The Writing On the Wall (Part 3)
A 2nd Generation Whateley Academy Story
The Writing On the Wall
Poe Cottage, Friday morning, Sept 16th, 2016
Monday mornings were a bane to all mankind, along the same level as pestilence, politics, and speedos on really fat guys. And unfortunately, I was beginning to think that Friday mornings were nearly as bad.
It was extremely difficult to climb out of bed this morning, especially since I’d had almost no sleep last night. After everything that had happened yesterday, my nightmares had been stirred to new heights of terror.
Whenever I closed my eyes, I could picture my family, lying dead on the ground before me. I could hear them crying out and demanding, “Why did you survive when I didn’t?” And of course, I saw the faceless horde of assassins that Scorn might send after me.
Morgana staggered out of bed at the same time and gave me a vaguely worried look, though she didn’t say anything, at least not to me. She did, however, mutter something about coffee, that was too unintelligible for me to make out.
After several minutes of mindlessly staggering around my room, like a zombie who’d just risen from the grave, I managed to get my robe on and my shower caddy. I paused at the door, hesitating to leave the relative safety of my room. I hadn’t left this room since I’d locked myself inside yesterday, except for one brief run to the bathroom. I hadn’t gone to dinner, or even my Firearm Safety class.
I did feel a little bad about missing Firearm Safety, because now, I needed that class even more than before. I was in danger, and I had no idea when or where the attack would come from. I only knew that sooner or later, it would come, and that I had to be prepared.
“Hurry it up, slowpoke,” Morgana grumbled from behind me, letting out a loud yawn. “I need to go take a pee…”
“And you need to brush your teeth,” I teased her with a forced smile. “You really have dragon breath in the morning.”
Morgana just grinned at that. “At least I don’t spend half the night farting in my sleep…”
I just smiled faintly in response, thankful for the less than witty banter. For the moment at least, I could pretend that things were normal, or at least, as normal as they seemed to get at Whateley.
Just a minute later, I stepped into the she showers, where Chessa stared at me for a moment with a faintly nervous expression, then quickly averted her eyes and pretended that she hadn’t seen me. I scowled at that, feeling hurt by her reaction.
Laura stepped out of one of the stalls and began drying herself off, though when she noticed me, she gave a smile that seemed only a little uncertain. “Morning Bianca. Morgana.”
“Morning,” I responded evenly, refusing to call it ‘good’.
Morgana gave Laura a faint nod, which I caught in the mirror since I wasn’t supposed to see it. I realized that Morgana had probably talked to her and the others about me last night during dinner, which made me tense up slightly. I didn’t know how much Morgana had told them, but I was fairly sure that she wouldn’t give away too many details.
“How are you holding up?” Laura asked me, looking just a little awkward.
“Fine,” I lied, giving a forced smile.
Laura hesitated a moment, then cautiously asked, “Are you sure? I know it can’t be easy having everyone spreading rumors behind your back.”
“Rumors can’t hurt me,” I said, silently adding, “but an assassin can.”
Laura gave me a skeptical look, but before she could ask me any more questions, I slipped into the open shower stall and ended the conversation. After my shower, I performed my usual morning trick of using magic to dry myself off, then I hurried back to the safety of my room, at least long enough to get dressed.
When it came time to leave Poe, I suddenly found myself surrounded by Morgana, Laura, and Bailey, almost as if they were my bodyguards. I was a little startled by this, as well as confused, until I noticed Morgana’s smirk. She’d arranged this with the other girls, probably to make me feel more secure. I had to admit, it was working.
“I told you that I had your back,” Morgana told me with a grin.
“Thank you,” I responded, fighting back the tears that wanted to come.
We reached Crystal Hall a short time later, and I tensed up, noticing the looks that some of the other students were giving me. There weren’t quite as many as I’d feared, but still enough to put me on edge. I braced myself for some kind of attack or confrontation, but the presence of my friends seemed to deter anyone from getting too close.
However, as I stood in line, putting waffles on my plate, I overheard one girl asking, “Are you sure? I’ve never even heard of the White Lady…” A minute later, I caught a piece of another conversation, with a boy saying, “...some kind of mob boss in Chicago…”
All this attention made me more than a little uncomfortable, but that was nothing compared to the knot that formed in my stomach when I went to the table and saw Jimmy, Vic, and Tia were already present. Almost as one, they turned to stare at me.
“Come on,” Morgana urged, gesturing for me to sit down. She took her own seat and immediately picked up the cup of coffee from her tray. After taking a deep sniff, she exclaimed, “Ahhhh. Nirvana.”
I hesitated a moment, waiting to see if any of them would tell me to sit somewhere else. Tia looked nervous, Jimmy was watching me with a somewhat suspicious expression, and Vic was a little more difficult to read. When none of them actually said anything, I cautiously sat down.
The conversation was very light, and no one said a word about the elephant in the room, though they obviously wanted to. Perhaps no one wanted to be the one to bring up the subject, or perhaps they wanted to wait until everyone else was present as well.
I was curious about why Tanya hadn’t joined us yet, because I caught a glimpse of her while I’d been making my way to the table. But so far, she had yet to arrive. However, Taka arrived a short time later, and that seemed to signal the others that it was time.
“Are you really with the mob?” Laura asked,
I gulped, not surprised by the question since I knew that my friends would be asking them. I just wasn’t sure that they really were still my friends now. Still, Laura seemed more concerned and curious than accusatory, which let me relax just a little.
“What is mob?” Taka asked, looking a little confused.
Tavi hovered above Jimmy’s shoulder, now looking like he was wearing some kind of old-time gangster costume. He even had a tiny tommygun in his ferret paws. However, I was too distracted by my own thoughts to pay attention to what he was saying.
“The mob is…,” Bailey started, pausing for a moment as she tried to figure out how to answer.
“Sort of like the yakuza,” Jimmy answered, the disapproval clear in his voice and expression.
“You are yakuza?” Taka asked, giving me a look of surprise.
“The Family isn’t really the mob,” I answered slowly. Then I reluctantly admitted, “But there are some similarities.”
I paused at that and looked around, realizing that it probably wasn’t a very good idea to talk about this stuff in the middle of the school cafeteria. Who knew how many people might be listening in on us.
With that, I pulled out a piece of chalk and went to work drawing some runes on the table. My friends all watched in surprise, and perhaps even confusion as they wondered what I was up to. Once I was done, I charged the runes with essence and activated the spells.
“Eavesdropping protection,” I explained grimly. That should protect against eavesdropping, as well as most bugs and scrying spells, or at least, any that my fellow students were likely to have available at the moment.
I took a deep breath as I prepared to talk about something that I really didn’t want to, that I had hoped to avoid completely at Whateley. However, if I was to have any chance of keeping my friends, I had to be honest.
“The rumors are right,” I finally said, keeping my voice low and even. “I am the sixth White Lady.”
“The sixth?” Tia blurted out in surprise.
“The White Lady is a title that is passed down through the women in my family,” I explained. “Along with certain powers. My grandmother was the White Lady before me, and yes, at one time she’d been a supervillain.”
