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Faolan 4: Rites of Passage

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4 years 4 months ago #16509 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 7




Dreamlands - Caverns of the Ammit
?

Let the record state that Greyback's friend had better be worth it to come out here and visit her because as much fun as the Valley of Faces had been the Caverns of the Ammit were proving about as entertaining as having my stomach pumped...from the opposite end. Wait let me guess you don't follow what I'm saying, understandable since this is my dream diary (something mom had packed with my stuff before I left home) and if I catch anyone reading this without my permission I'd strip them down to their starkers, pack them inside of a partial snowman outside of Melville and let fate take its course.

For those of you who don't know, the Ammit are a beast that has been known to mankind since the days of Ancient Egypt which had the front end and mane of a lion, the back-side of a hippopotamus, and the head of a Nile crocodile. This monster was the final fate of those who failed the judgment of the hypercritical goddess Ma'at. She would have Anubis balance the heart of the one to be judged against one of her feather's those that were found to be too heavy with sin were thrown to an Ammit to devour, (or in some texts into a lake of fire) causing the dead to die a second time and become wandering souls. Naturally this creature was not worshiped, most viewed it as a demon under the dominion of the ancient gods of Egypt, still according to the Egyptians there was only one of these snarling soul-munching beasts- if so then what the hell was chasing me.

Now according to Greyback the Ammit were actually native to the Dreamlands and preyed on any who had darkness that they smelled, indeed even the ferocious Ghasts and the savage Zoogs were food to the Ammit, these were one of the Super-Predators of the Dreamlands. Of course I really wish that a dozen of these f*cking super-predators weren't chasing after me growling with their mouths wide. For those who want to to know how big freaking the damned Ammit are, watch that Walking with Monsters mini-series from the BBC and pay close attention to a prehistoric mammel named Andrewsarchus, the Ammit are that big, including the size of their freaking crocodilian mouths.

Unfortunately for its size these monsters were very decent runners; fortunately for me what they weren't good at was zigzagging. Say what you will about wolves not being the biggest predators on any continent or the fastest, but we married speed, stamina and agility down to a pretty nice combination. In all this was good because these nasty nightmare-spawned monsters were after me to tear me to shreds and if they did it would probably leave a damned scene in my dorm room that would make my real body look like Freddy Krueger's sloppy seconds- if there was anything left which I doubt there would be.

Now you might ask why not climb over this problem just avoid going through the caverns entirely, well we could- heck the original plan was to skirt the caverns without risking the tunnels themselves, of course, we had a very good reason to take this dangerous detour. You see over was not an option due to a flying creature called the Sleyqk that have the neck, wings, legs and talons of condors and the head, body and abdomen of tarantulas and are about the size of a bobcat. Now these creatures while not too large a threat on their own as they are for the most part scavengers, they do like to nest on massive bluffs in the Dreamlands- in massive colonies, bluffs like those found above the Valley of Faces and the Caverns of the Ammit.

Unfortunately, many in the Dreamlands regard these creatures’ eggs as a delicacy; the Men of Leng of course will naturally do anything to make money, such as try to steal eggs from a slumbering Sleyqk. Of course we were about as fortunate as Kerry was yesterday to leave our interview with the DPA agent to walk right into an MCO agent fresh from his interview with Eddie and eager to score a few brownie points with his boss.

In our case the moment we were trying to walk around the outside of the Caverns also happened to be the moment a group of the Men of Leng came running past with an entire flipping colony of supremely pissed-off Sleyqk on their tails and out for blood. Now I will emphasize this once again, one Sleyqk by itself is not too much of a problem and as I said they tend to prefer scavenging to hunting live prey. However, several-dozen angry Sleyqk whose nesting site has been disturbed will tear apart every living thing in sight that is not a Sleyqk; a colony of these ugly things could take down a Gug with little effort if they ever made it up to the surface.

To make a long story short we were safer dealing with a dozen hungry Ammit than over a hundred Sleyqk who at the moment were a hundred and ten percent pissed-off, at least we can get these brutes to trip each other up. Of course up ahead of us the Caverns of the Ammit would lead us to the beautifully forested Vale of the Baku, once we got out of here any Ammit that dared to pursue us would be devoured by the forest full of nightmare-eating tapir-tigers. I only hope that they decided not to eat me too, oh well I guess that I'll find out I can see moon-light. Greyback and I proceeded to haul tail until we finally left the Caverns behind us with an entire pack of Ammit following us into the thick bluish-orange jungle.

One by one, the Ammit stumbled and were tripped by the thick protruding tree roots that Greyback and I easily avoided, and as soon as they were down the Ammit were set upon by one of the few Apex-Predators of the Dreamlands- the Baku. While the vicious Ammit were lion-sized predators that had powerful legs, slashing claws and massive jaws, the Baku were sinuous creatures the size of extinct giant ground sloths with dexterous hand-like claws that were equally good for both grabbing and tearing. Those poor Ammit didn't stand a chance, now I only hope that the Baku in this valley jungle fill up on them enough for us to make it through unscathed.

Unfortunately, one of the beasts spotted me and knocked me off my feet, I lay trembling in terror on my side a as the Baku leaped towards me as everything began to fade to white...




Friday, February 16, 2007
Poe Cottage - Whateley
6:15 AM

I all but screamed myself awake, waking up Jane as well, as my alarm went off jolting me back into reality. Soon after several of my fellow cottage-mates came in surprised to find me in my wolf form on the floor of my dorm with an old comforter underneath me, naturally questions were raised by Phase, "Randi what in the world is going on here? We came in after hearing you scream and find you naked on the floor, and from the looks of it you not only slept there tonight but for at least a week, tell us the truth?"

"I don't have to tell you anything Goodkind!" I growled at her manner of confrontation as my adrenalin brought my body's lupine instincts to the surface. "Contrary to how you might have been raised to believe, we plebeians were not put on this Earth to bend to your family's every whim, my family didn't yield to the whims of yours a century ago and I will not yield to your whims now!"

"Randi, Ayla didn't mean it like that," Nikki Reilly said while stroking my lupine head causing my tail to wag involuntarily behind me. "We here at Poe are a kind of family, and are worried about you, now can you please tell us why you are in wolf form and why you screamed."

I deflated a bit in Nikki's gentle presence began to calm me down, I may not have sworn my loyalty to her like Morrigan had, but her High-Sidhe presence still had an influence on me- more so given I didn't consider her an enemy. Of course there was also the fact that Nikki was only clad in a towel at the moment and Fey in this state could make even a straight girl curious, fresh from using hydroflux's shower upgrades though, that would be enough to send even Tansy Walcutt flying out of the closet. I conceded to her demands and explained, "I'm in wolf form because every night after dinner and before curfew I meet Anu over in Laird Hall for a training session."

This revelation caused Ayla and Jade's jaws to drop they knew more than anyone on campus about the new hawt female security officer, whose looks would make a Themescarian Amazon jealous, was actually a former Celtic war goddess who represented single combat between champions. "These sessions go on for about an hour and a half to two hours and usually leave me exhausted, dripping with sweat, and feeling like I'm a solid bruise. So after grabbing a shower I usually sleep on the floor in wolf form to heal up and make sure that, well to pardon a phrase that I'm bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the next day."

That little phrase made everyone in the room groan, "So that's why you don't join us to heckle Tales of the MCO." Jade realized before asking, "Then what about the scream?"

"Let's just say it was a very- very bad dream and leave it at that," I said as I grabbed my towel tossed it on top of me, and tried not to wince as I felt my bruised side from where the Baku hit me. "Now if you don't mind I need to wash up before breakfast and classes, this is a school day remember and this little question and answer session is throwing off my schedule." I took my shower bag in my teeth, and walked to the showers to join the people who still remained in line as the Kimba-girls and Ayla fell in behind me. I thought that Nikki might suspect that I hadn't told them everything; however what Greyback and I were up to in the Dreamlands was my business and no one else's. At least the bruise on my side would begin fading once I switched to my normal form.




Kirby Hall
10:20 AM

Once again first period was over, meanwhile Kerry and I were working hard to make sure that we were a day ahead for studying in our classes due to the fact that we would be missing Monday since we would be in New York. Still before, we could leave, in my case to work on my fourth spell shell. I had finished work on my paralysis shell yesterday and the heat-exhaustion shell the day before that, evidently practice makes perfect all that calligraphy work I had done to figure out the haywire spell had paid off and I was making them a lot faster than I had when I made the frost shell. I was already about halfway done with the crosswire shell and hoped to be done with that and magnetism by the time we were to leave on our trip Monday morning with Jamal.

Heat and magnetism would be easy to test out, so would haywire; however paralysis and crosswire needed a live target, I needed to get permission to ask a mid-range Regen to test out the both so that nobody got hurt and I could confirm my results. About Regen Four or Five would probably be the best bet, now to ask Jade without Billie or the rest of the Kimbas trying to kill me.

"Ms Ellison, Ms Bridges before you leave I need to see the both of you," Ms Chulkris waved to the both of us as we were getting up. Kerry and I walked over to her desk where she handed each of us an envelope, "These just arrived from the Department of Paranormal Affairs by Fed-Ex to the administration office this morning, and I do believe that you were waiting for these."

Each of us took our envelopes from Earth Mother and opened them inside was my Military Mutant Identification Card, 'Thank you dad.' There on the front was my codename and costume, FAOLAN with an orange border. On the back, all of the details were listed as being classified, the good thing about having an MMID. Meanwhile Kerry was looking at her own MID card, and appeared to be somewhat embarrassed about the picture. "They can issue you an updated MID later on with a new picture if you wish to apply for one Ms. Ellison, that is if the power-testing people deem it a necessity based on any new discoveries about your abilities or changes in your powers. The expiration date is mainly for when you graduate and need to have your MID updated to one reflecting the path that you choose in life."

"What do you mean changes in our powers?" Kerry asked as if this was clearly something new to her.

"Kerry sometimes it happens," I tried to explain without going into too much detail. "When I first manifested I was a high-level avatar; however because of Morrigan and her pack I'm a Shifter/Wizard with no avatar traits whatsoever. Of course I'm fine by that, the fewer voices in my head the better!"

"Well pardon me for trying to instruct you in some proper manners once in a while!" Jane scoffed as she flew out the door.

'I meant voices in my head that are taking up a permanent residency.' I said to Jane over our link, after failing to receive a reply I slumped and said, "Heh- heh- heh, if she's still pissed off by the time I go to sleep tonight I'm going to wake up with dead rodents in my bed tomorrow." Of course, after I said that Ms Chulkris and Kerry looked at me as if I'd grown a second head, still given that this school was Whateley and Jobe was a student that was a very real possibility.

"Randi, can I have a couple of your changeling baubles?" Kerry asked as we were walking out of Kirby. "Now that I figured out how to channel energy like I did in over the Holiday's in New York I want to use it for a project that I'll be crafting with Eldrich and Silver. Especially since yesterday we finally got done adjusting Morrigan's gift to be a little less gaudy, at least the white wing-cape was something that didn't need adjusting."

"Oh you liked that," I perked up. "The redesign on that was my idea, I started with the cape that Morrigan uses as the Valkyrian and used Swan Jun from Gatchaman as inspiration to adjust the design. It should also transform into wings at will when you’re using your powers so that you don't need to summon your own wings."

"Really!" Kerry said as she thought of the possibilities for that little accessory. "That's awesome, now about those changeling baubles."

"Sorry, you know me and tangents, here you go but you owe me a few moments of silliness later." I said as I gave her two of the blanks from my purse. "See you at lunch." I walked off proud that I had actually caught onto another's tastes and aesthetics, now back to work on my spell shell arsenal, and my math work.




Casey Family Ranch
Tricoma, Texas
5:07 PM CST

The city of Tricoma on the surface looked like any other small town in the panhandle, a few streets and shops in the middle of the city and the rest of the area made up of small farms and agribusiness. Still it did have its peculiarities; the city officials were elected during the Spring Bond elections and had been since the founding of the town. This also allowed it the distinction of having the first African American mayor elected in Texas, and the only one in the country elected in between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement, Otis Kieford who was elected in 1917. While he was in office Otis Kieford, a graduate of the Tuskegee University’s school of Agriculture, passed the Wind Break Initiative and the Soil Conservation Initiative, which saved Tricoma from directly becoming part of the Dustbowl years later.

While Tricoma was historically a cattle town, and a few herds could still be found here, the ranching these days was hardly confined to cattle. The Bridges sans Chuck and with Sherrie and Mirabel as their guests were discovering this during their stay with Rebecca's extended family, the Casey's at their ranch who focused more on raising milk goats as well as taking part in the city's co-op horse raising program. At least with it being winter the smell wasn't nearly as bad as it would be later in the year. Heather and Mirabel were looking forward to seeing their older siblings, before attending Whateley, Sherrie on the other hand was a little more apprehensive. Her father had just been formally charged as an accessory, but according to the District Attorney wished to talk to her as soon as it was possible to explain both his actions and his attitude towards mutants- she had been waiting all day for the phone call.

Sherrie was almost out of hope when the phone finally rang; she picked up the phone and nervously swallowed. "Hello?"

"Hello Sherrie." Her father said in a neutral tone.

"Hello dad," Sherrie said, "I hope that they are treating you well in holding."

"Sherrie as difficult as this might be for you we don't have time for small talk." Her father said in an urgent tone. "Do you know why I say that mutants have too much power for their own good?"

"How would I know?" Sherrie replied back, "It's not like I'm a telepath."

"Did you ever wonder what happened to your older brother Francis? What really caused the car accident?" Her father said news which shocked Sherrie into silence. "You're probably too young to remember just why he was always in the hospital. You see you were two at the time and at home sick while your mother was taking care of you, I had the day off from work so I decided to take Frank to the zoo in Houston, he was anxious to see the reopened Tropical Bird House."

"The radio antenna on my car had been damaged so that while we were driving there I didn't hear the warning being broadcast. Apparently, the Flying Bulldozer a mutant vigilante with warrants in a dozen East Coast cities had apparently come to Houston to establish a new city of operations, today was the day he decided to make his presence known by apprehending Slip, a female mutant thief who was known for bloodless and relatively non-violent smash and grab daylight robberies and transporting stolen goods. The Flying Bulldozer on the other hand is a lummox who is as graceful as a land-bound walrus, and is known for causing ton of collateral damage while trying to play super-hero."

"While he was chasing Slip trying to bring her in, the Flying Bulldozer clipped my car and sent me spinning into a six-car collision, I woke up the next day in a hospital while Frank had lapsed into a coma he never came out. Your mother shut down for a while, and by the time I came out of the hospital my division at my old job was downsized, when our savings began to run out we had Francis moved from Texas Children's Hospital to Children's Medical Center where he stayed until five years ago when we finally pulled the plug. Meanwhile we took over your grandfather's small farm in Dalworthington to help make ends meet and I got a job at the feed store, your brother wound up in an old family cemetery down in Coppell."

"If not for that one muscle-brained thug your brother would still be alive, your mother would have never fallen for that Evangelist nut's rhetoric, and we would still be a family. This is why no matter what you must learn how to use whatever power you have properly, rather than let it use you and wind up becoming like the man whose carelessness cost your brother his future, and lead our family down this spiral."

"I promise dad," Sherrie said as her father's words and her brother's fate steeled her determination. "I promise to not let my power go to my head, especially since I owe them to others, good-bye dad I promise to write."




Saturday, February 17, 2007
Beck Library - Whateley
5:47 PM EST

Well I was done with crosswire and magnetism but I decided to take a bit of a break before I started work on haywire, that would be my big project after all I didn't want to do anything to mess that up. At least my tests of the heat and magnetism shells had gone as expected, still I needed to approach Billie just right to get her permission to ask Jade to serve as my guinea pig- otherwise she would probably atomize me. To make matters worse we were finally done checking in Morrigan's massive number of donations and the two of us were in the stacks reshelving materials, now normally I don't mind how quite it is here, at least Jane and I can have a little wizard to familiar conversation going without breaking the noise rule.

The only problem with my usual escape was that Jane was giving me the cold-shoulder, (or is that cold-wing) so for the time being making the silence even more deafening. At least I didn't wake up with any dead things where I had been sleeping on the floor. Sleep was something else that was bothering me, I wasn't able to make it back to the Dreamlands last night and I was worried that getting hit by that baku might have done something to me. Maybe it was all nothing still at the moment I had other concerns. As I was alone in the main room with Billie at the moment that made it even more nerve-wracking, Ms Henderson was in the restricted section taking inventory and had left the two of us alone to do our jobs.

"Um, excuse me!" I heard someone say behind me suddenly, without me having heard her approach.

I was so focused on my work that I failed to notice someone walk up right behind me, of course startled me a good bit. "Are you okay?" She said a little bit embarrassed from my reaction.

I got a good look at her it was Belphoebe, I deflated as I let go of my tension, "Sorry about that, must have been concentrating a little too hard on work, how may I assist you?"

"Well somebody must have reserved this book for me as a prank but I checked it out anyway," Belphoebe said as she held out the copy of The Adventures of Zemta Flamecarver that I had put on reserve for her earlier this week. "I actually liked it and since it seems like a standalone story, I wondered if you had anything by the same author."

"Yes it is a standalone and believe me we have quite a few things by the same author." I explained with a nervous chuckle, "Mrs. Redstag will be teaching European History and Various Classes in the Magical Arts department starting this spring, and she donated a rather sizable amount of materials to Whateley in a wide number of subjects. So what would you prefer?" I asked trying to hide that I was the person who recommended it.

"Something like what I just gave you obviously," Belphoebe said, as she looked a little perturbed at me for appearing oblivious to her needs, it was perfectly understandable a lot of people get annoyed at redundancies.

"Sorry if I offended you Miss, I was just trying to be thorough." I said nervously as I took a look at the side of the book, "This was in PT with the translations of Ancient Scandinavian Literature, it's an epic poem that the Skalds or Norse Bards told at the mead halls, sort of like how The Aenied was presented. (Of course, this was told in the mead halls of the dwarves in Nidavalir rather than Scandanavia proper) I think that we have a few that she donated from that subject area, please follow me miss."

I lead Belphoebe down the stacks until we were in Class P Subclass T, "We have some of her translations here, The Songs of the Skalds has more of that type of literature in it; although it is a multiple volume work and most of the tales in them are of short story length."

"Any more about Dark Elves?" Belphoebe asked as I got to the heart of the matter, I was right she was looking for a fictional role model.

"Some I think it has a tale or two about some of Zemta's descendants, as well as some other tales with Dark Elves in them." I said as Jane started feeding me info.

I'll help you out now kid, but I expect a decent apology later and a seed bell sometime in the near future. Jane sent over our link.

'I'll pick you one up in the pet store in Berlin on my way back from New York City.' I said back to Jane as I got back to Belphoebe. "Just keep in mind that a lot of stories about Dark Elves in the Norse Culture might not be so...kind, not to mention very lewd. The Flamecarver Dark Elves were odd ducks mainly because Zemta was raised by Dwarves from a very young age, the normal dark elves- well let's just say there might be some NC-17 moments in a tale involving them."

Her skin might have been black but I swear that I just saw her blush. "Well how about something from the British Isles?"

"Certainly," I said guiding her over to Class P Subclass R. "We have various collections that Mrs. Redstag assembled from early English, Saxon and Celtic poetry, cautionary tales, fables, and ballads. We also have her compilation of pre-Norman Arthurian literature The Ballad of King Arthur of the Britons however it is checked out at the moment, but I can place it on reserve for you."

"Pre- what, how does someone find the time to research and write all of this?" Belphoebe asked a little curious about the answer.

Given that both of her 'parents' were devisors, and that faerie were supposed to keep our secrets I neglected to say just how old Mrs. Redstag was, what I told Belphoebe was quite simply, "Since she will be starting here in a few weeks you could always ask her, who knows she might tell you. Can I help you with anything else?"

"Yes did she happen to donate any of the lost episodes of Doctor Who?" Belphoebe said with a chuckle.

"Yes however they are on loan to the British Broadcasting Corporation for copying to their archives and distribution, we should have them back in a few weeks." I explained to Jobe's daughter. "Can I help you with anything else?"

"Um no, I-I think that I am good for now." Belphoebe said as she awkwardly withdrew. Since I didn't understand what her issue was, I just went back to work shelving. I still had a lot to do before dinner. Maybe I can get in touch with this Peril guy to test out my shells, from what I've heard he seems to like taking part in dangerous experiments.




Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom - Chicago Chapter
Chicago, Illinois
9:47 PM

Javier Wiltz was feeling frantic all week key individuals, who called the Chicago Chapter their main stomping ground, were vanishing one after another. True these weren't the heavy-hitters but they were the sort that helped maintain the current power structure, and without them the real heavy-hitters were beginning to smell blood in the water. This made Javier very nervous; fortunately, a sudden slew of requests came in for those same heavy-hitters from various solo-operators everywhere from Florida to Maine to Oregon to California. Of course, this was suspicious especially since it meant that including the staff the only ones in the immediate area were those that remained of Harrow's inner circle that hadn't gone missing in action, and those were all base-lines that used prepared spells.

Javier knew that this was likely the beginnings of a takeover, and that aside from the six remaining members of Harrow's inner circle he would be the only remaining target, he was the concierge if not for him no one could enter or leave the Chapter House or use the tether's to their emergency return spells. This meant that he was the next target and he knew it, wait a minute what was that around his neck.

Before he knew what was happening Javier was drug backwards by the noose around his neck, thankfully not being choked by it, suddenly he stopped and then looked up to see a giant in ragged western atire with a black sackcloth over his head holding onto the noose. "You're lucky string bean, the boss lady only wants me to keep you here and outta our hair, but make no mistake you so much as twitch like you're lettin' somebody in or out and you'll find out real quick that kill'en you is the least of what I can do."

"Hey Wiltz can you let me out near downtown, I have dinner reservations at Gene & Georgetti's," Cenobite Vainglory explained as he entered Javier's private room. "What the hell are you- aaaaaaaaah!"

Javiar looked on in horror as a pair of feminine hands emerged from the floor and rapidly proceeded to pull Cenobite Vainglory towards the wall at an angle. By the time the unseen assailant finished Cenobite Vainglory was just a face on the wall whose chin rested against the floor, he was trapped there unable to move his jaw to even form words to cry for help he was stuck with mewling noises.

"That's three down, three to go and then we move onto the main event." The Hangman chuckled darkly much to his captive's terror. Of course Javier's terror would have been greater if he knew that by the time his captor had explained this a similar event had happened two-times already thanks to the trio of Reverants swimming through the floor and walls. Erzabet Scratch's takeover of the Chicago Chapter House was in its final stages, and within the hour, the Reverants had repeated the process with the final trio of Harrow's followers.

One by one, the Reverants immobilized the last three of Harrow's followers then went to open the glamoured door to the Checkered Room. Once the door was opened, Dismay walked into the Chicago Chapter House, the tarnished jewel that had been built by the hard work of her great-great-grandfather and was passed down the Giosepe family line to her father before he was usurped and soon after enslaved. Rosalinda almost wept at the state the place of alluring wonder that she had known in her childhood was a hollow shell of its former self; however soon this would change and the man responsible would pay with his very soul.

Dismay however had not been alone when she walked out of the door to the checkered room, in her wake followed a dozen of her elder sister succubae from other chapter houses in the Mid-West Branch, and after the last of the succubae emerged they were followed by Erzabet Scratch herself. Erzabet who usually either dressed in an evening gown or a women's business suit was wearing instead her combat outfit, this was an ensemble designed well for psychological intimidation and it worked.

