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Faolan 4: Rites of Passage

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4 years 5 months ago #13677 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker created the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 1

Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Poe Cottage - Whateley Academy
Dunwich, New Hampshire
6:15 AM EST

Today, like always, I awoke to the to the annoying blare of the old radio alarm clock that my brother gave me on my ninth birthday; it might look ugly and it sounded horrible but it never failed to do the job it was made for, making me haul my butt out of bed to shut it off. Today was the second morning that I awoke without an extra mind sharing my head, and the second time that I could recall having a real dream; I can't remember much of it or the one from yesterday for that matter. Really I never remembered having a real dream before Morrigan left and I'd like to start remembering them, although from what I've heard not recalling them is normal. Heh, me normal, that's a nice concept; I'm half-fae/half-mutant who happens to have been born with Asperger's Syndrome, still I suppose I am pretty lucky in my own way.

Although yesterday was my first full day separated from Morrigan as well as my first day of classes without her riding shotgun in my head, today is the day that I plan to start forging my life without her ruling me. Okay- so she is technically my a mentor and teacher I still don't plan on letting her dictate my life, and making the grade in Intro to Mystic Arts is a big first step. While I do have Jane to help me she insists that she is my companion, partner and tutor not my cheat sheet that and she doesn't seem to be able to do the dream training thing. Although that last part is fine by me, all I could recall of last night's dream was sharing a large steamy natural hot spring with about four or five dozen of my female classmates Au-natural, nothing hard-core mind you just laughing splashing and letting the warm waters wash your troubles away.

Okay back to reality and classes, still it was good that Jane wasn't tempted to make me pass at any cost. I've always felt that if you cheated you were only cheating yourself in the long run, besides here the material itself could be life-saving that and in a school with telepaths there was a good chance that you could be caught.

I heard that last semester Bert 'Fantastico' Walker Jr. of the Good Ol' Boys while trying to accuse Ayla 'Phase' Goodkind of a felony, failed to recognize that she was discussing a passage from Titus Adronicus a play that he 'wrote' a term paper on, given that he was an Exemplar 6 which meant he had a near-eidetic memory this meant that he had someone else do his assignment for him. His A grade in English Lit was turned into an F on the spot and he and the Good Old Boys spent two weeks in Hawthorn, the cottage for students with Beyond Severe GSD or major control issues, cleaning toilets which in Hawthorn allegedly often requires Level-3 Hazmat Suits.

I went through my morning routine something that has become a lot me complicated since I changed; take dental hygiene for example, fanged canines might seem cool to a kid but they wouldn't believe how hard it is to brush and floss them then headed for the line to the showers. Speaking of Phase as usual he was inside gawking at the other students changing in the mirror, honestly just because the rest of his body is female doesn't mean that he should use the girl's showers. I know that he is friends with more students here than I am but really if you have a guy's equipment you should use the guys showers, besides I doubt that most of the guys in Poe would be interested in the view- this was secretly the GLGB dorm.

Finally my turn in the shower, sure to take care and be at my best today, after all today was my solo-debut (after yesterday's interruption of putting the sting on Winter Court spies) and a girl mustn't have split-ends although I had to worry about it more than most. Leaving the shower I thought about my itinerary, after breakfast Kerry and I were off to Intro to Basic Mystic Concepts, after that I needed to get back to the remedial math program and play catch-up for the last two days right before lunch. Afterwards was two hours of studying before my Basic Firearms Safety class, and then two-hours working at the library- I almost starting to miss the A-Day/B-Day format of the Arlington Independent School District.

I also had to meet with Jericho after Basic Firearms Safety about a solution to my metabolic problem, those food paste tubes tasted nasty and the energy bars only helped if I knew about a prior threat. After leaving the showers and toweling off I headed for my room, which was going to be another change once spring semester started getting a roommate; I hope that whoever it was didn't mind the occasional bout of shedding. Speaking of which I needed to see if there was a groomer on campus, once Spring came I would need to shuck my wolf form's winter coat, especially because it carried over to my werewolf and ravewolf forms.

After getting dressed and putting my choker on, never know when I might need my gear, I woke up my partner and after she hopped onto my shoulder the two of us headed downstairs. 'So Jane my dear, think my class project might actually work?' I asked my familiar over our connection, concerned that I had been wasting precious time during the semester. 'I mean I don't think that I've heard anyone doing this before.'

The laws of similarity should work in your favor, Jane stated with a amused tone, However you need a piece of amber from the same tree that you got the wood from.

'I'll have to ask Morrigan later, the wood was from a branch that came loose in The Grove during my fight with Sgaothaich.' I stated a clear fact hating that I needed to rely on Morrigan for something however, this was just bargaining for an item that was somewhere I cannot go begging for a handout. 'The Grove accepted me then because Morrigan was with me, with how I've been pressing my luck lately I don't want to risk going in there and getting wiped off the face of the Earth.'

Well Morrigan does owe you for taking care of the gruesome twosome for her, Jane stated, And if you need extra leverage you can always trade her the mirror.

'Yeah, that thing is ten kinds of nasty in the wrong hands,' I mulled over as we left Poe for Dunn. 'I wanted to ask someone how to destroy it, although I hope that Morrigan would keep it from anyone who would.'

That's pretty likely Randi, Jane stated as she flew along to her second favorite perch after her nest on my desk my left shoulder. After all why would someone who wants people to try their hardest want to sew unnecessary doubt.

'Jane what do you know about the Grey Barrow?' I asked my familiar remembering the encounter between Charlie Lodgeman and Morrigan at the Mediwahla Reservation. 'Just what are they?'

An alliance of ancient deities and spell-casters who mainly work behind the scenes to promote the development of human culture and understanding; as well as holding back those who would wish to impede it or push it back. Jane explained, Also it isn't all magic users there are psychics and scientists involved with it as well, they have been asking Professor Amazing to join for years, also despite being an ally Dr. Quasimodo is not an actual member.

That name brought up more than a few images, the super-strong adventurer scientist who was making the news so far back there were newsreels of him that used to play before the shorts at the movies. Weird that someone who was in the same generation as the Mystic Six (or earlier if some rumors were true) was still around and didn't look a day older. Still the man was not a looker at eight-feet tall he had a face only a mother could love, baring the few women that he had married over the years.

After entering Dunn and making my way through the cafeteria line, I peeked through the pickings for breakfast. Damn, it looks like they put too much water in the oatmeal again, raisin bran and fruit again for me today. I always tried to avoid meat in the morning because it gave me gas by the afternoon before I manifested, and I have no desire to see if it still holds true- that and the sausage links looked greasier than a used car salesman.

One of the cafeteria workers was there with the sauce bowls for Jane's breakfast as well. "Pardon me madam," Jane inquired, "Might I bother you for a raw egg." The worker smiled ran to the back and came back with the item in question. "Thank you madam," Jane replied as I took the egg and put it in her bowls, "I hope that you have a pleasant day."

"Thanks again for the bowls," I said as I walked towards the table of our little group. I sat down and poured Jane's other food and water while Konrad was espousing the heroics of Dozan Brozva the Romanian Monster Hunter, listen I read the guy's record when I was studying back at Plainswalker's. He's decent enough however the only reason for the record of all his fights against werewolves and vampires is so stellar is that he is working off of generations of training. Dozan is actually the fifteenth generation in a family of monster hunters and very local to the Central Region (ie the Former Holy Roman Empire) of Europe.

Morrigan told me that for the most part, the courts keep track of the whereabouts of such individuals and avoid them in order to get away with their 'fun'. "Of course we wish Doctor Quasimodo had not so casually forsaken his homeland for Western Europe," Konrad brought up the individual who Jane had just been telling about, and someone that I was actually rather familiar with. "Certainly Dozan Brozva and Lord Paramount would be very gracious of his assistance, in dealing with the darkness there."

"Konrad the reason Doctor Quasimodo left Eastern Europe was because his second wife was beaten to death by an mob during Kristallnacht." I said stating a very dark and heavy fact. "In his own words, 'The people of my homeland have embraced the madness that my worst enemy enjoys however they unlike he seem to have done this out of freewill rather than nature.' Even moving to Switzerland didn't help his family escape their influence; when Dr. Quasimodo tried to help the Jewish people fleeing the Third Reich secure their life savings in the Swiss Banks so that they wouldn't have to start over from nothing, Nazi sympathizers in Switzerland had him placed under house arrest and threatened him with loss of citizenship and confiscation of property should he break it again for threatening Swiss neutrality."

"I find that unlikely that a flea-ridden American like yourself would know so much more than I about one of Central Europe's greatest heroes." Konrad smugly glared at me.

"I know it because Morrigan happens to be a very old friend of his, the character Lady Ravenheart in those old books about him was based on her;" I replied with a fang-filled grin, "she was even one of the guests of honor at the wedding of his son, the late Professor Ohm."

"You know there is some talk that Professor Ohm wasn't killed by Captain Reaper's dimensionizer ray, just discaporiated." Buck Swift Boy of Tomorrow joined in the conversation mentioning the electricity manipulating superhero scientist's last battle as a member of the Justice Brigade.

"Come on Buck you can't be serious," Jamal rolled his eyes at the gadgeteer of our group's suggestion. "Something like that only happens in comic books when an editor wants to bring back a popular old character."

"Weirder things have happened Jamal," I said after swallowing another spoonful of cereal, "Besides most Devisors routinely work like their paying the laws of physics lip-service, makes me worried that one day someone here might unleash a doomsday devise by mistake."

"Oh and like magic is any better," Buck glared at me to challenge his claim.

"Magic might seem to operate outside the realm of reality Buck but it has its own rules and limitations," Kerry stated coming forward to my defense. "Case in point, the attacks that we suffered from the Winter Court of the Fae, The Rule of Three states that the individual who did so will never be able to do so again."

"However since Whateley is neutral to Winter itself that means that the Law of Balance interacts with the Law of Nemesis," I brought up a key point in explaining the problem Whateley would be having with the Faerie Courts. "Whateley is Neutral, however given the Nature of their main targets; the exemption in the Rule of Three which allows for meaningful mystic conflicts is in effect. In this case the Balance in the Conflict is restored by the Nemesis of the Winter Court, that being the Summer Court, Winter cannot attack us again until Summer or more likely one of the Summer nobles has had their turn."

"Except Winter and Summer are also affected by the Law of Dominion," Jane explained. "with the exception of the Wyld Court of which Lady Redstag is regent, the Dominions of the Faerie Courts on Earth are seasonal rather than territorial; this means that until we leave the domain of Winter with the Vernal Equinox the Summer Court can take no action against Whateley. This includes preparatory actions; they cannot send spies, hire mercenaries or even blink in our direction until then. However we must be cautious Summer's methods are far more subtle than those of winter; they might not attack Whateley outright however that is nothing to stop them from doing so indirectly."

"Just what do you mean by indirectly?" Joanne asked out of curiosity.

"Be cautious of new students who arrive after the Solstice," Jane explained, "Especially those who seem too good looking- even for exemplars. They also love to turn friends against each other or tricking cats-paws into doing their dirty work, and just think how many there are out there in the world to use against Whateley."

"Goodkind International," I brought up with a sour look, "Helen Goodkind is the modern day equivalent of Andrew Jackson, near as I can tell she holds all mutants accountable for Skinner and Tempest killing her sister slowly right in front of her."

"Something similar happened in Romania during the childhood of Prince Vlad III," Konrad piqued in, "Although the DeVille Academy is just as dangerous. They were also established about fifty years earlier, and really took advantage of the Super Spy Era of the Cold War. That organization's alumni would do anything to get rid Whateley since it's where most of the more competent super-villain get their feet wet and establish connections."

"The Mutant Commission Office," Regina pointed out, "While a good number of the agents adhere to the letter of the law, too many were born out of the Super Spy era and see mutants as a whole as the next threat out for world domination. Not to mention their TV propaganda machine The MCO Files, they almost seem to be trying to present an image that good or bad mutants are not human in any way, we're either ugly monsters or we are total sociopaths."

"Humanity First," Kerry shivered as she thought of her encounter with their splinter-group the Burning Sword, "Most of their lot don't even see us as human, and seem to range between wanting to make us second class citizens or dispose of us away from the public eye."

"Don't forget the merc group that joins H1 and the Goodkinds right in the middle, the Knights of Purity." Jamal said with clenched fists, "They might excel at bringing in mutant criminals alive, but they seem to view young mutants just manifesting as rabid dogs that need to be put out of their misery."

"Sort of makes sense given that they're trained at a young age at special 'summer camps', Joanne interjected. "I can almost imagine whatever happens to anyone that manifests inside them as a mutant, after all the Knights of Purity given their size should at least have one or two mutants in them, of course then they woundn't be pure would they? Say Randi, are the stories true about faerie's and iron?"

"That iron burns them like silver does therianthropes?" I guessed what our resident Alaskan was getting at, "Yeah but only cold or wrought iron does any real damage, I guess I lucked out manifesting as a half-breed so I can actually touch the stuff. They also react violently to St. John's Wort, surround them with it and it binds them in place, mix it with Rue and it banishes them, of course the stuff just gives me a rash."

Of course I wasn't about to tell them about dark chocolate, I had made the mistake of getting one of those Hershey Extra-Dark Bars, at a store on the way back from Heather's formal adoption in Austin. Apparently while fae folk in general have a major sweet-tooth Dark Chocolate is a borderline aphrodisiac, man that was a wild ride I wonder if Nikki knew that little tidbit, then again I bet that if she did she wasn't about to tell anyone- ever!

"Well I don't know about the rest of you," Kerry said before standing up, "But we need to get over to Kirby Hall, coming Randi?

Seeing that Jane was finished devouring the contents of bowls as well as the egg, I gathered my tray and her dishes, before answering, "Of course. So Kerry, have you decided on your project yet?"

"Yes," Kerry said with a dejected sigh as we left the temporary cafeteria in Dunn Hall, "I'm working on a project with Eldritch and Silver, it has something to do with my angels and I'll leave it at that."

"Oh- a mystery," I said after checking the flag and shifted to my wolf form, I needed to find a warmer coat.

"It's a good thing that Whateley doesn't have leash laws Randi," Kerry said with a smile, "Otherwise you couldn't keep getting away with doing that."

"Why Kerry, I didn't know that you were into that sort of thing." I quipped, noting her eye-roll at my innuendo I stated , "You're just lucky that you're from this part of the country," I said long having grown used to the fact that I could still talk in my wolf form. "I really need a heavier coat for the winters up here, other than this fur coat that is."

"What about your project?" Kerry asked as she opened the door to Kirby Hall, "Just what is our crazy faerie wolf working on?"

"Something that I hope works for more than just an A in class, it will give me a cool holdout if it pans out." I hinted at as vaguely as possible as I shifted back to my normal form, "And that I can do without those Nihonophiles in the Power Rangers finding out and pestering me to make them one."

"I thought that you liked Japanese cartoons and comics?" Kerry asked while we walked to our classroom.

"I like a lot of things from all over the place," I stated as we walked in and sat down. "Of course I'm not ultra-obsessed with it like they are, it's just entertainment or something to have fun with, they're actually studying Tiny Tim that giant robot in the main workshop to try and make a working Gundam of all things."

"Well it's good to have a goal," Kerry chuckled, "Even if it winds up looking like something that would be used to fight Godzilla."

"For crying out loud Kerry," I groaned, "Don't say that out loud, they might be nearby and get ideas."

Shared Loft Apartment
Dallas, Texas
7:48 AM CST

Today it was Max's turn to make breakfast, they knew that the double loft that they were staying in was far from glamorous and the 'walls' were temporary dividers however the place was nice enough. The floor had carpet whose design looked like it was from the 70s but at least there was padding underneath it. The bathrooms on each side had a shower and two mirrored sinks, but at least they were clean. He wished that they could have stayed at the Villa back in Sicily since the older couple that lived there were so nice; however Madame Eventide had warned them that the closer to Spring it got the more the MCO would be watching the airports. Since they had technically been brought across borders illegally twice, given that none of their group had ever seen the need for a Passport before the MCO kidnapped their group, they were hardly in the position to argue.

Still they had gotten back into the country through Puerto Rico but still they couldn't go home just yet, they were witnesses against an operation of the MCO that was so illegal it could be considered a crime against humanity. They needed to contact their parents through multiple proxies to avoid being snatched again, or outright silenced. At present they were enjoying the gracious generosity of Axcel Incorporated, a company that one of Madame Eventide's colleges had connections with, who provided them with a place to live and some amenities provided they helped out at a local charity of theirs. Granted that they also got to enjoy an exclusive nightclub Wyld Syde was a plus, at least the non-adult areas, although Candace and Rex had both tried to make their way up to the fourth floor (in Candace's case on both sides).

In all, they didn't have too bad of an arrangement, he couldn't wait until they met with the representative from the Department of Paranormal Affairs to process and issue them provisional MID's next week. After that they only had to meet with someone from the Justice Department to take down their depositions on their abduction and detainment by the MCO, and the treatment that followed. After that, they only had to wait until the 23rd when a privately chartered plane would take them and the group who had arrived with them from Sicily to a school for mutants and paranormals on the east coast called the Whateley Academy. The group in question were now staying in a town house rented by Madame Eventide through an alias (they didn't have to hide from the MCO),

"Okay everybody," Max shouted as he laid out his efforts, "Breakfast is served."

"Oh boy," Cadance said as she zipped into a seat at their kitchenette, "Mixed Scramble."

"So fearless leader," Rich said as he pulled up a chair. "What's on the agenda for today?"

"After our volunteer work at the orphanage we need to pick out classes," Max began to explain as everyone was seated, except her Sonia who coiled around a central-columned stool. "A couple of members of the alumnae are going to go over the spring courses with us and help us pick out our more exotic courses. We have placement tests later this week to determine where we stand academically and help us choose our normal classes. Also our school uniforms came in and we need to have them altered to fit, well except for Rex and Meradee."

"This means that we need to start studying," Sophia stood up, "We are all going to this place and it would be embarrassing if any of us got put in remedial classes. Ergo I explained the situation to our driver, and until test time all extraneous shopping trips or chances to take in the night-life are off limits."

Taking note of the groans from their group, Max tried to restore order, "Now I know that it stinks however last minute cramming doesn't work, we need to prepare and the placement exams will be administered Friday, right after their graded we meet with the alums about our classes. When we're done with picking the rest of our classes, they'll help us register for classes this Spring and go over tidbits that orientation won't cover, after that is over with we can party to let off some steam."

This seemed to mollify the group as they got ready to go to the local Our Lady of Charitable Grace Orphanage for their daily community service, not that anyone seemed to mind, it was actually pretty fun playing around with the kids.

Arkham Research Consortium
(Outside) Whitefield, New Hampshire
9:15 AM EST

Chris Summers sat down to his latest group session with Jean-Michel 'Cavalier' Cardan and Elaine 'Skybolt' Schroepfer, two teens who had the misfortune of being mystically mind-raped and abused in any number of manners by two of their fellow students. At first treatment was slow, while there was no denial in them they had suffered at the hands of their abusers or that they were the victims and not to blame, they still had a lot of emotional turmoil. While this should have made for faster treatment, the two were still emotionally fragile; they were even worried whether or not what they had felt for each other had merely been another manipulation of them before hand to make them walk into the trap in the first place. Also given that dark magic was involved there was always the possibility of stumbling upon a trap laid within their very beings by the one who enslaved them, really it was touch and go most of the time.

Thankfully after Dr. Otto's latest pet project, a young retrograde amnesiac from Bagdad with a severe case of Gross Structural Dystrophy that had finally stabilized a couple of weeks ago, had joined their sessions the two had begun to relax more as they seemed to calm down and not let the tension of their shared nightmare overwhelm them. Fulanah AlFulaniyya or Atavis as she had taken to calling herself seemed to have a way of calming down those around her, testing had confirmed that this was unrelated to her powers and more of a charismatic aura that she possessed; Kam had much of the same effect only in a goofy uncle sort of way. Even any enchantments within the pair seemed to lay dormant within them, almost as if any arcane traps that their tormentor had hide within them were afraid of her.

In fact today when they began questioning once again were their feelings for each other real or another one of Hekate's manipulations, something Adavis asked lead to a real breakthrough. "Pardon, I do not know if I have ever been in love before, can you tell me what this fell like?"

"Well it's hard to say," Jean-Michel struggled with the words as he started to blush, "being in love is like, um well it's, help me out here Elaine."

"W-well Fulanah," Elaine stammered as it looked like she wanted to find a hole to crawl into and hide. "It is well, you feel like you need a certain someone to be with you. And the thought of being without them scares you more than anything."

"And Hekate knew about this and used it to manipulate you a year ago thinking that she had a magic ceremony that would make what the two of you felt for each other something even deeper." Chris made a guess without even needing a telepathic scan, taking note of the sheepish look on the tumultuous couple it looked like he hit the figurative nail on the head.

"You know what the two of you sound like to me?" Chris asked with a smile on his face.

"A couple with some real problems," Jean-Michel guessed with his head lowered.

"Like a couple of teenagers," Chris began to explain, "This is the spring of your youth, enjoy it have fun, there is no need to rush into a serious relationship. In fact, I suggest that the two of you put your relationship on the back burner and try to help each other start to feel like yourselves again, remember what you wanted to be and try to fulfill that dream. Maybe you could help each other reach for your dreams- who knows it might actually be the magic fix that the two of you wanted."

"So are we better," Elaine asked, "Because it still doesn't feel like it."

"It shouldn't," Chris, explained, "The two of you were both abused physically and emotionally in the worst way for a year, I don't have a magic wand that could make that all go away. I can help you while you try to pick up the pieces, and if you want to help each other than all the better; however the major work needs to be done by you, no one can do it for you. Now what do you want to do?"

"Well," Jean-Michel mulled it over for a minute, "I want to go back to Whateley and try to join the FSA like I wanted to do before this happened. I also want to try and rejoin the Alphas to make sure that slime ball Sebastiano is never able to ooze his way back into power again. Honestly I want to try and make the Alphas be about more than about being on top of the hill looking down on everyone else; I want to make them something that is admired not feared by the other students."

"I also want to join the cape squad," Elaine said as she looked like she had something that she needed to say that she wished she didn't have to, "But I don't know if I want to rejoin the Alphas, there are too many bad memories in that group. I do want to see if anyone around campus has any connections to some of the hero teams, to shop around for after graduation, and know where I could join as an auxiliary while I'm in college."

"And I want to learn who I am!" Fulanah piped up, before looking a little embarrassed, something really interesting in an pseudo-anthropomorphic lion-bird-dragon-thing. "I mean having some memory would be nice, but I want to know who I am as me, not just who was Fulanah before memory leave."

"It sounds like going to Whateley would be the best thing for you Fulanah." Chris hummed. "However I think that you might need some time to gather yourselves; we shall continue group and individual sessions until the week before normal classes begin again, after that we will determine if you are ready to attend classes."

"As for you Fulanah," Chris Summers turned to the possible youngest of their group, "You need to start studying for your placement tests, maybe Jean and Elaine can help you here since they are Sophomores."

Jean and Elaine took that they had been volunteered to tutor, the GSD'd Iraqi amnesiac with a grain of salt. On the one hand, she was filled with a bright-eyed curiosity about the world; on the other, she had all the understanding and people-skills of a grade-schooler with equal curiosity. Oh well at least she was a nice individual, if a little peculiar.

Dunn Hall - Whateley Academy
Dunwitch, New Hampshire
11:36 AM

Today's class about channeling essence through conduits had been rather informative, and showed that my project was grounded firmly on proven ground, which for magic meant that the law of repetition might work in my favor even if this was something new. Ms. Chulkris also demonstrated how essence could be shaped along a guided path, alright I could use this, still I needed to meet with Steve's sister Elaine to help machine. This was a part that I couldn't complete on my own, and needed some special work done. I hope that she didn't hold the fact that her little brother was my friend against me when we met on Thursday down in the main workshop.

I took one look at the lunch line and sighed, it was build your own taco day; part of me doubted the ground beef was even seasoned properly. From the looks of things the guacamole was little more than avocado puree and the cheese looked like bagged pre-shredded cheddar. I made myself a couple, opting for onions and tomatoes while avoiding the lettuce, I spooned on a little picante and hoped that I still had that bottle of Tabasco in my bag. I added a little vegetable medley to my plate and grabbed a box of skim before joining the others at the table.

Apparently there was a good bit of news Robert had finally broken the ice well enough with Nacht of the Bad Seeds to ask for a date. As it turned out the Theater Class was putting on a production of Molière's Le Bourgeois gentilhomme and he asked if he could have the honor of escorting her to their opening night, she said that she would allow him to see her there. Apparently, Eddie was still a little apprehensive about his lady of choice, given that her mother was the super-villain Bell Witch, Steve on the other hand was congratulating him on thawing the ice queen.

"It's weird Eddie you seem wary of Robert wooing Katrina, but you don't seem to have a problem hanging out with me." I stated which got him wondering.

"But you aren't a super-villain's kid," Eddie sort of questioned my statement, "Are you?"

"No, but I am the apprentice of The Morrigan who is not only portrayed as a villain in the tale of Cuchulain by most storytellers," I elaborated as I began to state facts, "but is also the godmother of Morgan le Fey."

"Whoa- major villain pedigree there Lassie," Jamal said with a grin, "Are we going to have to watch our backs around you and carry a rolled up copy of the Boston Globe?"

"Very funny Static-light." I quipped in reply as he fell back exaggeratedly clutching a pretend wound. "The point is you are who you are, not who your parents are. Besides from what I've gathered from the Kimba's, Katrina doesn't even like her mom that much."

"Plus how could you knock a girl whose favorite pass-time is scaring the cholesterol out of Belphagor." Buck said with zeal, "If anything the Cape Squad should rush her just for making that good deed into a habit."

"If the Cape Squad rushed anyone for doing something like that why haven't they rushed Jimmy T for thumping bullies," Froggy commented.

"Or Phase for conning the Good Ol' Boys into getting detention," Regina commented about the incident last semester.

"That was bound to happen eventually," I remarked, "get enough meat-headed overly-proud rednecks together and eventually their collective ego's will snowball into something like that."

"You sound like you speak from experience," Erze said speaking up when I was around for once, "Was your homeland that bad?"

"Just some of the attitudes," I said with a sigh, "Texas, barring most of the larger cities, is very conservative as a whole. At times, it can be a good thing, a lot of people tend to be concerned with their neighbors welfare for example. On the other hand, some of the people can be very backward, H1 (and other older supremacist groups) have a large presence and the Knights of Purity have about four youth camps in my state. This is part of what let Erzabet Scratch grow in power; a lot of mutants born in Texas seem to go to her for protection if they can't come into contact with MIST or those with connections to Whateley."

