shock.
“A guy who might be mixed up in the breach is a friend of ours.” Aaron sighed. “She’s gone to check on him.”
“She’s gone to a place that’s being blocked by security on high alert?” Simon looked at Aaron in disbelief.
“Don’t worry; she’s done it before. She never gets caught.” Aaron assured him.
“How do you know that for sure?” Simon asked sharply. “We don’t even know exactly what the problem is. It could be something completely unexpected. She could get caught off guard.”
“She’s always careful,” Aaron said, even as doubts began to form in his mind. “I’m sure she’ll be alright.”
“Being wrong means at best she’s caught or at worse, dead.” The frown had not left Simon’s face. “Are you ready to bet all that on ‘I’m sure’?”
Aaron stared at him, startled by the change in tone and the intense gaze of the other boy. It was as though he was talking to a whole other person.
“We have to warn the guards.” The other boy continued.
“No way, man! Are you crazy?” Aaron stared at him in alarm. “She’ll get in trouble for sure. And then she’ll kill us for telling them.”
“Then we’ll have to personally make sure she’s all right,” Simon said, slipping off his glasses and placing them in his pocket. “You know where she is?”
Aaron nodded apprehensively.
“Then let’s go.” Simon rose, quickly scanned the room and motioned to Aaron to follow him. Aaron found himself getting up and following the other boy meekly, even as he tried to wrap his head around the sudden transformation in Simon.
They made their way around the groups, making sure the guards nearest to them were facing the other way. Aaron tried to hunker down to avoid drawing attention to his huge frame. Even then he would not have been able to escape detention if he hadn’t been following Simon.
The new student was striding quickly but smoothly towards the doors, with one eye on the guards. The closer they got to the doors the harder it was to remain inconspicuous, and finally, in the finally two meters, the two broke into a run. A shout followed behind them, but they had already exited the cafeteria.
And then they tore down the corridor. Rounding a corner next to some stairs, Aaron now took the lead, taking them down the flight of stairs and deeper into the school. Aaron barely had time to register the posters on the wall warning them to turn back. The sounds of shouting were growing louder.
At the end of the corridor were a pair of huge doors, and standing outside, peeking through them was Kaley. She turned at the sound of their approach and threw them a startled glance. “What are you two doing here?”
“Checking up on you.” Aaron panted, coming to a stop. “Did you find out what’s going on?”
“It’s Bobby.” She whispered. “He got in again. He’s messing up the lab, trying to annoy Tristan. The guards are trying to talk to him but he won’t listen. Tristan’s really riled up, too. He’d even turned on the antigravity ray. It caught one of the guard’s rifles.” She pointed to a rifle lying near the doors.
Aaron and Simon stepped closer to the room, which was clearly the site of the disturbance, as shouts and loud noises were still ringing from inside. When he peered inside, despite the surprises he had received that day, Simon was not prepared for what he saw.
A laboratory stretched out inside. Much bigger than the cafeteria. Filled with an assortment of gadgets, some improbably futuristic, others looking almost obsolete. Giant machines stood towering against walls, and a giant model of the universe hung from the ceiling.
Another blast and he saw a black-haired boy his age aiming what seemed to be a ray gun at a figure sitting atop a cabinet, chattering in a high pitched voice. At first, Simon thought it was a monkey. But then the figure turned, and Simon saw a face that seemed a strange mix of human and primate, with thick red hair covering the face and a huge, protruding grin.
The boy with the gun was yelling at the figure, which was jumping up and down and clearly mocking him. The guards were shouting at both of them, trying to get the gun away from the kid on the ground and the other kid off the cabinet.
And then suddenly he had appeared again. The wraithlike skeletal figure stood cloaked in darkness, staring up at the boy on top of the cabinet.
Upon seeing him, for the first time the human/monkey hybrid seemed to hesitate. A look of fear crossed his face as his chattering grew louder and more panicked. The wraith simply stood watching him.
Then the wraith’s hand rose, slowly and deliberately. The black sleeve covering the wrist fell back, revealing a completely mechanical, skeletal hand. Suddenly the hand began to glow bright blue as electricity crackled and sparked inside the palm.
The figure gave a shriek of fear as he jumped off the cabinet. But a bolt of electricity had already left the wraith’s hand. It caught the airborne figure in mid-jump, and the strange creature tumbled to the ground. It lay unmoving in a crumpled heap. The black shade advanced, casting a huge shadow in front of him as he came to stand over the huddled figure. The left hand was still glowing blue as he came nearer.
And then a blast hit the figure from behind, throwing him into the opposite wall. A silence fell over the room. Aaron stared in awe, as the kid he had seen stammering and blushing since first period, who looked liked like he wanted the earth to swallow him up during most conversations, that kid now stood pointing a rifle at the wraith.
The huge figure rose slowly from the ground, his back smoking, and as he turned, the steely eyes were fixed on Simon. There was silence in the room. The guards had taken out their weapons and stood pointing them at Simon.
“What do you think you’re doing?” One of the guards barked. “Why did you attack the Watcher?”
“I was stopping him going after the student,” Simon said, his weapon still raised. There was no hint of fear or diffidence in his eyes as he stared at the guard. “Something that you should’ve been doing. I thought you were here to protect us.”
“The Watcher was using nonlethals to contain the situation.” The guard growled. “Don’t try to tell us how to do our jobs, kid. He’s with security. He was getting the student off the cabinet and out of harm’s way.”
The unblinking accusation in the guard’s gaze seemed to deflate Simon, as he noticed the accusing gazes of everyone else in the room as well.
“I…” He looked from the guard to the wraith in bewilderment. He seemed to emerge from a trance. The hard, unflinching look was gone, and before everyone’s gaze, he turned back into the stammering, nervous freshman. “I thought he was going to attack him… I’m sorry, I…”
“What are you even doing here?” The guard demanded. “Did you break out from the lockdown in the cafeteria?”
“He’s new here.” Aaron put in hurriedly, edging forward. “He didn’t know the rules. It’s his first day.”
“But not yours, now, is it?” The guard turned to frown at him. “Why didn’t you stop him making a bloody fool of himself like that?” Aaron squirmed uncomfortably under the guard’s gaze.
“Look, I… I’m really sorry.” Simon’s heartbeat quickened as he began to panic. “I didn’t know. I… I thought…”
“Didn’t think long enough, it seems.” The guard cut him off grimly, taking him by the arm in a none too gentle grip and steering him towards the door. “Let’s go, kid. We’re going to meet the headmaster.”