She was dressed in a multilayered black, ultra-black and gray hooded cloak that gave the illusion of a being composed of a wisp of smoke. Her hands were covered with clawed crimson opera gloves and her taloned black boots gave the distinct click of the being within the outfit being a demon spawned from hell rather than a person although the former would not be far from the truth. Erzebet's solid black-horned face mask that only a single pair of crimson-eyes could be seen through, as well as the voice changer that gave her an utterly inhuman tone elevated this conception of inhumanity along with her perceived menace.

Several of Harrow's comforts met Erzabet's group on both side of the hallway making the group appear surrounded, this reception however was a far from an ambush as the comfort's forms wavered to reveal more of Erzabet's demonic daughters. Among the group one of the girls to Erzabet's right stepped forward and bowed, "We have secured all of the Comforts that are not with Harrow himself at the moment mother, and the rest of the Chicago Chapter's staff are themselves either bound or unconscious."

"Thank you Dora," Erzabet said as soft as she could in the hellish tone that her mask gave her voice. "I'm sorry that you and your sisters have had to endure this sacrifice for the family. Now are the spells in place for after we are finished with our operation?"

"Yes mother, the repair, renovation, and expansion of the Chicago Chapter House will commence the moment your order is given." Dora beamed at her mother's words of encouragement.

"You and your sister's have done the family proud Dora, now please process the Comforts according to their state, those who can be freed shall be those who cannot- will need to be welcomed into the fold." Erzabet stated as she gave the difficult command and hoped that the vast majority of Harrow's slaves could be sent back to their lives with any memories of this horror erased from their minds. "Dismay lead the way, it is time that your mother's murderer feels the fury that his actions have unleashed."

Dismay complied with her new mother's request and did as she was biden, leading Erzabet to her father's old office which was soon to become her own. Soon they threw open the door to find the reprobate Harrow surrounded by a several men and women in various states of dress, and Dismay's father Fernando standing idly by watching the debauchery, his face devoid of emotion with a silver serving tray in hand.

"What the hell," Harrow went for his soul gem staff to find a pair of hands reach up to pull his legs into the floor. Still determined to regain control Harrow managed to grab his staff and began to activate a prepared spell that he had stored in his staff, only to be knocked forward by a Reverant who came out of the wall with a well-placed kangaroo kick. The trio of Reverants worked in tandem with the one holding his legs leaning them forward upon feeling the shock through them, meanwhile the kicker from the went from a kangaroo kick to Harrow's back into a scissor-lock and l used her weight to make certain that he fell forward. Once his hands hit the floor the final member of the trio made herself known and pulled Harrow's arms into the floor up to his elbows.

Their work now complete the two operatives emerged from the floor to emerged from the floor to lineup next to their compatriot like a trio of identical femme fatales before their mistress and Dismay. Harrow looked up at the pair and sneered. "Rosalinda Giosepe, here again after all these years to save your father by kissing the wrinkly @ss of that redneck relic Scratch. Well your too late your father's soul went mad long ago even if you return it to his body he'll just go crazy and likely try to kill himself and then what will happen to the Giosepe legacy that holds together the Chicago Chapter- literally."

As Harrow gloated over his final victory Dismay retrieved Harrow's staff and drank the contents of the soul gem in the head, that of her own father. Harrow looked on in horror at the sight as Dismay transformed into a full succubus, or at least the variant created by Erzabet's merging decades ago. Dismay bowed to her clan mother and said, "Thank you for telling me and my fellow sisters about what shall happen to us should Great Mother Lilith succeed in her advent mother, if I did not discover this my father's soul and our family's legacy would be forever lost to us."

"Think nothing of it my dear," Erzabet spoke in as kind a voice as her mask's modulator allowed. "Now for this piece of trash, what shall I do with vermin such as you?"

"Allow me boss," Hezekiah "The Hangman" Jones chuckled as he swaggered in the door and next to the prone figure of Harrow. With scarcely an ounce of motion, The Hangman's infamous noose descended from his right-sleeve and found its way around Harrow's neck.

"Got any last words maggot?" Hezekiah asked as his gray hand gripped the rope. Then with a quick yank that resounded like a snap of thunder was heard as streams of light flashed from Harrows eyes and mouth before the warlock's body slumped, his form just a husk with its soul and spiritual essence having been extracted becoming merely another strand within Hezekiah Jone's cursed rope.

"I should hope that nothing awful happened to Mister Wiltz." Erzabet stated implying that bad things might happen to the undead thug if she didn't like what she heard.

"If by awful you mean that the wuss messed his britches and passed out," Hezekiah chuckled at the memory knowing that he would get a good laugh out of it for years. "Then yeah something awful happened to the twerp."

"It was still too fast what happened to Harrow for my taste." Dismay glowered as she glared at the lifeless body of the man who ended the life of her mother and transformed her father into a shell of a man.

"What do ya mean by over, he's still suffering and will be for a long time." Hezekiah said as he held out his noose. "When I choke the life out of somebody their soul stays on my noose fully aware as they're slowly drained of spiritual essence one at a time. The only way a soul is freed of my rope is after its bled dry and after then it just dissipates into nothing."

"Now Dismay we have a lot of work to do in order to make the Chicago Chapter worthy of completing the trinity of jewels in the crown of the Midwestern Branch," Erzabet said encouraging her newest partner in the Midwestern Branch of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom. "Not to mention making your parents and forefathers proud by restoring their family's work to the austerity that it deserves.”

"Yes mother," Dismay said as she looked up to her mentor, teacher and savior. "I will make them proud and I will make you proud as well.




Dreamlands - Vale of the Baku
?

After two days had gone by I was finally back in the Dreamlands, unfortunately going back to the Dreamlands meant that I was back in the thick of the chief stomping ground of one of the Dreamlands biggest super-predators- the baku. Like so many of the creatures of the Dreamlands this creature appeared like a chimera with an elephantine head and a tiger-like body, these things usually preyed upon evil however like the Ammit they were not very picky upon what qualified as evil, after all every realistic person in the world has one or two nasty things about them- you'd be hard stretched to find anybody truly pure.

What this meant is that I was dodging the giant predatory beasts on their home turf from moment one, this was do or die time literally because if you are in the Dreamland you are all dream and dreams are what the baku eat. I spent every second in the valley dodging the beasts trying to tackle me, cut me open or just backhand me into a tree so that they can pin me to begin dining on my body. Still I needed to work my way deeper and deeper into the vale, hoping that I could make it to the Crags of the Stars on the other side and hoping to find Greyback there waiting for me.

Of course, all the while the baku, like the ammit, were out to kill me they were also far less easy to work against each other. Not only are the baku actually a lot more agile and dexterous than the ammit, they are also far less territorial for apparently amongst the baku the kill belonged to the one to do the deed, they preferred ambush tactics so in other words I could run from one but that only meant that I was approaching another. What this meant that I couldn't use them to trip each other, which sucked because I was coming to party on their turf.

I didn't press my luck and I pressed every sense to the max to keep myself aware of ambushes before they happened, still it was impossible to catch everything as one baku made me aware of when he back-handed me into a tree-trunk.

Still I was expecting something like this so I used the momentum from that blow to use the tree as a springboard rather than as a bean bag target. As it turned out I launched myself off the board just in as the baku who sent me there clawed the tree bald with a swipe that would have been a death-blow had I lingered two seconds longer.

I did my best to use the momentum that this freak accident to barrel through the Vale, the baku did their best to catch me off guard were unprepared for my sudden burst of speed. I poured every ounce of my determination into my legs, I had to reach the Crags of the Stars, I would see Greyback on the other side of the Vale of the Baku and these steroid-pushing tapirs would not stand in my way.

I completely lost track of how long it took but I finally saw the exit to techno-tropical nightmare that was the Vale of the Baku. The sight startled me from my mad dash for one of the baku to get close enough to take a swipe at my side, fortunately I dodged at the last moment so it’s claws only nicked me rather than tearing my side open.

I finally left the valley behind me with only some bruised ribs and a few parallel cuts on my side to show for my trouble. Still this hardly mattered I was out of the Vale of the Baku and in the Crags of the Stars, all around me I could see the aether hounds emerging with their pelts the color of the night sky and eyes that glowed with moonlight. Among them was Greyback, "I have been waiting for you child and I feared the worst, but even with my skill none dare to linger in the Vale of the Baku too long. Now child it is time to relax; although we are not far from the edge of the Primus Umbra you are in no state to experience what lay inside this evening, you need at least a day or two of preparation first. Now let me see to those wounds that you took while escaping from the baku's claws."

The elderly wolf put his paw on my side and his eyes shown with the color of starlight, I must have lost track of time because before I knew it, the cuts on my side had knit and healed and my ribs that had been aching since my adrenaline rush died down. By the time the ancient Sidhe sage was done, I felt like a million bucks, and just in time, I began to hear the siren song of my alarm clock-




Sunday, February 18, 2007
Poe Cottage
6:15 AM EST

I woke up from my little bed on the floor feeling better than I had in a while; since it was Sunday, I knew that other than work I would have the day to myself. So I decided to budget my time to between crafting another shell, this one designed to cast a healing spell, and catching up on my online math class. The only things that I had to do today, other than my usual Sunday self-Bible study, which I had on my plate were picking up Jane's new traveling cage that Bunny had been making in exchange for the Iris Brush that I gave her, as well as my gauntlet pump from Jericho. I just hope that he'd agree to keep my banjo as collateral until his guitar got here on Tuesday, at least it would according the UPS tracking program.




Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport
Amarillo, Texas
12:27 PM CST

"I hope everyone liked lunch, because from what I know about New England that's likely the last chicken-fried steak that any of you will be seeing for a while." Jack said as they walked into the terminal for their flight to Memphis.

"Now girls," Rebecca stated to her daughter and Sherrie. "Follow Mirabel's lead with this and everything should go smoothly." Rebecca watched with butterflies in her stomach as the three girls went to the separate line to deal with the MCO security director MIDs and MMID in hand.

"Calm down dear," Jack, said as he patted his wife on the shoulder. "They’ll be fine. "Besides as bad as the MCO might be, the girl's have all of their proper documentation. That and I doubt that the MCO would try anything with a kid of two members of the Justice Brigade present."

Rebecca tried to let her husband's words console her tensions; however given that the last time they dealt with the MCO ended with her youngest biological child being legally dead for three days, it was hard for her to dismiss her feelings of apprehension. As she looked over to the trio of girls everything with the MCO security agent appeared to be going off without a problem, of course given that this was Amarillo, he was probably just glad to have some work to do.

When he finished checking the girl's bags they stepped through the scanner and were allowed to board the plane, Rebecca sighed with relief it appeared that their trip would indeed go off without any major problems.




Monday, February 19, 2007
Poe Cottage
5:45 AM EST

Okay once again another night spent with Greyback just talking; don't get me wrong it was far from boring. The story of when he fought the Great Old One Ithaqua and lived to tell the tale alone was interesting beyond belief, I mean Ithaqua the freaking King of the Wendigos how amazing is that. As well as the stories that he had of his encounters with Wakinyan the Thunderbird, Quetzalcoatl the Plumed Serpent and numerous other great spirits of North and Central America. He also told me about his encounters with the Great Old One Yig and how his wrath could appeased without resulting in tragedy by means of a special ceremony.

Still all of that would be for another time, now was time to get ready I had to meet Kerry and Jamal in front of Dunn to grab something for breakfast before we caught our ride to Berlin and our flight to New York. I went to the bathroom to catch a shower and was fortunate to be the second one there, I worked my way through making sure to wash may hair and my tail well since there would be photographers there, not to mention that despite my mom being a grownup tomboy she would still likely comment on my appearance.

Once finished with my shower, hair and even make-up. Yes, I have started to wear a little make-up recently; Nikki had gone out of her way to teach me a thing or two about what to use to go for my style and what little faerie glamour I had so I decided to stay with it. It also wasn't anything big, the most major thing involved was lip-liner, I suppose it was fair some of the girls were jealous that I didn't have to shave my legs or armpits- hey this was the only form that I had that didn't have hair in those places.

I put on my collar and used it to change into the outfit that I picked out yesterday before work, the other two jewels had my costume and my school uniform. (Hey, I wanted to show my folks) I put my dad's jacket on and left Poe for Dunn and found Kerry and Jamal both waiting for me. "About time you got here Fae-dog, we were about to leave without you." Jamal said ribbing me.

"Come on Sparky give me a break." I said as we began to walk to the bus stop at the Shuster cul-de-sac. "I'm a Texas girl and it's freaking freezing, I don't like leaving Poe before the sun's up unless I'm on four legs and wearing a natural fur-coat, but I can't bring Jane's cage with me if I do."

"Randi I'm shocked," Kerry recoiled in fake horror. "Don't you know that fur is murder?"

"Sure the only way those PETA hypocrites can get it off of me is if they skin me alive." I snarked while showing Kerry a little teeth. "By the way that’s a nice bracelet." I said indicating the piece of jewelry adorning her right-wrist with what looked to me a changeling bauble set in it.

"Thank you, I got the idea from your collar." Kerry said showing off her bracelet as we got to the bus stop. "The other one is set in my shield and has my sword in it."

As we boarded the bus that had just arrived in front of Shuster, I just knew that today was going to be an eventful day, if only I knew just how right I was.




Southern Outskirts of San Francisco
4:48 AM PST

It had taken the ragged figure over a week to cross the Mojave Desert and from there to walk up the coast of California to his final destination. He looked at the city that lay before him with clear eyes hidden by his outfit and stated with a voice that spoke from the weight of years as he leaned on his ornate staff. "Soon my story will come to an end for as the final moment of my future meets another's past as the next story begins."


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4 years 4 months ago #16510 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 7 Notes




Iris Brush -
A silver-handled hairbrush with bristles made from stiffened rael hair. By using the three gems on the back the user can change the color of the bristles which change the color of any hair brushed with them. In order to turn their hair back to normal, the affected just has to place their hair in a stream of running water, which in this day and age can be done with a shower or a sink.

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4 years 3 months ago #16781 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 8




Bus bound for Berlin, New Hampshire
6:01 AM EST

Kerry, Jamal and I sat trying to enjoy the scenery on our bus trip to the Berlin Airport, with Jane inside of her new cage that Bunny made for her. Jamal and I of course were excited, after all this would be our first trip to the First City, the Heart of the Modern World, the Cape Capital of the Country- Kerry however was almost sick to her stomach.

Of course, no one could blame her she would be returning to the city where her life had been turned upside down, but the ceremony would also be in the same part of the city as well Manhattan- for her this would be more like a victim confronting her rapist. I mean that was the reason why I didn't want to ask her, but she insisted on coming something about having to do this in order to move on with her life- personally I thought that it would be too soon, of course this was Kerry's decision.

Still it was nice to see my folks again, even if I wish that all of the circumstances could be better. I mean Heather deserved a few more memories of a happy childhood to look back on, my folks agreed on that part, but thanks to some self-righteous religious zealot with no true understanding of reality that was toast. Well at least she was coming with her friends, which was good because the only others here in her age group that I knew of were the troublesome trio of Clover, Palantir and Abracadabra, and the less that she picked up from those three the better.

I chuckled as I nibbled on a breakfast sandwich, what was I worried about Heather spent two years learning first-hand about those who abuse magic and what awaits them. With that sort of knowledge behind her she was bound to have a fairly level head on her shoulders once her essence finally ignited, besides she might have wanted to help Nightingale and focus on healing magic.

Still those would be problems to meet further down the line, for now it would be time to have a little fun- while of course not letting my guard down. After all, it had been two months since Kerry left New York; all of the members of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom that had left after the incident at the New York Heritage Society were bound to have returned. From what I understood the three who gave her headaches last December were either nobodies or has-beens, there was also the fact that from what I had learned from Plainswalker of the super-natural community Bishop Brimstone called the New York City Chapter home.

Personally, last month’s close-encounter with Mister Domino was as close as I wanted to get to one of the Obsidian Circle ever again, especially since his chief leg-breaker was pissed off at me having the right to lay wards of protection against him. Still given that my hometown was right in the middle of the stomping ground of their newest member, I would likely have a close encounter with that group sometime in the very near future, likely long before I would be anywhere in their league after all the only two that I knew the truth about were both former Norse deities.

"So Jamal we forgot to ask," Kerry said drawing me back into reality. "What did Buck make for you?"

"For a weapon he made this collapsing staff using this weird devisor alloy he made," Jamal explained. "He said that I could use one end to generate magnetic fields and the other as an electrical prod. He also made a platform that I can disguise to look like an insignia belt-buckle that acts as a hover-platform that operates off my own Energizer field. We tested it and it works great, next semester I'm going to take Basic Martial-Arts with Ito to see if I can learn how to use cable-whips like Blitz does."

"Cool, I'll be taking that class too." Kerry exclaimed, "Maybe we'll be in the same class. What about you Randi, are you taking a martial-arts class next semester too?"

"I wish that I was getting off that easy." I sighed before I began to explain, "I'll be having private tutoring in the evening with Morrigan and Anu like I do now. As is I have a pretty full plate this spring, Ito has stopped by every once in a while to audit Anu's training sessions, and seems to be satisfied with the curriculum of me getting my butt handed to me on a daily basis. I mean I know that our training sessions only go on for an hour or two in real time, but Anu does this Faerie trick that can manipulate the flow of time so that we could fit in two weeks of training every evening."

"But wouldn't the two of you starve." Jamal said out of concern.

"Anu and Randi both eat a special dumpling that comes from one of Dagda's private recipes first." Jane explained from inside her traveling cage. "It gives enough nutrition for two weeks once swallowed; while it's also digesting (very slowly I might add) it wards off the affects of age, fatigue, and the need for sleep as well. But once it wears off the eater suffers the worst case of jet lag in history."

"Tell me about it and the things taste awful, as for water we just have a cooler with a few spare jugs." I groaned, "I've had to go through this almost every night since the ninth of this month, I have to sleep in my wolf form just so that I don't wake up exhausted and feeling like a walking bruise. On top of that, I also got back in touch with Greyback, who has been taking me on a mystery tour of the Dreamlands while I’m asleep."

"Whoa so you mean that you've had four and a half months of training ever since you got here." Jamal said after adding up the numbers.

"More than that Sunday's are triple training; I take a nap in between each session." I explained before going a bit further back. "And before Morrigan and I split every night while I was asleep was nothing but dream training, which could get real wild since she would be setting up the locations to make the training as effective as possible. I honestly wish that we hadn't split up before Sydän was delivered, especially since I could use her help to master the damned thing."

"What's so hard about using a sword?" Jamal asked wondering what the big deal was. "I mean you said that you used one to fight a Fomor the day before you met us."

"Jamal that fight was sheer desperation, if anything I hope that I never have to use the strategies that I used to win that time ever again." I stated firmly without explaining that the strategy involved dislocating and severing my right arm. "I had Badb use that blade as a lightning rod after jamming it in the lummox’s neck. The next two times that I had to use a sword it was Sydän and Counterpoint swiped it off of me and tried to use it to decapitate me, and then right after that I was trying to keep Macha from beating me into a pulp with her flail. Anu still hasn't taught me all the in's and out's of saber-fighting, she says that I have only now started to master my knives."

"It sounds like Anu's a pretty strict taskmaster." Kerry sounded out her opinion. "Are you certain that you don't want to join the martial-arts class?"

"I can't, my schedule for next semester is full." I sighed before coming back with, "At least after range safety I'll have received enough training in pistols to practice for my next invention."

"Let me guess a pistol version of your mana rifle." Jamal chimed in.

"You got it in one Sparky." I said with a smile, "Once I get the materials that I need to upgrade the types of spells that I can use with the rifle I'll use the old materials and the left-over gray-iron to make a couple of pistols. Morrigan and I made the sand mold for the barrel at the same time that we made the one for the rifle; there was just no reason to use it right away. That and I still have to carve a handle for the new one, after looking up new spells for the upgraded rifle once I can afford the materials."

"Maybe I can help you out there," Kerry offered before I cut her off.

"Sorry Kerry, I know that you want to help but I don't want to abuse our friendship like that." I explained before elaborating. "There are some things that just that I need to do for myself."

"Then what do you call giving me the changeling baubles for my equipment." Kerry responded more than a little miffed.

"Those weren't gifts Kerry," I explained, "You earned those fair and square by Faerie Law, you just had to ask for them. You owe me nothing and I owe you much more than I could ever repay, if nothing else your group's friendship has helped me through a very difficult time in my life, and that means more to me than I can ever explain in mere words."

"So those were a gift for our friendship?" Kerry explained a little insulted at how a friendship could be measured in material goods.

"No one was for last week when Regina told that joke and made you laugh so hard milk came out your nose, and the other was blowing up at the MCO Agent." I stated before explaining. "The going price of a changeling bauble in the various courts vendors is an act of public foolishness, whether intentional or unintentional, I could never put a price on our friendship. Speaking of which do you want to use my cage to keep the MCO from stealing your bracelet, I had Bunny make it with a compartment in the base that only can be opened from inside the cage. Since I knew that the MCO would want me disarmed I wanted to place my collar somewhere that I can keep an eye on it, and since I can see through Jane's eyes or have her warn me at the speed of thought there isn't a chance that anyone can take my weapons away."




Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom - Chicago Chapter
Chicago, Illinois
7:53 AM

"Miss Dismay please, we must hurry if you are to be ready in time to greet our regular patrons upon their arrival." Javier Wiltz explained to his new boss as he scrambled to prepare everything for their arrival. "They will be returning by this evening and they must be informed of your changes."

"These are far more than mere changes Javier," Dismay explained from behind her father's heirloom desk, Harrow's old one as well as furniture having been reduced to kindling. "This is the new status-quo of the Chicago Chapter House as a member of the Midwestern Branch; they do not have to like it they can accept it or take their business elsewhere, however I should think that the benefits should far outweigh the minor annoyances."

"That may be but some of our more major members might not see it that way, they might try to usurp you." Mr. Wiltz nervously explained.

"They could try, however my death means the destruction of the Chicago Chapter House and all within it. In addition, a strike against me is one against Erzabet Scratch and by proxy the Obsidian Circle. Now how eager do you think one of those big shot from the New York Chapter House would be to strike out at me knowing that it might result in an attack from Mister Domino, the warlock who founded the New York Chapter House and knows every weakness in the spells that hold it together." Dismay smiled her face now a sight of pure malice.

Understandably, Mr. Wiltz was rattled by this sight, and slowly backed away from the neo-succubus.

"Now Javier, how long have we known each other?" Dismay inquired of the Chicago concierge.

"S-since y-you were b-born Lady Giosepe." Mr. Wiltz stuttered out as he began to fear for his life.

"Correct, and your family has faithfully served the Giosepe's for ages, you even kept that fool Harrow from completely bringing the Chicago chapter house to ruin." Dismay said as she laid a sharpened letter opener on her desk. "Now I find myself in need of a trustworthy confidant, someone that I can open up to knowing that they will not use the knowledge that they gain against me. I could have chosen one of the new employees that Erzebet left us; however something about doing that lacks trust, so I have chosen you Javier."

"M-me," Javier all but squeaked at the looming sense of dread that he felt, and he was especially wondering about the letter opener.

"Yes, now if you agree to this I will need you to place a drop of your blood on the crystal on my desk right now." Dismay explained as she held up what appeared to be a crystal paperweight, sensing his reluctance she further elaborated. "Don't be afraid this is a silence oath talisman, it merely makes you unable to reveal what we talk about while I'm touching it to others, it will not harm you just make you unable to tell anyone."

