Glyph 4: Putting Pen to Paper part 1
A Second Generation Whateley Academy Story
Glyph 4: Putting Pen to Paper
Thursday early evening, Oct 20th, 2016
I quickly walked through the tunnels, paying close attention to my surroundings as I did so. I’ve been attacked in these very tunnels before, and I was wary of it happening again.
“Um, Bianca,” Janine said from beside me as she glanced around nervously. “I think someone is following us…”
“Yeah,” I agreed with a grimace. “I think it might be Mouse.”
“What?” Janine gasped, looking back behind us. There was a quick shuffling sound from around the corner, as though someone was trying to duck back out of sight. “Why?”
I shrugged at that and let out a sigh. “Why do you think?” Then I shook my head and gave her a wry smile. “The Spy Kids have been following me around for a couple weeks now. Apparently, they think I’m a dangerous supervillain or something.”
At first, the Spy Kids had only been trying to bug me, but they’d become a little more active in their snooping. Lately, I’d seen several of them watching me or even following me around, usually Mouse. I had no idea how many times she might have spied on me without my knowledge, because when she shrank down, she could be really hard to spot.
Janine gave me a look of disbelief. “You should tell security that they’re stalking you…”
“Do you really think it would do any good?” I asked. But before she could answer, I explained, “And if I did go to security, it would only make more problems for me.”
“That just stinks,” she grumbled, glaring back the way we’d just come, as though daring our tail to come out and reveal themselves. When nobody did so, she quietly asked, “What are we going to do?”
“Don’t worry,” I assured Janine. “I’ve got a plan.” Now, if I only felt as confident as I sounded.
We continued walking through the tunnels, passing a couple other students, though they ignored us as they went about their own business. That suited me just fine because I didn’t want to deal with anyone else right now, at least, nobody besides Janine.
Once we’d gone a little further, I decided that it was time to unveil my secret weapon. I reached into a pouch on my belt and pulled out a single piece of paper, a card about the same size and shape as a tarot card, though this one had a rune painted onto it rather than some picture.
“What are you doing?” Janine asked with a curious expression.
“Just leaving a little something for our tail,” I answered with a faint smirk.
With that, I poured a little essence into the card, activating the spell that I’d previously drawn. This was a new spell that I’d figured out the other day, one that was actually a variation of a generally more useful spell.
One of the runes that I’d learned a couple weeks ago was for a ‘don’t look here’ spell, a fairly common type of spell that simply made it so that people didn’t pay much attention to whatever the spell had been cast on. It wasn’t invisibility, but it often served the same purpose. My new rune, the one on this card, translated as ‘look here.’ It did almost the exact opposite.
As soon as the rune began to glow, I slapped the card against the tunnel wall. The card turned black and crumbled to ash, yet the glowing rune remained…now on the wall. This wouldn’t last long, but it should last long enough to lose our tail.
“Come on,” I told Janine as I hurried down the tunnel. However, I paused a little further down and paused. “Wait…”
When I looked back, our tail was revealed. As I’d guessed, it was Mouse, who was just standing in place, staring at a certain spot on the wall as though it was especially interesting. The distraction wouldn’t last long so I gently nudged Janine and we continued on our way.
“I’ve been wanting to try out that spell,” I told Janine with a grin.
A minute later, we reached the area where my new lab was located. I’d spent the last couple weeks getting it fixed up to suit my purposes, and it was nearly finished. In fact, that was why Janine and I were heading there at the moment.
Just up ahead, there was what appeared to be a janitor closet, which held a hidden door to the lab space. However, Janine and I walked right past this closet, not even bothering to slow down.
Unfortunately, my secret lab wasn’t quite as secret as I would have liked. Last year, Samantha Harris...Tek Rider…had used this place for her lab, and she was the one who’d told Janine that she could have it. Janine had then given the space to me since it was far too small for what she needed, but just about perfect for my own needs. So, not only did Samantha know about the space, but so did everyone that she’d told about it…or might yet tell. And because of that, I’d taken a few extra security precautions.
The first precaution that I’d taken had been to completely seal off the old door while creating a new one. This had been relatively easy, thanks to my built-in earth elemental spell. That spell let me shape and control stone and concrete, so I’d been able to dig out a new entrance without much effort. However, it had been time consuming since I could only use that spell for very short bursts, and then I’d have to wait an hour or so before I could use it again. It had taken me three days to move the door this way.
I walked just a little further, then turned the corner into an even more unused section of tunnel. This section was poorly lit and had lots of shadows against the wall. In one of those shadowed spots, there was the new doorway, positioned so that the shadows made it hard to see. The ‘don’t look here’ spell that I’d also placed on the doorway would further prevent anyone from noticing it.
The door itself was coated with a thin layer of concrete so that it looked like the concrete walls around it, though the coloration was just a little off and you could still see the outline of the door. This was where the shadows and spell came in, since those helped to hide those details.
“You did a great job on this door,” I told Janine, who’d made this door for me. Apparently, she’d gotten advice on how to make hidden lab doors from one of her devisor friends. “I can barely even tell it’s here…”
“Thank you,” she told me, looking both proud and embarrassed at the same time.
With those words, I pushed on the door and it swung in, revealing a closet sized space and another door. The first door, the outer door, was just for camouflage. The second door, the inner door, was the real entrance to my lab.
Janine had made the inner door as well, or at least, most of it. I’d made my own contributions to the effort, mostly in the form of runes that I’d etched in the metal surface, so the door had ended up as a combined project. And right beside the door, there was a digital keypad.
Ignoring the keypad, I reached into my pocket and pulled out a magnet, which I stuck against the door in a very specific spot. This magnet pulled a small pin that normally kept a key gear in the lock from moving. Without the magnet to move this pin out of the way, the door simply couldn’t move, even with the correct code. Janine had outdone herself with this clever bit of design.
Once I heard the click that told me the pin had moved, I entered the passcode…though not on the keypad. Instead, I used my finger to draw a specific rune in the middle of the door. This rune matched one that I’d etched on the inside of the door and completed a spell, a spell that released the primary lock and deactivated the magical seal at the same time.
I pushed the door open and stepped through. Janine followed close behind me, making sure to close the outer door and then the inner one. Once we were both inside my lab, I grinned.
