A Whateley Academy Tale
by Maggie Finson
Peter Benedict watched the building carefully for any signs of activity. Seeing a most satisfying lack of that, he then gestured for his companions to come out of hiding and into the small clearing in the woods behind the school dormitory called Poe Cottage.
"I'm still not so sure this is a good idea, Peter." Claire Evangaline whispered as she took her place in the forming circle around their leader. "What if she wakes up while were doing this?"
"Then we'll have established the rapport, and control, we were hoping for with her." Peter straightened until his full six feet five inches was erect and directly in front of the diminutive, but very well put together acolyte. "Don't worry yourself, Claire. If she comes to us, I can handle her."
"Sure." Boyd Fleming, a short, heavy set young man nodded with a derisive little grin. "Just like those ninjas handled her."
"They didn't know what they were dealing with here." Peter returned in a hiss. "We do. This is our only chance to influence the future of all Earth. If The Queen to Come can be convinced that we deserve her favor, then when the old gods return our positions in the new order will be assured. I'm sure she won't quibble about our methods once she ascends and is able to see how we were instrumental in helping her."
"Or be really, really pissed because we forced the issue on her." Edie Sanchez put in quietly. "You didn't see what she can do Peter. I did. This girl is almost a force of nature already and we're meddling with things we can't even begin to understand with her."
"Precisely the reason we need to exert what control we are able to get now." Peter responded then waved any more doubts aside. "We've been over this so many times I could recite every objection and its counter by rote. All of you agreed to take part in this venture knowing the risks and potential gains for us. Now be quiet, get into position and get ready."
The other five formed the points of the Sacred Star (pentangle) with Peter in the center as both an anchor and the focus of their combined energies. Those reached into pockets concealed inside their ceremonial robes and withdrew colored crystals. A different color for each of them and they began concentrating on their individual stones without another word.
Nodding in satisfaction as he saw the five crystals around him begin to softly glow, Peter withdrew a large, clear and flawless quartz sphere and held it above his head. Five beams of light in the colors of the crystals they emanated from converged upon the crystal Sphere in Peter's upraised hands. The centerpiece of the glowing five pointed star began to pulse with a rainbow of cascading color and a barely discernable hum emerged from it.
The six members of a fringe subculture often called Crystal Wavers by their detractors, or The Next Step by themselves began chanting softly as the focus of their efforts brightened with the combined power of all the crystals and its own.
"Ohhh." Nikki groaned as she abruptly roused from sleep for the third time in as many nights. "I'm really getting tired of all this shit. First those ninjas thinking they could make fools of us, then I complete my sex change years ahead of any projected schedule, and was sicker than a dog who got into the chocolate when that happened. Then I have PMS, and a damned messy period. All within the last three or four days. With someone interrupting any rest I might get at night on top of all that other crap. Someone is going to PAY for this one!"
"Hurmmp?" Toni cracked open one eye to see a clearly enraged Nikki, or in that case Fey, still in her flowing violet nightgown and crackling with suppressed energy while she was moving purposefully towards the door. "Where you goin' Nikki?"
"To find some chanters." Came the bitten off reply. "And let them know that I don't care for their music at all!"
"Oh maaan." Toni mumbled, tumbling out of bed and grabbing a robe to follow her roommate. "I thought we were done with this PMS stuff. For this month anyway."
"Tennyo!" A hand shook her then quickly withdrew as the Asian girl who looked suspiciously like a rather famous Amine character snapped awake. "You've got to come with me. Nikki's at it again!"
"What?" Tennyo grumbled, then looked up at a half dressed Toni who was clearly agitated about something. Then what the other had said dawned on her. "Again? What's she doing now?"
"Says she's going out to find some chanters..." Toni shuddered. "And tell them how much she loves their music. Energy is crackling all over her too. Fey is out in all her glory, or whatever, and believe me, she is Majorly Pissed Off."
"How pissed off?" Jade's sleepy voice entered the conversation.
"Umm -- the kind that might have her tearing holes in walls to get at whoever it is she's after." The black girl replied. "I've never seen her this mad, not even when she was at the worst of her PMS!"
"Oh boy." Jade sighed. "Aren't we ever going to get a decent night's sleep around here? I'll get Hank, you two get Ayla and let's go find her."
"She may be walking into a trap." Toni worriedly told the others. "All the chanting and the dreams may be setting her up to walk into something just like she's doing. We have to hurry!"
As the chanting rose in pitch and tempo Peter felt a tingle that grew into an almost electrical shock from his crystal as it reacted to something that hadn't happened before in this venture.
Just as he was about to warn the others to be ready an apparition with long flame red hair whipping in a wind that no one else felt and clad in a flowing silk gown of a violet that just about glowed, stalked into the clearing. Suddenly he realized it wasn't the gown, but the figure it covered that was glowing. And crackling with barely suppressed energy
"Hey!" The breathtakingly lovely girl planted delicate hands on her hips and screamed. "Can you tone it down? I'm trying to get some sleep here!"
"The Queen to Come! The Queen to Come!" The group chanted even louder. Nikki winced, then went glassy eyed for a moment and stopped moving at all.
"It's working!" Peter encouraged his followers. "Keep at it and we'll have control of the new Faerie Queen!"
"What in the world are you talking about?" The flame haired beauty questioned while shaking her head to clear it. "And will you stop with the noise already? I have a killer headache, I'm tired out, and worse, I'm having my period. So I am not in the best of moods as it is."
Nikki felt the thickness in her thoughts return as if she were groggy from just waking up in the morning, but more intense. As the chanting rose in volume, she felt five tendrils creep into the very fabric of her being. She knew that they bode her no good, but she could barely focus enough to keep them from digging in any further.
Then a piercing shout shattered the late night still. "Kiiiiiiii- YAAAAA!"
The Coveners were also snapped out of the intense trance that they'd needed to keep the young woman under control. The crystal orb resonated with the sound of the cry, its vibration changing the 'tone' of the energies channeled through it, but miraculously, it didn't shatter. Peter whipped his gaze from the crystal sphere to the source of the rattling shout. Toni was standing there in her pale silk kimono, Tennyo was floating a foot off the ground, a ball of energy forming in her hands, and Hank was picking up a very large stone, the thrill of combat showing in his face. "Damn! It's her friends! Get her back under control! It's the only way that we can keep those stupid kids from spoiling everything!"
Finally able to deal with people who were obviously the ones who had been ruining her sleep for the past few days, Nikki lashed out. She traced the threads back to the floating orb, even as they began to reach out for her again. Casually, almost reflexively, she reached out for them, snared them and sent the energy travelling down them like wires back to their source.
With unexpectedly spectacular, if typically strange results.
Tennyo had chosen that moment to lunge forward, reshaping the ball of energy into a sword like she'd used several nights earlier against the ninjas. Intuiting that the large orb in the center of the group was the dangerous one, she slashed at it with all her might and connected.
The large crystal in the leader's hands vibrated, whined as if it was living thing being beaten, and shattered into thousands of iridescent shards that went whirling off in every direction imaginable.
The rock that had been in Hank's hand zipped through the air to impact right in the middle of all that as the once quiet hum rose into a screech of discordant notes.
Under several different kinds of attacks the lines of energy that had been feeding the focus crystal rebounded into the smaller ones, which promptly exploded as the larger one had. After that things got really weird.
Nikki, a bit wide eyed at the chaos her friends and her own defensive reflex had caused simply sat down to watch what would happen next with a big grin on her lovely face. The expression wasn't at all pleasant to see.
It was fairly clear that whatever danger there had been for her was pretty well negated once the crystals had been destroyed, but Tennyo was still in the middle of whatever was going on, and it didn't look like such a good place to be just then. With a quick loop and tug of lines, she literally yanked the Asian girl out of the now pulsing circle and back to safety then settled back to watch the fun.
Lines connecting the six figures to one another pulsed, throbbed, changed color, thickness, texture, and even locations on the bodies they were attached to. Those bodies, three male, three female danced around as if they were being electrocuted on a hill of angry red fire ants that were crawling all over them.
"Hey!" Toni raced over to her and stopped so abruptly a screech of brakes could almost be heard. "You ok, Nikki?"
"Umm, yeah." The seated redhead shrugged then let out a small giggle. "Now these guys, I'm still not too sure about, though."
"What did you do to them?" A breathless Tennyo questioned between gasps as she too joined the group.
"Nothing." Nikki shrugged again, then at the look the others gave her added. "Well, not much, anyway. They were trying to bind me or something like that. With crystals that were throwing lines of energy into a bigger one that was throwing them at me. I was getting really sleepy when you guys showed up. Thanks for the help, by the way, then something inside me blocked, ok, make that cut the lines from the crystals to me, then I woke up and just kind of tossed the loose lines back to them."
"Just kinda TOSSED the lines back to them, huh?" Toni shook her head. "So what's happening to them now?"
"I don't really know." Nikki answered honestly. "The crystals shattered, and now their own lines are going nuts from the backlash, I guess."
"Ya know, Nikki?" Tennyo quietly put in from behind them. "You're kind of scary at times."
"Look at it this way." Hank put in. "At least she didn't say 'Ooops' this time."
His security team was actually getting used to weird calls in the middle of the night, even the new guys, Franklin Delarose proudly thought as they answered yet another call. "Well, boys, one thing to keep in mind. This job is never boring."
"Oh, maaan.!" Tom groaned. "It's that redhead again."
The other team members warily surveyed their surroundings for anything, anything at all, that seemed out of place. Like animated chattering teeth for example. When none became evident most of them let out sighs of relief then turned back to watching the show. "Are those people in robes dancing around in all that fuzzy light?"
"Looks that way to me." Frank agreed.
"Well shouldn't we step in this time?"
"Tom." Delarose gently answered. "Do you really want to walk right into whatever that is before we figure out what might happen to us when we do?"
"Well, now that you mention it..." Tom replied with an audible gulp. "They -- umm -- don't seem to be getting killed or anything, do they?"
"Good observation." Frank nodded as he chuckled. "But they sure are doing one helluva dance right now. It would be a real shame to interrupt them before their ritual or whatever it is finishes up, wouldn't it?"
Peter was sure they had her, when all at once her friends showed up to spoil things. Worse, the girl's large violet eyes snapped open in blazing fury and the lines of the binding were ripped loose from her aura and almost negligently thrown back at him. Then his own crystal, the master stone that had taken him years to find, then shape, then imbue with power began vibrating in his hands, screeched, and literally exploded when the living Anime creature hit it with a glowing sword of some kind. Then a rather large rock whizzed through all that chaos and stirred things even more.
The lesser stones held by the others succumbed to the backlash and gave up the ghost, so to speak just as quickly. For a brief few moments his small group appeared to be in the wrong spot during a Fourth of July Fireworks display as the lesser stones added their own explosions to the force that was still rocking him. Then things really went to Hell in a hand basket.
Instead of dissipating once the crystals were shattered, the energy around them increased, with howling winds and impacts on his person that he knew weren't physical but were still forceful enough to stagger him. Worse, the energies were cocooning the others in auras of resplendent appearing color that was quite obviously causing them more than a bit of difficulty. With a shock he realized that his own limbs were now covered with dancing, flashing, St. Elmo's Fire or whatever the stuff was. And the girl was actually sitting down as if she intended to watch her handiwork with no worries at all about them retaliating. This development was one he didn't like at all.
