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September 23, 2017
The Conner Family Residence
Jessie Conner ran his hand through his short cropped, blue dyed hair as he shambled to the bathroom that linked his room to his sister Ashley's. She was off at Whateley School for Mutants, having manifested just before the start of the school year, so he felt no qualms about not bothering to put on a robe or checking that the door to her room was locked. Not that locking the door any more would really matter come Summer vacation, Jessie thought as he stepped into the shower.
It figured his sister's powers would turn out to be the ability to phase through things. Jessie let out a sigh wondering how his twin sister could turn out to have powers and he didn't. They had the same infamous father in Captain Condom. (He was morbidly curious how their mother had met their father, but she wasn't telling.) But Ash had manifested and he hadn't. What could you do? Finishing up he stepped out and dried off.
Dropping his used towel into the hamper, Jessie ran his hand over the mirror, wiping away the fog that obscured his reflection. He shivered as a vibration swept down his arm and through the rest of his body. Frowning Jessie looked at his hand, noting that he really needed to trim his nails. Other then that his hand looked normal to him, so he shrugged it off and finished up. Walking back into his room Jessie felt like something was off about his body, though he couldn't put his finger on just what it was. Choosing to ignore the feeling he went to his dresser and pulled out a pair of boxer briefs. Shaking them out he lifted his foot from the ground to step into them.
Jessie froze, wobbling on one leg as he took in the terrain below his chin. Modest breasts, their nipples stiff, jiggled as he wobbled. Past them he could see his body flow into a modest hourglass form. His legs where long and shapely; femininely long and shapely. The clencher, literally as he could feel the muscles in the region clench in a way he was unused to, was the vagina between those shapely female legs. Jessie let his briefs drop and walked to his closet. Grasping the knob, Jessie closed his eyes before he swung open the door.
Steeling himself Jessie counted to ten before opening his eyes to the sight of...
...himself in all his male glory.
“The hell?” Jessie breathed as he leaned closer to the mirror, one hand cupping a breast, the other going to between his legs. He could feel the breast in his hand, and some small part of his mind, one that sounded a lot like his sister, made note that the first breast he'd ever toughed was his own. His reflection mimicked his movements, but seemed to be squeezing nothing at all. The hand between his legs looked even odder as he explored the exterior changes to the landscape. The hand in the mirror was moving through a sparse patch of brown hair while he was feeling only smooth warm flesh. Turning Jessie tapped his butt, feeling that it was now fuller, while in the mirror it really didn't exist. In fact the hand in the mirror stopped before it made contact with flesh.
Resting his back against the door frame Jessie ran a hand through his hair as he wondered what had happened. His sister had let slip that there where girls in her cottage that had started out as guys, but it sounded like those girls had taken, or where taking, time to happen. The gender change also seemed to carry with it a warping of form, leaving the nugirl looking less then human. They hadn't been instantaneous like hers had been.
Part of Jessie was surprised he wasn't freaking out by this turn of events even as his hands ran up his tight stomach to his modest breasts. The phrase 'more then a hand full is a waste' ran through his thoughts, and his where a nice handful, a lot like her sister's. Meaning that a sports bra would let him pass as a guy, something Ashley had done more then once. While he and Ashley where fraternal twins they looked enough alike, prior to her manifestation, that they could pass as each other with a little work.
“I should probably call mom. She'll have some clue...” Jessie said out loud as he ran a hand through his hair again. “After I get dressed.” he added after a moment. Pushing off from the door frame Jessie strutted... That had been what was different in his walk! There was a sway in his hips and a bounce in his walk! He was walking like a girl!
“Ash is so gonna laugh her ass off over this.” he grumbled as he passed through the bathroom and into Ash's room. “Woah... I hope she's keeping her dorm cleaner then this.” he breathed taking in Ash's mess. He wasn't sure what pile of clothing was clean, and what was dirty, and those piles where mixed in with books and the other possessions she had chose to leave at home.
Picking his way carefully through the chaos Jessie was relieved to see that their mother had left a basket of clean clothes by the main door. It was only after he had stepped into a pair of light blue boy shorts, and was fumbling with the matching bra, did Jessie pause to wonder why he was raiding Ash's things instead of putting on some of his own clothing. The wondering wasn't enough, how ever, to prevent him from slipping on a jean skirt and a white t-shirt.
Blinking he smoothed the skirt over his thighs realizing the skirt and everything felt so... right some how. Blushing he moved over to Ash's closet, pulling it open with some difficulty. He blinked as her mirror came into view, as the reflection wasn't what he had been expecting. Instead of reflecting an image of the male him, maybe wearing a girl's outfit that he though was cute, he saw that the girl him stared back at him, looking both amused and confused some how.
“The hell?” he muttered as he touched the silvered glass.
There was no shiver through his body when he touched the mirror. There was no change from the form he wore to another. Just a cute girl with blue hair, and soft curves wearing the outfit he'd just put on. Feeling panicked for the first time since this started Jessie scrambled back into the bathroom, planting a hand on either side of the sink. Gulping Jessie stared into the mirror over the sink, not sure what he'd see.
What he saw was him, male and bare chested, looking desperate. Lifting a shaking hand Jessie brushed the glass and he felt the shiver go through him again. The reflection blurred for a moment, then reflected the girl him. Releasing the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding Jessie looked down and saw that he was a he again. Blinking he looked back up into the mirror and saw that somehow the girl looking back at him had an amused look on her face as she took in his nakedness.
Embarrassed for some reason Jessie covered himself with his hands. “Ok, seriously, the hell?” he muttered as he headed back into his room. As he did so, he saw that most of the reflective surfaces he passed showed the blue haired girl following along, laughter in her eyes.
Frowning at her as he dressed again, Jessie muttered. “Hey, I didn't stare... ok, I couldn't stare as I couldn't see you naked. I didn't do anything inappropriate...” he could have sworn she raised an eyebrow and slightly shook her head at that. “Ok, so I fondled your... my... oh this is confusing!”
The girl seemed to agree with him. “Ok, so what do we know? I think I switched to you when I touched the bathroom mirror after my shower. I could see male me in the mirror while I was you. But I could see you, or me as you... in Ash's mirror, and couldn't change when I touched it. Can I switch when I touch this mirror?”
Jessie was almost sure the girl reached forward before he did, and when their fingers 'touched' Jessie felt the shudder as his vision blurred. Blinking rapidly he saw that the reflection was him, and he was again the girl. “OK, cool. So... what the hell does this tell me?” she muttered as she stood. “I was taking a shower and thinking of Ash. Was my thinking of her the reason my reflection looked kind of like her? Made me look kind of like her?” her male reflection seemed to ponder the question for a moment, before subtly shrugging. “Right. Need evidence before jumping to that conclusion. I guess the easiest way to do that is think of some other look, and see what happens...”
She stared at her reflection for a moment then let out a huff. “I just have no idea what I wanna try looking like. I'm still getting used to looking like this. One major change is enough for one day I think.” she wrinkled her nose as she smoothed her skirt. “I wanna get used to being a girl first.”
She thought her reflection gave her a hurt look. “Though I suppose I can experiment while getting used to being a girl.” she said slyly, and she was almost sure she saw her reflection blush and look embarrassed. “Yes, I think that is what I'm gonna do, but I think I need to change first.”
Jessie smiled as she let the sun soak in as she pedaled along the main street of town, reveling in just being out and about on beautiful weekend day. She couldn't quite be sure, but she thought she felt less winded then she usually did at this point in the ride as a guy, but she had no scientific way to prove it at the moment. With a soft laugh she mentally shook her head, wondering when she had started to think in female pronouns.
“Likely when I switched back to being a girl.” she said softly to herself as she paused at a traffic light that had gone red. She made a face as the car behind her stopped practically on her rear tire, and she turned on her seat to flip off the collage kid behind the wheel. Not that the driver saw the gesture; she was engrossed in her phone and it was only the car's smart drive feature that had prevented Jessie from becoming street pizza. Grumbling the girl swerved onto the side walk and hopped off her bike as the light went green. Another flipped bird was given to the distracted driver as she sped past.
Soft hands landed on Jessie's shoulder from behind causing her to start just a little, “Hey Jessie, you out for a breather too?” the person who had a grip on her shoulders asked in a pleasant voice.
“Hey Val, yeah I was. Mom's working this weekend and without Ash around the place is just to damn quiet.” Jessie replied as she turned to face his friend Val Phillips. As soon as Jessie was facing the red head, her friend scowled.
“Something's different about you...” she said cocking her head like a little bird, sunlight reflecting off her eyeglass lenses.
“Ah... well, um...” Jessie stammered, wondering if the sports bra she had on under one of her boy's t-shirts and a hoodie was some how doing a lousy job hiding her minimal curves, or something else was giving away her gender swapped status.
Val said snapping her fingers, before pointing to Jessie's head. “Oh, you redyed your hair! Your roots where showing the last time I saw you...” Val leaned in, invading Jessie's personal space to stare at her forehead. “Oh, wow, you even did your eyebrows? I can't think of any of the other dyers in our school that is that hard core.”
“Oh. That. Yeah. The brows... I kind of slopped on one while doing my hair, and I figured What the hell? Let's make them both match the curtains...”
Val grimaced. “Damn it, Jessie, now I so wanna ask something I shouldn't...”
Jessie let out a laugh. “Do you really wanna know...?”
“TMI! TMI!” Val said making a face.
“Fine. So what are you doing in town?” Jessie asked looking over Val, noticing that, like her, the other girl was dressed for activity.
“Rents are out of town so I'm staying with my brother and his family.”
“Ah, so how many naughty dreams have you had about the hot foster cousin?” Jessie teased, causing her semi in the closet friend to squirm and blush. “Ah. What was she doing that made you need to get out of the house?”
“I knew she always wore tights and long gloves, and seemed uncomfortable when over at my home when they visit. I found out why she was uncomfortable; she felt we where immodestly dressed with our hand, arms and legs exposed.”
Val blew a strand of her red hair out of her eyes, as she pushed up her glasses. “Adria had her head messed with. She's comfortable with all this.” Val swirled her hands around in front of her chest, then below the waist. “and this exposed, and everything in between exposed. But bare arms are like walking around with her breasts out, and lack of leg covering is like going without panties. Which was what she was doing. Everything was on display, and the gloves and tights leave little to the imagination. And it seems that she's getting more used to completely naked, just not completely clothed.” Val closed her eyes and shivered, in delight Jessie thought.
Val's eyes came open and she shook her head. “But she's family... “
“Hey, you wanna come over for movies this afternoon? Bring Adria too, if you want. I have something I want to show you.” Jessie said changing the subject.
“You just wanna see if Adria will behave or give in and get comfortable. But that does sound fun. I just got all four disks of Miraculous Ladybug, we could do a marathon.”
“Man, I would love for them to do a live action version of that show... But where outside of an active hero or villain, would you be able find a girl that flexible and that comfortable in a form fitting costume? Ok, sure, sounds good. What I wanted to show you shouldn't take long. What would you like me to order for take out? And don't forget Subway went out of business.” Jessie asked, praying that Val would refuse the offer of take out.
“Ah... No, don't order anything, I started the dough for calzones last night. I can bring the bowl and stuffens over and we can bake them at your place.” Val said shaking her head at her friend getting her to cook for him. /I suppose it makes sense, as Jessie and Ash both burn water, they'd appreciate someone who can cook./ she added to herself.
Nodding happily Jessie asked “By the way, your brother have any games he wants tested? And where is he, I stopped in the store to offer to help pack, and he wasn't there.”
“He's getting a few new ones in a month or so, once we finish moving the store to the new local. I'll let you know when they'll be looking for help with the move and when game night will start back up. And Scott's went to Virginia for the funeral, in Arlington, for an old friend. He should be back Monday. Well, I really should finish this run...”
“Yeah, I should be getting back too.” Jessie said as she checked her watch and then traffic before swinging back onto the black top. /Huh. Val's my closest friend short of Ash, but she didn't even notice. Am I that girly looking as a guy? I know on the phone I always get mistaken for Mom or Ash.../ she thought as she pedaled along. /So, besides the fact Val didn't see the changes what have I learned from this ride? Mmmm, nothing conclusive really, besides I like not having to adjust myself due to the bike seat. This ride never really strains me that much. And I don't know anyone who has weights I can borrow... maybe when I get home I can see if I can phase through things like Ash can./
Val watched Jessie peddle off and shook the question of what was different about him out of her head. As much as she'd prefer wondering about that she had her own troubles to think about. /Did I really see my eyes as being purple this morning, or was it a trick of the lights?/ Val thought as she started to jog up the street towards her brother's new shop. /Thing is as far as I know none of the cousins, the blood cousins, don't know about Adria, have powers. And that's on both sides of the fam. What are the odds of my sibs being ordinary and I'm the only one? I'll have to look that up later. Ug, if I some how picked up powers from something one of those drunken collage kids did... Ah shit, I just realized that if I do have powers it means I have to drop track and field, and my records and what not will be voided. Huh, circle back... Adria and powers? She's never shown anything, and would they put a super powered kid in with a normal family? Eh, maybe./
I am a caffeine heathen; I prefer the waters of the mountain over the juice of the bean. Keep the Dews coming and no one will be hurt.
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Having made up her mind on that particular subject Val let herself sink into the zen of the run, though a small part of her wished that the town was more parkour friendly. Widely space buildings, lack of anything to grab, few things along the ground besides plastic recycling bins and broken bottles all conspired against her having a good run. With a sigh she settled on a 'regular' cross country run and veered off the side walk to run through a cemetery. While she was tempted to bounce from one head stone to the next she had enough respect not to, though there was a practical reason too as some of the stones where not in the best shape and she was worried that one wrong kick off would send one toppling to the ground. Just running through the rows of ordered stone didn't strike her as disrespectful, what was the point of having what amounted to a park if no one enjoyed it? Not that she ever saw anyone visiting the few times she'd come through this way before while having track practice.
Finally starting to feel the burn Val headed past the Fair grounds and down the hill to where Scott and Katie had purchased a nice sized house. Val honestly wasn't sure how they could afford both the house and the property her brother had bought to move his book store into as Katie was 'just' an ER doctor, and Scott was, in their mother's words, 'not living up to his potential'. But that wasn't her worry. No her worry was; had Adria gotten dressed yet, or was she going to keep teasing Val with her nubile form?
“Geh, dirty, dirty thoughts Val.” the runner muttered to herself as her hand slapped into the front door's frame and she pulled it open. “Adria, I'm back!”
“I'm in the garden.” came the faint reply from the back of the house, causing Val to groan. Adria was never dressed when she was in the garden.
“Kay. I'm gonna grab a shower.” Thankfully, Val thought as she climbed the stairs, the property had a decently tall fence around it, but that didn't stop anyone from looking down from the fair grounds into the backyard from getting an eye full. /She can't help forgetting to put on more then leggings and gloves./ Val reminded herself as she kicked off her shoes and headed up to the guest room. /I just wish whoever Scott and Katie take her to was having more luck breaking her of it./
Looking out of the guest room window Val was surprised to see that Adria was actually wearing the apron Katie wore when she had time to work in the garden along with a pair of leather work gloves and a pair of Val's own toed running shoes over a pair of black opera length spandexy sleevers and leggings. The neon pink of the shoes stood out against where they pressed into Adria's mahogany backside as the tan and green apron fluttered in the slight breeze as the girl knelt in the backyard. From her vantage point Val couldn't see the lines that looped and wove their way over Adria's skin. While she didn't hide them, Adria didn't talk about them either, which annoyed Val to some extent. The closest patterns to Adria's that Val had found on-line had been Celtic knot work, and even that wasn't perfect as Celtic knots seemed to rigid; Adria's markings had an organic flow to them like a tiger or zebra's stripes.
“Mystery, riddle, enigma, out of mind,” Val muttered as she stepped into the shower.
The Conner Residence
“Ouch. Ok, apparently I can't go through things like Ash.” Jessie muttered holding a wad of tissues to her bleeding nose. “And I really should have tried starting small, rather then just trying to walk through the wall.”
Sighing she pulled the wad away to see if she was still leaking, and satisfied she wasn't pitched the mess into the trash as she booted up her laptop. While she waited Jessie stripped down and slipped into Ash's room to find clean undergarments. Normally she wasn't that adverse of wearing the same sweated up boxers after a ride as a guy, but the damp sports bra was bothering her. Hearing the laptop ding for her password Jessie plopped down in her desk chair after just slipping into a pair of boys shorts.
“Mkay... what should I look up first?” she mused as she brought up Firefox, the Google logo doing some animated dance over some scientist's or celebrity's birthday, or some historic discovery. “Mutant powers, masturbation as a girl, magic mirrors. Mmm, maybe Mirrors and mutants first. That second one can wait a little I suppose. Heck wouldn't surprise me if Ash had a How To books or something tucked somewhere in her mess.” after a moment's thought she made a face at that idea and typed in the safer of her searches.
“The mirror in Snow White, Beauty and the Beast's mirror, the mirror Sirius gave Harry.... hmm, that sounds like...” she switched tabs scanning over a list of known mutant powers posted on an MCO page. “The Esper sub category clairvoyance? I wonder if I can do that.”
Spinning her chair she focused on her closet mirror. “So how am I supposed to do this? Mirror, mirror on the closet door, show me the sister I adore? God that sucked... oh... my...” Jessie's eyes went wide as she felt a tug in her brain as the mirror's glass fogged. It stayed like that for a moment then cleared showing Ash and another girl sitting on the bottom of a pair of bunk beds working on something. It wasn't just the fact that the mirror was showing her something that was happening in New Hampshire that shocked Jessie, but also the fact that the girl sharing the bed with her sister seemed to have no head. There was a tuft of black hair, cut in something close to a pixie cut, where the girl's neck should have been. It was only when the girl shifted around on the bed that Jessie could see that she had a mouth about where a normal person would have their Adams Apple, as well as four gill like slits along the curve to her shoulders.
