Auditions II. Everest II

For the first thirty seconds, I was just excited at the changes in the community it meant.  For the next thirty, it started dawning on me that if I went in for an interview, it could mean a high salary and fame for life.  I whooped, punching the air, and trying very hard not to change my density.  I didn’t completely succeed, but hey.  Who’s going to notice a pair of footprints in concrete?  Deciding I needed a celebratory lunch, I turned into the restaurant, pulling out my wallet.  I bought a stromboli and a soda, and walked to the completely full table area.   I started swearing a bit inside my head, but then I saw an old friend of mine.  Not old age-wise, in fact he’s two years younger than me, but we’ve known each other for most of our mutual lives.  I walked over, inwardly sighing in relief.  As I approached the table, I heard him muttering to himself while he was typing, “those… applicants… denied… acceptance to this prestigious…  organization… better luck… next time… the interviews will… be re-”  He broke off abruptly, shutting his laptop when I slid into the chair across from him.

“Hey, Jason,” I said.  “What do you think about the SVRA posters around town?”

“Good thing for the economy, I guess,” he shrugged. His expression brightened suddenly, “I’m thinking about trying out!”  I almost had a spit take. Seeing my reaction, he grinned.  “Yeah.  I’m hoping they mistake my stunning good looks for a super power.”  I sat back in my chair, glaring at him, trying to hide my sigh of relief.  Don’t get me wrong.  Jason is a great guy.  But, he’s extremely vain and tough to get along with.  He’s like a different person every time I see him.  One day he’ll walk into school and try to pick a fight with everyone he sees, the next he’ll be cracking jokes and laughing.  Not really the sort of person I’d want on my superteam.  I broke off that chain of thought when I realized he was saying something.

“Sorry, what did you just say?  I zoned out there,” I said, shaking my head.  He rolled his eyes, and replied, “I said…  Have you seen Cyner around lately?  I haven’t seen him since just after the school fire.”  Oh, I should explain.  Cyner is Jason’s best friend.  He’s about 6’5”, and built like a large tree.  They spend their time together playing video games and yelling at the screen, or eating pizza and yelling about government.  Theirs is one of the strangest friendships I’ve ever seen.  Cyner is a virtually-emotionless stoic who can’t get along with most people and Jason is sometimes passionate, sometimes bland, and always hard to get along with.  Still, somehow it works.  The only noticeable problem is that they both have a random element to their characters.  Jason will occasionally do something completely irrational and insane, and Cyner, already a loner, will sometimes disappear for long stretches without a word.  Hence the current situation.  I shrugged.  “I wouldn’t worry about it.  He’ll show up in a day or two looking satisfied and won’t tell anyone what he did.  That’s how it always happens.”  Jason looked unsure, but he nodded, seeming to accept my explanation.  He chatted until I finished my stromboli, at which point he coughed, and gestured towards his laptop, muttering something about a latin project.  I got the point and left.

Later that night, I was back.  I wasn’t out looking for a late-night lasagna, though.  I had bigger things on my mind.  I wanted to test my powers out on some real criminals before trying for the SVRA.  I wanted to get some practice so I didn’t embarrass myself during the tryout, or however they test field skills.  I had figured out a way to cover distance very quickly, and I used that to go up to the rooftops.  I was rather proud of myself for figuring it out.  First, I increased my density to get some extra strength.  I would crouch down to jump, then right before I left the ground, reduce my density to about a sixth of normal. The extra leg strength combined with reduced weight lets me jump really high.  I tried to use that jump to go from the street to the roof of a nearby restaurant, but I overshot it.  I was windmilling my arms in the air, trying to find a spot to land when I saw two teenagers crouching in a parking lot.  I grinned.  They were exactly what I was looking for.  Dressed all in black, with hoodies and facemasks, they could hardly look more suspicious. I decided to trail them for a bit. When I landed silently a few feet above them, I noticed that they were carrying backpacks and my grin just got wider.  I followed them for about a quarter of an hour before things got interesting.  They walked up to a local theater.  I was disappointed for a second, thinking they were just going to the show, until I realized they wouldn’t have facemasks if they were just buying a ticket.  I hit myself in the face when they snuck into a side door.  I rushed in after them, getting in just before the door closed.  We were backstage, just behind the curtain.  There was cheering and clapping from the other side of the stage.  Curtain call, I guessed.  I had to take this all in a second, because right after the door closed the two teenagers had guns in their hands, with the business end pointed at me.  Raising my density as far as I could without breaking the floor, I laughed.  “What, are you planning to take on the whole theater with those little pistols?”  I was nervous as hell.  The guns they were pointing were not little pistols.  I’m not a gun fanatic, but they were big, and they looked nasty.  The taller of the two glared at me.

“No, I’m planning to take out the whole theater with what I’ve got in this bag, poser,” He said.  I was halfway through my witty comeback when he shot me.

When I heard the clinkclinkclink of the bullets hitting the floor, I just grinned.  I’m not a total idiot, you see.  In the weeks before I even thought about joining the SVRA, I had been testing my powers.  Though I couldn’t safely come close to my density limit, I had tested myself at various densities with knives and a gun I borrowed from a friend.  The gun one took some balls, but when I finally got around to doing it, I discovered that I could walk around at a bulletproof density without messing up the floor.  Since then, I had started keeping my normal density above average, lowering it anytime I had a contest of strength.  That was why I wasn’t too worried about going after crime; I was stronger than most of the stuff they could throw at me.  The two attempted murderers started at me.  I considered finishing my comeback, but decided to go for the jugular.  I jumped towards them, taking their panicked gunfire with my face.  At the last second, I realized that I had miscalculated the jump because of my added density, and I tried to twist so I wouldn’t land on them and kill them.  Zeta has given me some flak on my unwillingness to take lethal measures if necessary, but Apollo agrees with me.  But, that was before I even met um… Zeta, so it didn’t even cross my mind to use lethal force.  I landed on their hands, nearly breaking their fingers.  As it was, they dropped the guns and ran.  I swore as I saw them pull out more “little pistols” as they entered stage right.  As I was getting up, the cheers and clapping from the audience turned to screaming.  I dashed onto the stage, hoping nobody had been killed yet.

Picture that, for a moment.  Me, entering the stage from one side.  The two black-clothed teenagers with a backpack each,  firing into the air in the center of the stage.  From then on, I was a celebrity.

I didn’t bother with the jumping this time, I just ran towards them.  Right before I hit them, I swiped my leg under the closest one. I hoped to be able to take one out before having to deal with the other.  Unfortunately, I underestimated my strength.  While I was making a silent pledge to test everything before I went out again, one enemy with broken legs was falling onto his friend.  I stepped over their bodies, grabbing their guns and backpacks and throwing them to the other side of the stage.  I had just gotten hold of their hoods when I heard the first cheers.  I looked up.  That picture, of me standing over two obvious criminals with my face clearly in view, made headlines across the state.  Overnight, I became a sensation.  “A rookie vigilante,” they called me.  “Mysterious New Hero Plans to Join the SVRA,” blared the headlines.  It was true, though.  Right after the police got there, the journalists swarmed me.  They asked me what my plans were, what my name was, yada yada.  I answered what I could, futilely ignoring secret identity questions. As soon as they published the first photos of me, my name was all over the web.  With all that publicity, I figured I’d be a sure acceptance for the SVRA, but I wanted to go to the interview anyway, to make a good first impression.

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One thought on “Auditions II. Everest II

  1. Pingback: Auditions II. Everest I | There Are No Heroes

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