Chapter 3:

A Rough Start

That time three friends with special abilities were thrown to a new world where superpowers don't exist

Nikola pulled himself upright. He winced, a bolt of pain shooting through his arm. It had been almost a week since they had arrived and had their subsequent fight, and parts of him still hadn’t recovered yet. It seemed like a really good idea at the time, but it had somehow slipped all of their minds that there were no healers in this world. If they were wounded, they had to carry those wounds until they healed. It was a harsh lesson, but one he was thankful they learned early on.

Ever since then they had been much more conservative with their powers, only using them when they had to. Nikola drew the short end here. While his ability was extremely powerful, it didn’t have much application to everyday life. John was biding his time, using his ability for convenience more than anything else. After the fight none of them felt like doing much, so save for a trip to the grocery store they had kept to their apartment, so he couldn’t find any useful places to portal out to yet. Seth was constantly listening to all the minds around him. So far the only thing he learned was that their next-door neighbor was a truly strange man.

Nikola dragged himself out of bed, a task that to him was akin to the Twelve Labours of Heracles. He walked into the main room of the apartment and stared down the furniture. He was never a morning person, and the thought of waking up early for classes was about as pleasant as shoving toothpicks under his toenails. Of all the bad luck, they had been thrown into a universe where classes began weeks earlier than back home. His tired mind had no other recourse but to feel depressed.

He was still standing there in his half-awake daze when a familiar blueish ring opened in front of him. Through it, he could see his own back. He tilted his head, watching this image of himself mimic the move. Just as quickly as it appeared, it vanished, leaving John in front of him.

“Good morning,” John said with a broad smile. Nikola shot him a glare. John had always been a morning person, and Nikola detested him for it. He could never understand how a human being could function this early in the morning. John, on the other hand, couldn’t fathom how it could be so hard to just get out of bed.

“Morning,” Nikola mumbled, his scowl not lessening in the slightest. “You seem awfully chipper today.”

“Of course I am,” John said. “It’s a new day, and it’s the last one we can enjoy. Tomorrow we have to start going to classes.” Nikola groaned loudly. If John didn’t know better, he’d think his friend had suffered severe emotional trauma just now.

“He did just suffer emotional trauma,” Seth said, peeking out from his door. John staggered back. No matter how many times it happened, having his thoughts read still freaked him out.

“Hey, you promised not to do that!” John accused.

“Yeah, sorry,” Seth said, though he didn’t sound very apologetic. “I didn’t mean to, but you guys told me to keep my mind open, so I just happened to catch it.” He brushed past Nikola, who was still blocking the hallway. “On a side note, do you guys always scream in your minds?”

“What are you talking about?” John asked. A portal appeared by his side, and he reached in, pulling the milk out of the fridge. He produced another portal from which he procured a glass.

“Aren’t you too old for milk?” Seth asked.

“Pour me one too,” Nikola said. His speech was slowly gaining coherence. Seth shook his head and walked over to the kitchen counter, intent on getting some coffee like a proper adult.

“So what’s this about us screaming our thoughts?” John asked, handing a glass of milk to Nikola, who looked at John as if he had just gifted him a million bucks.

“Your thoughts are so loud,” Seth said. “Everyone else is a normal volume, but since we got here the two of you are always screaming.”

“I didn’t know thoughts could be loud,” John said. “I don’t feel like I’m yelling my thoughts.”

“It’s the power of friendship,” Nikola said. John and Seth turned to him. He had managed to shuffle his way to the couch. His eyes were half-closed.

“He’s going to fall asleep again,” Seth said.

“Probably,” John agreed. He walked over to Nikola and began shaking him aggressively. Nikola broke free from his grip and shoved him away.

“What the hell, man?” Nikola asked.

“You were talking nonsense, I had to wake you up,” John said.

“It wasn’t nonsense,” Nikola said, leaning back into the couch. “Maybe Seth is just more sensitive to our thoughts since we’ve been friends since we were kids.”

“It wasn’t like this back home,” Seth said, pouring boiling water into a cup. “And I doubt we got that much closer this past week.” He took his coffee to the couch, falling into the seat next to Nikola. His coffee seemingly should have splashed out of the cup, but it didn’t move one iota towards the brim.