Trusting her words Javier Wiltz nicked his finger with the knife, which sealed up the wound after one drop of blood fell. As that crimson liquid hit the crystal in Dismay's hand it briefly flashed red then faded to normal, the oath was made. "Now Javier first things first, whenever we are alone please feel free to call me Rosa, do not be afraid to do so I will not retaliate."

"U-understood Rosa." Javier said somewhat relieved now that the tension in the locked room was fading.

Dismay actually smiled at that before continuing; "Now another thing and this is a secret only known to few outside those who live with the consequences of this secret. I am a succubus now as are the new employees, my fellow chapter directors and even Erzebet Scratch herself." Rosa said as her wings unfurled and her horns and fangs grew out. "Well actually a type of neo-succubus, we begin by being turned into demi-succubae by another neo-succubae. We complete our transformation from demi-succubae into neo-succubae by swallowing a soul, in my case it was my father who Harrow had driven insane by forcing him to kill mother, even if I restored his soul to his body he would have only taken his own life- and our family's legacy as well."

"You mean that you destroyed your father's soul." Javier recoiled in horror at the thought of how a girl who loved her parents so much could actually do that.

"Not destroyed swallowed," Rosa explained, although she was most cross at Javier for accusing her of obliterating her father from reality. "Should Lilith attain her advent and be accepted by the Neo-Adam after the last daughter of Eve is born, the curse on the lilin will be lifted and all neo-succubae will be be transformed into lilin. Also the moment all we neo-succubae becomes lilin and also will become pregnant with their first daughter, who will possess the soul that they swallowed reborn as a lilin."

"You mean that should Lilith have her advent then your father will be reborn as-" Javier stated somewhat tripping over the words.

"Will be reborn as my first-born biological daughter," Dismay said placing her hand on her stomach as a winsome look crossed her face. "In a weird way we will be a family again; although this time it will be my turn to take care of my father, to make certain that he will be able to live his next life to its fullest, and never has to experience this nightmare ever again. Meanwhile Harrow will be waiting for his turn at true oblivion on The Hangman's noose, an existence filled with true despair as Hezekiah Jones normally consumes souls at the rate of one a year, he will still be screaming for his end to come when my daughter and I will have likely passed on to the hereafter."




LaGuardia Airport
New York City, New York
9:06 AM EST

"I can't believe that it took so long to get Jane back from baggage claim!" Jamal exclaimed as he expelled his nervous energy over the long wait.

"I can't believe that the airline offered you free flights for life for her." Kerry said staring at Jane as I retrieve her bracelet and my choker from the cage's compartment.

"Can I help it if having a storm elemental on board an airplane means zero-turbulence and no chance of a lightning strike or ice on the wings?" I remarked as I put my choker back around my neck, glad because I sort of felt naked without it except in the sanctuary of my room. "Now my folks should be picking us up."

"Hear that J-man." Kerry said elbowing Jamal in the ribs, "First date and she's already introducing you to the rest of the family."

Jamal pupils became like pinholes at Kerry's suggestion. "Don't even joke about that choir-girl, if even the rumor about that got overheard by Shuffle or Wakanda then N'Dizi's crew would be on me 24-7 in Emerson. They already don't like me hanging around you and the others, some African pride BS."

"BS is right," I brought up as we began looking for my folks. "Wasn't Doctor King's dream that all people regardless of race be able to come together in harmony, besides last I checked he was only in charge of the Tigers not all students of African descent, who does he think that he is Jessie Jackson. Besides I thought that one of the points of coming to Whateley was to put prejudice behind us, why do they need to play the race card, the school has enough divisions without bringing in those from the outside world."

"Randi, are you sure that this pendent you lent me will work?" Kerry asked nervously as we began to approach a crowd. "The last thing that I want to do is cause a scene."

"Don't worry choir-girl," I said borrowing Jamal's nickname for Kerry, "That glamour charm keeps anyone other than those who know you personally from recognizing you, that is unless you introduce yourself as what they remember you as, and not many people in that whole affair know your real name or you new codename do they?"

"No just a few people and I doubt that they'd tell anybody." Kerry said looking slightly more relieved.

"So then there shouldn't be a problem," I said to reassure her, before turning the conversation to Jamal. "And Sparky should the littlest tiger start giving you grief you might want to inform him of the existence of the 'other' Shuffle, you know the one whose team made the Knights of Purity look like a great big joke in Omaha last March. As I recall he challenged the last person who tried to steal his codename to a one-on-one duel."

"Actually his codename is Shuttle, not Shuffle." Jamal groaned and rolled his eyes before something caught his attention, "Hey Randi are those your folks?" He said indicating the my parents holding the BRIDGES sign upside-down, with Heather and Mirabel standing nearby with another girl that I assumed to be Sherrie Nicolosi. I also saw that mom and dad were wearing the T-Shirts that Chuck and I got them as stocking stuffers for last Christmas, dad with his 'Guild of Radical Militant Librarians' and mom with her 'I Am Here Because You Broke Something'. "I'm beginning to see the family resemblance already."

"This is nothing," I explained as we approached my folks. "My mom and dad are actually relatively normal, you should see my grandparents." We walked across the terminal and met my parents group where my dad greeted me with a hug, while my mom ruffled my hair. "Mom, please not in front of my friends." I whined as I looked through Jane's eyes to make sure that my hair was okay.

"Girls come with me I need some help flagging a taxi back to the hotel." My dad said escorting Heather, Mirabel and Sherrie outside of the Terminal, leaving Jamal, Kerry and I alone with my mom- heaven help us all.

"Who are you, and what have you done with my daughter?" Mom asked sternly as she looked me over with a scrutinizing eye, "When I saw you last you still had issues with doing your hair and make-up, is my insecure pseudo-tomboy starting to turn into a young lady on me? I swear I wouldn't be surprised if you start listening to boy bands and following teen heartthrobs."

"Mom give me a break just because I start looking a little girly doesn't mean that I've had a lobotomy." I groaned before adding, "And the moment I give up jazz and classic rock for that soulless mass-produced pop garbage is the moment that I've likely been replaced by a robot or a pod person."

"Good because you had me starting to worry for a minute there." My mother remarked before eying my cage, "So this is Jane, please tell me that she is better mannered than her mother."

"I should hope so madam," Jane stated, "Honestly the way she acts at times like it is still the Middle Ages is embarrassing, still it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

"The pleasure is all mine my dear." My mother stated with a faux Boston-accent by way of M*A*S*H reruns.

"I agree with Jamal," Kerry said out of the side of her mouth, "Your family is weird Randi."

"No one is can be exactly considered normal Kerry," I retorted at the glue that really held our group together. "Mom I think that dad and sis have probably high jacked a taxi by now, we really need to get going if we want to do any sightseeing before the ceremony."

"Spoil sport," Mom pouted as we got moving to leave the airport.

"So Mrs. Bridges, where exactly will we be going?" Kerry asked as we looked and saw that dad was holding a mini-bus taxi.

"First things first we head to our base camp at the Roosevelt, and then do a little sight-seeing." Mom explained as we loaded into the cab to experience New York City traffic, before adding "-and maybe some shopping."




West Point Military Academy
West Point, New York
11:34 AM

"Fire!" Lieutenant General Franklin L. Hagenbeck ordered before the heavy mortar fired at the suit of power armor sitting in the middle of the artillery range. A cloud of dust billowed up as the armor in question was briefly obscured from view, only to come into view moments later is force-field still intact, and the wax dummy bystanders still standing fully intact.

"Gentleman as you can see the force field’s that are generated by our Star Marshall Rook Model are capable of withstanding five tons of kinetic force as well as temperatures of four-thousand degrees centigrade. These were designed with the intent of providing bystanders caught in the middle of a fire-fight between our Star Marshall's and either Super-Villains or out-of-control vigilantes such as the Flying Bulldozer or Lamp Lighter with a safe-haven in the midst of the hostilities." Alana Metzer the CEO of Axcel Incorporated explained to the assembled congressmen, brass, press and foreign representatives. "We hope that this will significantly reduce the number of civilian casualties as well as decrease the chances of a hostage situation with individuals such as Cobrafire or Deicide. Now although the force field is air-tight and sound-proof the suit is equipped with a mobile Oxygen Regeneration micro-factory and re-breather masks for twenty individuals in case of chemical or biological attacks."

"Now that you have seen the capabilities of our Bishop High-Speed Combat Armor, Knight Heavy-Engagement Combat Armor and Rook Mobile Defense Armor, I will leave any questions that you have for the head of the R&D Project in charge of their development Ms. Kayla Hewlett. Now keep in mind that this will be for a private security firm for urban defense, and despite the fact that we will be seeking to employ military veterans to pilot the suits in question they will not be available for purchase to any government's military. The contracts for the Star Marshall program of course are fully negotiable in terms of the price, but we will save that for individual negotiations down the line, now gentlemen I thank you for your time." Alana Metzer ended her speech as her guests began to either leave or head towards Ms. Hewlett for further questions, with the exception of one individual French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte.

"My attaché said that you had a private matter that you wished to discuss with me." The ambassador commented as he approached the young businesswoman. "It sounded urgent."

"Yes and no, Mister Ambassador," Alana Metzer sighed, "You see not too long ago a group of eight young teenage mutants that were found to be illegally detained against their will by the Mutant Commission Office were remanded into the custody of my organization for their own safety. These youths were undoubtedly exposed to the type of traumatic experiences that might color their perceptions of human-mutant relations in such a way that they would see that normal society has no place for them in it, such would undoubtedly lead to more- criminal pursuits. I have tried exposing them to a number of mutants who lead productive lives on the right side of the law in order to give them as many positive individuals to look up to as possible. You see soon they are sent off to a special school where both their safety is guaranteed and they can learn while removed of such fearful experiences."

"Now I have heard that two young mutants around this group's age range are going to be receiving accolades by your nation at a banquet being held in New York this evening, as such an event would likely have a number of high profile super-heroes attending, I would like to see that they are invited to attend."

"Ms. Metzer I can understand your feelings towards these children; however the layout of the event is already planned." Ambassador Levitte tried to explain the impossibility of her request without insulting the CEO. "It would be very difficult to allow two tables worth of individuals in at this late hour."

"I understand quite well about how difficult this might be Mr. Ambassador," Alana stated firmly conveying her sympathies to the ambassador's predicament. "Of course this is why, should this favor be allowed, it will be factored into any business that my company will be doing with the great nation of France for a considerable amount of time in the future."

"On the other hand the Waldorf=Astoria has probably had to deal with these kind of issues in the past." Ambassador Levitte quickly changed his tune sensing that this might be his chance to seize a rather valuable bargaining chip for the people of France with the head of a diverse and expanding multi-billion dollar conglomerate that had yet to open any offices in Europe.

"Thank you Ambassador," Ms. Metzer said as she shook the man's hand, "I know that it might seem like a trifle; however one never knows what small act of kindness to the young might plant the seeds of a brighter tomorrow."

"Truer words of wisdom were never spoken," Ambassador Levitte chuckled at the lady's wit.

"More like a piece of knowledge," Ms. Metzer mused in a singsong tone. "Wisdom lies for when that knowledge is reserved for the proper time and place."




Egyptian Sahara
West of Nekhen
5:47 PM EET

With the sun slowly sinking below the horizon two figures emerged from the desert sands, shaking the dust from their robes the taller of the two turned to his companion. "Honestly father I can't wait for this blasted curse to be lifted, I hate having to play adder all day while we wait for the sun to set."

"Patience Greygus," the shorter of the two hooded figures explained to his son. "Tomorrow the source of our curse shall be destroyed and we can greet the solar barge as it sails from the Eastern Gate."

"I hope so Lord Ataxia," Greygus sighed before turning to his father. "Say you know, now that Apep's essence is gone from your body maybe you should consider a new title."

"I already have thought of one my son- Lord Khamsin, for am I not the master of the storms that blow across the desert." Lord Ataxia stated as he dreamed of long forgotten times in Heliopolis the city of the sun. "Now my son remember it is my duty to keep Ma'at busy, they must not interfere because we only get one shot at this."

"I know father," Gregus stated as he felt the comforting weight of the quiver across his back. "Yesterday was the last sunrise that the Black Pharaoh shall ever darken again."

The pair steadily continued their trek east towards the Eastern Gate where their quarry would meet them before dawn, and when he fell shattered, the Southern Court could begin to be reborn.




Lombardi's Pizzeria
New York, New York
1:17 PM

"I can't believe that you came to New York and didn't visit Lombardi's." Jack said as they shared a couple of the classic pies in the historical landmark. "I mean what kind of person comes to the Big Apple and misses out on the first American Pizzeria?"

"I don’t know, maybe the kind of person that had other concerns when they were here last time dad." I groaned a little under my breath."

"You didn't tell him?" Kerry asked as she looked at me.

"It wasn't my place to Kerry." I said with a smile. "Someone's past is their past and no one else's business."

"So what didn't you tell us about your friend's past?" Jack asked it an impish curiosity."

"Um, out in public might not be the best place to reveal that piece of information Mister Bridges." Kerry commented sheepishly.

"Alright- it can wait until you want to tell us." Jack said before grabbing a second slice of pizza. "That is of course if you want to tell us, it is none of our business after all."

"Thank you for understanding Mister Bridges," Kerry said before taking a sip of soda.

"Nonsense everyone has their secrets, revealing those takes trust and that is something that must be earned." Jack stated with a certain weight to his words. "And speaking of someone that needs to learn trust, just where did your familiar Jane wander off to?"

"Jane left flew off when we left the airport; she said something about doing her own sightseeing then meeting up with us at the hotel." I explained before taking a quick peek through her eyes, she's currently across the street from Ground Zero looking down at the hole."

"It's nice to know that some in the supernatural community know how to pay their respects." Dad explained before changing the subject. "By the way Randi, Uncle Mike finished that project we talked about, I brought the final product with us, it's in our luggage at the hotel room."

"Cool, I know that it’ll look great on my costume." I said picturing how this final piece would tie my outfit together.




Knights of Purity Mobile Command Ship
East River between Manhattan and Roosevelt Island
3:17 PM

Anyone who has ever been to New York can tell you, if you want to find a place to park in the city then forget about it, that was why the cab drivers were borderline insane and the subway and buses were a necessity. Still if you were willing to go outside of conventional means than there were places to park, even something as large as the Knights of Purity Dropship. In this case, it was in the deck of an old commercial container freighter, the thing looked vile however, it would only be their home for a few days and the rental price was cheap.

While in another part of the country this wouldn't be necessary, as the city itself would allocate space for a command center inside of the city proper for them to use. This was New York and the city had one of the most recognizable and public super-hero teams in the world, the Empire City Guard on call for paranormal and mutant crimes as well as a sizable number of street-heroes running around, thus the mayor's office never saw the need to hire an outside security firm like the Knights of Purity. Of course, they could still be hired privately to provide security by various corporations, such as their friends at Goodkind International which was run by their CEO's brother, still the Goodkind's for all their influence could not provide them with the space needed in a city where space was a premium.

Still space and glamour were nothing at the moment, the crew the Knights brought with them were busy preparing the Knights power armor for tonight; Helen Goodkind had paid a hefty sum for their organization to provide security to Goodkind International's Winter's End Charity Gala tonight and they aimed to deliver. While the armored Knights themselves would not be allowed inside the Waldorf=Astoria itself, they would be securing the perimeter and roof of the Hotel in case anyone tried anything. It might have seemed a tad excessive however, the Grand Ballroom would be packed to the gills with Millionaires and Billionaires- it would be too tempting a target for any number of super-villains looking for a payday.

Still unbeknownst to the Knights or their crew there was an extra body on board their ship who had other plans for the evening, Slither had infiltrated their crew with ease replacing one of the mechanics tasked with performing diagnostics on the power-suits. From here it had proven an easy task just to go about the real crewmember's normal job, which he had learned the details of with a telepathic probe. All the while as he made certain that, the power armor was fully functioning including a quick and standard under the shell circuit check using a diagnostic voltmeter he placed one of Fritz's hijacker circuits before reapplying the plate. Slither kept up this ruse and planned to stick around until just before Professor Id made his appearance at the Charity Ball. He already had an airtight scuba-suit stored in a locker on board, all he had to do was jump ship and let the current take him downstream to Wallabout Bay where an escape courier would be waiting for him- it paid to plan ahead.




Roosevelt Hotel - Room 418
5:27 PM

I found out after a day of window shopping, with some actual purchases, what I was getting a little less shy about myself, that and sometime around Nikki and Toni helped me loosen up a little, after all I can't be stuck with hoodies for the rest of my life. Especially since a glamour stone is good for a lot more than just keeping someone from recognizing that a celebrity like the Angel of Hell's Kitchen, like say make someone without mystic training to ignore a girl having fuzzy ears and a furry tail. Of course it helps that seemings like glamour rely on ambient mana and perception, they see it however people usually ignore it- well except for most little kids, but then again kids do say the strangest things.

Right now, we were busy getting everyone ready for the award ceremony at seven tonight, especially if they wanted to get back to Whateley tomorrow in time for classes. Still at least now that we were here we all had more options on how to get around faster, Heather could help us get to back for our return trip on LaGuardia a heck of a lot faster. Also thanks to my Reticule our modest sized purchases would come repacked of course right now we were fussing over a different matter making sure that our outfits looked great for the ceremony. What Heather and I were going to be on stage with a world leader in front of the press, a number of high-profile capes, and our parents we wanted to look our best- that and make sure that Jamal, Kerry and my flight plans were filed with New York City Air Traffic Control.

"Randi I love how your costume has come along, sort of fantasy rogue meets modern super-hero." My mom said as she began to fuss over my outfit as I applied Uncle Mike's contribution on the leather straps that held the Reticule in place, a insignia buckle medallion with a raised stoic wolf's head facing left and a musket and saber behind the head, it suited my aesthetic well. "Still I would like to see your other uniform, as I'm certain your sister would as well given that she'll be wearing it later this week."

Knowing that tone as soon as I was finished applying my new insignia to my costume, I used my choker and using my choker transformed into my uniform; although I wished that I had worn my winter uniform slacks instead of the skirt. I just stood there as mom appraised my look and Heather, Mirabel and Sherrie looked me over appraising the Whateley Academy Girl's Uniform. Sherrie was the first to speak up, "Do I have to wear Mary Jane's?"

"You can get away with certain other dark shoes, some student's even wear sneakers, but if there is a formal occasion then yes you have to wear them." Kerry replied much to the blonde athlete in the futuristic tack-suit's displeasure.

"Does it come with any accessories that are optional but allowed, and what about the border on the crest?" Mirabel asked as she took a lint-wizer to her blue Florence Nightingale attire.

"Well the border on the crest depends on the cottage that you're assigned to stay in sort of like a dorm." I began to explain to everyone. "Now I'm in Poe so the border is black and the stripe is white, while Kerry is in Dickinson so the border on hers is violet and the stripe is black like the other cabins, and Jamal is in Emerson so the border on his crest is yellow. As for accessory's watches and normal jewelry are allowed; however, pins on the uniform, if they aren't club related, are not allowed. Still most hair accessories are allowed, and the uniform beret is of course optional."

For some weird reason her eyes lit up when I said beret, oh well at least she would probably look cute in it. "Um sis," Heather spoke up looking me in the eye. "Will I be in Poe with you?"

"I'm sorry sis, but I asked administration yesterday so that I could tell you." I said patting her on the shoulder. "You and your friends will be put in Dickinson with Kerry but don't worry, you'll still be able to see me a lot in school. I don't know just who you'll be rooming with it will either be Mirabel, Sherrie, or this girl your age at school who goes by Clover, besides you can still get in touch with mom and dad, even Chuck."

"I'll still miss Chester and Waldorf." Heather explained as she tied her mask on.

I simply hugged her and said, "Chester misses everyone that he takes a liking to, so you can be sure that he'll lick you up a storm when we get home for Summer Vacation."

"Do you mean that sis?" Heather asked me firmly.

"Sis, I'm half-faerie we are supposed to have a real problem with lying remember." I said before I used my choker to switch back to my costume as we finished getting ready.




Waldorf=Astoria Hotel - Entrance
5:54 PM

"Tango Niner Foxtrot, we have flyers inbound, I need an ID- Over." One of the figures in power armor said through her headset as she spotted a trio of individuals, only one of whom was flying under their own power, the others appeared to be either flying on a anti-grav platform of some fashion and the last actually running on thin air. None of the trio appeared armed and they didn't look like any of the those on the list of possible bogies for tonight, but one could never be too careful.

The rookie Knight of Purity powered up her weapon on a stun setting to be on the safe-side but left the safety engaged as the trio moved on a landing vector to the sidewalk in front of the Colgate-Palmolive Building across the street. Do not engage Whiskey, I repeat do not engage, fliers are on the confirmed guest list for the award Ceremony in the Starlight Ballroom. They ID as Seraphim (Empire State Guard-Honorary), Faolan (Dallas Defenders-Honorary) and Jolt, they have a legal flight plan filed- Over. Debra Solomon deflated and powered her weapon down, there was no need to give the wrong impression. It seemed that these days too many mutants thought that the Knights were scaled down Sentinels as is- and the costumed members of the group were too young to likely be anything else.

Ms. Solomon looked on at the trio as another young cape emerged from Seraphim's shield, and with a gesture, four more individuals appeared. Two of the individuals were obviously children as young as the new girl and were in obvious costumes, while the adults in with the group were obviously dressed up with gloves and masquerade domino-masks. Likely, the adults were chaperones to the group and one of them was in army dress uniform, hmm Captain he must be related to one of the kids.

Debra waited by the entrance to the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel, watching the group cross at the corner of East 49th and Park Avenue and calmly crossed while what looked like a crow landed on the shoulder of the one she assumed was Faolan (it sounded like a mystic's name and she looked the part). The group gave Mayhugh who was stationed out in front of the Starbucks (lucky bastard) a wide birth, Sure enough they were approaching the front door- she hated doing this and it was only the third time tonight, it made her feel like a damned Nazi. She joined to save people and fight monsters not to play errand girl to the MCO or hassle law-abiding capes, and she had already had to card Doctor Thunder, Magno-Man, Lioness and B-58 of the Empire City Guard; which sucked because the trainee B-58 was a serious hunk that looked about her age, it wasn't like there were many alternatives. She felt even lower when she also had to card the legendary adventurer Doctor Quasimodo and his granddaughter Lattice, who was also the daughter of the late Justice Brigade member Professor Ohm.

"Please present MIDs and tickets for verification." Debra stated, as she held out the RFID reader in her left-hand. Sure enough, the first three registered as Seraphim, Faolan and Jolt, the young girl in the cloak and cat suit registered as Apparitia (Dallas Defender- honorary) and quickly joined the older trio. The girl in the armored track-suit registered as Animalia (legal ward of Dallas Defender Plainswalker), whoa the Dallas Defenders had only legally reassembled last month but they had obviously been busy long before they revealed that to the press, Animalia soon joined the other four to Debra's right.

The last girl, who was dressed like some masked old-time nurse, really gave Debra a shock when she used the RFID reader on her MID. The reader listed her as Nightingale, (daughter of Justice Brigade members Merrimack and Mock'nbird) holy smoke this was B-58's kid sister. Debra smiled under her helmet, maybe if she played her cards right she could get her brother's number from the little girl when she left later tonight. The latter two of course had tickets for the Awards Banquet as guests of either Faolan or Apparitia, the guests of honor for the event. "Enjoy the evening and your stay in New York." The group thanked her as they entered the hotel; maybe her evening was looking up after all because tonight was likely to be long and boring. Sigh it was too bad they couldn't download audio books into these things for guard duty, at least they were well ventilated and came with the- ahem necessities.




