The alarm sounded. It's repetitive blaring noise filled the bedroom, annoyingly awaking its occupant. Head buried under the pillow, the sleeper grumbled pressing his hand on top to try drowning out the sound. When that didn't work he reached out, slamming his hand on the nightstand several times until he found the problem. "Fucking clock." He pulled the pillow off his head, lifting his body up revealing his shirtless torso. His black hair a mess, he yawned as he slowly moved his legs off the bed, planting his feet on the carpet. "Great, it's Monday again."
I always did hate Mondays. So anyway, I'm Issac if you forgot already. Full name, Issac Haddock Montgomery. Don't ask about my middle name, I've had it since I was born.
Issac looked around, the small bedroom the same as it was the night before. His clothes were tossed on the floor. He had not bothered to pick them up even though he had a usable drawer, and closet to keep them in. The room was dimly lit, the window shades keeping sunlight from blasting him in the face during the mornings. That was one of the downsides of having a bedroom with a window facing east. "Stupid sun. Can't wait to find a different place." He groggily said, getting up, and heading to the bathroom first. Turning on the light he shut his eyes still not use to it. Rubbing them he blinks a few time, his pupils adjusting to the lighting clearing his vision to see the reflection of himself in the bathroom mirror. "Hello again."
His dark blue eyes were the first thing he focused on. Focusing out the rest of him became clear to him. The fairly light skin of his body greeted him once again, displaying the shallow muscling on his thin frame indicating he was in shape. leaning closer his rubbing his hands on his cheeks trying to wake himself up further before noticing he had bed head. Wetting his hand in the sink he ran it through his hair to straighten it out, and when he was satisfied he let out a yawn going for the toilet.
Yeah, that's how I usually start my mornings. And if it crossed your minds, I do live alone. Been that way for a while now. I'm 17 right now. I never knew my parents, and I never really had any family to live with truth be told. I did have a sister, but... Things didn't work out. So now I'm on my own, living in a small rented apartment on the outskirts of Seattle. Not so bad. Not too many people around, although the Landlord is kind of a dick. I don't think he likes have a conduit as a renter, but he won't turn down the money.The of the toilet flushing behind him Issac walked to the kitchen making a bowl of cereal, and taking a seat of the couch. Searching for the remote, he remembered he left it on top of the tv. Too lazy to get up, he held out his arm, darkness engulfing if as it began taking a solid form as then reached out. Its movement as it extended through the air was fluid. He had done a good job of controlling his powers since he unlocked them a few years ago. When he felt the constructed hand wrap around the remote he retracted it absorbing it back into his body when the remote slid into his actual hand, and he hit the power button.
So that's my power. Shadow-kinesis, or Darkness manipulation, or whatever its called. Or at least that's what I think it is. Conduits are still new on the scene compared to the rest of history, so not everything about us has been learned. I can manipulate shadows to my will to make constructs, or whatever else I can. Not the most flashy power, but I definitely like it.
The screen turned on to the news. Issac inserted a spoon full of cereal into his mouth as the anchorman continued his morning broadcast. "In other news, today marks the 32nd anniversary of the Empire City catastrophe in 2011. Thousands gather in the newly rebuild reconstructed Archer Square to celebrate the City's reconstruction. Citizens new, and old wait impatiently for Mayor McDonough to finally open the memorial honoring the thousands that died in the devastating Empire Event that brought the City to its knees, and its subsequent destruction a month later. The mayor regretfully had to inform the public that, Cole McGrath, The man remembered as the one who helped lift the city back to its feet, would not be joining the unveiling. While his presence will be missed, many people who also manage escape the city prior to its destruction returned to remember their lost loved ones."
Yup, you heard right. If you know your history, then you've heard about what happened in Empire City. A massive explosion that left a crater, a plague that wiped out hundreds after, Then an even bigger explosion that killed everything in the city. And if you've heard of that then you've probably heard of Cole McGrath. Probably one of the most powerful conduits still alive today. The guy practically saved the whole world, and the only thank you he got from the government was being called a "bioterrorist", and being hunted like a dog for 7 years.
As Issac got closer to the bottom of his bowl, the camera turned to a woman sitting across from the anchorman. "In local news, crime in Seattle, as well as many surrounding communities, continue to be at an all-time low. Police chief Rodriguez would like to thank the officers putting themselves at risk on the streets, and the newly formed powered division of the department for their services in maintaining the safety of our streets."
Yup, there are actually conduits working as police. One of the upsides of having superpowers is that it opens as many doors as it does close. One of the most obvious uses for being able to shoot stuff out of your hands, or being able to restain people at will is police work though most of those guys aren't real conduits, just posers that get a small amount of power from real ones. Still don't know how they do that.
Issac looked at the time, seeing that it was 7:00, he stood up, putting the dishes in the sink, and heading back to his bedroom to put on a fresh set of clothes. Wearing a black t-shirt, blue jeans, and pair of sneakers, he grabbed his backpack making for the door. Locking it behind him, Issac vaulted over the railing in front, falling a good ten feet, and landing in the parking lot like it was nothing.
"Hey! I told you to stop doing that!"
Issac turned around, seeing the middle age man that was the apartment owner who was in the middle of taking out the trash. "What!? I didn't land a car this time!"
"I don't care! I'm going to risk dealing with another tenant complaining to me about you putting dents in their hoods. So unless you have the power to shit out money, stop doing that or I'm kicking your freak ass out!"
