I walked to the sinks and took a look in the mirrors; I was not quite back to my prior efforts of the evening. Though it took a few long minutes of concentration to redefine my face back completely to that of Ms. Hurley’s.
“Color me impressed,” commented Chaka as she peered at me, “you would be?”
“Well I don’t have a code name, exactly.” I shrugged with a halfhearted smile, “If you can be anyone, code names are pointless, as they won’t have any clue if its you or not.”
“Says here you are ‘Jimmy T.’” she tapped my purse and I think she giggled. “Do you really eat people?”
“I nibbled, once, and G-Farce has never forgiven me… Considering that it ended the fight abruptly.”
“Oh, so some of that was old news?”
“Maybe. The drugs and alcohol were, um a twist.” I shrugged, “LeShawn’s not exactly unprejudiced, even if he is, ah…”
“Non white?” Chaka asked with a grin.
I forced a smile, “Yeah.”
I heard some annoyed groans and a faint sob from one of the closed stalls, I held up a hand to forestall Chaka's questions and I walked over to it. I knocked gently “Yin?”
“My underwear, they’re ruined,” I heard an edge of disgust in her voice.
“That time?” I asked softly.
“Yeah, fucking jerk, and I was having fun for a change too,” she sniffled loudly. “Ah Jimmy, would you have something? I don’t want to wreck the costume. Though I have to go back to my cell to change out in any case. I am so fucking mad!”
I pushed my purse under the stall door, “I think you might find something your size in there.” I sighed, “Stay calm Yin, meditate a minute or something, ‘kay?”
“Ok,” I could hear her rummage in my bag, “some privacy?”
“Yah, I know how it goes,” I said with a tired sigh and walked back to the mirror and where Chaka was giving me a puzzled look.
I looked in the mirror, “The monthlies or in Yin’s case, the every other monthly.”
Sitting on one of the sinks I explained, “Yin, is a shape shifter.”
“Got that,” Chaka pointed to the doorway where a heated discussion was growing.
“Chimera has three forms, one is a very nasty beast that is slightly under their control; the other is her identical twin brother, Yang.” I hesitated then added a bit softer, “She was in an institution before her gift manifested fully, she was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, but it wasn’t.”
“Ouch,” Chaka winced, “so what happened?”
“Well one day they tried to…”
I was interrupted by a not so indiscreet cough, “I can hear fine Jimmy,” said Yin from her stall.
“Sorry Yin,” I apologized.
“It’s okay, I guess everyone has a horror story,” Chaka said after a moment.
“Were you going to take on LeShawn again, Jimmy?” asked Yin as she exited the stall and walked over to us.”
“Oh yeah, no one messes with my friends,” I could still feel the itch to go out and rip him a new asshole growing. “Part of me really wants to go out there.”
“No,” interjected Yin as she reached up to touch my face, “I thought I saw you die.”
“I am a lot harder to kill than that,” I said as my face flushed.
“I don’t want you to do anything,” as she reached down to my hands, “it’s not worth it.”
“Listen to your friend Jimmy,” I looked over at Chaka with some annoyance. “Home boy stepped in it big time, you’ll only get yourself in trouble.”
“This is coming from the girl who walloped Montana?” I asked.
“Guilty as charged,” and with a rueful grin she shook her head. “But then, I did it right. I called him out, challenged him to a duel, and whupped him by the book. You jump him, then you're the asshole; but if you challenge him, then you got him by the chachongas, Jimmy-girl. Either he faces a second date with your digestive tract or he begs off and looks like a chump."
I growled, “But he so needs to be thumped!”
“Jimmy, no,” Yin protested as she tried to sort out her Princess Bride gown.
“I know the feeling,” said Chaka as she tapped the badge on my purse, “look, you are already in Dutch with the security folks yes?”
“Yeah,” I said with sigh.
“Soooo, let the system do what it is supposed to,” she winked, “I read the rule book some, seems to me someone is looking at serious detention or the boot.”
“Supposedly, knowing his family, it’ll be a slap on the wrist,” I frowned, “though I didn’t think he was a druggie as well as a jerk.”
“Cape’s are supposed to be pretty hard on that,” offered Yin with a frown, “unless they are just saying one thing and doing another.”
Chaka nodded at me and I and followed her eyes to look down at where Yin’s hands were still resting on mine, “Speaking of capes,” she said, ”I have got to find out what my date is up to.”
“Take it easy Chaka.”
“Oh I plan too, though I may nose about,” she looked thoughtful. ”Capes and drugs don’t mix, supposedly.”
“Ask your boyfriend,” suggested Yin with a wave.
“Oh I will.”
For a long moment it was silent in the bathroom, and I looked up to see Yin looking at me critically, “Yang says ‘Thanks.’”
“Not a problem, I try to look after my friends and the rest of the Thornies,” I looked at their eyes and was thankful they were a mixed blue and green pair and not the violet that preceded their other form from manifesting.
“You know Yang’s guy shy?”
“Yeah, and why too,” I said softly.
She nodded, “It’s not easy knowing who you are at times, we spent a long time sorting that out.”
“I can relate.”
“I-we know, and thank you for um,” she held up my purse, “and other things.”
“What are friends for?” I asked with a smile.
“Um, I gotta go…” she said and took a half step backwards, “gotta talk with Yang a bit…” then she not quite rushed to the door. Although I noticed her ears were a dark pink as she stepped out into the music.
The Don watched with some satisfaction as The Cape Squad and The Beta bunch escorted a very agitated G-Force away, under force. “So,” Bluejay was focused on something distant and The Don nudged him gently with a knee, “well?”
“Apart from the initial impact, I don’t think LeShawn even injured Jimmy.” Bluejay made a dancing gesture with his puppet making the bells on it jangle brightly, “I did note that Circe ‘held’ him with a spell, but it didn’t seem to cause him much difficulty.”
“Interesting,” Hekate said with a frown, “my spells glanced off of him.”
“Circe is old, and odd,” said The Don with a thoughtful nod.
Bluejay’s ears colored slightly, “Ah romance.”
“Oh, Jimmy’s friends are varied and one has an interest in him,” Bluejay shrugged.
“Don’t tell me you could go for him?” Hekate asked in an odd tone.
“He is interesting, if ‘he’ is the right term.”
“Hmm, what of his thoughts on LeShawn?”
“Jimmy is a Null. But his friends; his friends think he’d go out and do ‘really bad things’ if not kept on a short leash.” He motioned down to where a cat-like person was hanging on the arms of a Superman clone. “Chaka thinks Jimmy is being calmed down, though there is suspicion due to his red badge of shame and about the drugs.
Hekate walked to the window, “But the Capes?”
“Are agitated, upset and more than slightly ashamed, Mindbird is ‘sweeping,’” he motioned to the crowd, “trying to pick out who and what.”
“Would you say a second dosing among the Capes or perhaps the Betas would work?” asked The Don after a moment.
“Not too soon, but a light dusting, very so very light over say a few weeks?” Hekate asked as she walked to the Alpha’s punch bowl and she took a glass and sniffed at it, “I was told to be excruciatingly careful with things.”
The Don snorted in laughter, “Taking advice from ‘Le Carnival?’”
“Has Blotter ever been wrong?” she asked in turn.
“Not about Chemistry, I did get a request from one of the Turks.”
“I picked up the usual Cleaner, do we really want the Turks coming to use for ‘that’ sort of help? Druggies are a bother, and a potential waste of time.”
“Desperate people can be useful,” was The Don’s answer after a moment of thought.
“Desperate people don’t think clearly, and are a potential risk,” commented Bluejay to his puppet.
“Noted,” said The Don. “So we chose carefully from now on, we will have to set the ‘pure and clean’ image that the Cape’s will no longer be capable of.”
“’Just say no?’” half quoted, half asked Hekate.
“Perhaps, Tansy was useful. I think we should let her organize a Red Ribbon Campaign, get the anti-drug message out.” He smirked, “It’ll keep her busy.”
“And out of the way?”
“Precisely. Cav, see that Tansy gets the word that she is under a positive review; and this is her task for the next few months.”
“Do we give her a budget sir?”
“She has money, though if she needs a ‘donation’ in the campaign; perhaps, provided there is sufficient drive.”
“I’ll see to it sir,” Cavalier said respectfully.
“And in the mean time?” asked Hekate.
“We see if the fracture can be deepened, Jimmy himself may be too tricky a tool to manage. However, a great many of his friends on the other hand crave acceptance.”
“Use his friends to get him to our side?”
“Or help him to see he has other friends, not just those in Hawthorne.” The Don paused with a dark chuckle, “it’s not like he can read minds, true?”
Hekate smiled slowly, “True.”
The Don glanced down to his watch, “Poor Kodiak.”
“Let us hope he does not get wind,” muttered Bluejay.
“So how many more acts are to be endured?” asked Hekate tiredly.
“A song or so more of this one, then the D J's have the floor while they set up for Sara and Axel,” noted Caviler after a glance into a notebook.
“Ah, good,” Don Sebastiano walked back to his chair and watched the ants scurry below, ‘soon.’
Deathlist watched the armored group depart the security motor pool, the blacked out Hummer was kicking up rocks and dust in evident haste. He motioned to the trooper who was carrying the long-range comm system, “Report.”
“Package was unleashed, according to the on site mages,” the dark armored man said as he sank lower, “They said Daemon Seeds planted. The man shifted uneasily, “and several winked out of plane.”
“Not our problem,“ Deathlist commented, “continue.”
“Checker Board Flight is inbound, ETA twenty minutes.” The comm operator shook his head, “The had some problems with a pair of Air Force fighters, they splashed them. However a pair of the carriers will be ten minutes behind the other flight, laying additional decoys.”
“No plan escapes change when in motion, remember that trooper,” Deathlist grinned savagely. “It can make things interesting.”
“Yes sir. On site surveillance reports that one member of potential threat was moved to the Medical Centers holding tank; drugs evidently.” There was a pause, “Some disarray expected in Campus Team Omega Blue. Psych-Ops reports ‘Smoke and Puke’ is confirmed in the second site.”
“Good, so we wait a bit more, give the alert tone when the flight is two minutes out, we go then.”
“Yes sir,” the trooper said in an eager tone of voice.
“Easy Trooper, save it for the fight.” Deathlist cautioned, “Soon you will get to face some of the best, Whateley Security Personnel are not slouches, not like the Caribbean thugs.”
“Aye sir, I remember,” the Trooper said sarcastically.
I looked over to the D J's booth and then I frowned; as I could not see any trace of cameras, though there was an elaborate computer hook up in place. I wandered over to see who was running the system, a pair of chuckles greeted my ears as I worked my way around the blocked out area.
“Well if it isn’t the Cinderella Man,” quipped Ringo as he waved a be-ringed hand in my direction.
Hazard looked up from where she was shuffling cd’s, “Oh hey, hmm. No wait let me guess,” she paused then added in ‘The Church Lady’s voice’ “Satan-an-an-an?”
I rolled my eyes, “In the flesh, so what are you two mixing up?”
“Music, music and muzak,” said Ringo with a chuckle.
“You’ll have to forgive him Jimmy. He doesn’t get out much,” Hazard shrugged and started sorting the songs, “let us see, einie meeeny ninnie mo. Ah the next track.”
“Well that explains the music, playing with probabilities again?” Hazard had a talent for such things, “So all of tonight’s music has been?”
“Completely random,” she said with a straight face.
“Right. Tell me another one,” I raised an eyebrow in challenge.
“Well, so I cheat, sue me.”
“Sorry saving my cash for a legal fight with someone else.”
“Um, yeah, I saw a bit of that coming,” she shrugged. “Sorry, I did prompt the Professor though, the Capes and the Wild Pack.”
I watched Ringo roll his eyes as he tapped at the keyboard, “The net’s going all flaky again, damned wireless is futzy.”
“I though you were getting out more?” I asked motioning to the computer.
“Once a geek, always a geek,” Hazard gave him a bump with her hip, “I need drink flunky.”
Ringo bent over reveling a hump on his back and stuck in a set of plastic teeth, “Yessssh mastah.”
As he shambled off Hazard gave me a look, “So, do you need a fixer?”
I paused and looked down at the ground, “Did you see that coming too?”
“Probabilities Luv,” she said slipping into her real accent.
“I don’t know yet, maybe.”
“Right say when and I’ll see what I can arrange, maybe I can work off my marker… Govenah,” she said with a smirk.
