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The Reawakening of Hickory Grove



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Magebird says...



The Reawakening of Hickory Grove

A Questionable Superhero Storybook


Image


Once upon a time, there was a group of high school friends.

These friends had spent their entire childhoods together in the suburban town of Hickory Grove. They had been friends for so long that they thought they knew everything about each other - about their families, how well they did in school, and their aspirations.

But the friends had always been...different, even though they tried their very best to hide it. Each one had an inkling that something was horribly wrong with their lives. Some had the beginnings of underdeveloped powers that could easily be explained away by coincidences. Others had memories that must have come from strange, oddly historical dreams. And a few had a mix of the two.

Either way, the friends were good at acting normal. If it wasn’t for an attack on Hickory High one fall day, they probably would have never addressed the oddities in their lives. But something about the stress of the attack made the truth click. The arrival of a man who couldn’t have been much older than the ragtag group of future heroes certainly helped, too.

The friends were all reincarnated.

And their fearless leader - that’s me, Jane! - decided that the best thing they could do was make a group of heroes. What else would you do with powers from your past life?

Of course, not everyone would have such good intentions with those newfound powers. Some people decided to use their abilities - gained through reincarnation or other means - for crime. It was our responsibility as Hickory Grove’s blossoming hero squad to put a stop to the chaos. But lurking behind it all was a villain so nefarious that he fit right inside of the pages of a comic book.

And while our other foes just wanted to commit crime, he wanted to do more than that.

He wanted to find out what made us tick.

This is the story of how a group of seemingly normal teenagers reclaimed their pasts and reshaped their present - all while being pretty cool in the process.

The Cast

1. Magebird
2. SirenCymbaline
3. Valkyria
4. Lia5Giba
5. HarryHardy
6. Carina
  





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Mon Sep 21, 2020 9:11 pm
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Magebird says...



Jane Elliot

In retrospect, Jane probably should have realized that this field day was going to be a weird one first thing that morning. She woke up feeling sore all over, but that was mainly because Mar and her had spent the past week preparing for the Great Log Fight of 20XX. The sunburn she got from her latest outdoor trek certainly didn’t help, either. But what was really weird was what she saw when she looked out her window: a suspicious-looking man, standing next to her mailbox and staring at her garden.

Man was a bit of a generous term. He looked like he was around Jane’s age when she caught a glimpse of his face underneath his gray hoodie, but there was a weird timeless quality to it. She wanted to say he was sixteen like her, but she realized she couldn’t really say it with certainty.

Which was weird, since Jane could always say things with certainty.

Jane tried her best not to think about the boy as she got ready for school. She tried her best not to think about him as she fed Nathan, and as she scooped his litterbox. She was doing such a good job trying not to think about the boy that she completely forgot he was there until she walked outside of her house - and literally bumped into him.

The boy, startled, turned away from the garden to face her. There was a look on his face that Jane couldn’t quite describe as he reached a hand out to grab her arm. But the boy never got a chance to say or do whatever he was planning. Ths bus suddenly screeched to a stop next to them. Giving the boy a smirk and a wave, Jane rushed through the open doors and into the safety of the bus.

Jane, for once, was grateful that the bus had come early.

She sunk a seat up towards the front and tried to forget about the boy again.

Because as the bus doors closed, she was sure she heard him say her name.

xXx

Hickory Grove High didn’t have a lot of students, and it certainly didn’t have a lot of funding. But it was a small high school in a rural-suburban district, so that was to be expected. They just had to be a little more creative when it came to their school events.

Case in point: the almighty log fight. Jane wasn’t really sure how it had started, but she was an expert on everything else about it. She knew where they got the logs (from the guy who always brought firewood to her neighbors) and how the pillows were taken from the teacher’s top secret faculty lounge. And Jane knew the rules like the back of her hand. A mattress (collected via the town’s mattress recycling program) was placed underneath a log. The big, thick log was propped up several feet in the air. The two combatants only had a single pillow as protection against their foe.

The log fight, of course, wasn’t perfect for everyone. But it was perfect for a certain Jane Elliot and Marisol Santiago. And while it probably would have been better to work on the English essay that was due tonight online at midnight, Jane had gone into overdrive prepping for it with Mar this past week. They couldn’t get the set-up exactly right, but they had done their best to replicate in the woods behind Jane’s house. They technically had another year of log fights after this one, but Jane was determined to win it this year. She wanted the little cheap medal she knew they ordered off of Amazon.

And Mar wanted it, too.

So it really shouldn’t have been a surprise when she found herself facing off against Mar in the final round of the competition. She also shouldn’t have been surprised when Mar proved to be a very worthy foe. Her balance was on par with Jane’s, and her skills were, too. They were so on par with each other that they had been whacking each other with their pillows for the past seven minutes.

(Their record in training was thirty, so chances were they’d be there for awhile.)

As Jane raised her pillow in preparation of Mar’s next ruthless attack, her gaze swept across the school’s fields. She could see the rest of their friends out doing competitions, playing yard games, and watching from the sidelines with slices of watermelon that made Jane’s mouth water. Past them, however, she could see other people. People strangely wearing ski masks as they climbed over the school’s gates.

Jane stared.

When the sight finally registered - was someone trying to rob a school? - she turned back to see if anyone else noticed. Instead, she got a pillow right to the face. The impact was strong enough to send her tummeling down to the ground below. Mar gasped and asked if she was okay; the words barely registered. Her head was spinning. The world was spinning. She must have had some kind of concussion because her vision was suddenly filled with smoke - hallucinations were part of concussions, right? And it wasn’t just smoke. Before the smoke settled on the field, Jane caught a glimpse of a masked guy manipulating water in the air like he was Katara from Avatar.

There was a burst of warmth from beside her. A strange kind of warmth that felt both intrusive and powerful. More importantly, it felt familiar. It was enough to make Jane raise her head from the mattress with a groan. When a hand was suddenly thrust through the smoke, the mix of the concussion and the weirdly familiar warmth made her immediately grab onto it. She thought it was Mar’s hand at first, but the color was all wrong.

A whisper cut through the chaos and the smoke.

The smoke suddenly began to clear. It didn’t entirely go away, and it only grew less dense around Jane and whoever she had grabbed onto. It was just enough for her to see the face of the person who had grabbed her.

She stumbled back.

It was the boy from in front of her house.

She raised her pillow and opened her mouth, ready to give her apparent stalker a piece of her mind. She took another step back for good measure; she wanted to get as much distance between the two of them as she could.

The back of her head slammed into the log.

OW!” Jane suddenly exclaimed. “That hurt.”

“Are you okay?” the boy frantically asked. He looked more than a little emo and intimidating with that gray hoodie and black hair of his, but something about his soft, quiet voice weirdly made Jane want to hug him.

Jane gave him a look.

“I said it hurt,” she pointed out. “But I’m the one with the pillow here, so I’ll be asking the questions. Who are you, and why are you trying to rob a school?”

The boy stared at her.

Jane raised the pillow a little more.

“I’m trying to rob the school,” he hurriedly said. Jane faltered. That wasn’t really an answer - that was more of a confirmation of what she had said. If it was a tactic meant to make her lower her guard, it certainly worked. The urge to hug him grew as he covered his face with his hands and made a little frustrated noise. “I didn’t know this was going to happen.”

“...I didn’t know I’d be threatening robbers with a pillow today,” she hesitantly said. “If that makes you feel any better?”

“It does,” the boy said, still sounding miserable.