“I love what you did with that door,” I told Janine again. “You’ve got a knack for locks.”
“It’s all mechanical sequencing,” Janine responded self-consciously. “And not very complicated…”
“I still appreciate it,” I told her seriously.
Janine smiled at that, blushing a bit. “I never would have thought of using a magic spell as part of the sequence... That was really neat…”
I nodded in agreement, then admitted, “I like having such a unique lock on my door. It’ll make it a lot harder for people to figure out.”
Of course, the unique nature of my lock made it a lot more secure. There were people at Whateley who could hack any keypad or digital system, who could pick locks and crack safes. However, it would be a lot harder to bypass something when you didn’t know how it worked.
Janine crouched down and began looking over the back of the door and the exposed mechanisms. She’d come along to tweak the lock and make a few minor adjustments. And while she did that, I looked over the rest of my lab.
My new lab was technically more of a hidden workspace than an actual laboratory, but it sounded a lot more exciting to call it a lab. It wasn’t very large, and in fact, it was just a little smaller than the dorm room that I shared with Morgana. But, unlike my dorm room, there were no beds to take up space, nor did I have to share it with anyone else.
There was a long workbench set against one wall, which was perfect for when I needed to make my various inks and chalks. Along the opposite wall, I’d placed bookshelves and cabinets to store all my tools and supplies, including the ones I’d finished preparing. And finally, I had a desk where I could work on any of my actual spells…or where I could just do my homework away from the madhouse that was Poe.
Of course, if anyone else came into my lab, one of the first things that they’d notice were all the ‘doodles’ on the walls and ceiling. These glyphs were various protective wards, similar to what I’d placed around my dorm room…but even more numerous. Some people would say that I got a little carried away and was being paranoid, especially Morgana, but I had a good reason for all the wards.
I scowled as I began thinking about my list of enemies. Some of them, like the Spy Kids, were more of an annoyance than a real threat, but not all of my enemies were so harmless. Scorn and his agents were anything but harmless.
“Not now,” I muttered, forcing my thoughts away from that topic.
I’d come to my lab for a reason, so I might as well get to it. And with that, I opened up a bottle of ink that I’d recently made and began to add a few more wards to the wall. This was a new type of ward that I’d just learned today, and after I got back to my dorm, I’d have to add one of them there too.
Once I finished up with the new wards, I took a step back and looked them over again. There were a lot of them, which was a good thing, though it was possible to have too much of a good thing. After all, each of these wards took a little essence to operate, and if I wasn’t careful, I could end up tying too much of my essence to this kind of thing and not leaving enough for other uses.
“Are you done?” I asked Janine?
“Yeah,” she responded. “All done.”
I moved closer and examined the door, not really seeing any difference. There were a couple bars and gears, along with a dozen runes that I’d etched into the metal. After a moment, I touched the runes and recharged them with a little more essence.
While I did this, I thought about what else I could do to protect my new lab. Maybe I could get a real security system installed, with video cameras watching the outside. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the resources for that kind of thing, at least not here at Whateley. That was one of the reasons that Janine and I had to come up with our own security for the door.
“Now that we’re done here,” I suggested, “why don’t we go to your workshop so I can recharge your wards too?”
“Sure,” Janine responded cheerfully. “Then we should probably head back to our dorms. If we wait too much longer, we might be out past curfew.”
“Good point,” I agreed, taking one more look around my lab and smiling with pride.
This was my space. Mine. This was not something that I’d inherited from my grandmother, but which I’d made for myself. Well, admittedly, Janine had helped me set it up, but since she was my self-proclaimed ‘personal assistant’, that didn’t count. The important thing was that my grandmother…nor anyone else in the Family, had anything to do with this place.
Friday morning, Oct 21st, 2016
Powers Theory was an interesting class, at least in theory. After all, it’s a class about the various types of powers and how they work, which was an inherently exciting subject. However, the class did have one major flaw. It was my first class of the day.
I let out a wide yawn, though I quickly covered my mouth with my hand in the hope that our teacher didn’t notice. It wouldn’t do to get caught falling asleep in class.
“Wake up,” Morgana whispered to me.
“I am awake,” I responded with a scowl. Of course, I wouldn’t turn down a chance to get another hour or so in bed.
“And this is why you should start drinking coffee,” my roommate told me with a smug look. “Look at me, all wide awake…”
“And annoying,” I muttered with a roll of my eyes. “Besides, I don’t like coffee. You know I prefer hot chocolate…”
Morgana gave me a look of mock offense. “I wouldn’t touch that stuff you Americans call chocolate. And just for that, I’m not giving you any of MY chocolate…”
My roommate held up a chocolate bar for me to see, though I didn’t recognize the brand. The label said Askinosie, which was a kind that I’d never seen before.
“My sister brought some when she came to check up on me,” Morgana said, a reminder of her burnout and time in Doyle. “A little taste of home.”
I was about to tease her about the reputation of British cuisine when I suddenly noticed that Laura had been listening in on our conversation and now had a pained look on her face. Of course, she was a bit touchy about the subject of chocolate, as her guilty expression clearly reminded me.
“Oh,” Morgana muttered, noticing Laura’s expression as well. Without a word, she quickly tucked her chocolate bar back out of sight.
Since I was in need of a quick change of topic, I looked around and spotted Janine. She was seated on my other side but had been completely silent for most of the class, and not just because she wanted to pay attention to the lecture. At that moment, she was drawing something in a notebook.
I quickly glanced to the front of the classroom to make sure the teacher wasn’t paying attention, then quietly asked Janine, “What are you working on?”
Janine gave a slight start of surprise, looking flustered for a moment. Then she slid her notebook over so I could see the page, though I couldn’t really make out much. It looked like there were gears and wheels. It looked like she was working on something that resembled the lock mechanisms on the door to my lab.
“I had so much fun working on your door,” Janine told me, “that I decided to work on some more security stuff for my own lab…”
“Nice,” I told her, taking another glance to the front of the classroom. So far, our teacher didn’t seem to either notice or care that some of us were talking during the lecture.
Janine nodded at that, getting excited. “I’m gonna ask Smith to help me fabricate the parts…”
This time, I was the one who nodded in understanding. Eddy Walters, AKA Smith, was a gadgeteer who specialized in metallurgy and old fashioned blacksmithing. I didn’t really know him, but Janine and Laura had both talked about him before. Apparently, he helped a lot of the other gadgeteers and devisors with metal parts fabrication.