I groaned, “You are not still going on about that card game?”
“Well, it is rare I am so nimbly outwitted at a game of chance…”
“Yeah, so what is with boy gizmo?”
“He’s looking for a mystery girl.”
“You are not mysterious enough?”
She sighed, “I wish, but I can sense infatuation a mile away. He spends so much time locked up in his room, it about took an act of Congress to get him out.”
“Oh, you can’t nudge that?”
There was a hint of frustration in her voice, “I wish.” She cast an eye to the crowd, “one sec.” She paused to tap in a command, “there, the next dance or so, all at the press of loaded key.”
“So any more surprises?”
“You’ll see,” she said and then chuckled manically.
Chief Delarose sighed, ‘There goes yet another fire alarm, and a break in the sensor net,’ “Jennings,” he called out, “go check the Motor pool, either it’s a water balloon or a lost robot stalker.”
“Or kids looking for a place to make out, I know.” She shook her head with a grimace, “Kids.”
“You were as wild once.”
“Yeah, then there was boot camp, and a few small wars.”
“True, go chase the kiddies,” he waved a hand and looked over to a very quiet radio.
“On my way Chief.”
Deathlist tapped on his radio, “Six, Seven, be so kind as to neutralize the roamer, quietly there is no need to kill, yet.”
There was a pair of double clicks on his headset and he watched a pair of shadows slip in and out of the shadows. A lone security guard was wandering among the vehicles, effectively night blinded by her own flashlight as she looked in the parked vehicles.
He was mildly impressed that she ‘sensed’ something off and that she whipped around to illuminate one of the pair, just as they darted her. He tapped the radioman gaining his attention. “See, actually an alert force, just expecting something else,” he semi-lectured, “now if they expected a fight, Seven would likely be dead and Six possibly injured.”
The trooper grunted, “Six and Seven are not slouches either.”
“Precisely, this will be a good fight.”
“Yes sir,” he watched the figures carry the security guard off to the side and covered her with a tarp form the back of a Hummer. “Narrows the fight some though.”
“Oh you’ll see a fight,” Deathlist promised.
Nightbane reluctantly admitted to herself the ‘Pros’ were good, though she hated the condescending attitude they had. How they managed to move in all that gear and so silently impressed her. Currently they were waiting on the next act and the lights to darken again.
Eco-Tek was actually being useful as well. He had tapped into the security cameras of the building, just in time to catch the fight near the ladies room. The support team ‘leader’ actually seemed approving, as they made some notes and sent off some messages. She gave Egon a glower, of which he shrugged away with a smirk.
With a suppressed sigh, ‘Heathens on her mission, and a geek with delusions, how many ways can this go wrong?’ she reached back to ensure the blade was in reach and she was comforted by the fact that it was there and that it promised to be effective, not like last time.
“Compiler, how many more sidewalks are we gluing up?” asked a slightly twitchy auburn haired girl.
“Just one more Reverb, not like I can spray the stuff and not end up glued as well,” Compiler was wearing a silver ‘Tin man’ outfit sans macaroni label, “you know how it is.”
“Yeah, yeah, no good deed,” Reverb grinned and adjusted her Hogwarts shirt and tie, “So when are the glue bombs supposed to go off?”
“Right as the Senior’s Bash ends… should cover twenty square feet, but shouldn’t stick to skin, everything else though,” she paused with a chuckle. “I wanna see those classy ‘acts’ fall down”
“It’s not going to make the place inaccessible is it? I have a class in there.”
“Only a few hours or less, I think.”
“Well the trials were rushed.”
“Babsssssss…” the other girl protested.
“Never mind, just never mind,” the other girl said in a tone of voice that implied certain disaster.
“There, I think that is it,” Compiler started her mad scientist laugh track recording, and then she shut it off quickly. “Now I’ll set this up and we can go.”
“About time, the dance was just getting interesting.”
“Oh you just want to see another fight.”
“Well,” she admitted.
“Right back at cha.”
“Speaking of writing, where did the tentacle monster end up?”
“That would be telling.”
“So has the Devil claimed her due?” asked Mercy as I returned to my chair.
“No, much to my chagrin,” I looked over to Fuub as he was eying me thoughtfully. “And just where were you?”
“Oh I helped, you just didn’t hear it.”
“Right,” I grumped at him.
“Jimmy, I had to help control LeShawn, just so he could be tested and locked in the ‘Pink’ room. As much as I wanted to show up as your right hand of doom, the faculty is not supposed to show favoritism,” Fubar sighed. He pointed off in the direction of the clinic, “He is messed up, big time and he’s ‘certain’ he didn’t take anything.”
“Could have fooled me,” I said sarcastically.
“Well he is drugged out on something, and there is the alcohol,” added Doctor Tenent in her lecture mode.
“Well getting hit didn’t make me love him any more than I do.”
“Which would have been bad, if you had not had some restraint,” added God as he produced a cigar and puffed on it thoughtfully.
“Like I had a choice there.”
“Small blessings if you ask me,” added Mercy.
“Jimmy, things happen for a reason.” She sighed, “Fate, karma, what have you, things happen.”
“It’s just,” I frowned and let my mood speak for me.
“If it’s any consolation, your timing was good,” commented God. “The Chimera was inches from exploding out of them, and not even I can slow that process, apart from knocking them out.”
“Ugh,” I looked over to Mercy, “yeah small blessings, maybe.”
She leaned over and gave me a small hug, “You did good girl.”
I sighed, “Perhaps.”
“Now if I could drag you off to ‘Circle’, I bet the Lady would say so herself,” she added with a small shrug, “but it’s off campus.”
“Englund pitched a fit?” asked God.
“Well it’d be hard to hold a proper Samhain, and have him glowering at the High Priestess the whole time,” she wafted a wing as if dispelling bad odors. “Not to mention the ‘sky clad’ aspects.”
“What no wild orgies?” asked God.
She reached behind me, and then she whapped him with a wing, “You should know better.”
“I do, just had to make the obligatory joke…”
She gave him a look, “Man.”
“Woman,” he retorted.
I groaned, “Why me?”
“I ask that a lot,” said Fuub with a shrug, “thus far the Uni-Voice has neglected to return my calls.”
“Small blessings,” Mercy said with a distinct shiver.
“Englund, where the fuck are you?” muttered the Sergeant as he parked the Hummer in place on a hard packed dirt cul-de-sac.
“Maybe he got ate,” joked a man in the back seat as he fondled his M-60 thoughtfully.
“You wish, still he is useful when he is not all biblical.”
“Yeah sure, so he’s like sixty something but moves like twenty something, maybe he has a pact with the Devil?”
“The Devil wouldn’t take him,” quipped another member of the team.
The mood in the Hummer slowly dropped into quiet expectation the occasional crack and pop of the radio filling the Hummer. “Man, I so hate Monster Busting Duty.”
“You’d rather be on duty with the Love Birds?”
“Easy on the eyes, hard on the balls.”
“No shit, why are the women on this team such ball breakers?”
The Sergeant chuckled, “Because if they rolled over when you asked, they would not be interesting?”
“Do you take me for a masochist?”
“Yes,” chorused the others.
“Let me the fuck out of here!” demanded LeShawn as he slammed a fist against the walk cracking it severely.
“Doctah’s T-Squared, says you are in there for forty-eight hours sugah,” calmly stated the orderly, Ms. Muller. “So you just stay put like a good boy and enjoy the nice soothing pink.”
“I want my fucking clothes, not this pink girly stuff.”
“Sorry, all psychotic, sociopathic or substance abuse patients must wear clothing of the appropriate color,” she paused, “though I am not sure how or why frilly lace was included in that outfit.”
“I’m not going to wear it!”
“Look hunny buns, you wanna be nude fine, just remember you are giving the camera’s quite a show.”
There was a slightly suppressed twitter, “Yes, cameras. Multiple. We have to document your behavior after all.”
“I’m going to kill them!”
“Not tonight sugah, so just sit back and contemplate your eventual hangover or if you are really unlucky, withdrawal.”
“I am not a fucking pot head.”
“Uh sure, that is not what your blood chemistry says, and a point zero eight two on the alcohol. You’ve been b-a-d.”
“Oh fuck me,” he protested.
“Sorry, not part of the job description,” she snickered, “and I like my men, more endowed.”
“But it’s cold in here!” he said quickly moving his hands to his groin.
“That’s what they all say,” she sighed. “Put the gown and underwear on now, kid. Or I’ll come in there and put it on you.”
“You would not dare,” he threatened with a shake of his fist.
“I’m not the drug user here. Am I?” she asked tapping her foot expectantly.
“Bug Hunter One to Englund, come in, over.”
There was a low rush of static then, ”I’m at twenty-two, didn’t you get the update?” asked the voice angrily.
“Oh geeze, not a-fucking-gain.”
“Put a kid on the fucking comms,” the other man protested disgustedly.
“Negative, we did not get an update, moving now, over.” The Sergeant slammed the Hummer into reverse.
“Chief’s ‘pet’ projects can annoy.”
“Usually they are on the ball though.”
“Hard to say.”
“And of course Twenty-two is ten miles deeper out, away from campus,” sighed the Sergeant.
“’Sir, are we going on a stand up fight or just another bug hunt sir?’” quoted the man with the largest gun.
“Duhhh, what do you think?’ asked the Sergeant.
Englund tucked the radio away and sighed, ‘Security has its place, just not in the way tonight.’ He glared across the stage at the Daemon. For a long moment he fought the urge to not run over and shoot her himself.
For a time their eyes seemed to click and he did his best to shield his thoughts away, ‘Not tonight bitch.’ He focused on his cold righteous anger, and then turned away easing back into the back stage crowd. He had to get out into the wilds, ‘a pity I cannot watch the event’ he reflected internally; but it would not do, too not be at ‘one’ of the security rally points.
“Well security is having fun tonight,” Mercy motioned to the pair that was winding through the mosh pit.
“Ah yes, the love birds.”
I rolled my eyes, “Methinks someone is jealous.”
“At least they are engaged, which is more than I can say for eighty percent of the lovers on campus,” commented God.
“Letch,” said Mercy.
“Peeping-Tom,” I added.
“Hey!” he protested, “It’s not my fault people project like mad and at the most inconvenient times.”
“Isn’t there some sort of code this discussion violates?” I asked.
“That would be telling.”
“R-i-g-h-t,” I motioned in the vicinity of the DJ booth, “I found out why the muszak is so ‘inspired’ tonight.”
“Oh?” asked Mercy with an odd look in their direction.
“Hazard is sorting the music by probability,” I paused and added, “supposedly she saw it coming and arranged to have people in the right vicinity.”
“Hmm, well that might account for how Lodgeman was ‘there’ on the spot, earlier with the Power Rangers and Team Kimba,” God said with a thoughtful puff on his cigar.
“She ah, offered to play ‘fixer’ for me,” I said after a moment.
“Jimmy, are you looking for a legal way to eat your problems?” Mercy shook her head in resignation, “Kiddo, Carson’s going to be having a field day with that one as it is; booze, drugs, mouthing off to Staff, resisting mandatory testing... Then there is the ultra screw up of ‘Miss-Use of Powers While Under Influence.’”
“Yeah, though I am not sure if Carson will go that far. I mean he ‘scans’ as not having actually taken anything, the alcohol on the other hand.” God shrugged and waved the cigar around, “I suspect someone pranked his ass.”
“Some prank,” I said bitterly, “the only thing that it seemed to reveal is that LeShawn is a bigger ass than I suspected.”
“In vino veritas” commented Mercy.
“Or if you prefer… Asinus asinorum in sæcula sæculorum,” added God.
I snorted my punch, after I coughed and sputtered a moment I said, “You don’t say.”
“Ah, I love a classical education,” said Bluejay as he blipped into being and then handed me a paper towel.
“Ah a knight among fools,” I said accepting the paper towel with a smile. “Thanks.”
“Yet the fool was hardly knightly or I would have been of use earlier,” he said apologetically.
“Well I can’t say I was not without defenders. Some odder than others.”
“Yes things were a bit hairy there for a moment,” he said with a wink, “Alas I must return to the Box, ‘someone’ is grumpy about where he is partying.”
I groaned at the pun, “What, insn’t a private booth is not good enough?”
“Eh, it has a view, and yes I enjoy it,” he said and winked out.