The girl seemed frustrated with her clothing, and Jessie's eyes widened as the girl stood and stripped off her shirt and skirt as well as her low rider panties. It was only as the girl was kicking off the panties that Jessie realized the girl's eyes, which where a beautiful shade of silver-blue, where set down at hip level. The girl said something angerly to Ash, who seemed to be sympathetic. But the girl's tirade continued unabated, as tears began to run down her eyes and down her inner thighs. Ash let out a sigh and stood, drawing the other girl into a hug.
“This is so an invasion of their privacy, and I should not be seeing this.” Jessie muttered as she stepped back from the mirror. Something inside her seemed to let go and the scene faded back to the reflection of her room and her as a guy looking back.
“So... I guess this means I am clairvoyant then.”
Whateley Academy, New Hampshire
Ashley and Tammy jumped when there was a solid knock on their door. “Girls, could I come in please?” Mrs Savage asked through the wood.
“Give me a moment Ma'am.” Tammy called as she used a tissue to wipe her eyes and legs. “I'm not decent.”
“Dear, I have seen more and stranger things then what you have going on.” Mrs Savage said with a kind tone.
“Yeah, well... I don't much like others seeing me naked.” Tammy replied as she shimmied into some panties and threw her shirt on.
“Tomorrow you are taking my appointment and we're going to have Celia make some things that work with your body.” Ash insisted as she opened the door for their house mother.
“Sorry to bother you girls, but the wards pinged that someone was trying to See into this room with some kind of spell...”
Tammy groaned and, some how even though she lacked it, hung her head. “Oh God... I was just naked in here...”
“I am so gonna pound whoever was peeping on us!” Ash said hotly. “Maybe reach in and disintegrate their sphincter and bladder control muscles so they perpetually shit and piss themselves...”
“Now Ashley, there is no need for that. Let Security and the Psychic arts department handle tracking them down and punishing them.” Mrs Savage said, grimacing inwardly at the rather messy image the girl's threat brought to mind. “The Psychic arts and Mystics departments will also be through to reinforce the wards on the cottages.” Mrs Savage glanced at the clock on Ash's dresser. “You two better get straightened up it's almost lunch time.”
Off Campus Student Apartments
She despised this world run by apes. Their minds where weak and it was just to easy to cloud their minds with the basic spells left to her. Their bodies where so fragile, as where the things they made, so she had to restrain her strength least she harm them or destroy some object. And their in door plumbing... it just wasn't robust enough.
Still, she was her own mare again, and her powers where slowly returning after she had had a chance to smooth and polish what was left of her horn. In time it would grow, but for the moment it was little more then a smooth opalescent bump on her forehead. For once she was grateful for her slight stature as a trickle of power allowed her to pass as a female ape, something her Nemesis would have been unable to do with her greater height. Being able to look like an ape had allowed her to worm her way into 'student housing', which was a relief as she was not good at roughing it in the wild. Letting out a huff, she glared at the white keep that stood sentinel over the town she had been stranded in. she had seem and felt those that had driven off the others enter the metal tower, but she hadn't yet dared approach it, as she was still recovering from her humiliation.
A firm thump on the door of her chambers interrupted her ruminations, as it was coupled with the shrill voice of one of the apes she shared the building with. “Sharron, you in there? I wanted to know if there was anything you needed from the store before I go.”
Letting out a grumble The Transcendent and Dominating Shenanigan, or as the apes knew her, Shannon Tiggan, turned to the door reapplying her glamour. “No, I'll go myself later.”
“Alright. I'll still pick up a twelve pack of that beer we like...” Shenanigan heard the unsaid 'If you chip in more then half.' as she opened the door and handed the ape Donna a hand full of the paper slips that where used a currency. “Thanks Shannon! Be back in a half hour. Maybe you could start dinner? I laid out stuff for soup. PLEASE don't add any meat to it this time.”
Shenanigan's unseen tail twitched with annoyance at the arrogant herbivore's request as she ground out “Fine, but if that's the case, stop at Arby's and pick me up a half dozen roast beefs.”
“Eww....” Donna's face scrunched at the thought of that much animal flesh, before she signed and said “Fine.” and wiggled her fingers for more cash which Shenanigan handed over. As soon as she moved away from the door it was closed and locked, and Shenanigan was in her own flesh again.
“Now, where did I leave off in my plotting?” the Equest exile muttered as she went back to the window. “Oh yes, I remember, I wanted to check out that place I felt the swell of Essence on my walk...”
I am a caffeine heathen; I prefer the waters of the mountain over the juice of the bean. Keep the Dews coming and no one will be hurt.
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The Phillips Residence
Feeling revived after her shower Val peeked out of the window to see Adria still working in the garden, and with a shrug decided to let her keep doing what she was doing. She'd been in her brother's place before, but usually only while he or Katie had been home. This was her first chance to explore without someone hovering.
“Mmm where to start?” Val mused out loud, before snapping her fingers. “Duh, Scott's bed room. Serves him right for all the times he'd snuck in to my room and snitched my tablet so he could surf for porn and left it up when he was done...”
What ever Val had been expecting to find, be it a box of handcuffs and other bondage items or the toy cat he'd slept with when he was little, she hadn't found it by the time Adria had come back inside. Val let out a sigh as she forced herself not to follow Adria's strut past the open door with her eyes, and instead focused on the only anomaly she had found; the small black velvet box that held Scott's high school class ring. The band was the same as she remembered, white gold with Class Of on both sides over the year he'd graduated. The difference was the stone set in it wasn't the faceted blue stone it had originally had; the blue stone had been replaced by a smooth black one that had a weird blue-green sheen to it.
Putting the puzzle to the back of her mind, and the ring back where she'd found it, Val slipped out of her brother's bed room and headed to the bathroom Adria's and the guest room shared. “Hey, I met up with Jessie on my run and he invited us over for the afternoon. Sounds like he's alone and just as bored as we are.” Val told her foster cousin as Adria sat on the toilet lid washing her legs. Val was surprised to see the other girl's toes and the soles of her feet also had the odd not-scar-not-tattoos on them.
“I'd have to get dressed, wouldn't I?” Adria asked, her accent slightly mangling the words. After first meeting Adria, Val had spent a lot of time on the net listening to various accents trying to place where the girl had come from, and she still had no clue.
“You would, yes.” Val replied as she ran a hand through her hair, lightly scratching at her scalp as she did so. “I told him about you getting your head messed with, so I think so long as you keep the bra and panties on, and don't wear things that are to sheer, he won't have an issue of you strip down.” Seeing Adria's hesitation Val stepped over to her and took her hands. “I know you're not comfortable being out and dressed, and that's why you didn't go to school yet, but you really need to work on over coming it. Jessie is a great guy, I think you'll like him.”
Adria hesitated then let out a sigh as she wilted some. “All right. I will come, just so I won't be alone here.”
Whateley Academy, New Hampshire
Ash shook her head as Wondercute charged past her and Tammy with shouts of “By the Power of Cute!!” glitter, ribbons, and butterflies streaming in their wake. “They remind me of the kids I used to sit for... after they downed three 24 can cases of Dew.” she said as she shivered slightly, one hand straying down to rest on her stomach.
Tammy let out a bubbling laugh. “I think it's nice that some people aren't taking this seriously.” she said waving to the campus. “Between Dawn's group and them, it really brighten things up around here.”
“F3 still pestering you to join?”
Tammy gave the impression of wrinkling her nose. “Yes and no. I have two or three trying to get me to join, and then another handful that are snubbing me as being to pretty, even though I...” she waved from her headless neck down to her peeking over her waist band eyes leaving the rest unsaid.
Ash shook her head and was about to comment when her right foot sank into the ground up to her hip, so whatever she had been about to say came out as a squawk of surprise.
“Ash...” Tammy yelped moving to help her friend.
“No, stay back. I'm...” Ash's words where again cut off, this time as her stomach rebelled and a spray of bile and what remained of her breakfast sprayed out onto the grass. Tammy's eyes grew wide as she watched the grass under Ash's butt began to wither and turn brown as her skirt seemed to frost over then disintegrate revealing bare flesh. “Gleeeha...”
Tammy pulled out her cell phone and stabbed the speed dial button for Security. “Security, help. My roommate's stuck in the ground... she's a density warper, her leg just sank down.... we're near the Whateley statue...”
Ash squeezed her eyes shut against the shivers that where racking her body. She'd started feeling off a bit before Mrs. Savage had told them about the mystery peeper, but she'd just assumed it was just a cold coming on or a bad round of her cycle. But this felt so so much worse then anything she'd ever gone through before. When she opened her eyes again she found an older gentleman kneeling next to her.
“Miss, you're friend is getting help. What I need you to do is try and calm down a mite. Take a deep breath.” the man said as he settled onto the grass. “I know this is scary, and you look to be in a fair bit of pain, but it will pass and you are in good hands.” He hesitated and then put a hand on her shoulder. Ash shivered as it felt like someone had put a large bag of frozen peas shaped like a human hand on it.
The man blinked and stared at his hand on her shoulder. “Huh. I think, as you kids now say, I will roll with this.” he muttered before sliding his hands into Ash's armpits.
“Hey, hey! Watch the hands!” Ash spat as the man's grip settled around her upper chest, smacking at his arms, only for her hands to pass through them to strike the grass. She left hand sized holes that where rimmed with dead, frost covered grass.
“Miss, I am a gentleman. I am just trying to help, not... copah feel?” the man snapped back, though the slang came out almost as a question. “Now try and stop flickering, I only have a grip when you're here, and you are digging yourself deeper with each flicker.”
“Ah, someone better hurry up, she's disappearing from sight now. And I think she's hallucinating.” Tammy continued into her phone, already spotting teams rushing down the road from the security office and Doyle. “Hang on Ash, they'll be here in a mo...” Tammy trailed off as the strobing Ash seemed to rise up out of the now, rather large, hole she'd created like she was being lifted by unseen hands. Tammy could see that Ash's clothing was frost covered, some how looked really old, and crumbling away in places...
Ash leaned, as best she could, against the mystery man's side, shivering and unfocused. She knew Tammy was hovering and talking to her, as was the man, but her mind just couldn't capture their words. Her world went dark as hands, warm hands, took hold of her.
The Conner Residence
Jessie had just finished setting up his 'Hey, I'm a mutant.' presentation when he heard a hard, rapid, and insistent knocking on the front door. “Coming!” he called as he glanced one last time around his room before hurrying out into the hall and sliding down the banister of the stairs. The rapping at the door had picked up in force and speed in that short time, and when he opened the door Val darted past him.
“Sorry, gottausethebathroom...” she called out as the powder room door thumped shut.
Shaking his head Jessie gave Adria a weak smile and waved her in. “Please, come in...” He said studying the girl he had only heard about. To his eye Adria looked like she might have Native American blood mixed with another ethnicity or two, or maybe even an animal species or two, as her eyes looked almost cat like to him. The scar like markings on her face reminded him of African scarification he had seen in Nat Geo magazines. She was wearing thin looking tights under jean shorts, and long finger-less gloves of the same material as the tights that disappeared under the sleeves of an off white tee. “Ah, right, I'm Jessie... can I get you anything?”
“Thank you, but not right now.” Adria said softly as she stepped into the building, large eyes darting around taking it all in as he closed the door.
“You two bike over?” Jessie asked to make small talk as he beckoned Adria further into his home.
“No, we walked.” she replied with a head shake, leaving it at that.
“Hey, relax, I don't bite, and...” Jessie paused, looking to the closed powder room door. “Val mentioned your issues. We'll be headed up to my room shortly, you can take off as much or as little as you're comfortable with with me around once the door is closed.”
“She what?” Adria gasped as her skin flushed into a blush, of embarrassment or anger Jessie wasn't sure. At that moment Val emerged from the powder room looking relieved, and Adria's attention focused on her. “Why did you...?”
“Um, what?” Val blinked.
“Tell him about me.”
“He's my friend, and I wanted you to meet him. And I didn't tell him much...”
“How about we go to my room and I can maybe make this a little less weird.” Jessie suggested as he lead the way up the stairs. Watching Adria out of the corner of his eyes he couldn't help think that she reminded him of someone. “Have a seat on the bed. I was gonna do this later, but... meh, may as well get it over with so you both have a chance to process and let Adria be comfortable with out a guy around.”
“Jessie, what are you babbling about? No guy around?”
“Val, you know how Ash got a scholarship to attend a boarding school up north? Well it's a school for mutants. And I learned this morning I'm a mutant too.” Jessie blurted out as he tapped his mirror. The shiver went through his body, and she was pleased to see Val's eye nearly pop out of her head as her friend took in her nude female form. Jessie was surprised to see that Adria didn't seem to react at all, other then a cocked head and a probing look that left Jessie feeling like Adria was staring at her soul.
“I can switch my gender when I touch certain mirrors. Not sure why.” Jessie replied as she moved to take out the change of girl's clothing she had set aside for that moment. She paused considering the shorts and tee in her hands before shrugging and setting the lot aside. Jessie figured her own nudity might encourage Adria to relax and be comfortable enough to strip down herself, as she plopped down into her desk chair. “I was actually female when we ran into each other Val. You two are the first I've told.”
Adria nodded slowly before she poked Val in the ribs. “Thanks a lot for forcing me to see the answer to that unasked question from before. I just didn't expect the answer to be 'What carpet?' So how did I not see it? ” Val asked as her brain rebooted and she drew her eyes away from where she had been staring, settling on Jessie's nuboobs.
“Loose hoodie, a good sports bra out of Ash's room, an the itty bitty titties you're starring at.” Jessie replied as she used a finger to raise Val's chin a little, before she sat down next to her friend. “Still friends?”
“Yeah. Yeah we are.” Val replied as she chewed her lip. “And... I might have powers too. I thought my eye color had changed the other morning, but...” she waved to her eye which where the same blue as ever as far as Jessie could tell.
“They look normal to me...” Jessie stated with a frown.
“They do to me as well,” Adria added as she kicked off her shoes, wiggling her tights clad toes as she did so.
“We as so going shopping later with you like this.” Val insisted as Jessie crossed her legs like a guy.
“If you think I'm gonna resist the offer, I'm not. I kind of like being like this, and while I may have to hide things from my mother, I'd really prefer to have my own panties and what not instead of borrowing Ash's things. And I want to see about getting a set of small mirrors I can carry all the time. First problem is getting a ride there. I don't think a tight sports bra and other loose clothing will fool your Aunt or my mother. And there is no way I'm gonna ask an older friend for a ride either...” Jessie explained, a faint blush starting at the tips of her ears and making it's way down her neck.
“Who said we where leaving town?” Val asked. “We can get you some underthings, Hanse or Fruit, at the Dollar General, and there are a few used clothing places I'm sure we can find some nice things for you. And you'll need to come out to your mom sooner or later.”
“Eh, I was kind of thinking of just doing the girl thing on weekends and keep going to school as a guy...”
“I don't think that will work.” Adria said softly as she stood and moved to cup Jessie's chin in her long delicate fingers. Jessie was surprised at the faint scent of pine and lavender that clung to Adria's warm fingers. “Your eyes are... Val watch when the light catches them.” Adria instructed as she turned Jessie's head left and right.
“What are you... oh, hey, I didn't notice that before. Jessie, you have this ring of silver around the black spot...”
“Pupil.” Jessie corrected wondering how Val, who wore glasses and had regular optical check ups, apparently couldn't remember the parts of the eye.
“What ever, and there's also one around the outer part of the colored part. The Iris.” she corrected, before sticking out her tongue at Jessie.
“Oh. I... how did I miss it?”
“Easily enough, they are very thin bands, but I suspect they could grow until your iris is fully mirrored.” Adria replied as she released Jessie's chin. “I also suspect your night vision may have improved some.”
Jessie spun her chair around and scooted it closer to her mirror. “I... huh... Let me see.” she muttered as she leaned in closer to it. Absently she tapped the glass several times in a row nose almost touching it's reflection. “Yeah, you're right.” she finally breathed as she leaned back.
“Can I be the first to say it is weird when you do the switch thing rapidly like that?” Val asked as she stood and rested a hand on Jessie's bare shoulder.
“I honestly don't even notice the change. What's it look like?” Jessie asked looking up at her friend.
“Don't know about the changes your body goes through, but the clothing was like a strobe light going off; clothed, unclothed, dark, light, clothed, unclothed...”
“It is reminiscent of someone using a spell or device to...” Adria trailed off as the other two girls gave her surprised looks. “I spent time with heroes before being brought into your family, Val. I learned a few things from them in that time.”
“Right, didn't think much about that.” Val admitted sheepishly. “so, um... if we're done with show and tell, how about we go down and watch in the living room while I get the dough rolled out? It needs an hour rise before we can fill and cook. Jessie, you gonna stay like that?”
“I might put on a shirt long enough to close the living room blinds.” Jessie replied with a shrug
“Kay, well, I might trade my pants for an apron. Adria?”
“I think I may later see if my condition is contagious, but for now...” Adria hesitated for a moment before she nodded. “I will get comfortable. And I am curious about this Ladybug you two are so interested in. What is so miraculous about an insect?”
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Several hours after Ash had collapsed Tammy was sitting in one of the waiting rooms, her skirt pulled down low enough so she could at least pretend she was reading one of the books she'd been assigned in Lit class. /Fuck the dress code, and decency, I am getting skirts with clear fronts and wearing the lowest rise panties I can find so they don't ride up into my eyes./ she thought, trying to take her mind off her roommate.
“How is she?” Assistant headmaster Turner asked, as Doctor Tenent entered the room, causing Tammy to jump. She'd been unaware that the former hero had slipped into the waiting room.
“She's undergoing a bout of burn out. Thankfully only a height level 0 or a very low level 1. We'll know more once her fever breaks.” Tenet explained causing her audience to both to wince. “It seems to be tied to her phasing. It's draining her every time she phases, though...” the doctor frowned slightly. “Frankly it's strange. I'd almost say she's...” the doctor shook her head. “I need to have the Mystic department perform some more tests before I speculate Mr. Turner.”
