Brief Glimpses 2
Table of Contents
A Whateley Academy Story
Brief Glimpses 2
This is a collection of vignettes which focuses on various background and supporting characters, giving a brief glimpse into each of their lives.
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Home Montana, Friday July 27th, 2007
Sapphire stared at her reflection in the mirror, depressed by what she saw. Some people, or admittedly, MOST people would say that the girl who stared back was very pretty, but not her. Never her.
She reached up and ran a hand over her cheek, watching her reflection copy the movement. Her skin was soft and smooth. Weak. Disgusting. WRONG.
And then there was her hair, which was a brilliant blue color and went down to her shoulders. That length was impressive when she considered the fact that she’d only had hair for a month. At least she liked the color, though that was only because it was the same color as her scales. Or, more accurately, the same color that her scales used to be.
A tear ran down Sapphire’s cheek. She tore her eyes from the mirror and then looked down at her shoulder where a small patch of scales remained. They’d lost their brilliant blue color and had become dull, almost as though they’d given up.
“My scales,” Sapphire whispered, touching her scales, some of the very few that she still had. One of the scales immediately broke loose and fell off, just like all the others had. “No…”
Sapphire winced and choked back a sob, though she wasn’t surprised.
She’d already known that even these last scales would soon be gone as well. After all, she’d been losing her scales for months…among other things.
The last time that Sapphire could remember being normal, had been over four months ago. That had also been the last time she’d shed her skin, which was one of the few things she wouldn’t miss. After she’d shed her skin, something had been wrong with her scales. Instead of being fresh and bright, a few patches of them had been dull…and loose. Shortly after this, they began to fall out…and that had only been the start of her nightmare.
Over the last couple months, Sapphire’s entire body had changed in shocking and horrifying ways. At first, it had only been her scales, but then she lost her tail. Unlike her beautiful scales, it hadn’t fallen off, but it had changed, splitting into two and forming into a pair of legs. Now, she’d lost her tail and was left with these two weird legs instead. Ugly, awkward, and clumsy legs. She hated them.
“No tail,” she muttered bitterly. “No scales. No claws…” She held out her hands, staring at the fingernails which fell short of the small claws that she’d once possessed. “No…me.”
Sapphire stared at the mirror again, glaring at it bitterly. That wasn’t her in the mirror. That was some stranger. Some…pretty.
For a moment, she was tempted to punch the mirror…to break it so that she didn’t have to look at that pretty. However, she restrained herself…barely. It wasn’t that she was afraid of injuring her hand, which she wasn’t. However, she was afraid of damaging the mirror. This was the only mirror that they had in their house, and Mama wouldn’t be happy if it was broken.
After a few seconds of fighting the temptation, Sapphire turned and walked away from the mirror. She grimaced with each step, desperately wishing that she still had her tail so she could move right.
Mama had told her that she’d get used to having legs, that all she needed to do was practice using them. Sapphire was skeptical about that, especially since she didn’t really want to get used to legs. She wanted her tail back.
“Sapphire,” her mother’s voice said from the doorway.
“Yes, Mama?” Sapphire responded.
Her mother slithered over, being graceful in spite of her large body and long tail. Sapphire was immediately envious.
“How are you doing?” Mama asked, gently putting her hand on Sapphire’s shoulder.
“I HATE it,” Sapphire blurted out. “This is all wrong…” She gestured down at herself.
“I know it isn’t easy,” her mother told her with a sigh. “But it will get easier with time…”
Sapphire bitterly spat out, “How would you know?”
The giant snake woman let out a sigh and lowered her body to be on Sapphire’s level. “I didn’t always look like this,” she reminded Sapphire. “Once, long ago…I looked similar to how you do now… For me, it was very difficult to lose my legs and grow a tail…but eventually…I got used to it. Now, I can’t even remember what it felt like to have legs.”
Sapphire lowered her eyes, feeling guilty for snapping at her mother. “I know, Mama…”
“Things will get better,” her mother promised, wrapping the end of her tail around Sapphire’s shoulders in a gentle hug. “I promise.”
The girl nodded, not believing her mother but not bothering to argue. It wouldn’t do any good.
“I’m going to go out for a slither,” Sapphire started to stay. “I mean a…walk.”
“Don’t be too long,” her mother said with a worried smile.
Sapphire didn’t answer as she turned to leave the house. Technically, it was more of a cave than a house, though it was hard to tell that from within since all the walls were flat and painted. When she stepped out of her home, she was in a large tunnel, one which served as the true ‘main street’ of the town.
The town of Home had once been a ghost town, completely abandoned until the founders bought the property, renamed the town, and then made it a sanctuary for those with GSD. Before long, they’d excavated numerous tunnels and living chambers, so now, more of the town was located beneath the surface than above it.
Numerous chambers branched off from the main tunnel, most of which were decorated to resemble the fronts of houses or businesses. Her own home was similarly decorated, almost looking like the front porch of one of the houses on the surface.
Some of the neighbors were out and about, giving Sapphire odd looks as she walked past. She winced at the attention, knowing what many of them had to be thinking.
“This was a bad idea,” Sapphire told herself, wishing that she’d stayed inside. “Maybe I should go upstairs for awhile…” Upstairs was what many of Home’s residences called the surface level of the town.
But in spite of that idea, Sapphire didn’t head upstairs. Instead, she walked a circuit around the tunnels, continuing to get odd or judgmental looks from many she passed. Even Mary, whom she’d been friends with since they were little, took one look at her and hurried off in the other direction.
When Sapphire had finished her round and was nearly back home, she saw her neighbor, Mrs. Toad, standing out in front of her own house. As far as Sapphire knew, there was no Mister Toad and never had been, but the older woman was called this because of her bloated body and warty green skin.
Mrs. Toad glared at Sapphire with an expression that was a mixture of jealousy and anger. “You don’t belong here,” she exclaimed bitterly before spitting out the insult, “Pretty…”
Sapphire winced at those words, especially since Mrs. Toad had always been nice to her…until she’d changed. Ever since then, Mrs. Toad, like many others in Home, had turned against Sapphire, telling her that she was no longer welcome there.
Without saying a word in response, Sapphire rushed to her own door, shaking from the emotion and desperate to escape her neighbor’s attention. As soon as she was inside her own house with the door closed behind her, she let out a sigh, though it did little to make her feel better.
“Why are you crying?” Sapphire heard.
She looked up to see her sister Opal, who looked like a smaller version of their mother, but with white scales instead of black. Sapphire felt a tinge of envy at the sight of her little sister, resenting the fact that Opal still had her tail and scales while she’d lost all of it.
“I’m not crying,” Sapphire lied, her voice a little sharp.
“Why don’t you go play with Ruby and Emerald,” their mother suggestede as she slithered into the room.
“But…,” Opal started to protest, until a pair of black scaled hands gently pushed her towards the door to the next room.
“Go,” their mother insisted firmly. Once Opal was gone, she hurried to Sapphire and wrapped the girl in a hug. “It’s all right honey…”
“No, it isn’t,” Sapphire protested tearfully. “It isn’t all right. It’s never going to be all right again…”
“Things will get better,” her mother promised. “Your new school will help you, and I’m sure you’ll make many new friends.”