“That’s good-”

The boy made that same frustrated little noise again. Jane was weirdly reminded of her cat, even though she couldn’t quite figure out why. But her head was starting to become a little clearer, so she was sure she would be able to figure out what was going on soon.

“You never answered my questions,” Jane pointed out.

“I don’t want to,” the boy said into his hands. He sniffled. “I’m not trying to.”

“You should try a little harder, then,” Jane said. “I have a weapon. You don’t.”

The boy gave what sounded suspiciously like a giggle.

“A pillow is a terrifying weapon,” he said.

Jane gasped. “I can’t believe you’re disrespecting the art of pillow fights! I’ll have you know that I was almost the champion of the Great Pillows-on-a-Log Fight, right before you showed up. You should fear my ability with a pillow-”

Jane stopped.

The boy, after a moment, lowered his hands from in front of his face.

To an outsider, it would have sounded like they were taunting each other. And they were, to some extent. But when Jane replayed the conversation in her head, she realized that she had been hearing and replying to it in a totally different way. Right after that second frustrated noise, she had been replying to it like she heard the opposite of what the boy was saying.

The boy had been lying.

And Jane just knew what he was saying wasn’t the truth. A little, tiny part of her knew that what he really wanted to say was the opposite of it. It was a terrifying thing to realize. Jane could say many things with certainty, but she couldn’t clearly explain why her brain was suddenly picking up on something like that. She didn’t even know how she was picking up on things like that.

And the boy seemed to know how she was interpreting it, too.

Before Jane could interrogate him, she heard movement from nearby. She caught a glimpse of a ski mask towering above her. The smoke started to fill her lungs. And the boy reached a hand out with a startled cry of, “Jane!”

Instinct kicked in. Jane raised the pillow high above her head, added the most momentum she could, and swung it right into the guy’s face. As her would-be attacker reeled from the attack, Jane continued her offensive by kicking out the guy’s legs. The springs of the mattress groaned as he tried - and failed - to regain his balance.

His head had slammed right into the asphalt of the parking lot.

Her foe defeated, Jane turned back to the boy-

-and felt a pair of arms wrap around her.

The boy was hugging her.

“You’re okay,” the boy said, his grip surprisingly tight. “I thought I was going to lose you again!”

“You’re telling the truth now,” she said, incredulous. She blinked. “...How did I know that? Who even are you?”

The boy, still hugging her, bit his lip. “I thought you might have forgotten me. I-I knew there wasn’t any other explanation, but…”

He rested his head on her shoulder.

“You have to know it,” he said. “You always know everything.”

“I think you’re putting a little too much faith in me right now,” she protested.

The boy shook his head. “You had the flowers in your garden. You have to know it somewhere. Some part of you remembers that we always planted them together. That calla lilies symbolize the truth…”

Jane froze.

She remembered planting flowers next to a boy with golden hair and eyes the color of the sea. She remembered smirking as she threw dirt at his head, and swearing vengeance when he threw fertilizer at hers. There was nothing to say that the boy in her memory was the same boy beside her, but her heart knew it was true.

“...and foxgloves symbolize lying,” she whispered. Her eyes were tearing up, now, and it wasn’t from the smoke. “You’re-you’re my brother. You’re Nathan.”

His grip tightened.

“I knew you remembered,” he whispered.

“I don’t remember everything,” she hurriedly said. She blinked away the tears. All she remembered was their connection. That Nathan always lied, except when they were hugging. And that it was wrong to be without him. “I barely remember anything, actually. But I think that’s something we should worry about later. People are attacking my school during field day, and I’d be a terrible friend if I didn’t do anything to help.”

Nathan reluctantly let go and took a step back away from her.

She pointed the pillow in his direction.

“After this is over,” she declared, “you’re going to tell me everything. Got it?”

He faltered.

“Promise?” she said.

“...I don’t understand,” he replied.

She grinned. That was good enough.

Armed with her pillow and long-lost brother, Jane charged into the smoke.
  





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Valkyria says...



Pheonix Rivers

Before her dad knocked on the door, Pheonix dreamt of ancient times.

She was standing in the middle of a circle, and the spectators were watching her with great excitement. The smallest of them, two Roman toddlers, stood at the very front, bouncing up and down.

A young teenager brought a bucket filled with water and put it on the ground. Pheonix winked at them and raised her arm toward the water.

To the children's wonder, the water lifted into the air, floating as a bubble in front of Pheonix. She smiled, and the kids clapped and cheered.

And Pheonix saw a man's face reflected in the water.

"Pheonix, it's time to get up!" her father said.

Pheonix groggily lifted her head from the pillow, wiping away sticky drool from her chin.

"I'm awake, I'm awake," she said. She heard her dad's footsteps walk away.

Pheonix quickly got ready, and she entered the kitchen, her hair still messy.

"Good morning," her father said. "Eat your breakfast, and brush your hair after."

Pheonix complied and bit into the pancake. "I see Mom forgot her wallet again."

Her dad sighed. "Being a lawyer has its setbacks." He checked his watch. "I better get ready." He left the room.

Pheonix sighed. 'I slept really good, thanks for asking Dad." She bitterly finished her plate and washed it.

Her dad came back in, pinning his Sherrif's badge to his shirt. "Where's your bag?"

"It's Field Day, we don't need them today."

"Oh." He shrugged. "Well, let's go."
xxx

Field Day was the only day fights were allowed. As demonstrated by "the Great Log Fight of 20XX" as Jane put it. Jane and Mari were already fluffing their pillows in preparation.

Pheonix wished them both good luck before wandering away to the left side of the field where a group of kids were organizing a game of Ultimate Frisbee. Pheonix was not as competitive as her mentioned friends, but she always crashed into the opposite player as they both reached for the frisbee.

Dirty and sweaty, Pheonix grabbed a cold water bottle near the fence, waving to her other friends eating watermelon. The music blared near her, but she was too thirsty to move. She doused water over her head, closing her eyes and relishing it cooling her face.

So maybe some water got in her eyes when she opened them.

The field was suddenly a little smoky. Pheonix dried her eyes. No, the field was definetley smokey. The kids near her saw it too.

And then she saw masked men jumping over the school gates. And one of them was manipulating water in the air.

Chaos ensued. Kids started screaming, running this way and that. Pheonix lost sight of her friends as she was pushed around. Suddenly, she heard a shout.

The water manipulator had cornered a freshman and was about to hit her with water.

Something stirred in Pheonix's chest, and her limbs moved toward them. Time slowed down. The man threw the water, and Pheonix threw herself in between. Her hand stretched out on its own and -

Blocked the water. It splashed uselessly on the ground. All three of them stared dumbly at it, or at least, two of them did. Pheonix couldn't tell what was behind his mask. She turned to the girl.

"Run!" She didn't need to say it twice. The girl was gone before the man drew himself together and sent another torrent of water at Pheonix.

Pheonix met the water and turned around, sending it back at him. "Am-Am I a waterbender?!"

The man sent ice, and Pheonix jumped away, kicking the ground. In turn, the ground built up and a small rock jutted out of the ground, underneath his foot. He slipped.

Pheonix saw another masked man in the distance, about to sneak up on Mari, who kicked a masked man in the chest, knocking him down.

"MARI, LOOK OUT!" Pheonix cried. She shot a jet of water at him.

"Am I an earthbender too?" Pheonix noticed the music was stuttering. Water dripped from the speakers, and electricity trickled out of the speakers. Pheonix got an idea.

