That time three friends with special abilities were thrown to a new world where superpowers don't exist
“You’re an idiot.”
Nikola spun his head around, looking for the source of the voice. He was at his desk studying, midterms were coming up, after all, when he could have sworn he heard Seth’s voice. He was alone in his room, though. He shrugged it off, chalking it up to his imagination. His pen had just touched the paper when he heard it again.
“You’re an idiot.”
He looked around the room again. He could have sworn the sound came from right by him. No, that wasn’t right. It came from inside his head. This thought made him suspicious. He walked over to Seth’s room and threw open the door without much warning. He wanted to catch Seth in the act, after all.
Inside the room, Seth was sitting cross-legged on the floor. He was dripping with sweat, so much so that for a minute Nikola thought he had come from the shower without bothering to towel himself off. This exhausted state was something Nikola was intimately familiar with. Seth looked like he felt just like Nikola did after he did his first Electric Sprint, a feat that he still could not replicate.
“Are you ok?” Nikola asked though he expected he knew the answer. At this moment Seth would be exhausted, and not sure why he suddenly lost so much energy.
“Not really,” Seth said. “I’m trying something, and it’s taking a lot out of me. It’s a bit complicated, I don’t think you’ll understand.”
“Yeah, because I’m an idiot?” Nikola asked. Seth almost gave himself whiplash with the speed at which he turned his neck to look at Nikola, who stared back with a smug grin.
“You could hear that?” He asked.
“Yeah,” Nikola said. “Like it was inside my mind. Is that how our thoughts sound to you?” Seth jumped up, letting out a cheer.
“I have been struggling for almost three hours to do that!” he said. “Elain’s whole training thing got me thinking that I should try something with my telepathy, but she doesn’t know about it so I couldn’t ask her.” Seth’s speech got faster and faster as he talked, so much so that Nikola was having trouble keeping up.
“So I had to think of something myself,” he continued. “And while I was in John’s room I saw that wavelength diagram in his physics textbook. You know, the one that shows all the different things wavelengths do like radio signals and light and gamma rays and all that?”
Nikola nodded. He did understand, but even if he didn’t he had doubts that he could stop Seth now.
“So that’s when it hit me,” Seth went on. “Brainwaves. My power likely just picks up on and decodes brainwaves, right? So, I am basically a walking radio receiver, but for frequencies in the 0.5 to 40ish Hertz range, that’s why I can hear thoughts. I mean, maybe. Our powers might be magic, but if that’s the case I may as well give up now. Anyway, I had a thought. If I can receive the waves, why shouldn’t I be able to broadcast them as well.”
“Don’t all of us broadcast them?” Nikola asked. “Isn’t that why you can hear our thoughts?”
“Yeah, but you’re like a child’s walkie-talkie,” Seth said. “That’s why you can’t hear thoughts. Your ‘receiver’ is just too weak. I’m built different though, and if I can transmit with the same strength I receive I should be able to make others hear what I’m thinking! But hey, that’s just a theory.”
“Well judging by you’re disembodied insults earlier, it’s not just a theory anymore,” Nikola said. “Good job, man.”
“Thanks, and sorry for not asking before I did it,” Seth said. “I didn’t want to have you like prime your mind for receiving or anything. I needed you to just be busy with something else.”
“No, I get it,” Nikola said. “To think, we’ve been training with Elain for almost two weeks now, and John and I still haven’t made any progress, and here you go and do it solo. What’s next?”
“Well, this was already such a long shot,” Seth said. “But I want to try to make two other people hear each other’s thoughts. I’d act as, like, a relay station.”
“I mean it makes sense to me,” Nikola said with a shrug. “If you can manage that then the three of us could ‘talk’ about our powers whenever we wanted. We can really freak a few people out too.”
“Yeah. For now, I need to figure out how I managed to get into your head, though,” Seth said.
“You managed it twice so far,” Nikola said. “That’s twice as many times as I’ve been able to do the Electric Sprint, and infinitely more times than John has been able to do something cool.”
A small, blueish ring appeared in the space right above Nikola’s head. A hand reached through and slapped him in the back of the head. He winced and tried to grab the hand, but it retreated through the portal before he could make contact.
“I heard that,” John’s voice came through the portal. “And excuse me for not being able to violate the laws of thermodynamics in a more convenient way.” John’s door swung open, and he waltzed into Seth’s room.
“The laws of thermo-whatnow?” Nikola asked.
“This world’s laws of physics are a lot more strict than ours,” John said. “A lot of the stuff we can do just outright breaks those laws.”
“How so?” Seth asked. He stretched out his arms, his back popping.
