That time three friends with special abilities were thrown to a new world where superpowers don't exist
Nikola took a ragged breath. That last attack came out of nowhere, and he barely reacted in time. He desperately wanted a moment to focus and gather his thoughts, but it seemed like his opponents were set on not letting that happen. They had him backed into a corner. Another projectile came whizzing by his head, and he just barely dodged it. He needed a plan, and he needed one fast. Of his two opponents, one was completely out of sight, and the other would be very difficult to approach to say the least. He had to do something to gain the upper hand.
Nikola slammed his fist into the ground, releasing a cloud of dirt around him. It bought him maybe half a second, but it was enough. He launched himself through one of the rifts in spacetime in front of him, appearing a few feet away and high up in the air. He finally had a vantage point that wasn’t predicted. A bolt of lightning shot from his fingertips, arcing through the air and colliding with Seth, who collapsed to the ground.
Nikola absorbed the impact from his landing and focused his senses. It took him only a moment to find the distinct heat source that was the human body. He dashed forward, running as fast as his legs could carry him. A burst of kinetic energy sent him sailing across the air, right into the view of John. Nikola was about to send another blast of lightning but suddenly found himself much closer to the ground than anticipated. He only barely reacted in time, absorbing the impact.
This was the problem with fighting John. It was really hard to get close. Nikola would have to stay on the ground since his mobility in the air was limited. He began running again, dodging portals that formed in front of him. His hands crackled with thunder as he prepared to blast John into kingdom come. A portal opened up beneath him, and he fell through. John pumped his fist victoriously, celebrating right up until the lightning bolt came down on him.
“Just because it’s hard to maneuver in the air doesn’t mean it’s impossible,” Nikola said. He offered a hand to John, who accepted it and pulled himself up.
“Yeah, yeah,” John said. “You are seriously too strong, man.”
“Agreed,” Seth said, approaching from behind. “If it weren’t for these clothes Elain gave us we’d be dead as doornails.” Elain had equipped John and Seth with what appeared to be normal street clothes on the surface, but in reality, had a ton of thin copper strands woven throughout. She did it so Nikola could have someone to practice blasting lightning on without killing them. As long as their feet were on the ground the current would harmlessly travel through the clothes and into the Earth.
“How did she even manage to make something like that?” Nikola asked.
“I dunno,” John said. “She probably got help from the others.”
“Speaking of,” Nikola said, lowering his voice. He motioned over his shoulder with his head, to four figures approaching them.
“That was insane!” Logan said. “Nick, you are incredible!”
“I could have got them both a lot faster, but they told me I’m not allowed to,” Nikola said.
“How so?” Logan asked.
“We know each other’s weaknesses,” Seth said. “The three of us are powerful, even compared to other superhumans. We’re not the best of the best or anything, but we rank at least in the top fifteen percent. It’s not unheard of for people to use their powers for bad reasons, so each of us has a plan to stop the others if we ever had to.”
“Care to share?” Elain asked.
“Sure,” Seth said.
“Hold on,” John said, putting up his hands. “Boys, sidebar.” He pulled Nikola and Seth aside.
“Are you sure it’s a good idea to tell them our weaknesses?” John asked.
“It’s not like they can use them against us,” Nikola said. “The plans only work with our powersets. Besides, it’s not like we plan to go evil, right?”
“Yeah,” Seth agreed. “And they already know about us. Just in case we go evil, we may as well give them the means to stop it if they can figure out a way to replicate what we can do to each other.”
“So we should tell them about your telepathy?” John asked. “And about me stopping time? Or do you still want those to be aces in the hole?”
“I don’t see why not,” Seth said. “It’s been two weeks and they haven’t let anything slip yet. I don’t think we have to be scared of them.”
“You’re the brain guy,” John said. They walked back to the others. “Ok, sidebar over, we need to tell you guys something.”
“There’s more?” Olivia asked. “Isn’t ‘we have superpowers’ the biggest bombshell you have?”
“I haven’t told you the full extent of my powers,” Seth said. “I’m not just telekinetic. I’m telepathic too.” A silence followed, one Seth had experienced dozens of times before. “Twenty-one, forty-two, sixty-nine, and negative three,” he said, pointing at Olivia, Emma, Logan, and Elain in turn. Their eyes widened.
“How did you know?” Elain asked.
“Did you miss the part where I said I was telepathic?” Seth asked. “And this happens every time. Someone finds out I can read minds, and the first thing they ask is for me to say what number they’re thinking of. And just so you know, guessing a negative number is cheap.”
“Holy crap, you’re the real deal,” Logan said. “Do you realize how much money you could make if you did a live show?”
