Alice gave Professor Pendleton wry look as she walked by, all but daring him to comment on the surely surprising fact that she’d managed to use one of his precious code words. The teacher said nothing, merely giving her a blank-faced nod as she sauntered back over to her group of friends, surrounded by some polite applause and a lot of uncertain stares. Though the people in the Control course had seen some of Alice’s power, and Violet had experienced it first-hand, much of the class had still been in the dark about the extent of her abilities. After the show she’d just put on, that was now far from the case.
“Timber, bitches?” Mary asked as her blonde friend came within earshot. “That sounds like something Roy would say.”
“No it… yeah actually I can see that,” Roy agreed.
“So I’m new to the witty banter, I’ll work on it. There’s bound to be a class covering quipping during senior year,” Alice said. She embraced her best friend in a quick hug, more for physical support than emotional. Though she’d done well suppressing her nerves, the strain was still there, and now that adrenaline was fading from her system she found herself having difficulty standing without allowing her legs to sway.
Though the friends were chatting, the rest of the room continued with the business at hand. Professor Cole reached a bandage-wrapped hand into the jar and produced a slip of paper with a name on it. “Adam Riley.” Her voice was as powerful as ever, and Adam stepped forward before the sound of his name had finished ringing in his ears.
“Adam,” Dean Blaine said, “Do you need to grab any weaponry before we head down?”
“Not off the rack, no. I do have a question though.”
“By all means,” Dean Blaine said. He had a suspicion he already knew where this was going, but if Adam wanted it then he was going to have to work for it.
“You’ve said this is supposed to be a real-life situation, right? I’d be out, patrolling the streets, and then I’d get the call and have to go into the building. That’s the scenario we’re working with.”
“Then I have an issue, because I obviously wouldn’t be patrolling as myself,” Adam said. “I’m a mimic, and without another Super’s abilities to draw from I’d be useless. It stands to reason that I would have someone else’s form if I was out doing Hero work, presumably someone from my team, or from my teacher if I was still in my intern days. I’d like to be allowed to copy someone before I go down.”
Dean Blaine had been right about what Adam wanted, and it was actually a fair request. It would be an idiotic mimic indeed who went on patrol without borrowed abilities. Even if they encountered a Super to steal from, the time without powers represented a tremendous amount of risk that could cause them to be injured. This situation was even worse, since Adam wouldn’t be able to steal any abilities from the Sims. Still, there were practical limitations that had to be addressed.
“Your assessment if correct,” Dean Blaine agreed. “But for the sake of realism, let us say that this incident is coming at the end of the night, the last legs of your patrol. Would you still have the borrowed form from your teammate at that time?”
“I feel confident I would,” Adam said. “I can easily stay in a form for eight or nine hours, and if I really push myself I’ve held it as long as twelve.”
Dean Blaine cast quick glance to Professor Fletcher and Professor Baker, both of whom nodded their agreements with Adam’s self-analysis. When the boy had first arrived here he’d maxed himself out at six hours, but clearly he was pushing himself hard to have stretched his limits to such an extent.
“Very well, then we can assume you kept your form. The question that remains now is what form would you have? You speculated that it would be from a team member, someone who trusts you enough to wear their face and power for eight to twelve unsupervised hours. That is no mean feat, even amongst team members. I’d say it requires the amount of kindness or trust that would also be needed to allow you to use their form for an exam, knowing that without it you will not be much of competition. To that effect, you may assume a form, but only one from someone in this room who is willing to volunteer it up. Everyone who will let Adam mimic them, please step forward.”
The room grew silent as the students stared at Adam in a new light. One less competitor off the bat, one less person fighting for the fifteen spots to move onto the next year… it was incredibly tempting to let just let Adam flounder about on his own. For a moment, it seemed that no one would agree and Adam would face those towering robots as nothing more than his very human self. When someone did finally step forward, Adam breathed a sigh of relief, which was quickly drowned out by the gasps of shock from the others.
“He may mimic me, if he is so inclined,” Chad said, walking out of crowd.
“You’re sure about that?” Dean Blaine asked. “You realized that your abilities are some of the highest ranked in the class.”
“I do not believe Adam to be capable of using my abilities to their fullest without my years of training,” Chad replied. “However, if he can do so then he belongs in this program. I have no interest in victories earned through default. I want all of us to do our best and be judged fairly on it. Only then can those who are truly the best become Heroes.”
“Chad’s right. Adam, you can mimic me if you want,” Vince said, stepping forward.
“Well, we are friends, I guess I can give you this,” Allen said. “I know Terrance would offer too, if he weren’t in the infirmary.”
In the end, Adam had Chad, Vince, Allen, Roy, Adam, Thomas, and Violet. More certainly would have volunteered, but after seeing so many of the heavy hitters go up, it seemed almost pointless. Besides, not a lot of the women were terribly keen on the idea of lending an acquaintance their body, even if it was only temporary.
Adam took his time in choosing the right fit. Chad seemed the obvious pick, but his assessment had been spot on: Chad’s power wasn’t nearly as useful to someone without his training and knowledge. Vince was a tempting pick too, but since it seemed unlikely that Adam would also mimic his store of energy it was a dangerous gambit. Roy and Violet were straight brawlers, and this exam had shown their limitation in engaging with stealth. In the end it was between Allen and Thomas, and Adam had to go with the one who’d put on the best show so far.
Adam gently put his hand on the back of Thomas’s arm, and within a few seconds Thomas was staring at an identical copy of himself, albeit one whose clothes didn’t quite fit properly. Thomas did have a few inches of height and wider shoulders than Adam, after all.
“I really appreciate this,” Thomas-Adam said.
“It is the proper thing to do,” Thomas replied. “Now do my powers proud. I wish you luck… just not too much.”