A Little R&R (Part 3)
A Whateley Academy Adventure
A Little R&R
Hawthorne, Sunday September 2nd, 2007
I was sitting in the cottage dayroom, staring at the small pile of parts that were spread out on the coffee table in front of me. Today, I’d been lucky enough to wake up as a devisor again, which meant that I could finally put my floating orb back together. I’d been working on it for the last hour, and had reassembled the devise as much as I could, without having all the tools I needed.
“How did Breakdown even get this apart?” I asked myself with a sigh. I suspected that her devisor ability may have played a part.
Unfortunately, I’d hit the limit of what I could do at the moment, and I had no idea when I’d have both the correct power and tools to finish it. However, as I considered the problem, I remembered that there were a few other gadgeteers and devisors in the building, and I knew a few more in Poe. If I asked around, one of them might have the tools I needed, and they might even be willing to let me borrow them.
While I was considering my next step, Sapphire came into the dayroom and sat down, adjusting her cloak around her. At the moment, she didn’t have the hood up, so I could clearly see her worried expression.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
Sapphire gave me a smile, which was clearly a little forced. “I am fine.” Then she looked over my partially assembled devise and asked, “What are you doing?”
“I’m trying to put this thing back together,” I answered, then told her about how Breakdown had torn it apart so she could see how it worked. “And the thing is, after she did it, she made a few suggestions on how I could improve it ... ”
“That must be ... annoying,” Sapphire told me with an amused smile.
I nodded my agreement. “Yeah. And the worst part is, I think she was right. Now that I’m in devisor mode, I keep thinking about what she said, and I’m getting some great ideas on how to improve the EM core ... ”
“EM core?” Sapphire asked.
“It’s ... an electro-magnetic field generator,” I tried to explain. “This allows my devise to interact with the Earth’s electro-magnetic field, so that it can levitate.”
“Devises make little sense to me,” Sapphire admitted with an apologetic shrug.
“Anyway,” I continued with a nod of acknowledgement. “I have some ideas on how to make the EM core smaller and more efficient. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of the parts or tools to do that either.” Then I gave her a wry smile. “The downside of my power is that I don’t have any of my power sets long enough to make much use of them. By the time I’m a devisor again, I might not even remember what I had in mind.”
“Then why not write it down?” Sapphire asked me. “Writing notes always helps me to remember things ... ” Then she paused before smirking. “Or at least, it did before I became an exemplar.”
“Good point,” I said with a grin. “I think I need to hit the campus store for a notebook. Want to come along?”
“Yes,” Sapphire agreed with a faint smile. “I believe I would.”
It only took a couple minutes to get my things put away in my room, then Sapphire and I were on our way. Since Hawthorne was the furthest cottage out, it was a bit of a walk, but neither of us minded that. If nothing else, it gave us time to talk.
“So, how was your power testing yesterday?” Sapphire asked me.
“Just great,” I responded casually. “You know, there is no better way to spend a Saturday, than being poked, prodded, and jumping through hoops.”
“I am sorry to hear that,” Sapphire responded. “You were an energizer yesterday, correct?”
I nodded at that. “Yeah. I didn’t really learn anything new about that power though. I already knew that I can sense and gather ambient electro-magnetic energy. About the only thing I learned from it, was that they are going to officially rate my energizer level as a three, and I’d already guessed it would probably be about there.”
Sapphire gave me a faint smile. “At least they are paying you for the testing.”
“There is that,” I agreed with a grin. “Now, if I could only figure out a way to make the school pay me for my time attending classes ... ”
“If you discover how,” Sapphire responded with a laugh. “Please tell me.”
I grinned at Sapphire, thankful at the moment for the cloak which helped to obscure her curves. Sapphire was definitely hot, and underneath my purple haired, girl next door looks, I still had the heart and mind of a guy. However, I quickly reminded myself that I already had a girlfriend. It was something I’d had to remind myself of a few times while in Poe.
When we reached the campus store, Sapphire and I took our time looking around. There were a few more school supplies that I’d been meaning to pick up, so they went into my cart along with the notebook. I also made sure to throw in a couple snacks.
“And popcorn,” Sapphire said, grabbing a couple boxes of microwavable popcorn. Then with a serious expression, which nearly made me start laughing, she explained, “Popcorn is very important.”
The campus store had a decent little section for snacks, and for microwaveable meals, but their selection of real food was rather limited. That was no surprise though, as most of the students had no idea how to cook, nor the inclination to do so. However, I did like to cook, and after looking over what was available, I added a few more things to my cart as well.
“What is this for?” Sapphire asked, giving the bag of flour a curious look.
“You’ll see,” I responded with a grin. I was already thinking of a certain recipe that Mrs. Lawrence had given me. Then, I tossed another ingredient into the cart, adding, “I’ll need this too ... ”
By the time I was finished shopping, I’d spent a bit more than I’d intended, though I’d been careful not to get carried away. At home, I’d always been the responsible one, and the one who was good at sticking to a budget. Just because I was a girl now, and my mom wasn’t here for me to take care of, that didn’t mean I was going to turn into some kind of raging shopaholic.
Sapphire and I had barely started back to Hawthorne, with a couple bags in hand, when I realized that we were being followed. I’d noticed Gravmax in the store, but hadn’t thought anything about it until now. He’d left at the same time we had, and I doubted that his choice of directions was a coincidence.
“I think we may have a problem,” I warned Sapphire.
Gravmax must have realized that we’d noticed him, because he called out, “We never got to finish our conversation ... ”
“Oh, I think it’s finished,” I responded, trying to continue on my way. However, I hadn’t taken more than a couple steps when I suddenly felt heavy. Extremely heavy. I gasped as I dropped to my knees, unable to keep standing.
“Oh, I think we’re going to continue it,” Gravmax said with in a smug tone.
“Go away,” Sapphire commanded. She was still standing up, though she looked like she was having a little difficulty doing so.
“I don’t think so,” Gravmax responded to her, pausing to give her an appreciative look. His lecherous smirk deepened. Then, he looked back at me. “I see you don’t have your little toy with you today. Such a pity. Now, I think we need to have a few words about those baseless threats you tried making against me ... ”
“I do not like this boy,” Sapphire told me with a look of growing anger.
“Me ... either,” I grunted under the weight. Once again, I silently cursed the fact that I currently had a power which was completely useless for defending myself.
“Release us at once,” Sapphire commanded, taking several steps towards Gravmax, though she was clearly having to fight against increased gravity to do so.
However, instead of doing that, the preppie punk just smirked, and suddenly, Sapphire dropped to her knees as well. Obviously, he’d just increased her gravity enough to overwhelm her exemplar strength.
“You don’t know who I am, do you?” Gravmax announced, looking down at the both of us contemptuously. “My father is the CEO of Paralink.”
I had absolutely no idea what Paralink was, or why I should care. It was obviously some kind of business, but I had the feeling that Gravmax had an inflated sense of not only that business, but his own importance.
“And you think that excuses you from being an asshole?” I asked with a grimace, only to feel the gravity increase again. I was being pressed into the ground so hard that it was not only painful, but was also making it difficult to breath. Sapphire was strong enough to keep resisting, at least a little, but was down on her knees. “You’re just another spoiled rich brat.”