"We have to fight this..." he started shouting to his followers. A wrenching twist in his vision and other perceptions put a stop to that for a moment then he finished in a voice that was certainly not his own. "Turn away from her eyes... eeep!"
Peter finally found out what it felt like to handle Claire's magnificent breasts. Only some of the thrill was gone when he was the one getting felt up. The wrench returned momentarily and he discovered how it felt to be shorter, stocky, but happily male for a short time. He then found himself inside the petite and svelte body of Edie Sanchez. Then Charlie Cunningham's lean frame, then into Elise Coltraine's sexy dusky form with it's long, luxuriant hair.
Things continued like that for what seemed an eternity of whirling merry-go-round exchanges until the force gradually diminished and ground to a grudging halt. Unfortunately, Peter discovered that he was going to have what appeared to be an awful lot of time to explore Claire's body now that things were over. From the inside. He let out a small gasping scream before fainting as the prospect loomed in his still fuddled mind.
"Weird bunch." Tom commented as the pyrotechnics died down and the odd robed group began another kind of dance. The women, in shreds of their once all concealing robes frantically felt themselves up, stared at nothing in general for a brief time, then screamed before collapsing into graceful heaps. The men, not to be outdone, were thumping their chests, opening their flies, and staring in mixed disgust and amazement at their sexual organs.
"Yeah, it sure is." Frank agreed, getting up and heading in the general direction of the now quiet group. "Let's round them up. We can charge them with trespassing and indecent exposure for starters, then figure out who they are."
"Umm, somebody wanna tell me what just happened here?" Hank cracked his knuckles while eyeing first the group of robed weirdoes being rounded up by security, then at the girls.
"Ask her." Jade gestured towards Fey. "Nikki is the one all this was for. I haven't got a clue."
"They were trying to bind me." Nikki let out a long shuddering sigh. "To their will or something and kept spouting something about The Queen to Come in the chants that were keeping me awake at night. When Toni's shout broke the binding, Tennyo hit the big crystal with her energy sword and your rock messed up the energy flows I was able to send the power back at them somehow, and all their magic, or whatever, backfired on them once I did."
"Uh huh. Right." Hank nodded. "Now what really happened?"
"It's true." Nikki shrugged, then let a tiny devilish grin show. "But I think the lot of them switched bodies during all that mess."
"Switched bodies?" Jade questioned with near disbelief in her voice.
"Yeah. Like the guys all went into the girls, and vice versa." Nikki shuddered. "I don't know how it happened, really I don't, must have been from the backlash or something when their crystals blew up. I just felt it happening is all."
As the members of the group were led past the members of Team Kimba, all of them fixed Nikki with glares of both anger and fear.
"Hey!" Nikki hollered at them. "I did ask nice for you to quit. But you wouldn't do that. Noooo! So don't go glaring at me and blaming me for your idiot plans going into the pot."
With that the beautiful redhead rose, dusted off her bottom with both hands, and turned back towards Poe Cottage.
"Where do you think you're going, miss?" One of the security guards tried stopping her.
"To get some sleep. Finally." Nikki glared up at him. "Unless you plan on keeping me from doing that."
"Uh, Tom." Captain Delarose interrupted the incipient confrontation. "Maybe it would be best if we talked with her sometime tomorrow?"
"You idiot!" Delarose whispered to him. "This is the girl who blocked those ninjas from escaping, and from what I've managed to get out of our -- um -- guests, she just managed to destroy six power crystals without blinking an eye. Now if she really wants to sleep, I wouldn't keep her from doing it when she could just as easily come in and file a report in the morning. Of course, the choice is yours..."
"Oh, yeah, right." Tom moved aside, tipping his hat a bit sheepishly. "You go right ahead and get some sleep miss. I'll personally have the complaints ready for you to sign on these bozos in the morning when you come in to give us your statement. Will that be ok?"
"My pleasure." Nikki gave him a brilliant smile that had him both melting and, embarrassingly, stiffening all at once. "See you in the morning, officer Tomikz."
"That one is going to be a real handful." Tom muttered while watching her walk away with a sway to her hips that no fifteen year old should be considering, let alone doing.
"Yup." Frank gave him a pat on the shoulder. "But look at it this way... It's going to be a real interesting four years while she's here."
Frank Delarose looked up from contemplating the first, and only full cup of coffee he would allow himself for the day while wishing that his doctor wasn't quite so draconian in what he did and didn't allow his patient to have.
To see a vision of almost unearthly beauty enter the office wearing a sleepy, but mostly contented expression on her elfin face. He set the coffee down and rose from his desk with a smile. "Good Morning, Miss Reilly. I hope you managed to get some decent sleep after the excitement last night."
"A little." The girl smiled wanly while fussing with the green cotton sundress she was clad in. "I still feel like I could use another two or three days worth of it, but at least I didn't have any dreams last night. Which is a plus, I guess."
"I gather you're here to sign those complaints?" Delarose questioned after giving her a sympathetic nod.
"Yes, and to see the people I'm signing them on, if that wouldn't be a problem." She replied with a small grimace. If they're still here, I mean."
"Oh, they're still in our lockup." Frank told her with a frown. "But they are acting strange. Say they are all in the wrong bodies. Did you have anything to do with that last night?"
"Only a little." She shrugged. "When their crystals blew, everything kind of went south in a real hurry."
"Yeah, I noticed." Frank grinned. "That seems to be a habit around you and your friends already. Are we going to be seeing you in this office a lot in the future?"
"I hope not." Nikki grimaced. "Things just kind of fell on us over the past few days, if you know what I mean. Sorry about all the mess and stuff."
"Happens." Frank shrugged. "Especially with new kids. Just not in such spectacular ways as a rule."
"Umm, I have some meetings and my examination to get to pretty soon." The redhead pointed out. "Do you think we could get to what I came here for without me seeming to be really rude?"
"Oh, sure." Delarose pulled his eyes away from the exotically beautiful and alluring girl while reminding himself that she was one of the students he was there to protect. "Follow me and I'll get you the paperwork to sign, then have Tom take you to the holding cells."
"Thanks." Her smile seemed to light up the already bright room, and Frank almost wearily got the uncomfortable feeling that he was going to be seeing a lot of the girl in his office. She just attracted attention without trying, and that included trouble from what he'd seen over the past few days.
"Magical Harassment and Attempted Magical Coercion, plus Attempted Subversion of a minor through magic." Nikki shook her head at the list of charges on the complaint form and grinned.
"Don't forget that we're charging them with trespassing, disturbing the peace, and indecent exposure." Officer Tomikz, good as his word the previous night, had all the paperwork ready for the girl to sign. "In the school's behalf, of course."
"Sounds good to me." Nikki nodded while signing the document and being careful to use the name Nichole instead of Nicholas when she did. "Will these charges get them into a lot of trouble?"
"Oh the trespassing, indecent exposure, and disturbing the peace should only result in them paying some hefty fines." Tomikz shrugged, then grinned at her. "But if the charges you're signing off on here stick, they could be looking at some really serious jail time."
"Oh, well, I'm still mad enough at them not to feel sorry over that." The redhead nodded with a halfway evil glint in her violet eyes that altered to amusement in seconds. "Are they still all mixed up, body wise?"
"So they claim." Tomikz answered with a shake of his head. "And they seem to be pretty adamant about it, too."
"I don't think they're making it up." Nikki giggled, then blushed. Giggling was still something she wasn't used to hearing come out of her mouth. "I noticed some really weird things happening when their crystals blew up last night."
"Something you call weird?" Tomikz closed his eyes while trying to picture that, given what he already had seen happening around the little redhead in something less than a week. "I think I'll just leave that one alone, then."
"Good idea, Tom." Delarose put in with a small chuckle while nursing his coffee.
"Can I see them, now?" Nikki questioned almost innocently.
"I don't suppose it could hurt anything." Delarose shrugged, then gestured to a door farther back in the offices. "They're back there."
Nikki followed Delarose back to the cells to see three disheveled young women in one, and three equally mussed up males in another. One of the women, a blonde with a very good figure and very pretty face stood awkwardly and walked carefully to the doors of the cell with a slight grimace of discomfort. "Give me my body back, you little.."
"Be nice Miss Evangaline." Frank interrupted the tirade before it could even get properly going and the woman winced.
"I am NOT Claire Evangaline!" She insisted while glaring at Nikki. "I've told you that I'm really Peter Benedict, or was until she did whatever it was she did to us last night!"
"And that's Ms. Evangaline, thank you." The tall, thin man in the next cell put in with a feminine lilt in his voice."
"Whatever." Frank waved that off almost impatiently as he watched the little redhead apparently examining something on each of the prisoners in his holding cell, then shake her head with a sigh.
"Well, I think you'd all better get used to being who you are now." Nikki answered quietly, then shrugged. "It was backlash from your crystals combined with about a hundred other factors that caused the switches. You guys are so tangled up there's no way I could ever get all the things sorted out. I don't know if anyone can, but I'm not all that experienced with this kind of thing."
"You mean you're just going to leave us like this?!" The young woman almost screamed.
"Weren't you just listening?" Nikki sounded a little exasperated as she glared back "I can't do anything about what happened. I just told you that!"
"Please?" Claire, or Peter was almost begging.
"Told you already, so I'm not going to do it again." The redheaded teen sighed, then turned another glare on the distraught woman and her companions. "What I Will tell you is what I meant to when I first came here. There is something all of you might want to consider before you try anything with me again..."
"What would that be?" A slender black woman with a thick fall of luxuriously wavy hair questioned almost diffidently.
"Well, if I really do happen to be this Queen to Come that all of you have been ranting about, and do come into the kind of power you claim I will, by some off chance." Nikki smiled cheerfully for a moment, then dropped the smile and glowered at all of the group. "You guys are already on my shit list. So you might not want to press your luck any further than you have with me. Know what I mean?"
All six of the Crystal Wavers stared at her as if she had grown horns and a barbed tail, and drew as far back from her as they could.
"You six are also on the shit list for Whateley." Frank added quietly. "If you ever show your faces anywhere near this campus again, you will do some serious jail time, understand me?"
All of them nodded without a word.
"I'm not going to press charges against them this time." Nikki let out a little sigh, then laughed shortly. "I've been going through what all of them are right now, and I know it isn't easy. They have enough problems to deal with as it is, I think."
"Are you sure about that?" Delarose questioned.
"Yeah, I'm sure." Nikki nodded, then turned to look at the switched around Crystal Wavers. "On the condition that they sign an agreement not to bother me again."
"We can handle that for you." Officer Tomikz nodded, then held out the paperwork he had prepared. "But these endangerment of a minor charges are state and federal things, so I don't know if those will be dropped or not. That's up to the local DA, but I understand he can be reasonable about this kind of thing if all parties involved are in agreement."
"It'll do for me." The elfin redhead nodded, then turned away from the holding cells with a little wave. "Now I have an examination to get to, so if it's all right with you, Captain Delarose, I'll be heading that way."
"Go ahead, Miss Reilly." Frank held the door open for her. "If there is any more paperwork for you to sign on this, I'll just have it sent to your dorm by messenger and you can send it back the same way."
"Thank you." Nikki gave him, and Tomikz a brilliant smile then hurried out of the security offices intent on her next appointment.
"You know, Tom." Delarose commented as they both watched the girl leave. "These kids never stop surprising me. That's one of the reasons I love this job."
"I see what you mean, Frank." Tomikz answered with a small grin. "That one, especially, is going to bear watching, I think. She seems to be something special even around here."