I paused at that, feeling the tears starting to form, though I held them back as hard as I could, forcing myself to appear calm and in control. There was no way I could show that kind of weakness here, in the middle of the school cafeteria. Crying in front of everyone would be like bleeding in the water. It would only draw the sharks.
Several people at the table began to talk at once, which made it difficult to make out what they were saying. I focused on Laura, who asked, “What about this Family you mentioned? You said they’re similar to the mob…”
I nodded at that while I tried to think about how to answer. “Originally,” I finally said, “one of my ancestors, the third White Lady, created the Family as a legitimate business…and as a mutual protection thing for her friends and family.”
“Originally?” Morgana asked.
“Her great niece was ambitious,” I continued, staring at the runes on the table instead of the people who were watching me so carefully. “She murdered the third White Lady and became the fourth. Under her control, the Family changed into something else. Then, during the first World War, the fourth White Lady was killed, along with most of the Family. The fifth White Lady…my grandmother rebuilt the Family. And then…” I paused, choking and unable to continue.
“Your grandmother was killed,” Morgana said quietly.
I couldn’t bring myself to speak just yet, so I merely nodded. After taking a deep breath, I managed to say, “And I inherited her title, her powers, and her position as the head of the Family.”
“But you’re my age,” Jimmy blurted out. “How can you be a mafia boss?”
I wanted to tell them that it wasn’t my choice, that I hadn’t wanted anything to do with the Family. However, I’d opened up more than I was comfortable with at the moment, and couldn’t bring myself to reveal any more, especially not something that would be seen as a weakness.
“I won’t take over until I’m eighteen,” I said instead. “Until then, I’m just a figurehead.”
Jimmy stared at me with an odd look, one that was almost hurt, as though I’d somehow betrayed him. He scowled, but didn’t say anything more. The look of disapproval on his face spoke more than enough.
“Why didn’t you tell us before?” Tia asked, looking a little worried, perhaps even a little afraid of me. That definitely hurt.
“Why don’t you think?” Morgana responded. “I mean, would you tell everyone?” Laura and Bailey nodded, as they also knew that there were some secrets you just didn’t want to share with everyone.
“I came to Whateley so I didn’t have to be the White Lady,” I said, getting tired of having to explain this. “I just wanted to be Bianca…” I scowled, trying hard to keep my voice and expression under control, though it wasn’t easy. “It’s…dangerous having people know. Very dangerous…”
“Apparently,” Morgana agreed, giving me a sympathetic look, “Bianca had some people who are after her, and she was hiding out at Whateley…”
“I…have a price on my head,” I admitted reluctantly, earning several looks of surprise.
“What did you do?” Tia gasped.
I gave her a flat look, barely holding back the anger that wanted to erupt. “I inherited my grandmother’s power. Scorn… He ordered a hit on my family, and now he’s after me.”
“Why after you?” Taka asked, looking just a little lost. Since English wasn’t his natural language, I wondered just how much of the conversation he was following. “Is from rival clan?”
I blinked at Taka’s second question, since it seemed that he understood a little better than I’d expected. “Yes,” I answered with a sigh. “Scorn wants to take over our…territory and business. In order to do that, he has to take out the Family…and its figurehead. Me.”
“Damn,” Vic exclaimed.
Just then, one of the spells I’d cast, suddenly popped. I stared at the rune I’d drawn on the table, but it was no longer charged with essence or active. Normally, my spells fade out when they use up all the essence, but this was something different. I’d never had this happen to me before, but I realized what it had to be. Someone had broken my anti-eavesdropping spell. Considering that Whateley was full of magic users, both students and faculty, and that a lot of them were probably curious about me, that shouldn’t have been a surprise.
Vic started to say something, but I held up a hand to stop him. “We aren’t safe to talk anymore,” I said, scowling at the runes in annoyance. I was definitely going to have to work on making my spells stronger if I wanted any kind of privacy from now on.
The others all looked at each other, then there were some nods of understanding. I could have put another spell in place so that we could continue the conversation for a little longer, but I didn’t bother to do so. This gave me the excuse I needed to end the questions for the moment. After this, we spent the rest of breakfast in near silence.
BMA, Friday late morning, Sept 16th, 2016
I stood in the middle of the sparring circle, carefully watching my opponent. At first glance, Mouse looked like she’d be easy to beat, even for someone as unskilled as myself. Between her stature, codename, and general mousey demeanor, that would be an easy mistake to make.
If you looked more closely at Mouse, you’d see that her body, while fairly short, was also lean and very solid. She was an athlete. Specifically, she was a gymnast, and from what I’d heard, a very good one. She’d even been competing for a spot on the US Olympics team, before she manifested and suddenly became ineligible.
I sympathized with Mouse, because I knew exactly what it felt like to have your life and dreams taken away and shattered, by something you had no control over. However, it was obvious that Mouse had no sympathy for me, and she kept looking at me like I was some kind of poisonous snake…even before we’d been told to spar with each other.
Mouse suddenly came at me, moving faster than I could. She was shorter than me, but in much better shape. And years of intense gymnastics training proved that she also had the will, determination, and competitive spirit to win.
As we traded punches, I grimaced and silently cursed. Every time I thought I had Mouse, she’d suddenly shrink, making it very hard to either hit or grab her. That was frustrating, but not as much as the fact that I didn’t have any tricks that I could pull in return. I’d already used my fire and air spells during a previous sparring match, so I had nothing left to use against her, or at least, nothing that would be very useful at the moment.
Mouse and I sparred for our third match, with neither of us actually ‘winning.’ However, it was obvious to anyone watching, that even though she didn’t knock me outside the ring, or get me pinned, that she was still doing a lot better than I was. When Tolman called out for us to stop, I let out a sigh of relief. It was bad enough getting my butt handed to me by someone like Bacon, but even worse to have it done by someone like Mouse.
“Class is over for today,” Tolman announced. “I will see you all again on Monday.”
“You’re getting better,” Laura told me, more to be encouraging than anything else.
“Mouse is hard to hit,” Morgana agreed.
I nodded at that, then looked around the room. Most of the students were heading towards the showers to get cleaned up. I saw Tanya doing that very thing, but she didn’t spare a glance back in my direction. Of course, she’d been ignoring me all morning, refusing to look at me or even acknowledge my existence. That hurt, though I refused to let it show.
When we went into the locker room a minute later, Laura called out, “Hey, Tanya…”
“Good match, today,” Tanya called back to Laura. “If I didn’t have my power, you would have nailed me…” Then Tanya hurried into the shower, still not even looking at me.
“How are you holding up?” Laura asked me with a worried look.
“I’m fine,” I assured her with a forced smile.
Then, as if the universe wanted to mess with me, one girl exclaimed, “Why are those girls even hanging around her? I mean, she’s supposed to be some kind of supervillain…”
“They’re all poesies,” another girl responded, with a hint of contempt in her voice.
Morgana’s eyes flashed and she turned to glare at the other girls. However, I put my hand on her arm. “They aren’t worth it.”
“Yeah,” Laura added with a faint smirk. “Save it up for the next time you have to spar with them…”
Morgana grinned. “Yeah, I think I’ll do that.”
I went into the showers to wash off, trying hard not to think about the fact that I was surrounded by naked girls…some of whom were even hot exemplars. At the moment, I was almost thankful that Little Bryan was no longer there to give away what I was thinking. Almost.
