The Superhero Alistar
Che wasn’t kidding when he said he could use a 3-day nap. After the day he’d had, he was surprised he could move at all. Thankfully, if he collapsed again, he had an appointed savior in Tyson, who seemed ready to pounce at the first sign of Che stumbling over himself.
By now, the sun had already set, the sky a mixture of deep violet with long stretches of fuchsia clouds that seemed to merge into the now-burning horizon. There were students still riding the maglev trains from Legaros Tower as well as the practice field, while faculty could be seen making their way in the opposite direction.
Che also noticed an increased presence in Legaros soldiers compared to what he’d seen previously. It made sense now that curfew was approaching, but he felt his skin bristle at the sight. He’d have to figure out a way past them at some point, and today had been harrowing enough.
After saying goodnight to Nikki, Che and Tyson finally reached their dorm room, and Che wanted to melt into the floor once they’d closed the door behind them. He plopped down on his bed and let out a loud sigh.
Tyson guffawed in response as he set down his backpack. “I brought your stuff back here, by the way. It’s on your dresser.”
“I appreciate it,” Che muttered. “And thank you for carrying me around twice today.”
“Actually…” Tyson slowly sat down the book he’d retrieved before straightening up again, “Lorenzo carried you to the infirmary the second time.”
“What?” Che shot up in bed.
Tyson nodded, though his expression became rigid. “Everyone saw the purple smoke. Nikki was the first to notice something was wrong and called for Coach Naul. I’m sorry, bro. I should have warned you about him.”
Che opened his mouth to speak but closed it. He definitely suspected there was more to Lorenzo than what he initially thought, but Lorenzo was also one of the only people interested in making it inside of the Marbot Research Facility. Tyson didn’t know anything about his plans, but Che was certain it was best if he didn’t. No one else needed to get involved.
“Why do you not like him?” Che asked. “I know he’s super weird and all with the personality changes, but I think that’s mostly due to how his Mark works.”
Tyson nodded. “Yeah, he’s got a weird Mark that changes his Type and apparently his personality as well.”
Che shook his head. “It doesn’t really change his Type. He gains a secondary Typing of Shade, which then changes how his Vicious Mist technique works. That’s how I got poisoned.”
Tyson clenched his jaw as his face turned scarlet. “I knew he was trying to hurt you!”
Che held out his hands. “Easy, Tyson, he wasn’t. Not really.”
“What?” Tyson’s eyes widened in disbelief. “You can’t be serious! Dude, you ended up in the infirmary! And you’re lucky Nurse Taffy’s obsessed with making antivenoms because it didn’t look too good at first!”
“I know how it looked,” Che offered.
“How it looked?” Tyson repeated. “Rowan, you can’t trust that freak! He’s not normal!”
“Tyson, come on,” Che folded his arms. “Don’t call him that. He’s still a person. I don’t need to like him, but I don’t need to hate him either.”
Tyson looked away, avoiding Che’s gaze. “I’m just trying to look out for you, bud.”
Che nodded. “I know, and I appreciate it.”
“Well, why don’t you just be my partner tomorrow for Sparring then?” Tyson said, trying to lighten the mood. “We’ll show that weirdo what a real team looks like.”
Che felt himself deflate inside. Though he’d much rather have Tyson for a partner, he couldn’t stop training with Lorenzo, no matter how unpredictable he was.
“Tyson,” Che said gently. “I can’t do that.”
“Why not?” Tyson asked. “Don’t tell me you’re gonna keep training with him!”
Che sighed, trying to think of an explanation that didn’t involve telling Tyson about his true plans. “Look, I know he’s really…eccentric, but he also has a unique way of fighting. If I’m going to get stronger, I need to know how to defeat any opponent, not just the ones who fight straight forward.”
Tyson took a deep breath, seemingly accepting Che’s explanation.
“Okay,” he said slowly. Then he seemed to perk up as he turned to face the wall. “You know. You sounded a lot like him just now.”
