That time three friends with special abilities were thrown to a new world where superpowers don't exist
“I want to die. Nikola, please, if you truly value me as a friend just stop my heart,” John said. He was currently face-down on the living room couch. An aura of despair hung over him, and his tone matched that of a man in extreme pain, begging for death not because he was tired of living, but because death would be a mercy.
“I did say before the party to go light on the booze, man,” Nikola said. “And I think you’re exaggerating. It can’t be that bad, can it?”
“Oh, it’s bad,” Seth said. “My head almost hurts just from being around him.”
“Stop reading my miiiiiiind,” John complained. He sounded like a five-year-old with a tummy ache. “This is hell. I’ve died, and now I’m going to suffer for eternity for my sins.”
“Stop being dramatic,” Nikola said. “I’m doing you a favor absorbing most of the noise in the room. Once we leave I can’t do that anymore.” John suddenly lurched off the couch, wrapping his arms around one of Nikola’s legs.
“Please, don’t leave me,” he begged. “You’re the only thing keeping me alive here, man.” Nikola shook his leg, but John refused to give way. A loud, high-pitched sound exploded into the room sending John staggering back. The sound subsided, and John fell to his knees.
“I don’t get it,” John said. “We’re superhuman. Why the hell can we get hangovers?”
“A lot of people back home can’t,” Seth said. “And Nick here can cure his by eating some fire or whatever. We just didn’t luck out with physical abilities.” He had a lot of pity for John. It only took one glimpse into his mind to see how bad he felt.
“You really shouldn’t skip the second day,” Nikola said as he crouched beside John.
“I’m a physics major, Nick,” John said. “Do you think I can do physics in this state?”
“Just make a couple of portals in class,” Seth said. “I’m sure you’ll get a passing grade with that.”
“Do your powers really have no effects on your bodies?” Nikola asked, looking up at Seth.
“Mine does, kind of,” Seth replied. “For example, if I kept listening to that sorry pile of human right there I’d get a headache too. Also the heavier that something is that I try to move the more feedback there is to my body.”
“What’s your cap right now,” Nikola asked.
“If it’s a single object?” Seth asked. Nikola nodded. “I can go up to hundred-fifty kilos pretty easily. Two hundred takes a bit of effort, but I can manage. Anything more than that and it gets difficult.
“Could you throw a car?” Nikola asked.
“No,” Seth said. “Getting a car to move fast enough to ‘throw’ it is probably more than my ability can handle right now. I should be able to lift one, not that it’d be easy.”
“Huh, I really did luck out with my power then,” Nikola said.
“What makes you say that?” Seth asked.
“I mean, for one, the restoration thing,” Nikola replied. “It’s not a lot, but being able to get rid of simple fatigue and small amounts of pain is pretty useful at times.”
“Don’t you worry you’ll ever explode?” John asked, finally dragging himself to his feet.
“Not really,” Nikola said. “I’ve never found an upper limit to how much I can absorb.”
“No weaknesses, then,” John said, sulking.
“I have weaknesses,” Nikola said. “But why are you talking as if we’re superheroes. We’re just three dudes in college, remember?”
“We could be superheroes,” Seth said. “Wearing cool costumes, saving the day, all that good stuff.”
“Don’t joke around about that,” Nikola scolded. “It’d be really dangerous if we were found out. Not just for us.”
“Who else would be in danger?” Seth asked.
“Our friends,” Nikola said as if it was obvious. “I mean, we only just met them yesterday, but I’m sure all three of us have met some good people. If we become good friends, they’d be targets for people who want to get to us.”
“Do you really think superpowers would be treated that way here?” John asked.
“I don’t know,” Nikola said. “Come to think of it, I haven’t really looked into that. Did you?” Seth and John shook their heads in the negative. “So in the week we were here you didn’t look into it? What about this world’s history? Politics? Science?” He got the same response to each of his questions. “Good grief, what were you doing in all that time?”
“Hey, asshat, I don’t see you pulling out the binders,” Seth accused. “What were you doing the last week?” Nikola stared Seth down. He couldn’t admit that he spent most of it trying not to cry at the thought of never seeing his parents again. “Yeah, and what do you think the two of us were doing, Mama’s Boy?” Nikola frowned.
