(Author’s note: Song lyrics credits, and suggested play list at the end of the story. Yes I know, abnormal for me but well J .)
October 31, 2006
“Hey, hey, hey, it’s Jimmy T! Glad you could join us today.” That was Mr. Kennedy, one of the sophomore history teachers, all round good guy and ex-hippy. Ok, maybe not ex-hippy, he invariably wore something tie-dyed, even if it was only his ties. He was one of the more fun teachers to sit in class with. Though most of the time I had to sit in his classes remotely; as they were in the too danged early part of the morning. Mostly due to the fact that it sometimes it takes me too much effort to look humanoid, quickly. The funny bit is he wasn’t being sarcastic when he pronounced his greeting.
Most mornings I don’t wake up as myself, literally. I am what you might call an unconscious shape-shifter, class um 6 or something higher. They haven’t figured exactly what my upper boundary is, other than off the top of the chart. I can shape shift at will but changing back to ‘me’ is a slow-freaking-ass process which takes several long and boring hours of focusing on being ‘me’. Which is a problem on occasion as it is often more fun to be something other than a geeky looking sixteen year old boy, of very Irish decent. Yeah I got the whole package, flaming red hair, and pale skin with ‘freakles’. The green eyes, by nature’s whim, are part of the package deal. I am also skinny and not exactly the most um, robust of men… Ok, boys.
When my mutation kicked in, well it wasn’t exactly a surprise that I as going to be a mutant; but I was expecting to be something more, personable. Mom and Dad are Mutants, with a capital M. They don’t go around selling real estate or wearing spandex but they do the job. You know, making the world safer for the… um… world. Trust me it’s not a glamorous as a job as the tabloids make it out to be. You learn this when your Mom and Dad come home smelling like sewage after fighting something in the sewers that should stay there.
So I got the ability to be weird and the ever-fun bit of seeing and talking to dead people. Yeah, just like the kid in ‘Sixth Sense’ sans the gore. Trust me, it is not as fun or exciting as people make it seem. Though I don’t have to worry about a low grade point average as just about every Teacher that has not moved on and liked their job seems to come and ‘help’ me. Then there is the extra row of hecklers that only I get to hear when it comes to any major production or even History classes… like today.
You can’t exactly tell The Dead to bugger off, though you can try. Most of the time they will let you sleep; just don’t piss one off before bedtime. I have more psychometric equipment in my room that the folks on TAPS, the Sci Fi Channel's Ghost Hunters Show, will ever dream of owning. I get a decent cut of funds from the people doing that type of research and I have enough money from such that they don’t screw me by publishing my name in their papers. My parent’s lawyers make Johnny Cochran look TAME by comparison and, well, if I wasn’t so weird I could be one of the Alphas on the shear size of my monthly checks but eighty percent of the time I am not one of the Beautiful People™.
Then I have the added headache of occasionally waking up looking like superstars of either gender. No I do not sing like Elvis, trust me. Most days where I can pass as ‘human’, I still have to wear a PROMINANT name badge that reads. “HI, my Name is Jimmy Trauger. No, you do not want to see me angry, no I am not going to eat you.”
I had to add the last line after some Dumb-Assed-Brick, by the name of LeShawn, decided it was a good idea to pick on the Nerd-Freak-a-Zoid in my freshman year. If you haven’t seen a five-ton amoeboid blob englobulate a frantic teenager and then dissolve his clothing by way of highly corrosive stomach acids, and not quite suffocating the idiot in question in the process: It will certainly either cause you to be amused or send you running. Security was not exactly amused, though they seemed to be hard pressed not to giggle at the Brick in question’s nudity.
Unfortunately, I have to carry a tracer with my name badge as well, as I ended up on the Ultra-Violent or as we call it the Ultraviolet (UV) list for that ‘little’ stunt. Hey, he started it and deserved it and well, he was on the list as well, for earlier offensives. Like I said, Security was not exactly amused. Though they later removed him from the List as he seemed to have a radical change in behavior. Now he’s in the Cape Squad, justice, liberty for all and that stuff… go figure. The other reason I carry the tracker is due to my being honest; sometimes honesty does not pay.
After I had managed to return to a ‘mostly humanoid’ form, I was questioned by Security as to why I chose an ‘Amoebic’ form and not something less dangerous. When I responded, “I went with my gut,” as I was both hungry and angry at that particular moment. Though I probably shouldn’t have added that he was “tasty.” Because about that time they got a bit wide-eyed on me for some reason. I don’t remember actually tasting him, though on some level he ‘was tasty’. Of course this did not please the Powers That Be, and thus I spent the first part of my freshman year living by remote control. In some ways it was much easier than summoning up the effort to change from whatever I woke up as or dealing with all the double takes.
Eventually you develop a sense of humor about such things or you go mad, and I started making the effort to –get out- more often. It was either that or just sit around and bored off my ass all day. I also learned that my subconscious played a huge part on what I woke up as on the following day. For example, if I spend several hours watching the Aliens movies I will either wake up as one of the actors or one of monsters. For comedic effect I started watching lots of B-Flick Movies at night and seeing what I would go to breakfast as… which earned me many strange looks and some odd propositions.
Needless to say Halloween is my favorite time of year, not so much from the séance side of the coin. Yes I will do séances, but you have to put down a huge deposit. If you have to ask how large the deposit is, you can’t afford it. By way of being a glutton for punishment and what not, I got very good at masking my features. Maybe I got too good at it. As I also have the dubious joy of being a ‘teachers aid’ for the evening Costume Classes. Which in turn landed me a job as one of the judges for the costuming contests. As the various cliques hold the contests, and so on though out the year so it does earn me pocket change, but not much else.
If you are not sure what you will wake up as and if being you takes too much effort, why be you? Answer: Because being someone else earns you all of their problems as well. So my frequent semi-imposed exile is more for my own convenience and pride than anything else. That and waking up looking like Nikki Reilly or any other hottie, male or female, on this campus is really hazardous to your life and limb. Particularly since I don’t get all their nifty powers as well.
For example, while I can wake up as or shape shift to look exactly like the ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ and so on. I can’t exactly breathe water like oxygen. I can mimic some strength effects and so on; largely due to the size and etcetera of whatever form I take. Most of the time, however, I’m lucky if I can lift a car much less my lunch tray. Which is to say huge, since I burn more calories than most Energizers, of which freaks the cafeteria staff and other people out on some days.
Today I actually woke up as me for change, which was nice as I could go to all the classes like any other normal Whateley student. Of course normal is relative. I found a seat in the back that was not occupied by the incarnate essence of The Dead, and got ready to practice the fine art of note taking with annotations. The Dead can get offended with people just ‘sitting’ on them, they just can’t bitch about it much. I, on the other hand, have to live with them so I make an effort to be polite to them, which unnerves some people.
While there are telepaths and what not, on campus, it is technically impolite to talk aloud to one, unless of course you are a non-telepath. Add in the fact I am talking to dead people, some of them notable personages, and I seem like a candidate for the funny farm. For Example saying aloud: “And a good day to you Mr. Nixon, how is Ms. Monroe?” will surely get you some odd looks.
Mr. Kennedy is not one of those people and he takes my apparent weirdness in all good stride. That and he is as strange as I am with The Dead. Most of the time though, he tries to ignore them, unless they are in the ‘History Profession’ or are major Historical or Hysterical Figures. I think between the two of us we have fun annotating the ‘Correct and Unified History of the Planet,’ AKA World History.
I started doing the annotated notes bit in Freshman History, mostly as it was a way to kill time and secondly because The Dead can be such nags! Mr. Kennedy I think, but cannot prove; spent a lot of his time in the early sixties in a semi self-induced haze while at Berkley. Mostly as it was in and secondly it was a way to tune out The Dead who where trying to get him to put down the –real- facts in his History reports. Believe me, I can relate; though I stay away from alcohol and the other fun substances of the week. As I much prefer my subconscious’s own quirks to those that are induced or exacerbated by drugs.
So with a quiet greetings to the assembled Dead and Living I got on with actually what I was there for, taking notes. No I do not take tests, I can’t really take any that are fairly based upon anything written, seen or so on. You see, The Dead, like me. So I get some very heavy tutoring from them, and they have no qualms about telling me the correct answers, whether I ask them to or not! Though I will say my essays and term papers are twice as long as anyone else's on campus, as the teachers have to grade me on something.
Which leads to some very annoying problems when it comes to my fellow students, as in they will also tell me who is cheating, and not just on tests. Whateley does have an honor code of sorts: Of which if I followed and reported every single infraction, people would find a way to kill me. Actually the code is more like the Armies ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell policy,’ with predictable abuses and punishments.
In my case this policy stems from The Dead, as they have nothing but time on their hands, are by nature very voyeuristic. I know more about the people on campus than I dare ever let on. Fortunately, the only person who seems to be able to read my mind is my mother, as I am a Psychic Null. Which means, nothing can in my head and nothing can get out. Thank God! Though a great many of the psychics find me either unnerving or ‘blissfully quiet’. It also means what ever I learn, stays in my head, and doesn’t leak out. Which if not otherwise, could be fatal on this campus. As a secondary result, I have been nagged into to learning Chess.
My nightly opponent is no other than ‘The Fuub’, as we Hawthornites have learned to call him. Originally he was as human as, well, anyone else on campus. Then something happened and even The Dead don’t want to discuss it. Of which is frankly astonishing when you consider that I can’t get them to -not- tell me some things. Seriously! Too Much Information! In either case, he is one mystery I don’t know much about, which makes for a pleasant change of pace some days. You try and keep a straight face when someone tells everyone they are straight, while you know they are as kinky as a corkscrew.
So one day there was this apparition in my room that was not one of The Dead and who was as curious about me as I was about him. Supposedly, he is on of the most powerful Psi’s on the planet and he cannot make himself heard to me. Conversely, he cannot pick anything out of my head, which if you love to play chess, like he does, is a good thing. Because if you are as powerful as he is, he could only challenge himself by playing against machines. Basically anyone human or otherwise is an open book ninety-nine point eight percent of the time to him. The other point two percent he admits to being distracted by something, amusing or otherwise.
I suppose it is rather hard to keep from not knowing your opponents every move in chess, as they have to concentrate on moves six or more down the road and all possible variations. He does play with other grandmasters from time to time as they “play by instinct, rather than by thought.” So he doesn’t mind when The Dead help me to play against him, as I am nowhere near his level of chess player. Give me a few dozen years and I might, might catch up to his level.
Years, dates and numbers, of which drags me back to History and The Dead and the classroom. Mr. Kennedy was discussing the Victorian Era, and I was adding in footnotes from a ‘Lady’ of that century. Ms. Annie Chapman, deceased, was giving me some very interesting side notes, mostly about fashion, sex, prostitution, serial killers and knives. Though occasionally she would drop a name, though she seemed to be irritated with one of the other Teachers, Circe for some reason.
Evidently it had to do something with corsets and such. I mentally filed the info under TMI. However, I dutifully annotated the number of fatalities resulting from the application of and the interesting ways one is removed in the heat of passion. Like I said, voyeurs from hell. I think Mr. Kennedy was having a hard time focusing on the class today as he kept giving me amused glances from the podium.
I have also learned shorthand out of shear necessity, as The Dead do not lend themselves to technology very well, and can be quite verbose. Sometimes they can manage a brief message on tape or distort the picture on a television screen and make the phone ring and doorbells ring. Did I mention they were occasionally into practical jokes?
So after a very, very long hour’s worth of note taking, the class was over and I gave my ‘annotated’ notes to Mr. Kennedy who was trying not to smirk. “I see you endured?”
“Well if anything I now know how to get someone out of a corset in an emergency,” I replied with a matching smirk.
“You know I enjoy having you here even if you are challenged, by events and such,” he said tucking the notes away and placing them into his satchel.
“And it saves you the headache of remembering all the extra details,” I replied with smile.
“Not to mention having to suppress the urge to tell them to ‘shut the hell up I’m teaching here…’” he paused to let one of the ghosts pass by us.
“That too,” I bowed to the deceased lady from the class and tried to keep a straight face.
~I see courtly etiquette is still in vogue,~ said Ms Chapman as she floated up rolling her eyes at me, ~but I’m not that staid.~ She flashed a wicked smile at Mr. Kennedy.
“No I can see that,” he replied to her with an amused smile.
“Wonderful, oh well off to Applied Physics, the annotated type,” I said with a tilt of my head to Mr. Kennedy.
“Oh, have fun,” he replied with a tilt of his head in exchange.
If you have not guessed by now, I am weird, even by Whateley Standards™, which is saying something. Technically you would think my wandering across the gender lines is a hazard to my health, not to mention confusing to others. I used to freak out about it a lot. I mean seriously if I didn’t know about the folks in Poe having such odd times too; I’d be a candidate for the funny farm or the Early Checkout. You know, suicide.
Personally, having met my share of early checkouts it is not worth it, trust me. While the EC’s don’t end up as bureaucrats for the underworld, ala Beetle Juice, they either go Poltergeist or end up as Moping Myrtles ala Harry Potter. Needless to say it’s not a fun way to live out ‘your extra time’ before moving on to the various afterlife’s or reincarnation.
Sadly we have a more than few of the Mopers hanging around Poe and Hawthorne than any of the other dorms and there are Polters. All of which makes my worst days of depression read like Jiminy Cricket chatting up Peter Parker. So the early checkout plan is not on the agenda for me, though I swear getting the Mopers to move on is easier than the Polts.
Jeeze, if you plan on checking out of life early, please take a downer before doing so or something. Ker-ist! You would not believe the spectral friction they give ‘everyone’ in the area. Trust me, they never make a Medium ‘happy’ or achieve a happy medium without someone slowing them down.
Which is not my job, thankfully. I leave that to the Dream Team also known as the Whateley Gaming Club. No they are not just your typical nerdy teenagers rolling dice and taking on imaginary foes. Nope, Whateley has its own set of Astral Power Rangers of Justice, and Keepers of the Unseen Planes. Sounds grandiose, but if you ask me the risk is not up with the reward. Those poor souls get to fight real daemons and other things like the Polters and could die in their sleep or in class for no apparent reason. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s all mystical mumbo-jumbo, but then again, I fall into that category too.
Anyways, the gender thing used to be a real issue for me, though as time passed; I more or less learned to be whatever gender I woke up as. Though I am never quite sure what to make of those days where I have both genders and the days of no gender… It plays merry hell with my shrinks, as they are not sure I am entirely balanced. So what if I have enough Freudian slips in my closet to make any Queen jealous, it’s not like ‘Siggy’ has much use for them in his deceased state.
Ah humor, where would I be without humor? Well probably a lot more boring and depressed for one thing. While I am not the life of the party, I can do impressions and impersonations. I do a lot of underground charity work in a dunk tank as the ‘representative’ of the various teachers and staff. For some reason Ms. Hartford is really, really popular with the Poe Crowd when it comes to ‘dunking’ parties. Personally I don’t see what the tension is there, but then she doesn’t hang with us Thornies either, so it’s no skin off my social nose. It also helps that I can be instantly dry for the next dunking…
I do have issues with Peeper though, well most people do it seems; well anyone that might look good in publication. I mean, really, the slime has the nerve to ask if I would do nudes of Nikki Reilly and the Team Kimba crew for him. That answer was not only no, but Hell No! To illustrate the ‘Hell No’ part of that discussion, I gave him view of the world from the open palm of a fifty-foot tall woman. Surely you remember that B-flick? Which of course got me a smirking lecture from Security as to not giving into my darker side; and detention at Hawthorn hall.
