Ryan made his way through the crowded hall to the place where Kari had a locker on campus. He couldn’t believe he was going to be the one to break down first. He thought for sure that Kari wouldn’t be able to resist his good looks, but he knew that Kari was the girl he wanted, and he had to make his move before some other guy got her attention. He knew that Kari wouldn’t like to have the kind of fun that Becky liked to have with him, and he was going to miss that. Did he dare try to keep up a relationship with Becky on the side? He sighed and shook his head. Life was complicated enough without trying to have two girlfriends at the same time.
Ryan forced his way between two guys walking the opposite way he was and he saw her. There she was, her beautiful brown hair cascaded down her shoulders and onto her back, and when she turned and flashed her beautiful smile at Ryan, his heart beat faster in his chest. Yeah, this was definitely the girl for him. “I haven’t seen you around much lately, Ryan.”
Ryan smiled back. “I’ve been a little busy lately. I hope you aren’t too busy this week, because I’m finally going to be taking you out on a date.”
Kari looked confused at Ryan and shook her head. “You know that I’ll only go out with you if you agree to go to a bible study with me. Wait, does this mean you’ll go to a bible study with me?”
Ryan nodded his head. “Yes, I’m willing to give one of your bible studies a try because I like you that much. When do you want to go out?”
Kari jumped up and down excitedly while clapping her hands. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long!” Kari noticed that she was drawing the attention of everyone in the hall, and stopped bouncing. “My bible study is on Tuesdays, so our date wouldn’t be until after the study, unless you wanted to do study prep with me on Monday night?”
Ryan frowned. “Study prep wouldn’t count as our date, would it?”
Kari smiled, “No, I wouldn’t do that to you. I’ll make you take me out for dinner instead.” Kari’s forehead furrowed up as her smile turned into a frown. “I thought that you and Becky were dating though?”
Ryan sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “Things haven’t been going very well between Becky and I lately. I’m going to be breaking up with her very soon, I just need to find the right time to do it, so you don’t have to worry about that. Besides, I’ll have a new girlfriend soon.”
Kari hesitantly said, “I don’t think I’m ready to be your girlfriend yet.”
Ryan flinched as if she had slapped him in the face. “What? But you said that if I went to one of your bible studies with you, you would be my girlfriend. I thought Christians weren’t supposed to lie?”
Kari shook her head. “I said that I would go out on a date with you if you went to a bible study with me, but I never said that it would be as your girlfriend. I will only date Christians, so if you want to be my boyfriend, you will have to become a Christian first.”
Ryan shook his head. “I don’t believe it, I finally break down and agree to your silly conditions, and you go ahead and move the goal posts on me? This isn’t fair!”
“I’m sorry if it seems as if I tricked you, Ryan. Do you still want to go to the bible study with me?”
Ryan crossed his arms and sighed. “Yes, I will still give this bible study thing a try for you. How long do they usually last?”
Kari smiled, “The study itself usually only lasts about half an hour, but the group usually hangs out for while before and after. It normally doesn’t go much longer than two hours. Don’t worry, there’ll be snacks there too.”
Ryan groaned. “Two hours? I suppose if there are going to be snacks there that I will survive. These other people that you meet with, they aren’t going to try laying their hands on me or force me to join a cult, are they?”
Kari smacked Ryan in the chest. “That’s not what Christianity is, Ryan. We’ll only lay on hands and pray for you if you want us to. It’s just a group of normal people getting together to discuss the teachings of Jesus. You don’t have anything to worry about.” Kari’s phone started to beep and she started to panic. “I’ve got to go, my next class starts in ten minutes.”
Kari started to hurry away, and Ryan called after her, “Hey, where should I meet you on Monday to prep for this bible study?”
Kari turned around, and scribbled something onto a piece of paper as she hurried back over to Ryan. She tore the piece of paper she had been scribbling on out of her notebook and handed it to Ryan. “Text me later and we can talk about it. I really need to get going now.” Ryan smiled and watched Kari hurry back into the crowd.