As I stepped out of the shower, I mentally reached for my permanent spells and activated the one for water. My eyes and tattoos all began to glow blue, which drew more attention to me from around the locker room. I pulled all the water from my hair and skin, and held it hovering in a ball.
“I haven’t seen her do THAT in class,” Rapunzel whispered to Mouse, though I still heard it.
With a faint smile, I casually tossed the ball of water back into the showers, and towards the drain. It hit the floor and splashed the legs of the girl who’d been insulting towards poesies, with only a little nudge from me. I acted as though I hadn’t even noticed that small bit of petty revenge, and let what was left of my power fade.
I received a couple of worried looks from girls who realized that I hadn’t shown all my tricks in class, but others were less impressed since they’d seen me do this trick before. The downside of drying myself off this way, every time I showered, was that I tended to give away my ability to control water to those who paid attention. Still, it was nice being able to impress someone new. Now, if I could only figure out how to do that in the actual class.
“You know,” Laura told me, “I’m jealous of you being able to dry off so fast…”
“Not me,” Morgana responded with a broad grin, since she was just as dry as I was, courtesy of her fire power.
“At least I don’t have to worry about setting off the fire alarm,” I commented wryly.
Morgana just grinned a little more broadly at that. “And at least I don’t have to worry about what would happen if someone splashed me right now…after I’d already used up my power.”
“Touche,” I replied.
Once we were all ready, Morgana, Laura, and I all started for lunch together. Tanya hadn’t waited for us today, probably because she was avoiding me. I scowled at that, then tried not to think about it. What had I expected? I’d known my friends would probably avoid me after it came out that I was the White Lady. I was just lucky that not all of them were reacting like that.
As we walked to Crystal Hall, I wondered if Tanya would even bother sitting at our usual table, or if she’d skip out like she had at breakfast. Jimmy clearly didn’t approve of my criminal connections, and Tia now seemed a little nervous around me, but neither of them was actively avoiding me the way Tanya was.
“Thanks, both of you,” I said. At Morgana and Laura’s curious looks, I explained, For sticking with me…even though everyone seems to think I’m a supervillain.”
“I don’t think you’re a supervillain,” Laura assured me.
Morgana had an odd expression for a moment, then said, “Laura, can you go on ahead and give us a minute? We’ll catch up with you.”
“Okay,” Laura responded, giving Morgana and me a curious look before continuing ahead.
“I’m sorry for making things so difficult,” I told my roommate, with a sigh, blushing as I remembered crying in her arms yesterday.
“There’s no need to be,” Morgana responded. “Really. Trust me. I know.”
I stared at Morgana for a moment, feeling a little confused. There was a strange tone in her voice, and she was giving me a considering look, followed by a deep sigh.
“Whateley is a lot safer than you think,” Morgana told me. “At least from outside interference, or I wouldn’t be here myself.” She had an odd expression, as if she was bracing herself for something. “I never told you exactly what happened before I came here, did I? Just the sanitized version…”
“I don’t think so,” I responded carefully, wondering what she was getting at.
“It’s probably time I told you,” Morgana said with a sigh. “Then maybe you’ll feel a bit less isolated. And you'll hopefully understand why I was so worried you might be the leader of a cult."
After this, Morgana told me about what had happened to her, about the kidnapping, experimentation, and escape…along with what she’d done in the process. It took awhile, and wasn’t a very nice story, but in the end, I had a much better understanding of her and what she’d been through.
“So, you see,” Morgana continued, giving me a half grin. “They might be calling you a supervillain, but personally, I don’t believe it. For a start, you don’t have the right laugh for it.” Then she paused to shrug, adding, “My whole dragon thing is a bluff, and if everyone realized I should be calling myself Demonsfyre, well…”
I gulped faintly. “But you aren’t really…are you?”
Morgana shook her head. "Nah, I just got some of the physical stuff. They checked in London…I'm human, just with an altered body."
I let out a deep breath I hadn't realized I was holding. She must have noticed since the corner of her mouth twitched. "See,” she said, “there are worse things than people thinking of you as a villain. Which I don't."
“Thank you,” I told her, surprised to find that we had even more in common than I’d already known. Maybe, I should tell her about the Messenger…and what I’d done to him. After her story, I was pretty sure she’d understand.
However, before I could say anything else, Morgana exclaimed, “Come on, I’m hungry, and lunch isn’t going to eat itself,” and began marching towards Crystal Hall again.
When we reached Crystal Hall, I was startled to see Janine there, waiting at the entrance. She was hard to miss since she was floating ten feet in the air and sparkling.
“Bianca,” Janine said, right before lowering herself back to the ground. She gulped, suddenly looking extremely nervous. “Can…can we talk?”
Morgana was giving Janine a wary look, but I smiled wryly. “I don’t think I need a bodyguard at the moment. I’ll catch up in a minute.”
“Okay,” Morgana responded before hurrying inside. I suspected that she might have resisted a little more, if it wasn’t for her appetite.
“You…you left this in English yesterday,” Janine said awkwardly as she held out my notebook. I’d been in such a hurry to get away after Kopy revealed that I’d been outed, that I must have left it behind.
“Thank you,” I said as I took the notebook.
I expected Janine to immediately hurry away from me after that, but instead, she remained where she was, blushing and looking self-conscious. She stared down at her own feet, looking like she wanted to say something, but remaining silent for several long seconds.
“Giggles doesn’t think I should talk to you anymore,” Janine finally said in a near whisper. “She says… Everyone says…”
“That I’m some kind of supervillain?” I asked in a flat and even tone.
“I don’t believe it,” Janine blurted out, looking me in the eyes. “You aren’t a bad person…”
“I don’t think I am,” I responded with a wry smile.
“But all those rumors,” Janine started with a pleading tone in her voice.
I hesitated, not sure what to tell her, or even if I should. “I don’t even know what all the rumors are,” I finally admitted. “People aren’t exactly telling me them to my face, or asking how accurate they are.”
“Are they true?” Janine asked me quietly. “I don’t believe you’re a villain…”
“Most of them probably have a grain of truth,” I reluctantly admitted. “Yes, my grandmother was the White Lady. Yes, she was a supervillain back in the forties, and you would probably call her a mob boss.” I scowled at that. “The Family isn’t quite what people think, and not nearly as bad.”
“The Family,” Janine whispered, her eyes going wide.
“When my grandmother died, I inherited her title and position,” I told her, already tired of repeating this. “I didn’t ask for either. I don’t want either. I wasn’t given any choice. When I turn eighteen, I become the head of the Family…whether I want it or not. Until then, I’m just a figurehead with a target on my back.”
“Oh my God,” Janine gasped, staring at me with an expression of sympathy.
I wasn’t sure why I’d just told all that to Janine. I hadn’t even told all of that to my usual group of friends, not even the ones who knew that I used to be Bryan.
Janine continued staring at me for several more seconds before her expression turned to one of determination, as though she’d made a decision. “My dad always says that instead of listening to gossip, that you should listen to your gut, and my gut says you’re a good person. You helped me with those jerks when you didn’t have to.”