Waldorf=Astoria Hotel - Grand Ballroom
6:54 PM

In the Grand Ballroom Goodkind International's Winter Charity Ball was well underway, this year the charity of choice was Doctors Without Borders, already they had raised ten million dollars and the festivities had only begun. It was almost enough to take Helen's mind off the unfortunate situation that she had come across upon arrival; the hotel was swarming with those monstrous abominations. As frustrating as this was there was nothing Helen could do about this situation, at least nothing without causing an international incident, they were actually there on invitation of the President of France himself.

From what she had heard through a quick phone call to the French Consulate two young ugh- mutants had found and returned the sword of Saint Joan of Arc by way of the State Department, more likely they robbed someone's home and just found the thing too expensive to fence. The poor deluded President Jacques Chirac, in what was obviously a move that was obviously to gather publicity for the coming election, had held off making the recovery public in order to make a spectacle of receiving the sword from the two while presenting them with one of France's greatest honors- it was almost enough to turn her stomach. Hold on something was obviously happening, one of the maître-de's was headed to the podium, what the- she would have to have a word with the hotel staff the man had a flask on him and had seemed to have drank the entire contents in one go, such a vulgar display.

Suddenly the man began to tremble and then grew tearing his uniform revealing another outfit underneath; the crowd began to panic, as the individual calmly seemed to replace his shoes with a pair hidden within the podium. As everyone tried to get up from their tables, the wait-staff seemed to shimmer as they were revealed to be Syndicate Tiger-Guards. The well-dressed, massive ape-like giant now finished transforming and changing his shoes and straightening his outfit including the coat that he also retrieved from the podium, removed a cylinder from his coat and pressed a button.

Suddenly the room was filled with a strange tone that had several guests clutching their ears before something horrible happened, suddenly all around the two-floor ballroom guest violently transformed into horrid growling and snarling monstrosities, it was like something out of a nightmare. The tiger teams of course took this in stride as they navigated the room towards the rear where giant cabinets shimmered into visibility, Helen herself was awash in terror, was almost like the horror of her youth had returned to her in the present.

"Greetings now one and all, and in case you do not remember me given that I rarely make public appearances these days, the moniker by which I am known is Professor Id, now I present you one and all with the great honor of being part of a grand experiment." The well dressed and dapper yet, apish behemoth boasted in a deep boisterous tone as he postured with a garish display through the microphone. "As you are no doubt aware, a number of your fellow guests have transformed into monstrous beings; however I would like to assure you that the effects of my potions are only temporary and will wear off in a matter of hours."

"Of course only a half of those affected by my tinctures have suffered a mere physical transformation, the rest have received a chemical that has metamorphosed them into potentially savage creatures that will attack any perceived threat without a moment's hesitation. This was done via a minor tampering with the fight or flight instinct and of course, the effect becomes amplified if alcohol is in their system."

"Now certainly those who still remain perfectly human cannot help but think how can this maniac leave us in a roomful of potentially savage monsters completely unable to defend ourselves? Well to show you that I am not completely without mercy I have secured a number of small firearms under your tables for your protection. Of course should those simple consumer grade derringers be insufficient there are fully-loaded military-grade armaments in located in special secure cases attached to escrow boxes, almost like auto-mat vending machines."

"Still for the sake of the convenience there is a mark-up of nine-hundred percent, still it it should be a minor trifle to those in this room so feel free to use them, or do not this matter is up to your personal judgment after all. Also before anyone thinks of escaping all possible exits are covered by energy cancellation of an esoteric nature, so no one can enter or exit until they are removed, and before anyone has any ideas the tiger guards are all wearing personal force-field generators. Now without further adieu let the experiment commence!"


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4 years 3 months ago - 4 years 3 months ago #17048 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 9




Waldorf=Astoria Hotel - Starlight Ballroom
New York, New York
7:05 PM

Things this evening had started off so well and had turned into a nightmare, several French dignitaries, members of the state department as well as my mother had turned into giant beasts. While at the back, right next to something that looked like the gym lockers that I had back in junior high, ugh that was an unpleasant memory, going through puberty and dealing with those showers.

Meanwhile people still seated at the tables were beginning to panic, no one had any illusions about the derringers being effective against either the beasts or the tiger guards, and I was glad something about this whole setup of Id's stunk like an open sewage main. Of course, I was thankful that we started noticing signs that something was wrong earlier...




Flashback

Waldorf=Astoria Hotel - Starlight Ballroom
6:07 PM

This was surreal, two months ago I was overweight, dumpy freshman nobody in Arlington Texas that had constant nightmares from three ancient entities duking it out in his head. Now I was a good-looking young lady about to receive one of France's highest honors alongside her new sister, after hobnobbing with various veteran capes, I was still trying to wrap my head around it, still everyone with me was trying to make the most of the evening before the ceremony.

Jolt was over with Doctor Quasimodo asking all sorts of questions about his many adventures over the years, I was still waiting for him to remember that he left his copy of Doctor Quasimodo and The Curse of the Scarlet Mummy with me before he asked for the scarred giant of a man's autograph. Seraphim was talking with Doctor Thunder about how her class choices could affect her future career path, and getting some great advice in case she decided not to go into super-heroics later but do something else- like keep working with Silver and Eldritch and making kick-ass enchanted items that were worth a mint.

Nightingale was bugging her brother B-58 about how he liked training with the Empire State Guard and was asking if he was planning to join for real. I know that B-58 sounds like a jerky codename but it was America's first sonic bomber. Unfortunately the plane's full name was the Convair B-58 Hustler and what respectable hero-to-be wanted to have a code name that would associate them with Larry Flynt's infamous adult magazine. Animalia was busy chatting with Nightingale's parents Mock'nbird and Merrimack trying to learn more about her options since her dream's of ever competing in the Olympics had gone up in smoke when she manifested, that poor girl, if it doesn't rain it damn well pours. Apparitia had just left for the powder room with mom; I hope the amount of important people here didn't overwhelm her.

"Enjoying the party sprout?" I heard a familiar voice ask that belonged to someone that I hadn't spoken to in weeks. Sure enough, I turned to the source and there was Morrigan in her full costumed regalia, oddly enough sans Badb who I had seen in her hooded-crow form perched on Morrigan's shoulder when she came in earlier. Then again was Jane absent at the moment as well, probably having a mother-daughter chat, and it would be rude of me to interrupt.

"I thought that you were on your second honeymoon Valkyrian, are you and your husband taking a break from each other already?" I teased my mentor (and former voice in my head) while trying to maintain a formal tone.

"Like I was going to miss my latest apprentice receiving her first accolade," Valkyrian stated as she patted my unoccupied shoulder. "Besides my husband took his piece of the Royal Regalia over to a soup kitchen in the Bronx to work his magic, those folks are going to have a meal that will fill them in more ways than one."

"Yeah, I understand he's real good at instilling hope in the hopeless. Not to mention that his special cooking pot should help the kitchen stretch their budget a little more for the month." I said weighing in on Dagda's demeanor and mystic cauldron, before bringing her up to speed. "I can't wait until you get back; somehow I feel that your former apprentice is almost as sadistic as her late sister."

"At least she isn't as psychotic as her other late sister, still neither of them deserved what happened to them, Mister Domino's son is a nightmare." The Valkyrian shook her head in sadness, "And as bad as they were the two of them were still my apprentices, I wish that they had succeeded like their sister instead of becoming the monsters that they did."

"If wishes were fishes then we'd never go hungry." I mused while I looked over the room. "You weren't their mother, and even if you were there is only so much a parent can do; ultimately a child winds up becoming themselves no matter what, the soil can only do so much to shape how a plant grows."

"True, but I still had hoped that they had turned out better then a spoiled sadist or a psychotic maniac, I wound up raising my daughter twice and she turned out so well both times., and my son was a worthwhile heir to his father's throne." Valkyrian almost seemed to get a faraway look as she remembered her daughter Brigid and Bob Derg. "Of course she turned out much the same on her third time around as a mortal, and I could only look on as she lived that short life. Even the stellar success of my next apprentice and my experiences with my goddaughter never took away how much I missed her."

"Say Valkyrian," I interrupted her chain of thought, which was going to a very sad and depressing place. "You never did tell me how you came to choose your identity or came to be an honorary member of the Empire State Guard."

"Well it's kind of an embarrassing story, you see I was big into the music scene during the Sixties and Seventies, I even followed Led Zeppelin during their first American Tour as a roadie." I could almost see the Ancient Sidhe blush as she recounted her tale. "Now a lot of the stories about the music scene were true, but I didn't want to cheat on my husband, despite the fact that we were separated at the time because of his job. So in order to work off my frustrations when I had some free time during the tour, I would suit up and fight a little local crime, sometimes this meant helping out the local super-hero teams."

"It all began when the tour stopped in Denver and I helped out Heaven's Thunder with a super-natural incursion of a mid level demon that had been set loose by the Blizzard Wizard, of course it also helped out since the White Witch and I go way back. Next was when I was in Texas helping out the second incarnation of the Dallas Defenders (after the unfortunate passing of Iron Horse) take down the Diablo Desperado and his Purgatory Posse, real nasty infernal piece of work that monster was. Then in Chicago I wound up helping the third Champion deal with The Dark Terror, he and I teamed up for about a month back then, real solid young man I even taught him a thing or two- unfortunate what happened to him. Finally I came to New York City which was the end of the tour, while I was there I helped the Empire City Guard take down this uppity young super-powered thief that had been giving the city trouble for a while, you might have even heard about him- he goes by Mimeo."

"Wha- you mean that you helped capture him, how?" I was a bit stumped by this little revelation; I mean Mimeo was the real world equivalent to Amazo or the Super-Adaptoid; although it was even more unreal because it was a person (as opposed to an android) who was already a high-level exemplar. He was someone who took on entire teams at once, my imagination was going into overdrive on the implications.

"Keep in mind that I was helping out the Empire City Guard so I was hardly alone and Mimeo was still an inexperienced young punk back then." Valkyrian elaborated barely touching on the tale. "In most cases experience trumps ability, and given that the main focus of Mimeo's ability is using those of other's he could hardly use them to their fullest. Also keep in mind that arrogance cost you as well, back then Mimeo had lots of ability, little experience and a massive ego it cost him his first defeat."

Randi I just received a message from my mother. Jane began to convey to tell me over my link as Morrigan was no doubt hearing the details straight from the bird's mouth. Heather accidentally dropped something under one of the tables earlier, when she went to retrieve it she noticed guns strapped under the table that were hidden from view by the table cloth.

I received a flash of the image of derringer pistols secured to the underside of the tables with masking tape, right as Badb returned to Morrigan's shoulder with a mirrored disc about the size of a washer in her beak. She gave that to mother and asked her to wait three minutes and wander under the tables one by one. Mom followed and Heather used the reflection on the disk to pop out and take the guns, they were under all of the tables, of course now their littering the Place of Smoke and Mirrors.

'I don't like this Jane, first the waiters smell... weird and then all those guns something stinks.' I took a glance at the door as mom and Heather came back in and she gave a thumbs up in our direction, I had hoped that their quick action had averted whatever crisis was about to happen. Still the real question remained, why would anyone put guns under all the tables, let alone single-shot low-caliber derringers- even if this room had people that could shrug off that kind of damage like it was nothing.

That was when a hologram was projected from one of the chandeliers in the ceiling, Morrigan and Doctor Quasimodo recognized him instantly. "Id!" Crap that was Professor Id, what was with me running into schemes related to top-tier super-villains and mystic heavyweights, maybe I should talk with Bladedancer when I got back to school to see if the Tao just hated me or something.

"Greetings to you one and all, now just on the off chance that my old nemesis Doctor Quasimodo failed to inform you in his advanced age, I am Professor Id." As the hologram played its message, all around the various capes were torn between fear for the guests and anger at this monster at possibly putting them at risk. "Now I apologize for failing to be there in person, but I do have another party to attend elsewhere tonight. Still I would be remiss to leave you entertained." A shrill whistle echoed through the room and several individuals started transforming left and right into monsters, including my mom who was right next to Heather. The wait staff and security also revealed themselves to be the Syndicate's Tiger Guards wearing hologuises and proved to be armed, meanwhile some weird amalgamation of a gym locker and an ATM appeared on both sides of the Ballroom.

"Now I assure you that half of those affected by the elixirs that I placed in the refreshments have only transformed physically, of course the other half received a potion that affected their fight or flight reflexes that shall cause them to fly into an uncontrollable savage rage should they feel threatened. Still I would not be so needlessly cruel as to allow those few baselines that remain human to go defenseless, I have provided you all with single-shot derringers located under the tables. Still if you want, something with a little more- kick the escrow boxes off to your side will provide you with military grade hardware at about eighty-percent of the normal cost, and before anyone tries to flee there has been a high-level energy nullification charm coupled with a force-field placed around the room to prevent such an eventuality. Now without further adieu, let the great experiment begin!"

End Flashback




Waldorf=Astoria Hotel - Starlight Ballroom
7:06 PM

Of course since Heather had taken out the derringers that left two possible outcomes. Either it would make people panic and snowball into a real mess of fear and violence, or cooler heads would prevail since we had a large number of recognized heroes in the room I hoped that people would calm down and think that we could handle this. Otherwise, the members of the press and those that were still normal might rush to those vending machines and bring automatic weapons into the equation, now I was about to palm my magnetism shell from out of my bag the moment Id's hologram explained the machines. Now I still needed my mana rifle for it to work, and considering that thing was very visible, I took out the paralysis shell instead in case things got hairy and I had to stop people without hurting them-- I really needed to finish work on those pistols.

The tension in the room was so thick that you could forget cutting it with a knife; you'd probably break the thing. Nobody was moving not the transformed people, not the various heroes, the costumes heroes still trying to prove themselves, the untransformed civilians, and thankfully not the Tiger Guards. Still somebody had to make a move, that was when Jane told me Randi would you mind in mother and I offer a little electrical interference to Professor Id's scheme.

Knowing that most people had been ignoring the two stormcrows who had been flying and randomly perching themselves all evening I imagined they would be the least likely to start a panic. "Go ahead my fair partner, fry those things."

Despite the likely success of the plan I couldn't help but worry, especially since my mother would be a target if anyone suddenly lost it and started a panic- come to think about it right now she looked like a cross between a ram and a bear. As the two storm crows made their way around the room, I all but held my breath and put my right-hand on my gauntlet for what was to come next. Finally, the two of them set the plan into motion as they landed on the escrow machines, sparked up a miniature-localized thunderstorm and fried their circuitry.

"What the hell!" One of the Tiger Guards shouted as this drew the attention of every Syndicate goon in the room and freed everyone to act. I drew, loaded, aimed and fired my mana rifle at the nearest Tiger Guard that I could get a clear shot on causing him to fall over as his muscles locked up. I wasn't the only one who sprang into action Magno-Man had torn the guns out of the grip of every member of the Syndicate Special Operations team, and sent them to rest at his feet before every hero in the room proceeded to go to town. Morrigan and Doctor Quasimodo went mono a mono with their nearest opponents in seasoned tandem, showing that they had done things like this many times before.

Merrimac armored up into an organic steel titan and blasted his opponents with concussive telekinetic blasts as his wife took to the air and knocked out her targets out with directed sonic siren strikes. Lattice surrounded herself with a corona of starlight and materialized photonic fists to hammer away those trying to get to the various civilians, while B-58 stopped any stray guards. I noticed that Animalia was protecting mom and Apparitia, by tossing anyone that tried to charge them away like rag-dolls while Nightingale used her ability to cause every downed Tiger Guard to fall asleep. Jolt and Seraphim were doing well to protect the transformed civilians near them using their new blade and staff to keep any Tiger Guard that came through at bay, and keeping the temporary monsters from panicking.

Elsewhere in the room, a group of nine who I didn't recognize were taking care of anyone that came near the reporters. One was a lion man that was covered by a golden auro that soaked up damage like a sponge while this lizard man next to him used some truly wicked hand-to-hand attacks on his opponents. A snake-like girl, who reminded me of Diamondback, was busy constricting her opponent in her coils. The two identical twins were working almost in as close a case of tandem as Morrigan and Doctor Quasimodo were. As for the remaining individuals a catbird girl, a bird-like kid, a fox-girl, and one who looked perfectly normal were busy trying to keep the press calm. Meanwhile Legionnaire and Doctor Thunder were doing a great job keeping the French President safe while I picked off any strays using Jane's eyes to watch my back.

Eventually every member of the Tiger Guard was down, and other than them, no else had more than a few scrapes and bruises. I strolled over to the nearest Tiger Guard member, activated Jericho's pump and shifted to my rave-wolf form, I hoisted the mercenary off his feet and growled. "Id is no idiot he knew that third-tier Syndicate goons wouldn't last long against a room full of paranormals; just what is he up to?"

"It is no good asking him child; these are not real Tiger Guards, or even human beings for that matter." Doctor Quasimodo explained as he curb-stomped the right-leg of a nearby Tiger-Guard causing his body to dissolve instantly into protoplasmic goo. "These are Professor Id's doppelgoons, the real Tiger Guards if they are here at all are likely with Professor Id himself, but I doubt that Id only hires outside help for important tasks if he needs abilities that he does not have. Still it does not change the fact that we are currently trapped until this enchantment is disabled."

I nodded as I hit the red-button causing the cold-iron prod in my pump to disrupt my abilities and transforming back to normal. I hoped that enough people saw that, I wanted to see if I could cultivate the illusion that this change was the result of a special formula that boosted my shifter ability, that way I could have a mistaken interpretation of my abilities as a trump card. After all this was the only life I had, left and surprise would be a great weapon to have to keep it going for a long time. "At least that explains the smell that I was getting off of them earlier." I said to the scarred adventurer. "They smelled too- new, they lacked any lingering scents of their daily lives." And I should know, Badb told me the same thing herself not long after we met.




Waldorf=Astoria Hotel - Grand Ballroom
7:13 PM

Id looked on with smug satisfaction at the panic that was brewing, any minute now someone would snap, and he already knew from various psychological profiles that he had examined over the course of the month several likely candidates. "Now see here if it is money you are after you can certainly get more than enough from several individuals in this room." Giles Walcutt said coming forward with his wallet out, "Now tell me sir what is your price?"

Professor Id furrowed his brow as he grabbed Mister Walcutt and hauled him up to his face, "Listen here you tiny, insignificant, speck of nothing, I do not need your trifling pennies I am worth trillions on my own. I make a fortune every year by selling arms, munitions and materials to dictatorial régimes, guerilla groups, terrorist cells, and criminal organizations the world over with very little overhead and no taxes to stem my profits. Thus I will inform you that I have no need for anything as crude as mere wealth, I am doing this for scientific research alone!"

This outburst was what finally did it; Doctor Helen Cassandra Hilton Goodkind's sanity had been dangling like a frayed thread for months, only her pride kept her from losing her decorum this evening. However the sight of people turning into mutated monstrosities all around her, and the appearance of a super-villain who was now committing this brutal display sent her into a flashback to when she was six which transposed itself upon reality; all around she saw Tempest dressed in some tiger-styled armor and dozens of variations of Tearaway. Helen forgot the derringers and ran right for the escrow boxes, with a quick swipe of her credit card a locker opened to release a new and fully loaded Hydra Assault Rifle. Helen took it and smiled she would make the monsters pay for trying to take her family away from her like they had her son Trevor and sister Elizabeth, Helen took aim as she squeezed the trigger and began to scream.




Over the Streets of Manhattan
7:21 PM

"AHHHHHHHH," Debra Solomon screamed at the top of her lungs as the flight-pack on her power armor engaged once again and sent her hurtling over traffic. It had been nearly half an hour since her suit auto-engaged and took-off with her inside. Try as she might she couldn't get control of her suit, the controls were locked. Now all that she had access to was the HUD and the GPS, and through those she could perceive that her entire squad was experiencing the same problems and their drop-ship had returned to the cargo-freighter that they were using as a mobile base of operations. The Knights of Purity were in Manhattan and completely out of control, it was a nightmare made real, and nothing she could do would wake her up.

Her external speakers were also sporadic at best; it was like she was trying to talk through a bad cellphone connection. This was made worse by the armor's acoustic insulation, which had been designed to protect against sonic assaults, anything not caught by her external speakers was severely limited to a barely perceivable muffled noise. "No get out of here, run away, and my armor's been high-jacked!" Debra screamed as her suit landed, smashed up a number of windows and unloaded a sonic stun barrage against both traffic and bystanders who only heard, "No g- ou-..., run a-..., ...hi-jac-..."




Stewart International Airport
Newburgh, New York
7:37 PM

Kayla Hewlett looked on with pride as the first squad of her Star-Marshall series were loaded onto the airship that had been designed for their deployment, a feat of engineering based on the old zeppelin designs but using bleeding-edge materials and technology, why need a base and a drop ship when an airship could be two-in-one. The display of the Knight, Rook, and Bishop models with their various available mission packs had gone off without a hitch. Any minute now and generator that they had brought in would finish charging the airship's power cells and they would be ready for their return flight to Dallas.

"I am sorry Kayla but our return flight home has been delayed." Alana Metzer her boss said as she approached the gadgeteer from the Research and Development Division. "I have just received a call from the New York City mayor's office, the Knights of Purity are for some reason running amok in downtown Manhattan and he received info about our test from Senator Chuck Schumer. I know that the test-types are far from combat ready, but mayor Bloomberg is offering to help us negotiate an exclusivity contract with the Governor Schumer should we accept."

"Understood ma'am I'll have suits prepped in five minutes, the pilots are already on board, I'll inform the captain to file a new flight plan with the air traffic controllers. You can inform the mayor that we will be there in twenty minutes." Kayla explained before she ran off to inform the crew of the change in plans.

Alana smiled as she told mayor Bloomberg, "It isn't a problem your honor, we'll be there in half an hour or earlier." Alana ended the call and closed her cell phone, today was going very well for her, and thanks to Fritz's current operation working alongside Professor Id, it was about to go even better.

She knew that Id was a homicidal monster with no morals what so ever, however, with an King of Clubs (Red) of her Sweeper's secretly involved in the operation she could make sure that at least the interference portion of the operation would go off with only minimal casualties. While the other half of the interference was not one of her operatives, she knew enough about Mimeo to know that while keeping the heroes busy there would be few casualties on his end as well- and no fatalities if possible.

Unfortunately there was nothing that she could do for the people trapped in the ballrooms, but given the amount of heroes on hand the group in the Starlight Ballroom should be fine. The Grand Ballroom on the other hand was another story Alana Metzer, or as she was better known in her alternate identity as the seemingly ageless Grand Hall Sorceress Erzabet Scratch hoped, that there were no children at that party. At the moment there was nothing that she could have done to save them without becoming a target to Professor Id and a dozen or more super-villain organizations in the process, besides this was not her territory New York's Grand Hall was more factionalized than Chicago's prior to its acquisition, and that was just how its founder Mister Domino liked it to be.

The mere possibility made her feel powerless a feeling that was all too familiar to her given her long acquaintance with the sensation. The knowledge was constantly humbling, no matter how far she had come there were still so little that she could do, so many that were beyond her help. Perhaps when Operation Black Isle finally came to fruition these injustices could finally be addressed, but even with the current strength of her organization and the potential support of the Obsidian Circle she still came up short at present. She needed either a few more years or the assistance of an outside party for her goal to become a reality, and the time until the advent was ticking away. Of course, in regards to the Obsidian Circle she had another phone call to make.




Waldorf=Astoria Hotel - Starlight Ballroom
New York City, New York
7:43 PM

The fake Tiger Guards were disposed of however, the problem remained with the barrier, while they were safe for the time being; everyone present was trapped and blind to the situation outside- even the windows were black without light filtering through. Ironically they had Professor Id to thank for the lights even being on, he had rigged a small fusion-cell generator to power the lights and the now slagged escrow machines, still we were making the best of it.