“Well, one of the laws is that energy can’t be created or destroyed, it can just change form,” John said. “I’m a walking violation of that. Make two portals above each other, throw some water in, and boom, infinite waterfall. Attach an electric generator and you have an infinite amount of free energy.”
“You know, I’m starting to understand why Elain’s mental state became the way it is after meeting us,” Seth said. “She must be constantly thinking about how we break even the fundamental rules of her reality.
“I don’t do anything of the sort,” Nikola said. “In fact, my whole power is that law John just mentioned. I can’t create or destroy energy, I just carry it with me.”
“Yeah, but then again you’re a human walking around with fire and lightning somehow contained in your body,” John said.
“Don’t forget light and sound,” Seth said.
“And kinetic,” Nikola finished. “By the way, do you guys want to see something cool?”
“Sure,” Seth said, immediately taking a step back. With how destructive Nikola’s power could be, you could never be too careful.”
“Check this,” Nikola said. He made a finger gun. From the tip of his finger shot a concentrated beam of brilliant white light.
“You can make lasers?” Seth asked.
“Yeah, I got bored of running so I tried to refine how I threw out energy this week,” Nikola said. “This is one of the things I figured out. But that’s not the cool part. Look at this.” The beam began shifting colors. It started at red and wandered all the way across the rainbow to indigo.
“So, you’re gay now?” Seth asked.
“That’s offensive,” Nikola said, shooting the beam at Seth. Seth ducked and telekinetically forced Nikola’s hand into the air. “Do you not realize how cool this is?”
“Oh I do,” Seth said. “I just don’t want to let you have your moment in the spotlight.”
“Well, I don’t,” John said. “Explain to the dumber third please?”
“I can fine-tune the energy I release now,” Nikola said. “Let’s say I absorb sunlight. That light is white. Usually, I’d only be able to throw it out exactly how I got it, but now I can throw out only the red part and keep the rest for later.”
“So you’re a walking projector?” John asked.
“Not yet, I don’t have that kind of precision,” Nikola said. “But it’s still something. I can do the same with sound too.”
“I’ve always wanted to ask,” Seth said. Nikola anticipated the question, and let his left hand passively absorb sound. “Can you record conversations and play them back?”
“Can you record conversations and play them back?” Seth’s words rang out again, this time from Nikola’s hands.
“It’s not easy,” Nikola said. “I really have to concentrate on that sound energy and keep it the way I got it, otherwise it just becomes a mess of sound. And I can only play it back once.”
“You guys have been making a lot of progress, huh?” John asked. He looked downtrodden. “I haven’t been able to do anything new yet.”
“Don’t lose hope, man,” Nikola said. “Your power is the most abstract out of all of ours. You punch a hole in spacetime. There’s not a lot of wiggle room there, but I’m sure there’s enough for you to do cool stuff. And even if you can’t, you can still become rich a lot easier than we can.”
“How so?” John asked.
“You said it yourself,” Nikola said. “How much do you think this world is willing to pay for a free source of literally infinite energy?”
“I think they would pay a lot more to keep that under wraps,” Seth said. “Once electricity is infinite they can’t charge for it anymore.”
“You have a point,” Nikola said. “By the way, can we buy an electric generator?”
“Why?” Seth asked.
“Because I can’t keep stealing my power,” Nikola said. “And if John helps I can get an endless amount.”
“We don’t have the money,” Seth said. “We’re still living on Alice’s grace, remember?”
“Yeah, we should look into getting jobs, shouldn’t we?” John asked. “Rent is due soon, after all.”
“We can do that after classes tomorrow,” Nikola said. “Remember, we have an assembly at the end of the day. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to finish up my studying, and go to sleep.”
“Goodnight,” Seth called. John made a portal to his room and stepped through.
“See you tomorrow.”
John fidgeted in his seat. He really wasn’t in the mood for this assembly. He didn’t let it show, but he was feeling very self-conscious about his ability. He had always been happy with his power. It was a really useful one, but it didn’t really lend itself to showing off. He wasn’t vain or narcissistic, but he still felt like he was being left behind by Seth and Nikola. Their powers were so incredible, and both have been finding new ways to use their powers. Even if it was as novel as Nikola’s rainbow laser, it was still something.
“Are you ok?” Seth asked. He could easily find out what was bothering his friend, but he did promise Nikola and John that he wouldn’t read their minds on purpose if he didn’t absolutely need to. The times that it happened in the past were accidents. He was just open to the thoughts around them. This would be different. He would be actively digging through John’s mind, and that was a line he didn’t want to cross.
“I’m fine,” John said. “I’m just dealing with an inferiority complex.”
“Wow, just coming out and saying it,” Nikola said from John’s other side.
