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Faolan 3: Walking in Darkness
Monday, January 29, 2007
Whateley Academy - Headmistress Carson's Office
"Why is it always from Poe, it seems like every time someone goes rushing into danger unprepared this school year, that nine times out of ten they are from Poe." Elizabeth Carson shook her head as I sat in her office prepared for the nine-degree. "Well Ms. Bridges, do you care to explain why you charged into a dangerous and restricted area, without any back-up."
It figures, fresh from two hours of playing course catch-up in Introduction to Basic Mystic Concepts a class, which I was taking at Morrigan insistence, to the principal’s office. Thankfully she was tutoring me during our dream training sessions, right after training me to make better use of the Boots of Sleph and become accustomed to my shifted forms (thankfully doing it in a dream doesn't lead to my metabolism wearing me out). She was also training me in various weapons the short sword, dual-knives, sabers, spears, and even staffs.
At least I had Kerry with me in the Intro course so apparently this wasn't going to be nearly as bad. Of course after Basic Mystic Concepts I was pulled away from this online math course just to a sit down 'discussion' with the Principal, meanwhile I was trying to come up with an idea for a class project for Mystic Concepts *sigh* my life sucks. "With all due respect Ms. Carson at the time I was riding shot-gun, Morrigan was behind the wheel so maybe I should let her do the explaining." I did my best to nudge Morrigan forward, apparently despite being an ancient sidhe general and a former war goddess, she did not like being grilled for her actions anymore than I did.
"Fine child, I'll explain to her so stop shoving." Morrigan groaned as for once she was forced behind the wheel. "As Randi said this is my fault, I sensed a Fomor in the woods and knowing them like I do I knew it was here to cause trouble."
"Morrigan," the Headmistress starred for a minute before asking, "Come to think of it you never told us anything to call you besides that. There are plenty of staff-members here experienced at handling such matters there was no need to place Randi in harm’s way."
"Would they have entered The Grove to fight the Fomor, because if not the entire campus would have been in danger. Fomor are primal elementals that are at their most powerful in the open, if you fight an enemy you must consider the terrain, if Sgaothaich had left the woods and stepped onto campus his power would have more than doubled. In addition, Fomor’s powers are limited to line of sight in the woods, Sgaothaich is also a ferrokinetic in the woods there was more to obstruct his view and he was limited to what iron he had on him at the time."
"If Sgaothaich had made it onto campus, he could have used electromagnetic pulses to short out every bit of unshielded technology here, and then used any ferrous elements in the building materials and tunnels to cause them to collapse. He would have kept this up until he found what he was after, I should know the last time I fought him he had just caused the Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster by collapsing a bridge."
"Also Sgaothaich is a mercenary I doubt that he even knew I was here, by his equipment I can deduce that he was hired to abduct a student, someone vulnerable to iron and known for fighting diseased werewolves in the woods. Actually we should feel fortunate that it was Sgaothaich when he's collecting a target he leaves after he bags his prey to collect the reward, if it was another Fomor like say Balor he would have caused another Tunguska Incident just to eliminate any chance of pursuit." Morrigan let this information sink in, "I was unfortunate that Sgaothaich saw me before I saw him."
"It was not bad luck boss," Badb chimed in as she brought out something that she had hidden in my pack, an intricate amulet the size of a dinner plate. "I saw goat for brains wearing this in the woods and Randi must have broken the lanyard it was on when she was on his back, it looked important so I stowed it when I brought the Mediwah back to help her."
"I shall have to let Circe examine this to determine what it is." Amelia stated as she took the amulet from the human-formed storm crow.
"You can if you want a second opinion because I can tell you now." Morrigan growled at the sight of the giant gold disc. "That is an Imperception Talisman; they make them in the Winter Court of Fair Lands for their assassins. Anyone that wears one these makes everyone around them completely oblivious to the wearer until they turn deactivate it or bring attention to themselves. Although I have never seen one before of this size, it has to have been custom made it must have taken them months and a lot of favors to have this crafted, even the ordinary sized ones are expensive. This must also be why those mindless abominations did not attack him as well."
"If he had this why not come up the main road?" Ms. Carson inquired as she leaned forward in her chair.
"He was likely hoping to make the snatch with less effort, if you grab someone and they scream everyone will notice you." Morrigan stated as she examined the facts. "This campus also has plenty of tempting targets to sweeten his purse, but why put up with the hassle if he did not have to. Of course, if any others who are wanted by certain elements of the supernatural community were out there fighting alongside his target he would have tried to take them as well. He likely brought the bastard-kin to lure out anyone used to fighting disturbances in the area while he was waiting to strike, although young Randi could smell him well enough for even me to vaguely recognize."
"The real problem is that he could still try this or something like it again in about half a year, Fomor are a lot like Jötunn that way, unless you make the effort and properly imprison them they can keep coming back. Oh by the way Ms. Carson if you want something to call me by modern conventions my name, although certainly not my true name, is Morrigan Willowshand Redstag."
"Redstag?" Ms Carson raised an eyebrow at that statement.
"My husband Dagda was Highfather of the Danaans for a long time before abdicating to our son." Morrigan elaborated, "The red stag was his standard, and Eire still holds it today like England does the lion."
"Very well Morrigan, I will accept the fact that you were looking out for the welfare of our students in mind," the Headmistress stated before giving Morrigan a piercing look; "However do keep young Ms. Bridges's safety in mind before you drag her off into danger. Now that I know about who is at fault I need to speak to my student."
Morrigan switched back with me completely unfazed by Lady Astarte's implied threat, "Let me guess you wanted to know why I didn't flee once Morrigan was KO'd." I sighed as Ms. Carson gave me a silent nod to go with her withering look. "Remember Sgaothaich's power is magnetism, once he had that iron manacle around my wrist he was using it to reel me in like a fish. Also since my powers are fae-based that thing was also sealing them, I had to wrench my arm out of socket and cut it off just to get away from his grip. It was thanks to Badb's lightning that I was able to cauterize the wound to prevent blood loss; still I knew that I would only be putting other people at risk if I ran so I decided to use the sword Morrigan let me borrow as a lightning rod.
"I'm just glad the sword was enchanted to absorb energy attacks, still once it blew and took the Fomor with it I felt that I was safe to try and reattach my arm." I shuddered at that memory, "Which is something I hope never to have to do again especially since the experience was wedged between me passing out from exhaustion, and then once again from pain. So can you tell me what my punishment is?"
"You had to cut off your own arm, fight a battle, and then reattach it without the use of pain-killers," Ms. Carson massaged her forehead at this situation. "Given that you were dealing with a situation that you were dragged into, could not flee from, and given what you did to yourself to survive any punishment that I could give you at the moment would seem sadistic. So for right now I am letting you go with a warning this once; however I will give you the honor of helping setup the newest addition to the Homer Gallery say around one tomorrow afternoon. And understand the next time you participate in something this foolish you will be cleaning toilets in Hawthorne...do you understand what I am saying."
"Crystal," I answered back more afraid for my safety than when Carcharoth promised revenge on me for my prize the Fehde. "And thank you for letting me help with displaying Iron Horse's armor, if it without his actions that day I wouldn't be here. Slowly I got up and walked out of the Headmistress's office, wondering why it felt like I was walking toward the Gallows.
A Dorm Room on the second floor
I hope this letter finds you well, I continue my task of keeping up surveillance at Whateley Academy as you have asked, and am here to make my weekly report on unusual events.
Reverend Englund appeared to be very busy when two of the Power Rangers broke into one of the Class-X sites on campus; however, this was likely engineered by Hekate using of one of her followers remaining on campus as a cat’s-paw. I have finally confirmed that Spellbinder along with Farrago were responsible for the 1/13/07 sim incident involving Team Kimba, this appears to have been an attempt by the two of them to move into the Inner Court of the Alphas.
The group of freshmen over in Poe Cottage known as Team Kimba got into another altercation with The Necromancer during their last trip to Boston for Phase's birthday party. However, they seemed to be drawn out of the fight by a breakout at Roxbury C; among them many of the Children of the Night, Compulsion and Mimeo; fortunately Cobrafire was quickly recaptured before he could get away. As a result of this latest incident, and given that none of their trips to Boston have gone without a media attracting incident, Team Kimba are confined to campus until further notice. Also the group known as C.O.R.E appear to be planning to either steal or scan the PALM AIs located in The Vault, please advise.
Poe also appears to have gotten a new student although you might be aware of her since she is from right in your seat of power. Faolan, as I have heard her name to be although its origin eludes me at the moment, all I know about her is that she arrived yesterday missed dinner and showed up at breakfast injured with orders to report to the Headmistress's office after class. It appears that she either is a Mage or has some access to mystic artifacts, I will investigate further. As for your earlier question, yes, there is a student that fits your needs for Operation Scottfree, her profile is among those that I sent you on the clique known on campus as the Goths.
"Hey Sherry are you in there? The rest of us are headed to lunch, if you hurry we'll save you a seat." A voice came from the outside the door.
"I will be right there as soon as I send this letter." The rather plain especially for Whateley girl said as she sent a text message on her cell phone. Three minutes later and it rang; Sherry Colson opened the line and set down her cell phone, Baud Rate's hand reached out to take the envelope containing her letter to Erzabet Scratch. Her weekly report completed Sherry left her dorm room for Dunn Hall content that her assignment was again complete.
Already this was starting to feel like home, math classes from hell although at least here the teachers know what they teach; education in most subjects really took a nosedive back home ever since The Shrub and his Heir took over Austin. Being called into the principal's office for a fight although at least this one wasn't my fault. And now standing in line for cafeteria food, still as I have gathered this will only continue until Spring Semester starts when the Seniors are done renovating Crystal Hall, which from what I've heard the chefs were able to use to make a lot better food than what you'd see at a Furr's.
I bused my tray with the mediocre offerings of the day grabbing and headed for the new student's table where I hoped that I was still welcome after this morning, thankfully Badb was off scouring the surrounding roads for carrion to snack on uggh or the forest for acorns. I hesitantly moved towards the newbie table hoping that I hadn't been blackballed after Buck Swift's electro-spanking this morning, thankfully it didn't seem to be the case.
"Hey Randy I heard that you got to see Ms. Carson today," Jolt stated with an impish grin. "I hope that Buck's antics did not get you in trouble."
"Nope my own," I said staring at my still sore arm. "Still it isn't too bad, all I have to do is setup the display for what Plainswalker and I brought with us in the Homer Gallery."
"Hmph as if anyone important enough to be in there came from redneck America to warrant sharing the same room with Lord Paramount." Radu stated with his usual distain and manner actually causing poor Erze to show a little embarrassment. "And I see that you at least left that glorified feather-duster outside."
"Badb is off getting her own lunch, storm crows have no trouble living off the land. As for the addition about eight (formerly nine) members of the Whateley Alumni Association have been looking for this item for about forty years after it was stolen. It was supposed to be in the Homer Gallery a long time ago according to its owner's final will & testament however it was boosted before the reading at the behest of the black market and sold to a private collector in an underground auction. It was only found about a week ago and since I was already headed here, my sponsor decided to arrange for it to arrive at the airport and be transported in the cargo hold on our plane." I explained to the group, "And sorry but I can't say what it Ms. Carson and Mr. Lodgeman swore me to secrecy when I arrived, you will have to wait with everyone else for when the Headmistress unveils it."
"Fair enough," Kerry states in between bites, "I looked up some of those that you mentioned yesterday, Plainswalker is a mystic hero and one of the members of the defunct Dallas Defenders, correct?"
"Yes," I sighed it was inevitable someone brought up that topic. "He was on the team when Transect was killed although everyone these days knows that Longhorn was responsible; he noticed Deathlist dragging her off and did nothing. Hell since that *ugh* Fake Hero trademarked the name; no one else can reestablish the Dallas Defenders without him. Still if you look for it you can find video of Armordillo, the last of the founding members still in the public eye, breaking Longhorn's jaw when he was working the press following his acquittal."
"Please tell me it's on YouTube," Joanne said grinning like a devil drawing some odd looks from the rest of the table. "What, I like seeing a scumbag who let one of his teammate getting drug off by a killer getting a little chin music, especially if they are supposed to be one of the team's leaders."
"Tell me about it," I answered her. "She's the only hero to ever come out of the city that I'm from."
"It must be a very small town," Radu remarked with a smirk on his face.
"Arlington is the fiftieth largest in the country although most people rarely hear about us since we are sandwiched in between the ninth and the sixteenth ." I brought up stating the facts, "That and combined with the other cities clustered nearby we're the largest landlocked metropolitan hub in the world, as for Arlington we also had Pantera to call our own before that nut-job ex-leatherneck shot Dimbag Darrell in Columbus."
"I thought that they broke up a year before that happened." Jolt chimed in, "I mean the Abbott brothers did start-up Damageplan."
"It's hard to tell with bands, the breakup was never really official," I pointed out the facts. "They probably would have gotten back together if Anselmo wasn't such an egomaniac, course thanks to another lunatic with a gun we'll never know."
"Just like with John," Bob Rose sadly shook his head reflecting on another talented musician who suffered a similar fate.
"I thought what I'd do, was I'd pretend to be one of those deaf-mutes." I sighed again shaking my head. "But that's why you read shouldn't read too much into Salinger. An author might be using their work to espouse their philosophy however people should avoid using it to draw parallels to something outside of the author's intended context, that's a good way to venture into an obsessive bout of insanity."
"Can I ask why you make some many book quotes?" Regina asked out of curiosity, "I mean we just met you today and you have already made two."
"My dad's a librarian," I grinned at the mousy young lady, "Instead of playing latch key when I was younger my folks just had a friend drop me off at my dad’s work. I would sit around for hours in the fiction section and let the words take me somewhere else, that or I'd be going through the encyclopedias in the reference section."
"Must be nice to have a family to go back to," Erze's eyes tracked down.
"I know that I'm fortunate in some ways, and then again you're likely to hear some real horror stories here if people are willing to tell them." I stared down at my meal.
"I know." Jolt looked at me from across the table. "I was a little out of control when I manifested in Baltimore, the authorities decided I was enough of a treat to sic the Knights of Purity on me, if it was not for Chaka and Bladedancer I'd be toast.
"I spent all Christmas Vacation alternating between being used as a publicity stunt for St. Gregory's in New York, being targeted by kidnapping attempts by the MCO, Burning Sword and the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom, and to top it all off having to fight Ymir." Seraphim explained mostly to me.
Morrigan surged forward into the driver's seat and everyone at the table took note. "Child, look me in the eye right this minute!" The ancient general didn't so much ask but demand with the same seriousness as she had when we ran to fight the Fomor, and Kerry complied from what I guessed shock. Now ever since I've manifested I've seen some crazy things and this was one of them, Morrigan looked Kerry right in the eyes and somehow even further back.
I suddenly I began to see us high in the sky over New York City fighting alongside the Empire City Guard, as well as Mega Girl from our dorm, all of us doing our best to take down this massive ice man outside of Rockerfeller Center. Then we were back in the cafeteria, Kerry shook her head and asked, "What the heck was that?"
"A memory-gaze, a minor spell that will let you share the memory of an event that the person has mentioned that day, as long as you have direct eye-contact." Morrigan stated making Kerry a little nervous. "Do not worry child, I did not see anymore that what you recalled, now you did and did not fight Ymir that day."
"Wait, how could she not fight him if she fought him?" Regina asked somewhat puzzled by Morrigan's analysis.
"It was Ymir just not all of him," Morrigan began to elaborate, "Whoever summoned him was a real fifth rate conjurer, how could anyone bungle summoning a frost giant just after the Winter Solstice? You and your friends fought him at far less than half his normal strength, whoever set him upon you only managed to summon Ymir up at about twenty percent normal strength, which of course was doubled since it was winter."
"Well at least she got rid of him so there should be no problem, right?" Eddie Brysen asked and it was a reasonable question, for those uninformed about magic.
I popped back into control and did my best to teach what Morrigan taught me. "Unfortunately no, creatures like that are primal elementals they are essentially godlike in power except they don't need worshipers. But call them whatever you want Jöten, Titans, Gygas, Fomor, Nephilim or Daityas they cannot be truly destroyed, you can imprison them if you know how and they need help to fully manifest outside of their normal season but they can still affect the world."
"And you know this because oh wise one." Radu remarked looking like he could see right through me.
"Morrigan drug me into the woods yesterday because she recognized the smell of one through my senses. I nearly got killed, and had to sever my own arm after wrenching it out of socket when he caught me, I was just able to send it packing by using a sword as a lightning rod then letting Badb use it for target practice." I said shivering at the still fresh memory and the aches of my healing shoulder. "I had to reattach my own arm afterwards without painkillers. If I wasn't a set-form shifter I would likely be over in Doyle right now staring at a stump, that's why my arm is in a sling, truth be told I was just lucky and I'm worried that I'm going to get too far in over my head way too soon."
"Well from what I understand that is what Whateley is here for," Froggy interjected, “Teaching us when to fight and-"
"When to apply the get the hell out of here maneuver." I said with a smirk finishing his sentence for him."
"Well I would not have put it so bluntly however yes that is it in a nut shell." He nodded in return.
I went back to eating as Joanne pointed out. "Speaking of nuts, I wish so many out there didn't decide that we needed to be put down like rabid dogs."
"Not really," Kerry pointed out with an edge of disgust in her voice, "Most feel regret or pity when they have to put down a dog, when those fanatics from Burning Sword tried to drag me out of St. Gregory's thought that they were doing the world a favor."
I paused from my meal to add, "Fear and ignorance are powerful things both give rise to intolerance and if you add envy to that mix it gives rise to rise to hatred, the same kind that we saw popping up almost a hundred years ago in Germany."
That thought chilled everyone at the table, and I hated to say it but growing up in the South I had seen enough of H1 to know that fifty years ago most of them would be in white bed sheets burning crosses in yards and setting churches on fire.
"Randi," Kerry asked desperate to change the grim subject of the discussion, "How is it that you seemed to have no trouble keeping up in Mystic Concepts today?"
"I got my book weeks ago and the school e-mailed me the syllabus," I explained filling in the gaps. "I read the text book and Morrigan tutors me in my dreams, while I was back in the DFW Metroplex Plainswalker quizzed me using Earthmother's assignments, he said working with me helped him brainstorm for work."
"Dream training? Joanne asked out of curiosity.
"Dreams can seem to last a very long time when you’re in them," Baird explained. "Some dreams can seem to last so long that when you wake up to reality it is confusing, some even forget what day it is."
"I wouldn't know," I shrugged, "I don't think that I ever remember having a dream that wasn't something really happening in my own mind."
Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom - Metroplex Chapter House
11:32 AM CST
Ezekial Manfried grumbled as he walked the halls of the chapter house, something not to uncommon however while his usual griping was having to be bothered with the unfortunate task of reporting to Erzabet Scratch or one of her lieutenants, today was different because of his actions during his flight from Plainswalker he had pissed off the boss. How stupid could he be, everyone who worked for her knew that Erzabet Scratch had a soft spot for kids, hell she ran some of the best orphanages in the country?
To tell the truth Zeke knew that he was lucky to be alive, if Erzabet didn't recognize that he had panicked like a cornered rat and given how useful he was, she would have plucked out his soul and turned his body into a new Reverant. As much as he knew that it was a pain, Slaughterhaus was now on his way to the special room of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom unique to Erzabet's faction, the Checkered Room.
The Checkered Room was built with the darkest sorcery and infernomancy, it existed in a stabilized dimensional eddy between Earth and Hell and the only ones who had the mystic keys to open these doors could use them- at least safely. The dimensions of the room also expanded constantly without affecting the ambiance any as demonic imps bound to Erzabet Scratch built new additions to the Checkered Room every time she either brought a new chapter of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom into her Sphere of Influence or established a new chapter house from scratch. The Black Room served to connect all Chapters of the Grand Hall that were under Erzabet's rule and allowed for near instantaneous transport between them, they only had to go through the Checkered Room. However, the only ones with keys to the Checkered Room were Chapter Directors, members of staff designated as Floaters, and of course members of Shuffle's Sweepers; Slaughterhaus sighed as he used his key to open the door to the Checkered Room.
The Checkered Room itself looked like the inside of a fashioned jazz lounge done up in a red and black checkerboard pattern of wallpaper and tile, and was dimly lit by fluted lamps along the wall. Between each lamp there was a door lining the wall alternating in a pattern of lamp door all the way around. The only prominent feature inside the Checkered Room was a human-sized red devil in a zoot suit playing a grand piano accompanied by a back-up band of imps. This was Atonoz the keeper of the Checkered Room his job was to take care of any trespassers, in other words if you managed to get inside without a key he took your soul and fed your body to his band of imps.
Atonoz glanced at me sideways in the middle of one of his seemingly endless improv jazz sessions without missing a beat, merely to acknowledge that he knew Zeke was there. Slaughterhaus continued walking around the perimeter of the door to the right of the Topeka, Kansas door and walked through. Now two states away in Kansas the state governed by Galatea's Chapter he went down the halls until he reached another familiar door with only an Ace of Diamond to label it. Like all chapters of the Grand Hall those in Erzabet's Mid-Western Branch were composed of folded space, the actual locations of which were located all over its city and the outlying area; however, there were four special locations in hidden buildings that were situated directly under large factories owned by Erzabet's legitimate shell corporation, these were the Shuffle Barracks.
The Shuffle Barracks were where Shuffle's Sweepers trained, received their missions, stored their equipment and deployed. Everyone who started out working for Erzabet Scratch cut their teeth working under Shuffle or one of fellow Aces. True many of the younger agents might have spent time training in Dead-Zone's compound out in Presidio County, but even afterwards, everyone learned to work as a team under an Ace, especially if they wanted permission to operate solo. Slaughterhaus went through the hidden compound and into the rec room, he recognized plenty of old faces not friends just those who actually liked being on rotation for Shuffle's teams.
Gremlin and Atropos were over near the TV with some sappy romantic comedy playing, about five of the Reverants were sharing the sofa with them getting all misty-eyed, and he could presume Extrude was as well inside of his biohazard suit. Zen-Trigger and Perses were busy playing a co-op military shooter, he could understand Perses that kid was only a decade out of Whateley, but Zen-Trigger was a hardened Merc with years in the Third World under his belt. Off in the corner was a Hispanic brick at the hydraulic press lifting weights, he didn't recognize this guy but something about him screamed die-hard career merc. His girlfriend Hemophilia was nowhere in sight but that likely meant that she was chopping apart bystanders in their training sim, a little psychopath after his own heart. Shuffle had yet to show as well, but that was hardly unusual, Shuffle never showed unless he needed to give tactical rundowns before a mission, lead a mission in the sim, give debriefings, or talk about upcoming operations.
"So you're the guy who po'd Scratch earlier this month!" The new brick stated as he got up from the weights, "Attacking an amusement park, especially one that she owns stock in, not too smart for a devisor. Well Shuffle still wanted me to give you your access card."
Slaughterhaus took a split second to examine the card before seething with rage, "What a two of clubs (red), when I first joined Erzabet Scratch's organization I was a five of clubs (red) and when I left the sweepers I was a ten or clubs (red), what is the meaning of this outrage?"
"The meaning is that you are on the boss's shit list, if you want to get your privileges back that means that you have to earn them back, or if you want then you can leave." The brute stepped closer until he towered over Slaughterhaus. "Just remember if you leave as a two and ever cross our organization's path again you're going to wind up dead or worse, if Plagiat had not returned alongside Mister Domino then the boss would have submitted him to the Reverant treatment then and there. Of course when he screwed up in his mission his soul was destroyed and his body still wound up getting turned into a Reverant."
"And who exactly are you?" Slaughterhaus growled at the brick, "I do not even know you, so what are you a 10 or maybe a Jack, come to think of it where's Pinpoint."
Flashing an evil grin the brick pulled out his card, ace of kings (red). "Pinpoint got promoted to ace of spades (red), I'm the new second in command of this unit and as for my name it's-" the brick paused and tapped Zeke on the forehead sending him to the ground as he convulsed, he was freezing, he was burning, but most of all he was in-, "Agony."
*sigh* "Devisors," Gremlin said shaking his head at the sight. "They always think common sense is optional."
"Now dear be nice," Atropos chided the man beside her, "Hemophilia happens to have feelings for that twitching pile of meat."
"Speaking of which I hope Shuffle gets here soon to hand out the our squads' missions, if it takes too much longer we might have to pick-up dinner tonight, and I do hate leaving Joan at home alone too late."
"Honey our little girl is in middle school now." Atropos patted her husband on the shoulder. "Given who we are she could be manifesting in a year or two."
"I know but she will always be my little girl." Gremlin began to weep as he hugged Atropos.
"We can always try for another kid." Atropos suggested with mischief in her eyes as the two of them started to kiss. This sight made everyone uncomfortable given that despite the two both being in their 30's Atropos, without the glamour charm she wore in her civilian identity, still looked as she had when she manifested- at the tender age of fifteen.
Whateley Academy - Beck Library
2:00 PM EST
"Do not think that you being injured will make me consider delaying this test Miss Bridges," Ms. Henderson stated as she seemed to try staring right through me, "You still have two arms, finish this cart in twenty minutes and I might consider giving you a job here young lady."
"Understood ma'am," I said trying to avoid sounding disrespectful. "Is it alright if I take a few minutes to familiarize myself with the layout of the stacks before beginning?"
"It would only be fair," Ms. Henderson mused. "You have five minutes."
I went to work memorizing the layout of the non-fiction section (fiction was easy all it took was a glance) then went about working out the shelf run, I needed all the time I could squeeze out given that I would be using my off hand. Looking at the clock, I got back to the pre-pulled cart in time for Ms. Henderson to tell me to, "Begin."
I went to work shelving the stacks as quickly and accurately as I could, surprisingly while the cart was still difficult to push around one-handed I didn't have any problem with the books. It's weird but I didn't seem to have any more problems than usual handling the books with my left hand than I did with my right. Thankfully, I finished with about two minutes to go.
"Very well I well check your accuracy and will email you my decision later today," Ms Henderson walked up and reclaimed the wooden book cart. "That is of course if your Whateley email is setup like the default address."
"Yes ma'am last name first initial and middle initial if there are any just like the usual standard." I replied to what could be my future boss while trying not to swallow my tonsils.
"Very well if I decide to hire you will show up here at eight in the morning to arrange your work schedule for the rest of winter term," the elderly librarian stated before I shook her hand and thanked her for giving me a chance before I left.
Whateley Academy -
3:15 PM EST
Deep within the tunnels under Whateley two hooded figures waited in one of the many rooms hidden in the walls, they were alone a few minutes before a third hooded figure came in.
"I came as quickly as I could," the new figure told the other two. "You said that you might have found a way to get our leader back from wherever that bitch sent him."
"Yes," one of the hooded figures replied, "However it is a long shot; I have been researching the type of creature that our foe is and I think that I may have found something. Apparently they are ancient enemies of the Fair Folk, if we could channel the spirit of one powerful enough through ourselves we might be able to use it to tell us how to get him back."
"Are you kidding, I told you before the last time you brought this up remember the Crystal Wavers and what happened to them, or how about the Children of the Night. Fey is just too strong plus the rest of Team Kimba are there to protect her if we try anything- *shudder* I do not even want to think about it. Also you two are the ones that have an Avatar rating, but you are a two and a three so I doubt that any of us have the power necessary to handle Nikki's spirit." The recent arrival stated trying to bring her cohorts back to reality.
"Not Fey, a new girl just showed up, apparently she's an Avatar and I overheard her say the name of her spirit this morning." The shorter of other of the two hooded girls already in the room began to explain, "Her spirit is Morrigan, I looked her up and she was worshiped in Ireland as a goddess however she was actually one of the Sidhe. Moreover, she was noted for being a triple being, meaning that she is supposed to be three in one. That means that a spirit that you would need to be a four to contain could be done by a coven of two's which you should be able to mimic long enough for us to free our leader."