“Thank you,” I told her, touched by her words and not sure what else I could say.
“I still want to be your friend,” Janine said awkwardly. “If you still want me…”
I blinked at that. “Of course, I still want you as my friend.” I gave her a self-conscious smile. I could use all the friends I could get, especially now.
Janine smiled at me, looking delighted. “You know,” she said excitedly. “Since you’re a bigshot mob boss and all, you probably need a personal assistant…”
“A what?” I asked in surprise, wondering where that came from.
“A personal assistant,” Janine exclaimed excitedly, grabbing my arm and announcing, “I’m your new personal assistant…”
Devisor Labs, Friday late afternoon, Sept 16th, 2016
Elliot Conner looked over his work table and all the components that were carefully spread out before him. His fingers itched to put the rest of them together, and to finish assembling his latest weapon.
As a devisor, Elliot specialized in multi-function weapons, and he was sure that this one was going to be his best yet. It would be even better than the multi-gun he usually carried with him, and much more powerful.
Elliot scowled as he remembered how useless his prized multi-gun had been last Saturday, and he was determined not to let something like that happen again. It was with the still chafing frustration that he continued work on his latest devise, determined to finish it as soon as possible.
“This is going to be my best weapon yet,” Elliot announced proudly. “I bet I’ll rule the weapons fair this year…”
“Perhaps,” Marty responded from the next work station over. “But I intend to sell some of my hologram emitters, and I believe they will sell quite well.”
Elliot looked over at Marty Prescot, who was his best friend and lab partner. At the moment, Marty was working on a portable hard light generator, motivated by the same incident that was currently driving Elliot.
Just then, Elliot heard someone singing, though he and Marty were currently the only ones there, so he didn’t know where it was coming from. Still, it was a pleasant tune, so he listened to it and even began to hum along.
A minute later, Elliot suddenly realized that someone was standing at the door of the lab, watching them as she sang. Normally, Elliot didn’t like having girls in the labs since they were such a distraction, but at the moment, he didn’t care.
This girl was absolutely gorgeous, with high cheekbones, arched eyebrows over sapphire blue eyes, and long platinum blonde hair. Her entire body was magnificent, with a narrow waist, long legs, and breasts that were both large and firm. In fact, she had the looks of a Playboy model, not a sophomore high school student. It was no wonder that she was a member of Venus Inc.
Elliot knew exactly who this girl was. Melody Sheridon, AKA Chained Melody, was a sophomore, just like Marty and himself. However, unlike them, she’d spent the last year taking only electives and easy classes, and as a result, was stuck having to take some of the basics and prerequisites this year.
Though Elliot knew that there was something else important about Melody, he couldn’t quite think of what it was at the moment. Instead, he could only admire her beauty and grace. Marty, who was even worse around girls than he was due to his Asperger’s Syndrome, was equally entranced.
“Hello, boys,” Melody said in a suggestive purr. “I was just passing by when I noticed you working…”
For some reason, Elliot knew that he should be suspicious of Chained Melody, even more suspicious than of other girls, but he couldn’t quite remember why. And at that moment, he didn’t really care. He was just happy that she was paying attention to him.
“Welcome to our lab,” Elliot said with a smile.
“We have some very impressive technology we can show you,” Marty added a moment later.
“I’m sure you do,” Melody responded. “But that isn’t really why I’m here…”
“Why are you here?” Elliot asked, once again struck by the sense that something was wrong with that.
Melody smiled at that, though it was a faint and almost predatory smile. “I heard of the trouble you had with that white-skinned bitch last week, and I wanted to make sure you two were doing all right…”
“Glyph,” Elliot spat out the name. He and Marty had just been having a little fun when that bitch had stuck her nose in their business and began pushing them around. “She’s just like every other bully…”
“Of course she is,” Melody said pleasantly. “I’ve even heard that she’s with the mob…”
“I too have heard those rumors,” Marty said with a deep scowl.
“She’s some kind of rich bitch supervillain,” Elliot blurted out in anger. “She thinks she can get away with pushing us around…”
“Oh, you can’t have that,” Melody said in mock sympathy. “I think someone needs to teach her a lesson in humility.”
“Oh yeah,” Elliot agreed, looking over to Marty. “We’re just the ones to do it too. We’ll teach her that she can’t keep messing with us lab kids. It’s time we had some real revenge of the nerds…”
Melody smiled triumphantly as she said, “Good luck.”
A moment later, Melody turned and left the lab with a smirk, pleased that these two pawns had fallen right in line with her plans. Of course, that was no surprise. For some reason, Glyph seemed immune to her magical influence, but these two weren’t. She didn’t even need to control them directly, just make them a little more suggestible, then nudge them into doing what they already wanted to do.
“You’re going to pay, you white-skinned freak,” Melody mused to herself. “No one gets away with humiliating me. No one.”
Whateley Academy, Saturday morning, Sept 17th, 2016
In my old school, Home Ec taught such things as how to bake cookies, do your own laundry, and even how to sew simple pillows. At Whateley, Home Ec consists of such things as how to design and make your own superhero…or supervillain…costume.
Costuming class teaches much more than the art of spandex. From what both our teacher and the brochure said, we’d be learning about how colors and styles can be used to influence how people see you, as well as how to make your clothing more practical by integrating various types of protection and hidden pockets. This sounded MUCH more interesting than learning how to patch holes in my socks.
It was Saturday morning, which seemed a completely unnatural time for a class, so I had to remind myself that I’d actually asked for this class. Being here was entirely of my choice, which made it a bit easier to drag myself out of bed and across campus, but not by much.
Of course, I wasn’t the only one in class. In fact, several of my friends, including my roommate, were here along with me. Morgana sat beside me, and on the other side of her was Tanya. Taka was also sitting close by.
This morning, Tanya wasn’t completely ignoring me like she’d done yesterday. She’d given me a polite “Good morning,” but was still pretty distant. Apparently, after hearing all the rumors, she now believed the worst of me. Since I’d thought she was my friend, that really hurt.
“You should have seen it,” Morgana was telling Tanya. “Last night, Tinker shows up at Poe and asks if she can do Bianca’s laundry…” Then, she turned to me and grinned. “We haven’t even been here for two weeks, and you’ve already got your own minion…”
“She is NOT my minion,” I responded, giving my roommate a glare. “For some reason, Janine thinks I need a personal assistant. I’ve told her I don’t need one, but I don’t think she was listening…”
“Likely story,” Morgana teased me, knowing how embarrassed I was about Janine’s offer. “I’ll tell you what… Tell her to be MY personal assistant instead, and to bring me coffee in the morning, and then everyone will be happy.”
I just rolled my eyes, wanting to respond, but also wanting to avoid getting in trouble for talking in class. I settled for ignoring Morgana, and paying attention to the teacher for the rest of class. Admittedly, I did practice a few more runes in my notebook during the lecture.
When Costuming class finally ended, Tanya and Taka both took off for their dorms, while Morgana and I started towards Poe. “You have to admit, it’s kind of funny,” Morgana said, continuing the conversation from class.
“No, it isn’t,” I argued.
“As soon as everyone thinks that you’re a supervillain or mob boss,” Morgana told me, “you suddenly have your own minion.”