"What about the Good Ol' Boys?" Konrad sneered, "They don't seem to have had any problems with this."

"They call themselves the Good Old Boys for a reason, most of the members of that group come from families with rather deep pocketbooks," I explained stating a sad fact. "With that kind of money comes influence and connections, and if there is something that can shield your family from prejudice it's power. Their name also implies the same attitude that drives groups like H1 in the first place, maintaining the status-quo, only in their case it's a matter of business and politics. Fortunately they're too proud and short-sighted to realize that Whateley isn't their small pond, and here there are bigger fish that know the waters far better than they do- bigger fish with their own teeth."

"So who do you think that the Cape Squad should rush?" Kerry someone given whose status as an honorary member of the Empire City Guard was a shoe in.

"Kerry I've been here for a week," I explained, "Outside of this group, and maybe a few of the other Freshman and Sophomores at Poe, I don't really know a lot of people well enough to judge something like that. Most of the people I do know if they didn't have a massive reality check about their own inadequacies would get themselves killed, the Kimbas from what I understand have come close several times. The few times that I've tried to play hero I've come way too close to biting it as I am now; I'm no brick, I still need to feel out my limits and compensate for them."

"Could that be what your project is about?" Kerry hummed out of curiosity.

"I'll tell you what if all goes well I should be able to alpha-test my project this Saturday." I explained as I laid everything down, "I'll tell you the when and where at lunch, if I'm ready with assembly and prep work."

After applying a more than liberal amount of hot sauce to the tacos, I wolfed them down thankful that the Tabasco at least gave the meat a little kick. Jane was already done so she hopped on my shoulder and after turning in our lunch tray, we made our way to Beck for work. I understand that we needed a number of tomes that Morrigan donated cataloged, when we got there we found Badb in her human form along with Anu in a more human form unloading several boxes of books.

Anu wasn't exactly hard to look at in her battle form, as a minotaur cow; however in her human form she was a seven-foot-tall uber-babe with a pair of man-stoppers that could easily compete with Attributes. "Hey Anu," I said as I clocked in to help unload what had already been donated. "Any luck finding a new job?"

"Hello to you too Randi, as a matter of fact I talked it over with Chief Delarose yesterday and after looking at my résumé, he hired me for the school's security department." She said with a smile actually happy with the news. "I start later this week on Squad 5; then again I suppose eighteen centuries of guarding my late-sisters was a hell of a job reference. Part of me wishes that they had grown up and faced reality, and then they might still be here and I'd be left with fewer regrets."

"So Badb," I asked Jane's mother as she carried in another cardboard box from the loading door, "Did Summoner try anything with that book Morrigan gave to her?"

"She summoned this chubby jackalope and is keeping it as a pet in her dorm room." Badb stated as she set down the box next to the one that I was emptying, "It was a good choice, they require pretty much the same food and care as rabbits, and give those who take care of them a major case of the warm fuzzies by alleviating anxiety. I think we have about three more copies of that book here."

"I've seen some of it," I explained remembering the full read through every volume of the catalog, "I just hope that guys try to think twice before trying to summon a coyote maiden or an ewah; I mean except for Bricks anyone else who would have trouble walking for a while after trying a coyote woman, and the ewah can be dangerous if you piss them them off" And that was just from the volume on the Americas.

"Any Brick that tries to do so would still be walking oddly for a while afterwards." Jane said with a mischievous tone. "At least both are still safer than summoning a succubus, and far less diabetes inducing than an angel of desire."

"Do you know where Morrigan will be this evening after dinner?" I asked wanting to steer the conversation away from possible creatures that boys, and some girls would try to summon with Morrigan's donations. Still I hoped that they read the notes, about etiquette and care before the summoning instructions, although most of the beings within were benign they were not harmless if the summoner mistreated or insulted them.

"Likely making up lost time with Dagda," Badb stated in a matter of fact way. "They have been apart for a few centuries."

"Understood," I cringed at the mental images that statement brought up, "I'll make an appointment for tomorrow after my Intro to Mystic Arts Class."

"What do you need?" Badb asked although in all likelihood she already knew the answer.

"Some amber from that tree that I got the branch from after my fight with the Fomor," I stated reminding her of the project that I was working on. "I have a Mirror of Untrodden Paths to trade for it."

"Let me guess," Anu groaned, "My late sister Macha's favorite toy."

"Yeah, I took it as a trophy after we exorcised her, after using it to alleviate my doubts about some of my own choices." I explained, "Although it really is something too dangerous for half-breed hands to have; I would prefer to give it to someone responsible."

Whateley Tunnels
3:35 PM

I followed the directions Jade gave me to Jericho's workstation, ignoring the odd looks that I got from the other devisors along the way, I approached the person matching Jade's description short-chubby kid with an XXL thermal coffee container within arm's reach at all times. He didn't even look up when I approached then again he was supposed to be blind, although everyone swore that he had some kind of Esper sight, "You must be Faolan, Ayla said you'd be coming, but you're a bit shorter and hairier than I thought you'd be. Man you don't have to give me the bird already."

"This form is relatively color-blind, I was warned about your wardrobe on my first day here Jericho," I said as Jane flew over to Jericho's desk while I used my back leg to scratch behind my ear before a sat my lupine body on the floor. "Actually I used a Scapbook that someone in Poe made of you that they are calling the J. Turner Fashion Disaster Collection as the basis for a psychic defense."

"Oooh- what is it?" Jericho said hopping in his chair like a five-year-old, "Tell me, tell me."

"Five hours of hundreds of copies of you in every ensemble that you've worn since you got here, singing It's A Small World in Chimpmunk pitch."

"You are a dark, evil, sadistic and depraved little wolfie," Jericho said shaking his head before the laughter that he'd been holding back caused him to split a grin, "I'm beginning to like you already."

"Thanks," I said as my tail began to wag behind me, "It's nice to meet another Texan here that isn't a red-necked douchébag."

"Ah I see that you've had the pleasure of meeting Fantastico, and his little back-patting club," Jericho said as he blew out a little steam. "Yeah, they give a lot of us a bad name, although Diamondback and I have some pretty bad names for some of the folks back home. By the way, I liked your presentation on Ironhorse yesterday.

"Thanks, I got a lot of it from my grandpa, he was there that day. In fact, my grandmother was on a school bus that The Hangman threw into a crowd and Ironhorse caught, my grandfather met her when he was taking her deposition for the police report. Also some towns back home are less tolerant than others," I stated, "Most people wouldn't believe the presence that Evolution Rocks has in Austin."

"That is unless they were from Texas," Jericho said with a smile, "You can turn to normal, I'm wearing a normal white lab coat. So what are you here about?"

I shifted back to my 'human' form and explained, "A portable and miniaturized IV feeder pump system, I heard that you are a devisor specializing in medical technology, well half of my forms are hyper-metabolic and I need a better solution then energy bars or food pastes."

"Well there is an issue of storage," Jericho mused to himself for a minute.

"Magic bag of holding," I said patting my purse, "Can hold any item as long as it doesn't exceed the bags dimensions or was originally made with the intent of being a weapon. Want to see if an item counts as a single if they're linked."

"You mean I get to do a scientific experiment with a mystic artifact?" Jericho asked as he grinned from ear to ear.

"All magic is at a fundamental level is using what you have properly and/or to its fullest." I said matching his grin.

"Morrigan you found a place where the inmates run the asylum," Jane said shaking her avian head, "What took you so long to get here?"

"This isn't madness," Jericho said with a chuckle, "This is Whateley!"

"You're going to have to wait to see it Jericho," I stated getting the reference from Frank Miller's 300, "It might come out next month but that R rating means you have to wait on it. And yes I know that you can see, I had Jane use her sight to scry on you when we met."

"Just don't spread it around," Jericho muttered in the manner of a kid who was caught with his hand in the candy jar. "Now I can make an IV pump as small as a cell phone, do you have any preferences on the control?"

I pressed the gem on my collar to summon my costume, and exposed gap on my gauntlet on the inside of my right forearm. "Right here to fill this spot, three buttons, red for my most stressful form, yellow for my less stressful form, and green to turn it off. I need an automatic shut-off that will quickly poke me with a rounded piece of cold iron, to forcefully transform me back to normal. Also make it wired I don't want to risk a hacker."

"The pump and the controller I can actually make pretty cheap, even if I make it durable, what will cost you is the IV solution. Still I'll need to measure the metabolic rates of your other forms in order to determine the rate the pump needs to work at for the both settings." Jericho stated as he forwarded a message to Doyle requesting the use of an EKG for a project. "Let me guess from the bit about cold iron you're an elf-type like Nikki."

"Not exactly but you're close." I whispered as I prepared follow Jericho to Doyle while Jane flew back to my shoulder. "Of course cold iron just turns disrupts my powers, it doesn't burn me one bit." Not that it doesn't sting.

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4 years 5 months ago #14143 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 1 Notes

Jackalope - Bestial Cryptid
A race of chimeras with a hare's body and a antelope's antlers that are known for being very elusive. Jackalopes are the result of an ancestor eating foliage that has grown on part of a faerie circle. When kept happy in captivity by someone that cares for them they relieve their owner of anxiety and stress.
The care necessary for a Jackalope is the same kind needed for a common rabbit or hare, including needs and diet. Still despite having few special needs, it is recommended that they not be kept for longer than three years, since they will desire others of their kind and do indeed breed like rabbits.

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4 years 5 months ago #14144 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 2

Wednesday, Febuary 7, 2007
Poe Cottage
6:15 AM

Once again the blare of my old alarm clock woke me up, and once again I only remembered snippets of my dream from last night. Maybe I should start seeing a therapist like they recommend for students whose mutations gender-flipped them, surely a dream where you're riding a Plesiosaur down waterfalls while raptors line-dance on the sidelines has some subtext. That or maybe there was just something off about faux-cue ribwich I had for dinner last night and the sauce hid it, everyone knows that proper barbecue like proper steak doesn't need sauce, or at least everyone back home knows this, and although pork needs to be marinated it doesn’t need to be drowned.

After performing my morning rituals I checked my e-mail from last night, sure enough mom had sent Jericho's custom order along with the IOU to Uncle Huey, and she said that she should have an estimate on how long it would take by the end of the week. I think that the man with the technicolor wardrobe would understand so I forwarded him copies of the emails in question to his student account, after all a custom job takes time especially if one wants a good looking and sounding electric, although I thought that Jericho's demand for a 'wavy gravy' paintjob on it might take a while in and of itself given that it would either need to be hand-painted or meticulously airbrushed.

I went for the Freshman showers and entered the room to a sight of heavenly radiance, I had just walked in the door of to enter the shower line as Nikki Reilly exited the left-hand stall, it was easy to see why Morrigan recognized her as the true sidhe queen that she was- hell most would have just referred seen her as a goddess of fantasy made flesh. Oh man was I drooling, I hope I wasn't drooling, that would have been beyond embarrassing.

I shook myself back to reality and waited for my turn, sure enough once Jade was finished I walked into the right-hand stall and got to showering, albeit a little colder than normal at first. Once my system was shocked back to normalcy, I proceeded to take my shower the same as normal, then exited to dry off as Bunny took my vacated stall. My morning routine now behind me, I returned to my dorm room and changed into my uniform before waking up Jane and leaving for Dunn. Given how cold it was outside after a quick glance to confirm that it was a green flag day (and not wanting to go and get my jacket), I assumed my wolf form as I made my way to the cafeteria.

It seemed life decided to throw me another curveball, the moment that I slipped into the door of Dunn Hall after another student before I could even shift back I was side-lined by a group of four students, two boys and two girls but all four were Sidhe. "We want to know who you are and what is your intent with Nikki Reilly," a boy with long auburn hair asked as his group forced me to the side, thank goodness I could use Jane to make out the details I was still seeing in black & white at the moment.

"And we will not take no for an answer," The blue-eyed blonde of the group stated as she barred me from leaving.

"As much as I resent that pretender," A blonde with hair down to her waist and green eyes stated as she glared down at me. "Our kind need to have solidarity so what is it that you fancy yourself being?"

I felt a bit of static begin to build before relaying over my connection, 'Hang tight Jane, please let me try and take care of this.' As the electricity of an impending lightning bolt died down I took a few deep breaths through my nose, after about a minute I distinguished their scents from that of the food in the line and the multitude of other students in the cafeteria. Thank goodness I was still in my wolf form because my normal form would have taken a lot longer to do this, well my other two could have done it just as fast but why use an ace when all you need is a two, I proceeded to pick apart their scents, hmm yes pretty standard, thought that might be the case with that one- hello what is this?

"Well- well- well what have we here, a trio of mutants that manifested into Sidhe and a changeling very interesting, and I can tell that one of you has been to the Fair Lands not too long ago." I began to mull over my findings in a low tone that only the four right near me could fully make out, "As for who I am and my intent, I am Faolan a demi-fae who exists due to the machinations of Armulean who served Queen Venraniel, Daughter of the Silent Willow, prior to the Sundering at present I am apprenticed in the service of The Morrigan, Phantom Queen of the Wild Court and regent of The Nine."

"As for my intent, I intend to be a student here at the Whateley Academy to learn how to harness my abilities to their fullest and decide for myself just where I intend to stand in this world. When it comes to either Nikki Reilly, or Queen Aunghadheil, Daughter of the Burning Oak, I intend nothing. While I might aide her in shielding Whateley from those of the Pretenders' Courts," I said eyeballing the one of the individuals in particular. "That of course is a decision that I do out of my own freewill rather than an obligation of fealty to the future Queen of the Western Court, since as a being who is equal parts Western and Center which I claim myself to be is my decision to make, and no one else's. As for what my teacher The Morrigan intends, she wishes to help ensure that when the time comes for Ms. Reilly to claim her destiny that she is fully prepared to do so and lead our people into their future."

"Now if you excuse me, you are standing in between me and my meal," I said with a wide grim displaying my fangs as I did so, "As I am rather famished it is wise that you do not bar me much longer." I walked past the blue-eyed blonde and the brown haired boy who saw the wisdom in stepping out of my way, despite their eyes being wide and their lips being dumb, I transformed back to normal and made my way through the breakfast line and to my group's usual table."

"Whoa, what was that about?" Jamal asked more than a little curious, "It looked a little intense over there, are you okay?"

"Yeah, just a little faerie politics, nothing major." I said as I got to my breakfast and while Jane had already gotten to hers.

"What?" Regina said shocked at my answer, "I thought that you said just yesterday that we didn't have to worry about Summer for a while."

"We don't," I replied after swallowing a spoonful of cereal. "I think that I've heard about those four around Poe, they seem to be other students, who like Nikki Reilly, manifested as Sidhe. Well except for one who is a changeling, obviously a cradle-swap, the nobles usually do that to any kids that they have who they can't arrange a marriage at birth. I seriously doubt that any of the have anything to do with Winter or Summer. I did catch a whiff of the Faerie Lands on one of them but I couldn't tell too much from that, they again they might have crossed back forth by accident, it happens from time to time when someone gets lost. Still they aren't the only other Fae students here, while Nikki and those four are the only ones that are Sidhe, there are some that became fae like Selkie and Shadowdancer."

"Seven and a half out of six-hundred plus here," Froggy mulled this over for a minute, "Doesn't even seem like all that much."

"So Buck," Eddie said out loud, "How goes your mandatory firearms safety course?"

"Hah, as if there was any doubt that I the great Buck Swift, Boy of Tomorrow, would fail the test of learning primitive fire-arms!" Buck proudly proclaimed with a voice full of zeal and bravado.

Knowing that I was in the same class everyone turned to me. "We were learning about how to load and handle muzzle-loaded percussion-cap rifles yesterday, the Boy of Tomorrow said it was too primitive and strapped a modification for linear magnetic induction to his rifle to try out. He spent almost all period trying to get it to fire before Sergeant Wilson finally told him that the ball was a non-ferrous ceramic composite, he had to stay late to finish doing his practice the way that he was told to in the first place, as well as clean up the range and the muskets for failing to follow the range master's instructions. Buck was lucky that his little devise didn't tear the barrel off of the stock and launch it at the target, can you imagine what the sarge would have done to him then?"

Everyone at the table got a good laugh out of that as Buck shrank in his seat (even Radu), Erze did look a little puzzled though, "Pardon what is linear magnetic induction?" she asked.

"A coil gun," Joanne laughed out, "It uses magnetic force to launch an object at a target at super high-speed. The US Navy's been working on them to replace their shell guns on their Battleships. Of course Buck here was trying to use to launch something ceramic that likely didn't have an ounce of iron in it, so the magnetic force wouldn't work in the first place. Besides even if they were using old-fashioned musket balls it still wouldn't have worked, those were made out of lead."

"Kerry I'll see you in class," I said standing up and loading up my tray to take to the wash station. "I need to go see Judicator about last weekend before class starts."

With a little apprehension I went over to the New Olympians' Table, obviously Majestic and Counterpoint remembered me, still Majestic's beef was with Morrigan who as most of the school now knew was going to be starting as a teacher this spring in the Mystic Arts Department. Now I knew for a fact that Majestic was in the Mystic Arts Program, so she was bound to know that little piece of information, I was just Morrigan's vessel at the time we met. As for Counterpoint, well let’s just say Jane and I made certain that our little curse was in place, although I mess up a little and the end result was a bit less focused than intended.

I ducked out of sight briefly to make my final preparations, in case one of the ones I didn't trust tried something. Okay here goes nothing; I calmly walked over to the New Olympians' table, hoping that Majestic wouldn't attack me by proxy. "Hello Ms. Masa," I calmly introduced myself to the fixer of Whitman Cottage and current incarnation of Athena. "You might not recognize me, we met Sunday and soon after you helped me out with that problem in Techwolf's workshop."

"Yes I remember," She said shaking my hand, "Faolan wasn't it, what do you need to speak with me about?"

"Seeing as how you helped save my life by blocking Macha's mace, I owe you something." I explained, "Now my kind are not one to leave our debts unpaid, or our injuries." I said glaring at Counterpoint.

"Now now there is no need to give me anything, I already took that mace-whip as a trophy; it is very high quality work if a little garish." Elizabeth said trying to refuse the reward.

"Judicator it is important that I do not let a debt like this go unanswered," I said adding emphasis to my words, "While I might have more freedom than others of my kind in my actions, this kind of debt must be repaid."

"Wait last Sunday," Counterpoint said as he rose from his seat, hate gleaming in his eyes. "I am going to enjoy slicing you into- urk!" Suddenly the modern incarnation of Ares grabbed his stomach and ran for the nearest restroom.

"As I said matters of my life have weight, whether saving it or trying to take it away." I explained again, as Imperious moved to bring me to task for this affront to Olympus. "And before anyone says anything it is only a curse that causes him to lose bowl control whenever he tries to attack me again, nothing more."

"As for payment, I have some rather privileged information on the beast that attacked Counterpoint in front of Doyle last Monday." I said producing a large thickly packed manila envelope from my purse of holding before putting it back. "However if you want you might exchange this piece of information for another piece; the location of one of your three wayward brethren; the choice is up to you."

"Now my lovely you maiden," Imperious said trying to lay on his inborn charms and charisma to make me bend to his will. "I am certain that you can find it within your heart to give us both that packet and the location of our brethren."

I glared at him like the worm that he was, "Listen well Jove my kind were playing those games on mortals long before your father had a sack to have you inside, don't you ever dare to try it on me again or one of my kind, the results won't be pleasant and there are others of my kind that won't give you the luxury of a warning. The offer now stands, the location and identity of one of your missing brethren, or a rather sizable amount of info on a being that is a very real threat to your existence- now Judicator the decision is up to you and you alone."

"Very well," Elizabeth said with an amused smile, "I choose the packet; we can always find the others later; however a present threat takes precedence." I retrieved the packet and handed it to her before I turned and stormed out of Dunn Hall.

After Jane and I were outside of Dunn Hall I deactivated last two of the quintet of illusion stones that I had tied to my forehead under my bangs, which revealed that I was wearing the Mask of Occlusion the entire time, I quickly removed said mask returning it back to my bag. 'Thanks for the advice Jane; if you didn't help me prep I would be eating out of that arrogant prick's hands by now."

Randi that was Zeus, Morrigan likes to call him the over-glorified god of date-rape, he would have had you doing far worse if he had gotten his hooks into you. Jane replied before reminding me, Now hurry up, you need to get to class before the bell.

Realizing what time it was I transformed and took off like my tail was on fire, which without Jane it might be, a storm elemental can easily cancel out a fallen thunder god forced to live in a mortal form.

Grand Hall - Metroplex Chapter House
Northern Texas
8:45 AM CST

Within the her office at the birthplace of her burgeoning empire Erzabet Scratch began her day like she did any other, a very large cup of premium coffee and a peach turnover. The coffee was something that she had learned to appreciate over her many years of life, one might even call her an addict going through about three extra-large cups a day still it was something to help with the long hours, as it turned out even devils needed rest- now Demons on the other hand that might be different.

As for the peach turnover those were something of a point of pride and sorrow, it had taken her decades but she had succeeded in recreating her late mother's recipe. She had even bought their farm after the bank had foreclosed on its current owner during the Fifties using an alias, she was also never without someone to tend it for her these days, the tenant could stay there for free and sell as much of the crop that the orchard had been growing for almost a hundred years yielded- provided of course that Erzabet had a freshly made turnover made using its crop on her desk every morning using the recipe that she gave to them.

"Mother," Daryl Lanter said as she had just entered Erzabet's office, "I have received word from Inferna, she has returned to the Kansas City branch and is ready to send her report to you directly."

"Tell her to belay that Daryl my child," Erzabet calmly stated as she took another sip of her coffee. "Send a message to the chapter directors; we will be meeting this evening in a more relaxed atmosphere. Phone Menagerie and inform her that we will be reserving the Penthouse side-meeting/party room for this evening, executive boardroom style with fourteen seats."

"Fourteen but even with Papa Houma attending, which you rarely ask him to do so, including yourself mother there are only twelve chapter directors." Daryl puzzled over this for a minute.

"Daryl my dead sweet child, Papa Houma as usual will not be attending," Erzabet said with an bemused smirk, "The extra seats will be for Dismay, Hellbrand, and yourself."

"Mother I am far from worthy of such an honor," Daryl said exasperated yet excited, "I have only recently begun to learn how an operation of the Grand Hall is properly run. A month ago I was one of your spies within the MCO, I am far from ready."

"My dear for years you ran the MCO's North Texas Office using that fool Coverdale as a puppet," Erzabet explained to her confused child. "Combine what you learned there with what you know now and you shall do fine. It is the time to expand again and this time will also near the culmination of Phase One of my grand master ambition. Now can you be a dear my child and please make the arrangements with Menagerie for tonight before alerting the chapter directors, oh and ask her to prepare the catering I will be sending her the menu and wine selection after I finish my breakfast."

As Daryl left the room Erzabet took a fork full of the turnover, from the plate in front of her and ate. As she chewed and savored the taste Erzabet wept, the taste was similar enough to evoke her memories and emotions of the years that she had spent happily as a child with her beloved mother and father- and yet it was still not the same. The true taste of her mother's fresh peach turnovers would elude her forever, she had discovered long ago that her years ago that her mother had indeed been taken into heaven, as a devil this meant that Erzabet would never see here again. Just as Ernest Redmond's bayonet had cost her the ability to have children of her own, in order to fulfill her duty to provide for the children that she had orphaned in her thirst for vengeance she had also forfeit the right to see her mother again.

The only hope that she had for both of these mistakes to be addressed was for Mistress Nyx, Lilith mother of the Lilin and adopted mother of the succubae, to be accepted by the Neo Adamo- whoever that was. She set her hand against her stomach and remembered what Angelica had told her about her experiences with pregnancy, Erzabet hoped with all that she had that Mother Lilith succeeded, the thought of being an actual mother was something that she had been longing for almost a century.

Gran Hall - Las Vegas Chapter House
9:07 AM MST

Within his inner sanctum, Lord Ataxia was enjoying the renewed sense of life and vigor that had returned to him ever since he had been made whole again and expelled Apep. All around, he was being attended to by a bevy of half a dozen lesser djinni, ladies who he had shared a day with and had since recast into new lives as djinn forged in his likeness. At present they were practicing their new powers and abilities to redecorate and liven up his sanctum, he was through spending his time in a place that looked so much like a tomb, it was time to begin anew and this room was to become a haven for his relaxation- and theirs as well.

After his new djinni and he were finished here, they would move on to the storeroom that had been intended as a reception room, a place to greet those who came to see him and as well as minister his affairs and the operations of his branch. Soon another important operation would begin, as soon as he possessed the tools to pull it off, freeing the remnants of the Southern Court from the grip of The Black Pharaoh by destroying the Crown of Wadjet. These tools were to arrive very soon as his most trusted man went to retrieve them early Monday morning, as soon as Ataxia had left to enjoy his renewed body.

Sure enough Greygus, his son Wepwawet entered the room carrying a wrapped bundle. When the door was shut, Greygus looked around at the ladies working on the room, "Gee old man you sure are getting your money's worth out of those escorts."

Naturally the young ladies in question gave his foolish son one hell of a look. "Now son whatever made you think that they were escorts, I said I would find as many comely young ladies of the evening to enjoy a long day together with in that presidential suite at the Luxor." Lord Ataxia began to weave his tale of two days ago. "You know should know by now just how many weddings there are in Las Vegas every evening, and how many lonely bridesmaids there are drowning their sorrows in spirits at the bars and dives right after. As we enjoyed the amenities at the Luxor I subtly interviewed them for their professions and then made the an offer, to find employment with me with better salary and benefits."

"Don't forget about the health plan and the fringe benefits," the young lady said as she refilled Lord Ataxia's cup with a smile. "Besides unlike my last boss, he doesn't touch me without permission. And in case you were wondering I was a secretary at a law firm."

"So I have someone that I can trust to handle my cup, and dispatch my words to their proper intent." Lord Ataxia stated, "I also hired a decorator with past experience as a sous-chef, a cook from a catering company that was looking at striking out on her own, a former bouncer to act as a body guard, a personal trainer, and a physical therapist. A spell of guided path is most useful if underused, it lead me too each of these fine ladies, and over the course of that day we got to know each other quite well. Now I trust that you have what we need for the task at hand, the false Isis and her creation's time is long overdue."

"Yes Lord Ataxia," Greygus said as he presented his bundle to his father, "The Sidhe colony within the Himalayas finished your order long ago; they have just been awaiting someone to pick it up."

Lord Ataxia approached and took up the wrapped bundle, within was a wicked lance with blades crafted of Orichalcum. Taking a moment to test its weight and heft Lord Ataxia was pleased, "The craftsmanship is exquisite, I trust that you found the quiver that they presented you satisfactory as well?"

"Yes although I hardly saw the need for an entire quiver full," Greygus grinned even through his disguise. "You know that when I take direct-aim at a target I never miss."