“Any other bright ideas, Nick?” John asked.

“Variations in the dimensional vibrations on the quantum scale,” Nikola said.

“You know, you can’t just throw around sciency words and expect it to sound right,” John said. “You may as well have called it Handwavium-induced psycho-electric linkage.”

“See, but what I said actually makes sense,” Nikola retorted. “At least, in theory.”

“Oh yeah? Prove it,” John said, taking a seat too.

“Ok, so I think by now it’s safe to assume the multiverse is real, right?” Nikola asked.

“Well, probably,” Seth said. “Either that or this is all a hallucination.”

“Let’s assume we aren’t dreaming,” Nikola said. “So if many universes exist, where do you put them all? I mean, there’s only one Space, right?” He mimicked holding a ball, demonstrating the limited area in which infinite universes were supposed to fit.

“Who says the space isn’t infinite?” Seth asked.

“Oh it is, but you are forgetting something,” Nikola said.

“And that is?” Seth asked.

“The universe is infinite, and if you have an infinite amount of infinite universes you can’t fit it in one infinite space,” Nikola said.

“How did you go from slurring your words to this?” John asked.

“My point is, all universes exist in the same physical space and time,” Nikola explained. “But they are all very slightly different on the quantum scale, so they remain invisible to each other.” Nikola knew he was spouting crap, but it was crap that sort of made sense.

“So how does that explain you two having loud thoughts?” Seth prompted, desperately wanting this line of conversation to end.

“As it stands, the three of us are the only things in this universe who share a fundamental difference in relation to everything else,” Nikola said. “Your power might be responding to that.”

“So you threw out all of that pseudo-science garbage just to say that it’s because we came here together?” Seth asked.

“Yep,” Nikola said. He jumped to his feet, clapping his hands together. “So, boys, it’s our last day of freedom. How do we enjoy it?”

“I could kick your asses again,” Seth said with a smirk.

“Oh, screw you,” John shot back. “You must be stoned if you think you won that fight.”

“How did I not win?” Seth asked.

“You lost the moment you had to rely on me to get home,” John said. He crossed his arms, smiling triumphantly.

“If that’s how we’re counting it, then I won,” Nikola said. “You know since I had to carry both of you through the portal?”

“You only had to do that because you went too far,” John accused.

“I barely touched you,” Nikola retorted. “I used nothing but electricity in that fight.”

“Yeah, way to go!” Seth mock-cheered. “You wasted the energy that would be the hardest to recharge here.”

“I’m sorry, how should I have known these clowns hadn’t solved the energy crisis yet?” Nikola asked, incredulous.

“Because we used superpowers to solve it, dumbass,” Seth near-yelled.

“Hey!” John barked. “Ixnay on the upersay owerspay. What if the neighbors heard you?”

“Right side is at his girlfriend, left side is asleep, above can’t hear us and bellow is blasting music into their ears,” Seth rattled off.

“Smartass,” John said. He jumped up to his feet and stretched out his back. “Nick is right, though. How do we burn away today?”

“If only Alice sent the game with us,” Nikola said. “I can’t believe I went through all the trouble of getting it, and now we can’t even play it.”

“Yeah, it’s a shame,” Seth said. “On that note, though, we can check out an arcade or something. I checked online, there’s one not too far away.”

“I’m game for that,” John said.

“Yeah, I might be able to sap some electricity while we’re out,” Nikola said.

“Isn’t that theft?” Seth asked.

“What are you, a cop?” Nikola asked defensively.

“Can you guys stop the measuring and get ready?” John interrupted. “Come on, let’s enjoy our last day.”


John pounded on the bathroom door.

“Seth, get your butt out here or we’re going to be late,” he yelled through the thin divider.

“Give me a minute!” Seth yelled back.

“How is it taking you this long?” John asked. “Nikola has hair half a mile long, and he only took fifteen minutes. You’re bald!”

“Hey, I pull off the bald look,” Seth yelled defensively.

“Don’t change the subject!” John yelled back. “If you’re not out here in the next ten seconds I am coming in there and dragging you out!” John began counting down from ten, but Seth showed no signs of complying with his demands. “Ok, you asked for this!” John said after he reached ‘one’. A portal opened in front of him and he dove through it, grabbing Seth by the arm.

