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Sovem

Summer School Sucks (IC)

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Peter Jasper huffed into the school cafeteria--largely empty, this time of year--and slung his book-laden backpack onto the table. It *wumphed* quite a bit louder than its size would have suggested.

He slung himself into a chair with about the same level of dignity and slapped a syllabus onto the table.

"Man, this is bull!" Peter didn't yell, but he certainly talked loud enough that anyone in the cafeteria could hear him. "Two courses of English? Algebra? Man, I could learn that anywhere! I thought this was supposed to be a school for superheroes!"

He glared at the books in his backpack and they burst into flame.

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Brian was later getting into the cafeteria, since he dropped his books off at his room. Hardly able to miss the commotion, Brian walks up and stands at the opposite side of the table, looking towards Jasper curiously. "You've got a lucky schedule, man. In the mornings I have History, Geometry, and Biology before lunch, and then this afternoon I have English, Algebra, Swahili, and Health. Did you know your bag is on fire?" All students had their priorities, and Brian certainly wouldn't insult Peters by ignoring them, but still. A book burning certainly is worth mentioning.

Brian looked back and forth between Peter and his book burning for a moment. "I would like to hear how you managed to get stuck in two courses of English, but let me get some water to put that out...."

Brian returned with a tray, a small plate with a burger and broccoli for himself, and four large glasses of water for the books, bag, and table.

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Darwin just couldn't help himself. When excited he cursed or used some Aussie phrase. Usually the curses were pretty mild, really, but every once in a while he let out the exclamation that both amused and annoyed him the most. The one that non-Aussies laughed over because of Mr. Irwin. Yes, that one.

"Crikey!" shouted Darwin when he noticed the fire. Leaping over two tables, he threw a glass of water on the burning books. Yes, one of the glasses which Brian just sat down. Splashed it everywhere.

Sighing in relief, the teenager shook his head, "Sorry! You buckos okay? That could have been nasty! I'll grab a towel." He took off without waiting for a reply.

He returned with a tray of his own loaded down with a heap of some sort of pasta, an apple juice and yes, a towel. "Here, mate. Those books are expensive." He unfolded the towel on the bulk of the spill and sat down. "How goes the salt mining?"

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As Darwin was returning with food and a means to contain the spill, John had entered the mess hall. He had a towel draped around his neck and in general looked like he had just finished a long run.

Noticing his new roommate conversing with some other students, John made his way over to them after picking himself up some food. He sat down next to Darwin and noticed the water logged backpack.

"Power snafu?" John asked idly before taking a long drink from one the glasses of water on his tray.

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Peter opened his mouth to explain to Brian that the books weren't really on fire, right before Darwin leapt "to the rescue."

"Aw, shhh--er, shoot!" He grabbed a bunch of napkins and took over cleaning from Darwin, hoping desperately his books weren't damaged. "They weren't really on fire, man! Just a little wishful thinking s'all."

He slouched back down in his chair and nodded his greetings at John and, reluctantly, at Darwin, before answering Brian/continuing his diatribe.

"That's not all I've got. And I've got some class called 'ethics.' What the hell? I thought we were gonna come here and learn how to take down the bad guys, not learn which fork to use at the dinner table!"

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"I think you are thinking of the term 'etiquette' Mister Peter." John said as he sat down the half empty glass on his tray. "Ethics deals with questions about morality. Such as the concepts of good and evil, and other similar things of that nature."

He dug a spoon into his rice, looking thoughtful. John continued his train of thought. "As such, ethics does play an important role in understanding what it truly means to be a hero."

John was seemingly finished talking at that, as he started to eat the rice on his plate.

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"They weren't really on fire, man! Just a little wishful thinking s'all."

"Remind me to stay on your good side, man." Brian says, only half-jokingly. "Is that what your power is; setting stuff on fire?"

Setting one of the glasses of water in front of Darwin, Brian idly twirls his finger as the water rises in a small stream off the bag, table, floor, and even some personages, does a loop, and pours back into the glass. Brian's skill with that particular talent was so refined that even most of the dampness from the bag was removed. To prevent anyone from drinking the spilled water, Brian flips the glass upside down and sets it on the table, not a drop having spilled from inside it.

"Wait a second." Brian turned and asked John. "Isn't ethics what color people's skin is and what country they lived in such a long time ago that it doesn't even matter anymore but everyone seems to think it does?"

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"Gnarly, man! You have, like, illusion powers?" Darwin asked before feeding his face. His accent seemed somewhere between Southern California and Australian. "That would be awesome."

The young man dressed much like any other student at school. He wore tan khaki pants, a blue-and-gold Claremont shirt and running shoes. Looked much like any other transfer. Save perhaps for the feral air about him, the obvious discomfort at his clothing and that his hair looked wild and unkempt despite visible attempts at combing.