Gravmax glared at me, then turned his attention to Sapphire. He moved closer to the blue-haired girl and stopped right in front of her, then he looked her over again with a smarmy expression. “I’ll tell you what,” he said. “You’re very pretty. Even prettier than your friend. If you come to dinner with me, not only will I treat you to a nice dinner, but I’ll forget your friend’s rudeness ... ”
“DON’T CALL ME A PRETTY!” Sapphire yelled, right before she opened her mouth and suddenly began to spray a thick stream of mist, right at Gravmax.
Gravmax let out a high pitched squeal, sounding almost like a little girl as he staggered back. While he did this, the weight and pressure were suddenly gone, so I took a deep breath and quickly tried getting back to my feet. Sapphire was already back on hers and glaring at the boy with a look of fury. However, he was trying to wipe his face clean and didn’t seem to notice.
“My hand,” Gravmax suddenly gasped, holding out his hand and staring at it in surprise and worry. “I can’t feel it ... My face ... ” He was starting to slur his speech.
“My venom,” Sapphire said with an almost evil grin. “You are becoming completely numb in the areas that came in contact with my venom. I’ve been told that it feels much like novocain.”
“Come on,” I told Sapphire, deciding that it would probably be a good idea to get out of there while Gravmax was still distracted.
I picked up my bags and quickly started for Hawthorne, hoping that nothing had been ruined. If anything had been, then I wasn’t going to be very happy. Of course, I wasn’t happy about what had happened anyway, but it was still the principal of the thing.
“So,” I asked Sapphire once we were finally close to our cottage. “How long does that stuff last anyway?”
“That depends,” Sapphire told me. “If he washes the venom away immediately, the effects should wear off in about fifteen minutes. If he leaves the venom in place, it could be up to an hour.”
“Well, it seems pretty effective,” I told her with a grin. “Thank you.”
“You are quite welcome,” she responded with a grin.
The incident with Gravmax could easily have ruined my entire day, but I refused to let it. As soon as we were back at Hawthorne, I went almost straight to the common area kitchen, and began pulling out the tools I needed. Since I’d already done a quick check over what equipment was available, I already knew where everything was, which made this quick work.
Sapphire stood back and watched as I poured ingredients into a mixing bowl, waiting a little longer than I’d expected before asking, “What are you making?”
“Cookies,” I answered with a grin. “Nothing puts people into a good mood faster than baked goods.”
“I see,” Sapphire responded with a faint nod of agreement. “And after dealing with that boy, you want to improve your mood ... ”
“A little,” I agreed. “But I was planning this before that jerk jumped us.”
I had specific plans for some of the cookies, but was making quite a bit more than I actually needed. As Mrs. Lawrence had once told me, “You can never make too many cookies, because even if you think you’re making too many, people will still eat them.”
After I’d scooped dough out onto two cookie sheets, Miranda came into the kitchen and stared at them for a moment. “What are you making?” she asked, her eyes going wide with excitement. “You’re making cookies ... ”
“You can have a couple when I’m done,” I promised her. However, when I turned to grab the cookie tray so I could put it into the oven, I noticed that two of the dough balls were missing. “What ... ?”
A moment later, some giggles suddenly gave away the game. I snapped around and caught sight of Ember, trying to sneak away with a ball of cookie dough in each hand. She saw me and suddenly raced for the door. Before I knew it, Revekah and Morgan tried making runs for the cookie dough as well.
“Stop them,” I called out, trying to block the two kids.
“You should learn patience,” Sapphire said as she joined me, though she was smiling as she did so.
“But we only wanted a little,” Morgan protested.
But while I was focusing on Morgan, Miranda ran around and grabbed two more balls of cookie dough from the tray, then began giggling as she ran out the door. The other kids ran out after her, making me shake my head, unsure about whether I should be angry or amused.
“They remind me of my younger sisters,” Sapphire admitted with a smile.
“I never had any sisters,” I responded as I began to replace the missing dough balls on the sheet. I gave Sapphire a wry smile. “I’m an only child.” Then I chuckled and added, “But I have to admit, that half the time, my mom is like the little sister I have to take care of.”
“That sounds like an interesting relationship,” Sapphire told me with a chuckle.
After this, I got my first two batches of cookies into the oven without a problem, though shortly afterwards, Ember stuck her head into the kitchen for a peak. I gave her a stern gaze and she ran off giggling, though I had to keep a close watch on the door for the rest of the time I was cooking. Eventually though, I had about six dozen cookies sitting on the cooling racks, filling the air with their delicious scent.
“And that should do it,” I said in satisfaction. I carefully separated a dozen cookies from the rest, to reserve them for my own use. Then, I stuck my head out into the hallway and called out, “FREE COOKIES!”
Mere seconds later, other Thornies began rushing into the kitchen to help themselves, and it was no surprise when the four kids were first through the door.
Poe Cottage, Sunday afternoon, September 2nd, 2007
I was sitting in the dayroom with a stack of about a dozen books sitting beside me, though I hadn’t been able to read more than the first two before I’d been interrupted. I was vaguely annoyed by that, but then again, if I’d really wanted peace and quiet, I could have just stayed in my room.
A freshman girl named Ceecee, which was apparently short for Crimson Comet, had almost immediately cornered me while excitedly begging for a demonstration of my power. Though she didn’t quite come out and say it, I was pretty sure she was hoping that I’d make her an entire wardrobe of ‘awesome’ new clothes.
“That’s awesome,” Ceecee exclaimed as she held up the new dress I’d just made her.
Unlike my frilly dresses, this one was a nice and somewhat more ‘grown-up’ dress. Or at least, it was designed and cut to actually fit and show off her curvy body, which was way more stacked than was natural for a kid her age. Talk about jailbait.
“It will only last for a day,” I reminded her. I’d said this a couple times, but wasn’t sure she was actually paying attention.
I was actually kind of thankful for Ceecee’s interruption, because the mood in Poe had been pretty grim since the incident with Downpour yesterday. Mrs. Horton said that the doctors at Doyle had been able to heal her physical injury without much problem, but there was only so much they could do for the emotional issues that had resulted in it.
Downpour had returned to Poe a couple hours ago, but she was under suicide watch. She wasn’t allowed to go anywhere by herself, and everyone was taking turns looking after her. And on top of that, I knew that she was being scheduled for a shit ton of shrink time and counseling.
“Thank you,” Ceecee exclaimed, breaking me out of my thoughts. “Can you make me a new superhero costume too? It has to be crimson, of course, and I want a really awesome cape ... ”
“Anything I make will be gone by this time tomorrow,” I repeated with a sigh.
Half a minute later, the busty blonde girl lost interest in me and my powers, and rushed off to do something else. I watched her leave, shook my head, and returned to my books.
It didn’t take me long to read through the entire stack, only about ten minutes. With my ability to speed read, and to remember absolutely everything I read, these books were now permanently loaded into the library that my brain had become. Still, I sat there for several minutes with my eyes closed, going through this new information and organizing it in my thoughts.
Just as I was getting up so I could go to dinner, the blonde girl Bunny came into the dayroom. She was eating a cookie and looking quite pleased with herself.
“Where’d you get the cookie?” Peacock asked from the other side of the room.
“Amy came by a little while ago and gave them to me,” Bunny responded with a grin.
“Amy was here?” I asked, wondering why I hadn’t seen her. Unless of course, she’d come while I was at the library.”