Which if you don’t live there, is a real punishment duty. Considering I’m an inmate at that asylum, let us just say I got off light and leave it at that. Unlike the poor souls who got to do the toilets, like Tansy or cleaning up after the Fuub. I think morale at Thornie Central was never higher than when the Alphas did their stint in our hell, of course I think we more than made sure they would not want to repeat the tour of duty amongst us. Though The Don had his own solo performance a week or so later, something to do with miss-using his Psi powers.
Of course there was some inter-campus political fall out in the way of sneak attacks on the TK crew; most of which were utter failures. The Alphas are big on their ‘Elite’ status and, well, us Thornie's tend to ‘live’ just below surface level unless we: Are dangerous enough, powers wise, to be considered a threat. Or have an even bigger threat on our side than they do. Between the Fuub, Thuban and, of all things, The Headmistress, our backside is largely covered. Evidently her kid had GSD and died in a fairly ugly manner from it, so she has a soft spot for us Thornies; but even we have to mind the limits of things.
My own reputation, while not always endearing to my Mom and Dad, does keep me out of trouble’s way, mostly. And then there is the fact that if you go hard and heavy on a Thornie, you will find the point lodged in your backside some time later. Even before the TK’ers paid us a visit, we occasionally struck back. Sometimes we did Ok, other times it got ‘hairy’. Oh I admit that going Blob up against a Brick was not exactly one my finer moments. Though if you find out some one has a phobia, well, let us just say I can be their worst nightmare.
Oh we don’t go ‘V’ for Vendetta on people for minor shit, but if you make a habit of routinely abusing one of ours, you may find out the victim you thought you were facing is in fact someone else. Sometimes it’s me and sometimes it is someone else. What security has not really glommed onto is that with the tracking device I have to carry, I can pass it off to someone else with no one being much the wiser. Then I can be them…
Ms. Carson is not fooled by my ‘mostly’ harmless nature however. While I can get away with some things, she seems to ‘know’ what I have been up to. If I go too far over the line she tapes a letter to my window with instructions as to my ‘extra chores’ for the next week. On the outside of my window mind you; and I live on the second floor… So if she makes that much effort, I have been very, ‘very bad.’ Of course, my version of bad may be different from your version of bad. “Punishments may vary, do not attempt this at home… I am a professional.”
Oh I am sure Chief Delarose suspects something is off on occasion as he gives me some interesting ‘looks’ after they pull someone out of a dumpster or laundry chute. Or from the top of a statue… I think the closest I got to a real reprimand from him was when I duct-taped one of the more furrier of abusers to a tree, sans most of their clothes. However the snickers from the security detail that were de-taping him from the tree, amongst yelps of pain, hinted at other things.
I did have some help on that one, though, as it’s hard to get ‘Bucky-fibered’ duct-tape at the spur of the moment. Though I am sure Chief Delarose was mostly irked at the paperwork involved in the tape’s ‘appearance’. Not to mention the complaint of the Tapee. You can’t just ‘cut’ the Bucky fibered Duct-Tape, you have to pull it off. Add one really large if not ‘giant’ Preying Mantis, one super-speedster and a roll of that tape, can you say ‘Involuntary Wax Job?’ Sure you can.
You see, Compiler had found a way to get her nano-bots to saturate the tape with Buckminster Fuller fiber chains and well; I think she is working on the patent rights for it. Which leads to more mayhem and mischief, as this is Halloween and the ‘traditional’ night of pranks. I am not sure exactly what her contribution to the night will be, but I think it had to do something with flypaper or honey. In either case I expect someone will be sticky or stuck with it.
Frankly I am slightly worried about the nights festivities, ever since Nobody got ate, both The Dead and Security have been ‘off kilter’ somewhat. It seems that a certain team tried to permanently kill the unkillable or at least mostly unkillable, Sara Waite. Of whom most of The Dead avoid like the plague, barring a few exceptions. In any case, Nobody ended up as having ‘no body’ and from what The Dead say, was a midnight snack. As Mr. Anderson has often drilled in his classes, “Lack of Information can be Fatal,” and it is a lesson that is often learned much to late to be useful. Though if you asked me, having too much information can be just as hazardous.
Personally I think anyone dumb enough to mess with Ms. Sara Waite get what they deserve, though The Dead do not speak ill of her. Which if you contrast to what some of the living have to say about her; is enough reason for me to want to never, ever, end up on her bad side. From what I gather the attack on her made her very sick, and altered her hair slightly and modified her wardrobe. She used to dress up almost to the state of being a mummy, now it like she is trying to put the ‘V’ in vamp! Needless to say Peeper and Greasy have been having fun with that aspect. Though they seem to be hiding a lot, lately.
Speaking of people The Dead avoid, the Right Reverend Darren Englund is one of those people. Don’t get me wrong; they say he’s good at doing good. Though they say his vision of what is good and what is evil evidently has twisted over the years. Evidently he’s shifted to the point of view in which there is only black and white, and no shades of gray. Or so The Dead that follow around him say, one of which is a ghostly but older version of Nikki Reilly.
As funny as it sounds, The Dead do tend to go to church or at least the ones that did so in life tend to. Not to mention the few others who think it’ll get them onwards faster, though I think the prior do so more of habit and the latter more out of desperation. I guess if you end up dead, and don’t like the results you either find away to get used to it, transition or get moved on.
Frankly, I don’t think I care for the Reverend’s system of belief. I sat through one or two of his sermons, heavy on fire and brimstone, light on loving your fellow human /mutant /whatever. Needless to say, I am more of the love your fellow man type, especially after seeing how the Scrooge types got on with the other Dead Souls in the ‘after life’. If you don’t get on well with folks in this life… well, let us just say you may be as miserable in the Un-life as well.
Finally my last class of the day, Powers Theory, was well and over with. Unfortunately, I was retaking it again, as they evidently think that I need more control; and in some ways they are right. Mostly it is a matter of trying to master the meditative states and such that will allow me to be me, faster. The other part of me suspects they have not exactly pegged which hole I fit into, and are taking the extra time to puzzle that out.
With luck I won’t have to take it again next year and can get on with the more fun aspects of the Powers Labs. For some reason I end up running solo through the simulations or with people who are largely as indestructible or as destructive as I can be. I dunno, I guess they are worried I might ‘eat’ someone. Jeez, nibble on one student and get tagged as a cannibal for life.
I took my usual surface route back to the dorm, and stopped to nod at Noah Whateley or rather his statue. Normally Noah’s a fairly chatty, if not a down right cheerful, fellow. Though he has admitted to me that he is slightly amused and perturbed that his school is not what he envisioned. Personally I think he’s tickled pink that the school is still a school and not some corporate zoo or leveled and replaced with a housing development for that matter. Though today he seemed a bit; I am not sure how to describe it, antsy? In either case, he gave me a nod and wave before returning to chat with someone dressed in what looked to be Civil War Union Blues.
In Hawthorn I’m up on the second floor in the southeast corner, single cell, single occupant. You have to live here to get the joke. That and they are worried I might eat a roommate in my sleep, yeah right. Not that they lock the door on us at night, though we do have a full time security guard, nurse, and psychologist in residence.
We also have a direct tunnel to the Clinic for if and when it is needed; of which we see used more than anyone cares to let on. I suppose one of the biggest fears among the strange, odd and unusual is Terminal Burnout. Oh it happens to the Beautiful People too, but it seems we get more than our unfair share. As considering a huge percentage of us are on the extreme side of the powers, gifts or are cursed if you want to go that way.
My bed is oversize and slightly um, concave, I think is the best word for it. It’s that way more or less so for those days where I wake up as a protozoan that I will stay in bed, rather than leaking out under the door. Don’t laugh, it’s happened a few times, and you can get some odd looks if you have part of your anatomy leaking all over the place. Fortunately I haven’t accidentally drowned anyone, yet. Though in one instance I found part of myself all the way down the basement stairs, all four flights. The only annoying bit about that incident was my having to replace a pair of tennis shoes that were partially dissolved by someone actually ‘walking’ on me. That and the comments about how the stairs had never been cleaner.
I plugged my laptop in at the desk’s docking station and set the printer up, I had worked up the scoring sheets the night before, adding in a few extra check boxes for this and that, that had occurred in the last costume contest. Wardrobe malfunctions do not garner you any bonus points, theoretically… Though there have been a few daring souls who pushed the minimum dress code to a bare scant margin. The Dean didn’t exactly go out of her way to punish those souls; Peeper’s actions were enough to ensure that didn’t happen again. I swear if Peeper makes it to his senior year alive, he should apply for a job at Penthouse or Hustler, though I think they have higher standards.
While the printer did its bit, I scanned my email and other assorted news journals, web commix and ‘stuff’. Mom and Dad had bailed out some group out west that had a Nasty, ofwhich was going around munching large dogs and transients. So they made the news, Ok they made a ‘mention’ in the news, as the Home Team naturally got all the glory. At least they don’t have to worry about Corporate Funding like that goof in Mystery Men. “Yea Mom and Dad.” I muttered and added that clipping to an email on the way out to them.
“So ready for tonight?” asked a familiar voice that didn’t quite have me jumping out of my skin.
I turned in my chair to see the Fuub in his ‘costume’ already. He was attending the festival as ‘God’ ala George Burns in “Oh God,” cigar and all. Naturally his cigar only produced the allusion of smoke and scent but not the reality. Trust me it’s an allusion and not illusion as the Fuub has only a memory of what a cigar smells or tastes like, and then it’s probably someone else’s memory.
“Fuub, it’s a darned good thing I’m not overly jumpy, though today,” I paused and shrugged.
“Today you have some unease?” he asked after a decorative puff on the cigar.
“Danged if I know what it is, The Dead are slightly off. For lack of a better word.”
“Well perhaps the evening will enliven them somewhat,” he said with a shrug, “the thinnest of veils and all of that mumbo-jumbo.”
“I’d be very happy if Pissy Petra moved on, the girl is seriously beginning to grate on my nerves,” I said with some annoyance.
“Is she still trying to convince you to go to the dark side?”
“Well, you know how it is, we have all of four active Mediums, aside from me and Mr. Kennedy, and they are in the Gamers Club, which means of course The Dead…”
“The Dead would rather they talked to them, rather than playing Ghost Busters.”
“Yeah, not to mention she thinks one of them is cute and she moons all over and around him. Until of course he gets po’ed at her and sends her off crying to me.” I shook my head with a grimace; “Getting woken up by a sad banshee-like wail of despair at four A.M. does not make for a cheery day.”
“I’ll bet,” he walked over to the chess board, “I see Renault has been helping your defense, hmm.”
I glanced over to the set and nodded with a grin, “He thinks you may be in trouble.”
“Quite possibly, I’ll have to give that some thought. Not to mention consider cutting your ghostly handicap down to four specters to a game.”
“Aww, the most devious of chess masters this side of Russia is worried about loosing?”
“Hardly,” he scoffed, “there isn’t a Master I can’t get the edge over in this life.”
“Then I am ever so grateful to have a legion of deceased chess wizards at my beck and call,” I retorted with a grin.
“True, so my Devilish Companion of the Night, who are your portraying first?”
I pulled up a web site of Elizabeth Hurley and pointed to her in her ‘Bedazzled’ little red dress, “I think I will go for shock and awe tonight.”
“Oh Me,” he clutched at his chest as if his heart ached. “Why must you pain me so?”
“The Devil made me do it?” I asked in return with a wicked grin.
“Bah, I think I should have words with your shrink, you enjoy the ‘tease’ as much as any woman.”
“Well I could go as The Devil in ‘Oh God! You Devil’ or if you prefer John Denver?” I offered.
“No, no, heaven forbid that you should fail to elicit some sort of lust and what not. Hell you might even get laid for that matter.”
“Is that an offer?” I asked in a teasing tone.
“Now, now, you know the rules, the staff is not supposed to mingle with the student body, any students body.” He chuckled for a moment, “Now if you were, say, six years older I’d have to consider it.”
I rolled my eyes at him, “At least I don’t have to worry about renting a costume.”
“We do have that going for us,” he acknowledged with a leer.
“Away with ye, oh ethereal spirit, I have to get down to the copy center and then dinner,” I snatched the completed score sheet from the Laser Jet printer and waved it at him. “One of us will need a bulk supply of calories for the evening.”
“True,” he took a long drag on his cigar then changed to look like Jefferson Davis, “though where you put those calories astounds and boggles the mind.”
“Well getting fat is not likely to happen, now if I can actually wake up as me more often, I would be happier.”
“Time cures all ills, one way or another.”
“As in I could wake up dead and be me?”
“There is that, but don’t rush that issue on my account.”
I laughed, “Not to worry I do not have any plans in that department until I reach a few eons.”
“Ah, the life forever young?”
“Well you know how it is: Live forever or die in the attempt. An' well, maybe not young, but healthy, yes. The mind guides the body, they say over and over in Powers Theory.”
“Indeed,” he said and faded out in an eye-blink. If you have not guessed it already, the Fuub loves to get in the last word.
The line for the copy center was mercifully short, so getting in, out and a three hundred sheets later I was set for judging, along with my other fellow judges. I had hoped to dragoon Mr. Kennedy into the job, but I had ended up with Dr. Ophelia Tenent, resident Witch and MD. Which was ok with me, she at least had a sense of humor towards the holiday as opposed to some Witches that thought Halloween was sacrilege.
Though I expected her to be off well before the Witchin’ Hour started, tradition and all of that. I am not sure what she is coming as, but she had said it would be in ‘theme’ with the Fuub and me. So this evening promised to be amusing on several levels. Last year she came as a ‘Torch Singer’, complete with a bar-b-qued steak, on a platter.
After a quick jog back to my cell to drop off the scoring sheets, I was finally able to make it to the Crystal Hall just in time to make it into the ‘Big Eaters Line’ as the doors opened for dinner. Truthfully, it opened at its usual time, just after the scheduled cleaning. Though most of the non-energizer types tend to trickle in at a slower pace, people whose dietary intake need a frightening volume of food start in as early as possible. If you end up with trample marks on your back, you were in the wrong line…
While I could just ooze over my meal and ingest it in one go, it’s rather rude to do so around people who had to eat the conventional way. Though if I wanted to go into a gross out competition eating wise, I would be hard pressed to keep up with some of my fellow inmates. I know one shifter type who nearly got the code name of ‘The Shoveler’ simply by his eating habits of taking his tray and enlarging his mouth to pour it all in. Fortunately for him, ‘The Shoveler’ is a copyrighted name, since then he’s learned to eat at a normal pace. Though on nights like tonight, where major fun was planned, he was shoveling it in as fast as he could.
Fortunately today was a green flag day, so he could get away with it. Here at Whateley they tend to run the ‘flag’ at red or amber, forcing the bulk of the oddities like me to try and blend in. I suppose it is good practice for the real world, where we would have to blend in the bulk of the time anyways, if you are used to behaving in one way it becomes habit after a time. I think my Mom and Dad are happy I am at Whateley as it saves them a lot of money in groceries, well that’s that they say when I am home on breaks and at summer.
Though I did learn to cook in self-defense or rather at my Mom’s insistence. She was not up to cooking a ten-course meal, at every meal, just to keep me sated. She also insisted that I eat like a –normal- person, after I had stripped the veneer from the dining room table one too many times. I also must mention her demand of me cooking the food in question. Then I have other ways of eating too, but I would rather not discus them as they are slightly revolting. Let’s just say I never have to work hard at cleaning my shower and leave it at that.
