Chapter 1: Orientation
CHAPTER 1: ORIENTATION
THE MORNING graced him, gaining an angry grunt as it brought an abrupt halt to his trance-like sleep. Its rays seeped through the dark blinds, the objects in the room gleaming in their presence. He turned his head, a smile growing on his face as he set his eyes on her. She had scruffy hair splayed over her face, petite nose and lips that parted slightly.
The very thought humoured him as he looked at her, a question beckoning. Was she the tall, intimidating girl he had met a year ago? Things had changed so quickly and now she was his girlfriend. She somehow seemed smaller now that they were the same height and the look on her face planted several childish ideas in his mind, pinching her nose being the foremost among them.
He placed a light kiss on her forehead, the soft touch rousing her from sleep.
“Oh, it’s just you.” GoGo’s eyelids lowered, a smile stifled behind a feigned glare. “Wake me when this is over.” She turned.
“I should probably be saying that instead.” Hiro crossed his arms, laying his head on them.
“Oh, really?” A smirk grew on her face, obscured as she looked at him over her shoulder.
“I dunno.” He turned to her, a cupped hand holding his head up. “Maybe my life’s so good now it feels like a dream.”
“What kind of dream?”
“You tell me.”
He placed a hand on her hip, cuddling up to her and gaining a smile that broke through her façade. She turned her head, leaning into him as she returned the kiss, planting it on his lips. He hummed, his eyes pointing to the ceiling as he feigned an expression of deep thought.
“Maybe another?” he gained a sly smile from her.
She kissed him again, an odd look forming in his expression as they parted.
“Nah, it’s a nightmare.” He shook his head playfully.
She pushed him, part of her expecting him to fall off the bed. He sat up, a chuckle emanating from him as he bent over and stretched his arms with interlocked fingers.
She turned on her back, a warm smile gracing her as she trailed her small hand on his. The scars littered all over, its newly muscled tone sparking a reminiscent feeling in her. They had been through a lot.
“What time is it?” He stooped with a blank look on his face.
“Oh, crap.” She quickly sat up. “We’re late.”
“How do you know?”
“Check the clock.” She picked up a shirt.
He turned to the bedside table, surprise dilating his eyes as he set them on the clock.
“Yeah, we gotta move.” She got off the bed, buttoning the shirt.
He got out as well, putting on a pair of boxers. A turn to her drew a smirk from him.
“Uh, that’s my shirt.”
Her eyes widened, a look at her chest proving that what he said was true.
“Oh.” She hastily unbuttoned it.
“Heh, didn’t think you’d do that.” He chuckled. “You look so cute in it.”
She growled and threw the shirt at him, his resultant laugh annoying her even more. She fished a gown out of the wardrobe and he picked up his clothes.
“I’m gonna need a quick shower.” She fastened her robe.
“Yeah, you will.” He put the shirt on.
She raised a brow, wondering what he meant by his tone. He picked up on it.
“Not that you need a shower –.”
“Just go, Hiro.” She pushed him toward the door.
“Wait, wait, what about my phone?”
“I’m keeping it.”
“I need that.”
“Well, happy anniversary.”
She opened the door and pushed him out.
“Wait, shouldn’t you say that when you’ve given me a present?” He turned to her in the hallway.
“Well, then happy anniversary to me.”
“Come on, GoGo, I need that.” He chuckled.
A grin stretched her face, quickly disappearing as she closed the door. He smiled, the cold breeze making him realise that he had no pants on.
“Uh, GoGo?” He knocked on the door.
A CAMERA flashed, the light’s harshness failing to diminish her smile. It had finally happened and nothing could ruin her day.
“Isn’t that like the seventh pic you’ve taken?” Her shorter friend folded her arms.
“There’s never gonna be enough for today.” Her grin widened.
Yellow encompassed the view, gleams of white and dots of variant colour littered around as the multitude of people filled the hall and deepened Honey Lemon’s sense of fulfilment. Even the unbearably loud music failed to deter her excitement.
It was graduation day and everyone was excited to further pursue their careers. All except for Hiro who looked grumpy while they were taking photos in the corner of the hall during the party.
“Huh, didn’t think you guys would have a wild party. You are the oddest nerds I’ve ever met.” A voice came.
Honey turned to Dash, his light gray suit making her giddy.
“Dash, you’re here!” She hugged him.