Issac rolled his eyes and threw his hands in the air. "Fine! I'll even throw an extra hundred for this month's rent if it'll shut you up!"
Angry, but satisfied the owner simply gave him a wave to say he accepted. That done, Issac inserted the earphones from his music player, and took off in a jog for the bus station, the cool morning breeze blowing through his clothes. A combination of some old Backstreet Boys and Canaan Smith songs sang in his ears, passing by other bystanders on the sidewalk. Trees lined up on both sides of the streets, cars frequently passed by, heading to work, or on their way to drop their kids off at school.
Issac got closer to the city, the sight of obstructing buildings replaced the calming forests that surrounded it. There had much development in recent years. The Space Needle still stands as the signature landmark. Many of the older buildings had been torn down, and replace with newer versions. Plus there was an expansion project that required digging into the surrounding forest. Maybe not so good for the environment, but the rise in electric car sales probably made up for it.
So this is Seattle. Still largest city in Washington State, Surrounded by thousands of acres of Evergreen forest, and consider the city where change began. A lot has changed since the D.U.P. occupation, and that hypocrite bitch, Brook Agustien, went to jail to rot. For starters, all those laws that the government passed saying that conduits weren't people, gone. The D.U.P. disbanded with most of the higher ups arrested with Agustien. Curdun Cay, all the prisoners that had been lock up for years for no reason were released, free to choose their own fate in life, and the prison was reorganized to hold real criminals. So now Conduits have to do something actually bad before getting sent there. As a matter of fact, Agustien became its first new inmate. Ironic considering she used to run the place.
Getting deeper into the city, Issac took a shortcut through an alleyway, the buildings blocking the light of the sun and the shadows covering him the shadow conduit felt a boost to his stamina and ran faster. Up ahead a chain linked blocked his path as usual, but he was deterred. "Alright Issac, get that parkour." He leaped onto a nearby dumpster, running across the lid, he jumped again grabbing onto a fire escape and swung over the fence ending in a what would have been perfect landing had it not been for the puddle that made him slip and fall on his back, getting his backpack a good portion of his clothes wet. "Shit!" he scrambled back up looking down at his wet attire, he placed his hands on his body, darkness spread out from his palms smothering the soaked portions of his body with the benefit of pushing out every ounce of moisture the fabric absorbed making it fall harmlessly on the ground. "There we go." the darkness faded, his clothes dry again, Issac regained his running pace, slowing down when he exited the ally and the sun was beating down on him once more, ending the boost he was feeling. "Fucking sun."
He continued his pace for the next few block dodging pedestrians, and rushing crosswalks, almost getting struck by a car but managing to do a cartwheel across the hood while shouting, "Sorry." But actually, he was quite impressed with himself.
Making a turn he saw a man up ahead walking his way, not paying attention with his eyes on his smart phone's screen. He stepped on a paper coffee cup that had been spilled just then making him slip and fall on his back. "Ah!"
The women who dropped the coffee got on one knee. "I'm so sorry! My fingers slipped!" She tried to help him up but he winced feeling a sharp pain in his back.
"Damn, I think I hurt something!"
"Let me help." Issac stopped next to them getting their attention, with a wave of his hand he commanded the nearby shadows around them to cover the man's body. Unfamiliar with what was happening, the man tried to resist attempting to swat away the black substance with no effect, stopping when the pain in his back started to disappear. When it was over Issac help him back to his feet. He blinked a few time surprised, "Oh, um, thank you."
"No problem." Issac bent down, pick up the dropped phone running a layer of shadows over it to get rid of the dirt and traces of coffee it picked up before handing it to back to him.
"Ah man, the screen's cracked. Any chance you can work your magic on it?"
Issac shrugged, "Sorry." He resumed his jog leaving behind two very surprised citizens who wouldn't forget what they saw.
Issac stopped at the bus station, sitting down on a bench before taking his earphones out. To his sides, other students of different ethnicities also waited for the usual bus. Just like him, they were conduits too. There weren't that many of them since conduits were still a minority group.
Looking around, Issac noticed citizen just going about their day on the sidewalks and cars, passing by bearing no mind superpowered individuals waiting for the bus. Some that walked by stopped for a moment having recognized the bus stop and what its primary use was for, hoping for something spectacular then moving on when nothing was happening. Some openly tried to avoid getting to close, having looks of distaste as their eyes swept over what they consider dangerous freaks.
It doesn't matter what year it is, there's always going to be people like that, and even worse...
"Repent now before its too late!"
There are still those people.
Issac turned around seeing a bald man in a black trench coat approach the station. In one hand was a bible, and he pointed at the teenagers waiting for the bus. 'Not him again.'
"Repent for you all have been touched by the devil. Givin unholy power to oppose the power of God. Created to make others turn away from his light, and lead us to the path of damnation."
Issac was growing increasingly frustrated. It was not the first time that preacher came to bother them, but it seems to get worse every time. The other students only gave him a quick glance then went back to ignoring him as usual. Issac on the other hand...
"You young man," the preacher pointed to Issac, catching his attention. "If you wish to have any hope of reach salvation, you must forsake your demonic abilities, and devote yourself to the Lord's Light."
Issac was getting sick of this. Every couple of weeks that guy would show up, and try to ruin their morning by spreading his crap. And this time he was trying to drag him into it. He extended his arm out blackness swirling around it like a vortex that culminated in hand. Shadows of the shaded bus stop Issac sat at turned darker then were sucked through the air as clouds of darkness into his hands. "Sorry pal, but me and light don't mix." His peers, as well as some passing bystanders stopping what they were doing to look at him. The other students weren't really bothered by it, some of them capable of doing the same thing with different sources. The average folk, on the other hand, were astonished, somewhat frightened as they did not understand how it was possible.