Tonight’s menu consisted of half a cow, a gallon or so of juice and milk. Lots of pasta and rice, several loaves of bread and assorted vegetables steamed, boiled and raw. Of which took me an hour to consume, not counting return trips through the lines. Fortunately I could grow an extra set of arms like ‘Four-Arms’ from Ben 10, so carrying multiple trays was not a problem, though I did get a few scowls from those people who wanted that last steak or pastry. Fortunately the Kitchen staff can keep up with the student body, although new platters of ‘fresh food’ easily appeased those scowls.
The atmosphere of the hall was charged and noisy, even with the acoustic dampeners. Almost everyone was ready for the evening it seemed, as smiles and laughter seemed to fill the chamber all around. Oh every now and then I would see a few scowls, and the odd puddle of quiet in the sea of noise. Team Kimba seemed to be their usual boisterous self, though Alphas seemed almost predatory by comparison. The Goobers on the other hand, well I wasn’t sure what to make of them, as they seemed to be eating in shifts tonight rather than en mass, like they normally do.
The Wild Pack had made their usual appearance, as did the Cape Squad. With of course the usual glower to me from LeShawn AKA G-Force, who still resents the fact I nearly ate him. Evidently his family puts a ton of pressure on him to succeed, and his first Major Act of Defiance away from home put him in an untenable situation. He’s almost constantly followed by his Grandmother’s spirit, who is of the impression that I did him a ‘huge’ favor by shoving his humanity into his face. By the way, her recipe for oatmeal cookies utterly rocks and is easily scalable for people with huge appetites.
Once my hunger for food had come and gone, I was slightly pleased to note that The Don’s mood was soured slightly. Most of his ire seemed to be directed at Kodiak, though Kodiak was pretty much ignoring his scowls. Frankly I have to wonder what hold The Don has over him, as if you ask me he should have been The Alpha Male of the Alpha’s. I mean seriously, Kodiak is no push over, and is someone I’d surely move out of the way for if he came jogging down the path. I guess Kodiak figures being ‘Alpha’ is good enough, as he is the only senior in the Alpha’s this year. Which could be why Don is in such a pissy state; he can’t go to the Senior Party.
The Senior Party, is a more formal version of the Halloween Party. Part of the social grooming that goes on I suppose. Ensuring the Ruffians can look like leaders and the Leaders are not looking like ruffians. Frankly, given how some of the Leaders lead, I think the Ruffians this year stand to do better with the Senior Class Project. Which is another tradition of Whateley, though more given to constructing something physical or economical. Some sort of ‘Legacy’ to inspire the underclassmen and all that rot.
Which is where the Holbrook Arena came into being. Named for Harry Holbrook, who was ‘The Original Champion’, the Holbrook Arena is a multi-sport arena. Capable of being transformed into an environment suitable for basketball, ice hockey, swimming, football of both types and last but not least, public events. Rumor has it they tried to play ‘Rescue the Citizen’ there, but that idea was squelched for a more suitable venue. Which is to say; some place that could handle the damage. The entire facility is truly immense and while the top most portion is largely used for the social aspects resides above ground. The ‘fun’ places are in the levels under it.
Whether you are into racquetball, paint ball wars or even laser tag and or even the more shocking variant: Taser tag, there is an environment for it or one can be set up fairly quickly. There is even a rock climber’s ‘wall’ in an adjacent section to the Crystal Hall, handy if you are into that sort of thing. Personally, wall crawling is not my thing; I can just ooze over the edge and ‘drip’ down or ‘grow’ tall enough to leg over the object if I need too. I guess I’m indifferent to the sport as I pretty much can find a way to adapt to most environments. The Staff try to make my training difficult and varying, though I have yet to get my mass to pass through a quarter inch tube just yet. I guess it is a just a mental thing.
Tonight, it is the hub for Senior’s Gig, the rest of us will be in the McFarlane Auditorium. Which by contrast is slightly disappointing; as the McFarlane Auditorium looks like a monument to the late seventies. Oh it’s impressive enough on the inside, but the exterior. Well if you are into brick and cement with little to no style to it, apart from the roof, you might like it.
The roof is fairly high tech, though you would have to see it in action to appreciate it. When it is closed it looks vaguely like a larva of some sort had taken residence on top of the building. If you were being less than generous you might liken it to a giant maggot, and depending on the student’s mood at the time when it comes to PE, it gets called Maggot Hell. Especially when the PE event of the day is Dodge Ball. Fortunately Bricks and Super Speedsters are separated into different groups from us slower and less speedy of movers, but the balls can still pack a wallop.
The roof itself is nothing more than a bunch of large half hoops of various sizes, with a nearly indestructible fabric covering it. If you have seen Batman Begins, the fabric in his cape/glider is a direct rip off of that cloth. The Gadgeteer who came up with the fabric is getting paid off handsomely to not make a legal stink about the patent rights. In any case, while the shell is charged you would need a tank round to puncture it, or a Brick-type. The various patches to the material almost give it a skin like appearance, as it has seen some abuse in its life.
Once the current is off, a series of rollers and motors separate it into two halves, which retract to the far ends of the roof. The lighting and other scaffolding for things like the lighting and sound systems is separate from the roof leaving it to look like the skeleton of a dirigible. Tonight it would likely remain closed, as the weather promised to be cool if not cold. I looked up and noted a few thick clouds though nothing that promised rain, fortunately. Wet silk if you are going to be wearing it as part of your costume shows every dimple or protrudence. Then it can do nasty things to make up or costumes too.
The good thing of a Halloween with no rain or snow is that most of us Thornies will be able to get out of the ‘Asylum’ and run amok without the extra onus of having to ‘dress normal’. Some of us have really bad cases of GSD and well, more than a few of them are seriously self-conscious about it. Oh yeah sure, we have a few extroverts from hell who pretend to love shocking the norms; we know better. More often then not the extroverted ones are the ones that are hurting the most. The quiet ones, well we either suffer in silence or in groups, mostly we just try to get by.
Tonight, well it is Halloween and even the grossest of forms is theoretically and theatrically done. All Hallows Eve is our most joyous of nights, at least on campus. Through I hear the Jersey Devil tends to hold her own ‘Ball’ deep in the lower realms of New York City, where if you can’t be gross, you can’t get in… In any case I had to make sure the judges table and chairs were present, and since I was freer than the other judges, time wise; I had to check to ensure everything was in its proper place.
The back quarter of the ‘court’ in the Auditorium was covered with ‘The Stage’. The Stage was unique to Whateley and a few of the more expansive, and expensive, of roving entertainers and productions. The joint patent on it goes into the upkeep of the Auditorium and other bits that are used in graduation. While technically not a devise, the complexity of controls and such required to deploy it; takes a full crew of motivated Drama Geeks and Musical McGuivers. Which can lead to much screaming, yelling and gnashing of teeth, if the techs in question are feeling a bit put upon.
Fortunately the only sounds of screaming were artificially produced ones. I blinked in surprise as the Headless Horseman galloped at me at full speed, the sound of his hooves pounding in my ears. Not quite discombobulated, I flattened literally to the floor with a splat, expecting to feel the four hooves digging into my flesh. Instead of hooves I heard the sounds of much merriment and no few out right ‘guffaws’ of laughter. I formed my head up out of the oozing mass of me, and asked, “What the hell was that!”
“If you could have seen the expression on your face,” God, or rather the Fuub said standing just out of harms reach and he was not quite rolling on the floor.
I sighed, “Har-de-har-har.” I glanced up to see the various bits of ‘traditional’ Halloween decorations being tacked into place, along with some less startling apparitions that rolled and tracked through the air in the Auditorium. “Nice holograms, but how did you get the audio to sound so realistic?”
There were some faint chitters of laugher off to my left and I spotted Gadget. No not the Go-Go-Gadget robot from Mouseworld. Gadget’s real name was Helen Sue Sikeston, and Gadget looked, for lack of better description; a giant golden brown squirrel, with gold eyes. For a moment I toyed with the idea of shifting into Bullwinkle, and then thought better of the idea. Gadget had been dealt a screwball hand in the game of life. While she was in Whitman and not Hawthorne, she was still one of us freaks and we don’t kick our own. So I went with Yogi the Bear, and trotted over to where she was rolling around on the ground among a nest of wires.
“Hey, hey Booboo, where’s Mister Ranger?” I asked her in my best Yogi voice.
“Hi Yogi,” she grinned up at me and returned to playing with her wires and boxes, “like the toys?”
“Well I would have liked to be me a bit longer, but for you doll, I can take the joke,” I said with a grin.
“Aww, your so-o cute,” she pointed to an elaborate contraption that was hanging up in the catwalk that serviced the stadium lighting and effects for the stage. “Aural projection is accomplished by the quadraphonic holistic conductive transmitters located all along the catwalks.” She smiled, “I got an offer from ILM and MGM for the patent on it, gonna make thrill rides so much more scary.”
I reeled backwards under the spate of tech-no-babble, “Yer-a-killing me.”
“Oh Jimmy, I know you love it when the girls talk tech,” commented the Fuub as he puffed along beside me.
“Oh God, why me?” I asked him.
“Because,” then he started to snicker madly, yes it was going to be one of those nights.
I elected to stay in Yogi’s cartoonish form for the trip to my cell, as shifting back to Jimmy T, AKA Me, would burn off a few thousand calories and an extra hour or three of time. Of which I wasn’t exactly sure of, but hey it’s a theory. Powers Theory, well I am sure it’s like they say, all in the mind. The Shape Shifters Paradox: Who are you if you can be anyone or anything? Or if you go to the geek’s venue, ‘Why be you, when you can be GNUe?’ (Debian’s go figure…)
One problem I had to solve early in my freshman year was: How to carry keys and stuff. Naturally your first instinct would be to say, “Well dummy, put it in your pocket.” And you would be right, if your clothing was not a part of you. In my case, I can make pockets, but once I subconsciously forget I have pockets or stuff in them, things go away. After replacing several locks and key sets, maintenance installed a button lock, like they use in hospitals, some secure rooms and so on. Very handy to hit on the fly as you enter and in most forms. As Yogi, I fumbled with the buttons and knob a bit to get in.
Once in I bumped the door shut and climbed up into my bed and sighed. I hate thinking about my freshman year. Oh, I am not morose about it; it was just odd. From discovering that ‘I ate my report,’ is a semi valid excuse only a few times. After that they tell you to use a real backpack and not grow one. To realizing that t-shirts with armpit hair will garner you some humiliation or that tennis shoes and dress shoes come in pairs. Details. Details. Details. Details matter, I tell myself every morning and when I deliberately start a shift into a brand new form. Like becoming Elizabeth Hurley. You can get by on some things but others, no. Especially someone you are not intimately or even casually familiar with.
Also when you are going to be ‘Someone else,’ you want all the details right, especially the genitalia. While some of the Poe folks can get by with a gaff, tape and well imagination. I quickly learned to my general embarrassment that an erection does not go with a short skirt. Though I am not sure if I have more dirty thoughts as a guy or a girl. If you ask me, the human mind is a gutter and there are days when most people look ‘yummy’. Sex, sex, sexuality and then some; which was where I was trying to bend my brain to the details of.
Being Elizabeth Hurley was not exactly the hard part, being the right Elizabeth Hurley was. You see if you are an artist or at least trying to be one in the venue of shape shifting, details matter. For instance any decent shifter can mold their body into the basic 36C-23-34 female form and get the height and blue eyes right. However it takes a master to get the dimple placement of the thirteen piercings that she has showing, in the right places. Not to mention catching the various nuances of her hair, of which she seemed to change seasonally or for a part. In Bedazzled, her hair was a deep dark brown with a nice dark red hue that flares seductively in the light.
Fortunately I didn’t have to shell out the thousand dollars for the little red dress that she wore in Bedazzled. Some shifters cannot do clothing; fortunately I can, though I have to be careful of the textures. It does not do, to have pores in vinyl or hairs or other human details, and crushed velvet is way different from satin. So I had some fun getting the textures down correctly. Heels and hose are a bit more problematic, though I never have to worry about finding them in my size. I deviated slightly from her costume, as I was not going for the spiked heels. While I was ever unlikely to break my neck if I tripped, I didn’t like the way they dig into the dirt on some of the side paths.
I debated on the dubious joys of carrying of the name badge and tracer, but I had a plan, and a purse; which works for most events. I have the usual female clutter in my purse, though I have never had to use the tampons or pads. Usually I end up handing them out as needed in the girl’s room. It is part of the blending in bit that freaks some of the gender challenged from time to time: When a girl, be a girl. While I never had need to do make-up and what not, the illusion of doing so can provide you with an excuse to get away from the table or the irritating male or female of the species.
The descent into the first floor common room was to the chorus of wolf-whistles, gasps and applause. I stood there for a moment then did a slow pirouette, and then blew a kiss to the assorted Thornies. “Oh stop it you are making me blush,” I said with her soft British accent. Which of course made them go wild, and I had to stop down by Hawthorne’s Bust and pose for them a few minutes. Hey I, we know, the ‘Beautiful People’ of Hollywood will never deliberately pose with us, so we make the best of what we can. Frankly if it boosts any Thornie’s ego, morale, libido, what have you; I am for it.
Ms. Cantrell was giving me an odd expression so I stopped and knelt down by her chair, “Is there a problem Ms. C?”
“Your name badge is not displayed,” she said and pointed at me.
“But Ms. Cantrell… it’s Halloween,” I protested, “and it doesn’t go with the dress at all.”
“You know the rules Jimmy, you don’t go outside without it being displayed.” She held up a hand, “Just put it on the purse dear, yes it is unfair and rather unjust. But.”
“But I make Security and LeShawn and his family edgy,” I sighed, “I hate this.”
“I know, but you dissolved parts of his hair and dermis, and he’s an exemplar…” she patted me on the arm. “If they know it is you and they attack you, they get can expelled and not you, if you have the name-badge displayed.”
My head sagged slightly but I nodded, and dug the damned badge out of my purse and attached it to the side of it, “Ok, ok, you win.”
She sighed, “Jimmy, its not about my winning, it’s about you getting off the UV List this year.”
“But LeShawn,” I protested.
“LeShawn only made it off the list because his family is better connected and had he a life altering experience, of which he followed through with. Lastly, he has full control of his powers.” She pointed a finger at me, “You have a ways to go in that department, and then there are your antics.”
“Ms. Cantrell, what antics?” I asked her blandly.
“Precisely Jimmy, you can fool some of the people some of the time,” she said with a soft smile.
“But not all of the people all of the time,” I finished the quotation for her.
She gave me a pat on the head, “Jimmy you have to be very careful, now go and have fun… and do try to stay out of trouble.”
“Yes mom,” I said with a sigh.
She swatted at me and I ducked back quickly, “No lip you. Now off you go, I have to help Frank get into his costume.”
“What is he going as?” I asked.
“A little green man,” she smiled, “and the giant paper-mâché head mostly fits over his helmet.”
Dusk was in the process of shifting the campus into a shadowy, almost mystical place. The leaves of the trees had passed from their colorful state and fallen away, leaving them bare and seemingly lifeless. While the evergreens poked eerily into the night sky, raking at the few clouds that hung low in the sky. The faint red hues of the fading sun were turning the Crystal Hall into an early Christmas ornament, though the hue seemed a bit depressing to me.
I tried to push the soured mood that had descended upon me off to the side. I know Ms. Cantrell is right, yet still it galls me to no end that LeShawn’s now all goody-two-shoes and in the Cape Squad. Part of me argued that he’s been perfect and upstanding in every way, after he was nearly eaten. The other part of me argued that a jerk is still a jerk, until proven otherwise. Part of me longed to rip the name badge to shreds and to smash the tracer into crunchy little bits and dump them in LeShawn’s bed. Instead I did neither and found a bench to sit on for a few minutes, partially to cool off, partially to make sure I didn’t shift uncontrollably under the influence of my anger.