“Are you just gonna wear suits now?” GoGo glared at him.
“The Dash looks awesome in ‘em.” He popped his collar.
“The Dash annoys the hell outta me.” GoGo frowned, turning away from him.
“I still can’t believe it guys, we’re actually outta this place!” Fred’s arms shot into the air.
Cat looked around, confusion in her expression.
“Where are we going?” Worry in her eyes.
“No, I mean we’ve finally graduated.” Fred turned to her.
“From what?” Cat’s voice shrivelled into a whisper.
“I –.” Dash interrupted him.
“People getting laid, chugging contests, just saw these guys taking crack, Wasabi not wearing his bandana.”
“Winter is coming.” Wasabi clasped his head, his eyes darting around.
“Lots of surprises today.” Dash scanned the room.
“Well, they just keep piling ‘cuz Genius here isn’t graduating.” GoGo walked away from them.
Hiro groaned and stooped, the repetition of the fact wearing down on him.
“What, really? What happened, man? I thought you’d be the first one outta here.” Dash chuckled as he turned to him.
“Come on, we’re just as smart as he is.” Wasabi looked at the others uneasily. “Right?”
“Sure.” Dash cupped his hands together, sarcasm evident in his tone. “Right.”
“Well, if he’s smarter than us, how come he isn’t graduating?” Fred ruffled Hiro’s hair.
“Maybe it’s because he’s so young.” Cat placed a hand on Hiro’s shoulder.
“Not helping.” Hiro brushed it off him.
“Quit picking on him.” Honey placed her arm over his shoulder.
“Thanks.” Hiro turned to her.
“He’s just a boy.” She petted his head.
Hiro growled at her, pushing her arm away as she laughed.
“You guys being three years ahead of me doesn’t prove that you’re smarter than I am.” He looked at the others.
“Yeah, it doesn’t.” Dash walked up to him.
“See? He agrees with me.” Hiro folded his arms.
“Yeah.” Dash nodded. “It just proves that he’s dumber than you guys.”
Hiro turned to Dash, about to retort when a voice came.
“It’s a conspiracy.”
The guys turned to see Dr Cello walk up to them.
“Hey, Stephen.” Hiro turned to him.
“How can they put such a young, unintelligent boy in the same class with older, unintelligent students?” Dr Cello feigned sincerity.
“So, you’re saying we’re all dumb?” GoGo returned with a drink in hand.
“Not you, GoGo.” Dr Cello sipped his drink. “Just you … and everyone else here.”
GoGo shook her head, a smile on her face.
“What’re you doing here?” Dash turned to Dr Cello.
“Just came for a beer.” Dr Cello took a sip.
“Isn’t it a bad idea to drink around minors? You could get arrested or something.” Fred pointed at Hiro.
“I’m outta here.” Hiro walked away from them.
“Come back Hiro.” Dash followed him. “Don’t let your age, height and inferiority stop you from hanging out with older, cooler, smarter people.” He placed a hand on his shoulder, nodding his head in false reassurance. “Stay strong, you can do this.”
Hiro shook his hand off his shoulder, heading for a table nearby.
“Wait, isn’t that water?” Wasabi raised his brow, pointing at the bottle Dr Cello held.
“Exactly.” He took a sip. “It’s the most alcoholic substance out there.”
The music stopped as the DJ looked for more tracks to play.
“Ah, that’s my jam.” Dr Cello smiled.
Dr Cello hummed rhythmically, the snap and tap of his fingers and feet following in tune.
“There’s no music on.” Fred turned to him.
“Mmm-hmm, this song rocks.” Dr Cello moved his head to a nonexistent tune.
“So, that’s how you listen to rock music?” Confusion welled in Honey’s tone.
“Don’t judge the way I grill peanut butter, okay?” Dr Cello turned to her then turned to Hiro. “And you.”
He turned to him.
“We’re not on a first name basis.” Dr Cello pointed at him.
Hiro shook his head and turned to his drink.
“So, you gonna apply for a job any time soon?” Dr Cello turned to Honey.
“Probably, I dunno, I haven’t made up my mind on where I wanna work yet.” She sifted through options in her mind. “Maybe Future Industries.”
“They focus on robotics only.” Wasabi stated.
“Don’t I already work in that field?” Honey raised her brow.
“Well, it’s all the way in another state.” Wasabi said.
“What about Lex Corp?” Honey coined.
