Crystal Hall, Sunday late afternoon, Nov 25th, 2007
Amy stared down at her tray of dinner, feeling less than impressed. After being home for Thanksgiving and eating some of the food that Mrs. Lawrence had sent over, she was not thrilled about returning to cafeteria food, even if that cafeteria happened to be Crystal Hall.
“At least there’s always the kitchen in Hawthorne,” she reminded herself, making a note to check what ingredients were currently stocked up. With the way that supplies kept mysteriously appearing in her kitchen, she was often surprised at what she found there. “Who gives caviar to high school students?”
A few seconds later, Amy looked up from her dinner and let her eyes scan her table instead. There were several other students sitting at the table with her, all of them friends and members of their recently formed training team, Team Shenanigans…or just Shenanigans. They still hadn’t settled on which version to go with. The only one missing was Monkeywrench, and Amy wasn’t sure whether or not he’d returned from Thanksgiving vacation yet.
“I can’t believe it,” Aegis said with a shake of his head. “That MCO guy who gave that lecture today, is Absinthe’s dad…” From the tone of his voice, he sounded a bit concerned about that.
Darqueheart scowled. “I do not like the idea of the MCO being here on campus…”
“He’s all right,” Amy quickly assured her, then looked around at the rest of her friends. “I ran into her dad last summer and he kind of helped me out. He seemed really professional.”
“At least it was more interesting than that MID lecture Carson gave last week,” Alyss grudgingly admitted.
“It’s still kinda weird,” Melissa said, though she quickly added, “But he seemed all right, I guess…”
“I’m not sure I’d take your word for someone being all right,” Sapphire teased Melissa. “After all, you run a supervillain fan club…”
Melissa just shrugged at that, looking rather smug. “Yeah, but Imp is awesome…”
Amy shared a look with Sapphire, then the two of them both laughed. Melissa was definitely an odd one, but Amy liked the girl. She was always in good spirits and usually entertaining, even if she should cut down on the sugar.
“I don’t know about Gwen’s dad,” Alyss commented, barely looking up as she at her dinner. “But I know Gwen, and if she says her dad is all right, I’ll take her word for it.” From her expression and the tone of her voice, it was clear that she considered the topic to be over.
Just then, a familiar voice called out, “Hey, how is everyone doing?”
Amy quickly glanced over to see Monkeywrench walking towards their table with a tray of food in hand. As usual, he was wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt, perhaps to distract from the fact that he resembled a monkey. Then again, he was wearing a bandolier full of bananas, which had the opposite effect.
“Hey, Monkey,” Melissa exclaimed, jumping to her feet and giving Monkeywrench a hug before he sat down at the table.
“Anything interesting happen over the weekend?” the furry boy asked.
“I got kidnapped by another supervillain,” Melissa exclaimed with a grin., sounding as though she was bragging about the fact. Everyone turned to stare at her while she cheerfully continued, “But I don’t think she’s very good at keeping prisoners, because I got away really easily.”
Alyss chuckled at that. “By a strange coincidence, I was kidnapped by a supervillain too…”
“Was it Lady Havoc?” Aegis asked with a worried look.
Amy and Alyss shared a look at that and smirked. Aegis knew that Alyss had a connection to Lady Havoc, but like most of the school, he definitely had the wrong idea of what that connection was. Amy, however, knew the truth, that Lady Havoc was actually Alyss’ daughter, not that anyone else would believe that. Not when Alyss looked like a little girl. Most people believed that Alyss was Lady Havoc’s daughter instead. It was a far more believable story, after all.
“Actually,” Alyss responded. “She was kidnapped with me.”
Not wanting to be outdone, Amy said, “Well, I wasn’t kidnapped…but I did have a mutant street gang come after me…”
“You’re kidding,” Aegis responded with a look of surprise.
“Oh,” Amy added almost as an afterthought. “I also had a psychotic supervillain try killing me…”
There was a long pause at that before Aegis asked, “Am I the only one who had a normal weekend?”
“I babysat my sisters,” Sapphire offered, though she didn’t look happy about it.
“That’s cool, I guess,” Aegis said.
Sapphire glared at him. “When it was time for bed, they all rubbed oil on their scales and decided to play a game of greased snakes with me…”
Amy chuckled at that. She’d met Sapphire’s sisters and they looked like they’d be a handful. “Is that what they call a noodle incident?” When Sapphire glared at her, she pointed out, “It could have been worse.”
“You could have been stuck at school while everyone else was gone,” Darqueheart said with a note of bitterness in her voice.
Aegis gave her a sympathetic look. “That sucks. Don’t you have a fam…” However, he cut off as Amy kicked his leg beneath the table.
“I’m sorry to hear it,” Amy told the other girl.
“At least it was quiet,” Darqueheart grumbled. “Relatively.”
Amy nodded at that, then reached into her pocket. “Oh, Monkey…” She tossed a metal sphere to the furry boy. It was only about the size of a golf ball so he easily caught it.
“What’s this?” Monkeywrench asked curiously.
“A bomblet shell,” Amy answered. Monkeywrench quickly dropped it with a worried look. She rolled her eyes. “It’s just the shell, nothing more.”
“Why are you throwing around bomb shells?” Darqueheart asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Hot potato,” Melissa exclaimed with a grin. “Imp told me to never play hot potato with a hand grenade…”
“Wise advice,” Alyss added in a deadpan voice.
“It’s for the new toy I made over Thanksgiving,” Amy explained to Monkeywrench. “I couldn’t bring any of the rounds with me on the plane, but I could bring some empty shells. I was hoping you’d help me make a few rounds I have in mind. You’re a lot better with chemicals than I am. I don’t have any talent for that kind of thing, even in devisor mode.”
“Sure,” Monkeywrench responded with an easy grin. Then he joked, “But what’s in it for me?”
Amy just smiled at that. “How about a batch of banana muffins…”
Monkeywrench grinned in response. “Throw in some devisor brownies and you’ve got yourself a deal.”
Crystal Hall, Sunday late afternoon, Nov 25th, 2007
The young woman known as Exquisite sat in her throne, looking down on all the little people who scampered past. If they were lucky, they would receive her attention, or if they were unfortunate, depending on her mood and whim. At least, this was how Exquisite imagined the situation, though the truth was that she was sitting at a normal lunch table in the school cafeteria.
Exquisite scowled, annoyed that she was currently positioned with all the school nobodies, when by all rights, she should have her own kingdom up on the top level, along with the current social rulers. Of course, she could have joined any of these established groups and enjoyed their existing territories, but that would mean humbling herself and starting at the bottom, and she had absolutely no intention of doing that for some second-rate clique. No, it made more sense for her to create her own ruling clique, even if that meant being patient and building her power base from scratch.
With that thought and the reminder to be patient, Exquisite looked around her current table and the allies who were currently sitting with her. These were not necessarily the most powerful or competent of allies, but each of them were assets in their own way and could be groomed for their future positions. Or they could be replaced when they no longer served their purpose. Only time would tell which would be the wheat and which the chaff.
Gravmax was in a less than pleasant mood, which was no surprise. From what he’d said, she gathered that his Thanksgiving vacation had not been very pleasant. Though she didn’t know the details, she knew enough to guess that his father had been too busy to spend any time with him, so now the boy was pouting. By now, he should have been used to that.
Iron, on the other hand, seemed to be in a good mood. While Exquisite knew little about his family, she knew that things had gone well for him.
Exquisite looked to Starbright, who’d spent the holiday with her parents and older sister. Because of that, the girl had come back to Whateley with renewed ambition and an even greater drive to outshine her sibling. That was good since Exquisite could use that to help motivate her.
Drama, on the other hand, had remained at Whateley during the holiday. The unassuming looking girl was persona-non-grata in her home town, which she had barely escaped ahead of the angry locals. If she were to return, she faced the very real threat of being shot on sight. Even her parents wanted her to keep her distance, and not just for fear of her safety. They were afraid of her and her powers, which she’d used on them in the past.
And then there was Kraken, a recent arrival, not only to Whateley but also to her group. Kraken was the most powerful of them all, and also the easiest to manipulate.
“How do you feel?” Exquisite asked Kraken, giving the boy a false smile.
“I’m fine,” he answered gruffly.
Exquisite smiled faintly, though this one was a little more real…and a bit darker. “Then I hope you feel better soon.”
She reached out and took the boy’s hand, then gave him a small jolt with her powers. A small bolt of energy went right into his pain receptors, causing him to jerk just slightly. Then he smiled.
Kraken was an exemplar with an odd quirk to his BIT. While many exemplars had increased physical senses to one degree or another, his were actually dulled. Specifically, his sense of touch, the ability to feel things like heat, cold, and pain…were dulled to almost nothing. In fact, he was almost entirely incapable of feeling normal pain, though he was certainly susceptible to the pain she dealt. In fact, as it was one of the only things he could feel, he actually craved it…along with the rush of endorphins that came along with that. For all intents and purposes, her power was like a drug to him, one that he was rapidly becoming addicted to, and for which she was the only supplier.
“There they are,” Gravmax abruptly said, his eyes fixed on another table.
Exquisite didn’t need to look to know where her associate was staring. There was another group of students, one which was little more than an annoyance, albeit, a persistent one. At first, she’d used some personal grudges against that group in order to recruit her allies, but in doing so, she’d made certain promises and had yet to truly deliver. That other group…Shenanigans as they’d recently begun calling themselves, needed to be dealt with once and for all, not only to salve her own pride, but also to keep the loyalty of her own allies. And then, there was also the fact that they needed to be made an example of before she could move forward with her plans.
“When are we going to deal with them?” Iron asked in a cold tone, his good mood from earlier seeming to fade away.
“They have new members,” Starbright pointed out the obvious. After all, they’d all talked about the new additions several times as well as how they could deal with them.