Sapphire whipped at the tears on her cheeks. “I’m just a pretty now… Everyone here hates me…”
“They don’t hate you,” her mother told her with a sad smile. “But some people have a hard time…being reminded that outside of Home…that they’re the ones who are different. Some people don’t like that reminder.”
“Mary won’t even talk to me anymore,” Sapphire pointed out quietly. “And Mrs. Toad told me I don’t belong here…”
Sapphire’s mother gave her another gentle hug, then said, “Wait here… I have something for you…”
“Something for me?” Sapphire asked in surprise and curiosity. Then her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Is it more pants?”
Instead of responding, her mother just smiled and quickly slithered out of the room. She came back a minute later with something in her hands, though Sapphire couldn’t make out what that something was. At least not until her mother stopped and then held it out.
Her mother held out a blanket… No, Sapphire quickly realized, not a blanket. A cloak. There was a hood. But what really caught Sapphire’s attention was the color… The whole cloak was a brilliant sapphire blue, the same beautiful shade that her own scales had once been.
“Mama,” Sapphire started, not sure what to say. She moved a little closer and got a better look at the cloak, then gasped as she realized that the whole thing seemed to be made from scales… “Are these…?”
“Your scales,” her mother told her. “I saved them…as many as I could…and I used them to make this for you…”
Sapphire’s hands shook as she took the cloak from her mother and quickly put it on. She pulled the hood up over her head and then pulled the cloak tightly around her.
“My scales,” she whispered, feeling nearly giddy at having her scales back, even if they were no longer attached to her body.
“No matter what you look like,” her mother told her with a smile, “you’re still my beautiful little Sapphire… You’re still the same little girl who hatched from that egg all those years ago…”
“Thank you, Mama,” Sapphire said, grabbing her mother and hugging her tightly. “Thank you…”
Sapphire smiled as she continued to hug her mother, absolutely loving her new cloak. For the first time in months, she actually felt like herself again.
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Of Stryff and Games
Whitman Cottage, Sunday Nov 4th, 2007
Stryff smirked as she looked around the table, not even watching the cards as she shuffled them. Since she had four arms, she was able to shuffle two decks at once, and she did so with as much flair as she could. The other girls were suitably impressed.
The girl who’d once been known as Claire Babich, and who still was among her family, knew that she was quite a sight. With four arms, blue skin, and red eyes, some people might mistake her as some kind of fiend from Hell. In fact, there were a few people back home who’d done exactly that.
Of course, none of the other girls at the table were the least bit bothered by Stryff’s appearance, which was no surprise since most of them had their own issues that way. In fact, of the four girls currently present, Mischief was the only one who could pass as normal, and ironically, she was probably the strangest of them all.
Stryff stared across the table at Mischief for a moment, chuckling as she did so. Not only did that girl brag about slipping a whoopie cushion under a super villain, but she was also the head of a super villain fan club. Of course, the villain in question was the Imp, who wasn’t like any other villain that Stryff had ever heard of before. However, she was still a villain and there was the principle of the thing.
To Stryff’s left was Darqueheart, who looked even more demonic and frightening than Stryff herself. She had black skin, horns which grew out of her forehead and curved back, and she even had a devil tail.
And then, to Stryff’s right, there was Porcelain, a girl whose entire body looked as if it was made of white ceramic. When she was motionless, as she was at the moment, she resembled a statue or overgrown porcelain doll. However, as soon as she moved, the ceramic began to crack and she became a thing of nightmares. Porcelain looked like she could be the monster in some cheap horror movie, not that Stryff would ever tell her this.
“Stop showing off with the cards,” Darqueheart said in annoyance.
“I think it’s cool,” Mischief disagreed, watching Stryff’s hands with an expression of fascination.
“I’ve had a lot of practice,” Stryff admitted. “After I grew my extra arms, the doctor gave me some exercises to help me get used to using them…and help me build a bit of control. Shuffling cards was one of them.”
“A reasonable exercise to improve your coordination,” Porcelain said with a nod of approval.
Stryff nodded back. “Yeah, the extra arms really made me take a hit to my dexterity score.”
She smiled faintly at the Dungeons and Dragons joke, thinking of her brother and how he loved that game. He’d even talked her into playing a couple times, though it had never really been her thing.
“Read em and weep,” Stryff announced as she put the now fully shuffled cards onto the table in two separate stacks.
“This isn’t poker,” Darqueheart pointed out. “And you still have to pass the cards out…”
“Nope,” Mischief grinned, “It’s Bunnies of the Damned…”
Mischief pointed to the box that the game had come in, indicating the cover art. There was a picture of two cartoon rabbits, one of whom was wielding a flaming chainsaw while the other had an axe that was dripping blood. In the background, there was the shadowy silhouette of third rabbit, one with horns and a devil tail, very similar to what Darqueheart possessed.
“Where do you keep finding these games?” Stryff asked as she began dealing the cards from one of the two decks she’d shuffled, making sure everyone had five cards to start with. The second deck was the special action stack, which they would draw from as they played.
“Its made by the same people who made Xombie Horde,” Mischief bragged.
Stryff looked at her hand, taking time to examine each of her five cards. Three of them were cartoon pictures of rabbits, similar to the ones on the cover of the box. One was a cute and innocent looking bunny with a knife hidden behind its back, another was of a stuffed rabbit that had been torn up a bit and had some of the stuffing leaking out, while the last one was of an evil looking bunny holding a grenade. Her final two cards were weapon cards, containing pictures of a fireball and a trident.
“I’ll start,” Mischief announced, placing one of her cards down onto the table in front of her, face up. “I play Cinnamon Bun…with plastic caltrops…”
“I think those are supposed to be Legos,” Darqueheart pointed out.
Porcelain didn’t say a word as she placed her own card onto the table in front of her. It was a picture of a rabbit with a mohawk and lots of gold chains, with the words ‘Mister B’ printed on the top of the card. Then she added another card to the space in front of her, one which looked like a giant pillow…with spikes sticking out.
“My turn,” Stryff said, placing her stuffed rabbit card onto the table. “I play Ragged Rabbit.” At least, that was the name printed at the top of the card. “And I’m giving him a trident…”
“I play Ghengis Bun,” Darqueheart announced upon her turn. “And I’m using a raisin cannon to shoot Porcelain…”
“I don’t think those are raisins,” Mischief exclaimed with a giggle.
Stryff laughed at that, suddenly reminded of old times, back before she’d mutated. Back then, she and her friends would sometimes steal some beer and cigarettes from their parents, then hide out and play poker. It had been a lot of fun, but she knew that she’d probably never see any of them again.
Her eyes went down to her hands, to all four of them. She might be a bit of a freak, and she’d lost nearly everything because of that, but she didn’t really mind. Truthfully, she was better off without her old life.
For nearly as long as Stryff could remember, she’d seen the path her life would take. She probably would have dropped out of high school, maybe getting knocked up first. Then would have come welfare and a series of bad jobs, leaving her trapped in a crappy trailer park for the rest of her life. It had happened to her mom, her aunt, and a lot of other people she knew. In fact, her friend Tina, whom she’d grown up with, had already gotten pregnant.
Manifesting as a mutant had changed everything for Stryff. Sure, she’d been run out of her hometown, barely escaping ahead of the Humanity First mob, but she had power now. She had magic…and opportunities that she’d never imagined before.
