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For Those Who Fell

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A Second Generation Whateley Academy Story

For Those Who Fell

by Domoviye

 

Boston
May 10th, 2010

Seven year old Abigail sat in the small classroom, listening to Crystal, her Aunt, teach the history of Boston. She was sitting beside her cousin Esmeralda, who was also her best friend, and three other cousins who were all seven to eleven years old. Her five year old sister, Clara, was sitting at a table with the other young children colouring pictures, while her older cousins were working together on a project, she was pretty sure was a crossbow.

“In 2003, Agent Orion lured Lamp Lighter to a hive of vampires in Hyde Park. The vampires were feeding on the local residents and had an agreement with a major gang, helping them kill and scare rival gangs in return for protection during the day. The gang and vampires were too strong for Agent Orion or his team to deal with safely. Rather than giving up, he dressed up as a supervillain, calling himself the Son of Seth, and robbed a bank, making sure Lamplighter was nearby,” Aunt Crystal said, pressing a button to show a big, tall man in a silly dark yellow and black costume that looked a little like something from Ancient Egypt, on the huge computer screen.

Abigail leaned in closer to listen. She already knew this story, but it was always fun to hear.

A buzzer sounded and an orange light began to flash, startling everyone.

"Come along class, no wasting time," Crystal said.

Her aunt got to her feet and pushed on a bookcase. It moved surprisingly easily, revealing a metal door. While she opened it, Abigail and all the other children stood up and got in line, ready to go to the safe room. The older cousins helped the littlest ones, making sure they weren't scared. Abigail wasn't too worried, it was only an orange alert, but she didn't waste time, it could turn into a red alert at any moment.

Taking Clara's hand, she followed her cousins down the secret escape route, as Aunt Crystal made sure everyone was following the rules. Her Aunt had her hand on the pistol that hung from her pants, ready to shoot anything that might try to hurt them.

The stairs were really narrow, so they had to walk in single file. She kept hold of her sisters hand, carefully leading her down the dimly lit stairs, while holding onto the rail with her other hand, just like she'd been taught. They had to go down several flights of stairs, until they reached the second basement and the safe room.

The safe room was built just like a vault, with one big metal door they had just come through, and an even larger one that she was told led to the sewers if the monsters or bad people ever managed to take their home. She had never been in the sewers and hoped that she'd never have to go into them, they sounded yucky. But they had to be ready, their home had almost been destroyed over a hundred years ago by shapeshifters, they couldn't take any chances.

All along the floor, right up against the wall was a groove filled with salt and covered by plastic so it wouldn't get damaged. The walls were etched with lots of pretty designs, they were the same ones her sister had been colouring before the emergency. Her parents had told her they were wards to keep out ghosts, spirits, magic and monsters. She had a tattoo on her temple, hidden under her hair, just like one of the wards. It would protect her from being possessed or having her mind read, she'd had it since she was a baby. She shivered at the thought of a nasty monster using her body like a doll.

Her parents were already there, they had the emergency armoury open and began handing guns, silver swords, and oak and rowan wood spears to her older cousins. She wished she was twelve so she could get a sword, but she was too young still. Instead she went to the mats set out at the side of the room and sat down with the other children to wait.

“Clara, do you want to play patty-cake?” she asked.

Her sister nodded, too worried to speak. The other kids were talking quietly or playing little games, doing their part by staying safely out of the way and making sure no one got too scared. They were family and all in this together. Everyone had a role to play. Even if it didn't seem like much, it was still important.

Aunt Crystal came through the door and began doing a head count. When she was almost done, three more adults hurried into the safe room. They were her Aunt Hana and her husband Uncle Arthur, the family doctors, and Ms. Nancy. Ms. Nancy wasn't related to the family, but she'd been working with them for as long as Abigail had been alive and everyone liked her.

With everyone there, Aunt Crystal pressed a button to close the door. Abigail knew that if something went really wrong the adults could close the door by hand, but it would be slower and really hard. She hoped the door would never break. With nothing to do they waited to find out what was happening from the guards in the control centre. Until they got the OK, they couldn't leave unless it was an emergency and they had to run into the sewer.

Finally a voice came over the intercom. Abigail had to cover her mouth to stop a squeal of delight at hearing her Uncle Jerry.

“Good work everyone, that was excellent time, especially from the children. Come up to the banquet hall we have a surprise,” Uncle Jerry said.

All the weapons were put away and marked down while the door opened. Once again Abigail took Clara by the hand but this time instead of following her class, she waited for her parents to finish their jobs.

“Uncle Jerry's home!” she shouted, jumping up and down with delight.

“Yes he is,” her father said much more calmly.

He didn't get excited very often. He said that was why he liked studying old books, writing stuff down, and making the wards that protected them, it was calm, important, and safe. Abigail had tried reading some of his safe books, she thought it was really boring.

Her mother picked up Clara, telling her that she had been a brave little girl. “Come on, let's go see what the surprise is,” she said.

They had to wait to make sure the door closed properly before they made their way up the stairs, coming out of a secret entrance on the first floor of their home. They walked through the maze of halls and doors that Abigail knew so well, but would confuse anyone new to the house, until they reached the banquet hall. The house was so big because when her family had built the home back before they had cars or anything, they had made it look like the home was four brownstone buildings standing side by side, but it was actually one large one.

In the banquet hall it looked like almost everyone was there, so the room was packed. She saw Uncle Jerry, also known as Agent Orion, standing on the little stage, with Father James. They had something hidden under a white sheet, she couldn't tell what it was but it seemed important. She hopped up and down trying to get a better look.

“Abigail, they have treats over there,” her mother said, pointing at the big table at the side of the room which was covered in cakes, donuts, cookies and pie.

Sugar overpowered her curiosity, and she ran over with Clara to grab the good stuff before it was all eaten. While they ate, the adults were talking among themselves. Not only had Uncle Jerry come back, but he'd brought most of his team and everyone wanted to talk. They were her relatives too, but Abigail didn't really know them, and she knew they'd want to talk about adult stuff first. The only one she wanted to talk to was Uncle Jerry, he always told the best stories.

Just as she finished her plate of goodies, Father James cleared his throat.

“Everyone, we're about to begin,” he said.

Abigail led Clara to the front of the room, where the smaller children stood so they could see everything. The adults and teenagers found their own places, standing with their immediate family or friends.

Father James started the meeting as he always did, with a short prayer for the safety of everyone and their home. Abigail bowed her head and closed her eyes like she'd been taught.

After the prayer, Father James said, “Nam qui ceciderunt.”

Abigail and everyone else repeated it. She didn't think she said it right, but her parents had told her that as long as she meant it, it was fine. Since it was the family motto, meant to remember the people and family who had fallen in their fight against evil, she really, really meant it.

Father James stepped aside, letting Uncle Jerry take center stage.

“Hello everyone, I have to say it's good to be home,” her Uncle said.

He looked confident and brave on stage. She didn't think she could ever be as brave as he was. He had his shirt sleeves rolled up, revealing lots of tattoos. Some of the tattoos made her eyes water if she looked at them for too long. He said they were to protect him. When he raised his hands, she saw the small crucifix tattooed onto his palms. Every adult in the family had at least one of those tattoos, it was called the last defence. She couldn't wait until she was allowed to get hers.