“Janine isn’t my minion,” I pointed out, for what had to be the tenth time.
“I know that,” Morgana admitted with a faint smirk. “And you know that. But does SHE know that?”
I rolled my eyes at that. “Janine and I are just friends…”
Morgana gave me a somewhat skeptical look. “Maybe she thinks that you did her a favor…so now she owes you. Isn’t that the way things are supposed to work with the mob?”
I let out an exasperated sigh, not sure how to get Morgana to drop the subject, or how to get Janine to see that I neither wanted nor needed a personal assistant. I knew that she was just trying to be helpful, but if other students found out about this, it would only make my situation worse. The last thing I needed were rumors about me recruiting minions and henchmen.
We were about halfway back to Poe when there was a sudden blinding light ahead of us, as though the sun was reflecting off a mirror and directly into my eyes. I immediately put a hand over my eyes, though I was already dazed and blinded from the light. This immediately triggered my fears of an attack, so as much as the light hurt my eyes, I tore my hand away. To my relief, the bright light was gone, and I was relieved to see that nobody was coming at me. In fact, no one was even near me…not even Morgana.
I blinked several times to help clear my eyes, then I saw Morgana running away. “Morgana,” I called out, but she didn’t answer or even look back.
It was obvious that something was going on, because someone must have caused that flash of light, and Morgana wouldn’t just run off like that without any reason. Since I didn’t see any threats near me, that meant she was probably the one in trouble. With a grimace of determination, I adjusted my grip on my backpack and followed after Morgana in case she needed help. To my surprise, she ran straight to the nearest entrance to the tunnels, then vanished inside. I hesitated only a moment before following.
Clive Franks, more commonly known by his codename of Beatdown, stood back and watched his target from a distance. Glyph had just left her costuming class, right when he’d been told she would, and now appeared to be heading back to her cottage. Unfortunately, she wasn’t alone. Her roommate, Dragonfyre was with her. Beatdown scowled at that, because he’d been hired to deal with Glyph, not the other girl.
Suddenly, there was a flash of light, and the next thing Beatdown knew, Glyph was running off towards the tunnels, chasing after Dragonfyre. But at the same time, he could also see Dragonfyre running towards Poe…and chasing after Glyph.
“There are two of them,” Beatdown said in surprise and confusion. There were two Glyphs and two Dragonfyres.
For a moment, Beatdown remained where he was, wondering what was going on. Then, he suddenly remembered that earlier, he’d seen that geek Photech setting up some equipment in the area. At the time, Beatdown hadn’t paid much attention to the other boy, and now he regretted it.
“What the hell are you up to?” Beatdown muttered.
However, the truth was, he didn’t really care. What he did care about, was that Photech appeared to have separated Glyph from her roommate, which made his job easier. With that, Beatdown cracked his knuckles, then started towards the tunnels. It was time to get to work.
“Morgana,” I called out as I stepped down into the tunnels.
I saw a flash of my roommate up ahead so ran after her. After turning the corner, I saw her just standing there…looking expressionless and vaguely transparent. I immediately tensed up, realizing that this was a trap and that I’d walked right into it.
“Well, well, well,” a voice echoed through the tunnel. “If it isn’t the big bad supervillain…”
I turned around and saw the familiar face of Elliot, as he stepped out of where he’d been hiding. The demented leprechaun had a sneer on his face, and he was holding a large weapon that resembled the new Giztech Pulse Rifle that Dominic had been showing off a couple days before I’d come to Whateley. However, Elliot’s weapon was a little bulkier and less stylish.
From the hologram of Morgana, which had lured me down into the tunnels, I knew that Elliot’s buddy Marty had to be involved as well. Because of that, I wasn’t the least bit surprised when Marty stepped into view a few seconds later.
Marty had something strapped to his back, which resembled a proton pack from the Ghostbusters movies. A cable came from the pack and went to the base of what looked like a large flashlight, which he was holding firmly. Another cable extended to a large bulky wrist band on his other arm.
“We have unfinished business,” Marty announced as he reached up to pull the goggles on his forehead, down over his eyes. “And this seemed like an opportune time to conclude it.”
“We’re here to teach you a lesson,” Elliot told me. “I don’t give a damn who you think you are, you aren’t going to get away with picking on us techies…”
I blinked at that. “I think we remember the Quad very differently…”
Marty took a step forward, and the flashlight he was holding, suddenly began to glow. Golden energy emerged from the tip, and a moment later, he was holding what looked like a broadsword, with a blade made of energy.
“Awesome lightsaber,” Elliot said appreciatively.
“This is not a lightsaber,” Marty corrected him, sounding faintly offended. “This is a hard light construct, not a plasma projection…”
“Now I can field test my new multi-cannon,” Elliot said with a twisted grin. He held up the unwieldy weapon, which took both his hands to hold.
For a moment, I just stood there, staring at Elliot and Marty, and then I began to laugh. After expecting professional assassins to attack me, it was almost a relief to be jumped by these two.
My laughing seemed to offend my ambushers, because Elliot’s expression immediately turned to one of anger. He pulled the trigger on his weapon and there was a quick flash from the barrel, right before a hole appeared in the concrete wall a few feet away from me. A small piece of metal spike stuck out from the hole, like a nail that had been driven only halfway in.
“The rail gun mode works,” Elliot exclaimed with glee.
I stopped laughing and felt a chill of fear as I realized that these two were serious. It was stupid to just stand there like that, because if they had been assassins, then I probably would have already been dead.
A moment later, I flipped the mental switch to unleash one of my elemental spells, and then held out my hand and sent a wave of flames rushing down the tunnel towards them. I expected my ambushers to jump back and scatter, but instead, Marty just held up his arm and a glowing golden disk appeared from the wrist band that was connected to his pack. Marty used this energy shield to block the flames.
“My hard light shield is holding stable,” Marty said with obvious relief in his voice.
I continued pushing flames towards them as I backed away, knowing that my elemental power wouldn’t last for long, and that I had to make use of it while I could. At the moment, that meant using it as a distraction to keep them busy, while I turned and ran away as fast as I could.
“Come back here,” Elliot yelled. I heard some smashing sounds as he fired several more shots from his weapon, and punched more holes in the wall.
“Oh shit,” I gasped, turning another corner. They couldn’t see me at the moment, but they weren’t very far behind me. I needed to do something, but what?
“We’ve got the bully on the run,” Elliot laughed from the next hall over.
I snarled in frustration, knowing that I couldn’t let myself get beat by them. For one thing, it would ruin my reputation as the White Lady if I got taken down by those two geeks, and for another, I was tired of having people come after me…of being afraid of people coming after me.
“I beat the Messenger,” I grimly reminded myself. “I can beat them…”
As BMA had shown me, I wasn’t very good at close up fighting, and I especially didn’t want to risk it against two armed opponents. However, there was something else I was good at. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to stop and draw any spells. I remembered just how frustrating it had been to try, back when I’d been helping against the Squid in New York.
Suddenly, I had an idea. I tore open my backpack and pulled out my notebook. With trembling hands, I opened it up to a page that had one of my runes drawn right in the middle of it. I didn’t need to stop and draw my runes, because I already had some. This rune was drawn in ordinary ink, on plain lined notebook paper. The spell would work, but it wouldn’t be nearly as powerful or refined as it could be.
