NOTE: When this story appeared in your email and you recognized the name of the story and not the name of the author, hopefully you deduced that I have switched my penname to ThePotterGeek. For more info, see my profile. (Although, not much more info than I'm giving you now.)

Also, a HUGE thank-you to Talis Ruadair, who pointed out a rather gigantic mistake, which I have rectified. If you spotted it before I revised this chapter, good for you, if not, I'm not telling, it's too embarrassing.

ONWARDS!

The New Year

Usually, every kid at Sky High approaches a new school year differently. Some dread the hours spent thousands of feet in the air, some are excited to see their friends again. Some, strangely enough, are even excited for classes. But that year, lurking at the back of everyone's minds, amidst the usual feelings, was what had transpired not weeks before. Whatever we were feeling superficially about school, after living in fear for four straight weeks, we had a renewed sense of how important our studies were.

Which is why, at least on the first day, the busses and hallways were a little more subdued than usual. Fewer people terrorized the freshman coming from Power Placement into the cafeteria. Fewer shrieks of excitement were heard in the hallways. The summer had aged us all.

Before first period on our second day back, Principal Powers held a welcome assembly. But instead of delivering the usual announcements, she talked about the Time of Terror (as citizens were beginning to call it) and stressed that that time should help us focus on classes this year, and that we should work our hardest to ensure that something like that never happens again.

I was sitting with Bomb on one side of me and Gary on the other, both looking as grave as all the other seniors. I sighed with relief that I wasn't in their shoes. They were the ones everybody would be counting on once graduation came. All of a sudden, nine months didn't seem like such a long time.

"Lastly," Principal Powers called out, and I turned my attention back to her, "I strongly encourage everyone to join a super club this year. It will really help those of you that wish to improve beyond the classroom. You're dismissed."

"Wow," I muttered. "Has she ever made an announcement like that before?"

"Never," said Gary. "Just imagine how scared she really is."

Despite what happened over the summer, there was no change in our curriculum. Except for the fact that all the sidekicks were working harder, nothing altered in our day-to-day education. But I couldn't help but notice the teachers were pushing the heroes harder than they had been the year before. The knowledge burned inside me, a hot anger that I couldn't ignore.

"Haley? Thank you for seeing me. Don't worry, you're not in trouble. Please, have a seat."

I let out the breath I hadn't known I'd been holding and plopped down in the chair opposite Principal Powers. I had been called out of Mad Science and told that the Principal wished to see me. It was only the second week, and I had no idea what I possibly could have done wrong.

"I just wanted to talk to you about the club that you started last year. Coach Boomer is very impressed with all that you accomplished last year."

I raised my eyebrows in surprise. "He is? He never said anything to us."

Principal Powers chuckled a little and said, "He never said anything to me, either. But after working with him all these years, I can tell when he's only not saying something because he doesn't want to admit he was wrong. He told me at the beginning of the year that he didn't think it was a good idea. By the end, he would barely say a word to me aside from his basic reports.

"From what he's told me, and from what I've seen, you have all been helping one another find your limits and discover new things to do with your powers. That's what most super clubs entail. But you all have such different powers, and are all so driven- even the hero support. Perhaps especially them," she added with a significant look at me. "Since you're the one who originally came to me, I decided to call you in here to ask you if you would open up your club a little more. First of all, many of the clubs could follow your example. Second, there are too many in the hero support class who don't join super clubs because they're intimidated by the heroes. They'll feel more comfortable in yours, with its healthy mix, which is really all we want to do."

I stared at my hands, unsure of what to do. It was weird that she was calling it "my club." True, I did come up with it and ask for permission, but it belonged to everyone who participated in it. I also didn't know how I felt about allowing other people in. We wanted to keep it serious, and didn't know if allowing strangers to participate would end well.

After I had been silent for a few minutes, Principal Powers said, "I understand that originally you wanted to keep it small, but I really think this could help everyone, especially those who feel helpless after this summer." I stared at her for a moment, slowly realizing that she understood what it had been like to be a kid during those four weeks, unable to really go anywhere or do anything. It left more people than just me feeling helpless and frustrated. I nodded.

"I'll give you until the end of the week to think about it and ask the current members."

"She what?"

"Bomb, chill," I said quickly. "It's a compliment, I guess. I just wanted to ask how you all felt about it. If it gets too out of hand, we'll take care of it."

"So I'm guessing you're for it?" asked Phoebe.

I rolled my eyes at her. "You never guess at anything, Phoebes." Reuven chuckled. "But yes, I am. The more I think about it, the more it seems like a good idea. As long as whoever joins is serious about training, we can only gain by adding more diversity. The more we experience in here, the better prepared we'll be to face what's out there." For once, no one argued with me. "I'm going to tell her that we're all in."

The next few days found us putting up signs all over the school, letting everyone know where we were meeting. After a lot of pressure from everyone, I accepted the role of club president. A lot of people came up to me to tell me how excited they were or to ask whether or not they could join. Even though the flyer said everyone was welcome, most people couldn't grasp the idea. Most, if not all, super clubs were themed, like the Fire Club, the Water Club, and the Shifter Club. Some people who I knew for a fact were members of other clubs came over to tell me they were coming to get some extra training. They all seemed dedicated and enthused, and I looked forward to following Wednesday.