As though Uncle Iroh was instructing her, Pheonix did the movement the firebenders did and got a little spark in the air. She smiled.

But Pheonix overestimated herself. The lightning was too weak, and it only shocked him unconscious.

"Alright, let's try this again," she said, and she ran into the smoke.
Don't just exist; live

-Unknown
  





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Carina says...



Mari Santiago


"Eight eggs? Don't you think that's... demasiado?" Mari's mom said, faltering as she couldn't remember how to say "too much" in English. She had finished scrambling the eight eggs in with some other toppings into the biggest breakfast burrito she had ever made.

"Protein!" Mari exclaimed, swooping in and grabbing the burrito off the plate as soon as it was finished, nearly dropping it due to its sheer weight when initially carrying it with one hand. "I've been training for the Great Log Fight today. Didn't I tell you that?" She took a giant chomp out of the burrito. "I've been practicing with Jane," she said loudly, chewing with her mouth open.

Her mom looked at her blankly then shook her head and laughed. "Dios mío, mi amor. Vamonos. Time to go to la escuela."
~ ~ ~

Field day was the best school holiday ever and no one can convince Mari's mind. A day to blow off classes to run around and beat people up? Yes. Well, the last one was sort of true; the only fighting sport that the school allowed was the Great Log Fight of 20XX, as Jane liked to put it. It was a shame that Mari couldn't flex her jujitsu skills outside the studio, but whacking other students with pillows would have to be the next best thing.

Fortunately for her, Jane was going to be a worthy opponent. They both made it to the final competition, and boy, was it like a Karate Kid moment seeing her young student fight the master. (Of course, Jane would highly disagree and say they were simply training together without anyone teaching anything, but Mari digresses.)

"When are you starting?" Signe asked, staring as Mari took a chomp out of one of the many slices of watermelon she had on her plate. Mari found Signe and Filisha hanging out near the watermelon station, and because there was a break before the final round of the Log Fight competition, Mari naturally had to rejuvenate her calories through many, many watermelons.

"I dunno," Mari said with watermelon in her mouth. "Probably soon." Prepared and timely, as always.

She craned her neck up as if she was looking for someone in the crowd. Before Signe and Filisha could say anything, Dora walked by and quickly passed a slip of paper to Mari as they both did their fancy secret handshake.

"What's up!" Mari said as she sneakily put the piece of paper in her jean pocket, acting like she wasn't trying to find her in the crowd or anything.

Dora frowned, looking back at her hands. "Your hands are sticky," she mumbled.

"Oh, that's from the watermelon." Mari extended her plate out to her. "Want some?"

"Nah," Dora said, shamelessly wiping her hands on her pants. "I'm going to attempt the pole vault. Got any advice?"

Mari grinned, passing the plate of watermelon over to Signe against her wishes. "YEAH," she said loudly, waving her hands around. "See, what you do is, you gotta start at the..." She looked up and Dora was already walking away. Huh, guess she got bored already.

Filisha coughed, a common tactic she used to get someone's attention. "Was that... was that the homework—"

"Got to go, don'ttellPhoenixbyeeeee!" Mari said quickly, racing off to the Log Fight arena.
~ ~ ~

Jane was unrelenting. (Just as she totally taught her!) They have been smacking each other for several minutes now, but they were both like stumps with perfect balance, too stubborn to uproot and move. Their time record during training was thirty minutes, so Mari was expecting them to stay like this for quite some time, smacking each other with the pillow at unsuspecting places only to get blocked or dodged. So when Mari pulled her arms back for a ruthless pillow-to-the-face attack, she fully expected Jane to dodge or stand her ground.

Instead, Jane recoiled and tumbled down to the ground below, leaving Mari to be the champion. Any other person, and Mari would have celebrated her victory right then and there, but fortunately for Jane, they were a little more than simple pals.

"Jane!" Mari yelped out, dropping her pillow and jumping down to help. "Are you okay?"

She never did get an answer, because before she could land on the ground, a random person with a ski mask tackled her and they tumbled on the ground together. "What the—" was all Mari was able to get out before her vision stopped moving.

No time to think. Instinct kicked in.

The man with the mask grinned and bent down to pick up two giant manhole covers like it weighed nothing, swinging it around him like they were two 300-pound shield-weapons.

"He-Hey now, who even are you?" Mari said in a panic, scooting and tumbling around to dodge his swings. She didn't have much time to look around her surroundings, but she heard screams and smelled smoke.

She didn't get an answer, but as the man grunted and swung both covers towards her, Mari jujitsu'ed his butt by rolling behind him, putting him into a choke-hold, kicking his knees, then kicked the ever living life out of his head. Maybe Field Day does have a real fighting event after all, Mari thought as she dusted herself off, satisfied to see the unnaturally strong man unconscious on the ground.

"MARI, LOOK OUT!" a voice yelled out, which Mari immediately recognized to be Phoenix.

Before she could turn around to see who she should look out for, a strong jet of water came from Phoenix's hands and attacked a different ski-mask-wearing man, dousing him with such high pressures that he fell over.

So much was happening that Mari didn't really have time to react. First, these violent robbers. Then...water coming from Phoenix's hands? And now—what was this? Steam?

The man in front of her who got doused with water was sizzling like vegetables from a steaming pot, and for some reason, Mari knew it was because of her. Why or how, she had no idea, but she'd have to figure that out later because...

...this was awesome.

Spoiler! :
phpBB [media]

The music in the speakers continued to play, becoming more grainy and amplified than it was earlier in the day.

She grinned, feeling adrenaline rushing through her blood. Phoenix was in proximity shooting out water jets, and whenever any splattered towards Mari, it turned to steam and mixed in with the smoke.

She looked off to the right and saw a few people nearby Daphne walking around like they were looking for something, and they looked weird too, giving off strange-colored auras she had never seen on a person before. Daphne didn't seem to notice them either, even when they were right in front of her. Oh well, it didn't matter.

It was time to kick some butt.

She charged towards the strange-colored-aura people with steam and smoke misting around her and the others, ready to throw punches and kicks to the face. What she didn't seem to pay attention to was the static electricity that playfully stung her skin as she got closer and closer.
if carina were a soda, she'd be a white claw. refreshing, but a bit alcoholic.
—veeren

dare u to ask me a question in Ask an Engineer >:)
  





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HarryHardy says...



Daphne Rose Danvers


Lightning crackled in the sky. Rain poured down all around her. A gale force wind blew all around her. It all felt very much real. She could almost smell the ozone in the charged air surrounding her. She could almost taste the salty tang of the sea spray as it struck the bow with the force of a thousand battering rams. It was a terrifying scene, one no sailor would enjoy being a part of. And yet, her heart wasn't hammering away in her chest. The scene felt familiar and strangest of all, somehow calming.

In front of her, the vast expanse of ocean stretched out for miles upon miles, clearly visible from her vantage point on the bow of the ship. And that was the other thing. The ship itself also felt familiar, like she'd ridden it a thousand times even though she could not recall what it was called. The deck also felt real beneath her feet, as if she could just bend down and smell the musky odor of the soaked wood. And yet as she tried to look at it in more detail, everything became blurry, making it impossible to even attempt to tell what kind of ship it was.

Then she sensed it. Something was about to happen, and fast. Hoping that something new will happen that time, she looked up. A blinding flash of light lit up the sky. It was followed by a thunderous roar that turned into a loud "RING".

Daphne awoke with a start.