“As do we,” Exquisite said, glancing to Drama and Kraken.
“So, when do we make our move?” Gravmax asked impatiently.
Exquisite just gave him an imperious look, one which was sufficient to make him back down a little. Once he did, she smiled, though it was more of a smirk, predatory and cruel. “Tonight.”
Emerson Cottage, Sunday evening, Nov 25th, 2007
Chris Matthews sat in the common room of his cottage, though he tried to ignore everything that was going on around him. He didn’t care about the movie that someone had put on. It had something to do with spaceships, aliens, and laser beams, not that he was paying any attention. Those weird science fiction things never really appealed to him much. Of course, if they changed the channel to ESPN, then that would be a different situation entirely.
Other Emerson residents filled the room, around a dozen of them, ranging from freshmen to even a couple seniors. Nearly every one of them was talking about their Thanksgiving vacations, enough so that sound of the movie could barely even be made out.
“And my uncle Antony came in from N’Awlins,” Chris’ friend Jon continued telling him about his own Thanksgiving dinner. “He made the best ettoufette…not to mention these great beignets…”
Chris chuckled at that. “You should probably talk with Amy. She’s really into food…”
“I know,” Jon responded with a grin of his own. “She sometimes brings stuff over to Poe. I mean, she’s a good cook, but she ain’t got nothing on Uncle Antony…or especially, my grandma.”
“Well, it sounds like you had fun then,” Chris said.
Jon just nodded at that. “What about you? You guys do anything exciting?”
“Not really,” Chris answered with a shrug. “Mom had that parade on all morning, then Dad and I watched football all afternoon…”
Jon stared at Chris for a moment. “For some reason, you don’t look exactly thrilled about that. I mean, I know you love football and all, so what’s up, dude?”
Chris quickly glanced around but nobody else seemed to be paying them any attention. Then he let out a sigh and admitted, “A couple of my cousins were giving me a hard time again.” He scowled. “About being adopted and all…”
“That sucks,” Jon said sympathetically. “I’ve got a cousin who everyone jokes about being adopted, but that’s only because he’s an asshole and we all kind of wish he was so we didn’t have to claim him…”
Chris snorted at that. “Well, it’s no fun being on the receiving end of that. Trust me.”
“Sorry, man,” Jon said with a shrug. “But I thought your family was good with you…”
“Mom and Dad are great,” Chris stated firmly before admitting, “But not everyone else is. I mean, being adopted is one thing, but being a mutant too…”
“Damn,” Jon said with a shake of his head. “That’s gotta really suck. If you can’t count on your family to have your back, who can you count on?”
Chris nodded at that, not trusting himself to say anything, at least not at first. Finally, he grudgingly admitted, “I love my mom and dad, but sometimes… Sometimes I wish I knew who my birth parents were. I mean, I don’t even know if I have any brothers or sisters…” He let out a frustrated sigh.
“I can understand that,” Jon told him with a thoughtful look. “Family is important, and so is blood.”
Before Chris could say thing to that, Tarmac suddenly came bursting into the common room, holding something up for everyone to see. Chris looked up, realizing that Tarmac was holding a DVD…and that he was grinning. He didn’t know whether this was a good sign or bad.
“Guess what,” Tarmac exclaimed, going straight for the TV and turning off the movie that was playing in spite of a couple boys protesting. “I’ve got a copy of that video that just started going around…”
“What video?” Fixx asked, from the table where he was playing a game of Uno with Mobius and Sharpie.
“You haven’t heard about it yet?” Robert Rose asked with a grin. “Then I believe that this should be doubly interesting…”
Tarmac plugged in the video and a few seconds later, an image appeared on the screen of a large man wearing a red costume. He looked like a superhero, and though he looked vaguely familiar, Chris didn’t recognize who it was.
“That’s Mister Williams,” someone said off to the side. Chris blinked in surprise, realizing that he was right. The costumed man on screen was Mr. Williams, though he looked younger and thinner than he should. “Didn’t you know, he used to be a superhero named T-Rex…”
“I knew he used to be a superhero,” Holdout said. “But I didn’t know his codename or anything…”
“This is a private sim match between two teachers,” Tarmac explained to the group. “Apparently, someone in security leaked it a couple days ago…”
Chris turned his attention back to the TV, wondering who the other teacher was. Then he saw the other person on the TV and let out a gasp of surprise.
“It’s the Imp,” Jon exclaimed from beside him.
“Yeah,” Chris agreed, immediately recognizing the woman who’d been tutoring him in his powers. She was dressed in her supervillain costume.
“I heard that Imp and Williams used to be archenemies,” Tektronix commented.
“That would explain why he hates her so much,” Doorstop said. “I mean, last week, he totally freaked out on our classroom, just because some kids brought Imp fan club pins…”
“I heard about that,” Jon said with a grin. “Wish I could have seen it.”
“Did anyone get THAT on video?” someone asked from behind Chris.
Chris just stared at the TV in silent fascination, though nothing was happening yet. Mr. Williams had grown into a giant and appeared to be stomping through a city while the Imp had climbed up onto a rooftop and then vanished in a puff of smoke. So far, they hadn’t run into each other, and as it was, Chris didn’t know which one to cheer for. The hero…or the teacher who’d already taught him so much. He didn’t like that uncertainty, or the sense of guilt that formed from the very thought of siding with a villain.
It didn’t take long before the video shows the two teachers finally running into each other. Mr. Williams was enormous, a giant who could easily reach the top of the building where the Imp was standing. They seemed to be talking…or yelling…but there was no sound on the video so Chris couldn’t hear what they were saying. Still, he’d once fought the Imp himself, and she’s spent the entire time joking around and making fun of him, so she was probably doing the same thing to the history teacher.
Then the fight really became serious. The giant hero kept trying to hit the nimble villainess, who dodged away from each blow. He kept smashing the roof and side of the buildings, sending debris everywhere, even intentionally flinging it at the Imp.
“LOOK OUT!” someone cried from the side, though Chris didn’t look to see who’d spoken. His eyes were still locked on the TV.
Debris rained down on the street below…and onto the people who waited there. Some of the people were trying to run away from the fight while others seemed more interested in watching the show. Whatever their reasons for being there, there was little they could do when bricks and rubble showered down on them.
“Oh shit,” Chris gasped as he watched several people get crushed. Intellectually, he knew that these weren’t real people…only simulations. However, they were still dying and Mr. Williams didn’t seem to notice or care. The only thing he was interested in was smashing the Imp.
“It’s like King Kong,” Doorstop exclaimed. “With teachers.”
Jon chuckled. “Maybe he’ll grab the Imp and take her up a skyscraper.”
Suddenly, the entire fight shifted. Up until this point, the Imp had been on the defensive, dodging all the attacks and running away. Then without warning, she abruptly leapt at Mr. Williams, landing on his shoulder and then sliding down his back. It happened fast, but Chris saw blood appear on the giant’s back…in a trail behind the Imp. It took Chris a moment to realize what he was seeing.
“She’s cutting him open,” he whispered in disbelief. “With her tail…”
“How the hell is she doing that?” someone asked.
Chris knew exactly how she was doing it because it was a trick that she’d taught him. She was focusing her PK shell around her tail, forming it into a blade. And though he didn’t have a tail to do this with, he could create PK blades around his hands in the same way. However, she’d asked him to keep her abilities to himself, so he bit his tongue and remained silent.
Once the Imp hit the ground, she literally cut Mr. Williams’ legs out from beneath him, dropping him to his hands and knees. Then she went between his legs, attacking him in a way that had every boy in the room wince at once. And finally, she finished the giant teacher off, quickly and viciously.
As soon as the fight ended, everyone went silent for several seconds as they absorbed what they’d just seen. Then, the chaos erupted as they began to discuss the fight.
“Did you see what she did?” one boy exclaimed, horrified and angry.
“It was AWESOME,” another responded.
However, the first boy snarled, “She’s a villain… This proves that she’s too dangerous to be here…”
While everyone else in the room discussed or argued over the video they’d just watched, Chris remained froze, his thoughts swirling in confusion. The Imp had been vicious and nasty, just like what he would have expected from a villain. However, when he’d fought her, she hadn’t done anything like that to him. Not really. Sure, she’d mocked and humiliated him, but she hadn’t done anything to actually cause any harm. At the same time, he was impressed by what she could do, knowing that it was all based on the same kind of power he had. And she was teaching him how to do the same kind of things. He was filled with a strange mixture of worry and anticipation.
But as surprising as the Imp’s performance had been, it was Mr. Williams’ that really had Chris thinking. Mr. Williams, the history teacher and superhero, had charged in to get the villain…but had ended up crushing a lot of innocent people in the process. Sure, they were only simulated people, not real, but still… If he’d been willing to do that without a second thought, then would he treat real civilians the same way?
“He’s even worse than that Lamplighter guy,” Chris whispered to himself, feeling a knot forming in his stomach.
The first time that Chris had met the Imp, she’d mocked and humiliated him, but afterwards, she’d asked him a question. She’d asked him what kind of hero he wanted to be. At the time, Chris hasn’t been sure of how to answer that, and in fact, he still wasn’t. However, he was definitely learning the kind of hero that he did NOT want to become.
Devisor Labs, Sunday evening, Nov 25th, 2007
Monkeywrench stood back and carefully examined his work bench. Most of the surface was covered with half-completed projects, and he wasn’t sure which of them he should focus on finishing first.
There was his banana gun, 2.0, which would be capable of going fully auto. He laughed as he imagined people’s reactions to being hit with a barrage of bananas. Melissa would probably laugh her butt off once she saw it. Then there were his new and improved stink bombs, which he hoped would be good enough to beat Trixie. This time, he was determined to win their duel. And then, there was the latest batch of banana peel grenades.