"But can we catch this new kid off guard long enough to swipe her spirit, and how do we do this anyway?" The recent arrival began to try to snap her friends back to reality.
"I can get the notes that describe all that we need to do this from Conjure, it might take a few days to get the ingredients without anyone noticing, besides people are always harder to find on the weekend." The leader of the hooded witches stated. "I will contact you all when it's time to acquire this new girl for the ritual."
Bridges Family Home
6:42 PM CST
Heather sat down in the new room of her new home with her new family; it still seemed surreal to her like she was living in a fairy tale and part of her feared that one day she would wake to find that she had dreamed the whole thing. My new dad Thomas rarely drank and actually liked to spend time with me usually introducing me to various books and movies to as he put it try and help me cultivate my tastes, she admit that she was glad that he introduced her to Jane Austin.
Her new mom Rebecca seems to be more about trying to introducing her to more of the heritage of her new family to helping Heather learn its roots so that they feel more as if they are a part of her. Rebecca also seemed interested in cultivating a hobby and tried introducing Heather to various things, she admitted though had begun to enjoy painting. This was a major improvement from having a father who spent all of the time drinking and yelling, and a mother who would usually be crying herself to sleep every night- of course anything was better than being Plagiat's slave.
Her new brother Chuck seemed to spend most of his time with his girlfriend and was not always at home, still he seems to like the fact that he had to move his stuff into the entertainment room keeps him from resenting this fact. Of course this will change when he graduates this Spring and goes to college he'll be staying in the dorms then moving on to an apartment, his girlfriend Vanessa seems to be a little random of course however this might just be one of those awkward teenage years that she keep on hearing about. As for her new sister Randi, she seems nice enough after all I owe her a lot for freeing me from Plagiat, and she is the only mutant other in the family.
Right now she's at the Whateley Academy a school for mutants over in New England, and admitted that she missed her a little but Randi had told me to try and make a few friends at school while she was here. Heather knew that technically she was supposed to be there too but her new parents wanted her to have a little grounding in a normal life first, so she was to finish Junior High in Arlington and then go to join Randi at Whateley for High School.
Speaking of which Randi was supposed to either have called or written her first night at Whateley and we haven't heard anything, still mom is not too worried she figures that Randi was just too caught up with settling into her new surroundings and might have just forgotten before she went to sleep last night. Still at least English homework was good to let your mind drift, especially just before dinner. To her surprise, the door bell rang, and Heather rushed to answer it.
At the door, Heather found two individuals that she only knew from photographs, a old man of about six-four with a stern look and a handlebar mustache and an old woman who looked like she still had a good amount of vinegar in her. "So you, I take it, are our new granddaughter." The man said in a stern demeanor right before cracking a wide smile before picking the little girl up in a bear hug. "Come’ar and give gran'pa Rob a hug!"
"Hey dad, your parents are here!" Chuck shouted as he looked around the corner, before disappearing back into his new room.
"Oh crap," Thomas Bridges almost panicked at the sight of his mom Elanore, "Becca my mom's here- lock the liquor cabinet stat!"
"Already done dear," Rebecca shouted from the kitchen where she was at the table entering invoices into her work laptop. "Your father called to warn me that they planned a surprise visit today since they were upset that they couldn't make it in from Corpus Christie in time for the adoption hearings."
"We would have been here sooner son," Rob said setting the still startled Heather down. "But we've been too busy with the running the Lafitte to make it in on the weekend."
"Dad I keep telling you that you ought to fully retire." Thomas began to argue with his dad about an old topic. "You're in your eighties now, you should try and relax and enjoy life."
"I enjoy running the Lafitte with your mother here just fine." Rob stated as he sat down on one of the sofas in the living room, "Plus she says that she refuses to retire until she hires a bartender that can out mix her."
"That will be the day," Rebecca snorted at the possibility, "Some of her experiments have keeled over sailors after two glasses, or made frat boys start swinging from lamp posts. Heck part of me wonders if she isn't some alcohol-centric devisor."
"Um she isn't ever in danger for people getting drunk is she?" Heather asked nervously having observed the dark consequences of alcohol in her life.
"I doubt it short stack," Grandpa Rob chuckled as he ruffled her hair. "When we met it was at her father's bar and she ended up throwing half of my shipmates out the door...literally."
As the phone rang and Rebecca picked up the receiver in the kitchen, "Hello Bridges Residence, who may I ask is calling?"
"Gee, what's wrong mom, I've only been gone a day or two and you forget the middle child already, *humph* how typical."
"Randi how are you?" Rebecca asked before inferring, "You were supposed to call yesterday evening after you settled into your dorm room."
"I’m sorry but I was kind of out like a light last night from exhaustion after everything that happened yesterday. I mean you know how it is, you fly halfway across the country, you get into an argument with the MCO during your layover in Chicago about your cargo, you get dragged into a fight to the death with a Fomorii giant, you’re bound to be out like a light."
"What was that last one young lady?" Mom stated in an eerily even tone.
"Morrigan recognized the presence of a Fomor in the woods near the Academy, it was there to kidnap a few students and kill any witnesses, we managed to send it packing so everything’s fine now- baring a few bumps and bruises."
"By the way where's my other grandkid," Grandpa Rob called out from the den, "The one who I heard has gone through quite the change since I last saw him?"
"Well Robert she's in New Hampshire at a special school learning about her gift and likely won't be back until sometime in June." Rebecca answered as she walked into the den carrying the receiver. "In fact she's calling at this very moment. Hey Randi, your grandpa Rob stopped by for a visit, why don't you say hi."
"Hey Gramps, sorry I couldn't be there," I chuckled nervously through the phone "But I figured it was better to leave before Spring Semester started and spend the rest of Winter-mester here playing catch-up."
"I don't blame you squirt, poor old Ann is probably spinning in her grave, over the state of our schools. I might like the Friday Night Lights as much as the next man, but considering the career of your average Football player they need a fall back plan even if they do go pro. So you went over to the other side of the fence when you changed."
"Sometime after actually, a creep from the Grand Hall torched my old body, one of my spirits had this spell that can grow a new one if you have enough of the right kind of energy available and since we did I'm now in a new set of bones. Of course, since the only spirit that was able to stick around was female her influence made me gender flip, apparently I still like girls though so maybe the spirit considers that her little apology gift, but we have pictures of the new me around the house if you want to see. I hope that you don't mind that you traded a grandson for a granddaughter."
"Eh as long as you're happy kid, as for the other part if you do find a girlfriend just be sure to send home pictures," Robert cracked another grin before continuing, "Especially from Spring Break."
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Shuffle's Sweepers -
The proving ground for new members to Erzabet Scratch's organization, within the Sweepers new hires are first trained in sims to assess their potential and later assigned to squads of seasoned veterans to pull off jobs and operations.
Everyone on the Sweepers are assigned a suit based on their main abilities and a rank based on the assessment of their experience, every suit has two colors to create eight categories based on power types (mainly using MID classification terminology for simplicity sake): Spades are mystics (black) and warpers (red), Hearts are exemplars (red) and manifesters (black), Clubs are gadgeteers (black) and devisors (red), Diamonds are espers (red) and energizers (black).
As for the rank they are divided between numbers and face-cards in the structure of the Sweepers and there is a strict chain of command:
2's are former stand-alone operatives who broke the rules in the field, three strikes and they are either fired or worse, they are assigned as assistants and have a year of probation before they can be evaluated for a new number. 3's are given to former independant operators, three strikes and they can quit or opt to be sent to Dead-Zone's training camp, they can be evaluated for a new number after a six month probation. 4's are C Average students from Whateley, who can either swim, or chose between getting fired or be sent to learn with Dead-Zone. 5's are B Average students from Whateley, they are usually assigned a 9 as a mentor to help guide them. 6's are A Average students from Whateley, they are assigned 10's as mentors and are granted privileges to use the Branch's facilities to work on small solo projects. 7's are those who graduate Dead-Zone's training camp with a pass, they are usually assigned to a team for minor operations lead by a Jack. 8's are those who pass Dead-Zone's camp with honors, they are usually assigned to squads with medium difficulty missions lead by a Queen. 9's are those who have earned their rank in the field, they are often assigned to difficult missions, and are called on to mentor 5's. 10's are a graduation rank, when an operative reaches 10 they either have the option of becoming a solo operator or remain for the chance of being assigned a face-card. Those who choose to remain Sweepers are also given the task to mentor 6's and lead teams of 7's, they may also be called upon to serve on an Ace's team.
Face-cards are those who choose to waive the chance to become solo-opperatives in return for top Sweeper status. Face-cards are assigned to be leaders of smaller teams, and can be called upon to take part in major operations lead by one of the aces. Jack's are the lowest of the face-cards they are called on to lead teams of 8's, and serve as key operatives in operations of the top Sweepers. Queens's are mid-rank face-cards who lead teams of 9's, and can serve as members of major operations. Kings are permanently assigned to major Sweeper squads and act either as second in command or as field tacticians. Ace's are field leaders they are only outranked by senior Ace's or Chapter Directors, it is their job to judge when 9's are ready to become 10's and when 10's are to be granted their face-card. Ace's are also responsible for assembling their team from the various 10's, Jack's and Queen's, an Ace usually handpicks a King to be their permanent second in command. Joker is a one person rank assigned only to Dead-Zone, the director of the training camp.
They are called Shuffle Squads after the name of the Senior Ace and grandson of Erzebet Scratch Shuffle. Aces other than Shuffle use a custom designed semi-AI know as Dealer that can immediately pick a full team for an Ace and King designed for the best skill set for a mission.
Given that the promotion track introduces teams of 7's and 8's to various Jacks and Queens for their missions, if they become face-cards they are more than likely to have experience working with someone that they might be asigned to a team with minimizing friction and making them aware of their teammates capabilities.
Axcel Incorporated -
A regional corporation located in states in between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, it focuses mainly on building materials, mechanical engineering, pharmaceutical research, information technologies, chemical manufacturing, green technologies and a banking group that is set up in about eleven states. It also provides funding and space for gadgeteers and devisors who have no current criminal background. They are also known to hire mutants onto their payroll who either have no criminal background or those who are keeping up with their parole. They are currently rising in influence due in no small part to family loyalty within the company, and their policy of allowing mutants to work for them.
Their track to the straight and narrow program to help reintegrate former convicts (both baseline and mutant) into society has made them a target of numerous conservative groups especially H1 and Goodkind International; however it is lauded by the media for helping keep former criminals from becoming repeat offenders. They are also very well known for the numerous charities that they maintain, chief of which is the Our Lady of Charitable Grace Orphanages.
Axcel Incorporated was mainly a regional conglomerate before Hurricane Katrina however when New Orleans was hit they acted to mobilize a rapid response air-dropping in food, medicine and water long before FEMA was mobilized, bringing in an experimental devisor water pump to alleviate the flooding, and supplying low cost quality building materials to aide in the reconstruction. As all of this was done without federal funding it lead to a massive tax write off that has left their profits untouched for the last two years and has since attracted numerous foreign investors and federal contracts to the company allowing for future expansion into new markets and a greater diversification of their portfolio.
They are also partially responsible for the revival of the Deep Ellum neighborhood in Dallas when they began to provide a private security firm that helped the locals clean up the streets and keep out panhandlers. They also opened Hot Times, a rentable recording studio where local musicians can gain access to professional recording equipment along with professional assistance to cut their own singles for distribution.
However Axcel Incorporated is also a public front in this case for the Mid-West Branch of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom. In fact all of their previous CEOs as well as their current one have all been alias's of Erzabet Scratch who uses their businesses for among other things the trafficking of mystic goods, supplying materials to lone operatives, laundering money for more minor villains, and training future operatives.
These activities go uninvestigated due in no small part to the large amount of intelligence that Erzabet has gathered on several high-ranking politicians going up to the federal level which if made public could tear the country apart.
Our Lady of Graceful Charity Orphanage-
A 25-year-old orphanage foundation run in fifteen states with most of their funding coming from Axcel Incorporated. They are known for humane and nurturing childcare done by volunteers and some salaried staff. Children live in dorm room style accommodations, attend classes that are often higher quality than those of public schools, and are taught to look out for each other and their home. Many of those adopted out are even given the chance to attend classes at one of the Orphanages for a very reasonable tuition.
This orphanage organization however is also a front for Erzabet Scratch, it provides many current operatives with day jobs, and retired operatives with something to do. Many succubae also work for the orphanage and make surprisingly good caregivers. Older unadopted orphans are mainstreamed into public schools when the turn fifteen, given part-time employment working for Axcel Incorporated franchises, or if they manifest the opportunity to either attend Whateley or Dead-Zone's Training Camp during Summer and/or after Graduation. Thanks to this set-up, Erzabet has access to a number of mutants that even the MCO and the DPA are unaware exist.
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Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Road to Dunwich, New Hampshire
I had spent most of my morning catching up on natural science, or what they called life science back home, as well as helping the grounds crew install Iron Horse's armor into the Homer Gallery. They said that we should be done tomorrow and then there was just the aesthetics to handle.
It was just as well that I helped, other than self-study the only class that I had was an online math program that had been designed by various students to help others catch up. I had to admit that whoever programmed this was a genius, if they decided to market it to states with struggling math scores they'd make even more than the folks that pushed the Rosetta Stone language software. Maybe they had a batting cage where I could work off some nervous energy, gaming was fine to relieve frustration, but it was lousy for nervous physical energy.
At least I got permission to go into town from Ms. Carson, I really needed to get my uniforms adjusted and the word around campus is that the one to do that was Cecilia Rodgers in Dunwich. Supposedly she was a member of the alumni association whose powers concerned the telekinetic manipulation of fabric, like Skein from the old Thunderbolts comics just before they ruined it with that stupid Fight Club storyline.
It took a couple of days to find a ride fortunately Elyzia Grimes from the Mystic Arts Program had some things she needed to pickup and was willing to give me a ride, provided she got to chat with Morrigan about Celtic Magic and society later. "So I here that you're teaching a course about Necromancy?" I asked with some apprehension.
"Yes, whether or not it’s a threat or a menace." Ms Grimes replied, "Normally I teach the Basic Mystic Concepts class although I do have a few advanced topics that I teach in the evenings."
"If you ask me it should be both a threat and a menace," I replied watching the dirt road on the way to Dunwich. "I have had a limited amount of experience with its practitioners and the results of their work, on the one hand you have psychopaths like Slaughterhaus on the other you have abominations like The Hangman. If you ask me it’s enough to wish that there was a cheaper and cleaner way to cremate people so they don't have folks digging them up to do who knows what with them, let Rest In Peace mean something again."
"Then what is your opinion on séances?" Ms Grimes asked out of curiosity.
"If it’s an easy call and they feel like chatting fine, if not don't try to drag them to this world and make them mad," I said answering her question while adding, "It might be a little pricy to get a psychometrist's help, but it would be a heck of a lot safer. After all if you poke around too much at the veil between worlds you never know when something might slip through that you don't know how to handle, and from what Morrigan's told me there are plenty of things that we are better off not knowing about. I know that I don't know everything and that there are something’s that you are safer not knowing."
"Are you sure that they told you to room in Poe?" Ms. Grimes said cocking an eyebrow.
"Hey I've already been in five life threatening situations this month," I commented back to the teacher, "It would have been six if those MCO agents at O'Hare were trigger-happy. I think that trouble finds me well enough to be in Poe, plus I have enough neurological and psychiatric documentation before having a voice in my head that most shrinks would call an extraneous personality."
"You know that is not unheard of with some avatars," Ms. Grimes stated as we got off the dirt road, "Especially the old and powerful ones, just be thankful that she did not try and merge with you or take try and over your body."
"She doesn't really want to, if anything this was supposed to be a temporary arrangement," I explained. "If she could she'd be back to her own body in a heartbeat, still thanks to that scumbag Plagiat attempt at mystic murder we're laminated."
"Well maybe one day you'll find your solution." Ms. Grimes explained as we could see Dunwich up ahead. "Someone in the Mystic Arts Department should be able to help you two learn how to go your separate ways eventually."
"I hope so," Morrigan said speaking up for the first time on the trip. "If almost two decades of sobriety and abstinence were not bad enough, having to go through human puberty is sheer hell."
As we pulled to park in front of Cecilia Rogers's Boutique Ms. Grimes observed, "She sounds a little frustrated."
"Well there is the fact that she knows that I wouldn't let her husband anywhere near our body," I explained to the teacher before I got out of her Toyota, "I mean he's a Celtic fertility deity whose said to have a third leg."
Blushing with eyes wide Elyzia Grimes barely avoided stammering, "I will be an hour at the post office, if I'm not done before you are please remain inside, the people of Dunwich might be aware of the true nature of Whateley but people passing through are not."
"Can I stay outside if I four-foot it?" I asked Ms Grimes, "My choker is spelled to look like a collar and the tag charm on it has an illusion charm to give off a local address."
"While it might seem like a good idea, what kind of responsible pet owner would leave a dog outside in this cold."
"I understand, if you're not back wait inside Cecilia's, and remember to be polite." I repeated back to her as I walked into ‘Rogers Fabric Boutique’.
I walked into the store and up to the counter seeing no one in sight I rang the service bell. "Wait right there I'll be done in a few minutes!" I heard what had to be Ms. Rodgers from the back.
Not known for my patience I sat down in the front and began to immerse myself in the latest translation of Oh My Goddess!, I was two chapters in when a brunette who looked like she belonged more on a runway than behind a sewing machine came to the front. "Oh I thought that all of the new students for winter had arrived already," She exclaimed as she extended her hand.
"Randi Bridges," I said meeting her hand, "Technically I'm supposed to be a spring student except that I decided to come early to play curriculum catch up. I'm just glad I finally have the time to come and get my uniforms adjusted."
"Is there a problem?" Cecilia asked, "Believe me I also teach at Whateley, I doubt that your problem is anything that I have not seen before."
"Yes it’s not much really," I answered her inquiry, "On most of them I need them adjusted to have a sturdy reinforced and concealed fly in the back of my skirts for my tail; I also need a solution for a pair of uniform pants to wear on red flag days."
"I will see what I can do," Cecilia said with a smile. "Meanwhile can I get your measurements as well ensure that your uniform fits better, if you need too many changes I will send these back to the school store and provide you with some custom uniforms."
"There is no need to do that, I am fine with a few adjustments." I stated while the MCO fine for the death of my original body was a hefty amount my parents put most of it in College Savings accounts with Axcel Financial for me and Heather, not to mention wardrobes at for the two of us.
"Let me guess you are a TG student in Poe," Cecilia stated with no real concern.
"How do you?" I began to ask before it dawned on me. "D'oh of course you'd know, you're the only seamstress in town, the gender-flippers must have to come to you constantly to get their uniforms adjusted."
"Exactly," Cecilia confirmed my suspicions, "Although it looks like you are fully changed, the only way that happens is with some very special circumstances."
"Yeah, it’s a long and painful story," I said as I followed her into the back. We quickly came to what looked like an upright cat scan machine, "Let me guess some sort of full-body biometric scanner?"
"Something like that," Cecilia answered as I stepped in the machine, "Do you have any special fabric needs?"
"Natural dyes and fabrics if you could," I said as the machine started, "Say if I don't have to get some special uniforms made can I get a pair of gloves made? I'm kind of working on a costume."
"Certainly if I can see what you have so far?" She asked, "Once the machine is done that is."
I waited until the machine was done then stepped out and activated my collar, which seemed to draw her attention like a hawk. "You already know how to enchant something to that degree; you must be some magical prodigy."
"No there are a few of changeling baubles embedded in the collar." I explained, "They are sort of a common magic accessory that can be found in the Fair Lands or the Goblin Markets, all I know at present is that they can hold a full set of clothing or a person."
They can also hold a weapon or piece of combat equipments, Morrigan stated, this was news to me and it gave me an idea.
"Fascinating how much are they?" Cecilia asked as I could almost see the wheels turning in her head.
"One act of public stupidity or sharing the memory of one," I explained to Ms. Rodgers, "I know what you're thinking but try and get someone from the mystic arts department whose experienced with the fae folk to escort you, the places that sell these things can be dangerous for the unwary."
"Hmmm," Cecilia looked over my costume for a bit before making her observations. "You seem to be going for a medieval rogue look, overall I'd have to say not too bad, the boots and the tunic work well together; and the cloak adds a nice effect. Still it needs a few things, I would recommend some devisor-engineered leather gloves and maybe some black leggings to replace these thermals. I understand one of your upperclassmen invented a new fabric that might help you there, if you ask her nicely enough she might let you use it. You also might want some body armor under there even if you are a high regen."
"I have a shirt with duravlar plates under my tunic," I explained to Cecilia, "When they finally let non-military or security by the cloth I would go with long-sleeved grey duravlar hoodie under here. Probably gray with the stocking too, that way they have a chain or scale mail look going."
"Maybe," Cecilia thought for a moment, "But I still think that black would look better, you also need a symbol something that says you."
"I'm working on a few ideas when I decide on when I'll have a buckle medallion to go on this cross strap right here on my chest." I pointed at the joint in the reverse y-joint on the leather straps that secured the Reticule of the Fields to my side." Just wish it had that in civilian mode,
"Hmm that should work if it’s of good quality," Cecilia stated before grinning, "Then again you do sound like you are from Texas so I doubt that you will have to look too hard to have one made."
"Oh, ha-ha-ha a belt buckle joke as if I haven't heard one of those before,” I better wrap this up before I hear any cattle jokes, "So any verdict on the uniforms?"
"Yes as a matter of fact, they are just a simple cut and resew job, along with a few alterations for a better fit and that should be it. As for Red Flag days I recommend a few sturdy elastic sweat bands and a beret." Cecilia said with a pleasant yet professional smile, "I can also have those gloves done in about ten minutes as well if you have the time."
I checked my watch and I still had twenty minutes to wait until Ms Grimes was done with her errand. "Sure, go right ahead."
I stood fascinated as Cecilia, her machines did their magic, in the end after paying what oddly enough was not all that much, I waited in the front for Ms. Grimes with three uniform slacks, and skirts altered to accommodate my tail, and a pair of gloves for my costume.
Earle Cabell Federal Building
3:58 PM CST
The courtroom was tense as both plaintiff's and the defendant awaited the return of Judge Sam Lindsay from his chambers to read the verdict, on the line was the legacy of a team that had lain tarnished for the last two decades. Seated with the Prosecutor in their costumes were Hector Grell aka Armordillo, Barney Murff aka Tin Star, and most surprising of all Nora Hoffman Garretson aka Puma (who had not been seen for decades).
Meanwhile sitting with his personal attorney was Cedric Bastion the Third aka Longhorn. This case was critical to him, while it was true that the Dallas Defenders had not been a team for about two decades he had secretly trademarked the rights to the team’s name the moment he was put on trial for being an accomplice in her murder by Deathlist, while he was ultimately acquitted the team disbanded. Still he owned the rights to the team, and had been using them had increased his fortune by exploiting and merchandising the images of his former teammates. Moreover, if he were ever able to re-establish the Dallas Defenders with some new blood he would make even more on a team of shiny young and eager heroes lead by an old homegrown veteran.
All those dreams would go up in smoke if he lost this case, and right now, the situation did not look good. Before now, all he had to contend with from the team's founders was Armordillo and he was under an injunction that legally forbid from taking action of any sort against Longhorn by a court order after his assault on the steps of the Municipal Court House two decades ago.
Now though Armordillo had The Puma (one of the other original founders) who as it turned out was the widowed spouse of Sureshot another founder and thus holding his proxy on the team's original charter. Sitting with them was Tin Star the sidekick of belated founder Iron Horse, who was still regarded as a hero even in the face of the rising influence of Humanity First, as per Iron Horse's will his proxy on the charter fell to Tin Star. While the last of the five founders Coyote had given up on humanity and permanently metamorphosed himself into his namesake, and he had given Longhorn his proxy in return for a permanent residence at the San Antonio Zoo- he had long since died of old age.
For years, Coyote's proxy and Longhorn's positions as both the owner of the team's name and its leader had prevented this sort of legal action long ago. However, with four founding proxies to his three, his former teammates had secured a District Court Trial to question the validity of his trademark on the team's name, and given that his former teammates had connections to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals this was all or nothing.
"All rise, the honorable Judge Sam A. Lindsay shall now render his verdict," the bailiff proclaimed as the elderly African American judge sat back down at the bench.
"In the case of The Founders of the Dallas Defenders verses Longhorn," Sam A. Lindsay stated as all in the room waited on baited breath for the verdict of three days of deliberations. "The District of North Texas rules in favor of the plaintiffs. Longhorn and Bastion Holdings Inc. shall relinquish all rights to the name Dallas Defenders and all of the team's assets to the Plaintiffs."
Puma, Tina Star and Armordillo had barely restrained their enthusiasm as Judge Linsay continued. "Also noted is that while the defendant had rights to manufacture merchandise of members of the Dallas Defenders as they were when they were on the team, all use of their updated costumes since was done without permission, and as such the defendant owes royalties to former teammates Armordillo, Plainswalker, Tin Star, Abax and Torinado. The full amount of these royalty payments are to be settled at a future date. In addition, a hearing shall be held to consider whether the late Robert Redplains, also known as Coyote, was of sound mind and body to transfer his proxy to Longhorn; this too shall be addressed by a future decision. The court is now adjourned."
That gavel bang echoed in Longhorn's mind as he held his head in shock, he was ruined the Dallas Defenders would reform without him and he was certain that after this no team or organization would take him into their ranks- at least none on the right side of the law. His company also stood to lose a tremendous amount of money not only in future revenue, but in unpaid royalties as well, he would also be forced to turn Defender's Stronghold back over to the team taking away the massive tax deduction that his company had always counted on- this was a disaster.
Cedric turned and saw her walking by Puma, the bitch whose return to the public eye had ruined him, he saw red and snapped. Screamed Longhorn lunged at Puma preparing to take her head off...only to find himself once again at the receiving end of Armordillo's right-hook followed by a haymaker that put him out like a light.
"Bailiff you are to restrain the Defendant and escort him to holding," the honorable Judge Sam Lindsay proclaimed, "He will be held there without bail for attempted assault and contempt of court, prior to trail all future cases demanding his involvement will be held via teleconference from a secure cell."
The trail over Puma, Tin Star and Armordillo walked out of the courtroom and to a small conference room that the Prosecution had been using for the deliberation waiting in the room were Torinado, Abax, Plainswalker, Duck-it, Maverick and Pero del Fuego. Abax stepped forward and inquired of the trio, "Well how did it go?" Abax asked of the group.
"The rights to the Dallas Defenders, The Stronghold, and our images are back where they belong, and given Longhorn's 'outburst' in the courtroom we will not be seeing him for a long time, with Iron Horse's armor in the Homor Gallery right where it belongs and this victory we are well on our way to setting things right." Puma proclaimed eliciting cheers from most of the room and grins and nods of satisfaction from the rest. "Now we have to decide on where we go from here, I think that the renovation of The Stronghold back to being an up-to-date base of operations should be one of the first things on our agenda."
"Tin Star and I will work on that front," Duck-It chimed in, "With Abax and Torinado helping out with renovations we will be done in a month maybe even less."
"While we are at it I recommend commissioning the Fine Arts Department at Whateley for some statues," Torinado stated, "I think it is long past time for a memorial hall, Iron Horse, Coyote, Sureshot, Gila and Transect, there is no reason why they should be forgotten by future generations of Dallas Defenders."
"Agreed," Tin Star stated to his former teammate, "I will go through our records for some appropriate reference photos, then maybe Plainswalker can help send them in through the Alumni Association."
"We also need to think about coordinating and establishing a relationship with the local law enforcement agencies," Maverick said bringing up a valid point, "For too long the lack of coordination between the men and women in uniform and the local heroes has cost lives and let maniacs make a getaway. It also does not help that individuals like Erzabet Scratch have been using this power vacuum to build up a power base. As she is right now we have no hope of stopping her, just annoying her."