“I'm sure many of you are curious about where we were. Sorry we couldn't tell you, it was a top secret mission. Now I can happily say it was a complete success,” Uncle Jerry said, pulling the sheet off of the object.

It was a big, old book. It looked ugly, like it was rotten and slimy, and would make you all dirty just to touch it.

“We are now the proud owners of the purported Grimoire of Baba Yaga. It wasn't easy to get, Francois was badly hurt in the fight with the cult, and all of us got plenty of bruises and a few broken bones. But we all survived and after a good, long rest we'll be ready to go out again to fight the good fight.”

The room filled with clapping and cheers, and Abigail van Halsing eagerly joined in. This was how she knew her family was the greatest in the world. The Van Helsing's had been fighting monsters and bad people for centuries to keep people safe, and one day she'd be old enough to do her part.

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That Night

Abigail sat drowsing on the couch, it was long past time for her to go to bed. She had been listening to Uncle Jerry's stories of fighting evil ghosts, vampires, spirits and cultists until she couldn't keep her eyes open.

“Did you know The Hungry Ghost of Phoenix is back from the dead, Noah?” Jerry asked her father.

“Yes. For the last month. We were certain she'd be permanently exorcised with that last ritual,” her father replied.

Her mother spoke up. “I don't know if we can exorcise her without someone like the Dalai Lama or the Pope taking part in it. She's at least four hundred years old if the legends and old documents are even close to accurate, and was powerful right from the start.”

“Well keep looking into it. She killed six of us last time, and three more are permanently sidelined, we can't let her get away with it,” Uncle Jerry said.

“She was physically destroyed by three different Champions, and exorcised by god alone knows how many holy people over the years. She's come back each time. We may have to call a crusade to truly deal with her, I don't know if we can get the support to do it,” her father said.

She heard her uncle sigh unhappily. He always tried to appear happy and confident when she was around, but she'd listened at enough doorways to know he was unhappy a lot. That was why she wanted to grow up and become strong enough to help him. She would be the greatest fighter ever, and make sure he was happier and the world was kept safe.

“Well keep looking into it for me. I owe some good men her head,” Uncle Jerry said. “What about this spirit in the children's hospital?”

It was her mothers turn to sigh sadly. “It's a nasty fear driven type. It doesn't seem to kill on purpose, but it's left at least two children catatonic, made a man have a fatal cardiac arrest, and likely caused a nurse to kill herself. We have a contact inside who can get you in with some forged credentials tomorrow night to lead the exorcism. Nancy has already scouted the hospital and will go with you as back up.”

“Still trying to play matchmaker and get me to settle down,” her Uncle chuckled.

“She was the best for the job. The fact that she's a lovely, eligible woman whose been eyeing you for the last year is just a side benefit. You're getting older, you can't keep acting like your twenty, or even thirty.”

“You may be right. Abigail here is getting old enough to start properly training, and I've heard she's showing promise. As smart as you two, with the heart of a lion, She'll make a fine Helsing once she's old enough.”

Abigail didn't hear anything else. Those words made her heart swell with pride. Her uncle, the bravest and strongest person she knew thought she was that good. She couldn't let him down.

With the words still ringing in her ears, she drifted off to sleep.

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Franklin Park Zoo,
May 11th

Abigail skipped towards the tiger exhibit, her mother was beside her, holding Clara's hand. It was a beautiful day, she was dressed up in her prettiest yellow sun dress, and her class was going on its monthly field trip a little earlier than usual, and a lot of the parents were there acting as chaperones. She knew it was because of her birthday tomorrow. She'd be turning eight years old and everyone always made a big deal when a child had a birthday, it was a sign that despite the monsters and evil in the world, humanity and the Helsing's, would survive and thrive. So there would be a big party in the banquet hall with everyone invited, and she'd be princess for the day.

They reached the exhibit and she got up as close as she could to the cage. While Aunt Crystal gave a short lecture on the tigers, Abigail watched the big predatory cats. They were so strong and pretty, one of them yawned revealing their long teeth.

That was going to be her one day, as beautiful as her mother, as smart as her father, and as strong as her Uncle Jerry, with her fangs hidden until she needed to use them.

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Suppertime

The table was covered in food. Her father had spent all evening cooking up a storm. There were warm homemade buns, pasta and four cheese sauce which was Abigail's favourite, corn on the cob, and boiled broccoli, which she could have done without. In the kitchen was an apple pie, fresh from the oven, with really good vanilla ice cream in the freezer.

Her stomach rumbled just from the smell of it.

Before she could eat there was something important she had to do. Taking a small plate that had silvery symbols painted on it, she put a large spoonful of pasta and broccoli, a half cob of corn and a homemade bun on it. Carefully, making sure not to spill anything, she took the offering to the shrine beside the door.

“Thank you Lares, for protecting our home,” she said, putting the plate in the centre of the shrine.

It was important to keep the Lares spirit fed and happy. Her great grandfather had discovered the spirit a long time ago in Italy, and after finding out it was helpful had brought it back to Boston with him. It was supposed to be one of the last of the Lares still on earth, and now with everyone in the house giving it offerings, it was really strong, just like her family. And it helped keep bad spirits and ghosts out of their house.

Going back to her seat, her parents started filling her and Clara's plates.

Uncle Jerry was sitting beside her and had already piled his plate full of food. “Abigail what do you want to be when you grow up?” he asked.

“I want to be a fighter and fight the monsters,” she said.

“You don't want to be a scholar like your mother and father? They're really important, without them I wouldn't know how to fight the monsters properly, and we wouldn't have the wards keeping us safe.”

She shook her head. “Books are b-” she stopped herself just in time. Calling books boring probably wouldn't be very good. “Books are OK, but I want to be a fighter.”

For some reason the adults all smiled, her father even chuckled, even though she hadn't said anything funny. Adults were weird.

“What about being an investigator, researcher, or doctor? They study all kinds of things to help us fight monsters, make the weapons we need to fight them, and make us healthy when we get hurt.”

“I don't want to do any of that. I want to be a fighter, like you and Ms. Nancy.”

He reached out to rub her hair. “OK then. I'm going to stay in Boston now, and really move in downstairs, not just stay there sometimes. I'll start training you next week, it won't be easy, I'm not going to take it easy on you just because you're my niece. If you work hard and listen carefully you'll be ready to start protecting people when you're eighteen.”

“I'll work really hard, and do everything perfectly,” she said, beaming up at him.

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May 12th

It was still early in the morning when Abigail was shaken awake.

“What?” she muttered, wiping the sleep from her eyes.

“It's time to wake up, dear. Come and have breakfast,” her mother said.

She got out of bed, looking over at Clara who was still asleep and wondered why her sister didn't have to get up so early in the morning.

Going to the dining room table, she ate her cereal in silence. Her mother wasn't smiling or doing much of anything just standing there drinking her morning tea looking really sad.

Once she was done eating, she put her dishes in the sink and went over to give her mother a hug. “What's wrong?” she asked.