“Yeah,” Bunny agreed with a smile. “She borrowed a couple of my tools, and gave me the cookies as a thank you. She makes really good cookies ... ”
Peacock frowned and complained, “So, she didn’t share any with the rest of us ... ”
“I have some left,” Bunny offered.
While Bunny and Peacock went to Bunny’s room for the cookies, I gathered my books and returned to my own room. However, I didn’t stay long since it was about time for dinner. A minute later, I was heading for the door.
It didn’t take me long to reach Hawthorne, where I immediately went for Amy’s room. After knocking on the door, I was relieved that it opened up.
“Alyss,” Amy greeted me with a smile. “Come on in ... ”
As soon as I stepped into her room, I immediately noticed the golden metal orb that was floating in the middle of it. Amy saw me looking and smiled.
“I just finished putting it back together,” she told me, looking rather pleased with herself. “I would have added a video camera, but I didn’t have the parts.”
“Bunny told me that you borrowed some tools,” I said.
Amy nodded. “Yeah. I bribed her with cookies.”
“That always works,” I responded with a chuckle. “You wouldn’t happen to have some of those cookies still around.”
“Afraid not,” Amy said in an apologetic tone. Then, she gave me a wry smile. “A swarm of hungry Thornies descended on the kitchen and cleaned out the whole batch. I only had two of them myself.”
“Too bad,” I commented with a chuckle. “So, you want to hit the chow hall?”
“Sure,” Amy answered with a grin. “Sounds good to me.” Then, she picked up a notebook from her desk and added, “Do you mind if we bring Sapphire?”
“Not at all,” I responded, giving Amy a knowing smile. It was good to see she was making friends here in Hawthorne. The place had a pretty rough reputation, so I’d been worried for her.
Just as we stepped back out into the hallway, I saw another girl walking past. She was gorgeous, with the kind of perfect build that any stripper or porn star would envy, though she also had a large pair of horns that wrapped around her head to point behind her, a black devil tail, and a pair of large leathery wings.
“Now SHE is jailbait,” I muttered under my breath.
“Um ... hi Adore,” Amy greeted the girl, with a bright blush on her cheeks.
The girl ... Adore nodded back to Amy and continued on her way. I watched Amy, a little confused by her reaction. However, Amy quickly shook it off. A few seconds later, she knocked on the next door over, and Sapphire emerged.
While the three of us walked to Crystal Hall, I gestured to the notebook Amy had brought with. “What’s that for?”
“I had a great new idea for an EM core,” she started to explain, then paused to give me a wry smile. “An electro-magnetic core. It’s part of my floating orb, and I figure that I can make it smaller and more powerful.”
“And you’re writing your idea down,” I said in understanding. “So you don’t forget it.”
Amy nodded agreement. “I’m also writing down all the materials I think I’ll need for it. I might not be able to build it until I’m a devisor again, but I can still get a lot of the parts I need, regardless of what mode I’m in.”
I just chuckled and pointed out, “Yeah, you’re definitely a devisor.”
“I’m not anywhere near as bad as my mom,” Amy protested, looking a little defensive.
“All you need now,” I teased, “is a good mad-scientist’s laugh, and an army of killer robots.”
“Not my style,” Amy pointed out wryly. “Besides, I won’t stay a devisor long enough to build one killer robot, much less a whole army. Even my mom never managed that.”
“Your mother sounds ... interesting,” Sapphire said with an amused look. “Someday, I may have to tell you about my mother.”
Amy and I both gave Sapphire a curious look, but it was Amy who said, “Now that hint suggests an interesting story.”
“Which you will not hear at this time,” Sapphire responded, sticking her tongue out at Amy.
As we went into the cafeteria, I caught sight of that werewolf boy from a couple days ago. He saw me too, then acted as though he suddenly had somewhere else to be. In mere seconds, he was gone. I didn’t even resist the urge to smirk.
“What?” Amy asked me curiously.
“Nothing,” I told her, still chuckling to myself. “Now, why don’t you tell me a little more about this EM core you’re working on, and what you think it can do.”
Amy lit up at that, which made me smile, even as I felt a little sad too. I remember when Rachael was younger, she used to get excited whenever anyone showed interest in her inventions, and I was beginning to suspect that this was something a lot of devisors probably shared.
A few minutes later, we had our food and our table, and before we’d even finished sitting, Amy began to describe her idea. Sapphire and I shared a glance and a smile, then we began to eat while Amy continued to talk.
Monday September 3rd, 2007
Labor Day. The first Monday in September was Labor Day, one of those made up holidays that didn’t really mean anything. For a lot of people, the only thing it meant was that the banks were closed and the post office didn’t deliver. If they were lucky, they had the day off from work too. For me, it marked the place where summer ended and the school year began.
Since it was the last day of summer vacation and classes actually started up tomorrow, I was taking advantage of the opportunity to explore the campus. I figured that after tomorrow, I’d be so busy with classes and my ‘job’ that I wouldn’t have much time for this kind of exploring.
There were a lot of strange people on campus, and it seemed that all of them were out at the moment. Since a lot of kids with GSD and unusual features couldn’t wander around in public so easily while off campus, I could understand them wanting to take advantage of the opportunity.
What appeared to be a velociraptor, went running off across the campus in the distance. I might have been concerned, if it hadn’t been for the fact that I’d seen Caitlin talking to that same dinosaur just the other day.
I saw a tall hairy boy, who looked like a sasquatch. A girl who resembled like a human-sized porcelain doll sat out on a bench. There was an adult woman, with horns and a devil tail. She looked like she might be a teacher, but at this school, it seemed like a bad idea to judge on appearances.
“At least this school won’t be boring,” I commented to myself with a wry smile. Of course, any school that held gladiatorial combat among the students, was not a normal school.
While I watched the students with GSD, I couldn’t help but feeling a little bad for them. After all, these were the students who probably valued the opportunity to be out in the open the most, and they were the ones who would be most inconvenienced by red flag days.
When I’d first arrived on campus, I’d been warned about the red flag, and that it meant we had visitors on campus, who weren’t aware of our ... unique nature. When the red flag was up, it meant that no one was allowed to use their powers in public, and that anyone with GSD had to make themselves scarce. And to make it worse, sometimes the red flag could go up with hardly any warning at all.
I reached up and ran my fingers through my purple hair, wryly telling myself, “At least purple hair and girl parts don’t count as GSD.” Or at least, they weren’t severe enough that I’d have to use the tunnels when the red flag went up.
Then, almost as though my train of thought had been predicting the future, the campus alert went out announcing that the red flag was going up. Of course, I was an energizer today and not a psychic, or I just might have thought that I had a touch of precognativity.
I looked around and watched as some kid who was flying, quickly landed on the ground. And those with GSD started to hurry towards the buildings and tunnels. I shook my head and let out a sigh.
“What good is it to be at a school for mutants,” I mused aloud, “when you still have to hide who you are?”
That thought left me feeling just a little depressed, so I decided to cut my explorations short and started back towards Hawthorne. I was near the quad, which meant that I had a bit of a walk, though that was fine with me. One thing about living in Hawthorne, I’d be getting my daily exercise just walking back and forth between there and classes.
Once I was back in Hawthorne, I retrieved my book on magic theory from my room and settled down in the dayroom to look it over. I’d been practicing some of the exercises that Witchling taught me, but I was hoping to pick up a bit more before class started tomorrow.