“Read my mind again, and I’ll turn you into a vegetable,” he threatened
“Try me,” Seth said. Around him, various pieces of furniture began floating.
“What did I tell you two about fighting!” John asked, stomping one of his feet. Seth and Nikola turned to him, surprise written on their faces.
“You remember that?” Seth asked, his voice an awe-filled whisper.
“Of course I do,” John said. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“Dude, you were hammered,” Nikola said. “We seriously considered calling an ambulance.”
“I think you’re exaggerating,” John said. He began limping to the door. “Come on, let’s get ourselves to class.”
“Don’t wait up after classes, by the way,” Seth said. “I’m gonna do some digging about this world.
“You look awful!” Olivia said, rushing over to John. “Have a fun night last night?”
“There are no words to describe how bad I feel,” John said. “I thought I could be a man and tough it out, but turns out I’d rather just stop living.”
“Yeah, try not to make your hangover too obvious in class,” Olivia said. She patted John on the back. “I’ll do my best to cover for you, ‘kay?” John gave her an appreciative smile.
“Thank you,” John said. “I already like you a lot more than my roommates.”
“Just don’t get the wrong idea,” Olivia said, waving John off. “I’m only helping you because it’ll look bad if my lab partner is caught with a hangover.” With that, she skipped ahead into the class.
“Ok…” John said, his mind too confused to process the interaction he just had. He followed her in and took a seat. “So what were you up to last night?”
“Well, unlike you I’m not a party animal,” she said. “I spent the evening with some of the other girls from my dorm.”
“What, no guys?” John asked. “I’m surprised.”
“It’s a girls-only dorm,” she said. “And all the guys here are trash anyway.”
“Ouch,” John said. “You wound me, Olivia. Here I thought we were becoming fast friends.”
“John, think of my first interaction with you,” Olivia said. “You knocked all my books out of my hand, and then I found out you were one of the idiots who got into a fight.”
“First off, they started it,” John said. “And second, I helped you carry them all day as an apology.”
“Yeah, you did do that,” Olivia said, pushing a wisp of hair away from her face. “Ok, maybe not all the guys here are trash.”
“My roommates are though,” John said. He shook his head as if he found the very thought of Seth and Nikola unappealing. “Here I am suffering, and they don’t even show a drop of sympathy. Nikola even gave me an auditory flashbang just to mess with me.”
“Auditory flashbang?” Olivia asked, tilting her head.
“Oh, you know,” John said. “He releases a bunch of sounds all at once, like an explosion but only with sound.”
“How does he do that?” Olivia asked. John swung his head to face her as he realized what he just said. She didn’t look suspicious, more curious than anything. He felt like kicking himself. He’d just casually let slip that Nikola used his ability. He quickly gathered his thoughts. He could lie his way out of this.
“He used a speaker,” John said, laughing. He wanted it to sound like it was the most obvious thing in the world. To his relief, Olivia joined in on the laughing.
“Yeah, I guess that’d do it,” she said. “I’m glad you survived.”
“Yeah,” John said, taken by her laugh. “Me too.”
Nikola wandered into class and fell into his seat in the back. He scouted the room but could find no sign of Logan anywhere. He must be running late. Nikola reached his hand under the long desk, feeling for what he found the day before. It took a second of clawing underneath the desk before he found it. An outlet. They were probably installed so the students could charge their laptops, assuming they used those in the class. For Nikola it was a godsend. He could sit at the back of the class and siphon off electricity on the college’s dime. It wasn’t completely ethical, but he never knew when he would need energy, and electricity was by far the hardest energy to come by. He managed to drain power for all of two minutes before a voice called out to him.
“Hey, Prince Charming!” The voice called. Nikola turned to find Emma, the girl from the party, standing behind him.
“Hey, Damsel-in-Distress!” he called back, matching her tone. She came over and took a seat on his right.
“This seat isn’t occupied, is it?” she asked, clearly not really caring if it was.
“Nope,” Nikola said. “The one to my left is, though. He should be here soon.”
“Who’s the mystery man?” Emma asked.
“Just a guy I met yesterday,” Nikola said with a shrug. He was still draining electricity and was trying to look normal while doing it. This proved a bit more difficult than he first envisioned since it was pretty hard to look normal with your hand ostensibly glued to the bottom of a table. Emma immediately took notice.