The preacher took a step back at the sight. "You see people." Now he was addressing all the people that had stuck around for the sight. "What more proof do you need. This boy is the farthest thing from God's grace. He has the power to twist, and manipulate the evil in all your souls. How long before we are forced to do his bidding. How long before the devil rises up to command him." Unfortunately for the preacher, he was not getting any support. Most of everyone just brushed him off as another annoying religious jackass, and the ones that didn't either laughed at his antics or just wanted to see how it would play out.
Luckily a blue colored school bus showed up opening its door to let the students inside. The students filed in one by one until Issac was the last one to board. "Heed my warnings. If you do not turn away from this foolish path, God will see that you pay the price."
"Blow it out your ass! God isn't gonna touch me for shit." The bus doors closed behind him, and he took a seat in the back.
Religious nutbags suck ass no matter where you are.
The bus started moving as the students started conversing with each other as per the usual. Except for Issac who took out a notebook, and opened it to the incomplete drawing he was working on. He usually spent his spare time making drawings when nothing else demanded his attention. His friends didn't take the bus with him so he always met them at school.
Washington's Acadamy for the Powered. Its a place exclusively made for conduits to get their education, and help master their powers so they don't accidentally hurt someone when they move on to try, and make something out of themselves. It is the first of its kind. The construction started back in the mid-twenties after the powers that be got too many complaints from concerned parents about their children's safety. That, and few too many accidental holes in walls. Now there are others like it spread across the states.
It's located a few miles outside the city limits. It might seem like a throwback to the days of segregation, but honestly, can you blame anyone.
Despite whatever controversy there was, the place itself was far from bad. It was well funded and maintained. The academy was divided into five sections. The first three were split up by grades: Elemetray, Jr. High, High school, depending on how old you are when you discover your power. The fourth is basically for adults when they unlock their powers after graduation. And the last is an on-site dormitory for students that are old enough to live on their own, and live too far away to make regular trips. We get new enrollments from all over the states so that was a good idea.
Eventually, Issac could see the academy from his window. The property was large, covering a few miles of open terrain, and surrounded by woods, the perimeter gated to prevent unwanted intruders.
The bus pulled up the front entrance, coming to a full stop before opening its doors. He closed his drawing book, putting it in his backpack before standing up. One by one, the students on board filed out with Issac being the last. Feet hitting the sidewalk, he wrapped the straps around his shoulders, taking in a breath of fresh air. "One more week, then summer vacation."
"Hey, Issac." Issac turned around to see his best friend stepping out of a red sedan. After shutting the door, he walked over Issac, the sun shining on his black hair revealing the faint blueish tint it had that wouldn't really be noticeable otherwise.
"Hey, Gavin." The two greeted each other hands extended out, Issac's shadows swirling around his while Gavin's had electricity dancing along his fingers. Their hands made contact resulting in a small harmless explosion combining darkness with lightning. They pulled their hands away fist-bumping each other with the same result. "So where's little sis?"
Gavin turned back to the car where the back door was opened letting out a girl who couldn't have been more than 14 years old with long black hair that went down to her shoulders and had a similar tint of blue in the sunlight as Gavin . "bye mom." she said to the driver who Issac recognized.
"Hi, Lucy." Issac waved to Gavin's mom, who rolled down the driver's side window to talk to him. The older women's own dark hair had a much more obvious shade of blue than what Gavin and his sister inherited, that went well with her pale complexion and professional clothing.
"Hi, Issac." Lucy smiled not having seen Issac for a while since her husband usual drove their kids since he worked at the school, but had to leave earlier today for a meeting. "How are things on your own? You doing okay?"
"I'm fine," Issac assured. "Could do with a different landlord though."
For the past few years, Issac had been living with Gavin's family after he did some time in juvenile hall after an incident when he was 14 and he lost his temper and seriously hurt some other kids with his powers. For that time he was like another addition to the family. It was way better than when he was in the foster system, and they gave him the comfort he needed since by that time he no longer had any family left. He didn't think he could ever repay them for their kindness. It was the Happiest Issac had been, but deep down It didn't really feel right to him. He wanted to make it on his own so for a while, he saved up money doing odd jobs when he wasn't in school then about six months ago he got himself legally emancipated and a month later he found an apartment he could afford.
"Don't worry, mom." Gavin put his arm on Issac's shoulder, his lips curling into a smirk that Issac recognized all too well.
Oh yeah and I should probably let you know two years ago I got a certain nickname when I was living at Gavin's.
"Hiccup here knows how to handle himself,"
Yeah... I know.
Issac grumbled at the mention of his nickname while Olivia snickered remembering how he got it. "Yeah... Big bro Hiccup has it under control." Issac put his hand on the top of Olivia's head, rubbing it vigorously to mess up her hair. "hey, come on!"
She grabbed his hand, a jolt of freezing cold making him pull away, rubbing it to return the warmth to it. "That's cold."
"That's what you get." Olivia fixed her hair, walking off to class before the bell started. "See you later."
"Yeah... Later." Issac ceased his rubbing when warmth returned to his hand. Checking his watch, he realized they were running short on time, but remembered he had his own way of ripping on Gavin as payback. "Come on, Ash. We got to get to class so you can catch all that hom-Ahh!" That joke got him an electric shock to the arm. Recovering quickly he returned it with a fierce jabbed to Gavin's arm making him stumble a bit.