With that, in mind, I tore out the sheet of paper and then charged the rune. As soon as I did that, I dropped it onto the ground in front of me and looked at another page. My Algebra notes had nearly a dozen small runes drawn in the margins, I tore out that page and charged those runes as well.
“Bye bye math notes,” I muttered with a wince, turning to a similar page from English.
I was already backing away, and was just about to turn another corner, when Elliot and Marty came into view. “Do not expect security to come to your assistance,” Marty said. “We have already ensured that the cameras will show nothing out of the ordinary.”
“Once we take down this villain,” Elliot told Marty, “we’re gonna be heroes… Hell, the Cape Squad will probably beg us to join…”
Elliot laughed as he fired another shot at me, missing by several feet. He fired two more shots while I dove around the corner to avoid being hit. I was just thankful that his aim was so bad.
A moment later, Elliot suddenly screamed and began yelling, “Fire! Fire!”
I peeked around the corner and saw Elliot’s foot was on fire, and he was scrambling to put it out. My eyes darted to the charred spot on the floor, where I’d left my very first piece of notebook paper. It seemed that my little landmine had actually worked.
“I think we have it out,” Marty said, only to step on another page. This one contained my Algebra notes, as well as all the small runes in the margin. They each went off in small explosions, almost like firecrackers. Marty jumped, screaming like a girl and swinging his glowing blade in the process. He sliced a nice gouge into the concrete wall.
“It’s working,” I exclaimed with a grin, tearing out more pages from my notebook and charging the runes before dropping them behind me. I winced as I lost my class notes, but it was for a good cause. I even threw a few blank pages on the ground as well, just to provide more of a distraction.
As I ran down the tunnels, I heard more shrieks and yells from my pursuers, as they discovered the magical landmines I’d left behind. It wouldn’t take long for them to realize that as long as they avoided the sheets of paper, they’d be safe. However, the presence of those spells would continue to slow them down, giving me time to do something a little more aggressive.
I pulled out a piece of chalk and went to work, drawing a complicated rune on the concrete wall. I tried to go as fast as I could while still making the rune perfect. I was nervous and my hand wanted to shake, but I refused to make a mistake. I couldn’t afford to make a mistake this time. I managed to get the rune right, then dropped to my knees and began drawing a second rune on the floor.
Once I was finished with those runes, I charged them with essence and then began to leave. However, I hadn’t gone far when Elliot and Marty stepped into view, coming from a side tunnel so that they were now between me and the runes I’d just drawn. I took a nervous step back, watching Marty’s glowing blade and the large multi-cannon that Elliot wielded.
“We’ve got you now,” Elliot exclaimed, firing another shot. I ducked, though I probably didn’t need to as his shot was over my head and actually hit the ceiling. Elliot cursed, then spat out, “And I’m out of spikes too. I guess I’ll just have to shift to mode two…”
With that, Elliot fired the weapon again, and there was a burst if blue light, which went right past me. Suddenly, the ceiling lights behind me went out, leaving a large patch of darkness at my back.
“I believe your EMP blast is better suited for power armored opponents,” Marty commented.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Elliot responded, flipping another switch and then firing again. This time, a bolt of electricity shot out and hit the wall, leaving char marks in its wake. “The range for shock mode isn’t nearly as good as my rail gun mode, but it should do the job nicely…”
“You don’t have to do this,” I warned the boys, trying to look calm and confident. At the moment, it was hard to maintain my metaphorical mask, but I wasn’t about to let them see how nervous I was. “You can still walk away from this.”
“It figures,” Elliot exclaimed with a laugh. “As soon as you push back against a bully, they beg for mercy…”
“I wasn’t begging,” I responded in a cold tone. “I was giving you one last chance.”
With that, I flipped the mental switch and unleashed my elemental air power. My eyes and tattoos began to glow with a silvery light, and I let the wind whip around me, blowing my hair and clothes around in a dramatic fashion. Then, I held my hand out and released all of my stored air power in a single burst of wind. Elliot and Marty were both thrown back, right into my waiting runes.
As soon as my wind faded away, along with the glow from my eyes and tattoos, I stared at Elliot and Marty, both of whom were sprawled out on the ground, right in the middle of the large rune I’d drawn. I walked towards them, keeping my mask in place.
“I’m stuck,” Elliot blurted out in surprise as he tried to sit up. “I’m stuck…”
“I am as well,” Marty added fearfully. He was struggling to left his arm, which wouldn’t come up from the ground, where it was affixed by magic.
The spell I’d drawn on the ground was the same one that I’d once demonstrated to Janine and Giggles, when I’d glued the apple to a table. However, this was a much larger version, and contained a lot more essence. The spell wouldn’t last for more than a couple minutes, but until then, they were caught like flies on flypaper.
“Don’t hurt us,” Elliot pleaded. “We weren’t really trying to hurt you…”
“We were only attempting to frighten you,” Marty quickly added.
“I wasn’t even aiming at you,” Elliot blurted out in desperation.
“I don’t care,” I responded in a cold and even tone. “You came after me, and that was enough.”
“What are you going to do to us?” Elliot demanded, the fear clear in his voice. The smell of urine filled the air, though I couldn’t tell which of the boys it had come from.
“Nothing,” I responded coldly, before giving them a faint smile. “This time.”
I pointed to the other rune, the one that I’d drawn on the wall. It glowed with an eerie silver light as it burned through the charged essence. The effects of that particular rune were powerful, but it required time to work. By trapping Elliot and Marty in place, I’d made sure that the rune had the time it needed. I smiled faintly at the rune, which could be translated to ‘rust’ or ‘corrosion’.
“My multi-cannon,” Elliot suddenly blurted out as he realized the entire thing was covered with rust.
At that very moment, Marty’s energy sword flickered and vanished. The hilt, along with the bulky pack on his back, were also covered with rust. In fact, every bit of metal that the two boys had on them, was currently corroding and rusting away.
“NO,” Elliot cried out in horror as the weapon literally crumbled away in his hands. “My masterpiece…”
“My equipment,” Marty exclaimed in realization. “It’s all ruined… Do you know how much time and resources went into creating this…?”
“Next time,” I said, still staying in character. “I might destroy more than just your equipment.”
With that, I turned and walked away, knowing that those two were no longer a threat to me, at least not at the moment. And hopefully, I’d gotten the message across clear enough that they didn’t try something like this again.
I had only taken a few steps and was just letting out a sigh of relief, when another boy stepped around the corner and into view. He had a large stocky build, which reminded me of a linebacker, as well as a wide jaw, and slightly hooked nose which contributed to an overall ‘thuggish’ appearance.
“Beatdown,” Elliot gasped.
The large boy, Beatdown glanced over to Elliot and Marty and smirked. “So, you took down those dweebs.”
“It looks that way,” I responded in an even voice, which hid just how wary I was.