She reached for the phone under her pillow and switched off the alarm. She was drenched in sweat. She sat up slowly. The lightning bolt that never actually struck her. It was a blinding light that had haunted her for years. She shook her head to get rid of the cobwebs in her brain. It always ends there. What are you trying to tell me, you stupid ball of ionized air particles?

She slid out of bed as her thoughts turned to the ship that she'd been standing on. No matter how many times she saw the same thing over and over again, it was always a blur, absolutely refusing to come into focus so that she could identify. Stupid wooden log. She punched her pillow and lifted it up to fling across the room in frustration when she froze in her tracks. Oh. My. God. Its Field Day today. I am so going to get killed today on that log. She ran off to get dressed.



Daphne made her way towards the door, a backpack that weighed nearly as much as she did slung on her shoulder. Her grandmother was at the door, waiting to see her off.

“Do you really need all those books today?” asked Grandma Luna, straightening her granddaughter’s clothes.

"Yes, grandma, you never know what you're going to need," replied Daphne.

"But isn't it field day today?" she asked. Daphne nodded. "And so you won't have any classes at all, if my memory serves me right?"

"I think so, yeah. That's how it usually works. Not that I ever really pay any attention to how field day works."

"Then what do you need books for," said grandma, stepping back to double check if Daphne looked presentable.

"I might need to do homework," said Daphne, waving her hands as if that would explain everything.

"You didn't finish your homework?" asked grandma, frowning, "now that sounds troubling. What have you been doing then in that room of yours?"

"I did all. Them. All of them. I mean I all did them. No, I meant I did all of them," Daphne stuttered. She shook her head. Why am I still in zombie mode? I had three cups of coffee.. She tried for a smile. "But you never know. I could have forgotten something."

"I think you need to work on a slightly better excuse sweetheart. That one is a little hard to believe," said grandma, smiling down at her.

"Next time, grandma. For now it'll be fine, won't it? I don't have time to go pack again anyway," said Daphne, giving her grandmother a hug and burying her face into grandma's shoulder.

"Don't think that you're fooling me for a second with that young lady," said grandma, hugging her back, "I know exactly what you're plans are for this hug."

"But its working right?" said Daphne, looking up.

"You've been using that strategy since you were five sweetheart, I think its time you learnt something new."

"But it never fails," said Daphne, putting on her best puppy dog face for maximum effect.

"You're still five," said grandma, gently kissing Daphne on the forehead.

"I completely agree. I have no idea why they added that extra one there. Must have been a mistake."

"Okay that's enough lying for one day, young lady. You're going to be late if you waste any more time."

"Okay. Okay. I'll leave," said Daphne, gently pulling away from the hug and pretending to wipe away a tear. She pretended to shake a little for good measure.

As she looked up, grandma just gave her one of those "Seriously?" looks that she pulled of scarily well and the charade dropped immediately as her mouth involuntarily twisted into a smile.

"Love you. Byee. I'll be back before you know it," said Daphne, stepping outside, giving her a small smile and a wave.

"Unless those miscreants you have as friends drag you off somewhere."

"They're not that bad grandma," said Daphne, pouting.

"Off with you. I have reading to do."

Daphne blew her a kiss, then waved before walking off towards school, her backpack almost making her bend in half.
Stay Safe
The Prince of Darkness


Never give up hope no matter what. A battle that you turn up to is a battle that you've already started to win.


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SirenCymbaline says...



Theodora Gable


Alright, Dora. The faster you nosedive into that dirt, the faster you get watermelon.

Dora dreamed that night of endless fields of lush, ripe, fat melons. She woke up, and put on her pink shirt and green shorts. This day Dora had one goal, and one goal only- make it to the watermelon table as quickly as possible.

The middle school sized high schooler zoomed up to the high jump.

She knocked the bar out of place, and thudded loudly on the mat. Something groaned inside it. Must have been her imagination.

NEXT.

Dora sped to the long jump. She sped like a bat out of hell, and fell at a record short.

Something groaned under the sand, too. Probably imagination.

NEXT.

Relay race. Dora did well, both at running and screaming at the other kids to hurry up.

NEXT.

Dora stepped up on the log, and clutched her pillow with an iron grip. She would hit below the belt, and she would hit without mercy. It didn't matter who won or lost, but it would be quick, and it would be vicious. She would have her watermelon.

Dora stepped up on the log. Nobody was there.

Dora looked down, to see Daphne far away on the other side, hugging her pillow, and trying to ignore the log out of existence.

"Daph," Dora called down. "What're you doing?"

“Umm...nothing,” she said, peeking from behind the pillow.

Dora crossed her arms. The log added an extra four feet to her natural (almost) five. The sun shone harshly behind her, creating a formidable outline.

"Good, good. Ready to meet your maker, then?" Dora joked, teeth glinting mischievously.

“Uhh...I have no idea what you’re talking about,” said Daph, shaking her head vigorously and covering herself with the pillow.

“Ah, you’ll send me to mine, then?” said Dora. “A fine challenge. I accept.”

“Nooo...no one challenged anyone here. Look I’ll just umm...find a place to sit,” said Daph.

Dora pouted. She blew a little raspberry. Then she thrust out her pillow at Daphne, as though it were a rapier.

“So you mean to spare me, do you? Don’t insult me with mercy!” Dora cried out, with the conviction of a top-class actor, and the skill of an 11AM B-movie actor.

“I fight to kill, and I expect nothing less from you. You’re my friend.”

Dora lowered her pillow-laden hand, and raised her empty one. She offered it to Daphne.

“So you’ll meet me like a warrior, won’t you?”

“Did you just steal that from Guardians of Nemia?” said Daphne, narrowing her eyes as she peeked out from behind the pillow.

Dora puffed her cheeks. "Maybe. It's a good scene."

“Yeah it was,” said Daphne, lowering her pillow completely as she replayed the scene in her head, a slightly dreamy look on her face.

Quoting one of Daphne's favourite movies was supposed to get her more riled up, but it was having the opposite effect.

Dora threw her hands up in the air. "So be my Octavian!"

“Uhh,” Daphne stuttered. She could barely restrain herself from swinging her pillow around like a madwoman after remembering that scene. If it wasn’t for the pesky logical part of her brain.

“I...uhh...am not a boy,” she said weakly, not sounding convincing even to her own ears.

Dora's mouth was one long, flat, unimpressed line.

"Daphne," she said, "You got what it counts, the heart, or whatever- if it makes it easier, we can switch places, and you can be Evancia?"
Halfway through, Dora had given up, and conviction gave way to simple pleading.

Daph let out a sigh. “Why do you need to do this again?”

"Do you need me to tell you? said Dora, and then realised she had accidentally quoted Octavian again. So she continued. "This fight was predestined. It was never up to us. You'll always be my friend, no matter who remains standing. So-"

Dora trailed off. Was she actually getting embarrassed?

Thankfully Daphne hadn't noticed. She just looked at the grass and twirled her pillow into knots. “But...but, I’m like the puniest...surely you want to go against a more worthy opponent? Maybe you can find Jane? Fil? A watermelon?”


Dora stepped off the log, walked over to Daphne, and hung her head. She put her hand on her friend's shoulder.

"Jane dared me to get you on the log and I can't show my face at the watermelon table until I do. Please. Just fight me."


“Ohh..., why didn’t you just lead with that? Of course I’d help you out of something like that,” said Daphne, smiling as she gently pulled Dora’s head up to face her. “But go easy on me, I wanna live to see the next day.”

