(Note: The roman numerals weren’t working:P Going back to standard numerals now and at the suggestion of just about everyone I’m adding in sections that are parts of a journal for those dry recaps. They will be prefaced by the weekday and then month-day, example Wednesday 11-6 or event, and end with End Journal Entry # or event. Hope this helps.) DANGEROUS DAYS 89 DETENTION AND DECISIONS: Tuesday, October 3rd and Wednesday, October 4th Tuesday 10-3 Dr. Bellows has suggested I try and keep a journal for a while. I’m not sure what good it will do, but I’ll try it and see. I guess it might help me get my mind in order. A new girl moved into Poe and is staying with Angel on the floor above us. Her name is Lily and she’s the daughter of some of the heros known as S.T.A.R. League. She and Hank seem to have hit it off well. You’d think he’d be a bit more cautious about making friends right off like that though. Jade thinks I’m being jealous. As if! I’m just pissed that he went off with the Junior Stars to play games with the Masterminds and didn’t invite us along. To go off and have some fun is one thing, but to do that and not think to invite the rest of us? I hope he gets into at least a little trouble trying to balance both our detention and being on call for Security. But knowing him, he’ll think it’s fun! And Jinn is back! Jade just about gave me a heart attack when it happened. First she springs up yelling that Jinn is back, then she collapses. Just what I need to cap off a day. I love Jade and I’m glad she’s happy, but you just don’t do that to someone if you can help it. Fortunately, Jeanie was able to explain that she’d need some time to assimilate the memories from Jinn and Jann. All she needed was some rest. I didn’t have any late classes today, so I was able to stick around and keep an eye on her. Most of the night in fact. I got some sleep at last, but I was still a bit short of caught up when my alarm went off and I found her working away at something at her desk. She seemed okay and the only thing that was really worrying her was the idea that Tansy was going to try and get her assassinated. Just what I needed for my morning. Deep, dark plots. End Journal Entry 1. Wednesday 10-4 Lily is in my flight class too. Why do so many of the kids in this class seem to already have pilots licenses anyway? Hex and Steve were missing this class or Lily would’ve gotten a better feel for us. Most of the kids aren’t so clumsy when they’re around. As it was, I spent a large amount of the class dodging the rest of the students. I have to admit that Lily seems to know her stuff where flight and flying with others legally is concerned. I hope I’ll be able to handle all that radio traffic as well. I saw Lily in two more of my classes. Hank and I got to work together with her and her friend Pheonixfire in Powers Theory Lab. We did okay and they have some good gadgets to work with. It’s given me a few ideas about what we might need for ourselves. I wonder if she’d be willing to share some tips and advice? I wonder if I have the nerve to ask her? I don’t even have a costume yet and she’s already done some super heroing. Toni is getting the job of bringing her up to speed in Martial Arts. She’s had some training, but I don’t think she’s had the same level as Toni, Jade, or me. I’m a little jealous of her there I think. Our schedules haven’t allowed Toni and I to work out together at all. And the teachers seem determined to keep us apart too. The only training I’m getting using my powers and training now has been when I get a chance to work out in my free time and do some of the dance katas I’ve come up with on my own. All I’m learning in class now are some new techniques that the Senseis don’t want me to use my powers with. They’ve even arranged for some kind of devises to keep me from using my powers while training. I didn’t think it was possible, but they say these were specially made and can’t be reproduced. They can monitor if I use my powers too. It’s an odd feeling to keep from using them, but I’m getting pretty good at it. I guess it will come in useful sometime. One of these days they’ll let me really start to learn to use my training and power all out. Till then, I’ll just practice on my own. Hopefully, I won’t look like too much of a fool. I’m working on a new technique on my own where I can actually throw some power bolts into small self contained fields like my sword, just a lot less powerful. They form small balls of energy that I can control with my mind as they float around me. I can do a lot of them if I don’t put much energy in them. It looks kind of cool to have all those spots of light spinning around when I’m dancing. At least I think so. I can only watch in a mirror as I do it. I’m thinking of getting a video camera and see what it looks like with that. I might be able to use these for distractions or if I concentrate a little I can form them into about three much more powerful balls of light. I suspect that if I released my control on any of these, they’d explode like my sword did that time when we fought the Ninja kids. I can also combine and split them. I got the idea from when they tested to see if I could make one for the antimatter containers. I’ve only been doing this when no one else is around so I haven’t had a chance to test my theory that they will explode yet. I still don’t want to tell anyone about these. I think they’ll make a good surprise move. I wish I could get far enough away from Whateley to test these out. But they keep such a close eye on me now I’m sure they’d notice if I tried to get away. Until I get a chance to get away I won’t be able to see how far out I can control them. I think I’ll put at least a bit more work into it before I tell anyone. Jade wrote us an e-mail outlining what she wanted to do about Hanks suggestion for concealing and masking our abilities. Her idea about an older sister ghost was a good one. One of these days I’m gonna have to get some work done on finding a way to conceal or at least tone down my powers some too. And I need a costume I can use. I wonder what it would take to make a pirate suit? It seems odd, but I still find myself drawn towards that kind of picture of myself. Maybe it’s something to do with the suggestion TB made when this all started? I’ll have to ask Dr. Bellows about that when I see him again. Breakfast was really interesting. Jade was able to give us the information she’d collected on Tansy. It’s hard to believe I like that girl any less than I already do. Especially as I learn more about her. Some of the other information was really useful and I was kind of interested in what they thought of me, but some of it was plain creepy. Then she teases us about having sex as Tansy. With the Don of all people. Eeeeewww! It was almost a let down to hear her describe what she did know about it. Still, it sounded pretty gross. When Nikki voted to end that discussion, she got no protests from me. We discussed Tansy and her plans a little longer and then broke up to go to classes. Later, she dropped the rest of the bomb she hadn’t felt safe discussing with us in a less secure area. I’ll have to see if I can get some of this to Charlie and the others. The plans to steal avatars is just like some of the things they warned me about. I wonder if the others will mind if I do that? Right now I think they just want to think it over before we do anything, but I don’t think I’d better wait too long to do this. Jade also had some ideas about making herself and her spiritual partners more effective in combat, but she needed help from someone who could make some things for her. Harry came to mind immediately and I made arrangements for them to meet at lunch. Harry was the right choice too. He and Jinn or Jann got right into it. He had several good ideas of his own to throw in. They started planning things right then and we had to drag them away from it to go to afternoon classes. After classes we had to go and start our first day of Detention. End Journal Entry 2. Detention: The First Day: October 4th. It was a little unnerving. I’d been trying so hard in the past to not get put into Hawthorne that I’d made a point of avoiding the place. Not that it looked all that different from the other dorms. Maybe a little more worn. The only really noticeable difference was its position away from everything else so as to give it a bit more privacy and some more noticeable repaired parts. Hanging back a bit I watched as a large black woman in a flying wheelchair zipped up to us. She had about as much if not more energy than Toni. I could see how she could be a house mother. No one was going to mess with her. Her name is Mrs. Cantrel. Jade had already decided on who she was going to be helping. Some girl called Jello who had a body image problem that might be like Jade’s. As soon as she said this she was whisked off upstairs. Jinn mentioned that she was interested in helping a girl who apparently had some real problems with the smells she could produce and in moments was gone too. The others had some students in mind and as soon as they mentioned them they were off. Soon I was the only one left who hadn’t been given an assignment. The house mother hovered nearby looking very impatient and maybe even somewhat disapproving. I got the odd impression that I wasn’t very welcome here for some reason. Many of the students were gathered around and watching. I couldn’t make out what they were whispering, but it didn’t sound too friendly. “Well girl? What’s your assignment?” “I... I’m not sure. Uh... Where do you need me?” “Hmmm... You could do the bathrooms.” The look in her eyes as and the chuckles of a few of the gathered students made me think that might not be the best decision. But I decided that turning her down outright might not be the best thing either. “The bathrooms?” “Right over there Dear.” She pointed towards a door that looked like it could guard something in Fort Knox. Over it was a universal bathroom sign. I carefully approached it. The door handle looked plain and simple enough. As soon as I reached for it the whole place grew quiet. Taking a deep breath I reached over and slowly opened the door. Everyone in the immediate area backed up. Looking in cautiously but not entering I saw something that just about made my hair stand straight out. I let the door shut on its own and backed up without taking my eyes off the entrance until it was closed. I took a deep breath and turned back to the house mother. “No way. Not a chance in Hell. They can throw me out of this school, but I’m NOT going in there. You’ll have to get rid of me some other way thank you.” She was looking at me with what I almost would have thought was a bit of respect, except I didn’t expect anything like that from her. For some reason she and the others here seemed to have something against me. I couldn’t figure out what it could be, but it wouldn’t do to let them see that it affected me either. “The bathrooms are out. What else can I do?” She looked around and the students started to duck back into their rooms and go to different areas. “That might be difficult to determine right off. We can’t be throwing you at just anyone who doesn’t need help. It wouldn’t be fair to them. Why don’t you just mop the halls for now? The equipment is located in the closets at the end of the halls. Be sure to put out the ‘Wet Floors’ signs when you do.” “Yes Ma’am. All the floors?” “First, second, and third floors. Don’t go to the basement and the fourth floor. As soon as we find someone who needs your help we’ll let you know.” “Okay.” Under her critical eye I proceeded to get out the mop and bucket. I’d had a lot of practice recently and I think it showed. I was able to mop all three floors before the required time to work for that day was over. Even when I had to take some time out to help this dwarf kid who said he was having problems with some of the equipment in his room. He had a smirk on his face I didn’t like all that much. He never moved from his room as he spoke to me. “Hey Babe! I haven’t seen you around here before. You one of the Detention Dolls?” “My names Tennyo. I don’t know who the Detention Dolls are, but if your referring to Team Kimba then you better not say that to Hank or he just might get a little upset with you.” “Whatever you say Babe. I could use some help in here. The equipment to help move stuff around my room is acting up a bit. I could use some help moving it so I don’t have to wait for maintenance to come and fix it.” “If you think I can help...” “I’m sure you can. Please step right in.” He motioned for me to enter into his room and I couldn’t help but notice that most of the doors on the floor were at least cracked open a bit. There was some kind of commotion upstairs and down too. The first thing I noticed was that this room was made like they were expecting a hurricane or earthquake at any moment. All the furniture was extra heavy duty. There was a clutter of stuff that covered most of the floor and every flat surface in the place. Dust was thick on a lot of it. Cleaning services obviously didn’t spend a lot of time in here. I could also tell that the room was extremely well made and of very heavy construction. Something about how everything sounded in it I think. “What can I do for you? I’m about mechanical enough to change light bulbs and the like. If you need something that requires more expertise I’ll see about getting someone from Maintenance for you. I could help you organize some of this. How do you find anything?” He had been watching me oddly. My question caught him by surprise and he jumped a bit. Then he pointed at the floor. Piles of stuff showed small paths between them for the most part. “I.. I have my ways. I keep most things in certain areas so I know where to look for them. Uh. What I need help doing is moving that chair and table over to here where the light is better.” When he said this he pointed around the room and I could see that there wasn’t any furniture that wasn’t of extremely heavy construction. I figured that even with the clutter it should be possible to move the stuff around without too much trouble. I must be missing something here. Maybe it was just too heavy for him. And I could see that he would need help moving the piles of stuff first. The chair and table he was talking about was pushed into a dark corner and was covered with dust. “Okay. Do you want me to move it or do you just need a little help clearing a way for it?” I moved over next to the furniture and looked it over. I could see that it hadn’t been moved for a while. “How do you normally move this?” He pointed to tracks in the ceiling and for the first time I noticed that there were pulleys and the like pushed up next to the wall that would travel along them. That seemed a little extreme, but maybe he needed the help. “I... I use those. But the motors seem to be out and they can’t get someone in here to fix them any time soon.” He gasped as I floated up to get a closer look at them. There were some LEDs that, if I was reading them right, indicated they had power and were functional. So this was probably some kind of gag. Or maybe not, I wasn’t mechanically inclined enough to tell. I realized that he was looking up at me pretty closely and I suddenly realized that he might have some other motive than just playing games. A guy looking like him might have a hard time getting a good looking girl in his room any other way. The thought made me a little nervous, but I figured I could handle anything if it went too far. I also noticed that his eyes were kind of glazed. I toyed with the idea of floating a little higher and to the side. He was already a bit off balance. It would be fun to see if he would fall over. “Okay. If these aren’t working, what do I need to do?” It was obvious, but it wouldn’t hurt to put him off guard. He jumped a bit and almost fell over anyway as he realized I was looking back at him. “Oh, uh... I just need some help moving this stuff and pushing the chair and table over here. You can fly?” “Some. Where do you want this moved?” I pointed at the piles of stuff on the table and chair already. “Uhhh...Uh... Just push it off for now.” “How about where they’re going?” “I.. I’ll just use this broom and push it out of the way.” With obvious effort he moved the piles to the side with a heavy push broom. Even the small piles of paper seemed to be difficult to push, but he soon had an area cleared. I was getting a bit more nervous as I noticed that he was breathing harder and faster. Either this was harder for him than it looked like it should be or he was getting excited about something. I decided that I shouldn’t spend any more time in here than I could help. I picked up the chair to move it over. At first it didn’t move and I thought it might be bolted down. Then I realized that it was just heavier than I expected. That must be why he couldn’t move them very well himself. Being a dwarf wouldn’t help him get any leverage either. I fortunately had the ability to fly, so I was able to get into a good position and use my flight abilities as well as my exceptional strength to good advantage. I then flew