After we got the room back in order, and Morrigan finished using her magic to mend the clothes of everyone who had been transformed into a beast a touch of modesty before trying to find a weakness in the barrier. During the interim, President Jacques Chirac decided to go ahead with the ceremony before anything else happened; it wasn't like we had anything else to do.

To tell the truth it wasn't much of a ceremony I presented the sword to President Chirac's who handed it to his aide, who was a chimpanzee-panther for the moment, and then Heather and I received a sash with our medal affixed to it. The President said some brief words in French, and then Heather and I took a bow before we left the stage.

After our currently beastly mom gave Heather and I a bear hug (literally) and a Chewbacca-like growl of pride, I removed the sash-folded it and stored it for later. Heather meanwhile stored hers on that utility belt that she showed me while we were getting ready at the hotel earlier. I had to admit that it that I was proud of her; it was ingenious using three dozen changeling baubles with a rhinestone gun and a braided belt to make an instant utility belt. Still I had other matters on my mind, one of the group of nine now showing to be eight (the twins proved to be a splitter) came over to me, it was the dragon boy from earlier.

"That was a crazy bit of fighting earlier Faolan was it, my name's Draconis." He said offering me his hand.

"Thank you, your group did fairly well for the most part, just where did you train?" I asked the young man out of curiosity given that I knew that Jolt, Seraphim and I were the only students from Whateley in New York at the moment.

"We’ve trained nowhere in particular just yet cutie although we are supposed to go to this place up in New England this spring." The fox-like girl from earlier interjected faster than I could see, likely a speedster. "Maybe you and I could talk about it later somewhere... private."

She blurred out of the way and the lion man no longer glowing gold, tried to grab her. "Sorry about Quikvix, she can be a little too friendly to some people." He chuckled nervously while he saw my eyes narrow. "I'm Palleon by the way and the winged cat over there is my sister Crux over there by Asklepian and Strato um, that is the snake-lady and the birdlike guy."

"I guess that we will run into you then in a week before spring semester starts then." I stated guessing the group's eventual destination before I walked over to where Apparitia had joined Seraphim, Jolt, Animalia and Nightingale to try and help Valkyrian make heads or tails of the barrier. "So sensei, how does it look?"

"The good news is that I know how to take this kind of barrier down the bad news is that it requires a massive amount of quintessence and two mages working from both sides of the barrier." Valkyrian sighed, and we are trapped inside.

"Valkyrian what if I told you that I have a way to get you on the other side, as well as a possible way to provide the quintessence on this side?" I said as a weird idea formed in my head."

"Just what do you have in mind?" Valkyrian looked at me with an ounce of curiosity.

"Apparitia see if you can use your utility belt and something reflective to take Morrigan and Badb to the other-side of the barrier like through the vanity mirrors in the ladies room." I began to explain the basics of my plan, "Seraphim I need you to come with me and see if we can briefly borrow a certain sword from a world leader." We began to put our plan into action and I hoped that it would work, otherwise we would likely be here until morning, and then have even more to explain to Ms. Carson than we did already did. I shivered as I approached President Chirac to explain my plan, and frankly, I hoped that it worked- I did not want to have to explain our tardiness to Ms. Hartford tomorrow.




The Obsidian Circle's Hidden Sanctum
Location Unknown
7:47 PM?

In less than an hour an hour one of the most important meetings in the history of the Obsidian Circle was about to begin and while for the first time Baron Astio was actually in attendance, also for the first time ever Lord Ataxia would be absent. This made the Conte Enigma very nervous indeed this was a day that they had been preparing for as long as he could remember, and one of their most powerful members was absent he had every right to be nervous since failure meant death or worse. He was so wound up that when the phone on the relay line rang he jumped.

"I shall get that." Conte Enigma moved to get the phone hoping that he didn't show any weakness around either his boss or the mystic heavy weights gathered. "Hello?"

<Yes Conte Enigma it is Erzabet Scratch, do please be kind and tell our fellow members that I might be unable to attend the meeting. There are complications involving my public persona and there is the possibility that I will be unable to get away in time to attend, give my best to Mistress Nyx.>

As the newest member of their group hung up Conte Enigma turned to relay her message, "That was Erzabet Scratch, she was calling to inform us that might not be able to attend tonight's meeting without destroying her current cover."

"Do not worry Cagliostro, I will be more than enough to compensate should any complications arise when the guest of honor arrives." Baron Astio stated as he drummed his fingers on the table.

"And remember if the worst happens we also have my son." Mister Domino stated as Carcharoth grinned in malice.




Waldorf=Astoria Hotel - Starlight Ballroom
New York City, New York
8:05 PM

Okay I'll be honest this plan was a complete crap shoot, I knew that Heather would have no problem getting Morrigan and Badb outside so they would be on the other side of the barrier's field, the problem was on our end. As far as I knew we only had three people in the room that had a decent Wizard trait and Kerry and I were the only ones with any amount of training, which meant that if this didn't work I would be cleaning toilets in Hawthorn for a week or longer.

The basic idea was pretty rudimentary Jane would feed me the instructions over our link, since I had switched to my cloth mask (when in costume I have it flipped up to resemble a head-band) Kerry would read my surface thoughts and learn where and when to strike. The risky part was Kerry would be using the Sword of Saint Joan d'Arc to channel the faith that every French person that were now in New York had in their patron saint. We didn't know if it would work and if it did this would potentially be as much juice as she had in her when she fought Ymir- possibly more. The quintessence in question would be tremendous so I was going to use myself as a parallel circuit to decrease the danger, and together we would channel the refined mana into Seraphim's sword into the exact spot and time.

"Well Seraphim, let's cross everything." I said as the two of us assumed the planned stance. Kerry held the handle of both blades, Saint Joan's in her left pointed into the air and her own in her right aimed at a specific spot on the door that only Jane could see and she only saw through me. Meanwhile my right-arm was around Kerry's back with the flat of mythril knife Trócaire against her right shoulder blade, and my left hand locked with hers around her sword. I was likely going to be praying for a miracle too, while I was trying to ignore that I was holding Kerry's hand while our chests were pressed against each other rather intimately.

"Here I go Faolan, be ready." Kerry shut her eyes as she began to try to use Saint Joan of Arc's sword like a mystic antenna, to draw in energy, sure enough the Malkuthic energies that the Angel of Hell's Kitchen was famous for using when surrounded by faith it was weird because I could swear that I saw her blushing. As that corona of energy appeared, Trócaire began to bleed it off the flowing energy as it flowed through her and ambient energy of her corona, together I then let Jane guide me as the energy flowed through me a weave it into the needed spell. Seraphim and I let this moment happen together as we let the energy build until Badb told us over her link with Jane, 'Now!' On cue the two of us released the spell in synch as the energy hit the junction that Jane revealed to us, for a moment the room appeared to warp and contort until there was an audible snap, and I stopped and collapsed with a bit of nervous exhaustion.

I looked up to see that Seraphim was still lit like a Christmas tree, she dropped the swords which Jolt caught, and channeled this channeled the rest of the energy into one of her angels. The divine manifestation zoomed around the room and appeared to have speed up the decay of Professor which restored everyone to normal, unfortunately that normal was naked, so everyone was scrambling to put their clothes back on (many diving under table clothes to do so) while the capes and young masks kept the press from taking any dirty pictures.

As my fatigue left me, I was to my feet in time to catch Kerry who collapsed in weariness, thank goodness that unlike her holiday horror stories this was an indirect miracle given that no one was hurt or suffering, if anything she just received the fatigue that they would have felt upon transforming back. Now that the spell was down Valkyrian rushed back inside the door followed by Badb and Apparitia. I looked up at my mentor and told her, "Mission accomplished with no casualties... other than a little bit of semi-public humiliation."

"So now we take the fight to Professor Id." Jolt said fired up now that my dad had took Joan of Arc's sword back to where President Chirac was patiently awaiting it's return.

"No now is when Apparitia takes you three to the airport to catch your flight back to New Hampshire, it leaves in about half-an-hour, while I work a memory charm on the reporters to make sure none of them remember seeing Seraphim's angel." Valkyrian said with the firmness to back up her decision.

I began to seethe with anger that I wouldn't be able to go after the bastard who dared to endanger my family, and then Kerry shifted her weight in my arms and I was brought back to reality. When I saw Jamal about to object I raised my voice and explained. "Don't worry Jolt our time to shine will come, remember we did some good work here and we helped save a lot of lives, but the last thing we need is to start a feud with Professor Id like Chaka's group has going with the Children of the Night. Remember we did our part tonight as good citizens, now it's time to step back and let the experts handle this, that and I don't know about you but I want to sleep in my own bed tonight and I think that Seraphim need it more than I do. I just hope that the Headmistress doesn't chew us out for this."

"Fine, I see your point." Jolt said standing down understanding but still a little disappointed. "Still it was a great experience."

"Yeah it was something alright." I said as Heather stored Jane and Kerry in preparation for our trip to the airport. "Oh and Doc Quasimodo autographed your book for you."

"Really that's grea..." Jamal was cut-off as Heather stored him away.

"See you again later this week sis." Heather said as she prepared to store me for the trip.

"Have fun with mom and dad short-stack, and tell them that I wish I had time to say good bye." I smiled as I temporarily stored Kerry's sword and Trócaire before reapplying my armored mask and letting myself be stored in the dangling changeling bauble.




Streets of Manhattan
8:09 PM

"Make it stop- make it stop!" Debra Solomon wept inside of her power armor to no avail; this nightmare just absolutely refused to end. She didn't sign up for this, the recruiter said that she'd be keeping people safe and stopping super-villains, instead she was shooting up windows, smashing cars and shooting civilians with stun weapons. She knew that someone had highjacked her armor but it was still a traumatic experience having a front row seat to this mayhem.

"No- no- no stop it!" Debra cried as her gun oriented on another fleeing group, she closed her eyes and tried to drown out the screams that she heard around her. As the sonic stun-round fired she expected to hear the screams quiet down as another group of innocent victims were downed, instead there was the odd boing. Ms Solomon opened her eyes to see the group protected by a force field that appeared to be generated by a type of power armor that she had never seen before, it was white with black-trim and a silver-circled star embossed on the right-shoulder piece.

"Please remain calm and stay within the force-field, we are the Star Marshals, the mayor has hired us to deal with the situation!" Another woman's voice came from the suit's speakers and Debra was filled with a brief amount of hope, until she heard her jump-jets begin to warm up and realized that whoever was controlling her suit was just sending her to find a new target.

"No- no- no!" Debra began to stammer before something knocked her to the ground, she barely had time to think before something pried open the chassis of her armor and took off her helmet. Knowing her freedom was at hand Ms Solomon tried to pull herself from her from her armor now that the back was open however the servos in the limbs of her suit refused to cooperate, at least until something held them down letting Debra pull herself free wearing only her sensor suit. She looked up to see two new power armor suits different from the first but with similar paint jobs, "Thanks for freeing..." She started to say.

"Stop, we have been deputized by the New York City Police Department!" She heard a man's voice from the smaller of the two suits over her. "You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you. You have the right to an attorney, if you cannot afford one you will be appointed one by the city."

It seemed her nightmare was far from over as Debra was read her rights, had her wrists bound behind her back and her ankles secured with some kind tape. All the while her armor still thrashed on the ground before it finally stopped. "It seems that her armor was being controlled by a remote signal Bishop-1, I'm compressing this video evidence into a data-packet to turn over to the NYPD now, please make certain that the black box is intact then alert the authorities."

"Roger Knight-1, I am commencing a scan of Knight of Purity armor for flight recorder now!" The Bishop replied as he eyeballed her armor, "Rook-1 the area is secure, please examine the detainee for injuries and attach a bio-monitor before we move on to the next rogue Knight of Purity."

"Roger Bishop-1," The Rook stated as she dropped her shield allowing the civilians to seek shelter elsewhere as she approached Debra who felt like her troubles were only beginning.




LaGuardia Airport
8:13 PM

When I came, to Heater was standing next to a taxi and we were outside the entrance to the Airport and none the worse from the travel. Kerry was coming to her senses as Jamal commented, "-t, Wait, what the? Man traveling like that was weird. It was almost like we were teleported."

"Jane could you give us a fog bank?" I asked, as she complied I told Jamal and Kerry. "Seraphim here's your sword back and Jolt here's your civvies, now quick get dressed and get your tickets and MID's we need to get to the gate." Kerry and I used our magic items to switch out (but not before I retrieved Jane's cage), while Jamal changed out of his costume and handed stowed it in his backpack before handing it back to me.

Once we were dressed and Jane was caged, Jamal handed me his collapsed staff and wire while Kerry handed me her bracelet, I took off my collar and we put the items in the compartment at the cage's base when Jane opened it. Now that we were ready Jane dissipated the fog bank and the three of us navigated the airport to the MCO check in. "Stop, please present materials and MIDs." The agent told the three of us, I turned over Jane's cage and they scanned our MID's. Once everything was over, they took Jane's cage to give to the porter and we were allowed to board the 8:40 for Berlin. The three of us were soon seated and awaiting take off, and an end to our trip to New York.




Waldorf=Astoria Hotel - Room 427
8:34 PM

"Well it looks like my former mentor is free and trying to disable my barrier on the Grand Ballroom." Misery explained as she laid reclined on the hotel bed with her partner. "Should I drop the barrier, or do you think that you need more time?

"No my dear," Professor Id stated as his disguised body cupped his bedmate's chin. "My manufactured double has probably stirred up enough chaos for my stasis bullets to be adequately tested as well, as well as enough empirical data to be gathered from my behavioral test. So feel free to release the barrier, after all we wouldn't want your former mentor to find that you are alive and send your sister after you again so soon would we."

Misery concentrated for a minute and disrupted the ritual enchantment holding the barrier in place. "It is done and as soon as your copy self-destructs my surveillance crystals will send off the burst transmission with the data and destroy both itself and the panic crystals, it’s a shame that they didn't find any panic to latch onto in the other ballroom."

"There- there Nemain," Professor Id said as he stroked the fallen goddesses currently human body. "All those heroes being present probably just gave those simpletons a false sense of safety, there probably just wasn't enough panic and fear for your aura to latch on to and drive into a mad frenzy. Still I almost wish I could be there when Morrigan discovers that what Carcharoth ate was the Winter Fae that was sent to recruit you all those years ago, the same one that you were possessing ever since, and that when your newest host was pulled free you just came along for the ride."

"I hope the child appreciates the gifts that my presence bestowed upon her-ah. Oh, Edward Hyde," Nemain moaned at the sociopath who was curled against her began his magic again. "You always know how to make a girl feel appreciated, now let’s pick up where we left off, we do have the room until morning after all." The goddesses began to moan in pleasure again as the villainous couple continued where they left off hours ago.




Berlin Airport
Berlin, New Hampshire
9:47 PM

Our group exited the airport are we reacquired Jane and her cage from the pilots. Evidently, word had gotten around among the local United Airlines pilots and from now on, Jane and her kind would get to ride in the cockpit. I was glad because we didn't have to wait to retrieve her from luggage as she was brought to us by a steward after we disembarked. After we left the terminal, I gave Kerry and Jamal back their belongings, with the exception of their purchases those I'd deliver to their cottages tomorrow morning after first period, provided we weren't being chewed out by Ms Carson or Ms Hartford.

Seeing that the shuttle to Whateley had not arrived, and according to what Kerry herd likely wouldn't due to some unfortunate complications that she heard about over her phone, I opened Jane's cage and said "Jane it's time to go through with the emergency plan that we discussed."

"Randi what are you talking about, there is no way we could get a flight plan approved to fly to the school this late, not that they would let us do so." Kerry explained, "And besides that you and Jamal lack the speed or the range to make it there before lights out.

"True Kerry, however, since when does a bird need to file a flight plan." I said as I held out a junk jewelry ring topped with a changeling bauble's jewel that Heather had given me earlier.

"Great more missing time," Jamal grumbled as he followed the three of us to the nearest ally we could find. I stored Jane's cage then Jamal and Kerry into two of my changeling baubles, and placed the pendants around my neck so that Jane could store me.

The next thing I knew I was in front of Shuster Hall, and quickly released Kerry and Jamal. We went inside and signed in showing that we had returned and when we did so, fortunately with no questions asked- yet. When we left the desk at Shuster the three of us split up, making a run across campus for our respective cottages, with me on four legs. I returned to Poe and signed back in at the front before heading with Jane to our room, as I unlocked the door and entered I found that someone was asleep in the top bunk of my bed.

After Jane flew up to her perch, I looked in the top bunk and it was my roommate Chou Lee. While I was curious, I was also really tired and this could wait until morning. I decided to postpone my sojourn into the Dreamlands to meet with the Sorrowful Unnamed for another night, and since I didn't need to recover from a sparring match with Anu I decided to sleep in my bed for once. I put my purse and collar on my desk, got out some of my new pajamas that I picked up in New York, changed into them the old-fashioned way, and climbed into the bottom bunk. Satisfied that the day was over and that no one had gotten hurt, I fell asleep determined to have a nice, normal nonsensical dream.


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4 years 3 months ago #17523 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 10




Tuesday, February 20, 2007
The Eastern Gate, Egypt
5:47 AM EET

Lord Ataxia (soon to be Lord Khamsin) was almost salivating at the moment, any minute the Mesektet, the Evening Barge would near the exit to the Eastern Gate, while he and Greygus laid in ambush. This was a moment that he had been waiting over three thousand years for and the anticipation so palpable that he could taste it from his hiding spot.

Finally, the Mesektet was in sight, no more delays, if he failed now the Southern Court would be slaves to the Black Pharaoh forever and the Obsidian Circle's overall mission would likely be doomed to fail. Part of him wished that the other members of the Circle could be here today to fight alongside him, but they had another mission that was just as vital and his presence could be excused for this occasion.

As the Mesektet reached Lord Ataxia's trap, five ancient elder sign amulets embedded in the rock flared with arcane eldritch fire. Upon the ethereal barge Re, god of the sun shrieked in pain as the elder signs prevented the host of the Black Pharaoh from advancing while the motions of the barge carried him forward. Sekmet and Bastet rallied to the defense of their master only to fall prey to Greygus mace as he dropped from the cavern roof and struck the Solar Barge.

Now upon the earth or sand when Greygus's mace hits the ground everyone standing are usually knocked flat on their backs, on solid surfaces like the barge, everyone standing went flying into the surfaces of the cavern including Re. As the guards within the djinn prince's retinue began to struggle to their feet it was now or never. "Re your days are over," Lord Ataxia shouted at the top of his lungs as he plunged forward with his savage spear.

Of course, he didn't hit his mark as Isis blocked his way with her body, "You shall never succeed in stopping my master." The false goddess snarled as the poison of Jörmungandr began to eat into her body, causing her veneer to dispel as she was exposed for not being the wife of the late king but an imposter.

"I did not plan to do so alone." Lord Ataxia proclaimed as he used his spear to throw the unmasked traitor into the cavern wall, causing the head of his barbed spear to detach in her body and reveal another hidden beneath it.

"You shall not end the reign of Re foul Set." Re proclaimed as he rose to his feet agony still visible in his avian eyes, as he gathered his solar fire to incinerate his old enemy.

"No we shall end the reign of Re and bring about the return of Horus." Lord Ataxia proclaimed his vulpine face and body charred and blackened his robes drenched with sweat from the solar conflagration.

"And just who is we?" Ra gloated as he heard the signature twang of a bow's release, in futility he tried to avoid the arrow, however an arrow fired by Wepwawet (known to the modern world as Greygus) always found its intended mark. That mark was the Crown of Wadjet that rested upon Re's brow, the arrow stuck in the crown, which actually seemed to writhe as if it were alive and in agony, until it turned black from the poison and crumbled to dust.

Re was in agony again this time because of the corruption within his own body, a corruption that died as Set (Lord Ataxia) plunged his second spearhead, this one looking more like a hypodermic needle into the heart of his victim. In moments, the poison of Jörmungandr dense with reality pumped throughout his veins killing the corruption those four thousand years of corruption under the yoke of Re, the Black Pharaoh and rejuvenating him in the process.

Soon the figure shed the dying shroud of Re's presence as Horus lord of the sky and Barer of the Aten (the first fire of the Southern Court) was reborn anew. "Ugh- Uncle Set is the nightmare finally over?" Horus asked as he rose to his feet.

"Yes my prince, the nightmare of Nyarlathotep's persona the Black Pharaoh is finally at an end; the Southern Court shall now begin its march to freedom under its true ruler Horus the last of the Djinn Lords." Lord Ataxia wept as his wounds began to heal; his long trial was finally over and his curse vanishing in turn.

"It is a shame that my freedom comes at the cost of my duties, today the sun shall rise without the radiance of the Aten to accompany it." Horus sighed knowing that he had failed his ancestral duties as the Mesektet had made dock and was now waiting at the Western Gate while the Mandjet (the solar barge) was beginning its assent.

"Not necessarily my prince." Lord Ataxia smiled. "I believe it has been some time since you last rode upon my back, why not once more for old time's sake. That and after all this time in the dark I long to feel the sun in my face again."

"Then let us make haste Uncle Set," Prince Horus proclaimed as he climbed upon Lord Ataxia's back. "We have a boat to catch, and you have all day to regal me with all that has happened in your life since the darkness descended upon our court." The two of them took off running to catch the Mandjet before it ascended too high, while Wepwawet stayed behind to administer his father's elixir to the court beginning with Ma'at, Keeper of Law and Order.




The Obsidian Circles Hidden Sanctum
Location Unknown
12:00 AM EST?

"Where is Lord Ataxia?" Hanshou-reifujin demanded as she approached her seat followed closely by a man in a business suit styled to resemble a shinobi's dogi, or was it the other way around.

"Lord Ataxia is attending to the completion of a long term project of his elsewhere." Erzabet Scratch proclaimed as she set her giant coffee mug down upon it's cork coaster carved with the second half of a the spell upon the mug to keep its contents warm and free of nasty surprises. "Still I see that you have brought Arashi-sensei like we asked, that is good for what we have to discuss has to deal with him, and the issue of treason." Suddenly the man following Hanshou-reifujin disappeared only to reappear within a crystal prison within the center of the Obsidian Table.

"May we present to you Izunami your ex-husband's spy and son Susano-o." Mister Domino proclaimed with his usual bravado. "Now let him watch as we show him just what we have prepared for you to use."

Baron Impié set the stone jar on the table it was like a teapot without a handle and a curved spout that was flared at the end. "Are you you certain that this will hold Izanagi?" Hanshou-reifujin inquired determined to see a return of her investment.

"We are certain about nothing at the moment." Mistress Nyx explained. "We need an elder god to test this vessel out, a self-created being. Of the lot of us only you fit that description, we did test it out earlier with Baron Astio and it held, but he is not an elder being. You and Izunagi begat a pantheon together, that gives one a lot of influence upon reality, so you are the only one here who can properly test this out."

"Very well I shall step inside if Mister Domino swears upon the frost giants that spawned him to release me." Hanshou-reifujin proclaimed, "Out of every one here he is the only one present upon whom I can impress the weight of this task upon."

"Very well Izunami," Mister Domino swore in disgust. "I Loki of the born of the Jötun and adopted son of Wōđanaz who was brought forth into the cold ice of Jötunheimr by Fárbauti and Laufey, do so swear to release the fallen goddess of the Shinto Pantheon Izunami from this vessel the moment we have determined that it will contain her."

