The Portable School of Villainy
“This is really bad!” Kaden thinks to himself. He looks down at the desk in front of him in a panic.
“If they find out, I'm done for.” He moans while rustling through the papers, spread out on the desk.
The papers are acceptance letters for various schools that Kaden has applied to. Or they would be if he got accepted to even a single one of them. Yet, at the bottom of all of them, in big bold letters, the word “REJECTED” was written. Kaden was no ordinary kid, he is the only son of Rowena and Axel Ryoman. To the world, however, they were better known as the best superhero duo of all time, Bliss and Inversion. They stem from a long line of some of the best superheroes to ever live, that have defended the earth for centuries. In fact, if heroes were to have a ranking system, Kaden was sure that his father would be in the top three at least.
And then there was Kaden himself, who did try hard to be a hero. He went to a special middle school that trained kids to be future heroes, but he had always been bottom of his class. Now, he had signed up for every hero high school in the country. He had signed up and was rejected by every single one of them.
Suddenly, Kaden hears soft footsteps from the hallway outside his room. Hurriedly, he scrambles to get all the rejection letters back together, almost missing a few that flew off the desk in his haste. He bunches them together and holds them behind his back. Just in time too, as his mother, a tall, freckled, black-haired woman with kind crystal blue eyes, stood at his door opening now. In the blue jacket she was wearing, she looked very slender, but Kaden knew she was much stronger than him and her muscles underneath reflected that.
Her mere presence makes Kaden feel a bit better, not just because she is his mom, that was simply part of her power. She emits a fragrance that invokes positive feelings in whoever smells it. Not only that, she can form small cloud bubbles of happiness and direct them at people, to put them in a dream-like state of joy. She has never used that power on Kaden though. She would always say “I’m your mother, I can make you smile without any superpowers,” which she never failed to do after saying so.
“Is everything alright, dear?” Rowena asks kindly.
Kaden nods nervously and clamps the papers more tightly. Rowena’s friendly gaze narrows. She was very good at reading people, having successfully interrogated a good amount of villains in the past.
“You're not lying to me, are you?” She asks Kaden sternly, but with clear jest in her voice.
“Well-” Kaden starts, but is immediately cut off by his mother, who's slowly inching closer to him.
“Did you pick out a school yet? They’ll start soon, won't they?” She leans forward and locks eyes with Kaden. She had a pleading look on her face that he found hard to say no to.
“There's no need to pick,” a deep proud voice said from the door, “he’ll be going to the finest hero school there is, just like his family before him!”
Kaden and his mother both look to the door to see Axel, a big, burly man with shining white hair and fierce dark grey eyes. To Kaden, he looked like he could easily topple a mountain. Kaden’s appearance, much like his power, was a nice mix of both. While his hair was mostly the same shiny white as his father’s, there were a few black streaks in there too, similar to his mother’s hair. His left eye was an even darker grey than his father's and his right an even brighter blue than his mother’s. Though he didn’t quite have the same muscle mass as either of them.
Kaden keeps staring at his father, not really knowing what to say. Both his parents now expectantly look in his direction.
“I-It's a surprise!” He tells them quickly, not wanting to disappoint them with the news that he was, in fact, not going to any hero school. That none of the schools even wanted him as a hero. Rowena puts her hand to her chin and curiously looks down at Kaden.
“Alright then…” She mumbles, but gives a comforting smile when she sees the look on his face.
She starts walking out of the room and urges a complaining Axel to do the same.
Kaden lets out a deep sigh. He decided that he needed some fresh air. Maybe he’d visit his favourite spot at the pier, where everything was calmer, and he could collect his thoughts.
Not wanting to confront his parents again, especially not his dad, he stuffs all the letters in his backpack and sneaks out the window of his room, then gracefully climbs down to the ground. Though he apparently wasn’t much for hero material, he did learn some things from his parents. Mostly how to avoid danger, but to him, that was at least something.
It was already late, and Kaden knew the sun would set soon, but right now he didn’t care about that. He just wanted to get away from the stress for a moment. The pier was the go-to place for him to calm down. He used to go there with his parents when he was younger. There, looking over the fast horizon with his parents by his side, the world seemed like his for the taking. When they told stories about how they became heroes, it made him feel like he could do anything. Though now that he is older, he realised that this sadly was never the case.
“What do we have here!” An all too familiar voice suddenly sounded from behind Kaden.
“Our resident wannabe hero!”
Kaden turned around and was face to face with Ari Hakusei, a boy he knew from middle school, though he dearly wished he didn’t.
Kaden had always made it very clear that he wanted to be a great hero. After all, that’s all he knew from his parents. That’s all they ever wanted him to be. This, however, due to his obvious lack of skill, made him a great target for bullying, especially to Ari Hakusei, who aspired to be the best hero. He had even picked out his hero name already. “Stellar”, which was a play on his outstanding academic skills, even for a middle schooler, and his power to shoot out rays of light.
