Retired Hero’s Home 3

At some point, I may write a Christmas special (I probably should), but for now, just another RHH story. Enjoy!

Retired Hero’s Home #003: Training the Recruits

Supers appeared every day. People claimed they had been bitten, or genetically mutated by a corrupt government, or that they were an alien forced to live on the earth for something they had done. Many were fake, and just wanted attention. Thus, a new organization was formed. The Super Hero Research and Testing Administration, or SHRATA. It was organized, in part, by the residents at the Retired Heroes home.
For three years, Mr. Marvelous had been working out ways to discover whether or not the people they tested at the RHH were Super or not. Many times, they weren’t. Other times, they were. He and Vincent Harrington III (the leader of SHRATA) both set to work developing a course that would show if a person was Super or not.
The system completed was this: 1. “Most people, if they do not have powers, will drop in a faint if they think they will get killed. Therefore, you should say they are going to use their power against another Super. If they do not faint, or confess that they are not actually Supers, continue on. Otherwise, you may excuse them from the program.” 2. “The next stage is actually the most revealing, having them fight another Super. You can judge the person’s power level (.1 being the lowest, 10.1 being the highest)You can also judge whether or not they will be a valuable addition to any team, or person, as a sidekick, lab assistant, etc.” That was it. Two simple steps. And then it was shortened: 1 “Test said Hero by placing them under the SHRATA machine. (Strangely, it was given the same name as the SHRATA organization; why they called it an administration is a mystery)
Nathaniel had been in the RHH for a month. He still felt a bit odd, but it was getting easier to imagine living here for the rest of his life. It was time, Mr. Jennigan decided, to have him start training a new Super Hero. So, along with Jonathan Wessel (Magma Man) he walked down to Registration. The woman behind the desk, Susan, had already figured out who he was going to be working with. She handed him a sheet with a smile, which he took with a scowl.
“The Hopper,” it read. “Able to leap extremely far, extremely agile.”
“Wonderful,” Nathaniel muttered, walking away with Jonathan.
“Could be worse. I got one here called Skywalker.”
“You’re joking,” Nathaniel replied, grabbing the paper. But there, on the paper, was “Skywalker: able to walk on/control air.”
“You got lucky,” Nathaniel said, handing it back. He continued down the hall. “Room H for training. Room H for training.” he looked at the other man, who’s white hair (what little he had left of it anyway) was sticking out in every direction. “This is going to end badly.”
“Tell me about it,” the other drawled as they neared the training center. There, they went their separate ways, Jonathon to Room A, and Nathaniel to Room H.Nathaniel pushed open the doors, and instantly, the room went quiet.
“I’m looking for the Hopper,” he said, and a man raised his hand. “Everyone else, get out of here,” he commanded, and everyone instantly obeyed. “Well, Hopper. Looks like it’s just you and me.”
“That’s right, old man.”
“Don’t call me old man,” Nathaniel said, igniting his hand. “The name’s the Crimson Flame. And I’m experienced, not old.”
With that, he threw an arc of fire towards the man, who leaped out of the way. He bounced off the walls, heading towards Nathaniel. “Not much of a chance of that working,” Nathaiel said, his hands igniting a wall between him and the Hopper, who instantly stopped flying towards him. The Crimson Flame ran forwards, rolling as he neared his target. “Let’s make things fair, shall we? I can’t use my flame, and you can hop all you want,” he said, as he rolled to his feet. His feet being on the Hopper’s stomach. He pushed off, landing on his hands. Then, back to his feet and he started again, kicking and punching. The Hopper just stood there, not knowing what to do.
“Do you know any self defense?” Nathaniel asked, dropping his hands.
“Uh, not really,” was the reply. “I learned a little bit ,but I needed to know more. So I came here. Was that the wrong decision?”
“No, not unless you’re planning to stay here the rest of your life. Then it’s the worst decision you could ever make.” Shaking his head, Nathaniel gave the Hopper some of the best advice he could ever receive: “Don’t grow old.” Then, he started in on the self defense lesson.

