Kiln’s eyes darted around quickly, trying to take in everything as they walked into the headmaster’s office. Even though they had been settling into this future life, there still remained so much that was new and unfamiliar. The walls were filled with shelves and pictures. Demonic tools, sleek alien rocks, and arcane relics were all strewn across the office. Books of every possible language neatly lined the shelves, and framed newspaper clippings hung in the open space on the wall.
“Ah, our young visitor from the past. Please, sit down,” The Headmaster smiled and Kiln got their first good look at him. Like everything else about this time, he was strange. From his reddened skin to his oddly styled beard, the Headmaster Hellbinder was different from anyone Kiln had known before. But the look in his eyes was a familiar predatory gaze. Like he was testing Kiln, and if they didn’t pass, there was a good chance that they’d be crushed without hesitation.
As Kiln took the proffered chair, the Headmaster pulled out a sheet of paper and a lead stylus - a pencil, they reminded themselves. “Now, I understand that you have had a rather difficult time of late, what with arriving in our time and all, and I wanted to thank you for trusting us at Phoenix Academy. It is our hope that we can provide you stability and support in these confusing times.”
Kiln nodded silently. The Academy had been quite helpful, if only in providing a room. Their options as far as living spaces were concerned were limited, and the Academy was far superior than the highly monitored AEGIS quarters.
Hellbinder continued his introduction. “Moving along, I have some questions I’d like to ask you. It helps me better get to know my students, so that we at Phoenix can provide the best education possible. If you don’t mind, can you tell me your name, your superhero identity, if you have one, and your pronouns?”
“I’m Kiln. Just Kiln. My people don’t have second names like you do. As for a superhero identity… I don’t know. I haven’t thought too much about that.”
“It is perfectly all right not to have a superhero moniker. And should you decide later to go by one, that is equally acceptable. Youth is a time of change and growth.” The Headmaster smiled in what should have been a comforting manner. “And pronouns? I understand if we use unfamiliar labels.”
The Headmaster continued along easily. “I understand from your files that you have powers - at least how we would classify them now. How did you get them?”
“In my time, we used what you would call magic in everyday life. I had to learn how to harness it, but I’ve always had my powers.”
The pencil moved easily across the paper as the Headmaster copied down Kiln’s answers, even though they were sure all of this was written in their file. AEGIS had asked the same things when they had interviewed Kiln. “Quite interesting how we as a people have changed over the years. Truly extraordinary.” He said once the pencil stopped. “Also extraordinary was the encounter at the docks. Besides that, have you had any experience as a hero?”
“I guess. Back home, I worked to keep the peace. Fighting evil and all that. I suppose that is what you’d call being a hero. But, it’s different here.”
“I can imagine it is,” The Headmaster flashed the same smile that didn’t quite put Kiln at ease. “Nevertheless, I admire your dedication to keeping the peace, even with such an abrupt change.” Kiln nodded once more and Hellbinder continued his notes. “I understand that this may be difficult for you to answer, but I will ask it anyway. Consistency, you know. Whom do you admire amongst the known heroes of the world?”
Kiln hesitated. “I don’t know enough about your heroes - your history - to answer that.”
“It doesn’t have to be from more modern times. Are there any heroes from your time? People who fought for peace like you did? Any role models?”
“None of my people - those who I fought alongside or those who went before me - thought of themselves as heroes. Certainly not in the sense that you have here in the future. They were all simply doing what had to be done to protect their people.”
The Headmaster wrote for a long time. Longer than Kiln thought was warranted, but obviously Hellbinder thought otherwise. “Very good. Now, what do you hope to gain from this?”
A thousand thoughts flashed through their mind. Promises made to people now long gone. Desires to return to the familiar. Confusion about the future. Kiln settled on one. “I hope to learn more about this time, so that I may better understand it until I can return home.”
The Headmaster nodded sympathetically. “Of course. It is a difficult thing to be far from home, not helped by uncertainty. We here all hope that you manage to find where you belong.” He put the pencil down and stood up, with Kiln hurriedly following. “Still, wherever your path may lead you, it is the goal of the Academy to see that you are prepared to face it.” He extended a hand which Kiln took after a moment’s prompting. “Welcome to Phoenix Academy.”