Chapter One – Arrivals
Anya Collins looked up at the large and stately looking building in front of her. The worn bricks conveyed a sense of age rather than dilapidation, helped in no small part by the ivy climbing the walls that looked as if it had been growing up the walls of the manor for years, which, Anya thought, it probably had.
When Super’s had first made themselves know to the public in America, countries all over the world were taken by surprise at the news. China, Russia and Japan all began scrambling to set up their own responses to the news. Great Britain, whilst publically just as surprised as everyone else, was privately less shocked as opposed to annoyed. The DFH, the Department for Heroes, had already been in existence at that point in time for over 100 years, a fact not publically known.
Indeed whilst the manor Anya now stood before had been acting as a school for Super’s for years, as far as the public were aware, St Mary’s school for gifted women, had been, publically, until that point nothing more than a boarding school for girls. With the revelation made by the American Supers however, the DFH slowly began the process of ‘officially’ transforming St Mary’s into the facility it had always been.
Anya smiled as she remembered the first time her grandmother had told her the story, how the ‘upstart’ yanks had gone and blown the whistle on Super’s everywhere causing the British government to speed up their own plans for revealing Supers to the general populace. Grabbing her bags, Anya made her way around the old building towards the more modern looking dormitories. Hopefully her dorm mate would be someone she’d be able to get along with, maybe even a possible training partner. The loss of her three best friends had hit her harder than she’d expected. Even though St Mary’s and Brashmoore shared certain classes and were only a few miles apart, they were for all intents and purposes different schools. For the next five years (if she made it all the way) Anya would rarely see her friends outside those classes and the holidays.
Reaching the front of the dormitories, Anya put one of her bags on the ground and presented her hand to the plate affixed to the wall. Within a few seconds the scanner bleeped twice before turning green and allowing Anya to push the door open. In keeping with the modern exterior, the insides of the dorm were spacious and modern, with large comfortable looking sofas dotting the communal area, and signs of a well equipped kitchen off to her left.
Anya, having already toured the dorms with her mother, made her way upstairs to her room. She noted that the door was already open and music was drifting from the room.
“Hello?” Anya called slowly making her way into the two person room and glancing around. One side of the room was completely bare except for the basic furniture. The other side was a riot of colour with posters covering every inch of the walls and a bed spread of neon colours practically glowing from where it lay crumpled on the bed.
“Well howdy!” Came a twangy response, closely followed by a girl whose appearance matched her side of the room’s colour scheme. Her hair appeared to be multiple shades of purple, ranging from dark, almost black layers, to bright violet highlights. Her eyes were two different colours, the left one a moderately normal looking blue, the other a metallic silver.
“I’m Karissa, but you can call me Kris! It’s super to meetcha!”
“Hello Karissa, my name’s Anya. It’s a pleasure to meet you too. Am I right in assuming you’re not from the UK?” “That’s right Anya, I’m originally from the states, but grandma insisted I attend a British HCP. Gotta say you Brits really do things differently here. American HCP’s don’t begin ’til college, yet here I am at 16 and already getting started!”
Anya groaned internally as she realised what kind of person she would be stuck with all year. Whilst America produced many respectable and powerful Heroes, this Karissa seemed to be the typically ray of sunshine that Anya really did not want to be dealing with on a regular basis. What had Madam Reynard been thinking!
“Yes, well since British schooling means University courses only last 3 years, the government and DFH decided it would be better to combine both university and sixth form into one five year Hero Certification Programme.”
“Oh yeah,” Karissa bubbled. “I totally got it once I read up on the school system, but it’s still super weird. Get it? Super weird?!” The girl then began chuckling at her own joke.
Anya gave her best forced smile and made her way over to her bed, dumping her bags on to the bed. She prayed that it would only be her bed temporarily. Surely she could persuade Madam Reynard to see what a huge mistake it had been to pair her with this purple piece of bubble gum.