Magic was still the power set that I understood the least, which was kind of ironic, because it was the one I was most interested in exploring. I’d always loved Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, and other fantasy movies, so I was looking forward to casting real spells of my own.
I didn’t have a lot of luck studying though, because Diz and Spoof began playing Scrabble a short distance away, and were making quite a bit of noise. Most notably, Spoof was complaining about losing to the younger girl.
“That isn’t a word,” Spoof protested.
“Is too,” Diz exclaimed as she held out the dictionary to prove it.
I watched the two of them argue, keeping watch in case Spoof made any of his creatures. Yesterday, a couple of ... Well, I couldn’t think of what to call them, except evil little Smurfs, began running down the hall until someone took care of them.
I was still watching Diz and Spoof, when a tall lanky boy came into the room. He had one of those cheap and disposable air masks over his mouth and nose, to try blocking out the pollen, dust, and just about everything else.
“Hey,” Achoo said in greeting. He gave me an appreciative look, staring at my chest just a little too long for me to be comfortable.
“Achoo,” I responded politely, though I wished he’d go away. Achoo seemed to be a decent guy for the most part, but he was a bit of a perv, and I was tired of him staring at my chest.
“Gazuntite,” Diz exclaimed with a giggle.
Achoo rolled his eyes. “Like I haven’t heard that one before.”
“What are you doing?” Achoo asked, coming straight over to me.
I didn’t miss the fact that his eyes once again fixed on my chest, making me wish that Sapphire was there as a distraction. She was bigger than me, and a better target. Also, it would be fun watching her scare him off.
“I’m just reading up on basic magic theory,” I explained, holding up the book.
The lanky boy nodded at that. “So, you’re all magic today ... ”
“No,” I shook my head. Then, seeing an opportunity, I began gathering ambient electro-magnetic energy, forming a glowing ball of blue energy in my hand. Achoo backed off a little. “Energizer.”
Suddenly, Achoo let out a loud sneeze, and a ball of green slime, about the size of a softball, shot out from the air in front of him and hit the wall with a disgusting splat. The green glob then began to slide down the wall as a disgusting ooze.
“Gross,” Diz exclaimed, jumping up from the chair she was sitting on and putting too much pressure on the table. It shattered beneath her PK enhanced strength, spilling the Scrabble pieces all over the floor.
Spoof jumped back, and suddenly, three creatures appeared on the ground around him. They were vaguely humanoid in shape, but with ridiculously wide mouths full of sharp teeth. They were also only six inches tall.
Achoo sneezed again, and another green glob of goo shot out. This one hit the ceiling, where it seemed undecided whether it should stick, or drip down. Several more sneezes followed, along with more globs of green slime.
One of Spoof’s creatures came at me, trying to bite my ankle. I stomped on the little ankle biter and got rid of it. Then, I saw one going after Achoo, who was a little too distracted to pay attention. I dove down and hit the creature with my ball of glowing energy, which did a good job of destroying the thing.
“What’s going on in here?” Mrs. Cantrel demanded from the doorway. She looked around and let out a sigh. “Bobby,” she said to Achoo, using his real name, “go back to your room and take your medication.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Achoo responded, right before letting out another sneeze. This time, the glob of green slime hit the housemother, right in her chest.
Mrs. Cantrel scowled. “Now.” Then she turned to Adore, who’d come into the room right behind her, probably to see what the fuss was about. “Ali,” you help them clean up this mess.”
“But I just got here,” Adore protested.
“I have to go get cleaned up,” Mrs. Cantrel said, looking down at the green slime that covered her front.
I watched Adore for a moment, blushing a little at the site of her. She was smoking hot, and even if I didn’t still like girls, I probably would have been all over her. Then again, everyone was all over the devil girl. I had to admit though, it was fun to watch Achoo literally drool on himself while he stared at her.
“I’ll get the cleaning supplies,” I said, thinking that this was just like back home, where I frequently had to clean up after my mom. Admittedly, my mom’s messes usually didn’t involve green slime from a sneeze, but the principle was still the same.
By the time I got back a minute later, with the mop, bucket and cleaning rags, Diz and Spoof had vanished. Without saying a word, Adore and I went to work cleaning up Achoo’s disgusting mess.
We were just about finished with the cleaning when I suddenly felt it, a growing ache through my entire body. I gasped at that and the rising fever, knowing exactly what they meant.
“Help,” I gasped as I dropped to my knees.
“Amy,” Adore exclaimed, staring at me with a worried look.
“Get ... Cantrel,” I managed to say, though it was hard to get the words out since my throat was tightening and everything was getting dark. “Burnout ... ”
Monday September 3rd, 2007
I was in a pretty good mood as I returned to Poe, after having spent the last two hours hanging out in the garage. I’d spent most of the time talking to some Gearheads, who’d been more than happy to show off some of their cars, and to brag about what they’d already done to them, as well as what they had planned.
Most of the Gearheads had been pretty skeptical about me, having a hard time believing that someone who looked like I did, and who wasn’t even a gadgeteer or devisor, could possibly know much about cars. However, Donner and Lanie had both vouched for me, and then, after I’d talked to the kids for a bit, I’d removed any remaining doubts.
It was strange though, talking to these kids, who were gadgeteers and devisors, and who knew even more about cars than I did. However, their powers might give them an advantage or two, but they didn’t have my decades of experience. I was pretty sure that this old dog still had a few tricks she could teach them.
When I reached Poe, I went into the dayroom to see who was hanging around. The only ones currently there were four boys, who were playing a game of cards. I knew Voodude and Hardwyrd fairly well, but hadn’t talked much with the other two.
Ricardo was a Hispanic kid, and probably the most over the top, flamboyantly gay person I’d ever seen. And since I was living in Poe, that was saying something. I wasn’t really sure how much of this was just the way he was, and how much might have him playing a role, and to be honest, I didn’t really care.
The last boy playing was Shawn, or Teke as he was codenamed. Shawn was a somewhat small and feminine looking boy, but probably wouldn’t remain that way for much longer. He was a changeling like me, but going in the other direction. He was still in the process of changing from a girl into a guy, and it would probably take another year or two for him to completely finish his changes. By the time he did, he’d probably be as big and buff as a lot of other male exemplars.
“Hey, Alyss,” Voodude called out, waving to me.
The others turned to look at me and Shawn said, “Pull up a chair ... ” A chair suddenly slid across the room, right to their table, courtesy of his telekinesis.
For a brief moment, I considered joining their game, and trying to talk them into playing for real stakes. However, that probably wouldn’t be a good idea with Mrs. Horton hanging around. And besides, I’d feel guilty for taking their meager savings.
“No thanks,” I responded with a smile. “Not right now anyway. Maybe later.”
With that, I gave them all a nod of acknowledgement, then turned and started for my room. However, I couldn’t help but thinking that I was going to have to find a real poker game, where I could play with some people who actually knew the game.
“Like that’s likely to happen around here,” I muttered to myself.
Once I reached my room, I gathered up the library books I’d borrowed, and then created a duffel bag to put them in. The books weren’t heavy at all, but this still made it easier to carry them back to the library.