"None the less this is no small task, this is for the death of the Black Pharaoh, and we cannot afford to be too confident." Lord Ataxia stated as he retracted his lance into a short rod. Then went to an area of his sanctum, behind where he had kept his collection of canopic jars before their contents were returned to his body. He quickly removed two amphoras each decorated with the illustration of a serpent coiling around them. Lord Ataxia set one on his throne and presented the other to Greygus, "This is something that Mister Domino acquired for this mission long ago, venom from the great Serpent of Midgard. Pour this into a bowl and dip your new arrows in it, they are crafted to drink up the liquid and then when they find their target, they flood the victim with their contents."

Greygus left with his amphora of poison while Lord Ataxia, opened up a hidden porticos in the retracted lance, he poured the poison carefully in not even spilling a drop. Closing the tap, Lord Ataxia turned to his new employees, "My dears remember what I told you before until I tell you otherwise the sun is your enemy stay indoors during the day time until further notice. And if all goes well you shall feel how the sun feels to a djinn and it is second to nothing that you have ever experienced before."

Meanwhile outside of the city of Las Vegas in the middle of the Mojave Desert, a lone traveler dressed in rags and carrying an intricately carved staff made his way westward at a steady pace.

Whateley Tunnels
3:07 PM EST

I was making my way towards where Mrs. Choudhari had arranged for Steve's sister Elaine to meet me, I had explained to Mrs. Choudhari that while my project was with the Mystic Arts Program I had needed assistance with making sure that some proper mechanical parts were manufactured and aligned properly for it to work right. That and the manufacture that the final part needed, I just hope that they didn't get the wrong idea from the shape.

Of course I was also running a little late, Buck really needed to stop trying to bring the pulp sci-fi into the range safety-course and work with the program like he was meant to be doing in the first place. I arrived to see that Elaine was already there waiting and looking rather cross about it.

Seeing me coming and guessing from the description that she might have gotten through the grapevine she said. "Understand that, Ah am doing this as a request for Mrs. Choudhari, it's not a good thing ta make me wait on you like this- why do Ah smell burnt hair?"

"I have a range safety course with a devisor, who seems not to get the hint that he needs to stick to the curriculum that Sergeant Wilson gives us, and not test out his latest invention on the range." I said as I explained Buck's latest range folly, "We were supposed to be working on using and maintaining the old Winchester Repeater Rifles today, instead he had wanted to test out a pocket mag-light that he had converted into a heat laser. Unfortunately amplified the magnification too much and on-off switch got fused in the on position, after a few minutes and a scorch marks, the range instructor got the damn thing away from him and took out the batteries. I hear that they're giving him toilet duty in Hawthorn to make certain that the lesson properly sinks in this time."

"Ouch, sorry about that, sometimes we devisor's can get a little nuts when we wanna’ test out our stuff." Elaine explained as she apologized for snapping at me.

"It’s okay, Buck Swift is part of my little group (failing to mention that he was also the one who caused the incident), and I'm in the same cottage as Bugs, Generator and Delta Spike so I understand how it can be." I sighed, "That or I'm growing slowly immune. So anyway here are some of the notes to what I'm working on and what I need help with." I said handing over the materials.

Elaine took a furtive look over my diagrams and notes then glared at me and said, "No, Ah will not help build a gun, find someone else."

"This isn't a gun," I explained before she could storm off. "This is a concept experiment to combine the essence recharging properties of magic staffs with the fixed output and repeat-ability of spell rods. I based the design around the old musket rifle, and modified it to both include the reload feature of a single-barrel shotgun and the design changes that I need for this to work. Also it will never be able to fire an actual XZbullet or a shell, besides I doubt that the action that will be going on here has the force needed to touch off a starter charge, heck I based it on a pinball plunger, besides I need it to make brief contact to complete something like a series circuit."

"You are lucky that Ah promised to help on this kid," Elaine grumbled as we entered the work area.

Once we came up to the bench I pulled out the raw and prepared materials, including the ball of amber I got from Morrigan in exchange for the mirror, the grey iron scraps from my fight in the woods, and some other important bits lay out on a cloth towel.

"Why the heck do you have a sterlin' silver cotter pin in there," Elaine asked somewhat surprised at the piece, "And what about that amber, why do you need all the bling?"

"The silver pin is what will be doing the action towards the barrel." I explained how my creation was going to work, although I doubt that a devisor would get all of this. "The wood and the amber will help channel essence just like a tree due to the law of similarity, this channels essence that accumulates in the stock and will get transferred into the barrel due to silver pin's energy channeling nature. The pin will then transfer the resulting mana into this baby here-"

I handed Steve's sister the product of about a week and a half of meticulous work, "This looks like and empty shotgun shell, with the primin' charge removed and what are these?" Elaine said as she examined the careful etchings carved on the blue plastic cylinder.

"Mystic runes, those tell what type of spell the mana will be shaped into, if this works and the result is as intended, the end product of this thing will be a frost spell." I explained as I retrieved the frost shell and returned it to my purse. "This is why the live targets of my firing test will be a few two-liter bottles of room temperature root beer. If it works everyone there gets to enjoy it ice-cold, if not I have to mop up any evidence and go back to the drawing board."

"Why design it ta look and work so much like a rifle then?" Elaine asked out of clear concern, "Especially if you want it ta look like a three-hundred year old antique."

"Precision, plus the fact that I'm most familiar with rifles, boy or girl everyone in the family has the opportunity to go hunting." I said wondering if I was still going to be allowed to go hunting with my relatives next winter after I turned sixteen- oh wait given my new birthday that would be winter after next. "As for the antique look so that I won't be perceived as an extreme threat, and it’s also an aesthetic choice given my costume. If this works I might work on making a couple of smaller ones, however I'd need to get some of the materials from elsewhere; the wood and amber here are from The Grove, much too strong for a smaller model."

Elaine sighed and rolled-up her sleeves, "Alright let's get started, but mark mah words if you use this ta hurt another student, Ah will hunt you down."

"I want to make something that I can use to take out an opponent without harming them, if that frost round works as intended, anyone I hit with it won't be feeling any different than your average member of the Polar Bear Club. Also there is the potential for using this for fatigue, paralysis, and sleep spells." I stated as we began to work on the interior.

"If Ah may ask, do you have a mold for the iron once it's molten?" Elaine stated as she placed the grey iron slag into firing cup to melt down.

"I hope this is done correctly," I said as I produced the sand cast Morrigan and I had finally finished shaping last Saturday, it had taken a week of trial and error to scale up the barrel size to accommodate the shotgun shell casing. I still hope that we had gotten the contouring right. "Mainly because I doubt that I could make any corrections to it without Mrs. Redstag's assistance."

"So a teacher helped you with this?" Elaine raised a critical eyebrow.

"Just in acquiring some of the materials and doing some prep-work,besides Morrigan wasn't a teacher at the time." I explained to the Junior Deviser, "The concept and the ideas behind getting it to work are mine, although I admit that I drew inspiration on the concept from a show called Outlaw Star. Part of me always wondered if a caster gun was possible so once I manifested and gained access to the materials about real magic I worked to figure out how it could happen within the fundamental laws of magic, and it's almost time to put my hypothesis to the test."

"Could we test that frost cylinder out before we make the gun?" Elaine inquired, "After all Ah would hate ta waste both of our time making a barrel for a concept that doesn't even pan out."

"Alright I'll need a pipe with about 18 ½ millimeters of gap and 1 ½ millimeters thick oh and a buck-fifty." I replied.

"Ah understand about the need for the pipe," Elaine answered, "But why the do you need a dollar and fifty cents?"

"For the vending machine back there, we'll need a target to confirm that this works correctly, and I assume that you want one too." I answered Steve's sister back, "So do you take your coke regular or diet?"

Poe Cottage
7:30 PM

Test firing the shell had paid off, the frost shell worked however like I originally thought the barrel would need to be rifled to improve the aim. Still Elaine and I had finished work on assembling the mechanisms in about an hour and a half, and had just poured the metal into the sand cast before we left. We were going to finish work on it tomorrow morning, the barrel still had to be polish and rifled before it could be mounted in the assembly (which I took with me inside of my gauntlet, not because of the weapon aspect just because of the size).

Still this was a matter for tomorrow, it was Anime night at Poe for anyone who cared to watch, usually this just meant Billy, Jade, Jinn and maybe Bunny, still it was nice to relax I brought Pretty Cure and if Bunny decided to join us I also had Patlabor and Slayers on me. Okay getting caught all the way back up on the math program would have been good too but what do you expect I'm only demi-human, besides if I kept pace I'd be ready for the Algebra class in Spring. I still had to work on the shell for the second part of final project, an original spell to go with my mana-musket, I was still working out the runes still it would be a well of a show if it panned out.

Soon enough Billy and Jade entered with Bunny and even Rip (Bunny's roomie), alright time to see what the land of the rising sun was offering our eyes tonight. Oh crap, Jade had a Hello Kitty DVD.

Wyld Syde - Penthouse
Dallas, Texas
8:37 PM CST

Inferna had just finished out her report, and looked nervously at Erzabet the mother of their clan of succubae, to the untrained eye she was calm and cool as a cucumber. To one as connected to Erzabet as one of her daughter succubae she was a cup of finely distilled rage filled right to the very brim, the surface tension of the liquid the only thing keeping it from spilling over- all it would take would be the slightest disturbance would cause it to spill over. One thing is for certain Kallysta 'Hekate' Thessellarean had better pray that the curse three that Fey placed on her killed her, because she now had an enemy that she is unaware of existed, with far less mercy for the child-killing witch.

"Gloomcaster," Erzabet piped up, "Inform Blue Tick that we require his services, I wish to know the location of this Hekate's sanctuary so that Dead-Zone can pay her a near enough visit to pop whatever protective bubble she is hiding under. Let us see if we can provide that force of karma curse with a little assistance in balancing the scales, also I am curious in how it will manifest."

"First thing first though at long last my precious daughters’, Operation Grand Destiny is almost complete all the major component that we require is the acquisition of the Chapter Houses in Chicago and Milwaukee. After that the follow-up operation will founding two chapter houses one in Minneapolis Minnesota, the other in Omaha Nebraska that will have to begin as a token house. The final step will be the creation of three token houses one in Des Moines Iowa, one in Sioux Falls South Dakota, and the last in Fargo North Dakota." Erzabet highlighted their itinerary.

"I have been in contact with spies at both the Milwaukee Chapter and the Chicago Chapter mother and these are my findings." Hive-Jacker said as she presented her report, "The Milwaukee Chapter is in shambles and is poorly run and poorly funded, the truth of the matter is that most members of the chapter house would actually welcome our takeover just to get their chapter running properly while the rest would welcome our networking, services, and connections. Chicago on the other hand while lacking the luster of the chapters in New York or Boston is controlled by a good old boys club lead by Harrow, his group with resist any peaceful chances at annexation as they are determined to follow the way of a clandestine society of dark wizards."

That last comment sent an amusing round of feminine chuckles around the room, Erzabet's children had run into this several times in the past; sometimes this had delayed their efforts by months when their organization was smaller. Urge the Director of the Oklahoma City chapter house was the first to offer advice here, "Hive-Jacker dear, do your spies have the materials necessary to construct an entrance to the Checkered Room?"

"Of course they do," Hive-Jacker stated with pride. "They have already created one in fact, it was one of the first things that they did when they arrived."

"In that case I have a plan to soften Harrow up before the final strike," Urge smiled wickedly, "However everyone remember that Harrow himself belongs to our little sister Dismay; she has some very personal issues to work out with him."

"Many of us understand perfectly well how you feel Dismay," Inferna stated as she stared across the table at the only demi-succubus in the room. "However it is important not to let revenge consume you; remember this is to save your father not about taking Harrow's life."

"Too true Inferna," Dementia stated, "I remember when I claimed the life and soul of my mother's madam. In the short days of clarity that I had as a demi-succubus like yourself Dismay, I thought over the action and went ahead, of course given that she was a victim to my nascent abilities when they first manifested it was a mercy killing."

"Speak for yourselves," Gloomcaster scoffed, "I had no regrets taking that security guard's soul, not when he was treated like a hero for taking down a super-villain while I was paralyzed from the neck down for three years. I still remember his screams as I tore his soul from his body, not that he had anyone to miss him, Kampe I imagine you feel the same way about the rent-a-cop that emptied a whole clip into you."

"Far from it Gloomcaster," Kampe stated as she wiped her mouth, "I did what I did to help the family nothing more, I take no pride in devouring his soul nor do I want to do so. Sometimes I envy those of you who took the souls of those that had become Reverents, you don't have to live with the memory of their face staring at you as they ceased to be and the look of horror frozen on their faces."

"I know that I had little remorse for mine," Hive-Jacker stated with her eyes closed, "But only because he was a contracted killer out for my life."

"I guess that I was fortunate," Daryl spoke up, "Mine was reduced to a soul crystal by Mister Domino when I ate him. Still Ted Coverdale was slime; he had made a career on the suffering of others. Do you know why the North Texas MCO was shuttered pending an investigation? Two agents under his orders were caught torturing a newly manifested kid into confessing that he was Slaughterhaus's accomplice, they were zapping him with a car battery, and that's just what his men were caught doing. The Federal Government is going through their records and interrogated the agents, everything else that his branch was up to will come be gathered over the course of the federal investigation, of course it's one that those who are allied with Goodkind International's lobbyists’ to Congress are trying to call off."

"Perhaps what we need is so good old fashioned negative publicity," Hellbrand said with a wicked grin, "The Goodkind's are very proud of their wonder boys in the Knights of Purity, how about I stage a bank robbery in Omaha tag all of the employees proclaim to the press that no one will be harmed if I am allowed to leave. Naturally the Knights of Purity would be called in to apprehend me, then we have one of your cyberpaths say ISO-slicer jack one of the Knights of Purity power-armors and wound one of my Neo-Fiends. It causes panic and confusion meanwhile a Reverent helps me withdraw, and all the media will see are the casualties caused by the careless and callous actions of the KoP."

"No the risk is too high and the records would record the shot as a malfunction," Daryl stated knowing the MCO's records on the Knights of Purity's excuses all too well. "Still if an empath were to cause one of the Knights to panic, and open fire then when the suit would be turned over for investigation. Of course Axcell Enterprises which has a tech firm in the city would offer to investigate the suit as a service to the city, and once it was found that this incident was caused by a Knight discharging his weapon in panic, then public confidence in KoP and Good kind International would take a hit."

"I will keep this plan under consideration," Erzabet stated to her adopted daughters and granddaughters. "Meanwhile the assignments for the new and annexed chapter houses will be as follows. Dismay will of course be in-charge of the Chicago chapter house as her birth family's connections there go back to the house's very founding. Hellbrand will take command of the new Minneapolis chapter house when it is made operational, the Omaha chapter will remain a token chapter until we find someone competent to run it. Finally Milwaukee’s chapter house will be under the leadership of our newest full-sister and the founder of our spy-network within the Mutant Commission Office."

"Speaking of which, our newest full-sister needs a codename," Dustbowl pointed out about Daryl Lanter, "What would you wish to be called?"

"Call me Allure," Daryl stated to the director of the El Paso chapter house, "Although I am grateful that this meeting is corporate business attire, I am afraid I am still deciding on the proper attire for my other business outfit."

"Speaking of outfits," Galatea spoke up as she stared at Dementia, "I came across the most darling outfit for your mother, isn't she in first grade now?"

"Second grade actually, however thank you for thinking of my dear sweet mother." Dementia said with a smile.

"Dementia I have been wondering," The newly dubbed Allure inquired, "I know the story behind you and your mother; however I have always been curious do you present yourself as mother and daughter or big and little sister?"

"A fair question Allure, sisters actually," Dementia explained to the former spy. "Mother-daughter would raise too many questions however a big-sis taking care of her baby-sister does happen in Louisiana; people tend not to ask too many questions as long as there is a clear family resemblance. I just hope I can keep mom from falling into the same problems this time around that she did the last."

"Second chances rarely come," Erzabet Scratch stated to the Director of the New Orleans chapter, "help make certain that your mother takes full advantage of hers. Now my dear daughters' since projections show that Operation Grand Destiny should be completed within a month, due to the fact that all materials are in place for our new chapter and five token chapters to come together once we acquire Chicago and Milwakee, we need to begin laying assembling groundwork for Operation Black Isle."

"Our brother Tickertape informs me that we have more than enough seed capital for the groundwork in our Karedonian Account for this endeavor," Kampe stated after handing around her own stack of folders to those present. "We merely need to pick an island and purchase it from its current owner via an unaware fourth party intermediary so that the sale may not be traced back to either the Midwest Branch or Axcell Enterprises."

"I have a shell company ready to be used for such a purpose," Morass stated to the group. "Ecomorph Limited, it is established as a environmental decontamination research corporation. I have been using them so some of our devisors and gadgeteers can develop technologies for this Operation in case we have to purchase a contaminated site, they have done a decent job with removing lead and mercury from old battlefields and mining areas and are making fair progress on microbe and uranium decontamination in soil and groundwater."

"This opens up a number of possibilities Morass," Erzabet mused at the Corpus Christi chapter director’s efforts. "Very well done I shall have to read their progress and have my site researchers revise the list of possible sites, it could also provide a great cover story. Galatea how goes the material transportation and reconfiguration research?"

"The reconfiguration research is running far ahead of schedule." The director of the Wichita chapter house stated, "We should have everything ready in that area by May, perhaps even earlier. However the matter of transportation is far behind schedule; the amount of essence needed to pull this off with spell-casting alone far exceeds our abilities at present. Slaughterhaus however does present an interesting alternative in combining magic and science that might be promising to look into, provided we can find a trustworthy third-party to aide us."

"I will look into this, while we are organizing the invasion of the Chicago chapter house, this concludes our meeting." Erzabet stated as she gathered her materials, "May I suggest that everyone assume their chosen glamour of before leaving the room, and feel free to enjoy Wyld Syde's amenities before you leave, just remember to observe the rules Menagerie has done very well for us with this legitimate enterprise."

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4 years 5 months ago #14831 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 2 Notes

Baselines or others possessed by Hellbrand's touch and transformed into demonic monsters under her control. The affected is fully aware and unaffected by the possession at a spiritual level, moreover once Hellbrand is 800 feet away the possessing spirit returns to its domain and the subject reverts back to normal, barring of course any injuries that they received during their possession.

Servitor Djinn - Class 1 Entity
Lesser Djinn are beings (typically humans) who have been transformed by a pact with a full-blooded djinn, usually for power and immortality, while they are indentured to their master or mistress they maintain free-will and are not slaves to them. A servitor djinn is transformed into a form based on that of their master and assumes their elemental-type as well. Over time they become full djinn and leave their servitude behind as a member of their master or mistress's house.
Should their master dismiss them, they have one year to find a new master or they return to their former race exactly as they were when they left (the same thing happens should a servitor ask to be dismissed). However should a servitor violate their contract they will be turned back as they are at the present time, this means that their body will immediately age to match their true age.
Although their master receives their services as outlined in the contract; they may not overstep their bounds (they can ask though), in return a master must train their servitor's to harness their physical, mystic, and elemental abilities.

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4 years 5 months ago - 4 years 5 months ago #14832 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 3

Thursday, February 8, 2007
Poe Cottage - Whateley Academy
Dunwich, New Hampshire
5:53 AM

I awoke silently screaming for the fifth time since I went to bed, "Jade is going to pay for bringing the Sanrio nightmare into the sanctuary of my dreams, next time we watch Record of Lodoss War or maybe Slayers- yeah definitely Slayers let her see The Dramata in action." I said remembering her boyfriend, I know it was a little mean but no one over the age of six should be subjected to Hello Kitty against their will.

After splashing the nightmare of type-two diabetes inducing fluff away I went for the showers, and was surprised that, it appeared I was the second one there and didn't have to wait. By the time I was out the line had built up and I vacated the shower for the homicidal psycho jungle cat Toni Chandler.

Once back at my dorm room I got dressed and then checked my email. Hmm looks like mom sent me a video link to the five o'clock on channel 5 last night. I clicked to watch the video hmm; people were po'd at Perry for his executive order to make school girls take that cervical cancer vaccine, big surprise too bad this didn't happen half a year ago when he was up for re-election. Pegliachi pantsed the city of Dallas during the lunch rush details on how at ten, like they could explain it the guy was an off his rocker deviser that liked to pull giant pranks and always surrendered without anyone getting hurt, still I was definitely going to send this to Toni and Belle they'd get a kick out of this.

The final piece of the clip drew my attention like a magnet, in a trial last week Puma, Tin Star and Armordillo took Longhorn to court over the ownership of the name of the Dallas Defenders and won. I remembered that Transect was the leader of the Defenders taking over for Pecos when he retired from super-heroics, Longhorn at the time was made the second-in-command (already having Coyote's proxy via legal transfer and brand ownership for licensing purposes), until Transect's reveal and kidnapping by Deathlist then Longhorn took over in her absence- until her murdered body was found with Deathlist's note thanking Londhorn for his help.

After all, of that, no one would join Longhorn's Dallas Defenders and the current members left, no one knew where Jacklyn Rabbit the team's sharp shooting young answer to Hawk-Eye was now. Moreover when the verdict was announced and everyone was about to leave the courtroom, Longhorn had the nerve to try to attack Puma, only to get flattened by Ol' Hector again. The team had decided to keep the announcement private until the Stronghold, now rechristened Fort Trussell after Edith Trussell (Transect's real name), was renovated and reopened.

Apparently, Maverick was now on the team as leader, and Duck-It had signed on along with team veterans Abax, Torinado and Plainswalker returning as active members. It appeared that Armordillo was going to be sticking around to train new recruits, Tin-Star would be returning in a support role and Puma would be running day-to-day affairs. It was also anounced that Pero del Fuego would be joining as a auxilery member to the team.

Meanwhile the judge had thrown the book at Longhorn for daring to attempt assault someone in front of him with obviously lethal force; he was going to be headed to Isla del Monstro to sit in a nice jail cell for a few years. Moreover, Longhorn might lose Coyote's proxy because it was questionable if his will was made in sound mind.

One thing was for sure Mrs. Henderson needed to see this; she would surely be doing summersaults over this piece of news. I forwarded the clip to her faculty email marked urgent, and held off on showing Toni and Belle the piece about the Prankster of Texas until this evening. With my email checked I finished getting dressed, then left Poe for Dunn, not changing since for some reason the flag was yellow today. Shaking my head I took my jacket out of my purse of holding and hoped that it would keep me warm, it was a leather jacket that my dad had decoed patches from his days at Fort Hood.

Funny story while he was down in Austin getting his MLS at UT dad met my mom when the radiator in the house that he was renting with some of his army buddies blew, and she came to repair the thing since she was new and had to work weekends. I guess that's the story of my family we always meet our significant other during weird situations, I guess that means my brother and his high school girl friend weren't meant to be, just as well she was a neurotic basket case that he was likely dating so that she wouldn't dump him.

Ever the pessimist for one so young, Jane chided me through our link. Can you not just be happy for him?

'Jane every relationship that he has been in before Vanessa ended like a massive train wreck,' I explained to my familiar as I made my way to Dunn Hall for breakfast, 'And she's only a mild improvement on those girls.'

You never know child, Jane sighed, love can change people, sometimes for the better, besides there may be more to her than you know.

'Jane I know that you're big into romance but do keep in mind that mutants and paranormals or not Whateley is still a high school.' I stated as I looked over to our table, seeing only Erze there and Froggy in the food line ahead of me. 'Most people here are too immature to know a real relationship if it bit them, why do you think that damned Twilight series is so popular.'

...Alright you have me there, Jane conceded, honestly a heroine who is utterly bland and a man next to no personality that wants to spend forever with her- seems worse than premise of most harlequin romance novels.

Jane and I sat down at our table, with Erze and Froggy, when I realized that for once I had rarely ever heard anything out of her. Granted I'm pretty guilty of being a conversation hog, "So Erze how are your classes going?"

"Good," Was her answer as she actually seemed to fidget from the attention.

"Any progress at a code name yet?" I asked trying to strike up a conversation.

"Strigoi," Erze stated, "It is our word for Vampire, I turn into a beast, a bat, mist and human it seems the best fit, even though I am not a vampire. The only other thing I could think of was the word for vermin, and that sounded too gross. If I may ask what does Faolan mean?"

"Little wolf," I explained, "It's Gaelic, the traditional language of Ireland, where a good deal of my family came from and Morrigan earned her name. If you need help brainstorming you might try asking Phase, she seems good at coming up with codenames. Erze, can I ask you something, why do you always quiet down whenever Konrad is around?"

"I would rather not talk about it," Erze stated bowing her head a little. "Does your family still accept you being a mutant?"

"Yeah, I might run into a few problems with some extended relatives on my dad's side when I go home for summer vacation, but Grandpa Rob is one of the last of his generation and in big families you always respect your elders." I explained, "Of course we do have some that are in H1, but they know that if they pull anything then they can't show their faces around any of the family again- ever. Erze, Kerry told me what you said during orientation; maybe one day you could convince someone to help you talk things out with your family there might still be hope."

"I do not know, I think my bridges are pretty much burnt." Erze stated growing a little more downcast.

"But you don't know for certain." I explained, "Give it time and maybe by summer a teacher can help you open up a dialogue with your family (provided that they don't hate mutants all together but I wasn't about to say that). In the meantime I suggest that you write them, it doesn't matter if you don't mail the letters just tell them what you want to say, think of it like sort of a diary except written for people that you want to read it. Sometimes just getting something out rather than leaving it festering helps with the pain a little."

"I will try," Erze smiled. "Randi maybe you should think about being a head-shrinker that was a good piece of advice."

"I've just seen enough of them to remember their advice, I am in Poe remember. I'm just telling you what another councilor told me." I explained to the pretty, young lady from Romania.

Fortunately, we were done well in time for Konrad to role in with his Eurocentric arrogance and Anti-American diatribe; I think I was actually starting to tune it out. Soon enough we were joined by Jamal, Kerry and Buck, just as well I was done early and I had plenty of time to talk.

"Hey Randi," Jamal spoke up. "I heard through the grapevine that Dr. Quasimodo will be giving a guest lecture near the end of the month, do you think that I could get an autographed picture of him my Grandpa was a huge fan of his when he was a younger and still is in a way?"

"Ask Mrs. Redstag she's the one who knows him," I explained to someone who felt like he was starting to become a friend. "Heck a character playing her appears in a lot of the novellas and serials that were written based on his adventures, who do you think Lady Ravensmane was?"

"No way, are you serious?" Jamal's eyes were bugging out. "She looks way too young for tha- d'oh right I forgot Sidhe don't age like humans, wonder if she still has that outfit that she posed in on the book covers?"