“This televised thing is also super weird. In the US, you get kicked from the programme if you get caught outside of training using you’re powers. Here you guys televise the whole thing. What’s up with that by the way?”
Rolling her eyes, Anya almost wasn’t surprised to hear that the girl didn’t even know one of the basic premises that differentiated the UK HCP’s to the US’s. Yes whilst most HCP’s used the SI system to boot its students from the programme, the UK controversially used a very different system.
“We televise a lot of what happens because the HCPs here don’t receive nearly as much government funding as other programmes get. We televise the training so we can fund the schools. Whilst I admit that the betting system is a bit crude, it does provide us with enough revenue that any student that gets into the programme essentially receives a free education.”
“But what about other countries stealing your training secrets?” Karissa looked confused at the idea that secrecy wouldn’t be a part of HCP training. “And what about students that don’t want to be televised in their matches and stuff? And don’t you guys worry your families will get targeted? How are you supposed to live normally?”
Anya sighed, sorely tempted to turn her glare on the uninformed girl but decided against it. No sense in antagonising a potential ally. Or threat.
“I’m sure they’ll explain it all in our first assembly. I’ve got to unpack, why don’t you see what time we need to be ready for dinner Karissa?” Anya already knew of course, she’d memorised her schedule weeks ago, but she hoped her suggestion would deflect the girl for a little while.
“Please call me Kris, and sure I’ll go find out!” And without any further preamble the girl dashed from the room.
Letting out another sigh, this time of relief, Anya turned back to her bed and began to sort out her things. This was going to be a long first year.
Ash looked around his dorm room and sighed contentedly. It had taken the better part of the morning and a fair chunk of the lunch hour, but he and Derek had finally managed to put everything away and moved the boxes out back where with the bins. Whilst he’d been disappointed not to be paired up with one of his two best friends, he wasn’t really surprised and his new roommate seemed to be a good enough guy.
“Yo Ash!” Ash looked back towards the doorway to see Derek re-enter the room. The tanned blonde Australian was carrying two cans of coke, the proper kind, not the diet crap Anya always insisted on drinking.
“Thanks man, moving all my stuff took way more effort than I realised.” Ash reached over and took his can from Derek.
“It’s probably the custom computer and stereo system that was the problem there mate,” his Australian roommate probably had a point, but Ash had been loathed to part himself from his electronics, though looking at Derek’s side of the room, he had his own expensive looking computer system as well as multiple game systems.
“Hey did you manage to find out what time we had to get down to the assembly hall?” Ash asked, scanning the room once more for the elusive piece of paper that he’d received in his acceptance letter that should the first day’s schedule.
“We’ve got another forty minutes until the whole things supposed to kick off. We’ve got plenty of time to wander down and grab a seat. So come on, we’re roommates, I think it’s time to spill the beans.”
“You know,” Derek said, conspiratorially, “What’s your power?”
“Dude, you know we’ll have our ranking matches and assessments soon enough, don’t you want to wait ’til then?”
“Nah, come on! Look I’ll even go first. You obviously play a lot of computer games right?”
Ash nodded, “Yeah sure, what’s that got to do with your powers?”
“I’m getting to that. So you know about classes and character builds right?”
“What you mean like pilot or engineer type classes?”
“Ah, a CoD man? No, I mean more World of Warcraft type classes, you know warriors, mages, and rogues.”
Ash nodded again thinking back to the few times he’d tried fantasy RPGs. They were ok, and some of them had really decent graphics, but living in a world where people could actually perform feats on a scale with those types of characters had left him feeling like the games were more for the humans who dreamed of having powers. He preferred shoot ‘em up style games, beating on alien foes.
“Well that’s my power!”
“You’re really good at World of Warcraft?”
“No! I mean I can become one of those characters! Well I mean, I can sort of become them. I’ve not yet managed to do anything with magic but my power lets me become like a warrior class character!”