Her mother bent down to give her a big hug. “Your Uncle Jerry, he went to fight a really bad spirit last night. It was hurting children, just like you. He and Ms. Nancy trapped it in a room, but it was very strong, much stronger than we thought it was. It hurt Ms. Nancy very badly, and it... Your Uncle Jerry died.”

The words didn't make sense. Uncle Jerry couldn't be dead. He was too big and tough. He'd fought and beaten all kinds of monsters and even a supervillain once. He was so smart he could trick superheroes to help him defeat the boogeymen, vampires and evil magic users. He was going to teach her how to be just as big and tough as he was.

He couldn't be dead.

Tears began falling from her eyes like rain.

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Afternoon

Abigail looked up as her father stepped into their apartment. He'd been gone all day and no one had told her where he was, just saying he had business to finish. They also hadn't had her party, not that she wanted one. Without Uncle Jerry there, it wouldn't be any fun.

She gasped at the sight of him. His face was puffy and dark with bruises. He groaned while taking off his shoes, moving like his back was stiff and really sore. He was holding a book wrapped up in shiny black cloth with a bright red, eye watering symbol on it. It was one of his special books that she was never to touch or even look at.

Her mother ran over to him. “Noah, are you alright?”

“I'll live, Nora,” he said, wincing as he spoke.

“And the spirit?”

“I sent it to hell. Not the one it came from either. So it's going to suffer a long time.”

She'd never heard her father talk like that. He was always quiet, almost shy. But the way he had spoken, it sounded... evil.

He came over to her and knelt down, placing his hands on her shoulders. “Abigail, the spirit that killed your Uncle Jerry, it's never going to hurt anyone ever again. I made sure of it. He did a great thing trapping it. It let me finish his job and kept more people from getting killed or badly hurt. He was a hero and he loved you. He loved everyone. Remember that, we risk our lives to make sure others have the chance to grow up free and safe, because we love our fellow men. We stand between the monsters and humanity, even when it hurts us so badly we want to give up, because of love.”

Hugging him, careful not to do it too hard, she kissed her father on the cheek. “I'll remember. And when I grow up I'll make you and Uncle Jerry proud.”

"I know you will, dear."

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Boston
April 19th, 2015

Thirteen year old Abigail watched her opponent, trying to figure out a way past the flashing silver dagger. Her Aunt Nancy was smiling nastily, her right arm ready to lash out if she made the smallest mistake.

The woman didn't look like much of a threat, her left arm hung limp and atrophied after being paralyzed five years before, and her left eye was foggy, nearly blind, from the same fight. Nancy couldn't go out on missions anymore, but teaching children how to fight was still possible. And the woman had developed some very nasty tricks over the years that more than made up for her disability.

She tried to sweep Nancy off her feet, swinging the spear at knee height.

The woman seemed to teleport, slamming her shoulder into Abigail, sending her to the ground,making her lose the spear in the process.

Rolling to her feet, Abigail drew a dagger from her belt and went on the attack. Going low, using her smaller size to her advantage, she tried to slip through the blender, the area directly in front of her opponent where Nancy could most effectively use her weapon.

A foot came up and slammed into her gut, sending her flying back to land on the mat. Clutching her stomach, she tried not to throw up.

Nancy gave Abigail a few minutes to recover, going over to a stroller where a baby, just over a year and a half old was sleeping. It was odd seeing the merciless fighting instructor cooing over her son, grinning happily at the little snores coming from the baby.

When she could stand without the risk of vomiting, Abigail went to the bench and sat down. It was a beautiful day and plenty of people were enjoying the fine weather on top of the brownstone house. At one end people were tending the rooftop garden and greenhouse, that was full of special herbs and plants to ward off spirits and ghosts. Others were sparring like she and Nancy were. A few were exercising at the outdoor gym, and the rest were just sitting back and relaxing.

It was the family's secret little oasis of calm.

“What did you do wrong?” Nancy asked.

“I wasn't aggressive or fast enough. You saw me coming a mile away,” she said.

“You weren't fast enough, the aggressiveness you've got in spades. You should have tried to circle me instead of relying purely on speed and aggression. You could have also feinted with the spear when you went for my legs. You had a good form, but I was ready for something like that. When you fell, you recovered beautifully, I was impressed.”

Despite the bruises, Abigail sat up a bit straighter at the compliment. They didn't come easy from Nancy, so hearing that she was impressed was high praise.

“You need to remember, you're almost always going to be smaller and weaker than your opponents. Some of them will be able to snap you like a twig. Others will simply out mass you and trying to go blow for blow with them will leave you lying on the floor wondering what the fuck just hit you. You need to be fast, aggressive and clever. Use your size and speed to hit them from an unexpected angle, lure them into traps to whittle them down before hitting them directly, use surprise to get them to drop their guard.”

“OK. Fight smarter, not harder,” she said.

“Very good. Ready to for round five?”

“Whenever you are.”

Nancy fixed the blanket to better cover her son and walked back to the ring. While her back was turned, Abigail ran as lightly as possible and tackled her legs, sending the woman to the ground.

Leaping to her feet, she grabbed the spear that was lying on the ground and pointed it at Nancy's throat. “Was this enough of a surprise?” she asked.

The woman burst out laughing. “OK, you got me. Now I'm going to make you hurt.”

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The workshop was much cleaner than it had been three hours ago. Abigail wiped the sweat from her brow, and took a well earned break. Despite her aching bruises, Nancy had ordered her to tidy up the place since she'd lost all but one of the sparring matches. If she'd lost all of the matches the punishment would have been even worse.

She knew that most kids her age would complain about it. She watched enough TV and saw how other families acted in public, to have an idea of what 'normal' people did. But she wasn't normal, and had no desire to be. Her family had a purpose, and she had her own goals. That was why she insisted Nancy be harder on her than her cousins, and it was why she'd accept her punishments without complaint. It was incentive to get better.

And it was paying off. After cleaning the workshop twice a week for the last six months, she knew where everything was and even what the more odd looking tools were. So the time wasn't wasted.

Her eyes fell on a pair of goggles and she had a sudden urge to do something. She couldn't really explain it, her fingers twitched and and an idle idea came to mind. Going to the electronics side of the room she pulled out some tools and electronic parts, going more by intuition than having an actual plan.

As she worked with the tools, soldering wires together, attaching a small circuit board to the goggles, and creating a protective case, she saw each step unfold moments before she did them. When it was finally done, she wiped some sweat from her brow and realized she had an audience. Her parents were watching her, along with Uncle Ronald the main tech worker, and a few others.

And then her stomach growled, loudly. Looking at the clock she saw it was well past supper, she'd been working on her project for four hours.

“Uh, hi,” she said, nervously.

“What were you doing?” her mother asked.

“I made a pair of goggles that lets you see ghosts and spirits,” she said, holding up the now bulky pair of goggles.

“Can I see those?” Ronald asked.

She handed them over, not sure what was going to happen. She chewed on her lip as he looked over her invention. When he put them on and flicked the switch, she was almost certain they'd explode.

His jaw dropped. Taking them off, he looked around the room again. Then he put them back on and looked at one particular spot where no one was standing and nothing interesting was happening.

“Abigail, put them on and look around,” he said.