“We’re not actors,” Nikola said. “Now that that cat is out of the bag, there is another one.”
“I’ve stopped time,” John said. This earned even greater shocked expressions than Seth’s revelation. “It was during the auditorium bombing. I have no clue how I did it. It just happened.”
“So that’s how I got outside?” Olivia asked. “You carried me out while time was stopped?”
“Yeah,” John said. “It’s also how the three of us got out of the auditorium and behind the gunmen. I don’t think I can do it again even if I tried, though.”
“None of you have been able to replicate your higher-level powers,” Elain said.
“I have,” Seth said. “I can beam my thoughts into other people’s heads, and even let other people hear each other’s thoughts. It’s really hard though, except when time is stopped.”
“Wait, you were awake when time was stopped?” Logan asked.
‘Yeah,” Seth said. “Nikola and I both were. We couldn’t move a single muscle though. The silence of the world made it pretty easy to link our minds.”
“You should have told me about your telepathy sooner!” Elain said, hitting Seth’s arm. “I could have made so many cool training exercises for you.”
“Sorry,” Seth said. “At first we weren’t sure if we could trust you, and eventually hiding it just became a habit.”
“So why tell us now?” Emma asked.
“You haven’t told anyone our secret yet, so we think we can trust you,” Seth said. “And that’s also why we are going to show you our weaknesses. You probably can’t stop us even if you know them, but at least this will give you an edge if we ever go rogue.
“First, let’s disable Seth,” Nikola said. “For me this is simple. I just have to blast him with electromagnetic energy between fifteen and thirty Hertz. It took a while to get that balance down since it’s such an extremely small window, but I practiced it a lot. If I do it, it overwhelms his telepathy since I’m essentially showering him in brainwaves. If I do enough then he can’t shut it out and he becomes incapacitated, rolling on the floor in pain. Then I can just walk up and zap him.”
“For me, it’s a little different,” John said. “I basically have to trap him in a portal box, then I have to keep him falling, but I need to constantly switch out portals so he can’t catch his bearings. Do that for long enough to get him up to a high speed and then slam him into the ground.”
“Both are very unpleasant,” Seth said. He had been nodding along the entire time. For normal people hearing that your friends had a way to take you down probably wouldn’t be fun to hear, but to Seth, it was reassuring. “I can take out John and Nikola the same way. I’ll just rip out whichever of their organs I manage to grab first.
Everyone took a step backward, eying Seth suspiciously.
“What?” he asked. “I told you, lifting people is hard. I might accidentally just grab an organ instead of the entirety of them. I’m just using that to my advantage. It’s not like I have many other choices with these two. Nikola can absorb any other attack, and John can just deflect it with his portals.”
“And that brings us to how I would deal with Nick,” John said. “In all honesty, this is the worst matchup. I can’t do the portal box since he can absorb the impact with the ground. In all seriousness, I highly doubt I can stop him on my own, but I do have the Hail Mary. If I can get him to shoot lightning or fire at me, I can catch it with a portal and throw it back at him. He can’t absorb and expel energy at the same time, so he would damage himself. Repeat that till either I drop or he does. If it really comes down to it, I can just cut him in half”
“You can do what now?” Logan asked.
“My portals are basically unstoppable knives,” John said. “If I close one with Nick halfway through it he would lose his legs.”
“Ok, you are officially the scariest here,” Logan said.
“I don’t think it’s that bad,” John said. “Also I can’t really move my portals around, so getting him in the middle of one is easier said than done.”
“The point stands,” Logan said. “I mean, yeah, Nikola can burn or electrocute us, but you can just vivisect us. And Seth can rip our organs out, apparently.”
“I wouldn’t rip them out,” Seth said. “They’d still be inside of you, just not connected to anything.”
“See?” Logan said. “That’s metal as hell. Sorry, Nick, you’re just not that brutal.”
“Is that so?” Nikola said. He turned around and walked away.
“Hey, don’t be like that!” Logan said. “You’re still cool, I just don’t think you’re as scary!”
“No, it’s fine,” Nikola called over his shoulder. He took a few more steps then turned around to face them again. He narrowed his eyes and took another two steps back. He clapped his hands together, rubbing them as if he was psyching himself up.
He slammed his fist into the earth beneath him again. This time, instead of a small explosion of dirt, what felt like a small earthquake shook through the ground. When the dust settled the grass Nikola was standing on was gone, replaced by a huge crater.
“Still think I’m not as scary?”
“Do we really have to go to this?” Nikola asked.
“Yes, we do,” Seth said. “It’s put on specifically for us.”
“But still,” Nikola said. “I don’t like crowds. Can’t we just chill here at home?”