"I think I agree with you on that one, Tom." Frank leafed through the girl's file. "Did you notice that her Dad is a honcho at DARPA?"
"Yeah, I did. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration, isn't that?"
"That's right." Frank let out a sigh. "This kid is connected already, even if she doesn't seem to realize it yet. At least she isn't an intentional trouble maker, thank god."
"Nice kid, actually, isn't she?" Tom added.
"Seems to be, when she isn't being annoyed by something." Frank chuckled and turned his attention back to their mixed up guests. "Now for you six..."
Nikki entered the reception area of the school clinic with mixed feelings. She was definitely not looking forward to her first full physical as a girl, but was more or less resigned to the idea after the weekend and its excitement.
"Hello, can I help you?" A perky nurse greeted her from behind a large desk.
"Umm, yes. I'm Nichole Reilly and I'm here for my battery of tests." The little redhead answered after a little hesitation.
"Have a seat and the doctor will be with you in a few minutes." The nurse smiled and waved the girl towards a comfortable looking group of chairs. The magazines were even recent, which was a pleasant surprise given the state of reading material offered in most doctor's offices. Nikki picked up one almost at random and began thumbing through it without really paying attention to what she was seeing until she heard her name called.
"Dr. Tenet is ready for you now, Nichole." The nurse gestured towards the door behind her desk and added. "Just go into room two and change into the gown there."
"Thanks." Nikki walked past the reception area and found room two without difficulty. When she saw the examination table, with its stirrups, she swallowed a large lump of something uncomfortable and did her best to ignore it while getting out of her still borrowed clothing and putting on the drafty, backless thing all doctor's offices seemed insistent on their patients wearing.
"Hello dear." A familiar, cheerful voice greeted her after a few uneasy moments of deciding whether just to get it over with and get up on the table, or freeze her bottom in one of the plastic chairs in the room. "I see you're feeling better now."
"Yes. Mostly." Nikki gave the exam table another dubious glance.
"Don't worry so much about the table and physical, I'll be gentle." Ophelia promised with a chuckle. "I even warmed the instruments up ahead of time for you."
"You don't know how much better that makes me feel." Nikki grumbled as she gingerly climbed up on the table. "Now what?"
"Oh, the usual things. Blood pressure, temperature, I listen to your lungs, and check you out for anything unusual."
"Unusual on me?" The redhead grumbled. "Now what could possibly be unusual about me?"
"I mean physically, dear." Ophelia commented as she began to palpitate Nikki's breasts. "Like hunting for lumps this way. Mutants aren't immune to disease or cancer you know."
"This sure isn't anything like a doctor thumping my chest." Nikki winced as the doctor's hands worked their way around her breasts.
"Does what I'm doing hurt you?" The blonde questioned with a look of concern.
"Uh, not really." Nikki responded with a grimace. "It's just that they're so sensitive since I completely changed is all."
"Normal enough under the circumstances." Ophelia nodded as one of her tresses retrieved a stethoscope and Blood pressure machine. "Now to check the other mundane stuff before we go any further with this."
After noting those readings, Ophelia began asking some more personal questions. "You've started your period, I see, how is that going for you?"
"Not fun." Nikki responded almost glumly. "I ache, feel all bloated, and am not in a good mood about any of it. Not to mention that I nearly destroyed the second floor at Poe with my first case of PMS last weekend."
"I heard about that." Ophelia gave her patient an encouraging little pat on the shoulder. "Belle thought it was all pretty entertaining, but then, Belle would given her rather strange sense of humor. I can prescribe some things that would probably help you handle that particular problem a little better."
"Please." Nikki almost begged. "That was embarrassing."
"Ok, we can talk about that later, and I'll forgo the pelvic exam until your flow stops, too." The doctor smiled at the look of pure relief on the girl's face when she heard that. "But I expect you to back in here for that once you stop. Clear?"
"Yes, Ma'am." Nikki sighed, knowing that 'Mother' tone all too well, and knowing better than to argue with it. "I will. Promise."
"Good. Now get dressed and lets get you into the testing area so we can get more of a handle on your powers and what you can do with them, shall we?"
"No problem." Nikki almost literally bounced off the exam table and reached for her clothes. "I've been kind of wondering about all that stuff myself. It'll be a relief to find something out and have it down officially. You don't know how tired I am of hearing "We think you're..." or "It looks as if you might be..."
"I can imagine, dear." Ophelia nodded. "I kept getting the same kinds of responses when I first showed my own mutation and changed. It's frustrating and a little worrisome not actually knowing, isn't it?"
"You got that right." Nikki tossed the gown into the receptacle meant for that, got back into her bra and made sure her panties, with the pad, were situated correctly, then pulled the green dress over her head and settled it with a very feminine little shake of her hips. Once into the low heeled pumps she had worn with the outfit, and having retrieved her shoulder bag she nodded almost briskly. "Well, I'm ready. Hope this doesn't take too long. I'm supposed to meet my advisor later, too."
"I wouldn't worry about that." Ophelia chuckled. "She'll understand if you're a little late for the meeting. That's because I'm your advisor."
"Oh." I thought I was supposed to have a Ms. Hastings or someone like that.
"Ms. Hastings is very good." Ophelia nodded sagely, but then gave the redhead a rueful look. "But you're a very special student here, and I volunteered my services after the administration asked for someone really qualified to handle your advisory duties."
"Not that I'm picking here." Nikki gave her an even look. "But do you mind if I ask why the administration asked you to do it, specifically, I mean?"
"Fair question, dear." The doctor smiled tiredly. "You have some rather special needs here, and of all the qualified staff available, I was the one with time on my schedule open and to be honest, I jumped at the chance. Do you mind that?"
"No, I kind of like the idea of having my doctor for an advisor. I think." Nikki told her honestly. "I really hadn't gotten much beyond last weekend and last night to be truthful. I'm just glad to have an advisor."
"Ok, you go for the testing and screening procedures and I'll meet you in my office, that's where I examined you the first day of classes, remember how to get there? Once you're finished with the classification exam."
"Sure." Nikki nodded, then grimaced. "I'll remember how to get there, hard as I had to concentrate just to figure out the way that time. And keep from falling over while I was doing all that gear grinding in my head."
"Good" Ophelia smiled and ushered her out the door. "I'll look forward to seeing you then."
A few minutes later Nikki was in another part of the clinic standing almost hesitantly before a set of double doors made of frosted glass with the legend TESTING/EVALUATION. Directly under that in smaller print was. By Appointment Only.
Sighing, she rummaged through the leather shoulder bag she had chosen to carry everything she would need in that day and following a bit of under the breath swearing found the small card with the time and date of her appointment. Clutching that firmly in hand she straightened her back and winced once the realization of just how that emphasized her newly enlarged breasts. Still, she thought it better to walk in as if she had some confidence than all slumped over like a girl geek trying uselessly to hide her attributes.
"And I sure have those." She muttered to herself then shrugged. "In abundance.
Pushing open one of the doors, she resolutely entered and approached the reception desk.
"May I help you, Miss?" The male clerk at the desk had glanced up momentarily, then back to his computer screen, then almost broke his neck as he snapped his head back up and gave her what he thought was a winning smile.
"I have an Eval appointment today. Nichole Reilly." The redheaded beauty answered with a slightly weary expression as she noted him checking her out. She did manage a cheery smile for him that she hoped wouldn't be taken as an invitation for much of anything. "I'm supposed to be seeing a Dr. Hewley?"
"Umm, yeah." The young man nodded while entering some data on his keyboard and observing the resultant information showing on his monitor. "I've just sent Dr. Hewley and his team the notification that you've arrived. You did allow several hours for this, right?"
"I've already spoken to my advisor -- my next appointment." Nikki nodded with a grin as she actually started to enjoy watching the poor guy crossing his legs and trying to hide an obviously unprofessional appearance in his pants. "She's willing to wait until I've finished all the testing that they need to do here."
"Great." The young man stood up, having through some half miracle of self control subdued his initial reaction and gestured towards another set of double doors behind the desk. "My name is Jim Hewley. The doctor you're going to see is my dad. I'm kind of filling in here today. So follow me, and please forgive any little slip ups I've made so far.
I promise not to embarrass either you or me any more."
"Ok, Jim." Nikki gave him a genuine smile and gave a little nod in the direction of the inner doors. "Ready when you are."
"Yeah. Right." With a sheepish grin, the boy led the way. "So how do you like it here at Whateley so far?"
"Well, it's certainly had it's moments up to now." She chuckled. "I think I'm going to like it just fine, thanks. Do you go to school here too?"
"Sure do." Jim nodded pleasantly. "I'm a senior, and a devisor/manifester. I help with things around the lab, most of the time. I'm not real good as a people person, though so Dad wants me to get in some practical experience handling that at the reception desk off and on."
"Oh, well I think you do fine, mostly." Nikki gave him a small smile, kind of liking the guy's unintentional exuberance for even a job he considered a chore. Her empathic sense kicked in and she was more than sure that Jim applied that to everything he did. "You might try to not let your eyes pop out quite so much when a girl walks by, though. Just some friendly advice. You're a really nice guy, but that one little thing would scare off a lot of girls before they get a chance to know you at all, let alone better."
"Ouch!. Sorry, I really didn't mean to stare like that." He appeared so crestfallen that Nikki took a little more mercy on him, laughing gently and putting a hand lightly on his shoulder. "It's just that, that, well..."
"Don't worry about it, Jim." Nikki grinned, pulling her hand back slowly and wondering why she was acting that way at all, but kind of liking the feelings it gave her. "And look at it this way, you didn't walk into a wall or fall down any stairs while you were watching."
"There were no real walls to walk into." He honestly pointed out, then questioned almost hesitantly. "Have some guys really done that with you?"
"Oh, yeah." Letting out a small, but very theatrical sigh, she nodded with a serious expression on her face that melted into rueful humor. "Trust me on that one. I even try to warn them off and on. It just seems to make things worse. I have this stupid Glamour thing that I can't turn off, you see. It doesn't make me any better looking than I actually am or anything, it just seems to short circuit most guys who see me. It's really kind of embarrassing."
"Hey, that 's different." Jim nodded with a grin of his own. "Most good, no, great looking girls I know of would take something like that and run to the bank with what it could get them."
"Oh, I'm different all right." Nikki took a deep breath (internally at least) and told him. "I was a guy myself up until a short while ago. My mutation kicked in and did all this to me in a few months."
"You were a guy?" Jim's incredulous tone of voice had Nikki thinking he was disgusted, or worse, was going to laugh at her predicament. Instead, the boy shook his head, gave her a nod, and went on. "That must be tough for you, looking the way you do now and all. Especially with that Glamour thing. You ever need a shoulder to cry on, or just someone to yell at for a while, look me up. No strings."
"You mean that." Nikki was still reading his emotions and none of them showed the least bit of disgust or derision. All she could read out of him were sympathy he was carefully trying to hide so as not to make her either angry or feel bad, and a genuine wish to help. True, there were some deeper underlying urges in there, but he was male and she was now an attractive female.
"Yeah, I really do, and I bet Dad can help you get a handle on that Glamour thing if you really want him to help you with it."
"That would be wonderful!" Nikki actually felt like hugging a boy for the first time since her change had started. So she did. Carefully, but still, it was a girl to boy hug that had him and her blushing once it was over with. "Uh, sorry. Hormones just kind of take over at times."