back and grabbed the table. In moments I had them where they needed to be. I turned and looked at him. I think if his jaw was long enough it would have hit the floor. “Is everything okay? I did it right so far didn’t I?” I’d batted my eyes at him a little like I’d seen some of the other girls do. It seemed a bit silly to me but his reaction was more than I could have hoped for. He was definitely interested in more than just moving furniture. Sweat was popping out on his brow. At least I figured that was why he was acting that way. I really hadn’t had much experience with girls as a boy and even less as a girl. “Uhh.. Yes. Yes you did. Now... Uh could you help me pick some of this up and move it over there out of the way?” Still wondering what he was up to, I shrugged, which got another gasp out of him. I started to pile up and move the magazines and papers over to the corner he indicated. This stuff was really heavy! I could see why he needed help. I had to put some effort into lifting it up and carefully putting it back on the floor. I noticed that the floor was creaking a bit. I figured I better quit the dumb act and spread the stuff around some too. Considering the way the floor was creaking that was probably a good idea. I spent the next few minutes moving heavy stuff around for him. It was hard to imagine how stuff that seemed so normal could weight as much as it did. On impulse I quickly moved around the room and managed to organize the piles enough so that there was more room to move around in.. I turned around from doing that and found him starring at me still. He must really be hard up for companionship. He stuttered a little and asked me a question. “Whoa! That was weird! Say, I never asked you your name or power.” I stuck my hand out to him. “I’m Tennyo and I’m part of Team Kimba, which you already know. I fly and do energy blasts and the like.” A look of shock crossed his face. “I... I... I’m. I’m Doctor Heavy. I... I make things heavier around me. I... I kind of control gravity a little and make things heavier. I can’t control it though.” He hesitated for a moment and then took my hand. He was warm enough to have been running a fever and his palm was damp. He suddenly turned very red too. I gave his hand a small squeeze. “Well, that’s a relief and probably why your at Whateley.” “A... A relief?” “Yeah. I was wondering if I was hallucinating or something about all that stuff being so heavy. Here. Let me help you with this stuff too.” I looked around for another place to put the next stack of books. “I.. It goes under my bed there.” He pointed to an area that was clearer of the dust under his bed. I put the books there and turned back to him. He seemed to be having a hard time breathing. “You okay? Do you need anything else?” “N... No. I’m fine. A...and I don’t need anything else. Y... Your not quite like I...” “I’m...?” “Nothing! Nothing! Just talking to myself. I’m fine! You can go back to mopping now. I don’t want to keep you too long.” “Well. Thank you. And let me know if you need any more help.” I gave him a small bow, smile, and wave and went back to mopping. He stood just inside his room and watched me until I left that floor. I heard several people coming out of their rooms as I headed upstairs, but I was too far away to hear what they were saying. I soon had the mopping done and the house mother had me dusting and oiling the woodwork in the common rooms for the rest of the time. She seemed a bit confused by me for some reason. As I was getting ready to leave she stopped me in the common room. “You did good work. A lot of the ones we get here don’t have a clue. Your not quite what I expected.” “I’m getting a lot of that lately. I’m not sure I’m what I expected either so it’s only natural I guess.” She nodded as if that explained something. “Okay. I’ll see about getting you assigned to someone. Probably by tomorrow.” “Thank you. I’m willing to continue with the other things like mopping too.” “Good. We just might do that. See you tomorrow?” “Yes Ma’am.” “Get going then. I’m sure you have lots to do.” “Yes Ma’am. Thank you. Bye!” With that I was off to get what little homework I could done. 90 FRIENDS IN LOW PLACES: Thursday, October 5th Detention: The Second Day: I’d finished mopping the second floor, not that any of the floors looked like they really needed it, and was getting ready to go down and mop the first floor when I heard what sounded like some imaginative descriptions of someone and their ancestry coming from the custodial closet on the floor below me. I couldn’t resist looking down the stairwell to see who was so unhappy. Mrs. Cantrel was hovering near a girl who had to hunker down even in a room that had ten foot ceilings. She seemed to be a very pretty girl with a dark complexioned skin and fiery red hair. If not for her obvious size she’d be beating boys off with a big stick. As it was I figured she wasn’t getting too much attention in that department because most guys I knew were a bit uncomfortable with girls bigger than they were. Not to mention this much bigger. The girl was the one cursing and I could see that Mrs. Cantrel was trying to calm her down a bit. “There’s no use complaining about it Mary. Helix had to take that make up test and it was only being given at this time. You’ll just have to make do and get it done yourself. No one else is able or available to help you now. I’ll get someone down there as soon as I can, but it’s got to be done now. You know how miserable he gets if we can’t keep ahead of it.” The girl looked as if she was going to say some more and then she dropped her head and sighed. “I know Mrs. Cantrel. It’s just that I was hoping to be able to get done in time to work on my project some more. There’s no way I’ll get done in time for that now.” “You mean you want to go to that lecture don’t you?” “Uh...” They both jumped a bit as I spoke up and dropped down to the floor carrying my mop and bucket. Mrs. Cantrel spoke up a bit sharply. I don’t think she liked being surprised. I also noticed that the girl had glowing red irises. “Well...? What do you need? Are you done with the mopping?” I took a deep breath and risked her ire. “Not quite yet Ma’am. I still have to mop this floor. But I thought I might be able to help Mary here if it’s okay with you. That’s why we’re here after all.” Mary stayed quiet, but I could see the sudden flash of hope in her eyes. Mrs. Cantrel looked like she’d just tasted a lemon for a moment, but then her face cleared and she turned to Mary. “If you don’t mind working with Tennyo here I’m sure she could help you a lot. Do you want to do that?” “Uh.. Yes Ma’am. If you’d please let her do this. It will make doing this a lot easier and faster.” Mrs. Cantrel knodded. “Very well. You’ll have to show her what needs to be done and I expect you to do a good job. No slacking. I’ll be down to check on you soon.” She turned to me. “You can help Mary here with Louis’ room. She’s in charge. You will do as she says to the letter. Do you understand?” “Yes Ma’am!” “Good. Take care down there. Louis is a sensitive boy and if I find you have made him uncomfortable in any way I’ll make you wish you’d never been born!” “Yes Ma’am!” What else can you say in a situation like that? She nodded. “Alright you two. Get to work. He needs this done now, so don’t dawdle! And don’t let me catch you calling him Foob or anything else like that, you hear?” “Yes Ma’am!” Mary almost banged her head on the ceiling and then motioned me to pick up some of the cleaning supplies that she’d pulled out of the closet. I’d seen these earlier and wondered about them. “Grab some of these please. We’ve got to hurry or I’ll miss the class Professor Glenn’s giving on the new suspension techniques he’s worked out for anthropoid robots.” I grabbed up a large amount of the stuff and floated after her as she took the rest down the stairs. “Yeah. I heard Harry talking about that one. He was really excited. Is it as good as he thinks it will be?” She looked back at me. “Harry?” “Yeah. Harry Wolfe. He was really interested in that class.” “You know Harry?” “Yeah. We’re pretty good friends. I met him when he came in on the train.” “Oh. I heard a little about that. But after what the others were saying I thought...” “What have the others been saying? I know that I’m not from Hawthorne and all, but I’d think I’d done my share of good deeds and that people here would give me a chance. As it is, I feel like everyone is out to get me or something.” “I... I’d rather not talk about it. I really don’t know all that much about it. Mrs. Cantrel’s told us to welcome you guys, but...” “But...?” “I... Oh! Here’s Foo... uh, I mean Louis’ room. Uh, he’s a little odd looking, but he’s really the greatest. Don’t let his appearance upset you. Okay? He really is a good guy, but a lot of people don’t give him a chance.” “I think I can identify with that. You still haven’t answered my question yet.” She opened the door and I forgot my line of reasoning for a moment. It took me a moment to realize that I was looking at Louis and then I had to reset my expectations. I’d seen a few odd things since I’d gotten to Whateley, but they hadn’t really prepared me for this. The room was very large and even Mary could stand in it with ease. The ceiling must have been about twenty feet high at least. In the middle was a large tank like an aquarium. But this one was very large. It appeared to be about twenty feet to a side and at least ten feet high. A wide walkway extended around the circumference and a set of stairs led to a larger platform at the back of the room. There were all kinds of machinery and pumps going which created a constant background noise. Swimming in that was a very large being that would give many people nightmares if they saw it. Assuming he was male by the name I’d say he was at least about twelve feet long. The body appeared to be a mix of mollusk and insect to some extent and bloated. In addition to the arms and legs I could see a set of what looked like bat wings on his back. His head was narrow and looked kind of like a squid with huge black eyes and lots of tentacle like things around where I figured his mouth would be. It was certainly a surprise to see him without any warning to speak of. But I’d been expecting some kind of surprise and was able to keep a straight face, even if I really didn’t have anything to say at first. Mary cleared her throat and I looked at her. “Uh...” I realized I’d never really introduced myself to her. I had a feeling I could trust Mary for some reason. “I’m Tennyo. Or Billie Wilson. Whichever makes you comfortable.” “Oh. Okay. Tennyo. I’m Mary Nestle. Uh. I was going to go by Titania, but I’m told it wouldn’t be a good idea. So I was going to see if Fire Forge would work.” “I like that. It has a good ring to it.” “You think so?” “Yeah. Go for it. I think it suits you better than Titania. Besides, that’s some kind of elven name I think. You should avoid those if you can.” “Cause I’m so big?” I could hear the old hurt in those words, but I had a better reason for her. “No. Because I’ve had to deal with elven types for a while and you really don’t want to get mixed up in their problems if you can help it. Believe me. It’s nothing but trouble from day one.” “It’s that bad?” “Well, the thunderstorms in the hallways, people trying to control them and their magical abilities, and the occasional ancient being getting interested in what’s going on does make things a bit interesting around them.” “Uh... I think I know what you mean.” “Believe me. Until you’ve been there you really don’t. Feel good about the name change. I think it fits you better.” “Okay. Thanks. Uh.. I’d like you to meet Louis Geintz. Lou, I’d like you to meet Tennyo. She’s here to help me clean your tank.” I almost jumped when a man appeared in front of me. He was an unexceptional Caucasian male about six feet tall with brown hair and eyes. Almost handsome and a little on the thin side at what I figured to be 160 lbs. He might be in his mid twenties. Extending a hand for me to shake, he introduced himself. “Hi! Pleased to meet you. I’m Louis Gentz, or as I prefer, Fubar or Foob.” “But Mrs. Cantrel said...” He shrugged. “She worries that it’s demeaning for me. I just figure it describes me pretty well. But, if it will make you feel better, you can call me Lou.” “Okay, Lou. I don’t want to get on her bad side if I can help it. Uh... How do you..?” “I’m a psychic. This is a projection I use to communicate. It’s a lot easier than trying to walk around. And I don’t have to worry about breathing either.” “Breathing?” “Yeah. I’ve got gills. In fact, that’s one of the reasons you’re here. Even with all the filters we put on this water there are still some impurities and those make me produce a thick phlegm that will choke me out if it isn’t removed on a regular basis. The rest of the kids here take turns helping out. I’m kind of surprised that Mrs. Cantrel let you join in. It’s a private kind of thing.” “Mary here needed some help and I was the only one available. Maybe she figures it will help some of them here accept me better if I do this?” “Maybe. The rumors say that you’d rather be dead than live here.” “Huh? Who said that?” “Just rumors. Someone said that someone said that during the hearing a while back, and on and on. You know how it goes.” “I never said any such thing! I just wasn’t going to be railroaded by old Hard Ass. I had friends who were counting on me and I don’t take well to people trying to shove me around. If I’d lost the hearing I’d be here anyway, but it wasn’t about not wanting to be here like that.” “Glad to hear it. I’ll see what I can do to spread that around. Anybody on Hard Ass’ bad side should be on our good side in my opinion. In a way I’m glad you could screw it to her.” “I’m glad that someone’s finally told me what the problem was. I couldn’t figure it out and it was making me nervous.” “Glad to be of assistance. Now as to why you’re here. The glops been building up pretty fast. I think the filters need changing too. So I was going to go and do that while you two skim it out and clean the edges. I’ll have to turn the pumps off for a few minutes while I do that so don’t be surprised when that happens, okay?” We both nodded and he disappeared. I turned to Mary and she motioned for me to follow her. We took the supplies we’d brought down with us around to the back of the room where there was a closet with more of the same in it. I was curious about this arrangement and asked her why. “Uh... Mary?” “Yes?” “Why are bringing supplies down when there are already supplies here?” “We always want to be sure that the supplies down here are rotated out on a regular basis. We don’t want to take any chances that they will develop mold, mildew, or anything else that might hurt Foob... Uh Lou. So we bring down the same as what we’re going to use and rotate the supply on a daily basis.” “Remember that we have to check and make sure that we only use sterile sponges and the like. One time someone tried to reuse a sponge that had some kind of bacteria in it and Lou was sick for days. We were really worried for a while. We take special care anymore to see to it that there isn’t a chance of that happening again. That’s one of the reasons we don’t usually let anyone else do this. We don’t really trust anyone outside the Cottage to be really sure it’s done right.” “I understand. Just show me what you want me to do.” The next hour was spent skimming out the gel like masses that had covered the surface and edges. After we had the worst of it out the pumps stopped for a few minutes. It was eerily quiet for a little while. It was almost a relief when they kicked back on. The rest of the time was spent making sure that the edges were properly clean and that nothing was being left behind. Mrs. Cantrel came down to observe for a while but seemed pleased with how things were progressing. It helped that I could fly. I didn’t have to worry about falling in and could move around freely. Mary had to be more careful and she told me a story about how someone had fallen in once and they’d had to drain the tank and refill it, all while trying to keep Lou hydrated and breathing. “Wow! Does this happen all the time? Or have you been here for a long time?” Lou reappeared. “Don’t worry about that. Mary’s only been here a year. But she has a real talent for story telling. She can make you believe she was here fifty years ago if she wants to. The stories are actually true. I’ve been here for around twenty years now, but Mary can bring them to life if she wants to. She’s a very talented gadgeteer and deviser. Everyone seems to ignore the fact that she can tell wonderful stories because it doesn’t seem to be related to a mutant ability that they can measure.” Mary looked embarrassed for a moment, but broke up the uncomfortable moment with a smile. “You think I’m good. You should hear my Uncle Tim tell stories. He’ll have you believing he found a ton of gold down in the coal mines and lost it to a wandering gambler who was really the Devil in disguise a few years back.” “Sound like some interesting people. Do you miss them?” Suddenly Mary got a