It’s the last five minutes in the last lecture of the year. My hands grip behind my back, and I feel the buzz. I am The Static Touch. Pulling both hands back around, they grip the desk in front of me. The tingle running through my body says I need to calm down. But that is nearly impossible.
As I look around the room at each student, it’s clear this will be hard. Many have become my friends, all my acquaintances. I know each of their powers, how each will react in any given situation. It’s my job to know. To become friends… And in stepping out of the shadows, I may never get to see them again. The many relationships will be severed.
To my left, Teklen takes notes studiously, even though he doesn’t need to. Everything said will become almost indelible in his mind. When I make my move, his reaction will be fast, calculated, deadly. I’ll need to be careful how I approach this with him around. Not evil… But he trusts.
Chaos will erupt if I don’t do this right. Whatever happens classmates like Clare and Teklen will get involved. They’re too sharp not to.
David will go into shock before knowing how to react, but once he does I’ll need to avoid his fire.
I look around the room once more, picking out classmates I need to watch out for, and ones that will run. The ones that will be in danger from my target, who has long since evaded capture, by going undercover…
Professor Swift closes his eyes, smiling, as he does at the end of every class. His hands clasp together as he conjures up his last words.
“My students. It has been a pleasure to have each and every one of you. In fact, some of you have grown so well during your time here that I want to point it out. Principal Sedor has spoken, on behalf of myself along with many other professors, to the city. And unanimously we would like to offer positions to a few of you. Please stand.”
Everyone does so. I had no idea this was coming. My mind races to compensate for the change, but the professor is not waiting on me.
“Teklen Fortham, please step to the front.” Looking up from his shoes with eyes wide, Teklen smooths out his uniform, and walks to the front, head held high. “Teklen, you have shown your ability to remember in an extraordinary way, learn faster than anyone else here, and react with precision. That power may seem small to some, who think of superpowers as super strength, but to us you have an amazing a superpower. You are being offered the job as this city’s Security Head.”
There’s a silence as everyone watches the young man. But after a few seconds he nods, taking the professor’s hand as the room erupts in clapping. Professor Swift has him step off to the side, so he can call on the next person.
“Tabby Winters, come forward!” Everyone cheers immediately as Tabby makes her way to the front. “Tabby… need I say that your brilliant smile, and loving attitude, complement very well your gift of healing? The Hospital Commander himself has asked for you, in particular. Will you accept?”
Tabby goes to speak, but falters. Her face turns red, and tears form under her eyes. The professor puts a hand on her shoulder and says:
“No need to answer now, would you like to think?” She nods, and begins moving back to her seat, but he stops her. “You are still one of the honored few.” So she steps back, and looks relieved when the professor continues to the next person.
His gaze sweeps the class, and falls on me. Oh no… Don’t…
“Mr. Keldon Dek… Please come forward.” Every part of my armored body starts sweating. Remember your training Kel.
Today being the last day of school, each student is allowed to wear their battle uniform. Some do, most don’t. I am one that does.
I remind myself of the escrima stick on my right hip. The raw energy coursing through my body that got me here in the first place. My job. Insurgent Hunter, Agent of Upholding.
Five years ago I left training and went onto the field, and was “killed” while trying to catch my first villain. But here I am now, about to take on that same man, and this time with no backup, off the grid. I must pull Orion Ten out of the ashes, up from the dead.
My paces count up to four just as I clear the desks. And there I stop. The professor is smiling. “Keldon… The Security Head has a job. His job is to organize the security overall. He watches as the coordinator from above. But what good can a coordinator do if his team is only so responsive, and strong? Yes, we have a great security, but I see in you some deeper strength than ever before. The ways you clear a room, draw your weapon, and react, are amazing. I’ve watched you work. I know that the field is your place. This city needs that kind of person. So from this room of students, pick out three to be your team. The first Elite Response Squad in the history of Thargonos City. How does that sound?”
Everyone is watching me, so I pull the best answer I can:
“Sir, it would be an honor.”
Teklen nods with a smile, affirming how glad he is, “Then I can say it is an honor to have you!” And the room stands up clapping.
Professor Swift has them quiet down, but remain standing. He tells us three to face them, at attention. To me and Teklen he hands papers saying, “Here is the oath you take up, in stepping to such a position. When you have said the final words, I will clip the respective badge on your uniform, and you will be such as you made the oath to be. Who would like to begin?”
I smile slightly as Teklen steps forward, ready. Everyone knows he has the oath memorized, a perfect picture. He looks each student in the eye, as he speaks it to each one.
“On this day I begin a new life. A life of service to my city. Henceforth I will protect, to the best of my ability, paying great heed to those above me. If in any way I stray from the path of my duty to the law, the leaders, and the people, my life is forfeit…” I tune out as he continues, planning my first move.
As my gaze passes over each friend, a list of statistics about them rushes through my head. Study results. Their loyalty to me is strong… David relies on me… And in taking down this man they will have been used. I’ll have betrayed them. Broken the trust. Many will respond in direct anger, others will step back, passive aggressive.
If in any way I am to fight this fight well, none of them can be killed, or even harmed… though that will happen, even if not physically.
Teklen finishes, and the room accepts, and the badge is clipped to him. Now attention turns to me. Drawing in a deep breath, I close my eyes, remembering the oath. The oath I will never forget. And so I begin:
“Many of you probably remember the day I joined, alongside you. I know I do. That day was one of the biggest days of my life. That day I met the people whom I would soon come know as friends. And that was a first. These past four and a half years you have known me as Keldon Dek, the boy with electricity coursing through his body, with white hair that came along with his powers, with reflexes so fast they nearly got him killed when he knocked out a teacher. Many a time you have called me ‘Captain’, but even more so you have called me ‘Friend’. I never got to have a family, but at least I was given friends. People who love me, get mad at me, and forgive me. I have learned so much from you, more than you can imagine. And so at this time, as I say my oath, I say it with most love to those who love me. I say it now, so that you can help me stay accountable. Now may I ask each one of you to ponder every word that I say.”