Che followed Tyson’s gaze, noticing he’d covered the walls on his side of the room with posters. From what Che could quickly make out, most of them were sports figures, but the one Tyson seemed to be referencing was a poster showing a man in a red suit launching himself into the air. The suit was metallic and resembled futuristic armor, and his head was completely covered by a red helmet that rose up into a point, giving his head a triangular shape. His arms were spread out, and Che could see what looked like four silver wings behind him.
“Who is that?” Che asked.
Tyson’s eyes widened. “You don’t know who Alistar is? Everyone knows Alistar.”
Che shook his head. “He looks like a superhero.”
Tyson nodded. “Yup, he’s the leader of Onos.”
“Onos?” Che asked.
Tyson beamed. “It’s this cool team of vigilantes who fight crime and protect the city from any evil forces.”
“Why the name Ono?” Che asked.
Tyson shrugged. “It stands for Our Noble Order. It’s a pretty cool name if you think about it.”
“Oh, I thought it was…” truthfully Che thought it was what the bad guys shouted out when they saw them, but perhaps that theory was much sillier than the name. “Never mind.”
Behind Alistar was a silhouette of a person dressed in black armor striking a sinister pose. Though his suit closely resembled Alistar’s, his helmet had several prongs sticking out of it that curved upwards and gave him the appearance of having antlers.
“Who’s the one behind him?” Che asked.
“Oh, that’s Rein,” Tyson replied with a sneer. “He’s the Onos’ arch-nemesis. He’s been trying to take over the city for years, but Alistar and his team always seem to find a way to stop him.”
Che nodded, marveling at the boy’s knowledge. Tyson was certainly passionate about his heroes, and Che couldn’t help but feel a bit envious of him. “Does he protect all of the Tomore region?”
Tyson shook his head. “No, just Camellia City, where I’m from.”
“And Lorenzo too…” Che murmured. “He seems to know you as well as you do him.”
“He does,” Tyson confirmed, “and he knows I don’t trust him. In fact, most people who know him don’t trust him.”
Che wanted to say something in defense of Lorenzo, but he knew Tyson had already made up his mind. Instead, he continued to study the poster of Alistar and Rein, knowing that sometimes there was much more to the story than what was on the surface. In real life, people were layered and complex unlike the comic book superheroes he’d spent so much time reading about.
He only hoped Tyson would understand that someday.
Che sighed as he flopped back down in the bed. “Well, at least we don’t have homework today.”
Tyson smiled at him. “Yup! Oh, and I also picked up your stuff for Choir class earlier and the rest of your books.”
He gestured towards Che’s bag on top of his dresser. Next to it was a music book with a familiar yellow cover. Che looked at it and shuddered. Surely, it wasn’t the same book! He picked it up, quickly scanning its contents.
“Dude, you okay?” Tyson asked, noticing Che’s surprised expression.
Che nodded slowly as he tried to maintain a neutral expression. He now knew exactly why this book seemed so familiar. It was the very same music book that contained songs by many of the composers he’d studied in college.
In fact, it was the first book all music majors received.
“These arias…” Che mumbled. “I know almost all of these…”
Tyson seemed to perk up. “Really? That’s cool!”
Che started to shake his head but stopped. It wasn’t cool at all. He didn’t realize choir was part of his class schedule or that Eden had the same classical composers as Earth. He closed his eyes and slowly shook his head. He didn’t want to be reminded of any of his time in the music department, especially now. He closed the book before reaching for his backpack.
“Thank you for this, Tyson,” Che started pulling out the rest of his textbooks. “The rest of my books should be in here, right?”
“Good, and do you know if there’s any place to get coffee in the mornings?”
“Probably the cafe. Why?”
Che glanced at his nightstand, noticing the alarm clock perched on top of it, before springing out of bed and dumping his books onto his desk. From there, he carefully began organizing his textbooks and materials according to his class schedule, while Tyson watched in amusement.
“Dude, what’s gotten into you?” he asked.
“I think I’m going to get some reading done if you don’t mind,” Che answered without turning to face him.
“Sure, man, I’ll be quiet while you study,” Tyson said. “It’s just…why ARE you studying if we didn’t even get assigned homework today?”
Che had already begun taking notes as he opened his Battle Skills textbook.
“Because tomorrow this is all going to go very differently.”