I wanted to ask Janine more questions but our teacher had finally noticed the conversation and gave us a warning glare. I bit my tongue and tried to listen to the lecture, or at least, pretend that I was paying attention. Unfortunately, without the conversation to distract me, I found myself fighting the urge to nod off again.
When class ended, I let out another yawn as I got up to leave. At least the walk to my next class would get my blood flowing a bit and help me to wake up.
I glanced to Janine as she turned to leave and suddenly noticed something…off. It was her silhouette from the side… Was she bigger up top? My eyes widened slightly as I realized that she was a little bigger, by maybe a cup or two.
Was it natural growth that I just hadn’t noticed until now, or had Janine been eating some of Laura’s chocolate? Either way, I wasn’t about to ask. That kind of topic was WAY too personal and embarrassing. Still, that didn’t stop me from wondering about it all the way to Kirby Hall and my Magic Theory class.
After Magic Theory started, I continued thinking about Janine, but not her bust. At least, not JUST her bust. For some reason, my thoughts kept going back to that, though I didn’t know why. It wasn’t like I didn’t have a pair of my own now.
Janine had been helping me quite a bit lately, ever since she decided that she was going to be my personal assistant. She helped me organize my homework and assignment due dates, cut up card stock into the right size for me to use for spell slips, and of course, there was my lab. Not only did she find the location for me, but she’d done a lot of work with the new door and its lock. And she hadn’t asked for ANYTHING in return.
I frowned at that, my cautious…or as Morgana would say, my paranoid nature…couldn’t help but wonder WHY Janine was being so helpful. Was she trying to get close to me so she could spy for someone like Esquire or the Spy Kids? Was she trying to get in good with the new White Lady and the Family? However, I quickly pushed those thoughts away, knowing that they were nonsense. If I’d really thought that Janine had those kinds of motivations, I never would have let her get close to me, much less work on the security for my new lab.
And after everything she’d done for me, what had I done for her…besides just providing a few security wards for her own workspace? Not much, I reluctantly admitted. I put her in danger from my enemies and caused gossip about how she might be my minion. She didn’t deserve that kind of thing. She deserved better than that.
With a wry smile and a faint chuckle, my thoughts returned to the previous topic of her improved assets and I mused, “Maybe some new clothes…”
Then I paused as I realized that this might not be a bad idea. Girls liked new clothes, didn’t they? I might be a girl myself now, but I wasn’t exactly the girliest of girls. Maybe I should ask Laura…
“Hey,” I leaned over and whispered to Morgana, trying to keep it pretty quiet so that Grimes didn’t notice. “I was thinking about Sunday…”
“What about it?” Morgana whispered back. “You’re not gonna back out, are you?”
“No,” I quickly assured her. “I’m still up for our shopping trip to Berlin…”
“Good,” she responded. “After we filled out the paperwork and went through the trouble of finding an escort, it would be a shame if that was all for nothing…”
I nodded at that, not about to tell her that I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the idea of shopping. At least, not traditional ‘girly’ shopping, for things like clothes and makeup. However, I did want to get into Berlin because there were a couple shops I wanted to check out…such as one for stationery supplies. They were bound to have some good card stock and ink that I could use. And of course, it would be nice to get off campus for a bit.
“We’ve already asked Laura to come to Berlin with us,” I said carefully. “So, I was thinking about bringing Janine too…”
Morgana gave me a faint look of surprise, then grinned. “I don’t see why not… The more the merrier.”
“Thanks,” I responded with a faint smile. “I wanted to thank her for all of her help, so thought that I might treat her to some new clothes or something.”
Morgana smirked at that. “About time you two are going somewhere with all this…”
I blinked in confusion. “Of course. We’re going to Berlin.”
My roommate let out an exasperated sigh and rolled her eyes in an exaggerated manner. Why she was being so dramatic, I wasn’t sure. But this was Morgana, so who knew what she was thinking half the time.
Crystal Hall, Friday late morning, Oct 21st, 2016
Melody Sheridon purposely strolled through the cafeteria, simultaneously strutting a bit so as to show off for all the students around her while also doing her best to ignore them. She was there for a reason, and it wasn’t for lunch.
“There he is,” Melody mused when she spotted her target.
Bobby Grace…Crysis…was sitting at his usual table, by himself as usual. He didn’t have many friends, for which Melody was thankful. That made it easier for her to get a private word with him…and to manipulate him.
“Hello, Bobby,” Melody greeted him as she sat down at the table, not waiting for an invitation.
“Chained Melody,” he responded with a nod, using her codename.
“I told you that you can just call me Melody,” she responded with a flirtatious wink. “No need to use codenames between friends…”
Crysis raised an eyebrow at that but didn’t say anything. This annoyed Melody a little since he refused to fall for her charms as easily as most guys. Of course, she could use a little magical persuasion, though there was no need for such tactics with him. After all, they already shared similar goals, hence their alliance.
“You know,” Melody commented almost casually. “I happened to overhear something interesting today in Magic Theory…”
“Happened to overhear?” Crysis asked, looking just a little skeptical.
Melody smirked at that, not bothering to admit that there was no ‘happened to’ involved. She’d intentionally eavesdropped on the conversation, though she wasn’t so crass as to straight out say so.
“I happened to overhear a conversation between Glyph and one of her freak friends,” Melody continued.
This suddenly had Crysis’ attention. “Oh?” he responded, gesturing for her to continue.
Melody silently examined her fingernails, checking for any chips in her manicure, though of course, that wasn’t the real purpose of this little act. The real purpose of her act was for the dramatic pause, of catching Crysis’ attention and then making him wait.
“Well,” Melody finally said, looking away from her nails and seeing the impatience on Crysis’ face. “Glyph and her pet freak were talking about a shopping trip to Berlin this Sunday…”
Crysis suddenly sat up straight. “She’s leaving campus?”
“That generally comes with a shopping trip,” Melody responded.
The blonde exemplar was feeling quite pleased with herself, especially for having cast her spell in class without Grimes catching her. Sure, Glyph might be immune to most of Melody’s spells, but Melody didn’t need to cast a single spell on Glyph or her friends. In fact, the spell that Melody had used, had only been cast on herself. It was a simple little spell that just improved her own hearing for a short time. That spell was turning out to be quite useful.