"That's ok." Jim grinned as his own blush began to fade. "Let's just not tell Dad about that one, ok?"
No prob." The little redhead giggled.
"Sheesh, you may have been a guy once." Shaking his head, Jim gave her a grin filled with mischief. "But you sure act like a girl now."
"Hey!" Nikki shrugged with a grin of her own. "I have to learn to live with this body. It's mine and going to be like it is, more or less, for a long time to come whether I kick and scream or dive in. Diving in is much easier on the disposition, trust me on that. I've tried the kicking and screaming routine and all it does is make my face all blotchy and my nose run."
"Well then I say you're a better person than me. I'd be going stark bonkers if what you're going through was happening to me." Jim told her quite seriously.
"Like I have a choice." Nikki answered a little shortly, then softened that with another sunny smile. "But if you got the look, the walk, and the feel..."
"Yeah. Looks like a girl, sounds like a girl, smells like a girl..." Jim agreed.
"Gotta be a girl!" Nikki finished with a musical laugh. "See? Why fight it when it's so clear that's what I am now? I just have to get used to the idea is all."
"What's it like?"
"Strange." Nikki replied soberly. "Like everything you ever took as immutable in life has been twisted around, stood on its head, and set spinning like a top."
"Must be scary for you, all that change, and turning out the way you have."
"It is ." Her answer was quiet, then her voice became cheerful again. "But I think it'll be fun in a lot of ways once I really settle into the role I've been given gender-wise and sexually. I'm already enjoying a lot of it."
"Good, I'm really glad you can feel that way about things." Jim stopped at another doorway. "Well, we're here. Walk right in, they're expecting you. I have to get back to the front desk."
"Ok, Jim, and thanks." Nikki bounced forward to give a small peck on the cheek. "It was nice to meet you."
"Yeah, you too." He answered almost dreamily while gently rubbing his cheek. "You take care of yourself, and I'll see you around off and on."
"Yes you will, Jim Hewley." She murmured to herself, then mentally slapped her forehead. "What am I doing?! But he is kind of cute in a nerdish way... Wow, I have got to get a grip. I was actually coming on to that guy. But I did really, really like him, he's Nice!"
That internal argument died as the combatants realized they were one and the same person. "Sheesh. Next thing I know, I'll be dragging some cute guy into the bushes or something..."
"Hello!" A rotund, cheerful man wearing a white lab coat festooned with pens, note pads and other less identifiable things greeted her as she opened the door. "You must be Miss Reilly?"
"That's me." Nikki smiled at the man's obvious exuberance as she nodded. "I'm here for my evaluations."
"Well, I'm Richard Hewley." The fellow nodded energetically and cheerfully. "I'll be in charge of assessing your powers and abilities today, and maybe in the future if we need to go a little deeper into things."
"You mean the first time may not get all of it done?"
"Not always." Dr. Hewley answered with a small shrug and a wide smile. "But don't worry, the preliminaries are actually quite simple, then we get into the tougher things as we get the basics nailed down. We're very good at that here, and it usually only takes a couple of hours."
"Oh, I hope so." Nikki answered with an uneasy little grin. "But I kind of think it may be the other way with me. Believe me, nothing has been anything close to normal if it involves me lately."
"Yes, we've heard about your, umm difficulties here already." Dr. Hewley nodded with an encouraging smile. "But the good part there is that we already have a pretty good idea of where to focus our testing, so it may not take as long as you seem to fear it will."
"I sure hope you're right." The little redhead shrugged with a very fetching tilt of her head and sigh. "It would be really nice for something to be easy around here that involves me for a change."
"Well, just from looking at you it's easy enough to tell that you're a Faerie Type of mutation, so we can check that off on the list already." Hewley nodded while checking through what looked to be a ream of paperwork.
"That's kind of a no brainer, wouldn't you say?" Nikki grimaced, then giggled as the Dr. actually blushed.
"Like I said," Hewley nodded with a grin. "You're a Faerie type, which is pretty rare, you're only the one thousandth one recorded in modern history for your information."
"Really?" Nikki was actually interested in that one. "Only a thousand like me in the world?"
"Recorded instances." Hewley nodded. "Faerie types tend to have very long life spans, so there is an off chance that some really old ones are still hanging around. People only started recording that kind of thing back in the mid eighteen hundreds, and that was pretty spotty until the early twentieth century. But even with tracing legends, and old tales, you're still only the thousandth one on record so far."
"Wow, so what I turned into is really a rare thing." The girl nodded, then grimaced with half sour humor. "Given what's happened to me recently, that kind of figures."
Also you seem to be a Wizard class of mutant, there are only about thirty of those in the Faerie ranks at all. So you're even a rarer type."
"Makes me feel like I should be stuck under some glass jar or something." Nikki grumbled.
"I wouldn't worry about that, it does make you something of a curiosity, but nothing that would prompt any government or other research facility to try and kidnap you for study." Hewley grinned to show he was joking, then looked up as a young woman carrying a tray approached them. "Ah, Hillary, you're here, good. Now we're going to draw some blood from you, Miss Reilly. Just for standard analysis, and to have the chemical makeup in it on our records."
Nikki held out her arm and the young woman expertly applied a tourniquet, then drew several vials of blood from her offered arm.
"So I understand that you're a magic user?" Hewley asked once that operation had been completed. "Could you describe to me what you do, and how you think you do it?"
Nikki did so, telling him of her use of Ley Lines, and ability to draw on natural phenomena for power as well.
"All right." The man replied while making a few notations on his pad. "Please show us how you find and use the lines, could you?"
"Ok." Nikki found the strongest lines around her, and opened herself to them, then made a shimmering wall of force between herself and the scientists and wizards who had collected in the room to measure her abilities.
Everyone in the room began scrambling, checking readouts on machinery, watching the apparently thin air around them and the girl, and shaking their heads as if what they were seeing wasn't possible.
"I can reach more, if you want." The girl offered, then sought out and lightly tapped into even more lines, and lightly touched those connecting the people in the room as she did.
The gathered people shook their heads as she did that, and began rechecking their instruments, while the ones staring into space closed their eyes, opened them, and looked again with incredulous expressions on their faces.
"Just how many different lines can you tap into?" Hewley questioned while furiously scribbling on his own papers.
"Oh, there are more than I can really count around here." Nikki calmly answered, finding even more and grimacing as one of the techs said something about his equipment going absolutely crazy. "I can trace and find lines running from just about anything or anyone, and do things with them once I do. If it storms, I can draw on that, too. Anything that isn't artificially made, I can generally find, trace, and make use of."
"Anything?" Hewley asked very carefully, looking as if he was having trouble believing what his team's instruments and sight were telling him.
"Anything natural." She confirmed, then added. "If it's made by a machine I can't do anything with it, but I can still hear it."
"Sure, it almost drives me nuts at times." Nikki admitted almost reluctantly. "I can hear the voices of just about everything around me. It took me almost a month just learning how to shut all that out when I didn't want it."
"This is amazing." Hewley breathed, without even thinking of questioning what she was telling him as he read something on his own computer screen. "I see from your records, that the magic user who first examined you, noted this, and gave you some techniques for shutting those things out. Hmmm."
"Well, from the preliminary tests, and the information passed along about you from Kansas City, I can definitely say that you're a Wizard class mutation in addition to being Faerie. The difference here is, according to records we have from all over the world, of the thirty Faerie Wizards on record, fifteen can see and use Ley Lines, ten can tap into and make use of natural events like weather, water, wind, things like that. Two can use both. One makes use of lines from individual things and beings. One uses that plus Ley Lines. One, and only one combines that last one with the natural events usage.
But not one of those is capable of using all of them as you seem to be able to do with such ease. Plus, you have shown an ability to actually bend gravity to your will in some way, hear the resonance of every object and person around you as those 'voices', plus any number of incidental things that aren't even catalogued here." Hewley stopped for breath, then went on. "We would have pegged you as some form of Avatar - a person who provides a place for a spirit of some kind to reside in and gets that spirit's powers in return for serving as a type of battery for the spirit. But there is absolutely no trace of another spirit in you at all."
"So what does all that mean?" Nikki nervously questioned while taking in the almost awestruck looks she was getting from everyone in the room.
"I really don't know." Hewley answered honestly. "You're off any scale we have to judge things like this, my dear girl. Which makes you possibly the most unique creature to walk the face of this Earth in a very long time. Beyond that, I can't even start to tell you, and wouldn't want to try."
"Another one." One of the techs muttered, then snapped his mouth shut at glares from his co-workers.
"Dr. Hewley." Hillary, the young woman who had drawn Nikki's blood approached wearing a puzzled expression.
"What is it Hillary? Something about her blood chemistry that's unusual?"
"Well, you could say that." Hillary glanced to Nikki with a widening of her bright blue eyes as she whispered. "Her blood turned to a silver color, and seems to emit a bluish glow in the dark."
"At least it didn't evaporate, or implode the vial." The same tech muttered as he heard that.
"Clark, that will be quite enough." Hewley admonished the man, then turned back to Hillary. "Did anything turn up in the chemistry of her blood that would cause that to happen in a more or less normal way? Like maybe phosphors and the like?"
"Nothing out of the ordinary showed up at all until it did that." The young woman gave him a helpless shrug as she continued. I'm running more tests right now, but the data doesn't look to be any different than it was the first time."
"I see, well, keep at it, and take Mr. Clark with you." Hewley gestured to the to indiscrete tech with a frown. "I don't need to remind you of the confidentiality agreement you signed when you started working here do I, Mr. Clark?"
"Uh, no, Dr. Hewley." The tech responded with a flush of embarrassment.
"Good." Turning back to Nikki the scientist pursed his lips thoughtfully, then questioned. "Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself or your abilities right now?"
"Well, there is one more thing involved with the Faerie thing." The redhead nodded while blushing with embarrassment. "I seem to have this Faerie Glamour thing that I can't turn off. It doesn't seem to make me any prettier, or umm sexier, but it evidently projects a sense of something more to the people around me. I really can't explain it any better than that, because I was just made aware of it since coming here to Whateley."
"Sounds like some form of Aura Enhancement, or another innate ability along those lines." Hewley simply nodded while adding another notation to his growing stack of papers. "I think we may be able to help you tone that down some if it is what I think it is."
"I'd really be grateful if you could." Nikki answered quietly. "It's bad enough changing into what I have. This instant attraction thing is really making me crazy, you know."
"I think I can see how it would, Miss Reilly." Hewley nodded again, then smiled encouragingly. "I think we can show you a few techniques that will at least turn it down to bearable levels for you, as you've learned to tune out all those 'voices' you hear."
"Now, I see in the preliminary reports from your records, that you're an empath, too."
"Yeah, I can feel what other people do, emotionally, and project what I feel to them. It works with animals, too."
"Interesting." Hewley answered while Nikki wondered if anything he encountered was uninteresting. "Would you mind demonstrating that for us?"
"Guess not." Nikki projected her own uncertainties outward and saw the expressions of everyone change and become worried on top of fascinated. "Oops, sorry. I think I sent that out a little too strongly."
"Quite all right, dear." Hewley assured her while swallowing and wiping sweat from his forehead. "You seem to be a very powerful projecting empath, how clearly do you receive emotion from others?"
"Well, on the surface you're very excited right now." Nikki told him. "But on a deeper level I can sense that you are very worried about someone close to you, someone you love very much. Also, you're a little afraid of me. Fear is a really strong emotion, like love and hate."