Mercy turned and looked up to where a figure was waving down at her from the booth, “Scamp.”
God smiled oddly, “I think Jimmy has more than one suitor.”
“Could have fooled me…” there was a collective groan in my vicinity. “What?” I asked.
“Argh the puns,” said Mercy as she stood up, “I need cake and punch.”
“Not on duty.”
“Yang what am I doing wrong?” Yin asked the mirror holding up a pair of black and blue shirts and a pair of jeans thoughtfully.
“Jimmy, life, everything,” she paced back and forth not quite certain what to wear.
‘Well I don’t get too weirded out by Jimmy, but then he’s a lot like us.’ There was a bit of hesitation, ‘What’s on our mind sis?’
“Could we?” her voice was semi-hopeful.
‘Date Jimmy?’ asked her brother after a moment.
“Yes, I think you like him too,” she paused nervously, “at least well…”
“Yes, but Jimmy isn’t like that,’ she waved her hands dismissively, “he’s one of us.”
‘One of the genderly abused or confused?’
“Well you saw how LeShawn treated him” she shivered, “and I know you were about to fry LeShawn after what he did.”
‘Ok I admit there is something there, I just don’t want to be hurt,’ there was a wave of revulsion. ‘Not like…’
“Jimmy isn’t like that, if anything I think we’d have take the first step.”
‘*sigh* We have to try sometime,’ a hint of hope and fear washed back and forth, ‘Let’s not go overly girly on him?’
“But she can go girly on us?’ Yin teased softly.
‘Well Jimmy as a girl is cute,’ Yang offered slowly.
“And as a guy he’s a bit cute too, in a nerdy oddball sort of way,” she teased, “admit it.”
‘Well, he’s not threatening so, yeah. Ok he’s cutish as a guy.’
“We’re going to get a rep you know, well I am,” Yin tossed the black shirt towards their bed and regarded her figure. “You know? Bi.”
‘I think we may have one already. Pricks.’
“Do you want to switch or?”
‘No, no, you have to get it out of our system or we’ll both be even more miserable, take a Midol please?’
“Thanks for reminding me, at least we only suffer every other month.”
‘As for reps, do you think Jimmy worries about it?’
“No,” Yin sighed, “I don’t think he worries about himself or herself at all.”
‘But he worries for us and everyone else,’ Yang stated cautiously.
“It’s the ‘us’ part I am interested in.”
‘I can tell.’
‘Ok, we’ll try, just…’
I recommend getting your heart trampled on to anyone
I recommend walking around naked in your living room
Swallow it down (what a jagged little pill)
It feels so good (swimming in your stomach)
Wait until the dust settles
We were working our way though sorting out the losers from the winners and the whiners, when I felt a cool pair of hands slide over my eyes. "Guess who?" whispered a voice.
I blinked and my mind shunted through several odd thoughts before my heat jumped oddly, so I went with; "Mrs. Robinson, if you don't mind my saying so, this conversation is getting a little strange.”
"Huh?" asked Yin with a puzzled frown as she eased around into view.
"Ah, you have to forgive Jimmy, he tends to think in movie quotes when his brain locks up," God snickered softly, "Jimmy watches way too many old movies."
“So you do?” asked Yin uncertainly.
Fubar gave me a push, half shoving me out of my chair, “Go walk around in the nighttime, talk, kiss, be romantic.”
I felt my face flush, “Um Ok.”
“Yes outside,” Yin grabbed my hand and half pulled me upright, “now.”
“Ok,” I said and allowed myself to be half pulled, half lead outside.
“Ok we’re at the fucking location he gave us,” growled the Sergeant.
The turret on the Hummer rotated around scanning the area, “I got shit here, nothing IR, nothing electromagnetic. A few odd flares way the hell off in the night sky, but that’s just the Air Force again with the Stealth.”
“Bug Hunt One to Englund, where are you situated?”
“I’m at Twenty One, where the hell are you?”
“Begging your pardon, but what the flying fuck are you playing at?”
“No need for cursing, let me check the GPS, oh lovely it reads 99900 00666. Damned sorry lads, someone one has bollixed my GPS-NAV System it seems.” Englund paused, “Halloween pranks I expect, I’ll be there in ten minutes, sit tight.”
The was an mutual and annoyed sigh in the Hummer, “Rodger sir, it has just been a bit of a day.”
“Its Halloween and either someone is playing games or we are in for it, yes I know,” England shook his head and turned down the right road, ‘Crap, there was something out here too, damnation.’
“Rodger sir, Chief’s been dealing with it too,” added the Sergeant over the radio.
“Rove a bit lads, I can feel something out here, any really cold spots?”
“IR has nothing yet sir.”
“Bug Hunt One, going on foot patrol, we are not far from Alpha Seven, want us to check the exterior casing?”
“May as well, can’t hurt.”
Englund sped up, ‘Not good, not good at all. What the hell are they playing at as well?’
I was feeling a bit confused as Yin all but dragged me outside, “So uh?”
“We need to talk,” she said after a moment and pulled us to a darkened bench. She sat nervously and patted the bench, “Sit, please?”
“Sure,” I eased myself down besides her. “What’s this about Yin, Yang?”
“We, um, want to know.”
“Do you like us?”
I hesitated a moment, “Well yeah, you’re my friends.”
Bluejay blipped in and shook his head and he bonked me on the head with his puppet, “Jimmy, wake up, they want to know if you’d date them, as in ‘like’ to be their boyfriend, girlfriend. That type of friend.”
Bluejay grinned, “I know it feels odd Jimmy; but wrap your head around the concept, they ‘like you’, you ‘like’ them, the answer is easy. Just say yes.”
Yin gave Bluejay a brief glower but she nodded after a moment, “We do like him.”
“See,” said Bluejay, “it’s pretty much obvious Jimmy, especially considering tonight.”
I sat in my own inferno for a moment, “Umm.”
Bluejay regarded us a moment, “Besides, if I can ‘pick up on it,’ every other telepath can as well, and well, you two do make a cute couple.”
Yin blushed madly a moment, “Wonderful.”
“I’m a Null,” I pointed out.
“Your body language is not ‘Null’ Jimmy and well.” He grinned, “I cheat.”
“Oh-boy, is it that obvious?” I asked.
“Only to those who know you Jimmy,” Bluejay chuckled, “now I have to go and annoy The Don some more. Pardon the interruption Yang, Yin, but Jimmy can be thick on occasion. Remember that and remind him frequently.”
“You said that already Jimmy, here; I’ll make it simple for you.” He reached down and picked up my hand and placed in Yin’s, “Now repeat after me.”
My ears seemed to reach a very intense level in heat, as Yin all but crushed my hand in hers “Uh.”
Bluejay smirked, “Now say: ‘Yes, I will be your special friend.’” He then prodded me with his puppet.
I looked over to Yin and Yang as their eyes seemed to flip aback and forth between green and blue, “Yes I will be your special friend.”
Bluejay then poked Yin and Yang as they sat there looking slightly stunned, “Your turn.”
“Yes we’ll be your special friend too,” they said after a moment.
Bluejay beamed, “I now pronounce you a couple, as the usual pronouns are a bit odd.” He shrugged with a wicked grin, “See painless, now get on with the kissing; but please wait until I get out of the way. Yang’s, nervous as it is.”
“Uh, thanks Bluejay,” I said feeling more than a bit stunned.
Yin popped up for a moment and gave Bluejay a quick hug, “Now scram,” she said with a mock glower. “I have to get a kiss.”
“See Jimmy, easy,” he then winked out with a shower of rice and confetti falling around us.
Yin didn’t quite sit on my lap, “Bit early for rice, but,” she stopped and placed her lips just shy of mine, “kiss me?”
There was a slight shoving sensation as I felt an unseen hand push my head forwards until our lips touched, and then she pulled me tightly into the kiss. It took me a moment to realize the Fuub was up to something, but then I lost track of time for a while.
Bluejay winked into existence in Jimmy’s chair, neatly taking a cup of punch away from Mercy, “Ah young love.”
“God tells me you were playing match maker,” Mercy said with a happy smile.
“Well Jimmy needs help on occasion,” countered God.
“God was up to things too you know?” Bluejay responded.
“Well it’s not like ‘I’ can tell him what to do or what to say when, but on the other hand, it was neatly done,” added God.
“Purely in my own self interest, I like Jimmy too.” He shrugged, “He needed some ‘training wheels’ and well; I have odd pronoun problems when sorting out any real relationships with him, yet.”
“In other words you have feelings for him too?” asked Mercy.
Bluejay shrugged noncommittally, “Jimmy is interesting, though we’ll have to wait and see. I may have done myself a disservice, but then I am a lousy Puck.”
“Oh poor Puck,” she giggled and then eyed him thoughtfully, “you are such a good friend to him.”
Bluejay grinned wickedly, “That remains to be seen, now if you don’t mind, I have to return to the next act of Oberon’s Idiocy: Oh did I say that aloud?” He winked and popped out of view.
“What were you up to?” hissed Hekate just as Bluejay appeared and was looking down into the throng from the box.
“Helping Jimmy to notice a young shape-shifter that wanted him to notice her,” he shrugged one shoulder. “The Don wanted to make sure Jimmy knew he had friends other than the Thornies.”
“Ah, you are up to something,” she said after a moment.
“Young love occasionally blossoms, but it often shatters as well, in either case, we win,” he said diffidently.
“Bluejay you are odd,” Hekate said after a moment, “you like him, her, whatever and yet.”
“Chalk it up to my being Native American and ‘weird’, if you think about it too hard, well.” He snickered, “You might say a little bird told me it was all good.”
“Oh great, now I know you are up to something.”
“Yes I get that impression too.” The Don said as he walked over, “A deft hand with the lovebirds, and with Fubar.”
“Well for one I don’t have the onus of being caught in the same muck, that Tansy had created for the Alphas.” Bluejay reflected aloud, “And there are advantages to being seen as the ‘Alpha’s Fool.’”
Don Sebastiano gave him an amused look, “Hekate, I need a word with the ‘bird’ a moment.”
“Be my guest,” she said as she shook her head, “I get a headache from prolonged discussions with him anyways.”
The Don waited until she stepped away, “Are you set?”
“Yes, I have your Hole Card prepped, as requested.” Bluejay paused, he then waved a hand and produced an odd set of tools and a small bag that was stitched in oddly attracting patterns, “I think you are right, too. Considering the Masterminds got screwed over in Boston.”
“Well I didn’t get to be ‘Alpha’ without thinking,” he said after a moment, “and paying attention to these things.”
“Good, just don’t get us killed.”
“Don, if thing go pear-shaped I will get us out.” He snapped his fingers softly then he smiled coldly, “I am pretty sure their efforts will be for not, so it matters not what happens; as long as the Alpha’s come out clean, and better off. Yes?”
“Jimmy T. is not the only one who knows too much at times.”
“True, but then, I am on your side.”
“Yes, but are you?” asked The Don.
“For now.” Bluejay said honestly, “After all you didn’t get to become the ‘Alpha’ without thinking.”
With a knowing smile, The Don said, “All Alpha’s are predators, the good ones in any case. Just remember that.”
“Oh I do. In any case it looks like we’ll have a bit more time, as requested. I took a moment to ensure the stage would ‘act up’ for a bit.”
“Nicely done.” The Don stiffened as Hekate approached and he gave Bluejay a glower, though his eyes held humor, “Just remember your place,” he said over-loudly and then looked over to Hekate, “what?”
“One of the Turks wants a word with you,” she said indicating the door.
“Tell him to make an appointment, can’t he see we are relaxing?” he asked motioning to the room.
Hekate nodded, “So it begins?”
“Use your judgment, but yes, start weeding out the problematic Turks and others.” He held his hand out and clenched it slowly, “We want the useful ones only.”
There was a low whistle of approval and I reluctantly separated from Yin slightly and looked around, “Bloodwolf?”
“It’s about time,” he motioned to the pair of us semi-cuddled on the bench.
Yin rolled her eyes, “Bluejay seems to have been right.”
“Was it that obvious?” I asked aloud.
“Pheromones, hormones what ever you want to call it, when ever you too crossed paths.” he leered toothily at us, “Now you two will just smell like each other. Admittedly the pheromone rush is nice, but gods, it took you two long enough.”
“You are welcome, and I wondered if you were planning something for a certain caped cretin?”
“Well,” I hesitantly said.