“I mean it’s not rocket science to figure out,” John said. “But it’s something I’ll deal with, you guys don’t have to worry about it.”
“Good, cause the Dean is about to start his speech,” Seth said. John and Nikola turned their attention to the stage.
“Thank you all for gathering here today,” the Dean said. “This won’t take long. We gathered all of the first years here today to inform you about the yearly festival this university holds, and what your role in it will be.” An oppressive mood swept over the room. “Unless you volunteer, you won’t have to do anything,” the Dean said. The mood quickly vanished. “That being said, if you are a part of a club then you might be obligated by their own rules. I can’t speak for every club. Now, the festival is in two weeks. The primary purpose of it is to welcome you first-years to our campus. We hope that you will enjoy it. Now, a few rules and arrangements…” The Dean droned on, explaining all of the events and rules of the upcoming event. It was a painfully long speech and made the festival seem more like a punishment than a reward.
“And that’s about it. Again, thank you for coming today. You may disperse,” The Dean said. It took a moment for the crowd of first-years to realize what he had said. They quickly got to their feet and started shuffling out of the room.
“Finally,” Seth said. “I thought he’d never stop talking.”
“Let’s get out butts home,” John said. “I want to take a nap.”
“Hold on,” Nikola said. His brow was furrowed in confusion.
“What is it?” Seth asked.
“I don’t know,” Nikola said. He closed his eyes tightly, narrowing his focus. “I feel something…” He trailed off. A few seconds later his eyes shot open. “Oh no.”
“What?” John asked.
“Bomb,” Nikola said. “There’s a bomb. No, wait, a few. They’re about to blow!” Seth studied Nikola’s face for a moment, then looked around them at the auditorium.
“How big?” he asked.
“Not very,” Nikola said. “We’ll be safe from the blast, but…” He looked up at the roof of the auditorium. They scanned the room. It seemed like everyone had left already.
“Let’s get ourselves out of here,” Seth said. “Check the rows for anyone else.” Nikola and John nodded. They made their way to the door at the bottom row, trying to see if anyone was still there. They stopped by the door. “Are the bombs only in the auditorium?”
“Yeah,” Nikola said. “I don’t feel any more. Come on, we don’t have much time.” Seth stopped, quickly mentally scanning the auditorium for anyone they might have missed. His heart sank.
“Hey, wait up!” A voice called out. The three spun around in terror. In the very back row, the one row they did not check, Olivia waved at them.
“No-!” Nikola shouted. His words were cut off. He knew it was too late. He could feel the energy buildup release. The detonations had happened. There was no way to get to her in time. He tried to run, but his body felt heavy. He noticed the world around him seemed to slow down.
A glint came to his eyes. It was finally happening again. But something was wrong. He realized it wasn’t just the world that slowed down. He had slowed down too. His body was frozen solid. He couldn’t even move his eyes. What was going on? Was this some new aspect of his ability? It seemed pretty useless. Nikola was still scrambling to try to think of something to do when John walked into his field of view.
John looked around him. Seth and Nikola were standing in impossible poses, halfway between two steps in a run. He turned around to look at the auditorium. The world was eerily silent. At a few points along the walls near the roof, he spotted holes where debris had started flying from. Curiously, the debris wasn’t moving. At this point, it should have fallen to the ground, but it was stuck in the air. He took another step forward. Could this be?
He walked up the stairs of the auditorium. He walked carefully as if the very fabric of reality could be shattered by even the slightest misstep. He made it to the top row where Olivia was. He reached out to grab her hand, but she was like a statue. He grabbed her around her waist and threw her over his shoulder, carrying her like a lumberjack would carry a large log. To his surprise, it felt like she didn’t weigh anything. He tried to be gentle with her, but he had doubts he could hurt her in this state if he tried.
He carried her down and placed her outside of the auditorium, trying to position her in such a way that she wouldn’t lose her balance. He cast his eyes through the crowd, and his heart sank. Outside all of the first years seemed to be herded up as they left the building. Several men had disturbingly large funs leveled at the students. He then went back in and stood in between his friends.
“Guys, can you hear me?” Seth’s voice came out. It didn’t come from Seth. It echoed in John’s mind.
“Yeah, I can hear you,” Nikola’s voice said. John tried talking, but no sound came.
“Yeah, I can too,” he thought. “Guys, do you have any idea what this is?”
“I think this is you,” Seth said.
“How can this be me?” John asked.
“Dude, I think you stopped time,” Nikola said.
“No one can stop time,” John said. “Even in our world, a power like that was never discovered.”
“Look around you,” Seth said. “You’re the only one that can move. Aside from the three of us not a single mind is making a sound right now.