Dora smiled at Daphne, poor, sweet Daphne, sparks of havoc glinting in her olive green eyes.

"I'll try."

********


Dora smacked the grass like the hammer of Hephaestus.

Even those too far to hear the resounding thud flinched at the violence of the sound.

Dora hugged herself, and rolled over onto the pillow pile that she was supposed to have fallen on and missed.

Daphne dropped her pillow in shock and stared at the hand that had sent Dora flying. Were those her hands?

She jumped off the log, not even realizing she had pulled off a serious gymnastics maneuver to land on her feet.

"I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to," said Daphne, kneeling down beside Dora. She looked like she was close to tears.


Dora squinted up at Dora’s outline. She had several nasty purple bruises spanning over her left thigh, hip and bicep. A creaky whine began to surface. First, “Oww,” and then, “Watermelon. Bring me watermelon.”

Daphne gasped at the injuries that ran along her friend. The ones that she’d caused. She had to wipe off a tear.

“Oh Dora, I’m so, so sorry. Please tell me you’re okay then I’ll go bring anything.”

"Fine. Finefine." Dora craned her neck to check for any supervising teachers rushing over. Ah, there he was.

"Listen Daph if I get benched, just-"

"Broken, is anything broke-" said Mr. Willis.

"No, just bruised-" protested Dora.

"Let's get the nurse to look at it-" said Mr. Willis, suppressing flashbacks from the last time a student said this.

"Daph! Save me some!" Dora cried out as she was whisked away.

********


The two friends sat at the watermelon table, a mountain on Dora's plate, and a more respectable portion on Daphne's.

Dora demolished her current mouthful, moved to pat Daphne on the shoulder, and stopped. Alas, her hands were sticky with the nectar of the gods.

"It's okay, Daph," said Dora.

"I-I didn't say anything," said Daphne.

Dora nodded. "I know. And it's okay."

Consoling achieved, or at least attempted, Dora resumed stuffing her face.

Daph gave her a small smile. She couldn’t believe that Dora had been so accepting of it. She’d been afraid that she was going to lose one of the few friends that she had...no scratch that, one of her family.

“You know it's okay if you’re mad at me,” she said, testing the waters to be sure.

"Mbmblff," said Dora, for her cheeks were already stuffed again. Once freed, she said, "I got my melon. All is well."

“So you’re not mad then?” Daphne asked again.

"Naw." said Dora. She made the mistake of shaking her head, which was enough to send a globule of watermelon juice flying into Daphne's shirt. Dora snorked.

"Oh. Sorry there." she said, rubbing at Daphne's shirt with the tablecloth. If this was an apology, it may have worked better had she not continued snorking throughout.

“It’s okay,” said Daphne, rubbing the stain. “That’ll go away. Thanks for being so good about, you know.” She gestured towards the new bruises that Dora had picked up.

Dora waved flippantly. "This is gonna get me out of PE for- oh, I bet I can make it last a couple weeks. At least."

She was also a little embarrassed she’d done so much riling and notsomuch winning, but Dora wasn’t about to admit it.

Daphne hadn’t caught on, though. Probably. In any case, she only gave Dora a grateful smile and picked at her watermelon, moving it around the plate in circles.

Dora looked innocently at her plate, as though she were tempted to ask if she was going to eat that. But no. No, she’d had enough. Yes, enough. No, really. Really.

Dora quickly made her excuse and strode over to see how the others were doing before she had the time to change her mind.

She and Mari performed their clandestine transaction, seamless and spotless as always.

“Your hands are sticky,” Dora mumbled.

“Oh, that’s from the watermelon.” Mari extended her plate out to her. “Want some?”

Pink and green lights flashed in Dora’s eyes. No. She had already gorged herself. This wasn’t going to be a repeat of last year. Noooooooo-

“Nah,” said Dora, shamelessly wiping her hands on her pants with perfect nonchalance. “I’m going to attempt the pole vault, got any adv-”

********



She probably didn’t need the advice anyway. She ran, she thrust the pole into the ground, and she jumped.

She swung through the air, heavy, brutal, and free.

Dora drank in the vision of the bright blue sky before she plunged into the mattress.

SLAP.

It felt like landing on a pile of frozen meat. Dora was about to groan, but was interrupted by a chorus of manlier groans. Underneath her.

“What the heck, what the heck, what the heckining-” Dora stammered.

Five men in ski masks burst out from inside the mattress, grabbed Dora, and ran away holding her high above their heads.

All around, in her bumpy line of sight she saw more masked men jump out of trees, bushes, bins on the street. One arose from the sand in the long jump.

Dora thrashed. She kicked and elbowed faces, necks, whatever she could reach, but they just kept running toward the carpark.

“HEY!” a voice barked behind them. It sounded like Mr. Willis, the P.E teacher. “Give back that student!”

He charged at the scrum, knocking the ski masks at the back out of formation.

“I don’t know what you creeps are doing here, but I’ve got a black belt in karate! Let her go or I’ll send you straight to the E.D!”

The two in front ran away with Dora, while the other three remained to face Mr. Willis. He span and kicked and punched and chopped with the force of the most impressive martial artist in his immediate locality. As for the ski mask men, they had superpowers.

Mr. Willis valiantly elected to call the police from his position on the ground.

“Hey!” Dora smacked at the ski mask man’s meaty neck. She was furious. She was confused. She grabbed hold of that stupid mask, and tried to twist it backwards to block his vision. But it wouldn’t budge.

Because it had turned to metal in her fingers.

The man clawed at his mask, and tripped hard over a root. The man behind him stumbled violently into his back.

Dora scrambled to her feet. She kicked him. And she ran.

WHAT THE HECK WHAT THE HECK WHAT THE HECKITY HECK I DID THAT I MADE METAL WAS IT ME DID I METAL IS THAT JUST A THING THAT THEY DO IS IT WHAT THE HE

Dora’s mind raced as she scooted down behind the watermelon stand.

They’d seen her go behind it. She knew they’d seen her. What would she-

Oh. There was Daphne, next to her. Daphne picked up a watermelon.

“Daph,” Dora hissed in fearful disbelief. “Daph we’ve got to run.”

Daphne stood up. She threw the watermelon at the closest advancing ski mask man.

It exploded. It exploded with a loud pop, spraying pulp in all directions. The man convulsed as though he had been… electrocuted?

Daphne froze in confused awe.

“Taste the fruit of justice, fiends!” she yelled, fingers splayed across her face in a superhero pose.

Dora looked up at her in amazement, and grabbed a melon to back her up.

It turned to metal in her hand. Just like the mask. Huh.

A pile of concussed goons later, the sound of police sirens directed Dora’s eyes to a pair of very bewildered countryside cops standing at the edge of the carpark.
  





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Lia5Giba says...



FILISHA JAMES


Filisha jerked awake, heart pounding like a jackhammer. It took a few seconds to she realized that she was just in her bedroom, the sun rising outside of her window. Filisha blinked a few times and looked over at the clock on her nightstand. 5:34 AM. She was supposed to be up in about an hour.

