Review this story                                                            Stories # - L | M - Z | Authors




City of Heroes
Winds of a New Beginning




“Primary Power?”

“Empathy.”

To Psychics around the world, Empathy was the ability to feel the emotions of others, or transmit it. It was thought to be a fairly common ability, with about one in ten people not having the ability. You could tell the emotions of your family or close friends, even if you were separated by kilometres, or you could let others feel your emotions. You could say that Empathy let you look through the eyes of others, and walk a mile in their shoes.
But to the creators of the Hero Registration Board, Empathy was just a cover-up term for a Healer. Emotions didn’t come into it at all. They probably just liked the sound of ‘Empathy’ better than ‘Healer’.

“Secondary Power?”

“Force Field Generation.”

You could say that, in a way, I’m unique as a hero. No hero has the same powers as one another, but I’m more unique than most.

The man behind the Hero Registration Desk in Paragon City looked down at me, probably wondering if I was trying to mess with his mind or not. He assessed my slim build, asking himself if it were possible that I defied all the rules of a basic Defender’s powers.
Red hair, complete with blond highlights blew into my eyes. Irritably, I blew the hair out of my eyes.

Finally, the man spoke, slowly, as if I were a kid. “You’re, uh, sure? It’s quite possible you have your powers confused. Perhaps you have Radiation Emission, not Empathy.”

That’d be right. He’d simply assume I didn’t know my own powers, and jump to the simplest conclusion.
It wasn’t that uncommon unfortunately. I’d had at least three separate heroes ask me the same question, including the famous Ms. Liberty.

Perhaps I should back up a little. My name is James Reeves. I also get called Jamie. I live in Goulburn, Australia, and I’m 16 years old. The reason I was in America, in Paragon City, when I lived in Australia, was both simple and complicated. Portal Co. had made Teleportation portals to all the continents of the world. Goulburn was fortunate enough to host one of these portals, being directly between two of the capital cities of Australia.
My powers had begun to manifest only recently. My Empathy had appeared when I had gotten sick with the German Measles. Needless to say, the sickness didn’t stay long at my house after that!
And my Force Fields, ironically, had first appeared when I sneezed. I had sneezed once, and a shield popped out of nowhere to surround me. It jolted my sister out of the seat, much to my amusement when I had time to recover afterwards.
Traditionally, Defenders had never had Empathy and Force Fields in the same ‘Power Area’. That is, no-one had ever gotten Force Fields and Empathy before. Other combinations were common, but mine wasn’t.

“I’m sure I have Empathy.” I replied, keeping my eyes focused on him. He squirmed slightly under my stare, when a kid didn’t blink after five minutes, it got slightly unnerving. “I’m able to have it verified by Ms. Liberty, and two other heroes. I can give you their names if you want.”

Sighing, the man scratched his head. He had only started this job last week, and he wasn’t trained to deal with things like this. Writing down the information on a sheet in front of him, he filled in ‘Ms. Liberty’ on one of the three recommendation slots. Three heroes had to vouch for you to become a hero, so it helped that Jamie had already met them.

“And the names of the two heroes that you also saw?”

“Nakona and Sordan Snapkick.” He had met the two heroes the day before. Nakona herself was a healer, while Sordan was a Scrapper, and had a superhuman knowledge and mastery of Martial Arts.

“Good, and your Hero name?”

Jamie stopped suddenly. He hadn’t thought about what he’d be called, ever. Many names went through his mind, before he settled on one.

“Guiding Spirit.”

The man looked up again, this time with his eyebrow raised. “Guiding Spirit?”

“I’d say Guardian Angel, but that’s not gonna get much of a reaction other than people falling on the ground and laughing.” Jamie said grimly. He had tried a name that suited his powers, he intended to protect and help people who couldn’t do it themselves. The first thought that had sprung to his mind when he thought of things with his powers were ‘Guardian Angels’, but it didn’t suit him.