"Damn, you hit hard!" Before they could go any further, they both got a blast of cold to the head. Gavin shook his head, teeth almost chattering as snow, and ice particles fell out of his hair.
"Ash Gavin Macgrath, what did I tell you about that!?" Lucy spoke in her authoritative mom tone, resting her freezing arm on the edge of the car window, her touch super chilling the metal and glass before deactivating her powers.
Last name sound familiar? Give you three guesses who his dad is.
"Sorry, mom." Gavin apologized but giving Issac a look that said, "Don't do that again."
Issac, running his hand through his hair to get the snow and ice out before it melted, used his other one to make a gesture saying, "Fine," before turning the back side toward Gavin retracting his fingers but letting his middle one linger for a second longer.
"Issac..." Lucy said in a come-on tone.
"He started it." Issac turned and started his way to class.
After saying goodbye, Gavin followed leaving Lucy to roll up the window and begin driving out the parking lot while mumbling, "Brothers..."
Gavin caught up to Issac, walking side by side with him. The two shared most of the same classes though their interests varied. Issacs best class was art, in which he was a prodigy, and Gavin did best in math, and history with both of them doing average in other areas.
"So you're turning 18 on Saturday. You excited?"
Issac huffed, "If by excited you mean going to go through the motions like I usually do then yes."
"Seriously? You're going to be an adult. You really don't feel anything?"
"Did you feel anything when you turned 18 last month?"
"Yes, remember? My parents, and uncle Zeke through a party for me. You were there having a piece of cake."
"Remember when Zeke gave you some of his "special conduit brew" to celebrate," Issac laughed. That was a not so fun memory for Gavin since it ended with him getting drunk for the first time, puking on the floor, and passing out. "That was so funny!"
"Tell that to my mom!" After that debacle, Lucy kicked Zeke out for the rest of the day, dupping the rest of his concoction in the garbage then chastising Gavin after he woke up which was even worse since he had a splitting headache at the time. He had never seen her so mad before.
Issac stopped his laughter, the memory of an angry Lucy Macgrath sending a chill up his spine, figuratively. He never really was that joyed with his birthday given most of his childhood. Gavin's family always did their best to cheer him up during his birthday with success, but ultimately it wasn't that important to him. Just a way to keep track of his age.
Their day in school when on like most others. The seconds ticking away as their teachers continued with the curriculum. Time dragged on with sounds of pencil writing, Issac and Gavin jotting down note after note with every lesson. Art was one of the classes Issac took without Gavin. It was by far his most favorite as it gave him ample opportunity to let his creative side shine. He was one of the best students with a wide range of skill for different art tools, his best being drawing pencils.
Currently, he and the rest of the class were working on an assignment that started the beginning of last week. They were supposed to create their own image of choice of a happy memory that they could remember. Sitting at a drawing table, Issac was staring at an outline sketch of him with the Macgrath family. It was incredibly well done with no indications of erasing marks or signs of pencil mistake. This was due to the fact that he could use his shadows to make borders that would keep him from drawing outside where he wanted and anytime he did he could easily use those same power to take off the unwanted lead mark without damaging the paper or leaving marks. With the outline done he could move onto coloring so grabbing a black coloring pencil with his left hand he was about to get to work on his hair when he heard a voice over his shoulder.
"Everyone." This startled Issac who almost struck the picture recognized the voice as his art teacher who was calling the entire class. Everyone looked to her as she stood in the front of the room looking around to make sure everyone was paying attention. "As you all know summer vacation starts at the end of the week so before I forget I want you to now I have an assignment for you during that time." That announcement was met with many sighs and complaints. "Now before you start with me, this is just an extra credit assignment. Nothing mandatory. For those of you willing to go through with it, I want you to dig into the dippest parts of your skill, and creativity and make the best personal creative picture you can. You are free to come up with whatever you like as long as it is not inappropriate in any way. The more creative and complex it is the more credit you earn. take time to think about it. Anything you come up with I will accept at the beginning of the second semester."
After class, Issac went to lunch to meet up with Gavin as they usually did. They sat down at a bench, munching on some chicken they got from the cafeteria. Gavin's sister, Olivia, Sat on the other side of the lunch area chatting with some of her friends while he and Issac talk with each.
"So did you get any assignments for over break?" Issac asked bitting down on his chicken.
"Yup. Create the most imaginative picture I can."
"That shouldn't be too hard for you. You're a pro."
Issac smiled, "Thanks, but I haven't decided on anything. You got any plans?"
Gavin stopped eating, swallowing a piece of chicken before saying. "My dad's gonna spend the summer training me again."
"That's cool. Remember that time he took us to New Marais to teach us parkour. That was awesome."
"When the locals didn't bagger us to get his autograph, sure." Gavin stared absently into his tray, twirling some meat stuck on his fork's prongs.
Issac set his tray aside seeing something was bothering his friend. "Something up I don't know about?"
Gavin put his fork down not taking his eyes off his food. "No, it's just that-" The school bell rung declaring that lunch was over.
Issac sat up collecting his tray and backpack, "Welp, guess it time for P.E. Ready?"
Gavin stood up, electricity running along his arms, saying, "Yup."
Dupping their trays into the trash, they made their way over to the far end of the school where the gymnasium and locker rooms were located. After changing into their P.E. clothes with consisted of green t-shirts match with exercise pants, and running shoes, they and everyone assembled outside in the field in rows of 3 next to the large obstacle course the school had. Some clouds were passing the sun so the sunlight wasn't beating down on them, luckily for Issac. Everyone chatted with each other waiting for their instructor to arrive.