“Good grief, you two are like children,” Nikola said. He was leaning against the wall by the door, waiting patiently.

“Don’t make me rough you up too,” John threatened, dragging Seth out of the bathroom.

“Try it,” Nikola said, raising his hand. A small flame danced in his palm.

“I don’t have time for your bravado,” John said. “Come on, let’s go!” He threw the front door open.

“Since when were you this excited about classes?” Seth asked, finally breaking free of John’s grip.

“I’m not, but we’ve been cooped up in this apartment for a week now, and I want to get out,” John said. He took a step out of the apartment, and the others followed. “Besides, it’s college. Best years of our lives, and all that.”

“If you say so,” Seth said. He slung his backpack over his shoulder and fell in next to John. The campus wasn’t too far away, and they reached it faster than they expected.

“Guess this is it?” John said.

“Yep,” Nikola said, never stopping his stride. “Come on, orientation is this way.”

“How do you know?” John asked.

“I looked up a map last night,” Nikola replied. “Can’t hurt to come prepared, you know?”

“Fair enough,” John said. He looked around, taking in his surroundings. The campus was pristine, and he couldn’t help but feel a bit out of place. Nikola led them into a large auditorium, and they fell into seats near the back. The orientation was exactly what TV and movies had made them expect. A well-dressed man welcomed them to the school and talk about its history, and then an over-enthusiastic senior tried to riel them all up as if extremely difficult classes were something to look forward to.

“Does she realize the only fun part about university is the parties?” a guy in front of them asked, eliciting a giggle from those around him. Seth glared down at him.

“Says the guy who’s never been invited to a single one,” he said, challenging the guy. He would’ve preferred to stay out of other people’s business, but a series of indecent and frankly unsettling thoughts had flitted through his mind while watching the senior on stage, and Seth felt it necessary to knock him down a peg.

“And who the hell do you think you are?” The guy asked, turning around in his chair. “Do you want to go, pal?” John and Nikola both chuckled at the challenge. If powers were taken from the equation Seth could easily hand both of them their asses on a silver platter. They had no doubt he could clean this guy’s clock too.

“Listen, Chad, I take it?” Seth said, talking as if the man was a child. “I don’t want to fight you. I just don’t like hypocrites, so drop the macho act. We both know you’re not a man’s man. I know they say college is a time to reinvent yourself, but you are doing it wrong.”

“It’s Mike, actually,” Mike said. “And I’m not taking lip from you, Baldy. After this, let’s meet outside. We can see who’s really not a man’s man.” With that, he turned back around in his chair.

“For real, Seth?” John asked. “I was sure Nikola would be the first to pick a fight, and even that I pegged at a few weeks into classes, but here you go and get into one within the first hour. What are you thinking?” His words sounded like he was scolding Seth, but the expression on his face clearly said he wanted to see this douchebag knocked down just as badly as Seth did.

“What? He’s being a real doo-doo head,” Seth said, loud enough for Mike to hear. John and Nikola both burst out laughing at the childish insult, warranting a glare from the stage. The rest of the ceremony flew by, and before they knew it they were outside.

A crowd had gathered. Apparently, word about a fight breaking out before the first class even started had spread, and quite a few people were keen on seeing the result of what might be the first grudge match of the year. In the center of the crowd was Seth, flanked by John and Nikola. The three appeared casual, in stark contrast to their opponents. Opposing them was Mike, flanked by two of his cronies. Mike was cracking his knuckles, while the other two flexed their arms as a form of intimidation.

“So you actually showed up?” Mike asked, bravado pouring out of his voice.

“Someone has to put you in your place,” Seth said. He knew this was stupid. He should never have picked this fight, but he was frustrated, and this was the first chance since his life was stolen from him that he had a chance to take it out on something. John and Nikola seemed to share his sentiment.

“So, I assume first to tap out or get knocked out?” Seth asked.

“Fine by me,” Mike said.

“And our friends stay out of it,” Seth added. “This is between you and me.”