Adjusting the strap to fit her smaller head, she did what she was told. Everything looked OK, a little grainy but nothing too weird. Then she saw a tall, proud looking figure wearing a purple toga. He had brown hair and olive skin, and was watching her curiously with a slight smile that matched his regal appearance.

Taking the goggles off, she couldn't see the figure anymore. “I guess they work,” she said, softly.

“Can you tell me why they work?”

“Well we know spirits don't exactly exist in our dimension, being part of the astral plane. So I thought if I alter the right wavelengths, maybe we could see spirits and ghosts. The electronics alter the light as it goes through the lense, changing its wavelength and making it something we can see.” She trailed off as she noticed the confusion of the adults. She knew how it worked in her head, it all made perfect sense, but she didn't know the words to explain it.

“What exactly did Abigail do?” her father asked. The unasked question hung in the air, was she possessed by a spirit or ghost.

Ronald looked at the goggles, then at her. “If I had to guess, I'd say she just manifested and made her first devise.”

Her knees sagged, as much from hunger as relief. Her mother and father rushed over to her, smiling as they hugged her.

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April 25th, 2015

Reaching out, Abigail tentatively shook hands with the Lares who protected her home. The Roman spirit seemed to find it amusing that she could now see and touch him. He'd spent the last few days watching her work on her devises, applauding her successes and wincing at her sometimes painful mistakes.

Her latest and second devise was a set of gloves that let her touch spirits and presumably ghosts. They were sized for her hands, if something went wrong she wanted to make sure only she got hurt. Now that she knew they worked it would be easy to replicate the process in larger gloves, so adults could use them in the field. The devise looked like an ordinary pair of gloves, but they had a metal structure under the leather making them rather solid. Punching someone with them would be similar to brass knuckles. The metal also held the special electrical charge which allowed them to interact with the astral plane. They would only work for an hour or two, but a ten minute recharge in the energy converter would have them working again with no problems.

According to the off the records lab one of her meaner looking uncles had taken her to, she was a devisor 2, with a focus on spirits and the astral plane. Apparently that was a pretty rare focus, but it made perfect sense to her, considering what her family did. She was upset that she wasn't a gadgeteer, if she was she could pass out blueprints to every branch of her family and they could mass produce her devises. Instead she'd have to handcraft each devise and it wasn't clear how long they'd last before they broke down.

Her tester had said they should get her an MID, but she didn't have one yet and it looked like she wasn't going to get one. Her mother had said it was better if her gift remain a secret, so she wouldn't be targeted. Seeing how some people and groups treated mutants, she was happy to stay under the radar. She also had her family to help her if the MCO or anyone else started sniffing around.

“What do you think I should make next, sir?” she asked the Lares.

He smiled, apparently happy at being asked for his opinion, or that she was being respectful to him, and pointed at his ears.

“That's a good idea, thank you,” she said. Sitting down in what she was rapidly beginning to think of as her chair, she picked up her notebook and started writing down ideas on how to let her hear spirits.

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Boston
December 1st, 2015

Abigail tried to appear calm and collected, not an easy task considering her audience. Picking up the earbuds, she looked at the team of scouts and hunters who had come from the Midwest branch of the Van Helsing family to get her devises. If they were put off at being lectured by a thirteen year old girl, they didn't show it. They'd been told she was the expert on her devises and it seemed they accepted it.

“The ear buds will let you hear ghosts or spirits for thirty minutes before you need to recharge them. If necessary and at your discretion, you can hook them up to a portable charger using a regular micro USB to stretch out the time by up an hour or more depending on the charger. These are very energy intensive, so to properly recharge they need to be turned off,” she explained.

“What if they break, can we repair them?” one of them asked.

“If the casing cracks, or the rubber ear piece needs to be replaced, you can switch them out or glue it back together. But because these are devises, if you try to alter the actual circuitry it will permanently stop working. So you'll each receive two pairs. That's all we have available right now.”

Making the devises was a huge problem. there were her three main devises that everyone wanted, the goggles, gloves and earbuds, and she was trying to make as many of them as reasonably could. She'd managed to make the devises as simple as possible, and was getting help from her teenage cousins who could dismantle the normal earbuds, snap the casings together, do a quality check, and even do some of the basic wiring, so it was relatively quick to make. But it still took time to make her devises, and she had to go to school, develop more devises, practice sparring, get weapons training and relax. There were only so many hours in the day for her to work.

The lecture went far more easily than she'd believed possible. She didn't humiliate herself or sound like an idiot, and the team seemed satisfied with everything. As they got up to leave, taking their new devises with them, the team leader came over to her.

“You did a good job Ms. Helsing. These will be a great help in the fight,” he said, holding his hand out to her.

She blushed, momentarily speechless. She was being treated like an adult by a hunter who had dozens of missions under his belt. She wasn't just Abigail, she was now Ms. Helsing. Belatedly she realized she was leaving him hanging. Taking his hand, she tried to keep her knees from shaking. “Thank you, sir. I just want to help as best I can,” she said.

“You've done that. Just between you and me, my people think that Christmas came early this year. You're a credit to the family.”

Once again she couldn't speak, only watch as the team left, taking her devises with them. When she was all alone, she let out the squee of joy she'd been holding in. This was the best day of her life.

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Natick Mall, Boston
Afternoon

Abigail tried not to watch as Nancy kept her head swivelling while they looked for a parking spot at the largest mall in Boston. She knew her aunt was a good driver, but having only one eye had to make driving in the busy streets at least a little nerve wracking.

When they finally found a spot, she hopped out and got the baby stroller out of the back of the mini van, while Nancy used her one good hand to unstrap her son from his car seat. Her aunt could do everything on her own, but the woman had offered to take her out shopping so helping her out was the least Abigail could do.

While her aunt got her son settled, Abigail used her hand to brush her short, light brown hair into place, and adjusted her black princess coat. She was particularly proud of her coat, she'd designed it herself. It was black leather, with a kevra lining, wards stitched on the inside of the jacket, and had an inbuilt devise that would help deter ghosts or spirits from getting too close to her when activated. It also looked really good, hugging her upper body and arms without limiting her movement, with little silver studs to give it some bling. It had a detachable caplet that covered her shoulders and upper back, along with a hood for bad weather and if she needed to obscure her face. At the waist it flared out almost like a dress, letting her run or kick without the fabric catching her legs. The coat also had several hidden pockets for her gear and weapons.

“Got your phone?” Nancy asked.

“Yes, ma'am,” she replied, holding up her small purse.

“Good. We'll meet at the food court at five for supper and then head home. If you run into any trouble what do you do?”

“Get away by any means necessary,” she said.

The woman nodded, satisfied with her answer. They walked into the mall together and then parted ways having very different interests.

Trying not to skip at her newfound freedom, Abigail wondered what she should get first. She'd started getting an allowance when she turned twelve, just like most of her cousins. It wasn't much, mostly just enough to buy a few small treats and presents. Since she'd become a devisor and was now making devises for the family, she'd been getting an actual paycheck, a hundred dollars for each devise no matter how small. As she got older it would be increased, and when she turned eighteen they'd make sure she was a very wealthy woman.