“Ok, we’re almost done. You will also receive a costume, complimentary of the city of Paragon. We prefer our heroes to be safe, which extends to helping them mask their identity. Here, take this. There’s a chair over there.” The man gave Jamie a small machine, one that showed a picture of a blank person. Blank being the term, since there weren’t any defining attributes to it.
Pressing a button on the side of the screen, Jamie smirked when he realised that he had opened up an option that allowed him to decide the kind of shirt, or armour, he’d receive.

In the end, he ended up with some easily made clothes. That way, he could have more than one costume, and they wouldn’t look out of place back in Goulburn. He had a small mask to blot out his eyes, and on impulse, he also gave himself a small, metal belt which had just looked cool.
Handing his selection back to the man, Jamie received the thing that he had come into Paragon City Town Hall for; his Hero’s License.

“Your costume will be shipped to you within three days. Please, don’t use your powers in the view of the public unless it is a life-or-death situation.”

That last sentence had all the emotion of a white wall. Nodding my head to the man, I turned around and looked at the extravagance of the Town Hall. Some people might say it wasn’t much compared to other parts of the city, but compared to the Goulburn City Hall, it was extravagant.
Several, small statuettes were embedded in the walls, which made a nice touch. The floor had been polished to a mirror-like sheen, and a large staircase to my left led down into the bowels of the building.

The man behind me must have noticed that I was looking at the staircase, because he called out to me, “Excuse me, Mr Reeves? It would also be preferable if you didn’t go down their either. Your first Mission Contact is down there, and it is preferable that she doesn’t who you are or how you look.”

I waved my thanks to the man, while fighting down disappointment. I had wanted to go down there, but it’d have to wait.
A wave of tiredness suddenly hit me. The difference between here and Goulburn was around 8 hours. Looking at my watch, I shook my head. 10am, which meant it was 2am back home.

I was booked in to a hotel here in Paragon for the next week. The idea behind that was to give me three days to learn the layout of Atlas Park while my costume arrived, and four days after that to get used to being a hero.
Sighing, I walked out of the Town Hall. Only a few metres away was a giant colossus, a statue of the hero Atlas, who had died protecting Paragon City during World War II. Several heroes were gathered in the space beneath the statue, talking, planning missions, sitting quietly or flying. I looked at the flying heroes longingly, before shaking my head. It’d be a long time before I would fly, if I was able to fly at all. Who knows? I might end up with Super Speed, Super Jumping or even Teleportation.
Sighing, I sat down on one of the steps in front of the Town Hall. It was going to be a long three days.




Training.
Yesterday, I would have relished the word. Yesterday, I was signing up to be a hero. And yesterday, sitting on the steps in front of the Town Hall, Sordan Snapkick and Nakona had come across me.
It had been their idea, not mine, to train. Nakona was to help me train and focus my healing powers, while Sordan would help me with fighting in general.

When I asked Sordan why I needed to train with fighting, his reaction was to punch the wall next to us, and then asked me to do the same. His face had a neutral look to it, so, suspecting nothing, I punched the wall.
You know how, on TV, the hero of a story punches someone and walks away without a dent? I can tell you now; it’s not like that in real life. I grazed my knuckles, as well as inflicting a LOT of pain on my hand. Nakona threw Sordan a look that plainly said ‘Behave’, before healing my hand.

“That’s why you need to train. You don’t have the calluses that will stop you being hurt by punching things. There are a lot of things out there that are even harder than that wall. Just be lucky you have the healing gift. I don’t have that, so, if I hurt myself, I’m on my own.” Sordan said, giving me a look filled with humour. “But then again, you could always win if you got lucky and the naughty people choked on their own spit when they’re laughing at you hopping around.”

Anyway, moving on, now, I was stuck in training. We were in the ‘Majestic Ladies of Paragon City and their Men in Tights’ Supergroup’s Training room, hidden in their base. Sordan had needed to have special permission to enter; His conditions were that Nakona had to be with him at all times. Her response to that was ‘If I had my way, he’d be with me, all the time, everywhere.’
I think my eye began to spontaneously twitch after she said that.