From the bench I could see the slightly domed skylights of the Holbrook Arena that were partially aglow from the interior lights. In some ways the gentle arches and white marble pillars that supported the long oval of the roof made for a more gladiatorial feel for the Arena. One that might have made Nero proud or say perhaps Caligula, both of whom tended to do things to excess. “Ave Caesar,” I said not quite mockingly.
In contrast the larval-like roof of the McFarlane Auditorium seemed to be a faint husk. Though I did see some movement up there, which hinted at someone’s prank being set up for the next day’s arrival. Admittedly the ‘bug-like’ shape of it and the skin like texture invited some mischief. I was internally making book that it would look like a butterfly or something outré and gross come morning. Considering that last year it was gross, I was betting on some variant of cute bug. After all no-good prankster likes to duplicate prior efforts.
“You choose a cool night to sit alone,” I looked up to see Chief Delarose looking at me thoughtfully.
“Oh, hi Chief,” I said after a moment of silent debate.
He frowned at me, “Mind if I sit?”
I shrugged, “It’s a free country, mostly.”
He nodded slowly and took a seat out of arms reach from me, “You’re in a mood,” he observed, “is it because of the tracer or?”
“Largely, partly, mostly,” I sighed disgustedly and looked around the campus where the bulk of the community was seemingly cheerful or even rambunctious. “Something feels off and I can’t put my finger on it.”
“Have you been tested for Precog recently?” he asked seriously.
I shook my head, “Well apart from my weird Medium Gift, I an still as Null as ever, as far as I know anyways.” I looked over to Noah’s statue where Noah paced back and forth. I pointed over to his statue, “Take Noah for example, he’s edgy about something.”
The Chief followed my pointed finger to the statue and nodded slowly, “I’ll take your word for it.”
“Gee thanks,” I muttered half aloud under my breath.
“Do you play poker much?” he asked with an odd look in his eyes.
“Some, kind of hard to get in a game with decent stakes and win fairly.” I sighed then added in a cockney accent, “Ee’s got a pair of aces Govenah.”
That provoked a small chuckle from him, “Jimmy, let’s play the Devil’s Advocate for a moment, shall we?”
“Well I am dressed for the part,” I said with a rueful grimace.
“Hypothetically speaking, there’s this person with what some could call a dangerous appetite.” He paused and pointed over to the Crystal Hall, “Now for the most part this person is largely harmless, even good-natured, though they seem to have a vigilante streak in them.”
“Hey I’ve been the good little mutant,” I pointed over to Melville, “unlike some.”
“Hypothetically speaking,” he continued with a slow nod, ”we have to pay attention more to where this person is at any one time, which might distract us from other things.”
“Hypothetically my ass,” I growled at him making him blink slightly.
“Though in actuality, apart from a few nuisance events we rarely have to watch over this particular person. Giving us more free time to watch out for the real problem cases,” he swung his hand over to point at a few of the cottages before settling on Melville briefly.
“Joy, so you single out this dumb schmuck and have him endure a leapers onus, just so you can have an easier time of things?” I asked with a small bit of outrage in my voice.
“Jimmy, nothing is ever done without thinking,” he paused for a moment, “and I know you are no schmuck.” With that he stood up looked around the campus, “Well back to my rounds, you should probably get indoors before you catch cold.”
I blinked a few times and sighed under a mixture of odd emotions, “True though I seldom get cold in hell.” ‘Much less at any other time, other wise I’d be freezing my ‘cute little tush’ off, on the metal bench.
“Give’m hell Jimmy,” he said with a chuckle before strolling off in no evident direction.
After a long moment of silence, I noticed God popping into view, “Well that explains much.”
“Fuub, it still sucks,” I said without much emotion.
“If you think about it he more or less complemented you,” he said with a puff on his ‘cigar’.
“I am damned with faint praise, to quote a dragon from Piers Anthony,” I said with a slight smile as I stood up.
“And how many love letters do you get from Ms. Carson?” he asked before fading from view.
“Very damned few,” I muttered to the sky with a chuckle, “thank god.”
For an instant he popped back in front of me and said with a leer, “You’re welcome,” then he popped out again.
“A damned Cheshire cat ‘e is,” I said in Elisabeth Hurley’s voice getting back into costume, voice wise.
Dusk, time to move out, the leader signaled by closing his fist like a clam-shell, then he lifted it up and pumped it three times. Double-time. The faint sounds of breathing muted by the trace amounts of wind as the squads moved from ridge line to ridge line, the occasional scuff of boots on rock and dirt. It was good to be moving again after the enforced freeze as the point team dealt with the ranger station.
The leader held two fingers up to his eyes then pointed to the small camp that was off to one side, a three-man team crept through the camp, dart guns at the ready. The faint sounds of snoring were abruptly changed to a muffled grunt and the hiss of the air guns going off. A second member of the team eased out and checked the coals of the man’s fire, and then he flooded the still warm ashes with water; the occasional hiss and pop seemingly loud in the air.
Then they were moving again, small arrow shaped wedges of men that moved from tree to tree. The groups leap frogging from clearing to clearing, stopping only to allow another group to move into position. Night was quickly coming, and the gray and black tigers stripes on their armor melding into a uniform gray that absorbed the faint ling that made it down into the woods.
Three soft clicks were the only sounds from the radios, outer perimeter secure. Two soft clicks answered, then a faint triple tone was sounded, air-mobile units prepped. The leader tapped the large circle of steel that was set in cement, and then carved a bright line in the metal with one clawed finger.
He stepped back gazing around at the clearing where everyone was pointed out from center. He motioned to the sewer drain with a jerk and three squads fell back to the drain as if the maneuver had been rehearsed countless times. The additions to the sewers, added under the guise of repairs more than made up from the failed attack on the primary target. He smiled coldly; amateurs had their uses, if only to cloud the enemy’s real maneuvers.
He counted the men and women as they descended into the Stygian darkness, briefly tapping them on the shoulder as they went. The messiest of jobs went to the best trained, though any of his teams could do the job equally well. They would be coming up and out of the sewers and into the underground warren under Whateley just as the final act took the stage.
They would wait for fifteen minutes, and then it would be time to filter through the last two kilometers. The insider would handle the security net failures or rather over stimulate it to uselessness. The added bonus of the usual Halloween pranks would further hinder Whateley’s security teams effectiveness. The release point and time was coming. He looked forwards to ripping through Lady Astarte’s chest and gazing into her eyes as he watched the life fade from them.
“I see you were not kidding about the little red dress,” commented Doctor Tenent as she looked at me intently. She blinked for a moment and seemed to gaze even deeper, “and anatomically correct too.” She shook her head with a devilish smile, “Ovaries and all, I am going to have to kidnap you for a day of tests I think.”
I felt a wave of heat rise through my cheeks and I gave her my own visual examination. She was dressed in a half white, half red gown, that wasn’t quite opaque in some places but teased mercilessly in areas where you could wish to be temped. On her back were a mix-matched set of wings, on the red side of her torso was a graceful swanlike wing. The opposite side was just as graceful yet coal black, every so often, when there was room for them to do so, they would spread out as if to lift her up. Woven into her golden hair was a gold halo that hung off center to a pair of vivid red horns. She assumed a briefly pious pose then bowed mockingly to me.
“Oh me,” said God as he waltzed up to us carrying the stack of contest forms, that I had completely forgotten about. “Satan, you forgot these I believe?”
I lightly slapped my cheek, “God, I knew I forgot something.”
He produced a cigar from mid air and sighed mournfully, “Alas, my Morning Star seeks to corrupt yet another woman of angelic grace.” He bowed gracefully to Doctor Tenent, “I see that many a man and woman may well envy of me this night.”
“Flatterer,” she said and herded us towards the waiting photographer, “tonight I shall be known as Mercy, as I sit betwixt heaven and hell and shall tally the poor souls weight… Or at least the score cards.”
I accepted the forms with a courtesy to God, and then I smirked, “Heaven help us all.”
“No I’m Batman.”
“I was here first, I am Batman.”
“You can’t be Batman, you are a cartoon.”
“No, I am the real Batman, these posers showed up later.”
I groaned, this mild debate slash argument could only happen at Halloween. Technically all of them were correct; they were Batman, one for every era. Can you see the problem?
“Well I am definitely not Batman, I am Catwoman. Can I please get a registration form and get away from these losers? Preferably before I go mad?” That bombshell came from Bombshell, who had the blonde hair and body to pull off the outfit Michelle Pfeiffer wore in Batman Returns. Normally she’s running around with her co-conspirator Sweetheart, and making the guy(s) of the moment crazy.
“If you can make them shut up for a moment I may even give you ten extra points,” I pointed to the quintuplet of Batty-men.
“Oh, them.” She grinned wickedly, and unwound her whip, “My pleasurrrrrre,” she said with a distinct purr.
Doctor Tenent and I barely had time to put our fingers in our ears to block the super-sonic crack of the whip.
I glanced at the floor where it steamed slightly from the whip-strike, then grinned at Bombshell, “Nice whip, reinforced?”
“Of courrrrrse,” she purred, “now boys, I think the Devil wants her due,” she waved the whip thoughtfully at the spandex and rubber clad ensemble. Bombshell, could have came as Supergirl and carried off the strength stunts, her with a whip is frightening of it’s own accord.
“Yes,” I picked one at random. “Since you all seem to be Batman, I have no choice but to enter you as a group. Unless of course one of you can stand up to the whip.”
They looked at Bombshell who looked to enjoy the prospect of testing her whip further, and then they collectively took a step backwards. “Um, group, please,” said the one I had singled out after a quick glance at his comrades.
I took a moment to mark a ‘plus ten’ on the form and handed it to Catwoman. “Seems you are purrrrfectly suited for the night.”
“But of courrrrse,” she said with a grin and wandered off to a side table to fill out the entry form.
God, to my far right groaned as he handed out the form to the ‘leader’ of the Batty contingent. “Why do I fear the night will be full of catty remarks and bad jokes?”
“Would you rather go batty?” asked our angel of mercy.
“There is a joker in every crowd,” and I pointed out a costumed ‘Joker’ at random, “Fortunately they only seem to come in pairs.”
“That would depend on the deck you are playing with,” chimed in Bombshell as she dropped off her form.
God, God groaned.
I sighed as I noticed Bloodwolf coming through the doors as of all things ‘Teen Wolf’, ala Michael J Fox. With a small nudge to Doctor Tenent, I sighed, “There should be a rule about coming as you are.”
“What, oh, well at least he seems to be in a good mood,” she noted with a shrug of one wing. We watched as he glanced nervously back to the doors, “How odd, seems like something has set him on edge.”
“Speaking of coming as you are,” said Fuub, “Tennyo and Team Kimba are doing just that, more or less.”
I looked over to the doors as Team Kimba ‘trooped in’, not quite in a defensive formation around Sara Waite. “One of these things does not match the others, one of these things is not the same…” I muttered as I took in the view as they all but marched to the stage.
Jade Sinclair was wearing a layered tunic that was a fair copy of the clothing that Sasami wore frequently. The brown over vest dress tunic was a tight v-neck that if you asked me looked like it could chafe a bit. Her under kimono was white with billowing sleeves that ended in yellow gold trim at the cuffs; though the collar of it rose up her neck and was similar to that of a soft turtleneck of linen. At her midriff was a thin gray obi that widened into the traditional obi in the back. I was not sure where she got a pale-blue chalk colored wig, though occasionally it moved of its own accord. Her two ponytails were held with two sets of oversize red elastic ball ponytail holders.
Someone had taken some artistic care with an eyebrow pencil and neatly recolored her normally black eyebrows to the same pale blue hue. Precisely and predominantly placed were the Jurai markings on her forehead. The two light brown inverted right triangles were neatly applied between her eyebrows. Though they seemed to itch as occasionally her hand would come up to poke at them as if making sure they stayed in place. Her blouse was matched by a similar colored skirt that cutoff just at calf height, on her feet were a pair of semi-traditional Japanese sandals or at least a close approximation.
Tennyo was not hard to pick out of any crowd, but she or several someone’s spent a goodly amount of time gathering up the right parts to make her into ‘Ryoko’. Starting with a pair of cute black set of cat ears on a hair band, her hair was as wild as ever though someone had taken pains to make sure her ears were visible. Dangling from her left ear was shiny black and silver triangle with a small shiny bob hanging from it. Form around her neck was a thick braided silver band that crossed over to end in a pair of black-feathered clasps with bronze leaves atop of them.
The clasps held a light pink and darker pink trimmed demi-blouse, which loosely covered a light blue under wrap. Covering those layers was yet another jacket that was of a European Baroque style with slit sleeves. This jacket was dark mauve or maroon on the inner layer and the outer slitted portions were a light pink that matched the demi-blouse. Her pants must have been an interesting challenge as the right leg was largely a black fishnet stocking with what looked like a Cabbit appliquéd onto it. The other leg and upper portion of the right seemed to be a black spandex.
At her waist was what appeared to be a traditional Sake’ jug, fastened along with many white furry ‘tails’ of some type to a rope belt. Neglecting gravity, I feared for her stocking feet at times, as the ‘slacks’ ended in what appeared to be black spandex socks. Though I suppose if you can fly, scuffing your stockings was not likely to be a problem. In one hand she carried Ryo-oh-ki, in the other she carried a traditional Japanese fan, similar to those used in martial arts events to signal a point.
I was slightly puzzled at the lack of Jinn, Jade Sinclair’s deceased, but not deceased, sister. Having met all manner of ‘Deceased Beings,’ I can pretty much say categorically, something is afoot with those two. A moment’s further study revealed to me where Jinn was; Jinn was in the Cabbit. Ryo-oh-ki, was if you have never seen Tenchi in any format, is a bizarre mixture of Cat, Rabbit and Spaceship.
Ryo-oh-ki is a terrifyingly cute, brownish gray flop-eared cross-melding of a cat and a rabbit. It has the nose, whiskers and front paws of a cat, though the rest of the body is given to be more rabbit-like in that it has large back feet and a cute bunny tail. Its eyes are yellow, and depending on mood either are very innocent, mournful or joyful. Centered above its eyes was a red brightly flickering jewel, which seemed to counter point the excessive amount of white fluffy hair that graces the inside of its very long ears which if they drooped with sadness would reach down to its front paws.
Tonight however, it seemed to be excessively cheerful in that its ears were pivoting every which way. Also it seemed to be conducting an impromptu marching band, using a large carrot as a baton. Every now and then a slightly tinny ‘Mi-yah’ or ‘Mi-mi-ya’ would rise sharply above the low din of the crowd. Some one had ‘dressed’ Ry-oh-oki in two brightly colored bows for the night’s festivities. As I was about to comment on the Cabbit to my fellow judges I could have sworn it winked at me, which is pretty darned tricky; considering the Cabbit in question, was supposedly stuffed.
Nikki Reilly, normally has long flaming red hair, and draws the eye no matter what gender your persuasion is supposed to be. Tonight her hair was long and bluish-black, though I am not to sure how she pulled that off, as purportedly most things chemical make her itch. Tonight she was in a costume similar to Jade's, in that it was slightly Asian and consisted of several layers. Though considering the two were supposed to be sisters in the Anime, a Sasami without an Ayeka would be abnormal. I found it slightly funny that they chose the Elfin Princess to play the Jurai Princess, though I did my best to focus on her costume and not her anatomy.