"It's likely she does, Morrigan hates to throw anything away and if she does have it she could probably find it pretty easy too, she always keeps all of her things organized." I mused knowing the outfit that he was talking about, and just how the Phantom Queen filled it out- whoa down girl heel.

"Makes me wonder if some of his bad guys from back in the day are still around too?" Buck mused.

"I doubt that Dr. Despondos and the Scarlet Phantom are still around since they’d have to be in their nineties now, and everyone knows that Herr Krieg was executed for war crimes in the 70's when they caught him down in Argentina." Jamal guessed, "We all know for a fact that Mister Domino is still around and just as dangerous as ever given what his goon did to Counterpoint, not to mention what the auxiliary teams said that he did to all those frost giants. I just hope that Professor Id isn't still around that guy was evil to the core."

"I hope not, could you imagine what that walking nightmare could do with the discoveries made in chemistry five years ago alone?" I asked Buck and Jamal, the two of them actually shivered at that thought and not that I could blame them. Professor Id was a monster in every meaning of the word, he was known to have committed every depravity known to man at least once and liked to prove that deep down humanity was just as vile as himself. He liked to stage elaborate highly public involuntary experiments using hostigages as test subjects and seemed to prefer to target the sophisticated upper-crust cultural elite; given what someone like him would have access to today, what he could make people do even to themselves and others would be unthinkable- not to mention what he could turn them into.

Marsalles, France
3:35 PM CET

On a beach in France lay Benjamin Victor Roberts better known to the world as Mimeo, one of the greatest mutant super villains of all time known for taking on entire teams at once and winning. He was still enjoying his freedom following his long incarceration, while catching up on the news of what had changed since he was thrown in Roxbury C courtesy of a local info broker for the Syndicate that he knew.

It looked like Erzabet Scratch had added some real talent to her organization, if she didn't have a man working for her that was as strong a power negator as he was a power mimic Mimeo might consider it, at least she wasn't one to hold a grudge. Well she wouldn't hold a grudge unless you seriously hurt her employees or little kids in her territory then you were screwed, but at least unlike Darrow she knew that business was business and was nothing personal.

Hmm the Dallas Defenders were opening up shop again with a new leader, maybe after giving them a year or two to build up a decent reputation after Longhorn flushed their old one down the crapper, after all Rob might have been a super-villain but he wasn't a sadist. Whoa, Madam Eventide was really starting to kick it into high gear that was some news; he always wanted to take the powers of one of the Obsidian Circle for a joyride, maybe some of the others were still alive.

Apparently Plagiat was dead, damn he had meant to dust up with that yutdz and go after some serious magic-users, the guy had the ability to steal spell-casting knowledge from others talk about a real waste. The Tong of the Black Madonna had all four of their temples attacked by numerous parties after attacking Whateley- serves them right, hello one of the attackers was Lord Ataxia. Okay Count Impié was with him too but Mimeo would never want that guy's powers- ever! The Valkyrian had popped back up and was going to be teaching at Whateley- those lucky kids she was hawt, maybe she would pop by New York City to help out the Empire State Guard and he could take her powers for a joyride.

Deathlist and the Chessmaster attacked Whateley on Halloween were they nuts- okay stupid question, but either way both were on the run now with massive Syndicate bounties on their heads for killing several students and staff members. Some in the Super-Villain circles laughed at him for not killing, of course better to have a code than wind up monsters being hunted down like dogs as those two now were.

Whoa, Tempest almost escaped from ARC; now that was a close one although it didn't say who kept him- probably some folks from Whateley. At least someone stopped him from breaking out, that man was a monster, almost as big of a monster as the giant shadowy figure standing in his sunlight, the monster that was the only man that ever got away with treating him like a lackey.

The monster stared down at Richard with a wicked smile on his face, "Hello Mimeo, I do believe that it's been ages since he last spoke."

"I wish that it was longer Professor Id," Mimeo grimaced at the ten-foot tall apish individual, whose shadow was looming over him even now. "What do you want?"

"Mimeo- I'm insulted, here I was in Europe just stopping by to enjoy the sights and unwind with a little time to kill from a recent business venture in Africa, just a little local dispute which both sides were woefully unequipped for- until I helped them out." The century old monster smiled even wider at the memory of that latest in a long line of malicious acts. "When I got here I find out that you had broken out of your incarceration in Boston, so naturally I asked around and those ever so helpful information brokers pointed me here without charging me a dime."

"They were probably wanting you to go away before you got bored and started twisting off heads." Mimeo grumbled, "I will ask you again Id what do you want?"

"Well- if you must know the Goodkinds will be throwing a party in New York one week from Monday, one of those dreadfully-dull wine and cheese high society gala events; I thought that I might invite myself to liven things up maybe spike a few bottles of Champaign with some of my elixirs to make things interesting." Professor Id said as he began to reveal his intent. "You would understand that it would be rather messy if the Empire City Guard interfered, I could certainly not be responsible for any collateral damage, if only someone could be there to distract them with a robbery across town of course I'll be sure to let your name slip around Mister and Misses Goodkind if that does not happen."

"You know that the Knights of Purity will be on the scene, and they'll cut you to ribbons." Mimeo said in a last ditch effort to stay out of the monster's scheme.

"Heh heh heh, I've dealt with the Knights before, they are of little consequence." Professor Id shrugged off Mimeo's concerns. "So would you consider lending your expertise, remember anything you abscound with while distracting the Guard is yours to keep with no overhead."

"Alright Id I'm in, but you won't hurt anyone at the party or else I'll take the powers I grab off the Guard and drill you into the ground." Mimeo stated at the century old mad scientific monster.

"I swear Mimeo, I will not harm anyone." Mister Id swore, and like many such psychotic maniacs he never saw the need to lie, after all sometimes honesty could be so much worse.

Whateley Tunnels
3:35 PM EST

I strolled into Elaine's workshop wait she liked to be called 'Doc', hmm the wheels in my mind began to turn, oh well it was a harmless joke, "Hey Doc I hear that you wanted to see me about a Flux Capacitor."

Elaine turned her chair towards me and said, "Marty, you didn't take that ring that Ah brought back from the Borgia estate did you?"

"Wow from doing business with a Goodkind to selling your soul to The McCarthy Mouse House, now that's a slippery slope," I recoiled in faux shock, "What's next should I be on the lookout for a giant three-headed Rush Limbaugh getting ready to attack me?"

That image actually made Elaine shiver, "Now that would be scary, but Ayla isn't that bad."

"I know I'm starting to tolerate her, but my mom's family has some very bad blood with the Goodkinds." I explained, as Doc got out the now cooled metal cylinder, now ready to be taken out of the mold, polished, drilled and riffled. "Along with every other family in the town her family is from, heck they burn Ayla's father and mother in effigy at an annual celebration."

"Damn that must be a fair bit of bad blood there," Doc shook her head as she prepared the bore drill while I carefully removed the unfinished barrel taking great care not to damage the now baked sand mold. Looking at the unfinished barrel, I attached a polish head to the power drill to work over the cylinder before we machined it. "What would be the penalty for one of her family going there?"

"They'd be arrested and forced to pay the standing fee and cleanup bill for the oil spill that their ancestor's derrick created, plus the inflation and interest, or else be tarred and feathered." I stated as I began to work the drill over and smooth out the outside of the barrel.

"Okay Ah'm set to set to bore the barrel," Doc stated, "but you might want to, put on the protective gear over there just in case any metal slips past the force field."

I took Elaine's advice and slipped on the apron, mask, goggles and gloves before I handed her the barrel. She proceeded to center the barrel using the two sets of locking quad-clamps that were attached to the machine, after making certain that both sets were firmly locked in place using a balance to make sure that the barrel was level. Sure enough, the bubble centered, the Doc turned on the force field and the let the drill do its thing.

After five minutes of boring the drill had succeeded in turning the hexagonal cylinder into a smooth bore barrel, I brought over an empty bucket that Elaine had set aside and slid it underneath the barrel. Elaine turned off the force field and the bucket caught the sharp grey iron fillings that had accumulated at the bottom of the force field. Then Doc switched the drill-bit out for a filing head and reactivated the machine, it went to work this time smoothing out the inside of the barrel and preparing it for the next stage. Doc cut the power as more filings filled the bucket and switched out for a polishing head, the machine did it’s work in no time.

Now for the tricky part, Doc fit the carefully calibrated rifling bit onto the barrel and went over to input some special instructions into the computer of the machine. When Doc was done the machine started spinning and lowering at carefully calculated speed, this had to be done with precision or else the rifling would be off, and that would throw off the aim. We held our breath as the machine finished its work, when it was done a few more filings fell into the bucket as Doc swapped the rifling bit for the polishing bit.

We were almost done so I went over to the workbench and changed into my costume then took the stock and assembly out of my left gauntlet. Doc brought over the barrel, gave my outfit the critical eye and said, "Now I see why you want the musket-style for this, you have kind of a rogue look going there, do you have any armor under there?"

"Duravlar plates, and the boots, vambraces and mask are armored as well," I explained, "I wish that I could have gone for a duravlar bodysuit, but Axcell has five-year exclusivity contract with the military with at least another two years left on it- too bad though that stuff is more flexible than the plates."

"Maybe you could invest in a kevra body-stocking, I might be able to make you a deal. Wait a moment, didn't you help stop Steve from killing his girlfriend last Sunday?" Doc asked staring at my mask.

"Yeah, along with keeping Harry Wolfe from killing Jade and Eddie Bryson from killing Seraphim," I stated glumly at that whole experience. "Although I wasn't proud of how I handled the situation with Harry and Jade, I thought that he was Bloodwolf when I saw him, should have known better why the hell would Mrs. Henderson have let Bloodwolf into our cottage."

Doc winced at what someone would do to protect someone else from that psycho, "Well at least Harry is okay, so no harm done."

"Try telling that to my conscious, part of me's worried that I might wind up going Frank Castle one of these days, that's why I'm making this as a way to keep my distance from an opponent so that I don't risk making a mistake and either doing something I'll regret forever or get myself killed." I said with a downcast face as I finished mounting the barrel.

"So do you want to test her out," Doc said somewhat concerned with the new student.

"Actually I have received permission to test fire it from Sergeant Wilson tomorrow at Range 1 after Basic Firearms Safety during sixth period. If you aren't busy of course," I explained somewhat regaining my mood, "At least that class looks like a sure A, I mean who picks up a firearm without locking the safety, removing the clip and checking to see that the chamber is empty?"

"You'd be surprised," Doc said somewhat embarrassed for a few of her fellow inventors, "It is surprising to see a girl who knows so much about firearms, I might ask Diamondback if that is a common thing for Texas?"

"Well I don't know about East Texas where she and Jericho are from, but a lot of dad's in North and West Texas have been taking their daughters hunting, I guess it's a lot less nasty then those teen beauty pageants." I shook at the thought.

"Bad memories?" Elaine asked out of curiosity.

"No I just remember some of the former child beauty pageant girls from my old high school," I explained, "Let's just say that they are the type of people that are likely to wind up on shows like Springer in a few years."

Doc seemed to turn a little green at that thought, "Well I'll try and make the live fire test, do you have any more types of ammo ready?"

"No right now I'm working on part two of my class project," I said carefully picking up and stowing my now completed mana-rifle back in my left gauntlet, "This was just part one, part two is a spell that I'm trying to make and inscribe onto my next shell. Thanks a bunch for your help Doc." I thanked Doc after I switching my costume back out with my uniform and made sure to shake her hand before I left.

Whateley Grounds
6:43 PM

Yep it was official, Regina and Baird were seeing each other; apparently they were going to be seeing the same play that Robert and Nacht, but were taking care to make certain that they wouldn't be sitting near each other to avoid it being a double date. I had asked around apparently Lancer's girlfriend Wallflower was staring in said play, sometimes being single sucked, of course with all my luck I would wind up attracting some creepy guy with a furry fetish- I still liked girls for crying out loud. Of course dating prospects around Poe were slim, most of the Fall Freshmen had already hooked up, except for Tempest and that girl needed some serious therapy before anyone saw her as anything but a head case.

Randi I think you might want to load up on those vile paste tubes before going up to our room, Jane told me over our link, The little surveillance crystal that Morrigan retuned to me and left us is showing me that Stoner picked the lock and is going through your things.

'That snake-headed weasel,' I growled fully aware of the pervert, 'He's probably heard about the stuff that Heather liberated from Plagiat's stashes and is after them to hock for some cash. Good thing that we left anything that was too dangerous or wouldn't fit in the Reticule with my folks or Plainswalker. Jane while I fuel up, go get Mrs. Horton and then let us go teach that slimy neo-Southern Court trash a lesson in why it’s a poor choice in judgment to steal from the Fae.'

I had finished downing my second tube of paste when I came to my room, sure enough, the door was slightly cracked and I entered to find the drawers of my desk on the floor and Stoner had been going through my closet. "Stoner what the hell are you doing in my room?"

"Looking for something that you have that is worth a whole lot more than you are," Stoner said as he grabbed onto me and bent me over my desk as I was reaching behind my hair to switch into my combat gear, "Now give me Counterpoint's reliquary now before I turn you into a pigeon commode."

Sensing Jane and Mrs. Horton were coming up the stairs now and would be here in less than a minute, I spat in his face.

Michelangelo didn't like that one bit, "That's it you bitch," he growled as he used his powers on me, covering me with a sturdy layer of solid stone, "Of course now you are a stone-cold bitch."

"Mister Sturm, what is the meaning of this?" Bella Horton asked as she stood in the hallway with Jane perched on her shoulder.

"Oh I'm sorry that you had to see this Mrs. H," Gerald said sliming out an excuse, "It turns out that the new girl likes it pretty rough!"

The joke was on him when as he was chuckling in false embarrassment as I burst out of by stone prison using the size and strength of my ravewolf form, and finished transforming into my combat gear. He quickly dropped his facade as he back-wheeled in terror at the sight of me standing a full head taller than him at seven foot even wrapped in about 500 Ibs of fur, sinew, claws and fangs, and genuinely pissed off to hell and back.

I drew a Louisville slugger from my gauntlet (hey remember what I said about batting cages) and growled. "Mrs. H if you can give me one good reason to not to use this sociopathic snake, who just dared to make an attempt on my life after I found he'd broken into my own room, like a piñata. Other than the stain that he'll leave won't ever come out, please say it now because it is taking every ounce of my restraint to keep from doing that right now."

"Because Mister Sturm is on special probation," Mrs. Horton explained, "And getting caught using his abilities to harm another student while he was caught breaking into their room is a matter for the headmistress."

Satisfied with the answer I returned my baseball bat to my gauntlet, as Mrs. Horton told Stoner, "Wait in the lobby for security, they will be there soon to escort you to see Headmistress Carson." Well after Stoner I left Mrs. Horton turned to me and said, "I noticed that you left your sword in your gauntlet, nice use of a visual threat while maintaining restraint Ms. Bridges. Now just why was Mr. Sturm in your room?"

"He was looking for a reliquary with blood from Counterpoint," I explained to Mrs. Horton knowing that I had to tell the whole truth here, "I got the sample last Sunday when he attacked me and used it to put a curse on him that makes him lose control of his bowels when he tries to attack me. I have it hidden because I don't want someone taking it and disarming the curse or using the sample for something even worse."

"Very well, since you did not harm Mr. Sturm you will not be disciplined for this incident. As for the reliquary as it's spell is being used for a purely defensive means against an known Ultraviolent student that has assaulted you in the past, you will be allowed to keep it provided it says safe." Mrs. Horton stated laying down the law, "Now I expect you to clean up these stone fragments and be downstairs in the Remembrance Room with the rest of your dorm mates in fifteen minutes."

Heeding the words of Mrs. Horton I went for the broom, the whisk broom, and the dustpan in the utility closet near the shower room; thankfully Jane helped me find all of the debris. After we were done I changed out of my combat gear/costume and back to my uniform, I had less than a minute to spare, again making sure to lock up we flew down the stairs to the lobby and crossed to the Remembrance Room. Everyone in Poe (except for Stoner) was gathered here once Mrs. Horton took a head count she began to speak.

"Everyone here last Remembrance Day can recall the story of Transect, the late leader of the Dallas Defenders, and her brutal murder at the hand of Deathlist which happened because Longhorn failed to stop the monster from kidnapping her. Today that story has worked its way to a happier conclusion, last week Armordillo and Puma the two remaining founding members of the team along with Tin Star took Longhorn to court to reacquire the rights to the team's legacy from him- they succeeded. As for Longhorn he lost it in the courtroom after the verdict was read and attempted to assault Puma (now a sixty-five year old woman) in front of a Dallas County Judge, after he was subdued he had the book thrown at him and earned twenty years without parole."

"The Dallas Defenders are being reestablished now as we speak without Longhorn, and one of their first actions after repairing their reclaimed headquarters The Stronghold was to rename it Fort Trussell after Transect's birth name Edith Trussell. Whether this is a happy ending to Transect's story remains to be seen, however at least her team is back together and Longhorn is for the moment where he belongs." Mrs. Horton finished as the entire cabin bowed their heads for a moment of silence.

Friday, February 9, 2007
Whateley Range 2
3:25 PM

"Alright everyone that concludes today's class on how to safely handle and maintain the modern hunting rifle," Staff Sergeant Ryan Wilson explained to his students. "Now after putting your weapons away properly I have a special treat for those of you that want to stick around. One of your classmates has an invention of their own design that they have received permission to beta-test, and you have permission to stick around and watch the live-fire test once the rest of the guests arrive for the show."

"Oh great you mean that Buck actually received permission to try and kill us this time." One of the students groaned while backing up his gear, "What is it this time a Tesla coil that will wind up shocking the hell out of us?"

"Five says it’s a wave-motion gun," one of the Power Rangers stated, "He is a devisor so he might have actually built one."

"Maybe he succeeded in turning that musket into a coil gun like he to do last Tuesday," another student laughed. "We might get to see him launch the barrel into the wall like a pool hall dart." That comment got a lot of laughs.

"If you comedians are done flapping your gums the classmate in question is Faolan." Sergeant Wilson stated, "She's been working on a little something for Intro to Mystic Arts since she manifested, and the final work was completed yesterday. This demonstration is half of her project for that class so if you watch you might actually learn something."

With that as my intro I came back in from where I had been getting ready, I took one look around and saw that Kerry, Jamal, Erze and Eddie had already arrived while Steve and Doc were sneaking in the back. Regina, Robert and Baird told me that they were sorry that they couldn't make it, fortunately Buck was recording this this for my folks when they came to visit, Konrad meanwhile had told me flat out that he wasn't interested. I also noticed Badb had crept in and had taken up a perch beside Jane, so I knew that Morrigan was watching this while on her second honeymoon with Dagda in Boston (she had left the piece of amber now in my rifle with Badb before she left), I actually felt a little bit of pride there.

"Thank you for allowing me the use of Range 2 for this test Sergeant Wilson." I stated as I shook the instructor's hand with my left as my right was occupied holding my new and unloaded mana-rifle military marching style. "I want to make this clear that despite the looks this is not a gun that fires live ammunition. It was designed to channel mana and fire low-level spells, while I might modify this to be compatible with mid-level spells later but the important thing is to prove that it works (I wasn't going to mention that I lacked the mithril pin to replace the silver one). I also only have one load-type ready for demonstration, although I am working on more; the design is mainly for distance and precision."

"If someone would be so kind to help set up the targets while I prepare," I motioned over to two bags from the Dunwitch general store that were by Buck's feet. Gainax, the member of the Power Rangers who had commented earlier, ran to do so as she was eager to see what was about to happen. She immediately went to-go setup the four 2-Liter bottles of generic soda on a few stools further up the range once she was clear I brought out my only finished spell-shell. "If this works all four of the targets after they are hit will have a surface-temperature of twenty degrees on the Fahrenheit Scale."

With that said I loaded the frost shell in the chamber, took a moment to both establish a connection with the flow of natural mana using my creation as a focus, took aim and fired. Immediately a blast of bluish-white energy shot out of the barrel and hit the bottle I had been aiming for dead center. While maintaining my connection I shot the other three bottles, first hitting the one on the far right then working my way left. When I had hit all four targets I unloaded the mana-rifle, slipping the shell back into my bag and took out a scanning thermometer that I had borrowed from Bunny (with permission), then raced to the stool on the left in less than a second I got a reading. "20 °F on the button, someone bring the cups from the bag, drinks are on the house until they run out."

I'd say part one of my class project now I just needed to keep working with Jane on part two, "Hey Faolan how exactly would this be effective on somebody?" One of my classmates commented.

"Well with this load, one hit should ice up a visor or a windshield, extinguish a fire by sucking the heat out of it, not to mention that it should also take the fight out of a base-line and most-mutants without hurting them." I explained my reasoning, "You have seen what it’s like for those crazies in the Polar Bear Club right?"

No one had anything more to say about my choice of test shell. I briefly switched into my costume to store my mana-rifle before joining the others; things were looking up despite the hard part that I still had left to complete. Now to get to work on my haywire shot, if that baby worked then I could easily see getting an A in class, not to mention having something on hand to deal with gadgeteers and power-armor maybe not devisors after all most of their inventions tended to be work by the virtue of wishful thinking and the law of awesome.

J. Erik Jonsson Central Library
West McDermott Room - 8th Floor
Dallas, Texas
3:47 PM CST

Inside the reserved room at the main Dallas Library, eleven prospective students for the Whateley Academy awaited their test scores, although some Nicoletta Sera in particular could care less about the school part. For the rest this determined whether or not they were going to be stuck in remedial courses, and might even affect the electives that they might be able to chose.

Max and Rich were obviously going the martial-arts course from how things looked, of course how things looked was obvious to anyone that knew them. Arnold was looking at insider brochures of their tech program and almost vibrating in sheer anticipation. Sophia was of course interested in the mystic arts program, while oldly enough Nicoletta seemed to care less- then again her mother was a heavyweight mystic super-villain so she probably knew more about magic than some of the teachers. Poor Meradee whichever one of her trio was in charge at the moment was looking over a variety of pamphlets, mainly because each of them had vastly different interests.

Sonia and Flora were looking over classes designed to teach students who were skilled in healing, it was sad that mutants weren't allowed to become doctors in most countries. Like Max and Rich, Rex was looking over pamphlets from the martial-arts program however, he was also looking at the military training program, I guess that helped when you had two bodies that could remain split up for an hour at a time meant that you could take double the electives if you wanted to try it out. Titus was mainly looking at the academic programs, and the odd evil overlord stuff but what was the chance of something like that being real.

As for Candace, she was honestly stumped after all she was a speedster and she honestly didn't know what to do with her life, this was high school for crying out loud and this looked like people expected you to never get any further. Of course, from what the advisor that had given them their tests had explained, the Whateley Academy was a fully accredited institution and many students did go on and attend college. Candace leaned forward and sighed; maybe she would just take the martial-arts intro class and front load her academic classes until she figured herself out and decided what she wanted to do with her life. She might have been a speedster but what was the hurry sometimes it was better to take a little time out and smell the roses, or in her case chance a few slabs of prime-cut beefcake and hot mega-babes.

A sly grin crossed her face as she remembered seeing various mutants from the news and eight times out of ten they were a sight to behold, and there was a good possibility that a fair number of the other students there were going to meet or exceed her standards. Most of the teachers probably wouldn't be bad looking either, even though in their case it was look but don't touch- okay she was fairly certain that more than a few students would be the same way but they be workable if she played her cards right. Besides with her it wasn't the victory it was the thrill of the game it was the chase or the hunt, damn if she wasn't a thrill seeker, besides she liked her freedom way too much to be tied down, and it wasn't if she refused to share, she just hated to be tied by too many constraints or limits.

It wasn't like she liked to hurt people, she just wanted to experience as much of the world as there was and as many of the people in it as she could. Granted not all the way mind you Candace doubted that she was ready for that yet, besides from what she had seen too many people saw too much in folks that did such a thing. What came right down to it was that Candace wanted to see and experience people as they really were once all the walls, the personas and the bravado that got in the way came down. This was what she wanted to get to know people as they truly were at their core, and as many as possible that was her goal in life to get to know people as the real them.

Over these past few weeks, she had come to do just that with her flat mates- well except for Meradee her condition had made herself like a puzzle and Candace had only gotten to know the pieces. From what she had remembered Meradee was always sort of fragile and insecure, her treatment at the hands of the MCO had made her mind fracture; no one had spoken to Meradee herself in weeks. Not that Meradee had been silent of course she wasn't Meradee anymore, her mind had splintered into three separate personalities Mary, Cleo and Jackie each of which had things in common with Meradee yet each of whom were different and oddly unique- especially from each other.

Mary was always a kind and sweet person who was always willing to be there when you needed it, this was because she hated to see others suffering like Meradee had at the hands of the MCO. Cleo was a lot like herself although more of a party girl who just liked to be in the midst of a social scene, this was because she hated being alone because when the MCO interrogated her they had always separated her away from the group. Jackie was a very solitary individual who liked to keep her distance and preferred to be alone with her thoughts, especially so that no one could see the sappy poetry that she wrote in the book that she carried around. Candace thought that this might have been because Meradee could not afford to show weakness during her interrogation sessions with the MCO. Candace couldn't help but wonder how all of this would fit together into the real Meradee, maybe one day she would find out the answer to this mystery.

Candace looked on as Kayla Hewlett a gadgeteer who worked for Axcel Incorporated who also went by Weave, walked in with a folder containing what she considered to be their now graded placement tests. Ms Hewlett walked in immediately and had a seat at the head of the table clearing her throat before she began to read off the results. "Titus Bannon for the most part you score in the junior level for grammar and mathematics; however because of your standing in the Social and Pure Sciences you will have to be held back to sophomore level to catch up. Nicoletta Sera I see no problems with admitting you as a full sophomore, in fact you already know Geometry so you may have an extra elective this spring. Flora Sera you scored normal for a mid-level sophomore; however you will need to take English as a Second Language courses."

"I understanding you Miss Hewlett," Flora said with a humble tone, "I thanking you for your fairlyness."

"You are welcome Ms Sera." Ms Hewlett said returning the gesture, "As for the rest of you, Sophia Riddle, Arnold Fletcher, Sonia Cage I see no problems admitting either of you mid-term. Richard Tanner, Rex Hallenbeck, Candace Reynard you three will need to be placed in Remedial Mathematics."

Naturally elicited groans from the three of them, which Ms. Hewlett ignored move on to the last two of the group. "Meradee you will be allowed to attend normal classes for the freshman level; however you will need to attend regular psychiatric sessions with a councilor from the Arkham Research Center over the course of the year."

"I understand your assessment," Jackie the personality of Meradee's that was currently in charge, replied.