“No.” Yin said firmly and wrapped her arms around me possessively, “Let Carson deal with him.”
“If she deals with him, rumor has it the Capes and Beta Brats are trying to get him exonerated.”
“Why do you care?” asked Yin.
“You are both Shifters,” he shrugged, “odd ones, but shifters. No one ever messes with shifters,” he added in an odd tone.
A light slowly clicked on, “Your um, fights would not be tied into that, would they?”
“Sometimes,” he half sneered, half growled, “sometimes I just like to fight.”
“I see,” that sort of made an odd sort of sense coming from him.
“It’s not like you don’t do things to help the Thornies balance issues.” He snickered, “All that Ductape was nicely done.”
Yin gave me an odd look, “You’re the Vile Vigilante?”
“Guilty, does that bother you?”
She shook her head, “No, just be a bit more ‘careful’, I’d hate to have to visit you in the Pink Room.”
Bloodwolf howled in loud laughter causing me to jump, “Oh yeah, you don’t know yet.” He snickered and bowed before us, “I am not worthy, I am not worthy.”
I sat uneasily in Yin’s embrace, “Unworthy of what?”
He snickered wildly, “The nursing staff gave him lacy pink ‘girly’ clothing, to go with his Pink Room time out,” he rolled about on the cement laughing insanely, “I hear there are tapes to be had.”
I grinned and hugged Yin, “I see.”
She kissed me and smugly said, “Well it helps to know the staff there.”
“Well I figured the punishment should help to fit the crime so I um, mentioned it, in passing,” she blushed furiously, “Ms. Muller is um, occasionally open to suggestions.”
I giggled and kissed her back, “Just don’t get in trouble.”
“Me?” she asked, and then she grinned. “It was Yang’s idea. Honest.”
It took a moment for the lyrics to sink in, much less the song. Part of me was amused, the other part of me wondered just how blatantly oblivious I had been. Yin and Yang had made me promise to stop in before the end of the night, as they had returned to the dorms to deal with feminine ‘stuff’. So reluctantly I was wading back through all the dancers and social cliques back to the judges table.
Mercy wasn’t quite radiating deviously smug approval, “So, have you picked out a pattern for the china yet?”
“Huh?” I asked not quite falling into my seat.
God was doing his studious best to sound droll, “Your lipstick is messed up.”
“I don’t wear lipstick.”
“Well you are not exactly wearing it on your lips,” countered Mercy with a merciless giggle.
I opened my purse and pulled out a compact, with a slightly inexperienced flip I opened to see a very distinct lip shaped smudge, in several places, “Oops,” I pulled out the napkin from earlier and started removing the various smudges, “Well that might account for the odd looks.”
“Oh I don’t know,” said a husky male voice that made me look up, and then I froze in semi–abject horror. Jericho, one of the ‘frosh’ mad devisors who live in Twain Cottage was giving me a distinct leer. The thing that made me freeze was not his leer, it was his costume. Jericho was in, drag. Bad drag, not just bad, but if a transvestite saw him in that outfit, she’d probably run home screaming and put on pants. It was that bad.
“Uh Jericho, are you coming out of the closet?” asked Mercy uncertainly.
“Well it was getting cramped in there, I mean really!” He leaned over and placed both elbows on the table and I think he flashed half a dozen people, as the people behind himcringed. “The extra refrigerator I just had to build to keep my roomies steaks cold, made it impossible to live in there.”
“Um yeah,” I tried to keep my face neutral, “Please tell me you are not going commando?”
He snorted, “No dah-link, according to the catalog I used, I have on bright orange lacy bloomers. This,” he whirled around in a perfect pirouette making the bright pink, wrap he was ‘wearing’, rise up frighteningly, “is not a kilt.”
“I think going commando would have been safer,” said Fuub solemnly.
“Isn’t that outfit against the Geneva Convention?” asked Bluejay as he blipped in and blinked a few times.
Jericho leered, “No you would all have to be prisoners of a hostile nation.”
“Being victims of a hostile wardrobe doesn’t count?” Mercy asked.
He paused thoughtfully, “Hmm, my room mate asked the same question, but then taking fashion advice from a sentient lizard. Of which painted himself purple while humming, ‘I love you, you love me,’ is not a sane idea.”
“He’s got you there,” said God after a long moment.
I pushed a form across the table at him, “I think we have a winner, sign here, I tapped a spot where a name would go.”
“Oh,” he smiled grandly, “what did I win?”
“You’ll see,” I then paused and altered my vocal chords a bit so that I could get the most effect out of my most evil laugh. “Muhahhahahahahaa!”
He blinked then eased back away from the table, “You’re weird…” then he grinned, “but then people say that about me.”
I coughed a few times as my voice box readjusted, “I have no doubt.”
He ‘looked’ at me oddly then smirked, “So what happened to your neck?”
“You have this odd pattern on it.”
Mercy leaned over and made a low whistle in the vicinity of my ear, “Its a hick-key,” she finally pronounced in a low sultry voice.
I think the room’s temperature shot through the roof about that time, “Umm.”
“Is it contagious?” asked Jericho in all seriousness.
“Only in spring time,” commented Bluejay with a grin before winking out.
“How odd, I could have sworn I saw something similar on this girl with monochromatic hair, she lives on your floor I think.”
I groaned aloud, “Abuse, abuse!”
“You will have to excuse Jimmy here, he’s had the obvious shoved in his face tonight, and while it wasn’t unpleasant.” God paused and waved his cigar around theatrically and smirked, “Evidently it’s shattered his perspective somewhat.”
Jericho reached into a bright purple purse, one that looked like it could carry a large dump truck, and dug around in it for a moment. After a bit he grinned and handed me a small brightly wrapped box with a bow on it, “Here, I was saving this for one of my other clueless friends.” He grinned manically, “I would not open it here though, you’re friends already have enough ammunition to keep themselves amused for a few days.”
God snickered, loudly, and then I had a sudden clue as to what was in the box. “How thoughtful,” added Mercy with a matching smirk.
I whimpered, I think.
The Sergeant aimed his light at the very large hole that opened outwards from the center of the three-inch thick metal plate. “Uh, crap.”
The others blinked and there were several loud clicks that occurred in near unison as weapons were fully armed. “Shit.”
“I don’t suppose you want to stick your head in and look?”
“Um no, magnesium flare?”
The Sergeant played the light around the edges of the large plate and frowned, “Not with out getting a few heavier weapons out of the Hummer, and telling the Boss and Englund we have a problem.”
“Right, bigger guns.”
“Shit, shit, shit, on fucking Halloween too.”
The Sergeant aimed the light down to the ground where a dark puddle of blood glistened, “Well asking whoever did this; ‘What the hell they were thinking,’ is dead out.”
“Ye-ah, bigger guns.”
Delarose blinked as the words filtered though the growing static, “Say again Bug Hunt One. Over.”
“Something punched a four foot jagged hole out of the containment barrier,” there was a pause, “and there is blood on the ground. We suspect the perpetrator did no survive the encounter. Over.”
“Rodger Bug Hunt One, you may use any force needed at your discretion. I recommend backing off to a safe distance and letting Englund make the call. Do not go looking into the containment vessel, is that clear? Over.”
“Rodger, back off, watch our ass and let Englund figure out what to do. Over.”
“Confirmed, keep me appraised of the situation. Base over.”
“Rodger, and idea on when we can expect back up? Over?”
“The Dunwhich Sheriff radioed in, evidently some drunk kids were drag racing, and managed to wipe out two telephone poles in the process.” Delarose shook his head, “He says the phone router and fiber optics got cut when they plowed through the service box in front of one of the poles. Over.”
“It’s one of those nights. Ok, Bug Hunt One out.”
“Base out.” Delarose frowned as the radio squawked oddly and then sat silently, “Damned kids and their toys.”
“No, do not come and get me, I can make the rest of the way on foot,” he sighed and keyed up the hand held radio again, “who ever glitched my GPS-NAV caused a small electrical fire as well.”
He listened then spoke, “No I am fine, the Hummer is going to need to be towed but, that can wait for daylight. You might try and see if you can get a secure satellite bounce to the Vatican.
He waited a moment, “Lovely, well if you hear something and it is not me praying loudly, feel free to shoot it.”
There was a loud chuckle from the radio and he smiled, “Oh yes, I will be very loud. The only thing out here, besides you, me, the possible were-wolf and ‘something’ is God.” He shrugged stiffly, “Yes I am sure something is here, do you hear anything alive, and making noise?”
He snorted, “Yes, it’s very much like that, big predator or something.”
He smiled frostily, “Yes it is the ‘or something’ that bothers me too. Now get settled in and try not to shoot me.”
“Yes I would like to see the sunrise too.” He spared a moment to look at his watch, and shook his head as it glowed showing him the time, ‘Kids I hope you can do the job without me.’
He shook off a sigh of regret, ‘Sherry would not forgive me if I let whatever this is get into the kids or the town.’ He took a moment to cross himself, “The Lord is my Sheppard,” he loudly recited as he strolled though the darkness to the waiting and justifiably nervous men.
A lone entity frowned in cyberspace, “Now he says look over here.” The blue-limed figure sighed; it was spending a moment sorting through the various inbound and outbound emails from ARC. ‘She said she was heading to ARC.’ All data indicated she arrived, and then nothing further; save an odd data packet containing source code. Humans, humans were complicated.
“Ok Flynn, wherever she is in there, she’s not connected to the net.” It sent a bounce of that information back to Whateley and frowned as the signal pinged dead.
The figure transported itself to the network node that headed into the Whateley region. There it spent several long, from its perspective, moments sorting though the various phone companies and Internet services. The Net was physically broken at a key juncture leading into the region, satellite and microwave systems were being affected by solar activity, which was likely to peek in the next ten to twenty days. “Well Flynn, it looks like it’s going to be a boring evening for you.”
He sighed, “I suppose it is time to try a few back doors.”
“Damn it, damn it, damn it,” Ringo said aloud.
“Everything is dead, going in or out.”
“The Net?” Hazard asked as the youth fretted.
“Yeah, I can only get the Whateley servers.”
“You know what this means?”
“My night is hosed?”
“No, it means you have to socialize or be bored off your ass… Which would you prefer?” Hazard placed both hands on his shoulders, “Mystery Girl will have to wait, do you care to dance?”
“But,” he protested.
“There are no butts in dancing, well there are but usually it’s a good thing.” Hazard slinked her arms around him, “Besides, I have you now.”
“What you don’t like girls?”
“I um, don’t know how to dance,” he said as his head drooped in embarrassment.
‘I have no doubt.’ She shook her head and grinned, “Then there is no time like the present to learn then, is there?”
He gave a forlorn look at the computer that was playing music, “I suppose we could let things run on autopilot a bit.”
“That’s the spirit, seriously, you need to get out and meet real live girls Ringo.” She smiled, “Like me.”
‘That’s what she said.’ He thought then muttered aloud, “Sounds familiar.”
“Well its true,” she said and then drug away him from the computer to the dance floor.
They see me mowin'... my front lawn
I know they're all thinkin' I'm so white & nerdy
Think I'm just too white & nerdy
Think I'm just too white & nerdy
Can't ya see I'm white & nerdy?
Look at me, I'm white & nerdy
I scanned the crowd and then crowed in laughter, “Oh the irony.”
“What?” asked Mercy and God in unison.
I pointed out Hazard and Ringo, “Boy Gizmo is learning to dance, I think.”
Mercy smiled, “Ah, he does seem out of place on the dance floor, his first time you think?”
I wanna roll with... the gangstas
But so far they all think I'm too white and nerdy
Think I'm just too white & nerdy
Think I'm just too white & nerdy
I'm just too white & nerdy
Really, really white & nerdy
God nodded, “Oh definitely, though I think his coach is hopeful.”
“Hopeful of what?”
“Well evidently the Internet is down,” God grinned, “and well she is radiating smugness.”
I'm a whiz at Minesweeper, I could play for days
Once you see my sweet moves, you're gonna stay amazed
My fingers movin' so fast, I'll set the place ablaze
There's no killer app I haven't run
At Pascal, well, I'm number one
Do vector calculus just for fun
I ain't got a gat but I got a soldering gun
“Ah, yeah, so she’s working on his semi-imposed exile by fiat?” Mercy asked with a grin.
“I had nothing to do the net crashing, though I swear I am being sworn at,” God said with a chuckle.