Her topmost outer layer consisted of a gray green dress length over tunic. It was rust colored wide samurai-like sleeve-cuffs that made her shoulders appear wider than they were. The neckpiece of the overturned collar was rust colored and was roughly octagonal, with two large gold disks at the low point of the collar. The next layer was a dark lavender kimono with wide flaring sleeves that came down to narrow cuffs, of which were trimmed with a deep dark lavender. It appeared that the inner most layer was a simple white kimono, though I was hoping for her sake it was a lighter layer, as that many layers could get quite warm if she were to go dancing with either of her 'romantic' interests.
Though unlike Jade, Nikki's costume also included a wide turquoise obi, which if I remember from costuming class if tied correctly is a pain to reproduce in a hurry if one must visit the restroom, much less conceal it's removal if one feared discovery of a liaison. She, like Jade, was wearing sandals, though I expected they would ditch those if they wanted to dance for very long. Frankly I expected half the student body to be shoe less before the night was over, as all but the most die hard mavens would abandon the stiletto heels that seemed to abound this evening.
By default Hank Declan, the only male member of Team Kimba, ended up as Tenchi Maskaki of the Tenchi Muyo Cast. Normally his hair is a dark brown and typically looks like he washed it, rubbed a towel at it and went on his way. Tonight however, it was very dark and semi-spiky as if he had used a lot of jell or mouse on it to get it to stand up that way. Part of me was slightly disappointed in that he was not in a spandex costume of some sort.
Yes I admit to ‘looking at’ guys. If you are a girl thirty-five percent of the time and you don’t look, then you are not living. Hell I look at girls in pretty much the same way. Thus far no one has really wigged out to the fact that I am both male and or female. Depending on what gender I am, at the moment, I use that facilities. Including the showers… What did you think I was an idiot? I mean really, there is enough meat on the hoof here at Whateley; that sooner or later you might even find something you like.
In any case, Hank has a seriously fine body if you like the dancers build on a guy. He is slightly bulking up, but I think that in time he’ll possibly draw every girl’s eye that is inclined that way, and some of the guys. So you could say I was only slightly disappointed that he was not dressed as ‘Meat on the Hoof’. However, the all black Japanese schoolboy uniform did accent his ass nicely.
Essentially it was a military cut suit, with a white dress shirt under it, add a pair of dress black shoes and dark socks and you have what essentially ninety percent of Japanese schoolboys wear in anime, and are as common as the sailor-fuku. Technically it is called a Gakuran and is derived from Prussian army uniforms; I expect it’s one of those things were that it was cheaper to buy them, than make them locally at one point.
Paired up as the Galaxy Police were Chou Lee and Riptide. I was not sure if the two were as miss-paired in the group, as Kiyone and Mihoshi were in the Tenchi OVA’s. Though that is largely due to the pair’s temperaments. Tonight they seemed to be trying to get into the act. Though if you ask me the nervous caress Chou was giving her prop gun was disconcerting.
Tonight Chou was dressed as Galactic Police Officer Kiyone, which was if you ask me, was a nice change from the baggy silk things she runs around in frequently. Her uniform started off with a basic black body suit, and then started to get complicated, but sexy. Gracing her feet were a pair of white mid-calf white high heel boots, that matched the snugly fitting white skirt that ended a scant few inches below her bum. I expect the only way they got her into that white skirt was due to the body suit, as her curves were definitely illegal in most states without it. Completing the skirt was a wide black belt with silver buckle.
The jacket top they both wore was a medium blue vest with padded shoulders, vaguely reminiscent of the old samurai kimonos. A white false collar or under shirt was fastened around her neck with a neatly tied red tie. Appliquéd on the left breast of the jacket was a rectangular patch of white and black; above the white on the left of the patch in the black, was a small square of yellow. A weapons harness swept down from her left shoulder and ran lower around her waist to the holster the prop gun was in.
About her forehead and framing her shiny blue-black hair and eyebrows, was the trademark red band Kiyone wore to keep her long hair under control. I am sure someone had taken a deft hand to her make up as her eyes were accented precisely in an Egyptian manner to make her eyes even more exotic. To complement the rest of her outfit, she was wearing tip-less red gloves that matched her headband. On one wrist was a thick gold bangle, and on the left were three thinner silver bands as well.
Elena Neva Natividad Amicella Lucita Obregon, and you wonder why her friends call her 'Rip'. By contrast was wearing a very blonde and heavily curled wig, of which was tied back and yet completely wild with a red strip of cloth. Rip, has never been one for makeup, at least that I have ever seen her in any, save for tonight. Tonight someone had lightly dusted her face with a tan foundation and actual persuaded her to wear mascara, so that her eyes seemed larger. Add some light pink lipstick and or gloss, and they succeeded in making the naturally tan Rip, an even darker tanned a beach bunny. I think they may have had to drag her through the process, but with the white gloves and prop pistol, they did a good job in making her into Mihoshi.
Bunny Cormick normally was a blonde and frequently displayed the flighty personality one might associate with an air-headed blonde bimbo as portrayed on many sitcoms. Seriously there is a bit of mild debate as to what horrendous ‘real name’ her parents gave her that would cause her to act that way. I am of the mind to think it’s something like Tiffany or Persephone, though in any case I know it is a complete act. As she only acts like a bimbo until she gets started on something mechanical or scientific. Then it is time to get out your hip-waders, as you might be hip deep in techno-spam-a-babble from hell. However, tonight she was wearing a nearly floor length neon strawberry red wig.
It took me a full moment to realize that she was filling the role of Washu in the Team Kimba parade of the Tenchi Muyo Cast. Though the hair was floor length, it was not really a problem for her to keep from stepping on it as she was ‘riding’ on a pillow. Normally Bunny is all over the concept that ‘eggs’ are the next biggest thing since Buckminster Fuller Balls. How they managed to get her to not use an egg for her ‘ride’ was beyond me; though she did seem to have a vaguely egg shaped object in her hand.
In any case here is Bunny floating along, wearing what appeared to be a shortened and black Gi styled jacket top. Holding it closed were a pair of brass triangle pins; one at the ‘v’ of the jacket top, the other at the bottom just above the belt to her tan shorts. The cuffs of the shortened jacket were trimmed in light blue and also had a matching set of brass triangles on either side. Under the jacket top she wore a lighter tan long sleeve shirt that had narrow but plain cuffs.
I was pleased to note that they had also gotten Bunny to not hide her legs for a change. Bunny has a very nice body, though largely she tends to hide it. Personally I think it may be that she is too distracted by all of her toys to make an effort to show she has such a figure. Though from the scowls she directed occasionally in Stalwart’s direction; the ‘ghostly’ rumors of her romantic troubles might be true. If we were lucky, she’d dressing a bit more daring in the next few months. I have to admit the brown tights she wore left little doubt that she exercised regularly. Though it seemed as if she was slightly uncomfortable with the low healed black shoes she was wearing.
On either shoulder, and I have no clue where she got them, were a pair of Mini-Washu Puppets. I wasn’t completely sure if they were labeled correctly as ‘A’ and ‘B’, from where I was sitting. Though I did see them stir to life and they wiggled their arms and seemed to shout enthusiastically. Presumably they would be shouting; “Washu you’re the greatest!” and “Washu you are number one!” For her sake I was hoping they were not screeching it loudly in her ears though.
The normally sandy blonde Ayla Goodkind was wearing a long brightly blue colored wig, of which closely matched the one that Jade was wearing. Though rather than being bound up by the ornamental Red Balls that Sasami favored, it hung loosely and nearly to the floor. Tonight Ayla was wearing so many Kimono-like layers I am not quite sure how she moved. The out layer was draped or adorned with a multitude of gold-brass disks. From every other disk hung a pink kerchief with maroon trim.
A green leather t-tunic draped over the outermost pale blue-white kimono and ducked under it and fastened underneath. The layer it rested on was a deep blue cape, which when viewed from the front, ended at her waist. A flowing whitish pink kimono draped down to the floor concealing her feet. Some form of multicolored crosshatched leather bustier was used to hold everything in place rather than the traditional obi. Personally I was betting she was going to be close to miserable once the dancing started unless she could shed a few layers.
Over her eyebrows, rather than the triangles that Sasami wore, were a pair of small blue dots. Her eyes were widened and sharpened into ‘v’s at the outer edges and her face seemed to be lightly dusted with a pale powder. Cosmetically, making the sunlight deprived Ayla even paler, I scarcely see her other than at meals so the rumors of her self imposed exile from the world, seem born out by her skin tone. Either that or she was going ‘Goth’ on us.
Frankly of Team Kimba Crew, I was most worried bout Ayla not handling the change to female very well. Sure she puts on the attitude of ‘I don’t care, I’m gonna take the world by storm and win,’ all the time. However, I’ve seen way too many of those types to know its not always going to work out neatly. Not to mention I was making private book that if anyone in Team Kimba snapped dramatically; it be ‘her’. As it is always the quiet ones… Though if the daggers Tansy occasionally stared in her direction were any clue, she might have help.
Floating a bit oddly and erratically along with the Team Kimba slash Tenchi Muyo Cast, was a pair of upright large cylindrically shaped logs, with feet. I looked over to God, “Isn’t there a rule about how many props a group can have?”
He chuckled, “Oh they are not props, though they are not exactly under their own power.”
Mercy looked mildly annoyed with Fubar, “Spill it oh Celestially Omnipotent one.”
He pointed his cigar at the blue kanji marked wobbling log, “That is Peeper,” he then indicated the one marked with red kanji, “the other is Greasy.” He sighed dramatically, “Peeper never learns, evidently, from what I read, and you didn’t hear it from me; they tried planting more camera’s in Poe.”
“Oh dear,” said Mercy with a soft giggle, “so they got caught and they are what? Tied up inside them?”
“Chained rather, but they do have some limited control, and Greasy is videoing everything. Though he is scared spitless about what Nikki is planning to do to him later.” God waved his hand, “I don’t think that Nikki will do anything ‘rash’ to him, but intimidation is a wonderful thing.”
“Yes it is, and you are right Peeper never learns,” I eyed my pair of semi-divine companions, “care to bet he’ll be broken of that habit or in a full body cast by graduation?”
“Um no,” said Mercy with a pained smile, “I never take sucker bets.”
Upon spotting Chaka I groaned slightly to God and Mercy. “They have not covered the ‘uses and abuses of spandex type materials’ in Costuming One-Oh-One yet, have they?”
“Why do you say that?” asked Mercy.
I pointed to Toni Chandler who was wearing, if I was not mistaken, the male version of the generic ‘Super-Hero-Bodysuit’™. The –atypical- bodysuit comes in two variations Male and Female. It can be dyed a multitude of colors and patterns, is nearly indestructible, and has extra concealing fabric designed for the male and female genders. A typical costuming blunder for shape-shifters is to wear the male version, and then switch form to be female… as the male version only has the extra concealing fabric in the groin.
On a male exemplar, with the chiseled abbs, with sturdy strong pecks; the effect of the material accents every single ripple and bugling muscle. If you have seen the ‘Incredibles’, you also know it will show the expanded gut. On Toni Chandler, well let us just say it showed her to be ‘indecently’, yet decently dressed. Though she did have a headpiece and makeup that was a close approximation to that of the Stuffed Ryo-Oh-Ki, and a cute Bunny tail. Of which seemed to draw a great many eyes.
I glanced up to see Tansy dressed in an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ outfit as she dropped her form on the table and said. “I don’t see what the fuss is about. It’s just a bodysuit, silly head-piece and padding.”
God to my right chuckled and drawled, “It’s not padding, Alice, padding doesn’t dimple that way.”
“Oh?” Tansy paused and looked again developing a sudden flush to her face, “Oh!” Then Tansy all but dashed off to the bathrooms, not quite stumbling into people as she did so.
“Now there is a serious case of denial,” commented Mercy to us and I nodded in agreement.
“You have no idea,” commented God with a thoughtful look.
“Oh I do, I do.” He looked at me as I shrugged helplessly, “Remember that bit where Team Kimba went off on the Alpha’s?”
“Well, there was an interesting DVD produced about that time,” I said with a slight blush.
Mercy put her fingers in her ears and started going, “La-la-la-laa.” She mock glared at us, “I really don’t want to know about such things, while on duty.”
“I’ll tell you later,” said God with a leer.
Mercy looked at me thoughtfully, “Any copies laying about?”
“That would be telling.”
I watched with some interest as Sara Waite climbed the stirs leading to the back of the stage, and left Team Kimba to mill loosely at the stairs. I found it slightly odd that probably the most complicated of personages on the campus, and in her being that complex, that she would take on such a simple outfit. It was to all purposes, nothing more than a pair of short kimonos; the outer one a vivid red satin, embroidered with many flowers, the inner layer a lighter white satin. The kimonos she wore scarcely reached mid thigh and hinted at other things forbidden. At her waist was a short blue obi that was tied in the back, though the ends of which moved in the air as she semi-walked, semi-glided along.
She wore several red ribbons, the most interesting of which was entwined around her right foot. It delicately drifted up her pale marble skin on her calf and its red color contrasted sharply against stark the paleness. Her hair was worn in an odd bun that was on the left side of her head, and it was tied in place with a length of the same red ribbon though those bows were neatly tied, as opposed to the one on her leg that seemed to drift loosely. The red ribbon she wore in her hair seemed to be nearly as out of place as the shock of vibrant red hair that drifted occasionally into her face. Ribbons wise, I hoped for her sake that even while she was bare of foot; that she would not trip on the trailing ribbons or bows.
Mercy poked me in the ribs, “Close your mouth hon, you are drooling,” she then reached over and gently lifted my chin.
I sighed, “Sue me.”
God chuckled, “It seems her stay in the infirmary had some interesting byproducts.”
Mercy rolled her eyes, “Oh lecherous one, are you delving the thoughts of the masses or just torturing Satan here?”
“Well, the mixture of Elven blood with that of hers resulted in less clothing,” God took a deep puff on his cigar and lazily let it out.
“If that is the case, maybe we should inject all the students of the campus?” I asked.
“Um, no,” commented Mercy with a frown, “unless you are going to leave all the students besotted with glamouries?”
“Surely a few more would not hurt?” I replied.
“Would you want to be followed around like Nikki? I mean good Me, I swear the mental pheromones would be nuts to deal with.” Fuub sighed, “Not that I mind the view, mind you, but you humans are a horny lot.”
“And you know this how?” asked Mercy.
He snorted, “Like I have to say… I mean, can you say frustration?”
Mercy and I sang in near harmony “Frustration is making me wait.”
“You two are evil,” said God with a sigh. At which point I think we about fell out of our chairs laughing as he took on an indignant air.
Gadget surprised me by showing up as Rocky the Flying Squirrel, blue aviators cap and all. She gave me an amused chitter as I handed her a registration form. “Seriously Jimmy, do you think I can’t laugh at myself?
“No, but I will admit some confusion as to why?” I protested as my cheeks flamed up.
“Purely budgetary reasons. My ‘toys’ cost a few bucks more than I wanted.” She brushed the air aside with her tail, “But well, I will make it up in two weeks time or less.”
“I see, they wanted your toys, before they give up the cash?”
“Corporate America at it’s best. To the tune of a few cold millions and when the royalties start to roll in.” She smiled broadly showing her teeth with a decidedly wicked wink, “Then maybe I can afford to take you out to dinner.”
“I may even let you,” I said with a grin, “though your pocketbook may feel the pinch if we go someplace fancy.”
“Though if you think someone is embarrassed by their costume, you should see Hippy,” Her whiskers twitched, “Though she is imposing.”
“I’ll remember that,” I said with a chuckle envisioning all sorts of clothing mayhem.
She laughed, “See that you do. So anything you need doing?”
“No we pretty much have everything in hand, though I am not sure the Froshes even know about the contest,” I waved a hand over at Team Kimba. “I seem to remember no one telling me last year until the last minute, so?”