look on her face that hurt just to see. Lou was there in a moment, putting his arms around her. It helped that his projection was as tall as she was now. He talked calmly to her as he held her. “It’s okay Mary. You know they really didn’t do that to you. It was all some poison told to you by that snake who abducted you to hurt you. They really do love you and care for you. Give it some more time and you’ll be fine with it.” “I... I’m sorry. Was it something I said?” He looked at me while he continued to hold her. “You couldn’t know in advance, but she was abducted by a pedophile a while back. While he was torturing her with stories about how her family had helped him, the mutation kicked in and she escaped before he could do any more. But, the scars of that fear are still with her and she’s had a hard time trusting her family again.” “Oh. I’m really sorry Mary. I know how you feel in a way. I was kidnaped when my mutation kicked in too. If it hadn’t been for some good friends of the family recognizing I was actually who I was saying I was, it might have been impossible to convince them I was me.” They both were staring at me. I shrugged and told them what I could. “I... I didn’t always look like this. In fact, I changed so much so fast that I didn’t recognize myself at first. I should talk to you two though. I thought turning into an Anime character was bad. I just goes to show that someone else always has it worse and to be thankful that you have what you do.” They both asked the same question at the same time. It was almost comical. “Anime?” I blinked and then realized that they didn’t know what I meant. “Uh, yes. Anime. Japanese Cartoons like on Anime Network, Cartoon Channel, etc.” They both gave me such blank looks I had to pinch myself to be sure I was still awake. “You guys haven’t seen Anime?” “I don’t know about Mary here, but when I came here the cartoons were on Saturday morning for the most part and were Scooby Doo and the like.” Mary sniffed. “I... My family didn’t have much in the way of money. I’d heard a bit about some of that stuff, but I hadn’t seen it.” “Oh.” I was torn. I wanted my new friends to see some of the things that I enjoyed. At the same time I worried how they would react to me if they saw some of it. It had been refreshing to meet them both and they were both worse off than me at the same time. I guess it does the heart good to know someone’s worse off than you. Lou got a look of curiosity. “You resemble one of the ‘Anime’ characters?” “Uh, yeah. It’s kind of embarrassing. Sometimes people think I’m really that character too.” “I’ll have to look into that. What character do you look like?” “Ryoko. From Tenchi Muyo!.” “Tennyo sounds kind of like that.” “I’m told it means something like ‘Heavenly Maiden’ or something like that.” We stood there in mutual embarrassment for a little while, then Lou looked at his wrist. I didn’t see a watch on it, but he acted like he was looking at the time. “Hey Mary!” “What?” “Don’t you have a class to get to?” She got a surprised look on her face. “The class! I forgot! Am I too late?” “No. But you better hurry if you want to get there on time.” She looked around at the supplies still scattered around us. I spoke up quickly. “Go! I’ll finish up here. Lou can tell me what needs doing. You get going and say hi to Harry for me if you see him, okay?” She looked at Lou who nodded. “Thank you!” In moments she was off and running. I felt a hand on my shoulder. “That was a nice thing to do.” “She’s a good girl, and I know how moody these gadget types get if they can’t get a fix of tech occasionally. Now what needs to be done here?” He smiled and then showed me what needed to be finished up. I had to ask a question after we were finished. “Why can’t you do this for yourself?” He looked embarrassed. “Well. You remember the story about the bacterial sponge?” “Yeah.” “That was me. I can do the stuff, but I really don’t sense things the way other people do. That sponge looked perfectly okay to me, but it would’ve been obvious to someone else that it wasn’t. That’s why we replenish the stocks down here like we do. That way if I have to do it myself, there’s a lesser chance that something will go wrong. But we prefer to not take any chances.” “I can understand that. It must’ve been very frightening.” “Yeah. Lucky for me someone just happened to check on me before it got too bad. Oh, and another thing.” “What?” “You might want to bring your clothes over here to get them cleaned. We’ve had a lot of practice with this stuff, but I’m afraid the regular laundry will just ruin that dress.” “They’ll do that for me? I’m not sure they like me enough for that.” “Don’t worry. You and Team Kimba are alright in our books. You proved it by showing those Alphas what it’s like to be on the receiving end for once. We’ve wanted to do that for the longest time. They pick on us and there’s just not anything we can do. It always comes out looking bad for us. After we get the confusion about the hearing cleared up I’m sure that everyone will be more than happy to help.” “You know Lou. If you guys got a bit more organized I’m sure you could put those Alpha wimps to shame. I don’t think they have anything to match some of the talent I’ve seen here.” “That’s a nice thought, but we’ve tried before and gotten nowhere.” “Give me a chance to think it over. I’ll see what I can come up with.” “Don’t worry about it. We get by.” “Yeah, I’m sure you do, but life is more than just getting by. You guys have been kicked too many times is all. A fresh approach will work wonders. Tell you what. I’ll think it over and get back to you. If you don’t like it you don’t have to do anything with it. Just look at it. That’s all I ask.” “Well, we..” “What are you two up to in here? Your not corrupting our poor boy are you girl? I’ve heard that some of you are pretty fast over in Poe.” We both jumped as Mrs. Cantrel came soaring up to look at us. I’d have worried more, but I could detect the edge of humor in her voice as she approached. “Uh... No Ma’am. I don’t do stuff like that. That’s Nikki’s and Sara’s department. I just incite riots and rob banks and the like.” “Oh. In that case I imagine it’s alright then. We can’t have any kind of rumors flying around about how we don’t supervise you kids, but the occasional riot and grand larceny is good for the heart I always say.” “Yes Ma’am!” I must have been blushing terribly and while Lou’s projection didn’t show it I could see that his form in the tank was a bit agitated. “Now. It looks as if you’ve done good work here. I think it’s late enough that you can leave for today. If you’re willing we can have you do this again tomorrow. If you think you can get the floors mopped too?” “Yes Ma’am. I’d like to do that.” “Good. We’ll be waiting for you then. Get going now. I have a few things to discuss with Mr. Geintz here.” “Yes Ma’am! Bye Lou! See you tomorrow.” “Bye! Take care.” “I will!” I headed out and hurried for the library. If I got in a bit early I might have a chance to look a few things up before I got caught up in all the things Miss Henderson wanted me to get done. Thursday Evening: 10-5: You’d think that was enough for a busy day, but as soon as we got back from supper we found that Jinn had set up Tansy for some blackmail. Not that I don’t think Tansy doesn’t need some cutting down, but I was worried Jade might start getting hooked on that way for getting things done. The others seemed to feel the same way. We wouldn’t force her to do it another way, but we did recommend against it. That’s all you can really do for a friend in the end. At least if you don’t want to have to try and control their lives completely. We also learned that Ayla had a new roommate. She was a nice looking oriental girl. Her name was Chou Lee and she had ridden here on a horse from somewhere out west. It would explain why she was late getting here. She also had a sword she carried around with her constantly. It was called Destiny’s Wave and was responsible for her being here with us. It still amazes me how something like this can happen in so many ways. If this keeps up we’ll have one of the most diverse groups on the planet. All connected by an unusual event. After dance class I went up into the rafters and discussed it with Poe. His conclusions were about the same as mine. There wasn’t anything we could do about it for now. I also put some thought into what I’d discussed with Lou. I had a few ideas that I thought might work for them, but I’d have to find out a bit more about what was happening. Hopefully, we’d have a chance to discuss this some more tomorrow. End Journal entry 3. 91 IRREGULAR SIGNS: Friday, October 6th Detention: The Third Day: It was a strange experience to come in and actually have some of the kids smile at me. More of them were out in the open than any time before and I didn’t feel like I was being watched all the time from the shadows. I had another surprise too. I managed to get the floors done in record time and as I approached the closet I could see Mary and another boy waiting for me. I recognized the boy. “Trevor!” “Tennyo! It’s good to see you again.” Mary turned to him. “Trevor? You know Tennyo?” “Yeah. She was with Lily the other morning when Lily chased off Haywire.” She turned towards me. “You helped out?” I was a little embarrassed to admit it but I wanted them to know the truth. “Actually, I hadn’t noticed what was going on, but Lily did. You can thank her for breaking that up. I’m afraid I really didn’t notice until she brought it to my attention.” “Would you have helped out if Haywire tried something?” “Of course. Lily was right, I just hadn’t seen what was going on.” “I’m glad to hear that. Not many people around here try to stick up for us at all. Everyone seems to think we’re fair game.” “I don’t. I’m sure everyone in Team Kimba feels the same way I do too. There are a lot of others I’m sure who would back you up.” They shook their heads and Trevor sighed. “No. Don’t get me wrong, but not a lot of people feel the same as you do. If they did, we wouldn’t have to hide like we do. And when we try to do something about it they think we’re overreacting or going crazy on them and they lock us up.” For a moment I didn’t know what to say. Then I couldn’t help giggling. Both of them were surprised and a little angry so I hurried to explain. “Hey! I’m sorry about that, but I thought I was the only one around here that everyone was trying to throw into the hoosegow for being out of control. Uh... Not that I consider this place a jail at all, but I think I know what you mean after all.” For a few more moments they just looked at me as if having a hard time understanding what I was saying, then Mary started to giggle too. Soon all three of us were having a hard time not breaking out into outright laughter. Just about then, Mrs. Cantrel showed up. “What are you kids up to now?” Mary ducked her head and answered before I could. “No... Nothing Ma’am. Tennyo just told us a joke.” “Oh? Sounds like a good one. Care to share it?” “Uh, I think you would’ve had to be here. Otherwise it really doesn’t make all that much sense Ma’am.” “Really? Well, if you ever feel ready to share it I’d like to hear it. I could use a good laugh.” We all answered together. “Yes Ma’am!” “Good. Are you ready for today’s chores?” I knodded. “Yes Ma’am. The floors are swept and mopped. I’m ready for whatever else we have to do.” “Good. Then come with me.” She lead us to the closet where we picked what was going down with us. Then we all filed downstairs behind her. Soon we were busy getting the tank cleaned up. As we did this the others and Lou filled me in about some of the things the other cottages and students were doing to them. And it wasn’t only the Alphas. Some of the people mentioned were from some of the other cottages, even Poe. The more I heard the angrier I got. Oddly enough, it wasn’t the burning anger I’d gotten a bit used to over the last few weeks. It was a strangely cold one. And a plan started to form in my mind. I looked at the others and thought about what they were telling me about them and the others here in Hawthorne. It became obvious to me that they were ready for a change, but didn’t know what to do about it. So much potential and so little guidance. It was a recipe for disaster or something else. And I now knew what that something else could be. “You guys need to get organized or this is just going to keep happening.” Trevor spoke up first. “Oh? And what would you suggest? You obviously know so much about it.” I shrugged. “I can’t claim to be an expert, but even I can see that if you don’t do something the situation isn’t going to change for you.” Foob spoke up. “You claim to not be an expert, but you say we have to do something. You don’t expect us to become like them do you?” “I don’t think so. I’ve seen enough to know that you guys couldn’t ever consider doing something that would get you and the rest of Hawthorne branded as bad guys, even if most everyone else is already putting you into that category already. You don’t want to do anything to make it worse and justify that idea.” “You’ve got that right. So what are our options?” “I don’t think you’ll be able to convince enough people fast enough of your good intentions to go the super hero route either. Let’s face facts, people just aren’t prepared to accept most of you in the Hero roll. Even if you’re better qualified than most of the heros out there.” “You’re not telling us anything we don’t already know. What other options are there?” “You need to organize and use the powers and abilities that will give you the edge to convince everyone otherwise. Let’s face it, you’ve got some of the most gifted individuals here, but that’s how you tend to act. As individuals. I think you’ll find as a team you’ll be able to do a lot more.” It would seem that the Alphas used the Hawthorne students to train up their younger students. The Hawthornites were easy prey. Usually having some kind of problem that could be used against them and if they tried something in return, they were being watched so closely that they couldn’t get away with anything. It looked like a no win situation, but I was sure there was a way around that. I just had to convince them of their own capabilities and the rest would come in time. “How do we do that? It’s not like we can do much within the system, and going out of the system just makes it worse.” “You need to learn and work with what the Alphas and others like them already know. How to make the system work with you. Note, I said ‘with’ you. Alphas try to make the system work ‘for’ them, no matter what their goals are. Because your goals will almost always be different from theirs, at least in the kind of outcome you’re looking for, you’re going to have to be better at it.” “What do you mean about with and for?” “What I mean is that the general intended purpose of most systems is the improvement and happiness of those in it. That’s in a perfect world. What generally happens is that some learn how to subvert it to their own ends. This usually causes problems for others in the system. As long as that system meets the needs and wants of a critical number of those in it then there is still a functional system. When you get beyond that critical point the system resets. All systems of governance in the end rely on the efforts of the people in them to function. When those talents and energies are directed elsewhere, the system collapses.” “Are you saying we should start some form of revolution? Try to change the system?” “No. Actually, this system is fairly healthy. But it does have a few problems. I think your job would be to help the system do what it’s designed to do.” “Vigilantes?” “I won’t say that you wouldn’t be branded that if caught. After all, the things you want to change are those which allow a few to abuse the privileges. Maybe you can’t change even those things without hurting the system. In that case you’ll have to find ways to make the system aware of the problems and fix itself.” “You make it sound simple.” “It is. I never said simple things would be easy though. In fact, some of the simplest things to do are the hardest to do well. It won’t be easy, and there is the risk of falling into the same traps the people you’re after fell into. Thinking that some control of the system gives them the right to use it for their benefit only.” “We’d never do that!” “You won’t know until you’re there. Best to be prepared to pull out or have someone you trust whose able to pull you out for you.” “We wouldn’t! We know better than that. Besides, how can we work with the system? I thought we already were.” “Not really. The system as it works now is rigged to keep you in line for the pleasure of those who want things to go their way exclusively. The trick will be to find out enough about those who abuse the system and the system itself to make it possible for the system, which is really quite powerful, to correct itself.” “And you know how to do this?” “I don’t have enough information to do that yet, but I know how to go about getting the information and training you to take advantage of it.” And I did. Somehow I was sure