“He’s nearly as pallid as Ayla, so it might help,” I offered.
“So is Boy Gizmo freaking out?” Mercy asked of God.
God groaned, “No, its Mr. King taking my name in vain… evidently there is a delay.”
I'm fluent in Java Script as well as Klingon
Here's the part I sing on...
They see me roll on... my Segway
I know in my heart they think I'm white & nerdy
Think I'm just too white & nerdy
“What someone killed the last act?” Mercy asked.
“No, but the Stage and Drama Geeks are in a frenzy trying to sort out what died.”
“Well I’m nearly done here,” I pointed to the stack of papers.
“So who won?”
“Well for individuals, at third place I have Catwoman.”
“And second?” asked God.
“Is a tie of sorts, the two Sasami's.”
“They were cute,” conceded Mercy.
“Doctor Doom,” I pointed out a dark figure in armor.
“A Junior,” Mercy said with a sigh.
“What?” I asked.
“It’s always a Junior or Senior that wins.”
“They have had more practice,” countered God.
“I suppose. Groups?”
“Well for fourth place I have, The Batmen.”
“Collectively they were not bad,” said Mercy, “though I do like men in tights, rubber and spandex.”
“You don’t say,” said God with a wicked glint in his eye.
She blushed and reached behind me to hit God with a wing, “Pervert.”
“Yes? You rang?” asked God with a trio of halo’s appearing over his head.
“You are not innocent,” she muttered at him.
“Never claimed to be,” he retorted.
“Third place I have, The Zombie Cheerleaders,” I shrugged. “The gore was very well done from a technical stand point.”
“And from a mental stand point?” asked God.
“I kept getting the impression the crowd liked seeing them that way. Especially the Diva’s of Venus Inc.”
“Second place?” prompted Mercy.
“Well it’s not the Power Rangers or Team Kimba”
“Oh come on, Team Kimba did a good job, and anyone who can subdue Peeper and stuff him into a log… can’t go wrong,” protested God.
“I have to agree with the Omnipotent one,” said Mercy.
I gave them a mock glower, “Excuse me, who is chief judge here?”
“Ok, Ok, so who is it?”
“The Wild Pack, as assorted hero’s” I paused, “and the Leet Freaks with assorted evil doers.”
“So a tie at second place?”
“Annnnd?” drawled God.
“A tie at First Place, both on technical merits.”
“Technical merits?” asked Mercy.
“We have a group calling themselves the Outcasts as ‘the most improbably dressed crowd in the group and…” I drew out the last bit.
“Yes, woman spit it out,” said God.
“Team Kimba; for stuffing Peeper into a log, among other things.”
“Heh, well, they did have the largest group.”
“Now if we can persuade them to leave Peeper in the log…” I gave it glower as it wobbled by, “Know of any late night lumber companies?”
“Sadly no…” pouted Mercy.
“Any chain saw representatives in the vicinity?”
“Again no,” replied God.
“Shit,” I grumbled. “You would think of all the suits we have playing in the shadows ever so frequently, that we would have at least one hardware sales man.”
“I know where there is a fire axe,” offered Mercy cheerfully.
“I’ll take it,” I muttered darkly.
“Jimmy, you are not permitted to torment Peeper, that is Nikki’s job tonight,” God said with a smirk, “something about ceiling fans.”
Nightbane nearly slapped Egon when he started humming distractedly in the elevator. “Cut it out,” she hissed.
Eco-Tek bounced slightly on his feet, “Oh relax, the elevator is sound proofed, the cameras in it were deactivated last week, along with several other systems to it would be taken out of service.” He paused a moment and shrugged, “If you don’t relax now you’ll be too stressed for thinking clearly later.”
“Boy has a point, girl.”
“And that is?”
“First rule of the grunt, rest when you can; otherwise you’ll be dead and can rest forever later.”
“Yeah, but you don’t have time for the whole list, now shut up and relax.”
Nightbane gave Egon a glare, then forced her muscles to relax.
“Better. Now, Team Two you have your instructions once the catwalk perimeter is secure, confirm.”
“Confirmed.” The other team leader then took a few moments to check his team over, noting that nothing was loose or shiny. “We are dark.”
“Good hunting,” she said.
Then there was a near silent hiss as the door opened, the team leader point left then right and a pair of armored men stepped out to check and secure the corridor. There was a pair of matched puffs as air guns fired. A third man moved up and then waited for the kids to stop moving then he crushed out the smoldering cigarette. “Two sleepers, no problems.”
“Secure and move out.”
I want a girl with the right allocations
Who’s fast, thorough, and sharp as a tack
She’s playing with her jewelry
She’s putting up her hair
She’s touring the facilities
And picking up the slack
I want a girl with a short skirt and a long jacket.
I watched as a guy fumbled with his phone abruptly, then snorted as he looked around at the walls suspiciously. God snickered, “Busted.”
“His girlfriend is on security duty, watching the cameras.”
“Hah, it never pays.”
“True, remember that.”
“Oh I will, having a um. Ok, Bluejay is right, the usual dating pro-nouns will not work.”
Mercy chuckled “Try Significant Other.”
“Ok having a Significant Other as dangerous as Chimera,” I paused, “could be interesting.”
“I just hope she isn’t the jealous type.” God smirked, “Jimmy is popular after all.”
“Oh I think they’d be thrilled for them; besides only two or three of them are bi, I think,” Mercy chuckled thoughtfully.
“And speaking of a girl with the right allocations, there is Ms. Reilly and if I am not mistaken Stalwart.” God pointed with his cigar, “I am relieved there were no King Arthur Costumes available.”
“Well he does a good impression of Michael Flattery ala River Dance.” She sighed, “Ah love men in tights.”
I reached over and closed her mouth, “You are drooling hon.” I grinned as she scowled at me, “On the other hand if you stole him from Nikki, Bunny would love you forever,” I pointed out the scowling girl in the Washu outfit to her.
“Or the guys on campus would, and no few girls,” God pointed to the various boys who followed the couple with their eyes, much to their date’s annoyance.
“The staff is not allowed to mingle with the student body,” she quoted at me with what sounded like resignation.
“Well you just have to wait a few years, but by then Nikki may have him in wedlock or Bunny will have put him in a basket.”
“I may have to hunt down one of my old boy fiends,” she said after a moment.
“Don’t you mean friends?” asked God with a leer.
“No, I can only tolerate them for so long.”
“Ah,” I said and kept my mouth shut while grinning.
Englund frowned, “Crap.”
“Yes that was my impression as well,” stated the Sergeant as he splashed the light over the punctured casing and the blood.
“No way to reach Whateley?”
“No, frigging solar storm won’t even let us bounce a signal to a satellite and into the valley’s repeater.”
Englund sighed “Ok, back up and cover the hole, I’m going to toss a ‘cleanser’ into the hole, and then a flare… I do not think any thing is still there, but.”
“Better safe than sorry.”
Englund watched as the lasers snapped on and the dots centered on the edges of the hole then into it. He reached into his black leather duster and pulled out a sealed mason jar; the mixture of holy water, salt, silver and cold iron swirled as he shook it a few times. “Here goes: Three, two, one.” With an unflinching movement he hurled it deeply into the black.
He stepped back and he waited briefly as there was a loud splashing sound and a sizzle of something burning. “Flare now.” He announced as he produced a roadside emergency flare and then ignited it, “In it goes, lads.”
“You may want to back up Reverend.”
“Oh I intend to,” He inhaled and then hurled the flare into the dark hole, then he leapt back as something growled from deep inside of it.
“Flamethrower!” snapped the Sergeant as Englund scrabbled backwards.
There was a pop as a flame ignited from the nozzle, then the man braced himself and flooded the mouth of the hole with napalm. Something roared in pan and tried to crawl through the hole, only to be met with heavy weapons fire and a dark blue ray of light.
“Move it Rev!”
Englund threw himself into a roll and lunged over a pile of brush, as the team continued to cover the puncture with fire and something collapsed half in, half out of it. “Cease fire, cease fire!” the Sergeant called after a long minute of inactivity.
“Son of a bitch, what was that thing?” asked one of the men around a hacking cough. “Smells worse than fresh Kim-Chee.”
“You Ok Rev?”
“I’ve had worse encounters,” there was a chuckle at that pronouncement.
“Yeah, are we clear yet?”
Englund stood up then inhaled though his nose, “No brimstone, but definitely not pork.”
“Stinks like a roasted bug.”
“Hmm,” he paused and tried to ignore the slight ringing in his ears from the gunfire.
“You don’t seem thrilled Rev.”
“Well, any encounter you can walk away from intact,” he semi-quoted.
He looked past the still burning embers and splashes of still burning napalm and into the jagged hole, “Shit.” He backed up and turned to look outwards from the fires light, “Sorry lads, didn’t mean to curse.”
“Feel free,” offered the man with the flamethrower.
“Um Rev?” asked the Sergeant.
“We are not done lads,” he paused and sighed reluctantly,” Someone left that as a ‘surprise.’”
“So what escaped?”
“Something with wings, if what I remember is correct,” he frowned scowling at the night’s sky.
“Oh lovely,” drawled the Sergeant, “and how do we stop something that flies?”
“It’s not the wings that bother me.”
He pointed deeper into the hole, “It’s the odd script inside of that, of which reads ‘Opener of Ways.’”
“So we get to see more?” the Sergeant motioned to the odd thing that was bubbling noxiously.
“Well,” Englund sighed, “Something planted ‘that’, very likely after the other escaped.”
“Gee, so we have another rogue mage of some sort running loose in the vicinity?”
“Very likely,” Englund pointed off to the next ridge, “we should check the Vault.”
“Can we wait for daylight?” asked one of the men in all seriousness.
“I wish,” said Englund with a sigh. “I am hoping we’ll not find anything there, though of all the nasties in the vicinity; that one is the most worrisome, if you ask me…”
“One of the Lovecrofties?”
“No one is really sure it’s very old, almost older than the town of Dunwhich.”
“Oh it gets worse, it’s attached to the cavern under the Manor.”
“And tonight is Halloween,” Englund smiled tightly, “You do the math.”
“And not quite four hours to midnight, give or take…” The Sergeant sighed, “Mount up men, time to go earn that quadruple hazard pay.”
“The things I will do for a paycheck,” said the man with the flamethrower.
“God bless the almighty dollar?
Englund shook his head, “Tonight I’d rather have God blessing us.”
There's a crack in the mirror and a bloodstain on the bed -
There's a crack in the mirror and a bloodstain on the bed -
Oh you were a vampire and baby
I'm walking dead
Oh you were a vampire and baby
I'm walking dead
“Oh good, finally,” I motioned to the stage.
“What is the music getting to you?” asked God.
“Well, with all the oddities,” I frowned uncertainly, “I don’t see any of The Dead around and about.”
“That’s not unusual, is it?” asked Mercy as she glanced quickly around the room while briefly muttering something softly.
“Well the Heckler Brothers are not even here,” I motioned to a spot off to the left of the Alpha’s box.
I got the ways and means
to New Orleans, I'm going
down by the river
where it's warm and green.
I'm gonna have drink, and walk around
I got a lot to think about oh yeah oh yeah
God frowned, “From what I understand, they haunt the Dunwhich Movie Theater, right?”
“Off and on, but they never miss a chance to um, Critique, any odd act,” I frowned, “and I don’t recall seeing LeShawn’s Grandma either.”
Mercy snorted, “I don’t blame her for not wanting to see ‘that.’”
“That’s just it, even when I ‘ate him,’ she was there…”
“Hmm, well you are the expert,” God said thoughtfully.
They used to dance in the garden in the middle of the night
They used to dance in the garden in the middle of the night
They were naked as the day they were born
skin all bone-china white
Oh you were a vampire and I may never see the light…
“Uh Chief, is this normal?” the girl asked pointing at the monitor as static crossed it oddly, “See, right there?”
“Crap, someone is jacking with the cameras. More than likely someone is trying to get into the confiscated items locker. But I’ll get some one on it.” Delarose sighed, “Or a Devisor is after some parts for cheap, it happens.”
“Wonderful, now it’s on this monitor too.”
Delarose frowned, “And that one.”
“A bit much for Halloween isn’t it?”
“You would be amazed.”
I blinked as Axel wandered out to the center of the stage and blood started flowing out of the air as he started playing. “Shades of ‘Carrie,’” I muttered to Fuub, and then I frowned as he winked out in mid-nod.