“Of course,” Mike replied. His thoughts betrayed his true intentions. If it looked like he was losing the fight his two lackeys would step in and help. It didn’t worry Seth. He knew John and Nikola had his back.

“In that case,” Seth said, taking a step forward. He spread his arms and danced lightly on his toes. “Take the first shot.”

Mike frowned, clearly not happy with Seth taking him so lightly. He charged forward, throwing a wild right hook. It looked like he wanted to take Seth’s head clean off his shoulders. His fist was on a direct course to collide, but at the last second Seth cleanly stepped to the side, the blow breezing by within an inch of his face. He stuck out his leg, catching Mike on his own momentum and sending him tumbling hard to the ground. He rolled over, looking up right into the smug faces of John and Nikola. They smiled and waved down at Mike, taunting him.

Mike cursed and jumped back onto his feet. He did another blind charge, the embarrassment of the first miss clouding his judgment. This time Seth ducked the fist aimed for his face and buried his own in Mike’s stomach, driving the wind out of him. He tossed Mike to the side, sending him staggering into the crowd. Mike barely stayed on his feet but was doubled over gasping for air.

Seth grinned victoriously at Mike. The victory was short-lived, as he sensed a violent intent behind him. Seth spun around, only to come face to face with a fist flying straight at his face. He had no time to react, but right before impact, the arm was caught. It stopped dead, all the momentum seemingly stolen.

“Now that’s not very sportsmanlike,” Nikola said, tightening his grip on the lackey’s arm. He had a kind smile on his face. The third guy took the opportunity to charge too, letting out an angered screech. It was cut short by John, in the form of his knee being buried in the poor man’s abdomen.

“How about next time you fight fair,” John said, gently lowering his opponent to the ground. Mike slowly rose to his feet. He eyed the audience, then stared Seth down.

“Tch, you’re a loser anyway,” Mike spat, before turning around and disappearing into the crowd. His friends followed his lead, their retreat drowned out by a cheer from the crowd. John grabbed the hands of Mike and Nikola and threw them into the air, eliciting an even louder bout of cheering.

“So much for staying inconspicuous,” Nikola muttered. A group of guys came up to them, patting them on the back.

“That was really cool,” one of them said, grabbing Seth’s hand and shaking it.

“Thanks,” Seth said, chuckling awkwardly. He didn’t expect a reaction like this. A bolt shot through his mind and he eyed his surroundings. Something about the thoughts of one of the people in the crowd put him on edge. He couldn’t put his finger on what it was. He only caught a glimpse of it through the sea of excited thoughts around him. Whatever it was, it was intense. Seth grabbed John and Nikola’s arms, dragging them out of the crowd.

“Hey, what gives?” John asked. “What’s with the Irish exit?”

“Shut up and come with me,” Seth said. “We already drew enough attention as it.” John immediately picked up on Seth’s tone and followed willingly. It was one of the benefits of being friends for about as long as they could remember. Even though Seth could literally read minds, it wasn’t hard for John to tell what he was thinking either. Nikola seemed to have gotten the memo too. Once out of earshot of others, Seth stopped and spun around.

“Sorry guys,” he said. “I didn’t mean to cut our victory short.”

“What’s going on, man?” John asked.

“I don’t know,” Seth answered. “But someone in that crowd’s mind set me on edge. It gave off a really weird vibe.”

“Weird how?” Nikola prompted.

“I really don’t know,” Seth said. “I can’t explain it, but whatever it was I know I don’t want a part in it.” John and Nikola glanced at each other, then back at Seth.

“You’re the expert, man,” Nikola said. “I’ll take your word for it.”

“Yeah,” John agreed. He lifted his arm and pointed at his watch.

“We should get to class anyway.”


"Boss, this is Falcon, I'm blending in pretty well. So far I haven't spotted anything out of the ordinary yet, but once I get in between the people I'll be able to get information a lot quicker. I'll keep you updated."

Falcon hung up the phone and collapsed onto his bed. Out of the corner of his eye, he eyed the document on his bedside table. It was unorthodox, but it would put him in a very good position to gather intel.

"Maybe the boys upstairs know what they're doing after all," he mumbled into his pillow. I should get some sleep. Big day tomorrow." He rolled over, falling asleep almost instantly, just like he was trained to.