Death of a Hero, Chapter 26

Heading to lunch was when it got annoying. One of the Hispanic groups decided to have a good laugh at my expense on our way to lunch. A senior who might have been mistaken for a freshman based on his height started in. “Hey, Zach, I saw your mommy brought you to school.”

I just looked at him, wondering if he really thought this through. “Yeah, she needed to talk to the principal about something. Probably has to do with how I ditched class to stop a pair of supervillains from robbing a bank. They don’t really send out permission slips for that.”

“Bullshit.” Another of that group, a rather fat kid. Honestly, he reminded me of the Pillsbury doughboy with a tan. The only people he could intimidate were the staff at an all you can eat buffet.

I had to wonder if this was the start of the gangs sending their rejects to annoy me, Alex did warn me about that shit. No sense in taking the bait. “Well, it was on the news, ask anybody who can spell ‘TV’.” I kept walking, they could go to hell.

Another guy spoke up. “Dude, saw your mom. She’s pretty hot for an old chick.” I turned to get a look, this one I recognized as the big skinhead from before. Why is this asshole helping these other assholes? Aren’t they supposed to hate each other?

His tag along was a girl who was in my bio class. Jen, I think. She couldn’t look more different than him, aside the both being ‘white’ and ‘trash’. She was slender, with long brown hair. She might have had a shot at being called ‘pretty’, but her diet plan could be summed up in one word: ‘meth’. “So yer sayin’ his mom’s a MILF?”

“I couldn’t tell, she had something all over her face.” The big guy gestured his hand over his face like he was pretending to wipe something off. “Bitch. Yeah, she had the worst case of bitch face I’ve ever seen.”

“Aww, she just needs a good fuck, that’s all.” Meth-girl put on a fake pout.

“Is that the problem, Parker?” I really wanted to wipe that smile off his face. “Your dad not giving her what she needs?”

“I feel bad for her, why don’t you go by Zach’s place tonight and give her a reason to smile?”

“You’re too good to me.” The big guy kissed the top of her head, and he had to lean over to do that.

“Anything to help out a fellow lady.” Fellow lady? The only ‘lady’ this trash could call ‘fellow’ has a co-star named ‘the tramp’.

And that’s my opening. “Please, the biggest thing he’s ever stuck in you is a needle.” And that shut everyone up, except a couple ‘oohs’ from the Hispanics.

Ben quickly stepped away from me. I wasn’t sure if I was glad he was getting out of the way so he wouldn’t get in the way, or pissed that he wasn’t backing me up. I was too busy focusing on the Skinhead and Skanky show to think about it. “I’m still waiting for that boxing match, but he’s too coward to do more than talk.”

I turned and started to walk away. Go on, hit me, please hit me, give me the god damn excuse to destroy you.

Unfortunately, nothing to that effect happened. Hopefully I saved a little face with that comeback, but if I stuck around any longer I’d lose control and my power would be likely to go off accidentally.

Knowing my luck, someone would claim they felt threatened by me and I’d be the one to get in trouble. Fucking god damn gangs and their bullshit. Even now, when I can do something about them, I can’t actually do anything about them.

I regretted not taking Nano up on his offer and letting him escape. Then I could have called him up and asked him to return the favor by really fucking with their lives.

That would have been the smart play, having a mind controller in my back pocket. But nooo, I had to be a fucking hero and stomp the damn villain. Maybe I can turn around, beat the shit out of him, and claim it was something left over from Nano messing with my head?

Ben didn’t bother catching up to me before we got to the cafeteria. I tried not to blame him too much. I was in a three way pissing match with a grizzly and a pack of hyenas. Eventually someone was going to get splashed.

Wow. That analogy was bad even by my standards.

Cassie was glowing with excitement when I got to the cafeteria. Normally she’d have a seat waiting for us, since her class was right next door and mine was on the other side of the school. Today she was waiting by the entrance. She had her arms around me before I could speak. “Oh my god I saw you on the news it was awesome!”