“Anyway,” Melody explained a bit smugly, “I already have an idea of how we can use this… It would be pretty easy to follow them on their trip, then whisper a few suggestions to the shop owners…” An almost predatory smile formed on her lips. “It won’t take much to get that pasty freak and her friends accused of shoplifting…or worse. I can almost guarantee that they end up in jail…or in so much trouble that that they might even get kicked out of the school…”
“NO!” Crysis snapped.
Melody blinked in surprise. “What…?”
“Stay away from Glyph on Sunday,” Crysis ordered. “Stay away from Berlin…”
“Why?” Melody asked in confusion. “This is the perfect opportunity…”
“Yes, it is,” Crysis agreed with an almost predatory grin. Then he stood up and began to leave the table. “I’ve got to make a call…”
Crystal Hall, Friday late morning, Oct 21st, 2016
“How does your shoulder feel?” Morgana asked me.
“It still hurts,” I admitted, rotating my arm and wincing a little.
“Sorry,” Laura said, looking a little guilty.
I gave Laura a wry smile to show that there were no hard feelings. “All’s fair in BMA…”
“But maybe next time,” Morgana added with a smirk, “try not to twist her arm out of the socket…”
I nodded at that. “At least I heal fast.” In fact, I had no doubt that by the time lunch was over, my shoulder would be fine.
A moment later, I turned my attention back to my tray and the large amount of food that was just waiting to be selected. I added a slice of pizza to my tray, even as I mourned the fact that it wasn’t REAL pizza. Now, give me a nice deep dish from Lou Malnati’s or Giordano’s… Now THAT was pizza.
After throwing a few more items on my tray and finishing with the lunch line, I started making my way towards the M3 table where my friends and I usually ate. But while I was making the relatively short journey, I noticed something from the corner of my eye. Or more accurately, someone.
Crysis was already sitting at another table, eating his own lunch. He was well away from my own path, but I took careful note of where he was since he was always a potential problem.
My eyes narrowed a little as I stared at that table, and not just because Crysis was sitting there. Chained Melody, the obnoxious ‘mean girl’ from my magic classes was sitting there as well. And this wasn’t’ the first time that I’d seen those two together over the last couple weeks.
“What are you two up to?” I muttered suspiciously.
Maybe I was being a little paranoid. Maybe there was a legitimate reason for those two to be hanging out together like that. For all I knew, they could be friends or even dating. Maybe.
“But not likely,” I added.
When two people whom I considered to be enemies kept hanging out with each other, the suspicious…or maybe that was the realistic part of my mind…screamed that something was up. And whatever they were up to, I seriously doubted that it was anything good for me.
“Hey, what’s up?” Morgana abruptly asked from behind me.
“Um…nothing,” I answered awkwardly.
My roommate gave me a skeptical look. “Is that why you just stopped and stood there in the middle of the cafeteria?”
I looked down at my tray then glanced back at the table where Crysis and Chained Melody were sitting. Neither of them seemed to have noticed me staring, though as I watched, Crysis got up and hurried away.
“I just noticed Crysis and Chained Melody were talking with each other,” I admitted as I continued towards our table.
“Those twats?” Morgana asked with a snort. “Yeah, that can’t be good. But never mind them for now. I mean, you wouldn’t want to spoil your appetite by worrying about those idiots.”
“Good point,” I agreed with a weak smile.
When we reached the table, I saw that Vic, Jimmy, and Tia were already there. And while I didn’t know what they were talking about, I could make a guess based off the fact that Tavi, Jimmy’s little holographic ferret VI, was dressed up like an Oompa Loompa and was dancing around.
“Don’t let Laura see that,” I pointed out, gesturing back the way we’d come. “You know she’s still pretty sensitive about that whole chocolate thing.”
“Okay, Tavi,” Jimmy told the ferret. “Knock it off.”
“Okie dokie, boss,” Tavi responded with a crisp salute. However, the cartoon ferret was smirking, which made me curious about what he was up to.
A moment later, the orange tone faded from the ferret’s fur while the green wig vanished entirely. Tavi kept the white coveralls though, and a moment later, his” fur turned blue and a little white cap appeared on its head.
“Oooh, that is not any better,” Vic said.
Morgana just laughed. “No, it’s perfect.”
Laura reached the table a few seconds later and paused to take in the sight. The blue Tavi was now singing, “La la la-la la la…” As she watched the VI, her incredulous stare turned into a glare.
“What’s the matter?” Morgana teased Laura. “Not a big fan of Tavi Smurf’s singing?”
“Not especially,” Laura responded, setting her tray down right on top of the ferret, which vanished.
At this point, everyone besides Laura was laughing, though after a couple seconds, she began to chuckle as well. Tavi reappeared beside Jimmy, once again looking like his normal ferret self.
“Oh,” I announced, quickly glancing around the cafeteria to see if anyone was paying too much attention to our table. “I almost forgot…”
I’d been so distracted that I nearly forgot about my protections. Without another word, I reached into the pouch on my belt and pulled out a card that was just about the same size as a tarot card. This was a spell slip, or more accurately, a spell card.
Both sides of the card had runes drawn on them, spells to prevent eavesdropping and ensure a little privacy. With the way the Spy Kids kept stalking me, I had to take some precautions to keep them and anyone else from listening in on my conversations.
With only a little concentration, I pushed some essence into the spells, causing the runes to glow a little. Then with a well-practiced gesture, I casually tossed the card right to the middle of the table.
“How many of those things do you go through?” Tia asked, gesturing to the card. “You do that every time we eat here…”
“A lot,” I admitted. There was a reason I needed a place where I could make all my own inks in private.
Morgana snorted. “She makes a bunch of those things every night.”
“I make more than just privacy charms,” I point out a little defensively.
My hand went to the pouch on my belt, which contained a couple dozen spell cards. About a half dozen of those were privacy charms while the others contained a variety of effects that I thought might be useful.
“I have to replace all the ones I use in BMA,” I explained.
“That makes sense,” Laura responded thoughtfully. “Too bad you can’t just reuse your spells. Devises are a lot better that way.”