“The name is Beatdown,” he stated, “on account of that’s what I give people…” Then he made a show of cracking his knuckles before taking several steps towards me. “In fact, that’s what I’m about to give you…”
“I never thought I’d say this,” Elliot gasped, “but I’m cheering for Beatdown…”
Beatdown punched the concrete wall beside him, smashing his fist into it and leaving a small hole. For a moment, I just stood there with a sinking feeling in my stomach. Then, I ran down the tunnels, back the way I’d come. Beatdown followed after me.
“What is it with these people?” I demanded in frustration, sparing a glance back. Beatdown didn’t seem to be very fast, so I might be able to outrun him…especially if I had something to slow him down.
I reached the area where I’d scattered my magical landmines, and let out a faint sigh of relief. About half the pages were still intact since Elliot and Marty had learned not to step on them. Hopefully, they’d slow Beatdown long enough for me to get away.
Beatdown ran right into the mine field and his foot landed on one of the notebook pages. I had no idea which page that was, or what rune or runes I might have drawn on it, though a moment later, I saw the small explosion and knew. Beatdown didn’t flinch at the small explosion, though he did stop to give me a smug look.
“I’m a force field brick,” Beatdown bragged. “That ain’t even going to slow me down…”
I muttered a silent curse, not only at the way Beatdown had just brushed off my trap, but at the fact that I’d been stupid enough to stop and watch. I’d just wasted time that I could have spent getting further away.
Beatdown charged at me, and I jumped out of the way, just in time to see his fist connect with the wall. He left a nice indentation in the concrete wall, and I had a feeling that he might have done that intentionally, just to show off…and maybe even play with his prey. I stared at him with a mixture of fear, anger, and frustration. I was tired of people coming after me…and tired of being afraid they would.
I carefully controlled my expression, not wanting to give Beatdown the satisfaction of seeing how shaken I was. I watched him carefully, knowing that my chances of escaping were better than of beating him, but I was tired of running.
Whether I liked it or not, I was the White Lady. I had an image to maintain…and a reputation. I couldn’t afford a reputation for running away, nor could the Family. That would only be a sign of weakness and encourage more attacks. Somehow, I had to figure out how to beat Beatdown.
“I beat Elliot and Marty,” I reminded myself. Then, I took a deep breath and added, “And the Messenger.” I glared at Beatdown and snarled, “Compared to the Messenger, you are nothing…”
In BMA, I’d learned that I wasn’t very good at hand to hand fighting, especially not against a brick. However, a faint smile formed on my lips as I realized that I still had a few tricks that I hadn’t tried in BMA. I might not be able to use one of them in class, but at the moment, it was the perfect option.
I flipped the mental switch to unleash another of my elemental spells, and a moment later, my eyes and tattoos began glow green. A glowing green rune formed on the palm of my right hand, and without looking at it, I knew it translated to ‘earth’. Without hesitation, I bent down and put my hand against the ground, where the same glowing green glyph appeared on the concrete.
“That ain’t gonna do you any good,” Beatdown started to say, but a moment later, his eyes went wide and he blurted out, “What the hell…?”
Beatdown was sinking into the concrete floor as though it was quicksand, and though he tried to struggle, it did little good. Controlling stone took more energy than fire or air, so I couldn’t afford to play around with him. I pulled him down, till only his head and shoulders remained above the floor, then I hardened it. He might be strong and tough, but he was trapped in concrete, and in a position where he didn’t have the right leverage to make good use of his strength.
“Let me go,” Breakdown demanded, angry but with a hint of fear in his voice.
“I can pull you all the way down,” I pointed out, once again putting my White Lady mask on. “I can drown you in concrete… I can make it so that you’ll never be found…”
This was just a bluff, because there was no way I’d do that to another person…in spite of what I’d done to the Messenger. However, I was sick and tired of people coming after me, and as with the other two, I wanted to make a point. I wanted to make sure Beatdown didn’t try this again.
“You wouldn’t,” he started, then took one look at my face and gulped.
“Why did you come after me?” I asked in an even tone. When Beatdown gave me a defiant look but remained silent, I said, “Deeper it is…”
“NO,” he blurted out frantically. “I was paid to…”
“By who?” I demanded, narrowing my eyes and glaring at him.
I took a deep breath and braced myself for the answer that I was sure to come. But instead of saying Scorn, he answered, “Esquire. It was Esquire.”
“Esquire,” I repeated, remembering the boy with the cane, who’d reminded me a little too much of the Messenger. “Why?”
“He told me to rough you up a little,” Beatdown quickly answered. “And he said, it would make you go to the Bad Seeds for protection…”
I scowled at that, trembling with anger. “The Bad Seeds sent you after me?”
I clenched my fists and bit back a snarl, feeling betrayed, though I knew I had no reason to feel that way. I wasn’t friends with the Bad Seeds, and I certainly wasn’t a member. However, until now, I’d thought that they might be kindred spirits…and now that I was outed…I’d even begun to reconsider their offer.
“They were the ones who outed me,” I hissed in realization. They’d done all that, just to force me to join.
“I don’t know nothing about that,” Beatdown exclaimed. “Now let me go…”
For a moment, I just stood where I was, staring down at Beatdown. I’d already used up all of my ‘earth’ power, so I couldn’t release him even if I wanted. However, I wasn’t too concerned about that, because someone would find him before very long.
Without saying a word to Beatdown, I began to pick up the few remaining pieces of notebook paper, hoping that I might be able to salvage at least a page or two of my notes. Once I was done, I pointedly ignored Beatdown and made my way out of the tunnels to look for Morgana.
Poe Cottage, Sunday evening, Sept 18th, 2016
I was sitting in the Poe dayroom, along with a few other girls, and even a couple boys. Some romantic comedy movie was playing on the TV, though I wasn’t paying any attention, and was in fact, the only person not actually watching it.
Façade was sitting beside me, and currently looked like a hot redhead with lots of tattoos, and a somewhat wild persona. It was hard to believe that she was the same ‘mousey librarian’ I’d first met, especially when she kept blurting out inappropriate things.
“I’d fuck her,” Façade exclaimed, pointing to some woman on the TV screen.
“You can have her,” one of the boys responded dismissively, while a couple girls nodded their agreement with Façade. “I’d rather have that delicious piece of man meat next to her…”
I rolled my eyes and turned my attention back to what I’d been doing, doodling in my notebook. This was a new notebook, one that had unlined paper, and was actually more of an artist’s sketchbook than one for taking class notes in. And the ‘doodles’ that I was working on, were all various runes.
Yesterday, I’d learned the value of having runes that were already drawn out ahead of time, so I’d bought a new notebook for that very purpose. The next time that someone attacked me, I wanted to be ready, with a virtual arsenal that merely needed to be charged with essence.
I smiled faintly as I considered how useful these sheets of paper would be in BMA. For the first time, I was actually looking forward to that class, just so I could try out some of my spells. It would be nice to have some tricks besides my elemental spells.
“Hey, Bianca,” Laura said from a couple seats away. When I looked at her, she teased, “Why don’t you call that henchwoman of yours and have her bring us some popcorn…”
“Janine is NOT my henchwoman,” I snapped.
“Okay,” Laura responded with a chuckle. “Your minion?”
“You’re just as bad as Morgana,” I muttered in annoyance. “She isn’t my henchwoman, my minion, or even my personal assistant…”
“That’s not what she says,” Bailey pointed out with a smirk of her own.