She snatched up a stack of forms, “I remember being the wallflower from hell that year, consider it handled ‘Oh shifty one.’”
“Bless you, oh most daring of souls, be careful lest the Devil ensnare you in her wily ways,” added in God with a leer.
She gave me a thoughtful look, “Oh I wouldn’t mind, much,” and then with what sounded like an embarrassed chitter she dashed away.
Mercy tapped me on the back of my head, “Be careful with that one, she’ll haul you off and feed you proper.”
“Actually, I think she has her eyes on other bait, though she may nibble,” added God as my ears burned.
The Sewers below Whateley are a bit smelly, largely unmapped, and occasionally; things go bump in the dark, with in. Though calling them a sewer is a bit misleading as the sewage and other wastes are contained neatly, for the most part, in large pipes. Unfortunately, things, time and what not has spawned the occasional ‘leak’ of which needless to say the remnants are a bit pungent. In truth they are a massive multitude of pipe filled narrow corridors, almost deliberately maze like in their creation. The intervening years of additions, subtractions and creative re-directions have only added to the chaos with in.
“Fucking rats!” a thin tenor voice hissed in annoyance or even mild fear.
“Oh Egon, lighten up, it’s just a small furry pest, we have bigger things to hunt,” replies alto voice, slightly filled with annoyance.
“My name is not Egon, it’s Eco-Tek. I swear ‘Biffy’, you are about as vacuous as Buffy was when they brought her back from the dead,” a dim light from a digital watch illuminates the dark shrouded pair. “Frankly considering you muffed the kill, the last two times, I am amazed you are even in the team for tonight.”
“Hey I made the shot, right to the heart, which is more than I can say for the rest of the losers they saddled me with.” For an instance the girl’s eyes flash in anger and she hisses in a defiant whisper, “The bitch will die this time.”
“Wait, did you hear that?”
“There it is again, a faint rapping, like someone tap, tap tapping, perhaps even rap, rap, rapping on a gravestone.”
“Egon, you better be…”
There is a quick rush of movement, a muffled yelp then a masked and filtered question that hung in the darkness, illuminated only by the red dots of lasers.
“Octagon?” challenged a sinister female voice.
“P-pagoda,” answered the restrained youth, surrendering the password nervously as he looked up at the darkened visor of the lady before him.
“Confirmed, release them,” answered the woman’s filtered voice, “you are the on site tactical back up?” The last question is slightly scornful.
“Yes,” answered the slightly intimidated girl.
“We have the entry prepared, and an observer in place for all three parties in question,” answered Eco-Tek as he stood up.
“Good,” answered the woman in the darkened armor, “now shut up and try to not make anymore noise than you already have.”
The girl simply gave Eco-Tek a glare as she regained her footing and adjusted the sword strapped on her back.
With a few odd hand motions, a pair from the intruding team turned and faced back down the sewer. The half of the tem moved around the ‘support team’, and the others lined up behind them. The first team moved on ahead while the second waited a moment. There was some hesitation then the leader of the second team poked the girl in the back, softly speaking with unmasked derision, “Move on, and do try to keep up. Amateurs.”
The girl’s anger was evident for a moment, though she moved in the indicated direction without resistance.
The Disc Jockey for the evening seemed to be psychic precog, because just as he launched into Ted Nugent’s ‘Little Miss Dangerous’: Hippolyta arrived, and she was not quite stalking into the gymnasium looking ready to shred someone on a whim. With a grimace she stood and glanced around giving everyone a chance to blink and ease out of her way. I think the first most shocking thing folks became aware of was her outfit, and then the huge damned tree of a club she was using as a prop.
Her golden hair was obviously windswept and seemed to bode hell for brushing it out later. Her outfit was fur; light violet in color and well, it covered the ‘important’ bits. Dimly I recognized her as being dressed as a character from a video game, Chrono Trigger’s Ayla. Not to be confused with the quiet spoken Ayla of Team Kimba, Hippy is um, loud, outspoken and ‘rash’.
“Oh My God!” said Mercy with a wide eyed expression, “Who talked her into that?”
“That would be telling,” replied the Fuub with a smirk.
I cringed as Hippy directed her seeming ire on someone whose wolf whistle was louder than the music in the background. “Oh shit, she is gonna moider him,” I pointed to the suddenly moving Hippy and the crowd that dispersed around Akira, who it seemed was coming as Tenchi too, along with the rest of the Power Rangers. Unlike Hank, Akira was wearing an all blue hero suit, some cosmetic bits, and a suddenly glowing light blade.
Nagha, quickly stepped between the two and I could see her making calm down gestures and what looked to be an apology. Of the Power Rangers, Nagha is definitely the saner one of the crew. I think it is largely due to the fact she wanted a place to fit in and by dumb luck ended up with them. She’s a mage and from what little I have heard is likely able to put a person on ice with little effort, just like in Sky High. Tonight she was a virtual clone of Tennyo.
From the double takes Nagha was getting from Hippy, I am fairly certain that Hippy wasn’t sure who she was talking to. I nudged God, “Should we call the medical squad?”
“No, I think between Nagha, and a suggestion from me, Hippolyta will be fine, if not grumpy.” He leaned back in his chair. “Some of Hippolyta’s man hating act, is just that, but the other bits,” he trailed off, and looked over to my frown, ”I think Security is happy she is not on the UV list as well.”
“What and deny us her company?” I asked sourly.
Mercy looked over to me with a frown, “Jimmy?”
“Oh I had a talk with Delarose, and I am not happy with his answers.”
“Give it time Jimmy, we know you are not a problem,” Mercy said giving me a light tap on my leg in encouragement.
“It all comes down to who you are related to, no matter who you are,” I protested.
“Ah, well there is some of that, the system does seem have that effect,” Mercy added with a shrug, “Even ‘we’ see it with Englund.”
“Speaking of Englund, I don’t see any of the Goobers about,” I observed aloud.
God snorted, “Yeah, he is having a quiet prayer meeting expounding on the virtues of not worshiping ‘you’ by attending ‘pagan’ celebrations.”
Doctor Tenent glowered, “Samhain is not about worshiping Satan. I so hate that crap! If Englund actually taught the World Religions Class rather than his take on them!”
“Let me guess he tried to redeem you again?” asked God cautiously.
“I told him, ‘I was not a coupon,’ and if he kept it up I was going to file an official EO complaint on his crotchety ass, tenure or no god be damned tenure,” she said with some heat, making me wonder just how that conversation ended.
I reached out and patted her on the leg, “Well, at least he can’t ruin the evening for us.”
Englund was reviewing his troops as they geared up, “Remember, stick to the plan, do not give our allies any grief even if they are heathens.”
The black stocking faced group nodded, one youth adding, “God is on our side.”
“Indeed, now go with God’s blessing and get to your positions post haste.” He paused, “After all we don’t want the daemon to miss her appointment with destiny.”
There was some laugher as the troops picked up their odds and ends of gear and filed out. He watched them go, feeling a fatherly glow warm his heart, ‘such good children, in time they will be standing in my stead.’ He bowed his head for a moment lost in an old memory of a woman who in the act of protecting the unknowing flock, died. “It’ll be alright Sherry, I’ll make sure they are prepared to face the darkness, I won’t fail you again.”
It was with some amusement that I was handed two entry forms, from two different Tenchi Groups, at the same time. I grinned at the two different Sasami’s, “You are going to make this difficult,” I noted aloud to the perfectly matched pair.
"Wow, you're absolutely perfect!" Jade began.
"This? It's nothing," Akemi countered. "To me, you seem flawless."
Jade dimpled cutely and nodded most solemnly, as she seemed to blush, “I forgot there was a competition.”
“They are very addicting once you get used to them,” added Akemi with a smile.
Akemi Hori, one of the few Japanese Foreign Exchange Students we occasionally get. Somehow she fell in with the Power Rangers group, though she doesn’t train with them. Mostly I think it was from the fact that they actually make an effort to learn and speak Japanese. That and I think she is about as Otaku crazy as they are. She was dressed as an almost perfect copy of Jade’s costume, though I think she had a slightly better budget. Though rumor has it she has a closet full of cos-play costumes. Very few people know what her real powers are, though from the way Englund avoids her, they must be on his, ‘do not mess with list’ or he was warned off.
Personally I was wracking my brain as to what they were, when the pair moved off chatting each other up, I asked God, “Oh Omnipotent One, I can’t for the life of me recall what Akemi’s codename is, much less what she can do.”
“I can’t pronounce it,” he shrugged thoughtfully, “she is a shadow manipulator, someone you don’t want pissed at you. Evidently she can steal your shadow or soul and do things with it. Though you get it back at the next day, somewhat worse for wear.”
“Urgh,” I commented.
“Indeed,” commented Doctor Tenent with a shiver.
The lights in the auditorium took a dive and suddenly we were assailed with the creations that Gadget had cooked up. Fortunately I was better prepared for them than their earlier run, though I have to admit that she had pulled out all the stops. I actually saw one or two of the generator types bring their shields up full force, much to the amusement of their peers.
The pseudo chaos and carnival environment was allowed to go unchecked for a minute, then when they stopped abruptly as a single spotlight lit the sage to reveal Mr. King dressed shockingly enough, in something other than his favored Elvis gear. Tonight I thought he went Goth on us for a moment then he until he broke out in a very ‘Elvis’ impersonation of Count Chocula.
“Vood evenig. Vi vam voor host for sis most awesome of Valloveeens,” he pronounced to the wild catcalls and cheers.
I groaned and held my ears, “Wake vim stopss it hurtzes us.” I am not sure who whapped me on the back of the head as both of my companions did their studious best to look innocent.
“Hush,” replied Mercy with a faint grin.
Mister King reached up to his mouth and I think he removed a set of fake fangs, “I seriously do not get how vampires can talk with these things, they make me so angry I want to bite someone.”
God whimpered a moment, “Ok, I am dreading what comes next.”
“Tonight we have several acts to entertain, amuse and hopefully not cause you too much distress,” The King looked around the crowd for a moment them chuckled darkly, “I don’t see anyone who was in the disco era here? Oh wait, there is God, sorry your greatness, you may want to pop out for a bit.”
“Ut oh,” I said with a nudge to Fuub, “It’s gotta be either really funny or painful.”
He shook his head mournfully, “A bit of both I expect.”
“Presenting, from our own Poe Cottage,” He paused as several people groaned, “Let me proudly present to you. The Vile Age People.”
Mercy snickered, “Oh my god they didn’t?”
God was beating his head on the table going, “Oh the pain,” repeatedly.
The stage darkened and a very old song started with a lot of drums and horns, “Yup they did it.” I said as the lights dimly lit the stage in cue with the first verse of the song to show six semi-illuminated young men.
Even from where I was sitting I could pick the basic uniforms they wore, as the stage lights slowly grew brighter. One was obviously an Indian, following quick succession as I garnered their theme were: a motor cycle cop, a heavily mustachioed leather fetish player, a telephone line man in mirrored sunglasses, a sailor in very non-regulation whites and last but not least a cowboy. You guessed it, they were doing the Village People’s YMCA, though the lyrics were a bit different.
“Please tell me their next song is not as campy,” Mercy begged of God.
“That would be telling,” he replied and tried not to twitch too much.
“At least you can dance to it, even if it is a bit political,” I said with a shrug as my feet tapped in time to the music.
“Oh boy, me-thinks there is a bit of unrest with Ms. Carson’s pronouncement,” Mercy said as the song continued onward with a great spattering of loud agreement or jeers.
I nudged Fuub with a finger, “You might want to tell the sky dancers that their undies are showing,” as I indicated the enrapt males who were either craning their necks or getting abused by their dates.
“But where would the fun be in that?” he asked salaciously.
“Letch,” chided Mercy.
“Oh all right, it’s not likely to stop some of them though,” he said thoughtfully.
“Bitch, bitch, bitch, now please, you are supposed to be one of the responsible adults here,” Mercy said with a grin.
“What? Fuub a responsible adult? Be still my poor heart,” I quipped at her.
“Why me?” he asked us.
“Because,” we chorused.
“I am going to have a long discussion with your shrink Satan, you are entirely too female,” he mock threatened.
“It’s not her fault her IQ jumps upwards fifty points when she switches from male to female,” Mercy prodded back at him.
“Oh no! I’ve awakened the Femin-nazi from hell, eeek! Run for the hills men,” he responded then he closed his eyes for a moment.
Mercy reached over and hit God soundly from behind with a wing, “You didn’t have to project it to every-damned body. See,” she whapped him again, “now everyone is looking.”
He produced a cigar and took a puff, “The Devil made me do it,” he replied with a leer at me.
I watched as several sky-dancers suddenly dropped to the ground as their skirts ballooned around them, exposing them to everyone. “You could have warned them about that too.”
“Now Satan, my dear lass, what would the fun be in that?”
“I think the pair of you are miss-dressed for evening,” mused Mercy aloud.
“Uh no, can you picture me in that little dress?” he asked while pointing at me, and I spent a moment trying to picture Fuub in his tank in this dress, and remain straight-faced. I almost succeeded before Mercy started giggling, and then I lost it.
“Never mind, evidently you can,” he sighed in protestation and took a puff on his ‘cigar’.
With a mild lighting change, The Vile Age People continued their retro-music assault on the auditorium. Fortunately it wasn’t another song parody, of which I made a huge mental sigh of relief over. It took a second to relies it was a Tears for Fears song.
“Talk about timing,” said God as he indicated the door.
I looked over in the direction he gave and nodded. “Yeah, gotta give The Don credit for being fashionably late and on cue, though I think they could of dress for the right party,” I indicted the entire ensemble. “Tuxes’, dresses and Victorian Era party masks on sticks.” I paused and added in a sillibant voice, “How passé.”
“Well there is one who has his own mold,” indicated Mercy as one member of The Don’s group broke from the herd and strolled very deliberately over to us.
“I am such vain glory in contrast to you all,” said Bluejay with a rattle of bells and a wave the puppet in his hands.
I gave him a smile, “Do I see before me, the not so foolish fool of The Don’s Court?”
“But of course, it is often that I find myself in the company of fools and thus I should dress accordingly upon this night of frivolity,” he replied with a wink. “For in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is but king, though he may be undone with a poke in his eye.”
I struggled to keep a solemn face, “Yes but how can the King not see the Prince before him in his motley?”
“Alas I am but undone, perchance save me, dearest of enemies. My dear Lucifer I would but dance with you this night,” he replied with bow and smile.
“Oh you rogue, I wouldst dance with thee, but you may not kiss my backside, lest you burn in my flames forever,” I replied and eased around the table.
“Perish the thought, I would never kiss such, as I would be less than gentlemanly.” He paused then appeared to think it over, “Unless invited, of course.”
“Scamp!” Mercy addressed in his direction with a grin.
“Alas it is but a poor player I am upon this stage of life,” he said as he held his arm out to me.
Gracefully I allowed my arm to be taken and we moved to the moving throng of people. “So how are you this night, really?”
“I but tempt other fires, though if you ask me, I would be the fool not to see it and to not hide thus,” he said seriously.
“A wise man hides behind the fool’s mask I see” as we eased into the tempo of the music.
He winked and said, “Well it beats dying.”
As the song end we paused to applaud, and then the group launched into their next song. Bluejay gave me a very direct look as the band launched into a song by The Killers, “And such I find myself,” he said with a grin.
I laughed aloud as the chorus wound through and I tried to keep pace with Bluejay as he seemed to go entirely impromptu in his dance steps. I think I only faltered in mirroring his maneuverings once or twice, though I was a bit startled to find myself suddenly lifted and whirled about. He swept me into a low almost ballroom style dip and I was amazed that his eyes stayed on my face rather than my cleavage.