“And then, there’s this,” Monkeywrench mused, looking over the new project he’d just started for Amy.
After a few second of consideration, Monkeywrench moved a couple projects out of the way and turned his full attention to the latest one. After all, unlike the others, he was actually being paid for this one, even if it was only in food.
While Monkeywrench worked, he was only vaguely aware of the other devisors and gadgeteers who filtered in and out. Then he finally noticed that someone was standing beside him, nervously waiting for him to notice her.
“Balderdash,” the furry boy said in greeting, flashing a cheerful grin just to show that she wasn’t bothering him. Balderdash was a nice girl and a moderately talented devisor but lacked much confidence. “What’s up?”
“I was wondering if I could borrow your soldering kit,” Balderdash said in a quiet voice, looking at the floor rather than Monkeywrench. “I think…I think Belphagor might have taken mine…”
“That sounds like him,” Monkeywrench agreed with a scowl of annoyance. Everyone in the labs knew that the butterball had sticky fingers. “Sure, you can borrow mine…”
“Thank you,” she said in her quiet voice before going back to her own work station.
Monkeywrench watched the girl go, feeling kind of sorry for her. Balderdash was a nice person, but the kind that everyone took advantage of, especially her roommate. He’d advised her to stand up for herself a bit more, but so far, it had fallen on deaf ears.
“Not everyone can be awesome like me,” Monkeywrench said with a grin.
He turned his attention back to his project before pausing to glance at the clock. Then he blinked, realizing that it was getting a bit later than he’d thought.
“I guess I should get going,” Monkeywrench reluctantly told himself. After all, he had school in the morning, and it was already going to be bad enough as a Monday, that he didn’t need to add a lack of sleep in as well. “Well, that is what devisor coffee is for…and brownies.”
After a minute of debating with himself, Monkeywrench began to put away his tools and equipment, just to keep anyone with sticky fingers from hitting him. It had already happened a couple times before, though admittedly, he’d enjoyed retaliating.
“Nothing like the old banana in the tailpipe routine,” he chuckled evilly.
Finally, he removed his lab coat, which was colored like a loud Hawaiian shirt with images of bananas all over it. Beneath the lab coat, he was wearing a real Hawaiian shirt, one which was even brighter and louder.
“Time to go par-tay…,” the furry boy exclaimed as he stuffed a banana grenade into his pocket, just in case. If anyone saw the suspicious bulge, he had the perfect setup for a great joke.
Monkeywrench took one more look over his work bench to make sure that nothing important had been left out, then he left the labs. He began walking through the maze of tunnels beneath the campus, looking forward to reaching Twain and his bed. He let out a loud yawn, absently wondering what kind of a devisor he was if he couldn’t even stay up the entire night and survive off caffeine alone.
“One with a life,” he reminded himself with a grin and a swish of his furry tail.
Just then, Monkeywrench suddenly froze as all the fur on the back of his neck began to stand on end. Something was wrong, he was sure of it. He listened carefully, then heard some footsteps nearby, from just around the corner.
“Hey, you got your new disintegrator with you?” Monkeywrench loudly asked an imaginary companion. Then in a deeper voice which was meant to sound like someone else, he responded to his own question. “Of course. I never go anywhere without this baby.”
The monkey boy hoped that this bluff would discourage anyone from trying to jump him, but just in case, he pulled out his banana grenade. He took several cautious steps to the side, trying to think of another route that might lead him away from trouble. At the same time, he wondered if he was just being paranoid. After what had happened in Berlin, he was still feeling a little jumpy.
Before Monkeywrench could do anything else, a thick fog suddenly began to pour into the tunnel. In mere seconds, the fog was so thick around him that he couldn’t even see the tunnel walls, much less down the tunnel. However, he did hear footsteps coming towards him.
“Who’s there?” Monkeywrench demanded. “I’ve got a banana and I’m not afraid to use it…”
There was no answer, though someone laughed. It wasn’t a nice friendly laugh, but a cruel, mocking one. He raised his arm to throw the banana, though he couldn’t see anything through the fog and didn’t want to waste his weapon by missing the target.
Monkeywrench couldn’t say why, but he was suddenly terrified, more than he’d ever been before in his life. The fear was so thick that he could barely breath and felt like he was drowning. Without a further thought, he turned and ran as fast as he could.
“Run monkey boy,” a voice called out behind him. A girl’s voice. Was that Drama Queen?
Another familiar voice yelled, “You should be careful who you hang around with, you hairy freak…” Was that Iron’s voice?
Monkeywrench couldn’t think about that at the moment. He couldn’t think about anything except escaping. In a blind panic, he ran through the blinding fog, smacking into the side of a tunnel wall. However, that wasn’t going to stop him from escaping, as a moment later, he continued running down the tunnel, finally breaking out of the fog, though not the fear.
Just ahead of him, he saw another tunnel, one that he’d never been down before, and which he’d been warned to avoid. However, right then, the unknown tunnel was nothing compared to the terror that seized his mind, and he ran for it without a second thought.
Once Monkeywrench was gone, the fog cleared away to reveal four people. “Good work,” Exquisite said with a cruel smile, putting her hand on Kraken’s arm and giving him a small jolt of her power as a reward.
“Now, he should think twice about his friendships,” Iron said with a scowl.
“Yeah,” Drama agreed with a smirk. “If this doesn’t convince him it’s a bad idea to join those guys, I don’t know what will.”
Exquisite nodded agreement. “Indeed. Divide and conquer.”
Whateley Academy, Monday late morning, Nov 26th, 2007
Melissa Chambers made her way to the Crystal Hall, half skipping as she did so. She was careful not to look behind herself, even though she was quite aware of the fact that she was being followed. However, that was nothing new.
“Stupid Geist,” Melissa muttered to herself.
Geist was always following her, trying to catch her doing something wrong. As if Melissa would be sloppy enough to let someone like Geist catch her. At first, it had been kind of annoying, but now, it had become REALLY annoying.
Imp had told Melissa that she should think of Geist as a good training opportunity, and as someone whom she could practice her skills on. Melissa had definitely done that, using Geist to practice spotting a tail…and not the kind that Imp or Monkeywrench had, as well as losing one. Of course, Melissa had also had a little fun with the nosey girl too.
Melissa giggled as she remembered the time she snuck up behind Geist, then used an air horn to make the other girl scream and jump. Of course, the time she’d dumped a bucket of plastic spiders over Geist’s head had been even better. That had been totally hilarious. Thinking about these things brought a smile to Melissa’s lips, though this still wasn’t enough to truly distract from her worries.
A few seconds later, Melissa decided that it was time to lose Geist, for practice if nothing else. After all, she was heading to Crystal Hall for lunch and Geist already knew it, but it was the principle of the thing. At least, that was what Imp sometimes said.
Once the decision had been made, Melissa quickly walked to the other side of a large boy, one who was big enough to hide her from Geist’s view. Then she teleported away, not going far, but appearing on the other side of a small group of Underdogs who were talking. As soon as she appeared at her new location, she turned invisible.
For a brief moment, Melissa considered going after Geist, maybe giving the other girl a wedgie or a wet willie. She giggled at the idea, imagining how Geist would jump and scream. That would be hilarious. However, she was too impatient to see her friends, so ran for Crystal Hall instead, wanting to get as much distance as she could before her invisibility wore off.
It didn’t take long to reach Crystal Hall, or to grab some lunch. As soon as Melissa had her food, she hurried to the table she usually shared with her friends, only to pause and look the group over.
“Where’s Monkey?” she asked in disappointment. Of course, Aegis was missing too, but Melissa wasn’t as worried about him. “I guess he’s not here yet…”
“I haven’t seen him today,” Alyss said, a reminder that Monkeywrench had never shown up at breakfast.
“He wasn’t in our devisor class,” Amy said with a thoughtful scowl.
Melissa scowled as well. Not only had Monkeywrench missed their group breakfast, he’d also missed Imp’s art class. He LOVED that class and would never just skip it. Now she was really getting worried about her friend, at least more than she’d already been.
Darqueheart said, “I thought it was rather quiet today…”
“There has been a certain lack of…banana jokes,” Sapphire added with a smirk.
“I’m sure he’ll turn up,” Amy said, though she still looked a little worried. “Devisors tend to get caught up in their projects, so he’s probably just squirreled away…”
“You mean, monkeyed away,” Melissa corrected her with a grin.
“Monkeyed away in his lab,” Amy continued. “He’ll probably show up at dinner with some kind of new banana ray gun or something.”
“Or a poo launcher,” Sapphire said with a look of disgust. “He said something about making one…”
“Ewwww, gross,” Melissa gasped, then making a gagging gesture. “You’re probably right.”
Just then, Aegis walked up with his tray, pausing to ask, “What did I miss?”
“We were just talking about what horrific thing Monkeywrench is making now,” Darqueheart said with a look of disapproval, though Melissa thought the girl was holding back a grin, or maybe even a chuckle. She always acted tough, but Melissa knew that she was really a nice person. Just…kind of sad and hurt at times, though she really tried to hide it. In fact, she was a little like the Imp that way.
“I hope it isn’t that poo gun he was joking about,” Aegis said with a shake of his head.
Then Aegis sat down right beside Darqueheart, even though several other seats were open. The two of them shared an awkward glance, though neither made any move to change seats. Melissa noticed this and grinned, though she did hold back the urge to start singing ‘Aegis and Darqueheart sitting in a tree…’ But a moment later, she paused and the grin faded as she remembered Rapier and how he wasn’t interested in her.
“So, I was thinking,” Amy announced, getting everyone to look at her.
“That must have hurt,” Darqueheart said. But instead of being mean about it, it seemed to be more of a friendly joke.