The promise seemed to satisfy her as she set the container on the ground, placed one foot hidden by her outfit within and became an oily liquid that flowed into the vessel. Madam Eventide smiled as she capped the top with their special lid, a hidden elder sign amulet taken by Baron Impié personally from the buried city of Pnakotus. For a few minutes, the jar appeared to rattle from within and then stopped. "Very well I have deemed this prison worthy, you may release me now."

"I do not think so Izunani." Baron Astio stated as Erzabet Scratch stood up holding a small amphora. "You see the traitor that I referred to is you Izunami, we have long been aware that you are merely the fetter of Yami Daioh one of the many persona's of Nyarlathotep a puppet created by Amatsu-Mikaboshi from Izunami's corpse, and are his cat's-paw within the islands known as the Land of the Rising Sun. Lord Ataxia is not here because he is destroying the fetter for the persona known as the Black Pharaoh, this is a rite of passage here within the circle, killing a great old one and each of Nyarlathotep's persona's counts as one."

"Now Hanshou-reifujin, here is a medicine that will make you all better." Erzabet Scratch said as she poured the contents of the Amphora into the spout on Izunami's prison. "Now it is time for your unlife to end, sleep forever and dream of the happiness that you and Izunagi once shared."

Izunami screamed within her prison as the concentrated venom of Jörmungandr washed over her currently fluid body, she could not move due to the ancient elder sign on the stopper nor could she escape the vessel that had been hewed from the Caverns of Nyx. The only thing that currently saved her from destruction was that she was viscous oil at the moment, at least until Erzabet added a squirt of concentrated dish soap to the pot to break her viscosity. For a few moments, Izunami's screams became deafening, and then silence filled the Sanctuary of the Obsidian Circle.

Satisfied that the deed was done Baron Impié, the biblical Cain released Arashi-sensei from the crystal. "As promised here is Izunami, finally at peace after so long, my only regret is that this will cost the Obsidian Circle its toehold into the Orient."

"Perhaps," Arashi-sensei stated as he took the vessel containing Izunami's remains from Baron Impié. However I think that you might pme day find a replacement for her upon the mainland; still remember this the Yama Dojo is now mine and will no longer be a possible resource to your group."

"Never is a very long time," Mistress Nyx said the mist-filled orb of her head as enigmatic as ever. "And if there is one thing that those among our group have learned it is how to be patient.

"Besides oh impetuous child," Bishop Brimstone stated as his face split in a malicious grin. "Who knows exactly what the future might bring, even I know only of great possibilities."




?
?

I don't know how I came to be here, the scenery around me was unclear all that I knew was that I was now dressed in a gown made of what appeared to be made of the fresh leaves of spring that had been sewn together. Yet they did not feel like leaves merely decorated silk dyed and embroidered to resemble them, my ears and tail were even free. Yet all of that was unimportant, Kerry was before me in a gown of delicately layered white silk that appeared like gentle clouds, without words she extended her hand to me in an offer to dance.

I awkwardly accepted her invitation and my awkwardness showed at first, and then gradually as I fell in tune with the music (a simple waltz) my earlier clumsiness vanished. Round and round we moved letting the tempo of the nameless waltz guide us, for some reason time proceeded to lose all meaning as we moved together as one.

Kerry's wings suddenly appeared and her white dress turned golden like the clouds when they try to bar the bright morning sun, and as they did the spring, leaves of my dress turned the rich earth-tone rainbow of autumn. Of course, none of this mattered when the tempo of the waltz picked up as the beat changed from the 3/4 beat of a normal waltz to the 6/8 beat of a Viennese Waltz as our dance became faster and somehow a little more passionate.

As the dance went on our bodies moved closer and closer together as our hands that were not holding each other migrated from our shoulders to the smalls of our backs, I could feel Kerry's just above my tail which was slowly wagging.

As the tempo began to approach a vivid allegro, our faces came to be just inches apart. Suddenly I couldn't control myself as our lips approached each other and...




Whateley Academy - Poe Cottage
New Hampshire
6:00 AM

As the buzz of my alarm clock woke me up, I just laid back looking at the boards holding the mattress above me in place, after giving the alarm clock a dirty look. Still the alarm was insistent so I got up and turned it off, oddly Chou was still asleep, although considering she was woken up on a daily basis by Ayla's alarm playing a random selection mostly consisting of Brass Monkey she was probably used to annoying sounds in the morning.

Damn that was some dream, I mean there was no denying the fact that I found Kerry attractive but the fact of the matter was that I didn't dare risk it. I mean not only would it put the secret of Poe cottage at jeopardy, but also as much as I might welcome the possibility of a relationship like that with Kerry I didn't want to risk something even more precious that was bound to last a lot longer than a high school relationship- one of the few friendships that I had yet to make here. Not to mention that if I did come out to our group Konrad would likely spread it to the school when he left our group, that and it would make matters awkward for the other girls in my group.

Still first things first, I hadn't gotten a shower yesterday and talking with Chou about why she was in my room could wait, I put on my robe and grabbed my shower kit. Weird for once I was first in line, must have been something big to happen yesterday to make everyone still need to be asleep. Still I wasn't alone in the shower room for long, when I got around to shampooing my tail the stall on the right started up. By the time I got out the stall on the left was occupied and Verdant took my stall I went over my morning routine as Bunny and Rip got in line and left right as Billie and Jade drifted in.

By the time I got to my room Chou was finally stirring, "Un, wah time is it?"

"About six-thirteen, the shower-line is already forming," I explained as I put on my choker shed my robe and used my collar to change into my school uniform, which was still fresh having only been worn briefly for about ten-minutes yesterday. "So you might want to hurry, unless you want to talk about why Miss H decided to stick you with the new girl."

Predictably, she of the mystic jade sword chose the former option, it was okay I still had time to wait and talk later before breakfast began. Besides I had a promise to keep, I got Jane's seed bell that Heather had picked up in New York from out of my bag, and hung it from a metal demi-hoop that I had secured over her nest. Thankfully, the newspaper was already spread around the base of her perch.

I was awake enough right now and coffee be damned I needed a refresher before first period, I opened up my textbook and spiral briefly to refresh myself, I still had a little time before the cafeteria opened for breakfast.




Dickinson Cottage
6:45 PM

Kerry bounded down the stairs of Dickinson cottage refreshed and ready to start a brand new day while putting yesterday behind her. Well to tell the truth the day hadn't been a total wash except for falling into a super-villain's trap and having to fight Syndicate Tiger Guards (who turned out to be fake) the day turned out rather well. She also found out what Bishop Brimstone's message somewhat meant, she found out that she could use sacred artifacts to channel Malkuthic energies even better than she did already, if she learned how to control it there was a possibility that she could use it to augment her crafting groups creations even better than she did already.

Still she wondered about the meaning behind Brimestone's as well as why no one from the Grand Hall had tried to snatch her while she was in New York, oh well she had better things to do, besides the group at breakfast was likely going to be filled with questions. On her way out Mrs. Nelson caught her attention, "Kerry you had a package delivered while you were gone."

"I'll pick it up on the way back Mrs. Nelson," Kerry explained. "I kind of want to be early for Breakfast since my group is likely going to dogpile me with questions."

"Alright, just don't forget it later." The dorm mother of Dickinson explained back as Kerry left for Dunn hall.




Whateley - Dunn Hall
7:05 AM

Kerry, Jamal and I received an unexpected shock as the rest of our usual group blitzed us the moment we sat down. Apparently, a lot went down in New York while we were trapped in that ballroom that I didn't hear about. Of course, that was hardly surprising since I didn't check the news site this morning although I'm certain that either Ms. Carson or Ms Hartford would be interrogating us later today. As it turned out that though there were, no fatalities in the Grand Ballroom there were lots of injured, according to the press the stress of being in the room surrounded by monsters and a major super-villain gave Ayla's mom a PTS flashback and suffered a panic attack.

Between Mrs Goodkind's panic attack and Giles Walcutt's (Solange's father) being thrown like a rag doll into the crowd when he foolishly tried to bribe Professor Id to go away. This set off a massive panic in the room and caused those affected by the panic potion to flip out and either start shooting with the weapons it provided or going to town on those around them if they were transformed like my mom had been.

Moreover, that was just what happened inside the hotel, outside the Knights of Purity went on a rampage inflicting injuries on several pedestrians, until another group who referred to themselves as the Star Marshals stopped them. The Knights were disabled and are supposedly under house arrest pending an impartial investigation, of course GNN was claiming that the Knights were innocent and that someone hacked their armor controls, still even if that were true it would put a major hit in their business especially if they have a competitor now.

As for the rest of the Empire City Guard, it turned out that Mimeo was in town and after ambushing Captain Quantum while he was out on patrol, decided to go on a late night shopping spree. Of course, when backup came it made things even worse, and Mimeo wound up getting away with about three million most of it in the form of loose gold and uncut gems.

"I can't believe that you left rather than stay and help out fighting Id." Eddie all but glared at me, "What kind of a hero do you call yourself?"

"The kind that's smart and breathing, Kerry was in no shape to fight and Professor Id from what I've heard is estimated to be at least comparable to an Exemplar Seven, as things stood we would have only gotten in the way of the real heroes." I explained although saying it ate away at my pride. "All of us are still new to our powers and lack the training to use them in a fight like that. Besides Id wasn't even there if we had tried to help in the other room even more innocent people might have gotten hurt, sometimes fighting just isn't worth it- that and Doctor Quasimodo and Morrigan have dealt with Id for decades, when she said that it was best to leave and go home who was I to argue."

"It's good that you feel that way," I heard a voice behind us and turned to see Samantha Everheart from security right behind us. "Because I am here to inform you three to report to see Ms Hartford after class; however based on the testimony of Professor Godwin and Mrs Redstag as well as your own, I will suggest that you three not need be thrown into the Hawthorn cleanup crew- this time. You might have lucked out kid, but don't let it go to your head, go and report to the Assistant Headmistress during third period."




Dickinson Cottage
11:08 AM

Kerry drug herself into Dickinson after the three of them were chewed out by Ms. Hartford for taking an unnecessary risk with her abilities after the fight; however given that retreat was not an option they were given a little leniency for leaving once they were able to and getting back before curfew. That Friday after finals were over while Randi would be assisting the grounds crews clearing snow in front of the dorms in the morning and Jamal would be helping the maintenance crews during the afternoon, she would be helping out in the cafeteria cleaning up after dinner. If their jobs were done to their supervisor's satisfaction then they wouldn't have any extra duties after that point and would be free to leave campus over the weekend if they got permission.

So it was understandable why Kerry was dragging her feet especially since she still had that package being held in Mrs. Nelson's office, one that she had an aching suspicion regarding its origin. "Mrs. Nelson I'm here for my delivery."

"Here it is, please sign for it on the board." Dickinson's housemother said turning over the item in question, after Kerry signed the delivery board at the front desk. "The post people checked it it has another item destruct spell on it like that letter you got last week, but Circe said it should only affect the item."

Just like the letter last week this box was marked from a New York PO Box and had the sender listed as Gregor Novik. Desperate to find out some answers Kerry took the box up to her room, (fortunately Flex was in her third period class) and opened it to find a crystal surrounded in a lot of bubble wrap along with a note:

Find something to hide your face and any clues of where you are, there might be eavesdroppers. When you are ready touch the crystal on the top, we will begin.

Taking a cue from the note, Kerry took the sheet off of her bed and wrapped it around her obscuring her face and her uniform, as for the dorm room, it was generic enough that she doubted that there would be any problems. Ready to get this over with she touched the crystal, suddenly an image of a sinister looking man appeared.

"Greeting Angel of Hell's Kitchen I am Bishop Brimstone, I see that you escaped from Professor Id's little exercise in testing human behavior intact, he is well known for those- not surprising he seems to want to prove that he is the true reflection of human nature."

"I am surprised that you didn't try to kidnap me while I was back in New York?" Kerry stated as her voice filled with ire. "That is what the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom wants right to exploit my channeling abilities."

"Bah fools and simpletons the lot of them," the man in the monk's robes sneered in contempt. "I was only there during the attack on the Atlantic Heritage Society to ensure that you were not accidentally killed by their idiocy. Besides, I would never harvest a fruit that was as unripe as yourself. If I seized you then and there child it would have been a waste since you would not have had your experience's at St. Gregory's that lead to your affinity for channeling Malkuthic energies, nor those of yesterday that let you discover how to draw in more than you were before. Besides you are more valuable to me where you are right now working with The Great Artificer creating the artifacts that you do at the moment, besides Whateley is useful to the Obsidian Circle and your current work might best serve our purposes without you realizing it."

"But what did you mean that if I didn't go to New York Faolan's friends and family would die, sure we were trapped but everyone took care of those fake Tiger Guards just fine."

"You under estimate your friends wrath when her temper is flared, she was furious at how Professor Id's actions put her friends and loved ones at risk. Had you not been there to lend your talents to break them out of the trap they were in Faolan would have tried to tap the flow of the nearest ley line for power. Even on the slim chance that she survived that foolish endeavor she would have been gravely wounded on a spiritual level, still she would have charged into the Grand Ballroom, tried to fight the false Professor Id there, and died in the process. If you were not unconscious and helpless, Faolan would have thrown her life away, moreover when she heard of her child's fate her mother would have been driven temporarily insane with grief and this would have made those affected by Id's second non-transformative potion attack, resulting in the deaths of Faolan's entire family as well as dozens of others in the ensuing chaos. Feel fortunate child you have a friend that cares for you a great deal, you could possibly even call it a form of love."

With these final words, the jewel crumbled into a fine crystalline powder, now Kerry was left alone in her room wondering about herself, and just what she felt.




Condo Rooftop
Las Vegas, Nevada
11:27 AM PST

"Ah the sun feels so good," Miriam Clair exclaimed as stretched out on the roof of their townhouse with her fell genie soaking in the midday sun for the first time since they had left their humanity behind them. Now that their master Set was now back in the good graces of Lord Horus and thus the curse upon his house was lifted. The sun was theirs to enjoy once more, and as genie in the house of the lord of the desert they relished in every moment of its warmth.

"Man this is amazing!" Debbie Allen as she stretched out on her lawn chair. "I wonder if this is how a plant feels."

"Just be grateful that I learned that perception filter spell," Sharon Devore said sipping from a glass of lemonade. "Otherwise we'd be doing this disguised as how we used to look, and I doubt that it would feel anywhere near as good."

"Just because you've got a knack for perception spells is no reason to rub it in my face," Jenny Crook muttered as she laid on her front. "I can't help it if my inclination is towards information gathering spells."

"Then can you scan me?" Miranda Salazar asked as she finished applying a special ointment that she discovered in one of Lord Ataxia's books on Jenny's back. "I've been feeling out of sorts for a few days."

"Certainly, please back up a little." Miranda complied as Jenny began to channel the necessary essence for the spell, "Kehshafa!"

The spell left Jenny's right hand like a violet corona, and enveloped Miranda for about a minute before dissipating. When the spell dispersed giving Jenny, the information that she sought she got up from her chair, her eyes wide and her mouth slightly gapping in shock.

"What is it Jenny?" Miranda asked frantic to discover the answer to her question, wondering just what was wrong with her. "Am I okay? Is it serious? Tell me just what is wrong with me!"

Jenny placed her hand on her fellow servant's shoulder and said with a wide smile, "It's a girl!"




Top Dog Restaurant
Berkeley, California
1:47 PM PST

Out in front of the Top Dog a number of students from Berkeley High School were enjoying the mild weather of the late California winter while eating lunch, in other words a scene that plays out perfectly normal across the country every day.

"So Kelsey, my parents are going to be out of town this weekend, I'm thinking of throwing a party do you want to come?" A boy in a letter jacket asked the brunette at the table near the street.

"I keep telling you Larry, my parent's anniversary is this weekend I have to watch my little brother." Kelsey said in annoyance, honestly just because she dated him for a week and he became varsity he never stopped bugging her to become his girl- what a pig.

"I have found you," an old homeless man wearing ragged robes and a rucksack said as he staggered forward on a highly ornate carved staff.

"Hey get away from her you sick old freak." Larry said as he threw a punch at the old man, who seemed to either dodge and throw the Linebacker or just stagger to the side and trip him and send the football player to the concrete. Which of these were true was unknown, however the old man did fall over near Kelsey who went to his side and tried to help him up without any hesitation in regards to his current state of hygiene.

"Sir are you okay?" Kelsey said in concern, "Do you want me to call an ambulance? What's your name?"

"I am Jacob, a pilgrim traveling to where my future touches another's past." The old man coughed out before holding out his staff to Kelsey. "I have traveled long across many lands, and touched many lives. However now my future is past as I have met the one who touches it; all that is left is silence."

Jacob dropped his staff while Kelsey caught it in her right hand, for a second it appeared as if her eyes were starring at a faraway place. By the time her eyes refocused, she was cradling a set of empty robes near a fallen rucksack.

To the side where he had fallen Larry stood up and looked at Kelsey as if she was a complete stranger. "Hey babe, my parents are out of town this weekend and I'm throwing a party would you like to come, that is if you wouldn't mind giving me your name and digits."

"I am Kelsey," the brunette said as she wrapped herself in the now vanished Jacob's robes. "A pilgrim traveling to where my future touches another's past." Then she bent over to retrieve the fallen rucksack, which she threw over her shoulder and with staff in hand walked away much to the linebacker's bewilderment.




Underneath Chinatown
San Francisco, California
1:45 PM

Meanwhile in a darkened room a girl with scaly skin and clawed hands shrieked as a large ruby that she was creating shattered. She scrambled to try to reunite the pieces of the gemstone in vain before feeling the sting of a freezing whip.

"Do not waste time with broken trash," The stern Asian man wielding the whip that smoked with an icy chill barked. "Get to work on a new gemstone or I will tell The Master that you are neglecting you duties.

The girl growled low in anger although she did as she was told after all the was little that she could do to fight back, and question their orders when faced with the merciless frigid lash, especially when that was a slave that was stripped of her name and could scarcely remember when the last time they looked at the sun was or just what it felt like to be in its rays.




Whateley Academy - Beck Library
New Hampshire
4:46 PM EST

"Gahhh!" I staggered against the shelf next to me, slightly disoriented with my ears ringing. What the heck was that? I felt a great big something, and as I looked around I noticed that I wasn't the only student affected. Over at one of the study tables the Three Little Witches were looking around in confusion as well, 'What the heck just happened?'

The Staff of Undertone changed hands and a new Wayfarer was chosen as the last one faded. Jane explained over our link as the ringing slightly lessened. It happens about once or twice a century, but it is not really a problem every magic user on the planet felt the same thing, you will be fine in a little while.




Primus Umbra
The Dreamlands
?

Upon arriving back in the Dreamlands Greyback guided me inside of the dome of solid darkness, we traveled inside completely unable to see until finally I saw something amazing that I took to be the Sorrowful Unnamed. It was like a giant shifting nebula before me, one whose colors shifted and changed constantly yet all across it could be seen a sea of stars that shined and twinkled in every color imaginable.

"GREATINGS, I PRESUME THAT YOU ARE FAOLAN, THE CHILD WHO GREYBACK AND HIS SISTER HAVE BEEN KEEPING SAFE FOR ALL THESE YEARS." I heard a voice resound from every direction.

"Let me guess you are the Sorrowful Unnamed?" I asked of the voice emanating from both the darkness and the nebulous light at the same time.

"CORRECT CHILD, AND NOW THAT YOU ARE HERE PERHAPS YOU CAN ANSWER THE RIDDLE OF MY EXISTENCE?" The giant presence proclaimed.

"What do you mean by riddle of your existence?" I asked with a little apprehension in my voice, after all this was the most alien being that I've ever seen in my life.

After explaining the story of her past, which raised a few eyebrows in what the entity said it was guilty of it then went on to explain. "WHEN TIAMAT'S ESSENCE RETURNED TO ME, EXISTENCE VISITED ME FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE I WAS BANISHED INTO THIS PRISON. IT TOLD ME THAT A BEING WHOM HAS BEEN BORN TWICE WITHOUT SEEING THE HEREAFTER, AND WHOSE NEW LIFE IS LIVED BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, WILL BE ABLE TO ANSWER THE RIDDLE OF MY TRUE NATURE FOR ONCE I REALIZE MY TRUE NATURE MY TRUE NAME WILL SOON FOLLOW."

"There's no interest like self-interest," I grumbled trying my best to ignore the fact that I might be either dealing with an Elder or Outer God here. "Tell me your riddle and I'll try to help you find the answer."

"I UNDERSTAND ALL TOO WELL," the Sorrowful Unnamed stated, "HELPING ME IF MY NATURE IS THAT OF THE OUTER ONES WOULD BE MORE HARM THAN GOOD TO ALL THAT IS. I WAS TOLD LONG AGO THAT I AM CHAOTIC YET MY ORDER IS MY OWN, FOR I AM A PART OF REALITY YET APART FROM REALITY, THOSE WHO VISIT ME DEFINE ME MORE THAN I DEFINE MYSELF."

"Let me see you are supposed to be a part of reality yet apart from reality. You are chaotic in nature and yet you have order. Those who visit you shape you instead of yourself." I chewed this around in my head for what seemed like hours before something occurred to me I asked the ancient being. "Wait a minute, I have a quick question were the Dreamlands here before or after you arrived?"

"AFTER OF COURSE," The Sorrowful Unnamed stated clearly, "THEY CONGEALED AROUND MY PRISON."

"Are you certain that they did?" I asked again because I had a feeling that not only was I on the right track but that this was an Elder God or a force like the Tao just one that was unaware of its purpose. "Or did they take shape because of your presence?"

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN?" The Nameless One asked of me again.

"Isn't it obvious, a part of reality and apart from reality, chaotic in nature yet has an order to it? This doesn't just describe you this describes what formed itself around you as well, likely due to the power that you radiate; or rather it was just you growing." I began to explain to the entity who I was certain was not one of the Outers.

"TO WHAT DO YOU INFER?" Again the Sorrowful Unnamed asked for clarification, yet I heard eagerness in its voice.

"In a way you left your prison a long time ago and never realized it, because in fact all that remains in the Primus Umbra is not you it is your awareness, you do not realize it but you are a prisoner in your own mind." I explained to the being by whose own admission became before the universe existed.

"IF WHAT REMAINS IN MY PRISON IS ONLY MY MIND THEN WHERE IS MY BODY?" The Sorrowful Unnamed asked with a voice filled with desperation to find the answer that it finally felt was so close it could almost embrace it.

"Your riddle has two answers; one answer is yourself." I explained hoping that this would do it. "While the other is something that you have observed in countless beings ever since you became aware of them, beings that visit you or come close to doing so constantly many of which were spawned here by outside influences."

"BEINGS THAT VISIT, THE OTHER ANSWER IS MY BODY, MY NATURE!" Suddenly the light of comprehension illuminated the Primus Umbra as The Sorrowful Unnamed burst out of the confines of its prison and illuminated the Dreamlands in its wake. All around the Dreamland the world changed as the Crawling Mist was burned away and the Outer Void's connection to the Dreamlands became even more tenuous and thus far more distant in the process. Upon the distant moon the Moonbeasts rolled in pain as they once again felt one of the thousands of Nyarlathotep's masks be destroyed and knew that the power of their master was lost to them forever on the surface of the Dreamlands and on the moon.

As the kaleidoscopic chaos around me died down, I looked around, and grew amazed. I was now standing in the middle of a castle city, which had been sculpted, from the forgotten dreams of all beings of creation that had ever dreamed. This was a place that everyone in creation played a hand in creating without even realizing it for almost fourteen billion years, a city where the forgotten fantasies of countless beings found purpose and here I was at its center- or near it.