“We’re going to the festival, Nick,” John said. “Our friends are waiting for us. We have to go.”
“Fiiiiiine,” Nikola said, dragging himself to a standing position. He walked over to the door. “But if we have to endure super talk all day I blame you.”
“I can live with that,” Seth said, throwing on his backpack. “Now remember, we have to stay on high alert, ok? We don’t know if whoever is after us might choose tonight to strike again.”
“Got it,” John said. They had discussed it the night before and decided that while they would do everything they can to keep their powers hidden, even their secret identities weren’t worth someone else’s life. If they had to, they would act.
“Let’s get going,” Seth said. They left their apartment and made their way to the campus. Almost instantly they regretted it.
“Are those?” Nikola asked.
“Yes, they are,” Seth said. The ‘they’ in question were three banners. The first had a bluish ring seemingly leading to the mountains. The second depicted stones floating above the ground. The third was a flame encircled by lightning.
“They themed this entire thing after us,” Nikola said. “This is going to be hell, isn’t it?”
“Probably,” John said. “On the other hand…” He gestured to their ten o’clock, where three women stood waiting.
“Would you stop trying to shoehorn romance into this story?” Seth asked. “This is about us and our superpowers.”
“The world doesn’t revolve around you, Seth,” John said. “Now come on, it’s rude to keep a lady waiting.” They made their way over to the waiting girls.
“So how does it feel being famous?” Olivia asked, gesturing to the decor around them.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” John said. “We are just three normal dudes. These decorations are for the heroes.”
“Uh-huh, yeah sure. Play the humility card,” Olivia said. “Now come on, we have a fair to explore.”
“Wait, where’s Logan?” Nikola asked.
“He’s not coming,” Emma said. She grabbed Nikola’s arm. “It’s just us.” Before they could react the three men were pulled in three separate directions by the girls.
“Divide and conquer, huh?” Nikola asked.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Emma replied, feigning innocence.
“Well if that wasn’t your intention then you certainly wouldn’t mind me talking about how good the other two looked,” Nikola said.
“That’s a cheap shot,” Emma said, frowning.
“You’ve seen me fight,” Nikola said. “What made you think I’d take the honorable way out?”
“You didn’t kill any of the terrorists,” Emma said. “You could have, and easily, but you never did.”
“I don’t like having blood on my hands,” Nikola said. “If I have to I will, but I don’t want to kill if I can avoid it.”
“It must be hard to do that with your power,” Emma said. “Have you ever killed someone?”
“Luckily not,” Nikola said. “But I almost did. When I was sixteen I apparently obliterated all of a guy’s ribs. He was being scummy so I stepped in. If it weren’t for the healers of our world he would have died.”
“That sounds traumatic,” Emma said. “Is that why you’re careful with your power?”
“I’ve always been careful,” Nikola said. “I have to be. I don’t think Seth and John realize how easily I can kill someone. Right now if I touched you I could freeze you solid, or I could steal all the kinetic energy in your body and keep your blood from flowing. If I was feeling violent, I have more than enough kinetic energy in me to turn you into a fine red mist in the air.”
“That’s pretty gruesome,” Emma said.
“I’ll never do it,” Nikola said. “I just mean that I don’t really have a choice but to be careful. Now let’s stop talking about this, and let me go win you one of those stuffed animals.
The next few hours passed in a way that was quite enjoyable. Each of the boys got a chance to show off at the various games and easily racked up high scores. To be fair to everyone else, they were cheating up a storm. Nikola knocked down stacked bottles with unparalleled force, Seth tossed rings onto bottlenecks with unmatched accuracy, and John threw balls into hoops with unrivaled skill. Each of them were using their power to their advantage in whatever game they played, making sure to keep just enough room for doubt.
The night began drawing to a close, and everyone began making their way to where the auditorium once stood. A stage had been erected there, and the closing ceremony would be held there. The groups got back together, the boys giving each other a nod of admiration upon seeing the number of stuffed animals each girl was carrying. Without realizing they had all set out with the goal to show these non-super dweebs how it was done, and they had all been successful. Now they stood at the back of the crowd and waited for the night to end.
“How are you all doing tonight?!” A voice called from the stage, booming through a few speakers set up. A cheer erupted from the gathered first years. “This festival was made possible by a lot of people, but no one deserves more thanks than our heroes!” Another even louder cheer went up. Nikola sighed. He exchanged a look with the others. They seemed to have come to the same conclusion.
“Cover for us,” Nikola told Emma. He took a step back and quickly wrapped his handkerchief around his face. John and Seth followed suit. Luckily the whole crowd was so preoccupied with cheering at the stage that no one noticed them suit up. A portal opened beneath them, and they fell through. John had opened a portal high up into the air, above the stage.