“So, whatcha got there?” she asked, pointing at his arm leading under the desk.
“Nothing,” Nikola said, pulling his hand free. He showed his open palms to her, proving his innocence. “I was just in thought. Don’t call me Prince Charming again, by the way. People are looking at me weird.”
“Aww, but you were so heroic saving me last night,” Emma said, pouting.
“Listen, if you’re going to keep bringing that up then I’m going to find new friends,” Nikola said, crossing his arms. He wasn’t serious, but he also didn’t feel like being the only one being on the ropes.
“You can’t do that,” Emma said matter-of-factly. “It’s the second day. All the cliques have already formed.”
“Damn, guess I’ll just have to hang out with my two best friends, who I’ve known for as long as I can remember,” Nikola said, forcing as much sarcasm into his voice as he could. “I can’t imagine worse company.” Emma giggled at this, and Nikola couldn’t help but crack a smile too.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help myself,” Emma said. The high-and-mighty facade she wore up until now fell away, revealing a kind smile.
“It’s ok,” Nikola said, waving her off. “Compared to John and Seth you’re little teases are nothing.”
“I take it those are the other two knights?” Emma asked.
“Don’t tell me you saw the video too,” Nikola said, his head falling to the table.
“My roommate showed it to me after I got home last night,” Emma said, laughing at Nikola’s misfortune. “You’re pretty famous now.”
“Don’t remind me,” Nikola said. “At this rate, other people are going to come to pick fights with us.”
“And you’re going to have to kick their butts?” Emma asked as if it was a given.
“Exactly! My shoe's going to stink after a while,” Nikola lamented. This warranted another laugh from Emma, which Nikola joined in.
Seth had a pretty uneventful day of classes. He hadn’t come across that girl with the suspicious thoughts again. She was probably hungover. It seemed to be a theme with everyone on campus today. Even some of the professors were hungover, though they hid it well enough that Seth was probably the only one who could tell. He wasn’t sure how he should feel about that but ultimately decided that they were adults and could do whatever they wanted.
After his boring day, he made his way to a nearby internet cafe, intent on learning more about this world. For the hundredth time, he reminded himself to thank Alice for giving them working ID cards and bank accounts. That is before he gave her a proper piece of his mind.
His first search was a simple one, but one he thought would yield the most insight into the state of this world. He searched for a history of major wars fought in this world. What met him was probably the last thing he expected. The timeline matched their world exactly. He began reading deeper. Even the major events were identical. The only difference he saw was that, in this world, they fought with rudimentary weapons, whereas in his world wars were fought with super-powered soldiers.
His next search was one that he was more personally curious about. He did a search for the major religions of this world. Again, they matched his world, but in this world, they were practiced by a lot more people. Back home a lot of religious events were dismissed as being caused by people with abilities. There were still devout followers to every religion, but the amount in this world seemed to be a lot more.
Seth finally steeled himself for the search he was most nervous about. He simply searched for the term ‘superpowers’. He expected to find insane conspiracies, horror stories of human experimentation, or maybe even worse. Instead, he was greeted with one of the last things he expected. In this world, the idea of a super-human wasn’t just accepted. It was idolized.
Hundreds of movies, television shows, comic books and manga, even songs were written about people who were something more than the average human. He found that the Superhero genre in media had become a billion-dollar industry. This was great news, and much better than he expected. If he and his friends were ever found out chances were they wouldn’t be rejected by society. On the contrary, they could very easily become celebrities.
Seth shook off the last of his nerves. This was by far the best-case scenario. He got more comfortable in his seat and prepared himself for a few hours of intense research. And maybe he’d give a few of those comic books a shot.
Nikola found himself in the middle of the city. It was nearing sunset, and he was wandering the streets slowly making his way home. He came here because Emma said she had something to do, and he offered to walk with her. He didn’t think far enough ahead to realize he’d have to walk back alone. Luckily it wasn’t a long walk home, and he didn’t mind getting out like this. The air was cool, and the golden rays of sunlight hitting the tall buildings were a sight to behold. He was so wrapped up in admiring this view that he almost missed the sound of two cars colliding down the street he was crossing.
