Chapter 6

Gilbert readied himself to leap again the moment the Professor disappeared. He knew he couldn’t win this way, but if he kept mobile long enough he might run out the clock until one of the combat capable people took him down. Professor Fletcher lurched forward and Gilbert teleported through the world, arriving at the rear of the gym, hopefully a long way from both sight and mind. A jolt of energy surged through his body, scrambling his wits and sending him crashing to the floor.

“Teleportation is a useful tactic,” Professor Fletcher informed him. “But the limitation is that you still think and react at human speeds. Which means someone who moves fast enough can easily sneak up behind you. In the future, try to think in terms of multiple jumps so as to confuse your opponent.”

Sasha stood on the balls of her feet. She could see when he transformed and see how the mass of energy moved. She alone could outmaneuver him; she alone might stand a chance. This was how she would start her year: not as the freak’s ex-girlfriend, but as a warrior on par with the new fighting teacher.

The surge of light and power flashed toward her, quick, but not so quick that she wasn’t able to slide out of the way. He was very fast but as she twisted her body around she knew he wouldn’t overtake her. She kept knowing that, right until his large hand closed around her arm.

“You are extremely fast,” Professor Fletcher complimented. “But unlike me, you still have too many physical limitations. Ever with your sped up reaction times, your bones and muscles can’t match lightning. Which means you can’t match me with dodging alone; you should have used a little offense as well.” It took an impressive charge to drop the girl with pink tips in her dark hair, but she tumbled to the ground like the rest eventually.

Hector took advantage of the distraction to charge forward. He’d been waiting since he got to the HCP for a match up like this. For all the electricity this old man might be packing, there was nothing he could do against Hector once he turned his body to living rubber. Not only did it give him amazing protection from bludgeoning attacks, but it rendered him an insulator. This was his fight to win. He reached the professor just as Sasha fell, letting fly a mean left hook toward the wrinkled face. His fist connected only with air, as he found the teacher standing to his side.

“Quite bold, and I can see why. To the untrained, this match seems heavily weighted in your favor. Of course, that ignores the fact that your defenses are ill-suited against attacks that slice or pierce, but even more importantly, it overlooks a basic piece of engineering knowledge,” Professor Fletcher said. He wrapped the rubber boy in bear hug and held on tightly. “Namely, that there is no such thing as lightning proof, only resistant.” The gym practically glowed as Professor Fletcher coursed electricity through Hector’s body. He stopped well short of a point that would have seriously melted the rubber composition but made certain to leave the boy a limp pile upon the floor.

Roy didn’t bother with getting ready or running forward. The guy was too fast to see. His only hope was to wait until he slowed down enough to attack and then give him a good wallop. He braced his legs and tightened his right arm. He was still ready for the attack when the tremendous voltage stuck him in the chest, sizzling through him and sending him into the realm of dreams. This same line of attack brought down Violet as well, the two sprawling out in different locations but with similar styles.

“If I was a speeder, then they would have selected a viable strategy,” Professor Fletcher acknowledged as he came to a stop. “Those are made of flesh and bone, and as such have to slow themselves to attack with accuracy. As a being composed of energy, I’m able to deliver as much juice as I need while simply going through them. Which brings me to you two.”

Vince stood ready, his body open to the charge of power that would soon be delivered. Chad was more relaxed, his body centered and brain running at full tilt. He couldn’t maintain such a heightened state all the time, but by over-clocking his brain, he was able to think and react at the level of a super speeder.

“The top of the class and the leader of the group that brought down George. Do you know why you two are the only ones left?”

Neither boy took the bait, merely waiting for his next movement.

“Because I haven’t gotten to you yet.” Professor Fletcher was suddenly standing by Vince, who readied himself for the influx of energy. What he received instead was an influx of punches to his head and torso as the professor knocked him dizzy.

“You have a great defense against energy,” Professor Fletcher complimented as he delivered a right to Vince’s temple that sent the silver-haired boy toes up. “Sadly, that doesn’t help against a fighter with superior skill. In this case I did warn you that people at my level can take on aspects of our element, such as speed, without shifting into it. Remember, just because I have a preferred method of attack doesn’t mean it’s my only one.”

Professor Fletcher turned his attention to the last remaining student. The highest ranked student from the men’s category, unofficially recognized as the strongest fighter in his whole class. He rushed to Chad’s front, sending out a few punches to gauge his speed. Chad dodged about expertly, sending back a few jabs of his own.

“You’re impressive. You have the power and endurance of a classic strength fighter along with the perception and reactions of a super speeder. I bet there are even more techniques locked away in that head of yours. Unfortunately, I have a class coming in for gym soon, so I don’t have time to see just how far you can go. Some other time, perhaps.”

In a whirl of movement, Chad found himself encircled by electricity, a crackling fence that barred him from any escape. The circle drew tight, eventually ensnaring its prey completely.

By the time Chad’s unconscious body joined the others on the floor, Carl Fletcher was standing a few feet away, wiping the small beads of sweat that had dripped down from his salt and pepper hair onto his forehead.

“Whew. I am getting old. That almost left me winded,” he said.

Professor Pendleton, standing amidst the others who had acted as audience to the assault, struggled to keep the look of amazement off his face as he spoke to the now nearly empty room.

“Is this a good slow clap moment? Because it kind of feels like a good slow clap moment.”