Meanwhile, Jonathan had his own problems. The Super Hero, Skywalker, wasn’t more than a child. He kept wandering around the room, shouting, “Where’s the cwiminals!?”
His costume, if it could be called that, was nothing more than a pair of footed pajamas with camouflage on them, and a towel safety pinned around his neck. The other problem was that the kid was extremely powerful, but he didn’t know how powerful he really was. And he could’t get him to try and attack.
“Skywalker, I’m the cwimi-I mean I’m the criminal. Come on, we’ve got to see what you can do.” Jonathan was getting desperate. Finally, at the edge of his rope, he pulled deep inside himself and found his power once again. Then, crying out, he attacked.
Magma Man only got three feet. Then, Skywalker grabbed him and threw him into the ceiling, his lava flying behind him. “Siwwy cwiminal,” Skywalker said, dropping him to the ground.
Instantly, Jonathan became a whirling blur of molten rocks. Skywalker tried to push them out of the way with his wind, but it didn’t work. The mass came closer and closer, until finally, Skywalker, well, skywalked. With frantic steps, he dashed up into the air, letting the lava flood underneath him.
Jonathan breathed hard. The child was strong, and he was getting weaker every day. “Okay, Skywalker. You need to wait until you can actually benefit from these sessions.”
“What’s ben-fit?” Skywalker asked, his face scrunching up behind his rag mask.
“And you might want to stop being a Hero until you can get a proper suit.”
“I wike my suit,” the child moaned.
“Okay, well, I can give you a better one, so that you can sleep in this one, and you can work in the other one, okay?”
“Okway,’ Skywalker said, sniffling a little. “Can we get it now?”
“Sure thing.” So, together, on either ends of the spectrum, the two heroes, former and present, walked out of Training Room A.

The Hopper learned quickly, Nathaniel gave him that much. But a break? Ha. Heroes don’t need breaks.
“Once again, just like a snake,” he called as the Hopper worked on his punching against a sand filled version of Captain Infamy.
“Please, I just need to catch my breath,” the Hopper said, as he paused to take great gulps of air. Nathaniel looked critically at his trainees suit. The mask was your basic superhero mask, but the problem was the hole for the mouth wasn’t large enough.
“Come here,” he said, and the Hopper came. He had learned the hot way what happed when he didn’t listen. Nathaniel’s hand ignited, then it dissipated until it was just his finger. he cut down on the mask, then another line down, then one across, forming a crude square. It fell open, revealing a mouth and part of a nose. “Try that, and don’t ever buy from ACME mask again.”
Then, Nathaniel grabbed the Super Hero, twisted him around, and kicked him forward. “Now, get back to work.” The Hopper did, and Nathaniel decided to leave to find a cup of coffee. Or something else that would keep him awake.
He wandered down the hall, towards the coffee machine. He tried the faucet, but it didn’t work. It was about then that he noticed the sign, ‘OUT OF SERVICE’.
“Crud,” he muttered, then looked across the hall. On the other side were iced coffees. he thought about if for a second, then shrugged. “Whatever.” He grabbed one, then a cup from the coffee machine, and emptied the bottle. Then, igniting the back of his hand, he held the cup of cold coffee and slowly warmed it up.
It was almost warm enough to drink, and Nathaniel was almost drooling with how good it smelled. He decided he would try and drink. Even if it was a bit too cold for his tastes. He raised the cup, and was just about to take a drink, when he heard a muffled boom.
Rolling his eyes, Nathaniel set the cup down and rushed, like everyone else, towards the noise. It came, of course, from Room H.
Nathaniel burst into the room, expecting to see some villain over the Hopper’s body. Instead, he saw the Hopper bent over another person’s body. “What’s going on?” he roared, and the Hopper jerked in surprise.
“Uh, well, you see-” You know, I’m just going to skip his lame attempts to tell what had transpired at tell you the tale myself.
Just after Nathaniel had left, another person made himself known to be in the room. “Good afternoon, Hopper,” The Chameleon said to the person he named.
You have to understand that there have been five Chameleons. But because there isn’t a much better name than that for someone who blends in with his surroundings, they’ve been called the same. One person tried to break out of the mold and called himself Blender. That didn’t end so well.
“Who are you?” The Hopper asked. I’m not even going to tell you what Chameleon said.
“And why are you here?”
“I’m the teacher of sciences. The Crimson Flame is the one who teaches strength. I teach brains. Now, I’m going to show you how to make a basic explosive.”
This in and of itself wasn’t exactly a bad thing, but the problem was that the Hopper wasn’t the best at following directions. So, instead of putting a little bit of the red stuff in, he put a lot, and then just kind of dropped the whole blue gunk in as well. Again, this wouldn’t have been a bad thing, if he had just listened. But, instead, he thought he knew how to do it, and dropped one, small, red bead in.
“Don’t!” The Chameleon yelled, diving for the Hopper. But it was too late. The entire blue gunk exploded, filling the room with smoke, and knocking the Chameleon out.
When Nathaniel finally got the story, he put his head in his hands and tried to breath regularly.
“Please don’t tell me that you did it on purpose,” he said, and the Hopper shook his head. “Good. Now, I’m going to find a place for you on someone’s team, where they can look after you until you’re ready to go solo.”
Shamefaced, the Hopper walked out, his shoulders sagging. Meanwhile, SHMT (Super Hero Medical Team) took Chameleon out. Nathaniel followed the crowd, then leaned against wall by the coffee machine.
“I need a cane,” he muttered, then went off to find a proper cup of coffee.

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