Nikola lazily turned his head to the sound of the noise that disturbed him and froze dead in his tracks when he saw the scene in front of him. A crowd had gathered beneath a skyscraper, staring up at its roof. He followed their eyes. His blood froze in his veins when he saw someone on the top of the building, standing on the roof’s edge. He looked back to the ground, where the two cars had collided. If he had to guess, one of the drivers was distracted by the scene and crashed into the other. The cause didn’t matter too much though, the main problem was the smoke that was billowing out of the front of one of the cars.
Nikola knew that if he acted he’d be putting himself and his friends in danger. He knew that, but he also knew he couldn’t just stand by right now. He had to find a way to help. He quickly ducked back around the corner and grabbed his handkerchief from his pocket. He thanked his lucky stars that he packed a clean one this morning. He wrapped it around his mouth and nose and prayed that that paired with his long hair would be enough to hide his identity. With that he bolted around the corner, sprinting to the crowd.
“Get back!” he yelled to the crowd. These idiots were standing way too close to the cars. “Run away!” He drew some attention, but they didn’t respond. Everyone was too enthralled by the person on the roof. Nikola quickly took stock. If the man jumped, it would be a few seconds before he hit the ground. If Nikola could catch him he could take away all the kinetic energy. He was also pretty sure he could get from the cars to the sidewalk in time, so that sorted his priorities.
Nikola threw open the passenger door of the first car. He could feel the flames in the front of the car. If he didn’t act fast, people were going to get hurt. This car luckily only had one person to deal with. He managed to undo her seatbelt and run around the car to help her out. He told her to go ask for help in the crowd, then moved on to the other car. The flames were growing more intense. He knew the clock was ticking. The other car also had only one person, but it would be a lot trickier to get him out. Both the front doors were stuck shut, so Nikola had to make a plan. He didn’t want to be this flashy, but it looked like he didn’t have a choice.
He jumped into the back of the car and clambered over to the front.
“Hey, what are you doing!?” the driver asked. He was desperately tugging on the door handle. Nikola looked up at him. The fear in the man’s eyes was evident.
“Forget everything that you’re about to see,” Nikola said. He placed his palm against the car door. It flew away, colliding with a nearby building. It got embedded in the wall. Nikila looked back at the man. His fear was completely replaced by shock. “Huh, guess I used too much,” Nikola said. He blasted himself out of the car and offered his hand to the man. The man took it, an awestruck glint in his eyes. “Get away from the cars, they’re about to blow.”
The man followed Nikola’s instruction, but not very well. He ran into the crowd to ask for help there.
“You dumbass,” Nikola said. “Where are the police anyway?” He was just about to run into the crowd to tell them to move to a safe distance when he heard a gasp. He looked up, only to see the person plummeting to the ground.
Nikola didn’t plan his next move carefully. He barely had time to think. He angled his body forward and blasted kinetic energy from his feet, sending him sailing over the crowd. His timing proved good, and he collided with the falling person. He immediately took all the momentum out of their fall and made a graceful landing. He made sure to keep his head low in an effort to conceal his identity. He wasn’t done yet.
“Everybody get out of here!” he yelled. “The cars are gonna blow!”
By its very nature, Nikola’s ability let him sense energy. This was something the average person could do too, mind you. They can feel the heat of a fire on their skin. They can see the light from the sun. Their stomachs can turn as inertia takes hold. For Nikola it was different. He had all these normal senses, but he also had more. He could feel energy, and he could identify different phenomena based purely on how it felt.
What he felt right now was an intense amount of heat, building rapidly. It was a sure tell of an explosion. Luckily the crowd took his words to heart, finally registering the danger they were in. Even the one he caught made a wild dash to get away from the cars. With this everyone would be safe. Nikola’s eyes shot up.
Everyone but one. A small child had approached the burning wreckage, no doubt his innocent curiosity luring him there. He had no idea how much danger he was in. Nikola could feel the coming explosion, mere moments away.
“No!” Nikola yelled, though he knew it was fruitless. The boy couldn’t run away in time. He was going to die.
Nikola’s legs began moving completely on their own, launching him forward. He knew he wasn’t fast enough. Even if he threw every ounce of kinetic energy he had out of his feet he wouldn’t be able to get there in time. But he still ran. As the stress of the situation grew time seemed to slow around him, every step sending a shock up his spine. He forced himself to run faster, pouring everything he had into this sprint. Around him, the air began to crackle. Sparks flew from his body. This wasn’t like his usual release of energy.