“All right. Do that please.” Robert Turner sighed, as he rubbed his face and shook his head. “We'll wait a bit longer before we inform her family, it's not like they can do anything right now. Ugh, it is to early in the damn year for these kind of calls.”
“There are no good times of the year for these kinds of calls.” Ophelia pointed out tiredly.
“Um, could this be related to the incident we had earlier?” Tammy asked nervously.
Both adults focused on her, making her shrink back into her seat. “What happened?” Mr. Turner asked kneeling down next to hr chair.
“Mrs. Savage said someone got through the wards and was watching Ash and me in out room.”
Mr. Turner frowned and looked to the doctor. “This is the first I've heard of this.”
“I am aware, we, meaning both the Mystic arts and Psi departments, wanted to check the wards before we did a full report.” the doctor replied. “I know she reported the incident with security as well. Why they didn't pass on the report...” she shrugged.
“Now Tammy, Ashley keeps muttering about some man that got handsy with her. Can you tell me about him?”
“No one was there with us until the security guys and EMTs arrived. I think her... fit scared away the few students that where on the quad.”
“All right Tammy, how about I call in a take out order to be delivered to your dorm and I'll escort you there? There isn't anything you can do for Ashley right now, and...” Mr. Turner trailed off, a hand resting on the Whitman girl's shoulder, as he remembered that the next day was Sunday. “Well you might not have classes, but you really should rest in a real bed.”
“Yes sir.” Tammy said reluctantly as she gathered her things and stood.
Outside the Phillips Residence
Shenanigan frowned at the hovel before her, a Notice Me Not spell covering her. She had followed a scent to it, a scent that left her baffled. And to make matters even more puzzling, what she had thought was a manna sink didn't feel like she had expected when she first sensed it. The energy intrigued her, as she had never felt anything like it before.
“The Transcendent and Captivating Shenanigan must have it!” she hissed to herself as she hurried up the artificial stone path. As she was pulling her leg back to kick in the door she paused. “Be best if Shenanigan does this sneaky like. I should kick in the back door.”
“I am not convinced by the the Alya/Neno pairing.” Adria mused from where she lounged on the floor covered by a blanket. “It seems to me that Alya is really interested in Ladybug, but because she sees her friend lusting after Adrien, she is keeping her feelings to herself.”
“Eh.... I don't see it. Now Sabrina is clearly getting off on being Chloe's sub every day.” Val countered from where she lay on the bed draped across Jessie's lap, Jessie's dinner plate resting on her bare stomach.
“I'm not so sure it's lust as much Stockhome syndrome.” Jessie said around a mouthful of calzone. “I've seen it in our school to a lesser extent.”
Val shook her head. “Bullshit. I thinking Sabrina has a mannequin done up as Chloe wearing a black leather and red silk corset and carrying a whip in her closet just waiting for the day when...”
“You two may want to put on more clothing, I just heard someone pull in out back.” Adria cut in cocking her head as she shrugged off the blanket revealing that she was just wearing her tights and gloves.
Jessie glanced at her alarm clock and made a face. “I lost track of time; Mom's home. Val, off.” she muttered as she grabbed her plate. Val did a sit up and tossed Adria her shirt before rolling off the bed.
“Anyone see where my panties got to?”
“Jessie, Ashley, I'm home!” Jessie flinched as she hear her mother call out. “What smells so good?”
“Hurry please.” Jessie said as she tapped her mirror. Straightening his clothing he stepped out into the hall, closing the door to his room most of the way. “Hey Mom, Ash is in New Hampshire remember? Val and her cousin came over for a movie afternoon, and they brought dinner. We left you a white calzone. It has a cream sauce, chicken, and cheese. I made her go light on the garlic.” he said as he came down the stairs.
“Tell her thank you for me when you see her next.” his mother said as she hung up her jacket.
“Actually they're still here, so you can thank her yourself.”
His mother raised an eyebrow and pinned Jessie with her stare. “Mommmm, nothing was going on. She's not interested in me.”
“And the cousin?”
“Mrs. Conner, it is a long story as to why, but I do not plan to be in a relationship for a very long time.” Adria stated as she drifted gracefully down the stairs, fully dressed. “Your... son has been a perfect gentleman while we have been here. You have raised him well. And you have a lovely home.”
“Why thank you dear.” Mrs. Conner said beaming at the compliments. She looked as Val thumped down the stairs, her shoes in her hand. “Hello Val. Thank you for dinner.”
“Welcome. We really should be getting back to my brother's place...”
“Why don't I give you two a ride then?”
“You don't have to...”
“Valerie; it is already dark and the collage kids have been drinking for hours. I don't want you two riding home,”
“We walked.” Adria cut in helpfully.
Jessie's Mom shook her head. “All the more reason for me to drive you at least to your brother's place. Your aunt can drive you the rest of the way home.”
“She's staying with us.” Adria cut in again.
“It's settled then. Do you girls have everything?”
Val shrugged “If we don't, Jessie can bring it to church.” Jessie felt his face go read as he pictured meeting up with Val at church and handing her the bra she currently wasn't wearing. He prayed his mother would assume she hadn't been wearing one when she came over and not, rightly, guess Val had taken it off while she was visiting.
“It was a pleasure to meet you Jessie.” Adria said as she stepped up and put her arms around him, which surprised him a lot. “I had fun, and hope we can do this again soon.”
“Yeah, I had fun too. Any time you want, just come over.” Jessie replied returning the hug.
“Later Jessie.” Val called from the door as she followed his mother to her car.
“So girls just what where you and my son doing while I was out?” Mrs. Conner asked glancing at Val and Adria who where in the back seat of her Compass as they hummed down Main street.
“Watching movies.” Val replied simply as she pulled out several brightly colored blue ray disks. “And dinner took a bit of work too.”
“Well thank you both. I think he gets lonely without Ash around. I wish he could have gone with her to the boarding school she got the scholarship from, but...” the older woman trailed off as she turned onto the street the Phillips house had been built on. The night was lit up with flashing red and blue lights of police cars. Neighbors milled around in various state of dress, gossiping. Mrs. Conner's pulled over at a cop's insistent directions, Val and Adria popping out of the back before she was fully shut down.
From the crowd of cops came a relieved shout of “Adria, Val!” as a blonde woman wearing scrubs dashed over to hug them tight.
“What's going on Aunt Katie?” Val gasped around the tight hug.
“Someone broke into the house and made a real mess of everything. The alarm company alerted me and the police, and when no one could find you two...” Katie gushed in relief.
“Ma'am, these are the two minors you have been worried had been abducted?” an officer asked, eyes Mrs. Conner up add down.
“We left a note saying were we where going.” Adria squeaked, shivering slightly against Katie.
“I believe you, but maybe next time call me to let me know.”
“Didn't wanna bother you at work.” Val countered as the grip on her loosened.
Ignoring the girls Katie addressed the officer. “They are, and Mrs. Conner is a trusted friend of the family.”
“Katie, why don't I take the girls back to my place for the night? They can use one of the upstairs guest bedroom. And when you're done here, you come over as well and take the basement guest room, which has it's own bathroom. Jessie and I will help put things right tomorrow, or when ever you're allowed back in.”
Katie looked relieved at the offer. “Thank you Grace. With Scott away, I'd feel much better with another adult around. Officer, can the girls go in and gather a few things?”
“Let me check.” the officer replied as he hooked his walky-talky's microphone and mumbled the request into it. “All right, it looks like there isn't much damage upstairs, and what there is is confined to the master bedroom. The girls can go in as long as they are escorted, and put on gloves and booties.” The officer paused as something else garbled over the radio. “And we need to check their bags before we let you go.” he added.
“That's fine.” Adria replied, an odd tone in her voice that had Val narrowing her eyes at her cousin. Personally Val wasn't thrilled with the thought of a stranger paying through her clothing on top of the violation of someone robbing her brother's home.
Another cop lead her and Adria into the house, while Katie and Mrs. Conner stayed outside, and Val's eyes popped at the mess that had been made. Book shelves had been pulled from the wall spilling their contents, the couch was upended and half into the dinning room... the place was almost worse then a Student apartment after K-town's three St. Patrick's days (Pre-Pat's day before break, St. Pat's Day during break, and Post-Pat's after break) save it lacked empty booze containers and trash all over the floor.
“What a mess.” Adria breathed as she stepped over a broken lamp to take the first tread of the stairs. Cat nimble Adria scampered up the stairs, and ducked into her room. She went for her bed, unaware that Val had paused in the door way, and flipped up the edge of the mattress. From between the mattress and box spring Val saw her cousin draw out a cloth wrapped item which she set on the floor.
Val jumped a little as the cop gave her a verbal nudge of “Miss.”
“Sorry, I was just... looking.” she said limply as she hurried to her guest room and gathered up the few things she'd taken out of her suit case. Soon enough she and Adria where rejoining Mrs Conner and Katie outside, their cases given a cursory going through. Val was surprised that no one commented or even looked at the cloth wrapped thing Adria carried tucked under her arm. A few words between the adults, and the girls where whisked back to the Conner household.
“What took... Val? Adria? Wha?” Jessie trailed off as the girls stepped through the door ahead of his mother.
“Their house was robbed, and so it's a crime scene right now.” Grace Conner explained to her son as she ran a mental check on the guest rooms. “Ok, girls, you know where Jessie's room is? The guest room is the door at the very end of the hall. It has a Queen bed, so I hope you don't mind sharing. Jessie...”
“Yes mom, Out numbered bathroom rules are in effect.” Jessie said rolling his eyes.
“We can share, that's fine.” Adria added. “Thank you for taking us in like this.”
“Not a problem dear. Why don't you two go get change for bed, and the three of you can watch something down here for a bit while I change the sheets for Katie?”
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Katie let out a sigh as she pulled out her cell phone. “Scott, hey sorry to call so late, but we have a problem. The house was broken into, and I think your class ring is missing...” She winced as several groggy curse words came through the speaker, which where followed by a question. “Yes, Tower is aware already, they have a basic scan of the town going, and will do more in the morning.” She listened a few more moments then added. “Yes, the girls are fine. They're over at the Conner place, and I'll be going over there myself shortly. All right, I love you Scott. Hurry home.”
Very early September 24th
“Jessie, wake up.”
“To early Marinette...”
“It's not Marinette, Jessie, it's Val.” Val hissed as she pulled her friend's pillow out from under his head.
“Mhuh?” Jessie groaned as he pried his eyes open, getting a face full of big blue eyes framed by a red and black domino mask, which in turn was framed by black hair held back with a red and black headband. From under the covers he snaked out his hand to tap the girl's nose several times, making her go cross eyed.
“Jessie!” the girl squeaked.
“Check in niff yer real...” Jessie yawned and began to roll over. “Malady, tell Tikki to 'spot off' already...”
“Jessie, I would if I could, but I can't make this come off.” the girl growled as she yanked him back over to face her, waking Jessie enough to realize that the 'Marinette' before him was not the version they had been watching that afternoon. The Marinette kneeling next to his bed had the figure of a mature woman, and a costume that said she was comfortable with her body. Gone was the spotted Onesie; in it's place the young woman wore red spotted knee high boots over black tights with just a hint of red shimmer. The tights flowed up to a pair of sexy shorts that matched her boots, held up by a black belt with a belt buckle shaped like the yo-yo. The yo-yo, or a second one, swung seductively from her hip. Her abs where exposed by a midriff bearing shirt which was a red spotted sleeveless design with a ladybug with it's wings spread logo on the chest and black piping. Around her wrists where bracers that where black metal and her hands where covered in red gloves.
“Damn.” he breathed as he sat up in bed.
“Stop drooling and help me be me!” Val hissed as she punched him in the arm.
“Ow, you don't have to be violent.” he groused rubbing the spot. “Ok, so talk to me.”
Val dropped onto the bed next to her friend and stared at the girl who was not her in the mirror. “I was doing a little fan fic writing before bed, and once I fell asleep... well... um...” she looked away a blush burning hotly on her cheeks.
“Ah. So I should be grateful you're not a nude Marinette or some akumitized villainess who was tempting her to the dark side with her body and hamsters?” Jessie guessed, which earned him a combo head nod and shake. “Huh?”
“Not a villain. I had another Holder who's Dragonfly Miraculous is paired with the Stag and two 'lost' Miraculous, trying to seduce Ladybug. She... kind of ended up based on you.”
“Should I be flattered or annoyed? And forgive my ADD moment, but where you and Adria nay...”
Val's blush deepened as she punched Jessie in the arm again. “No, we where both clothed. When I woke up... Well things where just to darn tight!” Jessie raised an eyebrow as he swept his gaze over Val's form. That close to her, he could now see that the 'exposed' flesh was really covered in the hexagon pattern that made up the rest of the outfit, but these where transparent.
“Marinette's father's height and her mothers curves, I'm not surprised your things didn't fit. You're at least six foot and put on several cup sizes. What do you think I can do to help fix this?” Jessie asked as he put an arm around Val's shoulders.
“I don't know, I panicked ok?” Val replied as she rested her head on his his. “You mind switching?”
“I don't, but I'm not sure I can get up at this moment to tap the mirror with out embarrassing myself.”
“Hey, you woke me looking like that.” Jessie pointed out as he shifted his position slightly. “And I fully admit, I was dreaming of her myself, with it likely being just as naughty as yours had been.”
Val raised an eyebrow at that then shook her head. “Jessie, hate to say it, but I think you're dreams are a lot more vanilla then mine.”
“Ouch, way to hurt the ego. Ok, let me up so I can tap the mirror. Good thing I thought to get that form ready for bed too.” Jessie squirmed under Val's look as she stood. “Ok, I was planning to sleep as a girl tonight before your fam ended up sleeping over. Normally my mom's out the door for church before I wake up on Sundays...”
“You don't go?” Val asked as he padded over to the mirror and tapped it. Jessie struck a pose for her friend, letting Val see the over sized t-shirt and panties she'd chosen to sleep in.
“Not since Pastor Peters retired. The synod has given us several interim pastors that rotate through, but most of them are old farts who's messages don't speak to me here.” Jessie replied as she tapped her heart before crawling back into bed. Once situated she patted the mattress next to her.
Val shook her head. “I was thinking of going for a run to clear my head.”
“All right. My key is on my desk. And don't forget to take some clothes if you happen to change back. I don't wanna have to explain why you where picked up naked on the side of the road.”
Val rolled her eyes as she moved over to grab the offered door key, jiggling the mouse attached to Jessie's computer just enough to bring the screen back to life revealing a flash of pale skin and red hair. “Classy Jessie.” Val said shaking her head at the seemingly nude girl, her modesty kept intact by a swirl of leaves, that was her friend's desktop image.
“That is a classic, which the Sierra club still offers on their web site for a small donation.” Jessie huffed as her eyes moved over the striking red haired girl. Something sparked in her brain causing her to blink as her mental gears began to spin. “Huh...”
Val didn't hear her as she padded out of Jessie's room. Treading softly so as not to wake anyone else she slipped out of the door and to the side walk. Glancing up and down the road she debated which way to go. “Boring that way, just the bars are open.” Val muttered looking to her right. “This way... the pharmacy is still open, as is Weis. Not that I have any place to put money in this outfit. Eh, left I guess, I really don't wanna deal with drunks.” Stretching out, Val was surprised at just how flexible her current form was. /Ok, I couldn't touch my knee to my chest before... which Mar can pretty much do in the cartoon./ she thought as she began to jog, absently playing with the yo-yo. Without thinking Val flicked it out at a lamp post and was surprised to see the string lengthen until the weight end wrapped around the post and the string began to retract drawing her up.
“Holy... ERRK!” Val breathed as she pushed off the post, only to come up short as the yo-yo didn't come undone like she had expected. She winced as the cold metal smacked into her back bone and she slid down to the cement.
Grimacing as she stood, Val glared at the tangled yo-yo. “How am I suppose to get you down?” she growled as she put her hands on her hips. Feeling something hard on her hip she blinked and looked down at the yo-yo that hung there. Confused she looked back up at the lamp post which was now yo-yo free. “Weird... I think I'm gonna stick to the ground from here on tonight.”
7 am Sunday September 25th
Grace Conner padded down the stairs mentally shaking her head. She had poked her head into Jessie's room and she was wondering just when her remaining child was going to get around to telling her that he had manifested and could apparently gender swap. Moving towards the kitchen for that all important first pot of the Liquid of Life she heard a sound from the still dark living room. Stepping lightly she clicked on a lamp causing the figure on the couch to flinch away from the light.
“Valerie? What's wrong dear?” Grace asked as she took in her child's friend's appearance. The girl was huddled under the afghan Grace's grandmother had knit for her when she was a child, knees tucked up to Val's chest, red hair hanging down to obscure her face. Slowly the head came up, allowing Grace to see the girl's face.
“I got shot stopping a robbery. It was... messy. Took my arm off at the shoulder.” the girl said softly.
“What!?!” Grace yelped as she rushed over to the girl and tried whipping off the covering.
“The arm got better, I'm fine. A little gooey.” Val insisted as she clung to the cloth to keep it around her body. “And naked. The clothing I had been wearing got all... ick when I became myself again, so I left them just inside the back door when I came back.. I put a towel down on the sofa before I sat...”
“Mmng.” Grace groaned as she heard movement begin upstairs and down. “Adria bring Val down some clothing. And Jessie, stay up there until I say you can come down. You might be female right now, but you don't need to be seeing your friend naked. What ever you have between your legs when you come down is up to you” she shouted up the stairs, which prompted a “What the frick?!” from her child's room. “And I am going to need that coffee.”
“Can I have a cup too?” Val asked.
“Nope. I think once this is settled you need to go back to bed. After a shower.”
Val looked like she was going to protest, maybe use the 'you're not my...' argument, but she wilted when Katie emerged from the basement and shot her a parental look. “No coffee for you, you know that. Bad enough you usually go for a soda first thing in the morning. And I agree with Grace that once you talk, you are going back to bed.” Turning to Grace Katie added, “Scott won't be back before noon.”
