Several people stood up. None of them looked as impressive as the elite Cabal soldiers we’d fought–the reserves. Nearly immortal, constantly regenerating, they were incredibly strong and extremely tough as well.
Fighting people you could barely hurt who also regenerated had always seemed particularly unfair to me.
The Cabal had other soldiers too. They weren’t as tough, but they had a wider variety of powers. Maybe I was seeing their descendants?
Gunther looked them over, and said, “Any of you who can’t lift more than 20 tons, please sit down.”
None of them sat down.
“Anybody who can’t regenerate or whose skin can’t take a bullet? You can sit down too.”
Still none of them sat down.
None of them looked like anything other than normal college students. Dressed in shorts and t-shirts, some of them with sweats, I couldn’t have picked them out of a police lineup of potential Cabal soldiers.
Gunther said, “NIce to know we got the good ones, but now I have to pick.”
He pointed at three of them. “You, you and you. Do any of you have costumes?”
They all looked at each other uncomfortably. One guy spoke up, “We don’t have official costumes, just the jumpsuits they gave us temporarily for training.”
Pointing toward the hulking, rocky hill where our dorm was, Gunther said, “Run back, and get them. You won’t need the armor, but the right kind of attack can shred your clothes and leave you fighting naked. Now that won’t bother everybody, but most modern people don’t like it. Go, and hurry.”
They left. Even if they couldn’t match Jaclyn for speed, the Rocket suit estimated they were moving at 60 miles per hour.
“That’s not everybody,” Gunther continued. “What we want here are roughly equal groups. From the Heroes League, we’ve got an inventor with powered armor, a guy who controls weather, a speedster who’s as tough as the Cabal types, a telepath with multiple mental disciplines, and a super soldier with a couple frightening weapons.
“Let’s make this balanced.” He stepped toward the crowd, pointing at a tall girl with light brown skin and dark hair. She looked like a runner–not that that meant anything with superpowers. I’d fought a hugely overweight speedster once.
“Speedster, right?” Gunther gestured toward the dorms again. “Costume.”
A guy near the front stepped forward, and said, “I’d like to volunteer. I’m an aerokinetic.”
As he did, I noticed a couple things. First that the guy had been standing next to Hunter, and second that even in shorts and a t-shirt, it was obvious this guy could start a second career in modeling if being a hero didn’t work out.
He’d probably be modeling superheroes though because he had the look–square jaw, muscular build, but not too muscular, dark brown hair, and a natural expression that managed to look confident without looking arrogant.
Gunther’s eyes lingered on him for a moment. “Aerokinetic. That works. Suit up.”
The guy flew upward disappearing over the second level’s park and shopping district almost instantly.
“That leaves one,” Gunter said. Stopping in front of a black guy in a racing wheelchair, Gunther said, “Your turn. Get your powered armor and we’re ready.”
“No problem. I’ve got that.” He gestured with his right hand, and then loosened the wheelchair’s restraints.
He pulled himself loose and pushed himself out of the wheelchair’s seat, landing on the field’s grass. That’s when I realized that he didn’t have any legs.
He pulled himself up in time for a dark mass to descend from the sky, landing on top of him, and pulling him inside. The suit expanded as it moved him into the torso and helmet.
I could see him through the cracks between the sections.
Then when he’d been correctly placed, the armor sealed, closing the gaps. He’d created an interesting suit, and not just because of the black and light blue color scheme.
Only needing the upper half of a human shape, he’d extended the base past where his torso naturally stopped. Three supports extended equidistant from each other, widening in the base. I felt fairly sure they did more than keep him stable while he was on the ground.
“I’m ready,” he said.
Not long after that all the rest of them came back.
All three of the Cabal students and the speedster wore navy blue jumpsuits that had red and white stripes running off the shoulders and onto the arms.
Apparently someone had made the program’s spare suits extra patriotic.
Hunter’s friend appeared in his own costume–light blue with white accents.
Gunter stood between their group and ours. “While I think it might be fun to make this into a free for all, I’ve been told that that’s not acceptable. That means we’ll need rules. For most of you, most of the time, I’ll accept controlling your opponent as a win. That means pins, and other ways of making them immobile count.
“Plausible kills also work. Any of you who can lift tons automatically get a kill if you can touch a normal person outside armor. The Rocket in turn automatically takes anyone out of the fight if he hits them with his paintbot rounds.”