of what needed to be done. Just seeing the Hawthorne situation was bringing out more ideas than I knew what to do with at one time. I’d really have to think things over to be sure how I was going to go about it, but I was sure I could. First, they’d need a leader. Not me. I was too obvious and being watched too closely, but I had another idea I was sure would work. I realized that everything had been quiet for several moments. Everyone was looking at me and waiting for me to tell them more. “Tell you what. Think about what I’ve said. Think about who in Hawthorne might be willing to try this out and see if you can have some of them join us while we’re doing the daily cleaning thing. I promise we won’t try anything that’ll get you in trouble and you can decide for yourselves. What do you think Lou? Will that work?” He nodded. “I don’t see anything wrong with that, but you better know I’ll be watching carefully. We’ve worked hard to keep a good record here and I don’t want to ruin our reputation with some crazy schemes.” “We won’t try anything without running it by you fist. I promise. Will that help?” “Yes. It will help.” “And I think we should agree now that you have veto power over anything we try.” “I don’t think..” “All in favor say I!” “I!” Both Mary and Trevor spoke up immediately with enthusiasm. “But...” I couldn’t keep a grin off my face. “There! It’s settled. I agree that you will review all activities before we do them and can veto any of them at any time. You won’t regret this! We’ll make you proud!” He tried to protest a few more times, but I managed to keep ahead of him until it was time for me to go. Mrs. Cantrell showed up and we couldn’t discuss it anymore. But soon I’d be able to start teaching them about how to form and operate irregular forces. I even had a name in mind for them. The Hawthorne Irregulars. It had a nice ring to it. I don’t know if it was having a plan or what, but everyone seemed a bit more perky today. Even Jade, which was a relief. Friday: 10-6 The kids at Hawthorne are okay. I like them a lot. I’m pretty sure I can sell them on my idea of forming up an irregular force. An open and official group would be too obvious and everyone would make fun of them or be too afraid to let them do their thing. Besides, while regular forces tend to be better trained and equipped, there have been instances in history where well trained irregulars have outshone everyone else. Look at groups like the Rough Riders and Special Forces. With the right leaders and training they can become spectacular in a good way. I’m hoping I can get them to follow that path. In the end I think it will do them the most good. My parents work in the CIA had given me some good ideas and I’d read a lot about many of the battles through history and I’d always been fascinated by the more irregular types. And something in me just sprang to attention when I thought about it. Something is right about what I’m planning. I just know it! End Journal Entry 4. 92 FRIDAY NIGHT BLUES: Friday Evening 10-6 I’d started to get a little down about it by the time I reached Dance, but then I realized I could share some of my ideas with Harry. If anyone I knew had some insight on Hawthorne’s problems it would be him. But as the class progressed I realized something. Harry was spending all his time with Hex. The two of them had become a pair and were actually getting pretty good. And they were spending the whole class talking to each other. I realized that I was getting a bit irritable when Mr. Lodgeman suggested I sit down for a while and watch. When I curtly asked him why he quietly but forcefully pointed out that none of the guys wanted to dance with me while I was in such a bad mood. I went and sat down. I stewed about it for several minutes before some sense returned to me. I finally questioned just what had made me so irritable. Then I looked at Harry with Hex and knew. I was lonely, and the worst part of it was that I really didn’t think it would change any time soon. Some of the people I knew could listen and encourage me a bit, but most of them had no idea what I’d gone through and was going through now. Those that knew enough about me to be trusted were my good friends and I didn’t feel good about weighing them down with any of my own baggage. I knew they had more than enough of their own to worry about. Some of the others who knew might be okay, but I still hadn’t gotten to a point where I trusted them enough to open up yet. I was pretty sure many of them just wouldn’t understand. I spent the rest of the class going over it again and again in my mind. Each time it just seemed to get worse, but I wasn’t going to let on to anyone how I felt right now. Mr. Lodgeman seemed worried as we let class out and insisted that I stay behind a bit to help him clean up. But eventually he had to let me go. I strode quickly into the night and almost ran over Harry and Hex who’d obviously been waiting for me. They seemed very tense and I wondered what was wrong. I started looking for trouble and approached them carefully, looking for some kind of ambush. “Are you two okay?” They both jumped a bit when I spoke and I realized they’d been talking together so intently they’d missed my approach. Hex spoke first. “Oh! It’s you Billie. No. Nothing’s wrong. We were just waiting for you. We thought we’d walk together.” “You didn’t have to do that. I won’t get lost and I’ll be back in plenty of time.” Harry couldn’t help joking a bit. “Like the last time you went to Berlin?” I glared at him and then sighed. “Don’t worry. I’m not going to do anything like that.” Hex carefully reached over and put a hand on my shoulder. “It’s okay Billie. We discussed what might be bothering you and think we know what the problem is. You think I’m cutting in on your boyfriend don’t you?” I just stared at her for a moment and then tried to say something. “I.... I mean... But...” “It’s okay. I talked it over with Harry and I wouldn’t ever have let it get this far if I’d known you felt that way about him. I... if it will make you feel better I’ll just quit the class and get out of the way...” I realized what they were saying but when I looked I could see real pain in their eyes. For a brief moment I considered going along with their plan. Then I thought about the consequences and I quickly suppressed the flood of acceptance of what they were suggesting. Taking a deep breath I interrupted her before she could finish. “No!” They both stepped back. I could feel my anger and shame for considering what I had thought for a moment rising and I fed it into what I felt I had to say. “But...” “No! I won’t let you do this. You’re my friends and neither of you have done anything to be ashamed of. I know you’ve been helping each other a lot and even I can see how well you two get along. And it’s not like Harry and I’ve been really going together at all. At least I know I haven’t expected anything or tried for it. I’m not about to try and get between you two now. I really appreciate what you’re trying to do but it wouldn’t be right. Besides, I went to a lot of trouble to get you both into the class and I’m not about to let a passing fancy mess that up.” I held up a hand as they both tried to say something. “Wait. Wait until I’m finished. You’re two of my best friends and I want you to be happy. I appreciate what you just tried to do for me, but really. Is that what you wanted?” Hex had the strangest look on her face. I wasn’t sure what it meant other than she was confused, but she kept trying. “But it’s not like Harry and I’ve known each other for long and you did get together with Harry first.” “Hex. Harry and I are friends and I hope we can keep it that way. I’ve got way too much to work through right now anyway. You two need to give it a chance before you agree to give up. At least give it a chance knowing that I approve and wish you the best. Okay?” “Well... Uh...” I put an edge to my voice as I repeated myself. “Okay?” They looked to each other and back to me. They actually nodded together so well I almost laughed. But I held all my emotions in and sternly said what I had to. “Good. Now you two need to get back to your dorms. Get along now! Shoo!” They both retreated from me then and soon were headed down the path towards her cottage. I noticed how closely together they walked and felt regret which stunned me a even more. I watched until they were out of sight and launched myself into the air and went looking for a private place to cry. Eventually I settled on an area near the Grove. I could feel It’s presence near me and couldn’t suppress a growl. It had the sense to back off and leave me alone. There’s something about standing on the top of a tree which makes crying a waste of time. Eventually the view distracted me enough to put most of my worries behind me. After I got that settled I cleaned myself up as much as I could and snuck back into Poe, making it to the showers without anyone seeing me and finished my cleaning up there. I didn’t want anyone to ever guess how I felt just then. I’d come to the realization that I might have missed out on something very special, but I still couldn’t bring myself to believe anything could have come from it. The two of them were probably better off together anyway. I was regretting a missed chance to get closer to and possibly date a GUY! The idea that I’d changed that much was frightening me more that I liked to admit. The knowledge that one day I’d probably act on the knowledge shook me even more. DANGER HIGH: Saturday, October 7th. Saturday: 10-7 Jade seemed a little slow and upset in the morning, but I had to get to Flight lab. Not that it helped my mood any. Hex was avoiding me and Mr. McLarin couldn’t be pleased by any of my answers to the questions he kept asking. I might not be the sharpest tack in the drawer, but I knew for a fact that my answers were right. I’d studied long and hard to be sure of it and he kept finding things wrong with my answers. And he wouldn’t even question some of the out and out wrong ones some of the others were saying! Hex came out of her funk in time to keep me from testing out my theory that my clipboard would fit into the vacuum he used as a brain. I’d almost tested it when he asked for the Nth time if I’d consider doing some after class tutoring to bring my grades up. Not in the least aware of how close he’d come to acting as a guinea pig he kept on in the same vein for the rest of the class. At least it got Hex out of her shell and interacting again. By the time I was out of there I was ready to mop all the floors of Hawthorne just to work off some of my frustrations. No one seemed interested in my plans for organizing the hall at this time and that only added to my frustration. Then, by the time I got to the Library for my regular job, I was just about ready to explode. But when I saw what Miss Henderson did to two kids who thought it would be funny to use one of her books as a notebook I decided to just try and work my frustrations out in constructive work. Fortunately for me I couldn’t hold onto a real mad while trying to file the books away. By the time I was ready to leave I could actually look forward to getting some of my homework done. End Journal Entry 5. Detention: Day Four: October 7th. Saturday wasn’t much different until I got to Detention. A new girl, calling herself Stella Woolfe joined us and had some questions about what we could do to help out some of the kids in Hawthorne. As soon as we were in the privacy of Lou’s chamber she started in with several questions. She seemed reserved at first, but after we got talking she became much more animated and open. Stella was taller than me at 5' 8" and probably around the 150 lb. Range. Her most distinguishing features were her white hair and amber eyes. She had a surprisingly small bust. Probably an A cup on a mature looking body. Her overall appearance, while not bulky, radiated lean strength and conditioning. There wasn’t any obvious sign why she was in Hawthorne. “Okay Tennyo. I hear you’ve got some ideas for taking care of some of the pains in the ass students and teachers who’ve been making life difficult for us. You mind giving us some idea of what you’re thinking of?” “Depends on what you want to do. I’m willing to help you find your own ways of doing what you want to accomplish. I don’t expect you to do it my way at all. That just won’t work.” “What kind of double talk is that?” “It isn’t double talk. You have to learn how to do things on your own. I can help you find ways to do that, but telling you what to do will only have you trying to do things my way and that won’t work when I’m not around. You guys need to find your own unique ways of doing things so you use your abilities to their maximum potential.” I knew for a fact that the best units were those that thought for themselves and outside the box. My job, if they’d let me do it would be to teach them they could do it that way. After that there would be no stopping them. I just felt it in my bones. “Sounds like double talk to me. You promise a lot but we’re the ones doing the work.” “Exactly.” “Huh?” “Just what I said. I’m not here to do it for you. I’ll advise you in getting organized and give you any information I can to help you, but you have to do this on your own or it’s just no good. You’ll never be able to do it alone if you’re constantly relying on someone else. Besides, if you do rely on someone else all the time you end up working for them and not yourselves.” “So. You’ll advise us, but that’s about all. You know, your not exactly known for your way of staying in the background.” “Oh. I’ll help where I can and must, but for the most part you’re on your own. I’m not about to try and steal your thunder. And as for not being known as someone behind the scenes, well, can you think of a better way of concealing it? This is how it should be for most situations. You have to be at least somewhat self reliant.” Everyone there gave me some odd looks. Kind of like one of the sponges had stood up and started talking. Then Stella got her determined look again. “How do you propose to do this then?” “First, you have to get organized. Some of you are very powerful in your own rights, but let’s face it, you need a team to get the tough stuff done right. Decide what you want to accomplish over the long run and pick leaders who will get you there. In one piece hopefully.” “How would we do this?” “My suggestion is that you try a military kind of organization first. A top leader and aides who watch over and direct the whole group and several smaller groups who get things done. Figure out what kinds of teams you can put together that will work and then arrange it so they can support each other. Then work to see what needs to be done to accomplish your objectives. I think you’ll want to keep the overall plan as secret as possible for as long as possible. Also, the more talent you can use the harder it will be to figure out your stratagem and abilities and that will make finding and stopping you much harder. If there are many more than one modus operandi it will be nearly impossible to predict who you are and what your next objectives will be.” “It sounds really complicated now.” “It is. You’ll need to work hard at it and when you’re done you’ll find that it doesn’t quite match what you started out working for. Don’t worry about that. It happens all the time. As long as you have a strong desire to reach your goals you will. Just maybe not like you expected.” This went on for the whole cleaning time. Her asking questions and me slowly getting more complicated in my answers. The others were listening in all this time also. I didn’t really know where all my answers were coming from but I didn’t hesitate to answer all the questions. By the end of the cleaning time they were discussing who they’d elect as an overall leader and what kind of groups they’d be able to form. I knew somehow that it’d take time to get all the bugs worked out, but they were going the right direction now. All I’d have to do would be to make sure I was available when they needed me for advice. And to stop them if they tried to take on too much too fast. I was feeling pretty good as I headed out to get ready for supper and Dance. Yep. I was feeling pretty good about how things were going. Even with detention I could do most of the things I wanted to do and the idea of helping the kids in Hawthorne get organized gave me a thrill every time I thought of it. I felt so good about it that I wanted to share it with someone. Jade had been very secretive about something and I really didn’t want to bother her and everyone else seemed to be busy on projects of their own. After Detention: Day Four: October 7th. The paths were dark now and the lights had come on. The path was empty at this time except for two boys heading my way. One was very stocky and about 5 feet 8 inches tall. The other was thin and about five four. There wasn’t anything about them to draw any more attention than that. Until they stopped in front of me and blocked the path. The big one spoke first but the smaller one didn’t seem to appreciate what he said. “Hey girl! Del here wants to talk