Canton chroniclesrising.., p.11
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       Canton Chronicles:Rising Power, p.11

           Faidra-Foteini Petaniti
 
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She was the first to exit the house. Peter was right behind her as always. Guido turned his back at him. But as he started to leave, he halted.

  “I know we were not always of one mind Henry, but you were, you are an amazing fighter. And teacher. It’s a pity, what you’ve become. I don’t think Eva would like to see you that way. We all loved her. I hope you don’t forget that. And I want to believe that you don’t want to see yourself this way. Just try.”

  And with that he took his leave. Henry remained there motionless, silent, and closed his eyes, wishing for this nightmare to end.

  ***

  7. Awakening

  The New Academy -19th August, 200 A.D

  Val was walking down the wide corridor leading to the Library. She was alone, like most of the time the last few days. The fact didn’t normally bothered her, but today her sense of alarm was overwhelming.

  A month had already gone by, since their first test of fears. And Val was still Powerless.

  As she sat in one of the many chairs with an open book in her lap, her mind raced uncontrollably. The Library was empty, but still she couldn’t concentrate to the magical theme “Academy Heroes: Period 50-70 A.D”.

  She closed the book with an angry thump, and massaged her temples, trying to keep the headache at bay.

  The view outside the Library was stunning in the light of the afternoon sun, the forest which surrounded the Academy in full view, its trees shaking lightly in the wind.

  A month. A whole fucking month, and still, nothing.

  John had his powerful mind-reading. Amy had her teleportation. Sebastian had developed a Power of super-speed, and Mike’s body would transform into an impenetrable mix of metal and black-rock, his strength unmatched.

  And I am still sitting here reading about the old Heroes. Fuck.

  Val knew that her complaints were more or less unfair. Her friends were still her friends, and they were still spending most of their common hours together, studying, training or just having fun talking. But their talks almost always ended up with their Powers, how amazing the feeling of using them was, how naturally it came to them. And Val could only stay silent, trying to feel happy for the four of them, but ending up feeling jealous.

  She stood up and, leaving the book at her reading desk, headed to the Library’s exit, almost running. She had no intention of learning about old or new Heroes anymore. The halls were all empty, and her heart felt heavy on her chest. Suddenly, Val had a marvellous idea.

  The Atrium… The rest of the Powerless might still be there, while the others are occupied with their “special training”.

  Val turned around and walked away from the Library, reaching a small set of steps. She felt the warmth of sun rays, before she even reached the Atrium’s main floor. It was a nice day, one of the last real summer days and when Val finally stood at the rectangular bright white room, seeing the benches all around the small pool standing in the middle, the enormous glass windows exposing the incredible scenery of the forest below, she felt a joy she couldn’t quite place.

  No wonder most of the people prefer studying here, as in the Library. The people…

  Val turned her head left and right, her feeling of uneasiness magnifying by the minute.

  Where the hell are the people?

  It was then when she heard it. The little weak voice.

  “Valentine.”

  Emma Stone’s voice. Poor Emma, she was still one of the few Powerless, just like Val herself. The fact had lead them spending a lot of hours together, either at the Library, or at the Training Rooms. Relieved that she was not completely alone in this world, Val turned to the sound source, but froze before she had taken a full step.

  Emma was on the ground, face down, Tobias holding her firmly by the head, Alice looming over her, with Will just a few steps behind, looking sincerely scared of the whole ordeal.

  Of course. Of course it would come down to this. Actually, one month of peace was already too much. You thought Alice Green would forget about you?

  Valentine took small careful steps towards Alice and Emma.

  “Aren’t you ready to barge in and save her, Hero? Oops, I forgot, you don’t even have a Power.”

  Alice’s voice teasing her, and Tobias’ hand pushing Emma’s face to the floor.

  “Val, ran for help. Please. Just leave me here. I can… I can take them.”

  Alice kicked the poor girl’s ribs.