I just nodded, wishing I could reuse my spell cards too. It would save me a LOT of time and effort if I didn’t have to keep making more of them. Of course, it would also save me a lot of time and effort if I could simply print out my cards instead of having to draw all the runes by hand, but that didn’t work either.
“It is what it is,” I said with a sigh. My powers had a lot of advantages, but they came with an equal number of disadvantages. “If I want to use magic, I have to put in the time and effort.”
“I can relate to that,” Laura responded, probably thinking about how much time she’d spent in the devisor labs.
With that, I went to take another bite of my pizza, only to suddenly have something appear in the air right above my plate. I leapt back with an ‘EEP’, stumbling over my seat and barely catching myself.
“WHAT WAS THAT?” Tia demanded, leaping to her feet and pointing to my tray.
Whatever it was that had suddenly appeared in the air, had fallen right into the middle of my food. It wasn’t moving so I leaned in for a better look.
“What…?” I asked in surprise and a bit of confusion. “It’s…”
“A rose,” Morgana finished for me.
Morgana reached over to my plate and picked up the single red rose. She held it up, revealing that there was a small tag tied to it.
“I think it says something,” Laura pointed out.
“Yeah,” Morgana agreed.
I reached for the tag and turned it for a better look. The words ‘TO GLYPH, FROM YOUR SECRET ADMIRER’ was written on the tag.
My eyes widened and I recoiled back from the rose, feeling a bit stunned and confused. Then I quickly looked around the cafeteria, trying to see any indications of where this had come from. When I didn’t see any clues, I turned to my roommate.
“Is this a joke?” I gave Morgana an accusatory look.
Morgana just burst out laughing. “Not from me, it isn’t.” Then she gave me an evil grin and pointed out, “Looks like you’ve got a secret admirer.”
I just groaned, knowing that this was only going to be the beginning of the teasing.
Poe Cottage, Friday evening, Oct 21st, 2016
I sat at the desk in my room, staring down at the stack of spell cards in front of me. Then I looked at the half dozen blank cards that I still needed to finish.
“The ink is getting low,” I commented, staring at the bottle while I flexed my hand to prevent it from cramping due to all the writing I’d been doing. “It looks like I’ll have to spend some time in my lab tomorrow…”
That made me smile a little since I finally had a place where I could make my inks, without worrying about someone messing with my materials. Since I sometimes used my own blood while making my inks, securing my workspace and materials was absolutely critical.
After wiggling my fingers for a few more seconds, I reached out for the next blank card and frowned, considering which spell I wanted to draw. I’d already replaced all the cards that I’d used during the day, so this was an opportunity to expand my options.
Once I decided on the spell, I picked up a fine-tipped paint brush and dipped it into my ink. The symbols I needed were complicated, but I’d already practiced them enough to memorize their every line and squiggle. Still, I moved slowly, being as careful and precise as possible since a single smudge or drip could ruin the entire card.
“There,” I announced when I’d finished the glyphs. “A silence spell…” This was a variation of the spell I often used in the room to keep Morgana’s snoring from waking me up. “You never know when something like this will be useful.”
I carefully moved the card to the side so that it could finish drying. Before I was completely finished, I’d spray the card with a little fixative that would help protect the rune from future smudging and smearing.
“Maybe I should start laminating my cards too,” I muttered with a scowl of annoyance. My cards were still vulnerable to large amounts of water, a weakness that I’d discovered after a sparring match with Vic. “Might not hurt to do that with a few cards…just in case.”
By the time I finished inking my last card, most of the others had dried. I sprayed the fixative on the inked sides, then set them aside to dry again.
Once I was finished with my new cards, I began to put everything away, including storing the remaining ink in my safe. Since it had my blood as one of the ingredients, it could potentially be used against me. The fact that I’d already processed the blood meant that this wouldn’t be easy, but better safe than sorry.
Now that I was finished, it was time to take care of something else. There was another bit of business that was badly overdue, and the sooner it was done, the better.
I left my room and made a short trip though the cottage, going up the stairs as I did so. I was looking for a specific person, so it was fortunate that I knew exactly where her room was.
Before I could quite reach my destination, I saw my target, walking down the hallway towards her dorm room. It looks like I caught her just in time because if I’d been even fifteen seconds later, I would have had to knock.
“Scrye,” I called out, just loud enough to get her attention.
“Bianca,” Scrye responded, giving me a polite nod and pausing to wait for me. “I assume you have some business to discuss?”
“Of course,” I agreed with a polite smile.
Scrye was one of the top information brokers on campus, and especially within Poe. She wasn’t quite a fixer, though she served many of the same functions.
“What can I…?” Scrye started to ask, only to abruptly pause and stare down the hall behind me.
I quickly looked back and saw a thin boy with a monkey tail who was standing at the far end of the hallway. Of course, I recognized Sam Verner, also known as Tiptoe. He was a freshman, like me, so we had a couple classes together.
“What…?” I started to ask, then bit back my question. Sam was a member of the Spy Kids, so I doubted that it was mere coincidence that he’d come up to this floor at the same time that I did…especially right behind me. With a scowl of annoyance, I turned my attention back to Scrye. “Can we talk somewhere a little more private.”
“Of course,” Scrye agreed, giving me a polite smile and gesturing to her room. “There is something that I’ve wanted to discuss with you anyway…”
“Oh?” I responded, a little curious.
“Please, step into my office,” Scrye said, gesturing to her room. “We should have a little more privacy in there.”
We stepped into Scrye’s room, though I paused just long enough to glance back down the hallway. Tiptoe was gone. Once we were inside, Scrye carefully closed the door and then paused to study me for a moment.
“Now,” Scrye began as she gave me a speculative look. “You had business to discuss?”
“Yes,” I agreed, gesturing in the direction that I’d seen Tiptoe. “As you might have noticed, some students have been following me around…”
“The Intelligence Cadet Corps,” Scrye commented with a wry look. “I have noticed.”
I scowled in annoyance, then tried to keep the frustration out of my voice as I continued, “They’ve been following me around for weeks… Spying on me. Putting bugs on me and my friends…”
“I can sympathize,” the information broker said. Then she smiled faintly. “And I assume, since you are coming to me, that you want some information regarding them…”
“Yes,” I said again, nodding as I did so. “Since they’ve been sticking their noses in my business, I think it’s about the time for me to do the same thing to them.”