So far, Nakona had taught me to spread my Empathy Gift in a wave that radiated outwards; in a move she called ‘Healing Aura’. Sordan had taught me some basic punches, but nothing focused, or, as he said, ‘Honed’. It was basically going to be a brawl if it came to me punching with my fists.
Right now, we were working on Sprinting. My running style apparently resembled that of an ‘Oversized monkey’, a term supplied by Sordan. My new style was better, but it tired me out more. My running stride was extended, which caused a complaint or two from my hamstrings.
That was all that Nakona and Sordan were authorised to do. I was only Security Level ‘One’, which meant I had very few powers, and was generally, easy pickings for anyone. Another term for it, this timed supplied by Nakona, was, ‘Most villains think you won’t be able to fight your way out of a wet, paper bag’.
After I had mastered the techniques, Sordan set me to punching soft things, and progressively get to the harder things. He also forbade me to heal myself, or Nakona to heal me. By the end of my ‘Tendering’ session, my knuckles were red, hurting, and I could barely move my fingers. No grazes this time though.

“Lunch time.” Nakona said, at which, my ears instantly perked up. “My shout. Anywhere you want to go Jamie?”

“Somewhere that gives out a lot of fat, maybe even food.” I mumbled. Shaking my head and getting out of my thoughts, I gave that another, serious, attempt. “I don’t know. Any place you can recommend?”

Nakona grinned. “I can do that. Sally’s has the best milkshakes and chocolate mud cakes on this side of the galaxy. We can get some Peacebringers to verify that for you as well.”

“The Kheldians have chocolate mud cake on their planet?”

“Well, not technically speaking. But apparently they have a similar substance called Khokolate. Funny how chocolate seems to be a Universal thing, huh?”


After my refill, I felt much happier. Nakona had eaten double of what I had though, and Sordan had eaten about a half more than I had. The reason apparently was that when Empaths heal, they burn up fat at the same time. It was a win/win scenario. Sordan’s excuse was that Scrappers only needed a normal amount to eat, even though they were more physically active than a lot of Empaths.

“Just wait. When you’re fully grown, and healing on a regular basis, you’ll make what Nakona’s eating look like an anthill.” Sordan said cheerfully. I was watching him eat with a smile tugging at my mouth. He didn’t remove his mask, even to eat, which made for a funny scene.
With a snort, I took a bite into my hamburger. Quietly, I began musing and daydreaming about my career as a hero. I’d be out of school so often that in the end, I wouldn’t have to go, I’d be knocking Hellions and Skulls out with one hit. Statesman would ask me to join the Freedom Phalanx, you know, stuff every hero to be dreams about. Then I moved onto the things every teenage boy thinks about. I’d be popular of course, all the girls would like me, and I’d have a fan club everywhere I went. You know, the works.
After I gave a chuckle (I was thinking about trapping one of the guys I didn’t like at school in a bubble), I was bought back to the present by the door slamming open and sudden silence throughout the Café.
Looking up, I almost choked on my food when I saw four Hellions, two wielding guns, and the other two wielding hands coated with fire.

I sent a panicked look at Nakona, only to find she had floated out of her seat and was now on the roof somewhere, while Sordan had disappeared altogether.
Putting my hands underneath the table, I created a small shield, one that could quickly surround me if the occasion demanded it.

“Money, all of it, and some chocolate mud cake.” Said what seemed to be the leader. Damned, that’s what they were called, or so my memory told me. “Hurry up, or we’ll set fire to this place.”

As if to back up their leader, the two grunts, I couldn’t remember what they were called, bought out a small handgun each.
Suddenly, in my ear, I could hear Sordan’s voice. He passed me a small, white mask which was identical to the one he wore.

“You’re gonna be my sidekick for this.” He murmured. “We didn’t mean for you to actually battle until you got your costume, but this is a life or death situation. Put the mask on, and keep me healthy.”

The reason Sordan was making me his sidekick was because Nakona could take full care of herself. Sordan had a Security Level of Ten. Nakona’s Security Level was 23.
Ducking beneath my table, I put the mask on, took my jacket off and turned it inside out, thanking the gods that I had decided to wear a reversible jacket today. My jeans were going to be a problem, and I wasn’t taking them off and going in my underwear, unlike several other heroes running around Atlas Park.

“3.”