Amy appeared to take it the same way, because she just smiled. “I meant to wait for everyone to be here, but it wouldn’t hurt to bring this up now…” She paused at that, then looked around the table. “If we’re going to be a training team, we’re going to have to start training.”
“Good point,” Aegis agreed. He frowned for a moment before admitting, “I had no idea what I didn’t know, until I actually started training…”
“We got lucky with those guys in Berlin,” Alyss pointed with a nod of approval. “I wouldn’t count on that happening again.”
Melissa considered this for a moment before she nodded her agreement as well. Imp said that she was setting up some training SIMs for Melissa, so she’d be able to get some real practice in. Maybe Imp could help set something up for Shenanigans too. It wouldn’t hurt to ask.
“We’ve already got some people lined up to come at us here on campus,” Amy said, slowly looking around the table. “They’ve been fairly hands-off for a couple weeks, but I expect that to change pretty soon. We need to be ready for them when they do.”
“Let those bastards try,” Sapphire hissed, flashing her fangs. “I’d love to bite Exquisite again…maybe with enough venom to take her out for a month or two…”
Melissa grinned at that. “That sounds kind of kinky…” Several pairs of eyes turned to stare at Melissa in surprise. She just flashed another grin. “What? I turn invisible. You’d be surprised how much I overhear… Like, did you know that Porcelain sleeps naked on top of her bed.” Her eyes went to Darqueheart since they were both in Whitman with Porcelain. “Drama Queen…Bethany was complaining about it the other day.”
“Did you happen to overhear when Exquisite’s crew were planning to make their move?” Aegis asked.
“No,” Melissa admitted, deflating a little.
Sapphire rolled her eyes. “What good is invisibility if you can’t spy on your enemies?”
“I can think of a use or two,” Aegis said, only to earn a glare from several of the other girls. Melissa giggled at that.
“We’ll need to figure something out for training,” Amy said, looking just a little exasperated. “We can talk about this again though once everyone is present.”
“That sounds reasonable,” Alyss said with a nod.
“Yes,” Darqueheart agreed.
“I’ll ask Imp if she can get us in the SIMs,” Melissa mused. “I bet that would be a great way to practice, so if we ever run into those Triangle jerks again…or Remedy…or Jerk Rabbit…or Parakeet…”
“We get the idea,” Darqueheart commented with an exasperated look. “You’re a trouble magnet.”
Everyone chuckled at that, even Melissa, who didn’t bother to deny the accusation. After all, even she knew that the other girl was right. Every time Melissa turned around, she was getting into trouble…or as she preferred to think of it…getting into adventures.
Amy gave a wry smile. “Unfortunately, I think most of us are to one degree or another.”
“Speaking of the Imp,” Aegis said, looking around the table, his eyes settling on Melissa the longest. “Did you guys see that video that’s been going around?”
“The one where the Imp fought Mister Williams?” Darqueheart asked with an almost evil grin. “It was…impressive.”
“It was AWESOME,” Melissa exclaimed proudly. After all, she was the Imp’s apprentice, not to mention her biggest fan, so it was great that other people could see how cool the Imp was too. “Did you see the way she took that big jerk down?”
Nearly everyone nodded at that, except for Amy and Sapphire. Amy admitted, “I’ve heard about it, but haven’t seen it yet.”
“I know the Imp is a villain,” Aegis said with a scowl and a shake of his head. “But I didn’t know she could fight like THAT…”
“She usually doesn’t,” Melissa said, which got everyone’s attention. “I mean, I’ve seen her fight lots of times, but she usually doesn’t really hurt anyone… Well, there was the time she cut off Jerk Rabbit’s foot, but that was because he kidnapped me and was trying to turn me into his sidekick…”
“That sounds like an interesting story,” Alyss commented with a chuckle.
“And I heard she cut off Crash Test Dummy’s hand,” Melissa continued, unaware of the concerned looks she was getting.
Darqueheart snorted. “If they were anything like Williams, I’m sure they deserved it.” That earned a couple nods since Mr. Williams had a reputation as the kind of teacher that nobody wanted to get stuck with.
“Well, I heard it was only in the SIMs,” Amy said thoughtfully. “Which means that it was all virtual and he wasn’t actually hurt for real.”
“Pity,” Darqueheart said at the same time that Sapphire responded, “Too bad.” The two girls looked at each other and shared a smile.
“I know she’s funny…and she seems kind of goofy and harmless,” Sapphire said, then shook her head. “But from what I’ve heard about this fight, I wouldn’t want to fight her for real…”
Aegis nodded at that, then with a grim expression, he stated, “You don’t. Trust me on that.” This earned him a couple curious looks.
They spent the rest of the lunch talking about the video, which really made Melissa want to go watch it again. Maybe she’d even upload it to her fan club, because she had no doubt that the rest of Imp’s fans would want to see it too.
But as Melissa got up from the table, she paused to look around, frowning a little as she did. Monkeywrench had never shown up. And though Melissa knew that her furry buddy was probably in his lab, working on something like a bananarang, stink bomb, or poo gun, she still had a bad feeling. She just hoped that he showed up soon, because she really didn’t like worrying about him like this.
Melissa stepped out of Crystal Hall, then paused to glance around, trying to see if Geist was hanging around anywhere. She still had enough time before class to mess with the other girl a little.
“Where did I put my itching powder?” Melissa muttered as she absently patted her pockets.
As Melissa began walking across the quad, she continued to think of ways to distract herself at Geist’s expense. Replacing her perfume with some of Trixie’s stink bomb juice would be hilarious, but that would mean making another deal with Trixie, and Melissa suspected that Trixie was still looking to prank her again. After all, Trixie still hadn’t retaliated from the pudding joke.
Suddenly, Melissa heard someone scream from above her. She looked up, only to see another student falling out of the sky…straight toward her. Before she could teleport out of the way, she was hit with a surge of confusion that left her frozen for several seconds, just long enough for her to be hit.
Melissa was smashed into the ground by the fallen student, who she only vaguely identified as Silverwing. Her entire body exploded in pain and a scream tore out of her throat without her even being aware of it.
“Oh my God, I’m sorry,” Silverwing blurted out in horror as he tried getting off Melissa. “I lost control…”
“Someone call Doyle,” a nearby voice screamed in panic.
However, there was another voice, one that whispered into her ear. “These kinds of accidents tend to happen when you hang around with the wrong people.” And with that, Drama…Drama Queen…Bethany from Whitman stood up and said, “Think about that,” before she hurried away.
Whateley Academy, Monday late morning, Nov 26th, 2007
Gravmax stood back and watched with a smirk as that annoying brat Mischief was carried away to Doyle for medical treatment. From what he could see, and from the awkward angle of one of her legs, it looked like she’d broken multiple bones. Silverwing was much more resilient and appeared to have suffered nothing worse than a few bruises from his crash. A pity.
“Just like we planned,” Gravmax told Starbright and Drama, who both stood beside him. “Good job, Bethany.”
“Thanks,” Drama respond with a smug look.
Gravmax felt just a little annoyed by Drama’s smugness. After all, she might have helped, but this whole accident had only been possible due to his powers. He was the one who deserved most of the credit, though he reluctantly admitted Exquisite deserved some as well since it had been her idea in the first place.
“I can’t believe this actually worked,” Starbright said. “I mean, all we had to do was wait until someone was flying over her head…and then you hit them with your gravity thing and make them fall right on her.”
“Don’t forget that SOMEONE had to maneuver him into flying there,” Drama pointed out with a smirk, reminding them of how she was the one who’d given Silverwing the urge to fly in that direction, just like she’d been the one to make sure that Mischief had been too distracted to escape.
“Either way,” Gravmax reminded them, “we took that brat down, but nobody can blame us. Everyone saw Silverwing lose control and crash into her…” Then in a mocking tone, he continued, “Such a horrible accident, and all because that freak couldn’t control his powers very well…”
Just then, Gravmax noticed another student was walking nearby, possibly even close enough to overhear them. “Stupid Underdogs,” he snarled, recognizing the boy as Doorstop…a naturally born victim.
Gravmax smirked and gestured towards the other boy, unleashing his power at the same time. A moment later, Doorstop was suddenly hit with a massive increase in gravity which caused him to smash into the ground, face first. Gravmax laughed at that then continued to hold the other boy there for several more seconds before he finally turned and walked away. So far, this had been a very good day, and it was only bound to get better.
Schuster Hall, Monday afternoon, Nov 26th, 2007
Amy quickly walked down the hallway of Schuster Hall on her way to her sixth period Powers Lab class. However, she much rather would have been going to Doyle to check on Melissa, but unfortunately, she wouldn’t be able to do that until classes were over for the day.
“Just a little longer,” Amy reminded herself, frowning in worry.
She’d heard about Melissa’s accident right after lunch and had wanted to go check on her friend ever since. From what she’d heard, Melissa had been hurt pretty bad, which made Amy feel guilty for not being able to go see her yet.
Amy scowled, thinking about how Melissa had been injured in an accident at the same time that Monkeywrench was missing. Sure, she had absolutely no reason to believe that something bad had happened to her furry teammate, but it still seemed like suspiciously bad timing. And after being at Whateley for a couple months now, Amy was learning to be skeptical of coincidences.
Just then, Amy spotted Iron, standing in the hallway ahead of her. Her hand immediately went to her needle gun, which rested in its holster, though she didn’t bother to draw it. Iron hadn’t made any hostile moves yet, and it wouldn’t do much good against him anyway.
“Too bad I don’t have my coil gun,” Amy muttered to herself.
Unfortunately, her new coil gun would have been just a little too obvious to carry around campus easily, and even more importantly, it was sitting in her dorm room with only a few rounds of ammunition available. Until she finished making more rounds, the thing wouldn’t be of much use.
Amy watched Iron carefully, relieved to see that he wasn’t making any hostile moves towards her. In fact, all he was doing was standing there, watching her with a faint smirk. But WHY was he smirking?