"I am afraid to say that it unfortunately appears as if Erzabet has become a necessary evil in this day and age." Puma said shaking her head at the harsh reality. "Her organization appears to have grown too large and well structured for it to be easily dismantled without the involvement of the federal government, and the power vacuum that would follow its demise would be a national nightmare. As much as it pains me to say, Erzabet Scratch's presence right now might be keeping out something far worse and her removal at this point might do more harm than good. When it comes to the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom, right now we will have to settle for small victories."
"We also need to recruit some new talent if the team is going to survive." Plainswalker stated the clear facts, "I suggest that we send a recruiter to Whateley next Career Day; however first we need to arrange for a proper press release if we are not careful an premature announcement of the return of the Dallas Defenders could result in preemptive strikes from anyone of a dozen different parties."
"We also need to nominate a team leader," Armordillo reminded the younger members of the group since baring Puma's presence he was the elder here. "Given the lousey memory so many have of us because of our previous leader's actions, we need someone who can drag us out of the shadow that Longhorn's cast on the team, to that end I nominate Maverick."
"Whoa, I'm a federal deputy marshal remember," Maverick stated trying to back out of the nomination. "If I become the leader of the Dallas Defenders, we will have to have complete transparency with the Federal Justice Department, which means we will have no plausible deniability."
"I'm aware of that son," Armordillo admitted, "As things stand the more transparency that we have at the moment the better things will be in the long run."
"Also you were wanting us to create a working relationship with local law enforcement," Abax said to make a point, "By having a member of the US Marshalls Service as the team leader that would work as a point in our favor for obtaining the cooperation of the various city police departments. We will need to coordinate as well as the with the offices of the county sheriffs' here in North Texas. So shall we put it to a vote, all in favor of Deputy Maverick becoming the new leader of the Dallas Defenders raise your hand."
A quick glance around the room saw only one individual in opposition...the nominee, "It's official," Puma declared, "Maverick is the leader of the New Dallas Defenders."
Pete Calloway clutched his head muttering, "If my boss doesn't kill me my wife will."
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
"Well, well so the Southern American bumpkin finally learns how to dress like a civilized individual." Radu remarked as I sat down with the group for lunch.
"Get bent Radu, I just got my uniforms adjusted yesterday to accommodate my tail." I snapped back at the ever-rude Romanian, "And before you ask I wasn't dressed up this morning because I was helping finish up the work on the Homer Gallery, the Grand Unveiling is supposed to be Sunday after services."
"Makes sense," Joanne said with a nod, "You just got your fancy new dudes to fit like you wanted them to, so there's no reason to work up a sweat in them just yet."
"So has anyone thought about what classes they will be taking in spring?" Kerry brought up a topic many were dreading, Spring Semester when they would become normal students. I listened around hearing Erze and Kerry were going to take a flight class together was interesting, but apparently even if they could do it under their own power they still needed a license to cooperate with air traffic laws and if necessary file a flight-plan with traffic controllers. Buck was going to take some special workshop for devisors, while Steve and Eddie were taking Powers Lab. "So what about you Randi, what is the newest student at Whateley taking for spring?"
"Aside from the basics you mean?" I asked and noted her nod, "Basic Martial Arts, Introduction to Criminology and Police Procedures, and Intro to Magical Arts."
"Yeah I can understand that last one," Kerry replied, "You have done well enough in Basic Mystic Concepts, considering how late in the semester you came in."
"The only thing I'm worried about is my project," I said leaning forward. "I mean I have an idea that I want to try and see if it works, but since it requires a lot of precision I'd probably need the hand of someone in the workshop to help me- there is also one more piece of material that I'd be needing that I don't have here."
"Would this have anything to do with why you are helping me out in Basic Firearms Safety?" Buck asked almost as if he was accusing me of something. "Are you trying to butter me up to help you with your project?"
"No I'm taking it because when I've got some frustration to burn off there are only two places I go to vent," I stated evenly, "A batting cage or a shooting range, and since Whateley only has ranges I need to pass Firearms Safety to use them despite already having my permit and a Youth Hunting License back in Texas. And no offense Buck but you need all the help you can get in that class, or do you want me to tell everyone what happened yesterday?"
"No, no Randi there is no need to tell everyone something that boring and tedious." Buck waved his arms desperate to tell me to stop talking about it and embarass him even more in front of the group.
"Um, is it smart to fire a gun off when you are angry?" Erzebet asked as she eyed me nervously.
"No, anger is reserved for a very sturdy punching bag." I explained trying to assuage her fears, "What I mean is when I just have a lot of nervous energy to burn off, like those times when no matter what you just cannot sit still. And Morrigan's feeding me plenty, apparently she wants to have a worthy twin made to this knife we found, unfortunately it was made by someone known as the Artificer, and it would take someone really talented to make anything that could pair with its potential.
"Oh you mean Eldrich," Kerry stated making my jaw drop. "She has this side business for the Mystic Arts Department with another student named Silver, one of the teachers introduced me to them thinking that my ability to bless things with my angels would make us some kind of Mystic manufacturing trinity- we are still refining out teamwork. I can ask them about it on your behalf though- you can pay right?"
"I might have a problem but Morrigan wouldn't, and she's the one that wants the commission." I explained although I something of my own in mind I doubt that it would set me back if they are willing to trade. I have a lot of junk of Plagiat's lying around I might as well put it to good use."
Whateley Academy - Kirby Hall
Firearms Safety class had let out a little while ago, (I hope that they will actually cover something I don't know, I mean what kind of idiot would pick-up a weapon without making sure that the chamber was empty and the safety was on). When I got back to my room, I received an email on my student account from Kerry stating that Eldrich and Silver had agreed to meet with me to negotiate a price to make the knife. After stopping by Mr. Lodgeman's Office to claim Cothrom, which had been decontaminated and examed for potential dangers- thankfully none were found.
I finally found the area where they wanted to meet me within the tunnels within the Kirby Complex, and once there I tried to avoid staring, before me with Kerry were two girls about my age one of whom at best looked sculpted. One of them screamed goth her skin was like alabaster, no not pale it literally looked like white marble and was adorned with these cobalt tattoos who origins I couldn't even begin to place, her hair was metallic black with a silvery sheen, and her eyes were literally ruby gem stones. The other looked like a rather attractive you lady you lady from India if I had to guess, what if you have been around enough you know how to tell someone of Arabic descent from someone of Hindi descent. "So you're the one who wants to commission a knife from us?" The walking statue stated with a very professional tone.
"Kind of," I sheepishly admitted scratching behind my right ear, "Morrigan wants to commission the knife I have my own idea if you don't mind accepting trade."
"I'll assess whatever you have and we'll work out the trade through the Mystic Arts Department," the lady who I later found out was Eldrich stated. "Do you have a list?"
"Do I ever, Plagiat wasn't just a sociopathic thief he was a damned packrat." I grabbed my head at the memory of the warlock that enslaved my adopted little sister, and gave me the closest brush with death that anyone could ever have. I produced the list from my bag, which also held many of those spoils; it was about thirty pages long. "I had to cross some of those off as they needed to be returned to their rightful owners, or I found a use for them."
Eldrich scanned the list for a minute, and goggled at some of the items. "Wait just a minute, where the hell did he find Joan of Arc's sword that was supposedly thrown into the Seine River with her ashes and the rest of her stuff?"
"It was at the estate of a former noble family in Cornwall England, how it got there was a lot longer story than you think. Her sword is headed to the office of the Archbishop of Paris by the way; the French are keeping it quiet until a representative from the Vatican authenticates it." I explained to the two. "Plagiat had a ton of stuff like that which had nothing to even do with magic- jewelry, antiques, autographed records, old journals and books, random junk...hell he had a dwarf enslaved just to label and place the history of his loot. And that psycho victimized a lot of people; of course given some of the stuff on this list they were hardly innocent either." I should know the list Heather had of his potential targets was what lead Tin Star and Armordillo to track down Iron Horse's armor.
"Tell me your idea," Eldrich stated, "Then I will go through your list and haggle the price."
"Would it help if I supplied some of the materials?" I asked hopeful about the outcome.
"It might," Eldrich answered, "It depends on what you have in mind."
"Just a pair of vambraces," I explained, "I want some physical protection for my forearms, and I figure if you can incorporate some of these into the finished product it would serve to help keep some hold-outs literally in arms reach."
Silver and Eldrich stared at the handful of changeling baubles that I turned over, "Do you know what these are?" Eldrich asked, "How did you get so many?"
"I bet a seller in the Goblin Market under Five Mile Bridge as many as I could fit in my bag that I could play a stupid trick on an ogre and live. I told him there was something on his face and after a few minutes I offered to get it for him, a little sleight of hand with an illusion stone and the old got your nose bit and I won the bet. Of course I paid the ogre with the stone for his unwilling participation, and he did seem to get a good laugh out of it." I wove the tale of my trip from earlier that month, which was mainly because Morrigan needed to stock up on a few goods and that the circles to the Wild Feylands are harder to find in winter or summer. "So the merchant paid me for the Grand Act of Public Stupidity, although he ended up giving me the barrel full of them since the Reticule of the Fields here is a bag of holding, still the word of a mystic creature is binding and he did not ask whether or not the bag was enchanted."
"Is it not dangerous to earn the ire of dark fey," Silver asked me with a look of concern.
"Only if there is an injury that comes of it," Morrigan explained as she came forward to take the reins. "Tricks after you win games of chance or gambles are to be expected. By the way Artificer these are for you." Morrigan said as she reached into the Reticule and pulled out an old cloth bag that I had never seen inside of before since she retrieved it from wherever Sidhe keep those things.
Eldrich warily looked inside the sack to produce what looked like glass coins with sigils engraved on them. "Markers and all from the Celtic Pantheon, wait you aren't that Morrigan are you?"
She nodded her head, "Danu herself regretted enslaving you however we needed every edge against the Fomor that we could muster, and heaven help us all if they had bound you into their service. Still we agreed that if we ever met the Artificer again and she was bound to serve only herself instead of others we would give her one Marker each for every major craft she made for us, crafts such as this knife that I wish to commission a twin from you." Morrgan then turned over Cothrom to Eldrich and let her examine the blade.
She stared at it a good long while before stating, "It will cost you a great deal Morrigan unlike with Faolan’s request I do not have what is necessary to make orichalcum here. Mithril however is no problem," she said gesturing to Silver who was starting to show the reason behind her name, "And an adequate substitute; still it is not cheap and then there is the charge for my labor."
"Will these do?" Again, Morrigan reached into my bag of holding to produce two Flasks of Reality. "Also your work I believe, however I doubt that you can find the components necessary to manufacture them anymore."
Again Eldrich was shocked in recognition to the age and purpose of the bottles, when she looked back at us Morrigan shrugged and explained. "I used to serve Venraniel and ever since The Sundering I have been finding all kinds of things. I have quite the collection of them," turning to Silver she explained, "One of these is for you, fill it with distilled or clean water, wait an hour and then drink it all then after an hour you should have no troubles with a certain student eating your hard work."
"I believe that we can make this more than work," Eldrich smiled an almost maniacal grin, "Both orders should be done in five days, three if you have a workable design for the bracers."
"As a matter of fact Faolan has an idea except she is a lousy artist so allow me." Morrigan pulled out one of my spirals and a pencil, then choosing a sheet that was blank on both sides rapidly sketched each bracer, as it would appear flattened, and made sure to shade where I wanted the gems of the changeling baubles placed.
I took charge again and turned over the necessary amount of changeling baubles and even some notebook sized duravlar pads I explain, "I want these added under the bracers as shock absorbers. Even if the armor on the bracers hold without some padding getting hit would still do some damage."
"Sounds like you put some thought into this," Silver stated as she looked at the drawing, "What is this hole on the inside of the right?"
"Another idea to overcome a vulnerability in my power," I explained somewhat sheepishly, "I have been looking around for a medical devisor and some people in my dorm told me about a good one, tell me do either of you know Jerico?"
"I might be able to introduce you, but I doubt that he would be interested in any of what you have on this list. He is more into making his own music than listening to someone else's."
"Would he be interested in a custom built electric guitar then?" I asked hoping that it might work, "I have a relative that builds them as a side business."
"It might but are you certain that he would do it for free?" Eldrich asked somehow knowing that the promise would be too good to be true.
"He would have to do it, my mom won an IOU off of him during a poker game three years ago at the summer family reunion." I shook my head at that memory. "Poor uncle Huey, never should have tried to complete that inside strait, especially when my mom had all the tens."
"Well you will have to ask Jerico if it is worth what you are asking," Eldrich stated evenly, "Now let’s get the measurement of your forearms."
"Just leave a little slack about to here," I showed by grabbing each arm to show where, "I need room for the gloves, and thank you so much for taking our commissions"
"It is no problem, we will leave a message with your dorm mother when we have the knife and the bracers completed." Silver explained after she finished measuring my arms, "Which Cottage are you in?"
"Poe,” I stated, "So that should be Mrs. Horton."
"Oh, tell Chaka that I said hello, if you see her before I do." Silver said warmly waving good-bye as I began to leave to stop by my room at Poe before I went to dinner.
"I will," I promised, "If she stops bouncing around long enough for me to talk with her." When I arrived back at my currently solo room, I received another welcome piece of news; I got the job in the library and started work tomorrow after lunch.
Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom
Las Vegas, Nevada
6:37 PM PST
Matthew Monaghan looked up from his place at the reception desk to see Gregus walk in carrying an Egyptian-style jar with what looked like the head of a ram. "Hey Gregus, we have not seen you around in months, off on a special assignment for the boss?"
"Yes, can you tell Lord Ataxia that I have his package ready to bring up to him?" Gregus stated almost chuckling behind that strange canine helmet of his.
"Certainly, Matthew nodded to the elite operative before telling him, "Head right to his sanctum and if he wishes to he will let you enter."
"Excellent, oh and be sure to tell Lord Ataxia that I will be bringing his precious cargo with me." Gregus stated still oddly chuckling under his breath.
After walking the halls Gregus came to a set of heavy doors, he pulled a rope next to it, which rang a bell inside then opened and spoke into a brass tube, "Hey boss I got your junk."
The doors soon opened to reveal Lord Ataxia's cadaverous form inside seated on a tall backed throne inside drinking from one of a trio of pearlescent flasks next to him. As the doors shut behind him Gregus remarked, "Isn't it a little early for your medicine old man?"
"No, I have to drink this elixir every twenty minutes that my body has form thanks to that wretched Apep, so I take it you have my final canopic jar?"
"Yes dad, I searched far and wide and at last I present you with Ol' Wrinkly." Gregus stated setting the canopic jar down with twenty-three assorted others.
"Wepwawet, why do you have to do this to me?" Lord Ataxia said shaking his head.
"Oh come on dad I had to ship and handle my own father's nuts," Gregus stated as his attire and form shifted into that which he took in Ancient Egypt complete with his lupine head. "The least I can do is have a little humor about the situation, just be a little grateful there are dozens of euphemisms in the English language alone that I could apply to your hairy bean bag. So we are we all set to kick out the old snake tonight and make you whole again?"
"Unfortunately that will have to wait a few days," Lord Ataxia began to explain, "I need a sizable amount of Lethe water for the ceremony, I do have the amount necessary however it has to be ultra concentrated for my plan to be effective and that will take days. Which serves my purpose because I must teleport Apep back to his old lair soon after."
"Why not just dump it in Y'hnethlei and him take care of Dagon and Hydra for us?" Gregus inquired of his old man.
"Because we still have one more piece of the puzzle to find before we can move that stage in the operation." Lord Ataxia sighed as he explained to his progeny. "We need to locate the means to life the curse on the Eastern Court first, and then we will begin Operation Typhoon. If we go ahead without that means then the Elder Deep One who beats his competition to replace Dagon will take over as the ancor for the curse and then we'll be back to square one."
Friday, February 2, 2007
7:55 PM CST
Inside of the exclusive Wyld Syde club on the Westside of Dallas a very special group of young visitors were enjoying the accommodations. Among this group six (two of their number were elsewhere this evening) were originally from a small factory town in the Pennsylvania Rust Belt. They had known each other when they were younger and gone their separate ways all over the eastern United States when the GM plant that employed their parents closed; their entire class from Grade School had gotten back in touch through Facebook and had decided to get together for a reunion in Philadelphia during the last half of Christmas Vacation. Around this time a few began manifesting as mutants, curious about so many with a common background manifesting at once the MCO abducted the entire group of 84 after a cruel series of tests and human rights violations only ten wound up manifesting.
Before the MCO could dispose of them and the witnesses, the facility was raided by Madam Eventide who set 84 loose to be escorted back home by minor squads of Sweeper Agents. As for the eight mutants, she had spirited them off to her private villa on Sicily and while there adjusted them so that all risk of natural burnout was eliminated. Afterwards the eight were smuggled back stateside with a little magic and were now relaxing in Dallas with three others that they had met at the villa namely Madam Eventide's daughter Nicoletta, her boyfriend Titus, and the super villain’s niece Flora.
Thanks to letters that had been delivered in secret, their parents knew that the eight of them were okay and merely in hiding from the Mutant Commission Office. At present, the eleven were staying as guests of one of Madam Eventide's associates Erzabet Scratch in a furnished loft of one of the buildings that she secretly owned. In exchange for their temporary room and board they helped at a nearby orphanage that Scratch had some connection too while, Madam Eventide's people were working to secure them admission into a school on the East Coast that taught mutants like them how to survive in the real world.
At still at least this detour had its benefits they were getting to enjoy themselves inside Wyld Side an exclusive nightclub owned by a local mutant named Menagerie, and despite the groups GSD no one knew that they were mutants because of the properties of the club. Wyld Syde operated on a member’s only basis with only six rules. No alcohol to those under 21, no one under 18 was allowed above the second floor, no illegal substances, no means no, no drunk and disorderly behavior on the first three floors, and last but most importantly no real names or glaring clues to reveal your identity inside Wyld Syde..
Menagerie you see had the power to infuse animal DNA into people to turn them into chimera. However rather than go out to become a super villain she saw the opportunity to make money; at Whateley she learned how to infuse her power into artifacts to create part of a spell. The spell completed when the artifact’s wearer stepping through the boundary around the club and transformed them accordingly; when they left the boundary, the spell was lifted. How did this make a difference, well when someone was transformed to a certain degree this made it impossible to know who they were, and if they never told you their real name, they had total anonymity inside the building. This set up meant that everyone was free of the masks that society placed on them and allowed to be who they really were as people inside the club without fear.
At present, Richard Tanner was sitting on the sidelines of the second floor dance club with his friend Arnold Fletcher. They watched as their friend Rex Hallenbeck tried to put the moves on Candace Renard out on the dance floor. While anonymity was the name of the game at Wyld Syde, groups obviously knew who each other were and were safe to do so as long as they used their club alias within the building. Richard looked to the other side of the dance floor and saw Max Gillison and Sonia Gage coiled around each other on the dance floor...literally. The rest of the group was not present Nicoletta and Titus were enjoying a meal downstairs at the restaurant, while his sister Sophia, their friend Meradee Baker and their new acquaintance Flora had opted to spend the evening elsewhere.
Each of the kids was of course just as transformed as the other patrons of course they just did not have to transform as much. Rich just looked even more like some body builder lion than he normally did, and Arnold looked a lot more like a wiry golden eagle. Out on the dance floor Rex looked like a humanoid Rottweiler, while Candace who was still ignoring his advances (or was just really into the music) was even more of a red fox than normal. On the other side, dancing to a rhythm all their own Max looked just like as much like a dragon as he did when he used his manifestor powers while Sonia barely need to change at all to obtain her serpentine grace.
They tried to enjoy the atmosphere despite the noise coming from the next table, apparently, one of the girls had been engaged and they were celebrating. From the look of things some of the group were getting very drunk, especially one blonde bunny who some of her friends were asking to calm down. The bunny either did not care or was just too drunk to care, it was then that Rich noticed the jewel on her bracelet glowing blue and began to wonder as his and Arnold’s were clear. Soon a rather large ram and bear showed up to the bunny’s table, “Ma’am we are here to inform you that we are cutting your group off, we did the same to you twenty minutes ago and told them not to order any drinks for you.” The bear stated clearly for the entire group to hear.
“Aw common Yogi, be a pal, she just got engaged an’ we’re celebrating.” A leopard that was a little buzzed she explained, “I can make it worth your while,” she said patting the crotch of the bears pants.
“Ma’am this is the final warning for your group,” the ram stated, “If you continue to act like this your group will be escorted from the premises.”
“You can’t do that!” the blonde bunny began shrieking and flailing, “My daddy’s the president!”
“Ma’am you have just broken two club rules, your group will now be escorted out and your membership will be revoked.” The bear stated as they began to escort the group out physically carrying the thrashing blonde bunny that was in the middle of a drunken temper tantrum that was drawing every eye in the room.
Arnold turned to Richard as said, “Well; now we can say that we saw one of the Bush’s in person when we get to school in the spring.”
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A microscopic weave fabric with triple the durability and twice the shelf life of kevlar with the flexibility of canvas and the production cost of wool.
Developed by Weave, a gadgeteer working for Axcel Incorporated in 2005, it is currently produced under a five-year exclusive contract by the US Military to be used on the next generation of military grade body armor.
Several uncut spools were stolen from the manufacturing plant early in production by a Syndicate Tiger Team, and wound up being used to manufacture costumes for a number of super-villains working some Syndicate others working under Shuffle. Currently Weave is working out a deal with the military to supply duravlar to Whateley; however, all that is available legally at present, other than to the military, are duravlar-padding plates. Estimated demand could soon be diminished by DuPont's kevra.
Illusion Stone -
A cheap and easy magic enchantment that is more of a party gag than anything, it takes the appearance of the first thing that you touch with it in your hand until either five minutes pass or you touch it back to whatever it changed itself into. Very easy to make if you know how since it is all ritual enchantment and the essence can be drawn from the environment.
A mystic token granted by a mystic entity usually a divinity or greater spirit constituting a favor owed, they are marked with the being's seal and are only useable by the individual that they were granted to. To use blow on the Marker then flip it like a coin, the entity will appear and grant one favor if it is in their ability. Once the favor is granted, the Marker crumbles to dust.
Wyld Syde -
A high-scale six-story club with an attached parking garage in Dallas, TX. It is owned by the Axcel Corporation and operated by Whateley graduate Melisa 'Menagerie' Tillson. Wyld Syde is members only, with new members invited only through invitation of current members or Melisa herself. Thanks to Melisa's ability, all members attending are able to do so with complete anonymity, as she puts it Wyld Syde is where one can come to take off the mask that they have to wear in public and give them the opportunity to be themselves outside of most of the rules that society forces on them.
Membership begins with an interview appointment where neither Melisa nor the potential member who is given a randomly generated name which they are to memorize and use inside the club. Neither Melisa nor the potential member can see each others faces during the interview, and if Melisa approves their membership, she infuses a mystic item in the form of a pendent or a bracelet with a portion of her power, which only works inside the boundaries of the Wyld Syde. Members are then given a tab card assigned to their member identity, which lets them in one of the doors and keeps track of their tab that they can pay at any Axcel Financial Bank.
The charm only works within the boundaries of Wyld Syde and only for the person it was created for, while wearing it inside the boundary of Wyld Syde the user is transformed into an anthropomorph and their clothes are magically adjusted to accommodate the change. It is through this transformation and the use of in club aliases that the members of the Wyld Syde can enjoy the accommodations while remaining anonymous, allowing them to enjoy some time in a social setting without the pressures of the real world intruding on them.
Straight bracelets with a clear gem are given to members that are under 18 to let bouncers know not to let them go further than the second floor. Coiled bracelets with a clear gem are given to members ages 18 to 21 letting them access the adult areas but letting bartenders know not to serve them adult beverages. Weaved bracelets with a clear gem are given to members 21 and older giving them full access to the amenities. The gemstones are enchanted quartz to glow blue when the wearer is intoxicated, and red if they have an illicit substance in their system.
Everything inside works on a tab system with all bills being sent to a member’s PO Box to settle at the end of the month, the current annual membership fee for the club is $500.
Wyld Syde has only six rules: no alcohol to those under 21, no one under 18 was allowed above the second floor, no drunk and disorderly behavior on the first three floors, no illegal substances allowed, no means no, and last but most importantly no real names or glaring clues to reveal your identity inside Wyld Syde.
The club itself is sectioned off with the first floor being a five star restaurant, the second floor being a dance club, and the third a singles club. The fourth and fifth floors are accessible only by elevator and go up to the adult entertainment areas. The fourth floor is divided in two by a wall and each side are only accessible to members by its own clearly labeled elevator the North side is a gentleman's club, the South side is a ladies' club. The fifth floor has rentable rooms for couples to use for their own discretion, the keys to which are obtained by a machine next to the elevators. The sixth floor is Menagerie's private floor and is accessible only by a key-operated express elevator on the first floor, and only those invited up for the evening are given keys.
Business hours are from 5 pm until 1 am Monday through Friday, 3 pm until 2 am on Saturday, closed on Sunday. Happy hour is from 6 pm until 7 pm.
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*Warning several events in this chapter take place concurrent to each other and are given equal screen-time, please keep this in mind.*
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Whateley Academy - Poe Cottage
6:32 AM EST
My first full week at Whateley and no major catastrophes since I started classes, and I am making fair progress in the online remedial math course that my placement tests put me in. This and the evening dream training regimen that Morrigan had put me on was helping me settle into a routine to get ready before spring semester would begin on the 27th. Thankfully even with what used to be my primary arm sore from getting reattached I had still managed to pass my shelving test with Ms. Henderson and started work with my fellow Poesie 'ugh I was starting to hate that term' and TG girl Billie at the library last Thursday.
It was during this that I found out that my new body appears to be ambidextrous, of course Morrigan's used this to dream train me to handle dual-blades that oddly both look like Cothrom this bowie-size knife that I retrieved during my fight with the Fomor earlier in the week. According to Morrigan she lost the thing the last time she fought him when used it as a platform to decapitate him with a bladed chain a while ago. I was more than a little disturbed by this because it meant that chances are I could have to fight that
Meanwhile at Poe I was still currently without a roommate, unless you count Badb, however this will likely change when the new students arrived on the 26th. After testing my otaku-ranking Billie and Jade had let me join in their weekly anime session where they introduced me to Lyrical Nanoha and made plans to introduce me to some works that I had only heard about like Kimagure Orange Road and Ghost Sweeper Mikami. I on the other hand had the pleasure of introducing Billie to Pretty Cure and Jade to Otogi-Jūshi Akazukin, and plan on introducing the both of them to Patapata Hikousen no Bouken and Zettai Karen Children. Something deep down tells me though that introducing Jade to FLCL would be a disaster in the making. Of course, I eventually plan to spring Maze on them.
On Wednesday I found out that I was right in my guess about why Morrigan wanted to teach me twin blade style, she had Badb listening around campus for rumors of someone who could make mystic artifacts and weapons, eventually she found her- well them. As it turns out there is a student on campus that makes mithril, yeah dad as it turns out Tolkien did not make the stuff up. She works part time in a forge with someone that is the reincarnation of some uber ancient mystic artisan called The Artificer one of whose past incarnations as it turned out not only created Cothrom, but another crafted the Flasks of Reality that Morrigan has.
Right now, I am using this online math-tutoring program to get caught up so that maybe I can take what a good school calls Algebra I in the Spring. As for in classes, right now I am taking Mystic Concepts and thanks to Morrigan's tutoring as well as Plainswalker's help before I left I was right where I needed to be when I arrived. Well with the exception of my class project, say dad can you send me that piece of amber I have in my room I might need it for what I'm working on.