Grace raised an eyebrow as Adria padded down the stairs carrying a bundle of clothing, though she was only wearing tights and long gloves. “Missy, are you forgetting something?”
“I'm decent.” Adria said with a glance down at her nakedness before tossing Val the clothing she'd been carrying. Val caught the bundle and stood. While still draped in the afghan she began pulling clothing on under it.
Grace let out a sigh. “It is to early for Irishing up this coffee... He, she,... what ever has likely seen it all, already so I give up. Jessie, if you stay female, and are dressed appropriately, you can come down. And bring down a shirt and shorts for Adria.”
“Yes, mom.” Jessie called down. She was down quickly, and Grace saw she was wearing one of Ash's usual weekend outfits that included a skin hugging tee and some cargo pants. It even looked like Jessie was bearing a bra, which surprised Grace, but then again if she had gotten pointers from Val... “Here Adria. And I brought some down for Val, as I suspect Adria only brought tights down for her” Jessie said handing over the bundle in her hands. Yup, even though there was a clearly appreciative sweep over the other girl's body, it was clear to Grace that there was a 'been there, seen it' air about the look. Adria grimaced at the clothing, but began pulling them on right there.
“Ok... well I think we all need to sit down and tell each other what has been happening.” Grace said as She headed into the kitchen. “Jessie, why don't you start?”
“Um, sure mom.” Jessie said with a fidget. “What do you want to know?”
Grace resisted the urge to face palm. “How about why do you have an inney instead of the outtey I know you where born with.”
Jessie looked down at her chest “Oh. Um well... I'm not sure why, but it happens when I touch mirrors, and...” she was cut off as the phone rang, and reflexively she bounced up to get it. “Mom, it's Ash.” Jessie said as she glanced at the caller id. “Hey sis. You'll never guess what... Geez you're grumpy this morning. Fine, here's mom.”
Grace took the hand set and moved back into the living room. Katie eyed the girls. “Well, Jessie, you want to keep going?”
“I really don't have much else to say.” Jessie replied with a shrug. “I switch genders and it seems like it only works with mirrors I use a lot.”
“Likely it requires a mirror that has become attuned to you.” Adria offered as she ran a hand through her hair exposing her ears, something Jessie thought she had never seen Adria do the day before, the exposing her ears, not the hand through the hair.
“You know magic?” Jessie asked cocking her head.
Adria glanced at Katie who shrugged. “Up to you kiddo, but it seems like these two are going to be going to Whateley as well, so you may as well.”
Adria nodded to Katie. “Yes, I know magic, as I am...” she did something near her neck that Jessie's eyes refused to see. Adria let out a slight gasp as Jessie felt something release.
Jessie's jaw dropped as she took in the changes. “You're an Elf?” she asked taking in Adria. She looked like her favorite superhero actress Nefessa William had put on a pair of Vulcan ears. The swirls on what had looked like black tattoo ink with the illusion up had turned into swoops of Silver light against her skin, light which faded back to blue gray ink.
Adria gave her a confused look. “I am of the Sidhe race, a member of the Court of the West.”
“So how come you've been playing human?” Val asked, her tone hurt and directed as much to her aunt as Adria.
“It's complicated...” the sihde girl sighed giving Katie a pleading look.
Katie took pitty on her and picked up the story thread “Scott felt that after her rescue...”
“My brother rescued you? How? Why?” Val yelped. “He's just a book store owner!”
“Um, actually he's not.” Katie said as she glanced down at her mug of coffee. “He's actually Blaze Stone.”
“He's a power stone user. He's never explained how he got the stones...”
A light went off in Val's mind. “His class ring. I found it yesterday and I was wondering when he had the blue stone I'd seen in his class picture changed out for a black one.”
“It's really two very cunningly carved stones fitted together. And I don't know when either.” Katie replied. “and before you ask, I am what you see; an ER doc. Grace on the other hand...” she said as the other adult wandered in looking shell shocked. “Grace?”
“Mom?” Jessie asked as her mother dropped heavily into a chair.
“Ash was in Doyle for burn out...” Grace said softly as she looked down at the phone in her hand. Jessie saw Katie go pale.
“She looked fine when I saw her.” Jessie blurted out, remembering Doyle was the hospital on campus from the map that had come with Ash's enrollment package.
“What?” Grace snapped, her head whipping up. “Saw her? How, when?”
“Um, I don't know, it was before Val and Adria came over, in the mirror...”
Grace began to laugh softly, though there wasn't much humor in the sound. “Ash also complained about someone peeping on her and her roommate.”
“Maybe? I'm not really sure what or how I did what I did. I was thinking of the Magic Mirror from Snow White...”
“Scrying spell,” Adria offered, as she eyeballed Jessie. “I... can't tell without seeing it happen if it is a spell or not, though you do have the warm sunlight feeling I associate with other magic users.”
“Grace, how about I take the kids today? You call the school, get the facts, see about enrollment for three. We'll go girl clothing shopping for Jessie, if she plans to spend a good amount of time as the fairer sex” she paused as Jessie nodded. “Then they can get power tested by Tower, get the ball rolling on MIDs...”
Val leaned over to Jessie and asked softly, “Are you all right?”
“Mmm? Um, yeah. I'm fine, more or less.” Jessie replied just as softly as they moved through the Goodwill clothing racks. “I... um, am having a bit of a bad underwear day.”
Jessie hung her head for a moment before explaining. “When I changed last night I endedup wearing a pair of guys boxer briefs instead of some of Ash's sleep shorts. They ended up bunching up in the night, and they kind of rubbed me wrong close to a delicate area. And now the boy shorts I put on this morning are kind of clinging in a way I'm not enjoying. Which I don't understand, cause I wore from the same pack yesterday and they where just fine.”
“TMI.” Val paused and ran a hand over her face. “but I did ask, so it's my own fault. Jessie, the bad fit could be because this form isn't finished filling out. I bet the longer you're in it the more your figure develops.”
“I hadn't considered that.” Jessie replied after she mulled it over. “Without having Ash here to compare my girlish figure o, it's hard to tell...”
“Forget your sister, look at your mom and grandmothers for an idea on how you will develop.” Val countered.
“I think Ash is a better person for me to compare myself to...”
“Not if she's an Exemplar.”
“Pretty sure she isn't. And looking at her factors in our father's side of the family.”
“When did you see her last? And who is your father, you never talk about him.”
“before we left the house. We skyped and she helped me work out what I want to try and get for my schedule. We have a good reason not to talk about him, he's Captain Condom. He'd had some work done before he slept with my mom, so she didn't recognize him.”
“Eww, isn't he like seventies by now?”
“I don't think he's that old, but he's got enough regen or something to keep him looking like he's in his late twenties, early thirties.”
“Maybe you're lucky and have that.”
“Might be nice.” Jessie admitted, then grimaced. “I need a fitting room so I can peal a peach...”
“Lalala, can't hear you. And you have got to stop talking like a guy. Girls do not say stuff like that. Especially in public.”
“Ah hell no! Can't I just get by with some Target bought Panes or Fruit Salad brand undies and not go in there?”
“Victoria's Secret is more then just bras and panties. And it is a right of passage for a girl, even a part timer like you. We ran into your mother and sister when I came in for my first real bra.” Val said tugging Jessie toward tie white and pink store front.
Over food court fare (burgers for Jessie and Val, a salad she had found offered somewhere for Adria) Jessie asked “So, if you can make yourself look human, why don't you do clothed human, and go naked and no one is the wiser?”
“Because, while I am not effected by the climate of this world, and the illusions might feel real, they offer no protection.”
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“But this is a farm. Next to a tourist trap. Tthis can't be a super hero team's base.” Jessie stated as she took in the pair of silos, slightly dilapidated barn where cows stood chewing their cud. The bovine's grazing field was partially churned up into what Val knew was more then just mud. Near the road a sign pointed the way to Crystal Cave.
“Which is why the MCO never looked twice at it when they check on us. They have another more showy 'serious' hq in town near the police station.” Katie replied. “It's safer having Ivory Tower's lab space out away from people. That and Tower is a Batman fan, so jumped at the chance to have a Batcave.” Katie explained as she lead the girls past two blue silos and up a hill to a squat blue tank that had Ash wrinkling her node from yards away.
“We have to go near that?”
“Yup. Another way to keep the MCO out of their hair.” Katie said as she climbed a ladder bolted to the side of the slurry tank. “We're not gonna be here long.” Reaching the top Katie tapped a hiddon button and a small platform rose from the animal created muck. “This is a transporter that will take us to the base.”
Val and Jessie stepped gamely onto the platform next to Katie, followed reluctantly by Ash. “I knew you humans had lesser scenes...” the once again disguised sidhe said as she wrinkled her nose, hesitating at the edge of the platform.
“You wanna take the flier's entrance?” Katie asked poi ting. “Climb the ladder of the short silo, and at the top jump through the hatch. It's a seventy feet or so drop...”
“Which isn't an issue as I have enough Manna to cast a levitation spell.” Adria replied as she dropped back to the ground and began walking over to the blue painted storage bin.
“Didn't know she could do that.” Kate muttered as an almost Star Trek like shimmer enveloped her, Jessie, and Val. The trio where deposited on a nearely identical pad. The teens looked around the room they found themselves in.
“This doesn't look very much like the Batcave from any media.” Val observed. “No bats for one.”
“Be glad for that. Their poop smells most unpleasant, and no matter how good at cleaning Alfred might be, He would have quit if the Batman asked him to clean the cave.” An amused, naked woman said as she stepped through a doorway leading to another part of the base. She looked like she had been carved from a smoothly polished hunk of alabaster save that the artist had left her with Barbie doll anatomy. “Hi, I'm Charity Cooper, code name Ivory Tower. I'm the team Make and repair geek.”
“Char, you mind covering up? Jessie might not look it right now but she's usually a guy.”
“Fiiiiinnnnne” Charity whined as she turned around and re-entered the room she had just left. “Girl tries to indulge her nudist roots as she thinks no one will be around..”
“You see why the team keeps her in the command and control role”Katie said softly. “That was her registered uniform”
“Why?” Jessie said as val wipped the drool from her chin.
“Char's specialty is replicating Warper powers with tech. She can do the Ant and Giant Man trick besides the transporter, and a few other things..”
“Problem is other then the porter, Clothing isn't effected by my gear for some reason I can't figure out.. I grow or shrink out of my clothing” Charity finished as she stepped back into view just as Adria joined them,. now dressed in dark jeans and a pink t-shirt. “The testing chamber is through here, we have testing suits for you to change into. But first a tour of the base!”
A few hours later Adria found Jessie slumped at a table in what Charity had called the break room, though it was more a combined full sized kitchen and dinning room. Like Adria she was dressed in what looked like a skin tight blue latex bodysuit with a hood that hung between her shoulders. Jessie was sporting two black eyes, and several other bruises.
“What happened to you” Adria asked as she pulled out the chair opposite the changeling.
“Katie went for pizza, an we found that with out one of my mirrors I have all the powers of a fourteen year old girl who has the night vision of a cat.” Jessie said, wearily propping her chin on her upturned hand.”Charity is listing me as an Exemplar 1 and unrated clairvoyant. That is probably the lowest rating you can get besides being tagged as a baseline. Charity also warned me that this rating is basically a sign saying bully me.”
“I can look after you. I have training as a warrior and protector.” Adria offered.
“And be seen as hiding behind someone? Thanks but no. I'll figure something out to keep them off my back.” Jessie grinned weakly as Val joined them, looking freshly showered. “So, what have they learned about you?”
“That apparently I have a high end shifter. With a side does of specialized regen.” Val explained as she took a seat.
“Fascinating.” Adria intoned which prompted a giggle from Jessie.
“I know who you're going as if we go to a comic convention.” she teased as Katie appeared on transport pad with a stack of large pizza's from the local, non big chain pizza place.
“She's going as Trance's purple form, cause it means no body painting the naked elf.” Val countered
“Val, back up an think about what you just said. You're telling me you're passing on smearing whatever all over Adria?”
“Going to pretend I didn't hear that girls. No one is body painting anyone else.. So, I have meat lover's, cheese, and veggie.” Katie offered as she sat the food on the table. “Ivory, put your clothing back on and come eat!”
“The only thing I took off was my bra I'll have you know.” Charity snipped as she padded into the room. “Oh an my socks.” she added wiggling her bare, flesh toned toes.
“Hey, you look normal!”Val said in surprise.
“I was exposed to something while I was at Whateley , and after that I could put on a manifested shell that had the properties of something like ivory.” Charity explained as she got out plates. “I have a bad habit of writing notes on myself, and I found out lines on my skin become lines on the shell so I was tempted to get tattoos and go by the code name Scrimshaw Maybe wear a cute sailor inspired costume....”
“I was thinking of code names while I was failing my tests. I think I have one in mind that hasn't been used, and might be in the public domain as well.” Jessie said as she snagged a slice of cheese pizza. Adria seemed to be the only one going for the veggie.
“I'm thinking of using my birth name; Di'ar. Legally, on this world, my name is Adria.” Adria tossed into the discussion.
“You speak English very well for someone not native to this world.”
“ The internet.” Adria said in as low a voice as she could manage. Seeing Ivory's confused look, Adria explained “Sorry, alien joke I stole from a terrible movie Scott made me watch. I'm really using a spell is helping me speak it. I also have Hooked on Phonics at home.”
“I'm thinking Skinz, as my power, lets me put on a new skin when I want to.” Val chimed in, though she to had been pondering that herself sine Adria's revelation.
“I'm not sure Skins is available. I know Marvel has the singular tied up with a character. Might get away with it though, he just had extra skin he could kindda control if I remember right. But the character is dead in a way that bringing him back lessens the impact of his death.” Jessie, the only on who was semi current with Marvel's comics, countered.
“Eh, it's going to just be a school code name. The owner of Marvel is good about letting students use copyrighted names as long as they behave.” Charity said with a shrug.
Katie leaned forward fixing the three with a hard look. “We can trust you to do that, right???”
“Yes um.” Val said speaking for Adria and Jessie.
“Katie, as an alum, I can tell you now that being on your best behavior at Whateley doesn't always keep you out of trouble.” someone new said from where Adria had emerged from the flier's entrance earlier. “Hello girls, you three are the evales that we got such short notice about testing?”
“You are....??” Adria asked taking in the new arrival who was clad in a mostly light gray costume that had long sleeves and left her shapely legs bare. The sleeves and the low cut neckline where bordered with black and white bands.
“The Gray Gull.” the woman said with a bow, which allowed Adria to see that the suit wasn't as low cut as she had thought, it had a flesh toned modesty panel in place.
“Ivory ans I are both class of 2000.” Gull elaborated as she grabbed a slice and took a bite. “We both knocked around doing the solo and/or the the private sector thing until we ran into each other at a convention some putz kids and two old farts crashed.”
“The Knights where there too. And I wouldn't call the Silver Ghost a putz. She did pretty good for a newbie. And I heard later that that... uh can't say that around kids... that Goldstar was in on her training. I heard that back then he was quite the weight around Spectrum's neck. I still say the old guy was a Cape at one point. His moves where to good to be a bystander.” Ivory responded. “Hey, what are you doing in the next few days? Theses kids need to get MIDs, and I have previous engagements. An I really don't want them going un-escorted. No offense Katie.”
“None taken. I'll feel better with someone there who could deal with things if stuff goes sideways.”
“As long as someone covers my monitor/dispatch duty.”
“Sure, that I can manage, while taking care of my commitments.”
“So Philly's MCO office then?” Ivory asked as she pulled free her smart phone, bringing to life her VI's visual interface, the holo image being a small blue haired girl wearing a blue jumpsuit, silver futuristic looking head piece, and blue and yellow wings.
“Yup. It's close enough to the courthouse that if the kids hit the panic button I can get there quick. Not like they ever pick me for jury duty...”
“Making appointment with Philadelphia's primary Mutant Commission Office.” came a childlike voice, as a light construct appeared holding a tablet and making notes.
“Thank you Digit.” Ivory said with a smile to the blue haired virtual pixie.
The hologram looked down at it's feet then up at Ivory. “May I log onto the net to continue that group analysis for NASA...”
“I guess. You have an hour or so before I'm likely to need you again.”
“Yes ma'am.” the VI said with a nod of her head before the image blipped off.
“Your VI is Digit from the Winx Club show?” Jessie asked in surprise. “Don't look at me like that. I have a sister that liked that show and Mom made me watch it with her.”
“I have a sister who liked that show to, and she set Digit up as the visual parameters for the AI I was working on. Sadly, Something didn't click with her and she's never went green. She's 'just' a really advanced VI. Ever Mr. B. at school, and his fellow AI's looked things over and can't figure out what she needs for that final spark.”
“Well eat up girls, so we can head home.” Katie said as she wiped sauce from her lips with a napkin.
“So what is the big rush to get us our MIDs?” Val asked as they drove down the highway, back to Jessie's house.
“Yeah, Ash, took her good sweet time to get hers.” Jessie added.
“Back to why the rush, we're shooting for getting you up there for Columbus day weekend so you don't miss to much of the first semester. We wanted to wait a bit longer for Adria ti 'manifest' so she had time to assimilate more Earth culture..” Katie explained.
“We can wait until mid-year!” Val protested.
“Best to get as much training as possible. I know I want to have a mentor in magic again.” Adria stated, as she pulled the front of her shirt away from her chest. “Ah, good the skin irritation from the testing garment are faded.”
“I have issues with artificial fibers, as well as iron.” Adria explained to the car.
“That's why we replaced all the furniture when we adopted Adria.” Katie offered with a grimace. “Even did the carpet, and our wardrobes. Got expensive.”
Adria looked sheepish, “I am sorry for that.”
“Meh, some of the old stuff needed chucked. Some was from Scott's collage dorm.” Katie soothed as they pulled into the Conner's drive next to Grace's car. The quartet tromped into the house where Grace was sitting in the living room looking tired.