  “Silence! You thought a couple of self-defence lessons with that bitch would help you? You thought getting a speed-up Power would save you from your fate? Oh that’s right…”

  Alice laughed with Val’s surprised face

  “…our little mouse over here is a Speeder. She was running in the corridors happily to tell her idiotic friends, including you, I guess, when she got caught right in my trap. Maybe you are not as fast as you thought, little one.”

  Alice pulled Emma’s hair and the girl screamed.

  “Take me. It’s me you want, not her.”

  Val said as she kneeled on the ground, hands in front of her.

  “I am Powerless. Do whatever you want with me. Just leave Emma alone.”

  She sincerely meant it. She had no escape plan. She would take it up, and maybe, just maybe, if she survived this, they would leave her alone once and for all. And her friends wouldn’t have to pay for one stupid mistake of her past.

  Alice looked at her with pity.

  “I thought you would fight a little bit more, like the old days. I overestimated you, it seems. You grew soft after you release from the Asylum and this place did nothing to help. No matter. Take her, boys.”

  Tobias sprung up, leaving poor Emma lying on the ground, with Will following him reluctantly. They ceased both of Val’s arms and pushed the back of her head, making her face the ground.

  As Alice walked towards her, Val looked at Emma, who was slowly getting up, trying to recover from the shock.

  “Run. As fast as you can.”

  Emma sprinted like the wind, disappearing from the Atrium at once. Alice sniggered.

  “The little mouse goes to your rescue. But that only means we have to be extra-fast in our treatment, don’t we?”

  She kicked Val in her belly, making her double up from pain. Another kick, and another, till she spat out blood. Then Tobias grabbed her by the hair and led her with Will at the edge of the pool.

  Alice followed them, and soon enough she was also standing right at the edge, slapping Val with all her strength. Once, twice, three times, her hands insanely quick, her face a mask of rage and malice.

  “Time for a little electro-therapy, sweetie. Don’t worry, you are not going to die. Probably.”

  Alice laughed like a madman and then turned her head towards Tobias and Will.

  “Put her head inside.”

  The pool. Alice’s Power. She really wants to kills me. She doesn’t care about her punishment. Her mind is too far gone.

  Val started moving around trying to escape the boys’ grip. Will’s did loosen up a bit, as if he was having second thoughts about Alice’s insane plan. But Tobias was relentless. He punched her straight at the back of her head, and Val screamed, unable to see, unable to speak, her brain going dark.

  “What’s the matter, Val? You thought that I will show you mercy? You thought that I will just beat you up? You’re dead, bitch.”

  The boys pushed her and Val found herself head down in the pool, her nose and her lungs filling up with water, asphyxiation causing her consciousness to fade. It was only a matter of seconds.

  “Time to finish this. This joke was gone on long enough.”

  Alice rose her hand, producing a wave of electric energy, of all the Power she had to have this one, god-dammit, as Val faded to black.

  And there in the darkness of her unconscious mind, she dreamt again. She was at her bench in the beautiful park, but desperation filled her soul and she couldn’t speak. The little black-haired girl, her dream comp
anion, turned around and looked at her with pity.

  Are you going to die like this? Do you want to be remembered like this?

  What the hell am I supposed to do? I am Powerless. I have nothing against them.

  Then the small figure laughed and stood up. And slapped her. The shock was so great, Val felt her blood freezing in her veins. The kid looked at her firmly, her black eyes shining.

  Wake up.

  And so she did.

  ***

  Val emerged out of the water, gasping for air, her two arms extended and her palms open. Tobias and Will were already flying backwards, creating an arch and hitting the benches with their backs.

  Alice also flew, the electric current destined to hit Val coming out of her hand, turning upwards, hitting the lamps and shattering them into pieces. Alice’s back hit the wall, the air leaving her lungs. And then Val knew, a feeling of certainty deep within her muscles, bones and soul. She was finally truly awake.

  She turned around slowly, water trickling from her head to her clothes. Will was the first to face her wrath. She moved her wrist swiftly upwards and opened up her palm. Will flew down the stairs, his body falling down like a sack, making dump sounds, as his bones cracked on the stair’s edges.