to you!” The smaller one jumped and then snarled at the other. “No names you idiot! You want her and her friends after us?” The bigger one snickered in a nasty way. “Don’t worry, she won’t be telling anyone about this. Now do your thing before someone comes by.” With a whine the one called Del answered. “I didn’t sign on for this kind of deal.” The bigger one snarled and pointed at me, but his attitude promised trouble for his companion soon. “Do it you idiot! Before she gets away!” It didn’t take a genius to realize I was being set up and I didn’t have a good reason to stick around. They were busy arguing and I decided to bug out. I was moving away fast and about ten feet up when I suddenly stopped flying and fell back to the earth. Fortunately, I still seemed to be tough, strong, and fast and I was able to tuck and roll out of the fall and end up on my feet facing them. The bigger one advanced, popping his knuckles. One part of my mind was saying I should run, but another and stronger one was suddenly coming to the fore front of my attention, filling the odd void where I’d been able to feel my powers a short while ago. It was looking forward to a fight and something else I couldn’t define in my confusion. Big guy smiled in an evil way. “Not so fast little girl. It’s time we finished up this little job. Your not so hot without your powers. Beg nicely and we might let you live.” I kept backing up, shifting on my feet and trying to get a feel for the ground. I’d tried practicing without using my powers but it wasn’t the same. My balance was different somehow. Old reflexes kicked in quickly though and I started to bounce a little to get my center of gravity settled. I stopped backing up and set myself in a defensive stance. I should be running. I was certain I could get away, but for some reason it just didn’t seem important now. Still, it wouldn’t be fair not to warn them. “I don’t know what kind of deal your trying to pull off here you two. But I’ll give you two seconds to do something else or I’m not going to be responsible for what happens to you.” The big guy laughed. “Hah! Tough talk for someone without powers.” They seemed convinced I didn’t have my powers and I quickly realized that I not only couldn’t fly anymore, but I couldn’t seem to call up energy for my blasts or sword. The big guy grabbed at me and I quickly moved out of his way. When he tried again I gave him a quick kick to the knee to slow him down. To my surprise, he seemed to not be affected by the kick, except that he flinched and then seemed faster when he tried to grab me again. A few more strikes and he was moving much faster and still didn’t show much effect of the strikes that had hit him. In fact, I soon realized he wasn’t even trying to dodge them. I decided to dodge him a bit and try to figure out what was going on. Several more dodges and he seemed to be slowing down some. I thought about it for a few moments and tried an experiment. Dodging his next grab, I ducked in and delivered a punch to his short ribs. “Ooff! Hey! That hurt a little. Your gonna pay for that you little witch!” I had to move fast to avoid his next few attacks. Then he started to slow down again. It wasn’t like he was getting tired either. “C’mon little girl. Stop playing hard to get and let’s finish this. Give me your best shot why don’t you?” I shook my head. “Well, it seems you like this hitting thing too much. I think we’ll have to do this another way.” Starting to dodge and tripping him up as I moved around him the odd feeling started to get stronger. It was almost a hunger, but not quite the same and it filled me with a strange energy too. I started to feel stronger and faster as the feeling grew. The big guy was starting to get impatient and angry. “Hold still you little tramp! Del! Your supposed to be slowing her down. What are you doing? She’s as fast as lightning and stronger than a bull! Some of those hits really hurt!” Del was sweating and replied in a whiney voice that just made you want to swat him. “I am! I don’t understand. Her powers should be damped. She should only be at normal human strength and abilities now!” The feeling bubbled into a strong burst of amusement. I could feel my lips stretch over my teeth in something like a smile. “Got news for you two little twerps. Fact is, I’M NOT HUMAN!” With that statement, I broke off from the big guy buy just jumping over his head, landing past Del, turning, and grabbing him by the shoulders as he turned to face me. I looked into his eyes and that odd feeling surged up strongly. Del began struggling and screaming hysterically. I could feel myself starting to reach out in an odd way with a sense I hadn’t been aware I had before. Almost like I was close and far away at the same time. I had this almost uncontrollable urge to hold the little guy closer. The big guy didn’t seem so important now and a strange excitement was growing in me and I found myself fighting it almost as hard as I’d been fighting these two. I was so distracted I wasn’t paying attention to anything else. “Get out of my way you little pipsqueek!” Suddenly, Del was torn from my grasp. I looked up to see Del hanging by one arm from one of the big guys hands. The big guy then tossed Del away. The arm broke with a loud snap as he did it. Del landed about twenty feet away. I felt a totally irrational surge of anger and snarled at the big guy. “That was MINE!” He wasn’t paying close attention and tried to grab me after he threw the smaller one away. “Got you now you little..... urk!” My anger sent a wave of energy through me and I grabbed his head in a vise-like grip. He made some spastic attempts to free himself from my grip but wasn’t succeeding. It was like he was pathetically weak. He looked into my eyes and I felt that surge again. Whatever he saw as he looked in my eyes made him start to scream. About that time I felt a familiar surge of power that seemed to be flooding into me and pushing the odd feeling out with it, For a moment I felt stretched over an incredible distance and then things seemed to snap together again and I felt more normal than I had for several minutes. About then I became aware that the big guy was screaming and trying to rip my hands off his head. The screams startled me so much I let him go. He was staggering backwards with a look of pure terror on his face. I backed off in confusion. I also found myself floating about a foot off the ground. Then he screamed in a very high pitched voice. “MONSTER!! Get away from me!” The big guy took one last terrified look at me and ran away as if all the hounds of Hell were after him. I looked around in confusion, trying to find what had scared him so badly. All I could see was the crumpled form of the guy that big one had called Del. Going over to him, I began checking him over like I’d been taught in Scouts. He was unconscious and wouldn’t wake up when I yelled at or shook him the little bit that I felt safe doing with his injuries. His right arm was obviously broken. Other than that he didn’t seem to have any serious wounds that I could find. He was pretty pale and gasping though and I thought he might have some other injuries or be going into shock. Looking around I saw one of those security emergency phones on a nearby light pole. Flying over to that, I opened the box, and lifted the phone. There was a ring on the other end and a man answered immediately. “Security. How can we help you?” “My name is Billie Wilson and I have an injured person here who I think is a student. He has a broken arm and possibly some other wounds that I couldn’t determine under the circumstances.” “Where are you?” “I’m on the path that goes from Dunn Hall to Poe Cottage. I’m not sure exactly where on the trail.” “Is he close to you now?” “Yeah, about forty feet or so.” “Okay. We have a fix on your phone. We’ll have someone there momentarily. Don’t go anywhere.” “I wasn’t planning on it.” I waited by the phone and soon several security men came rushing from the direction of Administration. Two men moved up and covered me while the others set up an overwatch all around. One of them checked the prone figure of Del. That one pulled a walkie talkie and started to speak into it. Not long after that an EMT showed up and started to treat him. Soon after that a security SUV showed up and the kid was put on a stretcher and driven away towards the hospital. I just stood there until Chief Delarose showed up and relieved the two who were watching me. He started to ask me some questions. “Okay Billie. Did you do this?” “No. It was the big guy who took off running before I could call.” “The big guy?” “Yeah, about five feet eight and really stocky. Dark complexion and short black hair. Took off running that way.” I pointed in the direction that I’d seen him run. “Why’d he run?” “I think he was scared of me.” “Why was he scared?” “I don’t know. I didn’t do anything to him.” He scratched his head. “I think your telling me the truth Billie. I’m just not certain that it’s ALL the truth. Care to add anything?” “No.” He smiled a little smile. “Good. We’ll need to go to the station so you can file a report. Okay?” “Okay. Is Del going to be alright?” “How do you know his name?” “The big guy called him that. Before he hurt him. I was just wondering if he was going to be okay.” “His name is Delwin Florian and he’s been in trouble before. His code name is Negator and he can stop most attackers cold with his ability to negate most powers and even some life forces. He seems to be in some kind of shock and he has some bruises and the broken arm. We think he’ll be okay.” “Good. I hate to see people get hurt. Especially if I don’t know them.” “Can you tell me more about the guy who did this to him?” “I’ll try.” We continued to discuss what had happened all the way back to Security where I filed a report for him. Security was like an anthill that’s just been kicked. Apparently I hadn’t been the only student attacked and from the sound of it at least one of the fights had been pretty ugly. I started to get a little worried, but no one would give me any details. I hurried to finish my report. While I was doing that, Reverend Englund showed up, barged right in, and started to question the Chief. I was motioned out quickly. Considering the looks the Reverend was giving me and the level of noise coming from the closed office I decided to leave before he was through bothering the Chief. I checked with the guy handling the clerical stuff and he said I could leave but would have to have an escort back to Poe. Saturday Evening: 10-7 I felt a bit self conscious with two armed guards, but it was the only way they’d let me go so I put up with it. When I got back to Poe and lost my escort I hurried upstairs to check on the others. I soon had a pretty good idea that someone, most likely Tansy, and maybe the Alphas had tried to attack Jade, Nikki, and Ayla as well as me. Ayla seemed to think her attacker was something of a joke and maybe not connected with the others. Both Nikki and Jade were pretty upset though and as they finally got around to the details I had a hard time not rushing out and doing something about it. But I somehow knew that Jade needed me to stay around for now so I stayed close to her. Eventually we all ended up down in Sara’s room. It was the only one large enough for all of us anyway. Eventually we got around to discussing the attacks and who we thought was responsible. Most of my money was on Tansy, but there was enough doubt about some of the other possibilities to make me wonder. I’d given my story without some of the weirder parts that I wasn’t too sure of yet. Some of the others had heard of Del before but didn’t know him. We still had no idea who the other guy had been but he sounded like one of the Ultra Violents. I figured I’d find out after Security got back to me with more details. I thought that it was interesting how Stalwart had helped Nikki and Ayla’s description of her encounter was actually pretty funny. Jade’s actions had me a bit worried. We kept pressing her for details until she finally revealed that she was trying hormones and that they seemed to work for a while and then stopped. I could now understand why she’d been so emotional about the whole thing but I was considering talking to Chief Delarose about getting her an escort/bodyguard until she’d settled down from the hormones. My little friend had a very violent way when provoked under the right circumstances. But if I did that I’d be revealing who did it and I didn’t think anything good would come from that. Eventually I settled on a plan where I’d try to keep a better eye on her and help her if I could. Somehow I just knew her obsession with a quick change was going to get her into trouble sooner or later. Mrs. Horton allowed us to stay together that night and it turned into a kind of slumber party. Pillow fight and all. We finally got a little rest. End Journal Entry 6. 93 PICKING UP THE PIECES: Sunday, October 8th. Sunday: 10-8 This was the first time I could remember waking up with a bunch of good looking girls laying all around me. For a moment I thought I’d go into shock, but the expected surge of desire didn’t happen. As I looked around I realized that I’d seen everyone here in various states of undress before and other than an appreciation for their good looks and a tendency to compare them to me now I didn’t feel anything else. Except for Sara. Looking at her back as she read some book only made me remember that I was really hungry. Something my stomach decided to tell everyone else in case they didn’t know yet. Even Sara jumped a bit at that growl and the others started to wake up. Sara threw me an odd look for a moment but with everyone else groaning and complaining about the noise I quickly forgot about it. It was a moderately uneventful day. I got called back to Security and they asked more questions. They even asked if I was hiding some kind of psychic power. I explained until I was sick of the whole thing and eventually Chief Delarose called them off and took me into his office. After making sure his security equipment was on he asked me some of the same questions End Journal Entry 7. Unanswered Questions: October 8. .“C’mon Billie. You can tell me. I won’t let your secrets out. I just need to know what happened and how.” Something in the way he said it made me sure he actually felt that way, but if there wasn’t a dozen different ways around his security devices I’d eat his hat. And even if they were working I’d lay odds that up to half of the people watching us were lip readers. Besides, I really didn’t know what they wanted from me. “Sorry Chief. I’m as much in the dark as you are if not more. I’m not even sure why you’re asking those questions about psychic powers. I told you what happened. What do psychic powers have to do with it?” He seemed surprised by my answer. “You mean no one’s told you?” I shrugged. “Told me what? All I know is what I told you.” “Hmmm. Well I don’t think it will hurt and maybe it’ll jog your memory a bit.” “What?” “The boys who attacked you. You already know that one was Negator.” “Yeah. The one called Del.” “Yes. The other is Benjamin Torres. He’s called Buster. You noticed that his power is the ability to absorb and use the energy from physical impacts. Combined with his more normal abilities as an exemplar he can be a very dangerous opponent. Unfortunately for him, with his attitude and ability, he’s more likely to end up as someone’s minion rather than his own man.” “Okay. I see what you mean. Neither of them looked like boss material. But I still don’t get why everyone’s asking about psychic powers.” “You’re sure you didn’t do anything but fight physically with them?” “Yeah. In fact, the only thing I did to Del was grab him by his shoulders. He started to scream and then Buster grabbed him and threw him out of the way. Breaking his arm in the process. I admit to being a bit pissed off at that point and I think I grabbed Buster boys face and stretched it a bit. He started to scream too and ran off. Did you catch him then?” “We caught him alright. But it wasn’t easy. He fought until he collapsed from shear exhaustion. We’ve had to lock him away for now until we can figure out a way to calm him down. Del wasn’t quite as bad, but he still can’t remember anything from that day and any attempts to make him remember send him into a fit similar to Buster’s. All our experts can come up with is that they experienced something so horrifying it actually threatens their health and sanity. They’ve apparently blocked it out mentally to the point they can’t remember anything about it.” “Wow. What about the psychic thing?” “Well. The only explanation our experts can come up with, since there wasn’t any unexplained physical injuries, is that there was some kind of psychic attack which convinced them something horrible had happened to them. Thus creating the mental state they’re in now. If you don’t have psychic powers we might have to assume someone attacked them at the same time you were fighting them. Do you know anyone who could do that?” “I can think of a few possibilities, but I don’t think any of them could’ve done it without