On a sudden suspicion, Amy snapped around, only to see Exquisite coming up from behind. Exquisite froze in surprise once she realized that Amy saw her and that their ambush wasn’t going to work this time.
“He distracts me,” Amy muttered to herself in understanding. “And she hits me from behind. Again.” Then she glared at Exquisite, putting a hand on her needle gun again, though she didn’t draw it. “That’s not gonna work this time…”
Exquisite quickly covered up her surprise, then calmly walked past, acting as though she hadn’t been about to attack Amy. Amy stayed on her guard until the other girl had gone, though she struggled the entire time with the temptation to shoot her. It would have been nice to see a dozen needles sticking out of that bitch, though Amy managed to restrain herself…barely. If she shot Exquisite like this, without any obvious provocation, she would have been seen as the aggressor and would have gotten in trouble.
Iron’s smug expression turned to one of annoyance, before he turned and walked off as well. It was only then that Amy let out a sigh of relief, thankful that she’d spotted the ambush in time. The last thing she wanted was to be rolling around on the floor in agony again. One zap from Exquisite’s powers was more than enough for a lifetime.
Then Amy’s violet eyes went wide in realization. “Melissa…” It hadn’t been an accident. “I’ve got to warn the others…”
Whateley Academy, Monday afternoon, Nov 26th, 2007
Alyss took her time walking across campus to her sixth period class, Powers Lab. She was in no hurry to get there, especially since she rather would have gone to Doyle to check on Melissa. Melissa was a good kid. A bit excitable and prone to mischief, but still a good kid. She didn’t deserve to be stuck in a hospital. Nobody did.
“Damn hospitals,” Alyss muttered, scowling at the memory of just how much time she’d spent in a hospital herself. There were some bad memories associated with hospitals, ones that she’d prefer not to think about.
A moment later, a couple other students walked past Alyss, making her take a double look. They were normal looking kids, or at least, they looked like normal kids rather than exemplars, yet they still towered over her. She’d spent most of her life being larger than almost everyone around her, but now, it was almost the exact opposite. Now, it seemed like she was always the shortest person in the room.
“Ironic,” Alyss mused with a shake of her head. “My entire life has turned into one ironic joke.”
Alyss could have bitched and moaned about her life, about how she’d lost her adult status and had become a kid again. About how she’d turned from a real manly man, into a cute little girl. Or even about how she’d changed from being a normal person into being a mutant, which a lot of people, including some of her closest friends, thought of as monsters. However, Alyss refused to think of her new life as a curse. Instead, she preferred to think of it as a second chance…and as an opportunity.
Now, she could see her granddaughters grow up. She had a chance to help Rachael, as well as other people who suffered from Diedricks. And of course, she was able to make new friends and experience now things, opening herself to a life that she never would have been able to imagine before all of this.
In a strange way, Alyss was almost thankful for the cancer that had consumed her body and nearly killed her. Or at least, she was thankful to Rachael’s cure, which hadn’t gone as expected. Those misfortunes had resulted in the life she had now.
The goth Lolita looked in the direction of Doyle, silently promising herself that she’d go visit Melissa once classes were over. Maybe she could cheer her up a bit. After all, if anyone knew how depressing it could be to be stuck in a hospital, it was Alyss.
A moment later, Alyss heard something from behind her. She snapped around, preparing to fight, though holding herself back so that she didn’t accidentally hurt someone. Before she could see who was there, she was hit with a flash of bright light.
“MY EYES,” Alyss exclaimed, momentarily blinded.
Suddenly, Alyss’ feet slipped out from beneath her and she hit the ground, face first. She put her hands on the ground in order to push herself up, only to feel something cold, slippery, and hard. Her vision cleared enough so that she could see the ice that spread out around her, though there were still some black spots that were quickly fading away.
“What the fu...?” Alyss started, confused about where the ice came from.
Alyss slowly got to her feet, which wasn’t easy on the slippery ice. She barely managed to stand when more ice appeared all around her…and on her body. In the blink of an eye, the ice had become even thicker, spreading out so that Alyss’ entire body had been caught in it, leaving only her face uncovered.
It took Alyss several seconds to realize that she was frozen…literally. She was almost entirely encased in a massive block of ice, one that kept her from moving at all. And since she’d been caught while off balance, she didn’t even have any leverage to help her struggle against it. However, that didn’t stop her from trying.
“Are you okay?” someone exclaimed.
Alyss couldn’t tell who it was at first, at least until they changed position and stood in front of her. It was Ringo, whom she knew from the garage. He was with the Gearheads too.
“fine and dandy,” Alyss responded sarcastically.
Other students began to gather around, gasping, staring, and in a few cases…laughing. She scowled in frustration and embarrassment, wanting to kick someone’s ass, but not knowing who to aim for. Not that she could even reach them at the moment.
“Let me help,” one of the students, a GSD case named Tisiphone announced. “I’ll get you out…”
The somewhat demonic looking girl held out her hands and fired a blast of fire into the ice beside Alyss. A second blast was fired on the other side. This weakened the ice enough so that Alyss was finally able to break free. Shards of ice shattered and collapsed around her, falling into the melted slush that Tisiphone had created.
“Finally,” Alyss gasped, glad to be able to move again. “Thanks.”
It was at this point that security arrived, or at least, two men in security uniforms. “Are you okay?” one of them asked in a worried tone while the other demanded, “What happened here?”
Alyss snorted at that. “What happened is that someone just earned a boot up their ass…” She paused to glance around, realizing how many students were now present, many of them girls. “Sorry. Pardon my French.”
“Someone attacked her,” Ringo pointed out the obvious.
One of the security people went to Alyss while the other began looking around. The one in front of her asked, “Can you tell me what happened and who did this?”
“I didn’t see them,” Alyss admitted, clenching her fists tightly and trying to control her temper. It wasn’t easy since she wanted to lash out and punch something…or someone. “They hit me from behind…”
“I just got here,” Ringo announced. “And found her like this…”
Alyss quickly realized that this was the situation for everyone, as all the students who’d come to see what was going on, had all arrived after the fact. None of them had seem the actual attack, or at least, would admit to it.
“Well, I think I found the weapon,” the other security guard said.
Alyss turned to see him picking a weapon up off the ground, a high-tech gun that looked like something Rachael would use as Lady Havoc. However, Alyss did recognize the gun, and not from Rachael. She’d seen it before…in Poe. That freeze ray belonged to Hardwyrd.
Doyle Hall, Monday afternoon, Nov 26th, 2007
“I’m fine,” Melissa said.
The truth was, she was really hurting, even after the painkillers that Dr. Tenent had given her. That was no surprise though considering just how badly she’d been hurt. She’d broken her arm, her leg, and two ribs, and that wasn’t even counting all the bruises. Silverwing really hit her hard.
“Well, you don’t look fine,” Maxine pointed out.
Maxine was Melissa’s roommate, a petite girl with pointed ears and magenta hair. She kind of looked like an elf, though she didn’t like anyone calling her that. And at the moment, she was staring at the cast on Melissa’s arm…and the one on her legs. Fortunately, Maxine couldn’t see the bandages around Melissa’s chest or she’d probably stare at those too.
Melissa shifted position in her hospital bed, wincing from the pain as she did so. “Did you know that the doctor used MAGIC to fix me?” She grinned again. “How cool is that?”
“I’d say that you need a bit more fixing,” Sapphire said from the doorway.
Melissa looked up and saw her training team entering the room. All of them were there except for Monkeywrench. She frowned at that, wondering why Monkey wasn’t there with the rest of them. He was her buddy and should have come to visit already.
“Obviously,” Maxine agreed before giving a nod of acknowledgement to Darqueheart.
“The doc said she can’t heal everything all at once,” Melissa explained, glaring down at her own casts. “She said it works better if it heals over a couple days, but I should be all better by tomorrow.”
“That’s good, at least,” Aegis said, giving Melissa a worried look.
Maxine looked at the newcomers before turning to Melissa. “I’ve got to get going. I’ll see you again tomorrow.”
Once Maxine was gone, Melissa looked at her friends and hesitated a moment before blurting out, “Drama did this to me… At least, after I got hurt, she kinda sorta suggested she did…”
“That little bitch,” Darqueheart hissed, her eyes narrowing in anger.
Melissa was a little surprised that none of her friends seemed to doubt her at all. “I don’t know how she made it happen though…”
“From what I heard,” Amy said grimly, “she probably had Gravmax helping.”
“Yeah,” Sapphire agreed. “He would be able to pull Silverwing from the sky.”
“And it fits with everything else that’s been going on,” Amy finished.
Melissa blinked at that. “What do you mean?”
Amy and Alyss looked at each other and both scowled. A couple seconds later, Amy explained, “Alyss and I were both jumped today too. Or at least, they TRIED to jump me… I saw it coming and managed to avoid it.”
“Someone blasted me with a freeze ray or something,” Alyss grumbled. “Security found Hardwyrd’s gun and went to talk to him, but someone stole the gun from him last week, and he said that it wasn’t nearly powerful enough for what happened. I think someone was trying to frame him.”
“I think we can guess the who,” Sapphire pointed out grimly. “The question is how?”
“There are lots of ways to freeze people,” Aegis pointed out. “And a lot of kids on campus who could do it. I mean, devisors, mages, some avatars…”
“True,” Darqueheart agreed. “Wendigo can do freezing magic like that, but I don’t think he has any reason to come after Alyss…”
“And then there’s Monkeywrench,” Amy said, looking worried.
“What about Monkey?” Melissa demanded. “Where is he?”
“That’s the problem,” Amy responded. “We don’t know.” She shook her head at that, then explained, “I talked to Balderdash, who said that Monkeywrench left his lab last night, well before she did. I talked to his roommate, Blackbox, and he said that Monkeywrench never came back to their room.”