The sky overhead had also changed; the firmament above resembled the shifting nebula of the Sorrowful Unnamed, just as did the hair of the woman that was before us. I had seen amazing awe-inspiring women in my day, hell I once had the privilege of seeing Nikki go Aunghadhail in the buff fresh from a shower, but this lady made Fey look a lot more real by comparison. She was as terrifying as a nightmare, gentle as a dream, ephemeral as a fantasy and powerful as a prophecy all at once. Her eyes were a kaleidoscope that gradually shifted color as you stared into them and her gown was crafted from the same forgotten dreams as the city, which made it almost seem as if this city of lost dreams was her gown. The throne upon which she sat was a remarkable sight to behold as well, it was as if someone had meticulously crafted in from the most beautiful fantasies and horrid nightmares, in a way that let the two dichotomies blended together seamlessly.

"I thank you Faolan twice-born child of the Fae and the line of Adam," The radiant vision spoke in a voice as ephemeral as she was. "Thanks to your nature and your wit you were able to answer the riddle of my existence and have managed to change existence in turn. The Great Old Ones have lost their grip upon the Dreamlands and may no longer hold sway here, as the Dreamlands are now aware of its own nature."

"I suppose that this means that Cthulhu's deathless slumber will be dreamless as well," I chuckled darkly at the world ending GOO's potential suffering.

"No he merely will find his ability to influence the dreams of others greatly diminished, all of the Great Old Ones will. As for Cthulhu, he shall not be a problem for much longer," the lady explained, "There are only three ways for him to reemerge and the means to counteract all three are already in motion to prevent his return. Also given that I now know my nature, my true name has been revealed to me. As for what this facet of my being shall be called I have chosen a name to be called that holds great significance to me, call me Tiamat the name bestowed upon my former incarnation by her husband the Triton King Apsu."

"Faolan I will be honest with you," Greyback sighed in resignation, "I let the blast of your death carry me into the Dreamlands intentionally. You see each of the three born from the death of Armulean had something that we wished of you. Loki wanted you to be his hand an agent unencumbered by his gaes who would fulfill the actions that he could not trust to others. Morrigan wishes you to become the friend and protector of the reborn queen because you can be seen as a peer to her current self. As for myself, long ago Tiamat told me a prophecy that should it come to fruition will see the rebirth of the Five-Fold Court."

"Around the sleeping queen of center's throne the four maidens dance,
With the one foot within her realm, and the other within that of their rebirth." Tiamat began in a voice that carved the words into my mind, this was going to be an experience I would never forget, and I doubt that doing so would be very wise.
"First will come the North a child of the winds who walks cloaked in flame,
Reborn of soul made flesh that Center's Traveler frees from chains girth.
Next will come the West a child of water and ground woven into one,
A commoner and mongrel her path she must find and prove her worth.
Then will come the East a child of love so true from false must be freed,
Born of Heaven and of Dreams the maiden embraces life with glee.
Last will come the South a child of ancient fire who embraces every wind,
Born and reborn under the same sun is the maiden for dark vengeance's berth.
Crafter, Scout, Healer, Squire led to one who has traveled across many lives,
Traveler will give them gifts to sacrifice and rejoin four lands with court of earth.
Now child I will return you both to Ulthar, however, feel free to visit whenever you feel, the way this time will find all who seek me with true intentions."

The scene shifted as we found ourselves back in Ulthar, Mirabel was here much to my amusement petting making a couple of residents squirm in pleasure as she rubbed their bellies, but otherwise unaware of our presence. Still Greyback had something important to say as he bowed his head in admonishment. "That is why I left child, I knew this prophecy, as well as the fact that if I abandoned you both that Morrigan's feminine energies would overwhelm your new body, and she would have to make adjustments to ensure that your new form was adjusted accordingly. As for your second chance had regaining your previous form, that was your decision and yours alone, whether I stayed or not you would have had to deal with the Morrigna without our help."

"Wait a minute if I'm the second then what about the one from the North this crafter?" I asked desperate to make sense of this whole mess. "Why isn't she here at Whateley?"

"At present she is a prisoner of Xuè-jīn Mùshī, the Priest of Bloodstained Gold, a vile warlock who is exploiting her gifts for his own gain." Greyback said as he looked into my eyes. "The reborn dragon child is chained in the Lost City beneath the City of Fog; she must be liberated by the Wayfarer before the setting sun turns the western bridge to gold, and then delivered to a sanctuary in a cavern on Dibé Nitsaa. Once within Dibé Nitsaa she will heal her mind, body and soul, and there she shall be joined by the Handmaiden of Fate during Okan who after much ceremony shall escort her to the Spirit Lodge of the Medawihla. Now we may talk again another night however, you have a big day tomorrow and tell your sister that the old wolf who walks the stars says hello..."


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4 years 3 months ago #18073 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 9 and 10 Notes




Doppelgoon:
Doppelgoons are subservient temporary clones created by Professor Id from bio-scans and neural mapping of a host, the clone that is created will have all of the memories, skills, and abilities of the original but are unstable and will dissolve into their protoplasmic base should they be given any serious wounds. At present, Professor Id is unable to use the procedure to duplicate mutants or non-humans; however dopplegoons can be augmented by his various formulas without any side effects. This means that Professor Id can duplicate himself and the duplicate can use his physical augmentation formula to appear in public, as well as have an army of disposable troops that are completely loyal to him and are instantly disposable. In exchange for scans of seasoned mercenaries, Id compensates the individual by paying them for every mission that a doppelgoon of them performs- provided that said merc is still among the living.

Stasis Bullet:
Professor Id's newest invention, a type of ammunition that through the use of science and magic places whatever it delivers a lethal shot to into stasis. The idea was to be able to take instant hostages or aide in abductions without the possibility of accidentally killing the target. He expects them to be a very popular seller on the super-villain arms market.

Fetter -
An object that has been used as part of an arcane ritual to allow a being not of this world (or in some cases reality) to exist within it. The more powerful the object and the more powerful the spell caster the more powerful the being that can be anchored. Fetters however are limited to a certain range depending on the limit of the spell cast and how fragile the material is. For example Mistress Nyx's quartz crystal ball although somewhat hard can be destroyed by mundane means, this makes her able to go almost anywhere, however fetters of exotic material or that have been reinforced by enchantment are usually limited in their range to a specific region.

Servants of Lord Khamsin
Six women who were out celebrating at a singles club in Vegas for various reasons who were picked up by Lord Ataxia following his regeneration, after about a day of fun in a luxury suite of the Luxor hotel he offered them each a career and the life of an immortal genie, these are the ones who accepted. Although they can look like their original self at any time; their new normal form is something like a cross between that of their master and their old body, namely a bronze woman's body with the head about half-way in between their old one and that of a fennec. Should they choose to leave they will be turned back into human beings with their memories adjusted accordingly, and the same age that they were originally.
Roberta Reiner - Bodyguard
Sharon Devore - Trainer
Debbie Allen - Decorator
Jenny Crook - Therapist
Miriam Clair - Cook
Miranda Salazar (Mukantagara) - Secretary

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4 years 3 months ago - 4 years 3 months ago #18074 by Insane Hiker
Insane Hiker replied the topic: Faolan 4: Rites of Passage
Part 11




Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Whateley - Poe Cottage
6:15 AM EST

"Man that was trippy, who would have thought my trip would end like that." I said to myself as I pulled my furry body off my makeshift pallet on the floor, something that proved to be a mistake.

"What trip?" Chou asked as she turned to me wearing her bathrobe, "Does this have something to do with those cuts and bruises that you had last week?"

"An answer for an answer Chou," I said as I assumed my normal form standing completely nude before her as I retrieved my own robe from my closet. "You never did tell me why you're suddenly my roommate."

"You can likely find that one out in the washroom; we have a new student who transferred in while you were in New York getting in trouble, one who has the same problem as Ayla." The Handmaiden of the Tao stated clearly and evenly. "How much trouble did you get into for that by the way?"

"You can find the answer to that one on your own Friday, the three of us got off somewhat easy since we left as soon as escape was possible and we aided in the fight rather than start it." I explained to Chou but something told me that keeping her too much in the dark would not be a good thing. "As for where I went, all you need to do is ask her majesty or Sara sometime about the Dreamlands. Greyback the spirit who's absence all but ensured I was reborn as the young lady I am today, has been taking me on a trek through there almost every night to meet with a friend of his. That friend was the spirit of the Dreamlands who until last night was unaware of her nature; I helped her find her nature and was given a gift in return."

Somewhat satisfied we went to the washroom and I saw another guy with Phase's problem that was likely Ayla's new roommate both ogling girls in the mirror, and for some reason Goodkind was very uncomfortable standing there, ah junior high all over again. I decided to wait until later to talk with the new girl, or was it guy I wasn't certain if she might either be still transforming or just view herself that way. Oh well I had a big day today, my term project demonstration in Introduction to Basic Mystic Concepts was this morning and I had spent all my free time yesterday finishing my Heywire shell. It worked just fine on an old transistor radio that Bunny had found for me in the workshop, (she wanted to fix it after I fried it) although the real test would be to see if it worked on something that was EM shielded, which she gave me after I picked a few things up for her while New York.

Then sometime before lunch my folks would arrive with the girls who after they were given the nickel tour, Kerry told me that because of the MCO incident she got the job this time, I'd be able to see my folks again before they went back to Texas. I also promised myself not to try and get all choked up around them before they did, or at least try not to do so...after all they should be here for Parents and Perspectives Day in late May.




Whateley - Kirby Hall
8:41 AM

'Oh god this was it I hope, I don't blow this,' I can't help it a small groups of friends I can do well with but I sucked at making presentations in front of a large group. Two days ago was fine because I only had to make a short presentation, this was an extended presentation in front of a group of my peers, and I wanted to hurl.

Witchcat was just about done with her presentation and I was next, 'Calm down Randi, calm down you can do this you just have to explain how your rifle demonstrates an application of the Laws of Magic.'

"Randi Bridges, it's your turn to present your project." Miss Chulkris called out as and I stood up to walk towards the front. With my mana rifle bound in a bed sheet that was going in the wash later with my gi anyway to keep those who didn't know about it from panicking.

"Th-thank y-you Miss Chulkris," I stammered out before I tried to swallow my own uvula, and centered myself with a deep breath. "My project is an attempt to combine The Law of Similarity and The Law of Precedence while minimizing the effect of the Rule of Intent upon the resulting spell, I wished to prove this by combining the techniques for using and creating wooden magic staves, the ancient spell rod concept, and the magic containment properties of iron-alloys. To that end I created what I call my mana rifle," I said as while I got my invention from out of the sheet, "Made with my own designs and some outside assistance on some of the finer details during construction, as well as obtaining some of the materials."

"The stock of the rifle was constructed using wood, rosin, leaves and amber all of which were obtained from the same still standing local tree, which act to generate a steady stream of quintessence once the connection is established with the user's aura. Inside of the stock there is a silver pin that is used to form a connection like a circuit, with what I call a spell shell." I explained before retrieving the results of yesterday's hard work from my bag along with the others to act as visual aids, along with the shielded radio that Bunny whipped up that was pre-programmed to go off and play a recorded Broadcast from WARS at 8:45 today on the nose.

The recording was pulled from The Peeper and Greasy Show's daily Babewatch segment, where those two clowns would do an idiotic focus on one of the girls (or sometimes teachers) on campus and comment about her looks and make several off color comments about just how she rated on their 'babeness scale'. Naturally, this was something that they continued to do despite the many complaints from several girls around campus, yet this was to no avail Wayne and Garth pulled in some ratings. Moreover, since Whateley Academy's secret was known in the Greater Berlin Area of New Hampshire, the Pervy Pair was allowed to go into details as long as they stayed within the PG-13 range.

Zenith had told me a little while ago that the station had something called a geospacial mixer that kept any non-local areas who tuned into 105.7 FM (or the internet-streaming site) from hearing any local areas to use as markers to Whateley's location. In addition, Circe had a charm on the mikes that kept the DJs from giving out real names they would only say code names over the air.

I set the recorder down on the other side of the lecture room and took my rifle and the newly minted Heywire shell with me, and checked my watch. I saw that I still had two and a half minutes. "The shells are based on the old spell rod design where runes carved into objects filled with mana conductive properties, where the basic premise is that you're the mana source and the rod supplies the spell. The shells in theory work the same way the caster acts as a magic pump that uses the stock to supply mana too the shell for the result..."

"And now faithful listeners it's time for Peeper and Greasy's Babewatch! *Que Tex Avery wolf antic sound effects from Red Hot Riding Hood*" The radio began to play their trashiest segment of an already trashy show as told by Mister X-Ray eyes himself. This just in we have a new arrival over in Poe, home of the Lingerie Angels! ♪Bow chica bow wow♪

"Not to mention our of course our wise and magnanimous program director Zenith! Greasy proclaimed before the sound byte began ♪All we owe, we owe her!♪

"The subject of today's Babewatch is our newest student, Faolan. ♪The stars at night are big and bright *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* deep in the heart of Texas!♪ Yup this young and spicy south-western belle is the latest student to grace our institutions halls from the Lone Star State, and shows to be one of your rough and tumble girl-next-door types."

"Got to think that she must consider it cold up here in the Mountains of New England," Greasy interjected.

"But before any of you guys out there consider keeping her warm at night, you had better be warned this sweet piece of tail has sharp mouth and a fiery temper. Also you had better remember this when trying to pick her up, there is a difference between her giving you the finger and giving you the bird, namely that the bird can zap your butt. I understand the last guy to get on her bad side really got a high-voltage spanking for his effort."

"Actually Peeper I hear that he tried to hide something in her purse," Greasy corrected his co-host, And said shoulder bag objected- several times- right across his backside.

"Geez, the poor sap should have known at his age to stay away from a lady's handbag, every guy out there knows those things are pure eee-villlll." Peeper laughed after hamming it up. "Still this lady does look to have a real wild side, I wonder if-"

I cut the WARS recording off with a careful shot from my rifle, and the noise faded into static before the radio went dead. "-And since the action in the trigger only makes for a brief contact with the spell shell it only pulls in as much mana as is needed for a brief burst of the spell, a single shot as it were. Now this is at the moment only limited to low level spells until I find some better material to upgrade my creation. This concludes my presentation." I collected my materials and re-wrapped my mana rifle before turning the written report with my testing documentation from the other shells from Sergeant Wilson to Miss Chulkris before returning to my seat.

"Thank you for that wonderful presentation Randi," Miss Chulkris clapped in applause. "Now Miss Ellison it is your turn to give your project report."




Dunn Hall
10:43 AM

The time had finally come my little sis and her friends had just gotten here and were now officially enrolled as first year Junior High School students this spring, part of me wishes that it didn't have to happen so soon or at such a cost to poor Sherrie though. Still while Kerry showed them around, I was giving my folks their own tour of Whateley.

"You mean this is your cafeteria," My dad looked on with concern. "It's tiny I mean how can they serve six grades worth of students here?"

"This is normally our student restaurant dad, the construction zone right behind Shuster is our main cafeteria Crystal Hall; is just under renovation right now for the 2007 senior legacy project. Every class has one, some of our prior legacies are the Future Super Heroes of America Clubhouse ('70), the Cottage Tunnels ('74), WARS Radio Station ('76), Arenas 77, 91 and 99 and the Kane Observatory Dome ('81). Crystal Hall was originally built for the legacy of the Class of '85." I began to explain as I went into tour guide mode.

"Would The Grotto be one of those legacies?" My mother began to ask with a mischievous tone, "You know the place on campus that your friend Kerry and I helped pick out those bathing suits for you in New York for, especially the black one with the-"

"Mooooom!" I said in exasperation if my ears could turn red anymore under all the fur they would have. She continued to give me that knowing look, as my tail went between my legs, I finally relented. "It was the Class of '83 alright."

"Tell me does this radio station have streaming?" Dad asked as we headed over to Kane Hall so that I could show them some of the neater things underground.

"Yup, just go to the website in the brochure that you got when I was enrolled and add /WARS to it, although I recommend not listening in to it from noon to one when you get home. Because I doubt that you want to have anyone at the workroom catch you listening to the Peeper and Greasy Show." I stated evenly not wanting to go into details.

I decided to save the workshop and a lot of the various departments for their Parents Day visit, since right now everyone in the tech department was busy on other projects, Buck finally decided to take a hint and try to construct that jet-pack. In addition, he had stopped using Range One and Basic Firearms Safety to test his inventions while concentrating on finishing the class, mainly so he could build cool stuff again and get his blaster back from Sarge.

Still there was one thing that I had to show them before the tour was over, and no it wasn't the swimming pool. "And this is Arena 99, Whateley's answer to the Danger Room, although the danger part is a bit of an overstatement for this place. Down there is Range 5, the live action arena, and a bit further along is the one for the Holographic Simulator or The Sims as we call it."

I gave them a minute to take a look at the massive place before continuing, "This is where we have combat or survival finals for students at the end of Fall and Spring Semesters, as well as team matches if for those that are a part of a team is their Sophomore Year. The rules are costume, mask, and code names required because this place is also the source about those 'Mutant Death Match' pay-per-view broadcasts out of Vegas that you keep hearing about, but that information stays here."

"Why don't they put a stop to that?" Dad asked with obvious concern. "People do gamble on those things why does the school allow it?"

"Because administration has all but given up on trying to find and remove the hidden cameras in this place, that and since like WARS nobody knows that this place is the source the priority isn't that high to abate them." They understood my answer although they clearly weren't too thrilled by it, which was understandable- few of the students that knew about it were thrilled either.

Still the rest of the tour wasn't much, with much as I wasn't an official guide and everyone was gearing up for finals tomorrow, I was just glad that I finally caught up in the Algebra program before my trip to New York, and would be done Friday, after I took the online final for that part of the curriculum.

We made our way back to Shuster and Heather was there waiting for us, "Bye mom, bye dad have a fun trip back- trip back," Heather finally broke down and plowed into them bawling her eyes out. "Please don't go, I- I just started getting to know you- and I don't want to be alone and-*sniff*"

Desperate times called for desperate measures, I transformed in my wolf form walked over next to where Heather was clinging to mom with all her might and rolled over on my back and began to whimper like I had seen Chester do so many times before when I was busy working on a paper. Heather noticed and turned to me with tear stained cheeks, "Randi why are you doing that?"

Then I began to whimper ever more and broke out the dreaded puppy dog eyes. "I'll be here, don't I count."

"Of course sis but- but!" Heather said as she struggled with an answer.

"What your older sister is trying to say is that no matter what you are a part of this family and she will be here to keep an eye out for you when we can't." Dad said trying to break out some sage wisdom to diffuse the tension. "Just remember we are not sending you away, we just want to keep you safe."

"Okay dad," Heather sniffed as mom gave her the best bear hug that she could since turning back to normal her own little walk on the wild side. Now that she was calmed down I got back up on all fours, waiting.

"Remember dear," Mom said, as she looked Heather in the eyes. "Email us whenever you feel like it and call at least once a week."

"I will mom," Heather said as mom and dad went back to the bus headed for Berlin. Then I struck knocking Heather into a fluffy snow bank that I knew was safe and I began to lick her face.

"Randi, Randi stop it- cut it out!" She began to squeal as I shifted back to normal and switched from licking to tickling.

"Nevah," I said in my best impersonation of the knights who say nee. "I am your older sister and as such I am under obligation to do something publicly embarrassing at least once when you least suspect it at school!" Now that that was out of the way, I helped her get up and brush off the snow. "Now let's get over to Dunn before all the half-way decent stuff is gone." I said as I ruffled her hair for good measure.

As they walked away from Shuster, Jane looked on from her perch on the roof and just shook her head as she chuckled, "Children," Before taking off to join the the pair at Dunn for lunch.




Thursday, February 22, 2007
Las Vegas Chapter of the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom
Las Vegas, Nevada
2:37 PM PST

"Where is Miranda Salazar?" Demanded a woman with a head like some sort of bird of prey and a headdress like a column, "Where is the woman who bares my husband a daughter?"

This display surprised the Servants of Lord Khamsin to no end, they knew that he was married but according to both himself and his son, the djinn viewed marriage a lot differently than people did. Miranda meanwhile was frantic her vulpine face wild with fear, "No I will not let you hurt my child, I don't care who you are."

"Harm her," the avian-headed woman parroted out of sheer confusion. "I merely wish to scan you to make certain that the child born into our house will be born healthy, and is developing properly."

This did much for Miranda's nerves although she was hesitant, she still walked toward the woman who scanned her in the same way her fellow servant Jenny Crook had last week. When she was finished, Lord Khamsin's unnamed wife conveyed her results. "The child was conceived when you were still human and is a half-breed; however she promises to be strong in the future and will make an excellent addition to the House of Nephthys as will her mother. I am Nephthys the Lady of this Nobel House, you have done my house a great honor by bearing a child into it, when your daughter reaches her day of ascension you shall have the right to join our house as a full member if you should so choose."

"I thank you for your kindness Lady Nephthys," Miranda responded with a bow.

"Please child, simply call me Nephthys," the Lady of the house said in a kind tone, "After all fifteen full suns from this July you shall have the right to join our house as a true djinn."

Miranda looked amazed while her fellow servants looked like a mixture between happiness and envy at one of them soaring in rank so soon when once they were all equal, yet nonetheless they were still happy for her.

"Where is Master Set milady?" Debbie said as she stepped forward and knelt, "Is he not with you?"

"My husband is helping with some affairs back in the Royal Court of Prince Horus, and then he will be escorting Madam Eventide's daughter, as well as her niece and Baron Astio to an academy within the foothills of the White Mountains of New England." Lady Nephthys replied, "After that he should be returning home now let us make certain that his house is ready for his return."

Upon hearing, those words all of the Servants of Lord Khamsin scrambled to make their master's chambers ready for his return, as Lady Nephthys looked on in pride that her husband chose such capable women to add to his house.




Friday, February 23, 2007
JFK International Airport
New York City, New York
7:24 PM EST

Debra Solomon sat in the terminal of JFK airport with a one-way ticket to Minneapolis in her hand, her severance check in her wallet, and a broken heart. Bruce Goodkind had been incredibly angry at how the Knights of Purity were seen in the light of last Monday's debacle, and decided to publicly hold the three Knights and five technicians as responsible for allowing it to happen. Debra was sorry to admit that she didn't know the techs that well, but the other knights who were terminated were good friends of her's- Luke Green and Simon Butler.

It didn't take too hard to figure out the reason why they were singled out of all the Knights on duty that night, their psych report, all three of them had no problem with mutants as a whole, just criminals. What was that saying the Goodkind's had 'Goodkinds don't complain and whine, they fix things.' Well they certainly fixed any problems of moral uncertainty over terminating underage targets, as well as fixed her employment problem in one fell swoop. Now neither she, Luke or Simon were there to act as a possible conscious to the team when a termination order was given, because none of them worked for Bruce Goodkind any longer- sometimes life just sucked.

She had joined the Knight of Purity to be one of the good guys, she grew up in the windy city looking up to the Champion no matter who the current one was she admired him like a real life Superman out there every day keeping the world safe. She had wanted to be a part of that but everyone in Chicago knew from a young age that the police were one of three stripes there were the crooked ones, the career politicians who just kept their heads down to climb through the ranks, and the good cops that were held down by the first two. For a time she even dreamed of the possibility that she would manifest as a mutant, stumble across some power gem or even a Batson factor, of course those were merely the fantasies of a child.