An tall, thin, bald man wearing a blue polo with a whistle hanging around his neck stepped up next to Ryan and watched Kari’s retreating form. “Enjoying the scenery, Ryan?”
Ryan jumped in surprise and looked at the man standing next to him. “Coach? I haven’t seen you in a while.”
The coach smiled. ‘Yes, it has been some time, but from what I hear we’ll be seeing a lot of you once more.”
Ryan looked at the coach in surprise. “Why do you say that?”
“Your parents gave me the good news! I want you to know that we understand that girls can distract us sometimes, but we are ready let you take your starter position back, though you may have to put a few extra hours of practice in to make up for lost time.”
Ryan sighed. “Did my parents tell you that I was going to be joining the team again?”
The coach nodded his head. “They sure did, and we were all very excited to hear the news. The team hasn’t quite been the same since you left it, and we have our conference championship game coming up, so we need you back more than ever.”
Ryan looked away. “I haven’t decided if I want to rejoin the team yet or not to be honest. I’m going through a lot of stuff right now, and I need to get that all sorted out before I can decide what’s best for me.”
The football coach frowned. “You do realize that if you don’t come back to the team, you’ll be throwing your whole life away, don’t you? I had a scout for the Botay Boars come up to me at the last game and ask about you. Do you understand what that means? You could be drafted to a professional team by the end of this season! Be smart about this, Ryan.”
Ryan’s gasped. “A pro scout came around looking for me?”
The coach smiled. “Yes, and I heard he’ll be coming to our next game as well. This is your chance to make something of yourself, to become a legend!”
Ryan smiled, and he saw his whole future ahead of him. With his abilities there wouldn’t be anyone in the league that could compete with him, and if he was injured in any of the games, he’d be able to be back on his feet and ready to go by the next week! He could become the greatest football player to ever play in the professional leagues, no, to ever play! His smile turned into a frown. If he lived that life, he wouldn’t have time to protect this city. This crime surge was happening in response to him standing up to the gangs in the city. If he quit, a lot of people would get hurt.
The coach looked expectantly at Ryan, and when he didn’t answer he clapped him on the back. “Think about it, son. You’re a smart kid, I know you’ll make the right choice. I’ll be in my office if you need me.” The coach turned and made his way back down the hallway.
Ryan sighed and shook his head. Everything was getting so complicated! Did he stick with the life of a superhero, full of danger and lies, or did he go down the path of a star and become loved by everyone? What did he owe this city? All it had really done so far was send its police after him for just trying to help! He pounded his fist into the lockers he was standing next to and grunted. He needed to just go find someplace he could be alone for a little while and sort through everything.
He started down the hallway to do just that when a feminine voice called after him, “Ryan? Would you mind stepping into my office for a moment?”
Ryan groaned. Adding more onto his list of complications was the last thing that he needed right now! He turned around and smiled at Mrs. Camdon, the school’s guidance counselor. “Of course, Mrs. Camdon.” Ryan followed her into her office.
Once he was inside she closed the door and indicated the chair in front of her desk. “Please, have a seat.”
Ryan sat down in the chair and she sat down across from him. “What can I do for you?”
Mrs. Camdon smiled and shook her head. “That’s not how this works, Ryan. I’m here for you. I’ve heard that you have recently quit the football team, and I just wanted to know if everything is okay.”
Ryan nodded his head. “Everything is just fine, Mrs. Camdon. I just have a lot of people wanting me to do a lot of different things, and I’m just trying to figure out the best thing for me.”
Mrs. Camdon nodded her head. “This is a very difficult point in a person’s life, one where the decisions you make now could end up affecting the rest of your life. Do you want to talk through these things that are being expected of you?”
Ryan shook his head. “This is something I need to figure out for myself, but I appreciate the offer.”
Mrs. Camdon looked at Ryan with concern. “Are you sure, Ryan? You did leave a pretty nice dent in those lockers just now. That sure looked like the reaction of someone that needs to talk through their problems.”
