The next day James got up early and headed over to the kitchen for some breakfast. If there was one thing James could cook it was a mean plate of eggs. He cracked them into a bowl and whipped them until blended. Meanwhile, he had cut up an onion, some peppers, mushrooms, and chives and threw them in a pan allowing them to cook before adding the egg. Once it was roasted to his satisfaction he added the eggs in and made an omelet. The piece de resistance was the gooey cheese sprinkled on the top.
Just as he sat down to eat Super Static came walking into the kitchen. She smelled the air and sighed delightfully.
Looking over at the table, she saw the plate full of fluffy cheesy eggs and said, "Wow, that smells amazing. Did you cook that?"
Flattered, he replied, "I sure did! I don't know how to cook much but I can always make a killer omelet!"
Her button nose wiggled as she sniffed the air, taking in breath after breath of the delicious aroma. "Next time make some for me too," she chirped.
James looked down at his plate and cut the omelet in half, "I can split this with you if you want some. I probably shouldn't eat too much before training anyway."
Casually, she stepped over to the table and slid next to him. Taking a bite, she rolled her eyes back as the flavor hit her. "Wow, that is amazing!"
James laughed as he watched her devour the rest of the eggs. "Thanks! I'm glad you like it!"
She scarfed it down and threw her plate in the sink. "You're gonna get along great with all of us if you keep cooking things as tasty as that," she stated as she left the kitchen.
He put his plate in the sink next to hers and washed them both before heading over to his room to get ready. Once he got back, a mannequin was outfitted in a suit with a note attached to the collar. The note read, "Your suit is all ready, try not to get it all dirtied up on your first day, signed Bella."
He strapped himself in and checked himself out in the mirror. He had to admit it looked incredible. It was a dark, durable fabric that was designed to take a beating. The primary color was black but the bendable sections in the sleeves and legs were a dark crimson red. He felt it looked like a mix between a biker outfit and riot gear.
As dorky as having a hero costume sounded it made him feel the part. He even struck a pose like his favorite hero used to do. That was when he realized he forgot he had left his favorite card back at his apartment. He made a mental note to swing by and pick up a few things to bring back to his new home.
Sparrow knocked on his door and asked if she could come in. He gave her permission and she swung the door open.
As she entered she gave him a look over. "Well, well, well, don't we look dashing in a costume?"
James blushed a bit. "Yeah, Bella did an amazing job! It fits like a glove."
Sparrow gave him a thumbs up. "Well, I just came by to make sure you were ready for your first day of training."
"Right," he replied, "so what's that going to involve?"
"Well, the first thing we will do is go through a series of basic tests similar to what we administer to people who get checked out for unusual or superhuman abilities."
A sadness enveloped James as she explained the test, he remembered when his parents took him to get tested years ago, and how he failed.
Sparrow had him follow her to the training facility and made him stand in a circle drawn on the floor.
"What's with the circle," He asked suspiciously.
"You see that cannon," Sparrow asked as she pointed to a long barrel that was aimed at his face. "That is going to launch objects at you at varying speeds and densities to test your reflexes and durability."
Before James could object to the test a metal ball came flying out at him and struck him in the chest. He fell to the floor huffing and wheezing as the wind got knocked out of him.
Sparrow motioned for him to get back in the circle for another round.
"Seriously?" He cried out as she and Hawk giggled.
"Seriously!" She replied and snapped her finger.
Shot after shot came out at him until, after getting bruised and beaten, he started to deflect them with some degree of consistency.
"Okay," she shouted out, "that's enough for one day. Let's move on to the offensive portion of your test."
As she led him to another area of the training grounds she explained what he would be doing next.
"This machine is designed to be struck and will give back a precise reading of your raw physical strength. Now, give it everything you got," she ordered while pointing at the target.
James walked wound up the best punch he could and smacked the testing pad. The machine let out a ding and displayed a number to the screen above.
"5,000 PSI, James remarked, "Is that good?"
"Well, the average professional boxer's PSI tops out at about 700. Yours is more than five times that number. It's not bad, but it can be greatly improved."
Walking over to the machine, she struck it casually. The force of her punch let out a crack into the air and sent that number up to 9,000.
She walked past him cockily. "Once you get to that level I'll be impressed."
After that, they all walked over to a section filled with weights. He strained and lifted for hours as they began the process of shaping him into a true-blooded hero. They also had him run track, swim laps, do jumps, and hit moving targets. His performance was miles ahead of anything he could ever have done in the past but Sparrow was concerned.
She felt that someone like James should have been further along than this at his age. It was as if he never spent a day in his life exploring his powers. What she didn't know was that unlike real heroes with real powers James never did.
After a full day of testing and training, James huffed over to Sparrow who was looking through the data. "So, how did I do Sensei?"
Sparrow looked up at out as though she was deep in thought. After everyone else left to go back to the main hall, she asked him about the gap in his abilities. "James, had you ever used your powers before this?"
The question made him nervous like maybe she could see through his ruse. "What do you mean Sparrow?"
"It's just a bit strange to me that someone of your abilities seems as unrefined in your technique as you are. It feels like you are just discovering your abilities for the first time. Why is that?
James went silent as he tried to think of a response. He didn't want to give out more information than might be wise to share. After all, he wasn't actually a hero and he had no idea how they might react if they find out he made a deal with a crazy space fugitive in exchange for superhuman abilities. Would they even let him stay if they knew? He mulled those thoughts over and decided not to risk it.
James moved closer to Sparrow and thought hard about what he was going to say. She would likely see through an outright lie so he tried to make it as close to the truth as possible.
"Growing up I always failed at everything I did. I suppose I never bothered trying to become a hero because I just assumed I would be bad at it and let everyone down."
Sparrow looked over at him empathetically. "I guess I understand that. I know what it's like to feel like a failure like nothing I do is good enough. I mean just look around at our guild. This place used to be packed with eager recruits looking to join our chapter but now everyone acts like we don't even exist. As the leader here it makes me feel like I've failed my team."
He was a bit surprised by the emotional moment she just shared with him. He wasn't expecting that kind of honesty from a girl who displayed such confidence. As she spoke her eyes began to water and her lip started to quiver triggering James to want to comfort her. There were not a lot of things that got to James but a crying woman was one of them.
He reached his hand out and patted her shoulder consolingly. "Don't say all that, I can tell your team respects and looks up to you. And you know what? I do too. As long as you do your best and never give up you won't ever have to worry about letting anyone down."
She rubbed her eyes to clear them and smiled at him. "Thank you, James, that actually makes me feel a bit better."
Her eye's met his so he looked away, he always had trouble looking at a pretty girl face to face. "Anytime Sparrow."
They wrapped things up and headed back to the dining hall to eat along with the rest of the team.
They had already started eating before the both of them arrived. "So you gonna stick around James," Hawk asked him through a mouthful of mashed potatoes, "or did the training kick your butt too hard?"
Falcon smacked his cheek causing him to spit potatoes all over the front of the table. "Lay off em," Falcon chided, "he took those cannon shots like a champ!"
James laughed as he rubbed his arm in the places the iron ball smacked into him. "It will take a lot more than that to get rid of me," he announced to the room.
The team all laughed before ripping into everything. Mashed potatoes, meatloaf, turkey, assorted vegetables, James could get used to eating like this every day.
The night went on and the team feasted, shared stories about their own training day, and laughed at some of James' mistakes from his own training session. It was a camaraderie he had never known before. For the first time in his life, he started to feel like he belonged somewhere.
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