Just a dream. Filisha shook her head to clear the cobwebs in her mind. Sometimes it was hard to remember they were just dreams. She felt like she was there, living them out, like some other, utterly true version of reality. It was the same dream she had had a week ago, and the week before that. In the dream, she was a different person, but also somehow the same as who she was now. She was driving a car with a woman in the seat next to her, and the streets were dark and wet. She (but she was a he in the dream, she knew) and the woman were talking and laughing, and then suddenly there was another car in front of them, spinning uncontrollably to its side, and the woman screamed, and Filisha tried to push on the brake but the car still slid forward—

And that was where she always woke up, heart pounding. Right before the impact. Today was no different. Filisha exhaled, trying to get the last of the adrenaline out of her veins. Slowly, with unsteady knees, she climbed out of her bed and stood up. She could never go back to sleep after one of those dreams. At least it didn’t wake me up at 2 in the morning this time.

Slowly, she got dressed. Blue jeans, T-shirt, silver earrings. She crept into the bathroom she shared with her siblings and covered up her pimples with concealer. She was just touching up her eyelashes when she heard hesitant footsteps in the hallway.

Filisha opened the bathroom door and found herself staring into the blue-green eyes of her younger brother, Finn.

For a moment, they just stared at each other. Finally, Filisha cleared her throat. “What are you doing awake?” she whispered.

Finn squinted. “Huh?” he stage-whispered. Inwardly, Filisha cringed. “What did you say?”

Filisha cleared her throat again. “What are you doing awake?” she repeated, raising her voice to match her brother’s.

“Oh.” Finn shrugged. “I had a nightmare, I guess.” He smiled sheepishly and looked down at the floor. “I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I was going to get some breakfast.”

He looked up at Filisha again. “Why are you awake?”

For a split second, Filisha froze. “O-oh, I, um... um, I had a bad dream too,” she managed to say. She tried a small smile to try to make her seem less awkward.

Finn returned it, just a small curve of the lips. “I’ll be downstairs, I guess,” he said, turning to walk down the hallway once again. His left foot made a creak on the hard wood floor, and Filisha repressed the urge to cringe again.

“I think, um, I think I’ll be down in a second,” she whispered. Finn didn’t respond. Maybe he hadn’t heard her again. Filisha sighed and ducked back into the bathroom, closing the door behind her.

~~


Filisha has nearly forgotten it was field day—until Mari and Jane mobbed her during homeroom, the only class they actually had that day.

“Hey, Fil!” Mari exclaimed as Filisha walked through the front door. “You had better be at the log fight today.”

Filisha wanted to slap herself. Field day! Watermelon table, sports all over the place, Mari and Jane’s almighty log fight. Of course. “Heh... we’ll see,” she said, putting a hand on the back of her neck.

You had better be at the log fight station,” Jane said, playfully pushing into Mari’s shoulder.

Mari looked aghast. “Of course! How could you ever suggest that I wouldn’t be?” Her eyes squinted and a grin crawled over her face. “I just hope you’ll be there, so you can suffer humiliating defeat by my hands!”

Jane chuckled and pushed her again, a little harder this time. Mari seemed to take it as a challenge and through up her hands, martial-arts style. Filisha took that as her cue to step away from her friends and get to her seat.

Field day at the beginning actually didn’t seem too bad. Filisha had been expecting to get covered in mud front the field and have some jerk hit her with a pole, but she was actually enjoying herself. She mostly hung out at the watermelon table with Daphne and whoever else was with them. At one point, Filisha saw Mari and Dora exchanging what looked like homework, but nobody else seemed to notice, so she let it go.

For some time, Filisha thought this field day might be the best one yet. It was so, so loud, but then again, a lot of events were. At one moment, Filisha even found herself grinning, watermelon juice dripping down her chin.

And then from her left ear, through the seemingly endless chatter of high schoolers, Filisha heard the school gates clatter together. Hard shoes grinding into the fence around the field. A near-inaudible thump as cargo boots hit the ground.

What the— Filisha turned away from the watermelon station and towards the noises. Through the crowd, she could just see masked figures hopping the front gate and running into the crowd. More than seeing them, she could hear their footsteps surging through grass, their arms knocking over tables. Filisha took a step back, her heart humming. Just like in her dream, she felt adrenaline—and a sense of danger.

Behind her, she heard a mattress ripping. Over at the pole vault station, Dora lay on top of the mattress positioned to catch pole vaulters after they fell. Out of the surface of the mattress, the seams ripped and at least five men struggled to crawl out, all wearing masks. Filisha screamed sharply, a sound that was soon echoed all around the field.

The school was being attacked.

Filisha heard heavy footsteps and flinched in the sound’s direction. A person in cargo boots, unfamiliar cargo boots, was charging towards her through the crowd. She could barely see him, but she could hear him perfectly through the hordes of students. Filisha knew the sound of those boots now, and with so much accuracy it startled her.

For a moment, it was as if every other sound was diminished. Filisha could feel her heart throbbing in her chest, nearly the same rhythm of the person running towards her. Her ears pulsed with the sound. The person was right in front of her, ten yards, now five. He had a wide stride, given how often he was hitting the ground and how fast he was going. She could hear him breathing. It was slow, but forceful all the same. How was it even possible she could hear that?

Filisha took a step back, then another. She needed to run. She needed to run now. But suddenly her limbs were slow, sticky, like she was moving in molasses. She could barely move. And the person was getting closer, closer—

Suddenly, there were familiar footsteps running towards her from the right. A friend’s footsteps. Instinctively, simply because she knew, Filisha realized it was Phoenix. The person in the cargo boots running towards her was suddenly pushed over, and with a wet thud came crashing down to earth.

Filisha snapped open her eyes. She didn’t even know they had been shut. Just in front of her, the person running towards her was on the ground, soaking wet. To Filisha’s right was Phoenix, breathing heavily. And around her floated... water?

“Wha-how?” Filisha stammered, staring at Phoenix.

“Somehow I can do this!” Phoenix exclaimed, moving her hand up and down. The water moved with it. “I can do it with earth and lightning too, I think. I have no idea how!”

Filisha blinked. Her friend had superpowers. Her friend had superpowers. The school was being attacked, someone had almost attacked Filisha, and her friend had superpowers.

She swallowed. “Phoenix,” she whispered, “what the heck is going on?”
HELLO

:smt006 :smt006 :smt006


(you may call me she, if you please)
  





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Magebird says...



Jane Elliot

Jane had no way of knowing what Filisha had just said to Pheonix, but she would very much agree with the question if she had overheard it. She had thought things were chaotic before she felt flashes of warmth from all over the school’s fields. In between running through the smoke, she could have sworn she saw glimpses of things straight out of comic books: water arcing through the air, lightning dancing across the sky, and, weirdly enough, a watermelon exploding as it hit one of the people attacking the school.

All throughout this dramatic battle - which involved several attackers getting bombarded by Jane’s almighty pillow - Jane kept trying to cling to little things that she did know. She knew her friends were in the smoke. She knew that her precious Hickory Grove was under attack. And she knew that she had the brother she had always felt she was meant to have.

Still.

How was she supposed to take this calmly? How was she supposed to think this was normal? The world as she knew it was crumbling all around her, and Jane was desperately trying to cling to the ledge cracking below her feet. She had to find something to grab onto. She was craving an explanation right now, but there was more to it than that. She was craving knowledge. She wanted the truth. She felt like she was Edward Elric standing before Truth’s door of humanity’s secrets in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, but she couldn’t find the strength needed to push it open no matter how hard she tried. Some part of her knew that the truth would be too much for her. That all of it rushing it in while she was still high on adrenaline and seeking out targets would make her break like everything else.

But God, she wanted that knowledge more than anything right now.

The smoke finally started to clear.

