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Literature / The Hero of Numbani

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The Hero of Numbani is an Overwatch novel written by Nicky Drayden (The Prey of Gods) and published by Scholastic Inc in June 2020.

Set in the Afrofuturistic city of Numbani, it tells the story of Child Prodigy Efi Oladele and how her witnessing Doomfist's attack on the city's security bots leads her to create the robot Orisa to protect the city.

An audiobook narration by Orisa's voice actress, Cherrelle Skeete, was released on December 28, 2020.

Contains examples of:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: After Orisa mistakes a student dressed up as Doomfist for the real deal and attacks him, Efi comes to believe she made too many mistakes with creating her and shuts her down, despite Orisa's protests. It takes a pep talk with Lúcio (and an ominous encounter with Bisi) for Efi to reactivate Orisa, and the two quickly forgive each other.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Efi, Orisa, Lúcio, and their friends all successfully fight off Doomfist, though he gets away. After Efi returns to school, Orisa literally comes crashing in from the roof — her hard-light caster having been inexplicably upgraded to an advanced fusion driver — arriving to pick Efi up to meet someone important. Whoever "she" is, Orisa says she'll explain more once they're airborne.
  • Anonymous Benefactor: Even with her genius, Efi was not at all expecting to be nominated for the Adawe Foundation's "genius grant" as it was exclusively for teachers, but an anonymous source pressured her into applying, leading to her unexpectedly winning it weeks later. When Efi is later forced into a conversation with Bisi and pressured to join Talon, he briefly lets slip that the anonymous source was none other than Doomfist himself, strongly suggesting that he was pulling strings behind Efi's later developments all along.
  • Badass Bystander:
  • Child Prodigy: While she'd already been established in-game as the creator of Orisa, Efi being one of these is given more exploration in this book. On one hand, she had an impressive resume of robotics production even before Orisa and even ran a small business selling "Junies" ("junior assistant" robots) with her friends, and yet has the interests and tastes of an average eleven-year-old, idolizing the music of Lúcio Correia dos Santos and frequenting social media, and is still very deeply connected to her friends and family. Her age also ends up causing some issues — she ends up being separated from her friends and ostracized by the peers at her much higher-grade school, and while developing Orisa's fusion driver, she has some issues finding a dealer willing to sell military equipment to a preteen.
  • Clashing Cousins: A variation; Bisi is Efi's oldest cousin, and was estranged from the family after he fell into debt after graduating high school, leading to an incident where goons mistook his brother Dayo for him, resulting in Dayo getting brutally beat up. He's later revealed to have ended up working with Talon under Doomfist's squad, though even after a failed attempt to induct Efi into Talon, he eventually proves to be too reluctant to turn on his own family and is saved by Orisa.
  • Continuity Nod: When Orisa was first introduced to Overwatch, she had an Origin Story video that shows a moment where she stopped a car crash with her hand, accidentally wrecking it in the process. This incident ends up being covered in greater detail amidst other early misadventures.
  • Destructive Saviour: Orisa has all the training in how to be a hero literally built into her, but it turns out avoiding collateral damage isn't among them. Stopping a simple car thief ends up in Orisa accidentally destroying a community statue, and her helping a lady cross the street ends with her unexpectedly stopping an incoming car with her bare hands, crashing it. In both cases, Efi ends up transferring the funds from her robotics grant to pay for repairs, and her family's insurance company threaten to cancel their policy if another incident like it occurs.
  • Gravity Master: Among Orisa's arsenal in Overwatch is "Halt!", an implosive projectile that restricts enemy movement and knocks them into each other. The book details Efi's struggles in acquiring the necessary "Tobelstein reactor" to create these "graviton fields", briefly coasting on a substitute reactor made of cheap Junker tech, then being donated a proper one by Lúcio.
  • Human Shield: In the climax, just as it seems the Talon squadron has been toppled and Doomfist has been cornered, Doomfist captures Efi's cousin Bisi as a hostage. Efi realizes that if Orisa fired, Doomfist would drop Bisi over a ledge, but if she didn't fire, he'd still drop him. Efi instead signals Orisa to fire a gravitic pulse, saving Bisi from falling.
  • In-Joke: Efi finds herself missing out on various school in-jokes, such as "pulling an Isaac." Naade tries to explain that one to her at her request, but the story ends up fizzling out with him shrugging and saying, "You really had to be there."
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Efi has started taking half her classes at junior high and half at high school, which leads to her being increasingly left out of the social happenings and in-jokes at her junior high while being similarly out of place at high school. She downplays her intelligence at high school, having quickly learned that teenagers don't like being shown up by 11-year-olds.
  • Non-Uniform Uniform: Efi's cousin Dayo has modified his school uniform with gold trim around the cuffs and emblem.
  • Person as Verb: Naade and Hassana refer to certain bungles as "pulling an Isaac," after their classmate who accidentally got his head and hand stuck inside a force field during science lab.
  • Robot Superhero: Orisa, created by Efi out of a destroyed OR15 defense robot to act as a superior defender of Numbani. The book is just as much an origin story for Orisa as Efi, exploring the trials of her construction, very early debugging, and then proper sapience to the point that she became a worthy threat against Doomfist.
  • The Spock: Orisa originally starts as this upon being activated, as Efi's programming teaching her how to act among civilians could only extend so far. While immediately working with a fair sense of reason and threat-level assessment, she "solves" problems a little too aggressively and without tact in mind — examples include seeing Efi accidentally cutting her hand and attempting to cauterize it when a simple bandage would do, and while she could successfully chase down an attempted carjacker, her methods resulted in pretty messy collateral damage. Fortunately, Orisa does take her mistakes as lessons to heart and steadily improves in getting along with the community, in turn allowing her to make better decisions.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Doomfist is encountered three times in the story, but he ends up getting away from all of them. The first time because it was a curb-stomp victory in his favor, the second time because the police were finally able to chase him down and he already retrieved his gauntlet anyway, and at the last time, his Talon squad gets overwhelmed by the combined forces of Orisa, Lúcio, Efi, and her friends, but he makes a hostage situation using Efi's cousin Bisi, distracting them long enough for him to escape.
  • Villain Takes an Interest: During Doomfist's second attack, Doomfist reveals to Efi that he and Talon were fully aware of her skills and that she was Orisa's creator, but instead of immediately signing both of them as a threat, he offers her a place in Talon. She refuses, and fortunately, Orisa comes back online to save both of them before Doomfist can land a killing blow.
  • The X of Y: The title, The Hero of Numbani.