“Why are you two aware of this?” John asked.
“Variations in the dimensional vibrations on the quantum scale?” Nikola asked.
“You can’t keep using that as an excuse!” Seth said. “John, get us out of here.”
“About that. We have a problem, guys,” John said. “I think this is a terrorist attack or something. There are some dudes with pretty big guns outside.”
“That doesn’t sound good,” Seth said.
“Wow, I wouldn’t have guessed,” Nikola said sarcastically. With his voice being pumped directly into their minds they could feel the sarcasm a lot better than usual. “John, take us outside. We can figure out what to do once time isn’t stopped anymore.
John lifted both of his friends. To his surprise, they floated in the air. He pushed them through the air till he could get them outside, then past the crowd and the gunmen. He walked them to a spot around the corner of a building, where they would be out of sight of both the crowd and the gunmen. “Thanks. Now unfreeze time.”
“How do I do that?” John asked.
“How should I know?” Seth asked. “You stopped us.”
“Try making a portal,” Nikola said. “Maybe it will cancel out the stopped time.”
“Ok…” John said. He focused for a moment, trying to create a portal. It felt like there was a curtain blocking his ability. He imagined taking that curtain and throwing it open. The world exploded with the sound of explosions. A screech came from the crowd. Seth and Nikola regained control of their bodies and promptly ate shit against the pavement. John hadn’t done a good job of balancing them. They quickly got to their feet and joined John in his hiding spot.
“We should get out of here,” Seth said, breathing heavily. He had been able to use his new ability easily when time was stopped, but it seemed like it caught up with him when time ticked on again. “The cops or the military will handle this.”
“What are terrorists doing here?” John asked. His shirt was soaked with sweat, and his breathing was ragged. When time was stopped he didn’t feel anything either, but now he felt like he’d been beaten up by a gang with baseball bats.
“I don’t know,” Nikola said. “Whatever it is, it isn’t good.” He pulled his handkerchief from his pocket and wrapped it around his nose and mouth.
“Nick, no,” Seth said. “You can’t possibly be planning to go out there.”
“I have to,” Nikola said. “People might die here, and you two are in no condition to fight.” It was true. Both looked like they could pass out at any second.
“Nick, that video was chalked up to special effects,” Seth said. “If you go out there now, people will know for certain. There’s no going back after that. We can never take our secret back. Are you sure about this?”
“Seth, can you just stand here and let people get hurt?” Nikola asked. Seth looked down.
“No, I can’t,” Seth said. “But we’re going to help you.” He wrapped his face in a handkerchief too and pulled the hoodie of his jacket over his head.
“Guys, all the first years are in that crowd,” John said. “All of our friends. Individually we might be able to slip by, but if all three of us fight together it won’t be hard to figure out who we are.” He said this, but he had also masked up, with a pair of sunglasses over his eyes.
“Then don’t get seen together,” Nikola said. “John, get to the back of the crowd and give them a portal somewhere safe. Seth, you’re on crowd control. Get the people through the portal without them panicking. I’ll handle the gunmen until everyone’s safe.”
“Got it,” John said. Seth nodded too. Both would have liked to play a more active part, but they were exhausted. This was as much as they could do.
“Wait for my signal, ok?” Nikola said. He quietly snuck up behind the gunmen. He had to do this perfectly. He absorbed all of the sounds around him to hide his footsteps. When he was sure he was in a position where all the gunmen would see him, he released as loud a sound as he could. All eyes immediately turned to him, exactly like he wanted. The crowd would be caught up in this attack, but there was no other way. Nikola flashed a brilliant white light, blinding everyone who looked at it. It wasn’t a lot, but it would buy them a few seconds.
Seth and John took this to be the signal and sprang into action. Nikola didn’t hesitate either. He was determined to save everyone here.
Or die trying.
“Are you sure this is what you want to do?” The Suited Man asked.
“Of course I am,” Falcon said. “We’ve already seen one of them be heroic once. They won’t be able to stop themselves if we endanger more people.”
“It’s risky,” The Suited Man said. “If there are no results then we’ll lose a lot of good men for nothing.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Falcon said. “If they don’t show up, it’s on me. I’ll take full responsibility. Besides, I have a hunch that they’ll be there whether they want to or not.”
Falcon hung up the phone and began preparing for the day’s festivities. It would be a shame to miss such a big event. Those Super Humans would be forced out of their hiding places. They wouldn’t be able to resist. Whether they wanted fame and fortune or were just acting on instinct, they would show up. No one with the extraordinary abilities they possessed would pass up a chance like this. And Falcon would be there to see it all.