As it did, Jane discovered that there were injured men scattered throughout the fields in front of the school. She caught glimpses of her friends near them. She knew she should have been focused on the other masked men grabbing them and rushing/teleporting off with them like this was some strange kind of sci-fi show, but she couldn’t stop staring at her friends. She knew things about them. She didn’t want to know those things.

But the universe was whispering their secrets to her in a soft, honeyed tone that she didn’t want to hear. Her friends had been the ones who handled the attacks. They bent the elements to their whims and changed the makeup of the world. They became intune with the waves rocking through the smoke, and they even touched the tiniest details of existence.

And Jane knew it.

She knew it without them saying a single word.

All of the information came rushing into her so fast and so hard that she could barely make sense of the world around her. She didn’t notice when the police showed up to investigate the scene. She didn’t hear the announcement that school was ending early. And when Nathan muttered words quietly underneath his breath as he guided her towards her gathering friends, all that Jane registered was that she knew the truth of what he had done, too: it was a spell meant to make the caster easily ignored.

As soon as it had started, the tsunami stopped.

Jane blinked.

The world came back into focus around her. She was standing outside the school gates with her friends. They looked as tired and confused as she felt, but there was something else in the air, too. It was an excitement that they might not have been aware of, but it was certainly there. Jane had been overwhelmed by the whole thing that had just happened, but she felt that excitement, too. For the first time in her entire life, things really felt right.

“What the heck was that?” Filisha managed to get out, repeating the question Jane hadn’t heard earlier. “There were people attacking the school. And Pheonix and I had super-”

Nathan suddenly grabbed onto Jane’s arm.

“We should talk somewhere else,” he said, his voice quiet but strangely good at cutting through the conversation. The spell he had cast started to fade; it must have been going on just long enough to make the faculty not question why a strange boy was on the school grounds. His presence was all too obvious right now.

“Wait a second,” Mari said. “Who are you? I’ve never seen you before.”

Nathan’s grip on her arm tightened.

Ouch, Jane thought. For someone who seemed so shy, Nathan had a really strong grip. At least the shyness held true, though: Nathan immediately ducked behind Jane like she was some kind of protector. It was a funny thought that he would need any kind of protecting, but Jane also knew not to doubt Mari’s willingness to throw hands.

“I’m Nathan,” he whispered, staring down at the ground.

“He’s my brother,” Jane clarified.

“But you’re an only child,” Daphne slowly pointed out.

“This doesn’t make any sense,” Phoenix muttered.

“Isn’t that the name of your cat?” Dora said.

Nathan raised his head. “You named your cat Nathan?”

Jane blushed, feeling weirdly embarrassed. “...Yes?”

Nathan went back to staring at the ground.

Jane took a deep breath.

Okay, she needed to focus right now. She didn’t have to worry about being bombarded by the truth right now, so she had to shift her attention elsewhere. She didn’t know Nathan all that well yet, but she trusted his opinion. If he said they needed to talk somewhere else, they probably did.

And, when Jane thought about it, superpowers weren’t really something that was meant to be shared in public.

“Nathan’s right,” Jane said. “Weird connection I haven’t entirely figured out aside, we really need to talk somewhere else. Somewhere where no one would overhear us. We could go to the cafe like we always do, but that’s too crowded.”

“...I know a place,” Nathan quietly said from behind her. “I can lead you there.”

~x~

Nathan led them into the forest around town.

Jane had been there a hundred times before - especially in the last week or two when she was training with Mari - but she couldn’t remember all of the foxgloves that had popped up deeper within it. She also couldn’t remember a tree that looked slightly out of place from the others. The door to the universe cracked open a little more; it told her the truth about the tree’s existence.

When Nathan started to step through it, Jane wasn’t surprised.

The others gasped and stared. Jane just did the last part.

He gestured for them to follow.

And then he walked right through it, only he never came out on the other side.

“Are you sure following him is a good idea?” Daphne hesitantly asked.

Jane gave a nod. “I’m sure of it. I don’t know how I know it, but I know everyone else here has some kind of weird power we can’t explain. Nathan showed up just when I figured out mine. He has something to do with it all. And whatever is up with me right now is telling me that I have to trust him.”

She turned back to the tree.

And then she marched right up to it-

-and found himself sliding down a slide into a cavern below. The cavern was much cooler than the air outside, and was far more beautiful than the forest had been. The walls were rough yet organized; no rocks jutted too far out. There was a large pond off to the side of where the slide had stopped, and a small hut. Nathan was standing just a few feet away from the slide, watching as Jane stumbled off of the soft plants that cushioned the end of the slide.

A moment later, the entire group came bumping into Jane.

The six sprawled across the plants and the cavern floor. Nathan just stared at the group as Jane tried to wiggle herself free. When she finally was free, she hopped to her feet.

“I didn’t know you had a Batcave!” she exclaimed.

And that was when the idea hit her.

It was hands down the best idea she had ever come with, and she knew it was going to be a hit. With all of their strange powers at their disposal, there was only one thing that the group could possibly do now.

“Oh yes,” Nathan whispered, eyes widening as he recognized the look on Jane’s face.

“Oh yes,” she corrected. As her friends scrambled to their feet, she turned back at them with a big grin on her face. “We should become superheroes!”
  





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Valkyria says...



Pheonix Rivers
Cowritten with @Carina


Field Day was supposed to be fun. One of the few days in the school year where you can kick back and not have to worry about schoolwork or teachers hounding you.

Why couldn't have this Field Day been the same?

Pheonix dodged rounds of water shaped bullets and fists as she ran through the crowd. Panicked kids shoved her out of the way, pushing her this way and that. Her head spun.

Suddenly, she spotted Filisha, cornered by a man in a mask. Feeling the water rise up again, Pheonix raced toward her, bent on stopping the man.

"Hey!" she shouted. The masked man turned to her, and she shot him full of water. He doubled over, unmoving.

Filisha was shocked, to say the least. Pheonix demonstrated her abilities, swirling the water around her.

"Pheonix, what the heck is going on?" whispered her friend. Pheonix grasped her hand and pulled her up. Filisha held her shoulders to steady herself.

Pheonix looked at her helplessly. "I have no idea," was all that she could say. She grabbed her hand and looked around. "Have you seen any of our friends?" she shouted over the noise. It took everything in her to keep Filisha from getting separated.

Filisha shook her head. "I saw Jane and Mari running around, knocking those people down, but I can't find any of them right now."

A lump formed in Pheonix's throat. Please let them be alright she thought. Even though she could still feel Filisha's hand in hers, she looked behind her to make sure her friend was still there.

She was, but Filisha's hand had tensed up. Filisha's eyes widened.

"Get down!" she shouted, and she pushed Pheonix to the ground, throwing herself beside her. Something whistled above her head and thudded five feet away from her. Pheonix looked up, heart in her throat, and she spotted an icicle sticking out of the ground.

She and Filisha quickly scrambled up, watching another masked man readying his attack. Pheonix lifted her foot, intending to trip him up with her avatar powers when-

WHAM

Jane sped up behind the man and whacked him in the face with her pillow. He fell to the ground.

"Are you guys okay?" she called out, wiping sweat off her forehead. Filisha struggled to find words, so Pheonix squeezed her hand in comfort.

"We're fine, thanks to Filisha," she said, nodding. Jane sighed in relief, and she hit another man in the face. In the chaos, Jane had disappeared.

Breathing heavily, Pheonix looked at Filisha. "How did you know he was there?"

Filisha shook her head. "I-I don't know! I just heard the icicle being thrown."