The Damned was speaking, holding up three fingers to show he wasn’t joking.

“2. 1”

At the last second, Sordan appeared out of nowhere, between the two grunts. Raising his arms, he bought them back down with breakneck speed and hit the grunt’s arms. Their bullets when harmlessly into the rubber tiling of the Café, before the Grunts reacted and punched towards where Sordan had been. Their punches ended up hitting nothing but the other’s hand.

The Damned however, had faster reflexes than the grunts. Raising a hand, he shot a flaming fireball at Sordan, catching him in the chest and throwing him backwards. In return fire, a sizzling stream of lightning shot out of nowhere and hit the Damned squarely on the head. He shook, looking like a very mutated dog, and let out a scream of pain.
Suddenly, I remembered what my job was. Running over to Sordan, who was already up, and attacking the second in command, a Fallen, I think it was. Every punch he threw was going to cause him pain, I knew that much, so he had resorted to kicking. Calling on my powers, a wave of calming, green, healing light spilled out around me. My first lesson that day, even before Nakona had taught me the Healing Aura, was how to avoid healing my enemies, but at the same time, heal my friends. It required a lot of concentration, but in the end, I focused most of it on Sordan, with very little of my power healing the Fallen. Sordan, now restored, snapped back into action. He let loose a move he called his ‘Thunder Kick’, which left the Fallen reeling. Sordan took the chance to use his ‘Cobra Strike’, and after the two, combined moves, the Fallen fell. Sordan reached into his pocket and threw me some handcuffs, and nodded towards the Fallen. Inclining my head, I crouched down and clicked the handcuffs into place around the Fallen’s wrists.
Suddenly, one of the Grunts was in front of me. I reacted on pure instinct, and a bubble popped into existence around me. The Grunt’s mouth fell open, and Nakona took the opportunity to send a ball of her own towards him, this one made of electricity. This time, it was one of the Hellions who flew back, hitting a counter. Looking around, I saw that the Damned and the other grunt had been disposed of already. Quietly, Nakona stepped forward, her footsteps sounding loudly in the silent diner. During the battle, almost no-one had moved, for fear of provoking a Hellion, or attracting their attention. Kneeling, Nakona put another set of handcuffs on the Grunt. A loud cracking noise filled the air, and was followed a moment later by thunder.
Suddenly tired, it took me a minute to realise that the thunder was applause. Everyone in the diner was clapping or whistling. I knew I had turned red, but a grin had also appeared on my face. Turning to look at Nakona, she nodded and smiled at some customers, before catching my eye. She jerked her head towards the door, and I took the hint, walking quickly out after Sordan and Nakona.

“So, how did you like your first battle?” Nakona asked, looking around to make sure we weren’t being followed.

“It was so… messy.” I said, at lost for better words. “More like chaos than a fight.”

“Strangely enough, that was an ordered fight. You wanna see chaos? Watch some of the videos coming from Recluse’s Victory sometime.” Sordan said.

“Recluse’s Victory?”

“Sorry. Recluse’s Victory is in another dimension. Lord Recluse is trying to take over Atlas Park in another dimension, and then he’s going to try and fuse that Atlas Park and the one we know. Lucky, we have the big-guns pulled out for that one. Only heroes Security Level 40, or above, are allowed in, and when they have the time, the Surviving Eight join the battle. It’s not often though. I heard Statesman had to join the battle yesterday though, or we’d have been wiped out.”

“Statesman? Ouch, must’ve been big. What Security Level is he, do you know?”

“By official standards, he’s Security Level 50.” Nakona said, taking the initiative on that question. “However, a lot of people know he exceeds it by far. I’d say, if there was such a thing, he’d be powerful enough for Security Level 70 or something. You can just imagine where that’d get him. What do you think? Give him access to the realm of the Underworld?” Nakona asked, letting out a laugh. “But, yeah. He’s Level 50.”

“Wow. Sounds cool. I hope I get to meet him someday.” I said, thinking about what Nakona and Sordan had just said.

“And just hope that it’s outside of a battle zone as well.” Sordan said grimly.


TO CHAPTER 2 >


    Review this story