“Evidently he doesn’t care for modern music…” she paused, “now what are the kids up to?”
“Beg pardon?” I asked in confusion.
“Oh I just felt this disturbing wash of magic,” she pointed over to where Circe was leaning unsteadily against the wall, “she looks sick as well.”
What's the world come to…
I glanced to stage where Sara was just now walking through the curtain of blood. “I think the blood is Bug’s doing… See?” I pointed to a disturbed looking bunny off to the left of the stage.
When every thing's going the way of the gun
Doctor Tenent shook her head as if trying to clear it, “Jimmy, can you get me a drink? I need to take some aspirin or something.”
“There are some in my purse,” I said as I handed it to her, “you may have to dig for it though.” I then stood up and sighed, “Not that it ever helps me much.”
“Not a problem, maybe it is the lighting?”
“Could be,” she sighed and started digging in my purse as I moved off.
I want you to know
Don't take it slow
Just come undone
And the sin will take hold
I can't hold it back
It's too much to ask
You know the way
You're up to the task
But please don't ever say
What's the world come to?
Up in the lights over the stage the team of professionals and the two kids started clipping in and preparing for the drop down to the stage. Eco-Tek handed a pair of odd looking ear plugs to Nightbane, “These will dampen out any sonics and allow you to hear and be heard, I saw Axel shatter glass one day with a single note, bullet proof glass.”
“Thought of everything?”
“Just trying to cover the bases.”
“When do we go?”
“After the last song, I checked the choreography book Mr. King left out so handily this afternoon; they will be about ten paces from stage front, and we’ll be behind them…”
“Blood everywhere, how appropriate,” Nightbane said while looking down.
“Just focus on killing the daemon bitch.”
I passed a pair of girls who were not quite cuddling in a darkened corner. One, I recognized as Chou, though the other girl I could not place. Though she did have the figure to pull off her outfit; it was a black cat suit with cute tiara-like ears and a tail that twitched enticingly when she walked. Part of me was tempted to wander over and tell them to get a room; though from the mischievous look on Ayla’s face as she deliberately headed towards them, I think she had that planned.
Nimbly sidestepping a few of the more energetic dancers, I was again grateful my footwear of the evening was flats. Otherwise I might have fallen, not that it would have hurt getting trampled accidentally would be bad.
“Is she alright?” asked the group of heroes and villains that were milling around a girl. I wandered over to see what the hubbub was about and saw them half supporting Mindbird.
“She said her head was killing her, then she kind of blacked out for a moment.”
“Excuse me,” I eased my way forward trough the group, “Doctor Tenent is at the judges table, you might take her there and off the dance floor,” I suggested.
Bobcat blinked at me, then he looked over to Stormwolf who nodded. “She’s right, Doctor Tenent is here and if it’s related.”
“Related to what?”
He just gave me a look that said I was being dense, “Earlier events.”
I shrugged, “In any case, the Angel of Mercy needs a drink,” I looked over my shoulder as I slid by, “evidently she’s a bit off from the lights or something.”
“Hmm, say Jimmy?”
“Yes?” I paused and looked back.
“Never mind I am just being paranoid, I think,” Stormwolf said with a frown as he glanced about the dance floor.
I grinned, “It’s Whateley, paranoia is healthy.”
He looked carefully around the room again and nodded, “You don’t say.”
In the Hummer there was a belch of static and then a crackle of flame as the radios and dashboard seemed to catch fire simultaneously. “Shit, park it, everyone out!” The Sergeant glowered as he waited for the Hummer to stop before opening the door and reaching for the fire extinguisher.
“Damnation,” muttered Englund.
“I am going to scalp me some kids,” said another man as he lifted the latches and then tilted the hood forwards, “I gotta pull the battery cable.”
The Sergeant banished the flames with a fire extinguisher and a mild curses. “Well fuck, how far are we from the Crypt?”
Englund looked around then pointed to a hill with a darkened large two-story house on top of it, “Well the Manor is there, the vault is down towards the gully behind it.”
“You sound like you are familiar with the place.”
He grimaced, “Always some damned fool trying to mess with things they aught not to. Which is how we ended up with having it fall into our hands.”
“Sounds like a tale for daylight and beer.”
“Daylight in any case.” Englund walked forwards a bit and frowned, “Do you smell that?”
“The gunpowder? Yes, though I chalked that up to our prior festivities,” the Sergeant glanced around and eased his hand down to his pistol.
“Say Rev, are you still familiar with the Squad Light Machine gun?” asked one of the troopers as he lifted it free and motioned him over.
“I dare say I’ll get real familiar in a hurry if I forgot.”
The other man grinned, “I heard that,” he motion to the Manor, “Normally I’d say go with an extra flame thrower, but.”
“It’s old and flammable and we’d prefer to see morning,” said another man as he strapped on a large backpack and started attaching the feed belt to a miniature Vulcan.
The Sergeant checked a pair of straps and then reached for a radio pack that was missing, “Ok, I know there was a radio here when we signed on shift.”
“SOP Sergeant,” the other man shook his head. “Why do I feel like we are being set up for something nasty?”
“This is Whateley, your are out in the darkness with monsters, no support and no radio, you tell me,” quipped another man.
Englund frowned and looked back to where the campus should lay. There was a low humming sound that made him look off to the west, “Did we have any air traffic scheduled?”
“Air Force has a few units out south west, Stealth’s and such.” The Sergeant looked over to where Englund was pointing, “Bit off course if it’s them.”
Englund shrugged as he shifted the extra weight of the machine gun from its sling, “Well in any case as long as it doesn’t drop down on us and spew out diabolical hell raising fanatics, it’s not our problem.”
“Yeah, well fanatics are easy, it’s the wee beasties we are hunting that has me concerned.”
“True, mind if I pray aloud?”
“Be our guest Rev, be our guest.”
Circe, was cursing or it sounded like cursing as she leaned against the wall near the punch bowl. “Problems?”
“Who, uh, hi Jimmy.” she looked around uncertainly, “Does something seem odd?”
“I could make a list, but then I am the oddest thing on campus most of the time.”
She rolled her eyes at me, “I felt strange for a moment, and then it was like something trampled all over my grave.”
“Doctor Tenent sent me over to fetch punch as she had felt ill too, and well Mindbird is out of sorts was well.” I shrugged motioning over to the judge’s table where a small crowd had gathered.
She frowned, “Well the Goths are here so it was not them playing with high magicks… again.” Her eyes crossed for a moment, “Once is circumstance, twice is chance, three times is someone mucking about.”
“So?” I prompted.
“I think I’ll go consult our resident witch, can you mind the punch?”
“Well I am sans purse, and tracker.”
“If something is afoot Jimmy-me-lass, I think you will be forgiven.” She picked up a pair of punch glasses, paused and winked, “Good luck with Yin and Yang.”
“Am I that blind?”
“Rumor and gossip travel faster than the speed of light.”
“Masters to Base, Masters to Base come in Base,” the security guard was bored, but that didn’t stop him from trying to maintain some semblance of presence.
“Trouble Officer?” asked Ms. Hartford after a moment.
“Likely nothing, its Halloween, kids being kids and all. If you pardon me, I’ll use the land line.”
“Ah yes the usual Halloween capers, it makes me grateful I volunteered to monitor the seniors this year. Last year the underclass men's party was a bit hard on the ears.”
“Well with luck it’ll stay mellow and ‘social’ here,” he tipped his hat politely, “Excuse me I have to make a phone call.”
“Of course, I don’t think we’ll have much trouble here, Tuxedos are expensive to replace after all,” she commented.
“There is that.”
As a student not quite shuffled up to the punch bowl I sighed and shifted to look like Circe, “Hoffman, what do you think you are doing?” I asked in her voice.
“Precisely young man, now hand over the bottle.”
“Would you rather spend your evening with LeShawn in the Pink Room?”
“Then hand it over, and I will pretend you did nothing, you have enough problems with your grades if I remember correctly.”
“Oh all right,” he handed me a bottle that was mostly clear with a black label that read Bacardi 151.
“Good grief, you know this stuff is flammable?”
“Not when diluted,” he said with a shrug.
I shook my head, “Go, scram.”
“Yes instructor,” he said nervously.
“Wait,” I said, “you would not know how LeShawn got drunk by any chance?”
He hesitated, “Someone was selling bottles, cheap.”
“Wonderful,” I sighed, “go on, and if you should remember who else had bottles, you might tell them to ditch them before I find them.” I paused and half growled, “Got it?”
“Yes Instructor,” he said before dashing into the crowd of dancers.
I spent a long moment trying to sort out what to do with the bottle when a voice coughed to my left. I looked over to Officer Owens, “Yes?” I asked.
“Isn’t impersonating an instructor against the rules?” he asked while holding out his hand for the bottle.”
“I sort of have permission,” I pointed over to the Judges Table, “she said to watch the punch, and that she wasn’t feeling that good.”
“Ah, well good catch in any case. It amazes me how this crap gets on campus.” He watched the boy wander to various figures and pause a moment before moving on. “Hmm six stops in one minute, that would be half a case.”
“Well the camera’s should record who he talked to and we can monitor them, maybe we’ll catch the culprit. In any case, I have to phone in a report. Good job, ‘Circe’.”
“Why not use the radio?” I pointed at his belt.
“Something screwy with the comms, happens every year.”
“Hey man, what'cha smoking?”
“It’s not Hay, man.”
There was a snicker, “I remember Sammy trying that too.”
The kid took a drag and passed the joint over, “Dumb fuck was sicker than a dog for a week.”
There was an inhale then a muffled cough, “Good shit man.”
“Been watching the Devisor's ‘War,’ I think the Blue team is ahead of the Green team.” He took back the joint, “So anything fun happening inside?”
“Nah, same old shit, crappy retro house music.” There was a pause, “Ohh, pretty lights,” he pointed off to the east.
“Oh wow, nice, it’s like when that green dude came down.”
“No moron, the other one, E.T.”
“Nah, more like that other movie.”
“I don’t remember.”
“You were wasted and trying to play the music back to the Mother ship with your armpit.”
“Oh yeah,” He passed the joint over, “I’m set tonight,” he said reaching under his t-shirt. Then moving his arm up and down he produced five notes. ‘Brrrp, brapp, biip, braaap, biit’.
“Oh wow man I think it heard you, see it’s floating this way.”
“Nah, you idjit, you’re just stoned. It’s parked on Hawthorn,” he took back the joint, “Think one of the Thornies phoned home?”
“Could be, wanna go meet them?
“Ok, but I get to be Will Smith,” the black youth produced a set a Raybans and put them on.
“Ah man that means I have to be the old fart.”
“Take a hit and forget about it, you ain’t black anyways.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot,” he said as they started moving toward Hawthorn.
“Ouch, shit, something bit me.”
“Fuck! Ok, who put a dart in my ass?”
“Ohhh, good shit man…”
“Yeah,” murmured the other youth as the pair semi sagged, semi fell down together.
The squad took a moment to ease the two boys deep into some shadows then worked to open a locked door on the side of the auditorium.
“Entrance secure,” softly radioed one man.
“Rodger, rodger,” was the mechanical reply over the radio as another set of shadows detached from one of the buildings.
“Should have made them smarter than that.”
“Agreed, now back to the job.”
The crowd cheered as the blood fell to earth with the end of the music, fading out of existence before it hit the floor. The front floods lighting up Axel and Sara for the first time clearly. Axel was wearing a deep blue pirates shirt and tan vest, along with black silk trousers that tucked into knee high black boots. While he didn’t go for the ‘Captain Jack Sparrow’ tri-corner hat, he did have a thin blue band ribbon that he wore about his head to keep the hair out of his eyes.
Sara waved to the crowd, and then stepped away from Axel. “All right! Thank-you, everyone. I’d like to dedicate this next song to the Alphas!”
I blinked and looked at the audience as the various social cliques worked through her pronouncement. Some of the crowed was looking instantly disgusted, another part had a general expression of waiting for the other shoe to drop, and well the Turks and other Alpha Posers were cheering like idiots.
Axel started off with a faintly familiar electronic hum that built into a very familiar and compulsive drumbeat. A moment later a heavy base riff started winding its way through the complex drumbeats. I watched as Sara grinned wickedly when one of the metal heads crowed his approval loudly from the audience, “The Beautiful People!”