Issac and Gavin stood next to each other. Issac tapped his foot on the ground while not wanting to wait too long when fives figures approached them. Everyone stood quiet. The man in the lead stopped about ten feet away from the group, three of the other four with him, that they recognized as the other instructors, standing on either side of him with the fifth stand some feet behind them, surveying the group. Issac and Gavin immediately recognized the leader. A middle-aged man with a shaved head, 5 o'clock shadow on his face with light blue eyes to match Gavin's. The white and blue t-shirt he wore revealing an assortment of wing and star tattoos embroidered on his arms, thin lines reaching down to his wrist.
"Hey, dad/Cole." Gavin and Issac muttered to themselves quietly.
Yup, you heard right. The Cole Macgrath, the "Electric Man", "Demon of Empire City", "Patron Saint of New Marais", and Gavin's father, was our instructor. Has been the main instructor for the school since it opened back in 2025. After the fall of the D.U.P. and the lies spread about him were exposed, Cole was no longer a wanted man and actually became quite the celebrity because of his role in destroying the Beast and stopping the plague in 2011, thus saving millions of lives. A few years after he and his new girlfriend Lucy Kuo came out of hiding to try a start a new life for themselves, some feds came to him to tell him about the construction for Washington's Acadamy for the Powered and offered him a job as an instructor since teachers with experience using superpower were rare and he was by far the most experienced conduit there was. He was reluctant at first because he gained a negative view of the government because of the lies, the whole war against conduits thing including some very fucked up shit they were responsible for, but he came around because he and Lucy needed a place to settle down, and Seattle, being
A few years after he and his new girlfriend Lucy Kuo came out of hiding to try a start a new life for themselves, some feds came to him to tell him about the construction for Washington's Acadamy for the Powered and offered him a job as an instructor since teachers with experience using superpower were rare and he was by far the most experienced conduit there was. He was reluctant at first because he gained a negative view of the government because of the lies, the whole war against conduits thing including some very fucked up shit they were responsible for, but he came around because he and Lucy needed a place to settle down, and Seattle, beingthe place where change started, seemed like the best place. Plus he wanted to help other conduits be able to master their talents so, after finding one that wasn't afraid he was going to blow up a building by sneezing, he went back to college, got his teaching degree, and here we are now.
Cole looked over his afternoon class, His son Gavin and, until a few months ago, adoptive son Issac standing next to each other in the front. They along with the rest of their peers stood at attention waiting for their teachers to say something. Looking behind him the new man that had accompanied them, his face calm as he kept a clipboard close to his side, his attire being that of a special military recruiter uniform topped off with a military cap covering his buzz cut hair.
While he didn't show it on the outside, Cole was deeply disturbed by his presence. Not out of fear, but by severe mistrust that was shared by his fellow colleges who all were old enough to remember the days before the Seattle occupation when conduits were shot on site by the military. Cole especially since 32 years ago he was present at the time of the New Marais Massacre that took place a few weeks after he stopped the Beast when a military battalion was sent to New Marais with the mission to kill Cole and any other conduits in the city.
Because of the reputation and gratitude he earned for himself for everything he did for New Marais, the people resisted the military's attempt and with their commander being a paranoid, bigoted, goal-oriented type the whole ordeal turned into a full-scale siege. After a few days, the military had been driven off, with the commanding officer being killed by Cole Macgrath, hundreds were dead, and the already ravaged city turned into an urban warzone. The government tried to downplay what had occurred by blaming it on Cole but when surviving citizens that witnessed the whole ordeal first hand started talking to cameras the entire event went down in history as one of the absolute worst military fuck ups to ever taken place on American soil, many of the surviving soldiers ended up being court-martialed, and an obelisk was erected to memorialize the massacre.
Cole and Lucy wanted to stay to help the people of New Marais pick up the pieces but they knew if they had stayed they'd only be risking a repeat of what happened so they left, returning a year ago with their children and Issac to visit the memorial where they found out that they had been remembered and were welcomed with open arms.
Shrugging off the memories Cole turned by to his class, "Alright everybody," His voice was gravelly, a sign of his age, "Today we're gonna be doing things bit differently. You all are going to be put through a series of evaluated exercises. We'll be testing you so the better you do the better you score. Mrs. Sanders if you'd be so kind as to continue."
Cole stepped back allowing the blond women in her early 40's wearing a white hat to protect her eyes from the sun to take the lead. "We're going to start off the same as usual, basic push ups, sits ups and all that," Sanders made it sound like it was normal but truth was that at conduit schools, when it came to P.E. and other similar areas, the standards were much higher than at regular schools because conduits had far more stamina and endurance than regular humans so using the same standards would have made it too easy. "Then we'll move onto the obstacle course. Each of you are going to do it one at a time this time and you'll less time than usual so you'll have to really push it this time."
The announcement was met with mixed reactions. Some letting out annoyed sighs with others like Gavin and Issac not minding the diversion from the usual routine. Cole stepped forward once more to give out one last announcement. "And also for those of you in my after-school sparing course," a few of the attendees including the two stepbrothers paid extra attention. One of the conditions Cole requested to be met before he agreed to accept his job was that he be allowed to run his own "today's session will be canceled so enjoy your afternoon. Mr. Myrers..."
An older man grey-haired man stepped forward, "Okay now get to it."