My other class is Firearms Safety, which thanks to Grandpa is a breeze. I guess it helps to have an ex-serviceman teach you about firearms when you go somewhere that has firing range run by an ex-serviceman. As punishment for sneaking off into the woods with Morrigan and fighting that Fomor, the Headmistress gave me the task of helping the work crew organize the display for Ironhorse's armor, not that I minded.
The food here is nothing that you wouldn't see outside of a Furr's but its still loads above what they were serving back at AHS. Apparently, according to my fellow dorm mate Ayla the food should improve by leaps and bounds when the reopen Crystal Hall at the beginning of Spring, then again I am a bit wary about trusting the word of a Goodkind. Yeah mom there is a Goodkind at a school for mutants from the main family (along with another who is a cousin), apparently when he manifested his parents kicked him to the curb after giving him to some H1 mad scientist to play with, and despite looking like a she the only piece that he kept of himself is his equipment.
Yet he still gets to use the girl's showers in our dorm, I can swear that I've seen the perv staring at me and the other girls in the mirror. Not that I can blame him Poe has some pretty fine ladies, Fey alone looks hot enough to make most straight girls have second thoughts, and even some of our stranger GSD cases are lookers- of course with my wagging extra appendage I guess that I fit into that group. It’s hard to believe that despite looking as normal as I do, ears and fangs excluded, I still qualify as a GSD case because I have a tail. Then again, another girl in Poe Angel is a severe GSD case, she looks like a very attractive young lady, with white wings so go figure.
As for 'Ayla' Goodkind, which I doubt is her real name; I plan to keep an eye on her just for the sake of everyone else. After all heaven help us if Humanity First finds out about this school since I figure it might spark off the biggest firestorm of racially motivated violence that this country has seen since the Civil Rights Movement.
ps. Dad can you send me the recipe for your homemade five-alarm chili, right now I would
After zipping and sending my e-mail off as an attachment to an inane message that said nothing, got to love passwords whoever decided to install a password feature on a zip-file compression program, especially when what creates them is one of your cats walking on the keyboard when the notepad program is open.
I hoped that someone at home got the message soon because my project was going nowhere without that piece of amber. I turned to look at the progress I had made on my project that I hoped would give me at least a B+ on the practical application of the rules of magic alone. In all the project was coming along nicely, I had the wood properly carved and smoothed out, and I had something that I wanted to cannibalize to use for the assembly sitting by up on top of my closet shelf where it wouldn't got damaged.
I had obtained permission Mrs. Choudhari to use the workshop for the next part of my project as long as a junior level student for the engineering workshop helped me out with using the equipment. Since I kept that a hold of the pieces of that grey iron manacle Sgaothaich slapped on me I had the perfect material to use, I just hope that my lack of expertise in metal working doesn't get on this Elaine Nalley's nerves. At least thanks to spending the odd summer with Grandpa Casey I knew how to work wood just fine with a utility knife (that my bag would hold since it was intended as a tool) and some sandpaper. However metal was another story entirely; I had no experience working with it and even if I did you needed a garage worth of heavy-duty equipment just for the easy stuff- and this would anything but easy, except maybe here at Whateley.
Thankfully what I planned on using for the assembly Badb had found in an abandoned barn over in Vermont thanks to some courteous gnomes, hey the minor fey folk don't mind telling you were to find junk that they don't want around provided you take it away for them. I was worried about if the copper pin I was planning to use for my project could hold the strain; I really didn't want to have to bug Silver again for something so trivial.
Better think about it later, I needed to hit the showers before there was too much of a line or I would be too late to meet the group for breakfast. Thankfully, I appeared to be early for the freshman shower line and I was the first in line with Billie right ahead of me, apparently we were waiting on Riptide, Wallflower and Shove. After a few minutes as the line began to build and Tempest began her usual one-woman show of Twelve Angry Men, I swear poor Vox must have the patience of a saint to put up with that much bitterness. Shove came out and Tenyo floated into the empty stall, a sideways glance helped me notice that once again Ayla was in his usual about face position to ogle us in the mirror.
Wallflower came out of the middle stall and I went in to wash up, making sure to put my earplugs in, these furry radar-dishes of mine made it hard to avoid swimmer's ear. These days I always shampooed first since I used twice as much because of my tail, and then switched over to the old soap and sponge. I was rinsing off when an idea hit me, I zipped up my shower kit making sure to have the strap out where I could grab it and set it to keep the stall door closed as I quietly unlocked it. My prep work done I set my evil plan in motion...along with the shower's auto-timer to one minute and switched to my wolf form.
When the minute was up my fur was sopping wet, I took the shower-kit's strap in my teeth allowing the stall door to swing open. Somehow, the other girls could see my intentions and casually moved away as I stealthily padded up to Ayla. Rip meanwhile readied herself to help in my pending prank. Vox just shook her head and moved into the now empty stall smiling and trying to avoid chuckling, lined up for the kill I struck with that all too dreaded weapon every pet owner knows and fears- the wet dog shake.
Ayla shrieked in surprise as Riptide increased the deluge by sending all of the water that I was shaking off right at Phase, everyone in the shower room seemed to get a good laugh out of it- maybe even Phase. I grabbed a towel with my teeth after setting down my shower kit and threw it over me before I shifted back.
"Oh-ha-ha, very funny Faolan." Ayla stated as she stared at me as I began toweling off, "What was the reason for doing that to me?"
"You looked a little hot and bothered so I thought that you could use a little cooling off," I explained to the former heir. "Besides what's the problem, you were here to take a shower anyway right?" I wrapped my towel around myself in that now practiced manner and headed back to my room with my tail wagging playfully behind me.
I went back to my room and got dressed in my uniform to head down to breakfast. I was more than a little lost in thought as I was making my way through last night’s fallen snow to Dunn Hall when I observed an armored limousine pull out from the main gate. I was curious on who could be visiting so I skirted the corner of the Beck Library until I began to see who was spilling out in front of Shuster, and immediately wished I didn't. I transformed back to my wolf form and ran as hard as could to Dunn Hall. Once I arrived, I changed back to normal, thankful that Morrigan's enchantments on my collar thru up a glamour field and retrieved my normal clothes from the clear jewel on it when I did so.
I was so shaken that I walked right past the food line (ignoring the protests of my poor stomach) and sat right down at the table, which given how early it was only had part of our group arrived and seated. "What first you cram your face and then you starve yourself, what is with you Americans and your obsessions with food?"
"Shove it Radu," Regina with a force of will that was quite unlike her before she looked at me and asked. "Randi what's wrong? I don't think that I have ever seen someone this scared."
"How would you look if you just saw three of your worst nightmares pull up on campus in a car together and get out?" I asked Regina visibly shaking with fear, "I was on my way here when I saw a limo pull up, I didn't recognize three of the seven who got out (everyone from my part of the country knew what Shuffle looked like). But of the four that I did recognize three are straight out of my worst nightmares and I have only met two of them."
"And who would that be?" Kerry asked as she sat down with her tray, "What is it that has you so upset that you skipped the breakfast line?"
"I just saw a limo pull up and three of my biggest nightmares from the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom got out." The name of that organization elicited an immediate reaction out of Kerry given her own history with the New York chapter house over Christmas Vacation during her stint as the Angel of Hell’s Kitchen. "I swear to you all that I saw just saw Carcharoth, The Hangman, and Mister Domino along with about four others exit a limo in front of Shuster."
Taking a moment to note that everyone was present, I knew that it was now or never. "Listen this is important about a month ago I was dragged into a Fehde, a type of mystic astral duel with Morrigan, Plainswalker and another spirit called Greyback against Carcharoth and a Grand Hall warlock named Plagiat. The battle was fought using will and imagination and our side won, as part of the concessions we found out that Mister Domino had ordered the attack that preceded the Fehde, and I also won something that I need to share with you. It was that I could extend a ward of protection to someone and their loved ones that keeps Carcharoth from harming them in any way, the only stipulation is that you have to accept it."
"I offer it now to each of you," I turned to our exchange student from Bucharest and added, "Radu before you say another stupid American remark I am warning you, Carcharoth is nightmarishly strong and as vicious as a school of hungry sharks! Please accept this and if you do don't let your pride or chivalry make you try to pick a fight with him, I don't know if the protection will extend to him protecting himself from an attack and you shouldn't press your luck."
"What about the other two people, this Hangman and Mister Domino?" Kerry asked obviously wanting more information on a clear and present danger. "I can swear that I have heard of them somewhere before."
"The Hangman is an undead monstrosity that has been terrorizing my part of the country for well over a hundred years." I began to weave the dark tale as it was taught to every boy and girl of North Texas for as long as I can remember as a matter of survival. "Hezekiah Jones was a hangman for Fort Worth during the days of the Old West; unfortunately he liked his job a little too much. He turned to murder and at night went around dragging people off and strangling them by the banks of the Trinity River with his noose, by the time he was caught in 1882 he had killed 115 people, before his life was finally ended by his own rope on the gallows that he worked the next day."
"However Hezekiah's life may have ended but his reign of terror sure didn't; he crawled down from the gallows that night and took another twenty victims. Eventually the town's chaplain, an local curandera and a squad of vigilantes took him down after strangling him again with his own noose and sealed him in a stone coffin carved with several blessings to keep him restrained. This lasted until Erzabet Scratch let him out in the 30's, and bound him to her serve as her enforcer."
"He's been put down a few times since then, but there is always someone evil and/or stupid enough to raise him, other than Scratch though he's killed everyone who’s done it. The last time was one night back in October in '99 when a group of Goths did it to get rid of a few jocks that were bullying them. The Hangman killed them and then went on a rampage killing dozens before he was finally stopped at the Six Flags Theme Park, guess where I was at the time with a group of seven to nine year-olds. I remember being frozen with fear in that panicked crowd about four-dozen feet away from that undead behemoth, I still swear that I could feel his dead eyes raking over me, if Plainswalker hadn't arrived to stop him I would likely be six feet under right now. Now whatever you do if you fight him never let him get that noose around your neck, it's a cursed artifact and if he tightens it until you choke you are dead where you stand and your soul in imprisoned in the noose for him to feed on. What makes it worse is the only way to stop him is to use that noose to strangle him first."
"And Mister Domino," Erze asked this time, "What is he?"
"A very powerful warlock that is a part of a group deep within the Grand Hall called the Obsidian Circle, he has been around for at least over a century and no one knows who he really is at least no one that can tell me, right Morrigan." Once again silence she was being very quiet lately except for dream training when I was studying for Mystic Concepts, or she really had something to say. "She's not nearly as chatty as normal its like either she's looking for something or waiting. As for Mister Domino until about a month ago no one had really seen him in decades, most thought that he was dead, and I think this is the first time that he has been out in the open since it happened."
"It?" Rob Rose asked at my comment, "If I might be so bold to inquire my fair lupine damsel of the southern wilds, what it?"
"Since Reverend Darren Englund cut his head off in retaliation for the death of Cirque of the Mystic Six." I said filling in the blank, "Apparently he was aiding the cult that killed her and Englund decapitated him after a long battle in retaliation, I wonder what his reaction will be when they meet again."
Whateley - Outside Shuster Hall
In the snow on the footsteps of Shuster Hall waited five of the seven individuals to arrive in the Limousine while the other two of their number Galatea and Shuffle arranged for Inferna's appointment to speak with Fey and Generator as well as the four students that Mister Domino wanted to speak with after he met with Elizabeth Carson. Inferna being a pyro-energizer was unfazed by the cold even before her 'adoption' by Erzabet Scratch. Perses duravlar suit was built on the Goretex design, and handled the cold as well as the heat, although he did have his mask up to keep his face from freezing. Being undead The Hangman didn't feel hot or cold, all he felt was bored, he wanted action mixed with a lot of death and destruction- something Erzabet promised him plenty of in the near future.
As for Mister Domino and Carcharoth well they were used to far colder environments than this, however they were waiting outside for a certain someone, "Mister Domino, die you foul hell-spawned fiend!"
Reverend Darren Englund not wanting his students to fall under scrutiny charged Mister Domino with a sword burning in arcane fire, only to have his blade intercepted by the hand of an individual in an all too familiar to him, "'ello Darren," Carcharoth said as he assumed his form off a ten-foot tall pitch-black, crimson-eyed beast, "Did you miss me?"
"Darren, Darren, Darren," Mister Domino chided the self-proclaimed holy warrior as Carcharoth applied a brief squeeze to the Reverend's arm causing him to let go of his sword, that extinguished the moment he did. "If this is how you treat those who arrive at Whateley as guests I would pale to imagine how you treat those who arrive with hostile intentions."
"Domino, Lycaon, How are you abominations still alive?" Darren growled in fury, "I killed you both decades ago!"
"No," Mister Domino replied in his usual non-chalant manner, "You merely separated my head from my body, that is hardly enough to kill me nor is it the first time it has happened either."
"And as for me parson," Carcharoth chuckled darkly, "What you killed wasn't even my real body, although I doubt that you could even find it if you wanted to, oh and these days I go by Carcharoth."
"You monster, if it was not for you supplying the Cult of the King in Yellow with that Grimoire Cirque would still be alive!" Darren proclaimed to the being responsible for the death of his beloved.
"No Darren," Mister Domino said shaking his head as he sauntered closer to the reverend, his hands clasped behind his back. "If it wasn't for me replacing their Copy of the King in Yellow with an edited demonic grimoire wrapped in an illusion glyph, her soul would have been destroyed. You see Darren Cirque was destined to die that day however my intervention allowed her ancient soul to reincarnate and become more whole in the process. Do you not see- Cirque had to die then so that another could live today."
"All I see is that you are a scourge that should be purged from existence." Darren screamed still wrapped in rage.
"Darren there is only one true difference between the two of us," Domino leaned forward and whispered in Reverend Englund's ear, "I am not in denial, at least I recognize myself for the fiend that I am."
"That is quite enough Mister Domino," Elizabet Carson said as she exited Shuster Hall with Galatea and Shuffle. "While you and your entourage are our guests here you will refrain from attacking either students or staff."
"Now, now my dear Elizabeth," Mister Domino said utilizing his silver tongue. "This is not an attack this was self-defense," Domino reached down and dangled Reverend Englund's sword by the end of its pommel. "Darren appears to be unable to let the past remain just that, the past. Of course who can blame him for being uptight when there are four Class-X entities as students on campus."
"And we are perfectly willing to behave mum," Carcharoth stated as he dangled the struggling Reverend from his right arm. "Provided of course you can keep your pet Bible-humper on a tighter leash, at least till he gets some obedience training."
"Darren we will discuss this conduct of yours later, besides you have today's services to conduct." the Headmistress looked up at the demonic wolf and stated firmly, "You can release him now."
Carcharoth shrugged and dropped to the snow, Darren dusted himself off and left giving Mister Domino the evil eye. "Now Inferna, Mister Domino, I trust that you will join Mr. Lodgeman, and Deputy-Headmistress Hartford and I in the conference room to discuss your visit. Shuffle I trust that you will help keep your bodyguards under control."
"Madam Carson I assure you there will be no trouble from either Perses or The Hangman, and Carcharoth while not under my orders is under those of Mister Domino to only act in self-defense with non-lethal force." The elderly mercenary leader stated in his usual courteous manner, "And shall endeavor to ensure that he does not entertain any creative ideas on what constitutes non-lethal." Satisfied at the word of a villain who was known for his honor, Headmistress leader Mister Domino and the two Grand Hall chapter directors into Shuster Hall.
"Spoil sport," Carcaroth grumbled in indignation.
Reverend Englund seethed with anger, he had been training Nightbane and the others for this type of task, and he was now he was unable to act. The fiend responsible for the death Charlie Lodgeman's wife would be right in the room with him and neither he nor Totem could act when they should- wait a minute, four Class-X entities.
After a few minutes, I was able to calm down over the fact that the day had already begun, and I could already tell that this was going to be the day from hell. I went over to pick over what was left of breakfast only to have one of the Goths bump into me on my way back to the table. "Oops sorry about that miss I-gahh." In the midst of apologizing, the smell of sulfur hit my sensitive nose, I looked down to see the greenish off-yellow blobs surrounded by white fragments.
"Look what you did," the Goth shouted at me in anger over the accident, "It took the kitchen staff days to let those eggs get properly rotten, now I will have to start my preparations all over again." I tried to apologize again for the accident however, she would have none of it and stormed off.
I felt bad about the accident and my nose was numb from the smell, I was about to ask the kitchen staff if I could borrow a mop when a tiny robot whizzed in sprayed the spot, cleaned and buffed up the mess. Jada looked at me from the counter and said with a smile, "We save the mops for detention after food fights."
"Do you happen to have any wasabi paste or horseradish lying around?" I asked hopeful that she would say yes, "I need to clear my sinuses."
"I doubt that we have any wasabi but we should have plenty of horseradish, come before you leave for class and we should have a small takeout sauce cup full ready."
"Thank you," I shook the centaur girl's hand, or made the motion to since she was wearing sanitary glove. "I was worried that I'd be smelling rotten eggs all day."
I stopped by after I had polished off my diet yogurt cup, all of the good stuff was already gone and the rest of the group had already left, now I needed to make an appointment with Ms Grimes about whether my project was alright. I polished off the yogurt, grabbed the horseradish with a quick tossing it in my bag and made a beeline for Kirby Hall trying to ignore my feeling of trepidation at the monsters outside near Shuster. I was just outside Kirby when someone got me from behind with a rag over my face, this close I could even smell the chemicals soaking the cloth, at least- the- smell- o-f- sul-fur- wass- gooonnnnnnnnne-"
Shuster Hall - Administrative Conference Room
"So as you see I need to see your students Fey and Generator soon to determine exactly what occurred at the Syndicate hardsite, as well as what repartitions that I need to make to them personally." Inferna finished stating her case to the trio of trustees the two administrators and the representative of the Medewah tribe. "I am the chapter director for Kansas City's Chapter House of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom, my failure to detect that the Necromancer had an operation going on in the very seat of my sphere of influence is a stain not only on my reputation and Erzabet Scratch's reputations, but now that of the Obsidian Circle itself. I need to find out exactly what happened that day in Kansas City, how this student of yours Hekate-"
"Former student of ours," Amelia Hartford clarified Inferna's statement, "The moment the truth about Hekate's actions came to light she was expelled in absentee from Whateley and reported to the MCO, Interpol and every other legal agency that we could think to contact."
"Former student Hekate is connected to the Necromancer," Inferna corrected herself.
"We also need to find out who has been teaching her magic," Mister Domino stated evenly, "It is very rare to find someone so young who has even heard of a Fool's Circle, let alone one who would know how to construct one. However the ingredients that the Syndicate was asked to provide for her were of particular interest; Baron Impié you see has in his many years seen and read about almost every spell in existence, and the ingredients that were on the list the Syndicate provided remind him of a spell that he has thought was long forgotten."
"The spell was one used by the High Priestesses of Inanna in Ancient Sumeria, they used it to turn women captured from foreign tribes into obedient sacred maidens who would serve as temple prostitutes. They were to remain like this until they bore a female child to replace them or possibly become a new high priestess; any male children born were sacrificed to renew the binding."
"Deplorable the ways of the ancient Mesopotamians," Charlie Lodgeman all but spat.
"That is nothing," Mister Domino continued, "If the child was worthy of being a high priestess herself, they would make the mother bare another daughter, turn her into her first daughter's slave and then when the child was ten she would sacrifice her own mother to Inanna. The question is how would Hekate know such a ritual, in the cult of Inanna while they may have written down base descriptions of their rituals they never went into specifics, in all ancient cults of Mesopotamia except that of Ereshkigal the details of their Rites and Rituals were unknown to outsiders and most have been lost to time. Baron Impié knows because he echo-viewed the ruins and observed the rituals long ago; however those ruins are now dust too fine for any memory to cling to, the only way she could know was from one who knew the rituals first hand."
"Now Mister Domino what are you here for," Ms Carson asked in a demanding tone of voice, "Out in public after all these decades after so many thought you dead, what do you want?"
"Why among other things to deliver these to Whateley," Mister Domino opened the bag that he had been carrying to place four brand new Egyptian-style canopic jars on the table. "We had heard of the Tong of the Black Madonna attacking Whateley, trying to force the Handmaiden of the Tao of all things to submit her blade to them. Now such a young order is to be excused for a little foolishness however attempting to tamper with Destiny itself, such a mindset is dangerous and needed to be corrected. Lord Ataxia and Baron Impié themselves paid the Tong's Mountain Temple a visit, to remind them that despite their cult being a thousand years old that there are older forces still. Lord Ataxia gave their High Priestess the Blessing of Anubis while Baron Impié dissuaded her guards from interfering, a rather slow lot that group, it took them three dozen guards before the realized the lethal folly of trying to kill him. Of course the strangest thing happened as they left, some missile exploded over the place covering it in paint, Lord Ataxia took it in stride however Baron Impié is still trying to get the red paint out of his favorite jacket."
"Anyway here is part of the Tong's high priestess," Mister Domino gestured to the jars, "We let the Tong keep the body, then again I understand mummies are revered in that part of the world. You are correct though I do have an ulterior motive to be here, last month Madam Eventide rescued over a hundred children from an MCO wet works site last month, most of the children were returned to their homes however eight of them were mutants. She has been housing them at her private villa in Europe; however, we feel that the children would be safer here. We will be smuggling them to Whateley well enough in time for spring semester, and would appreciate it if the three that arrive with them are allowed to transfer here as well. Here are the folders of the eight children, and the three who will help them slip through the MCO at the airport. Now this is very important of those three, one is Madam Eventide's niece and the other her very own daughter."
This news shocked the three administrators of Whateley as well as Inferna and Galatea, undaunted by their reactions Mister Domino continued. "I will also need to speak with three of your students about matters that concern them and only them, and I have heard your rules these are not job offers, nor will I do anything to these students. The students in question are Stygian, Carmilla and Don Sebastiano."
Regaining her composure Ms Carson answered the legendary warlock. "Mister Domino while we appreciate your gesture with the Tong of the Black Madonna, and will gladly welcome the new students even those that are the blood relatives of someone of Madam Eventide's reputation, under no circumstances will I ever allow you access to our students."
The phone on the desk rang and Ms Carson put it on speaker, Headmistress Carson this is Chief Delarose, the Medawihla just reported a large group headed in this direction up the all weather road.
"Let me guess assorted members of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom." Amelia Hartford stated giving Mister Domino and his group a smug look of having caught them in the act playing like amateurs.
No Ms Hartford, Chief Delarose sounded back, Not unless the Grand Hall is using monsters like that creature that attacked Rockerfeller Center last Christmas as hired muscle.
"Chief you mean to tell me that a group of Jöten Frost Giants is marching in broad daylight in this direction and Berlin hasn't sent news copters." Charlie Lodgemen stated then said, "Let me guess there is a weird fog around them and the one who reported them is the Medawihla."
Got it in one sir, and I'd say this is more than a group, there are a few dozen of them. Chief Delarose explained, I think that we might need to call in the auxiliaries Ms. Carson, and any of the staff too this might get very ugly.
"Well Amelia, might I negotiate for our services in this confrontation," Mister Domino stated with his usual annoyingly cheerful attitude. "After all fighting Frost Giants in the middle of winter, believe me when I say that you will need all the help you can get."
"Alright Mister Domino you may have your time with those students, however you are to stay ten feet away and we will have a video-only divisor-camera on you at all times."
"Agreed," Mister Domino turned to Erzebet's daughters as he stood up and proclaimed, "Ladies would you be so kind and join me, we are going to go defrost some Frozen Jöten."
As I came to after what I could assume being chloroformed, I was aware of a few things: For one I had never been in this room before; that wasn't odd the tunnels under Whateley were supposed to be full of hidden rooms as I had heard a lot of devisors and gadgeteers have hidden labs down here. Secondly, my hands were bound behind my back and my ankles were tied together, a quick tug confirmed that another rope joined the other two keeping from doing more than squirming, whoever it was had also gagged me. Third, I was at the center of what looked like a magic circle, which was surrounded by a border of cold iron. This meant that even if I transformed into my Ravewolf form and used it to break free of my binding, I would still be unable to leave until the circle was broken, hell, as I understood it from class I wouldn't even be able to reach outside the circle.
The final thing that I noticed was a trio of figures preparing for whatever ritual it was that they were either going to use me for or use to do something to me. Morrigan, hey Morrigan, I though in my mind at the other voice in my head, I know that you've been giving me the silent treatment lately but what the hell is going on?
We were knocked out and drug here by those three, I looked at the circle under us it appears to be the preparations for a seperation ritual although not one of which I am familiar- it might be slavic in origin, I always did have trouble finding their grimoire to take a peak. I presume that they plan on splitting us up, this might actually work out for the best, after all if they think that they can hold be within one of them they will be in for one hell of a fight.
Morrigan why have you been so quiet lately? I inquired of the ancient Sidhe general, Usually you are chatty as a pet store full of parrots, what is up?
I have been using Badb and a few of her children to investigate things in the area, the phantom
While Morrigan I had been conversing, the mystery trio had finished preparing for their ritual, "And now my sisters we are ready to begin the rite of separation, first we will divest the Phantom Queen from her chosen Avatar, and then divide her into her trinity and amongst ourselves."
As they began to chant, I tried to break free and warn them about the mistake that they were making however, I was in too much pain from their ritual pulling Morrigan off my soul to say anything. They actually believed in those old mistranslations, they did not understand that the Celtic trinity goddesses were an apprentice system. The goddesses with certain positions would pick a trio of candidates from their servants to apprentice under them, giving each an aspect of their power and the right to prove themselves; in the end, the chosen apprentice would join their master and her familiar as her heir.
In the case of Morrigan this trinity was the Morrigna: Anu, Macha and Nemain. Out of the three Anu had won the right to be Morrigan's apprentice because she was the only one that didn't abuse the power Morrigan granted her. As for Macha and Nemain they had proven so dangerous that not only did Morrigan refuse to dismiss them, when the Celtic Pantheon abdicated their power to the Nazarene, Morrigan bound them within the Fair Lands because they kept going back to the old Gaelic Lands and causing trouble by influencing the people there. Just look at the History of not only the British Isles, but France and Spain as well and you will see the signs of every time that those two slipped their chains.
Moreover, right now these three were unwittingly about to release all that on Whateley while we had a team of professional mystic super-villains on campus it was a firestorm waiting to happen. I tried to hold onto to Morrigan's spirit except what mystic training I had was rudimentary at best, which meant that I was able to do jack. Finally, the pain was too intense and I passed out.
Right as Randi lost consciousness Morrigan was torn free from her soul still screaming in agony, now that their first objective was complete the trio set about their second task unaware of just what they were going to do. They found what they thought were the individual pieces of The Morrigan, unaware that they had in fact just grabbed onto the two spell links keeping Macha and Nemain imprisoned as well as Badb's familiar link.
The three spell casters continued their ritual reeling in the two wrenching the two Celtic deities free of their bonds, and dematerializing Badb as she was pulled in from wherever she was on campus at that moment. Finally, the three spirits entered the trio of spell casters who fell to the ground, at the force of the spirits entering them. Immediately one of the spirits left its new host finding the body not to her liking, and left to find a new host nearby more to her tastes.
Soon the individual who spoke earlier the leader of the group arose, "Yesssss, this flesh will do nicely," she hissed as she looked around sensing that her former master had used the brief gap formed during the moment of binding to escape she knew that she had to act. "I must find somewhere to hide while my host's body becomes mine, my warden will not be long."
Soon after the mysterious possessed figure departed the room, Badb awoke emerging from her own captor although without Morrigan she was unable to manifest a material body. "Great those two are loose in the worst possible location, and now I need to get to where the boss left her body, this is just fucking wonderful." The disembodied storm crow ranted as she examined the other prone figure similar to the one that she emerged from, noting the signs of spirit rejection she raced away from the room and out to the Academy grounds.