Ash was starting to feel rather confused and a little bit concerned now. He’d heard of Supers whose powers were just different enough from a normal set that they tried to rationalise them by saying they really had powers stemming from pop fiction, like a strong man saying he could fly like superman because he could jump really far, or a telekinetic saying they moved things with the force.
Derek looked at Ash’s bewildered expression and his face fell.
“I’m not crazy dude, I can prove it! It’s not just becoming the character, I summon them too!”
Derek closed his eyes and a look of concentration covered his face.
“O warrior of light, heed my call. I summon thee forth!”
There was a pause as nothing happened. Ash looked at his new friend who was still squeezing his eyes together.
“Umm… look Derek maybe-“Ash was cut off as a blaze of light filled the small space of their dorm room and a four foot tall knight in shining armour appeared before him.
“Behold!” Cried Derek. “Look in awe at the might that is Sir Braveheart, mighty warrior and knight!”
The small knight looked up at his summoner and pushed back the piece of armour that covered his face. Ash could see a rather handsome face looking up at Derek, a look of exasperation clear on its small features.
“Derek, we’ve talked about this.” The knight’s voice, despite what its small visage suggested, came across in a deep baritone. “You don’t need to say anything to summon us. And you have got to stop using the World of Warcraft reference. It just makes people think you’re crazy. Ask Ash if you don’t believe me.”
Derek scowled at the knight before looking over at Ash who was frozen on his bed. He knew some summons could talk, some had a semblance of intelligence that helped them fight independently of their masters’ orders, but this knight was a whole other level. It wasn’t just intelligent, it was actively berating and correcting the guy who should have complete control over him.
“Ash,” the knight said, a look of rye sympathy on his face. “What Derek tried and failed to tell you is that he is a summoner whose summoned creatures are rather more intelligent than most. We also all bear a striking resemblance to the stereotypical classes used in fantasy RPGs.”
“You don’t bare a resemblance Sir Braveheart, you are the epitome of a warrior knight!” Derek glared at the knight who held his ground, his own expression a more mature and rather less petulant mirror to his summoner’s.
“I’ve told you time and again Derek, I will answer to that ridiculous title on the battlefield, but I insist you call me by my proper name off of it. It is Marvin. Not Sir Braveheart” At saying the knightly title, Marvin made a face that spoke chapters on how much he disliked the name. “How about we just continue to agree to disagree about the true nature of your power Derek. Anyway, I believe you were trying to explain to Ash how your power worked?”
Ash was mildly grateful to the small knight for moving the topic away from what Ash suspected was a long standing argument between Derek and his summons.
As Derek opened his mouth to continue explain what exactly it was his powers let him do, a short boy raced around the corner and into the room. His expression was one of panic as he glanced at the two boys and knight.
“Guys, we are in so much shit right now!”
Ash and Derek exchanged glances in case either of the other knew what the new guy meant.
“What do you mean young man? Is there some kind of emergency? A fire perhaps?” It was Marvin who addressed the panicked boy, puzzlement in his voice that matched what the boys felt.
“I wish. The Assembly’s starting in thirty minutes!”
“We know,” Said Ash. “It can’t take too long to work out where it is though?”
“Didn’t you check the schedule? It’s not here, its being held on the girl’s campus!”
Ash felt the blood drain from his face as the new boy’s words hit home. He leapt up from the bed and began to frantically grab his bag and shoes.
“Wait, why is that a problem? Isn’t the girls campus supposed to be really close by or something?” Derek asked confusedly.
“Yeah it is, but you’re forgetting one crucial thing.” Ash began tying his shoelaces at what could only be described as a break neck pace.
“What’s that?” Derek asked, worry beginning to cloud his face.
“The girls and boys campuses are over 10 miles long. Each!”
Finally panic washed over Derek’s features and he began grabbing his own stuff.
“Shit.” Sighed Marvin, and all three boys echoed the sentiment wholeheartedly as they ran for the stairs.