Time seemed to fly by as everyone was huffing to get their lungs the oxygen they needed. The basic stuff went by fairly quick, leaving everyone out of breath. The instructors watched each of them with laser vision, telling them to pick up the slack whenever one of them started slowing down. The recruiter said nothing the entire time, staying back allowing the teachers to do their thing, jotting down things on his clipboard every now and again.
The obstacle course was a different matter. With the design having been made with much help from Cole, who still is an expert with urban exploration and parkour, it proved to be a challenge even for conduits. Issac and Gavin made it through with more ease than their peers thanks to the lessons Cole gave them with earned the ire of everyone else who would sometimes give them shit because of their relationship with Cole. On a number of occasions, they were accused of being given special treatment which greatly pissed the both of them off turning into a superpowered fight one or two times. Thankfully there was never any serious damages
Once everyone had their turn, they were told to gather in the gymnasium, taking seats on the bleachers their attention was focused on the projector in front of them pointed at a white screen with the rec fiddling with the controls. Looking at his father, Gavin could tell he was disapproving of what was going on which he guessed was a presentation for the military service.
He was right. The recruiter showed a powerpoint presentation for the benefits of military service. It was about what you'd typically expect to be shown to high school students, maybe a bit flashier as extra effort. After all what was a soldier using a gun compared to one who could blow up a car by snapping his fingers? there were plenty of manufactured conduits like the ones used by the D.U.P. but if there was one thing history told was that they hardly lifted a candle to the real thing. By the end of it, everyone's general impression was lackluster at best which was to be expected since how the military's treatment of conduits a few decades ago was common knowledge, creating a schism of resentment and mistrust that wasn't helped by rumors of mistreatment towards those that joined. Hardly any conduit was willing to volunteer and those that did so out of financial desperation or belief it was their patriotic duty.
Afterward, everyone changed back into their regular clothing gathering their things for their final period. Issac and Gavin were about to take their leave when after getting outside they were met by Gavin's father who pulled his son aside allowing Issac to go on ahead. "Hey, dad. What is it?"
"I won't be able to drive you and Olivia back home today. There's another meeting after school so you'll have to take the bus back. I'll be back home later today."
"Okay. Later dad." Gavin was about to take off when Cole remembered one more thing.
"Oh yeah and before you head home, can you stop by Zeke's store. He called me and said he had something he wanted to give you."
"It's not gonna be more of his "special brew" right?" Gavin rubbed his stomach remembering the distress the last time caused his stomach.
"Your uncle's not dumb enough to piss your mom off again. Just go see what it is."
"No problem." Gavin left, speeding up to catch up with Issac.
As Cole watched his son get smaller in the distance, he smiled. He had grown up so much. Even though opening up wasn't Cole's strongest area deep down he was proud of him. Years ago he never thought he'd be able to settle down and start a family. There was so many things that changed his life, so many people that need his help or tried hurt him but now... Closing his eyes, he clenched his hand, white blue lighting running along his arm as he thought back to what he had to go through to get to this point. The sound of thunder snapped him out of it. Looking to the sky he realized that there was a sudden overcast over the school, Lightning could be seen flashing in the cloud. "Crap."
"Cole, are you alright?" Mrs. Sanders came up to him, aware of the change in weather and knowing there was only one person capable of it.
"I'm fine. Just remembering something." Cole calmed down, the lightning ceasing in response, noticing that some of the students had stopped to look at him. "What are you waiting around for? Get to class!"
Later, the final bell rung, signaling the end of the school day. The overcast created earlier was still present, in the process of dissipating as the students either headed to the parking lot to get a ride home or to their dormitories to get started on their homework. Issac waited by the bus, boarding when he saw his best friend with his little sister in tow. They sat in the back, Issac and Gavin sitting next to each other while Oliva sat a few seats up talking with some of her friends.
"So You really aren't planning anything for your birthday?" Gavin looked at Issac who while he worked on a drawing of what appeared to be the grim reaper being impaled by a shadowy figure. It was turning out really good.
Issac sighed, "Well I have been thinking about going for another nature hike."
"Really?" As strange as it may seem, it wasn't that uncommon for Issac. A lot of times Issac who head out beyond the city limits into the surrounding forests for a while. Nothing too serious, he'd just go with his backpack, taking some basic outdoor things, snacks, and drawing materials for a couple of hours or sometimes until night though one time he spent the night out when he got lost but was able to find his way back the next day.
"Yeah, it helps to help clear my mind. plus I might find someplace good enough to draw." Issac held his picture up examing his work closely to determine the best way to use shading. "Any chance you're up for it again?"
Gavin was unsure how to respond. He had gone with Issac before when he went out into the wilderness and he liked the change in scenery but there was a problem. Since he was an electric conduit like his dad he had some of the same weaknesses as him. One of those being that he feels weaker when he's too far away from an active power grid.
"I'll go." Issac looked away from his work to see Gavin's sister looking back at them from her seat up ahead.
"No," Gavin responded.
"Ahh come on!" Olivia complained, "I wanna go."
"No, your still too young to come with us. And I don't wanna have to explain to dad where we were if you get separated from us and get lost."
"Are you kidding? I'm 14 now and I got ice powers." Olivia held out her hand, a cold fog coming from her palm as a layer of thin ice started forming around her skin. "I bet I could take down a bear."
"Please, me or Issac could floor you in two minutes or less. You haven't been trained to use powers like we have. Plus you don't even know Parkour or know any survival stuff. Do you know tricky it can be in the wilderness?"