“I guess this means you saw the interview.” I was feeling better already. Her energy was infectious, and soon I’d be among friends. As pain in the ass as the gangs were, they were the minority in this school, and I was still a superhero. That thought cheered me up. It also helped that Cassie’s breasts were pressed against me at the moment.

She broke the hug, but kept her arm around me. “You have to tell me every last detail!”

“Okay, I promise, but let’s get to the table first. I get the feeling I’m going to have to tell this story a lot.”

“Aww, but don’t I get a special sneak preview?” Cassie both pouted at me and gave me an excellent opportunity to get a ‘sneak preview’ of my own. “Or maybe you can share a few extra details after school?”

Oh, right, fuck me sideways. “Can’t.” I glanced around to make sure I wasn’t overheard before dropping my voice to a whisper. “Mom flipped out after seeing me on the news, so I’m grounded until the heat death of the universe.”

Her smile vanished, which made me even more unhappy. “I’m sorry.”

Not half as sorry as I am. “Yeah, I know. I get into one little fight and Mom freaked the fuck out. She’ll get over it eventually.” And by ‘eventually’, I really mean ‘she still holds grudges against my father for things that happened before I was born.’ “We’ll have to take a rain check on that mall shopping trip I owe you. I know it’s not fair.”

Cassie smiled a bit. “It’s okay. She’s just trying to protect you.”

That’s the problem, she’s always trying to protect me. ‘Don’t forget your inhaler’, ‘be careful you could get hurt’, ‘go to your room so I can scream at your father and pretend you can’t hear it’. “I know. It still sucks.”

We stopped that conversation, finally having made it to the table. I’d taken some horrible lasagna leftovers to school, almost as an act of protest. Mom knew how bad that stuff was, hopefully she’d feel bad thinking I ate even more of it. Instead, it found its way into the garbage the first chance I got. I’d respawn myself later, so I wouldn’t be hungry.

“Hey, guys, guess what I caught,” Cassie announced me. The dynamic that was my playing superhero created a strange new ‘popular table’. Of course Alex was there, he was almost required for the table to be popular.

Being resident expert on all things powers related, David made himself part of the ‘in’ crowd, much as I wished otherwise. He and Bear formed a weird sort of friendship. Seems Bear had a bit of supers geek side, and David’s obsession with stats translated really well to fantasy football.

After that, there was Margaret, Cassie’s friend, and almost as hot as she was. Margaret had a vaguely gothic look, with pale skin, dyed black hair, and makeup to emphasize the dark eyes. Beyond this cluster was a mix of jocks who liked the action, the geeks who liked the powers, and hangers-on that liked being part of the in crowd.

“About time,” Alex took charge. “So how’d you like your first real fight with a supervillain?”

In my first real fight, I was just eviscerated several dozen times by a psychotic fourteen year old girl who raped and murdered the woman I love. But you know none of that.

“Well, it sure beats Home Ec.” I earned a couple chuckles. “Seriously, though, if all supervillains are as weak as those two, I’m going to need a more exciting hobby. I hear good things about watching paint dry.”

“Well, Shadow Boxer’s only ranked a 1.9 total,” David jumped in. “Infiltrators like Nano always get exaggerated stats, his threat’s a 3.8 even though he only deserves a 2.5 at max. Your tentative score was only a 1.5, since your only on record power was Tank 8 and 0.5 Transit. Now that we know you can beat mind control on top of all your other immunities, they’ll probably list you as a 2.1 in Breaker”

“Told you so!” Amy crowed at her brother.

“… Even if it’s not strictly accurate,” David’s finished, sounding much more annoyed than mere moments ago. “It’s just to suggest certain immunities no equipment can offer. Plus they’ve added Maker 1.1 for your ability to repair items you’re carrying. Since it’s a newly revealed feature, they’re just guessing. You’re ranked at a 2.3 overall threat, but can go up or down depending on how that repair power works. If you can, say, never run out of bullets or can use the same grenade multiple times, that’s huge. An easy three. If you can do it to a missile or small military vehicle, that would be a four. Probably even a five if you can climb into a tank and make it indestructible.”