I had just left my room and was about at the stairs, when Toni leapt up them, as though it was the easiest thing in the world, and called out, “Hey Ayles. Horton says you’ve got another package ... ”
“I’ll be there in a moment,” was the almost immediate response.
Seconds later, Ayla came to the stairs and nodded to Toni. “Thank you for the notice.”
I remained where I was for a moment and watched Ayla out of curiosity. She was an attractive girl ... or guy who looked like a girl, with short dark hair that was done up in a spikey punk style. The rumor was that he was a member of the Goodkind family, who were notorious for their dislike of mutants. If one of them was really at a school for mutants, then that would be irony at its finest. Then again, it would also be pretty damn ironic if a former member of Humanity First was attending the very same school for mutants.
“Irony,” I said with a chuckle. “It’ll give you a swift kick in the ass, every time.”
Since I was taking my time, it took me another half minute to reach the bottom floor and the main entrance to the cottage. Ayla was standing outside, holding a package in hand, which was about the size of a shoe box. There were no labels on it, so I had absolutely no idea what he could have received. Then again, it was Labor Day, and so I had no idea who would have delivered it.
Then, I saw the delivery man. He was on the short side, a bit skinny, and was dressed in a professional looking suit. But what surprised me, was that he happened to be my only son.
“Rich,” I called out.
Ayla and Rich both turned to look at me, but my son was the one who responded with a broad smile. “Alyss ... I didn’t realize that you lived in this dorm ... ”
“Home sweet home,” I said which a wry chuckle.
“It seems that you two know each other,” Ayla commented, giving me a curious look. He might be wondering if I was a client of Trin and Macintyre, since Rich worked as a courier for them, and he’d obviously just delivered Ayla’s package.
“Family,” I answered, not bothering to explain our relationship. Somehow, I doubted that Ayla would believe that Rich was my son.
Rich nodded at that, then gave me an apologetic look. “I wish I had time to talk, but I have a schedule to keep.”
“I’ll call you later then,” I responded with a nod of understanding. “And tell Min I said hi.”
“Will do,” Rich said. A moment later, a portal opened up in the air and Rich gave me a nod before stepping through and vanishing.
Once Rich was gone, Ayla gave me another curious look. “I assume he’s an older brother or uncle ... ”
I just smiled faintly in response. “Something like that.”
Then, it was my turn to give Ayla a curious look. Just a couple weeks ago, Rich had told me about his job with Trin and Macintyre, and had mentioned making a delivery to someone with the last name of Goodkind. At the time, we both doubted that it had been a member of THE Goodkind family, because neither of us could imagine them using mutants as couriers.
“He’s delivered to you before, hasn’t he?” I asked.
“Yes, he has,” Ayla answered me. “Before I returned to school.” However, he didn’t expand on that, and I didn’t ask. After all, his mail wasn’t any of my business, no matter who delivered it or how. “You might want to let him know, that the school frowns upon such open displays of power on red flag days.”
“Good point,” I admitted as I adjusted my bag of books. I gave Ayla a nod and added, “I’ll let him know.” Then with a nod, I added, “I’ll talk to you later.”
I started back towards the school library, but hadn’t gone too far before I noticed Sapphire in the distance. She was walking in the same general direction as I was, but had obviously come from Hawthorne. Then, she saw me and suddenly changed direction, and began coming my way.
When Sapphire reached me, she abruptly asked, “Are you going to see Amy?”
“What do you mean?” I asked, feeling just a little confused.
Sapphire scowled deeply, looking worried at the same time. “Amy had another burnout and was taken to Doyle ... ”
“Shit,” I blurted out in surprise. Then, I changed direction a little, and began running straight towards Doyle. I was halfway there before noticing that Sapphire was following close behind.
I was already familiar with Doyle from the last time Amy was in there, so it didn’t take me long to find her room. To my surprise, the door was open and there were no doctors. Instead, I found Amy lying in bed, wide awake, with a hospital gown on, and with several machines hooked up to her.
“Alyss,” Amy said, smiling self-consciously at the sight of me. “Sapphire ... ”
“How do you feel?” Sapphire demanded, her voice filled with worry.
“Not bad,” Amy said with a shrug. Then she began to sit up
Sapphire fixed Amy with a steady gaze and announced, “You had a burnout ... You need to rest.”
“You sound like the doctors,” she responded with a sigh. “I’m fine. It’s done and over with ... ”
When Amy started to sit up more, Sapphire warned her, “If you try to leave this bed, I’ll spray your legs ... ”
I blinked at that. “Spray her legs?”
“It will keep her from trying to walk out of here,” Sapphire said defensively.
“I can always tie you down,” I pointed out, manifesting a ribbon and holding it out in a threatening manner.
“Fine,” Amy responded with a roll of her eyes. “I’ll stay here for a little longer ... ”
“You’d better,” I stated, holding the ribbon out again.
For a moment, I just stared at Amy, wondering how she could just shrug off a burnout, as though it was no big deal. Then again, she also acted as though turning into a girl was nothing unusual either, and considering some of the things she’d told me about growing up with a devisor mom, perhaps it wasn’t. I hadn’t seen anything really throw her for a serious loop yet, though I wondered how much was just her attitude about life, and how much was an act. I’d seen the worry in her eyes, and knew that she wasn’t quite as unshaken by it all as she pretended.
About five minutes later, Dr. Tenent came into the room. She was a tall, slender, and attractive woman with long blonde hair, which actually moved round on its own. I’d met Dr. Tenent before, when I’d previously come to check on Amy, and she seemed to know what she was doing.
“It looks like all your vitals are stable again,” Dr. Tenent told Amy with a frown. “And you appear to have recovered fully. If I didn’t know better, I never would have suspected that you’d suffered a burnout less than two hours ago.”
“What can I say,” Amy responded with a wry smile. “I recover quickly.”
“And as fortunate as that is,” Dr. Tenent told her, “it also concerns me. You seem to recover from your burnouts just as quickly as you enter them. That makes it difficult to isolate symptoms, and identify treatments that might help prevent this from occurring in the first place.”
“But she’s all right?” I asked, though I quickly added, “For now?”
“Yes,” Dr. Tenent answered with a sigh. She fixed Amy with a flat look. “If it were up to me, I’d keep you here for several days, for observation. Unfortunately, it’s hard to hold a student who is ... for all outward appearances, in perfect health.”
“I can keep her here if you’d like,” I offered, once again holding up the long strand of ribbon.
Dr. Tenent smiled at that. “I don’t think that will be necessary, but thank you.”
As soon as Dr. Tenent had left the room, Amy asked, “Can you hand me my clothes?”
“You should stay here longer,” Sapphire insisted as she stood there with a defiant look and her arms crossed.
“Okay then,” Amy responded with a look of mock-innocence, that told me that she was up to something.
A second later, I noticed her clothes, which had been folded up nicely in the corner, floating up into the air. Obviously, she was in her psychic mode today, which meant she had telekinesis.
“Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer me to make you something new?” I asked.
Amy paused for a moment to look me over, then wryly responded, “Not that I’m questioning your fashion sense, but ... Well, yeah ... I am questioning your fashion sense.”
I just flipped the kid the bird, which made both Amy and Sapphire laugh. Considering how I looked, I probably looked pretty damn silly. The very thought made me chuckle a little as well.
