Short Stories

Civilian Survival 101

Heh…things just get longer and longer. If something exceeds five pages, I’ll split it into parts (unless you’d rather not). Anyway, continuing the saga of classes and me having made things up as I went…short 3 for LAPH world.

April 22, 444 EoP. Monday 14:48

“Jovan. I’m going to break your paint brushes if you don’t take me out of this school.”

Having properly startled his brother, Robert shut the door after the last students left the classroom, leaving himself alone with Jovan in a room that smelled mildly burnt (he wasn’t going to ask).

Robert shot his brother a dirty look when the sunny blond smiled. I remember a time when Mom told Jovan he had natural charisma and charm like she did. Charisma? I want to shake him until that sweater vest breaks!

“Well, considering I didn’t bring my brushes…temper, temper, Robert!” Jovan cheerfully scolded, using his teacher’s desk to push himself up. He leaned forward to ruffle Robert’s black hair. “You’re here pretty early. Isn’t it great you have my class for this period?”

The door behind them clicked open, and Robert had to drop his sour expression when a few of his homeroom classmates started to trickle in.

Leaning forward, Robert hissed, “I’m serious, Jovan! I’ve just come out of Mental Health for Superheroes, the first class I’ve actually paid attention to since the morning core classes. The students here are all idiots! Superpowered idiots!” He was lying, of course, but that was irrelevant as long as Jovan took it to heart.

Unfortunately, the (literal) glitter in Jovan’s blue eyes didn’t seem to indicate he was at all willing to humor his little brother. Rather, he leaned back, half sitting on his desk, and rapped his ringed finger on the wood. “Aww, is the smart boy too smart for a prestigious school?”

“Jovan… I’m serious. There are a lot of ways I can take online classes and self-study as you teach here,” Robert pressed, internally snorting at his brother’s comment. Don’t think I don’t notice how you only call me smart when implying I’m an idiot.

Using a finger to push Robert back, Jovan shook his head. “We’ll talk about this after class, Rob. But for now, please take a seat.” He winked and gestured to the classmates staring at the two brothers.

Not really wanting to make a scene, despite contemplating it, Robert gave his brother a subtle death-glare before moving to take the empty spot next to Denise and her inviting grin. He’s not wrong, but maybe I could guilt him for not listening to my exaggerations, he muttered internally before taking out his books and notebook.

Still, perhaps it was best to pretend to be a supportive brother in public. Thus, shaking his head, Robert gave his brother all the attention required as he introduced himself to the curious students.

“Hello, students,” Jovan smiled charmingly, waving one hand up. “My name is Jovan Ashanra. I’m sure you’ve heard a new teacher would be assigned for your Civilian Survival 101 after your previous teacher’s mysterious and unfortunate retirement, and that would be me. Though you likely can’t tell from my air of authority”—he accompanied this with a teasing, knowing smile—“I am not an official superhero like many of your teachers in the school.”

A couple of the students chuckled at this, and Robert noted with some mild disgust that even Denise, someone he’d pegged as at least mildly sensible if too exuberant, giggled at Jovan’s…whatever that was.

“Excuse me,” a feminine, alto voice piped up.

Nodding at the speaker, Jovan smiled. “Yes?”

The said girl—a Central-looking female with a tight, dark braid that jerked around and brown eyes—reminded Robert of an angry cat a friend back in his hometown had once introduced to the library. “Why did the school hire an unpowered person to teach in this school?” she asked, her eyes briefly settling on Robert somewhat arrogantly.

Oh, look, Robert drolly laughed, though he kept his expression neutral and pretended not to notice, I finally met someone hateable. I wonder if she was trying to offend me?

“Good question,” Jovan returned to her, frowning a little but then smiling. “Well, firstly, the school believed it would give you a better perspective on not only saving civilians but integrating and interacting with them, as most of you have probably grown up away from the normality of unpowered life.”

Untrue. They hired you because you were recommended highly by one of your tutee’s parents, who happened to be superheroes…and your university degree probably helped, Robert corrected.

“And secondly,” Jovan continued, sending a shower of glitter in all the different shades of blue, “I do have a power, just a fairly useless one.”

It’s not useless! Robert protested, making sure Jovan saw his little brother’s indulgent smile when people merely blinked at the odd ability. It may not be as impressive as the other powers but how can you call it useless when it’s filled with so much beauty and wonder? Idiot!

