Project 8: Free-Write
With Great Power
Here’s the problem. If you take a bunch of average teenagers and give them superpowers, they don’t automatically go out to save the world. They don’t just use their powers for good. They usually aren’t really responsible, either. Instead, they go around goofing off around the neighborhood, testing out their newfound abilities without a second thought as to what kinds of consequences their actions might bring about.
Welcome to my situation.
Kai, an Australian guy with brown hair and hazel eyes, bent the light around me so that the crisp forest around me turned pitch black.
“Great,” I said wearily, flinching as Rynn held up a hand to receive a hurricane-like flurry of bright orange gilded leaves from the trees above. A huge gust of wind suddenly blasted through the forest, responding to her movements, blowing her red hair back until it nearly blended in with the falling leaves.
“This is awesome!” Her hair calmed down and settled down messily around her shoulders again, and a lock of red fell into her face as she stared at her hands in amazement. “I did that.”
Kai was now playing with little dancing orbs of light. “How long do you think these’ll last?”
I watched him with a twinge of jealousy. “Maybe not long…”
After a pause, my curiosity got the better of me, and I prompted, “You guys touched some kind of rock, you said?”
Han Ting, a lean Chinese guy, shrugged, pushing his ragged hair out of his face. “It was the cave. Behind the mountain. It had these little black rocks…”
“Meteors,” Kai corrected.
“Meteorites,” Rynn interjected.
“…and we picked them up, and they…” Han Ting gestured with his hands.
“Disappeared,” Rynn finished for him. “Then my hands started tingling, so I shook them a little bit, and things started happening.”
To prove her point, she twirled her hand, and little snowflakes appeared around it. Trying to get her back on topic, I asked, “So basically, you’re saying this planet has magical little rocks that give people special abilities?”
Han Ting glanced at the other two. “Sure. Is it that weird?”
When I thought about it, I guessed it shouldn’t have been all that unbelievable.
See, humans basically destroyed the Earth with their wars and nuclear gear over the course of World Wars III through V, so we had to move to “New Earth,” another planet in a nearby galaxy that also had the right conditions to sustain human life. As far as I know, this planet looked a lot like the old Earth, just more natural and with less pollution and dreariness. It also hosted its own unique creatures and plants, like the elf-like Sylvari and the interesting little Bolaphins. But seeing as this was an entirely new planet in a new galaxy, who knew how the substances here could interact with human bodies?
“Guys, look.” Han Ting thrust his fist into the ground, causing a bulk of rock to shoot up beside him.
“Yeah, well, check this.” Kai put his hands together, and a bright ball of light appeared between them, resembling a mini sun with its blinding rays shooting out from his hands.
“Alright, we get it,” I sighed as Rynn started a light drizzle from the clear blue sky above.
Just then, a large fluffy animal on four legs dashed past us, crashing through the fallen leaves, rambling along at a surprising speed for its size until it disappeared into the distance.
“Stop! Come back! Someone help!”
A tween girl ran up to us, her black hair flying behind her. She stopped, panting, then breathlessly demanded, “Have you seen a big fluffy creature run past here? It stole my basket!”
She mainly addressed Rynn, but then she saw Kai and Han Ting and did a double-take.
“Wait, wha—you have powers? Are you guys gone?”
Kai extinguished his light. “What now?”
“You know, GONE. Guardians of New Earth. Those heroes with powers? No?” The girl was clearly distressed; I could barely understand a word of her speedy talking. “Well anyway the thing stole my stuff and I need to get it back so could you help me pretty please because I really need it and it had my friend’s present…”
The girl paused expectantly, and Rynn smiled a little nervously. “Um, we’re not heroes or anything…”
“But you have powers,” the girl said, like that settled everything.
“…being heroes involves more than just abilities,” Han Ting said slowly. “I mean, we can try helping, but…”
“Wouldn’t that be a little dangerous?” I pointed out.
“Jack’s right,” Rynn agreed. “We don’t have any kind of experience. Did your basket have anything really important in it?”
The girl’s face fell. “Well, no, not exactly really important…” She sighed. “I guess not all people with powers are heroes, then?”
“That depends on your definition of hero.” Kai shrugged. “Really sorry, mate. Maybe you can get a professional to help you out.”
“That’s alright.” She looked down. “Thanks anyway, I guess.”
She turned and began walking away, while my friends and I just kind of stared at each other.
“What’s the point of having powers again?” Kai asked once the girl was gone.
“It’s fun,” Han Ting said, “but other than that, we’re useless right now. Just a few kids with fun toys.”
“I mean, we are kids.” Rynn stared in the direction the girl had vanished in. “People can’t expect us to face some big hairy monster the day we happen to stumble on these weird meteorites. It’s not like having powers transforms you magically into a hero.”
“Unless this was a book or a movie,” I suggested.
Rynn snorted. “Well, yeah, but how realistic are those?”
“Wow.” Kai filled his cheeks with air, then pushed it out slowly. “I guess with great power comes great responsibility then, yeah? Just having powers doesn’t make you anything special.”
So that’s the answer.
That day, we learned how much more meaning “hero” really carries. And how much expectation can be placed on you when you have something most other people don’t. But just having a power doesn’t turn you into a hero; you make the choice yourself, just like having a pen doesn’t make you a writer, but what you choose to do with it can turn you into one. Yet people automatically assume you should be some sort of hero just because of the given circumstances, and the pressure can build up until you feel forced into a box where people watch you and point out every mistake you make.
Because after all, with great power comes great responsibility.