With unusual grace he eased me back upright and pulled me closer and then we were almost cheek to cheek, he said under the cover of the music, “Tonight is one of surprises, some truthfully pleasant, others, well let us be happy we are not at the Senior’s Bash.”
“Oh?” I asked but he only shook his head and eased me into another odd dip.
On the last note of the song he seemed reluctant to stop dancing, “Alas I must repair to the court of knaves, lest I find it to be a court of knives.”
I curtsied to him, “Thank you for the dance kind fool.”
“Tis I that should be thanking you,” he replied with his own bow, “A pity the roof is not open, else I could say that I had danced with the Devil by the pale moon’s light.”
I chuckled, “Ever the witty one.”
“True, but I but merely echo a poor bard’s words, though I strive not to echo his tragedies,” he said somberly then he returned to his act of the capering fool and faded into the crowd.
Don Sebastiano lounged indolently in a chair of the ‘Alpha’s Box’ a faint smile flitted across his features before drifting into it’s usual disdain. Skybolt knelt obediently at his feet and Caviler stood a subservient half-foot or so behind his chair. ‘All was good, all was right, until that capering fool returned.’ The Don schooled his featured into mild distaste, “I thought the dress code of the evening had already been discussed.”
“Oh but it was, you decided you would wear a tux, and I decided I would wear suitable clothing,” Bluejay replied with a shake of his puppet.
The Don rolled his eyes, arguing with Bluejay was like arguing with the wind in a typhoon, though it occasionally amused. “So did you learn anything?”
“Yes, Jimmy T. can dance, a bit unpracticed perhaps; but there is potential there,” Bluejay addressed the puppet rather than The Don.
Hekate sat on one arm of the Don’s chair, “I don’t think that was the question.”
Bluejay’s expression soured slightly, “They say the eyes are the windows to a persons soul. If so, you would be best to give that one plenty of distance. Lest you find his or her tastes to be that of kings, and similarly end up as such; much like one Mr. LeShawn.”
“But can he be controlled?” asked The Don cautiously with a dip of his head to Skybolt.
“No, and there is an odd magic or something about him that feels of the grave,” added Hekate.
“Hmm, perhaps he can be of use, he still has that feud with LeShawn yet, correct?” The Don asked thoughtfully.
“Yes, though it is more one sided as LeShawn seems to be determined to fuel it,” reported Cavalier dutifully.
“Hekate my dear, a fracture in the Cape Squad would be amusing to watch would it not?” observed The Don with slotted eyes as he watched the various cliques circulate.
“Yes, and I think the Dylan’s of Le Carnival have something new as well, something I can tweak to our favor,” she buffed her nailed predatorily on the chairs arm.
The Don smirked, “We’re about due for a round of random drug testing, perhaps we could suggest to Ms. Hartford that certain cliques are seeming more like the stoners.” He paused with a snicker, “With a suitable incident to illustrate the case.”
“Say LeShawn?” she purred.
“What fools these mortals be?” asked Bluejay of his puppet.
The Don sighed, “What is your problem Bluejay.”
“Jimmy T. is a huge unknown and he tends to know things, things that he should not. Not to mention he is vindictive when the mood suits his purpose. Or to avenge those he considers friends.” Bluejay considered his words for a moment, “A powerful ally he might be or an extremely dangerous enemy.”
Hekate nodded in agreement, “If you play that one, you had best use several cut outs between you and him, and pray he doesn’t catch wind of it. Security has him listed as having dangerous appetites, and they suspect that he may not leave a corpse as evidence if pushed too far.”
Bluejay’s eyes narrowed “If you use that one as a weapon, do so sparingly, if not at all. As you will never ‘hear’ him coming for you.”
“Why Bluejay, I think you like him,” the Don prodded him verbally.
“Like I said, she has potential or he does,” Bluejay shrugged with the puppet, ”the only reason he is not in enough for our camp is Hartford. The woman can not see past her nose some days.”
“Which suits us on occasion, let’s call this a ‘Test of Candidacy’ then. We can always use a sharp and dangerous knife,” Don Sebastiano smiled grimly.
“Knives can cut both ways,” Bluejay added with hardened eyes that fixated on his puppet.
“Exactly, Hekate, I leave it to your hands, but I would like to see how high-strung LeShawn really is, before the night is over.”
She smiled though there was no humor in it, “I have just the thing in mind, a bit of pride and prejudice will lead to a fall.”
“All the world is a stage,” quoted Bluejay aloud to his puppet.
“So it has been said.” The Don paused, “Speaking of stages, Caviler, is our odious present prepared for another party?”
“Yes my Don, the mixture of tear gas, expurgate and the other disorientating agents are set to go off as planned.”
“Good, good, and the Devisors will take the blame for that as well, one prank too many as they say,” said the Don smugly.
Hekate fumed as she wound her way through the crowd, ‘Stuck up officious ass.’ She glared at the booth were the DJ’s were laughing at the various antics in the crowd, ‘It’d be so easy to ruin the night, but then it was going to be ruined any ways so let them have their fun.’ She pushed her way back into the darker part of the gymnasium and to where the faint odor of grass flitted oddly with other perfumes.
“Hello and what do we have here?” asked a teen with a smoky exhale.
Hekate frowned, “I need to see Blotter.”
“What, one of the lofty Alpha pricks looking at test tube time? Perhaps the Don?” asked a girl with glazed eyes as she came up for air from a kiss.
“This is business that does not concern you Valium brain, so pop a pill and tell me where to find Blotter,” Hekate semi-growled, “Or I will make sure your next trip is a ‘bad one.’”
“Been there, got the t-shirt and I use it to wash my Ferrari,” the girl sneered.
“Now, now girls, no fighting in public places, besides Hekate usually comes bearing gifts of the green crinkling type,” interrupted a blond haired youth in a blood red trench coat.
“Finally, can we go and talk someplace with less ears and a higher IQ?” asked Hekate.
“Can’t get much higher than in Le Carnival love, but if you’ll step into my office.“ He paused and indicated a bathroom marked men’s and handicapped, “Unless of course your business is public?”
Hekate strode past with glower towards the girl, “No, it’ll suit me to get this done with.”
The gleaming chrome and tile contrasted sharply with the lad’s eyes as he looked into a mirror, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, how high will Don Sebastiano go before his fall?”
“It’s not about his fall,” She said with a shrug. “So Alchemistic one, I hear you have something new that should make folks notice if it is used or perhaps abused.”
“Highs come, highs go, though if you drill a hole in your head I didn’t suggest it,” the youth replied sardonically.
“Drop the stoner act Blotter, I know you are clean,” Hekate snapped.
He turned with a shrug, “Yes, something new is on campus, I can’t say I would recommend it yet. Not unless you are an Exemplar, have a hell of a Regen or just hate your kidneys and living in general.”
“What does it do?”
“Hmm, something not quite like a planned burnout, ramps your powers up over the top, and the it either mellows you out or winds you up and then you crash.” He made a crashing sound and tapped the sink he was leaning on, “It’s a odd mix, not the usual basement chemistry.
“Detectable?” Hekate paced the small room.
“Yes, seriously though, I can’t recommend you taking the stuff. If you need something special I could get you some Xtasy or something not as likely to ruin your pretty little life.”
She glared at him, “I don’t use that shit, and this is for one of the Cape Squad.”
“Ah, I see the Don’s Machine is at work,” he shrugged indifferently, “So The Don is feeling a bit pinched by the good guys is he?”
“It’s Business, not entirely for pleasure,” Hekate said after a moment.
“And in exchange I get?”
“What do you want?”
“I have a list, most of it legal even,” he smirked, “though I am also looking for information.”
“Ah strictly mystical in nature, but that can wait.” He paused and reached into the air and made a plucking movement as a bottle appeared in his hand. “Fortunately it came to me in a liquid, a side offer of work, pills and such.” His eyes narrowed, “It would help if I knew the intended?”
“LeShawn, maybe even a few Betas…” She smiled sinisterly, “it depends on results.”
“Hmm, revenge or politics?”
“A bit of both,” she said as he plucked other items out of the air and started mixing various ingredients with a bare drop from the vial. “So have you figured out how to turn lead into gold?” she asked.
“That was last week, making this stuff pays better,” he said seriously, “I take it you will need some ‘cleaner’ this week as well?”
She rolled her eyes, “Invariably, sometimes we have minions with no sense at all or people looking to get out of trouble, for a price.”
He plucked a separate bottle out of the air and set it off to the side, “The usual.”
She pulled several bills out her purse and set them within his reach, “And the other?”
He looked at her in the mirror, “The first taste is always free.”
“This is cut from pure, so you will only need a mere flake of it,” he whispered a word and the tiny Petri dish he was working in frosted over as the moisture left. “I am not joking, give it to the wrong person and you will kill them. You kill them, I will make you eat that dish, and I won’t buy; ‘It was an accident.’ Are we clear?” he asked in very dead tone of voice.
Hekate froze in hesitation, “Medium to high end Exemplars and Regen's only?”
“Exactomundo, don’t make your life into a tragedy.” He frowned coldly, “Frankly, I don’t care what people do to themselves, of their own free will. I have issues beyond that. You are only getting this because he suggested something similar.” He placed the very small Petri dish off to the side, “I have a letter for you.”
She shivered unconsciously, “It’s instructions isn’t it?”
“Yes, I rather expect it is contingency plans,” he plucked a thick white paper envelope out of the air and set it next to the Petri dish, “Now if you don’t mind, Le Carnival is moving to a more private venue.” He paused then explained, “Some of my brethren are prone to rash behavior when using and I don’t care for tonight’s games.”
“Just as long as they don’t interfere.”
“He, has my understanding on the matter, and we are in accord: some players don’t need to be about, so tonight the party is on me.”
“Ah, do something with the girl with the mouth, she irritates me.”
“You have your court, I have mine… I don’t mess with The Don, and he doesn’t mess with me. Besides, Mon Cheri would get what sort of reception in your court?”
She nodded, “I see, is she your Queen then?”
“Of the night, perhaps longer, she is interesting, as is her mouth.”
“I don’t want to know,” Hekate protested.
“But your eyes say otherwise,” he said as she turned to leave hurriedly amongst his mocking laughter.
I worked my way to the refreshments table and nodded to one of the odder persons of the History Department, Circe. Evidently she was on ‘Punch Patrol,’ making sure there was a low amount of alcohol to punch ratio, as in none. I picked up a plastic cup for ‘Mercy’ and myself as she was trapped at the registration table. I inwardly grinned as the more feline of our classmates wandered by in a Hello Kitty outfit, I was not sure if Miyet had come to terms with being ‘catty’. There was some apparent consternation as she tried to pick up a cup and drink, as I heard a frustrated growl.
“Problems?” I asked her.
“It’s these gloves, some jolly joker put spell on them and they won’t come off for another hour or so they said.” There was another frustrated growl, “I am so going to shed on their pillows.”
I looked at her tan but lightly furred arm, “Can you shed?”
She squirmed uncomfortably, legs slightly together, and growled again, “I don’t know, but I sure as hell am going to try.”
As part of her consternation dawned on me I walked over to Circe, “Can you help a friend out of a sticky bit?”
“Oh hmm?” asked Circe looking a bit off in never-never land, frankly she’s a bit ditzy and she has an odd take on things.
I pointed to Miyet, “Some idiot made her gloves glued on, and can you do something?”
She seemed to snap back to the present, “I told him that making a glue bond ‘everything’ was a bad idea, and now we have a people stuck to odd things.”
“Not glue, a spell.”
“Oh, sorry, I could have sworn,” she gave me an odd look, then pointed a finger at Miyet, “Bippity boppity boo, no glue for you!”
I rolled my eyes as she pronounced her spell, “So was there any alcohol in the punch?”
“Only for a moment,” she hiccupped once, “then it went away.”
I watched Miyet quickly doff her gloves and pull off the over stuffed white cat’s head, not quite chafing her own set of ears. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” she said then she made a hurried departure to the vicinity of the restrooms.
Circe smirked, “Some people have the oddest sense of fashion.”
“This is coming from a woman who helped design corsets?” I asked.
Circe pirouetted in her Victorian era gown and she patted her very flat belly, “I don’t have a problem with them, it’s not my fault that women didn’t commonly carry knives in that era.”
It took a minute for me to realize the DJ had to have had a camera outside or something, as I all but bumped into one of my odder of acquaintances. Ok perhaps one of the more mental of acquaintances. We share the same Shrink, so I occasionally got to shoot the breeze in-between sessions with him. He’s not bad, just a bit off, but then folks can say that about me.
Harvey Hastings Calloway, also known as Mega Death or ‘Mental Death’ depending on if you were at mercy of one of his Deidrick’s rages or not. Was green, lime green and dripping all over the place, I skirted around pools of semi viscous liquid to where he was fuming. “What’s wrong Harvey?”
“… Next year, next year they will not laugh.” He looked up at me sourly, “It exploded.”
“What, your paint cannons?” I asked cautiously, not certain if his meds were working tonight.
“No,” he paused, “my high area low velocity paint extruders, duh, no shit my paint cannons exploded! It’s what happens when some ass adds chemical explosives to the underside of it.”
“Fu-,” I covered my mouth and looked at him closely, “Dude you need to visit the infirmary, I think you are bleeding.”
“Don’t trust them, always asking too many questions; ‘How does that make you feel? Do you need to see a therapist? When did you last take your medications? Of course I took my fucking medications, self absorbed bastards.”
I calmly handed him one of the glasses of punch, “Maybe you should sit and listen to the music a bit?”
“Can’t stand all the noise,” he muttered as he took the cup from me, “Nice dress Jimmy,” he shook his head and said, “you should go girl all the time… you have less headaches I bet…” then he weaved slightly, “Maybe I’ll visit the infirmary after all.”
“Good idea, want me to help?”
“Why does everyone think I need help?” he half muttered half cursed, and then his shoulders drooped and headed back the way he came.
“’s ok Jimmy, just tired,” I watched his ears turn pink, “you do look nice as a girl,” then he was gone.
“You missed the excitement,” said God.
“Power Rangers were about to rumble with Team Kimba,” Mercy said with an air of annoyance.
I shook my head, “It’s freaking Halloween for your sake.” I sat and mulled darkly over my drink of punch.
“What’s wrong?” asked Mercy.
“Harvey’s had some assistance with a disaster,” I finally commented slowly.
“Is he Ok?”
I shrugged, “More or less, he said someone blew up his paint cannons, deliberately.”
“Ouch, not like he doesn’t have enough problems with his toys,” commented God as his eyes grew slightly distant. “Yeah, he’s going off on folks in the infirmary about it.”
“I know that look,” said Mercy worriedly, “Jimmy you can’t go and fight everyone’s battles.”
I sighed and clenched my free hand in anger, “It pisses me off; we have all these so called heroes on campus and they can’t keep this sort of shit from happening.”
“Jimmy you have been on edge all night, are things alright at home?”
I snorted, “Same as usual, they made the paper.”
“Ah, Jimmy I think you have a serious case of Benchwarmers Syndrome,” said God with a sigh, “you’ll get your turn.”
I shrugged, “I guess, looks like the next act is about ready.”
“I can only hope they are not as bad as the first,” Fuub said with a grimace.
“Oh the first was good, once they got past the parody,” said Mercy as she smirked, “You just resent being from that era.”
“And you were not?”
“Me? I am innocent.”
Deathlist nodded slowly as he listened to a terse message, then he clicked a button. “Ok Terror, split off with your team.”
Terror nodded and started off into the darkness.