Jovan spent the next few minutes introducing himself—and Robert, as an extension—a little further and briefly touching upon what the class had learned in the five-weeks prior to his and Robert’s coming. And somehow, by the time he asked for the room of fifteen/sixteen-year-old first years to give him their names, the majority of them had fallen under his spell.

At least, Robert could see it in the eyes of his classmates when he turned his head briefly to scan the dazzled looks.

As the fifteen other students in the class introduced themselves, Robert took note of the names carefully. Let’s see…ah, okay. So they are the same people from the morning, I think. He briefly tried to recall what Jovan had said about the homeroom system in ordinary high schools. Wait, I think I remember Jovan saying something about homeroom—was that what History class was? But names, names…names I’ve already forgotten, except Denise, of course. Oh, and Andromache—named after a legend that’s brought up to prove the multiverse theory. And yeah, I already forgot everyone else’s name. How does Jovan just remember…?

“Well, then! If that’s all, onto class now!” Jovan brightly announced before moving up to the whiteboard. “Now, as you all discussed last time with your previous teacher…”

Brother dear…you are annoying, Robert thought randomly as he sharpened a pencil and readied his notes.

Except, he didn’t need those notes as a lot of it was everyday stuff he already knew. “Do the kids here seriously not know how to interact with unpowered people?” Robert frowned as he realized he’d muttered that out loud.

Considering that Jovan was smoothly continuing his scribbles on the whiteboard detailing the similarities between powered-people-based cities and unpowered-people-based cities, as well as their differences, Robert didn’t think his brother had heard.

Denise, however, whispered back. “No, actually. Most of us have never even been in a city where the majority of the population consisted of unpowered people.”

He knew this, of course, but Robert couldn’t help glancing at Denise with a bit of confusion. Denise smiled a little ruefully and tucked back a wave of her short hair. “We’re generally raised away from most people, which is probably for the best since our powers are pretty destructive when we’re little.” At his frown, she chuckled. “But you already know that considering you have a super-powered brother.”

Wait, what? Robert thought to himself, his frown deepening as he did his best to split his attention between Jovan’s lecture and Denise’s words. He glanced at Denise, who had gone back to focusing her eyes on Jovan and playing with a calculator. I mean, I can’t remember anything about Jovan’s infancy, obviously, but I’m pretty sure if he’d been destructive, Mom or Dad would have mentioned it in passing. But maybe they had and Robert didn’t remember. His parents had been disintegrated when he was nine, after all, but wouldn’t Jovan have mentioned something about his powers being destructive at a young age?

“Actually, I don’t think Jovan was destructive since his power is sparkly things,” Robert whispered back, going back to taking notes—it helped focus his own thoughts, at least.

Denise shook her head and deleted whatever numbers she’d put on her calculator to smile at him again. “No, all super-powered babies have just pure…magic, I think, before it settles down and becomes their adult powers at around age seven.”

“Huh,” was all Robert said as he zoned back to the lecture. That would explain why I probably never heard about that. But that’s something I’ll have to ask Jovan about later. As for now…

He glanced around the room when Jovan broke into a tangent he didn’t feel the need to write. Robert almost forgave his brother for dragging them both here when he found a lot of the students looking…kind of bored despite dutifully paying attention. This can’t be easy on him, poor Jovan. He hates having uncooperative students. Or maybe he just hated having me as a student. He smirked at the remembrance and resolved to pay extra attention and interest to his brother’s lecturing. What do you think about me now, Jovan?

“—and, as page 45 of your Guide to Saving Civilians indicates, there is a difference between the problems superheroes are allowed to take care of and problems ordinary policemen can handle. If most of you decide to take the law and ethics courses in your next years, you will learn more about these laws and regulations per continent. However, the reading does stress a particular rule that handles the distinction between superhero help and superhero interference. Can anyone tell me what it is?”

Oh, cool. I know this one thanks to the hours and hours on end Jovan made me study useless things in addition to the four cores! Robert smiled wryly at Jovan, who looked like a cheerful puppy glancing around for his master—or a teacher looking for a hand, in this case.

Silence met the question, however, and Robert’s smile dropped.

He leaned on his desk and subtly shifted his eyes left and right. But…it’s right on the page? He was more confused and appalled than irate, now. Wait. Don’t they know that knowing a little bit of the law is important when dealing with saving the world?

