Moving In, Old Friends and New Faces
“C’mon Scott, at this rate we’ll still be unpacking at Winter break!” Ty was currently seated in a comfortable looking office chair, watching as his friend trembled visibly as he attempted to move a massive piece of equipment into its neatly prepared slot.
“Lord give me strength,” muttered Scott as he glared over his should at his reclining friend. “What the hell do you mean ‘we’ Ty? I finished unpacking yesterday in under an hour. This is all YOUR crap and you’d better get off your ass if you want me to keep helping you move it.” Scott had been shifting equipment for Ty’s takeover of the garage for almost six hours now, and he was seriously starting to reconsider his decision to room with his two friends. Or at least the part where he had offered to help Ty unpack.
“Scott that thing weighs slightly over one metric ton. How exactly would you expect me to assist your INCREDIBLE efforts to move such an impressive mass with naught but my fragile limbs to aid me?” Ty made no move to get up from his seat as he spoke. He might have left Scott with most of the heavy lifting, but he’d been crawling in, around, under, and on equipment all morning and was at least as exhausted as his friend. Plus he did not see the point in assisting where he couldn’t actually do any good. “Besides if you want me to keep supplying you with high-density magnetic alloy goodies, this is still US that’s unpacking.”
Scott uttered a wordless grunt in response, which slowly became more of a groan. “Dear Lord are you sure that there’s room for this thing here? It is not slotting in like you keep telling me it will. And it is NOT easy to steer this damned thing when you tell me I can only pick it up by these straps.” a little redirection of energy caused one of said straps to make a sharp twanging sound as though plucked. “You think maybe you could…”
“Boys!” a familiar voice called from the doorway, interrupting the complaints and drawing the eyes of both young men. Erin had apparently decided her hair should be a deep shade of blue today, as she flicked some errant strands out of her face before stepping through the doorway and assuming a ‘presenting!’ posture. “May I introduce our finally arrived fourth dorm-mate, the lovely Amelia Jacobson!” at her words an extremely skinny girl noticeably taller than even Erin’s six feet came into the door way and offered a shy wave.
“Please call me Ames,” she spoke softly but clearly as she entered the garage and observed the current happenings. “Oh wow, that looks heavy. Do you need some help moving it?” Scott set the ridiculously large piece of industrial equipment down gently as he turned a look full of pleading sincerity towards the newcomer.
“Ames if you can get Ty’s last giant toy in the too small space he made for it I will be eternally grateful.” Scott then proceeded to collapse into the chair Ty had just vacated in order to offer a handshake to the new arrival. Ty scowled at his friend after shaking Amelia’s hand and introducing himself.
“And the exhausted shrimp there is Scott,” Ty stated as he completed his introduction. “And if you could help him out it really would be great. I’d be careful though because…” Ty trailed off as the tall girl stepped carefully past him, gripped the super dense alloy rings attached to the lifting straps that Scott had been using, and lifted and maneuvered the thousand kilo electric forge into place without any apparent effort.
All three long time friends were staring as Ames straightened from her task, though Erin at least managed to keep her mouth closed while she gawked. Scott’s eyes grew even wider when he saw that Ames’ grip on the magnetic rings he had been using to maneuver heavy equipment all morning had visibly deformed them. “Holy shit you’re strong,” Ames seemed to flush a bit at all the attention she had suddenly attracted from her dorm-mates.
“It’s not that big a deal, and you were lifting it just the same as me a minute ago and you’re like half my size so…” Ames trailed off as Ty and Erin both erupted into laughter. Scott looked less amused and settled for glaring at his friends until they subsided.
Erin got control of herself a bit ahead of Ty, “No Ames,” she paused to stifle another giggle, “Scott wasn’t lifting anything with his muscles. He does super short range magnetic fields.”
“I could do without everyone having to point out the ‘super short range’ part,” grumbled Scott as Erin continued her explanation.
“The reason they were using the rings and straps was to give him something to latch onto that wouldn’t fry all of Ty’s expensive toys.” Erin walked over to the recently deposited equipment to inspect Ames’ handiwork before turning to the taller girl again. “Where the hell do you keep all that muscle anyways? You’re skinnier than I am and I can barely bench 800lbs. It didn’t even look like that was HARD for you.”