"Nadia, Marie, Jane!" The storm crow shouted contacting her a few of her children that were on campus. "I need to get to the boss asap, so I need you to follow some new assignments. Nadia you need to look for wherever Nemain scampered off to be careful she'll be trying to hide. Marie I need you to find Macha she didn't like her host and split, you know her ego keep an eye on the major hotties on campus, especially the Venus Inc. girls, she will likely try and possess one of them to make as her new host. Jane I need you to keep an eye on Randi, and when she wakes up you are to give her what the boss was working on as well as a fill sit-rep."
Badb's spirit took off away from Whateley as fast as she could to where Morrigan would soon be waking up, while a trio of physical storm crows raced to their own assignments.
Meanwhile back in the a figure crept about, noting that the coast was clear Carcharoth entered the room and removed the hoods on the two prone figures. Noticing the face that he memorized from the files Erzabet Scratch's spy provided her, he picked the shorter of the two girls gently and placed her over his shoulder. He stared at the form in the center of the room, and growling at the memory of the Fehde knowing that no matter how much he wanted he could not harm the girl. In addition, that girl could spare others from his wrath whenever she wanted, still as he stared at the girl he had with him, he knew that a more valuable treasure awaited him. It wasn't as if he could do anything about this enemy anyway, but one day one of the Circle would figure out that she was a liability to one of their best operatives; then the Circle would take care of her for him without him needing to lift a finger.
Dr. Quasimodo's Castle
Outside Lugano, Switzerland
3:17 PM CET
Within the old building in a quiet study a prison of amber shrank as the woman within fell out and onto the floor, the raven-maned beauty adorned in azure tattoos coughed as her body breathed in air for the first time in decades. A young platinum blonde woman with an alabaster complexion and diamond crystal protrusions out came to see the commotion. "Grandfather, Auntie Morrigan is awake," She proclaimed to someone outside of the room.
"Ashlynn," Morrigan croaked as she tried to speak with her dry voice, "We have trouble, I need you to help me get ready, they are free."
"Calm down," Ashlynn said as she helped the nude sidhe warrior into one of the chairs in the study, "Morrigan you need to regain your strength."
"Yes and as fast as possible." Morrigan replied as she looked at the young woman that she remembered as a giggling child bouncing on her knee not too long ago, "The Morrigna are loose at Whateley."
Whateley Academy - Doyle Medical Complex
12:27 PM EST
As I woke-up I swore that my- well everything hurt, at least unlike Plagiat's attack I was alive, although I knew that I was alone, Morrigan had gone- likely back to her own body and I hoped that she returned soon. My eyes now coming into focus I noticed that Kerry and what I presumed was Badb in her bird form sitting by my bed.
"Welcome back to the land of the living," Kerry stated as she held out a cup of water, which I took with trembling hands that were becoming steadier as the pain began to subside. "When you never showed up to class Earthmother was worried so we went looking for you, Witchcat found you in a hidden room in the tunnel complex with one of the Goths in the middle of a spell array. Just what happened?"
"Someone Chloroformed me outside Kirby Hall, because of how rattled I was and the incident with the rotten eggs (that they had probably arranged ahead of time), I didn't even notice them until it was too late." I answered Kerry as I began to regain fine control of my body. "The next thing I knew I came to bound and gagged in the middle of a magic circle, with a cast iron perimeter. All that I could see were three know-it-all spell casters who were determined to take Morrigan and split her among themselves prepping the ritual to do so just out of my reach. I passed out when they were prying Morrigan and I apart, from how much pain I was in and the fact that I can't feel her presence, they succeeded in the first part I just hope that they failed in the second."
"No such luck," the storm crow who I now knew was certainly not Badb answered. "After they tore Morrigan from you they tried to split her not knowing that this was impossible and that they drew their conclusions based on misinformation. Instead they freed Macha and Nemain, and dematerialized my mother, at present we only have the one who tried to host her unconscious in the next bed, and the other two are out and about one with Nemain inside of her and the other likely just hiding. As for Macha she can be inside of anyone on Campus with a minor Avatar ability waiting to subvert her host's body, my sisters Marie and Nadia are looking for the rogue Morrigna now and I hope they find them before three o'clock."
"Why three?" Kerry asks and she feared the answer that I already knew.
"Because if I'm right half a day will have passed, and then Morrigan's successful former apprentice and their sister Anu will come here to drag them back to their bonds in the lands of the Wild Fae by any means necessary." I answered her as I sat up now feeling so much better, "Even if it means killing their hosts, taking them with her, or tearing her way through every student on campus to do so she will not give up until she gets the job done."
"You are correct, and that brings us to another problem, as you are now you are very vulnerable to both of them. Now there is something that Morrigan left you that should do the trick," the storm crow confirmed my fears before her eyes flared and a marble-sized smoke shrouded orb appears floating in front of me. "This is what Morrigan promised you she would give you after the two of you separated and it is up to you on how to use it. If you press it into your chest the magic inside will make you as you would have been had Plagiat not banished Greyback however, you will be vulnerable to the powers of both Macha and Nemain if you do so. If on the other hand you swallow it the magic will become a part of you, it will stabilize your powers however you will lose all potential as an avatar in return for gaining the magic within the orb in its place, as well as me as your familiar."
I reached out and grabbed this most bitter pill, knowing that the only choice I had that wouldn't place others in danger was no choice at all. I asked the storm crow, "Before I decide, what do I call you?"
"I am called Jane, the youngest daughter of Badb,” Jane responded to my question. "I was born in the Tower of London during the Blitz."
"Well Jane down the hatch," I took the orb and swallowed it, what followed was by one of the most intense experiences that I had ever had. It was like when I was tortured by the MCO, except nowhere near as unpleasant, "Yeehaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" I shouted in exhilaration.
It felt like pure- liquid energy was coursing through my veins, as it ended I felt like a million bucks and climbed out of the hospital bed without a problem except for maybe that my tail forced open the slit of the hospital gown that I was wearing. "What a rush!" Still I had to get dressed and get moving the campus was in real trouble, and I needed to tell as many of the teachers as I could about what was about to go down.
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Whateley Academy - Doyle Medical Complex
12:32 PM EST
It was now clear too me, I could feel that I had just taken the first major step in putting my past life behind me. Sean Andrew Bridges didn't die from Plagiat's attack spell he was just comatose, and I was waiting on the sidelines hoping for a miracle; when I swallowed that orb I had just worked up the courage that I needed to finally pull the plug. True being Sean was what I'd been all my life but was it really that different from the life I had now, was it that much better than being Randi Patricia Bridges. As Sean I was the lonely and aimless younger child with a hidden pit of anger who had no real friends, few acquaintances and no real drive in the world; I was a damned timebomb waiting to go off doing who knows how much damage.
As Randi I was the older sister to a sweet girl that had all the wrong things happen to her life, someone who needed someone to look after her when she got here in a year and a half. I had acquaintances that looked like they might be starting to become friends, Kerry for example had been concerned enough about someone that she had known for less than a week to convince the Mystic Concepts Class to come looking for me.
No one here knew Sean, they knew Randi and it was my job to make sure that they got to know her as I got to know myself.
That was a fair moment of introspection my dear, but can you finished putting your clothes on so we can tell security and the teachers that they have a serpent in the nest and a mad horse in the stables. Jane stated as I blushed realizing that I was taking a bit long to get dressed.
"You took your time in there." Kerry stated as I walked out from behind the curtain dressed in my uniform again. "So do we need to go to admin or security first?"
"Neither, I need to have a chat with my kidnapper." I began to explain to someone that I hoped would maybe become a friend rather than an acquaintance, I know in order to have friends first you must be a friend but a few clumsy first steps never hurt for someone who's been living that hedgehog's dilemma. "I know that she's not one of the hosts, and if I can find out about the other two maybe I can help security narrow their search."
"Only for Nemain, Badb detected signs of rejection on one of the two. Macha likely bolted to find a better host elsewhere, she always was the vainest sister out of those three, Nemain was never that picky." Jane explained to Kerry and me, "I don't know what happened to her after mother left the room but the one here has mom's scent on her. Nemain also will not be out in the open, that serpent will be hiding as best she can until she has adapted her body to suit her perfectly, we have to find her or it will be too late for her host."
"What do you mean too late?" Kerry asked as we kept walking to the room where my kidnapper was resting, "What will happen? Will she die?" She asked as we stood just outside the open doorway to their room I stopped.
"Worse, Morrigan told me that hosting the Morrigna has side-effects; in this case they as they possess their host his or her body will change to suit the possessing entity, until even if they are exorcised if the physical change is complete it will be permanent." I stated explaining the gravity of the situation to Kerry knowing that if the accomplice to my kidnapping were awake she would hear me.
"Now what makes matters worse when one of the Morrigna possess a someone their host suffers psychological effects, provided that they are awake when it occurs. If the possession is forced, the psychological effect will be traumatic but temporary with time and therapy they would eventually come out of it, maybe even for the better. On the other hand if the possession were voluntary like it would be with this person's comrade, once the physical change is complete the mental effects would be as permanent as the transformation and there would be no returning them to normal."
"What are the effects and the transformations?" Kerry asked cluing in to my intentions and with a sideways nod letting me know that they were awake and listening.
"For Macha the final form looks like a satyr except based on a horse not a goat, and since Macha dominates people the result is a loss of self-confidence making the victim emotionally fragile; if it were permanent they would be completely without any willpower." I paused to let that bit sink in to the listeners mind, "For Nemain the final form is like a naga except based on a wyrm and not a snake, and since Nemain drives people into frenzies her host loses touch with reality; if it were permanent they would be rendered incurably psychotic."
"Y'vonne, Benise, what have I done!" The girl inside the room wailed, now that she was aware of the danger to her friend's lives she would likely tell us the truth, that is if she cared about them at all, which from the sound of it she did.
Kerry and I entered the room to find the girl crying her eyes out, despite her running mascara and her blond roots showing under her black-dye job she was definitely a looker, wait a minute I think I've seen her in Poe. "Miss, I need to ask you some questions, your friends’ lives may depend on them."
"I heard what you were saying in the hall, if it's true how could you have both of them inside you?" The Goth asked me.
"I didn't," I explained to her. "The Morrigna were Morrigan's apprentices, the two that your friends took in were those who failed their apprenticeship. Oh and FYI you didn't grab the third one of the trio, you reeled in Morrigan's familiar by mistake. Maybe if you tell me more about the three of you I could help find them before its too late."
"My codename is Samhein, the other two were Trivia and Delve, for about a year here on campus I was a part of a group here on campus called the Cult of Cthul." Samhein began to explain the situation in detail, "Last semester our leader Bloodworm tried to summon a demon and sacrifice another student to it, the ritual went wrong a Bloodworm fell into the summoning portal, he was my friend Trivia's boyfriend and she has been obsessed with getting him back. I have been sticking with her hoping to break her of this obsession but it was only getting worse. Trivia came to believe that if we harnessed the power of a Sidhe then we would have enough power to get Bloodworm back."
"However the only Sidhe powerful enough for that on campus was Fey; after what happened to the Crystal Wavers and the Children of the Night I was able to convince Trivia that she was too dangerous to go after." The Goth took a breath and then continued, "Then Monday she brought it up again, apparently Delve overheard you that morning and looked you spirit up, the reference books said that she was a triple being so we were trying to split Morrigan up between us and use her power and ours to get Bloodworm back. Especially since she found out that the Sidhe were the ancient enemies of the type of demon that we summoned."
"Lady there is only one group of demonic creatures that the Ancient Sidhe was enemies of, and there are only three types of people that have anything to do with them." I expounded on her friend's folly, which was an understatement, the only brush that I'd had with the Great Old Ones was riding tag along while Morrigan took out about a dozen of what Fey calls Voodoo Wolves, not something that I want to repeat. "Those people are those that know what they are doing and fight them, those that worship them and want them to rain havoc on the earth, and those that are either too proud or too foolish to know better than to not meddle in the affairs of such things."
Freaked out by my accusation Samhein shifted into a weird looking animal that looked like a cross between a cat and a bear, and then began to make a high-pitched wail that had me clutching my ears in pain. Knowing that it wouldn't help the pain, but hoping that it might make her shut up, I shifted to my wolf form bore my teeth and began snarling.
"B-bad doggie, g-get back!" this appeared to do the trick as Samhein shifted back out of fear and recoiled, so I stopped the fear mongering. "I'm sorry usually I'm better at controlling my shifting but sometimes when I get upset I do it by accident."
"Now this is important, only one of your friends is still possessed, Macha is vain as all get out, and if there was anything about her host that made her unattractive she'd split the moment she could. She did just that, all I was told by my feathered friend here is that it was the short one of your group, that meant that the last one left was possessed by Nemain and she'll be the hardest to find."
"So Delve will be fine, this means that Trivia is out there possessed, and might go insane forever if she no one can help her." Samhein started weeping again at the thought that she might be losing one of her closest friends forever; finally, she steeled herself and answered, the question. "Bloodworm had a private sanctum in the tunnels, but I have no idea where it is. To tell you the truth he was slime, and was dating another girl at the same time that he was dating Trivia; the only reason that I joined his little cult was to keep her from getting hurt. It figures Bloodworm is likely dead for all we know and Trivia is still obsessed with him; the other girl in their love triangle was Screech. I should be glad that she came down with the Flu so that she couldn't be there when the summoning failed."
After we had left the room I turned to Kerry and let slip the final detail that Morrigan told me about those two, "There was something that I didn't say to her, but the real threat of Macha and Nemain is how they influence others. I need to tell this to security, but a member of the Mystic Arts Program should probably be there to back me up or they'll think that I'm nuts."
"Believe me; you are acting way too scared right now to be crazy." Kerry said with a grin as we checked out of Doyle, and caught a note from Ms. Henderson telling me to take the day off for some reason.
Soon we made tracks for Kirby Hall, hoping that someone would be there that could verify what I needed to say to Security. I just hope that Morrigan and Badb make it back before Anu arrives otherwise this is going to get messy I turned to Jane who was flying beside us, "Hey Jane, will Morrigan return to help us out with this?"
"Of course she will the moment she can," the youngest of Badb's kids and my new familiar answered back, "But she needs to regain her strength and get back into her element first, otherwise she won't be strong enough and other Courts will perceive that as a weakness and take advantage of the opportunity."
For a minute as we ran up to Kirby Hall I wondered just what Morrigan was doing to regain her strength, what does a former War Goddess and Sidhe General do to get back in her element.
Irish Club Aplino
7:03 PM CET
That night at the Irish Club started out like any other a little music, some rowdy bikers bragging about their choppers, a night like the one before and the one before that- and then she showed up. No one knew her she walked in wearing cut-off blue jeans and a black leather bustier, her hair was as black as midnight and her eyes were amber gold, despite the temperature outside the cold didn't seem to faze her the only blue on her were the intricate tattoos etched into her skin. She sat down at the bar and order a pint of beer then polished in off in a single draught and ordered another.
After downing her second glass she demanded something with a little more bite to it, she cast a bit of glamour towards a nearby group of bikers to boost their competitive spirit. Soon enough Stephenwulf the leader of the local biking club stepped up to the bar and asked, "Lady you really seem to be packing it away, how are you up for a little contest?"
"I'm not on the market if that's what you mean," she said as she flashed her wedding ring at the biker.
"A little drinking contest," Stephenwulf elaborated, "If can drink your way past my friends and I we'll pay your tab, if not you pay our tab."
"Pity them lord for they know not what they do." Morrigan prayed for them briefly before turning to the lot, "Alright but as the challenged I pick the contest and the poison."
"It is a deal," Stephenwulf said sure of himself that there was no way this lady could out drink all of his boys.
"Your funeral buddy. Barkeep," Morrigan raised her voice to get the bartenders attention. "Get the yard glasses and fill'em with Smithwick's, some boys here want to see what it's like to wind up under the table."
"Miss I only have two of those things." The bartender stated trying to talk her out of it, but to no avail.
"Then I'll take them all on one at a time," Morrigan said staring at Stephenwulf as his club of thirty bikers stepped up. As the yard glasses were filled and handed to Morrigan and Stephenwulf, the rest of his boys arranged themselves in a line to wait their turn- a decision that they would regret in the morning. The contest began as Morrigan and Stephenwulf took a deep breath then released and began to drink.
Whateley Academy - Kane Hall
"So let's go over this again two of the students here on campus are possessed by demons." Officer Wilkinson reiterated what he had just heard from one of the newer students here on campus, "And if they aren't exorcised soon they're going to tear up campus, I doubt that they are that powerful even if it is true although granted this is Whateley."
"Celtic deities and we only have one confirmed possession," Elyzia Grimes stated with me in the room. "Y'vonne Atterberry codename Trivia, she was a part of Bloodworm's Cult of Cthul last semester before the incident which she missed thanks to a case of the flu. Evidently, though Bloodworm wasn't only involved with Screech, he was also leading on Trivia, except rather than suicide she has been obsessed with getting him back. She thought that if she could harvest the spirit of a Sidhe, in this case the spirit of Morrigan from Ms Bridges here, she could divide it between herself and two girls that she convinced to help her in this case Marlene Holcomb codename Samhein and Bernice Hodges codename Delve."
"Except rather than dividing up Morrigan after separating her from Ms Bridges they drew in Morrigan's familiar and two rebellious former servants." Ms Grimes continued, "While one of them, Macha unless I am mistaken departed to look for another host, Nemain is still out there in Ms Atterberry's body."
"They also won't be alone in tearing up campus," I began to explain, "Macha and Nemain can both project an empathic glamour that influences others. Macha's glamour dominates the wills of those who are susceptible and turns them into her obedient servants, while Nemain's glamour drives those susceptible into a frenzy and makes them attack anyone in sight."
"So this Nemain who is already out and about in Trivia's body is the main threat," Officer Wilkinson surmised from the information. "While the amount of Ragers, Ultra-Violents, and Dedrick's Cases that we have on campus isn’t many, those that have it could do some serious damage if someone is able to provoke them."
"Don't dismiss Macha as a threat just yet sir," I interrupted the security officer, "What makes her especially nasty is what Macha does to stay in control of her victims. You see glamour's like these only last until either sunrise or sunset, unless you do something to make the victim not want to return to normal."
"Why would anyone want to be a slave like that?" Wilkinson asked, "Unless of course they were into something weird."
"Because these slaves don't want to face the reality of what Macha made them do." I stated clearly steeling myself to reveal Macha's very nasty habit. "In order to make her male servant's prove that they love her, she makes them present her with the heads of their loved ones."
This information shocked everyone in the room. "So not only do we have someone that can turn every unstable person on campus into an indiscriminant killer. We also have someone that will force every boy in a relationship on campus that she can to decapitate their girlfriend to make them her slave forever, and if we don't bring them both in by three Anu will come looking for them and drag them and whoever they are possessing back to their prisons. Anu will also attack anyone who tries to interfere or who challenges her."
"We are already interrogating Samhein and Screech for any places Trivia might be hiding." Wilkinson stated on what measures the remaining security on campus were taking. "So are there any signs to look for to know who is possessed by this Macha?"
"She likes her hosts to be very attractive although knowing the number of exemplars on campus that hardly narrows it down, also look for anyone with an Avatar rating of 2 or below." I said beginning to highlight the possibilities. She probably won't possess those without the avatar trait because she wants her host to last her a while, also whoever's possessed by Macha should start showing physical signs. Both of these entities also physically transform the host, in Macha's case whoever she's hiding in should start having her legs transform into those of a horse and be sprouting a horse's tail."
"This couldn't have happened at a worse time," Officer Wilkinson stated as he leaned back in his chair, "Platoon One, the auxiliaries, and a good number of the teachers are off fighting some invasion of giants like that one that attacked New York last December. So we're really short staffed at the moment, only Platoon Two of Security is here right now."
"I doubt that it is a coincidence," I began to elaborate on the situation, "Before they yanked her out of me Morrigan told me that she thought that the Winter Court of the Fae had a spy here on campus, and a number of the Jöten frost giants allied themselves with the Winter Court when the Norse Pantheon lost its worshipers. When the Celtic Pantheon dissolved most of its deities joined the Wild Court however a few that liked to play with people like toys joined Winter, guess who two members of that group are?"
"So a spy for this group has been here on campus, and happened to overhear Trivia, Samhein and Delve plotting to remove Morrigan's spirit in a way that would set two of their allies free. So they planned a rather large distraction to happen as soon as it went down, one that would ensure that the rest of campus was an easy target." Office Wilkinson said putting it all together.
"Especially if they could take Morrigan out when she comes back here to stop those two," I elaborated further. "Morrigan might not be there at the moment however she is considered the ruler of about a third of the Fair Lands, if she is removed Winter and Summer would try to take the Wild Court, and once they do that they will start to do whatever the hell the can get away with here on the Mortal Plain. Remember most fae like to think of mortals as lesser beings and thus a source of amusement, and a number of them like to play with their toys until they break."
"Office Wilkinson we need to declare a red flag," Ms Grimes stated as she came up with a strategy. "Then we will need to get all students to return to their Cottages. Randi do the rules for fair folk apply to those possessed by Macha and Nemain?"
"Ask Jane here, I just know the basics," I said pointing at the bird.
"Macha and Nemain might have been in the Fair Lands however they are Tuarta de Danann not fae folk." Jane stated to Ms Grimes and Officer Wilkinson, causing the officer to raise an eyebrow, which Jane took note of as she continued. "Officer this is not ventriloquism I am a storm crow, a storm elemental from Europe and Faolan's familiar. As for the two trouble makers they have eaten the food and drink of Faerie long enough that they are of that land that means that cold iron will burn them and the usual warding traditions will bar their passage."
"What she means is those odd good luck superstitions that seem to have no basis in reality," Ms Grimes began to explain to the security officer. "Mistletoe hanging on a threshold, the horseshoe on the door-"
"And St. John's Wort if I remember right, it not only wards against the faer folk it can also banish them." I asked the teacher.
"How did you know about that?" Ms Grimes asked, "Of course it would work, just make a circle of it around one of them and it will banish one even from inside a possessed body. Of course we have to finds them first."
"Laying a circle down wouldn't be too much of a problem, since we probably have a decent number of speedsters that can do the job." I said trying to help layout a plan, but where are we going to find enough St. John's Wort. I mean the stuff is inexpensive but I doubt that Doyle has that much of an herbal supplement lying around."
"What about cold iron?" Officer Wilkinson asked, "Shouldn't a light tap knock the host out?"
"Yeah and the entity out as well, but unless we trap it in a circle of St. John's Wort or cold iron it'll just possess somebody else and we'll have to start over from scratch." I explained to the officer.
"Well thank you for the heads up Ms Bridges, now please return to you Cottage," Officer Wilkinson said as he escorted me out of the room, "The rest of the teachers and security will handle the mater."
"I swear this school year is proving to be insane," Ms Grimes said shaking her head as she walked me out of the building, "It is a good thing that I have an assistant to baby sit those that coven of middle schoolers that I have."
I was lost in thought again as I made my way from Kane Hall and back to Poe, I hoped that they could find and help those two on time, both before their possession changed them forever and before Anu got her hands on them. I was thankful that it was Saturday if this happened on a weekday it would be more hectic to keep everyone safe. I walked into Poe and saw Mrs Horton was inside waiting with Unfurth the dwarf holding a wrapped bundle.
"Ms Bridges you have two packages and I believe this...man has some business with you," Mrs. Horton looked at me with a withering gaze.
"Don't worry Mrs. Horton, Unfurth was just working on a commission that we negotiated last month." I explained before turning to the dwarf and said, "I'll be back in a moment I need to go to my room and get my banjo." Jane flew from my shoulder to Edger's Bust just as her mother had done on the day I arrived.
As I went up the stairs leaving Jane behind so that I could keep up with the conversation through her ears, Mrs. Horton inquired about the vagueness of the conversation, "A banjo as payment?"
"Nope, I gave her a pair of Boots of Sleph as collateral for one commissioned masterpiece," Unfurth explained the circumstances to her, as I was grabbing my banjo from my closet. "However if she wants to keep the boots, now she has to pay for them with a heart-felt song."
"Yeah," I said coming down the stairs, I set down my case, got my banjo out and began to tune. "And I am to keep them?" I stated as I began to let my fingers wander.
3 Miles From Dunwich, New Hampshire
The battle against the Jöten was going very well at the moment having forced the army to retreat from their march toward Dunwich into a field between the small town and Berlin. The small army consisting of dozens of teachers, Security Platoon One, the Auxiliaries (including most of the confined to campus Team Kimba), and the visitors from the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom were making steady progress forcing back the invading army of frost giants although for every one felled another took its place.
The battle had dragged on for hours and despite having some time to rest between pulses the student auxiliaries were beginning to get exhausted. Fey had tapped into Aunghadhail early on to force the Jöten back and begin their retreat but it was proving to be an action of folly. Now in an open field the frost giant were no longer confined to a single file march and were able to employ their full strength and magic.
Despite their powers and status as mutants, which meant that some people of the world would dispute this statement, the student auxiliary forces from Whateley were only human. The Jöten, while a few centuries out of practice, were used to long protracted campaigns in winter attempting to assail and conquer Asgard while their power was at its peak and Odin himself was at his weakest. Even without their king Ymir present the frost giants were a disciplined army and his commanders followed their strategies compensating to defend the summoning circle while wearing down their foes.
In time the students began taking turns cycling in and out of battle, the Wild Pack were swapped out with the Grunts, who swapped out with Outcast Corner, who swapped out with Team Kimba, who swapped out with Star League Jr. The only exception to this was Carmilla who never seemed to tire or need a break she was a non-stop shape shifting killing machine. The teachers present were also cycling their fighters with the exception of Lady Astarte.
As for the Grand Hall, they never swapped out; although Shuffle remained on the sidelines having been given a security comlink he was proving his reputation as a ingenious and effective tactician deploying every resource to its most effective point leaving, no gap undefended for longer than necessary and deploying his own forces with brutal precision. The Hangman though he was unable to fit his noose around the frost giant's heads was certainly strong enough to break their limbs and smash holes in their bodies. Perses meanwhile had taken enough hits that nothing the Jöten could throw at him would phase him, in fact he had long since abandoned the method that The Hangman was using and had started to grab frost giants by the feet and use them as melee weapons against their fellow comrads.
As for the two chapter directors, they were almost inexhaustible given that succubi could feed off radiated emotions they were in a veritable buffet. Each was of course fighting using their mutant abilities rather than their nascent ones as succubi, Galatea had touched the adamantium link in her armor chain and was smashing through frost giants, when they didn't try to squash her and found out it was like stepping on a nail. Inferna meanwhile was melting her way through the horde, using coiling snake of white-hot flame.
Mister Domino meanwhile was earning and even surpassing his infamous reputation, he pointed his splayed hand palms down each at a frost giant and giant salt needles appeared. He flipped them palms up the needles surrounded the target like a cage, he made fists and the needles speared his targets, and then he moved on snapping his fingers causing the needles to detonate. He spotted another Jöten trying to charge him, he pointed his right palm at the giant and splayed them before curled them shut, and the warrior was cleaved in pieces.
Team Kimba stood on the sidelines resting up as Star League Jr. had taken their placed, they remembered Faolan's warnings about the Obsidian Circle and looked at Mister Domino in careful horror, this was not a mystic terrorist like the Necromancer, this was a mystic conductor of a symphony of carnage. Still the most shocking was to come, Mister Domino appeared to be growing bored with his little game and decided to stop playing around, after all he was only a major magic user through power mimicry (and centuries of learning) his real talents lay in shape-shifting.
The entire battlefield shook as a fire-breathing giant appeared in the middle of the field, at first the Jöten were concerned that their distant cousin Surtur was paying them a visit, and then they noticed the three faces and six-arms. Mister Domino had just taken the form and likely powers of an Asura, giant scimitars immediately appeared in all six of his hands, with a trinity of roars issuing from his burning mouths Mister Domino turning into a giant burning cuisinart of destruction headed through the pack. Reverend Englund looked on and wondered why the warlock held back in the fight that he thought resulted in the double-masked man's death. Oddly enough, everyone was so busy with the fight against the Jöten that no one noticed the fact that Carcharoth was strangely absent.