The Van Helsings always made sure their children were well cared for. Education was fully paid by the family, unless the student was purposefully wasting time and money. If for some reason a teenager didn't want to join the family business, they would get a lump sum of money to start their own life and could come to visit or rejoin the family whenever they wanted. For those who wanted to join the crusade, the Van Helsings were even more generous.

The family had worked hard building up a fortune over the centuries. It kept growing from smart investments, workings as exorcists for hire, providing wards for governments, companies and people, and looting the homes of monsters and cults for antiques, money and magical items. If the magical item was 'safe' they'd sell it to trusted magic users, who would pay a fortune for an obscure book of spells or unearthly ingredient.

Her parents had bluntly explained to her that as a devisor with her focus, she was very important to the family. She could still decide to leave and do her own thing if she wanted to, they never forced their life on anyone. But if she chose to join the crusade, she would be well rewarded with money, resources and respect.

She knew what she would do when she turned eighteen. Go to college to learn more about engineering and electronics, then fight the monsters to keep humanity safe and free. She couldn't imagine doing anything else.

Wandering around the mall, wishing that her friend Esmeralda could have joined her, Abigail picked up a few nice clothes, along with a some underwear her mother would never buy for her in a million years. She was on her way to an electronics store when she noticed something odd.

Some clothes had moved almost as if they'd been hit, but no one was near them.

Most people wouldn't have noticed. If they did they'd think it was the wind or that they were seeing things. She didn't think that way. She'd been trained since she was in diapers to pay attention to her surroundings and knew that ghosts, spirits and stranger creatures were far more common than people realized.

Slipping on her custom made sunglasses, she flicked a small switch hidden in the frame. Everything became a little grainy, like an old video. Looking at the clothes she saw a man who hadn't been there a moment ago, angrily stomp down the aisle. From the way he was flinging his arms up and down, he was probably shouting.

What to do?

She wasn't supposed to go after ghosts by herself. She wasn't properly trained and far too young. But the ghost was able to actively affect the real world, and was angry enough it might hurt someone. If it was stuck to the location, she could tell the adults and they'd send a team to quietly get rid of it. If, on the other hand, it was attached to a person, they might never find it again and whoever was being haunted would suffer, and maybe even die.

If she went into the store and just looked around a little, it wouldn't be bad. As long as she didn't do anything, it would be fine, and she could learn what exactly the ghost was haunting.

Trying to act casual, Abigail followed the ghost, pretending to look at the clothes which really weren't her style. She didn't have to look very hard to see what the ghost was after, it was following a teenager, around seventeen or eighteen years old. It kept trying to grab the teen, making her clothes shift and seem to catch on things. It got in front of the girl yelling at her, tears falling from it's eyes, making the girl shiver when she unknowingly walked through the ghost, unable to realize it was even there.

This was bad. Very bad. The ghost was going to hurt the girl if it kept going.

Abigail sped up a little, slipping past the girl, ignoring the chill that went through her as the ghost brushed against her arm. Stopping to look at a very ugly crop top, she looked at the girl out of the corner of her eye. The teen looked like she hadn't slept recently, black circles surrounded her eyes and her skin was pale and clammy. The ghost got right in her face, making her flinch, even though the girl didn't know why.

She had to do something.

Putting on her gloves, she turned them on. Now she'd be able to grab the ghost, if she could get it to some out of the way place, she could try to exorcise it. She had a cross and holy water in her pocket, and she knew a simple exorcism that could work.

But what if it fought back? She couldn't really fight a ghost in a shop. She'd have to wait until the girl went somewhere quieter, maybe the bathroom. That would probably work. She'd follow the girl until they came close to somewhere quiet, then she could grab the ghost and drag it along with no one the wiser.

Turning off her gloves, she stayed within sight of the girl, studying the ghost trying to learn what it was capable of.

The girl left the store and the ghost fell to it's knees, cupping its face in its hands. Ethereal tears fell, disappearing before they hit the ground.

She got a good look at the ghosts face when it stood up. It looked confused and hurt, the anger had vanished. It ran after the teen again, trying to make her notice it. The family resemblance of the two was impossible to miss.

Putting in her earbuds, Abigail could hear the ghost pleading to be heard.

“Blake, I'm right here. Why aren't you listening to me? Please, just say something. Whatever I did wrong, I'm sorry. Stop walking away from me! I just want to talk! PAY ATTENTION TO ME!” the ghost shrieked.

Turning on her gloves, Abigail walked up to the ghost as it knelt sobbing once again. Tapping his shoulder, it felt soft, almost spongy through the gloves. The man looked up at her, hope filled his eyes, only to fade away when he saw she wasn't Blake.

“If you can stay calm, I'll get her talking to you,” she said quietly, trying not to be too obvious. “But after that you have to go, you don't belong here.”

“Y-you can see me?” the man said.

“Yes. And I can make her see you to, but you have to promise me that you won't hurt anyone and after you say what you need, you leave. Do you agree?”

The man nodded. If she was right he wasn't a malevolent ghost, just confused, stuck between life and death, needing to do one last thing before he could pass on. If he stayed like this he'd become a threat, growing increasingly angry until he destroyed his daughters life and even her sanity without meaning too, unable to help himself.

“Is she your daughter?” she asked, just to confirm her suspicions.

“Yes. She's all I have.”

“OK. Don't get angry or do anything while I talk to her, you don't want to scare her away.”

Taking one earbud out, she hurried after the teen, keeping watch on the ghost to make sure he would stay peaceful. The teen had paused by a garbage can, wiping her eyes with a tissue.

“Hi,” Abigail said. “I- uh. Are you OK? You seem pretty upset?”

“I'm fine,” the teen said, blowing her nose.

How was she supposed to do this? She had never really dealt with people outside the family. And she was a fighter, she didn't know how to win someones trust and make them open up. That was other peoples job. She took off her glasses, holding them out.

“Listen, I know this is going to sound strange, but I can tell you're upset. If you put on these glasses for just a few seconds I promise it will help and I'll leave you alone right after.”

Blake looked at her like she'd grown a third eye. “Are we on camera. Is this some kind of stunt for the internet?”

“No, I wish it was. Look, you've been getting cold flashes for a while, feeling like something watching you, having your clothes tugged, maybe hearing something you can't quite make out, right?”

“How do you know that?” the girl asked, backing away from her.

“You're being haunted. By your father. I'm not asking for money or anything, I just want to see everything come to a peaceful end. Put on the glasses, and you can see him. If you don't see anything or think it's all fake, you can leave.”

Very slowly and carefully Blake took the glasses from her. She looked them over, as if worried they might stab her and then put them on. She looked around, and then she jumped back screaming.

“Daddy! Is that you?” Blake asked, her voice quavering.

The ghost started talking, almost too fast to understand, and passerby's were giving them strange looks. Abigail started to get worried that she should have thought things out a bit more carefully.

“Hey, lets go somewhere a bit more private. And I have an earbud that will let you hear him. But we're getting a lot of attention right now,” she said.

She practically dragged the girl to a nearby hallway leading to the bathrooms. She could still hear the man talking, so he was at least following them. Taking the second earbud from her pocket she gave it to the girl. “Put this in, you'll be able to talk to him. But keep it short, this is a one time thing and then he has to pass on.”