"Who would I be worrying about like that?" He questioned very carefully.
"How would I know?" Nikki shrugged. "I'm an empath, not a telepath. I can't read minds, just emotions."
"I understand." Hewley told her, then went on. "As it happens, I am very worried about how my son, I believe you met him on the way in, is going to handle being out in the real world once he graduates from Whateley, and how the world in general is going to treat him."
"Yes, I met him." Nikki smiled. "And your worry sharpened as you told me that, so it must be what that was."
The girl read not only surface emotions and feelings, but deeper ones in every person present, much to the assembled group's delight and sometimes consternation.
"Off the damn scales again, Dr." One of the techs reported. "We'll have to list her as a level three projecting and receiving empath and leave it at that for now."
"Right." Hewley agreed, then added. "With some senses we haven't even gotten on the catalogue yet, I would think."
"Excuse me?" Nikki broke in, not liking herself being discussed as if she weren't in the room at all. "Just what is all this stuff you people are spouting about me and what does it boil down to."
"Just that you are a very remarkable young woman." Hewley responded with an apologetic grin for her benefit. "You'll have to excuse us here, we have gathered enough data on this series of tests alone to keep us busy for years, but the upshot is that you are most definitely a Faerie Wizard, and a level three empath, which will at least get you going here at school until we can devise some more discerning tests for you."
"Oh." Nikki nodded then looked up with a worried expression on her lovely face. "More tests?"
"Oh nothing too terrible, I promise." Hewley assured her with a genuine smile after the wince from her accidental projection of fear and worry. "They will simply be more delicate and sensitive variations on what we've done here already."
"All right." Nikki sounded a bit mollified then questioned. "No danger room stuff, right? I don't like the idea of being shot at or anything like that, even in the name of science."
"Oh, lord no!" Hewley actually appeared shocked by that idea. "We want our students to have the best chance at survival once they leave Whateley as we can give them. Our job here is to find what exactly their abilities are so others can teach them how to make good use of them, and to work around any weakness that might show up. Like your allergies to iron and synthetics, for example."
"Ok." The girl gave him a tentative smile after that answer. "I'll hold you to that, you know. I don't want what happened to Tennyo -- Billie -- happening to me is all."
"Oh, that." Hewley frowned. "Some upperclassmen mistook your friend for someone else who had signed up for some unauthorized, and highly illegal, use of school facilities. It won't happen again, I can assure you of that."
"I'll accept that as a 'no it won't happen', then." Nikki nodded with more presence than a fourteen year old should possess. "Thanks for the reassurance."
"Well, that's about all we can do with you just now, Miss Reilly." Hewley finished the interview/testing with that. "I'll have one of my aides show you out, but please be prepared for more testing once we've digested all that we found this time. We'll contact you and arrange a time that fits with your schedule, if that is agreeable."
"Sure, no problem." Nikki made a little grimace. "Believe me, the more I know about myself, the happier I'll be. Just get in touch when you're ready and we'll get things arranged."
"Good, and thank you." Hewley smiled widely. "It has been a distinct pleasure, Miss Reilly."
"Thank You, Dr. Hewley, and the rest of you, too." Nikki favored the room in general with a broad, sunny smile. "Bye now and see you later."
"Oh yeah." puffing out his cheeks, then blowing the trapped air out in a quiet, tuneless whistle, Hewley watched the unusual girl's progress out of his lab. "I get the feeling that I'm going to be seeing a lot of that young lady for a while."
"Well, I see that you drove the testing team nuts a while ago." Ophelia read what was on her computer screen with a show of amusement. "Wizard class mutant, Faerie type -- Very rare, seems to be able to use all of the Faerie Mage abilities at this testing. Is also off any standard or special scale regarding her Empathic talents. No indication that she is an Avatar at all. Bears more study."
"Yeah, I kind of sent them all into frenzies when I demonstrated any of my powers." Nikki let out a long sigh. "I was kind of hoping they might get a better handle on them than I have so far. So much for that idea."
"They're trying, dear." Ophelia soothed as she brought up another screen on her computer. "Now for what you're going to be doing class-wise here for the next year."
"I was kind of wondering why I only had afternoon classes." Nikki answered. "I mean, I know I've already been through my freshman year of high school, but what's all this three classes and nothing else?"
"That's easily explained." Ophelia smiled at the girl as she continued bringing up new screens on her computer. "Since you've already been through and passed you freshman year, it was thought by the administration that you would do better with a minimal class load in the afternoon, and concentrate on handling your abilities during the mornings. I understand that a Mentor has been found for you to help with that, too."
"Yes, someone well versed in your own specialties, and good enough at using them, or something similar, to be a teacher for your own use of the abilities you have." Ophelia answered with a grin. "And it isn't going to be me. Evidently a gentleman from England has accepted the job. He's very good from everything I've been able to find about him. Even did some work, quietly, for the Crown in Britain."
"Oh, great." Nikki shook her head. "So just who is this very special guy who is also my Mentor?"
"Sir Wallace Westmont."
"Sir Wallace?" Nikki questioned with a lift of her eyebrows.
"Yes, Sir Wallace." Ophelia nodded with a grin. "He was knighted for undisclosed services to The British Crown. He's a magic user of some skill and power, plus has the ability and restraint to be subtle with it. I've heard a lot of good things about him, but he tends to be a womanizer from all I hear, too."
"Oh, good." Nikki closed her eyes. "A womanizer, with me looking like I do and having the effect on guys I have. I can hardly wait until Dad hears about This."
"I understand that he is very professional when he takes on an obligation." Ophelia assured her. "If he does make -- umm -- a move on you, just let me know and I'll get something done about it."
"Oh, ok." The redhead nodded, then shrugged. "Why would having a mentor be any easier than everything else I've been going through lately?"
"Which brings up another point I was meaning to discuss with you." The blonde tresses moved to press some keys on the computer as Ophelia tapped one fingernail on her desktop while the other hand leafed through a thin sheaf of stapled together papers. "You have had two encounters with hostile groups since you arrived less than a week ago."
"I couldn't help either one of those!" Nikki protested.
"I know that, and it isn't the point of this." Ophelia watched her student with a serious expression. "You do know just how lucky you were in both incidents, don't you?"
"Well, I have to go along with that." The redheaded Elf girl agreed. "Without Toni, Tennyo, and Hank helping out, those crystal wavers would have had me for sure. And my magic got away from me with the Ninjas -- that's why those chattering teeth were giving them so much grief. So, yeah, I know I've been lucky."
"Then you also know that you can't go on being so lucky in the future, right?" Ophelia questioned.
"Umm, yeah, I have kind of been thinking about that." Nikki nodded. "Why are you bringing this up now?"
"Just to caution you that no matter how powerful you might be, even now, or in the future, there is the likelihood that someone will come along who is even more powerful, or who is able to negate your own powers. Or you may find yourself in a place where something blocks your powers."
"Ok, I got that." Nikki agreed with a still mystified look on her lovely face. "So what is this leading up to?"
"Only that you should probably learn other skills in case your powers don't work in a given instance." Ophelia answered matter-of-factly.
"Other skills?" The girl gave her advisor a dubious look. "What does that mean?"
"It means," Ophelia replied with a tight little smile. "that you need to learn some kind of martial arts so you can defend yourself if you can't cast your spells."
"Ms. Tenent, I can't get through a regular gym class, let alone something where I'm supposed to hit things!"
"All the more reason for you to work on that, dear." Ophelia gave Nikki a gentle pat on the hand. "Don't worry, a special instructor has been arranged so you can have some private lessons three mornings a week."
"Oh great." The girl groaned. "Special Ed for Martial Arts."
"Well, just make the best of it." Ophelia answered firmly. "And I'm sure you and your instructor will find something that you are good at. Just promise to work at it, ok? You really do need the backup in case. That's why we teach things like that here at Whateley. Some people come to depend far too much on their powers to the neglect of other skills."
"But nothing." The teacher interrupted. "Let's say that you had your powers fine tuned, and ready for anything. Anything except not being able to use them for some reason, say there would be a lot of iron around you or that the lines you need to use were somehow blocked. Where would that leave you without a physical fighting skill in a hostile situation?"
"Ummm, in big trouble, I guess."
"Big trouble is right." Ophelia nodded emphatically. "Or dead, depending on what your adversary was trying to do. So you need to learn things besides care and feeding of those powers you have. That's simple survival."
"Ok, ok, I'll do my best at -- whatever." Nikki answered unhappily.
"Please do that, halfway measures won't work, dear." Ophelia insisted when the girl seemed still less than enthusiastic about the idea. "Especially with the interest already shown in you by those Crystal Waving idiots -- yes, I heard about that one, too -- there are very likely going to be people with less than good intent going after you for one reason or another all your life. You're far too unique and special to loose just days after you graduate from Whateley just because you wouldn't learn a secondary fighting skill for self defense."
"Ok, you've made your point." Nikki answered tiredly. "Sorry, I'm still just a little tired and out of sorts from things that have happened over the past week. I swear that my life hasn't been so eventful as this past week has been."
"I think I can understand how you feel about that." Ophelia chuckled. "You'll be taught by a lady named Suzannah Hagarty. I understand that she is both very good at what she does and at discovering what her students are good at."
"Is she a teacher here at Whateley?"
"No, actually, she came in with Sir Wallace, your mentor."
"Are you telling me that my martial arts instructor is currently my supposed mentor's main squeeze here?" Nikki raised an eyebrow.
"She is his -- umm -- companion and significant other." Ophelia nodded with a reproving look. "And his working partner as well. Don't ask me how it works, but from all accounts it does for them, and very well. So don't be getting any silly ideas about sloughing off with Ms. Hagarty. She isn't some bimbo that would allow you to get away with that."
"I understand, I really do." Nikki assured her advisor, but still had a silly little grin on her face that left as she got a determinedly serious expression in its place. "I'll really do my best to learn whatever Ms. Hagarty has to teach me. I promise."
"Good. Now to the rest of your classes." Ophelia briskly nodded as her almost living tresses brought up more files on the computer. "Since you've already made it through your freshman year once, this year we want you to concentrate on getting your abilities under control and gaining some understanding of them as a whole. So your mornings will be taken up with special instruction on that, practice, and simply getting a handle on what you can and can't do with them. Along with the martial arts training. Ok?"
"Sure, I was told I'd probably be doing something like that this year." Nikki nodded in agreement. "So that isn't a big surprise."
"Good. Then for your afternoon class schedule..." Ophelia went through her files again while nodding to herself. "You'll be taking Principles of Magic, Powers Theory, Home Economics, and Lab for Powers theory. It doesn't sound like much, but with your personalized morning schedule you won't have time to be bored or lack for things to do."
"I kind of got that idea." Nikki let out a sigh. "Sheesh, just getting a handle of what I am and can or can't do with my powers is going to be tough enough, I think."
"I'm pretty sure you'll have more homework from that, than the other classes combined." Ophelia chuckled. "But according to your records, intelligence is not something you ever lacked. Which brings up another thing. I want you to take an IQ test here, just for a comparison from before you mutated."
"Well, ok, but why?"
"Simply for comparison." The doctor/teacher assured her student. "It's often the case, especially in documented Faerie mutations that the person's intelligence increases following the change. I would just like to check on that, if you wouldn't mind. It would be strictly voluntary and would involve some of your free time if you'd be willing to do it."