Melissa gasped at that, feeling a surge of worry for her friend. However, it was Darqueheart who announced, “Then I think we can assume they went after Monkeywrench too.”
“Yeah,” Alyss agreed with fierce expression. “I think we need to talk to Exquisite and her people and ask them a few questions.”
Everyone nodded agreement at that. “Then what do we do?” Aegis asked, making a show of cracking his knuckles. “Go up and demand they give us some answers?”
“That might be…dangerous,” Darqueheart pointed out.
“And it would get us in trouble with security,” Sapphire added.
Aegis grimaced at that. “Well, unless anyone has a better idea…”
“Actually,” Amy in a calm voice, though her eyes burned with anger. “I do have a better idea.”
Melissa leaned forward to hear what Amy had planned, only to wince in pain. “What are we gonna do?”
“YOU are going to stay here and rest,” Amy insisted. “Do what the doctor says and get better. The rest of us will go find Monkey.”
“You promise?” Melissa asked in a worried voice.
“I promise we’ll do our best,” Alyss added.
Melissa hesitated a moment before nodding agreement. “Okay then… Just be careful, okay…”
“We will,” Amy assured. “And you be careful too.”
After that, Melissa watched as her friends turned and left, leaving her all alone in the hospital room. Or at least, she assumed she was all alone at first, but then, she realized that she could almost feel someone else in the room. There was a faint blur in the air near the doorway, for just a second. One that she’d seen before.
“IMP!” Melissa cried out excitedly.
As soon as she’d said this, the Imp suddenly appeared, right where she’d been staring. She looked pleased for some reason and kind of proud. “Good job spotting me. Not many people can without cheating.”
Melissa grinned at that. “You were here earlier too, weren’t you…?”
The Imp nodded at that. “There were too many people around for my tastes though.”
For a moment, the Imp just remained where she was and stared at Melissa, her expression turning to one of sympathy and concern. Without another word, she came over and gave Melissa a gentle hug. This was a side of the Imp that most people never saw, and Melissa was proud to be one of the few people who ever got to see it.
Then the Imp said, “I just came in at the end of the conversation, but am I to understand that this was no accident?”
There was a flash of anger in the Imp’s eyes, and for a moment, she actually looked scary. Melissa felt sorry for anyone who made the Imp get like that, or at least, she felt sorry for what the Imp would do to them. Her thoughts turned to the SIM match that she’d seen.
“Yeah,” Melissa admitted, feeling depressed at how easily she’d been taken down. She could turn invisible, and teleport, and even walk through walls. She was supposed to be invincible, but those jerks had still managed to hurt her. “But please don’t go after them…”
“Oh?” Imp asked, looking a little startled by that request.
“I need to do this myself,” Melissa blurted out. Her mind swirled as she tried to figure out exactly what she wanted and how to phrase it. Fortunately, the Imp was willing to wait for her to gather her thoughts. “I’m tired of being kidnapped, and hurt, and watching my friends get hurt… I need to learn how to do this kind of stuff myself…so I can protect myself and my friends.”
The Imp slowly nodded her head. “I…can understand that.” She gave Melissa a strange look, then let out a sigh. “Well, it seems that they’re just kids, not a real threat, so… Okay, I’ll keep my distance and let you deal with this.”
“You will?” Melissa asked, almost surprised at how easily her hero had agreed.
“You have to get back at them,” the Imp announced, using the tone she usually did when she was making some kind of reference to a TV show or movie that Melissa had never seen. “It’s a moral imperative.” Melissa didn’t recognize the reference, but she still grinned in response.
“Bwa ha ha ha,” Melissa exclaimed in her best evil laugh. “Revenge will be mine…”
Imp chuckled at that, then her expression turned serious. “Honestly, revenge is usually a bad idea. It’s unprofessional and dangerous. Once you start taking things personally, you lose focus and become sloppy. That is how you get caught…or worse.”
That made Melissa blink. “But what about when you…?”
However, the Imp continued as though she hadn’t interrupted. “In my line of business…and your father’s…things happen. You have professional disagreements, which admittedly, can get a bit rough. You make enemies and they come after you. That’s just part of business, and you need to be prepared to accept it.” Then she scowled. “Of course, there are times when someone crosses a line and you HAVE to teach them a lesson. When that does happen, be smart about it.”
“Okay,” Melissa responded in a subdued voice, feeling a little chastised. “But these guys really really crossed a line…”
“Then you deal with it,” her mentor said with a gentle smile. “But try to be careful and not go too far. If you do, you could just end up escalating the situation and making things even worse for yourself.”
Melissa nodded agreement. “Okay.”
For a moment, the Imp just stood there, silently staring at Melissa. Then she reached out and gently put her hand on Melissa’s cheek. “There is one more thing…”
“Only one?” Melissa asked with a weak grin.
“Well, for the moment,” the Imp responded with a grin of her own. “And we will be talking more about professional ethics later on…” Melissa frowned at that. Then the Imp continued in a serious tone, “If you or your team are caught, I will disavow any knowledge of your actions.” Before Melissa could ask what that meant, she explained. “What I mean is that if you get caught breaking school rules, I won’t be able to help you with Carson or security. So make sure that you’re careful…”
“And don’t get caught,” Melissa finished with a grin and a nod of understanding. “Got it.”
“Then good luck,” Imp told her with a smile.
With that, the Imp turned and started for the door, sort of vanishing as she did until there was only an Imp shaped blur in the air. Then even that seemed to vanish entirely. However, Melissa still heard a faint whisper of, “They grow up so fast…”
Whateley Tunnels, Monday evening, Nov 26th, 2007
Chris made his way through the tunnels beneath the campus, slowly heading towards Emerson Cottage. He normally didn’t bother with the tunnels, though he had to admit, they were really useful whenever the weather was especially bad. In fact, when that big snow storm hit a few weeks earlier, he’d been extremely thankful for the tunnels.
At the moment, Chris’ thoughts were on his friends and the frustration he felt at not being able to help them. How could he become a hero when he couldn’t even protect his own friends and teammates? His fists clenched at that thought and his PK shell momentarily began to glow, before he relaxed and let it fade away.
Amy had been jumped by Iron and Exquisite, or at least, they’d tried to jump her. Alyss had been attacked, but nobody saw who did it, including Alyss herself. Melissa was currently in the hospital after her ‘accident’, and then there was Monkeywrench. Nobody seemed to have any idea of what had happened to him or where he currently was.
“Don’t worry,” Chris quietly promised. “We’ll find you.”
Chris scowled as he continued walking, noting the tunnel walls. He wasn’t claustrophobic, but he could see how some people could become that way. The fact that nobody else was around, and he seemed to be there all by himself, only made the eerie feeling all the stronger.
Just as Chris started to walk past an intersection, he was suddenly hit from the side with enough force to send him flying into the wall across from him. He smashed into the wall, though his PK shell flared up and protected him from the brunt of the impact. A moment later, he collapsed to the ground, his whole body aching and…soaked?
“What the hell?” Chris gasped, getting to his knees. His entire body was soaking wet and there was a huge puddle of water along the ground. That puddle had NOT been there a few seconds earlier. With a grimace, he got to his feet, announcing, “I take it you want a fight…”
Two figures emerged from the intersection that Chris had been walking past. His eyes went to the one on the left, a dark-skinned boy whom Chris immediately recognized. After all, they not only lived in the same cottage, but also only a couple doors down from each other.
“Iron,” Chris stated in a cold tone.
Chris’ eyes went to the other figure, a large boy who was six and a half feet tall and heavily muscled, with long dark hair. And though Chris had never talked with Kraken before, he knew who the boy was. Not only had he seen Kraken around, but he’d also heard about him from some of his friends in Shenanigans.
“Exemplar and water manifestor,” Chris said, mostly to remind himself who he faced.
“Do you really think you can take both of us?” Iron asked with a dismissive sneer. “You can’t even beat me…”
“We’ll see about that,” Chris responded with a smirk.
He felt good about his chances against Iron since they had nearly identical powers. Both had PK shells, and they were even about the same power level, though admittedly, Iron’s was a little stronger. However, Chris reminded himself, his shell was more flexible, and even more importantly…he’d been training with the Imp.
Chris tensed up and charged his PK shell, which glowed with a golden aura. “Bring it, Devon…”
Instead of charging towards Chris, Iron remained where he was, smirking. “I’ll let my associate handle this…”
Kraken grinned, though it wasn’t a friendly one. “I heard you like to fight,” the large boy said. “Good. So do I.”
Even as the last words were leaving his mouth, Kraken raised his hands and fired a blast of water, which hit Chris like a fire hose. Once again, Chris was thrown back, where he slammed into the wall again. This time, he hit the ground with a grunt but immediately began getting back to his feet.
“It’ll take more than that to take me down,” Chris boasted.
“Then it’s a good thing I have more,” Kraken responded. “A LOT more…”
Kraken held his hands out in front of himself again, but this time, instead of firing a mere blast of water, a massive wave formed in front of him and pushed forward instead. Chris tried to leap to the side, but the wave was too large, filling up half the tunnel. It slammed into him and pushed him back again, nearly drowning him in the process. When the water finally splashed away, Chris dropped to his knees, gasping for breath.
“Do you still think you can take both of us?” Iron demanded, looking even more smug, if that was possible. “By yourself?”
“Who said he was by himself?” a new voice called out.
Chris turned to look, seeing Amy standing there with a strange looking gun, which looked sort of like the kind of toy that could shoot marshmallows or ping pong balls. However, he knew Amy well enough to know better than that. Standing beside her was Alyss, a cute little girl with a frilly black and white dress. And of course, she was cracking her knuckles in a way that was probably meant to be threatening, but which looked cute instead.