“I dunno, maybe.” Wasabi nestled his hands in his pockets.
“Union Allied?” Honey lifted her hand.
“Isn’t that a construction company or something?” Fred walked up to her.
“See? There’re so many to pick from.” Honey pocketed her phone.
“What about iCarly?” Cat looked around, blankness in her expression.
“That’s a web show.” Wasabi looked at her with disapproval.
“Rico’s Enchiladas?” Dr Cello wiggled the now empty bottle.
“That’s a restaurant.” Wasabi shook his head. “Can somebody give a reasonable suggestion?”
“Varrick Tech?” Fred offered.
Wasabi considered it.
“That’s not bad.” Wasabi said.
“I dunno; I’m still not sure.” Honey shifted uneasily.
“Relish it, Tonia.” Dr Cello turned to Honey. “Uncertainty and indecisiveness is how I made my focussed, well thought out and planned career choice to become a plastic surgeon at Google.”
Honey played back what he said.
THE COLD guardrail sent shivers up his spine, the chill heightened by the evening breeze. The moon’s light shone over the campus, its reflection gleaming over the ponds nearby and glinting off everything else.
Hiro leaned against a guardrail on the bridge where he last spoke to Tadashi. Remembering him did not hurt anymore, its nostalgia offering clarity of mind and a location best suited for deep thought.
“The music’s getting to ya?” He turned to GoGo who walked up to him.
“Nah, just needed some fresh air.” She leaned on the guardrail. “What’re you doing?”
“Nothing.” He sighed. “It’s just weird, you know; I didn’t think time would fly so quickly and now I’m the only one still in college.”
“It’s no big deal, really.” She shrugged. “Just work hard enough and you’ll graduate.”
“Yeah, I guess.” He looked at the building before him. “You got an idea which company you’ll apply to?”
“I haven’t thought of that yet.”
“Why? You have a great future behind you.” A monotonous voice came.
The two turned, a form towering over them. Baymax approached them in his battle gear, its lean, muscular build overshadowing them. GoGo kicked his leg, the thud and pain searing through her foot making her regret her action.
“Ow.” She clasped her foot.
“On a scale of one to ten –,” Hiro interrupted Baymax.
“Why are you in your battle gear?”
“I was summoned here by you emergency beacon.” Baymax turned to him.
“What?” He checked his pockets then turned to GoGo. “GoGo, give me back my phone.”
“Yeah, forgot I accidentally activated it.” she rose to her feet.
She fished out his phone and returned it to him, a feeling of unease swelling up.
“What, you were keeping something from me?” She raised her brow.
“No, I wasn’t.” He pocketed his phone, puzzled by his own feeling of nervousness since he was not keeping anything secret. “Hairy Baby.”
The compartments receded along Baymax’s body, the high pitched sounds of his vinyl body inflating meeting their ears as his armour shrank into a square compartment on his back and let him puff up again, diminishing his height.
“Did you upgrade his databanks or something? ‘Cuz that was so unfunny.” GoGo turned to Hiro.
“I didn’t.” he shook his head.
“Not cool, Baymax.” She turned to him.
“But it is true; you do have a great future behind you.” Baymax raised his plump arm, pointing behind them.
The two turned, a blimp floating above the buildings in the distance.
“Stark Industries?” GoGo’s eyes squinted.
“BOYS, GIRLS, interns and college grads, welcome to Stark Industries or as I like to call it, the Fortress of Awesome.” A brunette-haired man paced before them.
Hiro, GoGo, Wasabi, Baymax, Honey and Fred stood amongst a group in the foyer of the spectacular Stark Industries building in San Fransokyo. Its ceiling stood high above them, the walls matching the glimmering chrome floors that spread out to a large stairwell to the left, elevators to the right and glass doors surrounding them.
“This is so exciting. I didn’t think Tony Stark would let me handle orientation.” The man turns to you.
“Who’s he talking to?” Fred leaned to Hiro, who, like the others, watched the brunette-haired man speak to nobody.
“I have no idea.” Hiro shook his head.
The man turned to the group, a grin on his face and excitement sparkling in his eyes.
“I am Peter Parker, and I will be your guide into the realm where dreams or nightmares – or both – come true.” He turns to you. “You know what I’m talking about.” He smirks. “Or maybe you don’t, this is my first appearance in the RealDone Universe, so I don’t know how much you know about me. Hey, does this thing follow canon or something? I don’t know.”