Ames shrugged in response, seeming a little embarrassed over misidentifying Scott’s power, before considering the question Erin had asked her. “I actually don’t know what my absolute upper limit is. I only got tested to make sure I had everything under complete control, we never did any upper limit tests.”
“Well judging from your lifting angle on those straps and the weight of the machine, I can safely say that whatever your maximum limit is it’s well over a thousand kilograms.” Ty was already climbing over the final placed piece of equipment, hooking up conduit and unhooking straps.
“Well, now that Ty’s toys are finally in place, I am a man in desperate need of a shower,” Scott made a rather dramatic production of pushing himself out of the chair and pointing himself towards the door, then pausing and examining each of his three dorm-mates carefully. “How the hell did I get stuck in the land of the giants anyway?”
Erin laughed, Ames giggled, and Ty responded from his position halfway behind the machinery, “You do keep telling me that your God has a sense of humor, right?”
Cat sighed as she looked wistfully out from her tiny dorm window and wished she could have found a way to afford a spot in one of the townhouse dorms that had sprung up along the edge of campus. It wasn’t that the regular dorms were particularly tiny or anything, although with her current roommate it definitely felt a lot smaller than it had when she’d first arrived.
“Having regrets about where you landed in the roommate lottery?” Cat’s roommate made her way into the common area between their two bedrooms and gingerly dropped onto a standard issue heavily patched dorm chair. Next to most women she met Cat usually felt a little bit overly large. Standing next to Tasha she felt positively petite. The woman was even bigger than her brothers were.
“I don’t have any regrets about my roommate,” Cat responded to the large woman as she turned away from the window. “I just wish I could afford the deluxe accommodations so that my roommate and I wouldn’t be sharing showers with the whole floor.”
“That is a sentiment I can get behind. Maybe we’ll manage something for that next year!” Tasha found the remote and started channel surfing. “You think they’ll get us keyed to head down and check out the actual facilities tomorrow?”
“Considering that the entire Freshman class is supposed to be meeting in the HCP auditorium tomorrow I imagine we’ll have to get access somehow. And there’s really not enough teleporters for us all to get down without the elevators.” Cat could understand wanting to get into the training quickly, although she’d never encountered Tasha’s intensity in wanting to push herself physically in anyone she’d met before. She idly wondered how common such a trait would be in the program.
“Well I think I’m going to hit the regular campus fitness center until dinner time. You want me to leave the TV on?”
“I wouldn’t get much value from it once you head out,” the response briefly puzzled Tasha before she simply shrugged. Cat was her first telepath, and she had already decided that the whole species was probably a bit off.
Cat smiled as her roommate headed off. As far as this particular telepath was concerned, Tasha’s last assessment was a completely accurate one.
Collin’s arrival at Overton was much later than he had intended. He had delayed at home waiting until his mother could finish dealing with whatever difficulties Jeff had put himself into as she had wanted him to have a proper send off, but at present that situation still seemed unresolved. His mother had apologized for not being able to make it home to see him off in person and promised that she would fly down and see how he was settling in as soon as she got Jeff home. Just what every college bound eighteen year old looks forward to, an on campus visit from an overprotective parent. Now Collin was arriving only a single day before the Freshman HCP orientation, and only two days before classes. He managed to retrieve a hand truck to load his belongings onto as he made his way into the dorms. “I just hope I didn’t end up with a serial killer for a roommate,” he muttered to himself as he made his way onto the elevator. He supposed it wasn’t too likely. The housing notice did let the incoming HCP students know that everyone rooming with an HCP student was also in the HCP. It was nice to know that the program wanted the ‘Secret Identity’ thing to be difficult, but not impossible.
Turning down the hallway, he quickly surmised that from a logical numbering progression his room should be all the way down in the corner. Not having been in a college residence hall before, it took him several false starts before he realized that logic did not seem to have much acquaintance with the room number progression. The highest numbered room in the hall was located dead center and directly across from the showers. Fumbling out his keys, he paused to knock on his door as he realized his roommate had likely beaten him here. “It’s open!” a deep voice called pleasantly from the other side.
Collin managed to get the door open and waved at a tall black man sprawled at an odd angle across both the central room chairs. His roommate pulled himself to his feet as he noticed the truckload of belongings accompanying the new arrival. “Damn man, I was starting to hope that I was the odd man out and was going to get a room to myself!” Fully upright he was a couple inches taller than Collin, though not quite as heavily built. He crossed the room quickly and offered his hand. “Name’s Ben. You want a hand moving your stuff?”