Ryan shook his head and got up out of the chair. “These are more personal problems, and I’m not comfortable discussing them with anyone. Did you need anything else?”
Mrs. Camdon sighed. “No, you are free to go. Just remember that if you ever need to talk to anyone, my office is always open between the hours of eight and five.”
Ryan nodded his head. “I’ll keep that in mind, thanks.” Ryan turned and walked out of her office.
Jordan groggily stared at his computer screen and suppressed a yawn. If he had anything to say about it, that was the last all nighter that he would be pulling for a long time. He reached for the cup of coffee sitting next to him, and accidently knocked the cup over. Coffee spilled out onto the lab floor and Jordan muttered a curse. He jumped down and picked the now empty cup up and sighed. Looks like he was going to have to go on another coffee run after he got done mopping the floor up.
Jordan looked up when the door of the lab opened up, and he smiled at Ryan. “Good, you’re here. I’ve been monitoring the police chatter ever since the robot showed up last night, and I haven’t heard any reports about any more attacks. I think you should still suit up and take a quick look around the city just to make sure it isn’t lying low somewhere, and then we should go and get some sleep.”
Ryan looked away and quietly said, “I’m not going out on patrol today.”
Jordan looked at Ryan suspiciously. “What do you mean? This robot is dangerous, we can’t let it hurt anyone else. That and I can’t wait to take it apart and see what makes this thing tick.”
Ryan sighed. “I’m done being the Super Morpher. I’ve decided to rejoin the football team.”
Jordan stood up and walked toward Ryan. “What? Ryan, we’ve talked about this. If you quit now people are going to get hurt, innocent people. The gangs and robots aren’t going to go away just because you quit, they’re going to get more aggressive trying to draw you out. They can’t rest safely while you are still alive, so they’re going to do everything they can to get you to face them.”
Ryan shook his head. “We don’t know that for sure. Maybe things will go back to normal once I quit. Besides, you just said that every lowlife and pickpocket in the city wants me dead. I’d be crazy if I wanted to continue living a life like that.”
“If you’re quitting because you’re afraid of getting hurt I can make you some better gear. With that and some more practice I’m sure you’ll have nothing to be afraid of.”
Ryan tightened his hand into a fist. “I’m not quitting because I’m afraid, I’m quitting because I have a chance to become a professional football player, to be the best that ever will be.”
“What? You are quitting protecting people to entertain them? What makes you think the pros would be interested in you after you took a break from playing?”
Ryan smiled. “Coach told me that there have been professional scouts asking about me at the games recently, and he’s even going to let me take my starting position back on the team. I was originally only quitting the team until I was able to get a handle on my powers so I wouldn’t hurt anyone, and I’ve done that.”
Jordan frowned at Ryan. “Isn’t using your powers in sports cheating? Like using steroids or something?”
Ryan shrugged. “Maybe, but I didn’t do this to myself on purpose, so it’s different. Think about though, Jordan. I’ll be making a crazy amount of money, probably be the best paid player in the league! I’ll be unstoppable with my strength and speed, and with my healing ability, I will never be benched because of an injury!”
Jordan shook his head and crossed his arms. “Don’t you think you’re being a little selfish? Giving this city hope and then snatching it away from them like this, just so you can make some money chasing a ball?”
Ryan growled, “What has this city ever done for me? I risk my life to protect the people and stop criminals, and it has sent its police after me!” He looked away ashamed and continued on more quietly, “Look, I didn’t come here to argue with you or ask you opinion, I just wanted you to know that I was quitting. It seems like more people want Ryan the football player than Ryan the Super Morpher.” Ryan undid the band of the watch that teleported his suit onto him, and set it down on a lab table before turning and walking out the lab.
Jordan walked over to the table and picked up the watch. Tears ran down his face and dripped onto the watch face, and Jordan reached up and wiped the tears away. “What is going to happen to this city?”