Now, Stryff would never have to become trapped in some trailer park. Of course, she couldn’t go back to the one she’d grown up in even if she did want to, which she most definitely didn’t. The last time she’d seen the place, it had been in complete ruins…courtesy of an accident with her power. There was a reason she’d taken the name Stryff.
But by some miracle that Stryff still didn’t understand, her family had all stuck by her. They could have run off and abandoned her, which had happened with some of her classmates, but instead, they’d had her back.
Stryff remembered how her geek of a brother had risked his own life to distract the angry mob so she could get away. Her mom had abandoned her job, her trailer, and nearly everything she owned to get Stryff to safety. And her dad, whom she’d usually only seen every other weekend while growing up, had managed to hook her up with Whateley.
“Who knew a mechanic had connections,” Stryff muttered to herself with a chuckle and a shake of her head.
Fortunately, it turned out that one of her dad’s customers was a mutant who’d told them about Whateley and how they could take care of the normally expensive tuition. That was something her parents would never be able to pay for themselves.
“Your turn,” Mischief exclaimed, getting Stryff’s attention. She’d been a little lost in her thoughts and had missed a couple moves in the game.
“Okay,” Stryff said, drawing a couple cards to replace the ones she’d already played. She glanced at her new options, then placed a card down in front of her. “I play Bunzilla…and I give him a fireball…”
“Appropriate for a kaiju,” Porcelain observed. “I believe kaiju creatures are known for breathing fire…”
“Fire,” Mischief agreed. “Atomic breath. Toxic gas farts…”
“And that is the reason I’ve never been interested in giant monster movies,” Darqueheart said.
Stryff just grinned. “Well, instead of attacking, I’m drawing a special action card…” She looked at the card and then grinned. “It looks like I get to steal someone’s weapon…”
“Not fair,” Mischief protested in mock offense.
“That is within the rules,” Porcelain told Mischief.
“My brother would probably like this game,” Stryff commented, earning a couple curious looks since she rarely talked about her family. “He’s into this kind of thing…”
Just then, there was a noise from the side as someone new entered the common room. Stryff looked up to see Diamondback entering the room, trailing her like snakelike tail behind her.
Stryff went silent, turning her attention away from the snake girl but not losing track of her presence. It wasn’t that Stryff had any problems with Diamondback…or even her GSD. From what Stryff knew, the other girl was actually quite friendly, though they’d never really spoken. That was the issue. Stryff had always been wary of anyone she didn’t know well, and even more so since her manifestation, which often made her come across as extremely shy.
For the next few minutes, Stryff continued playing the game, aware of the snake girl in the room and barely saying a word. Once Diamondback finally left, she relaxed a little and turned her full attention back to the game at hand.
“And another action card for me,” Stryff said, drawing the card and then looking at it. She glanced from her new card to the ones she had sitting on the table and grinned before slapping down the new card and exclaiming, “BUNZAI!”
“A fortunate draw,” Porcelain said. “I believe that lets you win the game…”
“Yep,” Mischief agreed. “That lets her attack with all her bunnies at once, and she has enough to win…”
“Another game?” Darqueheart asked as she began picking up her cards.
“Sure,” Stryff responded with a grin, making a show of cracking her knuckles and stretching out all her fingers. “I’ll shuffle…”
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Tricks of the Trade
Whateley Academy, Thursday Nov 8th, 2007
Abigail Preston crouched down behind a bush, carefully watching her target. She snickered as she did so, though clamped both hands over her mouth to keep from being overheard and giving the game away.
The target of her attention was a simple square box which sat out in the open where anyone could see it. It was eighteen inches in length, width, and depth, colored a bright yellow, and wrapped with a red ribbon.
“He should be here soon,” Abigail muttered, having carefully chosen this exact place and time. After all, she’d watched her target for nearly a week to see his routine, so she knew that he came this way every day at this time. “And there he is…”
Abigail spotted her target, the large boy named Buster. Buster was a typical thug and bully, the kind of person that she really didn’t like. And to make it worse…at least for him…he’d chosen to pick on her last week. Or at least, he’d called her a couple names, then took some of the supplies she’d been bringing home from her lab and threw them. She still remembered the way he’d laughed at her when he’d done this.
“Let’s see who will be laughing now,” Abigail whispered as she gleefully rubbed her hands together.
Buster saw the package and quickly went to check it out. Abigail saw him look at the note she’d left on the package, though she hoped he was smart enough to read it.
PROPERTY OF ABIGAIL PRESTON. DO NOT OPEN!
Of course, even if Buster did read it, he’d have no idea of who she was, which was intentional. Nobody at Whateley called her by her real name, not even her closest friends. However, she’d used her real name on the box because even Buster wasn’t stupid enough to open a box labeled ‘property of Trixie’. At least, she didn’t think that even he would be that stupid, though she could be wrong.
“Three,” Abigail began counting down with a giggle. “Two…”
She hadn’t even reached one before Buster tore open the box, clearly ignoring the warning that she’d placed there…just like she knew he would. That was just like putting a big red button on something, and then putting a sign warning not to push it. Sooner or later, someone like Mischief…or herself, she had to admit, would come along and push it, just to see what would happen.
The present exploded and an instant later, Buster was completely hidden within a thick cloud of glitter. Abigail burst out laughing, especially as the cloud cleared enough so that she could finally see Buster within…and the confused look on his face.
Everyone on campus knew that Abigail made the absolute best stink bombs, but they always forgot that she made other things too. She was a gadgeteer who specialized in ALL practical jokes, not JUST stink bombs.
Abigail was especially proud of her ultimate glitter bomb. She’d custom made the glitter out of a special material that really held a static charge. That stuff would cling to Buster and hang around for WEEKS…
She laughed even harder as she imagined his frustration in trying to get rid of the glitter. In fact, the only way that could have worked out better would have been if he’d opened the present in his dorm room.
Suddenly, the sound of clapping came from behind Abigail. She snapped around and was surprised to see a teacher standing there, and not just any teacher, but the most impressive AND intimidating teacher on campus.
“Not bad,” the Imp said as she stopped clapping.
The Imp stared out at Buster, who was hurrying away from the package, desperately trying to brush the glitter off of him. Something which Abigail knew would be almost useless because she designed that stuff to stick around.
“From the color and shape of that box,” the Imp continued with a grin, “I assume that you’ve been watching the Smurfs…”
“What?” Abigail asked, surprised that any teacher would catch the source of her inspiration from something like that. Then she defensively admitted, “Jokey is my favorite…”
The teacher leaned forward and in a conspiratorial tone, said, “Mine too.”
Before Abigail could think of how to respond to that, the Imp turned and started to walk away. This surprised Abigail, who’d expected to at least get lectured from the prank, not complimented over it. Of course, she knew that Imp was different from most teachers, but this was still unexpected.
Abigail shook her head, took one more look in the direction where Buster had gone, then quickly hurried away in the opposite direction. Buster had been too distracted to look for her, but sooner or later, he’d figure out who was behind that present and then he’d come looking for revenge.
“That’s gonna be fun,” Abigail told herself as she gleefully rubbed her hands together. She’d have to be ready with a full arsenal of stink bombs and other things to chase him off. “Maybe I can trade Monkeywrench something for some of his banana peel grenades… Those things are hilarious…”
A short time later, Abigail reached the labs and her work station, which was still covered from the materials she’d used to make her glitter bomb present. With barely a thought, she brushed it all off the table to make room, then began to look at what she should make next.
