Chapter 162

               The weight rack rattled as Roy let the bar drop a few inches into its setting. The equipment should be able to handle as much weight as there was present, but when dealing with things measured in tons, he realized it was probably best to err on the side of caution. Of course, this thought came only after he’d felt the entire weight bench shake and had time to wonder if he could survive a loaded bar to the face. Thankfully the bench held, and Roy got up to move on to his next exercise.

                Winter break had caused an interesting gap to occur, since Hershel could train freely but Roy didn’t have the equipment to get any serious work done. Sure, he’d sparred with Vince in the backyard, but without a healer on hand he couldn’t risk going too hard against his silver-haired friend. Powerful as Vince was, his bones could break just like anyone else’s. Roy didn’t fancy showing up and having to explain to Camille how her favorite Super ended up in a cast and needed fixing. Especially not after he’d see the way she went after those Sims. Small though she was, Camille had carved out a spot on Roy’s “do not needlessly piss off” list.

                Another resident of that list was also in the gym. Chad was working on dumbbell curls, using significantly less weight that Roy was currently capable of, but with impeccable form. Roy watched the man who was his friend, his dormmate, and his rival as Chad rhythmically lifted the weights up and down, never breaking pattern. It was easy to underestimate Chad, so very easy, just because he didn’t have as much brute strength as other Supers. What most didn’t know, couldn’t be aware of, was how steady his growth was. Roy had been watching Chad ever since freshman year, and while he didn’t make the explosive leaps forward in power that Roy did, he also never stopped advancing. Every week, the weight of those dumbbells increased. Not by a lot, but they still went up. Every single week. It was like that with everything Chad did. His movements got smoother, his speed grew quicker, he refused to stay where he was.

                In ten more years, Roy could only imagine what the blond young man would be capable of. It was bad enough having to face him now. Roy just hoped the inter-Super competition would slow down once they hit they Hero world. That thought triggered an unexpected memory, and suddenly Roy had something on my mind besides the next exercise in his workout routine.

                “Hey Chad,” Roy said, walking over to the other part of the gym. “Do you have a minute?”

                “If you require a spot, I’m afraid your lifting strength has reached a level where I am unable to assist you.” Chad kept on moving the weights as he spoke, never losing his tempo.

                “No, it’s not about the weights. I actually wanted to ask you if you’ve ever heard of Intermurals.”

                “Certainly. It is when two academic institutions compete against one another in a predetermined event; usually sports, though there are more salacious versions that center around drinking games.” He paused his lifting for just a moment to look over at Roy. “Angela informed me about the latter type. She wishes to participate in something called ‘The Beer Olympics’.”

                “First off, tell your girlfriend she’s a douche for not asking me to be on that team,” Roy said. “But secondly, I actually meant Intermurals specific to the HCP. Someone over break mentioned them, but then refused to explain. I was thinking maybe you knew what they were.”

                Chad shook his head. “My apologies, but the word holds no specific meaning for me. It is certainly possible that the HCP programs have some sort of competition between them; however, I have no information about it.”

                “No big deal, just thought I’d ask,” Roy said. “Thanks anyway.” He turned toward the free weights, ready to get in some nice shoulder work, when Chad spoke up again.

                “Of course, we could always ask Shane what he knows about it.”

                “Why would Shane know more than us?” Roy turned back to Chad, who wore a semi-confused expression.

                “Haven’t you put it together yet?”

                “Put what together?” Roy asked.

                “Shane’s comments and knowledge during the dean’s class freshman year, the manifestation of both his and Angela’s abilities… forgive me; I assumed it was obvious to everyone by this point.”

                The part about Angela tickled something in Roy’s brain. That power of hers had looked familiar, so close to something he could almost place. It was like hearing the theme song from a cartoon he’d watched in his childhood; he knew that he knew it, even if he couldn’t seem to put a finger on where it was from.

                “Her power, she calls it sunlight steel,” Roy recalled. “The ability to turn any kind of light into a super-hard hard metal that she can control. I’ll be honest, I feel like I know what you’re getting at, but I can’t remember anyone else using that name for their abilities.”

                “That’s because the original wielder of the abilities didn’t call it sunlight steel,” Chad said. “He referred to it as ‘starlight steel’.”

                And just like that, all the tumblers fell into place in Roy’s brain. It was history, one of Roy’s worst subjects, which was it had taken him so long to realize what was right in front of his face. Crafting objects out of light, while manipulating shadows to his will, the man who had complete control of light and dark; who had made the world face the existence of Supers. The first Hero to ever wear the title: Captain Starlight.

                “Sweet tap-dancing Jesus.”  Roy sucked in a breath between his teeth and tried to avoid reeling. No wonder Angela was such a monster. If she’d gotten training along with her power, she was working with decades of battle-tested knowledge on how to best use her abilities. It explained so much about her… and at the same time made Roy dozens of degrees more curious about Shane. To have the weight of that legacy on his shoulders, to have inherited an incredible power and been schooled on how to use it; to carry the weight of all that expectation… only to come up second to Chad time after time. Roy suddenly felt a kinship with Shane DeSoto, despite having rarely traded more than a few words with him.

                “I think that’s a good idea,” Roy said at last. “Let’s go ask Shane what he knows.” Roy had many, many questions for his fellow student, but something like this had to be approached delicately. For now, Intermurals would be a good starting point.

                But only for now.