As I did the very first time saying it, I spread my legs, standing firm, and place my left hand on my heart. “Before the presence here, I am held accountable. Though my parents have died, I am indebted to Him who gave me life. Though my mother is no longer here, I give thanks to the everlove that kept me alive.” I pause and hear the professor shift, uncomfortably.
“Keldon,” he whispers so that only I can hear. But I continue.
“To these I owe constantly. And so in this way, I show my thanks, in doing justice, showing love, and preserving life, as is commanded. It is my duty to track those who practice wrong, and bring them down. But in doing so I cannot give the life of a civilian. The preservation of life comes before the taking of it. In saying this oath I am stating that if any villain makes escape, and in doing so injures me, my comrades should leave me behind, and take after the evil. Should I divert from the principles and practice of justice, love, and law, may my life be forfeit to those I call brothers in arms. May they take my life on the spot.”
“And so in upholding the duty of justice, love, and law, I must practice them rightly, as Orion Ten, Agent of Upholding.”
The room is silent, confused. Teklen is studying me, Tabby is backing away. Many of the students, like Clare, step from behind their desks. I turn to the professor.
“This went differently then I planned, Swift.” I take a step forward and he backs away. I see his eyes dancing, as he prepares to move at the super speed we all know he can. “You are under arrest for the killing of many, by Agent number ten, Orion.” I pull the Upholder emblem from my pocket.
Swift kneels down, his whole body vibrating.
“I am ready for you, just like last time,” he says.
I know how fast he can move, but this time I, also, am ready. It still catches me off guard. Moving faster than the normal eye can see, he has me by the throat, pinned to the wall.
The room erupts in chaos.
Four hands grab me, as we are separated. Teklen is in Swift’s face, ready to fight. He yells, demanding an answer for everything. The professor grabs Teklen by the throat, who can’t fight back against such strength. So I close my eyes, feeling the pulse. With every heartbeat arcs of electricity are pumped through my arteries and veins. When I open my eyes they glow with blue light. I am The Static Touch.
The shock I let through my body sends those who hold me flying away. I drop to one knee, sending a pulse down through the floor, frying the electric door closed, blowing everyone back, breaking every grasp, even that of the villain.
Many are stunned and stare up at the ceiling. I draw my escrima and stride toward the enemy. He stands to meet me, and I don’t wait, jumping forward with a flurry of strikes he’s never seen from me, if at all.
My reflexes are fast, powered by lighting. Each strike delivers whatever power I want, and I’m not holding back much. His super speed is dampened by the constant attack on his nervous system.
It would become clear to anyone safe from the moment that I was no normal student. But even in my skill, and ability, Swift sees an opening, and takes it. As my escrima rises to hit him again, his super speed kicks in, and he’s gone. I turn around, and he has Tabby by the neck yelling:
“I will break her spine if she doesn’t heal me.” I nod, and she does so, sending the power through the hand holding her up.
After a few seconds Swift’s back straightens, and his muscles bulge. He throws her to the side, and in the blink of an eye moves forward, punching me in the chest. The power sends me flying, and before I slam against the ground he has moved every person in the room, tangled among one another.
My body hits with a thud, and as I climb back up the crack in my armor is showing. I’m breathing hard when Swift comes to a sudden stop in front of me.
“You, brat,” he laughs, “were fresh out of school when we last met, and I was one of the greatest masterminds in history. Now you’ve come back from the dead, and have me stuck in a school room with fifteen students that I really am annoyed by, and the entire city will soon be arriving for my autograph.”
I turn and look at my friends. Some are out completely, others groan, but most glare at me in anger, refusing to help their… me… the one who betrayed them to bring down a villain. That villain is talking again:
“Look at them. They hate you–”
“NO!” I yell, and it surprises me. “They don’t hate me. They… they… they love me… ”
“You’ve betrayed them, and all for revenge.” His smile is ugly, sneering.
I take a breath, and hold it, letting the electrical flow build. He’s had it coming, lots of it coming, and has for a long time. Time for that final speech by the hero, before he fights the villain.
“ When I watched each of my comrades be torn to shreds by the speed demon, I waited for it to come… and it came, hitting me more times than the bully at school could count stolen change. But when it left me to die, it left me to die with a spark. They didn’t let a sixteen year old on the field just because he performed well in class, they let him go because he was tough, and because he had nothing to lose. Sure he had powers, but they’d seen that, and they’d seen that go wrong. But with me what was there to go wrong? I was just a street kid with powers. So they took me in as a test subject; I ran through the program. And they put me on the field. You might say that training softened me. On the street only I had my back, but in duty they told my back was covered. And that’s what got us killed. Pleiades had my back, but he couldn’t keep it. None had that spark running through them like I did. Like I do now, alive, and raging.”
“These people are my friends, and if you’re going to touch them, go through me. I am not standing down until you’ve killed me again. And as before I’ll just walk it off. This isn’t revenge… This is justice. It is my duty to bring you down. Yes, I withheld the truth. But the truth would have been dangerous. Too dangerous. And they may not trust me for a long time… Ever again. But I didn’t tell them, because I loved them. Hopefully we can come to terms, but that won’t be for you to worry about.”
My muscles are alive, burning, tingling, ready to unleash. Wait, I think. Wait for him to make the move.
He zips forward. But I see him coming. And this time, I’m ready.
More to come…