When she got into high school, Debra decided to go into the military and took JROTC and then ROTC at Chicago State University, which was when she heard about the Knights of Purity. They sounded like a dream come true, here was her chance to save lives like she had always wanted and not have to be involved in a dirty war, she aligned her courses towards power armor operations in order to make herself into a more promising candidate. She graduated a second lieutenant and fifth in her class, having elected to be a reservist she took her degree to the Knights of Purity and was signed up.

She had soon found things a little suspicious in the Knights; for the most part, she was stuck on security detail and assigned to escort duties. Okay while she was a rookie when she joined, she was with the Knights of Purity for three years and never sent out on a serious assignment, then she found out there were a few others who had the same problem like Luke, Simon and a few others. Things had been looking fishy for a while but she didn't dare to question things, after all she was only to follow orders like a good soldier, except the Knights of Purity were a security company and if they were doing anything illegal she had her duty as a army reservist to inform the legal authorities. Not that she knew anything, yeah this sucked big time.

Still that life was over, she was going to head over to Fort Snelling and see what she could to switch her status from Reservist to Active Duty. It wasn't like there was anything else in her life at the moment, and from what she had heard people fired from Goodkind International or related companies really found themselves a hard time finding gainful employment elsewhere- in other words black-listed.

"Pardon me Miss your name escapes me but I never forget a face." Debra looked up to see a woman in a smart business suit was talking to her. "Now I remember, you were one of the members of the Knights of Purity who were involved in that incident last Monday."

"Former Knight of Purity," Debra corrected the woman somewhat curious where this might lead. "It was determined that I was among several key personal that failed to react appropriately in the line of technical failure of a backup system."

"Backup system, Professor Id held two hotel Ballrooms hostage; I wouldn't be surprised if he paid someone to infiltrate your support crew and booby-trap your power armor with a remote override." The woman stated as if she had a clear picture on the entire situation, just who was she? "It really sounds like Bruce Goodkind threw you under the bus rather than admit that his security had holes in it, how like that family to fail to admit culpability."

"But where are my manners- Alana Metzer, Axcel Incorporated." The woman said extending her hand. "My company made the power armor suits that stopped your Knights when Professor Id's accomplice took them for a joyride; although it seems like that little event sent a little more business my way than I was anticipating. Now our Star Marshal program is just beginning however now we are forced to expand the scope of our choices, so if you wouldn't mind giving us a call I'm certain that we could make you a job offer, psych screening permitting of course."

Ms. Metzer handed Debra a business card for Axcel Incorporated, she took one look at it and was shocked to find that the company's CEO herself had just made her a job offer. "I'll consider it when I weigh my options later Miss Metzer, but for now I need to report back to the 88th Regional Readiness Command on my career status."

"I understand, but if you're willing to accept my offer then feel free to ask for a transfer from Fort Snelling and the 88th RRC to the Camp Pike Armed Forces Complex and the 90th RRC, it is only a six hour drive from our corporate headquarters when you need to report for duty. That is of course if you are interested in my job offer, oh and if you know anyone in similar straits as yourself feel free to spread the word around to your friends.

"This is the boarding call for American Airlines Flight 274 for Dallas."

"I am sorry if I must run but that is my flight; just remember that the offer is on the table." Alana Metzer left Debra Solomon who was staring at the business card, wondering if the universe had just thrown her a bone.




Saturday, February 24, 2007
Vacant Field North of Wills Point, Texas
12:00 AM CST

They gathered round a newly butchered corpse, the body of the scout that they had sent into Arlington and then Dallas to find the whereabouts of the hiding mutant children and their families. His grisly state was the price of his failure and the source of the Silver-Barred Stars communion with their master this dark night.

Sure enough, he rose from the viscera, the Dark Rider as he had dozens of times before ever since Papa Torque created his avatar in the Tennessee during the eighties. He did this using the secretly exhumed bones of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the outfit worn by Crazy the 'Fourteenth' member of the Original 13 Hell's Angels and an SS motorcycle his father took home from World War II as a war prize. The Silver-Barred Stars knelt before the ghastly figure shrouded in black fire, as the leader of their chapter Papa Aste spoke. "We offer this unto you our dark master as penance for our failure. We failed to apprehend the awakened children of Gaea or those that dared to bring them into being on this hunt, and ask what you will us to do."

"WRETCHED SOULS WHO GATHER UNDER MY BANNER," the dark rider spoke in his chilling tone. "THIS WEEK ALONE TWO OF MY THOUSANDS OF MASKS HAVE BEEN SHATTERED. EGYPT, JAPAN AND WHILE THAT WHICH I WEAR UPON THE SURFACE OF THE DREAMLANDS IS NOW CONSTRAINED, THE LIKELIHOOD OF MY RESTORATION THERE IS DOUBTFUL, EVEN THE INFERNAL FOOL MUST HIDE ITSELF IN THE UNDERWORLD OR BE INCINERATED. I WISH YOUR BROTHERHOOD TO RIDE TO THE CAPITAL OF SECOND CHANCES AFTER THE SUMMER SOLSTICE, THERE THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLACK PHARAOH SHALL MEET YOU AND TOGETHER YOU SHALL PUNISH THE ONE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF THE BLACK PHARAOH. THIS SHALL BE DONE THROUGH HIS CHILD SHE MUST DIE UNDER THE SAME SUN OF HER BIRTH, THE BROTHERS ALREADY KNOW THE DETAIL, NOW DO NOT SPEAK WITH ME UNTIL THIS IS MADE TO PASS!"

"As you will it Dark Rider of the Roads," Brother Aste stated as the demonic figure disappeared, then rose to his feet and turned to his men. "You have heard the master we need to be in Vegas by late June, until then keep to the roads. Now let's hit the road before that bitch Scratch sicks her dogs on us."

The band of the Silver-Barred Stars headed out towards the highway intent on making it to Vicksburg before sunup and thus well out of Erzabet Scratch's territory before the church bells started ringing.




Whateley - Poe Cottage
New Hampshire
9:54 PM EST

I plopped back on my bed after having gotten back from training with Anu, grateful that Mirabel volunteered to heal me afterwards, (yay no more needing to sleep on the floor if I didn't want too) and looked up at the bed above me. It was obviously eating at the Kimba's to have one of the people that fought them in Boston alongside the Necromancer sharing the same cottage with them, even if she had been a double agent working with the District Attorney, not that Vamp was actually that bad (a regular horn dog yes but not bad). Besides if anything Bravo and the Idiot Trio had proven that they were the second coming of the Flying Bulldozer with their idiotic pursuit of her into the Crystal Hall construction zone, they had to help put the construction back on schedule by using all of their free time and would not be allowed off of campus until the unveiling. After that it was a solid month's detention in Hawthorn for Bravo, Long-John, Rapid, and Pucelle.

I had a week to kill before spring semester started, and soon after the attacks from the Summer Court would begin. Sometime tomorrow, the next wave of students would also get here, including the eight that I had briefly met in New York. It was likely that the one they called Quikvix would be headed here to Poe, I hope that Ms. Horton would lay down the law and tell her to keep that Bi act of hers on the down low so that she didn't blow the cottage secret. It was also possible that Chou and I would be getting new roommates, but that's up to other people.

Also starting tomorrow Morrigan would get back from her honeymoon and take over my training, so Sunday would mark my last training session with Gentle Annie, and my body would likely be grateful that I was working with someone that knew healing spells. I also heard that Dagda would be take over teaching poetry from Mrs. Holister who was wanting to focus more on the theater arts program, teaching a special course on the music and its application to magic, and helping out in the kitchen over at Crystal Hall. Of course, there was also the fact that his cauldron would help stretch out the food budget, which was bound to be burdened by the appetites of so many energizers, PK Bricks and other major calorie burners that were here.

Still none of this would be until well into the afternoon, and of course, I had a whole week to kill before classes started outside of work and training. Of course I planned to make a few new spell-shells for my mana rifle and hang out with the group but this time could be perfect to begin working on the pistol version of my mana rifle, no mana pistol sounded a bit too tacky- mana-bus on the other hand had a certain ring to it. I already had the sand-mold for it, Morrigan insisted on making it despite me telling her that I was better with a rifle.

Most of the materials wouldn't be a problem either, I still had enough wood and three pieces of the amber laying around, also making the rifle barrel had only used up half of the grey iron and the rest was turned into an ingot that Doc gave back to me when we were done. The only thing that I didn't have were the sterling silver cotter pins for the action, maybe I could go check out the antique stores in Berlin later this week, I mean it isn't like I'm Goodkind and can just wave my money at the Revere Mint in Boston to make them appear.

Still no use pouring over that tonight as much as my mind was percolating with ideas, I was also dead tired. I didn't plan on journeying to the Dreamlands again anytime soon, so for now I would give myself the luxury of the normal weird dreams that so many other people take for granted. 'Some people just don't know how lucky they are to have the little things in life.' I thought as I shut my eyes.




Sunday February 25, 2007
Whateley - On Top of Shuster Hall
3:08 PM

Heather and I hid on the roof to Shuster Hall looking down, and I admit I wasn't the only girl up here watching the new arrivals about to come and settle in the week before spring semester began; although I was using my boots to stand perpendicular to the roof and Heather's face was sticking out of a hand-mirror. I understood that they liked to stagger arrivals more in the fall, but then again even with teens manifesting as mutants year round some people and their parents were beginning to prefer that they wait for fall now. This was further enhanced by the greater amount of scrutiny right now on the MCO, who government was finally cracking down on; yup the MIB-wannabes were finding it harder to get away with taking breaking the law by pretending to be enforcing it.

The DPA was finally starting to receive the funding that it needed and if you so much as saw an MCO agent show up on your doorstep, then you could have the police remove them. Now all that we need is to have H1 declared a hate group, and maybe fewer mutants would grow up filled with rampant paranoia.

Still onto newbie watching, Billie was up here with Jade on her haunted blanket (I used to be an Avatar and I know what I saw) and there were others from most of the other cottages here as well. Superchick from Melville was here with Belphoebe who was using 'her' gravity-reducer; Kerry was here with Erze in her cat-weasel form, along with Aquerna from Whitman, what was weird was that none of the boys appeared curious enough to join us.

Of course, I was just grateful that Ms. Henderson let Tennyo and I work early to come take a peek at the new arrivals. Well the bus finally pulled up to the station and the students were getting off, yup sure enough what looked like the eight kids that I had met at the ceremony in New York were getting off, likely somewhat disappointed at how mutant high looked like just another ordinary private school in New England.


While there were quite a few new faces it was the absence of two old faces that got us talking, "Where are Skybolt and Cavalier," Jade asked, "I thought that they were doing better."

"They probably still have a good ways to go with their therapy so the doctors over there haven't decided to mainstream them yet." Billie answered with a concerned look on her face, "One thing is for sure, when they do come back Sebastiano is going to be pissed."

As fascinating as this was I filed it under something to ask about later. "Interesting but look at the person that got off the bus," I said pointing out um, okay I wasn't sure from this angle if that was a boy or a girl. "Interesting plumage, it's nice to see that someone can have a Jericho's wardrobe's color pallet without turning it into a war crime."

"Hey sis, there's Morrigan and Badb!" Heather said pointing out my 'ex-roommate' who was going to be one of the new history and mystic-arts teachers. Right after she got off she was followed by her husband Dagda, who was wearing a different set of those tartan patterned hakama pants from when I'd last seen him.

While there were a decent amount of new students getting off to be escorted to their dorms by their assigned RA's, Ayla got picked to do the duty this time around sure enough she was escorting Quikvix over to Poe. Then I noticed another vehicle pulling in a limousine, "Hey Billie is Ayla expecting any visitors?"

"Randi what makes you thinks Ayla has anything to do with it." The Section 33
Library clerk said rolling her eyes. "Besides why would visitors be coming on student arrival day? It's a Green Flag remember."

"Geez I was only making a-" I stopped in mid-sentence as I saw who got out. I was torn between fear and anger, he looked different likely due to a BIT's influence but the there was no mistaking it- that was my old body. Given what I knew about what happened to my old self I knew that someone serious was behind the wheel, likely that Baron Astio Heather told me about, which meant that for the second time this month a member of the Obsidian Circle was at Whateley- and this one looked like he was enrolling.

I was so caught up in my rage that I almost missed Heather saying, "Randi look down there, it's Lord Ataxia."

"Heather that's impossible," I said emerging from the very dark place that I was headed, much to Jane's relief as I could hear her sigh from her spot above the entrance. "I mean sure I can somewhat see the resemblance from the sketches of him, but everyone that knows about him knows that he turns to dust in sunlight."

"I'm telling you it's him," Heather said insisting that she knew it was true. "I don't know how but it is, and he looks stronger than he was before less emaciated somehow.

"I hope you're wrong Heather." I said looking at the scene below, before catching onto something suspicious. "Wait what the heck is Imperious doing here, I thought that She-Beast was the escort for the students going to Melville, wait is he sparking?"




Whateley - In Front of Shuster Hall
3:17 PM

Baron Astio had just turned around to help Lamia out of the car when Lord Khamsin stepped in to assist them with their luggage only to receive a massive shot of electricity, as Astio heard a very familiar voice shout at the top of his lungs, {"Bastard spawn of Tarturus!"} in Ancient Greek.

Lord Khamsin fell to his knees more out of surprise that any real pain, Astio had his suspicions and his eyes confirmed the facts, this was the current incarnation of Zeus (Imperious according to Erzabet Scratch's intelligence) and Khamsin had inadvertently stepped in the way of an arc of electricity that had been sent with the intent at killing him.

"Mister Stratholm what is the meaning of this?" Elizabeth Carson demanded an explanation at the sight before her which was obvious that the boy had either tried to assassinate one of the Obsidian Circle in front of the administration building or had tried to kill the new student behind him.

"Oh this is just a minor misunderstanding Headmistress I assure you," Imperious replied turning on his aura of charm full force.

However, the look in Elizabeth Carson's eyes was anything except compliance; this promised to have deep consequences.




Shuster Hall - Headmistress's Office
4:05 PM

"Your student committed an unprovoked assault on me in broad daylight!" Lord Khamsin stated his outrage clearly with a raised voice. "Is this what your school teaches of neutrality? I demand satisfaction for this blatant insult!"

"Lord Ataxia, I do not care of your position within the Grand Hall of Sinister Wisdom, I will not have you threatening one of my students." Ms. Carson said in a staunch reply.

"These days I go by Lord Khamsin, and your student assaulted me being without any provocation, if this is what you teach at this institution then perhaps I should inform Madam Eventide that her daughter is better off elsewhere. This concerns me even more since I have a child of my own on the way and was considering sending her to your institution when she becomes of age." The self-named ancient sorcerer stated, "Teaching your students the tactics of cowards, even at my worst I always made certain that my opponent knew just who was striking them down beforehand. Moreover shielding one of your charges from the repercussions of his actions; I was informed that you were teaching them how to survive in the real world, not molly coddling them."

"We are not coddling the young man," Miss Hartford retorted at Lord Khamsin. "He will be punished in turn in a manner that we deem appropriate, not flogged, beaten or whatever else your lot does. We still remember what happened during one of your group's last visits, one of your agents named Carcharoth left a student known as Counterpoint laying outside our medical building in the snow with his arms and legs broken and pulled out of their sockets."

"You think I am asking to perform a one-sided beating," Lord Khamsin chuckled at the absurdity of the statement. "Carcharoth is a brutal, angry thug; such a display from him is not unprecedented. No what I demand is a formal trial by combat to satisfy this affront to my dignity, a one-on-one fight if you will."

This seemed to mollify the headmistress and deputy-headmistress, still Carson had to lay a condition. "As long as the fight is not to the death or maiming of the young man this is fine. Sometimes the boy is far too arrogant for his own good; maybe a humiliating one-sided defeat will help him reign in his ego."

"Madam," Lord Khamsin said extending his hand to the Headmistress. "It would be my honor and my pleasure to do so, would five o'clock be good?"




Arena 99 Bleachers
4:50 PM

Once I had fully calmed down and cleared my head I began to think about who this Baron Astio that was walking around in my old body might be. That was when I remembered Plagiat's confession about Madam Eventide's project on Mount Etna. A little internet search helped me piece together a very big puzzle about Imperious MO behind his attack, and gave me a very short list of names about Eventide's possible ancient identity since according to Heather he Baron Astio was Eventide's uncle.

I would go over the list with her later since a test on Thursday had confirmed that if someone told her the correct name, she was no longer prevented by Plagiat's gaes from revealing it. I didn't need to confirm with her about Baron Astio though my research fit, there was no doubt in my mind that I now had ID'd three members of the Obsidian Circle. Baron Astio was Typhon, still I was curious about Lord Ataxia he was here at the moment and about to fight Imperious of the New Olympians, who thanks to Morrigan I found out was Zeus."

All around me, I heard speculation, Imperious was known around campus as a tough cookie in spite of his overwhelming arrogance. However, everyone remembered the news about Mister Domino's fight with the Frost Giants and Lord Ataxia was supposed to be on the same level (possibly even more powerful); there was also the fact that he seemed to be a lot stronger than even Mister Lodgeman or Reverend Englund remembered him to be. Old descriptions of Lord Ataxia had him as emaciated, almost mummified, not to mention extremely vulnerable to sunlight. This guy didn't appear emaciated, heck he moved like he knew how to fight, also he was standing in broad daylight earlier.

Jane was considering things as well in her usual spot on my shoulder, I'm sorry child, I just don't have all of the pieces yet to this puzzle.

Fortunately, fate decided to throw us a bone a couple of Imperious's groupies decided to sit in front of my group and were prattling on about their hunky idle. "There is no way that Jason is going to lose to this fossil." "Yeah I mean what kind of codename is Lord Khamsin anyway?"

'What? Wait a second; I thought his name was Lord Ataxia?' I went over things in my head then asked my partner. 'Jane what does Ataxia mean in its original root definition?'

It's another word for chaos She explained to me, Although these days it implies a lack of coordination.

'And what does Khamsin mean?' I asked her again.

It's the name of a sand storm in the Sahara that can last for days, even weeks. Jane explained as I began to chew over the facts.

Ever since learning out Mister Domino was Loki and Dame Höllenfeuer was Hel, I had spent a little time in the library looking up dark or demonized gods of ancient cultures and had learned a great deal. There one demonized deity that fit Ataxia, or as he was calling himself Khamsin to a T, in earlier incarnations he was the Egyptian God of the Desert and Storms, and later on he became their God of Chaos and Darkness as well as an enemy of Ra- Set. Now I would have to run this by Heather later for confirmation, still if it was true Zeusy was in for the fight of his lives.

Set used to hold off the giant serpent Apep for eight to ten hours every night, and after he was demonized, it supposedly took Bastet, Sekmet, and anyone else willing to fend him off. Zeus by contrast is only known for fighting three times, once alongside Hades and Poseidon against Kronos, and the other two times against Typhon who won their first fight and left Zeus temporarily crippled. Set was also a storm god known for his immense power, and Zeus was mainly known for his charm and lightning. Okay to be fair Zeus also had enough strength to drop that mountain on Typhon, but Set was supposed to be no slouch in the strength department either. 'Still if I'm right this is going to be messy.'




Arena 99
5:00 PM

Imperious looked across the arena in confidence, just who did this mortal think that he was challenging the King of the Gods. This Lord Khamsin had already shown himself vulnerable to his lightning once, and if frying him again was all that he had needed to do in order to stay out of trouble a second time he was more than ready to do so.

Imperious entered into the arena as he had done several times to satisfy the foolish mortal authorities who thought that they had power over him, he would dispatch this fool and then dispense with his ancient foe Typhon's current incarnation when the time was right. He watched his opponent enter the currently sandy arena from the opposite side still wearing that ridiculous outfit and animal head, what did he fancy himself some sort of Thebeian.

Imperious wait for the mortal audience to watch their identification as displayed overhead, and listened to those idiots known as Peeper and Greasy prattle on as the signal sounded. As soon as the signal ended, Imperious unleashed a lightning attack right at Lord Khamsin of the same strength as the one that he hit him with earlier expecting to finish the contest immediately.

The Olympian possessing the body of Jason Stratholm since birth looked on as the smoke cleared, and was shocked to see Lord Khamsin standing clutching the bolt of lightning in his right hand as if it were a softball. As surprised, as Jason was by this turn of events he was terrified as the blast of lightning's voltage was increased as if Khamsin was feeding it electricity of his own, before returning it in a widely dispersed arch of electrical force that blew Imperious off his feet and sent him flying.

When Jason landed he saw Lord Khamsin throw off his robe to reveal an ornate suit of yellow and black gold, then produce a wand of some sort from what seemed like his belt. Imperious already knew no that his lightning would have no effect on this opponent, he would need to beat him into submission physically and ran toward Lord Khamsin intending to catch his opponent off guard with close quarter's combat, only to have the warlock turn that wand expand into some manner of spear and knock him aside.

What happened next was something that his rebellious daughter Athena and his hotheaded son Ares would never let him forget, Lord Khamsin used the odd headpiece that earlier had appeared to be purely symbolic and used it to snag the off balance lord of New Olympus' left ankle. That was when the real beating began, Lord Khamsin used that trapped ankle to turn the other side of his spear into a flail with Imperious as the bola, and he then went into a dizzying and elegant display using his impromptu weapon to demonstrate his own form with it. This went on for about seventeen minutes before Lord Khamsin switched his grip freeing the New Olympians ankle and throwing his bruised and battered body to the side.

Naturally, Imperious got to his feet as his exemplar trait began to heal his wounds; this was when Lord Khamsin unleashed hurricane force winds trapping the New Olympian against the walls of the arena, as the sand that was now covering his body was steadily burying him. This seemed to go on forever until the wind finally died down, Imperious was furious at this humiliation and wanted to make his opponent pay, but the most curious thing happened the sand covering him refused to budge. Despite his strength that could lift several tons, Imperious was unable to move as his opponent left the arena.

As per the rules of their contest, the winner was the one who could leave the arena with their opponent unable to stop them, this infuriated Imperious to no end this mortal sorcerer had defeated him. Zeus burned inside with this defeat, as per the rules he would be unable to take revenge for this defeat- for now, but once he was no longer burdened by the rules of Whateley, Lord Khamsin would pay for this humiliation- yes he would pay dearly.




Laird Hall
7:00 PM

This was it I was standing across from Morrigan, the ancient Sidhe general who had instilled what seemed like years of fighting instincts in me over the course of a month's worth of dreams, instincts that I had spent the last few weeks of training with Anu slowly bringing into reality. I admit that I was nowhere near finished with bringing my dream training into reality, but that would take years of practice, trials, pain, battle, and experience to make real.

I had no idea what tomorrow would bring, although others seemed to have ideas of possibilities. I could become Loki's pawn, an obedient agent to get away with what he could not because of the chains upon his being. I could follow Morrigan's wishes and become a loyal warrior in the service to Nikki as she helped make the Western Court prosper again. I could go on to fulfill the prophecy of the four cardinal maidens that Greyback received from Tiamat, become the Scout of the West and help the other three reunite the four lost lands with Earth. I could become a hero like Plainswalker and help people back home with a new generation of Dallas Defenders. I could follow my own path that I might stumble across on accident while learning here at Whateley, and make my own way in this wide world.

Of course, I could always go onto do any combination of the above, maybe all of them faerie lived a long time so maybe I could try out the possibilities. Still here and now, there was just Morrigan and I in a room together, her holding a wooden staff and me with two practice blades the size and weight of my knives. Off to the side is Badb's daughter and Jane's older sister Marie, who agreed to referee our practice sessions. "Ready... Begin!" she cried out as Morrigan and I became lost in the moment, as for the future that could wait for another day.



The End
Last Edit: 4 years 3 months ago by Insane Hiker.

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