It didn’t take Amy long to get dressed, though I made one more offer to speed up the process. As soon as she had her clothes on, she announced, “I’m hungry. Going through a burnout really takes it out of a girl.”
“I imagine,” I responded.
Then, with a completely straight expression, Sapphire asked, “Are you sure that you wouldn’t like to eat here? I hear that hospital food is good for you, especially the lime Jello ... ”
Amy paled a little, then said, “After cleaning up Achoo’s mess, the last thing I want in front of me is lime Jello.” She made a disgusted look, which caused Sapphire to laugh.
“Yes,” Sapphire agreed. “I can see that.”
Once Amy had finished checking out of Doyle, the three of us started for Crystal Hall for dinner. Amy said she was starving, while I was definitely hungry enough to eat. I flung my book bag over my shoulder, making a mental note to stop by the library after dinner, so I could switch these books out for some fresh reading material.
While we were walking across the Quad, I noticed a few familiar faces sitting around at various tables. Hippolyta was at one, and she seemed to be in the middle of a conversation with a couple ‘older’ girls, though when she saw us, she paused and gave a nod. “Alyss,” she said in greeting.
“Hey,” I responded. I’d never been a great conversationalist, and that hadn’t really changed. “I don’t know if you’ve met Amy ... ” I gestured to the purple haired girl. “And this is Sapphire ... ”
“I’m Hippolyta,” she told Sapphire. Then she glanced to Amy. “I hear you had another burnout. I hope you’re feeling better.”
“Much,” Amy told her with a wry smile. “Hopefully, a full belly will finish the job.”
“It usually does,” Hippolyta said in agreement. Then she looked back to me. “I’ll see you later, Alyss.”
“Later,” I said, with another nod.
After we’d walked out of hearing range, Amy asked, “When did you and the amazon become so buddy buddy?”
With a faint smirk, I answered, “When we found out that we share a few interests.” Then, before Amy could ask what those interests were, I said, “Come on, I’m getting hungry too. I’m a growing girl ... hopefully ... so I need a good healthy dinner ... ”
“And dessert,” Amy added.
“And dessert,” Sapphire and I both agreed at the same time, which made all three of us start laughing.
Tuesday September 4th, 2007
Power Theory. Considering the nature of my powers, my third period Powers Theory class, was undoubtedly the most important and relevant class in my entire schedule. Unfortunately, a mere ten minutes into the class, and I realized that it was likely to also be the most boring.
When I first saw that Dr. Quintain was teaching the class, I’d been excited, because I already knew him from my power testing, and because of the deal I’d made with him, he was also my boss. However, I quickly learned that the excitement he showed during my power testing, never quite reached his voice during class. Instead, he lectured in a near monotone, which was sure to put me and everyone else to sleep. And the sad thing he, he wasn’t even giving us a real lecture yet, just an outline of what the class was about.
Fortunately, I wasn’t alone in my suffering. Alyss sat beside me, looking just as bored as I was. This was the first class that we actually had together, and the same was true of Sapphire, who sat on my other side.
Fighting back a yawn, I looked around the room, taking note of the other students. The first thing we’d done in class was to stand up and introduce ourselves, and said a little something about our powers. Because of that, I had a vague idea of who most of the other students were.
My eyes went to Monkeywrench first, because he was one of the more unusual students in class. He looked like a cross between a human and a monkey, with light brown fur over his entire body, and he even had a tail. However, what was even more attention grabbing, was his lab coat, which was brightly colored and looked more like a Hawaiian shirt than anything else.
I’d briefly met Monkeywrench during the second period devisor class that we shared, and where he’d made a bit of an impression on me. When everyone in class was showing off the devises we’d already made, he brought in a couple of ‘banana peel’ grenades, which he’d designed to actually look like bananas.
Monkeywrench looked unusual, but he certainly wasn’t the most unique looking individual in the room. That honor probably went to Darqueheart, who had black skin, big horns that grew out of her forehead and curved back, clawed fingers, and a devil tail. The horns and tail reminded me of Adore, but other than a few similar GSD traits, they didn’t really seem to have much in common. At the moment, Darqueheart was sitting on the far end of the classroom, where she silently glared at the more attractive students, especially the exemplar girls like Sapphire ... and even me.
During the class introduction, Darqueheart had said she was an erboreal mage, which was supposed to be all about darkness. I just hoped that she wasn’t in my fifth period Magic Theory class. My issue with her wasn’t because of her GSD, or the type of magic she worked with. My problem with Darqueheart, was her attitude, and the general hostility that she seemed to have towards anyone she considered to be a ‘pretty’.
Of course, the GSD kids weren’t the only ones to draw my attention. There was a blonde girl named Mischief, who was practically bouncing in her seat and chatting away excitedly to the people beside her. I didn’t know if it was ADHD or too much caffeine, but her energy was a distinct counterpoint to Dr. Quintain’s monotone voice.
“And I can’t believe that Imp was there,” Mischief said, loud enough for me to hear. “She taught me a bunch of stuff before, and she’s a great teacher. That’s gonna be the best class EVER ... ”
The boy who was sitting beside Mischief had a look of annoyance on his face, and I expected him to snap at her at any moment. Aegis was athletic looking, with spikey blonde hair, and he reminded me of a couple jocks from old school. Not the ones who played sports for fun, but the ones who took it all just a little too seriously.
“At least the other students are more interesting than the teacher,” I quietly mused to myself. Of course, I’d never let Dr. Quintain know that, not when he was not only my teacher, but also the guy who performed my power testing, and who supervised me on my campus job.
I let out a sigh and turned my attention back to the two notebooks that I had open in front of me. One of them, was reserved for taking notes in class, not that I really needed to at the moment. Dr. Quintain was still doing introductory stuff today, and not yet going into the real class material. My other notebook, on the other hand, was reserved for my devisor notes
The last time I’d been a devisor, I wrote down my ideas for a new and improved EM core, along with a list of parts. I might not be a devisor at the moment, but there was no reason I couldn’t get those parts, just so that I’d have them on hand the next time I was.
Maybe I could call my mom and have her send any of the materials that she happened to have lying around. Of course, the entire conversation would depend on whether or not Mom was clear-headed at the time, and whether or not she’d remember my request afterwards. Fortunately, Mom had also opened a line of credit with Sartek for me, so if all else failed, I could probably order some materials from them.
Alyss leaned over and quietly whispered, “This guy literally wrote the book on this subject.” She held up the text book for the class, which actually did have Dr. Filbert R. Z. Quintain as the author, and added, “You’d think that he’d be more excited about it.”
When the class finally ended, I let out a sigh of relief, as did nearly every other student. I would have thought that a class about superpowers would be incredibly exciting, and I was never so disappointed about being proven wrong. Until now, I’d actually been looking forward to this class.
“I already memorized the book,” Alyss told me with a look of annoyance. “Somehow, I have a feeling that is only going to make this class drag even more ... ”
“Back home,” Sapphire told us with a wry smile, “I have a neighbor, who can put people to sleep just by touching them. Somehow, I have a hard time imagining that he could have done any better ... ”
Since class was over and it was time for lunch, nearly everyone rushed out of the room at the same time, then made their way to Crystal Hall. A few minutes later, we were in line, waiting to get food. I was fortunate enough, to be the first of our little group to arrive, with Alyss and Sapphire right behind me.