  One down, she thought, two to go. Time for the big fish.

  Tobias was slowly recovering from Val’s first attack, shaking his head. He looked up at her, and raised his fists, determined to hit her once again in his blind rage, charging at her.

  Not this time, fucker. Val’s left arm closed in a fist, and Tobias felt every sense of control leaving his body.

  You are mine now.

  Val opened her palm and her enemy was lifted slowly from the ground, elevating, his mouth a small surprised circle, his face white. She moved her hand up and down, and Tobias fell, hitting one of the Atrium’s benches. A second later his body was being lifted again, only to fall in the ground. His body was moving, rising and falling, directed by her all-powerful hand. After five consequent attacks, Val stopped her wave movement and Tobias was left on the ground, unconscious.

  One more to go.

  Alice was already recovering, her eyes two wide bulbs looking Tobias’s body with dubious disbelief.

  “You fucking bitch. You killed him!”

  You wanted to kill me first, Alice.

  Her enemy raised her hand abruptly, trying to throw an electric current at Val, missing her entirely, hitting and breaking the bench on her right in half.

  She is still dizzy from the hit, Val thought. Perfect.

  She could have ended it right there and now, like she did with the other two. One swift attack against Alice, and she was a goner. But that wasn’t enough. Just hitting her once wouldn’t do the trick. Val wanted to truly scare her, and then maybe, she would finally had a change of being left alone.

  I’ve suffered so long at your hands. Revenge is sweet, after all.

  Val raised her arm again, while taking a few steps to her left, avoiding one of Alice’s currents. She lifted her opponent of the ground and with a sudden jerk of her arm, Alice flew upwards, hitting the ceiling, breaking her nose in the process.

  The jets of blood were massive, as Alice screamed and moved her arms frantically, shooting her wild electric energy everywhere, smashing lights, benches and tiles alike.

  Val let Alice go and raised both her arms in front of her torso, creating a sort of an invisible shield, protecting herself from the flying debris.

  Alice got up once again, but this time the possibility of an upcoming defeat, made her lose her composure. She tried to run towards the stairs, only to be lifted high up the air again, and screamed as Val dropped her wrist, leading her head first in the water, a dive Alice was not prepared for. Her body dropped with a big splash, submerging in the pool water.

  One, two, three…

  Val counted exactly three seconds, and then moved her both arms behind her head, making Alice’s body emerge from the pool, flying all the way back to the base of the stairs.

  “On your feet, bitch. Is that all you got?”

  Alice got up, wet, unable to produce electricity, if only for a little while. Her eyes were shining, a crazy determination in them.

  “You are dead.”

  Alice charged towards Val, ready to take her down with her bare hands. Val closed her eyes. The enormous glass windows started shaking, rocking back and forth, left and right, cracking in many small spots.

  Alice finally realised what was going to happen, her survival instinct surpassing her madness. She stopped right on her tracks, tried to turn left in order to escape once more, but it was too late.

  Val’s right hand moved instinctively, her Power pinning Alice to the ground. As she opened her eyes, the windows broke with a loud banging sound and a thousand glass shards, sharp as knives, made their way straight towards Alice’s face, destroying the remaining furniture in the process. Alice’s eyes widened as she pissed her skirt, her skin losing all colour as the shards reached her neck and body.

  “VAL, DON’T DO IT, PLEASE. STOP.”

  The desperate scream brought Val back to reality. She looked right behind Alice, at the edge of the stairs. Amy was there with Sebastian, the two of them being the first to reach the Atrium. Vanessa Rehberg was standing behind them, breathless, not believing her eyes.

  “I know where to stop, Amy.”

  She dropped the shards, as Alice Green fainted. Val was wet and tired and beaten up, but she was glad. For the first time in her time, she had confronted Alice Green alone. And she had won.

  ***

  Val felt unusually calm as she sat inside the Instructor’s office, waiting for Vanessa’s final judgement. She already knew that Alice was in their private infirmary, alive and well.