Bernice came to and found herself being carried through a mist-filled forest that she had never seen before anywhere near campus, eventually she had accepted that she wasn't at Whateley anymore. She swore that she could see...things in the distance whose shapes they couldn't make out. She didn't even see what was carrying her just that it was wearing a hide jacket and had fur as black as Shroud's costume.
"Hey kid if you're awake then it’s time to walk." Her kidnapper stated as he set her down on a tree root. She looked at him and freaked this thing whatever he was looked like Bloodwolf's bigger, nastier, older brother.
"What do you want with me?" Bernice asked knowing that her abilities couldn't save her here, although the deep arcane forces here were powerful they felt way too heavy for her to manipulate. "I swear that the ritual was Trivia's idea!"
"Calm down kid, what your beef is with Morrigan and that kid is no business of mine," the ten-foot-tall wolf-beast stated clearly. "What I want is to buy your services, your ability to solve puzzles. You see I need you to free something of mine that is bound a little ways from here, and in return I will grant you what I know that you want more than anything to be a powerful beauty."
"And you promise not to hurt me." Bernice said trembling at the obviously powerful beast.
"I promised Carson that much already kid," the beast explained, "However you need to do two things, one stick with me, there are things out there that are not held by any such promise. The other is put these on those dress shoes aren't meant for rough terrain." He said as he tossed a rucksack at her feet.
Bernice looked inside and saw what looked like a pair of Gore-Tex hiking boots in her size with a pair of cotton socks, a thick cloak, three full canteens, and some paper towels. She noticed that it wasn't cold, but understood that the cloak might be for later, leaning against the tree trunk she took off her socks and shoes wiping her shoes off with the towels before putting them in the bag. Then she put on the socks and boots, standing up and taking the rucksack before telling the wolf. "I think we have a deal mister?"
"Call me Carcharoth for now," the beast explained, "When this is over I'll tell you something else you can call me."
Somewhere Unpleasant, Further Along
They had been walking over uneven terrain for hours, Bernice rarely asked how much further for fear of annoying the beast who looked like he could rip her in two on accident. Finally, they came to a thick clot of exposed roots, which had a large chasm underneath.
"Hold on tight," Carcharoth said as he tossed her on his back. Partway down he dug his claws into the side to slow there fall, below them was a larger cavern that was pitch black. They landed below on some unstable surface; Carcharoth immediately leapt away and let her hop down from his back. "Here let me guide you to the problem that I need you to solve."
Carcharoth grabbed her wrist and gently guided her towards what felt like a giant knot of a cord rope. "All I need you to do is untie this knot, when you are done with it you will find a vial of liquid and a pendant in your rucksack three feet behind you, but not a minute earlier. The pendant is your reward the vial is your way home, when you are ready to leave uncork the vial and pour it around you while thinking of your cottage at Whateley and you will return to your doorstep."
Bernice understood and went to work on the knot knowing that Carcharoth had both promised her, greatest wish come true and he would keep her safe after all, he needed her to do this. She got to work on the knot letting her talents take over despite working in pure darkness.
Irish Club Aplino
8:12 PM CET
The drinking contest had been going on for over an hour and all but three of Stephenwulf's bikers had either dropped out or passed out. However Morrigan showed no signs of quitting or even slowing down except to go to the bathroom, which they sent someone to listen in to make sure that she wasn't losing it; after all the spirit that she had going on in this place was charging her batteries like the ancient mead halls of the Middle Ages.
The spirits flowing from the tap, the testosterone flowing from her opponents in the competition, and the anticipation flowing from the onlookers she was well on her way to being a hundred percent again. Of course her opponents were looking somewhat worse for the wear, after all the yard glasses held three pints of alcohol, it was a pity this wasn't spring twenty minutes at a Scottish Football
Three rounds later and it was just down to her and Stephenwulf, she knew that this was his last round but he refused to admit it male pride prevented him from giving up to a woman, despite looking like something the cat spit up. Together they downed their yard glasses, Morrigan as always finished in ten seconds flat, while this time Stephenwulf refilled his glass the wrong way and collapsed on a table. The bartender hopped the bar and asked, "What's your name?"
"Call me Morrigan Redstag." She told the barkeep.
"The winner Morrigan Redstag," He raised her arm in triumph before proclaiming, "And drinks are on my new floor decorations!"
"Come on!" Morrigan shouted to the room, "Anyone got the stones to step up and take me?"
The doors flew open and in stepped an odd Chinese man, odd in that he had muttonchops and cinnamon colored hair. He simply sat down at an empty table put his right elbow down with his palm open like a claw and said, "Me."
Morrigan said down and matched stance as she grasped his hand, making it clear to the room that this woman who had just drunk an entire biker gang under the table without even getting winded was now going to arm wrestle this Chinese man who was equally as odd. Still there was a conflict no going on as Morrigan and the newcomer's consciousness had shifted to the astral plain.
"Hello Sun Wukung," Morrigan stated as she appeared in her full Valkyrian raiment staring down the infamous Buddha of youthful vitality, who now appeared as his true self-stretching to work the kinks out before the pending bout. "I thought that you might be back at Whateley helping out since those two spoiled brats are on the loose."
"The folks on campus will have everything well in hand," the monkey king stated as he worked the kinks out of his own system. "You armed your chosen protegé with all the information that they needed and Jane gave her even more. No, its time to let the current generation work out their problems, we need to get you back up to snuff. Winter's second strike at Whateley is being routed, this means that they have one more chance to come at it with whatever they can and the school is off limits to their efforts."
"And I need to be there to help when they do." Morrigan stated as she drew her blade, "All right let's do this!" The two ancient warriors clashed Morrigan's sword and shield against Sun's legendary staff. However back at the bar the patrons only saw the two arm-wrestling and were on pins and needles the entire match; as Morrigan's body soaked up the anticipation like a sponge.
Whateley Academy - Poe Cottage
New Hampshire, USA
2:34 PM EST
Anu would be arriving soon, the deadline was less than half an hour away, and everyone not in the security auxiliaries were confined to their dorms for safety. Not long after that Trivia would become Nemain's creature in body and mind forever, I mean I know that any normal person would probably feel a little more spiteful than that but the fact of the matter was after talking to Samhein I felt bad for her. She was a girl who had been played by a man who from what I had heard from Jade was a slimeball that had not only been stringing along two girls, but tried to feed another who insulted him for his stupidity to a demon.
One of those girls, Screech had tried to commit suicide and was stopped by a friend, she was in counseling. The other had become obsessed with getting him back by any means, one of her friend's had tried to use the tunnel of reality psych method to get her to let go, it might have worked if I didn't have Morrigan in me when I got to Whateley. As for Macha there was no telling when she had possessed her new host, and knowing this school I know that she would have likely found someone to her liking, I hoped that security would get to her before it was too late.
At least if she was hiding in her new identity she would be easier to spot, plus if she was confined to her dorm it wasn't like she'd have any guys to work her nasty little talent on and tell to kill the people they cared about. Well I might as well examine what came for me, this would hardly be like the haul that I got on my first 'new' birthday, and I was still working on redistributing his ill-gotten gains to their rightful owners. Some of those were tricky I mean Jeane d'Arc's sword was an easy one I just contacted someone from the archdiocese closest to Ruen, they would be only too glad to have it as a holy relic, especially given the history around it. Others were harder to pin down did the crown of Charlemagne go to France or Germany, did I send the shield of Constantine to Greece or the Vatican. At least Oxford was glad to have Roger Bacon's notebooks back in their archives.
I took a look at the sword Unfurth had made for me, glad that my little Bluegrass jam session had been good enough to pay for the Boots of Sleph. He said the blade was named Sydän which was apparently Finnish for heart, oh well dwarves liked giving things Scandanavian names given their heritage. It was a basket-handled sabre and was obviously made to accomidate my normal and werewolf forms, the blade was supposed to be nigh unbreakable and dwarves according to Jane guaranteed to fix their work if it did. Of course, this was a masterpiece blade and masterpieces had their flaws, in Sydän's case the blade was given to it by its owners determination to use it, that meant that the more determined that I was to use the Sydän like it was a weapon the sharper it would be. Of course, this also meant that if I wasn't determined to use Sydän like a lethal weapon the blade would be blunt, which would make it great for practice sessions.
Of course, there was Morrigan and I's commissions from Eldrich and Silver, the imbued mithril knife that Morrigan had named Trócaire (Gaelic for mercy), was a match for Cothrom in size and weight. Thanks to Morrigan's training, I knew how to use the blades properly, and because I was ambidextrous it was an ideal fighting style for me, I set Trócaire on my desk next to its twin.
The bracers that I'd commissioned were just as I'd pictured them, nice solid durable and well worth some of the junk that I had lying around, besides it gave me a place to put thing that I couldn't in my purse of holding (either because they wouldn't fit or because they were weapons. I used my chocker to transform into my costume and began to store my weapons inside the gems on my bracers, I looked at the blank spot on the underside of my bracer, I needed to talk to Jerico about my idea to solve my metabolism problem.
There was still the matter of the last package I read the note:
Since I am a little tied up at the moment, so this was delivered by a courier. Here is a little gift to go with the bundle of power I gave you, the Mask of Occlusion, use it to keep others from messing with your head.
According to Morrigan the beta of the pack that were created by Venraniel from Armeluien had become Loki, the infamous trickster god of the Norse pantheon. Given Loki's reputation, I was a little wary of this gift and had Jane examine it.
"Do not worry Randi," Jane said after going over the armored mask. "I cannot detect anything on it beyond than a willcage enchantment, a willing adherence enchantment, a reinforcement charm and the same appearance charm that is on the Reticule of the Fields, it should work just as the note says it will."
Throwing caution to the wind, I removed my mask and replaced it with Loki's gift. As soon as it made contact, the mask adhered to my face, and altered its appearance to make fit my costume. I looked at myself in my closet mirror, not to bad like those that Cecelia said earlier this week I looked the part of a medieval rogue, more swashbuckler than superhero; however sometimes the classics work the best. Hard to believe from what I heard a lot of students spent quite a while working on their costumes, and mine had just come together from what I had earned or had made, the image in the mirror had a smirk and I liked how it worked. Still as I put my old mask in my bag of holding, I hoped that I wouldn't have to put any of this to use anytime soon.
Whateley - Tunnels
Macha sat down on the bench in her newest servants hidden room, she was enjoying her new body, far better than that fat sack of homeliness that she was summoned into earlier. It really did pay to have friends in high places and her sponsor in the Winter Court had a spy here who had informed her just where to wait for a good body to fit her needs. Sure enough, she came across a fine treasure indeed, in the locker room of Venus Inc. Still Badb was well aware of her preferences and had sent one of her children to hunt her down, the spy and a sturdy insulated bag took care of that storm crow that was now trapped in her body's locker.
As luck would have it her 'host' had no friends and had earned the enmity of many, this meant that no one would notice her acting oddly. Please stop, no more, have mercy! Her host's ragged and beaten spirit wept for clemency causing Macha to roll her eyes.
Mercy was something for the weak and the weak were belonged at one of three places at her feet, under her heel, or in the ground. Besides, in only an hour this body would be hers, "ooh!" Macha moaned as she felt her new legs begin to change more into their regal equine continence. Even if she was ejected from this host like so many in the past it wouldn't matter because this beautiful body would be marked as hers for the rest of the host's days and she would never let the girl forget that fact.
"Mistress," Macha looked towards one of the small host of slaves that she had been collecting on campus ever since she took her new body.
"What is it my servant?" Macha mused, "Do you feel that you have a good reason for interrupting my train of thought?"
"Mistress, we were only wondering how we might serve your greatness rather than wasting your time here in wait?" The entranced student replied.
"You must hunt down and then present me with the heads of your false loves." Macha proclaimed as she pointed at them with her summoned scepter, "Only when you do this will I accept you as my consorts, with the exception of you young Harold." Techwolf looked out in trepidation that his mistress whose lab he had given her to serve as a throne room.
"Due to the fact that your appearance offends my continence," Macha elaborated. "You must bring me two heads. Before you bring me the head of your false love, you must bring me the head of Jade Sinclair. That is all, you have your orders," Macha smiled as she watched Stalwart, Thunderbird, Techwolf and Stronghold filed out of the room. Still it was said that there were some she knew that would be unable to charm such as Chain Lightning, and that Lancer was not there to work her whiles on and enslave, no matter there was also time for that later.
Still she delighted in the horror of her host's revelations at how she was going to celebrate her servants' return with their trophies, or as she called it a Crop of Macha. Macha was also having so much fun tormenting the poor, closeted lesbian that she had possessed, first by inciting fantasies of the various attractive girls that she was around every day sharing the love, friendship and affection that she had always secretly desired but refused to admit. This was mostly because of the conditioning that she had endured from both her former peers and her parents that someone as unattractive as her had no right to be loved, and also that the kind of love that she wanted was a grotesque and ugly thing.
So just to be cruel she forced the girl to see just what she had been denying herself in the best light possible to get her to see what she had been missing, and then showing her what her servants were going to do to them in graphic detail. Oh how the child wailed in horror as her Sapphic fantasies degenerated into brutal nightmares, for a while this was no end of amusement for Macha but now it was getting old, so she used her control over her host's mind to remove her ability to speak even inside her own head.
"Ahhh, much better you were beginning to annoy me. Honestly child you always wanted power, you should have known that there is always a price to pay." Macha said with a dark laugh to her muted host before turning to the middle schoolers fanning her, "Faster slaves, did I say you could rest?" As the two of them felt Macha’s horse-like tail begin to grow in Tansy Walcutt was all too aware that she had no mouth and she desperately needed to scream.
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Cage of Needles -
Forms a wall of salt (or sylvite) crystal spears that surround and impale the target.
Creation Break -
Creates an electrical spark that separates elements in a mystically conjured compound.
Razor Wind -
Creates blades of compressed air guided by the caster.
A hefty basket-handled sabre of dwarven creation, the blade is nearly unbreakable; however it is
only as sharp as the determination of the will of its wielder, its name means heart in Finnish.
A mithril knife made at Morrigan's commission by Eldrich and Silver and infused with the Flask of
Reality's elixir a twin in size and shape to Cothrom. Its name means mercy in Gaelic.
An orichalcum knife made for Morrigan by the Sidhe smiths of the Himalayas and later lost during the battle against the Fomori Sgaothaich, and inscribed with incantations warded against the Old Ones. Its name means justice in Gaelic.
Mask of Occlusion
An armored domino mask that conforms to the face, with eye-holes wide enough not to obscure
peripheral vision, it also can only be removed by the hand that placed it on the face. Makes the
wearer immune to telepathy and spells that affect the mind; however while worn the user is also
completely deaf to telepathy. The mask does not affect the bond between a mystic and a familiar.
Thought-cage enchantment -
A spell that guards against psychic intrusion and mental magic.
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It took a few minutes to arrange the latest additions to my costume, which I must admit I like how it was coming together; plus given that classes were canceled due to the emergency and everyone advised to stay in their dorms until 5 o'clock I had the time. Although with this latest addition to my attire completed I had nothing better to do and wanted to try and take my mind off of the danger to the school; so after storing my work in progress back inside my collar I settled into a spot on the second floor lounge. After making myself comfortable I whipped out my DS and an RPG (who needs a game folder when you've got a magic bag of holding) started grinding while munching on a small container of grocery store energy bars. What I missed Lunch, and I have always been a nervous eater- that and when the stuff hit the fan soon I would have the energy to burn.
Not many of us were in here, Phase was sitting watching some sappy romantic comedy with Vox on the TV. Jade was hanging with her sister- literally pinned to the ceiling to watch the movie while not ruining their moment. Billie was also on the ceiling although she was reclined upside-down in a corner and reading a manga that I'd loaned her and listening to an mp3 player. I could also tell that they were worried; according to Jane half of their Team was off assisting the teachers fight Jöten- freaking Jotenheim Frost Giants. Verdant was also watching the movie wiping her eyes with a tissue in her upper-right hand, and the box in her lower-left. Everyone else were likely in their rooms or at least somebody's room, the rest of the school called us the loony bin, but it was an inside joke that we could almost call ourselves the humping house.
In all nothing was happening and I was trying to ignore my growing sense of dread, the psycho duo were going to start striking soon and anyone they'd enraptured would be under their spell until sunset. Add onto that bitter-pill the fact that Anu would be getting here soon and if the Mystic Arts Department hadn't exorcised both Nemain and Macha from their hosts by the time she found them two students would probably be gone forever.
Of course, if they were too late exorcising them one would be turned into an emotionally fragile horse-satyr (although it still beat getting turned into hollow shell) while the other would be a wyrm from the waist down on a permanent vacation to Deidrickland. Morrigan would be a big help right now except given that she'd spent almost 16 years away from her body, she was having to recharge it because she was too weak right now to take on one of the gruesome twosome let alone both of them.
Who am I kidding at a school like Whateley there were bound to be dozens of students who could keep a handle on things and deal with the problems those two would create. Suddenly the walls shifted to red, something that Belltane told me meant there were outsiders here and that meant for occupants to lay off anything overtly yaoi or yuri in the open until they left.
"Jade Sinclair, you have a visitor, please report to the lobby." We all heard Mrs. Horton's over the cottage intercom. Immediately Jade's soul sister Jinn lowered her to the ground and the young deviser went for the stairs.
"That's weird," I said out loud as I went to Quicksave my game and shut-off my DS before putting it in my bag, "I thought that everyone was supposed to stay in their cottages."
"They probably used the tunnels," Verdant said over her sniffling, "Poe and Hawthorne have them for use during bad weather or Red Flag Days."
Without telling anyone why I stormed downstairs and heard shouting along the way, I saw what looked like a stock character from The Howling in a lab coat pinning Jade to the ground and brandishing what looked like some sci-fi cutting tool. I was certain that I had heard of this guy, Bloodwolf, he was supposed to be Number One on the school's list of UltraViolent Students, and had a grudge against Jade. It looks like it's time to try out my new gear because Nemain was starting to show her hand.
I tapped my collar, transforming into my costume, if I remember right this psycho was supposed to be a avatar hosting a werewolf spirit, I smiled and withdrew Trócaire from my gauntlet as I snuck up on the monster. Putting Morrigan's training to good use I slid him into a full-nelson and had the flat of Trócaire's mithril blade against his throat, "Let her go furball or Poe gets a new throw-rug?"
"Jade, Harry, Randi, what the hell is going on?" Tennyo shout at the sight of the three of us.
"Bloodwolf's trying to kill Jade, and I'm trying to stop him!" I explained while dealing with the struggling monster.
"Randi that's Harry Wolfe, he's a friend of ours," Tennyo stated, "Why would he try and hurt Jade?"
"My beloved mistress demands I bring her the head of Jade Sinclair!" Harry Wolfe shouted as he struggled against my grip to make me let go.
Crap wrong sister, this was one of Macha's lovesick slaves not one of Nemain's potential army of nutcases. I tossed Trócaire clear of our little three-way struggle and out of sheer desperation (as I was still struggling to restrain Harry) switched my full nelson to a half-nelson, removed my mask and slapped it on his face.
Harry Wolfe stopped struggling, so I let go hoping for the best. For once, my hopes paid dividends, and Harry switched off his weird cutting apparatus. "Th-thanks, I couldn't help myself," Harry began to explain, "I don't know why, but for some weird reason Tansy came up to me on my way to my workshop this morning. She said something to me and then all the sudden I was obeying her every word, hell I was worshiping her; what the hell was wrong with me?"
"A vocal domination trick and faerie glamour," I said with a snarl as I retrieved Trócaire and put it back in the gauntlet. "Sorry about the death treat Harry, I thought that I was dealing with a bloodthirsty, psychotic werewolf."
"None taken, if I had been Bloodwolf those would be very reasonable actions," Harry chuckled as he put away whatever the hell it was. "I still can't believe Tansy knows how to use glamour, I mean I just thought it made someone unbelievably attractive like it does Fey."
"This Tansy doesn't," I explained to Billie, Harry and Jade. "The reason why we are told to stay in our cabins right now is because there are a couple of psycho ex-goddesses loose on campus possessing two girls, Tansy and a Goth who goes by the codename Trivia. I need to tell security so that they know who to look for; this girl doesn't have much time."
"Yeah and I need to release Mrs. Horton," Harry said as he rushed over near the door where Mrs. Bella Horton laid their bound looking like she went ten rounds with Doc Ock and wound up captured in metallic coils. Harry pressed a button on the octagonal plate on the back and eight metallic coils retracted back into the casing. "Sorry Mrs. Horton, I was not in control of my actions."
"I know child, I heard everything," our housemother said as she stared at Harry's face. "Why do you have that mask on?"
"Oh Randi, was it?" I nodded to answer Harry's question, "She put it on me to snap me out of whatever was controlling me, and I'll just return it to her-"
He tried to remove the Mask of Occlusion from his face only to find that he was unable to do so. I let him try in vain to pry it off for a a few times before walking over and taking it back then putting it back on my face. "It's enchanted so that only the hand that puts it on can take it off."
"Tell me was Mister Nalley affected as well?" Mrs. Horton asked before we heard the sounds of high-voltage and Steve screaming from the third floor.
"Don't worry," Billie sheepishly grinned, "It sounds like Elaine and Martine have things well in hand."
I sighed and trudged upstairs saying, "I better help those two snap Steve out of this before Delta Spike turns him into Baked Alaskan. Billie can you call security and tell them that Macha is in this Tansy girl, and please give them her full name."
With Harry and Billie joining Mrs. Horton in her office and Randi upstairs helping the seniors subdue Stronghold, Jade decided to get her gear from her room and went back up the stairs only to find her way blocked by a female minotaur with a rather impressive chest, Anu had arrived and she was in Poe cottage. "Out of my way child," the danann-born Wild Fae stated to the smallest of Team Kimba. "My quarry must be returned to their confinement."
"No," Jade said defiantly standing her ground before the massive ex-Goddess.
"Do you wish to fight me young one?" Anu asked in a giant voice to you Generator who was currently unarmed.
"No, I will not fight you," Jade said standing firm. "But I won't let you pass."
Anu smiled as she reached towards Jade's head with her giant right hand...
Non-lethal, electro-stun and entrapment ordinance were flying as Platoon 2 did their best to stem the tide of the attacking students. The Ultra-Violents were whipped up into a frenzy and sent to storm Kane Hall en-mass and take down Whateley's Security Office. Meanwhile Systemic's Torture Club were huddled around a demonic snake-like woman that the officers present could only assume was Nemain, fending off harsh freezing-winds and lightning-strikes from a crow the size of a prehistoric condor.
Thankfully, Jimmy Trauger had phoned in from Whitman and told them that he was keeping Phobos and Deimos separate and under-wraps until this nightmare had passed. Meanwhile over in Hawthorne, Fubar was taxing himself to the limit to ensure that all the Diedrick's Syndrome students remained in REM sleep until the Five O'clock deadline when the glamour would break and hoping the crisis would pass. As for the status of the students in Melville, She-Beast had made certain that the students inside it were more secure than Jobe Wilkins was at his own brilliance.
Still Lieutenant Reynolds was told that the worst part was that there was another just as bad as Nemain on campus, Macha and she preferred to go after targets that would force her victims to be permanently loyal to her. "Lieutenant, Mrs. Horton is calling from Poe," Matthews called out from the com-room, "They caught two of Macha's love slaves and ID'd the host. She's riding around in Solange, Harry Wolfe says that she's using his workshop as a hidey-hole and has sent some heavy-hitters out with instructions to kill."
"Who is out to kill officer?" Reynolds shouted in-between taking stun-rifle shots at Killstench and Maggot to keep them from getting anywhere near the windows.
"Thunderbird and Stalwart are both confirmed to be," are confirmed Matthews stated, "And possible confirmation for Bryson, Powerhouse and Sledge as well."
"Crap," Tomikz stated in-between shots. "Either young heavy-hitters or the regular dates of young heavy hitters, this Macha must really know how to pick her targets, she's using Walcutt's knowledge of relations on campus to attack those most likely to be able to stop her with those that they'd be most reluctant to fight. At least she didn't snag Kodiak and Thuban too, thank God for small miracles!"
"Yeah," Matthews, "Figures a diva of a goddess would know how to play the Purple Man game. Fortunately it appears that the ladies of Poe have found a way to break the spell, so with your permission Lieutenant they want to send out some grrl power only search teams to disable the Macha's puppets and take her down."
"Tell them permission granted," Reynolds shouted then followed with, "But stay out of sight of Kane Hall, hell avoid the center of campus entirely it's a damned warzone out there."
"Hey careful where you're grabbing Faolan," Tennyo screamed with a blush on her face as I struggled to keep my grip. Together the two of us were flying over campus towards Dickinson. Since Billie told me that someone named Fubar would be likely keeping the kids at Hawthrone safe, and Jimmy T had snuck over to Whitman to keep two girls named Phobos and Deimos from combining into a nightmare named Fury. After deciding that Jimmy T would be enough to hold down the fort at Whitman until we got there, and that Melville had enough heavy hitters to deal with any problems that came their way, we would head over to Dickinson to deal with any problems there. Said problems being likely are Kerry keeping anyone there from having to kill Macha's entranced boy-toys in self-defense before we got there.
Nevertheless, right now my only thoughts were along the lines of, 'ohmygod...ohomygod...i'mgonnadie...ihateheights...pleasedon'tdropme.'
What? Everyone has an irrational fear or two, mine's heights. I know- I know you're thinking how can someone who has boots that let them walk on thin air be afraid of heights. Well it's not so much the heights as having no stable surface under my feet, with the boots of Sleph air is a stable surface, air-Tennyo on the other hand is not.
Of course, I was so caught up in my panic attack; I didn't even notice something very important. "Faolan, you can let go now." Tennyo stated in an even voice. "We've landed."
"Sorry," I chuckled as I retrieved my mask from Tennyo's face, hey, we were flying right over Nemain and we didn't want to risk her driving Billie psycho. "I guess we all have things that make us lose our cool."
"It's understandable," Billie said as we entered Dickinson. "After all about a month ago you were just a normal kid right?"
"About as normal as you get with someone whose had 3 Class 2 heavyweights duking it out in their cabesa for most of their life." I muttered as we entered the building hoping for the best and that neither Kerry, Erze or anyone else were injured, unaware that we were being watched.
Once inside we saw that the girls of Dickinson had things well in hand, an acquaintance of Fey's who went by Poise had taken charge in taking down Powerhouse and Eddie. After freeing them, and knocking Powerhouse out in ravewolf form after he grabbed my butt, I told Poise that one of Badb's daughters was supposed to be keeping an eye on the Venus Inc. girls and had been out of contact for hours. When we explained that Tansy was the one possessed she offered to check out the locker room over in Dunn Hall.
Tennyo and Kerry had left to look for a teleporter named Jaunt that I had heard Kerry
Since time was of the essence, and Tennyo knew where to meet later, I decided to four-foot-it to Whitman. I should have skywalked from the second floor because within sight of Whitman I barely avoided being blindsided by someone that Morrigan warned me about when I first got here- Ares or as the student body knew him Counterpoint, or just that psychotic son of a b!tch.
"Well- well- well, look at what we have here." Counterpoint laughed at me as I transformed back to my normal state and recovered my footing. "It's the little #^&% who fancies herself a war goddess, well tough $h!t Whateley is only big enough for one master of the battlefield, and that means I'm staying and you're dying."
"Sorry oh god of hissy fits," I leapt as Counterpoint charged me again trying to slice me open with his sword and drew out Sydän, "But you must have missed the memo, Morrigan has left the building and now the two screw-ups that served her are loose on campus. That includes Nemain the goddess of frenzied battle, although it figures that you'd single me out, if memory serves you've never fought an opponent if they were stronger than you- in either life."
