Short Stories

Combat-itive Strategies (1/2)

So….I have no excuse being so late. Wait, no, I do. But it doesn’t matter. The point is that it’s still Thursday and I still have the power to post. Even if it’s no edited well…though you probably can’t tell the difference because my things are usually not edited well, anyway. *cackles in panicked insanity* (because Is pent exactly 20 minutes in panic trying to transfer words and stuff)

April 22, 444 EoP. Monday 16:00

According to his schedule, all Robert had left for his first day in superhero school was Combat. After that, he could finally go back to his dorm and hide from the rest of the school with his books and video games and school trauma.

Fortunately, he didn’t have to go to the area they were holding Combat classes in alone, as Denise had waited for him and then helped him locate both a water fountain for Robert’s dry throat and the location of their last class. Thank goodness it was their last class…

Though, if Robert had to be honest (which he didn’t; not yet), the hero school hadn’t been too terrible. A little weird, sure. But I guess I did project my annoyance with Jovan on it too much, Robert inwardly admitted. Except.that had been the point until Jovan had yet again emotionally manipulated him to give the school a chance. He’d still rather homeschool—or self-study—but Jovan at least deserved to be left alone for a bit.

“Are you done, Robert?”

With a languid glance toward the bubbly brunette, Robert stopped over drinking and nodded. “Sure…thanks, Denise. Let’s head off to the gym or wherever we have Combat lessons.”

“Actually, it’s in the field today. You weren’t here last week when we transferred outdoors,” Denise pulled his arm and basically shoved him outside. “Come on! It’s my favorite class. You’ll love it!”

Despite Denise’s “encouraging” words and large grin, Robert seriously doubted her as he took in the gigantic courtyard that greeted their exit. Combat could be fun, true…in video games. But as he beheld what seemed to be gigantic field carved out of the mountain stone with a double fence—one normal size, the other a wiry skyscraper of metal that seemed to hum with the vibrating sound of weather-repelling technology—reinforcing the area around it (lest anyone fall from the cliff to their doom)…his doubts were made certain.

His doubts weren’t at any moment dispelled as Denise and Robert joined their fourteen other homeroom classmates to face off against a middle-aged, broad-shouldered woman whose face seemed to spell “angry.” Granted, the woman left an impressive picture with her tanned muscular frame, blue eyes that blazed with danger, wavy brown hair tied in a rough bun, and tall figure…

Yeah…I’m going to love this, he sighed as the woman gave him and Denise a sharp glance.

Considering the shiny look of adoration Denise was giving their Combat instructor, Robert kept his thoughts to himself and tried to remember this teacher’s name.

“Are you Robert Ashanra?”

Robert glanced up to find the teacher appraising him and nodded. Well. I did NOT expect a soprano voice from her.

“I’m Rel Harintan, your Combat teacher for the rest of the year.”

Ah, Rel Harintan, that was right! Robert gave a nod. “Nice to meet you,” he said politely. His eyes glanced about the field, and he had a suspicion someone was waiting for a certain reaction. Given that he had nothing, Robert wisely kept his mouth shut and slunk away into the crowd of students.

Or tried to, at least.

“Ah, no. No retreat for now, young man. This is your first day in the class,” Miss Harintan stopped him, forcing Robert to turn and watch a tower with muscular crossed arms stare down his rather short form.

Oh, wonderful. I’m going to be abused brutally.

Robert gave a polite smile and glanced back to his classmates, then back to her. “Sorry, I’m not really experienced in superhero schools, Miss Harintan, having no powers at all. Is there anything special I have to do?”

Good gracious grief, her face is like a rock. She’s like the avatar of a shooting game, Robert couldn’t help but think as she gazed at him in a way that reminded him of a huntress.

“That’s fine. You just have to fight me so I can gauge your abilities.”

Robert frowned slightly, his mind suddenly clouded by the prospect of a fight. Well, she’s not going to be my favorite, he forcibly calmed himself with a wry thought. Out loud, however, he stepped back and said, “Sorry, ma’am, I don’t think I can do that.”

Man, could Rel Harintan glower! And the students behind him gasped, too, which made Robert wonder how a human terror like her had become a teacher in the first place. Or how badly she had emotionally scarred his classmates.

He quickly regrouped his thoughts. “I mean, that…I don’t have any combat experience”—unless you counted Infinite Battles, which Robert definitely didn’t—“and I also don’t have any powers, meaning I don’t come with the natural endurance superheroes have to hits that would take out a normal human.”

Taking a minute step back, as if pushed by the gentle breeze the weather guard let through, Robert cleared his throat and made eye contact with the teacher. He instantly regretted it when her piercing blue lightning orbs seemed to metaphorically rip through his soul.

“You’re saying you’re too weak to test out your skills?”

It took all of his self-control to not blurt out, “What skills?” and settled for the tamer, “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m…”

Robert’s voice trailed as something popped back into his brain. “Oh, hold on!” he remembered, digging into his sweatpants’ pocket and taking out a sad little crumpled sheet of paper. Jovan had told him to stick the permission slip in there for Combat during breakfast, which Robert had done without a glance at the paper.

But knowing his brother, Robert assumed that it contained something that spoke for his inability to fight. “I think this says something about it,” he told the teacher.

Miss Harintan didn’t look impressed as she read the slip.

And to Robert’s definite annoyance, the paper was zapped into ashes in a white and blue bolt. From the corner of his peripheral, he noted the students wincing. He even spotted a sympathetic smile from a mostly-hidden Denise.