"Finally Max Gillison, you will need to take Remedial English, you seem to have a few grammatical blind spots." Ms Hewlett concluded her placement of the three sophomores and eight freshmen, "Now if you finish selecting your extra-curricular classes, while paying to the pre-requisites we can send your applications off to Whateley."

About ten minutes passed and before the prospective students were done Ms Hewlett received a call on her cell phone, "Hello, yes Ms. Metzer the Star Marshall suits tests are going well. The Knight and Bishop Models test-types have tested to specifications and the Rook models are scheduled to undergo their final stress tests today. Yes madam president all tests look perfectly ahead of schedule for the demonstration to the Pentagon officials in New York week after next. I'm certain that once they see the capabilities of the Star Marshall power armor in action they will forget about those relics that the Knights of Purity use and our new program will draw in contracts like an ice-cream truck in August does children. Our pilots are also doing well in the simulator and will be ready in time for live training in the test-types next week. I'll be sure to update you on our progress after the Rook model test-type stress tests, Hewlett out."

A quick look around told Ms Hewlett that the eleven young adults were finished. This being the case she quickly took up their papers and after a quick inspection placed them in a document-mailing envelope. "I'll send these off to the Whateley Academy right away, now remember you all need to be fully packed to leave at noon on the twenty-fourth for Berlin, New Hampshire now remember to enjoy yourselves in the meantime. Ms Hewlett got up to leave the room as the students began to discuss what they would do during their free-time over the next couple of weeks, she just shook her head at the ways of youth.

Last Edit: 4 years 5 months ago by Insane Hiker.

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4 years 5 months ago #15382 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 4

Dunn Hall
5:47 PM

I was grateful that no one made a big deal out of my mana-rifle at dinner; I mean it was nice and all but right now, it had about as much effect as throwing someone into an ice bath. Besides Jamal had something genuine to brag about, "No I mean it check this out," He pulled length of copper wire out of his pocket then wove it into a cat's cradle before pouring in his electricity.

Suddenly the wires began to vibrate and we began to hear the WARS broadcast began to play over the wire woven between Jamal's fingers. "Cool huh."

"Big deal," Konrad scoffed at Jamal's efforts, "Just what use would this actually be in the real world?"

"Well I imagine that it would help big time tapping into communications," I explained, "If he can learn how to modulate the frequency fast enough Jamal could scan for transmissions faster than most people could do without using the normal bulky communications equipment."

"You know Jamal if you keep working on your precision like that I have an idea for an awesome hold-out I can make you." Buck said with so much enthusiasm that I could fear what was happening in his head.

"You know Buck maybe you should hold-off on the weapons and weapon-shaped devices for a while," I said more than a little nervously. Don't get me wrong Buck was a nice guy if more than a little impulsive, but I didn't want to hurt his feelings. I had been saving this diversion for a while and I hoped that it worked, "You know I'm surprised that you haven't tried to build a jet-pack already."

Buck's eyes began to light-up just like a six-year-old on Christmas Morning as he plowed through his dinner, and then took off. Jamal eyed the door to the temporarily re-purposed student restaurant and sighed with relief, "Thanks fae-dog I owe you one."

"De-nada sparky," I replied as we exchanged low-fives, "Anything to avoid another mishap at the range. It's bad enough that Peeper keeps trying to peek at my butt."

"I though Fey's bead trick keeps him from doing that," Joanne said expressing her concerns, "They are supposed to keep devisors and espers from peeking at us."

"Just with what's on the front," I explained to Murphy, "It doesn't stop him from ogling the rear."

"That cad," Steve said obviously po'ed, "There are some things a gentleman should not do to a lady, and someone should set him straight."

"Peeper's many things Steve, but a gentleman is not one of them," I explained to our table's cape-squad wannabe, "besides this is a problem for the girl's to solve on their own, just like they did the last time with the creep. That and I have a few ideas to run by her highness on how to solve this one."

Jane and I finished up with dinner as we left to return to Poe, and hoped to catch Nikki to have a chat with her when I was stopped Campus Security's newest recruit, "Hey Anu, how are you liking the new job?"

"Just fine, besides I am currently off duty." The former Celtic goddess replied while in her human form of a six-foot eight amazon with a body line comparable to Attributes. "However Morrigan just called from her second-honeymoon in Boston; she's concerned that you're starting to slack-off without her to run you through your paces and wants me to train you until she returns. Get your workout attire from your dorm room and meet me in front of Laird Hall in twenty minutes, don't be late."

After Anu had left, I turned to my familiar and asked, "Jane did the Celtic War Goddess of Single Combat just say that she was going to be training me until Morrigan comes back from her second-honeymoon with Dagda?"

"Yes Randi, I believe that she did and I suggest that you do not tarry." Jane stated as we took off towards Poe with fear driving us. "Still child better you than me however you should expect to feel quite sore in the morning." I began to whimper at the thought of just what this workout would entail.

Ulthar, Dylath-Leen
The Dreamlands

Okay I admit my dreams are growing weirder and weirder lately, I was now dreaming that I was in wolf form in this weird town with talking cats, at first they thought that I was related to some water being that they were frightened of coming back. Once they realized that I wasn't they all just wanted to be scratched and petted, and told me weird things like beware the moon beasts, nightgaunts and the men of Leng.

Out of curiosity, I remember asking them about this water being. "They call him the Inundator," an oddly familiar young girl about twelve or thirteen years old stated, "The reason that they're afraid of him is that he disciplined a young cat for demanding that he tell him of all the secret paths he knew, and the old wolf gave him a bath to teach him a lesson."

"I recognize you, Armordillo has a picture of you on his desk!" I exclaimed as I placed the girl's face. Then as I transformed to normal something about the name that went with that face dawned on me, "You're Mirabel, one of Armordillo's grandkids I thought that I recognized the name when Heather told me about her friends, I remember that he said that you manifested last September. If I remember correctly he said your powers mainly had to do with dreams."

"Dreams and Healing, dad insisted on taking mom's name to avoid people messing with his family when he got married." Mirabel confirmed my suspicion, "And I'm not spying on Heather in case you're concerned about that, I already was going to Gunn when Grandpa Hector asked me to look out for her. Besides everyone could use a friend- new schools are scary enough."

"Believe me Mirabel," I said while giving one of the many cats around us a tummy rub, "Heather has experienced a lot scarier things in her life then a first day at junior high school. Are your parents and grandpa homeschooling you in your powers?"

"Yeah, but mom still wants me to go to Whateley for High School. At least Heather will be there so I will be going with a friend." Mirabel said with a sigh, "Too bad the both of us will have to say good-bye to Sherrie and a lot of other friends when we do."

"Who knows Mirabel, that is still a year and a half away, the real question is just why we are here?" I asked my ears lying low. "And what's with all the cats?"

"This is Ulthar in Dylath-Leen within the Dreamlands, I come here every once in a while because it’s one of the safest places in the Dreamlands." Mirabel explained.

I could tell right away that she was hiding something, "And?"

"And I...come here to play with the kitties." Mirabel fessed up somewhat embarrassed at the fact, "I like cats a lot but my mom's allergic to them."

"Ask Heather if you can come over some time, we have two cats at our house," I explained and watched her eyes just light up. "However you do need to tell her the truth; she's scared that she's making friends who she's going to have to say good-bye to forever, just letting her know that the two of you could be going to Whateley together would be a huge relief to her."

"Okay, I will when we can get some time to talk during our slumber party this Saturday," Mirabel beamed before she turned around and asked, "So what are their names?"

I shook my head as I chuckled at the ailurophile's enthusiasm, "Well Ms. Sakaki, their names are Statler and Waldorf, named after the Muppets."

"Really! Cool! Um, who's Ms. Sakaki?" She asked clearly unaware of the reference.

"Ask Heather to loan you my copy of Azumanga Daioh, then you'll get it." I kept laughing as I kept petting the little purr-boxes, "So what is the name of this Inundator anyway?"

"Greyback," one of the cats answered back, this threw me for a major loop Greyback had been here recently, the missing member of the trio that consisted of himself, Morrigan and Loki. Neither Morrigan nor I knew what became of him after Plagiat's attack, who would have thought that he was banished to the Dreamlands.

"Where is he right now?" I asked eager to find him and see how he was doing, after all the former aether hound had saved my existence from annihilation at the hands of Plagiat.

"Out," the same cat answered, "But I'll tell him that a certain young female half-wolf was looking for him."

"Um, on second thought tell him that the Apprentice of the Phantom Queen wishes to meet with him," I stated since he probably didn't know about my trip to the other side of the gender-gap. "He should know right away what you mean, of course are you sure that he will return here?"

"Of course, my grandson asked Greyback if he could travel with him, the wolf agreed and he said they would return together." The cat explained, "He said that they were going to visit a lonely friend of his who lives past the Caverns of the Amit and the Veil of the Baku. According to an aether hound, that I gave a decent meal to, there is only one being that could be called lonely that lives out that way the Sorrowful Unnamed, a being said to be as old as creation."

"Thank you," I said giving a good petting to the elderly feline who offered me the information, call it a talent but I always seem to be able to find 'that spot' with a cat. "I just hope that I can make it back here to meet him.

"Oh it just takes a bit of effort although it comes pretty easy to me." Mirabel explained. "You just have to concentrate on hearing your way, all the meowing can help find this place pretty easily, although I don't recommend venturing outside the city or talking to traveling merchants, especially without a guide."

Saturday, February 10, 2007
Poe Cottage
6:30 AM

Gahh that clock is loud, was the first thing to cross my mind as I rose to my feet from the floor of my dorm room. My training session with Anu last night was brutal, she spent the entire time dodging and countering my every move. Every time that I wound up on the ground, she specifically outlined the mistakes that I was making in my combat form and if I didn't correct them the next time around then she would knock me with a blow instead of a throw.

This continued going on for two and a half hours of her just wiping the floor with me, at the end I laid on the floor my gi drenched in sweat and feeling like I was a solid bruise. After that, I had used the showers to clean up wincing at how the water stung, and after throwing my gi in an odor shielded garbage bag, (I consider it one of a few necessities that I keep in my bag of holding, along with toilet seat covers and two-ply). The thing needed to be laundered a.s.a.p. which given how I felt and the moment meant when I was taking the algebra program after first period.

Not that this would have been a problem, after all my computer on campus was a laptop not a desk PC, I could take it down to the laundry room just fine. Heck I took it everywhere already since it was small enough to fit in my purse of holding, keeping it in there also kept it from being stolen since only the person who puts something into the Reticule of the Fields could take it out again.

I got up from the spot where I had laid the comforter on the floor to lay on, and stretched to get the kinks out of my canine form before changing back to my normal self. "Ahhhhh, that feels much better." I sighed in relieve feeling the soreness that you normally feel after a good workout rather than like I was one-hundred percent tenderized as I had after Anu's training session. I thought back to my dream and knew that I had to discuss it with Jane when she woke up, about the chance of getting in touch with Greyback again.

There was also the fact that my little sister's new friend was Armordillo's granddaughter and was going to be coming to Whateley at the same time as her. Just what were the chances of knowing another student before you ever got here...okay Steve was Doc's little brother, and Phase already knew She-Beast and Techno-Devil (Doctor Diabolik's kids), as well as Solange; although from what I heard on the grapevine Tansy hated Ayla because of how her big sister treated her.

I went into autopilot as I left for the shower line, I still had the whole day ahead of me followed by what was likely to be another brutal training session with Anu, I can't wait until Morrigan came back from Boston. While I was standing in line to use the showers, Zenith came up to me, "Faolan, before you leave for breakfast Mrs. Horton has a message for you from Headmistress Carson."

Everyone in the shower line turned to stare at me with a scrutinizing eye, "What, I haven't done anything that could get me in trouble since the Winter Court's Offensive last Sunday. I don't know why the Headmistress would want to see me; I even filled out all the paperwork for that range test yesterday and filled them with Security, so I can't be in trouble- can I?"

Nicolosi Family Home
Dalworthington Gardens, Texas
7:06 AM CST

"Mom I'm getting ready to leave for track and field practice, do you need me to do anything before I go?" Sherrie called out, as she got ready to take her bike to Gunn.

"Just remember to feed the animals before you leave Sherrie," her mother Allison called out, "I have to meet with a buyer in a little while and I won't be able to look after them, oh and your new friend Heather called apparently she wants to know if you want anything special there for the sleepover tonight."

"Not really," Sherrie said as she changed her shoes and put on an old apron, "Just tell her that Mirabel's supposed to be bringing the scary movie, while I'll be bringing the make-up kit."

"What you children see in that heathen trash I'll never know, it had better not be one of those wicked torture movies," Allison Nicolosi chided the current generation and their taste in such vulgar things. "Honestly why they make such vulgar things when those dreadful mutants do those same things."

"Mom you can't take everything that Reverend Hargett says," Sherrie sighed, "Especially since he's started broadcasting Services on the AM band."

"Sherrie Nicolosi, Reverend Hargett is a very wise man of the faith; he knows full well how much a threat those hell-spawned fiends are." Allison continued, "After all surely nothing natural could do the things that they are able to do so, it is witchcraft or demonic possession plain and simple."

"Yes mother," Sherrie said rolling her eyes as she changed the bedding in the rabbit hutch before replacing their food bowl with a fresh one. Honestly, her mother could be so backwards sometimes, even though her dad also thought mutants were a threat he stopped short of her mother's fanaticism. In his case, mutants were a threat because they were too powerful for their own good, and so few people can handle that kind of power responsibly, most to him simply became greedy or arrogant. Then again something like that goes for anybody not just mutants, to pidgin-hole someone because of how they were born just seemed so racist to her.

Sherrie sighed as she pet Cardamon, the ginger coated short-eared doe that had come up to her hand. *OW* *SQUEAK* The weather must have been dry today because a static discharge briefly shocked the two of them. "Okay that was weird."

Sherrie ignored the occurrence and went back to feeding the other animals getting shocked a couple of more times while feeding the goats, once from one of the nannies and another while brushing some ants from off of the food bowls while she cleaned them out in the compost heap. Done with her chores and after a quick shower and a change of clothes Sherrie Nicolosi left for practice unaware of what just occurred.

Headmistress Carson's Office - Shuster Hall
Whateley Academy, New Hampshire
9:39 AM EST

"Apparently Ms. Bridges you are full of surprises. Early this morning I received a phone-call from Jean-David Levitte the French Ambassador to the United States, apparently one of my students by the name of Faolan will be awarded the Ordre national du Mérite at a private dinner in New York City at the Waldorf=Astoria a week from Monday by French President Jacques Chirac." She stared at me for right after this bit of news, "Would you care to explain how this came to be?"

"W-w-well H-headmistress Carson," I almost stammered in fright knowing that this was one-hundred percent a problem of my own making, "When I beat Plagiat and Carcharoth in the Fehde with Plainswalker and Morrigan, I took the true names of all his former slaves as my prize, one of those was my new sister Heather. One of the many jobs she did for the snake was maintain and conceal his treasure hordes, most of which he had her loot for him."

"He had a real setup, he would send in an enslaved brownie to survey the private homes, estates and bank vaults, take note of any possible valuables and return with his findings. Then Plagiat would send Heather in to steal anything that he had marked as being of interest and return with it to his hideout. Once the goods were at his hideout his dwarf, the same one who forged my sword, would authenticate and give the history of the stolen goods." I stated explaining Plagiat's operation to Ms. Carson as Heather explained it to me.

"Most of the items were auctioned either on the black market or used for trade at the goblin market however every once in a while he came across something that interested him; these things he kept as prizes- hell sometimes he went looking specifically for them. Among these prizes that he kept was an old spatha sword that had been refitted in the Middle Ages with the hilt of a crusader's sword, this was found behind an altar in the church of Saint Catherine of Fierbois in Tours by a rather famous lady general of the Hundred Years War- Jean d'Arc."

"Ultimately this shining sword was taken from her by one of the Burgundians when they captured her, and took it to his family estate as a war trophy of a conquered enemy. This Burgundian's descendants later traded, with other items, to a British merchant for safe passage out of France during the Reign of Terror, this merchant's descendant (who did not know the sword's true history) was the one that Plagiat had it stolen. When we helped Heather go over Plagiat's to see what we could return to their rightful owners we came across the sword, and decided to let the US State Department return it to the French Consulate."

"You mean to say that you and your sister helped restore the sword of one of France's greatest national heroes and patron saint, and tried to keep it quiet." Ms. Carson was actually laughing at this fact, "Ms. Bridges considering the bad blood at the moment between the current administration and France at the moment they would want to make a big deal about this matter what you tried to do. Let me guess the Apparitia also mentioned, who they wish to attend is your sister Heather?"

"Yes," I said with my head cradled in my hands, "I'm sorry Ms. Carson but what was I going to do break the law; the MCO tortured me to try and get me to confess to working with a psychopath, and that got a Major branch shut down. On top of that, they were slapped with a massive fine after I lost my original body while in their custody. After all of that happened they would have been willing to do anything to get me thrown in Isla de Monstruos then misplace my file, that or disappear me."

"Some would say that you are being paranoid Ms. Bridges." Ms. Carson implied at my near hysteria.

"Paranoia is fear without a basis," I stated in an even tone, "They had me hooked up to a couple of car batteries for what seemed like an hour, and only paused to let me confess. These people are supposed to be protecting the public, but I guess that only counts if you aren't a freak of nature. Then again I suppose that they actually have a number of good people working for them, but they are likely there as a public face and are mushrooms to the real powers that be in the MCO."

"So you see them as a bad thing entirely?" Ms. Carson's eyes narrowed at the possibility of what was unfolding before her eyes within me; of course, this was something that I was oblivious too.

"Of course not," I began to explain, "Just desperately in need of reform and a change in management. The basic mission of the MCO is something very necessary in the world, and the records that they keep also help for emergency medical treatment for those with special needs. The problem is that damned Cold War mindset has so many of the former Super-Spies that joined them thinking of every mutant that manifests as the next Doctor Colossus or Herr Krieg instead of as people. Not to mention that most of them forget that they are just a privately run organization with no real policing authority."

"For that matter I wonder if the world wouldn't be a better place if the World Health Organization included counseling for couples with the meta-gene complex in their Family Planning budget. That way if the couple's children manifested they might be a little more likely to be able to calm the kid down, so that situations where cities sic the Knights of Purity on kids like Jolt would be less likely to happen. That or include a class on how to handle manifestation to go along with classes on um- ah- sex ed in elementary school to let kids learn to go to call 9-1-1 when they feel it happening."

"Some very interesting ideas in theory Ms. Bridges but with so many problems in application, still getting back to the topic at hand can I count on you to be ready to attend the Ceremony in New York at the Waldorf=Astoria a week from Monday?" Ms Carson asked in a very firm tone.

"Of course, I also need to talk with my sister to see that she gets help assembling a proper costume in time to attend given that she'll be getting a medal as well." I stated before asking, "Would it be too much to be able to sneak our parents in to see the ceremony?"

"You act like that hasn't been done before," Ms. Carson smiled, "Both you and your sister are allowed three guests given that the French Embassy was unaware of your relation. Of course they will be required to wear masks and gloves, to ensure that your family remains anonymous."

"Good, the last thing Heather and I need is for our family to get caught up in anything that could come along later; I mean I know the Scratch's organization won't go after them, but given where we live I'm more worried about Humanity First and their splinter groups. Seraphim told me about what happened in New York with Burning Sword, I mean sending an armed group to storm a Catholic Church in front of all those witnesses then hand waving it off like it was no big deal. That was in New York, the only reason nothing happened with my family in Texas a month ago was that the news agencies reported me dead, and the Six Flags cooperation refused to release my real identity to the press." I stated as The Headmistress dismissed me from her office, 'Jane do you think that the French will tell the psychometrists to dig any deeper into the sword's past that to prove that it belonged to Joan of Arc?'

I doubt it at least for now, Jane spoke to me from her place at the entrance to Shuster, But you are right that it would be a big problem if they did dig any deeper, even if only by two centuries, since that sword originally belonged to the Order of the Thorn.

Floyd M. Gunn Junior High School - Athletics Field
Arlington, Texas
9:17 AM CST

"Alright Nicolosi," Couch Tia Hofman called out as telling Sherrie to take her position at the starting line for her practice heat at the 200 meter sprint, "You're up!"

Sherrie took her place at the starting line, nothing on her mind other than getting to the starting line, when the starting pistol shot fired she took off and ran her hardest. About two-thirds of the way to the finish line, suddenly she felt a surge of energy come from out of nowhere and she speed up, almost seeming to streak past the finish line.

Coach Hofman looked at her stopwatch and was stunned at what she saw, "Janet take a look at this," she called out to the Spirit Club mother who had been helping out all year as her assistant. After Janet Pomeroy came over Tia showed her the stopwatch, "19.17 seconds, forget Joyner's record she just beat Johnson's record. Tell the nurse that we need to double-check her drug-tests to be sure, but if they come up clean we might have an athletic prodigy on our hands."

"Yes we have something on our hands alright," Mrs. Pomeroy stated before explaining, "I think we should run a new screening instead of double checking, I'll go leave a message with the nurse."

After walking a fair distance away from the coach, Janet Pomeroy took her cell phone out of her tote bag and dialed a very special number, after a minute or two a man answered. "Hello, this is Father Hargett, how may I assist you my child?"

"Father I believe I have witnessed the awakening of one of the chosen of the fallen," Janet almost seemed to spit inter her cell phone with a fervor. "Sherrie Nicolosi has revealed herself to be one of them today at the practice and was able to run faster than a fully grown man."

"This sounds serious my child," The Reverend mused over the phone. "However we must be careful in how we approach this; too many of those who should be protecting our lives instead have been misguided into thinking that these spawn of the fallen need protection and rights, and all too often they exploit the nature of a parent to protect their child as well. I will alert the faithful to gather tonight at her sanctuary, and once we have her in our custody we shall see whether she is indeed a spawn of the followers of Morningstar or merely a poor youth that has been possessed by one of them. Now remember while her parents are among the faithful, we must not tell them until arrive, all to often does the devil use a parent's love to shield it from harm."

"I understand Father," Janet said with her hands folded in prayer, "May the Lord forgive what we who walk the Radiant Path must do in order to ensure that his enemies are kept at bay."

"AMEN!" Reverend Hargett proclaimed as his final words to his ardent follower as he went to gather others for his stand against the devil’s own tonight.

Janet hung up her cell phone and returned to the coach's side, "Don't worry Coach Hofman," Janet explained, "Everything is taken care of, and we will find out what we need to know very soon."

Bridge's Family Home
5:17 PM

Heather Bridges was ecstatic as she moved about the house to get ready for her first slumber party; back when she was Gretchen Franks, no one would ever invite her to slumber parties. In her old life everyone saw her as poor and unsightly trailer trash that nobody wanted to have over, especially if it meant the possibility that the girl's father Paul Franks would show up to their home drunk to fetch his daughter. Not that her old father ever wanted her anyway, he always yelled at mom for failing to give him the son that he deserved, to him Gretchen was nothing more than an eyesore. She knew that this would have become even worse if she crossed his path after she manifested, he would have likely beaten her to death for being a mutant freak and maybe done the same to her mother Debra.

Thankfully, that life was behind her now her new dad Jack was a weird and funny guy who worked as a Children's Librarian liked to cook or play video games in his spare time, sometimes with her. Meanwhile her new mom Rebecca was a plumber with a wicked sense of humor who was getting her to appreciate the arts, especially painting. Her new older brother Chuck, well he was barely around he spent most of the time out with his friends and his girlfriend Vanessa, who to be honest Heather thought was a little- off.

Now her new older sister Randi on the other hand had been a blast to be around before she left for Whateley, the two of them spent a good deal of that short time together with her teaching Randi a few things about being a girl and Randi teaching her a few things about being a kid. Still they sent each other e-mails at a rate of once a day, baring something weird happening, and she usually called a few times a week- she was due to any minute now.

Sure enough, the phone rang and Heather picked up, "Hello Randi, how are things at Whateley?"

"Good and bad sis, I finally finished my mana-rifle and the test firing went off without a hitch however now that she's gotten a handle on her routine at working security detail Anu has taken over training me until Morrigan gets back from her second honeymoon."

"Do you mean Gentle Anu," Heather cringed, "Morrigan's first successful apprentice? She's training you; according to what Badb said about her I'm surprised your jaw isn't wired shut."

"Shifter healing remember," I explained, "I sleep in my wolf form and by morning I just feel a little achy rather than like ground round hound. Still that isn't the main reason why I called, do you remember when we returned the Sword of Joan of Arc to France through the State Department?"

"Yes," Heather asked wondering where this was leading. "What about it?"

"According to Headmistress Carson, the French Ambassador wants to invite Faolan and Apparitia to New York City to attend a special ceremony where they will officially return the sword to the nation of France, and then be summarily awarded the National Order of Merit by President Jacques Chirac of France. You need to get some help putting together a costume little lady, see if mom, Auntie Jillian, and maybe Elise can help design one, if you fax it over to me in time I can take it to a seamstress in Dunwitch with your measurements to get it made in time for the ceremony at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel."

Heather was stunned; in less than a year, she had gone from a nameless abused slave of a warlock to a young super-hero who was going to receive a medal from a foreign leader in New York City, at one of the most famous hotels in the world. Suffice it to say she was frantic, "Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, what am I going to do, there is no way I can put together a costume that's any good in time. I'll look like a complete loser in front of the press in the super-hero capitol of the world what will I do?"

"Heather calm down and take a deep breath, dad should be home soon and he'll help you brainstorm. If feel that you need help call that number Plainswalker gave us and explain it to one of the Dallas Defenders, they should be able to help you design and put together a perfectly good outfit for the ceremony. In the meantime try to have fun at your slumber party- just try to keep them from using a Ouija Board, some spirits of Winter are pretty pissed at me right now and you don't want to risk them coming inside the house."

"Okay big sis," Heather said having calmed down a little, "We'll be seeing you in New York, plus mom and dad are more than a little curious to see Whateley. Well that and meet your familiar, what's her name Jane, she does have better manners than Badb right?"

"Yeah," I replied over the phone, "She doesn't eat carrion in front of people, and in human form. Of course unlike Badb she can't take human form, so she's usually either on my shoulder or perching somewhere. Listen I'll call tomorrow when you all get back from church, have fun at your slumber party and don't do anything that Chuck would do."

Heather giggled at that comment, "Randi like anyone but Chuck would do what Chuck would do. We'll be seeing you Sunday week, bye."

8:34 PM

{I will devour your entrails and swallow your soul!} The dark beast proclaimed to the child who dared to venture near it. {You will suffer eternally for this indignity!}

"Careful Mirabel Statler is a little on the cranky side," Heather said as she watched her friend play with one of her families two cats. "It's a good thing that we have them wearing those booties or he'd probably try to scratch you up to hell and back."