"I suppose I could." Nikki shrugged. "I sure don't feel any smarter right now, but sure, I'll take the test."
"Good, I'll schedule it and get back to you on a time once I get you slotted in."
"Now one more thing and we'll be finished with this session." Ophelia pulled out another folder and pushed this one across her desk to Nikki. "Here at Whateley we encourage students to get jobs. That helps them pay for their own school supplies, some classes off and on, and teaches them how to handle money for once they're out on their own."
"Well, I know money shouldn't be a problem for me." Nikki shrugged. "Either handling it or having it, but I can see what you mean. What kinds of jobs do students usually take?"
"Oh, all sorts of them." Ophelia tapped the folder. "Take that with you and look it over. If anything catches your interest, or not, take it to Student Administration and they'll go over things with you. Even help you decide on a job you might like or be able to fit into your schedule of classes."
"Ok, but I don't have to make a decision right away do I?" Nikki questioned while riffling through the sheaf of papers.
"Well, I wouldn't take too long making up my mind if I were you." Ophelia answered.
"The better jobs will be gone pretty quickly."
"Ok, but I can see me being stuck in some stupid job like counting bubbles in the fountain or something no matter what I do here."
"Not necessarily." The blonde grinned. "There is one in there that seems to be tailor made for you, with your looks, and will keep you on campus while you do it."
"Oh? Which one is that?"
"Someone is needed to model for the new brochures this year." Ophelia answered with a chuckle. "If your looks come through on camera as well as they do in real life, I don't think anyone else would have a chance if you tried out for that one."
"A model?" Nikki gave her advisor a dubious look. "Me? That's all I need. people already think I'm stuck up, shy as I am."
"Well, think about it." Ophelia urged. "It would be pretty good money for you and might give you a fallback for once you graduate."
"Oh, I'll check it out."
"Please do that." Ophelia replied. "I think you'll do very well with it."
"Ok, where do I go to apply, or audition, or whatever?" Nikki was actually looking interested. "It kind of sounds like a good job to have, if I can get it."
"Oh it would be." Her advisor agreed, then chuckled. "But it won't be as easy a job as you seem to think it will be, trust me on that. Modeling is hard work."
"Well, I'll either do it or not." The redhead shrugged with a twinkle in her eyes. "Besides, I've got nothing else to do, right?"
"Oh, sure." Ophelia answered dryly. "I'm sure you'll be bored to tears without the job."
"That's a no brainer." Nikki answered with a smirk. "But keeping me busy would probably be a good thing."
"I agree." Ophelia nodded with a grin. "Well, now I think Sir Wallace is ready to meet with you. So We'll call this meeting finished."
"All right." Nikki made a face, then smiled. "Where do I go to meet this guy?"
"He's waiting for you outside, in the classroom, with Ms. Hagarty."
"Oh, wonderful." Nikki grimaced. "Now not only am I weird, but I have this English gentleman and his lady friend waiting for me right outside the door here. I'm never going to live this down, you know."
"You'll get over it, dear."
"Oh, sure. I can see me getting over this for the next four years." Nikki groused. "But I'd better get out there so he doesn't have too long to wait."
"Good idea." Ophelia smiled. "I'll see you next Tuesday to see how things are going and do any fine tuning that may be needed with your schedule."
"See you then."
"And don't forget, I need to do that pelvic exam once you finish your period." Ophelia added.
"Ugghh. I won't, but I'm not looking forward to it."
"No one does for her first time, hon."
"All right, I'll be in touch once I get through this messy thing."
"Good, now go meet your Mentor and your martial arts instructor."
"Yeah, I can hardly wait."
"I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with them."
"That would be different. Something pleasant with all the changes I've been going through." Nikki responded acerbically.
Ophelia's chuckle at that was cut off as the door to her office closed behind the girl once she had left.
Nikki walked out of Ophelia's office with mixed emotions about having not one, but two mentors. "Sheesh, like I really need to be told that I'm different and have to learn to handle all these weird abilities I've suddenly found myself with. But having to learn martial arts on top of that? Man, calling this a really interesting year at school is kind of playing the whole thing down."
The couple waiting in the classroom had been talking as she left the office, but stopped when she approached them. Both regarded her carefully, then offered friendly smiles as the male of the pair moved forward and tipped his bowler hat to her.
A bowler hat? Nikki winced internally as she thought that. These two look like clones from that old Avengers show my dad likes watching. God, I'm Never going to live this down.
"Ah, you must be Nichole Reilly?" he questioned in a smoothly cultured voice then at her nod took her hand in his and lightly kissed the back of it. "So good to meet you, dear girl, I've heard a lot about you recently. I am Sir Wallace Westmont."
"Well, it hasn't exactly been a quiet week or two for me." Nikki rolled her eyes and wondered if her hand was ever going to stop tingling. "I only found out you were coming just now, let alone that you were here."
"It was a sudden invitation." Sir Wallace nodded with a grin that was infectious. "Your father contacted me about finding someone to help his umm, child, learn to handle the powers that, urmm, she was manifesting. I read over the information and was intrigued enough to offer my own services, dear girl."
"Just what exactly did Dad tell you about me?" Nikki questioned nervously.
"Enough to let me know that you must be going through a very difficult time just now, and not only because of the powers you have gained." Sir Wallace answered very carefully. "The mutations that hit people at puberty have very distinct properties that they alter the body to fit, their template it is called. I've seen more than a few people who went through what you have once their bodies began to fit that template. Now I have to ask you a difficult question here, but it does have bearing on how I'll be helping you. How far along with the physical changes are you?"
"Completely, as far as I know." Nikki grimaced. "I'm having my first period right now, and had something that everyone tells me is PMS several days ago."
"I see." Sir Wallace nodded thoughtfully. "How do you feel about the change in your sex?"
"I guess it isn't so bad." Nikki answered slowly after thinking for a few seconds. "I'm getting used to it, I suppose. Not that I have much choice about that, but I'm adjusting if that's what you're driving at. But the period and PMS suck."
Sir Wallace's companion let out a chuckle at that comment followed with a smile to show she wasn't being cruel.
"Oh, yes, forgive me for not making introductions sooner," Sir Wallace nodded towards the woman with a smile. "This is Susannah Hagarty and she will be assisting me with some of your training. If you decide we are suitable."
"I get to decide?" Nikki asked in surprise. "I thought this was, like, a done deal or something."
"Not at all." Sir Wallace smiled and shrugged. "My own and Ms. Hagarty's agreement to mentor you hinges upon all three parties agreeing before it starts. If you have reservations of any kind, we'll leave and someone else will be asked to do it, contingent on your approval, of course."
"Oh, and what have you decided about me?"
"You're honesty in those first few minutes convinced me." Sir Wallace answered simply with a questioning glance towards Susannah.
"I agree with you Wade." Her grey eyes twinkled as she smoothed her long black hair and smiled. "Your comment about periods and PMS was wonderful, by the way. The question here and now is what do you think of us?"
"I think..." Nikki pouted thoughtfully for a few seconds and nodded. "Ok with me, but from what I understand so far, I won't be an easy job for either one of you."
"Not to worry." Sir Wallace shrugged as he waved that off. "Actually, it is you who is going to be doing most of the real work in this, ummm, relationship. We are just here to guide you through it."
"That should be interesting." Nikki grumbled quietly.
Sir Wallace heard it anyway and chuckled again. "Precisely why I decided to come here myself. Now I understand you have a problem with your magic that you call Hobgoblins? Could you explain what happens when these show up, please?"
Following a rather lengthy question and answer session Sir Wallace pursed his lips with a nod. "Well, it isn't magical rebound, if that was the case, the magic would have come after you."
"Then what?" Nikki questioned a bit shortly. "Those things have been causing me grief since I started using my powers. I never know what is going to happen when I lose my concentration."
"I understand your concern, Nichole." Sir Wallace smiled while fiddling with the brim of his hat. "I think that these 'hobgoblins' may simply be magic that you have turned loose to do whatever it may to confound your enemies. I should know more about that once we begin our formal sessions, but for now I think that is the clearest explanation I can give you."
"Now it's my turn." Susannah grinned while sizing up the girl. "Do you have any experience with martial arts at all, or with simple schoolboy fighting?"
"Well, I won't have to break you of any bad habits, then." Susannah nodded with another little grin that Nikki found unsettling even as she began to like the woman.
"I'm a total klutz with anything like that." Nikki continued with a sigh. "Sports, whatever, I was always the last one to get chosen for sides in games and stuff."
"Oh, I'm sure we'll find something you're good at." Susannah laughed. "Even if it takes us a while."
"Well, I think that is enough for now." Sir Wallace rose from the seat he had taken in one of the student desks and nodded. "My offices are going to be in Siegal Hall, suite fifteen. Please be there in the morning at eight O'clock sharp and we'll get started."
"Ok, I'll be there." Nikki nodded.
"Excellent!" Sir Wallace gave her a formal bow that had her actually blushing. "I'll look forward to getting started with you. Until then."
"Bye." Nikki responded then hastily added. "Nice meeting both of you."
"And you, dear young lady, and you." Sir Wallace replied.
"Extraordinary." Sir Wallace shook his head once the girl had left.
"She is quite lovely." Susannah nodded, then favored her companion with a glare. "Just make sure that you keep those wandering hands off her. She doesn't need that right now."
"Susannah!" Sir Wallace actually managed to look shocked. "She's a child! Not to mention an obligation now that we've all agreed to work on her abilities."
"Between her looks and that glamour she has on, I doubt that would bother a lot of men, Wade." Susannah snorted. "With your reputation with the ladies, I'm surprised that this school even allowed you on the grounds."
"Ah, the glamour. Yes, that is an interesting facet of the girl's new self. I believe it is something inherent, not deliberate on her part."
"Whatever." Susannah shrugged. "Just remember, I'll be watching you when she's around."
"Of that, my dear," giving the woman a hug and light peck on the cheek, he grinned at her. "I have no doubts whatsoever."
Nikki almost had to drag herself back to Poe following her first morning with Sir Wallace and Susannah. Toni glanced up as her roommate came in, then snapped her head up and questioned. "Tough morning?"
"You don't know how tough." Nikki let out a small sigh of relief as she settled onto her bed and raised her feet to lie down. "First I went through a session of twenty thousand questions with both Sir Wallace and Susannah."
"SIR Wallace?" Toni raised an eyebrow. "As in a knight of the Realm?"
"You got it. Sir Wallace Westmont of Great Britain. He's a powerful elemental mage from what I've been told, but I KNOW he's great as an interrogator." Nikki grimaced as she worked a kink out of her back then went on. "Then I had to demonstrate my powers to Sir Wallace. All of them, and explain how I did the stuff."
"All of them?" Toni warily looked around the room to make sure no hobgoblins had followed the redhead home.
"Uh huh." Nikki yawned. "It was exhausting, but at least he told me what everything I did was, and the basic theories about them. He also seems to have the crazy idea that I actually am some kind of Avatar, just one that can't be found out by normal testing. He says that's how I can do so much and do it with the kind of power I have already. Like I NEED that on top of everything else. I'm a damned spirit magnet, too."
"I guess all that would kind of wear you out." The black girl nodded, then grinned her usual irrepressible flash of white teeth. "But hey! Look at it this way, If you are an Avatar, that means that YOU have control of the spirit, not the other way around."