Nikola took the cue, and blasted a crackle of lightning into the air, drawing everyone’s eyes. He let fire pour out of him as they fell. At the last moment, he grabbed Seth and John’s arms, absorbing their impact with the stage. They all tried to make it look like the momentum carried them, and landed into three-point crouches.
They rose up, taking victorious poses. Nikola lifted his arms and blasted pillars of blue fire into the air. He didn’t use blue fire often, since it was hard to come by, but he felt this was a special occasion that warranted it. The crowd loved it, the cheering shifting into a more over-excited screech. The three lifted their hands up and waved at the crowd. Various things were screamed at them.
“You guys are awesome!”
“I love you!”
“Have my children!”
It unsettled them slightly that the last one came from a man with a very deep voice. They couldn’t help but laugh. The woman leading the show approached them.
“Are you really them?” she asked as if falling from the air wasn’t answer enough. Nikola responded with a small flame in his hand.
“Yeah, we’re them,” he said, masking his voice. “Why, have you heard of us?”
The leading lady waved to the crowd so they would quiet down. She took a moment to compose herself, then spoke into the microphone.
“Why are you here tonight?” she asked.
“You all did so much effort to show us your appreciation,” Nikola said. “The least we could do was show ourselves.”
“You guys are incredible,” the girl said. “I know you’ve heard it a hundred times, but thank you so much. I was there when the terrorists attacked, and I was scared out of my mind. You three seemed so fearless, though.”
“We weren’t fearless,” Seth said. “We were just as scared as you. We just knew we had to act.”
“That’s so cool!” the girl said. She turned back to the crowd. “Give it up for our heroes!” The crowd cheered again. Nikola was going to take that as their exit. He went to grab onto John and Seth so they could jump out of there, but he froze when a loud bang echoed through the air. The entire crowd immediately fell silent.
“Heroes, huh?” a guy shouted. He held a pistol in the air. “If you’re such great heroes, then stop this!” He lowered the gun and shot into the crowd before anyone could react. He began running away, but John reacted in time. He stepped right through a portal that led him onto the stage, where Seth cleaned his clock in one clean hit. He fell like a sack of bricks, and Nikola kicked the gun away.
“Is everyone ok?” he shouted into the crowd.
“No!” A guy in the crowd yelled. “My girlfriend! She got hit!”
“Clear a path!” Seth yelled. A clearing around the couple was made. The heroes stepped through a portal into the clearing.
“Damn, she’s bleeding a lot,” John said, panic in his voice.
“Make a portal to the hospital and get an ambulance here now,” Nikola said. John nodded and disappeared through a portal.
“She won’t last that long,” Seth said. He was telepathically pressing down on her wound.
“I have an idea,” Nikola said. He crouched next to her and placed a hand on her shoulder and thigh. “I can put her in stasis.”
“You’ve never done that before!” Seth protested. “You could kill her!”
“I did it once,” Nikola said. “If newborn-me can manage it, so can I. I just need to take everything.” He looked up at the boyfriend. “You’re going to have to let go of her.”
“If she dies, it’s on you, dude,” Seth said. “Are you sure about this?”
“If I do nothing and she dies that’s on me too,” Nikola said. He closed his eyes and focused his power, channeling all his sense to the girl lying in front of him. He had to grab all the energy she had in her body, but that was only half of it. Afterward, he had to put it exactly back. It was a tall order. He took a deep breath.
Seth anxiously looked on at what Nikola was attempting. This was dangerous. If Nikola dropped the ball on even one small thing the girl would be dead. He paid close attention and noticed when the girl seemed to freeze solid. It was a small difference, but he could see that no part of her was moving. It was unsettling. Even if the human eye couldn’t register it, everything was always moving. Atoms vibrated on the smallest of scales, but those vibrations together made up something that was noticeable, but since it was everywhere it wasn’t apparent. This was the first time anyone had ever seen true, complete stillness.
A minute later a large portal opened and an ambulance came driving through. The paramedics assessed the injury without making contact with the girl. When they were sure they were ready Nikola released the energy he was holding. He held his breath, along with John and Seth.
The girl let out a slight cough, and her eyes moved to scan around her. The breath they held released, and the paramedics put her on a stretcher and rushed back through the portal.
“I can’t believe that worked,” Seth said, patting Nikola on the back. He noted how sweaty Nikola had become.
“Me neither,” Nikola said with ragged breath.
“Give it up for the heroes!” a man in the crowd cheered. Seth, John, and Nikola stood and basked in the cheering and admiration.
“Well, this isn’t too bad,” Nikola said.