Gunther continued, “The paintbot rounds stand in for the suit’s lasers, and for the explosive rounds which take out most people. Non-lethal rounds are perfectly allowable for this fight, Rocket. Captain Commando, your gun counts as a laser for this. Paint them with light, and you’ll take them out. The sword works too, but don’t turn it on.”
Gunther took in the group of us standing together. “Here’s how this will work: each group fights until there’s a clear winner between the two of you. You’ll need to think about how to do that, but I’m not going to give you time to talk about it.”
Then he turned to the crowd. “This little exercise isn’t entertainment. First years will need to pay attention to what happened and be able to explain why it happened. The rest of you gawkers ought to think about it yourselves. It’s a lesson you should have already learned, but better to learn it by sitting in on someone else’s class than not to learn it at all.”
He smirked at the upper year students. Some of them laughed.
“With that out of the way, let’s have some names so we call you something other than ‘that strong guy’ or something. Codenames if you’ve got them. Real names if you don’t.”
The aerokinetic said, “I’m Gifford.”
The name sounded like something you’d call a jock in a novel set in the 1950’s, but he looked the part.
I vaguely remembered that Hunter had mentioned the name.
The tall, female speedster said, “Sofia.”
The legless guy, now hidden beneath layers of armor said, “Keon, but in armor I go by Vulcan.”
That was kind of cool. I liked how the name subtly referenced his disability (Vulcan was lame), but also the fact that Vulcan was the god who made things–like Zeus’ lightning for example.
I wondered if he knew that Vulcan’s wife wasn’t faithful to him? It wasn’t a terrible mistake, but you know people would reference it if his dating life made the news.
This probably wasn’t the time to go into it.
This left the Cabal descendants–two girls and a guy, something I hadn’t noticed. Somehow I’d stopped paying attention to them once the word Cabal had been applied.
Light skinned, blond, and slightly overweight, his face wore a slightly confused expression. “I’m Calvin, and I don’t have a codename, but I’m thinking I’ve got to do something with water.”
His jumpsuit had seemed oversized, rolls of red, white and blue material covering each other, but when he finished, it fit. He’d grown, adding another half foot and layers of muscle. His skin tone turned grayish, and his hands and feet grew claws.
Even his blond hair turned black, and he’d grown gills on his neck.
Well, that was interesting. The Cabal had people who could do that? We’d never even seen one.
I wondered if he could speak to fish, but doubted it.
One of the two girls had dark, slightly frizzy hair with light skin, and freckles. Before she’d changed into the patriotic jumpsuit, she’d been wearing shorts that almost looked like cargo pants, and a black t-shirt. Her lipstick was purple.
“I’m Paula,” she said.
The other said, “I’m Cindy.” Cindy had short brown hair, wore no makeup or jewelry that I could see. The clipped way she’d said her name, and steady gaze gave the impression that she took this completely seriously.
“And you all know the Heroes League members,” Gunther said. “The Rocket, Storm King, Captain Commando, Accelerando, and the Mystic. Now all of you get farther away from each other, and I’ll tell you when you can start.”
Each team walked away from each other until they were about one hundred feet away. Gunther shouted, “That’s good. Right there.”
He held his hands in the air. “When I drop my arms, you can go. I’ll count to three. Oh, and Gifford and Storm King? No tornadoes. One… Two… Three.”
As he brought down his hands, I felt a mental connection between all of us–Daniel, Jaclyn, Vaughn, Cassie, and me.
Do you feel like you know what you’re going to do? Daniel thought at us.
He made it easy, I thought back.
Choosing people with powers like our own? Jaclyn said. That’s what I thought too. We’ve fought each other for two or three years now.
Except they’re not tired, and we are, Vaughn thought. I can barely move.
I’m not tired, Cassie responded.
I could feel everyone’s frustrated pre-response in my head, and so could Cassie.
Look, I know, she thought back. She was holding back a laugh.
I’ll pick up the Cabal people, Daniel thought, and the rest of you can pick off everyone else.
It’s a plan I thought back as Cassie, Vaughn and Jaclyn did the same.
Gunther’s hands fell to his sides, and I brought up my arms, choosing Gifford as my first target.
All the muscle in the world wouldn’t help if Paula, Calvin and Cindy didn’t have anything to push against.
The three Cabal descendants went up into the air as scheduled. I began to fire, picking Gifford as a target as Sofia blurred in our direction.
Then wind roared and the three people slammed into the ground. Calvin landed on his feet, and leapt toward us.