The girl put it in her ear without any hesitation. “Daddy?” she whimpered.

“Blake, you can hear me! Finally! I've missed you so much,” the man said.

“You died. We buried you.”

“I needed to say goodbye. I'm sorry I didn't pick you up from school.”

Abigail walked a little ways away to give them some privacy. She waited patiently while the two talked, making sure things stayed peaceful. The ghosts voice got steadily fainter until it finally vanished.

Walking back to Blake, she saw the teen was crying, but she didn't look quite so sad anymore. “He's gone?” she asked.

“He faded away. He said he was sorry he couldn't stay longer,” Blake sobbed.

She hugged the taller girl. “I'm sorry for your loss. I know what it's like to lose someone you care about. Will you be OK?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

Taking back her devises, Abigail left the girl and disappeared into the crowd. She felt lighter than before, smiling to herself she headed for the food court.

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Boston
February 13th, 2016

Abigail winced as the knife slashed against her forearm. Her coat had taken most of the damage but it still hurt. Instead of jerking back and leaving herself open to another slash, she slammed into Nancy, pushing the woman back and knocking her off balance for a second.

She didn't have a chance to take advantage of the opening though. A snap kick to the shin made her leg go numb, and she had to jump away to avoid getting stabbed in the side. She scrambled backwards as Nancy wheeled around impossibly fast and tried to kick her. It only bought her a moment of time, the woman was jumping at her, ready to ram the knife into her chest.

Reaching into her coat, Abigail pulled out a pistol and fired it point blank into Nancy's torso. Three little red circles bloomed on the white shirt. The woman landed on top of her, the knife stabbing the mat right beside her neck.

“You're dead,” Nancy said.

“So are you,” Abigail replied.

Looking at her shirt, Nancy grimaced. Two of the paintballs had hit her stomach, the third was on her hip. “You'll die first, and I could survive if I get medical attention. You on the other hand would have gotten a blade in your throat, cutting an artery or your wind pipe.”

“Since you've been fighting longer than I've been alive, I think that counts as a draw.”

“Fair.”

They went to the side of the gym to sit down and get a drink. Abigail checked the nasty bruise on her arm, while Nancy took off her padded shirt to look at the small welts forming on her skin. They'd both be having a painful night thanks to their full contact sparring session.

“You're getting better with the pistol,” Nancy said.

“I'm smaller than most of the people I fight. I like having a force multiplier.”

The woman nodded in understanding. “How are the anti-spirit bullets coming?”

“Not too bad. The range sucks though. I've found a way to put the spirit gel into a thin silver sheath so they'll actually fire and still hurt the spirit, but it only goes about ten feet before the bullet deforms and breaks apart or tumbles wildly off target.” She'd spent too many hours trying to get the bullet working properly, but the gel, even when hardened was too weak to survive being fired. When she sheathed it the metal was either too thick and didn't let the gel out, or it was too flimsy and virtually useless.

“Ten feet is nothing to sneeze at. If we can use regular pistols to at least hurt a spirit it's a huge advantage, especially for people who aren't trained in fighting them.”

“I know, I just want to do more to help the fight. If Uncle Jerry had had some of my devises, he might have survived.”

Nancy shifted uncomfortably. Abigail remembered a little too late that the woman had been at his side when he died, and been left crippled when she'd been slammed into a brick wall.

“You know," Nancy said, "you've been working way too hard recently. You can't spend every minute thinking of fighting or work. Lets call it quits for today and hit the hot tub, we can talk about boys or movies or something while we soak away our bruises.”

Smiling, Abigail said, “Yeah, I'd like that.”

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Toronto, Canada
June 5th, 2016

Feeling out of place, Abigail stood at the edge of the large bedroom while the adults hovered over her Grandfather, Patrick van Helsing.

It was a sombre meeting, her grandfather was a legend among the family. In his youth he'd fought demons and monsters that should have killed him. As he got older he became a scholar and researcher poring over ancient nearly forgotten legends and folklore, connecting dots that no one else could see, learning new ways to protect humanity.

And now he was dying before he even reached seventy.

Representatives from all the branches of the family had come to see him one last time. Australia, Britain, South Africa, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Argentina, and more. She knew her family was spread around the globe, they'd been fighting evil wherever it could be found since being forced to flee Sweden in the early 1700's, but it was very different seeing so many people from around the world.

Everyone was speaking Dutch. She understood it, but had never really spoken it outside of the classroom and to practice. It made her feel even more out of place, despite how it was suppose to tie the family together. Every one in the family learned the language as a child, so that no matter where they in the world, they could help or be helped by a Van Helsing.

Being only fourteen, she hadn't expected to be invited when her parents headed to Toronto to say goodbye. But apparently being the first devisor in the family, and making so many devises to help the fight made her special enough to be brought along.

She'd been a bit worried crossing the border, she was a mutant and she didn't have an MID. Her parents had helped calm her down, she didn't have any GSD and her power was easy to control. No one could tell she was a mutant. Going through security and customs had been easy.

Now she was dressed in a brand new, sombre black dress, trying to look sad and attentive at the same time.

There was a lull in the talk and Abigail realized everyone was looking at her and had made an open space right beside her grandfather. Her mother discreetly waved her over.

Feeling overly exposed, she walked over to the bed.

He looked so different from the last time she'd seen him at Christmas. He had once been a large man, full of life, almost a force of nature. He'd told her stories of his youth, given her new ideas for devises, and told her so many facts and theories it felt like her head was about to explode.

Now he was frail, barely able to speak, little more than a skeleton clinging to life.

“Abigail, my dear girl, I'm glad you came,” he whispered. “You have a great gift. I want you to use it well. Do the great things I know you're capable of. But always remember, you are human. Some humans are more gifted than others, and they let it go to their head. They become little better than the monsters we fight. Always keep the hope for a better world in your heart. That is what makes you truly special. If you remember that, if you keep that hope inside of you, you will help lead the Van Helsing family to new heights.”

He held his arms out for a hug. Bending down, tears slowly filling her eyes, she hugged him one last time, kissing his cold cheek. A tingle ran through her body, and she couldn't hold back a small shiver.

“Thank you grandfather, I'll make you proud of me,” she said.

“I know you will,” he said.

Stepping back, she wrapped her arm around her mother and cried.

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Boston
Morning
June 7th, 2016

It was good to be home and sleeping in her own bed, Abigail thought, as she laid sprawled on top of her blanket in the warm morning sun.

Her grandfather had died peacefully on the fifth. Now the representatives were talking about the funeral, what would happen next, sharing information on potential allies and enemies, planning attacks on major threats, and other things. Since she'd had absolutely nothing to add to the discussion, she'd been sent home on a direct flight to Boston, so she wouldn't feel ignored or out of place.

She wasn't even going to really miss the funeral. In a week there would be a memorial service in Boston for all the Helsing's in New England to honour her grandfather. There would be a similar service all over the world at each of the regional headquarters.

Rolling out of bed, she slowly started getting dressed. She had things to do, today was her day to care for the plants in the rooftop garden and greenhouse. The hot peppers were almost ready to harvest. Crushed up and mixed with sea salt they would help ward spirits away from the house, and there were at least six South American and four European love potions that had peppers as a critical ingredient, two of them even worked.

