That time three friends with special abilities were thrown to a new world where superpowers don't exist
“Are you ok? You’ve been acting weird for a week now,” Emma asked. She was sitting across from Nikola in the cafeteria on campus, waiting for their friends to show up.
“I’m just recovering from a cold,” Nikola said. “I’m fine now, but I still feel a little worn out.” Worn out didn’t begin to describe how he felt. Seth, John, and he had their hands full with each other the past week. Nikola’s self-treatment ended up failing, and whatever he had got passed on to the other two. They had to constantly cover for each other to prevent accidental destruction or death.
“Yeah, the three of you looked pretty rough the other night,” Emma said, taking a bite of her sandwich. All of their friends had, with no warning or good reason, stormed into their apartment a few nights prior for an impromptu movie night. Under normal circumstances, Nikola wouldn’t have cared, but with all of their abilities on the fritz, they were put in a very awkward situation.
They constantly had to justify walking to one of their bedrooms where they would be out of sight so John could make a portal and they could handle whatever their sneezes would bring at a proper distance. Seth had told Elain about what was going on, and luckily she helped cover for them as much she could. The physical damage Nikola took from shielding Seth’s telekinetic and telepathic blasts was harder to just explain away, but they somehow managed.
“Yeah,” Nikola chuckled. “All three of us have pretty weak constitutions, so if even the smallest bug manages to get in we’re out of commission.” This was a lie, of course, but it helped him sweep everything under the rug.
“Isn’t it crazy that the first-year festival is still going to happen?” Emma asked. “You’d think after terrorists attacked us they might cancel it, or at least postpone it.”
“It’s a psychological thing,” Seth’s voice came from beside them, he sat down next to Nikola, who knew the only way he could hear what Emma said while he approached was by reading her mind. “Afternoon,” Seth greeted, pulling out his own lunch.
“Hey!” Emma said with a bright smile. “Care to explain?”
“We went through a traumatic experience,” Seth said. He refrained from mentioning the role he, John, and Nikola had played in that traumatic experience. “A lot of students, especially the first years, are still shaken. The faculty are probably demanding on holding the festival so we have something good to look forward to, and so we can build a good memory on campus.”
“That makes a frightening amount of sense,” Emma said. “How did you guess that?” Seth paused for a moment. He couldn’t tell her that he heard it from the thoughts of the faculty themselves, so he had to quickly think of a convincing lie.
“Lucky guess,” he said with a shrug. Not exactly as convincing as he wanted to be, but she had no reason to doubt him. “In the end, the university is most concerned with money, after all. If a bunch of us drop out because we see the campus as a scary place then they would lose a lot of money.”
“That got a lot less wholesome the more you spoke,” Emma said. “Do you really think the university only cares about money like that?”
“Yes, I do,” Seth said. “I’m not saying they would feel nothing if we died, they are human after all, but with so many of us here it’s hard for each of us to come across as an individual. Maybe each professor will remember one or two of the students in their class, but the rest of the people on campus are just numbers to them. They can’t care, even if they wanted to.”
“You’re way too clinical about people,” Emma said. “If you’re right then there’s no reason the heroes should have helped us, right?” Seth’s eyes narrowed, and Nikola had to suppress the urge to choke. “They don’t know us, so how are they able to put themselves at risk?”
“Maybe they didn’t,” Nikola said, covering. “For all we know they’re bullet-proof.”
“That kinda steals away from the magic of it,” Emma said, frowning. “Can’t you believe in humans being truly good despite themselves?”
“Nope,” Seth said. “No matter how good a person seems, he always has an ulterior motive. That’s not a bad thing, though. I mean, if doing something good for someone else has a positive effect on you too, why not do it? It’s a win-win.”
“You have a weird worldview considering you were saved too,” Emma said. Nikola and Seth both wanted to change the subject, but neither could think of anything to say. The attack and the superheroes who showed up were the only things people could talk about. They had always danced around the topic in the past, but it was getting harder and harder to dodge.
“Yo, sorry to keep you waiting,” Logan said. He was flanked by Olivia, Elain, and John. Nikola and Seth both let out a relieved sigh. Surely one of them would have something else to talk about. “Another angle of footage was released,” Logan commented, sitting down.