I carefully dodged his strikes, and used Sydän to parry a few while slowly working at pissing him off. "Then again most of the Greeks only worshiped you to keep you away; after all you did such a good job securing victory for the Trojans."
It was working he began to stop using his database abilities and began to copy mine. "Then later on with the Romans not only did you lend your own sword to Octavian which not only did he lose along with the campaign against the Teutons, right where Attila found it and used it to raze the empire that your own son built. Come to think of it the only thing that you are really famous for was when Hephasteus found out you were messing around with his wife behind his back, and then booby-trapped his bed so that he could parade you and Aphrodite around Olympus locked together like two dogs tied at the knot."
"Grrrr-aghhh, first I'll kill you, then I'll kill Nemain and the other one, then kill that damned b!tch Morrigan, and for good measure I'll track down and butcher your whole #^&%*&^ family so they can't make another you." Counterpoint snarled as I got him worked up that he used my own abilities and transformed into a ravewolf- that was an exact copy of my own form in that state right down to the gender. Guess that the gash-master hadn't counted that form-specific shifter with me was far from just a saying, after all I used this to reattach my own damn severed arm.
"What the F@^k!" Counterpoint shouted in a growly contralto, as he suddenly found himself to be a 'she'. I used this moment of confusion, and 'her' unfamiliar loosened grip on 'her' own sword, to change into my own ravewolf state to send it flying before changing back.
Knowing that 'she' would be at a disadvantage in fighting as a female, as well as likely disgusted at being one, Counterpoint swapped out my power-set for another to return to normal and teleported to steal my sword out of my hand and send me flying on my back several feet away with a nasty left-hook. I looked up to see Counterpoint take a flying leap at me with Sydän in his hands determined to use my own sword as a guillotine.
He soon tackled me almost as he had planned, failing to notice that I had my knives waiting for him; we laid there for a few minutes in the snow before some of the girls from Whitman arrived. Evidently, they had been alerted to my own pending arrival by a phone call from Tennyo and came to see what was holding up my arrival, finding Counterpoint on top of me they rolled him off to find him gasping in pain with my knives lodged in his abdomen and me with a nasty bruise against my throat. "What in the world happened here?" An older girl in Greek armor asked in confusion at the sight.
Taking a minute to catch my breath, and grateful that my quick actions had stopped the son of a b!tch from completely crushing my windpipe while changing back to normal had healed me a little, I explained, "I was headed to help out at Whitman when Señor Psychopath here bushwhacked me. I managed to disarm him when he tried to use my powers to fight me, so he stole my sword and tried to give me a Robespierre special with it."
I pried my sword out of Counterpoint's grasp and sheathed it before continuing. "Unfortunately for him Sydän here has an odd quirk to it; only the one it was forged for can make an edge appear on the blade, for anyone else it's just a fancy metal practice sword."
I retrieved my knives from Counterpoint and used a cloth to clean the gore off them. "Ouch, right in the kidneys," a girl I later learned was called Lifeline said before she came over to me and started healing my throat and wounds. Once she was done, and making certain that no one saw me do it, I pocketed the cloth inside a zip lock and returned it to my bag just in case I needed this sample later for insurance.
"So has anyone attacked Whitman?" I asked Judicator as she gave me a sideways look.
"No and they are not likely to," Judicator explained. "The pretty boys rarely date girls from Whitman, and if they do come after us Jimmy T is there to keep them restrained."
Gee what a nice way to make a girl feel wanted, "Glad to know that I wasted my time and concern while risking my life for nothing,"
As I turned to leave, Judicator grabbed my arm. "Hold on that doesn't explain why Counterpoint was gunning for you?"
"Because mommy dearest told him that there was another was deity on campus and he felt threatened by the competition." I glared at the host of Athena. "However this mess on campus was caused when the phantom queen was pried away from me; now do us all some good grey-eyed one and keep your family's affairs to themselves, there are things in this world that you don't want to notice you, and thanks to your father, his burden and their spawn some already have."
Having delivered the best advice that I had ever given to the leader of the New Olympian exiles, I shifted back to a wolf and ran to my rendezvous with phase 3, 'Jane now is the time.'
The tunnels where this damned mess started, Jane opted to stay outside since anything she could bring to the fight would be more of a hindrance than help, she and Seraphim decided to help out Security with some close-air support over at Kane Hall. Besides meteorological powers and confined underground spaces were a bad combination, not to mention a risk to all of us, well except Pristine and Tennyo...and maybe Poise, okay pretty much me and me alone.
But yeah that's right I was under the school in the tunnels headed to face down a Macha possessed Tansy 'ex-Queen of the Alphas' Walcutt with the Alpha Female and head of the Venus Inc modeling club. Ready to fight alongside us were the best force-field generator around (what like Christine was going to miss a chance to not only beat-up Tansy for her own good but rub it in her face for the next four semesters). Moreover, Whateley's only Section 33 (you fight her and you're too suicidal to be here) student on campus was also coming to throw down- we're all gonna' die.
However, the four of us were only the diversion; phase 3 depended mainly on Go-Go and Jaunt. We had entered from the same entrance I had been drug through over at Kirby Hall and followed Harry Wolfe's (that poor- poor boy) directions until we came to where his lab was located.
"Okay here we are," I turned to Billie and asked with a bow and a gesture, "My dear Tennyo, would you care to do the honors."
"Why Faolan- I would be delighted," Tennyo replied with an odd smirk as she keyed in the code for Harry's lab opening the door. On the other side we saw the Macha possessed Tansy Walcutt seated on a piecemeal throne against the back of the room, and attended to by Little Bee, Clover, Alacadabra and Palantir. Standing between her and us were what must have been a member of the Tigers totting a John Henry special.
Right next to Gallagher at the Apollo on 'Roids was someone that I recognized mainly because he tried to cozy up to me earlier this week, a real dickweed named Fantistico. The dork seemed to think that just because I was a girl from the lone star state that I would be impressed that he was the heir to Walker Beef, I told him that he could take his rBGH ego and go suck on a horse apple. For anyone that knows me, my reaction wouldn't be that surprising, after all anyone who runs a club named after one of our state's biggest problems is probably a part of them. Macha seated on her 'throne' took one look at the four of us and shouted, "Kill them my loves; slay the lot of them and bring me their heads."
Tennyo held off Fantastico without even batting a lightsaber while Pristine kept his heat vision from roasting us, meanwhile Poise was dancing around her opponent- literally making Hammerman resort to something that looked like a cross between sideways game of wack-a-mole and a Spinnaker impersonation. Since Jaunt and Go-Go were waiting on our distraction to get the hostages clear and neutralize Macha this meant that it was my job to keep the b!tch occupied. This was not easy since she might have access to Solange's powers, who I was told was a middle-weight telepath, and I let Jaunt borrow the Mask of Occlusion to help break the kids free of their mind control- still I had a few cards left to play.
"Well-well-well," Macha mused as she stood up from her throne looking at me like I was an insect, "If it is not the former vessel of my self-important former master. While you are by no means a threat to me, breaking your pathetic corpse should serve to wet my palate for when she returns to attempt and return me to my confinement, not to mention that even if she were to succeed in doing so your death would make any victory oh so bittersweet. Especially since it will be by your own hand, now do be a dear and sever your own head.
I laughed at that comment and drew out Sydän before shouting back, "Sorry mucilage for brains, glamour only works on the weak-willed and mortal, I'm not the former and only halfway the later."
*Sigh* "Very well, it appears as if I will must claim my rightful trophy from your cadaver myself." Macha proclaimed as she stood before summoning her scepter, "I do hope that I manage to avoid your crown, mounting damaged trophies is so gauche."
I leaped to dodge the moment that she began to wield that gaudy thing as a mace, Jane had warned me about that weapon it might look like a jeweled scepter however, the damned thing hit with the force of a morning-star. I transformed into my werewolf form and blocked her strikes with my blade making sure to stay in close, I was told that the jewel on the end was mounted on a retractable chain-whip that she would use if she ever got me to keep my distance and only made her more dangerous.
"So the B!tch taught you about all of my tricks did she," the fallen goddess observed, "Did she teach you about those of my host!"
She plunged into my mind using Solange's powers, now it was time to play my Joker; I had been coming up with this one all week thanks to various photos my dorm-mates had shown to me as a hazing joke on my first night in Poe. Morrigan told me that it was a psychic defense so horrible that it would probably make the average Great Old One take a flying leap into the gaping maws of Azathoth. Sure enough a moment later she was screaming and clutching her eyes, as she flailed her now uncoiled whip blindly not caring what she hit, damn I had no idea how effective that mental image would be to someone that was unprepared. I tried in vain to counter a strike that I could see would cave my head in if it hit, only to have the jeweled whip-head be deflected by an aspis shield.
Okay I admit that my initial plan didn't account the fact that Macha might become even more dangerous after exposed to my prepared mental defense. Of course, my plan also didn't account for Judicator following me to the meeting spot or shadowing us in but in this case two unknowns can cancel each other out as Judicator leaped into the room and used her sword and shield to deflect every incoming strike.
Soon enough the avatar of Athena had the possessed ex-Alpha pinned, "Jaunt now!" I shouted as I implemented my plan, Jaunt proceeded to pop in and out of the room slapping the Mask of Occlusion on first she before teleported out with them. She did this one by one as she emptied the room first taking Little Bee, then Alacadabra, followed by Palantir and then finally Clover. Then Pristine helped restrain Sledge so that Jaunt had no problem taking him as well.
Fantastico was dead last of course, knowing that we couldn't likely put the Mask of Occlusion on someone with heat-vision Jaunt teleported him to Dickinson where Diva was waiting to stun him so that she and Eddie could knock him out, plus promising her an important part was the only way we could get her to stay behind.
This left the five of us alone in the room with Macha it was time I shouted, "Phase 4, do it Go-Go!" The speedster from Poe blitzed in with a tube-full of St. John's Wort gel that Nurse Garrett from Doyle Clinic had been preparing for Ms Grimes and circled Judicator and Macha as she squeezed it out. Go-Go stopped right by me as she gave me back the cold iron-tipped baton that Plainswalker had insisted I carry when I went to the Goblin Market.
"Miss Judicator," I said as I approached the circle tapping my baton against my gloved left-hand. "Please pull Ms Walcutt clear of the circle without breaking it on the count of three. "One," I approached the circle with baton fully extended and ready as Judicator tensed her legs. "Two," I hit Tansy gently in the back of the head with my baton ejecting Macha from her body and then shouted, "THREE!" Judicator jumped clear with Tansy in tow before Macha could reorient herself it the big ethereal ball of nastiness.
"Were we too late?" Go-Go asked before quickly adding, "Not that I care too much about what happens to Tansy, but that would be something too nasty to happen to anyone."
"I don't know her ears look fully transformed," I said noting the equine attachments on the sides of her head much like my own wolf ears. "Help me get her slacks off we may have been too late."
"What do you mean," Pristine blushed and asked, "Why do you need to take off Tansy's pants?"
"Because these entities transform the host's body as well as traumatize their minds." I elaborated to the Dickinson girl, "If the transformation is complete even if they are depossessed the change is permanent, if not it will last until sunrise a week from now."
Thankfully Tansy was still out cold from shock as we took her pants off to observe the bottom half of an Clydesdale, I had just about given up hope when Go-Go said, "I found a bald-spot." Sure enough, Solange had been spared this fate by a spot on the inside of her right thigh, one about the size of a silver dollar. "At least it wasn't as close as it was with Trivia."
Quad in Front of Shuster Hall
Aries waited in front of Shuster after retrieving the item that Phase asked him to from the admin office understanding that this was for the safety of the school and that they would be returning it the moment that they were done. Soon enough Go-Go came zipping up with Vox ridding riding inside of one of Faolan's Changeling Baubles fresh from a trip to Doyle.
Go-Go let Vox out of the talisman as Go-Go showed him how to work it before handing it to him, and carefully wound the lanyard of the Occlusion Talisman so that it would stay on him without falling off during the mission, then he placed Vox back inside the Changeling Bauble. This would be a very dangerous mission and if anything went wrong, all of them would likely be killed if any one of them failed. Go-Go took off for Emerson to prepare the next phase of the plan, while Aries took off with Vox for the center of the mob in front of Kane Hall.
This was tricky Aries had to navigate the mob of the Ultra-Violets without any of them noticing and then head for the snake lady, the host of the insane deity Nemain. It helped that up in the sky Nadia was providing a hell of a distraction, especially since Jane let her in on Faolan's plan the moment she came up with it. Still navigating the mob was tricky; Maggot almost fell on him by accident when a net round from security threw him backwards.
Eventually he came up to Nemain and carefully released Vox, the siren of Poe quickly went to work on the possessed Goth. ♫You are tired Nemain, please go to sleep, you are weary Nemain, of the havoc you've sewn, drift off Nemain and dream, go to sleep Nemain think of how the panic has grown.♪. As the torture club turned their attention to Aries and Vox she sang again and voiced the group, ♫Go forth hungry soldiers to the battlefield, go forth vicious soldiers to the lives you yield, go for crazy soldiers to fight today, go for without mercy and in fear make them pay.♪
Without waiting Aries stored the Nemain possess Trivia in the Changeling Bauble zooming along while carrying Vox piggyback to the back-porch of Emerson Cottage. Once there they found Go-Go standing next to a paste circle on the ground with an empty tube in one hand and a black metallic baton in the other. Knowing his part Arnold stood in the center of the circle and released the possessed Trivia from the mystic device, they hoped that they could handle this while she was asleep however part of her tail touched the sides of the circle.
Suddenly Nemain awoke screaming and thrashing, clawed hands raking at anything they could. "Now!" Go-Go shouted at she zipped by and tagged Trivia with Faolan's cold iron baton. As soon as Trivia's body slumped into unconscious Aries leaped clear of the circle as Nemain's spirit reconsolidated from a sickly yellow ball of boiling madness, into her vicious physical form.
"Did we make it," Aries asked as Go-Go and Vox searched the transformed Trivia for an inch of untransformed flesh. The Goth's ears were webbed and her hands were warped into talons, below the waist was serpentine and matted in scales.
The two girls from Poe desperately searched the girl's tail and were about to give up hope when Vox found a spot on her left flank still baring human skin about half the size of a finger-nail. "We cut it really close," she said pointing at the spot, "If we were any slower Migraine would have someone to keep her company in ARC."
"I'll get her to Doyle," Vox stated, "Just be careful, the mob will still be in effect and Faolan warned us that the third sister should be on campus right now hunting down her siblings.
"Well at least the both of the hosts were exorcised in time," I stated before staring at the transformed Tansy Walcutt. "Still I hope Whateley has a good therapist because something tells me Solange and Trivia will need their money's worth. Who wants to wake up Tansy and break the news to the news to her-" Everyone immediately raised thier hand before I added in a terse tone, "Gently." Upon which everyone hands dropped except for Poise and Judicator.
Judicator said clearly as she lowered her hand as well, "Maybe should do so Poise, you are her senior both in Venus Inc as well as the Fixer for her cottage."
As the others were hashing out the details, I noticed something odd in the room, since when would a guy like Harry have an antique gold-rimmed make-up mirror in his lab. I went to take it down and the moment I looked in the surface, I froze at what I saw. I stood transfixed at the things I saw until a scream brought me back to reality.
"G-get away from me, don't touch me, no one come near me." Tansy screamed and wept as she backpedaled to a corner of the lab before she assumed the fetal position and wept.
Why Randi it looks like you found a Mirror of Untrodden Paths, Jane stated over our connection. You had better be careful with it the Winter Court Nobles use them to torture mortals into either compliant shadows of their former selves, or to drive them into making ill-conceived bargains.
"What happened to her?" Tennyo asked, "Usually she would have insulted me by now."
"From what Morrigan told me, Macha's presence in an individual is traumatic enough," I explained as I walked back to the others. "She loves to play with the minds of her victims, however she was extra-nasty this go round." I held up the mirror, making sure to keep the reflective portion against my chest. "This is a Mirror of Untrodden Paths, anytime a fae-blood holds its reflection before a person; they are forced to see how key points in their lives would have played out if they made a different choice in their lives."
"What's so bad about that?" Pristine asked as she walked towards me. "Everyone has those kinds of questions."
"How would you feel if you found out that you did something that screwed up your life?" I asked the type of question nobody wanted to ask. "If someone showed you a version of you that made one decision that lead to you being happy how would you take it? How about if they used the mirror to show how you have screwed up numerous chances to clench that happiness that you screwed yourself out earlier through a redeeming act, one after the other, could you handle something like that bombarding you?"
All of us took one look at Tansy rocking herself gently in a corner, and no one could answer my questions. "Hey I brought your mask back," Jaunt said as she teleported into the room. She saw the state of the now depossessed Solange and asked, "What's wrong with Tansy?"
"Macha showed her a part of herself that she refused to see existed," Poise answered Jaunt as I took my mask back flipping my old one into a bandanna. "Jaunt can you please take her home, I think that she needs a nice long rest."
Nodding Jaunt gently placed her hand on Tansy and began the trip back to Dickinson, Judicator and Poise looked at each other and shook their heads sadly, at what they had witnessed as the two of them with Pristine in tow returned to their cottages. Tennyo approached me looking at the mirror and asked, "Let me guess another tool for your arsenal."
I shook my head before placing the mirror in my bag and the mask on my face then answered her, "No, something to hold onto until Morrigan can tell me how to destroy it, something like this is too dangerous to exist."
"So what did you see when you looked into it earlier?" Go-Go asked curious at the what if's I had seen.
"I saw myself dead by my own hand at 23 after years of being eaten up by guilt. I saw myself enslaved to the Obsidian Circle in a body that was a mockery of my former self. I saw my life ended by my own mother who had been turned into a feral monster. I saw my life descend into a pit of mediocrity until an accidental shift in public lead to a H1 mob beating me to death. And lastly I saw my either being beaten to death multiple times by Macha's morningstar-whip or a dozen gruesome deaths at the hands of Nemain's mob of berserkers." I explained the sights that I had seen in the mirror resulting from various decisions that I didn't make. "So actually I'm feeling pretty good."
The three of us walked back down the tunnels to Poe as Jane sent me images of how her sisters and Seraphim were routing the attackers outside of Kane Hall. I had to say Kerry looked magnificent, I could see why the Empire City Guard made her an honorary member.
After what seemed like hours working at the knot before her it finally began to give way, her prize would soon be within her grasp. After a little more effort, the knot unraveled and the cords began to loosen, she turned behind her to tell Carcharoth but he was gone.
"Carcharoth," Delve called out, "Carcharoth where did you go?"
"Where I have always belonged child," A booming voice came from in front of her. "Back in my true body, now take the bag and use the vial to return home with your prize, and do hurry, right now I hunger!"
With her hands trembling in terror, Bernice Hodges took the vial out of the bag and uncorked it. With her left hand she grabbed on tight to the bag and poured the vial's contents at her feet with her right, all while picturing the one place she wanted to be rather than here.
Sure enough, Bernice was in front of the main door to Whitman Cottage, she carefully wiped her new hiking boots off on the doormat before she entered clutching her spoils. Dodging her dorm mates concerns, Bernice circumvented them and entered the first-floor restroom. After she closed and locking the stall, she examined her spoils, it was a crimson crystal pendant on a length of twine and a note.
This pendent is the answer that you seek; however, it is not an immediate one. If you wear it continuously for one year, you will gain both the body you desire and power to match. By wearing it you will gradually change into your ideal and when you reach the end of the road new power will be yours, so be patient, destroy this message, and none will know.
Delve flushed the message and put the pendent on while hiding it under her uniform shirt, content that she could wait until Spring of her Sophomore year for a really Sweet Sixteen. Suddenly the entire campus was startled by an enormous howl that seemed to echo for miles.
3 Miles from Dunwich, New Hampshire
Despite Mister Domino having thrown off the kid gloves, the damned Jöten just kept coming. This endless battle of attrition against the frost giants had gone on all day and the student security auxiliaries were exhausted while the regular security forces were out of ammo. It came down to the teachers and the Grand Hall visitors doing their best to stem the tide of the invading hordes, however they were spread thin and most were losing ground.
Then suddenly everything shook with the sound of a deafening howl, the Jöten immediately panicked and began running back the way they came. Soon enough the battlefield was empty and all present were dumbfounded, with exception of Mister Domino who transformed back from an Asura to his usual smug self, as if he knew something that everyone else did not- which was highly likely.
After the Jöten had departed and the breach had sealed up behind them, Mister Domino approached Lady Astarte, "Well that was interesting was it not, I certainly do not presume to speak for yourself, know about you however I certainly think that after this ordeal my associates would likely appreciate their rest. Moreover I would think that your students would rather appreciate a hot meal and a nice warm bed's embrace sooner rather than later. We shall be back for those interviews tomorrow at around four in the afternoon, after all I would not dream of interfiering with the quality education that your faculty provide to your students. In the meantime have a pleasant evening."
Underneath Whateley Tennyo, Go-Go, and I slogged back to Poe via the tunnel entrance. Should keep this thing in mind so I could stop wearing thermals, hey I'm from Texas we're lucky to see snow once a year, or unlucky given how stupid some people act when they see it. My Jane's-eye-view was giving me a peak at how the fight at Kane was faring apparently the moment that massive howl happened every Ultra-Violent developed an instant yellow streak and turned tail and ran. This meant that Jane would meet me at Poe, while Kerry was headed back to Dickinson, and Nadia and Marie would go back to doing what they were before this whole mess started.
Metabolism be damned all I wanted right now was a long hot shower, with the Hydroflux options on, and to go right to bed, this had been the second most intense day of my life to date and I just wanted to get it over with. At least with Macha and Nemain contained, Anu wouldn't give anyone any trouble to collect them, provided no one did anything stupid like trying to stop her.
We came back up the stairs and I decided to stop by and see Mrs. Horton to tell her that we were all fine. Well except for some bruises of course, I noticed that the walls were still red; however since I saw Stronghold and Megagirl curled up next to each other on one of the loveseats in the lobby on the first floor that was understandable. Those two were had just likely had their first post-mind control makeup session, I hope Marti can keep that shell up long enough for her MATD to finish changing her, if there is one thing that everyone in this world deserves it's their own little slice of real happiness.
I walked past the snoozing couple and knocked before entering Mrs. Horton's Office. "Crisis averted Mrs. H," I said with a glad weariness, "You can tell everyone that the Gruesome-Twosome that caused this mess to snowball are bound in place to the back porch of Emerson and Harry's Workshop respectively."
"Then you should tell him," Mrs. Horton replied, "He, Mr. Goodkind and Ms. Silclair are sharing tea in the Dining Room with another guest who you might be interested to meet."
Curious about the possibilities, I entered the Dining Room to see Ayla, Jade and Harry seated calmly having tea with a giant well-endowed female minotaur with two battle axes strapped to her back, that could only have been the third of the Morrigna- Anu. "Okay my flabber's are officially gasted," I said wearily rubbing my temples while chuckling at the absurdity of the situation. "Harry, Macha's been neutralized, she's bound in place in your workshop; you might want to have her banished by someone before you go back in. Now I was going to be up in my room chasing sheep until morning, but I doubt that I could go to sleep without hearing the story behind this little scene."
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Sunday, February 4, 2007
Whateley Academy - Poe Cottage
Jade stood her ground as the eight-foot tall she-minotaur with two nasty-looking war axes strapped to her back, reached for her head with its thick hand and began tussling her hair. "Finally," laughed in her bovine voice, "I meet someone that gets it after so long, someone who understands what the word really means."
"What word?" Jade asked clearly baffled by this turn of events and the living myths sudden change in tone.
"Why the real meaning of bravery child," Anu smiled as she sat down on the stairs. "It's not facing overwhelming odds, or charging into battle when you know that you are going to die. True bravery is facing a seemingly impossible battle, and refusing to let your opponent decide the way the game is played. It means that you are willing to know when fighting a war is not worth it because there is a better way to solve things."
"I thought that you are supposed to be some ancient goddess of war," Jade said wondering where this was going. "Someone that represented barbarian rulers what gives?"
"I represent single combat, the trial of champions," Anu explained to the young student of deceptive appearances, "an ancient practice where two armies each send their best warrior to fight one-on-one rather than risk the needless bloodshed that would see entire army getting wiped out. Remember in the old days most armies were just local people who had other professions or responsibilities, a full clash of armies could wind up costing a village or town someone that their community could not afford to replace. Also even in such a contest of champions death was not the only outcome, in fact it was rare; the defeated champion was usually taken alive only to be returned after a ransom was paid. As for leadership, I represent a chieftain someone that is chosen based on ability and merit, something that is earned by deed not birth or trickery."
"And this is bravery why?" Jade again asked the Celtic deity.
"Because I represent those who lead by ability and example, and you defy me, you stand in my way unarmed, refusing to fight yet also refusing to yield." Anu explained, "If I were to strike you down in this situation I would be a tyrant- something that contradicts my very nature. So the only way I have to stop you is by denying that which defines me, it would be like a fertility god being forced to be abstinent, doing so negates their reason for being, in days past for me that would be tantamount to suicide."
"Is that really true?" Jade inquired of Anu not fully believing this answer.
"That or the fact that doing so would mean acting like my psychic-bitch sisters and the mere idea of doing that makes me sick to my stomachs'," Anu sighed shaking her semi-bovine head. "I wish that after over two millennia that they would grow the hell up so I could do something else with my life; I understand the need to keep them from causing trouble and believe me they have caused a lot over the years. That, and the fact that my boss hates her job as well, makes this whole situation somewhat bearable."
"Well I can kind of understand that," Jade said with a nervous chuckle, "But I still can't let you take anybody that they are hiding inside away."
"I understand why you are stopping me child but sometimes this is the lesser of two evils," Anu began to tell Jade. "I have seen those who were depossesed in time from Macha torn to shreds by those that she enslaved or their remaining loved ones, and most of them let it happen. I have seen those who were freed from Nemain in time yet somehow never recover their sanity, hell some of them become just as dangerous as she is. I am not doing this to be cruel they are for the most part turned free in the fae lands.
"It doesn't matter I still refuse to let you take them," Jade said while not budging an inch. "We already have people out to free their hosts and trap your sisters, and a plan in place to do it so you just need to be held right here. And if all that I need to do is keep you from leaving I will."
Anu rolled her eyes and sighed, "If we are going to have a standoff can we at least do it in someplace with chairs, these stair are starting to make my butt hurt?"
"So when that was all over I came to see what was keeping Jade," Ayla interjected as Jade's story ended, "Ever since then we have been swapping stories with Anu in here for the last few hours while Jade's devises cater. So what happened to you oh shaking dog?"
"Well other than what you can hear from Tennyo and Vox, I was attacked by Counterpoint half-way between Dickinson and Whitman, and I barely managed to pull out a victory." I stated with a bit of a nervous grin looking at Tennyo who had taken a seat in the cottage mini dining room next to me beaming with pride at her adopted sister.
"You beat Counterpoint," Jade said with wide-eyed enthusiasm, "How'd you do it tell me, tell me, tell me, pretty please."
"Okay- okay, I'll tell you just stop it with the puppy dog eyes, they’re really creeping me out." Jade stopped with the big eyes as I told what would be a very short story, "There wasn't much to it I just used everything Morrigan's told me about him, and his ineptitude at controlling his own temper, to make him so mad that he couldn't see straight. That got him determined to beat me with my own powers to prove his dominance, instead it proved that my shifting abilities are form-locked all the way down to the gender."
"So by that you mean that you actually tricked Counterpoint," Ayla said barely suppressing his laughter, "Someone whose very symbolism is used to stand for masculinity, into turning himself into a young lady."