Was it that people didn’t know or that they didn’t want to answer? Either way, Robert, feeling much unwillingness to answer yet seeing no reason as to why he or the students here should leave the teacher hanging for their own sakes, cleared his throat.

Keeping his face pleasant, though he dearly wanted to chew everyone out—except Denise, since she was kind of too nice despite having played with her calculator—Robert watched Jovan cap his whiteboard marker and spoke.

“I think the reading said there are different levels of regulation according to each continent and each city. Article 19, Section 1 of the Tri-Continental Law says that all three continents and its countries accommodating licensed superheroes have to allow them to defeat any major threat to their area and make arrests as they see fit. But for smaller crimes, they must either leave it alone to the police, alert the police, or contain the wrongdoers until the police arrive. It varies.”

There, that answered the question, mostly because he’d just been reading it from the textbook. Robert carefully kept his eyes off any of his classmates and focused on Jovan’s response. Of course, his brother nodded in affirmation and launched into a detailed exploration on the nature of civilian and policeman relationships.

Alternating between feeling sorry for his brother, being genuinely interested in some of the stuff on superhero relationships with the police, taking notes, and wanting to sigh, Robert managed to finish the class without exploding.

How did his brother have all the patience for…people?

His question was answered towards the end of the class, when Jovan, backgrounded by the whiteboard filled with green marks, made eye contact with each of the sixteen students. “Focus on your classes, students,” he said seriously. “You don’t have to know everything, but establishing a good relationship with the people you are protecting will ensure less damage, less animosity, and less prejudice. You are the Tri-Continent’s future superheroes, and I hope that is a responsibility you will take seriously.”

Robert caught the quirk of his brother’s lips directed towards him, as if Jovan was acknowledging that, yeah, Robert was probably not one of those future superheroes.

But the students nodded awkwardly, as if unsure at what to do with such a statement. I don’t want to like this school, but I did at least think people would be more proactive, Robert snarked as the bell rang. I guess even smart schools have low motivated kids.

Well, onto Combat now, the seventh and last class of the day.

“Ugh, I’m so hopeless at Civilian Studies,” Denise muttered besides Robert, stuffing her backpack with her calculator, empty notebook, and textbook,

Copying her actions and cleaning his own side of the desk, Robert smiled and pointed at the colorful notebook she was holding. “Maybe you should take notes, then, Denise,” he suggested casually before standing up. “It’s helped a newbie like me get by the superhero part of the class.”

Zipping her bag up, Denise gave him a strained sunshine smile. “That, or you’re just brilliant. But no, I’ve tried notes before and they seriously don’t work for me in lectures. By myself or if I can pause a lecture video, yes, but during lessons, I get hopelessly lost and miss everything.”

Well, now you’ve just made me realize that others might struggle with tactile learning techniques. Denise, stop trying to ruin my bad image of supers that I’m trying to build, he privately sighed.

He shouldered his backpack and nodded to her. “Oh, I see. But, you know. If you want, I could help you with that. Give you a few pointers on how to take notes or something,” Robert suggested, making sure to keep his tone light.

Looking at him with brilliant and large pink eyes, Denise gasped, “You would do that, Robert? Thank you!!

Not seeing the big deal in his offer, Robert nodded and pointed at his brother. “See you in Combat, Denise. I need to talk to my brother right now.”

“Of course!” Denise nodded vigorously and then crushed Robert in a hug, which would’ve been awkward if Robert hadn’t been too busy trying to inhale. “Thank you, Robert!”

“’course!” he wheezed as she released him and skipped out, her hair brightening a luminous pink and yellow and her multicolored pastel backpack bouncing behind her in rhythm.

And soon, Jovan and Robert were alone in the room.

Lemon Duck is a tired student of an unspecified race and age at an unspecified location whose Christian background (current ground?) prevents her from truly going full on criminal. Her species tends to shift depending on her mood, but she is usually somewhat human. She tries to write, draw, read, watch, and study in an attempts to complete her humanity but instead found that being chaos incarnate was a more fulfilling job.

Despite owning multiple blogs, most of them are dead and one is currently being overtaken by a weekly serial she definitely would like you to comment, criticize, like, and share; she is definitely not at all writing this biography to appear professional, forego her usual end comments, or profess her love of alphabetical orders. She also sends her love to her inducktrinated minions readers and hopes they’ve enjoyed this week’s story.

©Lemon Duck, 2021. All rights reserved.

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