New Recruits

How did I get stuck with these guys...?

I look at my new recruits. They show potential, but they might end up being complete and total failures. I guess I'll just have to find out. "Who can tell me the reason they're here?" I ask in a loud, booming voice.

A girl named Charlotte Yellow raises her hand. I roll my eyes. "This isn't Pre-School," I tell her strictly. "Now, answer the question. Don't raise your hand."

"Um... I don't know how to answer the question," she says dumbly. "I just had a question for you." Before I can object, she blurts out, "What's your name?"

I sigh. "I thought we already went over this. I am Head Captain Jane Montgomery, and you will address me as such."

"Oh, hello Head Captain... Jane... uh, Mountaincannery," Charlotte greets me curtly. I mentally face-palm.

"Just call me Head Captain Jane. Now, can anyone answer my earlier question?" I ask.

A tall, blonde haired, punk-like girl says, "To become superheroes."

"Thank you..." I look at my clipboard. "... Julia Keltsworth." I look at the other wannabes. "You are all here to learn from me how to become a superhero. Now, I will point you out, and, one by one, you will state your name and your power."

I point to a Charlotte. The burnt sienna hair framing her head waves back and forth as her head sways. She seems to be in another world. "Yellow!" I shout, meaning to get her attention. She doesn't move. "Charlotte!" I bellow.

She looks up. "Hi."

I'm beginning to run out of patience. "I told you to say your name and state your power. Now I expect you to comply... now!"

"Um, hi everyone." Everyone except Julia says hi back. In fact, Julia seems to be embarrassed by these people that have come with her—I think I like this girl the most out of all of these wannabes. "My name is Charlotte Yellow," she continues, "and my power is..." She pauses dramatically. "Dancing!" Everyone except for Julia claps.

That is the final straw. "So you mean to tell me," I say angrily, "that your power—the power to defeat bad guys—is dancing?!" I throw back my head and laugh nastily. "You have got to be kidding me! How are you going to defeat villains by dancing? You people are just a waste of my time." I start to walk away, but Julia grabs my arm.

"With all do respect, Ma'am," she says, "could you at least give us all a chance to show you our powers first?"

I look at her long and hard. "Fine," I say. "I'll give you all a chance." This ought to be good...

I call on the next girl, who has her hair dyed red. It looks to have originally been brown. "State your name and your power," I command.

"Fawn Prescott," she says. "And my power is flying."

"That's respectable," I say. "What can you do while flying?"

"Um... is there something other than soaring around in the sky that I can do?"

"Can you get speed bursts that make you go faster?" I ask.

"Noooooo..." she replies, looking at me curiously. "Should I be able to?"

I sigh. It was taking all of my self restraint not to walk out of here laughing. Really. This is pathetic. "Next!" I holler, pointing to a girl who looks like she is silently laughing at me. "Do I speak funny, Miss..." I look at my clipboard again. "Miss Caroline Matthews? Is that why you are laughing at me?"

"Who said I was laughing at you?" she asked, not trying to hid her giggles.

I grit my teeth. "And what, may I ask, is your power?"

"I dunno. Julia said I had powers and told me to come. I don't know why I'm even here... it's getting boring."

"The only thing that is getting boring is your attitude!" I roar. "I will have you all know that I do not tolerate disrespect. And I never will tolerate it. Is that understood? If so, then stand up straight and say, 'Yes Ma'am'!" I direct this question to all of the girls. They all nod glumly and say 'Yes Ma'am'. "Good. Now that that's taken care of, I'll move on to you, Keltsworth."

She boldly stands up and proclaims her name. "I am Julia Keltsworth, and my power is X-ray vision."

"Really?" I ask, intrigued. "It has been a long time since we have had an X. For the record, ladies, that is how we refer to a person with X-ray vision. So Julia is an X."

"Ladies?" asks a voice. It is unmistakeably masculine. "Last time I checked, I wasn't a lady." A teenager with charcoal black hair emerges from the shadows. He drums his fingers on his crossed arms.

I am caught off guard by his unexpected appearance, but I quickly recover. Whoever this boy is, he doesn't look very friendly. "What's your name, Son?" I inquire.

"James. James Black." I write his name on my clipboard. "And my power is controlling the shadows."

"Really? I've never seen your kind here before. People with your abilities don't usually..." I pause, choosing my next words carefully. "...well, they don't usually like heroes. They usually end up as—"

"Villains. I know. That's why I'm here. I want to be the one to change all of that." I look at him with a bit of adoration.

"What are your ages?" I ask the group. Charlotte tells me that she, Fawn, and Caroline are all thirteen. Julia tells me that she is seventeen and that she has, in a way, taken these girls under her wing. James tells me that he is also seventeen.

I purposely avoid telling these new recruits how old I am. Telling them that I, myself, am seventeen would be like suicide. They wouldn't take me seriously. That would be an inevitable conclusion.

Of course, leave it to one of the younger girls to ask that question. "How old are you?" Fawn asks me curiously. Charlotte echoes Fawn's question.

When I hesitate, Caroline states, "I'll bet she's eighteen or younger."

"Zip it! I'll answer questions directed to me, and you'll answer questions directed to you. Understood?" Caroline doesn't say a word. "Good. I—I am twenty-two. I've been training heroes for years." The latter, at least, was true. Since I was fourteen I've been training heroes, those who are younger than me and those who are older alike.

My father, being the creator of this organization, knew I was fit for the task. Even though I don't have any powers myself, I've never faced a person, hero or villain, who could defeat me. No matter what their power.

"Twenty-two, eh?" James says. "You look pretty young to be twenty-two. But, if you say so..."

Julia and the other girls remain silent. Good. They're quick learners. "If you want to stay and train to become a hero—or a sidekick—I won't stop you. But be forewarned. It's not going to be easy. And with your levels of experience..." I look directly at the younger girls. "...it's going to be difficult."

The smaller girls flinch, but Julia just nods. James says nothing.

"Well, for now I'll just let you all settle in." I gesture toward a hall. "Down the hall to the right is a room for you all to share." They all start to go to the room, but I put a hand on James shoulder as he follows. I keep my eyes straight ahead, not meeting his gaze. "Not you. You're past that hall and into the next. When you come to the conference at the end of this hall, you'll see another hall leading out of it. The first door on the left is your room." I hand him his key and bring my eyes to his. I try hard to keep my eyes from wandering to his muscular chest. "And no going into the girls section unless you have permission from me or are heading here. Understood?"

"Yes Ma'am," he replies, then walks toward his room.

I stop him again. I give him a charming smile. Heh, this is probably the most genuine smile I've ever given before. "I'm glad you're with us, James."

He nods and smiles back, then turns and walks to his quarters.

Am I just being a total girl right now, or is he really handsome? His hair is so dark that you feel as though midnight is trapped in there. Not to mention his perfectly toned body. He's so dreamy... whoa! What am I saying? I am truly pathetic.

I face-palm, then, shaking my head, walk toward my own dwelling.