She paused, shaking her head. Where had that come from.

If she mixed sea salt, rue, oregano, rosemary, and thyme together with chili pepper, it would strengthen the warding effect of each one as they interacted with each other. It worked best if the herbs were soaked in holy water and then dried by a true believer of the Christian clergy. For added protection a weekly smudging should take place in each room of the house. Properly done by a shaman from the appropriate tribe ensures the best protection, but a believer can do it themselves to cleanse the space.

Abigail grabbed her head. Bits of information were bouncing around her brain pushing all other thoughts out of the way.

The kitsune, a Japanese fox spirit. Sometimes claimed to be servants of the Shinto deity Inari, the holy foxes are protective of humans and certain locations. Others are mischievous or evil, tricking, humiliating and hurting humans, claiming it is to teach them a lesson. Not to be mistaken for the Korean Kumiho, a nine tailed fox that eats humans and is always evil.

“Calm down. Clear your mind,” she whispered to herself as more unwanted thoughts made themselves known.

Sitting on the floor, slowly she made the thoughts go down to a quiet background noise. Her head still felt like it was too full, but it was no longer about to explode.

There was a knock on her door.

Black eyed children, a relatively new spirit that has come about possibly due to the increasing amount of essence to be found in the world can only enter a vehicle or building if invited. It is unclear why this is, but once invited in, the residents are in grave danger. Certain types of vampires must be invited in, this doesn't mean invited into the house, simply inviting them past the threshold and onto a porch, yard or garden will suffice.

“SHUT UP!” she shouted.

Her sister opened the door. “Are you all right Abigail?” she asked quietly.

Skin Walkers, Kumiho, Chinese Kitsune, many demons, and some spell casters can kill an individual, usually a woman, and wear their skin, mimicking the individual almost perfectly. They must be treated with extreme caution and destroyed as quickly as possible.

“Get help,” Abigail whimpered.

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That Evening

Holding her head in her hands, trying to think about nothing, Abigail sat in the back of the car wishing the world would stop spinning. They'd drugged her that morning to make her stop screaming. She was still high on something which let her follow instructions and think a little but everything was slow like it was stuck in molasses, even her mind.

Father James and Nancy were beside her, holding her hands trying to support her, two of her uncles were in the front. All of them were armed and ready for anything.

They came to a small shop. Everyone got out except for the driver, because it was impossible to find a parking spot in downtown Boston. She leaned heavily on Father James, struggling to put one foot in front of the other, while Nancy and her uncle kept an eye out for trouble. Looking up she saw a gaudy sign 'The Romani's Cave. Fortunes Told, Spells Cast, Mystic Tools and Ingredients Sold”.

“Wha',” she managed to get out.

“The owner, Patrin, is a wizard, we've worked with him before,” Father James said.

“Greetings my fine friends,” a man with a large moustache, and a yellow shirt covered in bright red flowers said, coming out from behind the counter. “So this is the marvellous girl I've heard so much about. I can see why you brought her here. Bring her to the back, while I lock up.”

In the back room Abigail was placed on a well padded chair, she slumped down in and sneezed at the strong smell of incense. Several dozen thoughts about incense tried to rise through the fog in her head, but couldn't seem to take form.

An unknown amount of time later Patrin came back and took a seat facing her. “Is she always this drugged, or is this a special occasion?” he asked.

“It was the only way to calm her down. In between screaming for the thoughts to stop, she was spouting half finished sentences ranging from protective herbs, to werewolf anatomy and Buddhist exorcism, to the precise details of how to make a 9th century Norse rune of warding,” Father James said.

The wizard nodded, “I see. This happened this morning?”

“Yes. Her sister found her on the floor crying for help.”

“She's the Helsing devisor, coming up with all those fancy toys of yours?”

There was a pause, finally Father James said, “She is.”

“Were her eyes cloudy white from the start or is that brand new?”

“It's new. Until this morning there was no way to tell she was a mutant unless she was building something.”

“Well this is interesting. And I thought today would be boring. Give me your hand girl.”

Abigail leaned forward, almost falling out of the chair and held her hand out. The wizard flipped it over so her palm was facing up. His finger began moving over her skin, seemingly tracing something. Then he paused.

“You remember our agreement?”

“Twenty-four hours to study the sole remaining Sibylline Scroll, in the Helsing vault, while under guard.”

He nodded, breaking into a grin. His finger once more traced along her palm, while he began to mutter under his breath. Abigail felt herself drifting away, losing herself in the sensation.

“Did someone close to her die recently?” Patrin asked.

“Yes. Her grandfather, she was by his bedside shortly before it happened.”

“The old man died. You have my condolences, he was a very smart man. I enjoyed dealing with him before he retired to Toronto, he could twist words better than most demons. He was almost as good as me.”

He let go of her hand, causing it to fall to the table like a puppet with its strings cut. Slowly, she dragged it back to her lap. It seemed to stretch like jello, going on forever.

A crystal ball appeared from somewhere. It glowed a pretty pink, smoke moved within it, blowing this way and that. She smiled as it moved, watching it like a cat watching a mouse hole.

“You have a very unique family, Helsing,” Patrin said.

Abigail snapped awake, not realizing she'd fallen asleep. The drugs were still making it hard to think, but she was more alert now.

“What do you mean?” Father James asked.

“The girl is an avatar and she has a spirit I've never seen before.”

“What type of spirit?”

“Something new, dedicated to your family. It's stupid, I tried to talk to it and all I got back was a lot of anger and animalistic posturing. It's got secrets it doesn't want to let go of.”

“If it's dedicated to our family, why is it hurting her?”

“The old man, was he always as smart and strong as he was?”

Father James didn't answer for several moments. “No. I've heard that he went on a mission with an uncle who died in his arms. When he came back he acted differently, more driven and single minded to the crusade. He went from an average hunter to an expert in a matter of months.”

Abigail realized the wizard was holding her hand. When had he grabbed it. She shook her head annoyed at the way the drugs were messeing with her mind.

“That explains it. Something was added to her, very recently. Looking at her palm, her Mount of Jupiter just got a big boost,” he said, pointing just below her index finger. “Her connection to the spiritual realm is not just wide open but going two ways. The only people I've seen with something like that was a Sami shaman who could practically walk into the astral plane like it was a revolving door, and avatars.”

“So she has a hallow.”

“That she does.” He pointed the flat parts of her palm. “The Inner Mars, Outer Mars and the Plains of Mars, are all about her aggression, resilience and temperament. They got almost as big of a boost. If she can pull herself together, she's going to be tough, able to take and give a beating, but she's going to need to control herself because the spirit is driving her to accomplish the impossible.”

The wizard ran his hand along her hand going from the ball of her thumb up in a curving motion to below her index finger. “This is her life line. The spirit has really shaken it up. She's been given one hell of a drive and she isn't in control, if she isn't careful the spirit will drive her into obsession.”

“And the head line is a broken mess.” He ran his hand at an angle starting near her index finger through the middle of her palm. “She's got a lot of stuff in her head and it's overpowering everything else.”

“So the spirit is a danger to her,” Father James stated.