"Yeah, mate," he said between mouthfuls of food, "Etiquette is what Mr. Summers said I needed. Look! I'm not eating with my hands." Wiping his hands, he added, "Much."

Glancing to Brian, he wondered what angle the fellow was playing. Probably no more or less confused about the situation than he!

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Brian idly twirls his finger as the water rises in a small stream off the bag, table, floor, and even some personages, does a loop, and pours back into the glass. Brian's skill with that particular talent was so refined that even most of the dampness from the bag was removed. To prevent anyone from drinking the spilled water, Brian flips the glass upside down and sets it on the table, not a drop having spilled from inside it.

Peter breathes a huge sigh of relief. "Thanks, man. Those books cost a lot of money. Cool trick, by the way."

"Gnarly, man! You have, like, illusion powers?" Darwin asked before feeding his face. His accent seemed somewhere between Southern California and Australian. "That would be awesome."

Peter nods his head towards Darwin. "Yeah man, something like that. Although if I concentrate really hard, I can make them, like, more real, if that makes sense. Somethings, anyway."

He looks towards John. "Right and wrong? Are you serious? What, they think I don't know the difference between right and wrong? That's even worse!"

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"Isn't ethics what color people's skin is and what country they lived in such a long time ago that it doesn't even matter anymore but everyone seems to think it does?"

John replied between bites of his food. "That would be ethnics, Mister Brian."

Right and wrong? Are you serious? What, they think I don't know the difference between right and wrong? That's even worse!"

He looked over to peter, his face inscrutable underneath the sunglasses he wore constantly. "As Mister Darwin can attest to, I am indeed serious." He deadpanned.

"As to answer you other issue Mister Peter, ethics is about the fundamental 'meta' concepts of things like good or evil, vice and virtue, and justice. It is not about knowing what is right or wrong, but understanding where you came to have them and how you weigh those decisions. For example, you might call something 'wrong' whereas I do not, since my outlook and experiences make my point of view different than yours."

It looked like he had suddenly remembered something as John turned to face Darwin. "I believe you asked me this morning if I had been to the Hanover Zoological Park. I have not."

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Peter stared at John with a mixture of incredulence and amusement, then shook his head. "Whatever, man; if you say so. All I need to know is that there are people that hurt people, and people who protect people. I wanna be one of the ones that protect."

He took a bite of his hot dog, then his eyes lit up at the mention of the zoo. "Man, I haven't been there since I was a kid! I bet they have all sorts of new animals!"

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Darwin continued attacking his food, only occasionally coming up for air when he drank his juice. The exchange about ethnics appeared, well, amusing, to the young man, judging by how his eyes darted back-and-forth between Peter and John.

All he had to add was a terse, "He's serious."

After nearly choking on a bite, he cleared his throat and nodded to John, "Right! We'll have to remedy that, Digger. Yuppers! I'm gonna hit the Park sometime this weekend." Grinning to Peter, he continued, "Oi, mate, the more the merrier. The new website says they've one of the biggest collections of poison tree frogs in the States. Nasty critters. Hope I can talk to one."

"Wanna come to, Brian? If nothing else they're really pretty. Plus the Park has all sorts of rare birds. Enough to make Polly jealous." Then he stopped a moment, gears grinding away in his head.

Offering a handshake to Peter, he said, "Good to meet ya! I'm Darwin."

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Brian grinned at Sovem at the compliments, and started having ideas for the sort of pranks that Sovem's powers granted him. "Cool! Can you make illusions of... people?" A small, puckish grin starting to grow. "Could you, say, make an illusion of Mr. Su..." Brian cut off mid-sentence, as that was probably Why an ethics class was necessary. "I know, I know, it is unethical to have illusion Mr. Summers say we can take the afternoon off, but that would be so much fun...." Brian mused aloud another moment. "If self-serving, hence 'wrong.' Can you do sounds only? Could you make it sound like you're somewhere you're not, like an invisible man?"

Brian spent a long minute staring at John, trying to see if he's being punked, and trying to remember if he'd ever heard someone actually pronounce the 'n' in ethnicity. After a mental note to check a dictionary later, Brian wonders if John might be a comic genius in his own right.

Brian nodded. "The zoo? I've been here a year and I haven't been there before.... Sure!"

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Peter squints at Darwin when he mentions talking to frogs, unsure of whether his leg was being pulled or not. "Uh... yeah, sounds cool. I'm Peter. Peter Jasper." He shakes Darwin's hand firmly.

Peter gets a sly grin, too, at Brian's comments. "Heh heh, yeah man, anything you want--sounds, smells, the way stuff feels; anything I can dream up. Like..."