“Brick grade whoopie cushion?” Abigail asked herself. Her last one had been all right, but it hadn’t held up quite as well as she’d hoped and had blown out. Now, she had ideas for how to improve them. Then she shook her head. “Maybe a new brick grade joy buzzer…” She grinned at that one.
Other ideas quickly ran through her mind, many of them improved versions of other inventions that she’d already tested on other people…usually Monkeywrench or Mischief. Those two were always good for showing off to since they could appreciate her work.
“Pie bomb?” she mused aloud. That one definitely had possibilities. “Super silly string?”
Of course, there were always the stink bombs which she’d become famous for. However, she’d done them so often that there was a risk of them becoming boring and predictable. She needed something else. Something…extra.
“Maybe a bigger stink bomb,” she considered. “Or maybe I should just make it even stronger…” That idea definitely appealed to her. “But how?”
Abigail was a gadgeteer, not a devisor, so there was a limit to what she could do, especially since she wasn’t even a high level gadgeteer. Still, she was good at figuring out how to get what she wanted out of her pranks, so she just needed to figure out an even better base for her bomb.
“Let’s see,” she asked herself thoughtfully. “What’s the smelliest, stinkiest thing I can think of…? Besides my stink bombs.”
The answer to that one was obvious. Miasma. His stink was almost as powerful as her best stink bombs. Almost. But what if she could take his stink, use it as a base, and then somehow amplify it…
“Fixx,” Abigail exclaimed in excitement.
If she could somehow get Fixx to amplify Miasma’s stink… She burst out laughing, loving that idea, even if there were several reasons it wouldn’t work. Still, it gave her some ideas. Some brilliantly awesome ideas…
Then there was a sudden flash of insight, one powerful enough that Abigail fell off her chair and tumbled onto the ground. She barely even noticed. She had an idea. No, she had a BIG idea… The kind of idea that every devisor and gadgeteer hoped they could get because they drove all the best discoveries.
“I’VE GOT IT!” Abigail exclaimed, jumping to her feet and laughing maniacally. “I’M GONNA MAKE THE MOST POWERFUL STINK BOMB IN THE WORLD!”
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Schuster Hall, Monday Nov 19th, 2007
Hugh Pryce sat at his desk, patiently waiting for class to start. He was always early to his history class, not because he loved history or anything like that. He just didn’t want to risk being late and getting yelled at by his teacher.
Mr. Williams was intimidating…even more so than Hugh’s roommate, Boojum. Boojum might look like something out of a horror movie, but he was actually pretty nice. The same couldn’t be said for Mr. Williams, who liked to intimidate and even insult his students, especially the ones with GSD.
With that thought, Hugh absently scratched at an itch on the top of his bald head. He was always itchy, at least a little bit. It was a side-effect of the skin condition that was caused by his GSD. His skin was a greyish color and had the texture of rough sandpaper. This might be relatively minor as far as GSD was concerned, but it still visibly marked him as a mutant and made him a target for people who didn’t like mutants or people who looked different.
Hugh glanced to the desk at the front of the classroom, then towards the door. Mr. Williams hadn’t arrived yet, so class wasn’t about to suddenly start. After a moment of consideration, Hugh reached into his pocket and pulled out a plastic sandwich baggie which was full of fine sand, then dumped the sand out into the middle of his desk.
“Let’s see,” Hugh mused, staring at the sand and concentrating on it.
He could feel all the tiny grains in his mind, and after a few seconds, they began to shift and move. A few seconds more and he now had a small sandcastle in the middle of his desk, one that was only a couple inches tall but which looked quite nice. Hugh would have been proud to make one like that on the beach, if he’d done it the old-fashioned way.
“Miss Imp said I should practice making art with my sand whenever I can,” Hugh thought aloud. “She said it would help me learn to control my powers better…” And he had to admit, making sand sculptures instead of just moving it around, was helping him learn better control over his powers.
Hugh was a terrakinetic, a type of specialized telekinetic who would only move various types of stone and rocks. Unfortunately, he was not a very powerful terrakinetic. In fact, he was only rated as a TK-1, which meant that if it hadn’t been for his GSD as well, he probably wouldn’t even be at Whateley.
While he could move rock with his mind, he couldn’t move anything very large. The larger the rock, the harder and more unwieldy it felt to his mind. The smaller the stone, the easier it was for him to move, even if there was much more of it. He could move a cup of sand around with relative ease, but a single rock with the same mass, was extremely difficult to move at all.
Hugh continued playing with his sand, both practicing with his power and killing time until class started. The sandcastle reformed into a cube, then a pyramid, followed by a tiny copy of the sphinx. And as he practiced, he only paid half-attention to his classmates as they filled the seats around him and began chatting.
A moment later, a voice cautiously asked, “Grit?”
Hugh looked up upon hearing his codename and was startled to see Stryff standing there. She was an attractive but odd looking girl, with dark blue skin and hair, four arms, and red eyes. Like his roommate Boojum, Stryff’s GSD made her look a bit intimidating, though her usual shyness tended to dull the effect.
“Here,” Stryff said, holding out a pin.
The pin had a symbol which resembled a smiley face with horns and a tail, and Hugh immediately recognized it as Miss Imp’s symbol. Pins like this, from Miss Imp’s fan club, had been popping up around campus recently.
“Um, thanks,” Hugh responded.
“Put it on,” Stryff quickly told him. “I’m giving one to everyone…”
Hugh’s eyes widened at that. “But Mister Williams…”
Stryff smirked at that. “I know.” Then she moved on, handing out more pins.
For a moment, Hugh just stared at the pin, knowing that it would be a bad idea to wear something like that in class. At least, it would be a bad idea to wear it in THAT class. Last week, Mr. Williams had seen another student wearing one of those pins, and he’d yelled at the boy.
But then, Hugh looked around and saw that almost everyone else was now wearing one of those fan club pins. He hesitated a few more seconds, then pinned the decoration to the front of his uniform.
“He’s coming,” Doorstop suddenly called out.
Everyone dropped into their seats and put on innocent expressions, or at least most did. A few of the other students had smirks which they weren’t even bothering to hide.
Mr. Williams stepped through the door and entered the classroom, looking just as imposing as usual. The teacher was a large man, standing about six foot three, with a stocky build which made him seem even larger.
Hugh quickly scooped his sand back into the sandwich baggie and then stuffed it into his pocket. The last thing he wanted to do was get caught ‘goofing off’ in class, or at least, not in this class. Mr. Williams wasn’t as tolerant about that kind of thing as some teachers.
“Get your homework out,” Mr. Williams instructed in a gruff tone as he walked towards his desk. He paused at the front of the class to look over the students, a serious expression on his face. “Pass it to the front…”
There were grumbles from some of the students, Hugh included. Mr. Williams liked to give homework over the weekend, and often more than what Hugh thought was reasonable. Of course, Hugh wasn’t the only one with that opinion.
Suddenly, Mr. Williams froze, his eyes locked on Achoo, who was sitting up front. “WHAT…IS…THAT?” he demanded, pointing at the front of Achoo’s uniform.
“Um…,” Achoo stammered for a moment before answering. “A pin.” Then he added, “It’s from the Imp’s fan club…”
Mr. Williams’ face suddenly turned bright red, though it wasn’t from embarrassment. He was angry. No, not just angry. He was pissed.