{Brother,} Statler called out to his littermate, {What are you doing you obese loaf, help liberate me from this witch?}

Unfortunately, for Statler his brother Waldorf was in a world of bliss thanks to Sherrie's nimble fingers, {Oh yes- that's how I like it, no not there lower and to the left, oooooh yeah that's the spot!}

{You shame all feline kind brother!} Statler mrrred at the indignity of his current situation.

"Okay girls," Jack said walking into the den with a fresh-cooked pizza. "The pie's ready and cut, so help yourselves."

As soon as the pie was set down, Chester walked up and lay down while propping his head up on Heather's knee. The half-Labrador looked up at her with eyes filled with a pity-me expression that was perfected by generations of natural selection, as his tail slightly wagged behind him in anticipation of the scraps to follow.

"Sorry Chester," Heather stated as she pet the Golden/Labrador mix on his head and gave him a light scratch behind the ears. "But this has garlic and onions in it so I can't even give you the crust."

Sensing that his usual tactics weren't working with Heather, Chester attempted to do the same with Sherrie, unfortunately she knew better. "Sorry pooch, but Heather's right those things are real bad for doggies." As she pushed his snout off her blue jeans she felt another jolt of static, "Ouch that's weird, how'd that happen, here I am petting your cat just fine and he's not getting shocked."

"Who knows," Mirabel said letting go of Statler as she grabbed a slice off the pizza, "By the way, how'd your practice at school go today?"

"Great," Sherrie stated with a bit of pride, "In fact I was so fast that the couch is going to have the nurse retest me Monday to make sure that I'm not doing anything weird, as if I would ever do enhancer stuff let alone afford that kind of junk. Whoa, Mr. B making another pie for you and the misses to share is one thing but do you need that many jalapeños, I can smell them all the way in here!"

"Sherrie what are you talking about?" Jack Bridges asked popping back around the corner from the kitchen, "I just now cut into a pepper."

"Besides I can't smell anything," Heather stated before turning to Mirabel and asking, "Mirabel can you smell anything."

"Nope," Mirabel said with a little concern in her voice, "Sherrie, these jolts of static have you felt them any other times today?"

"Yeah," Sherrie said before explaining, "But for some weird reason it only seemed to happen today when I'm around animals and even then only once, like when I was cleaning the rabbit hutch at home."

"And did you ran that really fast sprint today at school, did you feel anything odd?" Heather asked fearing what the answer would be.

"Yeah, now that you mention it," Sherrie stated wondering why she never thought of this herself. "I had thought that I was maxed out, and then near the end of my heat I just got this burst of speed from out of nowhere, why are you asking?"

"Sherrie I hope that I'm wrong, but I think that you may have manifested." Mirabel stated with her voice stained with regret.

"Oh come on," Sherrie scoffed, "That only happens to mutants, besides how would you know."

"I know because I am one," Mirabel said reaching out her hand towards the growling Statler and all of the sudden he fell over asleep. "Then again I've always known that I would almost certainly be one, my parents are Merrimac and Mock'nbird. Heather and her older sister are as well."

"Mirabel, why'd you never tell me?" Heather asked feeling more than a little hurt. "Is that the reason you became friends with me?"

"Nope, my grandpa Armordillo asked me to keep an eye out for you and help you if you got into trouble, not become friends with you." Mirabel explained, "I made that decision on my own, you looked really super lonely after your sister Randi left for The Academy so I decided to reach out to you, I just hate it when people feel hurt."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop joking around you two," Sherrie said still in deep denial, "Now that was a nice trick Mirabel, but come on I've known you since we were in Fourth Grade, I seriously doubt that you are a mutant, and Heather no offense but you look a little too- plain to be one."

"Not all mutants look like super-models or B-Movie monsters," Mirabel tried to explain to her friend. "Heather help me out here grandpa told me about your power and it’s a lot easier to demonstrate than mine."

"Um okay," Heather said more than a little nervously, still somewhat surprised that her two best friends appeared to be mutants just like her. "Can you take your compact out, open it up, and leave it on the table?"

"Okay," Sherrie said somewhat uncertain where this was going, as she did as Heather as Heather got up and left the room, walked into the hallway, entered the bathroom and locked the door behind her. Soon Sherrie was shocked as Heather's face appeared in her compact's mirror, just when she began to wonder how her friends were punking her, Heather's hand emerged from the mirror and honked Sherrie's nose before pulling back in and walking out the reflection's view.

Sherrie stood staring at her compact stunned as Heather returned from the bathroom, and sat down across the living room table from her. "Do you believe us now?"

"What can I say," Sherrie laughed nervously as she grabbed a slice off the pizza, "Some things are too weird to be able to deny them. So are you sure that I'm a mutant?"

"It's a possibility," Mirabel stated as she grabbed another slice off of the pie, "There is a chance that we're making a mistake, but I doubt it, still we could ask Duck-it to run a few tests on you tomorrow afternoon if you want."

"Enough of this, are we going to watch a scary movie or what?" Sherrie asked desperate to divert the conversation and consequences of if she could be a mutant, and postpone it for the time being.

"Okay but instead of something scary and gory, I picked something that's supposed to be an old campy monster movie." Heather said hoping that she wasn't making a mistake, but so many scary movie reminded her of what she witnessed as Plagiat's slave in the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom, especially over in the Eastern European Branches. "I thought we could take turns making fun of it, if it starts getting too cheesy."

"Sounds like a plan," Mirabel said as she took a look at the movie, "<U>The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms</U> old is right this is from the early 50's, stop-motion animation and all that, oh well it’s supposed to be a classic so we might as well give it a go."

Things were going rather well and the acting in the movie proved to be rather decent for the 1950s. About 20 minutes into the film and all of the way through the pizza, the phone rang in the kitchen, "Hello Bridges residence, whoa Dom slow down what's happening?" Jack answered said answering the phone and from the name Heather gathered that was Dominic Welsh from the neighborhood watch, she had a feeling that things might be getting very ugly soon.

Sure enough, Jack proved Heather's fears justified, "Heather that was just Mister Welsh from the neighborhood watch, an armed mob is trying to break into Mister Ward's house so we need to get ready to leave."

"I don't understand, a mob is breaking into the house of one of your neighbors, why do we have to get ready to leave?" Sherrie asked curious about Mr. Bridges reasoning, "Why not just call the police?"

"Because Cody Ward's house is the exact opposite side of the neighborhood from ours, he has West in his address we have East." Jack Bridges explained to Mirabel and Sherrie as Heather raced all over the house, all the while for some odd reason turning off every piece of electronics and opening every internal door, even those to the garage and the closets as well as the stairs to the attic. "Since I doubt that a group of White Supremacists would have a beef with a retired defense contractor that would mean that this is likely one of those hard-core Humanity First splinter-groups that just got the wrong address, as for the police if the group on its way is as large as I think they'll be needing riot gear."

Soon Heather returned with her purse and a rather large and ugly-looking carpetbag, "I'm ready to get everyone to safety, bring everybody into the kitchen quick," Heather said huffing from her frenzied pace. "Dad I'm sorry there's no time to explain this, but I need you to touch this bag and give me permission to clean the house."

More than a little curious of his adopted daughter's actions but accepting that she knew what she was doing, Jack Bridge's touched the bag that Heather was holding out to him and said, "Okay Heather I give you permission to clean the house." As soon as Jack finished his sentence a great wind emerged the bag and began to pull in everything around it, every piece of furniture, appliance, piece of clothing, was pulled in by that wind and shrank disappearing into the bag.

Soon the wind pulled in the dishes and various contents of the cupboards and the pantry was swept into the bag as well and was soon joined by everything in the house that had been nailed or screwed into the walls (which had come unscrewed). Even the carpet from the rest of the house and Jack's mini-van from the garage joined the rest of the house’s contents. As the wind died down Heather closed and set the carpetbag, now containing almost everything in the house except themselves and the animals (including Statler whose sleeping form Mirabel was still cradling.

"Mirabel," Heather said in desperation, "If you can make everyone fall asleep like you did Statler I need you to do that even to yourself."

"Okay I will," Mirabel stated, "But I'll want explanations later on what just happened." One by one, Mirabel put everyone except Heather to sleep using her powers, including Chester and Waldorf. Heather could almost feel the danger as she heard banging on the front door, she turned the kitchen lights back on, thanking her lucky stars that they were fluorescent bulbs that were embedded in the ceiling and thus spared from the Bug Out Bag.

With the coming danger giving her actions wings Heather took a handful of Changeling Baubles that she had been well seasoned in the use of during her days as a nameless slave, and stored her father, friends and pets within them before returning them to her purse. Then just as Heather heard the front door begin to give way, she seized the Bug Out Bag from where she had set it down on the floor and took a running leap into her reflection on the dining room window.

Right away, she was in a place all too familiar to her, The Land of Smoke and Mirrors. Heather only told those that she trusted the most were ever told about this eerie place behind the looking glass where the only features in sight were various reflections floating in mid-air, reflections that she could only look and hear out of if she was touching them. Still Heather could always find her way from one reflection to another as long as she knew the layout of where she wanted to go. This time she wanted to go to a place that she knew was safe and she was told that her family would be welcome to use if something like this had ever happened, the place her sister Randi was reborn Plainswalker's Safehouse.

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4 years 5 months ago #15383 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 4 Notes

Isla de Monstruos:
The South's answer to Roxbury C, located beneath the seabed below a man made island five miles off the coast of Galveston, and only accessible by a single elevator contained inside of a heavily fortified bunker that can only be opened from the inside. At present there has never been an escape from Isla de Monstruos, which is not that surprising since it’s layout is classified and the only people ever allowed inside are guards, employees, and of course inmates. There is also a special mystic threshold in place that seals all memories of the interior of the prison from the time anyone leaves until they return ensuring that no one on the outside will ever know the layout of the interior.

Bug Out Bag -
A mystic device first perfected during the Witch Hunts of the Middle Ages by Black Alicja of Mińce in what is now Poland. They were used by witches, warlocks, and pagans to swiftly pack-up everything they owned in order to flee from witch-hunters and the church at a moment's notice. The secret of how to make these was taken from mankind with the lives of those who made them; however the certain Winter Court Hags acquired the secret over the years and sell them in the Goblin Market in exchange for one day at the end of the buyer’s life. They can rapidly pack and contain everything in a home provided the door is open, however the need the home-owner's sincere permission to be used; so they cannot be used to steal even if the owner is coerced or threatened into giving permission.

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4 years 4 months ago #15755 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 5

Sunday, February 11, 2007
Poe Cottage
6:30 AM EST

I woke up for the second day in my wolf form, on the floor of my room in Poe just like yesterday taking time to shift to semi-human and stretch the kinks out before putting my towel on and leaving for the shower line. Try as I might I wasn't able to slip into the Dreamlands last night, just as well I doubt that Greyback would be back after a day from wherever he was. Of course, the dream I had instead where I was in my wolf-form stalking a white-tailed deer within the unspoiled pre-Colombian forests in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains was a blast. As I was standing in line behind Verdant who entered the shower that Selkie vacated, Bunny came up and asked, "Hey Randi out of curiosity, why do canine's kick their legs when you scratch them behind the ears or on the back?"

"It might be because it feels something like a cross between being tickled and a deep tissue message." I said not wanting to go into further details.

"Hey fleabag, I got some news about a riot in your hometown yesterday," Tempest barked out, "Looks like a mob of rednecks were after someone on the South-West side of the city."

A jolt of fear cut through me like a knife, I left the shower line and ran to my room, the noise and my fear jolting Jane awake, she asked me something but I was so rattled I didn't even hear it- not even in my head. I took out my laptop and loaded the Star-Telegram's news page on my browser, and went over to the crime page, my worst fears proved true an armed mob was arrested after breaking into two homes in my neighborhood. In the article, it showed pictures of the houses one was Mister Ward from the other side of the neighborhood, and the other was my own.

Panicking I dialed home on the phone in my dorm room, after one minute my heart seized, there was no answer. Now shaking in fear and desperation I dialed dad's cell, I sighed in relief when he answered, "Randi it's good to hear from you, I trust that you got the news of last night's incident."

"That's an understatement, dad what happened? Who attacked the house? Are you all right? Is Heather safe? What about her friend's are they alright?" I ran through every question that I could think out still in shock over what had happened to the home where I grew up.

"Randi calm down and breathe," dad ordered me while Jane helped to steady my nerves by dissipating some of my nervous with her own feeling of firm resolve. "Everybody's fine pup, Heather got everybody out nice and safe even the animals. We're over at Plainswalker's Safehouse for the moment, except for your mother she's going to be meeting with the police and an insurance adjuster to survey the damage to our home this afternoon, and your brother will be staying with his girlfriend for the time being. Maverick will be here later with Diane Calloway to take our deposition and go over with us what happened."

"We don't know anything about the group that attacked our home just yet, but regardless of whether it turns out to be H1 or the like we'll be sending Heather to Whateley a year and a half earlier than we thought for her own safety."

"Now I'll talk with you later and tell you what we find out so don't worry." Dad said urging me that for now everything was alright, "And don't worry you'll see us all at that ceremony in New York next week, then we'll come and pay you a visit at Whateley while we drop Heather off. Now just stay calm and stay safe, and remember that we all love you.

"Even Chuck?" I asked after finally calming back down.

"Yes even your brother," dad laughed, "In his own weird way. I'll call you again at around two, well it should be three o'clock for you.

I returned to the showers to find that the line was gone and one stall was open, I entered and used it before returning to my room and going about my daily ritual. After getting dressed in my casual clothes, and letting Jane take her usual spot on my shoulder, I went downstairs to find most of the Poe freshman girls waiting for me in the lobby. Jade came forward out of the group and asked, "We heard Sherisha's remarks, is everything okay Randi?"

"Yeah my family's fine, an angry mob stormed two houses in my neighborhood back home last night- mine included, fortunately my family got out safely before they broke into our house. I don't know any real details yet, but I'll be sure to tell everyone when I learn what happened." I said wanting to get to breakfast, and put my panic from this morning behind me.

Suffice it to say that Jane and I were a little late to breakfast and most of the halfheartedly good stuff put out by the chefs was already gone, so I went with my usual morning default choices. Dunn was a bit quieter than usual, not surprising given how some student chose to flee campus the moment that they woke up on Sunday for a bus-ride to Berlin and a taste of civilization.

For the first time in a week Solange was making a public appearance outside of the floor-length poncho that she had been wearing to hide the horse legs Macha's possession of her body had cursed her with for a week. Still for now she was avoiding hanging out with the ex-Alphas in favor of just showing off that she had her legs back, I wonder if the headmistress had okayed her wearing designer hot-pants today as a way to help the girl rebuild her wounded ego, oh well if you got it flaunt it. At least she wasn't hit with an inner-self projection curse, depending on the person that could be nasty.

As we arrived at the table, we noted that Rob Rose had already left to pour his poetic heart out to Nacht. I admit the Bad Seed table was getting a little weirder lately, first there was Jobe Wilkins who had finished turning into a faux-Drow, and now there was Belphoebe who was created by that sack of lazy-personified Belphagor using Jobe's drow formula and half-finished cloning chamber that he cobbled together from stolen parts.

According to the word on campus, Ms. Carson had proclaimed that Belphagor was her dad and Jobe was her mom; that poor- poor girl, born into a single-mother family with a mom who refused to see the world through any lens but that of a microscope. At least Gloriana was trying to see to it that she had a positive role model but still to paraphrase what Mon Corelinus once said, Where is man without magic to inspire him to reach for greater heights and dream of things greater than themselves.

Shared Loft Apartment
Dallas, Texas
8:05 AM CST

"Wake up kids and pack your things," Leonard Jacobs a baseline liaison from Axcel Incorporated and one of the rare few who knows the truth about Erzabet Scratch's massive legitimate enterprise. "This area of the country is going to get very hot very fast."

"Ugh, what's your problem Leo," Candace Reynard said as she blearily stumbled around the corner clad only in a in an over-sized long nightshirt. "It's before nine o'clock on a Sunday let us sleep!"

"No can do kiddies, I have my orders- the Metroplex is likely going to be swarming with gun-toting radical Humanity First rednecks by the end of the day, the kind that are heavily armed with no qualms about shooting weird looking kids in broad daylight so up and at'em." Mister Jacobs began to explain to the group, "A mob of fundamentalist nut jobs lead by some crazy Southern Evangelist Preacher broke into two houses last night in Arlington looking for a mutant kid. Of course almost all of them got arrested, but as soon as people around here wake up every H1 fringe group in the next three states are going to see this as a rallying cry and be all over North Texas like ants on on a sweet-tooth's summer picnic."

"You need to understand, these yahoos will be the shoot first and let God sort them out types, the throwbacks to H1 in the 60's and 70's. This means that we need all of you on a plane to another part of the country before sunset unless you want us to keep you locked up here and have to smuggle you up to The Academy at the end of the month like you were smuggled out to Sicily and here to Dallas. Now wake up, get dressed and get packed, don't worry about cleaning anything up we'll handle that when we strip and sterilize the room tonight. Two armored limos will be waiting down in the garage at eleven-thirty (with a van for your luggage) to take you to Lovefield where a private jet will be waiting to take you to your next destination."

"So big guy just where are we headed," Rex Hallenbeck asked as he got dressed behind the screen to the guy's side of the loft. "I mean you can tell us that much at least."

"New York City, Axcell Incorporated has a small building in Southern Half of the Bronx that we repurposed and renovated from an old legally abandoned apartment building, it's mostly low-cost housing however we keep the top floor sealed and for our use. It's a nice tax write-off that we also use whenever we need to send people to the Big Apple, you'll be sharing rooms up on the top-floor until the end of the month. "In the last week of February you'll be escorted by us and flown from JFK to the Berlin Regional Airport in New Hampshire; from there you will join the rest of the New Spring Students on chartered buses to the Academy just outside of Dunwich, once there you will be on your own."

"You heard the man pack your stuff and shower grab a quick shower if you need one," Max said as he tried his best to get everyone organized. "If you’re hungry grab some leftovers from the fridge, otherwise pack your things as best as you can, if you run out of luggage use your sheets to make a kit and label them with the laundry markers. Now let's hustle everyone, we need to be out of here soon."

Sure enough, everyone started folding and stuffing like mad to get themselves ready to leave, so what if it was a week early, inconvenience was nothing in the face of a potential risk to life and limb. Especially to a group that had undergone torture at a highly illegal MCO black-budget facility.

Plainswalker's Safehouse
Fort Worth, Texas
10:17 AM

"So as you see Mister Bridges, thanks to Mister Welsh's actions the police arrived in time and in enough force to ensure that almost everyone involved was taken into custody." Mrs. Calloway explained to her client, "At present everyone involved, some 67 individuals including Reverend Tony Hargett and Miss Nicolosi's mother, are being charged with two accounts of breaking and entering, two accounts of vandalism, one account of felony aggravated assault, at least three accounts of attempted aggravated assault, one possible account of child endangerment, and multiple accounts of resisting arrest."

"Reverend Hargett is also being charged with willfully inciting a riot and a premeditated assault charge since organizing a mob of that size would take a while, as well as conspiracy. While Miss Nicolosi's father did not take part in the assault, he is being charged with obstruction of justice for failing to report the attack that his wife left home to participate in to the police right away as well as being an accessory. If the police uncover evidence connecting him to any possible groups such as H1, a charge of conspiracy might be levied against him as well. Even if the conspiracy charge proves false this still means that if he is found guilty he would be incarcerated for five years at least, this would mean that by the time he gets released Sherrie would legally be an adult."

"Since Miss Nicolosi's closest living relatives are in a senior care facility she will be legally declared a ward of the state; however if the suspicions of her being a mutant prove justified NEXT is willing to intervene and have her enrolled at the Whateley Academy, they have other students in similar situations where they are unable to go home." Maverick spoke up to give the law's stance on the unfortunate victim of this affair.

"Given Plainswalker's legal status as a member of the Dallas Defenders, who thanks to some effort by Maverick are now adjuncts of the Federal Justice Department as well as the status that comes from his legal occupation, the law is willing to see Sherrie Nicolosi's presence here as protective custody." Diane Calloway exlaborated taking over for her husband yet never breaking her air of professionalism, "If both of her parents are found guilty, we might have to see if she can be declared a emancipated minor due to the situation. Given the present status of the Mutant Commission Office, here in this part of the country a member of the Department of Paranormal Affairs will be flying in during the middle of the week. Once here he will legally test both Sherrie and your own daughter Heather's powers for their Mutant Identification Cards, given that they might be asked to give legal testimony in trials related to this incident."

"Thank you for telling me all of this, especially with Heather needing to have her MID." Jack Bridges said as he weighed the reality of his situation. "My wife and I have talking since this semester our other child will have to get her revised MID as well, I'm thinking about reactivating my commission with the army as a reservist. That way the two of them can receive a Military Mutant Identity Card instead of the normal MID."

"There is no need for that sir, if you received an honorable discharge you are considered retired and your children are allowed to apply for an MMID if they choose to do so... which I would recommend anyway." Maverick chuckled behind his mask. "If you give Mrs. Calloway your discharge papers, she can help you get the forms necessary to have this sorted out with the DPA."

Elsewhere down in the basement of the safehouse in the room where his son Sean had been reborn literally and figuratively as Randi, and Gretchen Franks had gained her freedom before walking down the path to becoming Heather Bridges three children slumbered. The two young mutants and their possible mutant friend lay sleeping all too unaware of what the adults in the room above them were discussing and that was probably for the best.

Whateley - Poe Cottage
1:19 PM EST

Let everyone else have fun today, working and keeping myself busy was a good thing, it gave me less time to let my mind wander and think about what was happening back home. I knew that everyone at home was safe for now, but right now people would see whoever did this as a visionary and the H1'ers in the state would start flocking to the DFW metroplex and turn North Texas into a three-ring media circus.

Still I had real work to do, while ancient rune tomes had a lot mentioned on spells that did all sorts of things electronic technology was nowhere on the minds of the folks who crafted these spells. So this meant that I would essentially crafting a spell from scratch, this meant that the Law of Precedent would be working against me and I had to rely on the Law of Similarity and the Law of Definition for this to work. While there had been nothing in the books about interfering with technology, there were many spells concerning lightning aka electricity as well as magnetism. This was tricky work that required me to correctly translate every rune involved in all of the spells that I had come across, and apply what I knew about electro-magnetism to create a hybrid spell that worked like a directed low-level electro-magnetic pulse. After that I'd have to translate the final product back into the original runic language, in the proper context, before inscribing it on the spent shotgun shell.

Of course since this was my own project Jane wouldn't help me do my work, and warned me ahead of time that she would only go over my work once I came to a conclusion and tell me that I made a mistake and what it was- not to mention what my final product would end up doing. Exactly where in my scroll I made the mistake, I would have to figure out on my own. The work of translating had eaten up all my free time yesterday and a good chunk of this morning, and reassembling the runes of the spells to achieve my desired outcome was meticulous and more than a little frustrating however it was satisfying even when I came to a wrong conclusion.

Now I had yet to find the right result that I was looking for although I did come up with some interesting spells that I labeled for later such as one that would magnetize anything with a decent iron content that it hit. Another interesting creation would temporarily scramble the voluntary nervous system making someone's body unable to move how they wanted it to move, that one really had some potential maybe I should inscribe it on a shell, of course I'd need to test it on a mid-range Regenerator to see the results without hurting anyone.

I was in the middle of my twelfth attempt when the phone rang I looked at the clock 3:00 PM, "Crap", I raced to the phone and picked it up, "Sorry for the wait I lost track of time with a project."

"Losing yourself in schoolwork sprout, the more things change the more they stay the same." I heard an all too familiar voice laugh.

"Hi mom, great to hear from you, I thought that you'd be at work right now."

"I was doing an install at a house in Mansfield, so I'm on lunch break; I trust your father told you most of what happened."

"Just what he knew at the time," I explained before asking, "So did they find out who was the group that did it, please tell me it wasn't The Silver-Barred Stars."

"Hell no, it was some nut job Baptist and his congregation, the holy roller actually has his congregation convinced that mutants are a demonic possession that can be cured by an exorcism."

"Get out of here," I actually began to laugh at the absurdity, "You mean some Phil Graham radio-evangelist actually thought that in this day and age, with all the science actually proving that mutation is the result of a gene complex?"

"Dear, there are people that still believe that the universe is no more than 10,000 years old and that Neanderthals lived with dinosaurs. And laugh all you want now, but you know that before you know it H1 and groups just like The Silver-Barred Stars will be coming to the metroplex to stir-up trouble." Mom stated a painful fact that I knew would be all too true. And given what Heather told us about Erzabet Scratch's organization it’d be like a clueless idiot kicking a forest full of hornet nests.

"In other words it’s a good idea for you guys to skip town for a while," I guessed about how things would soon be in the North Texas Metroplex. "So do they have any idea why a cuckoo evangelist and his congregation of sheep would come to the house of someone who's not even with their congregation and break into it like they expect to get away with it?"

"Heather's friend Sherrie Nicolosi manifested at her track and field tryouts yesterday, nothing spectacular or anything but she did beat Michael Johnson's record in the 200 meter sprint, something like that would have been fairly impossible for a girl still going through puberty. As it turns out her mother was a part of that cuckoo congregation, as well as a part of the mob that stormed our house and Mister Ward's, the police have already taken her deposition from lock-up and she said that until her daughter submits to an exorcism she is no daughter of hers and might as well be dead."

"Crap, what about her dad?" I asked fearing the answer, I mean granted I had never met the girl but I had seen to it that Heather was actually a very good judge of character, just painfully shy- something to which I could relate and part of why I felt close to her.

"While her dad didn't take part in the mob, but he also didn't call the police to tell them that an unruly mob of religious zealots was on the way to someone's house; so he's being charged as an accessory and having a charge of obstruction slapped onto that. As things stand she'll not likely see her parents until she's eighteen, understandably she's a more than a little shaken up by now, Heather and Mirabel Rando are trying to do their best to let her lean on them for the time being. Still everyone's agreeing that enrolling them at Whateley with you might be for the best right now, there are people their age their right?"

"I'll be honest the pool of junior high kids is pretty shallow here," I explained, "There is one girl Heather, Mirabel, and Sherrie's age- Clover and she usually hangs out with two girls about a year older, Palantir and Abracadabra everyone usually calls them the Three Little Witches."

Magic-users too I take it.

"Yeah," I confirmed her guess, failing to mention that the three were also a group of hyperactive little mischief-makers obsessed with getting enough essence to spark their abilities. "So out of curiosity what's Sherrie's ability?"

It looks like she's a power mimic although so far she can only copy animals. So any idea which dorm they'd be in for their schooling?"