I smirked and grinned up to the Alpha’s box where several shadowed heads seemed to be glaring down at the stage. They stood mutely in their box; though one seemed to be conducting the music with his puppet. “Well one person can take a joke,” I muttered.
Abruptly from my point of view the stage was crowded with giant Barbie dolls dressed in the usual Whateley uniform. I shook my head slightly when I noticed the ‘Alpha’ pins reflecting the light from each of the dancing dolls. Inwardly I groaned, ‘Oh that will go over well.’
As the tempo of the music picked up so did Sara’s dancing, along with the Dolls. I watched fairly enthralled as the cracks and paint started falling from the dolls until semi-naked skulls and bones peeked out. I heard a snicker and looked over to see Bloodwolf leering upwards.
“Something amuses?” I asked in Circe’s voice.
He laughed and shook his head, “Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy.”
I sighed, “How did you know?”
“The nose always knows, that and ‘you’ smell like Yin and Yin’s perfume, Circe usually smells of some really expensive exquisite stuff, and Myrrh,” he chuckled, then sobered up. “Something is up, isn’t it?”
“What do you mean?”
“See all the Instructors and the Capes?” he pointed to Judges table.
“Well Security carried Frank down to the tunnels and I think off to the Infirmary.” He paused, ”and it seems Mindbird is going that way as well, and not exactly under her own power.”
“More drugs?” I asked warily.
“I didn’t smell anything on them as I went by,” he shrugged, “and Le Carnival is not around either.” He tapped his nose, “So I don’t know.”
“Ah,” I looked around frantically, “Seems most of the major mind players are taking a break from dancing too.”
He shrugged, “Maybe someone had a Mind Storm and is broadcasting it.”
“Erg, the migraine from hell that you can share,” I silently counted my blessings that I was Null.
“There is that, so are you and Yin up to going out to The Howl later? If so I can tell Lodgeman, so your house mom doesn’t throw a fit, it is supervised.”
“Full Moon Party, with the rest of us shifters… and some of the Native Types” He grinned toothily at me, “Nothing radical, we just let the mood take us; just a bonfire, some drumming, singing, dancing and running in the woods.”
“Eating the occasional deer?”
“Not this close to campus, but occasionally.” He chuckled, “I’ve seen you eat steak Jimmy, if it’s half dead and dripping on your plate, it’s gone.”
“Guilty,” I said with a matching grin. “I’ll ask Yin and Yang later.”
“Cool, so where are they?”
“Hawthorn, I think they were commiserating and pissed at certain people.”
“Or a certain someone.” He shook his head, ”Happens, folks don’t understand shifters unless they are shifters,” he seemed to be quoting.
“Yah, somewhat.” He stared up at the stage as the dolls crumbed to dust with the end of the song. “Look, you bring Yin and Yang, it’ll be good for all three of you to get into some sort of community.”
“Sounds like an AA meeting, Were’s Anonymous?” I asked.
He laughed loudly, “Something like that.”
Headmistress Carson was sitting in her chair, feet neatly propped up on her desk quietly sipping tea. Her office stereo was at a volume she reserved for late evening hours and while not in a melancholic mood, she was listing to Opera. The Phantom of the Opera, not that screechy stuff sung in octaves rather than words. Otto, bless his heart had tried to find a ‘suitable public event,’ for a night out. But the headache afterwards…
She sighed and sipped at her cup of herbal tea, it was soothing blend she preferred when trying to unwind or think through problems with problem students. With a glance to her clock, she vindictively noted it was entirely too early to call certain parties. It never hurt to ensure your opponent was befogged with sleep before commencing an attack, verbal or otherwise.
She rarely indulged in petty tactics, but tonight’s antics with the unknown drug were disturbing. She smiled grimly, ‘and I intend to make my displeasure known.’ The war versus the drug use on campus was decades old, tonight though. Tonight it was alarming. With a glance to the report on her screen she scowled, G-Force, LeShawn had to mentally subdued, and then placed in the holding tank, of which he partially demolished; before further sedation was administered by force.
Shaking her head she took a sip and tried to estimate the forces he was currently calculated at generating. The she compared that to what his testing and other evaluations had produced. ‘Strength up by a magnitude of three, and his gravitic based powers were nearly quadruped.’ She pursed her lips and scowled, ‘this is a school not a drug-testing lab, and someone was going to pay.’
There was a pair of matched booms, shortly followed by a second pair scant seconds apart. She sat her tea down and blinked as the light from computer monitor winked out. There was a second pair of semi matching booms and the CD player skipped as the windows rattled fiercely.
She snatched up the phone and pressed the speed dial to Security, only to find silence on the other end of the line. A hurried check of her cell phone produced only a horrendous belch of static instead of a dial tone. A check of the Security handset only produced a similar shifting series of tones, she dropped the useless radio to the desk and tried to reach out to Louis, ~’Louis? Louis are you there?’~ She sent, and then she slammed up her mental shielding fiercely as a dimly fuzzed wall of pain reached back to ensnare her. “Fubar, what the hell is going on?”
As the CD player skipped one more time before the power in the room died abruptly. The visage of the vigilant Lady Astarte replaced the gentle and calm demeanor of Headmistress Carson. “I think that it is time to find out, don’t you?” she asked the empty room as she turned and pressed a panel that revealed a dimly glowing object.
Normally she kept her scepter of ‘Lady Astarte’ in the ultra secure vault deep below Whateley. An odd letter from Mrs. Potter, ‘suggesting that tools of the past be kept handy’, had prompted her to move it to a closer location, if not in her purse. She picked it up and pushed at it with her power; awakening it fully and changing her clothing to something more indestructible.
Amelia Hartford’s first clue that something was wrong; was when was when the Security guard started jiggling the handset of the telephone up and down rapidly. Her second indication of a problem was a distant rauctious buzzing that seemed to echo into the gymnasium from the outside doors. Followed by a series of dimly felt vibrations. Suddenly alarmed, she watched as the security guard quickly put his back to the wall and that he had he slipped the restraining snap from his pistol. As he looked about the room looked around frantically, she smelled it.
It was a faintly sulfurous smell, one she had encountered only in training. ‘It’s Tear Gas,’ she told herself, and then she moved quickly to the fire alarm. With only a brief hesitation she reached up and pulled the lever to pop the glass to press the alarm button. Frowning she pressed it several hurried times in succession, only to have no effect. Abruptly the power failed completely, a few faint emergency exit lights illuminating the entire gymnasium.
She opened her mouth to shout, but then she heard the unpleasant sounds of people starting to vomit, mixed with cries of dismay and outrage. With a few half steps to her left, she pressed against the emergency door handles only to find them blocked from the outside. With a hint of distinct panic she threw her weight against the handles to no avail. Forced to take a breath by her collision with the door she felt her intestines clutch and seize up in rebellion, it was then that she involuntarily joined the vomiting masses.
Bluejay ignored the knot of pressure that was pushing against his shields as he probed around. Something ‘smelled’ of death and pain, but there were also sharp predatory minds out and about; minds that were focused and determined. He risked a small probe to see through the eyes of the predators. He ‘looked’ out and was aware of the hallway outside of the private box. With a jolt he popped back and pushed a sharp message at The Don, ~’Be ready! They’re here!’~
~’Understood,’~ The Don sent back hurriedly and slammed his shields back up fully.
It was bare seconds before the door burst inward, kicked down a moment before parts of the ceiling collapsed on top of the Alphas milling around the enormous TV. Bluejay grinned manically and focused his power down into the intricately woven bag he held in his hand. ‘Show time’ he mentally whispered to the blue bird that was only visible to his eyes. As the four men in tiger striped armor nearly dropped on top of him, he slipped out of phase with the room, effectively leaving it but not leaving it. He found it amusing that the four men collectively poked at his previous location in evident consternation; as he hurried into an unoccupied corner.
He smirked as The Don had to grab Cavalier and Skybolt before they could move to defend him. “Wait! No Alpha make a move!” The Don shouted, “Do as they say, do not try to be a hero!”
Bluejay nodded slowly as Don calmly faced down the man who thrust a gun near his head. “You in charge here?” asked the man in armor, after which The Don nodded. “Right, tell everyone to lie down on their stomachs and put their hands behind their backs.”
Bluejay observed that one of the hopeful hangers on, was trying to press something just under the sleeve of her green velvet dress. ~’Easy girl, don’t draw attention to yourself,’~ he sent then watched her blink and slowly nod. He briefly scanned her mind quickly then sent, ~’Just go with the flow for now Phoenixfire, and keep an eye on Icebreaker. She’s handy just stay together and calm.’~
He watched the pair of auburn haired girls obey the soldiers and that Ashley ‘Phoenixfire’ Strum, of the fairly unproven team Star League Junior was looking thoughtful but calm. ~’Good, just follow The Don’s lead.’~ He paused and sent somewhat apologetically, ~’I’m here but not here, if things start to go bad I’ll have everyone in a safe place in a heart beat.’~
She looked dubiously about the room but nodded, he sent ~’We, among others, were expecting an attack on Sara Waite, not this. So I expect thing have gotten complicated.’~ At her questioning eyebrow he sent, ~’I can’t read you clearly in this state, just remember this: You cannot get into and be an Alpha without thinking, and make plans.” He smiled as she looked thoughtful and then she nodded slowly.
~’You will pardon me, but I have to keep an eye on things, just be calm and ready,’~ he sent and then focused his attention on the room and outward as things unfolded around campus. ‘I don’t like this.’ He paused then sent a message to The Don, ~’Something feels very off, how many men did they say there were going to guard us with?’
There was a pause then The Don sent back, ~’Much less than this. Looks like we were right, the Syndicate is messing around. Ok, Operation Clean-Up is a go. Don’t mess it up.’~
~’I’m not Tansy,’~ Bluejay sent back with a mental chuckle.
~’No, you are definitely not, she is easier on the eyes,’~ The Don sent back a mental smirk.
Bluejay rolled his eyes, ~’You wound me Mon Capitan.’~
~’Fuck this up and I may do more than wound you, if we survive it,’ he warned cynically.
~’Have you ever known me to make a bad call?’~
~’There is always a first time,’~ he warned.
Ashley blinked as the mental voice in her head winked out, and then she did her best to squelch the tremor of fear. Roughly her hands were forcibly pulled up and behind her back, as she lay prone. She quietly prayed that the gloved hands would miss the transmitter and radio built into her uniform sleeve. So it was with some relief that the odd manacles were placed on her wrists. ‘Well Mom, Dad, here is where all those stories of where you had to wait to act, get played out in my own stories…’
There had been a rumor of that Sara Waite had been attacked while she was in the infirmary, and other things; so what the voice told her made sense. What bothered her was if they wanted to kill her, why not just do it between classes or in the dark of night in her bed? Way too much effort is being expended for a simple hit. As her dad had rattled on and on about ‘how a good sniper only needs a place to shoot from and he’d be gone before you got there.’
‘So what are the obvious goals of all of this?’ she asked herself as she lay on the carpet next to her roommate.
“This song is for my best friend, Jade,” Sara breathed into the microphone.
The music started slow while the stage was still in darkness. I watched as a red and gold Easter egg rolled into view from the left of the stage, eventually coming to a halt in front of them, the only thing visible on the stage. After a moment of suspense, it started to wriggle; there was a moment of stillness broken by a few enchanted gasps. Then several cracks appeared in the egg and a small cabbit jumped out of the shell. “NYOW!” It pronounced to the crowd in greetings.
It’s greeting was greeted by several squeals from girls who evidently thought Ry-oh-ki was the cutest thing on the planet.
As the music revved up I was watching the various sky dancers with some amusement as Chaka made her way to the punch bowl. I made a swift change to become the Devil from the movie, ‘Constantine.’ “Looking to sell your soul? I have a wide variety of attractive packages.”
She blinked at the question then ruefully smiled, “Oh my boyfriend is being mooched on, again.”
She pointed up to where Superman and Lois Lane were sky dancing, “She got to come ‘with him,’ so he’s obligated to dance with her.”
I looked up just in time to hear Lilly, I forget what her last name was; badly quote: “You got me! Whose got you?” and watched as he broke out in a goofy smile.
“Gods I swear half the girls in this school think he is theirs…”
“Do I detect a hint of bitterness?” I asked her with a grin.
“Ok who are you?” she asked suspiciously.
“I’ll give you a clue, ‘If you can be anyone?’”