“TAKE THAT DAMN THING OFF!” Mr. Williams snarled, stomping forward and then yanking the pin off of Achoo’s uniform.
“HEY,” Achoo protested before staring up at Mr. Williams and then cringing back in his seat, looking afraid.
Everyone stared at Mr. Williams, surprised by his overreaction. But then, the teacher looked around again, trying to regain some semblance of control and dignity. But instead, his eyes went wide and he quickly looked from one student to the next, seeing that nearly everyone was wearing one of those pins.
“WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?” Mr. Williams yelled, so furious that he was nearly frothing at the mouth.
“What the hell?” someone called out. “They’re just pins…”
“JUST PINS?” Mr. Williams spat out. “THAT EVIL FREAK GOT TO YOU! SHE GOT TO ALL OF YOU!”
Mr. Williams was yelling even louder, growing larger as he did so. The teacher increased in size, reaching seven feet tall and then eight. It only took a few seconds before his head contacted the ceiling.
“Holy shit,” Teke exclaimed from beside Hugh. “He’s freaking out…”
At that moment, Achoo let out a loud sneeze, and a second later, a ball of green slime suddenly shot out across the room. It narrowly missed Mr. Williams and then splattered into the wall behind him.
Even though he hadn’t been hit, that still seemed to infuriate the teacher even more. Mr. Williams grow larger, enough so that he had to hunch over to even fit in the classroom. He lashed out, kicking his desk which flew back and smashed into the wall.
“He’s going rager,” Hugh gasped, jumping to his feet and looking around nervously. He wasn’t the only one to get out of his chair. Some of the others were already moving towards the door.
“COME OUT AND FACE ME, YOU UGLY BITCH,” Mr. Williams yelled. “I KNOW YOU’RE HIDING AROUND HERE SOMEWHERE…LAUGHING AT YOUR LATEST PREANK.”
“I don’t know about anyone else,” Doorstop exclaimed, “but I’m getting out of here…”
Hugh didn’t need any more encouragement than that, and immediately began rushing towards the door…along with more than half the class. As he escaped the terrifying teacher, he let out a sigh of relief. He’d always known that Mr. Williams could be a bit scary, but this was beyond anything he’d ever imagined.
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Head in the Clouds
Poe Cottage, Sunday Nov 25th, 2007
Emily Tran stood girl’s showers, silently letting the water run down over her body. The water was cold but she couldn’t simply turn the knob and warm it up. The nearest shower stall was over six feet away and the water wasn’t coming from any stall anyway.
“Hey, Downpour,” Lina called out to her, her voice gentle in spite of her clear annoyance. “Can you turn it down a bit? I’m trying to dry off…”
“Sorry,” Emily muttered without any real feeling.
Her eyes went up to the cloud above her head, the one that was hugging the ceiling of the room and was currently raining down, right on top of her. The cloud was nearly always there, but the rain came and went with her moods.
Emily considered her powers to be more curse than ‘power’, as did most other people near her. The ever-present cloud above her head made most people avoid her, even when it wasn’t raining, though that was hardly the worst part of her mutation, merely the most visible.
The worst part of her mutation wasn’t her powers, but a simple side-effect to the change in her body and brain chemistry from being a mutant. Specifically, the medications which once helped to control her depression, no longer worked on her.
There had been a time when Emily had been able to live a semi-normal life, in spite of her depression, but that was long since over. Now, it ruled her so-called life. Now, she just wanted to curl up and die…and she would have been able to do that if everyone else just let her.
Emily continued staring up at the cloud, letting the cold rain run down over her face and body. She tried to feel it…to feel something besides that empty spot in the middle of her very being. Sometimes it almost felt like something important…something crucial was missing from her.
“If she can’t control her powers,” Rose grumbled, “then why don’t they have her in Hawthorne?”
“She doesn’t mean it,” Cindy exclaimed, glaring at Rose.
After a moment, Emily looked at Rose, or Iron Rose as she was called. Emily didn’t remember Rose’s real name, nor honestly, did she really care. In fact, it was hard for her to care about much of anything, even the fact that she was getting soaking wet.
Then, Emily thought about something she did care about…at least a little bit. Or more specifically, someONE. Vulpine, the cute fox girl who she shared a few classes with. Emily hadn’t told anyone that she had a bit of a crush on Vulpine, because she knew that nothing could ever come from it since Vulpine wasn’t into girls…much less one like her.
“I’m sorry,” Rose said, sounding sincere. “I didn’t mean that…”
The tall and bald Hispanic girl looked a bit guilty, which was no surprise. Everyone in Poe walked on eggshells around Emily, acting as though she was fragile and might break at any moment. It was probably a little more accurate than she wanted to admit though.
Emily nodded faintly before looking away, the rain slowing down and then stopping as she did so. She had a bit more control over her powers than most people realized and could make her cloud stop raining whenever she wanted…though she usually just didn’t have the energy to bother. What she couldn’t do was make the cloud go away entirely.
Suddenly, Cindy asked, “What are you doing?” She wasn’t looking at Emily, so clearly wasn’t speaking to her.
“I’m checking the shower for any tricks,” Victory answered from just outside the closest stall. She just stood there, examining the inside. “With Jade and Beltane going at each other, it pays to be careful.”
“I can’t blame you there,” Cindy said with a shake of her head. “When two practical jokers go to war with each other, all us innocent bystanders get caught in the crossfire…”
“I wouldn’t call you innocent,” Lina commented with a snicker.
Rose snorted, then told Victory, “Good thinking. Nobody wants to find neon green cockroaches in their shower…”
Emily didn’t say anything during this exchange, though she listened to the conversation. After all, Jade and Beltane had been pranking each other for about a month and nearly everyone in Poe had seen at least seen some of the results, if they hadn’t actually been caught in the middle, herself included.
While the others were busy discussing the latest prank, Emily quietly dried herself off, then wrapped her towel around her body. Without saying a word, she slipped out of the showers, knowing that it wouldn’t be long before someone came to check on her. She’d barely had a minute alone, ever since the…incident…in the showers.
There was only a short walk to her room, but Emily was unable to make it without incident. She was only halfway there when someone came running down the hallway, laughing loudly.
“What…?” Emily blurted out in surprise as Jade ran past her, being followed by a cloud of…bubbles.
Before Emily could make sense of what she saw, Jade was already gone along with all the bubbles. This was obviously another battle in the prank war between Jade and Beltane, just one of many. But to have this happen so soon after that conversation in the showers… She quickly looked around, wondering if Jinx was nearby, though she didn’t see the other girl.
When Emily reached her room, she was not at all surprised to find her roommate absent. Breakdown…Pamela, still hadn’t returned after going home for Thanksgiving, though she’d probably be back in time for dinner.
With that, Emily looked up at the square devise that was installed on the ceiling of their room. This was a devisor grade dehumidifier, which wasn’t much larger than a smoke detector, though it immediately absorbed all the moisture out of Emily’s cloud…keeping it from raining in their room. If it hadn’t been for this dehumidifier, she knew that there was a good chance that she would have been in Hawthorne.
After the dehumidifier had been installed, it hadn’t even lasted two days before Pamela had torn it apart to figure out how it worked. That had been annoying, which resulted in a minor rain shower or two in the middle of their room. But admittedly, ever since Pamela had put the thing back together, it had been working even better than before.