Ari pulled out a piece of paper, stating that he was accepted for Postella Academy, the top hero school. Kaden had always thought that someone like Ari, who looked down on those lesser than him, could never be a hero. Yet here he was, accepted for the top of hero schools.
“Where’s your acceptance letter, huh?” He called out to Kaden. Some of Ari’s friends grabbed Kaden and took his backpack.
“Give it back!” Kaden yelled, trying to reach upward to grab it back from the kid with stretching arms.
Fed up, Kaden used his power too. He threw out what he calls a “Negative Bubble”, which very slowly travelled toward Ari. Everyone looks at the bubble slowly heading forward, and the bullies begin laughing hysterically.
“Is that what you call an attack?!” Ari cackles while effortlessly stepping out of the way of Kaden’s Negative Bubble. Suddenly, a flash of light appears next to Kaden, singeing his cheek a little. Ari smiles smugly as Kaden grabs his burnt cheek. A small kid made of rock holds Kaden’s backpack upside down, and all the rejection letters spill out.
They all start laughing even harder. Defeated, Kaden kneels down and quickly starts gathering them back up. Ari walks up to Kaden and steps on a few papers, so they can’t be picked up, then crouches down in front of him.
“I guess you won’t be a hero after all.” He says and condescendingly pats Kaden’s head.
Kaden whacks away Ari’s hand.
“At least I won’t have to look at your face anymore.” He mumbles. “Then again, someone like you wouldn’t even make it past the bottom ten ranking heroes.” Kaden says, while now proudly looking into Ari’s eyes.
The other kids chuckle a bit until they meet Ari’s gaze. He scoffs and without hesitation kicks Kaden across the face. He signals the others to follow him before they all leave Kaden behind.
Kaden clenches his fists. He thinks about fighting back, but knows it’s no use anyway. It'd just end up the same as always. With him beaten and on the ground. Now both hurt and defeated, he picks up the remaining letters and heads towards the pier.
As he sits down on the edge, with the wind blowing through his hair and his feet barely touching the water, Kaden thinks about what he could even do next. He pulls out the letters and thinks about how disappointed his mother would be, or what his father would say if they found out that he would never be a hero. Kaden clenches the paper tightly as small teardrops roll down his face onto it, ashamed to even call himself the son of a hero.
He grabs a rock and binds it to the bunched up papers, then drops them all into the water.
“I can’t let them find out…” He softly whispers, watching the letters sink as the orange glow, reflecting on the water, fades when the sun sets. All that remained was his sad expression, looking back at himself through the reflection of the water.
“Why can’t I just be good enough?” He mumbles to himself.
As Kaden is about ready to head back home, he notices something odd. One of the papers had floated back up. This one, to his surprise, did not say “REJECTED”.
He fishes it out of the water, quickly. Surprisingly, the paper was not as wet as he’d expected it to be. In fact, it was only wet on the parts he touched with his now water-covered hand. Upon closer inspection, the paper seemed to be some sort of survey. It asked for basic information regarding Kaden. His age, address, superpower, etc. but also his reason for wanting to join the school. Kaden thinks he must’ve missed this letter when applying for schools, and his heart skips a beat when reading through the contents.
“Maybe I still have a chance. Maybe I’m not hopeless. Maybe I don’t have to be a disappointment.” Are thoughts that go through his head as he scours his backpack for a pen.
He rapidly fills out the survey, and a hopeful wave of relief rushes through him. He stands up and holds it out in front of him.
“My reason for joining?” He reads out. “I want to prove myself. Show the world I can be good enough.”
He nods, but right as he wants to put the paper away, as if someone pulled it out of his hands, the wind blows the paper over his head and straight back into the water.
“No! This was my last chance!” Kaden yells out while trying to catch it.
“Please…” He says softly, watching the paper sink back into the murky water. He violently slams the water surface, which consequently splashes in his face. Now staring at his reflection, angry, sad, anxious and wet. It takes a moment for Kaden to process what had just happened.
“Wait. Paper doesn’t sink.” He mutters confusedly.
Right at that moment, a letter floats to the surface. As fast as he can, Kaden snatches it from the water and starts reading out loud.
“Thank you for filling out our survey.
Our school is in the top class in what it does.
We provide a place for not only A-grade students, but also a place fit for rejects and outcasts alike. We strive to only put out the best students into the world, and will make sure that you too become the best in what you do, by the time you graduate.
We are delighted to inform you that you have been chosen-”
Kaden pauses for a moment and reads over everything again.
“We are delighted to inform you that you have been chosen to attend…” He gulps.
“Kagekoka High, The Portable School of Villainy.”