“Ashley's gonna be fine. More scared by then hurt by the burn out.” She said as she sipped from a mug of hot chocolate, her 'comfort blanket' in times of stress. “And I got the ball rolling for your enrollment. Jessie, you're gonna need to decide how you want to be listed, so they can pt you in the right dorm.”
“Mmm, I've been thinking about that an Ivory and Gull put in their two cents. They had to do a lot of dancing with their words, but apparently there is a cottage that takes people that are like me and like Val. I'f she is truthful on her application. The fact is to train with my powers means I have to be 'out' about me gender shifting...”
“Ok, take some time to think it over dear.” Grace told her child. “Now bed you lot.”
Val yawned. “Wanna nother shower, but bed sounds good. Night.”
“Jessie, Jessie, wake up. I have something for you.” cut through Jessie's dreams.
“Nawwwt again.” the sleeper groaned, pulling her (as she'd chosen to stay female) pillow over her head with one hand, the other swatting in the general direction of the person bothering her. “Can't it wait til morning?”
Jessie lifted the pillow slightly, enough that she could see Adria, wearing a lacy light blue silk nightie that clung to her curves. Jessie was surprised to see it was Andie's true Sihde form. “Um, yeah I guess it could have waited...” she said sheepishly as she fiddled with something in her hands. “but I just finished with this...” she held up the mirror from a makeup compact. “I remembered how to do a fast and dirty bonding ritual, and I just had to do it while it was on my mind. It just needs some of your blood and some magical energy to activate it.”
That woke Jessie up. “it will work like...”
“The bathroom and your closet mirror, yes.” Adria finished for Jessie with a grin as she handed the mirror to Jessie. On the back on the gray silvering Adria had drawn a series of runes that made no sense to Jessie, and a line diagram. “I need you to put a drop of blood, there.” she indicated the diagram.
“Cool. There's a pocket knife in the green sock hanging from that shelf.” Jessie said as she got uo and headed for the item. “let me get it...” She suited actions to words, pulling a battered Boy Scout pocket knife. With a flick she had the blade open, and used the tip to prick her thumb. Crimson blood weld up into a fat drop which she smeared in the indicated spot. The markings glowed a sky blue briefly, and Jessie felt something go out of her.
“Did it work?” Adria asked as Jessie turned the mirror over.
“Yup, it did. I can see my male form in it.” Jessie said as she held the mirror up, catching Adria's reflection. Impulsively Jessie kissed Adria's cheek. “Thank you.”
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Outside the Courthouse
“Ok, kids. There is where I will be.” Gull, in her civilian identity, said pointing to the courthouse. “If it's like last time, the people choosing juries will see my MID then tell me to take a hike, as no on wants a super of any stripe in a court room unless they're trying to get money out of us or we're testifying. Should be out in an hour after 10, two tops. If not, the MCO office is across the street, there. And we all have coms, Scream for help if you need it, Until then, visit the Hall, or one of the museums. Take a selfie with the Bell.”
Gull paused and gave each girl a hard look. “And ,I know I am jinxing myself here, if anything unforeseen happens STAY OUT OF IT. I know that will be hard but neither you, or I for that matter, are deputized to work in Philly. Got that?”
“Yes ma'am.” Jessie said with a nod. “Not that I have much to offer...”
“Um, yeah.... I guess that my warning was more for Val and Adria.”
Shen turned the black stoned ring over in her fingers, trying to puzzle out how the dang thing worked. She could feel the power contained within the stones. The energy with in resonated with what remained of her powers. The darn thing was to small to put on her thicker then the glamour's finger. She reached over to pick up a small screwdriver, planning on using it to pry the black stones free of their mountings.
“Hey, Shannon, get your butt moving. We got classes. Hey, what you doing with the bling?” her room-ape said, walking in just as if Shen's door hadn't been firmly closed. The human gaped at Shenanigan, who had been working naked, how she thought of being glamor free. As nothing human made fit her body save anything she modified herself, Shen was naked in more then one sense. “What the... You're an Animan? That so explains all the long hair that clogs the shower drain.”
Shen let out a sigh and reached over to grab the woman by the front of her shirt to pull her into her room. “Doesn't matter, you where not meant to see. Now you will see and do only what I want you to...”
The upper tunnels
Whateley, New Hampshire
Tammy walked the tunnels from Whitman toward the Crystal Hall, planning on getting a to-go breakfast, as she was running late. Besides, eating with the rest of the students was just... well the view sucked for her as she couldn't really look anyone in the eye as they talked. Besides, chewed gum, boogers, and anything else people felt like sticking under a table top, kind of ruined her appetite.
“ 'ey, Tammy, wait up!” came a male voice from behind her accompanied by the sound of hurrying feet. Tammy paused and turned, pushing the waist band of her skirt down so she could see who wanted her attention. A blush reddening her neck and shoulders when she realized who it was.
“Hi, White Owl.” she breathed as David flashed her a grin as he ran a hand through the fine white hair. Tammy knew he was in Twain, and though he didn’t having Exemplar Looks, and his hair shifted from white to gray or black, he was still very much a “Pretty”. She didn't know much about him, as they only had two classes together, neither of which offered much time to socialize.
And he was talking to a freak like her!
“Call me David, please. My code-name makes me sound like I'm a redskin. I only got stuck with it cause I had nothing better in mind and I can take that form. Anyway I was wondering if I could barrow your notes for Costumes? I had testing yesterday so I missed.”
“I think the current PC way to say that is it makes it sound like you are a Native People. Wasn't much to make notes on, was mostly a work on costume designs day. Not that I had any ideas to expand on.”
“What ever, you Yanks are so... uptight about not hurting with words at times. I probably would have gotten in trouble then as my costume is done already. Or at least the first version is.”
Mark shrugged. “Yup. Isn't much really. Bomber jacket, goggles, few other things. Lot of it is made of hand me downs.”
“Huh? Someone in your family is...?”
“My grandfather was a fighter pilot.” he explained.
“Um... I hope this doesn’t... Am I supposed to look you in the eyes? Cause it feels rude to be lookin at your...” he gestured towards between her legs.
“If it makes you more comfortable focus on my mouth.” Tammy sighed, not sure which made her more uncomfortable; the ones who asked like Mark had or the ones who saw the location of her eyes as an excuse to focus their gaze lower. The latter group always seemed to undress her with her eyes. The former group annoyed her because it felt like they where drawing needless attention to her eye placement.
12:00 September 25th
“That was... interesting.” Adria said as they emerged from the Constitution center. “Other then the wars which drove us from our home land, my people haven't made war in a very long time. Yet, you humans...” Adria trailed off as the group paused at the corner to let a carriage drawn by a centaur dressed from the waist up in colonial footman's regalia. “Mk-ay, don't see that every day, even back home.”
“Hey kids, nice to see you're punctual. Gull said as the trio joined her at the President’s House. “As expected, I have the rest of the day free, so food, MCO, some shopping?” Jessie let out a groan at the word 'shopping' to which Gull gave her a bland look for. “Suck it up. You're a girl at the moment, soo...”
“But there are girls out there that don't like shopping.” Jessie protested. Seeing the stubborn set to Gull's face Jessie sighed “Fine, but don' expect me to participate.”
“Works for me. There's a decent little shop over accost from the court house. They do a good calzone.”
“More in a cheese-steak mood.” Jessie said.
“I think they have them. If not there are other shop on the street.”
As the group backtracked Adria wrinkled her nose. “I don't think I could live in a city like this. The air makes my skin itch. I'm glad Katie and Grace made me over dress.”
“I know we found you mostly naked kid, but I'm not sure a long skirt and blouse count as over dressed in this weather.” Gull mused. “As for the itchy skin, I've heard that you elfy types are sensitive to synthetic stuff. The amount of crap in the air... I have wet wipes in the car, you can cleanup when we leave.“
“I'd appreciate that,” Adria sighed as she rubbed a hidden pointy ear tip. “Kutztown is still more polluted then back home, but it takes the whole day to make me start itching even as close to the highway as we are.”
“Are we done eating girls?” Gull asked after taking a last sip from her drink. “Restrooms, I think, are back there.” she waved towards the back of the shop. “And Val, see what you can do about looking a bit more like yourself?”
Jessie blinked and took a closer look at her friend, who she now realized looked a live action version of Marinette from Miraculous Ladybug. Just with long red hair bound up in pig tails. How had she missed that?
“I can try...” Val said as she stood.
She was back in about five minutes with a negative head shake, her features un changed. Gull had sighed and waved them out onto the street. They then walked the few blocks to the MCO's office. Before they entered Gull handed out cheap green and purple party masks. Val thought the office looked a lot like an impound office crossed with the Driver's Licensing Center with an extra dash of evil. Just with power armor wearing guards. They didn't look armed, but with armor you never could tell. Several neatly dressed, though bored looking tellers stood behind a counter that cut the room into what Val guessed was about three quarters of the office behind the counter.
“Hello, welcome to the Philadelphia Mutant Commission Office. How can we assist you?” One of the tellers droned, an older bespectacled woman that had a grandmotherly air about her.
“Yes, we have an appointment. Three for first time MIDs.” Gull replied as she leaned against the counter.
“Do they require power testing?”
“No ma'am, we don't.” Jessie piped up as Gull held out a jump drive.
“Preliminary results are on this. And yes, the tester is DPA/MCO certified.” Gull cut in when the teller looked about to protest.
“And you are?
“Gray Gull, Lehigh Valley Irregulars. I am these kid's chaperon, legal representative of their parents, Member in good standing of the Whateley Alumni Association.” Gull stated as she set her MID, civilian side down, on the counter.
“Fine. Please fill these out, and have them ready when we call you in when it is your turn. You can have a seat over there.” the woman said as she found something fascinating on something out of view from the quartet. Gull shrugged as she picked up the laminated card. Time flowed like it did in most waiting rooms, it dragged by at a snail's pace.
“Miss. Conner, you're first.” the teller states blandly as she moves to open a door to let Jessie into the back area. The purple haired gil nodded and rose. The teller lead Jessie to a room that was a stereotypical interrogation room, complete with a mirror and an industrial looking table and chairs. Jessie took the seat facing the mirrored surface. The face reflected back at her was her female one, the face she was showing the world.
She was left to stew for fifteen minutes before a man in a cheap looking suit, and buzz cut black hair entered. On his red tie was a blue triangle tie tack. “Were did those cards come from?” was the first thing he asked, glancing at Jessie's pocket-less shirt and pants. Jessie shrugged as she held up her paperwork, which he took and glanced through them.
“I am Agent George Murdoch, and I will be conducting this interview.” he said pulling out the chair that put his back to the mirror. “I ran an Ashley Conner's interview at the Allentown office before I was transferred here last month. Any relation?”
“Yes, sir.” Jessie said slowly trying to work with this information. “She's a cousin.”
“Ok, I need to ask a few questions before your biometric scan. Name?”
“Hmm. I have a few questions based on your power eval; 'Subject claims to have remotely viewed sister who is at a boarding school in New Hampshire. Statement was partially corroborated by school staff. Staff confirm breech of Astral Wards corresponding to time of alleged viewing. While subject tried to trigger a seeing, subject failed to do so under laboratory conditions.'. Performance anxiety?”
“Maybe a little. I think it was more not having the right materials on hand. I... remote viewed through a mirror that I have had for years.”
Murdoch nodded slowly as he made notes on the smart-phone he had pulled from an inner pocket, a motion that let Jessie see the automatic in a shoulder holster.
“Do you have these materials on hand?
“Nope. I suppose I could have shattered my, I'm not sure how big, mirror. But I'm not sure if that would have worked.”
“All right, follow me and we'll get the scan done.” Agent Murdoch lead Jessie to another room where four curved black glass covered walls hung from the ceiling. It reminded Jessie of the TSA's infamous “Perv” scanners. “Stand there in the center of the scanner and hold still with your arms out.
Murdoch opened a panel in the wall as Jessie stepped into place. The machine whirred to life, the noises coming from it reminiscent of an mri. Jessie felt a buzz on her skin as the walls spun around her. The agent grunted and typed something and the machine came to a stop.
“All right, scan looks good. Let's finish the interview.” there was no more words until they where back in the places the had vacated a short time ago. “Have you thought of a code name yet?”
“I can change it later?”
“Ehn, figure, if you're going to that place your sister is attending, you have until your first semester's final. Graduation is pushing it, but not unheard of.”
“Cool. I have something temporarily in mind until we know better what I can do.”
“And it is...?”
“I want to be called either Looking glass...” the girl waited as he checked for the name which he signaled was unusable, then suggested “Or Tippetarius.”
“Tippetarius ?” Murdoch asked looking up, frowning. Something about the name was niggeling at the back of his mind, but he couldn't pin it down. “Can you spell that?
“It's a character from one of the Wizard of Oz sequel books. Public domain character, so I shouldn't get in trouble.” Jessie replied brightly. “Here, I wrote it down.”
“Mkay... Huh, that one is available. Tippetarius it is. Weaknesses 'Squishy human.' We'll change that to 'normal human vulnerabilities' It's a bit early for this question: Any affiliations?”
“LVI. Lehigh Valley Irregulars.”
“Can we get a blood sample?”
Agent Murdoch texted someone and a young man in a scrub top came in with a small tray of medical paraphernalia. The draw was fast and professional. As this happened there where a few more tapped keys and Agen Murdocht pulled a small printer from some where and hooked it to his phone. The card printer hummed and spat out the MID, the lamination still warm as Agent Murdoch passed it over. “You're all done, you can go wait for the rest of your party in the designated waiting area.”
“Thank you Agent.” Jessie said with a smile as she bounced out of the room as Agent Murdoch brought up the web browser on his smart phone and tapped in a quick search for her lit reference.
“Tippetarius, called Tip, was a kitchen boy... who was under a spell... really the princess Ozma, true ruler of the land of Oz?” Murdoch muttered casting a confused look after Jessie.
“Easy breezey. Didn't even try any of the stuff you warned us about.” Jessie said as she rejoined the others.
“Adria Phillips.” the woman droned As she opened the door to the back. Adria nodded as she stood dropping her illusion. The sudden change didn't seem to phase the woman. Agent Murdoch was waiting for her, and she got the impression that at the sight of her he'd had an “Oh shit.” moment.
“This way please.” he lead her into the interview room. “Careful of the metal. I think it is Aluminum, but I'm not 100%.”
“Thank you for the warning.” Adria stated as she gingerly sat down.She wasn't feeling the effects of iron in the room, but...
“Ok....” Murdoch muttered. “We have a file already started on you it seems. Let's run through it before we get to the new stuff.”
“Sure. I was grabbed by human trafficker before I manifested, weather to be a sex slave or something else I don't know. They stuck me in a stasis box for I don't know how long. I was told after the face what happened next as I was still in the box.” Adria said sliding into the cover story that had been thought up a year ago. “They where using some kind of hopper, no one is sure why they landed outside Kutztown but they did. The Irregulars where called in. There was a fight. The cargo, including me, was dumped, and they took off. Got clean away. The Irregulars opened the box I was in, there was an investigation. I was put into foster care with a local couple, and adopted by them soon after. Started to manifest a few weeks ago. My parents waited until I was done changing.”
“Where did you come from originally? Why weren't you returned there?”
“I don't remember, sir.” Adria lied, keeping with the cover. “They covered their tracks, going so far as reprogramming my memories. I'm not even sure that what I looked like before manifesting, is what I originally looked like. I might have been a guy for all I know. Nor can I be sure English is my first language.”
Agent Murdoch grunted as he nodded. “There have been stories of serums out of Karedosia that can radically alter a person, besides the infamous Drow and Ork ones. If you will allow a blood test, we be able to figure out more.”
“No. Absolutely not.”
“Mhm.” Agent Murdoch didn't sound convinced. “Name?”
“Not sure. Fourteen, I guess”
“Ah, ok, eval results... Examplar 2. Nothing that needs further investigation on that. Wizard trait, 5 may be level 7? Why is it listed like that?”
“My tester was an alumni of the school, and apparently they have a Sdhe teacher now who sent out word to affiliated testers that ant sidhe-mutants they get, especially avatars channeling old ghosts shouldn't go all out least there be environmental repercussions. I felt I could have done more but the tester stopped me at level 5.” Adria explained truthfully.
“Are you channeling a ghost? Any mentors yet in the mystical arts? If so what have they taught you?”
“Nope. The team's mystical contact, a DPA mage, has shown me just enough so that I don't shed hobgoblins when I sneeze.” Adria lied, earning a worried look. “And I know what can be done with my blood if it gets in the wrong hands.”
“is that an issue? Sneezing hobs?” the agent asked ignoring the comment about the possibe uses of a persons blood.
“Not really, I'm not sure why I picked that as an example.”
“Ok, you had me worried. Weakness; iron, synthetics, and clothing. Clothing?”
“Yes sir. The brain scramble let them slip in a command I guess. It makes me a semi-nudist. I feel over dressed right now...”
“Ah, ok. Thank you for clearing that up. This way to the scanner.” The scan went off with out a hitch, or surprise and they where back in the interview room fairly quickly. “Codename?
“Da'ir. Dee Aye apostrophe Eye Ar.”
“That's free, thank you for spelling that.... And here is your card.”
“”And the lamination has triggered my allergy.” Adria muttered holding it by one corner gingerly.
“Ah, sorry about that.”
Agent Murdoch met her at the door, and mad his introductions and explanations. He opened the power evaluation and skimmed it. “Odd regen, no bio-hazard label at this time, further testing required. Sheapeshifter. We're not gonna ask for a blood sample. Is this a form or the real you?”
“It's a form. I don't seem to have have any control yet.”
“Uhuh, Is this gonna be your look?”
“No sir. I'd get in trouble. Like I said; no control. I watched the show this character is in, I guess that's why I look like her.
“Mhm. We'll take the scan, and I will make a note in your file about this. This way.”