Standing in front of me, were two older girls, who were probably junior or seniors. One was skinny, with white hair that was similar in color to Alyss’, though her bangs kind of curled up like a pair of little horns. The other girl had black hair and a dour expression. She seemed vaguely familiar, and it took me a minute to realize that she reminded me of Wednesday Addams, from the Addams family. The two girls talked with each other and didn’t pay us any attention.
Then, after they got their food and went off to the tables, Aegis suddenly pushed forward and demanded, “Do you know who those girls were?”
Since I hadn’t talked to Aegis before, I wasn’t sure why he’d come up to talk to us. “Not really,” Sapphire said.
“They’re villains,” Aegis stated, glaring after the girls as though they’d kicked his puppy or something.
“Villains?” I asked a little skeptically.
“That was She Beast and Nacht,” Aegis said with a deep scowl. “Their parents are supervillains, and they’re supervillains in training ... ”
Alyss looked up at Aegis, giving him a skeptical look. “And you know this how?”
Aegis puffed up a bit at that and explained, “I’m going to join the Future Superheroes of America, so I’ve been learning about who the bad guys on campus are ... ” He pointed in the direction that the two girls had gone. “Watch out for them and the rest of the Bad Seeds. I hear that they’re nothing but a gang of dangerous criminals.”
“Then what are you talking to HER for?” another voice demanded.
I looked at the newcomer and immediately recognized Christina Violante, also known as Blue Streak. Christina used to live down the hall from me in Poe, and had been such a bitch to her roommate Martina, that Martina had been forced to move out, and to move in with Alyss instead. Supposedly, Christina’s dad was some kind of superhero, so she took it as her personal mission in life to be a pain in the butt to anyone with a villain in the family.
“What do you mean?” Aegis asked, looking curious.
“Mind your own business,” I told Christina, who stood there with a smug look on her face.
Christina pointed at Alyss and announced, “Her mom is a villain named Lady Havoc ... ”
Alyss and I both jumped in surprise and simultaneously stared at Christine in disbelief. Back in Poe, Alyss had admitted that she knew Lady Havoc, and had even indicated that they might be related, though she’d never said anything about Lady Havoc actually being her mom. I didn’t know if that was true, or if Christina was just jumping to conclusions. What I did know, was that I’d been under the impression that ‘what happens in Poe, stays in Poe’.
Aegis stared down at Alyss with a look of betrayal on his face. “You’re a villain ... ?”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Alyss stated, fixing Aegis with her gaze, and then glaring at Christina. “Forgive my language, but you’re a nasty little bitch. First, you bully Martina for no good reason, and now you’re trying to start something with me ... ”
“I knew there was a reason you didn’t have a problem rooming with a villain,” Christina announced self-righteously. “I’m going to keep an eye on both of you criminals.”
“If you want to keep an eye on the bad guy,” I offered in an even tone. “You should probably look in a mirror.”
Christina glared at me, and then without missing a beat, turned around and walked off, as though she’d somehow scored a great victory against Alyss. I glared at the girl, then looked to Alyss, who stood there with a grim expression. I noticed that her small fists were clenched tightly, and I had the feeling that she was struggling to control herself.
“This place is full of villains,” Aegis blurted, still staring at Alyss with a look of surprise. “Students. Teachers. This whole school is full of them.” Then, he turned and marched away.
“Are you okay?” I asked Alyss.
“Fine,” Alyss responded. “Just peachy.”
I glanced to Sapphire, who didn’t say a word. None of us said anything as we finished getting our food, then went and found a table. Since Sapphire was still willing to sit with me and Alyss, I guessed that she wasn’t too bothered by Christina’s claims.
After we began eating, I couldn’t resist asking. “Is Lady Havoc your mom?”
Alyss stared at me for a moment, then began to chuckle. “No. But Rachael would probably laugh her ass off if she found out that people thought she was. Pardon my French.”
“That doesn’t sound like French,” Sapphire pointed out, which made Alyss and I both start laughing.
“I’m really sorry about Christina,” I said, giving Alyss a sympathetic look. “There was no reason for her to do that, especially considering ... ” I paused at that and glanced at Sapphire, who wasn’t in on Poe’s secret.
Alyss nodded her understanding. “She’s a pain in the ass, but I’ve dealt with worse ... ”
“Pardon the French?” I asked, before Alyss had a chance to say it. I’ve heard her use that phrase a few times now.
“Something like that,” Alyss said with a chuckle. Then, her expression turned serious and she said, “I’m here at Whateley for a reason, and that isn’t going to change just because of some kid with daddy issues. I don’t give a damn what she thinks. Life is full of people like her, and some of them just ain’t worth giving a flying fuck about.”
“Pardon the French,” Alyss, Sapphire, and I all said at the same time, before we all burst out laughing.
Tuesday afternoon, September 4th, 2007
I stepped into the locker room and immediately felt out of place. If anyone noticed this, they probably would have assumed that it was because I looked like I was ten years old, while all the other girls were several years older. Of course, the truth was a bit more complicated than appearances would suggest.
“I think you’re a little too young for this class,” one girl said, giving me a friendly, though, somewhat patronizing look. She probably didn’t even realize that she was being patronizing. “This isn’t a class for the junior high kids ... ”
The attitude was a bit annoying, but it was something that I was getting used to. And admittedly, it was understandable, since I did look like a cute little girl. Still, I forced a smile and announced, “But I’m a big girl now ... ”
A moment later, I heard the laugher and turned to see Amy, who’d just come into the locker room, right in time to see the exchange. “Alyss is older than she looks,” Amy explained to the girls who were watching. “Her BIT just makes her look a little younger than she is.”
That explanation seemed to be enough to satisfy most of the girls who were watching, so they turned and went back to changing. I nodded my thanks to Amy, then went to my locker. A minute later, I’d stripped out of my dress and tossed it into the garbage, much to the shock and disbelief of several girls.
“But that looked like a perfectly good dress,” one girl exclaimed. For a moment, I suspected that she was going to dig the dress out once no one was watching.
“It’s manifested material,” I explained, suddenly creating a martial arts uniform ... or gi as I’d heard it called, right on my body. “It’ll just disappear in awhile.”
A minute later, I walked into the main dojo area, where some of the kids were already sitting on the floor and waiting for class to start. I followed their example and did the same, though I did get a few more odd looks, and even a couple snickers. Obviously, they weren’t going to take me serious because of my size and appearance. That was fine with me.
In my previous life, I had a lot of experience with fights, often in bars or places like that. However, I’d never done any martial arts, so was feeling a mixture of curiosity and nervousness, not that I’d really admit to the latter. Still, after that fight with the Marquis, I knew that I was now fighting in a whole different league. If I ever had to protect my family from a monster like him again, I wanted to be able to use everything I had available, and that meant doing more than just throwing a punch or two.
I looked around the room at the other people who were taking fourth period Basic Martial Arts, and those who were coming out of the locker room. Of course, I knew Amy and Sapphire, who for once, was without the cloak. And I was familiar with a couple of the other students too, like Aegis, Cinderella, and Iron Rose. I even gave a brief nod to my fellow Poesies.
One of the instructors, a tall black woman, who was wearing a tight black bodysuit, walked around the room, looking us over. She paused to stare at me for a moment, or at least at my clothes. My gi wasn’t quite the same material or texture as the ones that everyone else was wearing, but after a second, she nodded faintly and continued on, all without saying a word.