me knowing about it and I’m pretty sure I didn’t sense anything like that.” “We are in pretty much the same boat. There are some possibilities, but we didn’t find anything when we followed up on the leads we had. The best lead in fact was given to us by Reverend Englund. He and several others claim they sensed the presence of some sort of odd type of being for a short time. They couldn’t tell us what it was and it disappeared before they could track it down, but it’s the best lead we’ve had so far. You didn’t see anything like that did you? I can understand if you’re afraid we’ll think you’re crazy, but we’ve had some experience with this kind of thing and I can assure you we’ll be able to accept your story.” The look in his eyes was almost pleading. I realized he desperately wanted to find out what had happened, but I couldn’t help him there. I hadn’t seen anything like that and I couldn’t explain what happened either. I shook my head. “Sorry Chief. I can’t help you. I didn’t see anything else. It happened as I told you. I’d tell you if I had any other information. Maybe it had something to do with all the other attacks?” He sighed. “Maybe. We’re looking into it. But your attack seemed to be the likely one. The attack on the werewolf might fit the bill too. We’ll just have to try harder and find out some other way. Thanks for talking to us and being so patient. I guess we’ll have to let you go for now, but be careful, and if you find out anything else please let me know. Okay?” “Okay.” I was just glad he hadn’t asked me if I new anything about the other attacks. After that, sitting down and doing my homework seemed like a relaxing thing to do. Of course that didn’t last. Next thing I know we were having a meeting with the Betas. Sunday Evening: 10-7: It was an interesting and informative talk. The gist of it was that we had some choices to make. We could do the good guy super hero thing where we had to do everything by the book. The advantages to that was the fact that if you did you had the weight of society behind you and the protection that offered. The disadvantage was that you had to do things by the book. To my way of thinking, the bad guys had too close a relationship to whoever was writing that book and I’d already been burned a bit by that. Until not too long ago I’d been on the run and hiding from the law and all because some of the bad guys were using the book to make me look like a criminal or dangerous mutant monster. Something about that just didn’t sit right with me. The second choice was the bad guy super villain thing. Advantage of this was the fact that you wrote your own book and anything goes. Disadvantage was the fact that just about everyone else was against you in one way or another. More freedom to act and more to fight against to get what you want and it’s a lot harder to keep what you get too. Besides, I don’t think any of Team Kimba really liked the idea at all. It just wasn’t our style. The suggestion of a third possibility caught my attention. There was always the middle road where you made your own way by your own rules. None of the advantages most of the time and all the disadvantages. The rewards might be a lot greater than either of the alternatives though. We’d have to be tough and smart to walk that path and pull it off, but if we stepped across the line Stormwolf made it clear they’d be after us in a moment. I figured it was his attempt to swing our tendencies towards the good guy side. A little blunt for my tastes, but it got the message across. I looked at the others through all of this and I had the feeling that their thoughts tended to follow mine pretty close. I was pretty sure by the time the Betas left we’d already made up our minds. People who wanted to do the good guy stuff could join the Cape Squad. The other side didn’t interest me all that much right now, but seemed more likely than the first choice. Somehow I couldn’t imagine myself sticking to the rules I was sure would be thrown in my face if I did try it anyway. The only other choice would be number three. It offered a better choice to me and still allowed us the freedom to get things done if we had too. It wouldn’t have the support of the Powers That Be, but somehow that seemed less important the more I had run ins with them. It also wouldn’t draw their wrath if we did it right. I wasn’t sure how the others felt about that yet, but I had my suspicions. None of us really fit a normal mold and I couldn’t see us trying to do so anytime in the near future. End Journal Entry 8. Friday Evening: October 13th. I wish I could say the week had been anticlimactic and for the first few days it was. There were a few interesting things like Fey starting to climb the walls. I always knew the girl was a bit weird, but climbing walls when you didn’t have to and can fly up much more easily is just a bit strange if you ask me. If that was the only problem I wouldn’t have anything to really complain about, but on Thursday, while I was visiting my friends at Hawthorne, someone jumped Jade, Nikki, Toni, and Chou. If not for some timely interference by some kind of giant panther called Rythax things might have gotten pretty bad. I was all ready to go out and collect some heads when I found out, but the others calmed me down and later Chief Delarose approached us with an offer we couldn’t refuse. In an effort to calm things down and get us to agree to back off, the Administration was willing to cut us a deal. For our cooperation we’d get the chance to go to Boston and shop. I still wasn’t too cool with it, but since the others were all for it I figured I should support them. I still wanted to know who did it and get them, but I could see why the Administration wouldn’t want this to escalate. The Chief let me know he thought he could handle it though and I decided we might as well take the trip and run for now, but I was going to keep a closer watch on the others just in case. End of Entry for the week. WHEN IN BOSTON: 98 A BIT OF EXCITEMENT: Saturday, October 14th We were up at an ungodly early hour in order to get the train that took us to Concorde and from there to Boston. I admit to not being the best in the mornings, even though with my flight class I was always getting up early anyway. I took advantage of the train trip to catch up on some of my sleep. I wished I’d had the money to get a sleeper car, but since Whateley was footing the bill I had to accept a padded seat as my best opportunity. It wasn’t as restful as I’d hoped, but at least it cut down on the waiting. Trains get you there and the old Miskatonic wasn’t such a bad way to travel, but it still took several hours and I found myself getting bored after I woke up. Then I noticed Nikki was teasing Hank a bit and on the spur of the moment decided to have some fun myself. Soon we were entrenched on either side of him and having all sorts of fun trying to upstage the other at Hank’s expense. It really was pretty fun. At least for me and Nikki. I’m not too sure about Hank, but at least he didn’t try and run off. Of course this couldn’t be a totally for fun trip. When the others in Poe learned we were actually going to Boston they demanded we buy a few things for them. Since Bunny was coming with us and everyone trusted her she ended up with what looked like the list from Hell and a purse full of enough cash to release some third world countries from their current destitute states. We were going to need the train to get some of this stuff back to the school. While we were on the train we didn’t have to put up with much more than the occasional Train Security patrol passing through, but as soon as we switched over to the public rail system in Boston that started to change. More and more people started to take notice of us and since I didn’t have the wallet to totally immerse myself in purchases I found myself noticing it more. It was kind of disturbing. At Whateley I’d grown accustomed to my new circumstances, but in a new place like this I started to become more self conscious. I was certain a lot of the guys we were passing and meeting were looking me over closely. Though with Sara and Nikki around I don’t know why I bothered to care at all. Eventually we ended up in a small café or bistro as they called it and I had even more reason to regret the current state of my wallet. There was simply no way I was going to be able to afford enough to make my stomach comfortable. I started to wonder if a place down the block with an all you can eat buffet really meant what the sign said. Somehow I didn’t think they’d allow me to test the theory. I sighed and tried to find something on the menu that would give me the most food for my money. End First Journal Entry Boston: Bad Guys Make For Bad Days: Jade kept entertaining us with an eyepatch she’d bought. Trying to imitate a pirate. I found it pretty amusing but I think some of the others didn’t appreciate it as much as I did. The food I’d ordered finally came and I was working away at it when I noticed the barman had turned up the sound on the TV. There was some kind of bank robbery going on. Kind of interesting, but I wanted to finish my meal, what there was of it, before getting distracted by such things. I wasn’t paying too much attention to the TV and was only partially aware that the helicopter cam was following the approach of a SWAT team to the bank robbery when some police vans went screaming past us. Jade managed to start saying something when Toni leaped out of her chair yelling, and dodged out the door and up the block after them. Chou was right behind her. I had to decide between my lunch and following my friends. I decided friends came first and with a yell I launched myself after them. Hank was already up and heading to the door so I grabbed him as I flew past. Running requires the necessity of avoiding the various obstacles that man manages to clutter his life with. Signs, post office boxes, cars, and the occasional innocent, and generally dodging in the worst direction, pedestrian. All I had to dodge where the various poles and wires. So Hank and I got there first. It was a mess. Whoever was doing this were obviously shooting the place up for all they were worth. There was also a lot of ice all over the ground which didn’t bother me in the least. I spotted one of the bad guys and decided to try a move through, with Hank as my battering ram. It didn’t take long for me to realize this wasn’t the best idea. I didn’t know enough about my enemy or their abilities and was relying on my power to just bull on through. It works, most of the time, if you’re strong enough. But there are definite disadvantages too. Namely, it doesn’t always work, and people tend to get hurt, or both at the same time. This goon must’ve seen me coming and he whipped this flamethrower type gadget up and at me. Before I thought to dodge I found myself wrapped up in a block of ice. I was aware of some jolts and bumps and knew when we stopped moving. Besides being a bit chilly I wasn’t in any particular distress and the ice had protected us from any injury from our rough landing. Other than the embarrassment of being caught this way I wasn’t in any real trouble. I’d noticed at other times I didn’t seem to need to breath like everyone else and this wasn’t any different. For a moment I wondered how it was possible and then I realized there was a different problem. Hank wasn’t able to survive long without being able to breath. I could feel him struggling where I had a grip on him. I strained to break free and I could feel him trying too, but neither of us seemed to be able to crack the ice we were in. His struggles started to get more desperate and I started to get a bit panicky myself. It was bad enough one of my best friends was in trouble and I couldn’t do anything for him, but there was the fact that I’d basically gotten him into this situation to begin with by dragging him here. I wasn’t getting anywhere trying brute force and I could feel Hank’s struggles starting to get erratic. I had to do something! I thought of trying to form a sword or use an energy blast, but Hank was too close to my hands. I might hurt or kill him trying that. This block was too heavy for me to move effectively and it was too late to make plans for the two of us to work together. This had never been in any of the scenarios we’d studied at Whateley. We were going to have to correct that if we ever had the chance in the future. But for now I had to get us out of here. Hank’s struggles had become very weak and sporadic. My hearts where pounding, but for all that I wasn’t out of breath at all. It seemed so unfair for me to just be stuck here with Hank dying right next to me. My concern now for my friend far outweighed any concern for myself. I realized I’d be willing to do just about anything to help him. The thought of taking a bullet for him or other such sacrifices finally brought to mind a possibility. I actually hesitated for a moment. If I did what I was thinking I was sure to hurt myself and there wasn’t any guarantee it would get us out of here. The few times parts had been separated from me in the past they’d always gone up in a puff of smoke if they didn’t just fade out of existence mysteriously leaving a vacuum. Either effect might help us now, but it would hurt and there wasn’t any assurance it would work. Then I felt shame for hesitating even a small moment. I pulled my bottom lip into my mouth and bit down. I was right. My canines were sharp and easily pierced my lip and it did hurt. More so than I think it would have if it had been inflicted by someone else. For some reason self inflicted injuries always seemed to hurt more. Blood spurted into my mouth and into the ice. The next moment was like being punched as hard as I ever remembered being hit. My ears rang and my face hurt and stung like mad. In the next moment I realized the ice was falling away from us and my attention went from my own discomfort to the state of my friend. I looked over at him just as the ice fell away from his face and his gasping was actually music to my ears. Ignoring everything that was going on around us I tried to get more of the ice off him. “Hank! Hank! Are you alright!?” The best he could manage was a choking cough and I spent the next several moments making sure he was clear of the ice. By the time I thought about my lip again the pain was nothing but a memory and there wasn’t a hint of damage to my face. Soon it was clear that Hank was recovering quickly and I had a chance to look around. The situation had changed since I last saw it. A quick reconnaissance showed what looked like maybe four or five men in a wrecked car being surrounded by the Police and a good deal greater amount of wreckage scattered around the square. I could see Chou, Sara, and Toni looking a bit more the worse for wear. There was also some kind of Cape Squad type who was acting like he was in charge. When I saw the men in the car I started towards them to give them a reason to regret ever crossing me. Suddenly Nikki and Jade showed up and grabbed me by each arm. I couldn’t get free without possibly hurting them, but I did make sure the goons knew I’d be after them if I ever ran across them again. While I was doing that I saw Rip and Ayla show up. Rip wasted no time tackling Toni. Ayla seemed to be having some amusement watching someone I thought might be a high ranking police officer tell off the Cape Squad guy. Something about showing up too late to help. Looking around at the damage and the casualties I thought I couldn’t blame him for being so upset. I, fortunately hadn’t lost any of my friends. He probably couldn’t say the same and it was his city that had just gotten trashed. Jade distracted me with a question. “Hey. How did you escape from that ice block anyway?” I shrugged in embarrassment. “Uh, I bit my lip. Let loose enough blood to crack it.” She shook her head. “You’re scary sometimes. You know that?” I blushed a bit and looked around for another distraction. I finally got a little more under control as the thugs were hauled off. Then I noticed an EMT drag the officer and some of the others to where a girl was on a stretcher. She looked familiar for some reason. There was something sticking out of her leg. Hank had made a complete recovery by now and commented the girl looked familiar too. Something about her ass. Everyone looked up at him and he shrugged. “What?” He was saved by Sara pointing out the girl had been at the Bistro we’d been eating lunch at. My stomach growled just thinking about the lunch we’d left. They continued discussing her while I tried to ignore my stomach. I looked back when the EMT started to say something like woah, woah, woah and trying to stop Sara from doing something. Sara held up the thing she’d taken from the girl’s leg and said something about it being a poison dart and from some place off world. Funny, but what she said made a kind of sense to me and I found myself nodding in agreement. The Capped Guy, someone had called him Skyhawk, mentioned it looked like some kind of weapon someone called the Necromancer tended to use. We were too far away to get too much of the conversation that