She blinked and took a step backwards, “Damn girl you’re good!” She shook her head with a grin, “or guy, so which are you really Jimmy?”
“Gender is all in the mind or body, doubly so if your body can’t remember what it was the day prior… or hour or minute.” I shrugged at her, “Identity is all in the mind.”
“So what is with the wall flowers all of a sudden?” she asked.
I glanced around and noted that most of the folks she indicated where the lesser psi’s of some sort or another. “Well I think someone is having a Mind Storm and is not able to shield.”
“I am not sure what the Froshes call it this year, but last year a major Psi had a near burn out and shared her pain with everyone, until they sedated her. Her nick name was Stormy.” I shrugged, “It’s evidently the migraine from hell.”
“Oh boy, I wonder if Nikki knows?”
“Well if her shielding is strong she likely turned it out.”
“Yeah, she’s dancing with Stalwart,” she made a gagging sound, “It’s so-o sweet.”
“And how many others would say that of you and Superman there?”
“It seems you are both chasing after the ‘boy scout’ type,” I offered.
“Speaking of chasing, I heard someone caught you.”
I swear it felt like I blushed down to my toes and quoted, “Evidently gossip is faster than light.”
“Ah ha, so the story is true,” she countered with a grin. “So where are the lucky shape shifters?”
“Dealing with cramps and stuff,” I shrugged, “mostly I think it’s the latter. They were both excited and frazzled slightly.”
“Could be,” I smiled, “I know I have the jitters still.”
“Ha, I’ll bet, see you around Jimmy,” she said with a wave, “I need to restake my claim on my boyfriend.”
“What, they have not figured it out?” I asked.
“Hell no, they’re dense!” she said indignantly, “Bloody damned poachers, all of them!”
A large two-headed black and white beast with wings writhed in pain on the mostly shredded carpet, amongst the remnants of the room. Briefly it would raise its heads and blast the area, trying to make the pain in its ears and head go away. The walls reflected the twin black and white rays harmlessly upwards to the ceiling where they dissipated in a loud thundering roar. It twitched and clawed miserably at the floor trying to dig away from the painful oscillations.
Sadly this circumstance was echoed in various forms through out the heavily fortified and reinforced structure. The only words were those of pain and anguished pleading for release or help. If they were capable of conscious thought.
Lady Astarte was rocketing through the sub-surface tunnels on her way towards security. She paused at an intersection and listened to the heavy droning that washed down from it, “Good gods what are they doing to my school?” She asked aloud and then fidgeted briefly, ‘Do I go for Louis or Security?’ She looked down the corridor that lead towards Hawthorn and that buzzed painfully. A second explosion of some sort shook the foundation of the school in her vicinity, ‘Sorry Louis, I think I am out numbered here, time to get reinforcements.”
With an obvious look of pained regret she turned and raced towards a tunnel that would open up behind security, “If any of those kids die, there will be hell,” she promised aloud.
“Stay down Reverend!” The sergeant shouted as he unclipped a pair of grenades from his belt, with a practiced motion he jerked the pins from both and then sent one into the pit, waited three seconds and dropped the second one in as well. “Grenade!” he shouted aloud to warn the rest of the group as he covered his ears.
There was a delay then a blast echoed up from the grotto, followed by roar of pain, then a second blast.
“Is it dead yet?” shouted one of the men as he stood up and aimed down into the area below.
A wash of unearthly flame washed up as his partner pulled him back to safety, “I swear Hicks, you are a fucking idiot!”
“Ok, we know it’s not dead yet,” Hicks said as he dropped down and reached back to pull out a claymore mine and a separate detonator.
The Sergeant rolled his eyes, “You are not the Dead Man, and you won’t come back to life in three days if you end up fucking dead! Moron!”
Englund reached into his own pack and produced a large silver cross, of which he dropped down into the hole, causing the beast below to roar in affront and fear. “We appear to have annoyed it…”
The Sergeant looked over to him blandly, “You don’t say.”
I watched as the Tenchi Muyo Universe holograms faded out to reveal Axel and Sara still standing in center stage, bowing graciously. For a time it seemed as if the roar of approval almost matched the rumble of the music a minute before.
“Thank you!” Sara shouted into the mike, waving one hand to try and get the audiences full attention again. “Thank you! We have one more number for you tonight. This one’s for all of you.”
The lights dimmed in the auditorium and the distinct backdrop of New York at night. The twin pillars of light rising up from the place where the Two Towers once stood were the brightest light from the stage. Then a soft spotlight illuminated Sara and Axel as he began to play and Sara softly sang;
The crowd was slightly entranced as the moon over the cityscape burst into a flaming sun. Recognizable heroes and villains from all the major comic books and some from of the past leapt out into the streets from telephone booths, doorways and windows to do battle. Then a ghostlyChampion appeared standing in one pillar of light, then a ghostly Christopher Reeve appeared in the second.
I noticed more than one slightly teary eye as the crowd slowed and fell into the slow pacing of the song. Sizzle was leaning against one of her friends and seemed to be crying openly, and then I remember that she had lost an uncle in the attack on the World Trade Center. Her friend wrapped her in a hug and then several of her friends came over and it turned into a group hug around her.
While technically illegal, several dozen hands sprouted lit lighters and others with their powers glowed or sent silent fire up as well in the darkened arena. Slowly the auditorium was illuminated by hundreds of small lights, almost like candles weaving in the night or stars on a black field.
High above the stage Eco-Tek sighed, “Pity we’re going to ruin this.”
“You are not having second doubts are you?” semi-asked, semi-accused Nightbane.
“Oh not about killing the Daemon, just the moment,” he shrugged. “I am patriotic, live with it.”
The tiger stripped soldiers looked down onto the stage seemingly lost in thought, then their leader spoke, “Thirty seconds,” and they seemed to snap into instant alertness.
I was applauding madly with the rest of the crowd, watching as Sara and Axel step into a single spot of light where they hugged and bowed to the audience among the cheers. Flash bulbs were going off like mad, and then a pair black masked and dressed figures stepped into view on the stage. One dramatically drew a long golden colored sword from a scabbard on her back and pointed it at Sara; the other pointed some odd weapon in her direction as well.
Then more figures with guns stepped into view, all pointing at Sara and Axel. At some unseen command there was a hail of gunfire and I watched as if in slow motion as Axel crumpled roughly to the floor. Sara seemed to blur as she arched away from Axel and out the back of the stage, her opponents were briefly caught flatfooted and then they bolted after her.
There were a series of rough booms, as the room seemed to shudder, I looked up just in time to see the roof peal apart and something hovering over the hole it produced. There was a sharp loud tone, then my world turned inside out.
I’d been hit by ultra-sonics before in one of the more unpleasant training sessions I had endured this year. But admittedly as I lay there on the floor, it took some time to concentrate hard enough to change out of a form that could not hear them. All around me I could feel the sound grating against my body like ten thousand chalkboards being scraped loudly or steel being ground though my body and against a harder surface.
I formed an eye stalk up out of my mass and gazed around as the room was assaulted by two different sets of armored figures. One group in some sort of tiger striped power armor with gold lion-face face guards. The others were a vague mix of Cy-Borg and robotic parts, mostly lacking in humanity, though they had some sort of black and white coloration applied all over them. I oozed under the table leaving my eye out from under the cloth that covered it. Hardly heroic, true, but it was better than drawing unwanted attention. Like Tennyo was doing as she scooped up a Goth girl and Axel from the stage, before crashing through a glass partition under a hail of gunfire.
Under the constant barrage of the sonics I was hard pressed to think clearly, surely someone was going to be doing something. Unfortunately it seemed that the various soldiers were sorting out the different threats. I watched helplessly as they shot both Circe and Dr. Tenent with some sort of air gun, then the same group singled out others I recognized as either teacher or Ultra-Violents like me, and darted them as well. Admittedly it was sound tactics on their part, but it pissed me off somewhat royally; someone had way too much information on the students.
Watching cautiously I saw Chaka ditch her headpiece and tail, quickly shoving them under the banquet table. When she stood up, I about sent a tendril out to jerk her under my table. I literally blinked my eye as she turned and threw one of the armored soldiers into another. She seemed to be weaving oddly as she did so, which reminded me of a film. Then it clicked, that she was using some sort of drunken fighting style of Kung Fu. ‘Jeez, I guess I am not the only Jackie Chan fan in the house tonight.’ I thought then looked around, as someone seemed to be firing some sort of odd ray gun around the room.
I had to take a moment to look for the shooter, only to find Chou in a corner covering the retreat of a very large black panther-like cat as it carried the cat girl away like a kitten. A very, very large cat. Since I didn’t think Bengal was about tonight, it had to be someone or something that was not a shifter. Oddly enough that didn’t bother me, what bothered me was the fact that it seemed that the robot guys were herding Akira and the rest of the Power Rangers up against one of the walls. I felt a frown form as both Team Kimba and the Power Rangers were both doing Tenchi, and that the robots were trying to kill Team Kimba or at least were shooting at them.
I quickly popped out a few extra eye stalks and tried to find the rest of Team Kimba. I ignored the odd feedback as the sonics seemed to ramp up in intensity. I was feeling partially good as it was sort of soothing, almost massage like, and annoyed as it seemed to interfere with anyone doing anything. I found Where Greasy and Peeper had evidently fell to the floor and I saw a foot near them, so I guessed that one of the TKer’s was downed by them. I watched as Chaka drop kicked a soldier though a door and not quite sprawled on Akira as he lay under it. I was really wishing I could afford to listen, as I really would have liked to know what she was saying to him. But having ears seemed like bad thing at the time.
I winced abruptly as one of my eyes was poked by what only could be described as a small drunken pixy. I blinked and watched as it pointed towards the floor over and over and over and then it pointed abruptly at the two logs. I looked there to see a robot-like man trying to shuffle the logs away from her. There was an abrupt blinding rainbow colored flash of light as the soldier was suddenly driven back by a flurry of small attackers. I wasn’t sure what the point of multi-colored Squirrels dressed in Leprechaun suits was, but it seemed to be highly effective. At least the squirrels were armed with small black clubs, though they seemed to be slightly indiscriminate as to their targets and I winced as one walloped one of the floored teens randomly.
When the pixie poked me again, I realized that it looked like a nude version of Nikki Riley, with rainbow colored wings. I can only say to my fault that I am occasionally slow on the uptake: However, I was fighting with the odd sonic massage, a pixie that was poking me, and an odd memory of a swarm of such creatures in Hawthorn. Spoof had created them when he fell in puppy love with Nikki. I racked my brain for a moment, and then remembered that Spoof had the flu, and was in Hawthorn, not at the party. Which meant if he was able to project a pixie to here, he’s either had a power burst or he sent them out to get help…
I felt monumentally stupid for a moment, and then started to secrete acid as fast as I could. I was hoping I didn’t hit a power cable on the way through the floor, but technically I was over the pool, one long drop below the gymnasium floor. So I watched in semi-helplessness as my body focused on eating a hole through the floor. As a fresh soldier started stalking towards Nikki, so I poked the pixie and aimed it at the solider. it seemed to get the hint as it snarled and streaked literally off. I briefly grinned as the pixie stuck a small sword into neck of the soldier, briefly causing the soldier to jerk as if stung by a bee. Unfortunately as I watched helplessly the soldier raised his rifle at her; and then I uncontrollably plummeted downwards.
Don’t you just hate Cliff Hangers?
More in part two
Song Credits / Recommended Play list
(Some of which did not show up yet or were just played to death…)
YMCA - By the Village People
Everyone Wants to Rule the world - By Tears for Fears
Somebody Told Me – By The Killers
You Learn – By Alanis Morissette
Bloodletting - By Concrete Blonde
People are People - By Depeche Mode
Hunters of the Night – By Mr. Mister
Something in the Air – By Information society
Short Skirt, Long Jacket – By Cake
Daria - By Cake
Flagpole Sitta – By Harvey Dangerous
Basket Case – by Green Day
MIB – Will Smith
White & Nerdy – By Weird Al
Ten Thousand Fists – By Disturbed
What's the World Come To – By Zak Belica
The Beautiful People – By Marilyn Manson
I'm a Pioneer – Techi Muyo, English version. Vocals by Sharyn Scott
I’m a Pioneer – Joy Electric
Superheroes - By Ed Guy
Down to the Devil – By Ed Guy
Little Miss Dangerous – By Ted Nugent