All in all, more than a dozen new people showed up, which, added to all of us from last year, made almost thirty people in total. Kind of mind-boggling, if you ask me.

"Hey, everyone," I began at four thirty, once I was fairly certain nobody else would be showing up. I could hardly keep my voice from shaking. I wasn't used to addressing people like this, but I forced a huge smile on my face and began, "Welcome! I'm really happy so many people showed up. Can we just go around, say your name and your power? You can leave out what class you're in. No one cares," I added, somewhat harshly. Taking a deep breath, I began, "I'm Haley, and I have complete control over my body."

After everyone had introduced themselves, the group had brainstormed ideas of what everyone wanted to do individually, with a few partners, even things in larger groups. One of the shapeshifters (there were three) even suggested that we battle one another like in Save the Citizen once all of us felt more comfortable with our powers and limits.

I couldn't stop grinning for the whole busride back to the ground. At this meeting, there had been powerful heroes sitting alongside sidekicks and socializing quite civilly. There was even a chance that we all might be very good friends by the time this year is out. I thought that this might be the first time some of them had really associated with anyone from another class, unless it had involved stuffing someone's head in a toilet. I felt as though I had helped weaken the barrier between hero and sidekick.

The club was what kept me from exploding from frustration every day in school when I experienced firsthand how expendable the super world considered us. Knowing that I was doing all that I could to empower myself and others helped me keep my head whenever Mrs. Rimmel (formerly Spark, a weak pyrokinetic, our sophomore year teacher) taught us something about how to aid our heroes in the field or whenever Coach Boomer's gaze passed over the sidekick section at Save the Citizen like we didn't even exist.

Not that the classes weren't interesting, of course. We learned about and worked with more complicated gadgets than the year before, progressed further in history (with the added information of superhero help, of course), and worked more with our powers during gym. Mrs. Rimmel was a much better teacher than Mr. Boy had been, if only because she was more confident and less run-down than he. She had been shunted from hero to hero, including having been active for quite some time alongside none other than Baron Battle, Warren Peace's father and a notorious villain. In fact, she was the one who alerted the Bureau when she realized something was wrong, and had aided in his capture. After his arrest, the Bureau felt so bad that they had saddled her with a psyco that they offered her early retirement with full benefits. She had refused and gotten herself assigned to a new hero and worked for another thirteen years. When she turned sixty, she was finally persuaded to retire, and prompty offered a teaching job at Sky High when she complained about being bored for the rest of her life. This was only her second year teaching, but no one could tell.

Along with their normal courses, Mrs. Rimmel dedicated a half an hour twice a week to understanding villains. She told them that this was important for knowing how to fight them. In fact, her understanding of Baron Battle, having worked alongside him for several years, had been her main way of helping the authorities find him. A strange combination of psychology and history, this was by far the most interesting hour of the week- at least, in my opinion.

All in all, she was a fascinating person; exactly the sort of person I wanted to be. She was tough and determined, and the fact that she was a sidekick hadn't stopped her from saving the day.

Knowing that it was possible to be an amazing sidekick was also a huge help in keeping me from bashing my brains in. Inspired by Mrs. Rimmel's life story, I worked harder than ever, and encouraged as many people as I could to do the same.

Meanwhile, the club was growing, slowly but surely. The new kids apparently liked it and invited their friends. There was even one kid (who I'd never spoken to before) that came up to me to ask me if the club could meet more than once a week, because he couldn't make it Wednesday afternoon. Feeling slightly stunned, I told him I'd ask.

Quite a few people in the club were all for it. Several people said that they couldn't make it on certain days, and some said they couldn't make it any other day. But enough people were interested to warrant a trip to Principal Powers's office.

Feeling as though I'd soon become very close with the principal if we had many more meetings like this, I gave my name to Ms. Wright the next day before class started.

"If you think you'll be finished before first period begins, I can send you in now."

I smiled and said, "That would be great."

She showed me into the office, and Principal Powers looked up and smiled. "Haley! How nice to see you. Have a seat." I sat, and heard the door click as Ms. Wright closed it behind her. "How is everything?"

"Good."

She smiled widely at me. "I hear your club is getting quite popular, with about forty people, if I've been correctly informed. And Mrs. Rimmel says you're an outstanding student. That's a little more than 'good', if I may say so."

My face got really warm, and embarrassment coupled with my natural shyness kept me from speaking for a few moments. "Um… thanks," I finally managed to say. Then, I continued quickly as I could, "I'm actually here to ask if we could have the gym another day. One kid asked me if we could meet on another day so that he could come, and I've asked around and no one really seems to be against it, so…"

"Of course. I just want to say that I'm very impressed with this club and everything that you're accomplishing. I wouldn't allow for this if I didn't know that you'd be using this time wisely."

"Thanks," I said again, face feeling hotter than ever, and at that moment, to my relief, the bell rang, so I quickly arranged for Monday afternoons and nearly sprinted from the office.

Much better timing in my opinion, even if it isn't the best chapter in the world. More will happen, don't you worry. I just have to get back on my feet with the whole updating thing, that's all.