Ryan looked into a full length mirror that took up the entirety of one of the walls in the locker room, and he flexed. It had been a long time since he’d done this, not since before the accident, and he was impressed. He’d been muscular before, but this took it to a whole different level. He smiled to himself, no wonder Becky liked seeing him like this. He wondered how Kari would feel if posed for her like this.
Stew came up behind Ryan and clapped him on the back. “You looked amazing out there today, Ryan. Even better that you did before you quit. You going to keep posing or do you have time to tell some old friends your secret?”
Ryan smiled and turned around. “What do you mean? I kept up with my workouts, that’s all.”
James smiled and shook his head. “Kept up with your workouts? You were the first one to the ball carrier on almost every single play, there has to be more than just keeping up with your workouts. You went to some sort of secret football training camp, didn’t you? That’s why coach is letting you get your starting position back, right?”
Ryan nodded his head, “You got me. I was doing some top secret training while I was gone, and as you can see it paid off.”
Kevin eagerly stepped forward and looked hungrily at Ryan. “You have to tell us about it, where it was, what you did! Come on, we’re your friends and your teammates! Think of how much the entire team could benefit from this training! We’d win the championship for sure!”
Ryan frowned while he searched for an answer. He couldn’t tell his friends that he had gotten faster and stronger because of a lab accident, or that he had spent his time off as the Super Morpher. An idea came to him, and his frown became a smile. “It’s secret training for a reason, guys. I can’t tell you anything about it, it was something I agreed to when they gave it to me. It’s up to the coach if you get selected for the training, but it’s super intensive and expensive.”
Stew looked disappointedly at Ryan. “You can’t even give us a little bit of a clue?”
Ryan shrugged. “It involved a lot of running and jumping, and that’s all I’ll say.” The three boys groaned and turned to go. Ryan cleared his throat and said, “Did you boys hear that I finally got Kari to agree to go out with me?”
Stew gave Ryan a high five and shouted, “Yeah! I knew the old Ryan charm would get to her eventually!”
James fist bumped Ryan’s other hand and hooted, “Whoo-hoo! That’s what I’m talking about! Ryan is on the top whether it comes to football or the ladies! That’s my man!”
Kevin frowned. “I thought you were going out with Becky?”
Ryan frowned momentarily. “Things were moving too fast with her, can you believe that she wanted me to move in with her already?”
James chuckled, “Ha-ha, you chose a good time to get out! Chicks like that would have you ring shopping before you knew it, and then the fun times would be over!”
Ryan smiled and nodded his head. He felt like his life was finally back to where he wanted it. He definately had made the right decision when he gave up being the Super Morpher.
Ryan opened the door to the dorm that he shared with Jordan, and the sound of the news filled the room. “Bank robberies and reported muggings have risen twenty percent over the past week, with ten fatalities reported, and the Super Morpher is no where to be seen. The masked vigilante had helped to get these incidents down to an all time low before he just vanished. Speculations vary about his absence, ranging from alien abductions to his death. The entire city asks the question of where has the Super Morpher gone, and when will he return? This has been Samantha Quinton, hoping that the Super Morpher will return soon. Back to you Jim.”
Jordan turned off the television and looked at Ryan. “See? The city needs you.”
Ryan looked down at the floor. “I can’t go back to the life of the hero, I’m finally living the life that I want! I’m sure that someone else will step forward and fix all of this, why does it have to be me?”
Jordan growled, “You were given these powers for a reason! It wasn’t an accident, it was fate! Think about, it, what are the chances that you would accidently mix together a substance that would work so perfectly, and then have it shot out of that ray gun so that it would actually work? Someone has chosen you for this, Ryan, and you can’t just walk away from it.”
Ryan growled back at Jordan, “Watch me.” He continued down the hall to his room.
Jordan shouted after him, “If you won’t do something about these crimes, then I will!”
Ryan turned and pointed his finger at Jordan. “Don’t be foolish, you’ll only end up getting yourself hurt. You don’t have any powers, just a lot of good ideas. Leave this alone, Jordan, this isn’t our life anymore.” Ryan continued down the hall and slammed the door to his room shut.