When the class officially started a minute later, the two instructors stood up front and introduced themselves. The small Asian man introduced himself as Sensei Ito, while the tall Asian woman was Sensei Tolman. After this, Ito talked about the rules and expectations for the class, before they finally got to something interesting.
“I am a baseline,” Ito said as he calmly looked over all the students. “Who here believes, that with their powers, they can beat me in a fight?”
Several hands went up into the air. I was tempted to raise my own hand, knowing just how strong and tough I was now, in spite of my appearance. However, Ito seemed pretty damn sure of himself, and if there was one thing that I knew, it was that just because someone seemed weak and harmless, that didn’t mean they were.
“Iron Rose,” Ito said. “Please come up here.”
Rose got up and went to the front of the class, looking just a little cocky. I watched carefully, interested in what was going to happen since Rose was quite a bit bigger and stronger looking than Ito. But in spite of that, he didn’t look the least bit concerned.
Ito and Tolman went over some of the rules for sparring, then they began. Rose went at Ito, swinging hard and fast. However, the little old man slipped out of the way, grabbed her wrist, and twisted. The next thing I knew, Rose slammed into the mat, flat on her back.
“Damn,” Rose exclaimed as she got back to her feet. She gave Ito a wary look.
“Again,” Ito instructed her.
With a smirk, Rose suddenly transformed into her metal form. She went at Ito again, this time being even stronger and tougher than before. The results were almost identical.
“That looks like it hurts,” Sapphire whispered.
Amy nodded again and quietly added, “Her pride of nothing else.”
After Ito had finished making an example of Rose, and proving that skill could trump power, he and Tolman began calling students up front to spar with each other, while the two of them watched. It was a good way to get an idea of what the kids could do, which was obviously why Ito and Tolman were doing this. And then, it was my turn.
“Ribbon,” Toman called out. “Cinderella.”
Cindy and I went up, stood in the sparring circle and bowed as we’d been instructed. Then, Tolman told us to begin, and Cindy came straight at me. She punched at me faster than I would have expected, but my reflexes were a lot sharper than hers. I blocked her punches and kicks, and even let one or two of them get through to make her feel better, though I didn’t really feel them. I was a high level exemplar, while she just had normal strength and toughness, so I didn’t want to risk hurting her.
Since Cindy couldn’t really do anything to me, and I was holding back so that I didn’t accidentally hurt her, the first match was declared a tie. However, Tolman immediately told us to go again, adding, “This time, use your powers.”
“That sounds good to me,” Cindy said with a grin
Suddenly, a sword made of glass appeared in Cindy’s hand, showing why she’d chosen the codename of Cinderella. Like me, she was a manifestor, but where I created cloth, she created objects made of glass, or at least, which looked like glass. A glass shield formed on her other arm a moment later.
As soon as Tolman told us to begin, Cindy slashed at me with her sword. I used my arm to block her attack, only to feel her blade cut into my forearm. I jumped back, seeing blood on the arm of my gi, though I wasn’t too concerned. Cindy may have hurt me a little, but I was a regenerator and healed like crazy. What this meant though, was that I had to be a little more careful now.
I made a few careful punches at Cindy, which she blocked with her shield. I was still holding back though, because if I punched much harder, than even if she blocked me, I could have shattered her arm. Of course, I wasn’t limited to my strength, and I finally demonstrated this by lunging towards Cindy ... then manifesting several long ribbons, which I wrapped around her body. Just a couple seconds later, she fell to the mat, tied up and unable to move.
“That’s cheating,” Cindy exclaimed, but she was grinning so I could tell she didn’t really mean it.
When Cindy and I were done, Tolman told me, “There are times when holding back is necessary, and times when it can get you killed.”
I returned to my seat and watched a couple of the other sparring matches, paying special attention to Amy. Unfortunately, once again, she didn’t have a power that was very good for fighting, so she ended up losing her matches pretty quickly. However, she didn’t go down without a fight, even when it was clear that she was overpowered and outmatched.
“Your records indicate that your powers change every day,” Tolman told Amy, once she was done. I was sitting close enough that I could easily make out the conversation. “Training you to instinctively use your powers in a fight, when those powers are inconsistent, could prove quite dangerous to you. Instead, we will focus on building a strong foundation of skill, which you can use regardless of which powers you possess. You would be best served by thinking of your powers as a revolving set of holdouts, so that you don’t rely on them too much.”
Once Tolman was done with Amy, she came back and sat back down beside me again. “That was ... painful,” Amy commented wryly.
“Tell me about it,” I pointed out, holding out my bloody sleeve.
“Do you need a bandage?” Amy asked, only to pause as she remembered that I could create my own.
“Not a problem,” I assured her, raising my sleeve so she could see my arm, which was already healed. “Regen.”
Amy nodded at that and let out a sigh. “And with all these bruises, I really wish I had my regen today. At least they’ll go away the next time I change modes.”
Class ended a short time later, and I could tell a lot of the kids were relieved. Even on the first day of class, there’d been a lot of bruises, and I imagined that it would only get worse as we progressed. At that moment, I was very grateful to be a high level exemplar, and to have my regen. Unfortunately for Amy, she’d have to suffer through the aches until she went to sleep.
In the locker room, Cindy came up to me and apologized, “I’m really sorry about your arm ... ”
“Not a problem,” I told her, pulling my sleeve back just the way I had for Amy. “I heal fast.” Then to show that there were no hard feelings, I smiled at her and said, “That is one sharp sword you have.”
“Thanks,” Cindy responded with a grin of her own.
Unfortunately, it was time for the most awkward and uncomfortable part of class, having to shower afterwards. It was weird enough getting undressed in front of these girls, most of whom I didn’t know, but to get completely naked and shower with them ... I shuddered at the thought, but managed to pull up my big girl panties ... metaphorically ... and get through it. Then, thanks to my power, I was quickly dressed in a brand new set of clothes. In spite of getting finished first, I waited on Amy and Sapphire.
“I have Magic Theory with a Ms. Grimes next,” Amy said. “Followed by Power Lab.”
“Algebra,” Sapphire offered. “Then Power Lab.”
I smiled at that. “English, then Power Lab, and then History. It looks like we all have Power Lab together.”
“I’ll see you then,” Amy told me with a nod and a wave, before she walked off to her next class.
For a few seconds, I just remained where I was, watching Amy and Sapphire go with a smile on my face. Then, I shook my head, chuckling at how strange the whole situation was, and at the fact that I was actually enjoying myself.
Two months ago, I was dying in a hospital bed, but now, I was not only alive, but healthier than I’d ever been in my life, even if I did look like a little girl. In my old life, I’d been a high school dropout, but now, I was back in school and making friends with some teenage girls. And ironically, even though I was old enough to be their grandfather, I looked like I was the youngest one of the group. Two months ago, I had a hard time believing that I had a future at all, but by a miracle of fate, I’d been given a second chance. I’d been given a new life, one I never would have been able to imagine.
“The world is stranger than I ever could have imagined,” I told myself as I started for my next class. Then, my thoughts turned to both my deepest regret and my greatest wish, and I quietly added, “Maybe someday, fate will give Rachael a second chance too.”
TO BE CONTINUED in A Little R&R 2: Alyss in Wondercute Land