As Ayla was saying that the sun set and Anu used the moment of twilight to bring her body from the Fair Lands, separating herself from her host Jamie Carson aka Heyoka, who looked somewhat bemused at what side-effects of her two-hours of serving as a timeshare had done to her figure. Let me put it this way, Anu might be a former warrior goddess. but at the same time she also represented prosperity and female fertility. I hated to tell Jamie that the effects were only temporary, still I let her enjoy that she temporarily had 'the hills of Anu'.
"It was just temporary." I explained further to everyone there, "Long enough to get 'her' only remaining pointy thing away from 'her'. Of course, he switched off my power-set transforming back and stole my sword away from me, then tried to use it to use it to decapitate me. Not the smartest of moves since I'm the only one that can put an edge on that sword, (not that I know how) still he almost crushed my windpipe; I'm just glad I was in my ravewolf form so the change back could heal me enough to let me breath without straining."
"Anyway he tried to guillotine me with my saber, not realizing that I used my cloak to hide the fact that I pulled out my knives." I shook my head at the memory of Counterpoint's stupidity, "He came down on top of me and took them both in the kidneys, in between the shock, the metabolic drain that he didn't prepare for when he tried out my ravewolf form, and the blood-loss Counterpoint passed out by the time the girls from Whitman arrived on the scene. I'm just grateful that Lifeline was with them, changing back from one form to another might heal me if I have all my parts attached but I'm hardly at a hundred percent when I do (and I didn't have the luxury to wait), and prevent him from bleeding out while he was unconscious. That and I hardly needed Majestic and Imperious both as pissed at me as they are at Morrigan."
"You know that Counterpoint will be out to kill you now for embarrassing him right?" Tennyo said with concern in her voice.
"Did I forget to mention that I kept the paper towels that I used to clean my daggers off?" I stated with a wicked grin, "Jane already has told me of a few nice spells I can use that blood for; I was thinking of the one that makes him lose control of his bowels every-time he tries to attack me, just to remind him of our first fight."
"Now I need to escort my siblings back to their confinement, since their hosts are freed from them you would have no objections I presume?" Anu asked Jade as she stood back up, sure enough the young seeming girl shook her head. "However before I do so I need to give these to you three," Anu handed three markers out dividing them between Jade, Jamie and Ayla. "These are marker representing one favor that I owe to each of you, do not use them in haste, and be most careful when you do for I must grant any favor literally."
The group stood up and we strolled back through the basement tunnel to Harry's workshop, once we arrived, Harry opened the door to a horrific surprise. Macha was gone and there were splatters of blood everywhere, "What the hell happened here? Tennyo asked shocked by the rest of us at the morbid scene.
"We'll find out soon," Harry said as he walked over to the side of the lab. "Because of Belphagor some of us that are far more realistic install hidden EM-shielded security cameras down here to try and catch that fat sack of klepto in the act."
"Harry, please take Jade and Jamie outside of the room before you start the video." I voiced a serious request but I had a heavy feeling in my gut that this was going to be nasty, and it was confirmed by something that I don't think that everyone else noticed.
"Why?" Harry asked, "I know that this is likely a murder scene but I want to see what happened in here before the killer disposed of the body."
"Harry something tells me I know who did this and if I'm right I don't think that there will be a body to find." I stated adamantly to the cursed inventor, "And if this is who I think it is then I want as few people exposed to this as need to be, because I don't think that they'll be able to forget what they see."
After a brief stare down Harry complied with my wishes, and escorted Jade and Jamie out before we turned the video on sure enough we saw Macha's spirit materialize physically in all her glory, and naked as a jay bird. Not long after this, we observed Carcharoth entering the room carrying a length of rope and a push squeegee. As we watched the Obsidian Court's operative, tied the captive winter court denizen, and then used the squeegee to open a hole in the paste circle around her. As soon as the circle was broken, Carcharoth drug her through and began to tear her apart and eat her, and not in the perverted sense. It was violent, it was depraved and it was vile, now I know what I am defending the world from, and something tells me I know who as well. All that was left was blood and come sunrise even that would disappear, as his meal concluded Carcharoth- right after giving the camera the bird.
As we turned, the video off Anu was white as a sheet, Ayla was losing her lunch, and it seemed like Tennyo and I were the only ones not freaking out. "Dammit Ayla you know the kitchen staff spent good time on that." Billie said patting her teammate on the back.
"How could you not be fazed by watching that?" Ayla starred at me in fear, "What kind of heartless creature are you?"
"The kind that had that nightmare inside my mind for about a decade and a half, the kind that has seen its depravities every time I shut my eyes before I manifested and found out it was more than a bad dream. I am the kind of monster that that thing drove around and devoured an abomination born of an unholy marriage of science and necromancy after being tagged by the same devise that created it." I starred at the Goodkind of Poe. "I am also the kind of monster that beat that nightmare in an astral duel and won the ability to lay a ward of protection that keeps the recipient and their loved ones safe from that fiend. I am the kind of monster that needed to know just what I am protecting this world from I needed to see with my own eyes what that abomination is capable of doing, and from what I can see it is capable of eating a god."
"So what does that mean?" Phase stated regaining her continence somewhat after witnessing that horror show.
Just then, Ayla's weird cellphone on steroids rang, "Hello Lancer is everything wrapped up out there." Ayla said while putting the B-phone on speaker.
"Thank goodness Phase I was worried that we were still out of range," Lancer said at the other end of the line, "Today has been hell; everybody is on their way back to campus. Oh and before I forget, can you four hold our table in the cafeteria for dinner? We've been fighting these Norse Frost Giants all day and need to hit the showers before we grab a bite."
"It's been no bed of roses on our end either Lancer," Ayla said into her phone. "We had to deal with a trio of Celtic deities on our end. One of them possessed one of the Goths and sent almost every rager and ultra-violent on campus into a frenzy against what was left of security on campus. The second possessed Tansy and sent a bunch of guys out head-hunting for their significant others. While the third possessed your roommate and tried to hunt down the other two before Generator managed to convince her not to and let us handle matters. Fortunately everything ended with no student or security fatalities."
"Cool, so our own Tennyo laid the smack down on two prissy mythies," Chaka stated as she hijacked the cellphone. "As if there was every any doubt, she probably chewed them up and spit them out."
Ayla turned a little green at that picture, "Actually Aries and Go-Go bound them in place while Vox, Judicator, Poise, Faolan and Pristine helped run interference and Jaunt got all of the hostages clear."
"Sounds like quite an operation," Fey stated with pride in her voice, "I knew that you four could handle it without us."
"Actually your general's little protegee came up with most of the details." Ayla looked at me with a devilish grin before suggesting, "Maybe we should help put her on a training team as a strategist."
"Hell no," I shouted, "I pulled this plan out of my ass, and if Judicator didn't tag along after I met her in-between Dickinson and Whitman then my cabesa would have been another smear on the floor here. The only thing that saved our cans today was luck, some useful resources on hand, and the fact that I happened to have Intel on those two; in any other situation and we would have been dead. Hell did you forget that I mistook Techwolf here for Bloodwolf and nearly killed him when Macha sent him after Generator, if anything that proves that I am not leadership material."
"Faolan I was joking," Ayla smirked, "I really don't have that much pull here on campus; although don't be surprised if some of the training teams don't start eyeballing you as a recruit, after a bit of polish of course."
"It is nice to find out everything worked out on your end," Bladebancer chimed in, "To tell the truth things were going very rough on our end of the fight, it was odd though all of the Frost Giants retreated the moment that they heard this booming wolf howl."
"Wait, this is important, you are certain that it only sounded like a single wolf correct?" I asked desperate to hear the answer, because after seeming that security video I had a very bad feeling. "Tennyo, Go-Go, and I were in the tunnels, while Generator and Phase were in the sound-proof dining room at Poe. Badb's kids swear that they only heard one wolf, but I want to make sure."
"Yes, it was only one wolf," Fey stated, "I am certain of this, why?"
"And lo the beast of slaughter with a mane blacker than night and eyes the color of blood shall slip his bonds. It is then that the great wolf shall dine upon the greatest of heroes within the hall before feasting upon their host and his brethren. This shall only end when the tall child of triumph's sire shall drive his blade into the heart of Hveðrungr's son." I stated before explaining, "I think I may have figured out Carcharoth's true identity and with that the identity of Mister Domino and Dame Höllenfeuer as well although I need to wait for Morrigan to get back to confirm it."
As we left the room, we heard, Lancer say, "We're coming up the road to campus now so remember to- Sweet Monkey Jesus, what the hell is that?"
Curious to what prompted that response we exited the tunnels near Kirby Hall, Harry was the first out, "What the Hell?"
"Harry what's wrong?" Billie asked out of concern as Harry was blocking the exit.
"Something weird is blocking the road into campus." Techwolf stated with a-what-the-heck look, "It looks like a cross between a satyr and a cyclops."
"Hold on let me get Jane to give me a bird's eye view." I concentrated and saw through the eyes of my new storm crow familiar just to see what Harry was looking at, and then wished I hadn't. Shit, if it isn't one thing it’s another."
"What did you see?" Jade asked pulling on my arm, "Come'on nobody lets me see any of the fun stuff today."
I slumped against the wall and began laughing at the futility of everything I had been doing today, "We're screwed, that's Balor out there." Anu noticeably freaked when I said this. "He's got his back eye on the security transports headed back to campus and is facing towards the center of campus. If he blinks his front-eye the school is history and everyone will probably say it was just a freak meteor-strike."
"Denizens of the Whateley Academy, I am Balor representing the Winter Court." The fallen Fomorii king with the gaze of destruction proclaimed in a voice amplified by a megaphone mounted on a pole held by a troll, as he smiled a crooked grin that could break a thousand mirrors. "You have ten minutes to turn over the Sidhe royal pretender and her accomplice before I destroy this institution, so choose- grovel at my feet or gravel at yours."
"He wants Fey and Morrigan!" I stated before turning to ask Anu, "He won't let us live even if he gets them though, will he?"
"Balor, of course not," the former goddess answered my question, "the moment that he has what he came for this institution goes up in a massive conflagration, and everyone within it is either buried in the rubble or reduced to ash."
Harry was too scared to move, the deformed Fomor had the entire school hostage and even if he received what he desired we were all dead. I continued to peer through Jane's eyes hoping for something to happen, oddly enough something did. A giant water-balloon hit Balor on the top of his head sending brownish liquid dripping all over his bald head, the Fomor was now screaming in pain as he struggled to wipe his tearing eyes unable to open the and stumbling around in agony. This kept up as I heard another scream, this time coming from a massive man wearing a raw-hide vest, plaid hakama and a gas mask, and wielding a massive and ornate club, that he used to crush Balor's head like a grape.
As the Fomor hit the ground with a resounding thud, the large man dusted himself off while Morrigan descended this time in her real body- clad in armor, as she landed Badb exited her cape and settled on her left-shoulder. With Morrigan on the ground the man removed his gas mask and Morrigan smothered him with a kiss a massive kiss. Now that the giant threat was down, the security vehicles pulled onto campus past his headless body, something that would be gone with the rays of morning light- if Jimmy Trauger didn't get to it first that is.
As the vehicles pulled into the drive, everyone piled out and our group in the tunnels decided to join them. Lady Astarte went right up to the couple however; Morrigan was the first to speak, "Hello Elizabeth, I believe that I told you about my husband Dagda Redstag."
"Charmed my dear," the rather large man said upon taking Lady Astarte's hand and kissing it. Oh, boy my life had just gotten a lot more complicated.
Whateley Academy - Poe Cottage
Dinner was a very solemn affair; quite frankly everyone was exhausted- both in body and in mind, and there wasn't all that much conversation despite the affairs of the day. I guess that everyone just needed time to process what had happened, that and a good night's sleep. Still I had one important task to complete today.
I picked up my phone, making sure to switch the tap-fryer on that Duck-it gave me, and dialed, hoping someone was home to pick up. I know cell phones are supposed to be better for getting in touch but our plan allowed for four cell phones and a landline and they were a lot easier to tap. I gave Heather mine since she would likely get more use out of it, besides the roaming charges for using an 817 phone in a 603 area for four and a half months would be murder on my folks bill.
"Hello who is it?"
"Hey Heather, how's my favorite sister?" I said while leaning back in my dorm chair.
"Hello Randi, things are going great; well aside from dad sulking a little because I beat him at a fighting game."
"Let me guess," I smirked, "You beat him in Street Fighter with Dan."
"No Marvel verses Capcom 2."
"You used your girl-power team on him didn't you?" I winced at the memory of after teaching her how to play that game, she preceded to pummel my usual team of Ryu, Strider and Gambit with one consisting of Sakura, B.B. Hood and Tron Bonne, and I was no slouch at playing as them. I wonder how dad's usual team of Anakaris, Shuma-Gorath and Omega Red fared.
"Yeah, I didn't think that he would lose both rounds so quickly."
"Anyway how is school?" I asked wanting to make sure that she was succeeding to do what I failed at, making friends.
"Well things are working out well, I have made some friends, Mirabel Rando and Sherrie Nicolosi, we sort of got to know each other in study hall. I'm just kind of nervous because I'll have to say good-bye to them in a couple of years when I come to Whateley."
"Heather, Whateley is ultimately your decision," I stated to my adopted little sis, "You already know how to use your powers better than I do mine. Just wait until Parents Day in the spring and come and see Whateley for yourself and then see how you feel."
"All right," Heather replied with a little trepidation, "How are things at Whateley?"
"Cold, very- very cold," I stated with a touch of humor. "We are up here in the White Mountains at the tail end of winter, there is snow on the ground and I am glad that I brought a coat. Although it is supposed to be really nice around here in the fall and spring; part of me wishes that we had a summer semester instead of winter semester. Oh also Morrigan and I were finally able to break-free from each other so my head is no longer a duplex."
"Really, where is she now?"
"Back in her old body, she showed up on campus with her husband to take care of a giant that tried show up and cause problems." I began to explain what had happened after the defeat of Balor. "I think that Circe, the head of the mystic-arts program, is trying to convince the school board to hire them on as teachers."
"Mom will be glad that she doesn't have to put up with Badb's eating habits any more." Heather giggled over the phone.
"Don't be so sure," I chuckled in return. "Morrigan gave me a little going away present, a mystic power set to replace my avatar abilities and one of Badb's youngest to act as a familiar, although Jane seems a lot better mannered than her mother."
'Thank you Randi,' Jane said over our link.
"By the way out of curiosity did you hear this weird wolf howl from out of nowhere between three and four this afternoon?" I asked fearing the answer.
"Yeah, its been on the news too; apparently everyone around the world heard it at the same time," Heather replied leaving me with a sinking feeling in my gut. "Why do you need to know?"
"Heather I know that you can't directly give anyone the identities of anyone in the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom because of Plagiat's geis," I stated to my sister hoping not to dredge up bad memories. "But I need to see if you can confirm some with a simple yes or no."
"All right sis..." Heather responded, "I'll try to."
"Is Dame Hollenfuer the Norse Goddess Hel?" I asked for starters.
Apparently, she can't reveal the names but she can confirm if she hears them. "Is Carcharoth the Fenris wolf?"
Crud, crud, crud the monster that was inside me really was the god devouring Beast of Ragnarok. "Ok, just one more; is Mister Domino Loki?"
That's it I need to talk to Morrigan as soon as I can tomorrow, "Thank you for everything sis, be sure to tell mom and dad that I miss them, and tell Chuck that if he touches anything of mine that he'll find out what a werewolf wedgie is like."
"I'll tell everyone when they get home," Heather laughed before continuing, "We'll call you after everyone get's home tomorrow."
"Well we can talk more then, its lights out in a few minutes," I said, "So goodnight Heather."
"Goodnight Randi, we'll talk again tomorrow."
I hung up the phone and climbed into the bottom bunk of my dorm bed, and quickly fell asleep. That night for the first time that I could truly remember, I had an actual nonsensical dream, not a front row seat to duel between three ancient spirits or a training session with Morrigan, but an actual random maybe it means something but that's unlikely dream.
Monday, February 5th, 2007
Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom - Las Vegas Chapter House
12:07 AM PST
Greygus had just returned from the reverse summoning-circle having just sent Apep back to the seduction zone of the Earth's Crust bordering the Mantle. He had returned to the emergency operating room that they had setup, the black-market surgeons that they had hired were just now sewing Lord Ataxia up so that five of their resident healing mages could get to work making him a hundred percent again.
It took almost an hour of healing, but finally Lord Ataxia- Set of the Southern Court's House of the Blazing Disc was whole once again. After the healers were dismissed and the surgeons’ money had been wired to their overseas accounts, Greygus and Lord Ataxia sat alone in the room, with the Founder of the Obsidian Circle, imbibing the last of his reality elixir to make certain that any lingering elements of the enigmatic old one was purged from his system.
"So pop how do you feel?" Greygus inquired as he assumed his true djinn form, the wolf-headed warrior that the Ancient Egyptians called Wepwawet.
His father smiled, stood and stretched out kinks that had been there since long before the dawn of the Iron Age. For the first time since he was thrown off the solar barge assumed his original for not that of the decrepit and desecrated djinn known as the God of Disorder and Chaos but that of his old self Set God of Desert and Storms, the personal guard of Amun. The ancient Djinn now resembling his old self, a well built man with the head of an animal that was a mix of a donkey and a fennec fox. "For the first time in a long time my son, I feel like myself again."
Immediately Set transfigured himself into the very image of a young member of the human jet set. "Hey dad, just where are you headed off to?"
"Son it has been over three millennia, and as much as I long for your mother Nephthys, until the Crown of Wadjet is destroyed and the impostor claiming to be Isis with it, we cannot be together." The disguised Set stated as he checked his appearance in the nearby mirror. "However right now I am suffering from the worst case of blue balls in known history; now I am going to head to the Vegas strip, pick up as many comely ladies of the evening as I see fit, return to a presidential suite at the Luxor that I have reserved, and likely will not emerge until after sunset. I will trust you to handle the affairs here."
After Set had left the room, Wepwawet was seen visibly twitching for several minutes before proclaiming, "Too Much Information there pops, way too much information!"
Whateley Academy - Poe Cottage
6:45 AM EST
I got up a little late and prepared to face my day, from what I understood the same bunch from the Grand Hall that was here yesterday was going to be arriving today right after classes were over and I planned to get what I needed to done before they came. I needed to talk with Morrigan to get her to confirm my suspicions about Carcharoth and his family, if I was right I would have a lot more questions to follow up with her especially about if my mask was booby-trapped, L was definitely Loki in my mind.
I also planned to visit Y'vonne Atterberry and Tansy Walcutt over in Doyle after class to make sure the two were all right; I knew from personal experience what it was like to suffer from possession by a malignant entity from my years as Carcharoth's unknowing host. Despite Y'vonne having brought this on herself after abducting me and the Tansy's reputation around Poe for being a evil manipulative b!tch, I was willing to give both the benefit of the doubt.
The last I had heard Y'vonne had still yet to wake up after being freed from Nemain, they had her strapped down just in case of the worst. Meanwhile Tansy had been moved from Dickinson to Doyle around seven last night and needed to be sedated. Apparently Macha used that damned mirror to do a real number on her, and I needed to explain the truth about it to her about it before she did something permanent.
I also had a disk burned from Harry's surveillance camera of Carcharoth's little feast that I planned to deliver to the New Olympians. I had only met three of them; however going by reputation and codename Imperious was likely to be as bad as Majestic, and I had no plans on letting Cytheria near me anytime soon. Now if anything the most dysfunctional couple in European history needed a reality check, and what better then witnessing the newly freed Fenris in action going to town on the hagis-cuts of a Celtic goddess of war and sovereignty.
Apparently Macha also wasn't enough to fill his appetite either, after a call over to Emerson I found out that someone had turned their back porch into a butcher shop. Soon afterwards, I extended my ward of protection to Jane and through her Badb and her rather sizable murder of children, Morrigan, Dagda and Anu. Maybe I should talk to Judicator about this before I drop this disc off; after all she did save my life, of course that is after seeing if Morrigan could confirm my suspicions were correct.
I somewhat went through the motions that morning before getting to the Kane Hall for breakfast, still I had to make sure that Steve and Eddie were okay, well and hear about how Eddie and Deva laid the smack down on that prick Fantastico. As I filled my tray with the usual breakfast offerings of raisin-bran w/skim and a glass of V8, one of the cafeteria workers also handed me a two fingerbowls for Jane's food and water since she was riding on my shoulder. Out of curiosity I brushed past the Kimba's table to hear them prattling about boy-bands, that I knew to be a ruse since Morrigan had clued me into their anti-eavesdropping crystal. Shaking my head I went to sit at my usual table, with the other winter-transfers.
"Wonderful," Konrad started his tirade just before we sat down, "I had heard that pagan witch had left you so I thought we might have seen the last of that vermin eating pest."
"Actually that vermin eating pest that you so rudely refer to is my mother." Jane chimed in as she hopped down from my shoulder to the spot between me and Buck, as I took her mixed birdseed and filtered water from my bag-o-holding and filled her bowls. "And at least she has earned her eccentricities by virtue of having lived several centuries and having experienced numerous lands and peoples. However, given your age I wonder how much you know of other cultures from the experience of actually communicating with them; rather than blatant ethnocentrism and nationalism. This is truly sad after all from what I gather this school has a surprisingly diverse population with students from at least two dozen different nations, as well as several regions within this one, quite the opportunity for learning about others if you care to take advantage of it."
"Whoa Konrad," Jamal winced, "You really were burned by the British bird."
"This bird can burn one in more ways than one Mr. Castle," Jane stated while looking Jamal right in the eye. "Remember I am a storm crow, an elemental of wind, rain and lightning, not some common avian."
"And don't call me Mr. Castle," Jamal shot back at Jane, "That's my pops, I'm Jamal, or Jolt."
"Come to think of it Jamal," I said pausing from my cereal, "I thought that we weren't supposed to pick names that were taking by a still existing fictional character, how did you swing getting the name Jolt."
"There's a hero named Jolt?" Jamal asked somewhat dreading the answer.
"Yep," I reluctantly told him, "The first original character added to Marvel's Thunderbolts, and heroine not hero. Although they might let you use it; I don't think that anyone has used her for anything in a while."
"Actually Phase over on Team Kimba is the company's major stockholder." Regina explained, "She can allow someone to use a lesser known character's name provided their costume's don't match. I think that she did it for Shroud."
"Maybe Riptide as well," I chimed back in, "She is a friend to most of the Kimba's, and there is also a Riptide that's a part of Mr. Sinister's Marauders. Well I might as well get my day started, I have a lot to do today, and not much time to do it today."
"Isn't that always the truth," Jamal stated as he stretched, "Too much to do and not enough time to do it so much for the time of our youth. So what do you have on your plate today in between work and classes?"
"Checking in on Macha's and Nemain's hosts to make sure they're okay for one, I also need to find Morrigan and talk with her about something." Noticing how most of the table was trying to restrain their laughter at that thought, "I know, I know, now that I don't have her in my head anymore it's likely I have to make an appointment."
Doyle Medical Complex
After checking in over at Doyle, hard to believe I was here yesterday as a patient, and made my way up to Tansy Walcutt's room. Now I had heard the stories around Poe, she had tried to blackmail Phase with the fact that she used to be a he (and still was), not realizing the secret of Poe in that almost no one would care about that fact- Well except Sharisha but that girl seemed to be the personification of bitterness and projective self-loathing.
Of course, Sharisha wasn't a blue-blood debutante who spent most of the day yesterday tortured with what-if's and woke-up half-horse, "Go away, I don't want anyone to see me like this!"
"Miss Walcutt," I said trying to get through to her, "Several people have seen you like this, and besides its only temporary. You will be back to normal by the end of the week; this is Whateley weirder things have happened to students."
"But not to me!" Tansy shrieked, "I am part of the student modeling club, what will I do if I cannot work for a week. Plus how do I even walk in these weird legs?"
"By imagining that you're walking on the balls of your feet." I suggested trying to get her to see reason, besides my ravewolf form was also digitigrade.
"Besides this coloring doesn't even match my hair," Tansy said pointing out her tail and legs, "And this does not even begin to cover what that demon did to me."
"Actually it was a pagan deity," I began to explain, "One that after people stopped worshiping her found a new home with a very nasty group of Faeries and Sidhe, the kind that like doing things like this and much- much worse for amusement. We're just lucky that she and the other one didn't get anybody killed, and be glad the other one didn't get you she drives people insane and makes them a snake from the waist down."
Tansy paled when she thought about what that would make her look like, and her silence gave me the opportunity to continue uninterrupted. "Let me guess she used this," I said pulling the Mirror of Untrodden Paths from my bag causing the girl to recoil at the sight, "To show you how you've screwed up your life beyond recognition, or refused to make a choice that would have given you everything that you've ever secretly wanted."
"Yes, no, I don't know but what does it matter anymore my life is ruined and there is nothing I can do about it." Tansy began weeping at what looked like the sheer frustration of everything that she'd seen.
Sighing I began to explain the mirror to her, "Miss Walcutt this is a mirror of untrodden paths, while it is true that it shows the one gazing into it what would have happened if they had made a different choice, if someone holding it knows how the mirror works is holding it they can steer the visions. This is used as a torture device by the faction that your assailant belongs to, they use it to make captive human servants feel like their lives are meaningless or to trick people into making the classic Faust deal to recapture a lost chance at fame or happiness. There is a possibility that what you saw may not have happened that way and things actually had gotten worse, plus there is always a chance that you could use this as a learning experience. If you really want to isolate yourself for a week go right ahead, maybe you need it to think things over for yourself. As for this thing, you can consider it as good as destroyed."
I put the mirror back in my bag and after leaving Tansy's room made my way to Y'vonne Atterberry's room, only to find that the next person that I needed to talk to namely Morrigan, was already there with about a dozen nurses and Ms. Grimes. At the same time Marlene was over in a chair nearby crying so hard that her mascara was making her weep black tears.
Unsure about what was going on I approached Marlene and asked, "Marlene what's the matter? Is Y'vonne alright?"
Marlene let out a soul-rending wail and began to cry even harder, figures as Sean or Randi I always knew how to put my foot in my mouth. Morrigan walked over, patted me on the shoulder and motioned for me to follow her. I did as she bade me and walking into Y'vonne's room to a shocking sight, Y'vonne was even more altered than she was yesterday. Her skin had turned into scales, here ears were webbed, there was a spiked ridge along her spine, and fins in place of her hair- she only distantly resembled the person that she had been.
"Apparently she was already in a fragile state before Nemain possessed her; the possession was the straw that broke the camel's back." Morrigan began to explain, "Despite the insanity Nemain inflicted only being temporary given that your people got to her in time, her mind was already broken beyond repair; when she woke up earlier she must have finished transforming into this using her own magic, and assaulted three on duty nurses. Finally after pumping her full of enough tranquilizers to take down five water buffalo, they strapped her down using these special reinforcements, apparently she is off to ARC later today for observation and to see if they can bring her back to reality. As for her 'present state' nobody knows because as far as anyone is aware she did this to herself."
"Morrigan I need to ask you something serious." I stated clearly and evenly.
"Ask away child." Morrigan said with growing trepidation almost being able to tell what I was about to say.
"Is Carcharoth the Fenris wolf?" I asked and refused to back down until I had heard the answer. "Is that monster Fenrir?"
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Mirror of Untrodden Paths -
Originally created with the purpose of showing someone alternate paths that their life would have taken if a separate decision were made, the Winter Court has turned it into a torture device. These versions require the touch of one with fey blood (not necessarily sidhe) to work, and show the person staring directly into it divergent lives they could have lived if they made a different decision. Winter Nobles use this to convince mortal servants and slaves of how worthless a life of freedom would be, show them how they have ruined any chance that they had at happiness in order to make them compliant, or sucker them into Faustian deals in exchange to taste even a fraction of the life that they would have lived. The nasty thing is the fey being touching the mirror can steer every decision after the moment of change to make the visions as foul or ideal as possible, if they do not it would just show a natural progression of an alternate timeline.
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