Dr. Mechanique looked up from his computer screen when he heard a knock at the door of his office. “Come in!” The door opened to reveal Jordan, who let himself in. Dr. Mechanique smiled and motioned for Jordan to come closer. “Ah, if it isn’t my favorite intern. What can I do for you today, Jordan?”
Jordan offered Dr. Mechanique a weak smile. “Hello, Dr. Mechanique, I just wanted to let you know I solved that problem you gave me to work on last week. My results are all documented here.” Jordan set a folder thick with papers down on Dr. Mechanique’s desk.
Dr. Mechanique looked at the pile of papers incredulously. “You managed to shrink the servos while giving them more power? So soon? How do you do it?”
Jordan shrugged. “I just experimented with different materials and their positioning in the units. I’ll admit that having Jordanium at my disposal helped quite a bit as well.”
Dr. Mechanique nodded and smiled. “Quite impressive as always, Jordan. I think you have quite the bright future ahead of you. In fact, I’d like to offer you a permanent position here at my lab once you finish up your internship. How does head of research and development sound? You would have all of my scientists working under you and would report only to me.”
Jordan smiled, “That sounds like a fantastic option, one that I’ll think over before I make my decision, if that’s alright with you.”
Dr. Mechanique nodded his head. “Yes, that would be for the best, but perhaps I should give you a little more… shall we say, incentive? How does a starting salary of seventy thousand a year sound to you?”
Jordan shrugged, “That sounds very generous, and I’m sure it will influence my decision.”
Dr. Mechanique frowned. “What’s bothering you? And don’t pretend like something isn’t; I’ve seen you when you talk about science, and you’re usually much more excited about it than you are right now.”
Jordan sighed. “It’s a friend of mine. We were… working on a project together. Things were going well, but we ran into a bit of a problem, and he wants to throw in the towel and call it quits. I know that if we keep working at it we can figure it out and get the result we were hoping for, but I can’t do it without him.”
Dr. Mechanique pursed his lips. “I don’t believe that you need your friend’s help. I don’t mean any offense, but I’ve seen the way that you work. I don’t think that there is anything that you can’t do if you put your mind to it.”
Jordan shook his head. “You don’t understand, there is only so much I can do with my ideas, my friend has the skills that we need to succeed at this project, I’m just the support.”
Dr. Mechanique rested his prosthetic hand on Jordan’s shoulder. “You are making the same mistake that most people do: we’re scientists, we can find a way around any problem. You may think you need this friend of yours for your project, but I’m certain that there is a way, most likely one you haven’t considered yet, that you can finish the project you are working on on your own. But that is only the opinion of an old scientist.”
Jordan smiled. “You have given me a lot to think about today, and I think you may be right, there could be a way for me to proceed on my own. Thank you.”
Dr. Mechanique smiled. “What are mentors for? Now, if it’s not too much trouble I have a new project for you to work on. We’ve been getting reports lately about power loss to some of our prosthetics, and I’m worried that it might be the battery casing coming loose after too much use. Is this something you think you could look into for me?”
Jordan nodded his head. “Sounds like we’d just need to add a framework to more securely mount the battery casings. Shouldn’t be too much of a problem at all. I’ll get started on coming up with some designs for you right away.”
Dr. Mechanique smiled. “That would be fantastic.” Jordan flashed Dr. Mechanique a smile and started for the door. “And Jordan?” Jordan stopped and looked at Dr. Mechanique. “Think about what we talked about today.” Jordan nodded his head and walked out the door.
Jordan walked into his lab and turned on the lights. Dr. Mechanique was right; he could solve this problem without Ryan’s help. If Ryan didn’t want to be the Super Morpher any more, someone else would just have to take his place. Jordan was sure if he tried hard enough that he could figure out the formula that Ryan had used to give himself his powers. There had only been so many chemicals in the lab that day that Ryan would have had access to, surely he could figure out the correct mixture if he compared a list of those chemicals to a sample of Ryan’s DNA?