"Well, why don't you teach me?" The truth was that the other year when they went with New Marais with their parents and their dad started teaching Gavin and Issac the basics of parkour Oliva had tried to learn to which ended with her falling and landing in less graceful ways. In the end, Cole decided it be best for her to a few years then he could try teaching her again if she wanted.
"No, your just going to have to wait a few years when you're bigger."
Not getting anywhere, Olivia turned back forward, grumbling, "I never get to do anything cool."
"Don't worry. You'll have your chance one day." Issac put his drawing into his backpack, looking out the window to see they had arrived at their stop. The three of them filed out of the bus with the others, sticking around the bus stop as everyone else scattered heading back to their homes. "So you two doing anything today?"
"I got to get home," Olivia stated. "I got a lot of homework and I got to get started."
"I'll be home later," Gavin told his sister. "I'm going to Uncle Zeke's store for a bit."
"You are?" Issac asked.
"Yeah, my dad said he had something for me."
"Cool, I was heading there too. I promise the dick that is my landlord an extra hundred on my rent and I need to get work."
"Another Hundred? What did you do this time?"
"Other than jumping off a floor and landing in the parking lot, nothing really."
Saying their goodbyes to Olivia, the two of them decided to races each other to Zeke's store. They didn't take the sidewalks like everyone else. No, when the opportunity presented itself they took to the roofs. Heading into an alleyway away from the eyes of bystanders they scaled the wall, using the pipes and ledges they made their way to the top, staring out at the horizon overlooking the city with the sun shining brightly. They didn't stay long, they booked it, jumping from roof to roof, dashing across cables and wires connecting blocks together, catching the attention of some pedestrians watching the two with great interest. Issac had the lead for most of the way since he could use his shadows to keep himself latched onto surfaces without fear of slipping but when Gavin came across a power cable he grinned his way to the lead.
In the end, Gavin won, using his static thruster to slow his descent to street level followed by Issac who a shadow from his arm to hold onto an edge while he lowered himself until his feet touched the ground. "I win," Gavin said somewhat pleased with himself.
"No fair grinning on power cables." Issac retorted causally looking up at the store sign that said, [Dunbar's Pawn Selection]
"Oh yeah, no fair being some weird dark entity that sticks to things like Spiderman, Hiccup."
Issac scoffed at that. "Whatever, Come one." He put one hand on the front entrance. "Let's see professor Zeke so you can get your first Poke- Ahh!" That time he felt a jolt on his back, nearly falling through the entrance as the door opening rung the bell. Volts traveling up and down his spine, he leaned on a nearby chair until the sensation went away.
"Anything else you like to say?" Gavin walked past him but didn't get far before one of Issac's shadows traveled from his feet, tripping him over causing him to fall and taking some shelf items that his arms caught.
"Hey, hey, hey! No damaging the merchandise!" the voice of a husky middle age man told. Searching for the source Issac laid eyes the shop owner, Zeke Dunbar, wearing a pair of tan cargo shorts, white t-shirt with Vegas dice on the front and wearing sunglasses. His hair was blond, swept back with signs of greying on the sides. "Howdy nephew!" He cheerfully said holding out his hand to help Gavin up.
"Hi, Uncle Zeke," Gavin accepted his hand, getting up as some shelf items fell off his body.
"Hey, Zeke," Issac waved.
"Hey, Step-nephew!" When Gavin was back on his feet he went over to Issac giving him a pat on the shoulder. "You doing okay? The landlord treating you right?"
"Eh, he's still an asshole. But luckily he still a greedy asshole." Issac turned his attention to the mess on the floor. "Sorry about the mess."
"Eh, no biggy. It's just the cheap stuff anyway." The two conduits help Zeke pick up everything that was dropped. "So what brings you two by."
Gavin put the last item on the self, "My dad said you had something for me."
Then it hit him. "Oh right. I got it in the back. Be right back." Zeke walked to the back room behind the counter. Issac and Gavin waited by the cash register. the pawn shop around them had all sorts of old miscellaneous things from toys to tools and equipment, and even some guns that were locked in glass shatterproof display cases. "I hope you like it."
"Let me guess," Issac started, "It a pika-"
He stopped mid-sentence when Gavin held out his arm, electricity dancing between his fingers threatening to tase him again. "Don't."
Zeke laughed, sounds of rummaging could be heard. "You two still going at it with the names?"
"It's your fault," Gavin claimed, turning back to Issac, "Just like its his fault his name is Hiccup."
"Eat me Ash ketch- Ahh!" That time Gavin fired a lightning bolt from his hand hitting Issac dead center in the chest.
"Hey, no shoot things out your hands in the store." Zeke came out carrying a box in this hands and placing it on the counter. "Save it for outside."
Issac rubbed his chest, his fingers picking up static discharge from his shirt. "I'll try to remember that."
"I hate that stupid show." Gavin mutter putting his hands on the counter.
"We know you do." Zeke opened the box, "Now I figured by now your at that age where you want to start experiencing new things."
'Oh god.' Issac thought.
"Now at first I thought I'd get you a fake ID so you could get into bars but after the birthday incident..."
"My mom still doesn't want you in the house." Issac reminded him.
"And that is her right. So instead..." Zeke pulled a large something covered, "Using my brilliant mind, years of handy work experience, and help from some of my "Black Market" contacts..." He unwrapped the object, revealing it to be, what Issac believed, an arm bracer. "Ta-da!" A very unusual looking one.
