Chapter 18

“It’s certainly unique, I’ll give you that,” Professor Cole said as she examined the curious instrument in her hands. It was about three-quarters the length of a normal staff, with a curve slightly off center for no discernible reason. The first end held a silver-colored blade, one Professor Cole highly doubted was any metal she’d be familiar with. The other had a small protrusion of what looked like geode crystal, but again, probably was something very different. The crystal did seem to be giving off a slight blue glow, which Professor Cole found to be worth noting. Along the shaft of the weapon were various switches and what appeared to be compartment hatches, though she was unable to get them to open on a first try.

She and the designer were in the hall outside of her classroom a few minutes before Weapons class was due to start. Will had tracked her down to get his weapon vetted in private, which, given the apparent complexity of it, made ample sense to Professor Cole.

“I designed it to be augmentable,” Will informed her as the cloth wrapped hand ran carefully along the length of his weapon. “I presume there’s no objection to that?”

“No, as long as you can design the modifications then you’re free to make them. Though we don’t often see the need for such things, it would, in principle, be no different than choosing different bullets for a gun.” Professor Cole handed Will back his strange weapon, noting the way he gripped it along the curve and held it with the blade halfway raised. Odd though it was, she was experienced enough to glean ample information just from the way an unfamiliar weapon was handled. “Tell me about the tips.”

“The blade is mostly just a blade, though I tinkered with the metal’s composition and set it to run a variable electrical current.”

“Shock and slice, huh?”

“Yes, ma’am. Our fight with Professor Fletcher last year made it clear to me that electricity is probably the most common weakness among Supers. Likely because it interferes with the nervous system, which many of us rely on to utilize our abilities. Since I needed a martial option, I saw no reason not to rig it in a way that imparted maximum stopping power.”

“Smart call. Tell me about the other end,” Professor Cole instructed him.

“Variable by design. Currently it is set so that upon contact with the epidermis it causes a tremendous amount of agitation.”

“If you touch people’s skin, it makes them really itchy?” Professor Cole was about to chide him on the silliness of that, however she paused for a moment before speaking. Will had done an impressive job in a few short days; she highly doubted he would have slapped a silly gag on his weapon. “How itchy?”

“Roughly enough that it would cause insanity if it were not temporary. I designed it as a mechanism to stop those with enhanced endurance, since their ability renders them immune to most pain I could impart.”

“I like it,” Professor Cole complemented. “It’s an inventive workaround. Though I should point out that some of them will be immune to that too.”

“I suspected as much. That’s why I made it augmentable, so that as new ideas manifest I can implement them.”

“That was forward thinking of you. Okay, I see no objection to your weapon, with one caveat.”


“You need to get all augmentations approved by me before you’re allowed to use them on fellow students. There’s a fine line between effective neutralization and unnecessary cruelty, and I’ll be the one making that determination.”

“That seems very fair,” Will replied.

“Even if it wasn’t, we’d still be doing it,” Professor Cole told him. “Now come on, everyone else is already inside.”

Will moved a few steps ahead of her, walking in and joining the other students in the concrete space set aside for Weapons training. Professor Cole entered moments later, her eyes taking in the neat row of Supers, many of whom were already holding their choice of weaponry.

“Glad to see so many of you took the assignment seriously,” she announced as she took her usual spot in front of them. “Today we’ll start by you showing me what weapon you’ve selected. I may ask you some questions about why it was chosen, so I hope you all put genuine thought into it. If you didn’t… well a year is a long time to make sure a student regrets something, and I have ample practice at it.”

The students gave no reaction. It was not because they doubted her capability to make them regret lack of forethought, rather it was because each had come into this class already knowing the consequences if they didn’t take the assignment seriously. The HCP was not a place that forgave laziness or incompetence. After two years even the most stubborn among them had learned that.

“No questions? Then let’s get started. Violet Sullivan, since you’re at the far end, bring me your weapon choice.”

Violet complied immediately, stepping up and handing the professor a cumbersome hunk of jingling metal.

“A spiked chain? Aren’t you more of an up close brawler type?”

“I am, that’s why I picked this,” Violet explained. “Last year’s fight with Alice showed me my need for something with range. Since I can change the density of objects this seemed like it could be useful with practice. Make it heavy for blows but light for building up momentum.”

“Well-reasoned,” Professor Cole said, handing back the weapon with as little jingling as was possible. “Approved.”

The professor continued to call up students from the line, not needing any explanation for Britney’s rapier or Rich’s staff. When she got to Roy Daniels, however, her voice grew stern while examining the weapon he’d handed her.

“A metal baseball bat? I don’t think I even stocked one of those here.”

“You don’t,” Roy told her. “I bought it at a sporting goods store.”

“Did you now? I must assume you have a dazzling reason for this choice of yours then.”

“Sort of. I’ve never really been much of a weapon user, obviously, so I don’t know how to correctly wield any of this crap. I probably won’t have time to learn it worth a shit either. I’m a brawler, it’s what I do. But I wanted to try, so I chose something similar to what Hershel uses in his LARP games. Even if it's second-hand, I have at least a little bit of knowledge on how to wield that. It seemed like my best bet.”

Professor Cole remained silent as she handed back the hunk of aluminum. Roy accepted it with equal lack of words. Both stood silently for several moments, until Professor Cole finally made up her mind.

“That won’t hold up in real battle. It’s not made to take on quality weaponry. But, as surprised as I am to admit it, you clearly put a good bit of thought into that choice. It’s logical too, and in a curious way a simple blunt instrument fits your fighting style. Take that back to the store; I’ll have a sturdy one commissioned. It will weigh a bit more, but I suspect that won’t be an issue for you.”

“No, it won’t,” Roy concurred.

“Then your weapon is approved, conceptually, at least.”