Pheonix stared at her, incredulous. "You heard it?" Filisha nodded. Pheonix took a shaky breath. "Avatar powers and super hearing...What's going on?"

Filisha looked just as lost as she did. "I wish I knew..."

The rest of the fight passed in a blur. Pheonix repeated the formula: run, dodge, defend, and use powers. Her heart pounded and blood rushed her ears. The masked men kept coming and coming, like waves on a beach.

Why won't they stop?!

Pheonix collapsed onto her knees when the last of the dust clouds settled. Sweat poured down her face as she shakily wiped her hot cheeks.

The rest of the field was calming down too. Teachers called for order, and students dispersed off the field.

Their uninjured attackers escaped, climbing over the fences.

Pheonix dragged her feet toward the school gates where she found her friends. A smile broke across her face as she joined them, leaning against Daphne and closing her eyes.

"ALL RIGHT!" shouted someone, but Pheonix didn't have to look to see who had shouted them. "We beat those guys up real good! Whoo!"

Mari bounced over the group, grinning from ear to ear as she exchanged a complicated high five with Dora. "Man, that was so freaking cool! You were even cooler, Phoenix! With those—" she pointed her fingers around frantically, "—water things! And electric zaps! What was that?! I like it."

Pheonix grinned too. "Thanks, Mar. I decided to call it 'Avatar power' since I can control both water and earth. Maybe I'll be able to manipulate air as well. Besides-" She clapped Filisha on the back- "Filisha could hear those guys. She saved us from getting sliced in half back there!"

Mari's eyes widened in excitement. "Ooh, Fil, show us!" she said, not seeming to understand that Fil didn't exactly have a power that she could show off on demand.

Filisha blushed. "I can't exactly show you, Mari." She giggled, "but, like, back there, I heard him throw the icicle. I don't know why, or how!"

Dora smirked. "Check this out, everyone," she said, and then the brass keys in her hand turned to the heavy metallic material. Mari stared at her hand in wonder, but then Dora diverted her attention to Daphne, who was shyly standing near them. "But Daphne has the coolest powers with her electricity. And, oh, and Mari too, I guess. But I don't really know what she does besides steam things. Pretty fitting, if you ask me!"

"Hey, what are you..." Mari began with a pouted glare, then squinted at the keys. "Wait, are those my car keys?"

Jane looked like she was about to say something, but sirens blared through the air. Pheonix craned her neck over Mari's shoulders and spotted several police cars screech to a halt.

"Hey, that's my dad," she said, pointing to the sheriff's car. Her father got out of it, looking around until he spotted her. She waved him over, and he jogged toward them.

"Girls, are you all alright?" he asked. They nodded, and he grasped Pheonix's shoulders, pulling her to him.

Pheonix felt a rush of warmth go through her. When was the last time he had acted so fatherly toward her?

"Pheonix, are you hurt?"

She shook her head, smiling. "No, Dad, I'm fine. Just a little shaken up."

He relaxed slightly, but his worried eyes never left her face. Pheonix lifted her arms and moved to hug him when he suddenly let go, stepping back. Hurt flashed across her face.

"Well, as long as you're okay," he said. "Can you get home alright?"

Pheonix crossed her arms as anger curled across her lips. "Of course."

He nodded and turned away, finding an officer to talk to.

Pheonix turned back to her friends, all of whom were watching her sympathetically. Mari squeezed her shoulder, and Pheonix smiled at her.

"You good?" she whispered to her.

Pheonix nodded. "Of course. What else is new? I'm used to it." Pheonix sighed, turning her attention to Jane, and her apparent brother.

“Wait a second,” Mari said. “Who are you? I’ve never seen you before.”

~~~


Pheonix stared at the spot that Jane had disappeared through. She turned back toward the others, who stared at her. Mari and Dora, however, had looks of excitement on their faces.

"Guess we're going through the tree," she said, shrugging. Taking a deep breath, Pheonix mimicked Jane's march, albeit she was much less confident-

and found the gravity drop. A small shriek escaped her lips as she slid down a slide into a large cavern. Pheonix hugged herself as she slid past organized rocks.

She immediately bumped into Jane, and they both tumbled into the plants. Then, the rest of the group slid down behind her, landing them all in a pile.

Pheonix pulled Jane's elbow to pull herself up, and she herself was used to help the others up.

"I didn't know you had a Batcave!" said Jane, wonder shining in her eyes. Pheonix looked around. It looked more like a Happy cave than a Batcave to her.

It's beautiful," said Pheonix. Nathan smiled shyly at her, and she smiled back.

“Oh yes,” said Jane. As the others straightened themselves, she looked back at them with a huge grin. “We should become superheroes!”

Mari took zero time to think before responding, eyes starry and determined. "YES!" she bellowed, wrapping her arm around Jane's neck. "Superheroes. That's such a good idea. We'll be famous! Just imagine..." She put her hand out in front of her like she was trying to paint a picture. "The mayor calls us up, and then we dress into our super suits, and..." She rambled on for a little bit of time, somehow not being interrupted.

Pheonix was less than starry-eyed. She took a few steps back, hugging herself. "I-I don't know... Superheroes? I mean, that's a bit of a stretch, isn't it?"

Mari and Jane exchanged glances and Mari finally peeled away from her.

"You don't want to be a superhero?" Mari asked rather bluntly.

Jane stepped in, stepping on her toes, which prompted Mari to yelp with an 'ow!'

"I think what Mari is trying to say, is that it's okay if it makes you nervous," she said with a soft smile. "I think it's a good idea, but... it is a big change."

Pheonix shrugged, looking down. "Yeah, it is...it's a big responsibility. I don't know if I'm ready." She looked at her friends. "I'm not a fan of big changes." She hated how childish she sounded.

Daphne smiled at her. "It's okay to be scared, Phee," she said. "We'd never push you to do anything you don't want to, but I do think this will be super fun!"

Dora threw her arms around Pheonix's shoulders. "It's gonna be a blast!"

Mari coughed as Jane gave her consistent nudges of the head. "Yeah, 'Nix," she began. "Like I said, it's definitely okay if you don't want to be a superhero." She paused. "But I still want to be one, so—"

Jane stomped on her foot again, causing Mari to let out a more disgruntled 'ow!'

Pheonix giggled softly. "Well, I'd never want you guys to not do what you want to do." She paused slightly, looking around. She glanced back at her friends. They had done everything together, helped each other through thick and thin.

Pheonix smiled. "I'll give it a try, I guess. I mean, I do want to see what else I can do."

"YES!" Mari said quickly, jumping with her fist in the air. Jane gave her another stern look, and Mari calmed down and bit her tongue.

"But, you guys will be with me, right? Help me be more comfortable?" she asked.

Jane smiled warmly. "Of course, Phoenix. We're here for you." She came in for a hug, prompting everyone else to dogpile into the giant group hug.

"We gotchu, 'Nix," Mari said, hugging her from behind.

"Yeah, I'll do my best," Dora said blankly, but she knew she was sincere.

"Yes! Let's do this!" Daphne said as she held on to her arm.

"We'll figure this out together," Fil said softly, coming in last for the hug.

Pheonix felt her eyes water, and she quickly dried them. "You guys are the best!"

"Yeah! Group five!" Mari started, and they all sloppily reeled back their hands and came in for a high five. "Okay, we'll have to work on that," she muttered.

Pheonix laughed and hugged her friends back.
Don't just exist; live

-Unknown
  








"Beneath this mask, there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask, there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof."
— V for Vendetta