"Well Poe is for special cases like me," I began to explain things to mom leaving out the rest of the secret, she might have had a few lesbian co-workers at Home Depot that she got along with fairly well but house rules were house rules. "Melville is where the movers on campus live or those with connections, and Hawthorn is only for those with serious problems, or who can't control their powers. So most likely they'll be put in Dickinson or Whitman, probably Dickinson since little girls are seen as inherently being cute. Whitman is usually reserved for girls with GSD or MATD, I have no idea about the rest of the qualifications that they use to separate out students."

"Fascinating but I think I'll save the nickel tour for when we visit next week after we meet you in New York, by the way Chuck has said that he's got tests in three classes early next week so he can't come. Since Jack and my parents can attend, this left us with four extra tickets for the ceremony; since then we've talked it over with Mirabel's parents and they decided to let her accompany us to the award ceremony. We've also okaying it with the District Attorney so Sherrie should be coming as well, they might think that its might be safer for them if they get out of the state for a while. This means that you can invite two of your friends to the ceremony in New York."

"I'll have to get back to you about this mom," I explained. "I have some people that I hang out with at lunch but I'll really need to think it over well."

"Okay dear, see you soon sweetie buh-bye."

"Mother's they always know just how to embarrass you," Jane stated as she flew from her perch to my shoulder, "But that's what makes them mothers."

"Like we'd have them any other way Jane," I said with a smile as I changed into my uniform and got ready for work. I had explained the circumstances to Ms. Henderson this morning when I told her that I would be a little late coming into work this afternoon and she okayed me being a little late since it was a family matter, but I still needed to get to work, she's had me cataloging Morrigan's donations since she's a little skittish around mystic tomes.

Beck Library
4:07 PM

At least not everything that Morrigan donated were mystic tomes, as it turned out she had written hundreds of books over her ridiculous long lifetime, and while a good number of them were associated with magic, she had also written a number of books that served as reference guides to a large number of mystic creatures of all five of the courts. She had written on history going back to the founding of the Five-Fold Courts and covering eras of human civilization about which most is lost today. As well as ancient texts that had been lost to man, she about two to three hundred years ago she had uncovered the locations of hundreds of texts in Egypt that that had been saved from the second burning of the Library of Alexandria, and also had them translated into Modern English, the originals however were stored somewhere safe.

She had also written down modern translations of ancient stories that have since been lost to time or corrupted by people sanitizing them in the name of the church. Case in point, her Songs of the Skalds, contained dozens of tales told by the Norse Skalds at the Ancient Scandinavian mead halls during the Middle Ages, it ever had an unadultered version of Beowulf. If that was not enough how about a complete and translated version of The Epic of Gilgamesh. Want an original version of The Ballad of King Arthur of the Britons it was soon to be in the stacks, of course after I had it entered that one into the system I placed a reservation on it for Beltane because she had asked me to earlier when she heard about Morrigan's donations. Ms. Henderson also had told me to place a list on various colloquial translations of Apocryphal and religious texts that Morrigan had donated on-hold for Reverend Englund; mainly due to the fact that he had wanted to review them for signs to see if the former Pagan Goddess had tampered with them in any way.

Some of the titles I needed Jane’s help with to classify them given that they were either obscure or unknown to modern men, one such case was now in my hands The Adventures of Zemta Flamecarver. "Hmm Flamecarver, hey Jane wasn't that Unfurth's clan name?" I asked in a hushed tone.

"Yes, and that's a very good read if I must say so," Jane whispered to me, "It's the tale of Zenta the founder of his clan, a Dark Elf who was adopted into clan Redbronze by Dlomr after her settlement in Svartalfheim was destroyed by Frost Giants in a raid. It's a tale of a girl from dubious origins rising to become a highly respected and revered individual, a few of her great-grandchildren are still around in the lands of the Wildfae where the dwarves resettled."

Hmm an inspirational tale of someone overcoming their origins and forging their own destiny, this got the wheels in my head turning, I entered the book into Beck Library's system, and set-up a reservation for Belphoebe Wilkins-Blackadar. It was a harmless action after all it was just the story of someone's life, she could take it as she wanted or just refuse to pick it up, it’s not like I was forcing her to read it. "Oh well back to work", I said as I got back to processing in the massive number of donations- starting with The Testimonials of Daedalus.

Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom - Chicago Chapter House
Chicago, Illinois
7:27 PM CST

Spite felt great as he went about his business after just getting back to town, he had just skipped over to Detroit four months ago, and came back after extorted four million big ones from one of the Board Members of General Motors. After infiltrating the man's house using some charmed mice and after lifting a few hairs off of his wife and daughter's hair brushes and laying a few surveillance charms on the house, cast a curse that had swapped their reproductive systems with those of a couple of queen cats that he stole from an animal shelter along with a tom for another reason.

Naturally they were blissfully unaware about what he had done- at least until the man's daughter went into heat. That was when Spite broadcast a image inside the house explaining what he had done and demanded two million apiece to lift his curse from the two of them be wired to him via iPayoff©, before shocking the family of three with the fact that the only reason that the wife wasn't in the same state as her daughter, was because she was having kittens and was due very soon. The transfer happened the next day, and Spite lifted his curse noting with some amusement that the formerly pregnant queen was no longer going to have kittens. Still he had skipped Mo-Town for Chi-Town long before any of the local heroes could track him down, and throw him in the bighouse.

Still he was glad to be back in town, and of course since he had already wired Harrow his take he could partake of the special amenities of the Chicago Chapter for a few months before leaving to run another extortion operation. Now it was true that the Chicago Chapter wasn't as glamorous at the New York Chapter or have the prestige of the Boston Chapter, but it did have its advantages such as Harrows Comforts.

The Comforts began as hopeful Illinois teenagers who came to some fronts of Harrow's that operated as local modeling or talent agencies. Once they were in his grasp Harrow would reap their willpower and get them to sign over their true names, once they did that he would take away pieces of their self until they would be compliant servants then returned some of their willpower to them; this made them compliant slaves to Harrow that he shared for a price. Not just ladies got this treatment, there were a number of young men Comforts as well which was one of the reasons Lady Jettatura spent just as much time at their Branch as her usual haunt in New York.

Not that he partook of them; Spite was always one for the ladies, especially when they willingly let him call the shots. Hmm, that brunette was new, he thought as he eyed a curvy young lady as she walked by in the usual Comfort uniform of open vest and thigh-length loin-cloth, "Might as well partake of the new addition to the local menu." He said as he followed the lady, who went into a door that he never remembered seeing.

Had he been more cautious he would have stopped right there, but this fact didn't matter to Spite whose lust was inflamed; he simply followed into this weird room with a black and red checkered pattern. He was startled as the door shut behind him, and the Comfort that he was following leaped to the ceiling- and stayed there, before calling out, "Hey Atonoz, bon apetit!"

It was then that Spite noticed the red-devil in the grey-striped zoot suit as he got up from the bench in front of a full-sized grand piano and grew larger until his horns nearly scrapped the ceiling. "What the hell!" Spite shrieked as he turned to run only to find a gang of black imps had tripped him before holding him down.

The devil known as Atonoz loomed over the Grand Hall extortion artist, like a mountain and all Spite could do was scream. Unfortunately, like the door he came through it remained unnoticed by his fellows at the Chicago chapter, as had the eight before him.

Ulthar, Dylath-Leen
The Dreamlands

Once again, I found myself in a dank and mist-filled land, hoping that I had gotten it right this time, I got up and looked around at my surroundings. Upon seeing the bizarre hodgepodge hamlet around me filled with blurry faced people and vibrant felines let me know that I was again in Ulthar, I had come back to The Dreamlands. "Alright I made it back on my second attempt, not bad if I have to say so myself."

"Indeed child, many who stumble into The Dreamlands by accident find it impossible to return." An old and familiar voice came to my attention.

"Hello Greyback," I acknowledged the former Sage of Queen Venraniel. "So have you been keeping busy?"

"Indeed I have cub, and I can see that you have too, I can see that you have changed in many ways from when I last saw you." Greyback said as I assumed my human form, "I apologize for my animus not being there to balance out Morrigan's anima child."

"Not to mention hiding the real truth about the Beta and his spirit." I stated causing him to wince.

"So you found out the truth have you, Greyback sighed.

"As well as just who he is now." I said with a bit of a growl, "And the fact that one of my worst nightmare's is his son. I also learned a lot from Morrigan given that our soul's were laminated together for almost a month, she was training me in my dreams, and ever since she got her body back she has Anu doing the real thing while she's on her second honeymoon with Dagda."

"Well child I have a lot to talk to you about and we have somewhere to go," Greyback said as he began to walk to the outskirts of the village.

"Why where are we going?" I asked the sage who taught much of his wisdom to the Pawnee.

"Towards one of the major points of your destiny child," Greyback stated, "You have already helped free the lonely sentry from her millennial vigil, now it is time for you to face another point."

"Whoa, I just got started doing this a month ago I said as I turned back into a wolf, what's the big hurry?" I asked.

"Events are in motion that makes you meeting this challenge sooner rather than later crucial." Greyback explained, "And do not worry if we are careful it will be far less dangerous than your last. Of course since you are here for a short time, this will take far longer than an afternoon."

Then Greyback took off and I ran after him while mental sighing, 'So much for the refuge of my new dreams as a refuge from reality, this will likely lead to many nights before I can have one again.' We had run for several miles all of the time with me looking at Greyback instead of at my surroundings- he might have had the ability to shield others from the brain-melting terror of cycle beings but I wasn't taking any chances.

Eventually a buzzing began to make the world fade, Greyback stopped as circled round, "This is as far as you go tonight, I will use my power to draw you here tomorrow, I will also begin-"

Monday, February 12, 2007
Poe Cottage
6:32 AM EST

I woke up to the buzzing again on the floor using a comforter as a pad, I wish I had stayed asleep long enough to let Greyback finish what he had to say I just knew that it was important. Still it was a school day and I had work to do, I stood up and stretched before changing back into my 'human' form, and after throwing on a towel heading for the shower line.

I was more than a little self-conscious when everyone turned their attention to me, as I walked in the Girl's Bathroom. "Well," Jade asked as she walked over to me, "You said that you'd tell everyone when you got the details, so what happened?"

As the line moved I explained to everyone exactly what had happened the night before yesterday at my family's home. By the time I was next Vanessa asked me upfront, "Randi who are the Silver-Barred Stars?"

"Imagine the bastard child of the worst Humanity First group from the 1970's and Hell's Angels," I began to explain about one of the nightmares of every mutant in the Deep South. "Also instead of protests and harassment these monsters use forced abduction and long-drawn out murder, they ride around like biker gangs usually in the Deep South. If they overhear a rumor of a place harboring a mutant in the town, that they're in at the moment, they break in drag the entire family living there out, and torch the house to destroy any evidence. Then they take their captive out into the middle of nowhere, cut them up, and leaving them for the scavengers. Of course no one ever knows if a biker group is really them unless a member is taken into custody and searched, apparently they all have a white-star inside of a circle with an red bar-cross tattooed onto their body on the right-side of their chest."

"There is no way that my parents would have ever been involved in financing a group of monsters like that!" Ayla said with his back to the rest of us.

"You'd be right there they likely get their money the same way the Hell's Angels do with home-brewed narcotics, that and they probably fence anything valuable that they find before torching a house that they break into," I explained. "They are monsters of the highest order; of course most places in the Deep South ignore them since all their doing is taking out mutants. The only places that they have to be careful are Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and New Orleans and that's only because Erzabet Scratch has a standing bounty on the head of every member."

"Just when you think the world is scary enough," Riptide grimaced at the thought of accidentally drawing the attention of anyone like that to her family. "Wait if you have to worry about someone like that, why your parents would let your little sis stay at home instead of sending her here."

"She's adopted, her old family was really dysfunctional," I hesitantly explained my family's reasoning to my fellow Poe freshmen. "And she spent two years being treated like dirt by one of the biggest scum bags in the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom; we felt that she needed to know that she had a stable family before forcing her to come here for the sake of her self-esteem. Now thanks to some holy-rolling self-righteous evangelist she won't have the chance, at least she's coming with a couple of friends I only hope that she knows that my parents are sending her here because they're worried about her."

"Well that and the fact that the heart of Scratch's organization is in North Texas, from what I know about her faction in the Grand Hall unless she's out on business she's likely to be in her office in the North Texas chapter of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom. And would you want to stick around in the backyard of a mystic kingpin that has a price on your head, in an area that she knows like the back of her hand, if she has such a thing then the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the heart of her Dominion."

Dickinson Cottage
6:57 AM

As Kerry headed out the door of Dickinson with Erze and Regina to join her classmates at Dunn Hall for Breakfast she was stopped by Mrs. Selkirk, "Miss Ellison before you leave, we had a letter come into you from New York."

Kerry almost groaned as she took the letter expecting it to be yet another plea from Father John Carmody to make a special appearance at St. Gregory's Church in Hell's Kitchen for Easter Mass. To her surprise the address was in Queens not Manhattan, and she did not remember meeting anyone named Gregor Novik before.

After doing a corner tear and pour she determined that there was nothing in the envelop except a letter, deciding to throw caution to the wind Kerry opened the envelope, after a quick scan for mind-slave spells using a crystal that Mister Lodgeman had given her before the semester began. The letter appeared clear, so Kerry unfolded it and began to read.

Return to Manhattan in one week and your powers will soar.
Fail to do so and your friend and her family will be no more.

Bishop Brimstone

After she had finished the signature on the end ignited, acting on instinct Kerry let go of the letter and envelope which had both been engulfed in flame instantaneously not even leaving ashes behind. Kerry ran to Dunn as fast as her legs could carry her, everyone was there at the table as she rushed in the door. However even in her hurry she didn't know how to approach this; not to mention that she didn't even know which one of her friends was in danger. Besides why would one of her friends go to New York City on a school night? Kerry calmed down it was probably an idol threat from the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom to catch her outside of Whateley in a panic, where she would be vulnerable.

Plainswalker's Safehouse
Fort Worth, Texas
10:17 AM CST

Heather woke to her second day in protective custody in Plainswalker's Safehouse with her parents and Sherrie. Currently her friend was in the down in the dumps; her father said that she was in stage four of the five stages of loss- depression. When she asked her father about the whole thing she outlined it for her: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

From what Heather had observed denial and anger had gone by very fast when Sherrie found out her mother and church congregation was behind both attacks and after her thinking that they could cure her of being a mutant. The bargaining had occurred when Mrs. Calloway explained the charges that the city had leveled against her father for his complacency in the incident, and said that there was nothing that they could do since the law was already involved and they were criminal not civil charges.

Heather meanwhile was upset for a different reason she was going to be sent to Whateley a year and a half early, naturally Heather was a little upset. "I knew that it was too good to last forever, don't worry I know that it's because I'm a weak little nothing. My dad always told me that I was just trash that was too much trouble to throw away."

Those words ignited a fury like a volcano in her new mom's belly, Rebecca shot up like a rocket stared Heather right in the eye and proclaimed, "Remember this now young lady and remember it well, wherever you came from in the past and whatever someone told you back then it doesn't matter. All that matter at this moment is that you are a member of the Bridges family now and we do not make trash and we do not take trash, we never have and we never will, and you child are most certainly not trash."

Rebecca sat back down now that she had gotten her new daughter's attention and then continued her lecture. "From what we have seen over this short time since we have gotten to know you is that you are far stronger than you would admit to yourself, and no I don't mean your power or abilities; there have been some very powerful people who have lived that were weak inside and you are not a weak person. Would a weak person have dared to spy on Erzabet Scratch or the Obsidian Circle? No! Would a weak person have put her life on the line to make sure that Carcharoth wouldn't have been able to lay claim to Plagiat's stolen treasure? No! Would a weak person have taken the time to save everything and everyone in her home when she could have just fled herself? Hell no! Because Heather you are not a weak person, the reason we are sending you to Whateley is because we are your parents and we want you to be safe because we love you."

This proclamation tore through Heather's moment of troubled agitation like a sledgehammer, for a minute she stood stock still. Soon Heather’s eyes filled to the brim with tears before she dove into her mother's embrace, bawling like she was gathering up every fear and apprehension that she had in her soul and was desperately forcing them out of her body. Before today she had hoped that she had found a home that would accept her and treat her like a person, instead she realized that she had in a very short amount of time found a family that wanted her as a part of it for now her doubts were gone.

"Now remember dear you will remain a Bridges and you are the only person that can decide to change that," her mother said as her smile turned into a smirk. "Preferably when you meet someone nice in a few years, and decide to bring them home with you to meet your father and I."

"Mom!" Heather groaned as her face and ears turned red at the thought of just what her mother was referring to just now.

"Now dear I am your mother now, and part of every parent's duty is to embarrass their children every once in a while." Rebecca said with a chuckle, "Now remember you can call home as often as you like, as well as our cell-phones. Your father and I also expect you and Randi to come home and visit for Summer and Christmas Break, remember just because the two of you are mutants it does not excuse from attending the Summer Reunion or the Family Christmas Party."

It still hurt a little to know that she would barely see her new family over the next few years, at least her new sister would be there for most of that time, and her friends were coming with her. Naturally her friends had their own thoughts about the matter of going to a private boarding school halfway across the country.

The state had made Plainswalker Sherrie's legal guardian for the time being, and he had insisted on sending her to Whateley both to learn how to use her powers and to keep her safe. At present given the mess with her parents, Sherrie was unsure about how to feel about the whole thing, other than sad that her dreams of competing in the Olympics one day were dust in the wind because of a cruel twist of fate. It wasn't like her friends were to blame either, Heather was born here in Tarrant County, while Mirabel was born in Round Rock and she was from Sugar Land, the only thing that brought them together in the first place was coincidence.

She was unsure about what to feel over going to Whateley, and was only hoping that getting away from her problems would make her feel better. At least the fact that Plainswalker had promised to take in and take care of her family's animals for her would help, she heard that he was planning to setup a small petting zoo next to the playground at his church.

Mirabel on the other hand had known that she would be going to Whateley for a while, her older brother Jacob Rando had graduated last year and was now interning with the Empire City Guard as B58. To tell the truth she was excited to go since her brother had told her about all of the cool classes that Whateley had to offer, besides she knew that her current powers were no good at combat, and everyone knows that mutants couldn't be doctors- still even the Justice Brigade needed a team medic.

But in the meantime the three of them had to get ready for their trip to the Big Apple at the end of the week, and Mirabel wanted to make sure that she and her friends had the kind of costumes to wow them, at the Waldorf=Astoria a week from tonight. That and maybe she could even talk Duck-it into giving them some holdouts- for self defense.

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4 years 4 months ago - 4 years 4 months ago #15756 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 5 Notes

Inner-Self Projection Curse -
A spell that causes all around the target to see you as you are as a person rather that as you look. A variation of the Reveal Inner-Truth spell, the Inner-Self Projection Curse latches itself onto one's aura to sustain itself like a mystic parasite. The only cures are either a brute force counter-curse, a careful unraveling of the spell, holy or divine cleansing magic, or for someone to genuinely declare love for the accursed. Unlike the old Beast-curse of Beauty and the Beast, this spell changes with the inner-self of the accursed individual thus it can actually show the accursed becoming a better person or a worse one.

The Silver-Barred Stars -
A Humanity First extreme fringe group that mainly operates as a network of criminal biker gangs in the Deep South that began during the Summer of 1981 in Alabama when a biker who went by Papa Torque (short for Papa Torquemada) broke from the mainstream H1 when he saw it starting to go too soft. The Silver-Barred Stars are known for break, snatch and grab operations of vulnerable mutants and their families which usually end with a few dead bodies found in fields far out in the middle of nowhere. Not only are they guilty of kidnapping and murder in the first degree, but in order to finance their operations they manufacture and sell a number of home-brew narcotics as well as fencing any valuables that they grab during abductions.
Still their actions have made them plenty of enemies, aside from the FBI's standing reward of $10,000 leading to the arrest of any General of the organization Erzabet Scratch's organization has placed a $500 dollar bounty on the head of every regular member and a $5,000 reward and instant face-card status to anyone who brings her a live general. While numerous member bounties have been collected, none have yet to claim the bounty on a general from either organization.
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4 years 4 months ago #16106 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 6[/b]

Poe Cottage
11:14 AM EST

This had to have been my twenty-fifth attempt at making the correct spell for my final project, although to tell the truth I'd have lost count if not for Jane, and my only significant discoveries were a paralysis spell and a nerve cross-fire spell; still I had to do this or I would have to retake the class. It also didn't help that I was running out of time, if I didn't get this spell finished by the end of the week I wouldn't have time to finish carving it and a few more before I had to give my presentation. I had figured that I would need five for a proper demonstration and I only had one shell completed, however I needed at least two and my mana-rifle to show that I had the proper grasp of the fundamentals down; the last three would demonstrate my understanding and comprehension of the use of the runes themselves- not to mention what it would do for my grade in the course.

So far, two of the useful mistakes I had made would be proper however, a directed EMP spell would likely earn me an A for my term project, and I had all but given up hope as I completed my latest attempt. "Well Jane, is this another dud?" I asked beginning to feel the weight of futility.

"Actually in theory this should be the correct one," Jane stated as my eyes went wide with elation, "That is it would if you could correct the calligraphy on the fifth rune on the third line you accidently made the stroke curve too far down and to the right.."

Thrilled by her explanation I got out a new sheet of paper and got to work, being careful to mind my work on the spell's calligraphy and using every ounce of concentration I had to keep from trembling with excitement. Finally, I had copied the spell from the previous attempt, making certain to correct the mistake, it took me ten minutes for this attempt alone but the research to get here had taken me four days. "And that should do it, now all I need to do is engrave the four spell-shells and my term project is done!"

"Yes, a commendable effort indeed my young colleague," Jane said with pride before adding. "However do not pat yourself on the back so early; until the shells are engraved and tested out your term project for Introduction to Basic Mystic Concepts remains incomplete."

"I know that Ms Obvious, it's just good to know that now I have a good idea of how to judge my pace, also now I also know to carve the inscriptions with a sculptor's knife instead of a wood-burner." I stated to the storm crow on my shoulder. "The trial and error was what really slowed me down when I made the frost shell, now that I know what I'm doing it should take me less time and help me better budget my time between the inscribing and the math course."

"Still I believe it would be best if we would tarry to Dunn for lunch," Jane stated before reminding me "You also need to decide who to invite as your plus-two for the award banquet in New York in one week."

"I've already decided to invite Jamal, if he wants to go into being a super-hero later on this would be a good chance to make some connections since the Empire City Guard might send someone to attend the party." I explained as I cleaned up a bit before heading out, 'As for my other one well, it would probably be a bad idea to invite Kerry, what happened to her there in December is probably still pretty raw to her and despite being an honorary part of the ECG I doubt that she wants to return anytime soon.'

That and I doubt that the Headmistress would let her go, Jane theorized as we left Poe for Dunn. She's far too well known in New York City and the reporters covering the ceremony would be asking how you know each other.

'How do capes ever know each other, we network and I also happen to have a convenient excuse, remember I know someone else who is an honorary member of the Empire City Guard- and it isn't Mega-Girl.' I said with a smirk, 'Besides I am going to explain up front why I'm not inviting her to not hurt her feelings.'

Then who, Jane asked as she rode on my jacket's shoulder through the cold and windy Monday morning. Joanne would hardly be interested in going to a white-collar affair, Steve would want to bring Marty along, and Eddie would make too much of a spectacle of himself to try to impress any other capes that attend. It would probably be too public for Erze, Konrad would hate it as another American opportunity for aggrandizement, and Robert, Renee and Baird would likely have other plans.

'I wouldn't dare to invite any of the Kimbas, that would be just asking for trouble, especially since I doubt that the Headmistress would even let them go any farther than Berlin after what happened in Boston last month.' I said as I furrowed my brow in frustration, 'Too bad Morrigan won't be back from her honeymoon until the week before Winter Break, I would ask the Valkyrian in a heartbeat just to mess with the presses heads when she'd show up at the ceremony. I wouldn't want to give Jericho the chance to use his wardrobe to try and create and international incident and Doc is probably too busy with her own projects.'

'I guess that I need to give it some more thought,' I broadcast to Jane as I walked into Dunn, early to lunch for once. 'Still I had better give Jamal and Kerry the news, I'm just glad that I've been able to keep this quiet, Ms Carson would probably ground me until summer if I let this get out of control.'

I wish that I could say that you were exaggerating, but you may not be far from the truth. For many here meeting with a world leader like this would be a once in a lifetime event, and of course we have also met many here that would love to exploit this opportunity for their benefit, even if the current French President is on his way out of office.

'Yeah,' I said as I bused our tray with some cafeteria quality Italian. 'The Next Olympians, the ex-Alphas, the Masterminds, the Goths, and who knows who else. Oh well,' I thought as I went to sit down at our usual lunch spot, 'Here goes something.'

As she approached the table she noticed everyone staring at her with a critical look, Joanne was the first to speak up, "Randi, why didn't you tell us that your home was attacked by Humanity First on Saturday night?"

I didn't need Jane to point it out that they felt hurt, I had hoped that these would be her first friends at Whateley, and I had failed to confide in them. "Because I didn't want anyone to worry about something my family was still working out; even now we are still finding out the details behind the attack, but the important thing is that everyone that was where I lived were all able to get out safely. The other reason is that this relates to a family matter that I don't want to wind up around school, especially in the wrong ears. If you want to find out the full story and have fifth period free I'll ask Ms. Henderson if we can use the Poe Dining Room to talk about this in private."

Lunch continued in an almost deafening silence until everyone was done, we still had about half an hour until fifth period, not that I really had any classes until Range Safety. Soon almost everyone followed me back followed me back to Poe Cottage, Baird and Erze had classes and Konrad didn't care, after explaining to Ms Henderson that I wanted to talk with my friends about something's what happened last Saturday (and some private matters) she let us into the first floor dining room provided everyone signed in at the front.

As soon as everyone sat down, I began to explain. "Now as you know not long after I manifested I participated in a duel with a Grand Hall heavy-weight named Carcharoth and won the ability to make other people and their loved ones off-limits to him, but he had help in that duel from another member of the Grand Hall. That individual was a warlock named Plagiat and what I won off of him were the true-names of everyone that he'd enslaved."

This revelation drew a shocked expression from Kerry, given that we learned about true names last week in class, "After I recovered from the battle I turned his slaves loose although with most of them being mystic beings so they had to repay in kind, that's where I got my tunic, boots, sword and a number of other odds and ends. One of those slaves however was a young mutant girl, someone that had run away from home after she manifested at an abnormally young age because her father was die hard H1; unfortunately she soon found herself at the mercy of child snatchers from the Goblin Market."

