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Hero to Hero: Old tune, new players


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The thought had been bouncing around his head for a while now thanks to his...girlfriend. Wow, he had a girlfriend. It was still a novel concept, but thinking about it and her always brought a smile his face, even if no one else could see it. He shook his head and returned to the topic at hand.

He might not be the most experienced and skilled hero out there, but something she had said had stuck with him. Teaching. Helping the next generation of heroes. He wasn't exactly sure what he could teach them, but the idea had been planted and he couldn't help but consider it. He'd contacted the Academy a few days back and arranged to meet with the Headmaster. The man had seemed rather knowledgeable and well informed, though Dark Star supposed that someone who ran a school for the next generation of heroes would have to be.

Dark Star flew down towards the campus, coming to a stop well behind the building to simply look and observe. While he concealed most of his approach, he let the shielding drop once he was below the skyline. He didn't want to alarm anyone after all. Dark Star was quite early and he enjoyed people watching anyway, so he figured he'd just observe. Besides, if he was possibly going to come here semi-/regularly, he might as well get a feel for the place.

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Mike was lucky enough to have a free morning and decided to try and get out of his room for awhile. He had grabbed a couple books and parked himself under an out of the way tree to get some reading done and work in his journal. He was struggling with the group trainings summers had assigned and sharply considering just bailing on the whole thing, after all its not like everyone here was going to go on to super-heroics. Thus far however every time he mentioned it Mark or Alex talked him into staying on.

So self absorbed was Mike he didn't even notice when Dark Star faded into sight.

As he wrote he mumbled to himself about the recent argument he had had with various teammates, "Its not like I own the world something, its probably better off if I just sit back anyway."

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Dark Star glanced over at the young man, blinking but noting the student's appearance, general demeanor and the books. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize you were there. Apologies if I disturbed you. Or were you speaking to me?"

He shook his head slightly. "I'm being rude. Again, I apologize. Introductions would be in order. I'm called Dark Star. And you, my troubled young friend, are..." he asked to the student he just met.

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Mike started slightly when Dark Star spoke, "Oh uhm, no I was uhm," He babbled as he stared briefly at the man shaped mass of energy infront of him. Remembering his manners Mike stood dusting his hand off on his jeans and offered it to Dark Star, "Mike Harris sir, uhm are you a teacher here?"

Mike had been avoiding people but the appearance of Dark Star had at least distraced him from his mope for the moment, also he was raised to show a certain respect to adults even if they were ... insubstantial. As he realized the rediculousness of offeringhis hand he dropped it quickly to his side, "erm sorry." unsure what exactly the social norm for such meetings was.

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He nodded at the young man, chuckling softly. "It's quite alright; don't worry about it. I get that a lot," he said with a smile and respectful nod to the young hero. "Pleased to meet you Mr. Harris."

He shook his head in answer to Mike's question. "No, net yet. I do have a meeting with the Headmaster later on about that very subject though. It's recently become something I'm interested in, helping the next generation of hero. Though, honestly, I'm not quite sure what I would be teaching."

He studied the young man curiously. "If you don't mind my presumption, are you alright? You seem...unsettled. If you'd rather not discuss it, I perfectly understand."

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Mike shifted uncomfortably at the question. He was accustomed to this kind of question to a degree but most adults always phrased it much more in terms of 'If you need to talk we're here' or some such drivel. For some reason Dark Stars more direct approach resonated with the young man.

"Its really nothing," Mike replied though even to Dark Stars trustign nature that rang untrue, "Just some difference of opinion with some friends about the whole he ... uhm what to do after we graduate."

Mike shrugged "Thanks for asking but its not your problem, I don't need to pester you about it." He attempted a rough smile.

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Dark Star nodded to the young man slightly. "It is not pestering. I offered after all. I'm not sure how I could help, but I would be honored to help be of assistance."

"A difference of opinion hmm? Those are likely to continue for as long as you live. They certainly haven't stopped for me yet," he added with a slight chuckle. He studied Mike briefly. "After graduation. Do you mean 'we' as in you and your classmates, or just you? There can be a difference after all."

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"Heh, Yea I suppose they will." Mike responded with a hint of a smile

He paused perhaps it was the earnestness in Dark Stars speech or the fact that he likely wouldn't ever have to see him again but Mike felt more comfortable telling him what was going on then most if his friends even.