"That's what he told me." Nikki sighed again, then groaned. "But that isn't all. I had to go to the gym with Susannah and she put me through a workout an Olympic athlete would have had trouble keeping up with."
"To best determine where my physical skills lie and how to make the Optimum Use Of Those." Nikki answered tiredly. "God, I did gymnastics, had to lift weights, ran, even danced for that torture artist. I could have TOLD her I'm a total zip when it comes to physical activities. I was before I started changing, and now I'm weaker than I was then. Sheesh!"
"Did she tell you anything afterwards?" Toni asked carefully, already too well aware of how volatile Fey could be when Nikki was upset.
"Yeah." The redhead answered quietly. "She told me I have natural grace, and am really fast for a non-exemplar. I'm supposed to start learning something called Ken-Do and judo this week. Oh, she's going to try me on archery, too. Says I have good hand-eye coordination."
"Ken-Do?" Toni widened her eyes. "You mean learning to use a sword?"
"I don't know, you're the martial arts freak here."
Thinking of Nikki with a sword in her slender hands caused Toni to shudder inwardly. "Well I suppose this Susannah knows what she's doing, right?"
"So I've been told, by Sir Wallace and Ms. Tenent." Nikki grumped. "Evidently she isn't a mutant, but can pretty well hold her own against any but the most powerful ones in a one on one face off."
"Hey, it'll work out ok." Toni soothed. Why don't you take a long, hot shower and try to relax until it's time for afternoon classes? I'll run interference for you if anyone wants you."
"Sounds good to me." The redhead nodded and forced herself into a sitting position with a small wince. "I'll just head on over to the showers right now. Then maybe catch a little nap before my Ethics of Magic class."
"Good idea." Toni called to her retreating backside.
Only about two minutes had passed when a very upset Nikki charged back into the room, slammed the door shut behind her and leaned against it as if to keep someone, or something, from getting in. "Oh my god. This isn't happening. It can't be happening, please lord, not today!"
"Now that was a short shower, and you sure do look relaxed." Toni gave her roomie a puzzled look. "What's wrong? Some other weirdo group chasing you now? Did those Crystal wavers come back with reinforcements? Is every demon in Hell after you? What?"
"No." Nikki panted with her large violet eyes even wider than usual. "It's worse than that. My Dad's here! And he's coming up the stairs right now!"
"Hey, how bad can that be?" The black girl tried reasoning with the panicked redhead.
"It's your Dad. Your his kid and he's here to see you. It can't be that bad."
"You don't understand." Nikki gripped Toni's shoulders in a grip that was shockingly strong for someone with such a soft looking build. "This is the guy who thinks all this stuff wouldn't have happened to me if I hadn't stayed with Mom! He is not happy about my change. Not a bit!"
"Nikki, get hold of yourself here, girl!" Toni disengaged the claw-like grips on her shoulders with a slight wince. "You've faced down real Ninjas and blasted power crystals out of the hands of their owners. Why should you be scared of your Dad?"
"You know how I get when I'm upset!" Nikki almost growled in Toni's face. "I'm not afraid of him, I'm afraid of what I might do if he pisses me off! I gotta hide!"
"Oh. Good point." Toni nodded in sudden understanding. "It wouldn't look good if you zapped your own Daddy or sicced those hobgoblins of yours on him, would it?"
"See!?" Nikki whispered hoarsely. "You understand!. And you promised to run interference for me if anyone came looking."
"But this is your DAD!"
"You promised!" Nikki reached for the other girl's shoulders again, but an adroit sidestep on Toni's part avoided it that time. "I'm desperate here, Toni! Please!
"Ok, in the closet." Toni let out a sigh. "I'll do what I can to at least smooth the way for you with him. More than that I won't promise."
"Great! Thanks!" Nikki caught Toni in a hug that nearly squeezed the air completely out of her lungs. "I'll make this up to you. I really will!"
"Just don't hug me again until you calm down." Toni wheezed as a redheaded streak rushed into the closet and slammed the door shut behind it.
Moments later a firm knock on the door announced the arrival of someone at least, and odds were it was Nikki's father. Carefully setting her face into a neutral expression, Toni opened the door with a calculatedly annoyed sounding. "Yes?"
The man standing at the door was slightly over six feet tall, trim in a muscular way, with a shock of thick blond hair and penetrating blue eyes. He smiled when Toni opened the door and answered in a rich, tenor. "Hello, I'm looking for Nick, er Nichole Reilly. Is she here?"
"Umm not just now." Toni answered. "Why are you looking for her, if you don't mind my asking?"
"I'm hi -- her -- father, Nicholas Reilly. Are you her roommate?"
"Yes I am." Toni responded with a small smile, then thoughtfully added. "Oh, Well, Nikki's probably out walking, sorting things out. She's been having a really rough time of it lately, what with the first period and everything---"
Uh, huh, I'd heard -- .PERIOD???!" The elder Reilly looked as if he had been hit with a telephone pole and still hadn't recovered his senses.
"Well, Shuh! And MAN did it hit her hard! I don't know what was worse, the mood swings or the panic attacks! Though the panic attacks didn't come with interior weather fronts-- Believe me, when they told me about this place, they didn't say NOTHING about moody Elves!"
"Are you trying to tell me that Nick... ummm... Nikki has PMS, or something like that? Her mom has problems with that real bad at times. "Weather fronts in the hallway? Moody Elves?" Mr. Reilly was obviously having a tough time getting his head around everything he was being told.
"Oh, so that's where it comes from--- Tell me, do you have any little tricks that help tide your wife over on these heavy periods? They might come in handy next time Nikki goes into PMS!"
The man shook his head with a glazed look in his eyes and muttered, "Then he really did change sex completely with the mutation. But what's this about an elf?"
"Uhm-- haven't you SEEN Nikki lately?"
"No, I haven't. Not since the summer before last." Mr. Reilly answered slowly, then put in. "And I just walk softly around his... urmm, Her mom when it's that time of the month. And, I haven't even gotten a recent photo of my kid."
He showed Toni a photo of an unchanged Nick. "This is the most recent one I have."
"You don't rub her feet or massage her back or draw her a nice hot bath--- WHAT KIND OF HUSBAND ARE YOU?"
"One who's still alive to talk her down when she goes too out of there with things. At least I did when we were still together." The man responded with wry humor.
Toni looked at the photo and grimaced "This is what Nikki used to look like? Jeez, what a schlub!"
"That's my son. I know he wasn't much to look at, or any good at sports, but he is smart."
"Well, this don't look like anybody _I_ know! Are you sure that you have the right room, Mister?"
"I mean, there MIGHT be more than one 'Nicky' on campus."
"This is Nikki Reilly's room, isn't it? And could there be more than one from Kansas City, MO?
"Hey, we live in a world of infinite possibilities!" Toni offered him a lame grin as she said that, knowing that her delaying tactics weren't going to hold him off for much longer.
"Well, given what I've seen so far around here, and in my job, I can see your point. But I think I have the right room, young lady. Please tell me where I can find Nikki. There are some things I need to clear up now."
"Well, Sir, I'm afraid that she's not right here at the moment. I couldn't say exactly WHERE she is- I mean, classes have barely started, we're just getting to know our way around the place- she could be at the library, or maybe she's getting hit on by some guy over at the Crystal Hall---"
"Hit on by some GUY?" His eyes bugged out. "Just how does 'she' look now?"
"Hot, really hot." Toni grimaced at the thunderous expression on the man's face then added. "She's not just pretty, or even beautiful, she's gorgeous!"
"Urk!" That response wasn't from shock. A concerned Tennyo, hearing all the shouting in the room with Nikki's name prominent in it, had rushed in, thinking that someone was out to get her friend again. And had immediately clamped an iron hard hand around the interloper's throat and literally lifted him off the floor.
"All right, just who are you and what do you want with Nikki?" Tennyo grated out then finished with. "The poor girl's had way too many weirdo's interested in her since she got here and deserves some peace and quiet. Why don't you just let me escort you outside and we can discuss all this in private?"
As Tennyo was about to do just that, the closet door crashed open and Nikki burst out of it into the room. "No Billie! Don't do that! He's my Dad!"
"Your Dad?!" Tennyo quickly let go of the man's neck and grimaced in embarrassment.
"Uh oh. Sorry, I didn't know! I just thought you were some other jerk after Nikki for some idiot reason. Really!"
"I know, Billie, and thanks for the thought." Nikki let out a long sigh as her father simply stared at her while getting his breath back.
"Uh, yeah, right." Tennyo gulped, gave the man a weak smile and edged towards the door. "Sorry. I think -- I'll -- just -- You know -- leave now and let you two -- uh, talk. Nice meeting you Mr. Reilly."
Tennyo kind of slid out the door muttering something about not being able to get anything right lately and Mr. Reilly managed to regain his breath. "Nick?"
"Hi Daddy." Nikki blushed. "It's Nichole now, but everyone just calls me Nikki."
"Nikki... Right, I can see that." The elder Reilly nodded and closed his eyes. "The mutation really did a job on you, didn't it, son, er ah, honey?"
"Yeah, and if you feel confused try it from my end of the shtick. I'm even having my first period right now."
"I heard." Nicholas answered distractedly. "What's this about weather fronts in the hallway?"
"You really don't want to be around when dear little Nikki is PMSing." Toni dryly responded and grinned at the redhead's wince when reminded of that. "Took us hours to clean up all the puddles and there are still scorch marks on the walls and floors from all the lightning."
"Never mind." The man faintly replied with a nod. "I get the picture."
Of course, when the commotion began in Nikki and Toni's room, Hank, Jade, and Ayla had rushed over to see what was going on and to help out if it was needed. They were met by an embarrassed Tennyo who managed to mutter. "It's ok, it's Nikki's Dad."
"How's he taking it?" Jade questioned, recalling how her own father had treated her with a shudder.
"So far, very quietly." Tennyo's subdued answer came in response. "I, uh, kind of jumped to conclusions and almost choked him. I don't think he's talking all that well yet."
"It's ok." Hank assured the still abashed Tennyo. "Any of us would have done the same if we'd gotten in there first. Right?"
Any answer to that was interrupted by a furious Hipployta rushing down the hallway in all her blustering, feminist brick glory. "I hear someone's bothering Nikki down here! Why aren't you wimps helping her instead of standing around talking about it?!"
"It's ok, Hipp, really." Jade answered in a small voice. "It's her..."
"NO it isn't ok!" the large solid looking young woman shouted. "No limp dicked Male is going to get away with charging in here and hassling a sister! Out of my way! I'll handle this."
"I don't think that would be such a good idea." Hank quietly interposed himself between the raging amazon and the door into Nikki and Toni's room. "Just calm down and we'll explain it all to you."
"I'll explain to you, traitor to your own kind!" Hipployta grated as she grabbed hank and negligently tossed him across the hall to bounce off the wall with a crack of plaster and woodwork.
"I really wish you hadn't done that." Hank dusted himself off as he zipped through the air and again stood between the girl and the door. "Now let me put it this way. You are not going in there."
"Oh and who's going to stop me?" Hipployta grinned nastily. "You little man?"
"Uh huh." Hank smiled as he grabbed the young woman and threw her down the hallway, almost to the stairs. "I sure am."
"Brick fight!" Someone shouted as everyone who had been watching scrambled to get out of the line of battle. "Head for the hills!"
"How did all this happen so fast?" Nicholas questioned almost plaintively while still staring at his new daughter in fascinated shock."