“You don’t say?” John asked, trying to hide his discomfort. The little bit of hope Seth and Nikola had built up also disappeared.
“Yeah, I still can’t believe it,” Logan said. “I mean, we’ve all fantasized about having superpowers right? And they actually have them. What powers would you guys want?”
“Flight,” Emma said, almost immediately. “It must be so liberating to be able to soar through the skies.”
“It’s not as fun as you think,” Nikola reflexively replied. While he couldn’t fly he could soar through the skies to some degree. “Wind gets a lot stronger when you go up, and there are bugs and stuff.”
“You have a point,” Emma said. “Ok then, Nick, what would you want?” Nick almost choked again. He became so distracted with trying not to let something slip that he accidentally let something slip.
“Honestly? I think being able to throw fire or lightning would be really cool,” he said. It was a dangerous answer, but it was the only thing his brain could spit out. “I mean if you could generate infinite lightning you would solve the energy crisis.”
“That would be pretty cool,” Logan agreed. “But I think I’d have to go with super strength. Being able to lift heavy things, jump super far… I don’t know, that just seems very fun.”
“It can be, but you’d have to be careful,” John said. “If you got angry and slammed your front door it might end up across the street.”
“That’s why I choose telekinesis!” Olivia said. “You could run a really good magic show with that. Make it big.”
“It’s not all about money,” John said. “I’d have to go with teleportation. Go anywhere, see anything. It could be a lot of fun.”
“I choose telepathy,” Elain said. This time Seth had to resist choking. “You could always tell what people were thinking. No one could ever lie to you. You could become a lawyer or something.”
“Not bad,” Logan commented. “So, Seth, what about you?” He thought for a moment. Since both, his abilities were already taken he couldn’t just choose that. He also couldn’t go too strange with his ability.
“I think I’d want to have healing hands,” Seth said. “I could become the best doctor in the world, and heal any injury or illness.”
“You’re all too obsessed with money,” Emma said. “Why not get a fun ability?”
“Yeah, ‘cause it’s so much fun to choke on bugs in the upper atmosphere,” Nikola shot back. “Sorry that we all chose better powers.” His comment got a mild chuckle from the table, and thankfully the conversation switched gears.
The group was all walking through the city, pockets of conversation cutting through the otherwise silent street. They had all agreed to go watch a movie together, and since none of them had a car they were forced to use the wheels the universe had graced them with at birth. Their legs. The atmosphere around the group was relaxed. They finally had a chance to just act like normal college students. No terrorist attacks, no superpowers. Just some fun with friends. It was a moment that John, Seth, and Nikola wanted to preserve and keep pure. Because of this, Seth was slacking on his telepathy.
“Want to share popcorn?” Elain asked from his left.
“Sure, but people might think we’re dating,” Seth replied.
“Nothing wrong with that,” Elain said, playfully bumping into him.
“I’m going to kill him,” Logan said to Nikola from behind them. “I am actually going to kill him.”
“Why?” Nikola asked, laughing at the absurdity of Logan attacking Seth. Even without powers, Seth could easily wipe the floor with everyone here.
“Because he’s narrowed the pool,” Logan said. He grabbed onto Nikola’s shoulder and brought their heads closer, and began whispering in a conspiratorial tone. “Don’t you get it? We are four guys in this group, with only three girls, and he basically just called dibs on Elain. That only leaves two of them for us.”
“For starters, I’m almost certain if the girls heard you say that you’d be out of the running for good,” Nikola said. “They’re not prizes we need to fight over. Besides, you’re forgetting about a very crucial fact.”
“And that is?” Logan asked.
“They outsiders,” Nikola said. “They have neighbors, other friends, and friends of friends. Then there’s also the occasional happenstance run-in with an old friend. The battlefield is littered with guys whose arms they might just happen to fall into. We aren’t your only enemies.” Logan’s eyes grew wide as if this was a possibility that never occurred to him.
“And Nick is right,” Emma said from his other side. “You are definitely not in the running, Logan.” Logan dramatically clutched at his heart, as if he had just suffered a mortal wound.
“Men, I swear,” Olivia said. She and John made up the tail-end of the group.