Collin shook the proffered hand, “Collin,” he replied and winced slightly at the taller man’s grip.
“Oh, sorry man. I was hoping you were a Strength like me. You got the build for it ya know?”
Collin nodded and flexed his hand a few times. “After a fashion, I actually am a strength type. Shifter, actually.” Ben looked a bit excited at the news.
“That is awesome to hear my new friend. I can finally have someone to spot me on the big stacks. Bet you know what it’s like to look for help with that shit?” Collin nodded in agreement. Assuming they were even in the same ballpark in terms of physical strength, his roommate could make a great training partner. “Now let’s get your shit put away so we can go hunt down some food. Word of advice though, don’t touch anything they serve at the West side cafeteria unless there’s money on it.”
Collin laughed. Maybe the HCP wouldn’t be as bad as he’d started to fear. At least things looked to be off to a good start!
“Come on Kyle, you’ve got to tell us! You know what all of our abilities are. You can’t just pull that ‘My power is Shifting’ bullshit!” A chorus of agreement came from the other two dorm-mates. Kyle sighed. It had seemed like such a great idea to get listed for the newer, nicer, townhouse-style dorms back when he’d filled out the housing application. The cost difference was definitely not a factor for his family. It hadn’t occurred to him that as a result he would essentially be stuck with three randomly selected roommates instead of just one. All eyes were on him as he maintained his silence.
“Seriously my new friend, it is an ability that was worth accepting you into the HCP. It cannot be that bad.” The speaker this time was one Ramón Carrera. “If it is shifting then at the very least it is probably less boring than my being very strong and fast. Or than Gerard hitting things with invisible walls.” The tall hispanic man stood to tower over Kyle as his 6’4″ frame leaned in close, seeming oblivious to the slightly shorter Gerard Finne glaring at him for the unflattering assessment of his own ability. “And most of all it cannot possibly be less interesting than our Canadian’s power of speaking French while healing!” Unlike Gerard, Antoin Montaine, the French Canadian in question simply laughed at this assessment of his ability.
“You realize, Ramón, that the speaking of French and the healing of injuries are separate talents, and not dependent on one another?” Antoin managed a very condescending tone as he spoke, but his expression indicated a less than serious intent behind it.
“They have told me many times the same thing is true of being very strong, and having all these muscles. For Supers, they are not always related,” Ramón gestured towards himself before turning and adopting a body builder’s pose. “But since I have never been super strong myself without having all of these muscles,” he shifted into a new pose and both Kyle and Antoin found themselves laughing at the ridiculous expressions Ramón was contorting his face into to match his physical poses, “I cannot verify such a thing as fact. And I would wager my Northern friend, that you have never healed anyone without also having the ability to speak French!” He finally lost his pose as he broke down and joined two of his three dorm-mates in laughing at his own absurdity.
“Regardless of the giant’s reasoning, or lack thereof,” Gerard was the only one still wearing a serious expression as he alternated a cool glare at each of his dorm-mates. “Are you really going to persist in not telling us what you can do? After we’ve already shared our abilities with you?”
“I believe,” said Kyle as the laughter died down in the face of Gerard’s unrelenting seriousness and he stood to head in the direction of his bedroom. “That I will do exactly that. In deference to all the sharing you three have done, I will say this at least. While shifted…” he turned back towards the group while letting his voice drop very low so that all three of his dorm-mates leaned in closer. “I would definitely be victorious in the Swimsuit Competition!” this last statement was made with completely solemn conviction that lasted for several seconds before the three less serious residents all broke down laughing again.
“That’s it? This is a serious matter and all you want to do is make jokes? And now where are YOU going?” Gerard noticed that as Kyle made his way towards his room Ramón had grabbed a set of keys from the basket near the door and was in the process of heading outside.
“Where else my friend? I have been challenged! I am off to purchase a new speedo!”
The four girls gathered round an open pizza box and a pair of half empty 2 liters. All four wore various workout clothes and exhausted expressions. These girls had met in the Freshman dorms, realized that there were still townhouse dorms available, and as a group decided to hatch a mad scheme to get moved from one side of the campus to another in less than a day. Lisa Shang looked around at her three new dorm-mates and smiled. This was going to be a much nicer way to spend the school year than crammed into a single hallway sharing four showers and six toilets with nineteen other girls. A strange realization dawned on her as she relaxed. “So Ladies, anyone else willing to bet that this is the only residence on campus without any white people in it?” Lisa smiled as this statement was met with brief startlement, followed by a round of examination and more laughter from the other three.