The scanner whirled and Agent Murdoch frowned at the results. “Stay there, I'm getting garbled readings. Let me just...” he trailed off, muttering to himself. The scanner spun again. “Odd. With most shifters you can't differentiate added mass from, pardon the terminology, original meat. With you it's possibly different. There is a distinct density difference from the limbs to center mass We don't have the gear here to do more, so I'll make a note for further investigation.”
“I'd appreciate that. I'm curious now.” Val said as they walked back to interview.
“We'll leave the civilian photo blank...”
“I do have my school's photo ID.”
“We can work with that. Thank you.” he said accepting the card, taking a picture of it before handing it back. “Weaknesses 'normal human vulnerabilities'. Any ideas for a Code name?”
“No, I had had an idea, but I checked last night and found it was taken. By a very sick Super-serial killer.”
“A743-PHMCO-826-17 it is then. Here you go.”
“Thank you.” Val said as she was lead back to the waiting room.
“That was painless.” Gull said as they walked out. She paused and pointed up at a super that looked like a cross between Hawkman and Captain America. “Hey look, that's the American Eagle. Good man, bit of a pompous ass at times. I think it's the helmet.”
“Alumni?” Jesie asked
“No. He's an Imbued, or a Non-Avatar Paladin, I think. The Red, white, and blue are dyes.”
“Huh; That's not on his Hero Watch page.”
“And mine doesn't say I'm a mutant either. There are some things you want to keep to yourself. I'm listed as Imbued with the spirit of the Gull or some similar nonsense.”
I am a caffeine heathen; I prefer the waters of the mountain over the juice of the bean. Keep the Dews coming and no one will be hurt.
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The woods between Twain an Emerson
Whateley Academy, New Hampshire
David Banning stood at the center of a small clearing, rocking on his heels as he waited for his team to show. The first two to show where from Twain and Emerson. One with his husky build, bad teeth and bulbous nose screamed 'future minion'. He was an exemplar/Shifter/size warper combo who went by the code-name Mumakil, though staff had told him to change it least he bring down the wrath of the Tolkin Estate. His real name was Randy Watkins and his family had been elephant trainers and handlers for years, unit public out cry had closed down pachyderm acts.
The 80's punk throw-back in tight black jeans, red muscle shirt, chains, many ear piercings, and a pair of odd sunglasses was a few seconds after him. He also sported a bright green spike Mohawk. He refused to answer to his real name, preferring the name Spikestrip. A very original name considering he could manifest rows of spikes on what ever surface he touched. It said something about Spike's intelligence David mused.
The last two to arrive was the effeminate looking Trevor “Tinker” Bell, the team mad scientist. He had had the farthest to come, coming from Poe. He wore a pair of grubby green overalls and a once white muscle shirt. Pushed up on his short dirty blond hair was a pair of steampunky brass goggles. His appearance just screamed Bully Me! David knew that Trevor was under a compulsion,both from the taste of magic on him, and the way he seemed unable to speak of details about his cottage mates. He carried a large bag over his shoulder. “I'm missing ballroom dancing for this.” Trevor grumbled.
With Trevor was an overweight young man named Gavin Grady, aka Gravy. He looked like a juvenile version of the Marvel character Fred “Blob” Dukes, a nick name Gavin might have picked uo had he, on the first day in front of the whole caf liquefied a pan of bone in fried chicken. A web comic fan had had given Gavin his code-name from his favorite web comic, Schlock Mercenaries' “Gravy Guns” which used gravity manipulation, Gavin's power set, to obliterate their target. Gavin was a Thornie, exiled there for health issues related to his beyond morbid obesity. Which wasn't helped by his lack of exercising, as he used his powers to float everywhere.
“Ayyyye boss.” Spikestrip said sounding a lot like the Fonz. “I hear that you have your eyes on a girl.”
“Worst then the court gossips.” David muttered to himself. “Even if I do, what business is it of yours?”
“Ignore the cretin.” Trevor said shooting Spikestrip a Look.
David laughed softly, “I usually do.” he pulled from his pocket a small Cobra 250 which he used to shoot the four in rapid secession.
I am a caffeine heathen; I prefer the waters of the mountain over the juice of the bean. Keep the Dews coming and no one will be hurt.
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Agent Murdoch Stretched a little as he pulled the door of the office closed. His key snicked in the lock, though he knew the lock would do little to stop anyone determined to enter after hours. Why the Home Office was willing to replace the plate glass that had been in the display windows with bullet proof glass and yet skimped on the lock when the old store front had been converted he didn't know, and on some level didn't care if some Evo Rocks protesters or mutants trashed the place. Walking down the block he pulled a smart phone from his pocket. He let his thumb rest on the screen for a moment, letting the digital lock take his thumb print and unlock it. Not for the first time did he congratulate himself for finding that gadgeteer programmer a few years back.
“Report.” came an electronically distorted voice over the secure line.
“This is Hancock. We had three today that might be useful. One of whom shares an address with a target that slipped the recruitment teams.”
“You had four scheduled.”
“We did, yes. The morning one we tested on site and discovered that they where a Power Stone wielder. I confiscated the jewels for their own good. Information on the stones will be in my report.”
“Those could be useful. Any possible issue with the DPA? What about the other three?”
“No sir. I made sure to 'ship' the stones to them. They will arrive damaged and depowered. As for the mutants the most useful, at least in my opinion, is an Elf type.”
There was a note of greed in the scrambled voice “Those can be powerful...”
“Yup. Second one of value is a shifter. Final, and the one I suspect will take the most training is a clairvoyant that requires props.”
“Mhm. Send the reports to our recruitment team...”
“Sir, I heard enough of the conversation with the hero that was escorting them to catch that they will be attending a boarding school in the No Go Zone. The same school that my brother's kid is attending.”
“That complicates things... There are only so many ways that they can get there. I suppose we can farm out the work to out of state cells. Good job, keep this level of performance up..”
“Thank you. May I suggest we put a surveillance team on them instead of going for the recruitment right way?”
There was a long pause then “Yes, we'll do that. Let me look... Ah, nice we already have a member in their school. Once they transfer out things become more complicated.”
“So, what is in that bundle under your mattress?” Val asked as she rolled over in her borrowed bed to look at Adria. Val was a little surprised that Adria had let her illusion drop, so she was sleeping as her sidhe self.
“What bundle?” Adria asked quickly.
“The one you carried out of your house in front of the cops. Who didn't blink at it. Like they couldn't see it.”
Adria sighed and sat up, looking uncomfortable in her all cotton night shirt. “First off it is under the bed as a whole, not just the mattress. Second, it's... something of my ancestor's that those who took me also took. When they... left me, they left it as well.” she explained as she got out of bed and knelt next to the bed. She reached under it wincing as the synthetic fabric touched her skin. She drew the bundle Val had seen out, allowing Val to see that it was wrapped in dark cloth. Reverently Adria unwrapped it, and Val's eyes went wide as a waterfall of silver spilled from the wrappings and hung in the air. Adria held the object up, allowing Val to see that it was a sleeve that looked like it was woven from silver thread. A gunmetal colored saucer shaped plate was attached at the shoulder.
There was embossing on the shoulder plate, still barring flakes of black, gold and red paint. To Val's eye it looked like the design was a gold rimmed red colored oak leaf behind two crossed black spears. Around this where nine golden acorns, which where quartered genially by the spears. “It's made out of Mithril, and...”
“All folk desired it. It could be beaten like copper, and polished like glass; and the Dwarves could make of it a metal, light and yet harder than tempered steel. Its beauty was like to that of common silver, but the beauty of Mithril did not tarnish or grow dim.”Val said in an attempted baritone. “I've read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.”
“What is a hobbit? Who is this Ring Lord? And I thought the term was Little Person, not dwarf.”
“I'll led you the series rather then explain. It's been a few years since I picked it up. Um... just thought of this; are my parents in on your secret?”
“They just know your brother adopted me. I do not even know if they know Scott is a superhero for sure. Likely they don't.”
“So I should try to not spill the beans. It's an expression, has nothing to do with food.”
“I could figure that out on my own, I have been on this world for a year.” Adria stated as she twiddled her fingers which caused her pillow to lift into the air, then zoom at Val's head. Val laughed as she ducked before whipping her pillow at Adria. It bounced off a silver fractal leaf “wall” that flared briefly.
“Cheater.” Val laughed.
“Girls settle!” Grace yelled up at them.
“Yes, Mrs. Conner!” Adria yelled back as she retrieved their pillows .
Below in his room Jessie walked back in toweling off his hair, having grabbed a shower before bed. It had felt... good to spend the whole day as a girl, which surprised him some. And left him thinking about his upcoming years at Whateley. Up to this point he had been thinking of attending as himself, but now... Tossing the towel into his hamper Jessie went over to his dresser to find something to wear to bed. As he did so something caught his attention.
Striding over to his mirror he leaned in for a closer look. As his female refection leaned in, dominating the space Jessie could see overlaying it ghostly images of Val and Adria.
“The fuck?” Jessie muttered as he looked behind him, just to on some level, prove to himself that he was alone in his room, though with the way he was standing it would have been impossible for anyone behind him's refection to be captured. “I'm likely gonna regret this..” he commented to himself as he tapped the glass.
This time as he changed to she it felt different, like all of her nerves where energized and ready to burn their way free of her body. Gasping Jessie dropped to her knees from the pain, tears welling up in her eyes. Slow;y the pain eased and Jessie forced herself back to her feet. The first thing she noticed was it looked like she had a tan. The next thing was her ears. They now ended in points, not as long as Adria's, but pointed none the less. From her ears her focus moved to her hair which was now auburn with blue streaks.
“My God...” Jessie breathed as she turned her head left and right, leaning in to the mirror for a look at her ears “This is so... OK, I need to show this to Val and Adria... but first a shirt and shorts so I'm not running around half naked. Not that I think Val would mind. Then again it seems like I'm now a third her, and this line of thought is headed toward the gutter. Time to think of something else.”
Pulling on garments Jessie moved to the door, carefully, and quietly opening his door. From there she crept to the stairs, mindful of the creaky step as she headed to the guest room. Reaching the door she tapped on it.
“We're being quiet Mrs. Conner.” came Val's voice.
“It's Jessie. Unlike you, I knock before entering an occupied bed room with a closed door.”Jessie said as she opened the door, belatedly realizing that although she hadn't turned on any lights she could see just fine. In one bed Adria was craning her neck to look while in the other Val was swinging her feet to the ground.
“It's nearly midnight Jessie. And we're both dressed so no free peeks.” Val yawned, though to Jessie the sound seems fake.
“OK, wasn't aware of the time, but I'm not here for...”
Adria laughed and sat up. “She knows that. And she isn't as tired as she's pretending.”
“Spoil my fun why don't you?” Val grumbled. “So what has you risking your mother's wrath?”
“This.” Jessie said as she made sure the door was closed then flipped on the light.
“Huh.” Adria grunted as Val got up and moved closer for a better look.
“How did you become an elf?” Val asked as she grabbed Jessie's ear tip.
“Owww! Hey, that hurts!” Jessie protested as she swatted away Val's hand at the same time Adria said “Sidhe, not elf. But the question is valid.”
“I have no idea. I had used the mirror you'd given me to switch for a shower. Odd thing, dirt and smutz stays when clothing goes with when I switch... Any way I'm in my room and see that the two of you are reflected in the mirror.”
“You touch it, shift, and become a half elf.” Val finished for her.
“Sidhe. And there where never any half-sidhe. Either you are or you aren't.” Adria cocking her head. “There is a way we can check.”
“I'll get those shorts your skin reacted to. I'm glad you had on panties.” Val stated as she went for the pile of dirty clothing.
“Val.” Jessie sighed “TMI.”
“Revenge for the other day.”
“You seem to be magically active now, but I'm not trained to tell your ability to take in essence. Beverly careful, you can make things happen uncontrollably.” Adria said as she got out of bed and walked to Jessie for a closer look.
“Here.” Val said as she tossed a pair of shorts at Jessie, which she caught reflexively. At first nothing happened then Jessie's hand began to itch like she had a bad case of poison ivy. With a yelp as her hand became reflective. The change swept up her arm, soon covering her whole body.
“That's interesting...” Val breathed.
“And my skin isn't burning anymore.” Jessie said in surprise as she looked herself over. The reflective skin made her think of one of those full body sock blank man costumes she'd seen the prior Halloween. It seemed weird to see clothing over the shiny, smooth form, but Jessie resisted the urge to get naked and find a full body mirror to get a good look. “I guess I'm due for another round of testing.”
“Oh leave it for later. We'll be at the school soon enough. Ash did say they do do testing there. That is soon enough.” Val said with a shrug.
“Girls, bed. Jessie, your room, bed.”
“Yes Mom. How did she know I was up here?”
“Probably heard your voice.”
“I'm not talking that loud”
“Parents just know things.” Adria stated as she settled into her pillow.
Beyond time and know space.
At the center of a rubble strewn courtyard a bubble of a sickly purple-black almost oily hue, with bands of bale-fire green. The bubble popped revealing five boys.
“Really? You couldn't have waited to tag us until after I'd set up the Rabbit Hole? Just cause you can come and go as you please...” Bell snapped as he rubbed his chest where he'd been hit. Bell began dissembling several lengths of gadgetry which he placed into his bag.
David ignored the whining. “Will your armor be ready for winter term's Team Tactic's class?” David asked as Bell pulled a tarp from a hulking gray-green mass of parts that crossed Killer Croc with the Hulk Buster Iron Man suit.
“I believe so, but I still can't track down the damn ticking that comes from the drive systems.” Bell said. “And I'm still trying to get the batteries to last longer without being overly bulky. Oh, and I made those trackers you wanted. They're back in my lab.”
David twitched at this news. “Do what you can with it for the moment. You're next project for the team is to make some ear plugs that will filter the noise out. I am gonna try and think of a possible power source while I take a walk down to the beach. Gravy, I want you to come with me, I have something I'd like you to do. You two can explore the ruins, there is supposed to be a treasure hidden here. Tinker, I assume you wanna work on your armor.””
“Fine by me.” Trevor stated with a shrug. “My inventions are getting me by.”
“Hey!” Gravy protested, “I could use the cash too. And how do you know so much about this place?”
“Relax, this island is full of treasures.” David soothed. “You just need to look. We'll fill your coffers, don't you worry.”
“All right, fine.” Grady muttered as he rose into the air and crossed his legs. He drifted along after David who lead him down an over grown path to a rocky beach. In the distance a worn wave swept rock poked from the sea like the back of a whale. The sea seemed to just end about a mile out from shore. Closer at hand was the wreck of a sailing ship. The sails hung in tatters from sagging frayed ropes. The bow on the port side was staved in by rocks .
“I'd like you to dig out a section of the beach then, carefully, lift that out of the water and set it into the depression. I'd like Trevor to fix it up, add some of his tech, like the Rabbit Hole, to her...”
“Sure, sure. I can do that.”Gavin grumbled as he let his bulk onto the sand. With an almost careless wave he lifted a section of the beach into the air, which he allowed to flurry down into the water. Once it was all dumped he turned his attention to the ship. He treated it like he was handling an egg as he used his powers to ease it into the air. The name painted on the bow had been worn away. As the deck rocked in the air something rolled across the warped planks then tumbled into the sand. Gavin gulped seeing that it was a tarnished silver hook, which had skewered a dragonfly on the way down.
7:00 am September 26th
The Conner Residence
“Good morning, Jessie. Go change, the three of you are going to school today.” Grace stated as Jessie shambled into the kitchen where she and Katie are sitting sipping coffee. “And don't 'but mom' me. I am not letting you slide before you go to Whateley.”
“Finnne.” Jessie grumbled as she turned around, passing Val and Adria who where both dressed, though Adria looked uncomfortable with just short socks and no gloves.
“I feel naked.” Adria grumbled as she sat at the table, hiding her arms behind her back.
“You agreed to try. I have a pair of tights and gloves in my bag. You can have them at lunch.”
Adria made a noise in her throat, “But I have gym class today...”
“Tough.” Val replied as she grabbed a box of cereal and a bowl.
“Can't you let the shrink work on that?” Katie asked.
“Where is the fun in that?” Val chirped as Jessie, in his birth form, walked in and over to the toaster.
Katie sighed as Grace said “Try and keep your heads down. Val, try and stay in one form, but if you cant, call Katie or me and we'll call in that you're sick.”
“Kay, that works for me.” Val said with a nod.
“Adria, go home with Val. Your parents should be home a few hours after you are. I'll come by and help you break the news.”
“Um, I just realized that...” Val started to say.
“We'll work things out. I don't think your parents will have an issue with the planned change of schools.”
As the trio walked the blocks to the High School their conversation returned to the aborted conversation from the previous night.
“So you think Charity's assessments where wrong?
“Just mine.” Jessie said as they waited for the light to change so they could cross the street. “I did some research after I returned to bed, and after what happened that I may be a mimic...”
“And you copied the two of us.” Adria said as the crossing guard moved to the middle of the street and waved them across.
“Explains her chest last nigh. I thought it looked bigger, but didn't say anything last night. Thinking about it, it did seem to be an average of our sizes.”
“Trust you to notice something like that, Val.” Jessie laughed. “And it felt like something was coming out of my pores and covered my skin when I mirrored up.”
“Not what I feel, but, eh The school is supposed to have the best testers.” Val shrugged.
“Also felt like my nerves where on fire at first.”
“Likely from the wash of Essence through your unprepared system. You where lucky. Please don't do that again until you learn some of the magical basics.” Adria scolded as they passed one of the town banks and the library.
“Sure, no problem. It was not a pleasant experience.”
“So, you think the mirror thing you did was from me?” Val asked tugging the conversation back to herself.
Jessie shrugged, “I got the ears from Adria, and the magic. I also got your hair so, I must have gotten something else from you. I've no idea what shape changing feels like through.”
“Likely feels different for everyone.” Val said with a shrug.
“Anyway, The MCO web site had a lot of information, surprisingly.”
“I'd be careful going on the MCO web site, they could be tracking you through it somehow.”
Adria rolled her eyes and cut in “Val, they already have your address. You had to give it when you got your MID...”