Jordan threw on his lab coat, and walked over to a safe that Jordan had requested for his private research to be kept in. He typed in his security code and pulled out a vial with Ryan’s blood in it. Jordan took the sample over to a microscope, and placed some of it onto a slide, and placed that under the microscope. He made sure to place the rest of Ryan’s blood back into his refrigerated safe. He examined Ryan’s blood under the microscope and scribbled down a few notes.
He continued to analyze the blood for several hours, adding various compounds to it to try and see if there were any reactions, which would indicate if certain chemicals were present. After four hours of testing, Jordan growled and threw his notes across the lab out of frustration. Whatever it was that Ryan had done to himself, it had fused completely with his body, making something completely different: something that Jordan didn’t know how to begin analyzing and breaking apart. All his tests truly showed was how pointless all of this had been. Some greater force had to have been behind all this, there is no way that Ryan could have made the perfect mixture, one that would be unreplicatable, on accident. Wait, on accident? That was it!
Jordan could try coming up with a mixture of his own, somewhat random but with a scientific mind like his guiding the selections. It was unlikely that he would come up with the same compound as Ryan, but he was certain he could give himself even greater powers than Ryan had. The city wouldn’t need the Super Morpher after the, um, the… He’d come up with a name for himself once he figured out what his powers were. He started searching around the lab at the different chemicals he had access to, and took note of them. He sat back down at his desk and started calculations to determine what the best make up of his super formula would be.
A man in the crowd watched Ryan jog off of the field toward the locker rooms, and he called out, “Mr. Helner, do you have a moment?”
Ryan paused when he heard his name called out and he jogged over to the man wearing a red polo with a red B embroidered into it. “Is there something I can do for you?”
“That was an impressive game you played out there today. One could say you single handedly kept them to less than twenty total yards of offense today.”
Ryan blushed. “Well, I wouldn’t say I did it single handedly did it. Football is a team sport, and it was the team that stopped them. I don’t know that the team could have done it if I hadn’t been out there today though.”
The man chuckled, “Wow, you managed to be both humble and full of yourself at the same time.” Ryan opened his mouth to try and explain, but the man held up his hand to stop him. “Relax, it’s not a terrible idea to be a little boastful in front of a talent scout for a professional team.”
Ryan smiled. “I thought you may have been a scout. Does this mean that the Botay Boars are interested in me?”
The man nodded his head. “If you can prove that this game wasn’t just a fluke, it would be very safe to say that. I’ll be watching you at your next game, if you’re as impressive in that game as you were in this one, you can expect me to have an offer prepared for you.”
Ryan rubbed the back of his head and smiled. “I don’t know what to say.”
The man smiled. “Save your acceptance speech for after next week’s game.” The man turned and walked after the retreating crowd.
Ryan thrust his fist into the air and shouted out, “Yes!”
Ryan excitedly walked into Jordan’s lab. “Jordan! Guess what? A professional scout pretty much just guaranteed me a spot on the Botay Boars team next year! Isn’t that great?” Ryan looked around the room for Jordan, and his eyes grew wide when he saw Jordan standing in front of the ray gun that had given him his powers. He was holding a remote in his and and the gun was humming to life. “What are you doing?”
Jordan frowned at Ryan. “If you don’t want to be the Super Morpher any more, I’ll just have to take your place.” Jordan pushed the button on the remote to open the shutter on the ray gun.
Thank you for checking out my story, if you liked this and want to see more stories like it, check out the other stories I’m working on writing, here: Tales of the Imagination, check out my facebook page for updates on the stories here: Facebook, and follow me on Twitter here: @EJBorchardt. Please like, comment, and tell your friends if you like what you’ve read. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see my review of what happened previously in Beast Blades, as well as a sneak peek at what will happen in the next chapter. Then come back on Monday when I will post part of one the next chapter of Beast Blades.