“Two Asians, a Mexican, and a Black girl walk into a house in Texas…” drawled Ora Brooks, the very petite black woman mentioned in her own statement. “I’d be willing to bet we could find at least one redneck on campus that can add the completely racist punchline to that.” Ora reached forward to snag another slice of pizza.
“You think we could find only one punchline?” the very slender but not quite as petite Japanese woman asked as she leaned back into the sofa and sighed. “I think I have heard twenty or more such jokes already, and I have only been in Texas for three days.” She looked towards the last of their group. “I imagine you have heard more than that Teresa?”
“First, I’m Puerto Rican, so let’s stop pretending that it’s only the rednecks in Texas that like to make racial generalizations Ms. Brooks, Ms. Kimura. And second, oh God yes. Hundreds, and I’ve only been here a day longer than you have.” Everyone laughed again at her pronouncement. Teresa kept up the mock serious/angry expression for a few more seconds before joining in the laughter. “What the hell were we thinking when we decided to go to school in Texas, Ladies?” she bemoaned into her drink after finishing her last slice.
“I was thinking they were the only HCP crazy enough to let me in. What’s ya’lls’ excuse?” Lisa’s attempt at a drawl was definitely cringe worthy.
“Father was a graduate from Overton, so father says: ‘Kaori must go to Overton and carry on Great Family Legacy!'” the way her expression changed, her accent became incredibly pronounced, and she tried and failed to pitch her voice deeply enough to sound masculine drew another round of giggles from the assembled girls. “Or possibly start ‘Great Family Legacy’ since he’s the only Hero our family has ever had that I know of. Father’s instructions are not always very precise, or logical.” The Japanese girl shrugged.
“Only HCP I could afford. They got some great financial aid here to help make up for it being, ya know, here.” this statement came from Ora as she also finished her meal and rose from her chair. “I do believe it is time to shower and feel like a proper human being again. However I am curious as to why ‘Ms. Montez’ deigned to grace the lonestar state with her presence as well.” there was another round of laughter as Ora nearly perfectly mimicked Teresa’s scolding tone from when she’d addressed her and Kaori a few minutes ago.
“Well my reasons are even simpler than the three of you,” Teresa stated with a perfectly serious expression on her face, before reaching down and cupping her chest demonstrably. “They keep saying everything’s bigger in Texas, and I came here hoping that it would become true!”
“Cheers!” a pair of glasses clinked together as pair of young men sprawled tiredly in their standard issue patched beyond ever knowing what the original upholstery looked like dorm chairs. Both sat facing an enormous 72″ 3D high definition TV screen that had taken all the ingenuity a pair of college Freshman could summon to navigate the narrow corridors up to their room and install. The steel wall anchor was probably going to cost them a bit of a room damage charge. Completely worth it.
A celebratory meal of Chinese takeout was ordered as the brand new epic flatscreen was broken in with a short sci-fi marathon. Both were quite glad to have landed a roommate with sufficiently similar tastes to be able to relax together. The husky young man with short brown hair and heavy late day stubble looked over at his extremely thin blonde roommate and realized that one point of order had been skipped since their initial meeting and neglected further in the rush to bring his new TV up. As the ending credits played for the current episode he reached his hand over in the direction of the other man, receiving a curious look as he did so.
“I’m Sean Tannen, by the way,” he smiled as the realization came onto his roommate’s face and the other man started laughing loudly as he reached out to shake the proffered hand.
“Jon Glenn,” the slightly taller blond man finally managed as he stopped laughing. Both turned back towards the giant screen as a new episode queued up from the blu-ray.
“I think we might need to work a little bit on our detail orientation while we’re in the HCP.”
Sean considered his roommate’s suggestion as an epic space battle played out in beautifully rendered 3d before his eyes. And thought back to the two full days they had been staying in the same dorm without remembering to introduce themselves. “You might be onto something Jon. Let’s start paying attention to details at orientation.”
“Sounds like a good plan.” The show played for several more minutes before Jon turned again to his roommate. “When exactly is orientation again?”