“It follows canon.” Deadpool’s voice comes to his mind.
“Really? Wow, and I’m in the same universe as Tony Stark, Goku and Elsa? What else did this whack job of a writer come up with?” Peter points at the writer.
“Uh, sir.” A student interrupted Peter.
“Yes?” He turned to her.
“Who are you talking to?”She looked at him, concern on her face.
Peter blinked, the question coming off as odd.
“Let’s move on.” He clasped his hands together. “Follow me.”
The group followed Peter, Hiro whirling his finger at his head as he turned to GoGo, both baffled by his behaviour.
“And I thought Dr Cello was weird.” Hiro shrugged.
They entered a hallway, awe and curiosity spreading as some people began to murmur and others took photos. The glass walls spread around them, different rooms on higher levels coming into view. Several scientists worked in them, tinkering with different kinds of robotic technology.
“This is our R&D department where we work on all the latest tech like the Iron Man suits, disaster mitigation machinery, the Iron burger.” Peter turns to you. “Wouldn’t an iron burger be awesome?”
Hiro and GoGo shared a look and shook their heads, Peter’s whimsy irritating them.
A scientist shouldered a large cannon, lights coming to life along its shaft as he pressed on the trigger. He aimed it at a targeting screen before him and fired a sonic beam on it. The resultant explosion resounded and drew the attention of the tour group.
“Ooh, pretty.” Everyone stared in synchronised mesmerism.
“That’s a prototype for a sound cannon we’re developing to clear up rubble after a huge battle. This could really help out if the Avengers came around here.” Peter continued down the hallway.
They walked past a large, white room, its occupants being two young scientists standing before a gigantic orb that floated in midair. One was a redhead who studied the orb closely, tablet in hand, and the other, who had green hair, stood near it, raising his hands as holographic imagery following the motions.
“Hey, Phineas, ‘sup, Ferb.” Peter waved at them.
“Hey, guys.” The redheaded kid turned to them.
An Indian boy entered the room, a tray of chocolate milkshakes in hand and walked up to the two.
“Hey, Baljeet.” Peter turned to him.
“Hey.” He responded in a squeaky voice.
Baljeet tripped as he saw the other students, milkshakes splattering on the floor.
“What’s up with these guys?” Hiro raised an eyebrow.
“What’s the number for Rico’s Enchiladas again?” Honey leaned to Wasabi.
The students shared confused looks.
“Okay, moving on.” Peter proceeded.
They continued down the hall, passing several rooms on either side. They entered an expansive room, white filling the view and other glimmering objects increasing their interest. Several scientists worked at their stations, highly advanced chemical mixing apparatus before them.
“And this is our –,” Honey interrupted Peter.
Honey squealed, her excitement barely contained as she walked around, eyes wide with elation. She moved from table to table, camera at the ready as she took several pictures of the tech.
“Stick with the group, uh –,” Peter checked the tablet he held. “Tonia Gualtiero!”
“Huh, so that’s her real name.” Hiro raised his brow.
“You didn’t know that was her name?” GoGo raised her brow. “Do you even know my real name?”
“Uh …” His eyes darted around uneasily. “Sure, Go ….”
She slapped his head.
“I’m kidding, I’m kidding.” He rubbed his head. “It’s Ethel Jin-Ho.”
Honey walked up to a table, a cube-shaped machine tugging at her interest, drawing out a giggle and the urge to touch it.
“Hey, hey, hey, get away from that!” A voice came.
A young scientist walked up to her. His face filled with exasperation as he approached, his raven hair brushing against his charcoal gray, 4/4 coat that covered a brown shirt that swept over black trousers and converse sneakers.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Honey stepped back, the urgency in his voice causing her glee to falter.
A frown grew on the teen’s face, his eyes darting around and dilating upon setting them on Peter and the group.
“So, it’s you.” His expression lightened indistinguishably. “What’re you up to this time, Parker?”
“Nothing, just doing a solid for Tony Stark himself.” Peter smirked.
The teen’s frown deepened.
“This is Amadeus Cho, one of our top engineers working on some ‘big project’.” Peter lifted his hands, his voice deepening to express feigned appreciation of said experiment.
“If you were paying any attention, you would know that this machine, when completed, will be able to quantify the disturbance in earth’s atmospheric composition and radiation levels.” Amadeus’ frown intensified.