“About time,” Chris said.
“Hey,” Alyss protested. “We had to stay far enough back that they wouldn’t know we were there…”
Chris saw the look of surprise and confusion on Iron’s face, which was a lot better than that smirk he’d had before. “We knew you guys were targeting us whenever we’re by ourselves,” he explained with a smirk of his own. “So, we decided to set our own trap. Guess who was the bait?”
Iron glared at him with an angry expression. “There’s no need to fight,” he told Kraken. “Not now.”
However, Kraken just shook his head and argued. “Exquisite said to take this punk down, so that’s what I’m gonna do…”
Kraken charged forward, this time swinging his fist at Chris. At one time, not that long ago, Chris would have just stood his ground and taken the hit, just to prove how tough he was. Now, he knew better and leapt to the side, avoiding the hit entirely. This new fighting style was a LOT less painful than the old.
“I don’t think so,” Alyss exclaimed, running forward and getting between Kraken and Chris.
The large boy paused and stared down at Alyss in surprise, as though unable to understand why a little girl would even think of getting in his way. Then he shrugged it off and tried to punch her. However, Alyss grabbed his arm and pulled down, rolling Kraken over her tiny shoulder and slamming him into the floor. Chris recognized the move as one that Sensei Ito had shown them in BMA.
“Now, to tie you up,” Alyss said, forming a long length of ribbon in her hands.
Kraken snarled and a wave of water exploded from around his body, throwing Chris and Alyss back. Amy was far enough away that her feet were soaked, though she remained on her feet as well as mostly dry.
Iron scowled in annoyance and began to move towards Amy. His eyes were fixed on her weapon, which he must have realized was a threat. Chris saw Iron moving and took a step towards the other boy, though Amy shook her head and warned him back.
“Now,” Amy announced.
A moment later, the dark shadow in the corner seemed to come alive. A long tentacle shot out of the shadow and wrapped around Iron’s foot. He stared down at his foot in surprise for just a moment, right before the tentacle pulled back, yanking his feet out from under him and then dragging him into the shadow.
“What the hell?” Kraken demanded with a look of confusion.
Then he snarled and held out his hands again. Chris braced for another wave, but instead of water, a wave of ice spread out. Ice spread along the floor, wall and ceiling, and when it reached Chris, he scrambled back as fast as he could in order to avoid it.
“YOU!” Alyss exclaimed, her eyes narrowing as she glared at Kraken.
Alyss had been closer to Kraken than Aegis was and hadn’t been able to escape the approaching ice. Her feet were now entirely covered in ice, which went all the way up to her knees. Chris didn’t think that she’d be able to get out of there, but as he watched, she struggled against the ice and broke her feet loose, one at a time.
“I think we have unfinished business,” Alyss stated, not taking her eyes off Kraken.
“We all do,” Amy agreed, aiming her gun.
Kraken quickly looked back and forth between his opponents, scowling deeply as he did so. Then he glanced towards the darkly shadowed corner where Iron had vanished. A moment later, he seemed to make up his mind.
“We’ll finish this later,” Kraken stated as he held out his hands.
This time, instead of water or ice, a thick fog poured out and quickly surrounded him. In mere seconds, the fog was so thick that Chris could no longer make Kraken out. However, he heard the stomping footsteps heading down the corridor and away from them.
“I can catch him,” Chris offered eagerly.
“Don’t bother,” Amy told him. “I think it’s probably too risky to face him by yourself. Besides, we don’t need him right now.”
Alyss was scowling, looking pissed. “That rotten little bastard. He’s the punk that jumped me earlier…”
Chris noted that Alyss made no move to go after Kraken, even though the fog had cleared enough to see the tunnel he’d gone down. Her restrained made it easier for Chris to let out a sigh and remain where he was. Amy was right. Kraken would be too tough to take down on his own and wasn’t worth the trouble…yet.
“We knew he could manifest water,” Amy said, staring down the tunnel with a deep scowl of her own. “But apparently, it doesn’t have to be in liquid form.”
“Now then,” Alyss said, turning to look at the dark patch in the corner. “Down to business.”
The patch of darkness faded away until it was no darker than any ordinary shadow, revealing Darqueheart and Iron. He was on the ground, tied up with a black tentacle which also gagged him. Darquehart had was crouched over him with her knee on his chest and her clawed fingernails positioned next to his eyes.
“Yes,” Darqueheart said, glaring down at a wide-eyed and trembling Iron. She snarled, revealing her fangs and looking scary…terrifying even. However, Chris couldn’t help but thinking that she also looked really hot this way. “It’s time to tell us what you did with Monkeywrench…”
Whateley Tunnels, Monday evening, Nov 26th, 2007
Monkeywrench sat on the cold hard ground and leaned back against the wall. His eyes kept moving around the dark room, which was lit only by some glowing green slime on the walls. Before he’d come across this room, with its glowing walls, he’d been stumbling around in pure darkness, finding his way by feel alone.
The furry boy wrapped his arms around himself, not for warmth since his fur kept him warm enough, even down in the chilly tunnels, but for comfort. He was tired, hungry, and even though he hated to admit it…scared. He’d been lost in these tunnels for what seemed like forever, and until he’d stumbled across this room with its faint glowing walls, it had been countless hours since the last time he’d seen any light.
“Those jerks,” he exclaimed angrily.
After taking a deep breath and trying to calm himself down, Monkeywrench closed his eyes for a moment. He remembered how the strange fog had filled the tunnels, and how he had completely panicked, enough so that he’d actually run down some unknown tunnels and kept running until he was hopelessly lost. However, he also remembered the voices that had taunted him, and which told him who was responsible for this.
“Drama Queen,” he muttered. There was no doubt that Drama was the one who’d made him freak out like that, so it was her fault that he was in this situation now. “But she wasn’t alone.” Of that, he was also certain.
The thought of getting even with Drama and her friends was a pleasant one, but not one that Monkeywrench allowed himself to dwell on too much. After all, the first thing he had to do was get out of there, and he couldn’t do that if he couldn’t even see.
Monkeywrench slowly got back to his feet, trying to ignore how hungry he was. He pushed aside thoughts of banana cream pie and chocolate croissants, and instead tried to think of how he could get out of this. After all, he was a monkey of greater than average intelligence, not to mention his good looks. Then he stared at the slime covered walls and grinned.
“Nasty,” he said.
There was no way he was going to actually touch that stuff. Fortunately, he realized that he didn’t have to. With a plan forming, he quickly took off his shirt, then tied it unto a bundle. Holding one end of this bundle, he used the other end to brush up against the wall, coating half his shirt with the glowing slime.
“Its no flashlight,” Monkeywrench mused. “But it will have to do.”
Now that he had a light source, albeit a very weak one, Monkeywrench decided that it was time to finally leave the relative safety of this room. He slowly crept into the dark tunnels, feeling his heart racing with every step. There was no light besides his slime covered shirt, but he could hear strange sounds in the distance, echoing through the tunnels. His imagination was filled with images of alligators, mutant goldfish, and especially, mutant turtles of the ninja variety.
“Cowabunga,” Monkeywrench called out, only to hear echoes of his voice through the tunnel.
Monkeywrench had absolutely no idea where he was, or how to get home. However, he did notice that one tunnel sloped up a little. And though he might not know the way out, he figured that ‘up’ was definitely the best direction to go.
After walking for half an hour, Monkeywrench heard more sounds, though these ones seemed to be coming from the tunnel ahead of him. He froze for a moment, fears of alligators and monsters returning.
“I wish I had a barrel to throw at them,” he muttered. That thought momentarily triggered his devisor instincts, and he began to wonder if he could create some barrel themed weapons. That could be hilarious. But then, the noise came again, drawing him out of his thoughts. “Damn…”
Monkeywrench took a deep breath and listened for the sound, which sounded something like a growl, and it was coming closer. But after listening a minute longer, he was startled to realize that it wasn’t a growl. It was someone yelling. It took another minute before he realized that the voice was yelling, “MONKEY!”
“HERE!,” he yelled back excitedly. “I’M DOWN HERE!”
He hurried in the direction of the yelling, going as fast as he could considering the limited visibility. It didn’t take long before the voice became clearer and he could make out the owner. Aegis. Aegis was the one calling for him. And almost as soon as Monkeywrench made that realization, he saw the glow of a flashlight in the distance. He let out a long sigh, even as tears of relief began to form.
“There you are,” a voice exclaimed from the darkness, making Monkeywrench jump in surprise.
“Darqueheart?” he asked cautiously, recognizing the voice. The glow from the flashlight was much further down the tunnel, but Darqueheart’s voice had come from maybe ten yards away…from the darkness.
“It’s me,” she responded, now standing right beside him. The glow from his bundle was enough to reveal that it really was her…but barely. “I can see in the dark…”
“And that’s not all she can do,” Aegis added. The group had come much closer, enough so that Monkeywrench could now make them out. Aegis continued, “She has a spell that lets her find things in the dark… That’s how we found you…”
“It was nothing,” Darqueheart responded, sounding a bit self-conscious.
Now that the others were closer, along with their flashlights, Monkeywrench could see Darqueheart well enough to see that her expression matched the tone of her voice. She looked a bit embarrassed, which wasn’t something he normally saw from the usually bitter and defensive girl.
“Are you kidding?” Aegis asked. “If it wasn’t for your spell, we could have been looking for days…”
Monkeywrench watched Darqueheart in fascination. Her skin was pitch black, but she still looked like she was doing her best to blush. However, after a couple seconds, she glared at Aegis instead and said, “Shut up.” But in spite of that, she had a faint smile.
“I’m just glad we found you,” Alyss pointed out.
“I brought you something to eat,” Amy said, handing Monkeywrench a bottle of water and a sandwich.