“Yes, but only because it's stupid. It's got all kinds of facts and knowledge, but that's mostly what it is, not what it has. The ball is hinting that she's the first mutant in your blood family. When this spirit, however it was created, jumped into your family, it didn't have a nice comfy home all ready for it. It had to slowly work its way into the person like the old man, giving him time to get used to it, and getting just a trickle of its power. She's an avatar, its got a ready made home in her. It's made itself comfortable and is throwing all of its power at her straight away, with no time to adjust.”

“Can we remove it?”

“Sure, if you want her dead. If you're lucky she'll survive, but she'll be a shell of what she was. Frankly death may be kinder. Personally, I'd train her. She's got to learn to control the spirit, make it quiet down and obey her. If she does, you'll have someone who is a fountain of information on your favourite topic, able to make leaps of logic that seem almost inhuman, and has facts that have been forgotten by all but one or two people in the world. That's not even talking about what she may be able to do physically. It made the old man a monster in a fight, what will it do to her?”

Father James started to say something, when Abigail interrupted him.

“A family spirit. Many families have them, a household spirit, a spirit of death, a familiar, going from one generation to the next. What if it can be a power? A mutant family with identical or similar powers, are they influenced by a family spirit or force. Are the weres powers due to such a generational force? What of the White Lady? How did she get the exact same colouring, tattoos, and powers as the previous one, and the one before that?” The words poured out, unstoppable and relentless. Someone was shouting them in her mind, forcing her to speak.

She bit her lip so hard it drew blood, forcing the thoughts back. Pain lashed through her mind, making her want to scream.

Patrin stared at her. “It's like she was reciting someones rough notes. Is that what the spirit knows, everything one of its hosts has written, read or heard on the nature of the supernatural? If it's been around for three or four generations, no wonder her mind is overflowing.”

Father James got to his feet. “Thank you for the help. Once we confirm what you've told us, we'll set up a time for you to study the scroll.”

“I'll see you at the end of the month,” the wizard said.

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Boston
July 5th

Abigail sat at her workbench focusing the devise in front of her. It was a silver dagger, the hilt was opened up revealing some circuitry carefully set in padding to prevent anything being shaken loose in a fight. Screwing the metal casing together the hilt appeared seamless. Picking it up, it felt perfect in her hand. Tapping a button just behind the guard, it began to hum. She needed to test it, but she knew that if she slashed a ghost or spirit with it, the entity would feel it.

The intrusive thoughts began rising in her mind again. They always did when she wasn't meditating or doing something that required her complete concentration. She was getting better though, she could have an actual conversation without being overwhelmed.

Putting her dagger in its sheathe on her belt, she went to the indoor gym. A few people were using it, they nodded to her as she took off her long sleeve shirt, revealing her sports bra.

Going to the chin up bars, she jumped up catching it with one hand. She began to lift herself up, keeping her one hand by her side. She'd never been able to do a one handed chin up until a week ago. Now they were easy. She did twenty-five of them in just over a minute, then switched arms to do another twenty-five.

Dropping down she did some brief stretches, then started doing one arm push-ups. She would do it until it hurt and she was exhausted. It was the best way to keep the thoughts out of her head.

“Abigail,” her mother said, “we need to talk to you.”

“All right,” she said, getting to her feet. She didn't want to stop, she wasn't even breathing hard yet, but they wouldn't interrupt her if it wasn't important.

They went up to their apartment, where her father and Father James were seated at the dinner table. Taking a seat she played with her fingers while concentrating on her parents, it helped with the thoughts.

“You've been doing a lot better with controlling your thoughts, Abigail,” her mother said, “but we think you need special help learning how to use your powers and control your spirit.”

“So where will I be going?” she asked. “I've heard that the Australian branch of the family does a lot with mutants.”

“Actually you won't be going to someone in the family. And it will be close to home. There's a school called Whateley a few hours away in Dunwich. They teach mutants about their powers as well as other things. We've worked with them on occasion dealing with some threats in the area, but usually they can handle things on their own,” Father James said.

“You always told me to avoid most of New Hampshire, especially Dunwich, it's got a lot of nasty things up there. Like the-” She cut herself off before her brain could start bombarding her with facts and history of the eldritch entities that were buried in the area.

“Whateley is a safe area, mostly due to heavy firepower and having some of the strongest magic users and psychics in the continental US either working for them or allied with them. Just don't wander into any areas that have been marked off.”

Her mother reached out to pat her hand. “We know about the school, it's a very good one. And unlike us they know how to handle complicated mutant powers. We've already filled out an application form and contacted a few people we know in the faculty. You'll be going there at the start of the school year.”

“So what's it like?”

Her father pulled out a booklet and opened it up. “Well, it's interesting to say the least. And their wards are even better than ours, one of the benefits of having an entire magical department with mutant wizards.”

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Outside Whitman Cottage, Whateley
Evening
September 7th, 2016

Abigail stretched with a contented sigh after her run. She was tired enough that her brain was taking a break for a while. She scratched her left palm, which was still tender from the crucifix tattoo she'd been given a week ago. Usually the tattoo was only given on the eighteenth birthday, if the person was going to join the family crusade. They'd made an exception for her because of her dedication, powers and situation. Despite her mental problems, she was proud of getting the tattoo so soon.

Looking out into the trees behind Whitman cottage, she wondered if there was a good place to meditate away from the other students. In the last two months the little bit of meditation training she'd been given when she was younger, had proven to be a godsend at helping control her thoughts. She was about to head into the forest to look around when she saw a large grey cat come trotting out of some bushes.

“Hey cat, were you out hunting?” she asked.

The cat look up at her curiously, then seemed to shrug it's shoulders. “Y-es,” it said.

For a moment she was taken back, unbidden thoughts about talking animals, shape changers and familiars rose up, threatening to overpower her. She took a few deep breathes and managed to push them back. “Shifter?” she asked.

“No. Shi-sa.”

“Oh yeah, I heard some of the girls talking about you. I'm Abigail, or Helsing if you want to use my codename.”

The cat girl, emphasis on cat, cocked its head and looked at her obviously wondering if she was joking.

“It's my last name, I'm proud of it.” She was proud of her name, but that wasn't the only reason she'd picked it. When people heard the name they'd think she was a joke, most people only saw the stupid movies and shows about Abraham van Helsing or his descendants, and laughed. The family liked it that way, it made them seem silly and not a threat. By the time most of their enemies learned to fear the name, it was too late.

Shisa nodded. It looked like she was about to say something when she froze. Very slowly the cat girl looked around eyeing a spot of grass that was moving oddly.

Putting on her sunglasses, Abigail looked at the spot. An ugly little goblin-like creature was watching them, it made her shiver in disgust just looking at it. The thing bounded away impossibly fast.

“Did you just see what I saw?” she asked.

“Y-es. Ugly,” Shisa replied.

 

The End

Read 5829 times Last modified on Saturday, 11 November 2023 08:50
Dan Formerly Domoviye

Check out some of my original stories on Royal Road.

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Darkmuse
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Darkmuse
1 year ago
Nice start to a new character
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Dan Formerly Domoviye
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Dan Formerly Domoviye
11 months ago
Thank you.
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