There was a faintly explosive report followed by the laughter of exuberant kids, “Start Psy-Ops phase one,” he said softly into his comlink, soon Security would be flooded with the typical pranks, and other things.
He sank back prone after a brief scan of his team, they were motionless, and concentrating on the Security Center as they should be. He licked his lips thoughtfully as soon the blood would flow. ‘Carson I am coming,’ he thought with a metallic smile.
Up from the basements, Nightbane was dutifully and so painfully slowly following the ‘tactical’ squad up a deserted staircase. They had interrupted and sedated a pair of would be lovers who were ‘stealing time’ on the staircase. Four more levels until they could use an ‘out of order’ service elevator up to the roof and catwalk system.
“Ladies and gentlemen I give to you, Mutants in Black!” announced Mister King and the stage was alight with brightly strobbing colors and an odd continent of people in blue masks, black suits, and odder-looking instruments.
“Ut oh, the musical geeks are among us,” protested Mercy.
“Hey they are pretty good,” I defended, “At least they don’t blow things up other than speakers.”
God gave me a look, “Right, you were saying?”
I smirked, “So they are experimental, it grows on you.”
Mercy mock whimpered, “That is what I am afraid of.”
The screen behind the band was suddenly filled with a wide selection of what looked to be mug shots. I shook my head as it stopped to display a rather generic looking kid. “Ok it’s official, the student body is in resentment.”
God nodded slowly watching the crowd on the dance flow and then slow to watch the screen, “A lot of anger there, I wonder if Carson is aware?”
I shrugged uncomfortably; I had my own thoughts on tonight’s odd mix of musical themes. Abruptly the screen flashed red and with artificial gunfire to show that same generic teen lying in a pool of blood. “Ok, hypothetically speaking, let us suggest Carson knows of these acts.”
Means what you think you saw you did not see
I saw Mercy frown as the body on the screen morphed to a picture on a MID card, “Then she’s playing with fire or someone is.”
So don't blink, see what was there is now gone
God nodded slowly, “I’m not exactly fond of the MCO, but then I don’t get out much.”
I nodded as the image on the card morphed to a chalked outline of a body on the street. “So what do you think?”
Mercy coughed as the image translated to a burning MID card, “I think, therefore I am.”
“I could learn to like this group.” God said with a slow draw on his cigar, “But then, they were very fast in processing my card, unlike some.”
“Uh huh,” I said with a frown, “They go really hard on the GSD cases, and Carson says nothing to them.”
Mercy blinked, “That’s out of character for her.”
God actually blushed, “Oh no she just saves it for when the doors are closed.”
Mercy eyed God, “Politics?”
“Something like it,” he said after a moment.
I leaned back in my chair and added in disgust, “Who can say.”
Hekate pushed past the visually enthralled throng. Finally with a sigh she reached to where the not quite useless Tansy was doing a fair imitation of a wallflower. “You got my message?”
“Yes, what is it?” Tansy looked cautiously at Hekate.
“You have little credit with The Don but that could change,” Hekate smiled tightly.
“Ok, fine. I can’t exactly fit in with the clowns in capes as it is.”
Hekate blinked, ‘She’s such a loser even the capes won’t take her, no wonder we can get her to do anything.’ “Ah yes, about that, I need you to do some subtle work.”
“Who? Where? When?” Tansy asked quickly.
“I need you to push LeShawn’s homophobic buttons and push them specifically against shape-shifters. I trust you know a few by now who can’t figure out what restroom they belong in?”
“Hmm,” Hekate glanced about for a moment, “Ah perfect, one of the other Hawthorne shifters, ‘Chimera.’ Surely you remember cleaning the toilets for her?”
Tansy actually twitched, “Fifty percent of the time the Bitch can pee standing up, and she complained when the seat was just a bit wet.”
“Yes, you remember, good. If you can get LeShawn to go off on her perfect, if not, use Jimmy T.’s name in proximity,” Hekate nodded as Tansy’s face took on a calculating twist.
“I have just the clutter of ‘girls’ to work it with too, The Whateley Glee Club,” Tansy said scornfully.
“Just do whatever works, and I will see you get appropriate credit later.”
Bluejay watched as Hekate moved through the throng and he smirked at the scene, ‘So subtle.’
“Bluejay, something amuses?” asked The Don.
“Just admiring the view and the show, I can see Mister King is in a ‘state.’”
The Don wandered over to look at the stage where The King was obviously pacing and watching the crowd, “Yes well, I can imagine his buttocks are in for a broiling, considering how the show is so political.”
Bluejay motioned to where Tansy was not quite leading the Queen Bees through an intricate dance, one that placed them next to the Cape Squad, “Tansy is being useful.”
“About time,” commented Sebastiano. The Don stiffened for a moment then smiled, “Oh this should amuse.”
“She just dosed LeShawn, now we shall see.”
“If you’ll pardon me,” I stood up as my bladder made itself known, “Mother Nature calls.”
“You can’t fool with Mother Nature,” added Mercy with a grin, “don’t forget your purse.”
I grumbled at the not so subtle hint, “At least I can ditch it for dancing, legally.”
“True, can’t dance with a purse, might take out half the crowd, especially the way you women carry things in them,” smirked God.
Mercy reached over and slugged him in the shoulder, “Man!”
“Yes?” he asked in a perplexed tone.
I shook my head and left as Mercy started a mock tirade on fashion and necessity.
“… See just like I said,” Tansy didn’t quite shout over the band to the huddled of theatrically ‘maimed’ cheerleaders, “Sicko perverts, just because they ‘claim’ to be what ever sex they are being. I mean really, the little fagots just go in where they should not be.”
“I heard they are just trying to fit in,” said one of the girls to a chorus of negative head shakes.
“Yeah right, even the Team Kimbo Bimbettes have pervert in their group. Money or no Ayla needs to be in a men’s room, not the girls,” Tansy glanced about looking for Ayla, ‘Kill two birds.’
“Yeah we know.”
Tansy’s eyes focused over on LeShawn’s drawing him in, “That’s just the start of it, they prance and preen like they own the fucking bathrooms as well, queer little shits.” Tansy whipped her head over to where the white and black haired Chimera was standing, and thenshe looked back to LeShawn and ‘pushed’, “Some thing should be done.”
Hekate watched as LeShawn drank thirstily from his cup, and then she turned to walk back to the Alpha’s box. Circe stood directly in her path and was looking irritated, ”What did you do?”
“Nothing of importance,” Hekate smiled, “Someone wanted a bit of an emotional boost, hope flairs eternal or so do the fools who think they are in love do.” Hekate pointed over to where a fair imitation of Superman was wiping his face clean with tissues, among a crowd of girls and a Team Kimba slut in an odd cat suit.
“You trying to help the love lorne? Try telling me something true,” said Circe with a scowl.
“Oh? You want something true,” Hekate smirked. ‘How perfect,’ “I hear that one of the Capes is using drugs.”
Circe frowned, “I doubt that,” she glanced around, “they don’t have that image, now if you said that of Le Carnival…”
“Right, sure, just because they have not been caught.”
“What are you implying young lady?”
“Snap into this century puh-lease, the Corper’s do as much or more drugs as the thugs on the streets,” Hekate said with a sniff, “My dad fires them as fast as he finds them too.”
With a snap of her hand Circe produced a fan and veiled her face briefly with it, her eyes shimmering in a golden hue, “Watch yourself youngster.”
“I am sorry oh wise one,” Hekate took half a step back as her own eyes flashed, “Use your powers of observation and see the truth if you will.”
“Are you challenging me?” Circe asked coldly as the air seemed to charge slightly.
“Oh I know when I am outmatched,” Hekate dipped into a soft bow and all mockery left her voice, “I do apologize if I caused offense.”
“I may have been rash,” countered Circe with her own soft bow as the tension in the air faded.
Hekate kept her face cool, “No, it was my error, but one of the Capes is using, I just don’t know whom yet, but give me time.”
Circe studied her for a moment, “Why would you care?”
“I hate druggies, the stoners get by too easily here.” ‘Is that ever the truth,’ Hekate added silently.
“Ah, so an offense of privilege?” Circe asked as she nodded to herself.
“Yes, even you prefer a courtly life do you not?”
“But there are always upstarts.”
“Hmm,” murmured Circe as she eyed the crowd thoughtfully.
Chief Delarose sighed, ‘Every fucking Halloween, if it’s not the Devisors hi-jinx, it is other pranks.’ He called out of his office loudly, “Wilson, Hobbs. Go check areas seven and thirty, someone tripped the call boxes.”
“Right Chief, Halloweener’s at large, again.”
“Seems that way,” he called back.
Delarose sat back in his chair and just as he got comfortable, the red phone on his desk buzzed raucously. With a hurried grasp he jerked it off the cradle, ‘Please tell me this is a joke’, “Delarose here.”
“Gamers Central, we got a ‘hot blip’ in a gamma zone, something blasted through a Warded Area. Hard,” came the not quite shrill voice of a teenage boy in half panic.
“Easy son, do you have an exact location on the Warded Area?”
“Shit, Umm, yeah,“ there was a scrabbling sound of papers being flipped through hurriedly, “Ward twenty seven, I have to get back in, as weird shit is loose.”
“Don’t get killed son.”
There was a sardonic snort, “I would like to wake up tomorrow.”
“That’s the idea son.”
Delarose put the phone down and mentally counted to ten, half a moment beyond ten, the same red phone rang again, “Yes Reverend?”
“Something got out, I am picking up something moving, something evil.”
“Not Ms. Waite I presume?”
“No not that,” Delarose frowned, as the Reverend seemed to stutter, “not that thing, something else.”
“Right I’ll crank up the usual team. You coming here or do you want them to meet you?”
“Have them meet me at Baker Twelve, this thing is moving fast, and towards campus.”
‘Shit, just what we need.’ “Right I’ll send them a running.”
“Do that,” Englund seemed to order, and then the line clicked dead.
Delarose got up from his desk and walked past the girl who was ‘on watch’ as punishment, “Stay alert, not on the cell phone.” He suppressed a chuckle then bounded past her as her eyes focused intently on the monitors.
In the ‘duty’ platoon quarters the card game was stilled as he burst in, “We got a case Gamma X-Ray. He pointed to the suddenly alert sergeant, “Get out to Baker Twelve, meet up with the Reverend and try not to get killed. You are authorized to use extreme measures, if it’s coming towards campus.”
“Shit, it would have to be Halloween too,” commented the Sergeant as he scrabbled into his gear.
“No kidding,” said Delarose with a frown, “I’ll pull in the day shift, but you know how it goes.”
“Freaking holidays I know,” said a man as he lifted a large gun that looked to shoot rockets rather than bullets from the rack.
“Yeah,” said Delarose as he hurried out of the room, ‘The night of the Thinnest of Veils. Crap, if it’s the Goths again I am going to put my foot down… hard. Real classes for their asses, not that off the shelf crap they normally try.’
People are people so why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully
“Where do you think you are going fagot?” loudly asked a voice I was entirely too familiar with. Part of my guts clenched in a primal rush, then I realized the voice was coming from the half circle of space near the bathroom doors.
“Leave me alone,” protested a female voice not quite on the edge of rage and tears. I glimpsed the half black and half white haired girl he was blocking from the restroom from through the crowd, and then I pressed through to the inner edge of the circle.
“Shape-shifting perverts should use the right bathrooms, and not the ones decent people use,” LeShawn continued, grabbing her roughly by the arm and shaking her.
I felt a red haze rise up in my mind as I plunged past the crowd, “Excuse me, but I think you have your head way up your ass LeShawn,” and then I mentally added ‘again,’ as I took a step closer to the bullying asshole.
“Well if it isn’t the primadona shape-shifting fagot himself,” he sneered at me.
I blinked, “Ok, evidently you don’t have a clue do you? Let me explain it to you, again: Gender is what you are, sex is what you do with another person.” Ok so I wasn’t quite quoting from the textbook, but it was close enough.
“Thass bullshit,” he slurred, “and you know it or maybe you don’t twinkle boy.”
I looked at his costume and I mentally mistranslated the Roman era armor into something else, and deliberately blinked, “Though if your idea of a costume is ‘Trojan Man,’ I can see how your dating options might be limited to your hand or were you looking for boys?”
“Oh great, he’s drunk and stoned,” said a rough voice off to my left.
I turned to look at the speaker, I had a brief instant of time to note that it was Harry Wolf that said that; and then my face disintegrated. It took a moment for me to get past the pain and into rational thought, of which was quickly blurring into rage.
I could feel a pair of firm hands not quite supporting my body, “Oh crap you killed her,” said a girls voice that not quite shrieked.
Shaking off the hit, I could hear someone retching onto the floor as my face and body reformed back into the ‘Bedazzled’ Devil. “No, not quite dead, though someone is going to wish it were so,” I growled as my teeth sharpened into a sharks smile.
“Hold,” commanded a familiar voice and a distinct tingle sweep over me and then I was immobile.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see Circe push into the circle provided crowd, “Just what is going on here?”
I tried to speak, but I was to my dismay, mute.
“LeShawn attacked these two ladies,” I think it was Thunderbird who said it, but since I could not look to see I had to guess.
“They are not ladies,” LeShawn protested hollowly, and I could hear some sort of tussle start again.
“Hold still,” commanded Circe’s voice and the sounds of violence stilled.
“What’s going on here?” asked a voice that could only have been Pendragon’s.
“G-Force is drunk and using drugs, and he attacked these two girls,” stated Harry, much to the indignant protests of Pendragon and LeShawn.
“How do you know this?” asked Circe.
I could hear a hint of rough amusement in Harry’s voice, “I can smell it on him. I am a wolf after all, of sorts.”
“I don’t use drugs,” protested LeShawn.
“That’s what they all say,” growled another voice, Bloodwolf’s, I think.
“Why are you here Bloodwolf?” asked Thunderbird with some heat as he finally walked into view, half dragging Chaka along with him.
“I heard some caped cretin was making comments about all shifters being queer.” There was a cracking of bone and it may have been him in pre-shift or him cracking his knuckles. “I got here just in time to see your boy go feral on two girls,” Bloodwolf sounded like he wanted in on the fight to be, and was marking his territory.
“Is this true?” asked Pendragon as he stepped up and looked me in the face, studying me intently, “Um Circe, ah Professor, I think you over did your spell a bit, as she isn’t quite breathing.”
I felt Circe poke me then she cursed in a odd language, “Sorry Jimmy,” she muttered and then the tingle lessened, “I didn’t mean statue.”
I took a breath and forced myself to clam down from a killing anger, “Yes it’s true, I was on my way the restroom when I found LeShawn attacking Chimera here.” I shook my head, “As you can clearly see, Yin is female.”
“No she isn’t,” stated LeShawn defiantly, “It’s just a another game on the shifter’s part.”
Circe took a hard look at LeShawn, and then waved her hands oddly, of which she first framed Chimera in a blue glow, then me, “I see two girls here,” she finally pronounced. Then with a half step, half glide she eased over to Harry and Bloodwolf, “What do you smell?”
“On?” asked Bloodwolf.
Harry ducked his head in obvious embarrassment and Bloodwolf smirked, “Oh definitely female,” Harry looked down to the ground and muttered something softly to Circe of which caused her ears to flush.
“Oh,” Circe blinked at the two of us then waved her hands dismissively at us and indicated the bathroom, “tend to your needs ladies.”
Chimera’s eyes were not quite wet with tears and I saw her duck quickly into restroom. I felt a tug on my arm and looked to see Chaka trying to pull me in the same direction, “Move it girl, you heard the instructor.”
“But,” I tried to interject; though at Chaka’s negative headshake I reluctantly let it drop.