Scrye laughed at that. “Oh, I definitely approve. Enough to give you a small discount. However, this information will cost.”
“Of course,” I responded, having already known as much.
The next several minutes were spent discussing what I wanted and how much it would cost. We negotiated a bit and finally settled on the price.
“Very well then,” Scrye told me once the negotiations were finished. “I’ll have the files to you tomorrow morning.”
“Good,” I told her, looking forward to reading those files. “And earlier, you said that you wanted to talk to me about something…” I gave her a curious look. “Assuming it wasn’t about this…”
“No,” Scrye responded, looking just a little smug. “That topic is a different one entirely, though I must admit, there is some crossover…”
“That…isn’t very clear,” I admitted, giving her a curious look.
Scrye nodded at that. “I have some associates who asked me to speak with you,” she began to explain, looking as though she was carefully choosing her words. That care tickled my wariness, making me just a little suspicious about what she really meant…and what she wasn’t saying. “I have been asked to extend an invitation…”
But just then, the door suddenly flung open, making Scrye and I both jump. I snapped around, only to see a girl burst into the room. She was an attractive girl with an athletic physique, and short dark hair that was in a bit of a punk style.
“Cherry,” Scrye greeted her roommate, trying to keep the annoyance out of her voice, though not succeeding.
The girl was Kerry Swanson, Scrye’s roommate, so this was her room too. I wasn’t surprised by her presence, only by how she’d burst through the door. Then again, this was Cherry Bomb. I would have been more surprised if she’d calmly knocked on the door or announced her presence in some way.
“Hey, Callista,” Cherry Bomb greeted her roommate before nodding to me. “Bianca.”
“Hello,” I greeted her politely.
“Are we still on for Sunday?” Cherry Bomb asked with a broad grin.
I nodded, but before I could say anything, Scrye announced, “I can’t believe they’re letting you escort students off campus…”
“I’ll have you know that I’m a member of the Future Superheroes of America,” Cherry Bomb exclaimed with a look of mock offense. “I’m a very responsible person…”
Scrye just snorted and pointed out, “Last I knew, YOU were required to have an escort anytime you left campus… Especially after what happened in Boston last year…”
Cherry Bomb gave a look of mock offense before grinning. “Boston was a LOT of fun…”
“Of course, it was,” Scrye replied in a wry tone. “You blew things up…including a police car. I swear, the only reason that you’re with the Cape Squad was so that you’d have an excuse to legally blow things up…”
Cherry Bomb just shrugged, not bothering to deny that accusation. I stared at the two of them for a moment, shaking my head. I’d never seen Scrye quite like this before. She was usually calm, collected, and professional, so it was a little startling to see her bickering with her roommate the same way I did with Morgana.
For a brief moment, I wondered if they might be more than roommates. After all, they were both lesbians… Well, technically, Cherry Bomb was known around Poe to be aggressively bi, but the point still stood. Still, it was none of my business.
“I’ll see you, Sunday,” I told Cherry Bomb before nodding to Scrye and politely excusing myself from their room. Obviously, my meeting with Scrye was over with. Then, as I hurried down the hallway, still thinking about what they’d said about ‘Boston’, I muttered, “Maybe we should have asked Rook to be our escort instead.”
Poe Cottage, Saturday morning, Oct 22nd, 2016
“Why did I sign up for a class on Saturday mornings?” I grumbled as I adjusted my backpack over my shoulder.
“Because you hate sleeping in?” Bailey asked with a smirk.
“Because you’re a masochist?” Morgana teased.
“Because you weren’t given much choice?” Laura responded wryly.
Morgana nodded. “Good point. I knew I wasn’t wasting a good Saturday morning of my own free will.”
I glared back at my roommate, deciding that she was way too energetic for this time of the morning. Of course, the coffee mug in her hand was probably responsible for that. And the sight of that was enough to make me wonder if there was a spell of protection from caffeine. That would teach her to be so awake. Then again, that would leave me to deal with a grumpy dragon-girl, which would probably be even worse.
With a sigh, I turned my attention back to the task of making the journey across campus to the classroom, which seemed like a monumental task at the moment, especially since we hadn’t even left our cottage yet. Oh what I wouldn’t give for a nice quiet Saturday morning with no classes, and nothing else to do except catch up on my reading.
“You’re lucky you don’t have to go to classes this morning,” I said, looking to Laura and Baily.
“Maybe not classes,” Laura pointed out with a sigh of her own. “But I still have a lot to do…”
“A mad scientist’s work is never done,” Morgana commented before taking another sip of coffee. “Those twisted perversions of science don’t build themselves after all.”
“Very funny,” Laura responded in a tone that made it clear that she didn’t think it was funny at all. I snickered faintly.
After this, Morgana and I continued on our way. We were just about to leave Poe when Mrs. Horton greeted us at the entrance.
“Bianca,” our house mother told me, “someone left a package here for you…”
“What?” I asked, a little surprised.
The only package that I’d been expecting were the Spy Kid dossiers that I’d bought from Scrye, but those had already been delivered straight to my room. I gave Mrs. Horton a curious look.
“Someone delivered this a short time ago,” she explained as she held out small box.
I cautiously accepted the box, only to notice that there was a tag on it. ‘TO GLYPH, FROM YOUR SECRET ADMIRER’
My eyes widened at this and Morgana leaned over for a better look. As soon as my roommate read the tag, she began snickering. “Another one…”
I glared at the box suspiciously. The box was about eight inches long, four inches wide, and two inches deep. It was light, and when I shook it, it rattled.
“Well?” Morgana urged me. “Aren’t you going to open it?”
“I’d rather not,” I admitted, though I was a bit curious. Then, letting out an exasperated sigh, I muttered, “Fine…”
A few seconds later, after taking a deep breath, I opened the box. I was startled to see that it was full of chocolates. There were a dozen of them, looking nice and tasty. My eyes narrowed suspiciously.
“Wow,” Morgana said with a whistle. “It looks like your secret admirer is fairly serious. Flowers and now chocolates. If you hold out, you might even get some jewelry out of this.”
That earned my roommate a glare, right before I unceremoniously dropped the entire box into the garbage can beside the door.
