The first weeks of school passed surprisingly fast for Gwen. All the classes at the Academy were a challenge, even for someone experienced like her. She came home every day exhausted, both physically and mentally. Her teammates seemed just as tired.
Except for Kimmy.
The super-fast girl remained upbeat and cheery through all the grueling training, which the others found more than a little annoying.
Currently, Gwen was working on an essay for her Advanced Weapons Training class. The prompt was to “write a brief and brilliant essay describing the strengths of your weapon.”
So far she had the title page. It was due tomorrow.
She had been staring at her blank first page for a couple minutes now, and yet nothing had come to her. She was considering going downstairs to get some water when her H-Pad started buzzing. The H-Pads were standard issue and were basically just smartphones. Ben claimed they had tons of other “cool” features, but Gwen hadn’t bothered to fuss around with it.
Gwen snatched up the device and peered at the screen. A message had appeared.
It read: “ALERT: Obstacle Course. C-Block Gymnasium. One hour.”
Gwen suddenly heard Ben shouting downstairs. In a second he was pounding up the steps and was at her door.
“You see this?!” he exclaimed, holding up his own H-Pad.
“Yeah, what’s it mean?” Gwen responded.
“Obstacle Course!” Ben exclaimed again. Gwen rolled her eyes. For a level twelve intellect, her team leader could be a bit of an idiot.
“Have you seen the others?” Ben asked suddenly.
“I think Terry’s in his room.” she answered.
“What about Kimmy?”
It was at this instant that a high-speed blur shot into the hallway. Ben was knocked onto the floor by the girl-missile.
“I’m here!” Kimmy said breathlessly, “I’m here! What’s this thing mean?” She held up her H-Pad to reveal the same alert.
“It means get dressed,” Ben said, “We have our first exercise!”
Terry shook himself again in an attempt to charge his absolutely drained body.
Superhero school had turned out to be a bit more like real school than he’d thought. His course load consisted of both traditional school-room classes, like Secret Identities 101, to the more extraordinary, like Practical Elemental Combat.
On top of his courseload, Terry had discovered the first negative side-effect of his superpowers. They made him very tired. Turns out generating and controlling electricity is extremely draining on the human body. Who knew?
One of the doctors from the school’s on-site hospital (yes, it was as cool as it sounds) had told him not to worry. He was using his powers more now than he ever had, and his body would need to get used to this new stress.
Still, Terry was worried. So far Gwen, Ben, and Kimmy had seemed far better at this whole superhero business than he did. He was afraid that he’d just end up being a burden to the team.
Terry shook himself back to reality.
Now’s not the time to lose your head, he thought. We still need to complete . . . well, whatever the hell this is.
About forty-five minutes ago, Ben and Kimmy had burst into his room to find him passed out over his Physics homework (yes, he was taking Physics at a superhero school and no, it wasn’t lame). They both started talking at the same time about the “very important thing in the gym” and how they “really, seriously couldn’t be late.”
Their words, not his.
After a couple minutes spent frantically grabbing clothes and getting dressed to run this mysterious obstacle course, Forum Team set off for the C-Block Gym.
They had been instructed, upon arriving in the gym, to find the doorway with their team name above it. After walking past some other teams (Terry didn’t recognize any of the other kids, although Ben waved at one girl on Olympus Team) they found their designated area. It was here that the four teens were currently waiting; Gwen looking off gloomily, Ben staring at the door in front of them, Kimmy craning around to look at the other kids, and him, Terry, desperately trying to keep his adrenaline pumping.
A voice suddenly interrupted the chatter of the students.
“Alright, trainees,” the voice growled over the loudspeaker.
“Coach Ackerman!” Kimmy squealed.
“Today you’re all gonna be running the Team Obstacle Course,” Coach Ackerman continued. “It’s straightforward. Everyone competes, all powers are allowed, and the first team to get all its members across the finish line is the winner. We will be monitoring each team’s performance, so stay sharp. The doors will open in thirty seconds. Good luck.”
Ben whipped around, a fire in his eyes.
“Okay guys, let’s stick together in there. We don’t know what the course will throw at us,” Ben said rapid-fire. “Kimmy, that goes for you especially. Just ‘cause you can outdistance the rest of us doesn’t mean you have to.”
“Got it,” Kimmy nodded.
“Let’s do this,” Terry muttered.
Gwen merely straightened.
The countdown ended.
The doors opened.
As one, Forum Team ran headlong into their first challenge.