“Right?” John asked in an overexaggerated voice.
“Do you have to see everything as a competition?” she asked.
“Yes,” John replied. “It’s what drives us. We’ll always jump at the chance to compete, even over the smallest thing.”
“Really?” Olivia asked.
“Yeah, watch,” John said. He was about to call out to Seth out front, but his words died in his throat when he felt something hard press against the back. It was the first time he’d felt the sensation, but it was one that couldn’t be mistaken for anything else. He stopped in his tracks. In his peripheral, he saw Olivia had stopped too.
“That’s it, no sudden moves,” a voice behind them said softly. It then called out loud. “Unless you want your friends to get a few extra holes in them I’d suggest you stop and face us with your hands up!” The others reacted, spinning around. This was exactly what their attacker wanted, though. Around the next corner, two more men with guns came running, joined by a small truck. They were surrounded.
“Ok, get in the van nice and easy now, and no one will get hurt,” One of the gunmen said. Nikola, Seth, and John exchanged a look. Even if they used their powers they couldn’t guarantee everyone’s safety. They would have to play along until an opportunity presented itself.
“Let’s do what they say,” Seth said, trying to ease the others’ nerves. “They probably need us as bargaining chips or something. If we play along they have no reason to hurt us.”
“You’re smarter than you look, Baldy,” one of the gunmen said. “We’re using you to lure out those super freaks. Now get in.” They followed the instructions, getting into the back of the truck.
Seth noted that the back was completely sealed off from the cab, so whatever happened in there would be hidden from the driver. Even more convenient, only two gunmen joined them in the back. The other two climbed into the driver and passenger seat. Seth, John, and Nikola made sure to be the last to get into the truck so that the gunmen would have to sit next to them.
The inside of the truck was completely bare, save for an overhead light and two benches that ran the length of the truck. They all sat on the benches, and the two gunmen in there with them slammed the doors. They felt the truck accelerate, carrying them to wherever their destination was. Nikola and Seth ended up being next to the gunmen. They exchanged looks with each other, and with John. Everyone else seemed to be too terrified to even think.
They had an important choice to make. Play along with the attackers and risk whatever might happen when they ended up at their destination, or use their powers to get out of it right now. It wasn’t an easy choice. These people were their only friends in this world, and the possibility of getting shunned for being superhuman wasn’t appealing. Ultimately that fact is what made their choice. These people were their only friends in this world. They couldn’t take the chance of one of them getting hurt in whatever the attacker’s scheme was.
Nikola was the first to take action. He grabbed the gunman next to him’s shoulder and sent a powerful current into his body. Seth grabbed the gunmen next to him’s gun telekinetically, preventing him from shooting Nikola. He held him off long enough for a bolt of lightning to arc across the air into his chest, from Nikola’s extended fingers. They spun to face the others. Shock and disbelief were written across their eyes.
“It’s you…” Logan said, his voice barely above a whisper.
“We’ll explain later,” Nikola said. He threw off his shirt. “For now, I need to stop this thing. I’m going to blow out the driveshaft then stop us. Seth, the moment I do I need you to knock out the guys in the front. Throw their heads together or something. When that’s done, you get us out of here, John.”
“Wait, why can’t he just make a portal?” Elain asked. She was surprised by them taking action but had recovered relatively quickly.
“Moving portals are really hard,” John said. “Especially at these speeds, they become very unstable. Nick’s plan is the right one.” Nikola nodded. He crouched down in the middle of the truck and closed his eyes, placing his hand on the floor.
“What are you doing?” Emma asked.
“I’m feeling for the driveshaft,” Nikola said, concentrating hard. His eyes shot open and he slightly adjusted where his hand was. “Ok, everyone, make sure you’re touching a part of my skin.”
“Why?” Logan asked.
“I’ll explain my power later, but unless you want to go flying against the wall just do it,” Nikola said. Everyone grabbed onto his arms and shoulders. Seth and John just lightly touched his back, but the others gripped onto him like their very lives depended on it. He took a deep breath and exhaled. The moment he exhaled an impossibly loud clanging noise rang out through the air.