Emily continued staring up towards the ceiling, but not at the dehumidifier. Instead, her attention was on her ever-present cloud, which immediately began to thin out until it was little more than a wisp.
Once Emily was done watching her cloud, she finally turned her attention to getting dressed. She would have been fine just plopping down on her bed and staying there for half the day, but she knew that it wouldn’t be long before someone came looking for her. The other girls wouldn’t leave her by herself for very long.
It didn’t take long for Emily to get dressed and ready for the day. She even had enough energy to brush her hair…a few times. It was relatively nice looking, at least compared to the days when she didn’t bother.
Emily looked to her door, expecting someone to come barging in, though she knew that was ridiculous. Everyone who kept an eye on her always knocked first, though of course, if she didn’t respond soon enough, THEN they’d barge in. She couldn’t blame them for that since she had given them reason to worry about her.
Instead of waiting for someone to come check on her, Emily decided that she might as well get it over with on her terms. She let out a sigh, then left her room and started for the common room. Since a lot of her classmates and fellow Poesies had yet to come back from Thanksgiving break, there as a good chance that she might actually have more privacy in the common room than in her own.
Emily stepped into the hallway and glanced up, seeing that her cloud was quickly reforming now that the dehumidifier was no longer present to drain the moisture. In mere seconds, her cloud was back to its normal dark color, looking as though it was about to break open and start pouring on her again at any moment.
As soon as Emily reached the common room, she was disappointed to hear a couple voices coming from inside. It looked like the room wouldn’t provide the privacy she’d hoped for. She was about to turn around and go back to her own room, when she realized that the voices belonged to Jade and Beltane…and they were arguing. Almost in spite of herself, Emily paused just outside the doorway to listen.
“YOU WERE THE ONE WHO STARTED THIS,” Jade loudly accused. “YOU MADE ME WEAR JERICHO CLOTHES! THAT’S UNFORGIVABLE!”
“WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?” Beltane demanded in an equally loud voice, just shy of actually yelling. “YOU STARTERD THIS WHEN YOU THREW THAT PIE AT ME…”
“Pie?” Jade asked, sounding confused.
“You know,” Beltane pointed out. “The one you had that flying Hello Kitty doll throw in my face…”
Emily peaked into the room and saw Jade staring at Beltane with a look of confusion on her face. “That sounds awesome…but I didn’t do that…”
“Well, I saw your little doll myself,” Beltane responded, standing there with her arms crossed. “And I certainly never dressed you up in Jericho clothes… Even I’m not cruel enough to do THAT to someone…”
For a moment, the two girls just stood there, glaring at each other. “But, if that wasn’t you…” Jade finally said.
“And if it wasn’t you,” Beltane added at almost the same time.
“Then who…?” Both girls demanded simultaneously.
Suddenly, Beltane’s eyes went wide in realization. “You’ve got to be kidding me…”
“What?” Jade demanded, still watching Beltane suspiciously, as if not quite believing her innocence.
Emily didn’t blame Jade, because she didn’t believe it either. Not of either of them. Both girls were too well known as pranksters, especially after they’d spent the last month going after each other like crazy.
“Who,” Beltane asked carefully, “has the ability to make it look like you were wearing Jericho’s clothes?”
“Besides you?” Jade pointed out with a raised eyebrow.
“And the ability to make me see a flying Hello Kitty doll?” Beltane added a few seconds later. “Who has the power to trick both of us…AND motivation to prank us?”
Beltane waited a few seconds until she saw the look of realization in Jade’s eyes, then both girls simultaneously exclaimed, “ABSINTHE.”
“Absinthe?” Emily quietly asked herself, thinking of the green-haired elf girl. “Gwen?”
Gwen was an illusionist, able to make people see things that weren’t there…like pretty butterflies. She was also sneaky…AND she liked to fight dirty, as Centurion and his friends had found out in their recent arena match.
“We both pranked Absinthe,” Beltane pointed out to Jade. “So, if she retaliated and made both of us think the other one did it…”
“That bitch,” Jade exclaimed with a look of surprise, which quickly turned into one of appreciation.
Emily’s eyes went wide as she listened into this. Gwen pranked the two biggest pranksters in Poe and then tricked them into going after each other? All those pranks that had been going on for the last month… All the times that she and the other Poesies had been caught in the crossfire… All of that had been because of Gwen?
“That…does sound like something she might do,” Emily admitted.
She thought about all the pranks… The paint filled water balloons… The cockroaches in the shower… Bubbles in the hallway… All that chaos and insanity… To think that Gwen had caused all of that, just by pranking Jade and Beltane…
A faint giggled escaped from Emily’s throat, nearly surprising her with the unfamiliar sound. This whole situation was so ridiculous…so funny…
“Of course, you know,” Jade loudly proclaimed with an evil grin on her face, “this means WAR!”
With those words, Emily burst out laughing. She laughed harder than she had in…in longer than she could even remember. Above her, the dark cloud began to lighten and fade away until only a few faint wisps were left. The cloud remained like this for the next two hours.
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Emerson Cottage, Sunday Nov 25th, 2007
Collin Reynolds stepped into Emerson, a box clutched firmly in his hands. This was a care package that his aunt had sent him, delivered by a rather unexpected messenger.
“Only Aunt Kelly could get the MCO to deliver her packages,” Collin chuckled to himself.
As soon as Collin got to his room, he was going to call his aunt and thank her for the care package, and of course, tell her about the events of the day. But considering who delivered the package, she probably already knew all about the big event…and had known well before him.
“I can’t believe they let the MCO into the school,” someone said from a short distance away.
Collin looked over and saw that it was Gauntlet, talking to Cagliostro. Both of them looked upset, even a bit angry. Normally, Collin wouldn’t care if they were happy or not, but he had a feeling that he knew which way their conversation was going and he didn’t like it. A few seconds later, his suspicion was proven correct.
“And I can’t believe they let that Absinthe girl come here,” Cagliostro responded with a sneer of contempt. “It’s bad enough that she works for the MCO, but now, she’s bringing more of those bastards to the school…”
Gauntlet nodded agreement. “Maybe we should tell her that she isn’t welcome around here…”
Collin clenched his teeth and that and glared at the two other boys. After all, they were talking about his girlfriend, Gwen, who’d already had more than enough trouble from bullies like these. Then, he felt a brief moment of guilt as he remembered that he had once been one of those bullies.
Back in Collin’s old school, he’d taken offense at one of his classmates, a boy named Adam. Adam had never done anything to Collin, or even anyone else. However, Adam’s dad was an MCO agent, so Collin had believed the worst about Adam and had attempted to make his life miserable.
“I wouldn’t even think about it if I were you,” Collin snarled at the two boys.
Gauntlet smirked. “Do you think you’re going to stop us?”
“I’m good at stopping people,” Collin responded, activating his power.
A moment later, the ground around them all began to shimmer, indicating that Collin’s power was active. Gauntlet and Cagliostro quickly realized that their feet were stuck to the floor, caught in his ‘flytrap’.