“I gave them the address to the Irregular's base.”
“Same. Not sure what Ash put on her's though.” Jessie added. “You gave your home address? Really?”
“I didn't see any reason to lie.” Adria said primly.
“Oh, you poor girl...” Jessie sighed. “Even if the MCOO as an organization is behaving itself, you can't trust the people. You just need one person to let something slip to the wrong person and you could get snatched up or something.”
“You worry to much.”
“And you're not worried enough. You are officially listed as a mutant now. People don't like mutants, especially after what happened a few years back. Kutztown, may seem judgment free, but there is an undercurrent of racism if you listen carefully. You should here what some of the guys I go to scouts with say...”
Kutztown Area High School, Office
“Yes sir, I understand. I'll keep an eye on them. It's a good thing part of my job is to monitor the security system.” The Triangle member said into their phone as kids filed in for home room. Softly they added “As it happens I have two of them on my monitor right now now. All right, I have to go. Kids will be dropping off attendance sheets and other things I will provide an update at the end of the day.”
She ended the call and laid the phone down on the counter as the first kid entered carrying a sheet of paper. She did her best to keep the surprise off her face as a;; three targets entered the office.
“Hi Mrs. Addams, can the three of use get excuse blanks please?” Adria asked bright;y.
“Sure, no problem. It must have been serious if all three of you where out.”
“Ummm...” Adria stammered, looking to the other two.
“Not really. I had an appointment we'd forgotten to inform the school of ahead of time...” Jessie started.
Adria picked up the narrative, looking relieved that Jessie had started a lie she could glom onto. “And my house got broken into, I stayed home helping my mom figure out what was stolen, broke, or shoved into a weird place.”
“I helped them with that.” Val hastily added.
The look Mrs. Addams gave them conveyed her skepticism, but she handed over the slips. “Get to home room.”
“Already checked in.” Val replied as she shifted her backpack on her shoulders before turning and heading out of the office.
Mrs. Addams sighed and tapped on a text message asking for micro severance drones. The reply came in quickly, a flat denial of request and that the severance team would take over that night with the proper equipment. Mrs. Addams grumbled a little to herself then paused considering. It seemed, to her reckoning, that they'd be easier to recruit if they no longer feel welcome, that would make service to humanity working for the Triangle look like a refuge. And she had an idea on how to do that.
Shenanigan sat, clothed in her human form, on a bench near a fountain waiting for her minion to finish with her morning classes, She wished she could have spent her morning playing with that interesting, but infuriating ring, but she needed to reinforce her hold on on the young ape's mind. In a few days she could do with out disrupting her morning, but once this duty was done she'd return to the place she had acquired the ring from. She was tempted to grab one of the apes that lived there and make them tell her what they knew about it. No, that wouldn't work, as the apes spent their miserable lives with doing busy work. The ones she wanted wouldn't be around until later.
“What to do with my time?” She muttered to herself as she drummed her fingers on her thigh. “I suppose I can continue my experimentation. I can now move it out into the open, maybe move a little faster.”
“Shannon! Hi!” her ape chirped as she hurried up to her bench.
“Hi yourself. I was wondering if you wanted to grab some lunch?”
“Sure, I'm free for an hour.”
“Let's grab a bite and drinks at the Tavern.” Shen suggested, putting a little Energy into her words, making them not quit a spell and very suggestive to the ape's mind.
“That sounds pretty good. I had a hella nasty class this morning and could use a drink.” Shen mentally smirked at this, pleased to hear her test commands had worked perfectly, causing the female ape to sabotage her personal life. On to test two...
“I could go for a nice thick and drippy burger...” Shen said threading her hand into the crook of the ape's arm, using the contact to allow her spell to flow easier.
Briefly her vegan roommate's nose wrinkled then smoothed. “Not for me today. More in the mood for... wings I think. Not hot ones, honey BBQ.”
“Mmm, that sounds good, I'll get the Jerked and share.” Shen said pleased with herself. Maybe she'd work on the ape's looks, make hem a bit more appealing. But to improve her in that way would take a lot of her stores of energy, and more control then she currently had.
“So, did you catch the latest episode of Parricide Island?” her thrall asked.
“Isn't that the show with the... Manimals?”
“Animen, and yes. I really like the otters, they're just so cute.”
“What about the horse breed?”
“They're cool too. I had an odd dream in which you where one of them...”
Kutztown High School
“Does it feel like everyone is washing us? Did I inadvertently shift?” Val whispered as she leaned over the empty seat that separated her from Adria as they sat in study hall. The hidden Sidhe glanced up from sketch pad in front of her then around the ten or so students scattered in the stadium style seating walled off from the auditorium.
“You're fine. When I covered up Jessie's eyes, I cast a similar spell on you. Just in case. I can see through it, and you haven't”
“Thanks. I've been worried about that all day and..”
“Girls, this is a quiet study hall.” the monitoring teacher said without looking up from the laptop he was playing Risk on. “Yes! Alaska has fallen, North America is mine!”
“Sir can I go to my locker and the bathroom?”
“Can you? You may, yes. Be quick.”
“Yes, sir.” Val said as she squeezed past Adria and went up the tiers of seats to the back of the room. As Val reached the top of the stairs located there that lead down to hall level door she heard the teacher say.
“Next time, use the other door. Or it will be detention”
Val ignored the frequent, for the study hall, heard but unenforced warning and slipped into the restroom. As she was washing her hands she considered what she needed out of her locker. Nodding as the very short list formed in her mind Val dried her hands and left the restroom.
She had just turned down the hall where her locker was when she realized something was very wrong. Her locker door hung open and stuff was scattered across and down the hall. Gulping she tapped on the nearest closed classroom door, and then poked her head in.
“Mrs. Greenblat, could you please call down to the office? Someone broke into my locker.”
the rail thin, gray haired woman pursed her lips at the interruption, but she joined Val at the door. Her eyes went a little wide at the mess in the hall.
“While I do not appreciate the interruption, I will make the call.” she stated as she lifted the handset of the phone and tapped in the code for the office. It took about eight minutes before Mr. Harris, the principal, joined then. By the n Val had approached the mess.
“God... who the crap did this?” she asked no one in particular as she toed the empty binding of one of her text books which had had it's pages ripped out and scattered. Her gym clothing lay in a heap soggy with urine. Val wasn't sure, but she thought her extra pair of panties and her sports bra where missing from the pile. But she was a little to grossed out to poke through the pile.
“This was brand new.” Mr. Harris muttered darkly as he picked up the text book's remains.
“Am I gonna be made to replace it?”
“I don't think so.” her principal let out a breath then went into Mrs. Greenblat's room to use the phone, shooing back the students that had abandoned their desks to see what was happening.
“So, are you going to call someone?” Val quizzed.
“No, no, I don't think we need too.” Mr. Harris said as he leaned down to look at the locker door. “It doesn't look like anyone broke into it. You probably left it open and someone took advantage.”
“But... the cameras...”
Mr. Harris pointed at the black dome of the security came. Only it wasn't black, some one had stuck a large blue and white paw print sticker over the plastic, blocking the view. “Didn't see a thing. I'll call a janitor to help you clean this up.”
Val sputtered then kicked at a scrap of paper, then knelt to pick it up. “Make a list of the school property that was damaged please,” Mr. Harris stated as he turned away from her.
“Ah, here is Katie. I love that girl like a daughter, but I wish she would watch the clock a little better.” Val's mother, Emily, muttered as she looked out of the kitchen window as gravel crunched in the drive and a car came into view from behind the old, gnarled maple where a rope swing hung from a branch. Louder she asked “Adria, can you and Val set the table, please?”
“Sure, we can do that.” Adria said as she moved to the stove where a pie sat cooling along side a glass dish. She winced slightly as she slipped on a pair of oven mitts and transferred the pie the yard or so to the table as Val got out plates and silverware.
“Is that pot pie I smell?” Katie as as she walked in.
“I can't take credit, it was all the girls. I was going to do something fast and easy tonight.” Emily replied with an amused look at Val and Adria. “If Val didn't cook almost every night, I'd wonder if they where trying to butter me up. Before dropping the other shoe over something.”
“So, girls how was your day?” Katie asked as she pulled out her usual chair and sat.
“Uneventful. I had to assist Jessie with something he forgot about last night.” Adria said as she brought over the glass dish. Katie raised a questioning eyebrow. In reply Adria blinked her eyes rapidly, prompting an 'Ohhhh!' reaction from Katie.
“Um, Mom, there is something I... We need to tell you..”
“You aren't pregnant are you? I thought you where into girls. I wish you didn't feel like you have to hide that from your father and I. We might not get it, but...”
“MOTHER! No, I'm not pregnant, and yes I do. Like girls that is. But that is something for another day. It's something a lot bigger.” Val inhaled and then let out a gusty breath. “Mom, I got accepted to a private school in New Hampshire...”
“Doesn't your friend Jessie's sister go to a school in that state? She's a nice girl, have you considered asking her out?”
Val sputtered, then chose to focus on anything other then Ashley. “No Mother, I haven't as she isn't into girls. But I will be seeing more of her, as the school is the same one.”
“You make it sound like you going is a forgone conclusion. How are we paying for this? And...”
“I got a scholarship, and Scott is putting up part of it. And the brochure says I can help with my tuition with a campus job.”
What was going to be said as her father joined the ladies in the kitchen. “No Scott?” he asked as he pulled out his usual chair and sat.
“He's dealing with the after of the break in. He's convinced that for all the mess, nothing was stolen. A buddy of his is helping move the ruined furniture. Val, you want to come with this weekend? You and Adria can do a final mall crawl before the school transfer.”
“Who's transferring schools?”
“Me and Adria. And Jessie. It's a special school...”
“Special school? None of you ride the short bus.”
“It's not that kind of school. Scott and I had been planning to send Adria there next year, but things have changed, so we're sending her next week.”
“Mom, Dad, what Aunt Katie is trying to say is the school... That Adria and...”
Adria rolled her eyes and flicked her fingers in the air. To Val it felt like something had just popped. Her mother gasped as Adria's features seemed to shift, eyes expanding, ears lengthening. “What Val is trying to say is she and I are mutants.”
I am a caffeine heathen; I prefer the waters of the mountain over the juice of the bean. Keep the Dews coming and no one will be hurt.
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Scott Phillips Residence
“I am so glad we're leaving tomorrow for New Hampshire.” Valerie Phillips groaned as she flopped face down on her cousin's bed as Adria was pulling things from her dresser and packing them. “The last two weeks have been the worst. People watching me, but pretending they're not. The gossiping and hell the out right mind fuck games some of the queen bitches tried to play with my head...”
Adria paused in the folding of a shirt to look down at her adopted father's little sister. “Welcome to my life.”
“Huh?” Val queried as she rolled onto her back.
“Do yo think it's easy being on of three people of any color other then white in the school? Yes the mutant thing is much worse,...”
“Hey Kiddo, need a hand with anything?” Scott Phillips interrupted as he leaned against the bedroom door.
“Kiddo? You called her Kiddo? Ithought you swore if you and Katie evere had kids you'd break the cycle of nicknames for your kids, Wiggle.”
“It's not as bad as Wiggle Worm, like Dad called me or Chatter Box for you.”
“Not, at least those show effort.” Val replied with a snort.
Scott nodded. “OK, I admit Kiddo is rather generic. Any way, I wanted to drop off something besides see if there was anything Adria needed. Some reading material for the trip.” He held uptwo thick paperback books. “Someone brought them into the store as donations. While I wasn't planning on taking donations just yet so close to the shop move, I couldn't resist.”
Adria tucked the garment she had finished refolding and tucked it into a backpack before walking over to Scott and taking the offered tomes. “Volumes 1 and 2 of the complete Elfquest comics.” She inspected them carefully. “Like new condition... You could mark these at about 6 dollars in the store.”
Scott waved his hand through the air. “I had gotten them for myself as as a kid I'd read most of this series. I hadn't realized these where being produced. I have Volumes 3 through 5 I think it was for Complete ElfQuest and Volumes 1 and 2 of Final Quest ordered from my supplier, for myself and the store.” He ta[ed the cover of the volume Adria was holding. “I think I bought them cause their store reminded me of yours. What you've told me any way.”
Adria flipped through the first volume and nodded slowly. “Driven from their homeland because of a wildfire destroys it A tree central to their culture destroyed.. Accurate, after a fashion. I'll give them a read.”
“So, bro, did you know about the mystery relations we have out in Montana?”
Scott shrugged and looked away as his daughter dug into her unmentionables drawer. “I know of where they are from, as Parakeet told me about it after a class reunion. I know our aunt, but I've never met her husband or their kids. I think one of them is you age.”
“Control, this is Birdwatcher.”
“Go ahead Birdwatcher.”
“We are not the only ones observing Address B. We keep seeing the same woman passing by, and pausing to watch when people are there. What are our orders?”
There was a semi-lengthy pause, long enough for Birdwatcher to begin wondering if the call had gotten dropped somehow, before Control replied. “Capture and interrogate. Maybe she can give us some useful data.”
“And wear the ski masks. We don't need bodies for this op.”
“Again, understood Birdwatcher out.”
Rhonda Kelly closed her eyes and massaged her temples, trying to force away the fog over her thoughts. Why was the house across the street so darn interesting? She opened her eyes when she heard a vehicle pull up in front of her. Ideling in front of her was a slab sided Frito Lays delivery truck. The door closest to her slid open and a masked man leaned opt, pointing a stun gun at her. Before Rhonda could make a sound she felt something strike her chest followed by paralyzing pain, which caused her to black out. She came to to find her wrists duck taped, over her head, to a built in metal rack.
Rhonda blinked at the masked man across from her as her mind began to clear. “Oh, God. I feel sick. She moaned before leaning over as far as she could and retching. The masked man backed away from her as far as he could manage.
“What's going on back there?” the driver called back.
“Oh God what did she make me do? What did she do to me?” Rhonda wailed , locking p;eeding eyes on the man sharing the back of the truck with her. She could see the confusion in the eyes behind the red ski mask.
“What are you talking about miss?” he asked.
“My roommate, I think she's a mutant. She was making me do things... She doesn't look human, how did I not see that?”
“Hey, call this in, we have another one.” the man called to the driver. Rhonda thought the driver was already on the phone. She jerked a little as the man used some box cutters to free her wrists. “We can help you get rid of you capture. We represent a global organization. Where is she?”
“At my home. She said she had work to do, so she sent me to watch that house for some reason.”
The man nodded slowly and looked towards the driver. “Control says a capture team is being assembled and rushed here. We have point.” The driver stated as he ended the call. “ETA two,three hours. We might have a problem though if the target is a Psi; we don't have any blockers in the area.”
Outside Kutztown, near Crystal Cave
“So, I really have to ask, honey...”
“Why am I choosing to go to Whateley as a girl?” Jessie asked as the two of them drove to the Leigh Valley Irregulars cover base were they where to meet up with the others to go to the school.t used to it.”
“Mmhmm.” her mother said as she shook her head slowly. “Have you considered the story you're gonna use? Your sister might have told people she has a brother..”
“I thought of that, I'm torn between the truth and saying I'm a cousin.”
Grace was tempted to pinched the bridge of her nose, but she didn't want to take here eyes from the road. She settled for rocking her head from side to side “I have a bad feeling about this. The lastone sounds like something out of your webcomics.”
“So, how are we getting to the school? The Irregulars giving us a ride? Oh, we taking a plane?”
“Little of both. The Irregulars are covering the cost of the tickets for a commercial flight to Boston where you will meet with a school chaperon who will take you the rest of the way.” Grace explained as she parked beside a band-aid tan mini van that was parked in front of the Irregular's cow barn. “Oh and besides me, one of the ladies will be traveling with you. Not sure if it will be Keet or Ivory.”
“Oh joy...” Jessie groaned.
“I want to check on your sister in person.”Grace replied as Katie and Adria joined them by the van. Ivory ambled out of the farm house carrying a cooler and a wicker picnic basket.
“It's unlocked, you can load your bags. Soon as Val gets here we need to go.” Ivory finished her comments just as Val joined the group, her father pulling her luggage from the trunk of the family car.
“Be sure to look up your cousin when you get there. I forget which dorm she's in.” Mr. Phillips said before pulling his youngest into a hug. “Be good.”
“Daaad!” Val protested, though she didn't resist the hug which was soon released.
“See you lot at...” Mr. Phillips cocked his head as he thought “Thanksgiving? Christmas for sure.”
Across the street from the Student Housing apartment
of Shannon Teigan and Rhonda Kelly
The driver pulled the delivery van up to the pumps of the Turkey Hill across the street from the target building. Birdwatcher was talking with the victim, getting a rough floor plan for the coming forcable recruitment. The rest of the team was staging in a near by parking lot, prep which included calling in a threat that would have the cops and local capes tied up further up the highway.
“Alright, let's hit this bitch hard and fast. Miss stay here.” Birdwatcher ordered as he pulled a weapon that was from the Cobra Linear Accelerator line, which bore a resemblance to a Desert Eagle, from a shoulder holster and checked it's power charge and ammo. He then reached for a heavy hand held door ram like those a SWAT team might use.
“Oh, you don't need that. The door's unlocked. The lock has been busted since we moved in. Been pestering the land lord. And the bedroom doors are just privacy curtains.”
“That's good to know, thank you.” Birdwatcher said with a nod. He slid his door open and stepped ut. “Stay her, keep the engine on.” he ordered the driver and Rhonda a he moved to the back of the truck and popped the latch so that it would be easier to throw the target in.
“Let's move people.” Birdwatcher ordered as he checked his Cobra's load out; stunners, capture jells and lethal in the three select-able four round magazines held in a single clip. He motioned to the rest of the team and they staked up at the door with Birdwatcher on point. A quick tug had the door open and the recruitment team flowed in with more precision then the slap dash assembly of the team warranted. They moved through the minimal living room, furnished with what looked like dumpster find furniture, and into a short hall that had three door openings, two which had curtains. The third was a cheep wooden door that looked warped enough that Birdwatcher thought it wouldn't close right was between them.