He sighed and explained, "Kinda both, we got involved with stopping some guys that took a buncha people hostage a few weeks ago." Mike didn't really like talking about thier actual heroic deeds it both unsettled him and felt a bit too much like bragging.

"So most of them are all up on the hero kick now. I just don't think its a good idea for me." The teen looked up at Dark Star as he spoke further about it, "They just don't seem to see the downsides, the danger to people if we can't cut it, I mean what if nest time we just make it worse?"

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He nodded. "I had heard something about that. I was off planet at the time but heard a newswave later on. You and your companions saved quite a few people I believe. Something to be proud of, certainly," he said confidently.

Dark Star nodded slowly, listening. "Well, there isn't anything wrong with wanting to be a hero I suppose or their eagerness. So, you're concerned about letting others down? Or getting people hurt simply because you're there? Both good and valid questions. And encouraging as well as important from my point of view. Is that why you're not sure about this choice for your future?"

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Mike shrugged at the praise, "We were there it wasn't really like there was much choice." He was still not entirely comfortable with talking about what they had done there, mostly because it didn't fit into his view of himself as too dangerous to be a hero.

Mike shook his head vigerously, "I don't care if I let people down or whatever." He used fingers in the universaly accepted signal of sarcastic quote marks when he said 'let people down'.

He looked off consideringly it seemed odd to be complaining to a near complete stranger about all of this he looked back after a moment and explained further, "I mean one misplaced punch or whatever and you miss the bad guy and knock down a building, how is one person supposed to make that kinda call? I mean being caught up in something is one thing going out and looking for trouble? I mean look what happend to riverside a couple months ago."

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Dark Star looked at the young man. "There's always a choice Mr. Harris. You could have hidden, run away, just stayed and watched doing nothing. Any number of things really. But you made the choice to act. That is an important choice."

He paused, listening. "Yes, one mistake can cost lives. It could be one life, a dozen, a hundred, a thousand; maybe even a whole world could be at stake. But sometimes, not taking an action, not making a choice, could cost more. Making a choice to act is at the core of every hero Mr. Harris." He looked around, just floating next to the young man. His tone became a little quieter for a moment. "I was there. At Riverside. It was a tragedy. But without heroes, it would have been worse. Far worse."

"Bear with me here. I'm trying to get around to your answer by explaining a few things first. Just my take on it you understand. Being a hero really has nothing to do with powers. In some ways, I think we have it easier. Take a police officer or fireman, to name a couple professions. They put their lives on the line to protect, help and save their fellow man. They have no powers, no special abilities. Just belief and dedication. Yet I would easily consider them heroes. When a villain points a weapon at someone like us, generally we aren't too concerned. We'd stand there and stop them. We're superheroes. But a law officer? He still does the same thing though he could easily be killed. He isn't 'caught up' in it. It's his job. He's made a choice to protect others."

He raised his hands a little in acquiescence. "Now not everyone is a hero, though I think any has the potential to be depending on the circumstances. But most people don't want or can't handle that kind of stress, that life. Whether they have powers or not. It isn't easy, I will grant that without argument."

"Not every hero wants to be one you know. They'd rather be doing something else. But something inside them pushes them past their own desires, to put others first. To be a hero." He chuckled wryly. "This may surprise you, but I actually dislike being a hero quite a bit sometimes. Oh, not the helping people. I truly enjoy that. But the fighting. I abhor it. Constantly battling monsters, villains, terrorists, and all that? It's a horrid waste of potential. It always results in someone being hurt, destruction. I would give almost anything for that to stop. For people to accept peace." He shrugged. "Maybe then I could give this up, live a life where I could just be myself."

He sighed. "Not that I think the world is ready for that yet. Humanity hasn't come that far sadly. Someday, I'm certain they will get there; they have the potential for such greatness. Till then, I choose to put myself to the hazard. To make those choices where untold lives are at stake. Not because I want to. But because someone has to and, often enough, no one else can or will. That's why I do it you know. Being a hero. Because someone has to."

"I was given this vast power. There had to be a reason beyond some selfish desires. I can do so much good. And because of that potential, I must live up to it. I can't simply stand to the side while good people are hurt, even if my mistakes could hurt others. I have this power. It is my responsibility to use it wisely and well. I won't let a single life be harmed because I was unwilling or afraid to step up. My honor, my morals, my beliefs will not let me put myself ahead of anyone else."