He drank half the bottle, then quickly unwrapped the sandwich and took a large bite. “Peanut butter and banana,” he said in surprise. “On banana bread.” Then he grinned at her. “It’s almost like you know me or something…”
“Lucky guess,” Amy responded with an amused look.
“Thank you,” he said, giving her a hug of gratitude. “Now, if you don’t mind, let’s get out of here…”
“Good idea,” Aegis said. “I’m getting tired of all these tunnels.”
Monkeywrench snorted. “You have no idea…” Then he paused for a moment before adding, “I hope you guys remember how to get back…”
“I knew we forgot something,” Darqueheart responded in a deadpan tone.
Doyle Hall, Monday evening, Nov 26th, 2007
Melissa grinned as she hobbled out of Doyle on her crutches. It was a little awkward maneuvering around with the crutches when her arm was still wrapped up, not to mention, the twinge of discomfort from her ribs, but it was SO worth it.
“I’m FREE,” she cried out with a loud laugh.
The doctors had wanted to keep her in the hospital until the next day, but Melissa hadn’t wanted to stay there any longer than she had to, especially since she was feeling so much better. So, she’d decided to arrange an early release. All she’d had to do, was annoy the doctors and nurses so much, they practically kicked her out.
“A million bottles of beer on the wall,” she sang out in an off-key tune. “A million bottles of beer.”
“Why would you want a million bottles of beer?” a familiar voice asked from the side. “You’re too young to even drink.”
Melissa snapped around, earning a twinge of discomfort from her ribs. “Sapphire…”
Her blue-haired friend was standing off to the side, watching Melissa with a curious look. “I thought they were going to keep you there until tomorrow…”
“I got an early release for good behavior,” Melissa responded with a grin.
“Somehow, I doubt that,” Sapphire replied with a roll of her eyes. “At least, the good behavior part.”
Melissa stuck her tongue out at the other girl. “Fine, you caught me. It’s a breakout… I’m escaping the clink…” Then she quickly asked, “Hey, what are you doing here? You didn’t get hurt too, did you?”
“No, they haven’t come for me yet,” Sapphire answered with a shrug. “Actually, I’m here to watch your back…in case they try anything again.”
“Thanks,” Melissa told her, pleased that her friends were looking out for her. “I was just heading back to Whitman…”
Sapphire nodded at that. “I’ll accompany you there.”
They started towards Whitman Cottage, though they moved much slower than Melissa would have liked, even if it was due to her own limited mobility. She briefly wondered if she could get back to her dorm by making a few teleports, but then reminded herself that she wouldn’t be able to bring the crutches with her that way. And of course, she’d leave Sapphire behind, and she didn’t want to do that.
“The others are setting a trap for our…problems,” Sapphire explained as they walked.
“What kind of trap?” Melissa asked excitedly. “A big hole with lots of spikes in it? That would be so cool. Or maybe, one of those death traps. Can you imagine tying Bethany to a railroad track, then we can stand back and twirl our mustaches while the train comes…”
Sapphire snorted at that. “I think you’re hanging around that teacher a little too much.”
Melissa snorted right back. “Actually, I think I hang around her just the right amount.”
“Anyway,” Sapphire continued. “They’re going to make one of them tell us what they did with Monkeywrench.”
“Good,” Melissa agreed emphatically. She just wished she was there helping them, because she was still worried about Monkeywrench and wanted to do her part.
Melissa kept a careful eye on her surroundings, wanting to make sure that nobody snuck up on her again. She was pleased to note that her self-appointed bodyguard was paying attention too, since that made her feel just a little safer.
When they reached Whitman, Melissa said, “Thanks for walking me back. I’m good on my own from here…”
“Are you sure?” Sapphire asked, looking a little concerned.
“Yeah,” Melissa responded, flashing her a grin. “Bethany wouldn’t try anything here. Mrs. Savage is still mad at her for what she did to Mina, and would skin her alive if she caught her doing anything else…”
Then Melissa grinned, wondering what would happen if she told Mrs. Savage about Bethany’s involvement in her accident. Bethany would probably get in real trouble then. However, Melissa wasn’t the type to snitch, and that wasn’t what she’d meant when she told Imp that she’d handle this herself. No, that would require a more personal touch.
“What are you giggling about?” Sapphire asked suspiciously.
“Nothing,” Melissa answered, giving her best innocent look. However, Sapphire didn’t fall for it nearly as easily as her dad did. With a sigh, she admitted, “Just thinking about what I want to do to those jerks.”
Sapphire nodded her understanding. “Yes, they have earned some unpleasant consequences for their actions.”
“You can say that again,” Melissa said. She was disappointed when her friend didn’t take the bait and repeat her statement. Imp ALWAYS did.
Just then, Sapphire’s phone began to ring. She answered it and spoke for only a minute before hanging up and smiling at Melissa. “That was Amy. They found Monkeywrench, and he’s all right…”
“YES!” Melissa exclaimed, trying to jump in excitement, though the twinge in her leg reminded her that this was a bad idea.
“Apparently, he got lost in the tunnels,” Sapphire continued with a scowl. “I have the feeling that there’s more to the story than that, but Amy says she’ll explain in the morning.”
“As long as Monkey is all right,” Melissa said with a grin.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Sapphire said, giving her a nod before turning to leave.
Melissa went into her cottage, where she was met with Mrs. Savage, who gave her sympathies over the ‘accident’. Once again, Melissa knew that she could have caused Bethany some serious problems by telling Mrs. Savage, but instead, she just smiled and nodded, then continued her way inside.
When she reached the common room, several girls immediately jumped up and welcomed her back. A couple others gave her brief glances before returning to what they were doing.
“Are you okay?” Grabby asked.
“Better than I was a few hours ago,” Melissa answered with a grin.
Porcelain sat in one of the chairs and was reading. She looked up at Melissa and her while porcelain skin cracked as she moved, which looked kind of gross and really painful. “We were told that you would not return until tomorrow.”
“I got bored,” Melissa grumbled. “Do you believe they wanted me to stay in bed and not do ANYTHING?”
There were several chuckles at that. Melissa just gave the girls a friendly nod, then made her way toward her room. However, before she actually reached her room, she saw someone else walking down the hallway, someone she suddenly realized that she wanted to talk to.
“Hey, Mina,” Melissa called out.
Mina Maxwell was a slender girl with brown hair, who was cute but not especially pretty. In fact, she was plain looking and didn’t really stand out, other than her brightly colored socks or the bow she frequently wore in her hair. Mina also happened to be Darqueheart’s roommate, though that wasn’t why Melissa wanted to talk to her.
“Hey, Melissa,” Mina smiled at her. “Wow, that looks like it hurts.”
“A bit,” Melissa responded. “Anyway, I wanted to ask you about something?”
Mina gave her a curious look. “Okay?”
Melissa hesitated for a moment, knowing that this was a sensitive subject for Mina. “You used to room with Bethany…”
Those words were enough to cause a look of anger to flash over Mina’s face. “Yeah…”
At the start of the school year, Mina and Bethany had been roommates, but it hadn’t worked out well for Mina. Bethany had used her empathic powers to manipulate Mina into acting like her best friend…and servant…until Mrs. Savage caught on to what was going on. Mina was promptly moved to another room and Bethany was punished…and given a roommate who was immune to her power.
“Bethany lives up to her name,” Mina exclaimed. “Drama. She’s a total Drama Queen…”
“I know,” Melissa said in complete sympathy. “She and her friends have been messing with me and my friends, so I was really sorta kinda hoping you knew how her powers worked.” She gave Mina a hopeful look. “I mean, if you know anything I can use against her…”
For a moment, Mina just stared at Melissa, then she broke into a grin. “Sure. I mean, I didn’t know about this until later, but she’s got this thing with her power…”
Melissa leaned forward in anticipation. “Yeah?”
“Anyway,” Mina continued in an almost conspiratorial tone. “Her powers don’t work on you if your real emotions are stronger that what she’s pushing. So, if you hate her guts or are really pissed at her, then she can’t make you like her…” She looked smug at that, so Melissa figured that Mina must have used that example for a very personal reason.
“Okay,” Melissa said, considering what Mina had just told her. “Thanks a lot…”
“No problem,” Mina told her with a grin. “If you wanna mess with her, I’m more than happy to help…”
Melissa thanked her again, then finished hobbling to her room. When she went inside, she was disappointed to find that Maxine wasn’t there. She’d kind of been looking forward to talking with her roommate about what was going on.
Then Melissa noticed something on her bed…on her pillow. She moved closer and was surprised to see that it was a belt. No, not just a belt. It was a white belt with lots of pouches…a utility belt that looked a LOT like the one Imp had.
“What’s this?” Melissa asked, picking up a small note that was sitting on top of the belt.
‘I THINK ITS TIME TO EXPAND YOUR BAG OF TRICKS. -IMP.’
As soon as Melissa finished reading the note, she snatched up the belt and squealed in delight. This was totally awesome and she couldn’t wait to show it to her friends.
Whitman Cottage, Monday evening, Nov 26th, 2007
A shadowed figure was crouched down on the roof of Whitman Cottage, and was silently watching the ground below. It was late but several students still passed by, completely unaware of her presence above.
Finally, the figure pulled out a phone and dialed a number. As soon as it picked up, she asked, “Is Mister Pididiot there? First name Stu.” She paused to listen to the response, then grinned. “No, I didn’t call just to try pranking you. That’s just a nice benefit.”
With that, the figure stood up straight, absently swishing her tail behind her as she listened to the person on the other end. A faint smile formed as she listened to the threats, which were actually kind of amusing…until the last one.
“No,” she quickly responded. “Don’t hang up.” In a serious tone, she explained, “I’m calling about someone we both care about… No, not your brother.” There was a brief pause before the Imp stated, “I’m calling about your niece…”