The Centurion suddenly appears beside their table, comically carrying a lunch tray. "Good day, citizens! Is this seat taken?"

Peter chuckles to himself and waves his hand as though dispersing smoke and the Centurion fades away. "We could get up to all sorts of fun, I bet. Now I see why they stuck me in that 'ethics' class right off the bat," he grins.

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John stared impassively at the illusion before turning back to the others.

"My apologies. I have not formally introduced myself. I am known John Smith." He held out his hand for Peter to shake.

"I would not suggest showing that previous demonstration of your powers around Mister Summers or the other instructors." He continued. "If you are needing any assistance in combat training or the like, please do not hesitate to ask."

"As for the Zoo, I cannot do it this weekend as I have a prior engagement, but I can do it the weekend after next. Mister Darwin." He said back to the man in question.

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"Great to meet you, Pete! That's quite the power you have there," Darwin went back to his food, only to blink at the Centurion illusion. He nodded, "Yeah, well, I can see why they'd stick you in ethics first dog. Thank the gods you're on our side, mate."

"Ah, too bad, John," said Darwin, looking rather down. "Nothing like seeing the world's most dangerous snake up close and personal. Or a giraffe or grizzly bear or penguin! I'm stilling going, if you fellas want to, and we can go next weekend. How does that sound, Digger?"

Darwin chewed through the rest of his food in record time. Sitting back, he belched loudly and coughed, "Pardon me! The pasta is worth it's weight in gold I tell ya. Any of you try the meat loaf the other day? That stuff has to be in violation of the Geneva Conventions."

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"Dude, that an Awesome power." Brian agreed, awed at the Centurion.

Brian paused for a moment and listened while the others stayed cool in the face of the illusion. On the topic of the zoo, Brian asked Darwin about a zoo horror story he had heard, namely of chimps. "Is it true you need to stand back from the exhibits to avoid... 'bodily functions' being flung at you?"

Brian paused, looking back at Jasper and wondering if it would be wrong to ask him to make illusions of flying poo or talking animals.

"You said you can make it feel real, but it isn't, is it? Does that mean if I touch an illusion, I'll stop because I can feel matter and resistance, or will my hand go through it like the smoke it is?" After another moment's thought, Brian added "Or does it depend on how much I believe in the illusion, where how real is how real I expect it to be?"

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Peter scratched his head at Brian's questions. "Well, it's kind of a combination of both, I guess. How hard I concentrate, vs. how much you believe its real. If I concentrate hard enough, it would feel real to anybody, but I can't make it look as real. If I make it look really real, some people might be fooled, but others wouldn't. That make sense?"

Turning to Darwin, he nods. "I'm game for some R&R this weekend. I'll be there." He grinned slyly. "And we can see which animals the ol' "siamese fighting fish" trick works on."

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Johns reaction to peter's last statement was a quirked eyebrow barely visible above the rim of his sunglasses.

"I do not know if you have been here long, Mister Peter, but things of that nature tend to lead to...repercussions. While power usage is fine on campus, it is heavily frowned upon for use in general public unless you have no other recourse."

He held up his hands in a placating gesture. "I do not mean to stifle you, but secrecy and discretion is important in these matters if you want to to be a hero, or protect others."

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"100% true. 100%. Some of the big'uns like the giraffes and elephants will spit and spray ya with water. The real nasties though are the primates." He finished off his juice and gathered everything up on his tray. "They're just like people. Smart blighters with thumbs and big brains. Just donna have our sensibilities or restraint. Means they'll throw everything they can get at you. I'll spare you the details."

For a moment, Darwin looked a touch confused. Must be mentally processing the 'Siamese fighting fish' quip. Before he can say anything, John broke in and set the record straight. Even as frenetic as he was, Darwin knew truth when he heard it. "Digger's right, bucko. All Hell and the Outback would break loose if you showed off your powers in the zoo."

"Not mentionin' the fact that that trick would be very cruel to the animals. I talk to the animals, all the time, and some of them are my mates. They'd not appreciate being fooled any more than you or I would." He laughed then, "Still sounds like a good trip. Figure we could bicycle most of the way, seeing how the weather's so nice. Maybe grab some lunch, spend the afternoon at the park and bounce home about suppertime."

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"Sorry. I, uh, didn't think about that." Peter looks quite chagrined; though, truth be told, he's probably more upset about the fact that he can't use his powers freely outside the campus than at the thought that he might upset some animals.

Then a grin pricks the corners of his face again. A cartoonish, anthropomorphic tiger appears beside Darwin and puts its hand on his shoulder. "This weekend sounds grrrrreat!"

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