Nikola had shaped kinetic energy into an extremely thin wedge and blasted it through the truck bed, slicing through the metal box and snapping the driveshaft in half. The sound stopped just as quickly as it started, as Nikola absorbed all the kinetic energy from the truck and the people inside. Technically they didn’t have to touch him, he should have been able to include them in the momentum he stole regardless, but he didn’t want to take any chances.
Seth was up next. He closed his eyes and felt for the minds of the drivers. When he found them, he grabbed onto them with telekinesis and slammed them into each other. The drivers would almost certainly have a concussion, but Seth didn’t worry too much about that.
John was the last to act. He simply pointed at the doors on the rear of the truck, where a bluish ring had formed, leading into their apartment. Everyone quickly rushed through, and he closed the portal behind them. A few beats of silence passed as everyone checked themselves over, and the non-super members of the group tried to come to grips with what had just happened.
“So, I assume you guys have some questions?” Nikola asked with a sheepish grin.
“You think?!” Logan asked, barely containing himself. “What the hell was that?!”
“We don’t know,” Seth said. “They might be the same people who attacked the campus, but we really have no idea.”
“Why should we believe you?” Olivia asked. “How long have you lied to us?”
“Olivia, if we wanted to we could have left you back there,” John said. “Or we could have let the terrorists shoot you when they bombed the auditorium. We have no obligation to act, but we did because you are our friends.”
“Then why didn’t you tell us?” Emma asked.
“Because we don’t want to be dissected,” Nikola said. “It’s not that we don’t trust you, but the more people know the greater the odds that someone lets something slip. We have no way idea what the world governments would do if they knew who we were. You saw in the papers how they reacted when we saved the day. What if they perceive us as a threat.”
“How did you get your powers?” Logan asked. Nikola looked at Seth and John.
“We might as well tell them,” Seth said. He turned to face the others. “You might want to sit down, this is a bit of a long story.”
“You really expect us to believe all that?” Olivia asked. The three had just finished telling the whole story. Who they were in their original world, how they ended up here, their plan to keep themselves a secret, Elain discovering them, the attacks, all the way up to now.
“Olivia, I can throw lightning,” Nikola said. “Is the rest of our story really that far-fetched?”
“He has a point,” Logan said. “Still, I can’t believe it’s you guys. To think I managed to run into a superhero on the first day.”
“Do you know why those guys were after you?” Elain asked.
“No idea,” John said. “It might be to blackmail us into using our abilities or just to wipe us off the face of the Earth.”
“Why would they want to do that?” Olivia asked.
“Because we might just be the three strongest beings on the planet,” John said. “That’s not to boost our own egos or anything, it’s just an objective fact. People are right to be scared of us. If we decided we wanted to we could do some serious damage.”
“Not that we’d do that,” Seth quickly added. “In all honesty, we just want to find a way home.”
“We’re sorry we lied,” Nikola said. “We did it to protect ourselves, and you. We didn’t want to take the chance of you guys ending up getting hurt because of us.”
“We’ll forgive you,” Logan said. “But only if you show us your powers in action.” The super-half of the room laughed.
“Sure thing, but not today though,” John said. “I think I speak for all of us when I say I just want to get this day over with.”
“Can you make a portal home for us?” Emma asked.
“Unfortunately no,” John said. “I can only go to places I can see or have been before.”
“Your power kinda sucks,” Logan said.
“Says the one who can’t do jack,” John shot back. This elicited another laugh. The big reveal had surprisingly gone much better than they expected. There was still a slight twinge of betrayal in the air, but it was nothing they couldn’t fix with time. For now, it seemed like it would be smooth sailing.
“Well, that sure is an interesting development,” the Suited Man said. “What are the odds that the group we kidnapped to lure out those super freaks just so happened to contain them?”
“I don’t know, Sir,” Falcon said. “But I think it’s safe to say that this mission was a complete success.”
“Most definitely,” the Suited Man agreed. “You should lay low for a while. We’ll be moving on to the final phase soon. For now, enjoy yourself. You’ve earned a day or two to yourself.”
“Thank you, Sir,” Falcon said. The phone made a small tone, indicating the line had gone dead. Falcon fell into a chair, smiling broadly.
“Things are about to get interesting.”