"Um..." Gavin was unsure of what to make of the contraption before him.
"An arm bracer?" Issac asked.
"You guessed it." Zeke handed the thing to Gavin who held it up, examining it closer. "But this isn't any old bracer."
"Kinda obvious," Gavin commented, feeling the hard black plastic exterior and some wiring sticking out of some small openings. It seemed like an incomplete product. The inside of the bracer was lined with a few copper plates that when Gavin touched he could feel some of his electricity escape his fingers going into the metal. "Uh?..." He gave Zeke a confused look.
"It's a bracer with a built-in power supply."
"It's own power supply?"
"Yeah. You see inside its tough plastic exterior are some heavyweight batteries connected to the copper plates on the inside. I made it because I know you sometimes go with your bro into the woods and I know you have the same problem your dad use to have back in the day so with this you can head out and not worry about feeling sick. The best part is that you can drain it for more ammo and it will recharge by taking it out of your body. Try it on."
Gavin looked at Issac who shrugged telling him to get it over with. He did just that, clamping the device onto his right arm, the latches locking into place to keep it there. "It a little snug."
"It just a prototype. I can make some adjustments."
The electric conduit felt the copper plates sucking the energy in his body at a slow constant pace with the excess amount being recycled back into his body. Out of curiosity, he ran a charge along the length of his arm which didn't end well as sparks started coming from the bracer followed by smoke. "Oh, shit!" He rushed to take it off, letting it fall to the floor hard.
"Crap!" Zeke picked it up putting it on the counter while Gavin checked his arm for damage. "Guess it still needs some tweaking."
"Yeah, it probably does." Issac retracted the cloud of shadows coming out of his hand in case of a fire that needed to be smothered.
"Ah, I'm sorry, nephew."
"No harm, no foul. I got to get home." Gavin headed towards the exit.
"Okay, tell your dad I said Hi" Zeke put his creation back in the box then remembered, "Don't tell your mom about this!"
"I won't." The entrance bell rung again and Gavin was gone.
Zeke took the box into the back room and when he came out he realized that Issac was still there. "Oh, so what can I do for you, nephew? You looking to buy something?"
"You know I got emancipated right?"
"Eh, you're still a nephew to me."
Issac walked up to the counter. "I was hoping you got work for me."
Zeke gave the rest of the store a once over to make sure no one else was there before asking, "You mean the above table kind of work or..." he leaned in closer, "the under the table kind?"
"Whichever." Issac figure Zeke meant some illegal bullshit on the last part. whenever he did take that kind of work it was never anything really bad. Maybe a pot delivery or dropping a mystery package off at a secluded place but Zeke wasn't dumb enough to get involved in anything serious. Plus Issac was smart and superpowered so he never had any real problems.
"Something happen back home?"
"I promised a jackass an extra hundred on the rent. I'd rather have the money sooner than later."
"Not today but give me a few days and I'll call you with something."
"Okay, Later." Issac took his leave, adjusting the straps on his backpack and inserting his earphones he started the long walk home, humming to whatever music he was listening to.
By the time he got home, the sun was an hour away from setting so after getting inside he went to his room, sat down at his desk, and got to work on his homework. It was fairly lightweight so he got done with time to spare. The rest of the night he spent in his living room watching tv while eating leftover chicken from the other night, ending with a shower. Drying off and getting ready for bed he set his alarm again for tomorrow, repeating the cycle he had grown accustomed to. Laying on his bed Issac stared at his ceiling, unable to doze off.
He kept thinking about it. This week was the end of the first semester of his senior year. And on Saturday it was his birthday and he'd officially be 18 years old, legally an adult. From there he kept thinking about where his life was heading. He was never much for thinking long into the future just the more immediate things. He hadn't even really thought about what he really wanted to do with his life. The idea of getting into the art business crossed his mind more than once but it just never really seemed like enough.
He really just wanted to go out somewhere, do some exploring, see what else the world had to offer, try to find out what he could do for it. Hell, he was a conduit. He had powers that so far no other has been known to have. Even now he could feel it. The darkness that engulfed his room shift in response to his mental input. Looking at his digital the bright numbers started to black out, the light being drowned in the dark. It was his time of the day. With the sun having fallen past the horizon, Issac felt stronger, his power and control over his element increased. What others considered something to fear was something to feel at home with to him. So in contrast with another he knew long...
"NO, no, no!" Issac sat up, clenching his head, his breathing becoming uneven, the darkness becoming tense. "Don't think about her, don't think about her, don't think about her," Issac said it over and over like a mantra. He tried to suppress the memory, think about something happening now but it always came back to him. The darkness' hold on the room around him grew tighter as did the fingers on his head. The heavry things started to rattle, the sounds muffled by the dark. Things sitting on his desk knocked over by the black, others being lifted up by the same thing, the hard exteriors being cracked under the presser that held them until finally... "AAHHH!" There was a loud crushing sound and Issac snapped out of it in a sweat.
Getting off the bed he turned the light on, the dark retreating into the crevices and he saw some of his things dropped on the floor, some broken and others not, and his alarm clock was now no different than a crumpled up piece of paper. "Not again!"
There was a banging sound coming from the room below his. "Shut up! I'm trying to sleep!"
Whipping his forehead, Issac turned the light off, taking his shirt off he welcomed the cool air that greeted his skin, laying back down with a hand on his head. Closing his eyes yet again, letting his mind relax and wander, drifting into the black with the darkness around him covering him in a comforting embrace.