followed and ended up moving closer to get in on the conversation. Several of the others seemed to recognize the girl too and Nikki finally made the connection and said that the girl was Heartbreaker, from Whateley. When she said that I recognized her and nodded with the others. Nikki recognized the dart too and soon it became apparent that more was going on than just a basic bloody bank robbery. The things being used seemed to be some kind of alien devices, though where Nikki and Sara learned about them escaped me. In the end it was decided these thugs were only a distraction for this guy called the Necromancer. Sara was pretty sure the real action was going on at a place near where we’d been going to eat. My stomach picked that time to remind me about the missed meal again. It was almost enough to help me ignore the Cape Guy as he pontificated some more. In the end it was quickly decided to check the place out and see if we could catch or stop whatever this Necromancer was up to. Of course we couldn’t just run, fly, or walk over to see what was going on. We had to pack ourselves like sardines into one of the beat up SWAT vans. The Cape Guy seemed to think having some super types show up would panic the bad guys into running and we didn’t want that did we? Not that I didn’t think it was a good idea to try and surprise them, it’s just that being crammed into a vehicle with everyone else and no way to see what was going on outside didn’t sit too well with me. As we headed that way and tried not to injure anyone else in there with us the Captain of Police opened a sliding panel to add his own comments to a conversation between me and Cape Guy. I was feeling a bit cramped and edgy. My last adventure had been less than glorious and I wasn’t hoping for a repeat. The Captain seemed to think we were trying to be some kind of bait. I wished I knew more about what we were getting into so I understood what he meant. He was just telling us the security company who watched the place had just reported some kind of alarm when something smashed the van over on it’s side. I did what I could to protect Jade from flying people and objects while everyone else who could take damage did what they could for everyone else. Something had ripped into the side of the van and one of the SWAT guys with us had been pretty severely slashed by whatever it was. When it finally stopped we were upside down and everyone was covered with clutter. Several of the people in the van were hurt. The one who’d been hit by the claws or whatever very badly. I’d had enough of getting blind-sided and I wasn’t going to play that way anymore. I let out a yell and literally forced the torn wall in front of me to peel back so I could launch myself out of the crowded box. Head on into some big bad chest. Looking up I found myself face to chest with a big demon. He was looking down into my face and his breath was less than fresh. A quick glance at him and his claws made me fairly sure he was the one who’d hit the van. It was almost a feeling of relief when I finally had a target for the rage that had been building in me. “Hot damn! You need a breath mint!” My follow on punch literally threw him all the way across the street. I was a bit surprised when he got up right after. I saw him grab a lamp post as I started to close with him again. He was really fast and I was too cocky again. He literally swatted me into the tarmac with the post as I flew at him. It hurt, but not as much as I was expecting. In fact, I was feeling oddly more powerful than normal. He raised the pole to hit me again. I was vaguely aware of Jade yelling something behind me and I saw some of the spikes I knew where used by Shroud ping off him. I didn’t give him a chance to hit me with it. In a moment I’d formed my sword and simply cut the offending pole in two as it came down. My rage was still demanding a chance to express itself and right in front of me was the perfect target. I levitated up and gave him the full benefit of my best glare. I motioned for him to try some more and give me a good reason to try some of my better moves. “Come on!” He flipped the rest of the pole he was holding into a spear like position. It burst into flame and he threw it at me like a spear. I easily dodged the flaming missile and I heard it impact into the vehicle behind me. I decided then it would be okay to use lethal force with this one as I flew in at him low to the ground. He slashed at me as we dodged each other and I flew up over his head. I saw him barely miss Shroud with another slash of his claws and decided to end this once and for all. Since his attention was on Shroud I decided to take advantage of the situation and slashed straight down on his head. Yelling to get his attention away from Shroud while I did it. I hit it, but to my surprise it just spun around and slashed me across my face. Yelling in it’s loud evil voice. “THINK YOU CAN HARM THE ARCH-FIEND WITH FIRE!?” It hurt and for a moment I was afraid it’d really tagged me. Some of my blood went flying and I noticed how it seemed to flare into fire and burn things it touched. But strangely enough, I also felt a jolt of energy and the pain faded immediately. It left an odd tingle and a strange sense of even more energy pouring into me. For one moment I’d been unable to speak, but as the tingle and pain faded I could talk again. Obviously, my sword wouldn’t work here and it was likely my plasma blasts wouldn’t either. That left only a few options. I decided to let him know what I was thinking. “It seems I’ll have to do this the old fashioned way. Good. I feel like BEATING SOMEONE TO DEATH TODAY!” I caught him by surprise by throwing my sword as a blast at his feet and knocking him over. Then I waded in, dodging his blows as best I could and pounding him with both feet and hands. Oddly enough, each time I hit him or he hit me I felt like I was stronger for it. My clothes were getting the worst of it, but they held together well enough to keep me from becoming too indecent somehow. Combat like this is painful. There’s no way around it. But somehow in the heat of battle it didn’t bother me so much. We were smashing and crushing each other with incredible force. You’d think with his claws and teeth he’d have the advantage, but as painful as his hits were, the pain was only temporary and I seemed to be able to keep on going. I could feel my strength rising slowly and I noticed debris and such was starting to scatter around me like in a strong wind and some of it was even catching fire if it got close to me. When I got a bit too careless and confident he managed get a good grip on me, smashing me into a clothing store and using me as a battering ram to smash windows, mirrors, and walls. He got too overconfident then too. Instead of keeping that up he licked my face in a disgusting manner. “Ooooooo, Tasty!” It left him open and I managed to sucker punch him into the next building. “Heh. Afraid I’m a little too tough for you!” Oddly enough, my stomach took that moment to remind me I was really missing the lunch we’d been called away from. It was beginning to irritate me no end. I was also getting a bit more frustrated with how difficult it was to take this guy out. I looked as he stood up again, his ichorous blood dripping from his mouth and I said some of what I was thinking. “You’re quite tough yourself though, I’ll give you that.” It glared at me. “Arrogant mortal. The Necromancer altered my body to withstand even the most powerful of attacks.” I couldn’t help posturing a bit. I knew who was winning this one, even if it was taking longer than I thought it should. I buffed my nails on the remains of my shirt. “Well, I do have to admit that you’re lasting a lot longer than I expected. I suppose I should be curious, but to tell the truth, I just find this.... frustrating.” He started to laugh. My power started to focus more and I stalked towards him. “What’s so funny?” It grinned at me. “I... know something you don’t.” I moved in closer, preparing to go at him again. “Oh? And what’s that?” He chuckled and blew a gust of thick black smoke into my face. Maybe on someone else it would have some kind of effect, but for me all it did was fog up the room we were in. It did make it hard for me to see him and I ended up smashing a few walls and some furniture trying to tag him again. I admit to getting a bit more frustrated. This was taking way too long and I wanted to find out what the others were doing and get something to eat. Something to eat was getting more and more important to me as we fought. “Where are you?!” I heard him chuckle again and there was the sound of brickwork and the like tumbling. I headed that way and a cloud of dust replaced some of the smoke. I finally could see him, standing and straining at something I couldn’t see clearly. He looked at me and laughed. “Are you ready?” He didn’t wait for my answer and heaved at what he was working on. With a loud rumble the building collapsed onto us. It was a strange thing. I felt the building pressing down on me and somehow I pushed back. A dome of rubble formed around me. The larger bits being crushed into smaller rubble and dust as more fell on top of it. Eventually it stopped. I somehow released the pressure and the rubble settled around me. I pushed my way up and out. There was one very large piece right on top of me which I threw aside as I looked around for my enemy. I spotted him standing about where he’d been when the building came down. “Well. That was a trip. Okay tall, dark, and ugly. Time for another round.” Something about me or what I said got to him. He seemed to be trying to say something, but his jaws just worked up and down without any making any noise. Then he started to step back and fell over. As I approached a strange change came over him and he shrank into a middle aged, pudgy guy who looked a bit worse for wear. I saw his crotch area get wet as I approached, but other than that he seemed unable to do anything. I stood over him with my hands on my hips for a moment and then shook my head. “Well. That was an anticlimax.” Nothing else seemed to be happening and looking around the rubble made me certain I should distance myself from it for the time being. I had an idea where the others might be and grabbing the demon guy I flew up and headed to where I thought they might be. Soon I could see Sara and Chou standing over some pale girl. I set down near them and set the guy down near the girl. Looking around I couldn’t help grinning. “Okay. Nobody gets to tease me about wrecking anything anymore.” I looked around again. “Did we accidently catch the express to Beirut this morning?” Then there was the sound of an explosion a little way off and we headed that way to find out what was going on. Soon most of us were gathered around a fight centering around an armored guy I figured was the Necromancer and Nikki. I saw them exchange a few spells and then when a manhole cover was thrown at Nikki and it looked like she might not be able to block it Hank stepped in. It was enough to draw their attention to us as we prepared to move in on the Necromancer guy. He shook a fist in the air. “Ha! I have no more times for parlor games! I WILL RETURN!” A green smoke exploded from the ground. It was distracting, but I saw movement near the uncovered manhole. As the smoke cleared I couldn’t see the guy anywhere and I figured out where he’d gone. “The manhole! I saw him!” Calling up my sword I dived into the hole. Hopefully I’d be able to catch him before he got away. Probably unknown to him, I’d had some experience in tunnels and I hoped it would be enough to catch up to him. Of course it wasn’t that easy. As soon as I was in the tunnel it seemed to fill with animated corpses. They weren’t all that strong, but there were a lot of them. Fortunately, my sword worked wonders on them. A slash and they exploded wonderfully. In moments I had help too. Hank and Shroud were soon there smashing and slashing too. Hank asked a question as we fought them. “What the hell is animating these things? This one doesn’t have enough muscle mass to even stand.” I was getting to vent a bit of my frustrations and I couldn’t suppress a cackle like laugh. “I dunno. But this is so much fun! Snap! Crackle! Pop!” Jinn spoke up then. “Ewwwww. Tennyo. You’re scaring me.” Jinn didn’t seem to be getting into it as much as me, but then I was exploding them and she was just slicing off and bashing their heads. A little while later the zombies stopped coming. It was a bit disappointing but we kept looking in the direction they’d been coming from and soon ran into Toni and Ayla. We compared notes and figured the zombies stopped coming about the same time for both our groups. Not much later after that we found Sara looking a bit worse for wear. She said the Necromancer had been her uncle and he’d managed to get her by surprise with the help of a werewolf dude. They’d escaped with some kind of key made out of something called orichalcum. Major thing for magic anyway. It was too bad they’d gotten away, but there was nothing we could do about that now. We got back up to where we’d left the two bad guys. One of them was gone. The odd girl. The guy who turned into a demon was still there though. Eventually some police showed up to take him to a secure facility out of town. We got out of the way of the rescue services and sat near the wrecked SWAT van. Captain Tilley was still there and told us we’d done a great job. It didn’t feel like it. The area was trashed and a lot of people got hurt and killed. Besides, the bad guys got away. When he saw how we were taking it though he pointed out how much worse it would’ve been if we hadn’t been there. Skyhawk, the Cape Guy agreed with him. I was glad to see that we hadn’t been useless or worse, but it still didn’t feel like a victory to me. And I was still hungry. Very, very hungry. Fortunately for me, Hank’s stomach made enough noise to cover mine and the Captain got the hint and offered to feed us. I’m not sure they’ll ever let us do that again, at least not unless we pay for it, but it was one of the best meals I’d ever had. I was finally getting a little comfortable where my stomach was concerned and was able to answer some of the questions my friends and the Captain had for me. I described as best I could the battle I’d been in. The others did the same. The Captain also took us on a tour of the town so we were able to finish up our shopping. It was very nice of him, even if it was probably to get out of some of the hassle of paperwork and the like and I bet the food was on the cities tab too. Eventually he dropped us off at the station where we boarded the Miskatonic again for the ride home. After having some fun describing what we’d done again and having Sara grouch at us a bit I was finally able to settle back and think through what had happened. The more I thought of it the more I realized we needed to work on some of the weaknesses we’d noticed when we were attacked before. We needed reliable communications, badly. So far we’d been lucky, but we’d been separated each time and come close to being taken out because of that isolation. Communications would go a long way towards helping us there. We also needed to train more together. If Hank and I’d worked together we’d probably been able to get out of the ice without resorting to desperate measures. Chou assured me that the explosion of the ice had been impressive and luckily no one had been close enough to get hurt. A better understanding of our abilities and those of our enemies was essential. We’d been lucky in our matchups today. I’d gotten the demon and the others had each lucked out in their opponents too. Toni was probably the best to take on the werewolf and Nikki had been very impressive against the Necromancer guy. Some of the others had a rough time, but had been saved by what little teamwork we’d managed. If we’d known more and worked together better we’d have been much better off. And I still wondered about why my fight with that demon guy was so different. I’d never experienced anything like it before. No matter what he did to me I just got stronger. That had never happened before and I wondered what was different about it and the other fights I’d been in. I wasn’t sure I was ready to tell anybody about it either. I’d see what I could find on my own first. And we needed ways to handle travel together. We’d gotten to each battle piecemeal and disorganized. Ending up taking risks we shouldn’t have and not using our abilities anywhere near their fullest. I still felt twinges of panic when I remembered how close Hank had come to being seriously hurt or killed because of the way I’d handled my end. He’d sworn to me it wasn’t like that, but I still worried and wondered how I could keep it from happening again. All in all, we needed some work on how we handled things as a team. And I wasn’t sure how we’d be able to manage it. We were all going in such different directions most of the time. I’d been leaning back, supporting Jade while she slept and probably looked like I was asleep to. I noticed Sara was acting a bit odd, like she was talking to someone and soon