“Clear.” one of the team said softly as the first curtain was moved away and the room behind checked for occupants. Birdwatcher motioned to the next curtain and the team lined the wall as he reached to grip the cloth. He silently counted down with his fingers then he whipped it clear.
A female figure lay naked on the bed, just barely beginning to roll over when Birdwatcher pulled the trigger three times. The shots hit on either side of her rump and right up the middle at the base of a braided horse tail. Shanagin screamed in pain as the two shock balls discharged, then went limp as what looked like grape jello expanded to cover her. Birdwatcher waved the team in, and they swiftly used the blanket the mutant was laying on to wrap her up. The capture jell glued the fabric to her skin in an indecent way. A soft count preceded the recruitment team's lifting of the limp form, which was swiftly carried out to the delivery van.
“Search the place.” Birdwatcher ordered before walking out. “You're safe now Miss.” he stated as he sidled up to Rhonda.
“Oh thank God.” The girl breathed. “And thank you so much.”
“Well take this one into holding and get out of your hair after I have a man do a sweep for anything potentially dangerous.”
“Fine with me, though I don't remember seeing her with anything,” Rhonda replied as she fingered the man's class ring in her pocker, absently slipping it onto her thumb.
Poe Cottage Basement, Tunnels Entrance level
Whateley Academy, New Hampshire
“I know you're a night owl and likely haven't slept yet, but I am not and I was asleep when you texted., but I do.” Trevor Bell grumbled as David Banning let himself in through the tunnel airlock, in-spite of the security feature that should have stopped him.
“Lost track of time. Here, I found something you should look at.” David said as he held up a cloth wrapped irregular object.
“This from that place we visited?”
“Yeah, I went exploring...”
“It's not magic is it?”
“Just tech. I think.”
“99% sure, yes.” David stated as he unwrapped a crystal, about the size of a paperback novel. The irregularity Trevor had seen was where the piece had been broken from a larger object.
“I'll show you where I found I later, you can collect other fragments. Check you email, I sent you pics of the device that came from.”
7:06 Leigh Valley Airport Departure terminal
“Less of a mad house then I expected.” Grace observed as the group filtered through the croud of other travelers to the TMA/MCO inspection lines. Of the group, only she was carrying more then carry on bags, Grace was pushing a cart with the luggage that the girls wanted to take to Whateley.. “Meet you on the other side.” she added before splitting off to join the TSA line.
“And now you get to have an unwelcome right of passage for most young mutants.” Ivory stated flatly as she carried her clear carry on bag. “Depending on the agent you can expect anything from an easy, cordial screening that leaves you plenty of time before your flight, to barely making it on after a metaphorical colonoscopy done with a razor studded scope. And as this is an international airport, that connects to Karedonia, if in a Kevin Bacon way, they'll go for the razor scope. So, please don't do anything that they can use to justify reaming.”
The girls winced at the imagery.
“MIDs and other Identification, shoes off and in the bins to be scanned. Bags in the bins as well, electronics on.” a beefy screener stated by rote as he held out hit hand for the paperwork. “Reason for your travel?
“School, business meeting with reps from JinnTech and AJG Consolidated.” Charity supplied as she presented her documents.
“Do you wish to register as an air marshal for this flight?”
“Not today, only thing tech wise I'm carrying is a JinnTech portable entertainment system..” As she talked Charity pulled out a device that looked like an old school cd player. But instead of headphones, two sunglasses like devices where attached to it. “Today I have the Lady Lightning spin off focused on She-Devil loaded. And yes, it's a legal copy.”
The screener grunted as he ran the various MIDs through the reader. “Alright. You're clear.” To Jessie it sounded like he was disappointed in that fact. The next sentence seemed to leave a bitter taste in his mouth. “Have a good flight.”
“Jess, sit more lady like, you're man-spreading.” Grace said softly as she reached across the aisle and pushed Jessie's knees together
Val blinked as she removed the viewing glasses off. “That wasn't as bad as I expected it to be based on the the fact that it was a Lady Lightning movie and she only had a brief cameo before the title. I loved how the CGI on the Dermals remembered there are people under that stuff.”
“Yeah, I never got how Venom or Carnage doesn't expose their host's heads when doing the Big Bite.” Jessie agreed as she removed her own viewing glasses.
Val wrinkled her nose as a memory bubbled up. “Wait... I think there is a reason that the Big Bite works. The Venom symbiot ends up converting the host into itself, or making them like it..”
“Then wouldn't it need a new host then?”
“Most likely. Though now that I think about it more, they might have dropped that. I hate how muddled things get with the reboots, updates and retacons.”
“That something you've seen?” Jessie asked leaning over to look at the sketch pad Adria was drawing in, pointing to a stylized looking dragon that seemed deformed to Jessie.
“Not in the flesh, but it was a motif that I saw while I was a captive. It was considered a force of Chaos and Destruction. Secretly worshiped was the impression I got. I thought you where watching something with Val.”
“She's listening to one of the Terry Brooks Shanarra stories as an audible book. I was wondering if I could barrow that book your dad gave you?”
“Sure, let me pull it out of my bag.” Adria handed Jessie the pad before leaning over to fish her carry on out from under her seat.
“Wow, Val mentioned you drew, but this is... wow.” Jessie stated as she flipped through the pad, which was full of lovingly detailed portraits and landscapes among other things. She pausing on a page which depicted a sleek suit of armor, not quite mid-evil not quite futuristic, with a wicked looking spear in its gloved hand.
“One side of my family is descended from...” Adria frowned as she looked for the right term. “Muse is close... I just read... Leanandsidhe. That was it.”
“What's the other side?”
Adria shrugged “Family lore has us descended from a warrior Noble. Not Royals level, but decently ranked in the old court.”
“OK, keep an eye out for the school rep.” Grace said as the group lugged their luggage away from the baggage claim area.
“As three of us have no idea what or who to look for...?” Jessie asked as she ripped the MCO security sticker from her bag.
“Make that one person has any idea. With the staff issues last year they have a lot of new blood they could send.” Ivory said as she touched a button on her suitcase that made it go from clear to opaque.
“What about her?” Adria asked pointing to a woman in the stereotypical chauffeur's black suit, black tie with a discreet pin with some kind of logo on it, and cap, who was holding a sign that read 'Acme Loon-a-versity'.
“Must be. I was warned the teacher who'd meet us had a seance of humor,” Ivory said dryly. “And Loon-a-vercity does describe the school pretty good, at least while I was there.”
“Still does from what I saw.” Grace agreed as she approached the woman. “What's up doc?” she asked as the woman opened her mouth.
“That's des-pic-able! Stepping on a person's line like that!” the woman protested in a passable Daffy Duck voice with a grin that said she appreciated someone getting the jump on her. “Are you my expected pickups, or just a fellow fan of good cartoons?”
Grace leaned in to look at the woman's pin. “Unless that came out of the Cracker Jack box, I think we are.”
“Cracker Jacks haven't had anything good in them for years. Candace Kade, art teacher.” the woman said offering her hand. “I was in town on a field trip with some students, so I got the tap to great you.”
“Grace Conner, Jessie Conner, Val Phillips, Adria Phillips, and Charity Cooper.” Grace offered as they shook.
“Pleasure. Do you have everything? I'm afraid things are tighter then I had expected, so we need to get a move on.” Ms. Kade stated as she headed for the exit, removing the bunny ears as she did so. “I took an art class to the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum to look at the collection .” She paused to allow an older gentleman being pushed in a wheelchair to pass. “And to discuss the theft.” She let out a sigh. “Hacks. Literally. A good thief knows you don't cut the canvas.”
Charity chuckled softly. “I'm guessing from that tone you had another career before you started teaching? And your professional pride is offended?”
“Guilty.” Ms. Kade sang as she lead them to where an older, but in good repair short bus sat idling with a surly, and bored looking man sat in the driver's seat. “All aboard, then we head to where the class is eating, get them and then the train and back to school by dinner.”
“So, he's not with the school then?”
“Nope. Hired him for the day when we realized that the flaw in this field trip was neither I nor Maria, the other teacher with me, who is watching the kids, can drive a bus.” Ms. Kade as she swung into the front row of seats.
“How many are on this trip with you?” Adria asked.
“Eight. It's some of my art appreciation class.”
“What all do you teach?”
Ms. Kade made an amused sound in her throat. “Art one and two, appreciation, a few other things. I specialize in paintings. The brochure and website has more details. If you don'y get into class this semester, I hold an open session on Saturdays.”
“Good.” Adria said with a nod as they pulled away from the airport. They drove to a resteraunt within walking distance of the train station. Jessie saw it was called Tights and from the glimpse through the door revealed that it looked like a cross between Hooters and Comic Con as all of the very fit waitstaff where dressed as Sexy versions of various supers, real and media, though only from Marvel's roster. Ms. Kade tapped out a text which was replied to quickly.
“We timed that well. They just paid the bill. I am real glad this class doesn't have any of the big eaters or the school likely wouldn't have let me do this.” Ms Kade stated as a younger Latino woman with black hair lead a gaggle of kids out of the building. They all looked normal, but a few caught Adria's attention, as they pinged her magical scenes. With what seemed like Sidhe magic.
“That's Maria of way to many names, you can call her Tweety, you can get the kid's name on the train. Which we have to hustle to catch.” Ms. Kade stated shooting the dark haired Latino a grin that suggested it was an old playful poke.
“It's Songbird, not Tweety. You wear one yellow sweater and never here the end of it.”
The ride to the train station was a little uncomfortable as the art class wasn't sure what to make of the strangers, though the adults, even if the term seemed unsuited for use regarding Ms. Kade, chatted happily until they pulled into the station. Ms. Kade lead the group to the last car which was a private one. Once every one was aboard, and luggage stowed, Ms. Kade locked the door and leaned against it.
“While it has been a lovely day at the museum, it is time to proper introduce my fabulous self.” Ms. Kade said as smoke billowed up to obscure her from sight. When the smoke cleared the first thing Adria noticed was her shirt went from white to a bright crimson. Adria then saw the spade tail, short horns and patches of black scales.
“Cool, you're a tiefling.” Jessie stated after the beat the new comers took to take in the changes.
The changed Ms. Kade made a noise of amusement. “That's a new one. Normally I get 'Ahh! It's a demon!'. Occasionally someone tries to enter me in a Holy Water wet t-shirt contest. I am The Fabulous Imp.” this was said with a deep bow. Before she straitened up she glanced at the students, “The rest of you can get comfortable too.”
“Imp... you used to be an art thief right?” Charity asked, though her body language said she wasn't going to make anything of it.
Imp started to open her mouth but Maria cut in. “Yes, she was Is there a problem with that?”
“Nope. She works for the school, I trust their vetting methods. No way in hell they'd let a serial killer in.” Charity said as she relaxed back. Imp and the other woman exchanged looks. “Ok, a threat to the students.” Charity amended. As the adults where talking the few students Adria had tagged as having spells on them exchanged hesitant looks. Adria rolled her eyes and dropped the illusion that she had over her own form. Several of the students jumped in surprise then the be spelled students did various things and one after the other revealed their true selves. One was a girl who lost about six inches in height as her head evaporated.
The headless girl stood and offered her hand. “Hi, I'm Tammy, aka Gan Ceann...”
“Ash's roommate. Cool, nice to meet you.” Jessie said taking her hand. “I've heard bits and pieces. That's Val and Adria, and I'm Jessie.”
“I thought you looked familiar. Ash has a family photo on her dresser...”
Before more could be exchanged between them another girl had bounced over. No, not bounced Jessie realized, it was more of a stiff legged rapid limp. “This is Props, in civies like today, she goes by Skylar.” Tammy stated, taking charge of introductions. “The Asian one there is her roommate and partner in crime, and roommate, Cosplay, aka Taydyn Liu” The girl gave a little wave before sitting down next to Skylar. Tammy then pointed to a slick furred humanoid of average height, one of the mystically hidden students up till a few moments prior. “Higgy...”
“God, that show is my family's bane. The original was bad enough, but I hear they're doing a re-imaging reboot.” 'Higgy' groaned, the thick tail Adria hadn't seen right away drooping. “Edward Higgins, not Higgy. I despise people calling me that.” the ink black furred otter boy said in a deepening voice that Val thought might have been what James Earl Jones had sounded like back in his teens, as he stood. “My code name is Dark Tide.” He said his code name in a way that suggested that he had practiced it in front of the mirror, though the last bit was said with an eye roll. Jessie got the impression that if he had had a big floppy hat, he likely would have swept it off while giving a deep bow.
“Selkie?” Adria asked softly, causing Edward to cock his head and swivel toward her.
“No, Animan.” He sneered, giving her a flash of a feral, predatory smile, before slipping the suave civilized mask back in place. The others didn't seem to notice, with Tammy continuing with introductions. An Exemplar pretty blonde with a French accent was Brianna “Facet” Garnet, who's fingernails looked like they where made from cut diamonds. After being introduced Brianna ignored the new comers completely, preferring to talk with the Animan.
“That's Norvil, though he prefers his code name Slim. Which as he isn't a stretcher pisses a few people off.” Tammy said pointing to a skinny, tall kid, that resembled Shaggy from Scooby Doo. “If you feel weird around him, that's just his aura which he can't turn all the way off. Thus he is in Hawthorne. Today is pretty good for him, you can barely feel it from here.”
“Which is a very good thing. At least he isn't a Rager like a pair of sisters with the same issue a few years back.” a decent looking dish-water blond haired boy said leaning in. “Hi, I'm Rick, though workshoppers like calling me Mac.”
“Nice to meet you Rick, and thanks for the heads up on Slim.” Val said flashing him a smile, which he returned.
“Oh, while it's on my mind, Tammy, thanks for your help the other day with those notes. I don't know how you stayed awake for that lecture.”
“No prob Rick. Though I didn't. Stay awake, that is. I just have a real good audio to text app on my phone.”
“Oh, then can you send it to me? It would be a big help for when my talent kicks in.”
“Sure, I can do that.”
“Great, send it tomorrow, I'll have something dedicated for it by then.”
Adria caught, barely, Tammy's eye roll. “It fits on your phone, you don't need to make anything for it”
“Sorry, my talent kicked in when you mentioned it.” Rick stated with a shrug.
“Skylar, do you mind if I ask...” Jessie cut into the roommate's quiet conversation while wagging her finger at the blond girl's arm.
“No, I've gotten used to people asking. I was in a car accident before I manifested, and I ended up with some nerve damage that impairs my arm and leg. When I manifested, I got nothing physical, so I still limp and have trouble with my arm. I'm in physical therapy in Berlin, though today I took off to go on this field trip. Why didn't you come in at Berlin air?”
“Ah, truthfully I have no clue.” Jessie stated looking to the adults. She caught Charity's eye.
The hero shrugged, “The team doesn't have anything in our fleet small enough that could make the trip. We don't usually need air vehicles with the number of fliers on the roster.”
“And my rewards only where good to get us to a major city,” Grace added without removing her attention from Imp and Songbird.
“Ah, good reason.” Skylar agreed. The rest of the train trip Skylar and Tammy filled Jessie, Val, and Adria in on what the school brochure and website didn't cover. From the stories the two told, Val was surprised that the campus hadn't been reduced to a smoking crater several times over in just the weeks it had been in session this year.
“Gather your things people.” Maria said as the train pulled into the Berlin station. She checked her watch. “We will get back a bit before dinner, so you'll have time. I'll take you five to Shuster to meet your faculty adviser and do the paper work.”
“Unless they added more buildings in my years since graduation, I can find my way to Shuster.” Charity pointed out.
“Either myself or Imp should escort you until you get checked in and visitor badges. It's part of the new precautions the Old Man's adding. I guess the recruiters last year got on his nerves.” Maria stated as the kids who couldn't pass as normal reapplied their disguises. Adria saw that it was Edwardo who cast the magical illusions over Tammy and himself. Once off the train the group where met by a school shuttle bus that stopped briefly in town to pick up more kids.
/Well, well, this is interesting./ David thought as he slid into the seat next to Tammy. “How was your field trip, Tam? No issues I hope? Would you care to introduce me to your new friends?
“It was great! Oh, where are my manners, these are Jessie, Val, and Andria.”
“It's Adria actually.”
“David Banning. Late admittance I take it?”
“Yeah, things where getting a little hot back at our old school so we decided to just be a month lat instead of waiting for the winter break to jump in.” Jessie offered.
Val waved the question off. “Naw, just vandalism. The school's making me pay for the ruined textbooks.”
“That's a shame.” David grimaced then backtracked “That things where wrecked, and you have to pay for things, not the lack of violence.”
The other two students tat got on with David gave the Boston party and then ignored them when they say the disguised Imp with them. The drive to the school was scenic as well as convoluted Jessie noted. Eventually a black gate flanked by two gargoyles came into view. She got the impression that they where not happy to Slim pass them but all they could do was glare at him as he went past. The van pulled up in front of a brick building with the top of a gleaming dome peeking over the older construct's roof. An ethereal young woman wearing a holly green turtleneck sweater and jeans, who's red hair was braided and wrapped around her head like a crow, which revealed gracefully swooping points on her ears, waited near the main door.
“Imp, Maria, I'll take these five.” The red head said stepping forward.
“They're all your, Red.” Imp replied in her best Harley Quinn impression before she and the other disguised party members glanced at the fluttering flag before letting their true faces come out. As Adria stepped off the shuttle her step hitched for a second at the sight of the red head, who raised a finger in warning. Her 'I'm so tired of this' expression shifted to surprise as Adria's initial shock and curiosity melted into indifference.
As the rest of the students dispersed to where ever the red head offered her hand to Grace and Gharity. “Hello, I'm Nichole Reilly, and I'm with the Mystic arts department. I'll be showing you arround.”
I am a caffeine heathen; I prefer the waters of the mountain over the juice of the bean. Keep the Dews coming and no one will be hurt.
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