He paused, realizing he'd been going on for quite some time. "I'm sorry about that. Probably bored you to tears with that. Got a little carried away there. I just don't get to talk about all of that very often. Thank you for listen Mr. Harris."

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Though Mike hated to admit it this Dark Star did have a valid point. He'd heard variations on this speach many times before but they always rang a bit hollow, either Marks hero obsession or some adult telling him what he owed the world.

But this was different and gave Mike alot to think about. To not act because you were a hero but be a hero because you chose to act. He was still uncertain if the risk was greater if he choose to do nothing or to do something but somwhere deep within him he knew that if some one was in danger he couldn't just sit idly by while he could help.

Mike absorbed all of this and it would likely still be bouncing around his head for weeks to come however there were still concerns writ large across his mind.

"No sir, not boring at all." He replied quietly then catching himself he spoke more clearly once more, "It is what I asked you after all."

Mike was uncertain how to phrase his next question but tried none the less this fellow didn't seem easy to offend. After his brief waffeling on the phrasing Mike asked, "No offense but have you ever pushed to far? Taken it further than you intended? I mean it just seems impossible to keep absolute control at all times, even in the heat of a fight."

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He nodded sadly. "No one's infallible. I've pushed myself too far, lost control, made mistakes. I'm not really one for letting anger and fear dictate my responses though thankfully. So at least I haven't had that particular issue, though I know those who do. So far, I've controlled those impulses fairly well, but I acknowledge they are there. But I've had my fair share of screw ups. Some were pretty bad. It's one of my biggest regrets; that beings have been hurt, even killed at times because of my action. As I said, being a hero isn't always fun and easy. It isn't for everyone. Being a hero means carrying a heavy burden sometimes."

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To be honest it would have been easier for Mike had he just said no. Far easier to discount the advice if he hadn't ever struggled.

"And you keep going?" Mike asked sounding somewhere between awed and nervous. It was almost unthinkable to his mind that you could have such experiances and still keep on. Clearly Dark Star felt badly for the mistakes made but he didn't run from them, but as Dark Star had said no one said being a hero was easy. Well Maybe Eddie and somtimes Mark did.

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He nodded at the young man. "I do. For a few reasons actually. One, I let those people down by failing, whether it was directly my fault or not. I failed them. I owe it to them to do better. To learn from my mistakes. To not give up. Two, would the world, universe or whatever be better off if I wasn't helping? I mean to say that if I wasn't there, would things have been better or worse. I do my best to make things better; I believe I can make things better for one life or a thousand. The numbers don't matter. Life is life. Belief in yourself is vital to whatever your course of action."

He paused. "Lastly...well, and you might recognize this quote though I'll likely mangle it a little, a famous and wise man once said, "All it takes for evil to win is for good men to do nothing." I cannot sit by when there is evil and suffering. It just isn't in me."

"I make mistakes. Everyone does. Sometimes they are even necessary for your growth as an individual. It helps you learn. Learning from your mistakes lest ye repeat them might be an old adage, but it still rings true."

He paused before chuckling a little. "Don't misunderstand me. I feel awful for the mistakes I've done. But I don't let it rule me or consume my life."

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Mike considered the older heros' words carefully, it may not have been a sudden change but a seed had been planted to change the way Mike looked at heroism and heroes, super or not.

Mike smiled up at Dark Star, "Well thanks, I'm sorry I took up so much of your time you must be busy." he said awkwardly still not fully able to grasp how someone like Dark Star could do it, but for a change he actually wanted to know how he did it. He'd have alot to think about for awhile.

Not really sure what else to say Mike glanced away then spoke quietly, "And for what its worth I think you'd make a good teacher."

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Dark Star nodded at the young man. "Not at all. I mostly just rambled on I think, but I was happy to speak with you. I'm not sure if my meanderings helped answer your questions or gave you solutions to your problems."

He bowed to the you man. "Thank you. We'll see what happen after I speak with your headmaster. It was nice speaking with you. Perhaps I'll see you again."

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Dark Star smiled at Phalanx apparent self-depreciation. "Maybe. But I expect you can do more than you think. Or fear." He nodded. "You're most welcome. Best of luck to you in all your endeavors. Now I need to go find your headmaster." He focused his senses. "Ah, there he is," he said to himself before flying off.

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