“We’d better hurry,” I told Morgana through clenched teeth. “We don’t want to be late to class…”
I didn’t say anything as I quickly walked across campus, and neither did Morgana, much to my surprise. Then again, with that gleam in her eyes, I knew she wouldn’t be silent for long. She now had more material to tease me with, and I had no doubt that she was going to use it.
My suspicions were proven correct, when almost as soon as we sat down in our costuming class, Morgana exclaimed in mock horror, “I can’t believe you threw away that whole box of chocolates…”
I groaned at that, realizing exactly why my roommate had held off on her teasing. She’d wanted to wait until we were in class and she had an audience.
“What do you mean?” Tanya asked, giving us a curious look.
Taka, who also sat close to us, also turned his attention in our direction. However, he didn’t say anything, probably because he wanted to get a better idea of what was going on before then.
“Bianca’s secret admirer struck again,” Morgana explained with an evil grin.
“Secret admirer?” Taka asked, though whether it was because he didn’t know I had a secret admirer or that he didn’t know what one was, I wasn’t sure.
“Sure,” Morgana continued, eagerly embarrassing me in front of our friends. “Last night, they gave her a rose, and this morning, they gave her a box of chocolates…”
“Chocolates,” Tanya mused. “So, you really do have a secret admirer…” She had a look of excitement in her eyes as she leaned forward. “That’s great…”
“Not really,” I grumbled self-consciously. I was squirming in my seat, something which I fully blamed on my roommate. “It’s annoying…”
Tanya gave me a look of surprise. “Annoying?”
“Whomever it is,” Morgana continued cheerfully. “He…or she…is going to have their poor heart broke.”
I glared at my roommate. “I already have Mouse and her friends following me around. I don’t need anyone else…if it wasn’t them in the first place.”
“What do you mean?” Tanya asked, looking to Morgana rather than me.
“Oh,” my roommate explained as she shook her head in exaggerated disappointment. “Bianca here threw the whole box of chocolate straight into the rubbish.”
Tanya looked almost aghast at that. “Why would you do that?”
I snorted. “Would you eat something when you had absolutely no idea where it came from?” I shook my head at that. “For all I know, some practical joker tried slipping me some of Laura’s chocolate…”
“That is a good point,” Morgana admitted. “I kind of wish I’d thought of doing that.” She chuckled for a moment before admitting, “There’s a person or two whom I wouldn’t mind slipping some of that to…”
“See,” I gestured to Morgana. “This is exactly why I’d be stupid to eat any of those chocolates. Hell, they could have been laced with laxative…or worse.”
“Worse?” Tanya asked in a curious tone.
“Worse,” I repeated, thinking about all the poisons that could go into something like that. There were a lot of people at Whateley who wished me harm and I wouldn’t put it past any of them to try something like this. “I am NOT stupid enough to eat anything that just randomly shows up at the door.”
Tanya let out a sigh. “I guess, I can see your point. In your place, I probably wouldn’t either.” Then, with a disappointed look, she asked, “But what if this was legitimate? What if you really do have a secret admirer?”
Morgana let out a snort. “Then they could be right under Bianca’s nose and she’d never even notice…” There was another chuckle at that.
Fortunately, the class officially started a few seconds later, which meant a change of topic. I let out a sigh of relief at that as I turned on my computer. Still, I gave Morgana a warning look when it looked like she was going to say something else. She shrugged and turned her attention to her own laptop.
I opened up the folder for this class and brought up the designs for my costume. Overall, it was a fairly simple design, focusing a little more on function than appearances.
The whole spandex thing was definitely NOT my style, though admittedly, there were reasons for the spandex type costumes. As we’d learned in class, costumes that hugged your body tightly could not only be aerodynamic for speedsters, flyers, and so on…but they also made it more difficult for people to grab your costume.
My costume was definitely not spandex, but it did hug my body fairly closely…while not showing off too much. It was white, of course, and I planned on adding a little black trim just to break things up a little. I was also thinking of adding another touch of color somewhere, like a gold belt buckle or something. Just because I was the White Lady, that didn’t mean it was the only color I had to use.
“But it still isn’t right,” I mused, considering what else I could do to make it a little more practical. “It needs something else…”
Then, an idea suddenly came to me. I quickly added it to my design as a form of rough draft to help me see what it would look like. After a little consideration and a few minor tweaks, I nodded, sure that I was on the right path.
Saturday morning, Oct 22nd, 2016
Scrye shifted position in her chair, keeping the movement subtle and not changing her expression in the slightest. She calmly looked around the clubhouse, taking note of which Masterminds were absent, though she wasn’t surprised by them.
Ellison…Devil’s Advocate, almost never showed up to any meetings before noon. If he’d bothered getting out of bed yet, he would probably be nursing a hangover. Either that or taking some hair of the dog.
Bystander, the sick freak, was a welcome absence. He didn’t care about the day to day operations of their club, for which she was grateful. The less time spent in his presence, the better.
“Now then,” Edward, the Golden Lion asked. “Does anyone have any other business to discuss?”
“I’d like to suggest we don’t do morning meetings anymore,” Aiesha, Swandive said as she leaned back in her chair and let out an exaggerated yawn. “There are better things to do on a Saturday morning than be here…”
“I’ll take that under consideration,” Edward responded wryly, just as he had during the last three meetings where Aiesha had made the same suggestion.
Once it became clear that nobody else had anything else, Scrye announced, “I have something…”
Helen, Doma Know, glared at Scrye. “And you had to make it all dramatic?”
Scrye responded with a faint smile before looking at Edward. “Last night, I attempted to extend our invitation to Glyph, but unfortunately, we were interrupted before I could finish.”
“So, you blew it,” Aiesha said with a roll of her eyes. “Try again later. No big deal.”
“Continue,” Edward urged her.
“Last night emphasized something that we already knew,” Scrye explained, “and which I’ve witnessed numerous times over the last few weeks.“ She paused again. “The Intelligence Cadet Corps have been following Glyph rather closely.”
“That is what they do,” Burst commented in a neutral tone.
“Indeed, it is,” Edward agreed.
“Glyph has a great deal of attention focused on her,” Scrye continued. “Between her enemies and her allies, there have been very few opportunities to speak with her in private. I believe this increased attention would be problematic to our interests if she was to join us.“
“It is true that we don’t need any more attention drawn to us,” Edward mused. “That could turn her from the asset we’d hoped for into a liability.”