"Plagiat bought her there and put her to work for two years helping him get in and out of secure locations, spying for him and stealing whatever he wanted. After talking with the DA my parents adopted her when she turned over the stolen goods that Plagiat still had in his possession (baring of course those that he had stolen from other members of the Grand Hall, legally owned, or were magic in origin), that was the truth behind my sister Heather."

"Wait a minute if she's a mutant why didn't your family send her here?" Eddie asked trying to get a grasp on the situation. "Didn't they care about her safety?"

"Of course they do," I stated giving Eddie a dirty look for even saying that, "But they wanted her to have some emotional stability first. She spent the last two years of her life being the slave to a scumbag who treated her like dirt and her biological father wasn't much better. Since her powers are very easy to hide and she looks so normal that you couldn't tell that she was a mutant, my parents decided to wait until she graduated junior high to send her here- at least they did until Saturday night when circumstances happened that are likely to make it very dangerous around our home town and much of the nearby cities. This weekend she was supposed to be having a quiet slumber party with two of her friends at our house, until events made that impossible."

"What happened was that one of my sister's friends manifested during track and field practice before the party, her family is part of a congregation lead by one of those crazy Southern Evangelists that you always hear about doing stupid things on the news." Joanne and Steve both suppressed their laughter at that remark while Kerry rolled her eyes, "They stormed one of our neighbor's homes looking for the girl to 'exorcise the devil that had possessed her.' Fortunately, they got the wrong house and the neighborhood watch gave me family a heads up which let them evacuate the house using my sister's power and some of Plagiat's old gimmicks. They're in a safehouse in Fort Worth right now and Heather and her friend will be starting classes here in March alongside Merrimac and Mockn'bird's daughter."

"Well it's good that nobody got hurt," Kerry said as she relaxed fearing the not that she had gotten from Bishop Brimstone that morning.

"Yeah, although Heather was going to be visiting soon anyway; one of the items Plagiat had stolen and kept over the years turned out to be Joan of Arc's sword; he had Heather steal it from a townhouse in England." I explained this little bit shocked almost everyone in the room, except for Steve who didn't seem to recognize the name. "We tried to keep this quiet, except that the State Department wants Heather and I to attend a ceremony in New York where the President of France is going to award us each with the Order of Merit. Since they didn't know that Heather and I were sisters (and our brother doesn't want to attend) so we each get to invite two extra people to the ceremony."

Before anyone could ask, I stated firmly, "Now keep in mind that anyone I ask would have to attend in costume and mask though since the press will be there. Now Steve I thought that it would be unfair to invite you without your girlfriend, besides I doubt that you want to play meet the parents yet." Steve lowered his hand and sat down with a somewhat sheepish look on his face. "Eddie until you design a real costume and pick an appropriate codename because the press will ask you, the answer is no. Regina I doubt that you would want to have paparazzi attention besides this is on a Monday night and you'd likely be exhausted the next day. Joanne I thought that you would be bored stiff at a formal party like this, I know that I'd want to avoid it if I could," Murphy nodded with a smile telling me that I was correct in what she would consider dull. "Robert I know that you would do great at this type of party however I don't want to create any tension between you and Nacht."

"I appreciate how you weigh the feelings of the fair maiden Katrina while making your decision my lupine compatriot," Robert said with his usual panache.

"You're welcome Robert," I said almost chuckling at how thick Robert always lays everything on, "Now Kerry I would have asked you however given that everything that happened to you in Manhattan last December is bound to be pretty raw to you, I wouldn't want you to feel uncomfortable with returning there so soon."

"No Randi," Kerry sighed, "I might as well face my problems sooner rather than later, and now's as good a time as any besides, I'll be fine as long as the Grand Hall doesn't know that I'm there until after we're already on our way back."

"That reminds me Kerry," Jane explained. "Morrigan wanted to show her appreciation for how you helped take care of Randi after the Goth's abducted her, so she commissioned for a friend of ours to adjust and modify an old suit of valkyrie's armor that we had laying around as a surprise gift. Randi if you get out your notebook and a pencil may I borrow your hands?"

I did as Jane asked and went into a trance as she took over my hands to sketch out Kerry in the outfit that Morrigan had asked Unfurth to modify. When I could feel my hands stop moving I opened my eyes, I saw what everyone else did, a sketch of Kerry wearing a very tasteful one-piece suit armor, which began at the collarbone and covered everything. The sketch included a pair of flat-heeled boots, with a braided design open fingered gauntlets, a cross-winged skirt, and an ornate circlet that mimicked an angelic halo with a mask that looked like it was made from two wings that cover the face (yet had holes for the eyes). If it had, the wings Kerry could summon, along with her sword and shield I would swear that I would be looking at a warrior angel.

"Man Kerry, could you imagine it you looked like that when you fought Ymir?" Jamal said aloud as Kerry looked at the photo with a level of awe.

"This is going to be mine?" Kerry asked with a bit of uncertainty in her voice.

"It shall be yours if you want it to be," Jane explained, "It is payment for services rendered that doesn't mean that you have to wear it, unless you want to do so."

"Ah, I'll see after I try it on," Kerry said somewhat sheepishly, while the sketch looked amazing, some things just didn't work in real life.

"Well that solves my problem for me, now all I need is to invite a gentleman to escort both of us ladies to the ceremony." I said, as Buck looked ready to spring at the potential invitation. "So how about it Jamal would you mind escorting the two of us to the party?"

Buck almost fell backwards in shock as Jamal answered, "Sure, I'll just have to get a costume together, and can you ask Chaka and the Kimba's if they can help me out there."

"What? Why'd you ask Jamal?" Buck said in exasperation, "What does he have that I lack?"

"Restraint," I said while glaring at my classmate from Basic Firearms Safety. "This is going to be a ceremony with VIP's including the Secretary of State and the President of France; we don't need you causing an international incident while trying to show off your latest invention. Come on man learn a little tact, I mean a Gauss Rifle and a Hand Laser on Range-1, you need to get permission to use the right Ranges to test these things."

"But they won't let me because-" Buck said in his defense.

"Because you were waving around a devise shaped like a pistol during orientation to brag about something you invented before you got here and then got in trouble for it, you need to learn a little impulse control its one of the reason that we're here." Regina said in exasperation, "You're supposed to be an engineer or a scientist, there are precautions in place for a reason and if you filled out the right paperwork after you pass basic firearms safety they'd let you use the ranges setup to handle these sorts of things."

"But-" Buck squeaked out as the normally shy member of their group laid down the law.

"But nothing," I said putting my foot down, "Renee is right Buck you need to learn a little restraint, before you accidentally blow something up... or someone, seriously some of our classmates are still growing their eye-brows back!"

"Ah-ha I understand it now, the sorcerous temptress wants me to give up on science entirely." Buck said as he poured on another bowl of drama flakes.

"No Buck I just want you to start using the same lab precautions that the other gadgeteers and devisers at the school use," I said as I groaned with my face in my palm. "Just take a few precautions and save the zeal for when you're not on the firing range, remember the ranges are for practice, keep the attitude in the Arenas or the Sims when you're supposed to have on your game face. Remember you want to pass that course otherwise Sergeant Wilson won't clear you to use the Devisor Labs to create anything cool other than support gear." Buck seemed to deflate at my comments like a child who'd been caught with his hand in the cookie jar and gotten his knuckles snacked for the effort.

"Cheer up Buck, you said something about making some cool holdouts for me, since we're going to New York City and Kerry's an Honorary Member of the Empire City Guard maybe I could put something that you made through its paces in their training room where Doctor Thunder will see it." Jamal interjected causing Buck to perk up at the thought of something of his being seen by the scientist and leader of the ECG. Now that he saw that Buck was starting to regain some steam, Jamal decided to ask for some more information on the event. "So where's the ceremony going to be held, in the French Consulate?"

"Nope there's no space for the press there, this will be at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in the Starlight Roof Ballroom, try to mention that to the Kimba's when they help with your outfit- maybe they'll make something that will look more like a pro's costume. And everybody try to keep what I've told you to yourselves, as far as my family's concerned Heather is as much a part of our family as my brother and I are." I explained as everyone left to go to their next class, 'Well Jane that went well now back to work on our shells.'

As Jane followed me back to our room she inquired, So Frost is completed and you are definitely going to do Haywire, what about the other three spell choices?

'I think I'll go with Heat, Paralysis, and the Muscle Confusion spell.' It seems like a good assortment of non-lethal spells although I'll need volunteers to test some of them out.' I set this thought to the side as I got to work on the Muscle Confusion shell.

Dreamlands - Chasm of Faces

It's been two nights since we left Ulthar, we were now in the first of the major dangers of our travels the Chasm of Faces, of course this was a home to a type of demon known as the Face-Thieves. Anyone who's every seen Avatar: The Last Airbender would recognize these SOB's as the inspiration for Koh, a spirit monster in the first season, as it turns out the artist was spot-on for his interpretation, these things looked like bloated anaconda-sized centipedes who like displaying the faces of their victims as their own with the voices to match.

The major danger of these things is that if you showed emotion around them they could steal your face, fortunately, a wolf has a very good poker face, and it also helped that you could easily ignore them if they tried to get a rise out of you. Moreover, to get to where Greyback's friend was we had to traverse along the floor of the whole damned chasm with these monsters trying to get a rise out of us.

The first leg of the chasm they tried using fear to freak me out, granted I was in wolf-form right now and I don't show an expression unless I want to do so. Of course, it also helps that there are only three things that I'm actually scared of and only two of them have faces. Since The Hangman is undead so I doubt that he dreams and I'd love to see these vermin try to swipe the face of the Wolf of Ragnarok, and Fenrir would likely swallow them whole the moment that they tried anything.

As we had passed the mid-point they began trying to piss me off, and they were doing a good job at it. They began assuming the faces of their most innocent victims and crying out to friends and loved ones for help and comfort. I was doing my best to ignore them, but it was certainly hard so I simply let my mind wander as I walked along trough the Chasm floor behind Greyback.

"Help me mommy it hurts!" "Daddy, daddy I'm scared!" "My darling, where are you? Please save me!"

All around me a hundred voices of women and children begged and pleaded in futility, but I knew that these were crocodile tears and the cries for help were really the growls of the Face-thieves starving belly's. The priests of their usual haunting grounds in the Orient had long ago figured out how to ward against their intrusion and these creatures had since retreated to the Dreamlands in hopes of catching easier prey, only to find themselves easy prey for the Nightghaunts who had no faces. Ever since they had secreted themselves within this chasm and had taken to scavenging, these were starving beasts, and given that the exit was within sight, they would be starving for a while longer. Not wanting to imagine what they would throw at me as an act of final desperation, I shut my eyes and continued walking forward.

Suddenly I ran into something I opened my eyes to find that we had exited the chasm and that Greyback had stopped right in front of me, "Wise move pup, the last two had chomped some byakke, seeing those would have freaked you out for certain." Greyback explained before stating, "This is as far as we travel today, beyond this wretched place is the Caverns of the Ammit, the heart-eating beasts, we might as well take this time to stop and for me to teach you what I can."

"Now child," Greyback said as he sat down, "As Morrigan has been teaching you the ways of combat and magic, I shall teach you the ways of Shamanism and the Elements."

"I thought that your powers were of the mind," I said as I tried to regain my composure after the experience with those horrid creatures, and the thoughts of even more horrid creatures to come.

"Those are also powers that I cannot give to you as you are now," Greyback explained. "With Morrigan's final gift your powers are now stabilized, your abilities as a shape-shifter may mature with time and your power with magic might grow however I is unlikely that attain powers that you do not have at present. Of course, I am merely teaching you how to harness abilities that you already have yet are unable to use because you lack the knowledge of how to do so at this time. Now these abilities relate to your totems and your heritage."

"You mean with me being a Scorpio and a Sheep," I said stating my Zodiac symbol and my birth year according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

"I said your totems and your heritage, you have no Han or Caledonian bloodlines in you child." Greyback sighed, "According to your Celtic heritage your totem is the wolf, which was no coincidence, according to the Celts the Wolf is an Earth symbol. Now you also have some Native American Heritage mainly from the Pawnee with a little Algonquian far in the distance, they read your totem as the serpent, a sign of both earth and water. Moreover your moon sign is that of The Hunter, which you are already gravitating towards with your costume; granted that you were reborn under the Wolf Moon."

"So I'm basically some type of muddy chimera?" I asked somewhat confused, not an unfamiliar feeling when talking to Greyback, who am I kidding the old wolf at times comes across as being as deep as a bottomless pit.

"It means that you have alternative sources of mana and essence to tap, other than that which is afforded you by being a faerie half-breed. An earth totem means that you can tap into ambient energy much like the roots of a tree draw nourishment from the ground, you can draw energy from things such as the ground beneath your feet and the moon in the sky." Greyback explained.

"You mean like a werewolf?" I asked somewhat a little confused by the conversation.

"Not exactly it has more to do with harnessing energy than changing form, which you do anyway." Greyback chuckled, "Now having a water-totem means that you can draw power from flowing sources, although with this you have to be careful some flowing sources are far too strong for you to control. For example, the Ley Lines movement is the ultimate flowing source, not the Ley Lines themselves of course but the flowing energy they create; however, that would only be a goal. There are ways to practice though, the Ley Lines do have tributaries and eddies those you might be able to harness. Still I say your best bet would be to access the tributaries for now."

"Or avoiding them entirely," I shivered at the thought of accessing Ley Lines even if it was only the flowing energy created from them and their tributaries, it would be like trying to run a toaster off of a high-tension wire.

"Keep in mind that I am speaking of eventualities child," Greyback stated trying to hammer across his point. "Remember your ability for magic might be small at present, but remember you are still very young as a demi-fae your life might well be measured in centuries. Take the time to take baby steps in these matters they will slowly pay off in the long run, and speaking of time ours is up for tonight, I will see you again tomorrow night."

The Dreamlands began to fade to white as the buzzing of my alarm clock drew me to the waking world.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Outside Plainswalker's Safehouse
Fort Worth, Texas
8:19 AM CST

"Okay ladies," Jack called out of the his minivan, "Chester, Statler and Waldorf are at the kennel and we're burning daylight, and have to meet Mirabel over at City Hall for our appointment with the guy from the Department of Paranormal Affairs."

"Okay dad," Heather called out as she and Sherrie hauled their bags out to the van, "You do have our files that Duck-it put together right?"

"Two notarized rudimentary power assessment files and one officially notarized and sealed rudimentary power file, each with all appropriate documentation to turn in to the Federal Government, you packed your costumes right?" Jack asked only to receive thumbs up from the two girls. "Now remember we can't leave anything behind we've been encroaching on Plainswalker's hospitality far too much, so do you have everything in your magic bag so that we can leave it with Grandpa in Tricoma when we visit?"

"Of course dad, we have everything ready, so let's go get our first MID's made." Heather said as she sat down in the middle seat of her dad's minivan, part of Heather couldn't believe that she was actually excited about this then again it was another piece of proof that her old life was behind her and that she was a part of her new family.

"How about you Sherrie," Jack asked, "Are you all set?"

"I guess Mr. Bridges of course after what happened I want a little time away from Tarrant County to think." Sherrie said still feeling the pain of the last few days, along with the fact that both of her parents were looking at jail time for separate offenses.

"Don't worry Sherrie, I've been talking with the administration at Whateley," Rebecca said as everyone buckled their seat-belts, "They have councilors and support groups there if you need them, and Heather and Mirabel will be there to help you as well."

"My sister Randi also emailed me the name of a student that had something similar happen to her," Heather explained, "Well her code name anyway- she goes by Diamondback and she's from over in East Texas, her friend Jericho is the one that Uncle Huey is making that custom guitar for."

"I don't know whether to call that fortunate or unfortunate," Rebecca sighed as she shook her head wondering just how many children had suffered like Sherrie and this Diamondback girl had, on second thought maybe she was better off not knowing something like that, it would only make her more worried about her children. At least Sherrie and her friends were going to be meeting with someone from the government and not a private organization with no oversight like the MCO, then again after Randi's prior experiences with the MCO she would hate to be in the shoes of an agent that had to be in the room with Randi.

Shuster Hall
1:05 PM EST

Agent Cullen from the MCO cowered in the corner of the room as the two students restrained the girl, who had snapped after one of his questions. He knew that it was company policy to pick away at weak spots to get mutants to crack and reveal more that they can shove on their card- unfortunately he had pressed the wrong button by talking about the girl's family.

"Common Jolt," the girl helping to restrain her classmate said as she strained to hold back the other girl who was like a vessel of righteous fury, a force of nature incarnate.

"I- ughh am," the aforementioned Jolt said straining. "I just had no idea that she was this strong in this form!"

"Aren't you going to help restrain her too?" Agent Cullen asked the sophomore-level student that was asked to stand in as a legal counsel for the trio.

"Not a chance." Loophole said with a stone-faced expression, "Ah was asked ta provide legal counsel not security. Also your manner of grilling a student who you were not brought into interview has overstepped your legal bounds for the course of an interview between a minor and a member of a private security company, as well as the operational charter that the Whateley Academy has with the Mutant Commission Office. In light of all these pieces of evidence Ah will have ta be filing a complaint about this incident with the oversight committee as well as confiscate your notes ta present ta them. You have the folders necessary to issue the MID's for the students who are present, and will be allowed ta file them with the appropriate authority's of course."

Understandably, Agent Cullens took his notes and bolted from the room while the two had their fellow student restrained. The girl helping Jolt restrain her classmate while she cooled down grunted out, "Come on Seraphim we know that you couldn't help what that Priest used you for but that is no reason for a question like that to make you fly off the handle like that."

"Easy for you to say Faolan," Seraphim huffed as she began to regain her composure. "You don't have creeps like this who insist that you have a god-complex and enjoy being venerated like a divine being, when the entire time you were being exploited by the Catholic Church for their personal benefit to bring up attendance records."

"I should hope not," I laughed despite the sore spot where she had elbowed me earlier. "I'm a Methodist; Jolt is closer to being a Catholic than I am."

"Presbyterian isn't that close to Catholicism Faolan," Jolt quipped back, "We just like to build like we are."

"Okay I'm good," Seraphim stated from under the two of us. "Jolt, Faolan you can get off of me now."

"Sorry Seraphim but this here is time out," Loophole said as she leaned back in her chair. "They stay on top of you, until Headmistress Carson hears this little tape Ah have been recordin' of this here meetin' and decides what ta do about it."

I didn't need to see Kerry's face to know that she was not looking forward to what Lady Astarte had to say about this little blow-up.

Fort Worth City Hall
1:17 PM CST

Jack Bridges waited in his minivan with a copy of the latest John Grisham novel, but the truth of the matter is that he was worried. Life was full of too many what if's lately, for his two youngest one of whom had a year and a half of time stolen from her time with her family, also could they make it with their plans without a problem.

Once this meeting was over they would high tail it to Tricoma, wait there for a few days with Rebecca's family while the girls waited for their MIDs to get FedEx'd to Tricoma City Hall. After the girls received their MIDs and Heather got her MMID, then it was a matter of catching their flight from Rick Husband Amarillo International to Memphis International and then switching to a flight to head to LaGuardia in New York to get there for Randi and Heather's ceremony.

Still the waiting was always the hardest part in these things, heck Jack may have been in the military but he was a file clerk true and while he had gone through ROTC he was always better with making sure the ship was running right and that morale was up. Leave combat to those who enjoy things like that, while he did make Captain before decided not to reenlist and left to go to Grad School, he was always more on the administration angle call it a lack of nerve in sending out people to die.

Of course, here he was with his youngest biological son, now daughter thanks to a bizarre twist of fate was started to show signs of a carrier in the capes and masks set simply because trouble was having a way of finding her. As for Heather his daughter by adoption well she was a little young to decide what she wanted to do, despite her friend Mirabel already wanting to be a healer, still he hoped that she was still able to find enough time to be a kid while at boarding school.

Jack sighed as Rebecca finally lead Heather and Sherrie along with their friend their friend Mirabel, who would be with them until he dropped the three off at the Whateley Academy, still he would feel better when they were all out of the DFW Metroplex. The fact was that a few groups of bikers had been spotted heading through Arkansas going West yesterday, and he would bet dollars to donuts that they were those psychopaths the Silver-Barred Stars. If it was that damned hate group of bikers was header for Arlington, then given Erzabet Scratch's original seat of power is in the Metroplex (if not spread all over the Metroplex), then this would turn into a full-scale bloodbath. True Chuck was staying in town with friends but despite what people said about his eldest that boy had a knack for staying out of sight when he wanted not to be found.

Whateley - Dunn Hall
5:35 PM EST

The rest of us looked on as Kerry sat down at the table with us; no one was saying a word. Sensing the source of the silence Kerry looked at us and said, "Ms Carson said that although it can't be considered a fight since I never touched him, that whole aura of divine wrath that I manifested was inexcusable. I'm still going to be allowed to go to the gala; however as punishment when the new junior high girls arrive right afterwards I'm going to have to chaperone them around campus during my free periods until Spring Semester, and then anytime they go off campus during the weekends until further notice."

"Don't worry Kerry," I said trying to get her hopes up. "My sister is pretty well mannered and Mi- oh sorry Nightingale grew up learning how to behave from two generations of super-heroes of Texas more responsible super-heroes."

"It could be far worse," Buck, said in a somewhat more subdued manner, he was still on punishment detail for the heat-laser incident until Friday cleaning up in Hawthorne- I understand today they made him clean-out the filters of the tank of someone called Fubar. I wouldn't know I never went near Hawthorne, don't get me wrong I don't have anything against GSD'd students; however every time I stopped by to try and say hello the smell of the place would overwhelm me.

"It could be worse," Renee shrugged, "Ms. Carson could have made you take over for Solange in watching the Three Little Witches."

Kerry's eyes went wide at that thought, and I understood why- don't get me wrong Clover, Palantir and Abracadabra were sweet kids, they were just way too enthusiastic about obtaining essence to jump-start their abilities to let them do cool stuff. Ironic considering Jane was suppressing my fae mystic abilities until I learned enough of the fundamentals to get a firm handle on my own abilities at a human level which was even more ironic considering that at night Greyback was teaching me how to tap into sources of essence available to anybody of the proper heritage.

Still if it worked I could use my mana-rifle even if I had my powers cut-off by cold iron, imagine how that could work out the next time that I went toe-to-toe with a power-mimic, me using training and the proper-holdouts both to overcome my own weakness and exploit it in my opponent. Still what are the odds that I'd have to fight a power mimic any time soon, of course I'd just as soon avoid that sort of situation entirely, after all it worked out so well for Team Kimba in Boston when most of them wound up duking it out with Mimeo.

Thursday, February 15, 2007
La Rochelle, France
8:04 AM CET

Professor Id stood up before the rather sizable crew that he had assembled for this event, a motley assortment of upper and middle level super-villains, several handpicked Syndicate Tiger Teams, and of course his own friends. "Friends, colleagues and assorted ne'er-do-wells I thank you for accepting my auspicious invitations to attend my latest soirée into teaching the upper-crust of high society just what humanity is truly about."

"The event in question, to which many of us will be inviting ourselves, is Goodkind International's Quarterly Charity Fundraiser I do believe this year the subject in question will be fund-raising for poverty relief in North-eastern Africa, as if any supplies ever make it in past the several dozen warlords and guerrilla groups in the area to any civilians." Professor Id chuckled all too aware of the actual situation over there unlike those hosting this event.

"I think that these most jaded of individuals are in dire need of a harsh dose of reality, which is the reason for our attendance. The Event itself will be occupying the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York on Monday Evening. Now naturally given that it will be in New York City as well as hosted by the Goodkind's certain elements might object to our presence- such as the Empire City Guard and the Knights of Purity of course- that is why I brought in you fine upstanding gentlemen."

"Mimeo you will have the fine honor of waylaying the Empire City Guard," Professor Id motioned to the king of power mimic who looked like he had just swallowed a lemon to have been suckered into the participating in one of the vile Professor Id's schemes. "Of course I cannot ask you to go away empty handed, I have personally wired a down-payment for your services into your Karedonian account and of course you may take home everything that you manage to abscond with while keeping Doctor Thunder's fine comrades at your tender mercies."

"Slither you will be tasked with infiltrating the mobile deployment unit for the Knights of Purity," Professor Id said indicating the professional infiltration artist who could render himself silent and undetectable at will. "Moreover your task will be to sew devises that Fritz will supply into the power armor, weapons, and communications equipment of the Knights of Purity themselves at a time of your discretion provided of course that it is several hours before they deploy at the hotel. Also they you are to sew these vials into the canteens of the Knights who will be working as security inside of the hotel proper. Naturally your portion of the assignment will be the most dangerous to your person ergo your reward will be the greatest."

"Fritz your assignment will be to take the Knights of Purity for a nightlong joyride around Manhattan," the giant of a mastermind said indicating the final solo operator brought in to attend their little operation. "Do whatever you wish with their armor; make them obey your every whim preferably when the knights are trapped inside and at your mercy. Whatever you wish to do with them just ensure that they are far away from the hotel and that they remain so for the entirety of the evening."

"Still dear there is a fly in the ointment," an almost otherworldly sensual woman from the back stated as she sashayed forward. "The Waldorf=Astoria Hotel has two ballrooms the Grand Ballroom which occupies the first four stories of the hotel, and Starlight Roof Ballroom on the eighteenth floor. The same night as Goodkind International's Charity Fundraiser, the President of the fine nation we are currently in will be hosting an Award Banquet. This banquet is where my sources tell me that he will be presenting two young mutants with the Order of Merit for retrieving a national treasure of France that was presumed lost or destroyed during the end of the Hundred Years War. Surely there are some fellow capes who will be attending the Award Banquet, we must make for certain that they do not leave their Ballroom as well."

"What would you suggest that we do about this potential complication my dear Mania?" Professor Id hummed to himself, as he asked his beloved's suggestion on how to take care of a certain nuance.

"Why giving the other guests at the banquet the honor of taking part in your experiment as well." Mania smiled in glee. "Now we lack any real intelligence on one of the medal recipients, this Apparitia is apparently so young that she's a relative non-entity; however the other recipient Faolan is a student at Mimeo's former Alma Mata, I have also learned that she is apparently the apprentice of the Valkyrian. This makes it possible that she might be attending the Banquet as well, so we need to make for certain that they be kept, busy for the remainder of the evening so as they do not interfere with our goings on in the Grand Ballroom."

"And I suppose that your little outstanding grudge against the Valkyrian has nothing to do with this." Professor Id mused at his beloved little plan.

"Well I cannot help but say that it would be a fringe benefit of my plan; however who is to say that we cannot have our cake and eat it too." Mania stated as she flashed a smile that was far too perfect to ever be real, and yet still shown with her dark malice for all to see.

"Very well rather than a single test study, let our experiment be a comparison and contrast study." Professor Id began to chuckle, "Let us see who shows their true self in the face of adversity and fear."

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