I just groaned at that. “I have got to have another talk with Janine…”
Suddenly, Façade jumped to her feet, crying out, “Oh yeah, that’s what I’m talking about… Now shove those heels right up his ass…” Her attention was still locked on the TV.
I shook my head, deciding that maybe it was time to get out of here. With that, I carefully finished the rune that I’d been working on, then closed my notebook.
“Where you going, Bia?” Façade asked me with a grin. “This is just getting good…”
“No thanks,” I responded with a polite smile. “Not my kind of movie.”
“Suit yourself,” Façade told me with a shrug, immediately turning back to the movie and yelling, “Oh yeah… Kick that bitch’s ass…”
For a moment, I just stood there, watching Façade and wondering what she was really like, when she wasn’t disguising herself and playing up some kind of role. So far, I had yet to see what she really looked like, and I wondered if I ever would.
“Later,” I said, nodding to Laura and Bailey before I started back to my room.
When I reached my room, I was relieved to see that Morgana wasn’t there. I liked Morgana, both as a friend and a roommate, but there were times when I needed a little privacy. Now was one of them.
After locking my door and ensuring my anti-eavesdropping runes were charged, I pulled out my cell phone and made a call. “Hello, Marcus,” I greeted my bodyguard, regent, and most importantly…friend. “I’ve got a problem. Someone figured out I’m the White Lady and outed me.”
There was a long pause before Marcus responded, “I’ll send a couple Loyal to get you. We’ll pull you out and get you back to Chicago where we can guard you…”
“No,” I said, shaking my head, even though he couldn’t see it over the phone. “I want to stay. I…need to stay.”
“If everyone knows you’re the White Lady,” Marcus argued, “then you’re in danger.”
“I know,” I admitted with a sigh. I decided not to tell him that a couple other students had already attacked me. After all, he’d been worried enough after that incident in New York. “But one of the reasons I came here was to get stronger…to learn more about magic. Well, I’ve already learned a few new tricks, and I know I can learn a lot more…”
“I don’t want you to get hurt,” Marcus said, sounding surprisingly gentle for anyone who didn’t know him.
“I know,” I repeated with a faint smile. I hesitated a moment, then told him, “But I have friends here now.” I didn’t need to point out that I’d never really had friends before, or at least, not ones my own age. Marcus knew that quite well since he’d one of my few friends. “They’ll help watch my back.”
We talked for a few more minutes, then said goodbye. I immediately called Tessa, filling her in on the same things I’d told Marcus. However, I hadn’t called her just to tell her what was going on.
“I need to make my spells stronger,” I told Tessa, thinking about some of the things I’d read in my grandmother’s book. “I’m going to start making my own inks and chalks, so I’m going to need a few supplies…”
Once I finished discussing this with Tessa, and she’d promised to mail the supplies I needed, I hung up and let out a sigh. It had been nice talking to Marcus and Tessa, but I couldn’t really tell them about everything that was happening. They wanted the best for me, and for the Family, but they didn’t understand Whateley or the opportunity this was for me. It wasn’t just an opportunity to become a stronger White Lady, but also one to become a better Bianca.
“Unfortunately,” I muttered to myself, “I can’t escape being the White Lady. Not now.”
I closed my eyes for a moment, thinking of the Bad Seeds and what they’d done to me. First, they’d outed me, ending my anonymity and putting me in danger. Then, they’d actually sent people after me in the tunnels, all so they could manipulate me into joining them.
“I don’t think so,” I said with an angry snarl. The Bad Seeds had declared war on me, without any reason, and I wasn’t about to forget that.
Until now, I’d thought of AJ as a kindred spirit and even a possible friend. But now… Now, he might very well be my enemy. Was he involved in this? Did he know what his friends had done? I didn’t know, and that bothered me. This was going to make things pretty awkward in class.
I had no idea of what I was going to do about the Bad Seeds. They’d made the first move against me, and that couldn’t be ignored, but it would be stupid to go up against all of them. For now, I would just have to watch and wait, learning whatever I could about them until I figured out my options.
With that, I sat down on the edge of my bed, opened my grandmother’s book, and began reading. There were still a lot of things in here for me to learn, and more runes to memorize. I had a lot of work to do if I wanted to be strong enough to survive the next attack.
Emerson Cottage, Sunday evening, Sept 18th, 2016
“Eight,” Crysis called out as he pushed the weighted bar up, finishing his repetition before counting the next. “Nine. Ten.”
After finishing his fourth set on the bench press, Crysis finally racked the bar and sat up, rotating his arms in order to stretch his chest muscles. It had been a good workout, even if he couldn’t lift nearly as much as many of his classmates. Unlike a lot of other students, he wasn’t an exemplar, nor did he have any powers that augmented his physical strength. He had to make due with old fashioned exercise.
Crysis found it somewhat ironic, that had been struggling to lift that weight, when he could easily have lifted it with little more than a thought. As a TK 4, his telekinetic powers were pretty strong, but they did little to strengthen his body. If anything, being a telekinetic made it easier for him to avoid physical exercise. That was why he was currently in the small gym, located in the basement of his cottage.
“Maybe I’ll build some real muscle by the time I see Dad again,” Crysis told himself with a grin.
He was looking forward to that, to impressing his dad, who respected hard work and dedication more than he did mutant powers. At least, he hoped that he could impress his dad, since his dad was a busy man, and was notoriously hard to impress. Still, Crysis was determined to make his dad proud of him, one way or another.
Once Crysis graduated from Whateley, he planned on following his dad’s footsteps, and go into the same business as his dad. And since his dad was in the upper-management of his particular organization, Crysis knew that he wouldn’t have much difficulty getting in. But first, he would have to prove to his dad that he could handle it…and that he had what it took.
Crysis used a towel to wipe the sweat from his forehead, then cleaned up before leaving the gym. He made his way back upstairs to his room, where his roommate, Cole Sheppard, was doing homework.
“Hey, Bobby,” Cole greeted Crysis.
Crysis scowled faintly in annoyance. Very few people at Whateley knew him as Robert ‘Bobby’ Grace, but Cole was one of them. Crysis preferred to go by his codename, since it let him get away from his dad’s reputation and gave him a chance to build his own. Though he wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps, he still wanted to do it as his own man.
“Good workout?” Cole asked.
“Not bad,” Crysis responded with a shrug. “Hey, do you mind leaving the room for a few minutes?”
“Expecting a girl over?” Cole teased.
Crysis just snorted at that. “No. I just need to make a phone call, and I want a little privacy…”
“What’s her name?” Cole asked with a faint smirk.
“I need to call my dad,” Crysis responded in annoyance. “Now get lost…”
As Crysis gestured to the door, he used his powers to open it wide. Cole got the hint and left. Once Cole was gone, Crysis pulled out his cell phone and made the call. He let out a sigh of relief when his dad actually answered this time.
“Hey, Dad,” Crysis started. “I’ve been trying to reach you for the last few days…” He scowled at his dad’s response. “No, Sir. I know you’re very busy…but this is important.” After another long pause from his end, Crysis finally said, “You can tell your boss, Mister Scorn, that I know where the White Lady is…”