"It just kind of snuck up on me, Daddy." Nikki answered slowly. "I use magic, and every time I do, it changes me some more. I couldn't help it! Honest!"
"I know, I know." The elder Reilly let out a sigh, then whirled towards the doorway as loud shouting followed by a crash that shook the walls interrupted whatever he was going to say. "What the Hell?"
"Looks like Hipp and Hank are arguing again." Toni observed as a large female body literally flew past the door with a shriek of rage. "They're both bricks and don't get along so well with each other."
"You mean to tell me that two students are fighting in the hallway?" The man questioned as he continued watching the altercation outside the door. Hank was holding a furiously cursing Hipployta from getting a strangle hold on him while industriously beating at the girl's head with his free hand. All the while smiling gleefully. "Where are the hall monitors, and why aren't they doing something about this?"
"Mr. Reilly." Toni explained patiently through the crashes, shouts, thuds, and falling plaster. "They're bricks. You know, super strong types? The hall monitors are probably watching from a safe place, trying to call security, and taking bets on who'll win this fracas. Besides, would you really want to try breaking up this fight?"
"Uh, I see what you mean." Nicholas hunched his shoulders as a large piece of ceiling plaster barely missed him. "Does this kind of thing happen often around here?"
"How would I know? I've only been here a couple of weeks." The black girl shrugged.
"This is making a really great first impression." Nikki grumbled as she found the lines she wanted and built a shield against the wall facing the hallway, and incidentally blocking the door. Not a moment too soon either, as a grunting, swearing pair of Bricks engaged in trying to tear each other apart rolled into the doorway.
Then were surrounded in bright violet light that bulged inward, and snapped back like a stretched rubber band. Throwing the fighting pair out of the room and into the opposite wall with a force that shook half the building.
"Oops, made it a little too soft." Nikki shook her head and redid the shield until she was satisfied it would hold and not bend again. "Now where were we, Daddy?"
"Did you do that?" Nicholas pointed at the doorway as he watched his strange child with something close to awe in his expression.
"Uh, yeah. I didn't want them rolling around in here and breaking up our stuff, is all." Nikki replied a little sheepishly, then stared him right in the face. "I'm a wizard, that's the kind of stuff I do!"
"I'd heard, but seeing you actually do it is something else altogether."
"I know. It's kind of hard to take if you aren't expecting to see it. Especially when it's your own kid doing it." Nikki let out a little sigh and ran her hands over her very female and feminine form. "I'm really sorry things turned out the way they have, Daddy, and if there was another way I would have taken it instead of, of This!
"I know, sweetheart." Nicholas quietly responded. "I'm sorry, it's just been a real shock for me. First I thought your Mom had gone off the deep end and gotten you to start dressing like a girl just to get back at me. Then I thought she might have influenced your change somehow. I know those ideas are idiotic, but for Christ's Sake I just heard that my oldest son had become my daughter. What was I supposed to think?"
"Pretty messed up, isn't it?" Nikki quietly answered that with a little lift of one shoulder in a very feminine shrug. "Do you think I'm that bad, really?"
Any answer was briefly halted as a maniacally grinning Hipployta, holding a struggling Hank like a log, rammed his head into the shield at the doorway, causing more plaster and dust to fall. Hank, immediately twisted out of her grasp and flipped her over to crash into some unfortunate piece of furniture in the hallway, then bounded after her with a gleeful shout.
"Well, I can sure see that your time here is going to be really interesting, honey." Nicholas allowed a small grin to show on his face. "Providing you survive long enough to be here any longer."
"Yup, never a dull moment at good ol' Whateley." Toni put in. "But not to worry, Nikki can take care of herself, and has friends to look out for her, too."
"I've noticed." The elder Reilly ruefully rubbed his bruised neck. "That actually sets my mind at ease about you being here, Nikki. And no, you are anything but awful in my eyes. Ok, I lost a son. He was kind of a wimp, but I loved him. Now I have a beautiful and very -- umm -- talented daughter I can love just as much. And maybe she'll let me show her that more than Nick would have."
"You mean that?" Nikki looked up with a hopeful gleam in her big violet eyes.
"Yes I do." Nicholas answered with a slow smile. "Now let me give my little girl a hug."
"Ok, that's enough for me." Toni grinned. "Nikki, could you drop that shield for a sec? I suppose I ought to get out of here and let you two have some time together. And somebody needs to stop that ruckus out there."
"Down." Nikki announced from within her father's arms.
"Thanks, oh, and you two might want to cover your ears here in a few seconds."
"You mean you could have broken that up any time?" Nicholas gave the slender black girl a dubious look. "And just let them go on?"
"Hey, didn't you see their faces?" Toni chuckled. "They were having fun! But it's time for things to quiet down a little. Cover your ears now."
Even with their ears covered and Nikki placing a protective cloak of magic around them the sudden KIIIII -- YAHHHH! Almost gave them both headaches. Toni neatly stepped over a stunned Hank and Hipployta just outside the door and conversationally told them. "You know, you two should really take this kind of thing to the gym. It's really hard to have a meaningful conversation when you're carrying on like that in the hallway."
"I know." Nikki shrugged as her father stared after the departing Toni in surprise. "I still have weird friends."
"But good ones, sweetie." Nicholas gave her another hug. "I can see that already."
"Yeah, I know."
"Want to go have some lunch? I hear the cafeteria here is really impressive."
"Sure Daddy. I can give you the ten cent tour, too if you want, though I'm still learning my way around the place, too. I don't think Ms. Tenent would be too upset about me missing class since you're here."
"Would that be Ophelia Tenent?" Nicholas questioned with interest. "Caduceus?"
"That's her." Nikki nodded. "My physician, one of my teachers, and my advisor all in one package."
"Very capable woman, but she gets a little carried away with her research at times." Nicholas agreed. "Once she's latched onto something she finds interesting, she doesn't let it go until she's satisfied that she has all the answers."
"I've kind of gotten that impression already from her." Nikki answered. "But at least she's nice, and I like her."
"Good." Nicholas nodded. "Well, let's go have that lunch, I'm starved. Then we can get your new clothes up here and go talk with your mentor."
"Oh, you know about Sir Wallace?"
"Sir Wallace?" Nicholas frowned. "He came himself? I only asked him to recommend someone capable of helping you through all this. Then we definitely have to have a talk with him. A real long one."
Nikki didn't respond, thinking that having a doting father who worried about his little girl and men might be just as bad as one who didn't want that daughter. But she kept that thought to herself and simply enjoyed being with him.
On their way to the cafeteria, something happened that made Nikki sure that being a pretty girl was going to be a LOT more complicated regarding her father.
A tall, good looking young man watched them walk into the courtyard as Nikki showed her father around, and literally charged up to them, taking her hand and kissing it so many times she wondered if he provided towels.
"Oh my beautiful lady!" The boy gushed. "I have watched you from afar and am captivated by your beauty. Please reward me with your attention."
"Who is this?" Nicholas questioned with more curiosity than anger.
"I don't know!" Nikki responded while trying to disengage her hand from the boy's grasp. "I've never seen him before."
"My name is Paul, also known as Stalwart by those who know me." The boy informed them while absolutely refusing to let go of her hand. "I've been watching you from afar, fair lady, and am smitten with your beauty."
"Like who isn't?" Nikki sourly responded, still trying to get her hand out of his grasp.
"Does this happen to you a lot?" Her dad questioned as he considered ways to get the boy away from his daughter.
"NO!" Nikki almost shouted while going to the extreme of putting on foot on the boy's chest and yanking her hand free of his grasp, but only momentarily since he reached back and got it again. "Why don't you just go away, Paul, or Stalwart?"
Because you were meant to be mine!" The boy enthused while maintaining his grasp on her hand.
"And just HOW did you reach that conclusion, son?" Nicholas questioned as his newly discovered daughter continued trying to get her small hand out of the boy's grasp.
"It was meant to be." Paul answered simply, with a worshipful look at Nikki. "I am supposed to have a Lady to defend and love."
"So why did you pick on ME?" Nikki questioned breathlessly, finally getting her hand free from his grasp, causing him to nearly fall to his back with the force of her foot on his chest and the sudden lack of equalizing pressure from her hand in his grasp.
"You were meant for me, beautiful lady!"
"Oh, God, give me a break for a change." Nikki muttered while making sure he couldn't get another death grip on one of her hands -- or any other part of her body.
"I pledge my eternal love and devotion to you here and now, Beautiful lady!" Stalwart shouted as he got another powerful grip on her hand in spite of her struggles. "A favor from you is all I ask to remind me of you. A scarf carrying your scent..."
"I don't have any scarves!" Nikki almost shrieked while still struggling to pull her hand from his grasp.
"Panties then!" The boy answered.
"Now hold on here!" Nicholas remonstrated the boy. "You need to let go of my daughter right now! And don't be indecent here!"
"You are her FATHER? Wonderful!" The boy retained his grasp on the almost frantic Nikki while giving Nicholas a long look. "Then please allow me to pledge mah troth to her this minute! I am in love's gentle embrace and must have your daughter in wedlock to ease my poor heart!"
"LET GO OF MY HAND!!!!" Nikki had both feet on the boy, one on his chest, the other on his forehead while she tried yanking her hand out of his grasp. "Daddy, I've never seen this guy in my life! Honest! I'm not ready to pledge my troth, or whatever it is he wants! Just talk him into letting me go! Please! And don't, make me use my magic, Stalwart, or whoever you are."
"Ah, wonderful lady." The boy responded almost dreamily while maintaining his iron-like grip on her hand. "You have already smitten me with your magic! I can never forget or ignore your great beauty."
"Where's security when you need them?" Nicholas grumbled, realizing that the boy was far stronger physically than he could manage himself.
"LET ME GO!!" Nikki screamed, to the general amusement of a growing crowd of onlookers.
"I will never let you go, my darling!" The boy vowed as he resisted her attempts to remove her hand from his.
"SHIT!" Nikki screamed and called up her magic, finding the lines that connected herself to the obnoxious boy and cutting them as if she had used a sharp knife on silk thread. "I told you to let go of me! Now I have to do it myself! IDIOT!"
All at once, a multi-colored aura surrounded the boy and literally ripped his hands off Nikki, then threw him across the grassed commons area. Nikki glowered at him while rubbing her hand. "I warned you! Now go away and I won't hurt you, ok? I'm not ready for a boyfriend, let alone a husband yet. Go troll at some bar or something, but please leave me alone!"
"How did you do that?" Nicholas questioned as his new daughter dusted herself off while glowering at Paul, or Stalwart.
"I used the lines I can see." Nikki informed him a little breathlessly. "Then cut the ones that connected him to me, then sent him across the commons area just to get rid of him."
"Ahh, ok." Nicholas nodded with a wan smile. "I can see that I'm not really going to have to worry about you and boys you aren't interested in."
"NO boys just now, thanks." Nikki retorted. "I can't and won't deal with that on top of everything else I'm going through just now. Believe me Daddy, I do not want a boyfriend yet."
"That I noticed." The elder Reilly gulped after seeing another instance of what his new daughter was capable of. "What worries me is when you find a guy you like."
"Don't hold your breath on that one." Nikki grumbled, then brightened. "So how about lunch? You said you were hungry and I'm starved!"
"Sure, honey." Nicholas nodded, then gave her a long, hard look. "Will we need to get a private room or something to have a reasonably normal lunch?"
To be Continued