He looked at me expectantly. Everyone joined in to some degree, but him and Bear had especially excited gleams. I knew vehicles were straight out, my power seemed to not work on anything that weighed more than a hundred and fifty pounds or so.

Bullets and grenades had crossed my mind. Thus far I knew I could restore something I’d burned. “Sorry, guys, like I told the news, my image consultant says mystery is sexy. You’ll have to wait and see like everyone else.”

David was about to say something, probably complaining, but Cassie spoke before he had a chance. “Oh, that reminds me.” She smiled and leaned in close. I could smell the orange she’d eaten. “I have to know. This ‘image consultant’ of yours. Is she cute?”

Girls are weird. Oh well, may as well play along. “Breathtaking. Smart, too. She’s helping design my costume.”

Cassie’s chin rested on my shoulder. I felt it moving as she spoke. “Oh, she sounds like really hard competition.”

Do not make obvious erection joke. I shifted to look at her, and her adorable playful smile. She was gorgeous and she knew it. Other than Erica, I couldn’t think of anyone I’d met who was more beautiful. “You could certainly say that.”

“Do I need to be jealous? I bet I’m a better kisser, at least.”

Ooh, this could be fun. “Only one way to find out.”

This game of Cassie’s was interrupted by an exaggerated gagging sound, courtesy of Margaret. “Come on you two. There’s a fine line between ‘flirting’ and ‘foreplay’, and some of us are trying to eat at this table.”

NEXT

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10 thoughts on “Death of a Hero, Chapter 26

  1. So. Something really weird happened with the format and there’s all these strange linebreaks that should’t be there. I don’t know why. I think I found them all.

    Also: there are two references in this chapter that show how old I am. There are twenty year olds out there who weren’t even born when these were new.

    Like

  2. “Yeah, I know. I get into one little fight and Mom…”
    …got scared. She said, “You’re movin’ with your auntie-”

    Sorry. I’ll stop.

    “give me the god damn excuse”
    There’s a linebreak here.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Every time you mention Alex, I wonder if he is one of those guys that is just naturally charismatic and that everyone likes, or if he is another imbued.

    On the one hand, we have seen some questionable behavior from him. “Accidentally” meeting Zach in the bathroom in an early chapter, showing an incredible talent for switching from Clark Kent to Superman body language in gym, having very specific advice and questions for Zach when it comes to his hero career, etc.

    On the other hand, that would make him the third Imbued in that school that we know about. Can’t remember what Tana said about how rare Imbued are, but that seems like a high number in a small population.

    On the stroking hand, Zach is very obviously and openly powered, and the other Imbued in the school we know about was trying to get close to him. So it wouldn’t be far fetched to think that, if Alex is also powered, he is getting close to Zach to either scout, recruit, or join him. I could definitely see Zach being a magnet to other powered people in his immediate area due to his very public debut and actions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The “bonus” material includes a half-chapter that was deleted for being boring infodump that gives all kinds of info.

      But roughly 1 in 10,000 have some sort of power… most of which are useless, more fitting for Ripley’s Believe it or Not than superheroics. The ability to derive nutrition from eating sand- but otherwise being normal- as an example. It’s superhuman, yes, but it won’t win you any fights.

      People with powers on Shadow Boxer or Nano’s level are roughly 1 in 20,000.

      Zach and Ferne are in the 1 in 100,000 range.

      Muwth- one in 10 million are that scale of power.

      Anima and Kitten are in the ballpark of one in a hundred million. There are only a handful at their level.

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  4. Just read all your chapters in the last couple days. Fantastic story, love the characters, and can’t wait to see where you take it. What is your update schedule?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The guaranteed update schedule is Monday and Thursday. The goal that, to date, I’ve never failed to meet is Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

      Unless we count me deciding to remove a chapter a couple days after it went up, and sending it to the ‘spoiler’ section for the time being as not posting a chapter… in which case I’ve failed once.

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