“Atmospheric disturbances?” Honey moved closer to Amadeus, concern forming in her expression. “What do you mean?”
“Well, it is not public knowledge, but over a year ago, nearly the same time your local idiot, Robert Callaghan pulled of his ludicrous attack on Krei Tech Labs, the composition of earth’s atmosphere changed. One example is oxygen’s composition in dry air having a ten percent increase from its usual 20.95 percent.” A smirk stretched his face.
“And that’s a big deal how?” A student raised his hands and raised his shoulders, disinterest in his tone.
“Ugh, you college grads are so ignorant.” Amadeus closed his eyes, his voice rising. “If earth’s composition changed by the slightest degree, there should be total chaos. The fact that there isn’t is a scientific phenomenon!” He sighed. “Parker, get these numbskulls outta my sight.”
“Numbskulls?” Hiro raised his brow.
Amadeus turned to him, his voice alone annoying him.
“You do realise that you are talking to the inventor of micro-bots controlled via neurotransmitter?” Hiro chuckled, his thumb brushing past his nose. “No way a numbskull could come up with that.”
“Come on, an old comic book writer can come up with that crap.” Amadeus smirked.
Fred’s head raised, his gaze darting around as he took offence.
“Hey!” He frowned.
“I’ve read your file, Hamada.” Amadeus walked up to Hiro. “Simply hooking up Nano-bots to a neurotransmitter does not put you on the same level as me. Come on, really? What, were you part of some predictable movie where a young nerd suddenly joins a group of cooler nerds and winds up being a superhero? This is the real world and dumb stunts like that do not deserve recognition.”
GoGo frowned, her teeth gritting as she stepped out of the crowd. Hiro’s hand impeded her progression, he himself walking up to Amadeus.
“You do realise I’m a student at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, ranked fourth on the top ten universities in Amersia?” He extended the argument.
“What, that backwater university that lets anyone in after a meagre show-and-tell? Is that the place where some idiot ran into a burning auditorium to save Robert Callaghan?” Amadeus folded his arms.
Hiro’s fist clenched as he moved to throw a punch, Peter’s arm coming in front of him as he tried to stop the fight.
“Come on, guys, let’s not start a fight.” Peter put his other hand before Amadeus, parting the two.
“Son of a –,” Hiro struggled to move around him.
“Language!” Live footage of Captain America came on a screen nearby and went off.
Surprise filled the room, the occupants murmuring in confusion. Brushing it off, they continued their work.
“Look, we’re not here to fight.” Peter stood up, having been bent over to match Hiro’s height. “Apologise, Amadeus.”
He scoffed, a swift turn as he returned to his workstation. Hiro adjusted his jacket and returned to the group, a murderous glare shot at Amadeus.
“Well, anyways.” Peter looked at his tablet. “You two will need to get along.” He turned to Hiro. “Hiro Hamada, you’re gonna be working under Amadeus during your internship here.”
“What?” Anger dilated his eyes.
“That’s what it says here.” Peter sifted through the pages of the tablet. “You can continue your orientation with him after we finish the tour.”
Hiro flared gritted teeth, his gaze set on Amadeus.
“Let’s get moving.” Peter walked on.
Hiro followed him, a glance sent to Amadeus.
DARKNESS SET in, blackened objects muffled in the surroundings. His feet brushed up against the rough sand, a crunch sound echoing in the empty building. The light of a street lamp seeped through the doors, barely illuminating the warehouse, rubble across the floor coming into view.
He looked around, his frown deepening and worries setting as he scanned the room. His eyes dilated as he set them on a row of large, steel boxes which lined up along the wall to the left. He walked up to them, a swift click coming as he opened one of the boxes’ lids with a crowbar. A sinister smirk wrinkled his face, his eyes narrowing on the contents of it.
“I can finally get my revenge.” He chuckled.
“WHAT AM I supposed to be doing there, Sensei?” His eyes lowered in disinterest. “I hope I’m not being rude, but there is nothing for me in San Fransokyo.”
The bald man looked up at him from the live video feed, his thick grey brows lowering calmly. The younger man sighed, his blonde hair reflecting the sun’s rays through the airplane window, exuding his displeasure at his master keeping things from him.
“Worry not, Mr Rand, I will not keep you in the dark this time.” The bald man sat up in his chair. “Listen well, this is important.”