“But I don’t need to stop you,” Collin pointed out. “The worst thing I could do would be to let you go after Gwen…” He chuckled. “Trust me, it wouldn’t go good for you…”
He knew that first-hand. Collin had tried chasing Adam several times, but the other boy had been much better at running away than Collin had been at chasing. It hadn’t been until much later that Collin realized that he was the one who’d been lucky. Adam might have been good at running away, but as it turned out, he could be pretty vicious when cornered.
Collin’s relationship with Adam hadn’t been a good one, and he knew that it had been his fault. He’d assumed that Adam was a jerk and a bigot…so had bullied him. He’d been so self-righteous…so sure that he was the good guy. It had been so easy to justify that bullying, to ignore the fact that he was the real jerk.
But then things changed in ways that Collin never would have imagined. Adam had manifested as a mutant and then changed…transformed into someone else entirely. Afterwards, Collin hadn’t even recognized his old victim, and before he knew it, he’d fallen head over heels for Gwen. The same Gwen that these two wanted to bully.
Collin released the two boys, letting them move their feet again. “Keep away from Gwen,” he warned them again.
“Or what?” Gauntlet responded with a sneer. “You’ll come after us?”
“She’ll send her dad after us?” Cagliostro asked. “I’m not afraid of the MCO…”
“No,” Collin answered as he began walking off. “She’s perfectly capable of taking care of herself…” Then, almost as an afterthought, he added, “But she does have backup if she needs it…”
“Whatever,” Gauntlet snorted.
Collin shook his head, suspecting that those idiots would have to learn this particular lesson the hard way. He would have thought that after that arena match with Centurion and his crew, people would know better than to piss Gwen off. She might not look all that dangerous, but she liked to play dirty.
When Collin reached his room, he stepped inside and was relieved to see that his roommate wasn’t there. He got along great with Fixx, but he wanted a little privacy for his phone call.
The box was dropped right onto Collin’s bed, then he grabbed his phone from the corner of his desk where he’d left it. It was easy to spot since his desk was almost entirely clean, with only the phone and his laptop resting on top of it. This was quite a contrast to his roommate’s desk, which was nearly buried under rolls of duct tape, bottles of glue and oil, and various other items.
Collin turned his attention back to what he was doing and quickly made the call. A few seconds later, he announced, “Hey, Aunt Kelly… Thanks for the care package…”
“You’re welcome,” his aunt’s voice said from the other end. “I thought it might be useful…”
“Yeah,” Collin nodded in agreement, in spite of the fact that she couldn’t see the gesture. “This stuff looks awesome…”
With that, he opened the box and began pulling out the contents. First was a bag of chocolate chip cookies which looked delicious. Aunt Kelly liked to bake, especially when she was stressed from work, and she always made some tasty cookies.
“The cookies look good,” Collin said. “I can’t wait to eat them…”
“Just let me know if you want more to share with your friends,” Aunt Kelly said with a chuckle. “I can always send more cookies…”
Next came a belt with six pouches on it, each of which was already filled. Throwing stars, handcuffs, a Leatherman multitool, and a few basic medical supplies. There was even an extendable baton which would give him a nice reach advantage against his opponents in BMA.
“And thanks for the utility belt,” Collin told her. “This would have been really useful during our team match last week.”
“I thought you could use some holdouts,” Aunt Kelly told him, her voice serious. “You can’t always rely on just your powers. Sometimes, it pays to have a few other tricks up your sleeve too…”
Collin nodded again, happy to hear his aunt’s advice since she knew what she was talking about. After all, she was a superhero back in Seattle, so she had to deal with that kind of thing on a daily basis.
“I was a little surprised about how you delivered this stuff,” Collin admitted. “I never would have expected the MCO to bring me holdouts…”
Aunt Kelly chuckled from the other end. “True, that would normally be rather unexpected. However, Agent Wylann is a little more trustworthy than most MCO agents, and when he told me that he was planning to visit Whateley… Well, it saved me the cost of mailing the package…”
“How practical,” Collin commented wryly.
There was a long pause, which made Collin momentarily wonder if the call had dropped. Then, his aunt spoke, her voice serious. “There’s something I needed to talk to you about…”
Warning bells rang in the back of Collin’s mind. “What is it?” he cautiously asked.
“Slippery,” Aunt Kelly answered grimly.
“Slippery?” Collin asked, about to ask what was slippery until he realized that she wasn’t talking about a what, but a WHO.
Collin remembered Slippery, a supervillain who’d caused a lot of trouble for him and Gwen, back before they’d both come to Whateley. The man had kidnapped Gwen…and tried to kill her.
“What about him?” Collin asked, keeping his tone even.
There was another pause before Aunt Kelly responded, “He escaped from custody last week. And since you were the one who caught him, there’s a chance, however slight, that he might try to get revenge…”
“WHAT?” Collin blurted out, his heart feeling like it was about to jump up into his chest. “How the hell did he get away?”
“We’re not sure,” Aunt Kelly admitted. “But he is called Slippery for a reason…”
Collin took a deep breath, trying to stay calm, or at least, avoid freaking out. “And you think he might come after me?”
“It’s unlikely,” Aunt Kelly quickly assured him. “Slippery has a history of being pragmatic so he’s most likely to go to ground for some time. However, there is always the possibility that I’m wrong…and I wanted you to know so you could keep an eye out…”
“Damn,” Collin muttered, still feeling worried in spite of his aunt’s words. “He wouldn’t know that I was at Whateley…” He was trying to comfort himself. “And the school has good security…”
“Precisely,” Aunt Kelly told him. “Even if Slippery was interested in revenge, you’re still safe at Whateley.”
His eyes widened slightly in realization. “That’s why you sent me the holdouts…”
“Yes,” she admitted. “If there is any chance that he does come after you, I wanted to make sure you had every advantage I could give you…just in case.”
“Thank you,” he told her again.
After this, they continued talking for several more minutes. When the call wound down and was coming to an end, Aunt Kelly told him, “Take care, Collin. Keep an eye out for threats…and not just Slippery. The world can be a dangerous place for mutants.”
“You take care too,” Collin relied with a chuckle. “After all, you’ve got a lot more villains gunning for you than I do.”
Once Collin hung up, he carefully set his phone back down, shaking just a little as he did so. Slippery… He’d thought that he was done with Slippery, that he’d never have to see that villain again. But now… Now, it might not be as over as he’d thought.
“Gwen,” Collin muttered a few seconds later.
He wasn’t the only person who Slippery might have a grudge against. She’d been involved in his capture as well, if only because he’d been caught because he went after her. If Collin was at risk, then so was Gwen, which meant that he had to warn her right away…if her dad hadn’t already done so.
Collin took a deep breath, then strapped his new utility belt around his waist. He’d have to learn how to use everything in it, especially the throwing stars and the baton, and he’d have to learn fast…just in case.
“I can’t forget these,” Collin said, picking up the bag of cookies.
His next step was to find Gwen, assuming that she was done visiting with her dad. Collin had to talk to her about Slippery, and just as importantly, he needed to make sure she tried one of his aunt’s cookies. She was going to love them.
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That Voodoo That You Do
Crystal Hall, Monday Dec 3rd, 2007
Jon Homer sat at his favorite table in the cafeteria, though he barely paid any attention to his lunch. Instead, he was looking around, watching his surroundings and appreciating the pleasant scenery.
“You know,” Jon commented. “I love being at a school with so many exemplars…”
“You’ve said that before,” his friend Chris pointed out wryly. “But some of those exemplars aren’t exactly attractive…”
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” Jon reminded him with a smirk. “And I have quite the eye for it.”
