Holiday Cheer, Part Six: Problems Arise

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(December 14th)

“Nadia,” Amber said delicately, “Did you… hit your head, maybe, when we were fighting Crims… um… Chad?”

Nadia glared at her. “You think this is me being stupid again.”

“A little bit, yes. You've got to admit that it sounds, at the very least, totally insane.” Amber admitted. She glanced to the others for support. Jhim was still staring at Nadia in shock, but Lucky quickly stepped in.

“You've never been in a war before.” He pointed out.

“All but!” Nadia protested. “I was on the front lines during the Antihero invasion. I've fought against Lockdown. Against the Oligarchs. I've faced down people who want to kill me before, Lucky.”

“And you've never killed them back. You don't have the faintest concept of what that is like, and you never should.” Lucky said flatly. “You're a hero, Nadia. You've been learning how to be a hero from day one, and I think anyone would agree that you've done very well. Even Dudeman admitted as much. But there's a world of difference between a hero and a soldier, and the things you do as the one don't necessarily carry over to the other.”

“Then maybe I have to learn how not to be a hero.” Nadia retorted.

“You think you can kill someone?” Amber sighed heavily. “You'd back off. And then someone would shoot you, because most of the people out there don't have the sort of qualms that heroes absolutely need. Why do you think they're sending villains to support the SEA, and not superhero teams?”

Nadia frowned at them. “You make being a soldier sound like being a monster.” She said angrily.

“What? No. That's not what I meant.” Amber rubbed her forehead. “Any time now, guys.”

“It's a matter of degree.” Jhim finally spoke up, softly. “Morality is a flexible thing, in the real world. Sometimes, you need to do things that you don't want to in order to keep people safe. But heroes – they don't really live in the real world. They live in a better one, to remind people that sometimes you can just be good. They help the world advance to the point where people won't need to be soldiers anymore.” He swallowed. “We're not there yet, not nearly. There's a need for heroes, and for soldiers. That's why we have the SEA – to deal with the problems that heroes can't. But you have to know which one you are.” He looked up slowly. “Nadia, I understand what you want to do here, and I appreciate it. But I'm not going to turn you into a soldier.”

Nadia glared at him, not moving an inch. “You're not turning me into anything.” She looked at the others. “It's okay for you to become a soldier, but not me. It's okay for Lucky to kill someone to protect the world, but I'm some sort of shrinking violet that will just wither at the first sign of adversity, is that it?” She stood again, hands clenching into fists. “You're going out there, a world away. You could be killed. I will not sit here helplessly and watch.”

The room fell into an uncomfortable silence. Jhim visibly struggled for words, discarding each argument as it came to him, and Nadia pressed on into the silence. “Heroes don't live in the real world. Right. Is that why you became one, Jhim?” She rounded on Amber and Lucky before they could interject. “And when have you two ever lived in the real world? You grew up with powers, with the expectation that you would be heroes. Despite what you seem to think, I did, in fact, have a life before I became Mayfly.” Storming away, she opened the door. “I wasn't born a hero. You decided that I should be one, and I thought that you were offering me something magical. Maybe we were both wrong.”

The door slammed shut on the last word. The others looked at each other. Lucky finally said, “I think you hit a nerve there.”

“Really. What was your first hint?” Amber said dryly. Before Lucky could throw an appropriate witticism together, she raised a hand to stop him. “Jhim, you'd better go after her. Maybe you can… I don't know, talk sense into her or something.”

Jhim stood, looking from the door to his friend. “I don't think she wants to listen. We might have to leave it to Dudeman to stop her.”

“Hmm.” Lucky turned the idea over in his head, prodding it like a sore tooth, then grudgingly nodded. “You may have something there. Given all of his complaints about her throwing herself into danger, there's not much chance that Dudeman will allow this. We can just sit back and let nature take its course.”

“So, you think we should just avoid the confrontation and hope it solves itself?” Amber asked dubiously.

“Absolutely.” Lucky and Jhim said in unison. Amber sighed heavily.

“Maybe I'll talk to Ash.” She muttered.

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