Power was flowing through him, energy coursing through his very veins. He caught a glimpse of his own hand, bathed in crackling static. He could feel his movements quicken, as the world around him seemed to go ever-slower. This wasn’t like his usual release of energy. He didn’t just throw it out.
Nikola became the lightning.
His body shifted, burning off the energy he stored inside him in order to lend its properties. In a brilliant flash of light and a thunderous boom he grabbed the child and rushed him to a safe distance. He collapsed onto the ground, rolling several times, using his body to shield the child.
A shockwave traveled through the air as the car detonated, bathing its surroundings in shrapnel and fire. Nikola winced, doing what he can to shield the boy. As it turned out, it wasn’t necessary. He looked back and saw the cars some distance away. He was near the crowd now, at a safe distance from the inferno. A woman rushed forward, grabbing the boy from his arms.
“Thank you!” she said, tears streaming from her face. “Thank you so much.” She held the boy, crying freely. Nikola could feel all eyes on him. He didn’t pay them any mind. His breath was ragged, and he was exhausted. It felt like he had run a marathon. He didn’t focus on this either. He looked down at his feet. His shoes were destroyed. They probably got ripped apart when he leaped to save the person who fell. Even the state of his shoes didn’t hold his attention long. He looked back at the wreckage, now several feet away.
“What the hell just happened?”
Nikola opened the front door in a daze, staggering inside.
“Nick!” John yelled upon seeing his friend. He rushed over and hugged him. Seth was close behind, and he also wrapped Nikola in a hug.
“What’s with the warm welcome?” Nikola asked, holding onto their shoulders for support.
“We saw what you did,” Seth said. “With the cars and the jumper.”
“I’m sorry, guys,” Nikola said. “I know I said we should be discrete with our powers.”
“Are you kidding?” John asked. “Dude, you were awesome out there.”
“Yeah,” Seth said. “We’ve been rewatching the video ever since it was uploaded.”
“Video?” Nikola asked. Seth pulled out his phone and showed Nikola the video. It started with the camera trained on the jumper but panned to focus on him when he started running to the cars to get the drivers out. From then on, his every move was recorded. Blasting away the car door, leaping over the crowd, and finally zipping over to save the kid.
“How did you do that?” John asked. He grabbed Seth’s phone and wound the video back to where Nikola’s electric sprint began. “I mean, look at that! It’s like you’re a bolt of lightning!”
“I don’t know,” Nikola said. “I could feel the cars about to explode, and I saw that kid. I knew I had to do something, so I just started running with everything I had, and then…” Nikola paused. He closed his eyes, his brow furrowing as he tried to get his thoughts in order. “I can feel that I used up a lot of electricity when I did that. But it wasn’t normal. It wasn’t like I was just throwing lightning. I became lightning, if that makes sense. It took a lot out of me though. It took almost ten minutes to catch my breath.”
“Your body took on the properties of the energy,” Seth said. “It kinda makes sense.”
“What does that mean?” Nikola asked, looking to Seth for some kind of guidance.
“For starters, you should be able to do it with other energies too,” Seth said. “Boiling touch, glowing skin, all that good stuff.” He helped Nikola over to the couch and helped him sit down. He took a step back so he could address Nikola and John. “Much more importantly, though, it proves something no one knew before.”
“And what’s that?” John prompted.
“There’s more to our powers than we thought.”
Falcon lazed on the couch. This average and mundane life was so extremely boring compared to daily drills and high-stakes missions. The laptop screen flickered as it whipped between webpages, aiding in the search for anything out of the ordinary. Neither the laptop nor Falcon knew, but today they would hit the motherlode. Falcon opened a popular video-sharing website and searched for anything that happened in the local area. The mouse pointer froze when a certain title appeared on the screen.
Super-human saves suicide jumper and others!
This had to be a joke. A skit. Some kind of publicity stunt. Maybe even a short film. Falcon watched the video. Again. And again. It was unbelievable. The search was over. This was concrete evidence. Now all that was left to do was to track down the man in the video.
“Boss, this is Falcon. Check the link I sent you. It’s not fake, I’m sure of it. That right there is our proof. You were right. I might be going dark for a while. I’m going to track that guy down.”