Nikki pulled herself free from Bunny to join the conversation. I couldn’t see or hear the other they were talking to, but they obviously could. The conversation, what I could make out of it, seemed to revolve around whether or not Sara was a threat to us. Okay, Sara was a bit odd, but it wasn’t like I could talk about that, and she seemed better at getting under people’s skins even than me. At least while she was around Englund seemed to forget about me. A lot of people had it in for her for sure. I for one couldn’t understand it. The way she ate was a bit disconcerting at first, but you got used to it and everyone seemed to get weirded out when they were close to her. Me, the worst problem I had was if I spent too much time near her I found myself getting really hungry. It was kind of embarrassing to say the least. I’d be standing there and next thing I know everyone is looking at me and wondering how I made that noise. Sometimes a vocal stomach is a terrible burden. Their conversation did bother me a bit though. What would I do if things came apart and we started to fight with each other? I admit the thought of having to choose between my friends was more disturbing than all the other thoughts I’d been dealing with till now. I didn’t rest well for the rest of the trip as I worked that over in my mind. Eventually we got back to Whateley and were mobbed when we did. Somehow word had gotten out that we were involved in a big rumble in Boston. Maybe it had something to do with the local and national news services blasting it all over the place. I don’t know how many times I had to retell my part of the story, but by the time I was through all I wanted to do was go to bed and sleep for a week. I swear, it was harder on me than the real battle. Home Away From Home: October 15th. It was with some relief I got into Hawthorne the next day. Because it was Sunday I had most of the day to myself, but so many people kept following me and asking questions I didn’t have a moment to relax. They stopped following me when I went into Hawthorne. I dashed down into the basement and distracted myself by working at cleaning out Foob’s pool. I noticed that several of the people I’d come to know and a few I didn’t showed up to help and soon we had it as clean as I’d ever seen it. I stood back and realized that no one had left yet and it was getting a little crowded. There had to be at least twenty kids in there. I drifted up a bit, put my hands on my hips, and glared at them. Other than a few slight winces, nobody moved. “Well? The Alphas aren’t entertaining enough?” Foob appeared and cleared his throat. “We know you might be a little tired of it, but we were hoping you might tell us what really happened in Boston. We saw the news and have heard rumors, but we’d really like to hear it from you. Jello was so messed up that she really couldn’t give us a good idea what happened.” “Jello?” “Yeah. Didn’t you hear? Jello was there with a few of her friends. They got beat up pretty bad by the ones you fought with. After the bad guys beat them up and robbed the place they set a bomb and took off. Jello and the others managed to defuse the bomb and then got out of there because they were so badly beaten up.” “I heard a little something about that. The bomb anyway, but didn’t know who’d defused it. Too bad they didn’t stick around for a while. The people in Boston were really happy we’d been there to help. I’m sure they’d have been treated well too.” Foob shrugged. “I suspect they were too hurt to care at that point. They only wanted to get back here and get fixed up.” I nodded. “I can understand. I appreciate you guys not nagging me like everyone else too. So I’ll tell you the story, but only once, so listen closely, okay?” The whole room lit up with smiles and grins. I found and area in the air where I could face them all and gave them a rundown on what I knew had happened. I also took the time to explain some of our mistakes and how we’d been either smart or lucky enough to succeed anyway. When I was done, and at least they waited until then, They bombarded me with a lot more questions. This went on until Foob shooed almost everyone out. In the end, only Foob, me, and Stella were left. I couldn’t help grinning a bit. “Whooo! You guys sure get excited about these things.” They grinned back and Stella gave me a surprise hug. “Thanks Tennyo! You don’t know how important this is for us here in Hawthorne. No one tells us anything if they can help it, unless it’s to let us know how unfortunate we are to not be able to do the same thing they do. You actually make it sound like you wished we’d been there to help.” “I do! I mean I wish you guys had been there to help. We needed all we could get from everyone. You told me about Jello and the others, remember? We didn’t know about the bomb until some of the Cops were talking about it and wondering who’d disarmed it. And the bad guys still got away. If some of you’d been there we might’ve caught them, or at least a few more.” “That’s really nice of you, but I bet most of us would’ve had to spend most of our time trying to keep the locals from lynching us.” I could see she really believed it. Thinking of some of my recent experiences I could see why and gave her a hug. “C’mon! You guys are better than that! Keep up trying to do good and I’m sure someone will take notice and start to give you guys the recognition you deserve.” She shook her head. “You don’t understand Tennyo. Even my own family is pretty weirded out. I can’t imagine strangers doing any better.” “Your family is anti mutant?” “Ummm, not really. I’m sure they love me and all. It’s just that they have a really hard time understanding what I’m doing here and all.” “What are you doing here?” “Well, Uncle Wolf says I’m fulfilling an agreement between us and my parents tribe.” “Let me get this straight. You’re fulfilling a contract or something between your Uncle Wolf’s people and your parents tribe. Are your parents Native American?” “Yes. My people and my parents tribe have an agreement. I became a daughter to them as proof of our agreement. We are Native American. Thank you for calling me that. Indian is so confusing and inaccurate.” “You’re adopted then?” “No.” “I’m confused.” “That’s okay. Just about everyone else is too. It’s complicated and hard to explain.” “Sounds like I need some background here. Would you mind telling me?” “I don’t mind. I better start from the beginning then.” “Please.” “Okay. It started a long time ago. Well before there was a written record of our people.” “So this is passed down through the generations?” “On my parents side. My Uncle was there when it happened and I got it from him.” “He’s long lived?” “All of us are. It’s our nature.” “Your nature?” “The Wolf Tribe, or Clan if you need a way of separating us.” “And your parents?” “They go by Wolf Tribe also, or they did, a long time ago. Before they forgot about us and our agreement. My parents just think they are related to the Lakota Sioux Tribe now, even if they aren’t officially members. Their great, great grandparents broke away a long time ago and married into some of the white peoples. My people thought the Tribe was finished when out of the blue my two parents got together and married. They have enough of the true blood to activate the agreement and it became my responsibility to fulfill our treaty with them.” “Your parents aren’t Native American?” She shrugged. “If you look close you might see it, but they consider themselves white now. They didn’t have any idea of who their progenitors were until I brought it to their attention. Uncle Wolf told me to tell them. Up till then they thought it was interesting that both their family names were the same except for spelling.” “Woolfe?” “My Dad’s family name was Woolfe and my Mom’s was Wolf. They even joke that if Mom had hyphenated her name it would be Wolf-Woolfe. But you can guess where that would lead.” “Woof-Woof.” “You said it. Fortunately they weren’t that stupid.” “Yeah. Unlike some I know, but that might be part of the curse.” “Curse?” “Long story. I’ll get you together with the guy some time and let him tell the story if you want. I suspect you’ll like him.” “Do that.” “Okay. Now your parents somehow have a treaty with your Uncle’s tribe?” “Yes. Many years ago my tribe had something very precious stolen from them by another tribe. That tribe took precautions that made it impossible for anyone in our tribe or our current allies to take it back. My Uncle’s brother found a way around their traps, but it required a human to do it. That human was a warrior of a people who eventually became the Lakota. His condition for helping was that our tribes would become allied and since my Uncle’s brother was the one making the request he would send a daughter to the tribe for as long as the human tribe existed to be raised with them and be a channel for communications between the two tribes.” “They agreed to that? Why do I think there is more to this? Something that would make it harder?” “My people are Spirits. We were here before the humans came. To be exact, my People are the Wolves. And I am the Daughter of Wolves.” “Let me guess. Your Uncle taught you this?” “And many other things. Do you know what my talents are?” “I never asked but I remember Toni saying something about you being a shifter.” She smiled and quickly changed into a large white wolf wearing a thick harness. Then she shifted again and became a werewolf like person a bit larger than me. The harness had become a halter top and short skirt. There was some kind of sandals on her feet too. Then she shifted back to her regular form in school uniform. “Wow! Where did you get that suit!” She grinned. “My friend Babs put it together. She’s a devisor. I just wish she could come up with one that could change into other designs, but I’m moderately happy with what I have. No need to be greedy.” “Yeah. It’s still pretty cool.” Stella started to giggle and I raised my eyebrow. “Y... you know. Anywhere else people would be scared or at least wondering about my changing into a wolf, but around here everyone is always impressed with my clothes instead. It’s the only other place besides with my Uncle where I feel normal. Isn’t that weird?” I giggled too. “Yeah. Now that you mention it. I guess it is. I mean the shifting is cool, but you know, I uh, know several shifters and none of them have your kind of suit.” She smiled and hugged me. “What was that for?” “I like you, and I wanted to be sure I had your scent right. You smell different. You’re not human either are you?” “Uhhh.. Well, I ‘m.... I guess not. You mean I don’t smell human?” “No. You smell like fire and lightning and all sorts of other things. It’s not like you’ve covered yourself up with smells either. It’s what you smell like down close. Makes me shiver a bit.” “You’re not human?” “No. I’m a wolf. I’m rated as an exemplar one, shifter two, and a channeler two right now. It’s as close as they can come, but I’m not really human. I’ve always been a wolf. I just didn’t understand it until I met my Uncle when I was very young and got separated from my family while they were vacationing and hiking in Glacier National Park in Montana. Uncle found me and showed me how to change. Then he lead me back to where they were looking for me. My clothes didn’t change with me and I was naked when I changed back. They didn’t believe me at first, but after I changed again for them they started to believe. They still don’t believe that I was sent from my tribe to them though. I think they’ve bought into the mutant thing, even though I really don’t fit the description.” “Why not? Weren’t you adopted?” “No. From what my Uncle says, my spirit father was concerned when he made the arrangement that his daughters would be mistreated if they went as wolves. So he arranged for one of us to be put in a woman’s womb of the tribe and born to them that way. We became their daughters too and they learned to love us. We also gained the ability to change between forms and channel spirit power. Making us very good shaman. We are long lived and every few generations the one who was there would leave and another would be born into the tribe. Eventually they died out though and we thought it wouldn’t be necessary again, then my parents got together and here I am!” “Do you remember before? Being born that is?” “Not really. I see it in my dreams sometimes and I know I’ll go back there someday, but for now I have to fulfill my father’s agreement.” “Are you an avatar?” “No. I was born this way. My human mother gave me a body that fit in, sort of. I’ve always had wolf eyes and white hair. But I’m not really what you would call a mutant I think. My Uncle says it also gives us daughters who do it greater powers and better understanding for when we go back home. So it’s a mutual benefit for both tribes that way. I’m not sure what we’ll do after there’s no longer anyone of the Wolf Tribe available.” “What’s this ‘channeler’ bit? I don’t remember hearing about that yet.” “Oh. You might not have unless you’re training to be a shaman. It’s kind of necessary for a shaman to have because it’s the ability to channel power of the Spirits and Elements.” “But you’re not an avatar?” “No. Avatars combine with Spirits, Elements, and the like to do what they do. Channelers simply channel the power through themselves. We actually have to be more careful because it’s a lot easier to draw too much power and burn yourself to a crisp as it goes through you. A big part of training for a channeler is to learn your limits before you kill yourself. We use a lot of ceremonies and the like to limit ourselves and the powers we draw on.” “Sounds powerful.” “It might be, but you have to remember that we are limited by the amount of power we can draw on that won’t kill or cripple us. There’s stories and rumors of a kind of channeler called an ‘Omni Channeler’ who can do just about anything cause they can draw on all the powers around them at once. Problem with that kind is the burn up immediately because of it. It’s said that it was the use of such channelers that allowed some groups to call in the Elder Ones. They’d find an Omni Channeler who hadn’t been triggered yet and put them into a Ceremony that would use that burst of power to do what they wanted done, even break open dimensional barriers.” “Sounds like a sacrifice.” “It was. A young, virgin, boy or girl who hadn’t manifested their power yet. Sound familiar?” I shuddered. Somehow the picture that came to mind reminded me of things I’d rather forget in my recent past. “Sounds dangerous.” “Uncle Wolf has been very careful to make sure I don’t get in over my head. He was there when I first tapped into the Powers. He made sure I did it right. I’m supposedly a very powerful channeler because of my mixed heritage. But it will take a long time for me to learn how to do it right and what my limits are.” This topic was still creeping me out so I tried to change the subject. “Are your spirit parents dead then? I notice it’s your Uncle who’s been watching over you.” She looked at me for a moment as she considered what I’d said and then shrugged. “No, but Uncle is our tribe’s First Shaman and it’s his responsibility to train me or send me where I can get correct training for our tribe. That’s here. I’ve met Mother and Father twice so far. Eventually I’ll end up going home to them. Hopefully not for a while though.” “So you care for both your families?” “Yep. Mom and Dad can be a bit dense sometimes, but they love me and I love them too. Besides, it’s my responsibility to watch out for them as long as I can. I don’t know what I’ll do when they’re gone though. Maybe watch over my brothers and sisters for a while too. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.” “Miss them?” “Some. You miss your’s?” “Yeah. It seems like forever since I saw them.” She hugged me again. “Well, you’ve got me here if you need someone to talk to. Don’t be a stranger. The others are all talking about copying you and knocking a few bad guys heads.” “Tell them to be careful. I almost got one of my friends killed and I did some stupid things there. Try to get them to think things through first before getting into trouble, okay?” “Don’t worry. Foob and I’ll keep them straight.” “Thank you. I’d hate to think I got anyone here hurt or killed because they were trying to copy me.” “We’re smarter than that.” “I thought I was too, until I did some stupid things. Learn from my mistakes and don’t make them yourselves.” “Okay. Walk you to lunch?” “Sure! I seem to be hungry all the time now.” “Come with me. I’ll show you the tunnels we use to avoid prying eyes.” “Aren’t they off limits for me?” “Not if I’m with you. Just don’t do it on your own.” “Okay. Lead on McRuff!” “I’ll get you for that! You just wait!” “You’re on! I’ll wait. Just don’t make me wait for too long.” “This way. Down here. Hello everyone! I’m taking Tennyo with me down the tunnel. Don’t be surprised.” There was a murmur I hoped was agreement and we headed to lunch. By the time we were through to Crystal Hall I was sure Poe needed a tunnel too. It was way too convenient. I’d have to bring that up when I could.