Helen scowled. “So, we just need be more careful when meeting with her.”
“That would be difficult,” Scrye disagreed. “The Cadets keep following her, bugging her, and sending drones after her. Sooner or later, they’d follow her to us and could learn things we preferred they didn’t.”
“You bring up a good point,” Edward mused. “Glyph could be a useful connection, especially outside of Whateley. But she is just a freshman so there would be plenty of time to recruit her…”
Edward was scowling in annoyance, a clear reminder to Scrye that he was a senior and would be leaving Whateley at the end of the year. If he wanted any personal benefit from recruiting Glyph, he would need to do it before he graduated.
“We can hold off on recruiting her for a little longer,” Edward reluctantly said. “Once there is less attention on her, we can make our recruitment offer.”
“She’s the White Lady,” Aiesha pointed out. “There’s always going to be attention on her.”
“But perhaps not as much,” Scrye responded.
“In the meantime,” Edward said with faint smile, “we might be able to use her as a distraction. After all, if those would-be detectives are focusing on her…then their attention will not be on our business.”
Saturday morning, Oct 22nd, 2016
Carrie Harper scowled as she walked through the tunnels, which were dark, dirty, and confusing. The whole place was a maze that would be incredibly easy to get lost in. In fact, the tunnels would be a complete nightmare for anyone who suffered from claustrophobia, arachnophobia, or even a general fear of the dark, though admittedly, none of those were why she really disliked the tunnels.
These very tunnels were the scene of her most recent failures and humiliations. Failure in itself was not always bad. Sometimes, it could be a useful training tool to help you identify your weaknesses and correct them. But other times… Other times, failure was inexcusable. Other times, it was something as stupid as trying to do a simple summersault but slipping and landing flat on your face. It was having the Russian judge score you at a three, and only giving you that high a score because they were amused by your ‘successful’ face-plant.
The Cadets had given her the important task of following a dangerous criminal. Glyph. The White Lady. The head of her own mob family. Carrie still didn’t see why the school would allow someone like that to attend. And her job was to follow Glyph, which was easier said than done. Sure, she could shrink down, which made it difficult to see her, but her tiny leg span at that size meant that she couldn’t actually follow anyone while shrunk.
Every time Carrie had followed Glyph into these tunnels, so she could try to find the other girl’s secret lair, she either got lost or distracted. She lost her target this way on several recent occasions, a fact that the other Cadets had teased her about…and lectured her on.
“Hurry up, Mouse,” Caroline Voight, who preferred her codename of Miss Violet, called back to Carrie. “We don’t want to lose you…”
“You don’t want to get lost down here…again,” Edward Temple, Mister Blank added. And though Carrie couldn’t see his face since she was at the back of the group, she knew he was smirking. He was always kind of smug like that.
“It is easy to get lost in these tunnels,” mused David Nayer, better known as Cyber Swarm…or just Swarm for short. “Last year, Dyson got lost in these tunnels for three days…”
“Then it is quite fortunate that you have a map,” Mister Blank told their leader. “Now, we will finally locate that villain’s lair…”
Miss Violet nodded agreement. “We would have found it already if Tek Rider would have told us the location of her old laboratory sooner…”
“And I wouldn’t have had to try following HER,” Carrie muttered bitterly.
Carrie looked at her companions, Mister Blank, Miss Violet, and Cyber Swarm, all of whom were more experienced than she was in this kind of thing. Sure, this group was only a portion of the Intelligence Cadet Corps members, but they would be more than capable of handling Glyph, if it became necessary.
Swarm grumbled, “I had to trade Tek Rider my second-best micron assembler for this information. She builds motorcycles, so what does she even need a micron assembler for?”
“We appreciate your gracious sacrifice,” Mister Blank told Swarm. “It will be well worth it once we collect the evidence we need to get HER arrested…”
“Yes, of course,” Swarm agreed, looking down at the tablet in his hands and then turning down the next tunnel section. “I knew that when I made the trade, though it still grates on me…”
“Come now,” Miss Violet announced with a smirk of her own. “We all know that you’re just grumpy because you’d rather be back in your lab than marching through these tunnels.”
Swarm hesitated a moment before admitting. “True. I was hoping to work on my new dragonfly drones today…or even begin construction on the wasp drones that I designed for the next combat fin…”
“There it is,” Mister Blank suddenly cried out, pointing down the tunnel with the tip of his umbrella. “The cleaning closet that Tek Rider told you about…”
“The secret entrance to her hideout,” Carrie added, more to be part of the conversation than anything else since the others already knew this too.
As soon as they reached the closet, Miss Violet reached inside for the hidden latch that they’d been told about. She frowned and felt around for a few more seconds before announcing, “I’m not finding the latch…”
“Let me try,” Mister Blank insisted as he stepped into the closet and began looking around. He ran his hands against the walls, checking the spot where the hidden latch was supposed to be and then everywhere else. “I’m not finding anything in here…”
“Is there a vent or something I could squeeze through?” Carrie asked a little nervously. She wished Perfume was there, because Perfume was the only Cadet who really took her seriously.
“Nothing that I can see,” Swarm answered, surprising Carrie a little because he’d actually listened to her idea, even if it hadn’t worked out. “But perhaps we can create one…” With that, Swarm reached into his pocket and pulled out tiny robotic worm that was barely over four inches long. “My drill worm might work…”
Swarm placed the metal worm against the wall and it began burrowing right into the concrete. The devisor kept his attention on the tablet he was using to control the drone, though Carrie stared at the worm itself. Once it had completely vanished into the concrete wall, she frowned. The hole that the worm left behind was still too small for her to use, even at her smallest size.
After a minute, Swarm muttered a few profanities. When everyone stared at him, he gave a self-conscious shrug and explained, “My drill worm burrowed in about nine inches before the battery died… This was supposed to be a hidden door…but it never made it through.”
“Nine inches,” Miss Violet mused, crouching down for a closer look at the hole. “And it spat out plenty of concrete dust… I do believe, this is a wall, not the door we were expecting.”
“And what does that mean?” Carrie asked, feeling a little confused.
“It means,” Mister Blank explained with a look of annoyance, “that either Tek Rider lied to us…or Glyph closed off the old door completely.”
To Be Continued