A Vote Against Warren
Tapping my pencil against the desk, I along with the rest of the class waited for Mr. Mnemonic our Hero History teacher to arrive. It was not like him to be late I thought, as the last few stragglers came in. One of them was Warren Peace, the resident pyrokinetic at Sky High. He dropped his bag carelessly on his desk, taking the seat behind me. Automatically I glanced at my cousin Paul Findle, who had followed Warren to his seat with a resentful glare. He caught me looking at him, gave me a meaningful look and then stared out of the window.
Paul had an intense dislike for Warren. Okay, Paul and Warren hated each other with a passion. Warren's father Barron Battle had at one time crushingly defeated my father and Paul's uncle, Charles Arrian aka The Shield during an attack against the city. My dad was badly injured as a result and though he recovered, he wasn't the same since- not as strong or as fast as he once was.
One might be thinking that going to a school which produced its fair share of super heroes and villains, such a thing is pretty common place- and it is. But Paul had always been overly proud (in my opinion) of our heritage. Our family had produced more heroes than any other in Maxville. Granted, it was not usually through linear inheritance- an uncle here, a second cousin there (though my dad and I were a rare exception), cropped up fairly frequently.
My father however was one of the best and it really hurt Paul when he was beaten. I say, was one of the best- he retired soon after the encounter. Paul maintains that it was because of Barron Battle but my dad said it wasn't- that he wanted to get out of the game long before that and focus on our family. In any case Paul wouldn't let it go and never missed an opportunity to piss Warren off- making snide comments about Warren whenever his back was turned, but always within earshot.
Mr. Mnemonic entered the class quickly, balancing a stack of papers on top of his briefcase. "Good morning, class. Sorry I'm late. I'd some last minute grades to fill in. If you'll give me a minute... "
He put his briefcase down and picking up the papers, went around the class handing them out. It was the quiz he'd given two days before and as he went around the room, he murmured things like, "Not bad Henry...very good Alice...er, Daniel...please see me after class-"
When Mr. Mnemonic handed Paul his quiz, Paul took one look at it and grinned at me. I returned the smile, wishing I felt as happy.
"Anna... not one of your best I'm afraid," Mr. Mnemonic murmured as he handed me my paper.
My heart sank as I stared at it. C-minus. I was going to have to settle down and work really hard if I had any hope of counteracting it.
"Warren... excellent. Keep it up."
I glanced back to where Warren was sitting. He had quickly shoved the quiz into his bag and caught my eye, giving me a look as if to say, 'Lose something?'
Nervously I turned back around, just in time to see our teacher return to his desk. "All right everyone. I'm going to assign you a special project that I've been working on. You will be divided into groups of four. You will each choose who will be the head of your group. Each group will have a special topic that you will present in about three weeks' time. Please get out your pen and write your group number, your topic and the other three people you will be working with. Group One- Topic: The Evolution of Super Hero Tactics. Members- Alicia Detten, Simon Todd, Vanessa Gregory, and Sheila Patterson. Group Two- Topic: Influential Superheroes and Villains: Past, Present, and Future. Members- Jana Vega, Anna Arrian, Paul Findle, and Warren Peace. Group Three..."
Horror-stricken, I turned to Paul who had a look of incredulous shock on his face, which was soon replaced by rage. As for Warren, I wasn't even about to turn around. But I heard his sharp intake of breath which, coupled with my all-too-vivid imagination was more than enough.
After class the three of us went to Mr. Mnemonic (who seemed to be expecting us) to ask that either Paul or Warren be switched with someone from another group.
"Before any of you say anything," Mr. Mnemonic said as we all started talking at once, "I should let you know that I'm not changing the arrangements. Whatever grievances you have with each other you will simply have to work it out among yourselves."
"There's nothing to work out," Warren said defiantly, giving Paul a furious glance. "I'm not dealing with him- he's beyond impossible!"
Mr. Mnemonic said, "I beg your pardon?" at the same time that Paul muttered, "You're one to talk," not too quietly. But Warren had heard him and clenched his fists, smoke already curling from between his fingers.
"Mr Mnemonic," I said desperately, "This isn't going to work. There's no way we'll be able to-"
"You're going to have to make it work, Anna. This project is more than presenting the various aspects of Hero History. It's about being able to work and co-operate with all types of people. It's what you'll have to do in the real world. And it also counts for thirty-five percent of your grade. I'm sorry, but that's my final word." With that he picked up his briefcase and walked out of the class.
Leaving us alone.
So there it was- two guys who hated each other's guts, a girl who didn't even show up for class that day, and myself. Needless to say getting the project completed was not going to be easy. As soon as Mr. Mnemonic left Paul immediately insisted that he be the leader of the group, to which Warren of course objected strongly.
"Why you?" he asked sharply.
"Why not me?" Paul retorted.
"Look, I'll be the leader," I said immediately, trying to avoid an argument.
"No way," Warren said, giving me a look that indicated general suspicion. "No offense, but I trust you about as much as I trust him."
"You didn't exactly do too well on the last quiz either," Paul added, willing to stab his own cousin in the back to gain power.
"So what then?" I said, thoroughly annoyed by now. "Jana Vega? She's not even here today and I don't know a thing about her."
"Then I'll be the leader," Warren said stolidly.
"Over my dead body," Paul scoffed.
"Oh, you really think that's the smartest thing to say to me?"
"Is that a threat, Peace?"
"Will you guys just shut up?" I said, sick already of their arguing.
It went on like that for nearly twenty minutes, till it was grudgingly decided that Paul would be the leader for now, at least until we met Jana and figured out whether she should be assigned the role as the neutral leader of the group. Warren didn't like that one bit, but we took a vote- two against one. I knew Paul could get cocky and a little crazy when placed in a position of authority but he was family. Besides, I did take offense at Warren's remark about not trusting me. It wasn't as if I ever gave him any reason not to.
We scheduled our first meeting for the following day, right after school in Study Hall which we knew would be mostly empty. Then we went our separate ways.