“You think your brother’s plea to keep you from tougher combat will work in this school?” the teacher calmly threw at Robert, glowering down at him. “This is a school that breeds superheroes ready to fight for their lives, Mr. Ashanra. And whether you like it or not, you are part of this class. Lacking superpowers doesn’t mean that you will be an exception to my methods. You will fight me like everyone in here has fought me, and you will learn so that when you go out there in a world that wants you dead, you will survive.”

The air was silent with Miss Harintan’s words. Robert was a little stunned, actually. He almost considered shouting back sarcastically that lacking superpowers was an excellent reason to not get beaten by a teacher. But, honestly, he could begrudgingly understand her point to an extent.

Shaking away his thoughts and forcing himself to keep his shaking voice even, he replied, “Even so, I don’t think that you should burn away a permission slip signed by the headmaster and my sole guardian.”

An unharmonized clanging of exclamations behind him made Robert once again wonder what kind of teacher Miss Harintan was. Heh…well that scared the students, he laughed internally. He even thought he heard someone whisper, “He’s so dead.”

The smile the teacher gave him wasn’t friendly. Amplifies her scary aura, actually, Robert commented, stepping back a little further.

“You have guts, young man. That’s a good thing,” she said. Her smile intensified as she moved forward, the loose strands of brown hair moving like angry little needles in the wind. “But your brother has only signed a slip permitting you from taking part in exercises meant for powered students, meaning you still can fight me.”

What was his earlier comment about the school not being too terrible? And Jovan deserving a little bit of a break? Right…Jovan. I hope you’re inflicted with horrible essays to grade.

He barely had time to think that thought before the teacher took on a fighting stance. “And that said, attack and fight. First one on the ground loses.”

Between the cliff side sports field shielded against bad weather, the terrified students looking ready to bolt, and the murderous teacher that was going to kill Robert, it really was a recipe for death. I don’t want to get punched, though, or hurt, Robert decidedly thought to himself as he blinked at his teacher and tried to copy her fighting stance. But if I rush at her, she’ll either dodge or hit me back…

And he really did not want that tank of a woman to hit back.

I’ll lose, that much is obvious, he snorted as his eyes narrowed, hoping it looked as if he was concentrating rather than trying to find a way to weasel out of this.

Wait a moment…

His shoes squeaking on the pavement, Robert dropped his pumped up fists, found that he could meet his teacher’s scary eyes, and dropped slowly to the floor.

Again with the silence and the squeaks of terror behind him. But Robert’s pale eyes, as he lifted his head off the ground, were on Miss Harintan, who had been staring at him with something like mild surprise on her face.

“I’m the first on the floor. I lose,” he supplied helpfully, leaning on his elbow and patting the concrete. When Miss Harinatn relaxed her posture, he added, “Can I stand now?”

The floor was starting to feel weirdly warm for something that had been sitting within chilly but controlled mountain air.

“Yes, stand up now and join your classmates,” he heard. The voice was surprisingly soft and curious, and Robert decided not to question the fact that his stupid plan had actually worked.

He nodded with a placid smile and turned to find his fellow classmates all gaping at him.

Fighting the growing embarrassment, Robert pretended not to notice. Stop gaping. I just don’t want to get hurt, okay? he grumbled, then snuck his way to the back of the fifteen students, where Denise’s eyes were wide on him while her pink highlights flicker uncertainly. He took note she was at the back instead of the front like she’d been for the other classes.

“Robert…”

“What?” Robert tried not to look at her and pay attention to Miss Harintan, who was starting to give instructions for warm ups and laps around the field.

Undeterred by his ignorance, Denise tugged his shirt and hissed in his ear, “You just…you just…whatever that was. That was Relectricity you just…just did whatever you did!”

He glanced up sideways at her, his mouth twisted in confusion. “Relectricity?”

Denise’s eyes widened. “One of the greatest superheroines of this century?? Part of the Remastered Energy Doves? Electricity and enhanced hearing? How—you…”

“Ashanra, Eridos!”

Both started at Miss Harintan’s beautiful yet unforgiving voice cutting into their conversation. “Just because you give me compliments doesn’t mean you can chat in class.”

“Sorry, Miss Harintan,” Denise winced. Her hands were tapping on her sweatpants in agitation and horror. “We won’t do it again.”

Itching to say something snarky, Robert kept his vision straight and nodded. “Yes, sorry.”

Enhanced hearing, huh? he thought as Miss Harintan took them through basic warm ups. That explains the lack of whispers from the others. That woman is one scary person. I would definitely not want to cross her.

But speaking of crossing her, Robert was actually tempted to opt out of warm ups. They weren’t too bad (Jovan always put him through this sort of exercise before their morning runs, something Robert only took part in because Jovan was so insistent about it), but he had no idea how he was going to run five laps around this massive courtyard when warm ups were kind of tiring him out already.

At least the others seemed fine, he noted as he observed Denise and the other superheroes not even panting (like he pathetically was, yay).

“You’re doing it wrong.” Miss Harintan’s presence fairly loomed over him, surprising Robert enough to stop his shoulder strangle for a moment.

His eyes flickered up to her. “Sorry?”

“Don’t apologize. Try to remember to breathe in and out instead of holding it in every time you stretch…I can hear you panting from the front.”

Huh…breathing. What an incredibly obvious instruction. Jovan, you’ve failed me…what if I’d died from lack of oxygen because of your incomptent ways of teaching phys. ed.? he thought to himself as he readjusted his grip and concentrated on not sounding like a breathy fan.

Robert thought he succeeded, since Miss Harintan didn’t single him out again. Except soon, it was time for the laps…

Well, hopefully he could breathe right when running, too.

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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