  There is nothing to fear.

  Vanessa entered her office, showing no emotion at all.

  Cold and professional, she sat in her comfortable chair and looked straight at Val’s eyes.

  Val looked like a mess having enough time to just wipe her hair with a towel and clean the trails of blood from her nose and mouth. But the bruises were there, and it was clear that she was the one being abused, instead of the other way around.

  Vanessa had a moment of sorrow in her look, before her expression turned back to professional again. She took a deep breath.

  “Valentine Stone. The girl with the best original Test. You were Powerless until a few hours ago, am I right?”

  “Yes.”

  “And now, you have the greatest and rarest power in Canton. Telekinesis. Congratulations. I just wish you hadn’t used it to attack another teammate”

  “Mrs. Rehberg, with all due respect, have you seen my face? My head was stuck in a swimming pool, with Alice Green sending an electric current right at it. Sending the shards against her was a despicable thing to do, but I only wanted to scare her. She would have gladly killed me. How else was I going to protect myself, when apparently no one around here is doing his job?”

  Vanessa’s eyes opened wide, and her face turned shamefully to the ground.

  Val regretted the last sentence instantly. It was not their fault either. Who would have thought that such a dangerous individual like Alice would be a Hero Candidate?

  “I am sorry.”

  “Don’t be Valentine. You are right to be angry. I personally know the Green family. Especially her father, Aldus. I know what he is capable off. But Valentine, your past record is not far better either. Incidents of aggressive behaviour, including your stay at the Centre for the Mentally Ill for two years. This was also the result of a fight with the Greens, isn’t it?”

  Val nodded silently, trying to hold her tears.

  Vanessa stood up, and came around her office sitting right next to her. She took her hand in hers, surprising Val.

  “I want to offer you a deal, Valentine. Alice Green is alive and kicking and right now, very scared. She sucked up her pride, and agreed not to talk to her daddy ab
out any of this. Mainly because she would be facing major legal issues, after the assault against you.”

  “But?”

  Vanessa took a deep breath.

  “But you are going to have to let it go too, Ok? No revenge plans. You focus on your amazing Power, which is the best gift someone could have, and let the grudge fade. You are adults in an Academy of Heroes, and you are going to have to act like ones, like it or not.”

  Val was silent for a second, but then slowly moved her head in agreement.

  “I’m done with Alice Green, Mrs. Rehberg. I think she’s done with me too. She used to be so much more powerful than me. Not anymore.”

  Val was surprised with her own attitude. But seeing Alice pissing herself was enough, at least for now. She didn’t want to pursue the grudge any further.

  “I am glad to hear it, Valentine. It will be the best for you and your team. And I promise you, we will keep eyes on the Green girl, night and day”

  Vanessa gave Val a last smile and resumed her sit behind the desk.

  “So, tomorrow is a new day. Have a good’s night sleep. You are going to need it for your new training. That is all.”

  The discussion came to an end. The front door opened and Val knew that this was her cue. She left Vanessa’s office and walked the long corridor which led to the Library. Her head was light and her heart even lighter. She was not going to be taken away by the Academy. She had all the time in the world to train with her new, amazing Power. There was only one thing left to do.

  ***

  8. The Party

  “It’s it already late, John. Maybe she is not coming. It was too much of a shock. I’m telling you, we should go look for her.”

  Mike was talking impatiently, and feeling impatient too. A few hours had passed since Val was released from the Instructor’s office, going straight to her room instead of talking to them. They had all been waiting in the roof ever since, waiting until she was ready to talk.

  “She’ll come, Mike. Just wait a little bit longer. It was a long day for all of us. Too much to … digest, know what I mean?”

  Sebastian tried to be cautious with his words, as to not enrage Mike any further. And we wasn’t the only one enraged.

  “When I see Green, I am going to strangle her with my own hands. You wait and see.”

  Amy murmured with a cold-blood, calculating voice.

  “It’s a miracle, if Val wants to see us again. We left her all alone.”

 
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