Chris rolled his eyes, which amused Jon quite a bit. He decided not to tell Chris that he looked especially cute when he rolled his eyes like that. Somehow, Jon didn’t think that Chris would take that as the compliment it was.
“And speaking of beauty,” Jon continued with a smirk as he leaned forward. “Have you asked Darqueheart out yet?”
“What?” Chris blurted out in surprise, turning bright red as he did so.
“Come on,” Jon chuckled as he pointed out, “I’ve seen you looking at her. Definitely an exotic beauty.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Chris awkwardly protested before quicky changing the subject. “I’ve looked all over but haven’t been able to find the pendant…”
Jon frowned at that, feeling both annoyed and disappointed. “Too bad…”
Chris was adopted and had no idea who his birth parents were, so Jon had decided to help him. He’d put a lot of work into making that pendant for Chris, and he’d invested most of his stored essence into it…making a magic item that could actually track down any of Chris’ blood relatives. Jon had given him the opportunity to learn where he’d come from, but unfortunately, the pendant had been lost…along with that opportunity.
Jon shrugged, then apologetically told Chris, “If I still had some of the leftover material from making the pendant, then I’d probably be able to track it down…” He shook his head, almost regretting the fact that he kept a tidy work bench and always cleaned up after himself. “Unfortunately, I don’t have the materials or spare essence to make another one. At least not for awhile.”
“That’s all right,” Chris told him. “You already helped me more than I ever could have asked for when you gave it to me… I just wish I didn’t lose it.”
“At least you know that you have a blood relative somewhere around campus,” Jon pointed out. “You might even be able to find them some other way…”
Chris had a thoughtful look on his face before he nodded and agreed. “Maybe…”
“But of course,” Jon pointed out with a chuckle, unable to resist teasing Chris a little, “that might make dating a little more complicated. You never know if any girl you date might be your long-lost sister…”
Chris gasped with a look of horror on his face which only made Jon laugh. “I’m just messing with you, man… I’m sure you won’t have to worry about something like that…”
“Damn,” Chris said with a shake of his head. “I sure hope not.”
Jon chuckled again, then finally turned his attention to the lunch that he’d been ignoring until then. The two of them continued talking while they ate, though Jon also kept track of his surroundings.
“Oooooh, nice ass,” he mused to himself, once again thankful for the number of hot exemplars. “I wouldn’t mind getting to know him a little better…”
Eventually, they finished eating and Chris hurried away, saying something about Monkeywrench and possible holdouts. Jon watched his friend leave in a hurry, then took his time putting his coat back on and leaving the cafeteria so he could head to his next class.
As soon as Jon stepped outside of Crystal Hall, he pulled his coat tight and tried not to think about how miserable the cold weather made him. He was a California boy, born and raised, and before that, his family had a long history in N’Awlins. He was not suited to these cold New Hampshire winters.
For a brief moment, Jon considered using a little magic to warm himself. It wouldn’t be difficult, though it would require a few materials like a figurine…or voodoo doll as most people would call it, and a doll sized sweater. However, he quickly discounted that idea, just as he did every other time. His grandma always told him to never waste precious magic on something he could do without magic, so if she found out that he’d used magic to keep himself warm instead of just wearing a jacket, she’d box his ears but good.
Jon muttered a quiet profanity at the cold, then continued heading to his next class. He started walking across the quad, taking the time to look out for any attractive students.
There were a few cute boy and girls, though most of them were wrapped up in jackets, which unfortunately, hid their figures. Still, this was Whateley, so there were always a few exemplars and bricks around who weren’t bothered by the weather and who continued to dress as though it was the middle of summer. The very sight brought a grin to Jon’s face.
But then, Jon spotted three guys walking straight towards him. He recognized the boys, knowing them mostly by reputation, though he’d had the misfortune of meeting them before.
“TNT,” Jon muttered in annoyance. Nitro, Truck, and Tee-Kay, three well-known bullies, and ones who seemed to take a particular delight in messing with anyone who they thought might be gay. “It looks like my lucky day…”
Unlike most of the other Poesies, Jon made absolutely no attempt to hide who and what he was. He didn’t care if the entire campus knew he was pan, though that openness did come with a few problems, such as these three.
Jon reached into his pocket and pulled out a bronze pocket watch, or at least, what looked like one. However, the insides didn’t contain a single spring or sprocket. Instead, the insides held a mixture of other things that Jon had carefully prepared.
This ‘watch’ was Jon’s gris-gris, a powerful talisman that had been spelled with protective magics. It wasn’t a traditional gris-gris by any measure, but Jon was not a traditional practitioner. He didn’t know if this would do much against those three idiots, but it was the best he had at the moment.
“I always hate this part,” Jon mused as he pressed his thumb against a sharp edge on the ‘watch’. It didn’t take much pressure to draw blood, only a couple drops, but enough to count as a blood sacrifice. “That should do it.”
Jon could feel the magic coming to life and swirling around him. But in spite of that, he still held his breath, carefully watching Nitro, Truck, and Tee-Kay to see their reactions. To his relief, they paused and looked around with confused expressions on their faces before they wandered off in another direction.
Jon smirked and put his ‘watch’ away, feeling much more confident than he had a few seconds earlier. “Works every time.”
Normally, Jon’s gris-gris helped protect him from hostile spirits and magic, but it did have this additional feature, a ‘nothing to see here’ effect which could briefly divert attention away from him. There was a reason he was able to be so open about his sexuality without fearing the bullies, and this was it.
Jon continued to watch the three boys leave, making sure that none of them came back in his direction. Just when he thought it was safe to continue on, he suddenly noticed that the other people in the quad were starting to turn around and give gasps of surprise. His eyes followed theirs.
“What the…?” Jon blurted out, his eyes going wide.
Floating in the air above the quad, there was balloon, like one of the ones he often saw in parades, though a bit smaller. This one was about seven feet tall and looked like Hello Kitty. And what was even more surprising was the fact that this balloon was holding a giant pie above its head, one that had to be ten feet across, and which was definitely NOT a balloon.
The Hello Kitty pulled back its arms as it prepared to throw the pie, and at that moment, Jon got a good look at the filling. It looked like it was some kind of cream pie, but the colors of the cream… Orange, and purple, and green… It was bright and garish, almost as if someone had taken one of Jericho’s outfits and made it into the pie filling.
A moment later, the Hello Kitty threw the giant pie, sending it flying through the air. Jon saw the obviously intended target, Gwen from back in Poe. The green-haired girl stood there with her mouth hung open in surprise before she seemed to realize that it was coming straight at her.
Jon clamped a hand over his eyes because he couldn’t bear to watch. However, he spread his fingers and watched out between them anyway, because he simply couldn’t look away. Then the pie hit with a wave of garish custard, which splattered more than a dozen bystanders.
After seeing this, Jon quickly looked back up at the balloon, which still floated there, and realized that this wasn’t quite over yet. He wasn’t sure why, but he suspected that there was more to come. So, with a muttered profanity, he reached back into his pocket for his watch again and hurried out of there as fast as he could.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” Jon said, glancing back and seeing the Hello Kitty balloon explode, releasing a cloud of confetti over the cream covered crowed. “A very bad feeling.”
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