A Whateley Academy Tale Inaba 3: And in the Darkness Shall You Flee by Rosalie Redd October 1st, 2007St. Luke’s HospitalDuluth, MN Rose opened her eyes, seeing nothing but blurry shapes. She knew the one that was off to her left, however because of the hand holding her own. The hand that was way too cold to be anyone else. Gently, Rose stroked the side of the had with her thumb, she felt the other hand tense up, at the touch. "She’s awake!” cried out Lia. Mumbling, Rose looked around at the blurry shapes gathered around her. She knew the black and purple and gray one had to be Lia. The one in different shades of brown? Obviously that was Carrie. "Glasses?” She asked in a soft, weary voice. Lia handed them to her, continuing to hold Rose’s hand as she did. With them on, Rose could see clearly, Indeed Lia and Carrie were in the room, and the doctor was just entering. Rose’s eyes remained on Lia. She had her hair in a long ponytail, and with the black Emily the Strange hoodie and the purple leggings and black Chuck Taylors, she looked extremely cute. Reluctantly, Rose peeled her attention from Lia, as the doctor began to speak. "I see that you are awake, Good. Good. You gave us all quite a scare.” The doctor took out a penlight and shone it in Rose’s eyes, much to her annoyance. “Do you remember anything?” He asked. Rose squirmed. “I… there was something on TV. A man … oh god, it was… he outed… Steven is out there… I…” In a full panic, Rose began to thrash around. Carrie jumped to her side and held her still while Lia gently stroked her hair and whispered calming things in her ear. "Don’t worry Rose, you are safe. That man can’t harm you. He came to town and tried to see you, but we wouldn’t let him. There is an order out that prohibits him from setting foot within 100 yards of you. Additionally, we threatened a lawsuit over his carelessness in naming you like that on TV. He settled, rather than going to court. Fifty million dollars has been set aside for you, in an account that I am designated conservator over.” Carrie stated, as she held the quivering girl. She honestly loved this little one, and it heart to see her in such pain. The doctor stepped forward once again, now that Rose had settled down. “It appears as though the trauma triggered a Diedrick’s episode, and a rather bad one. You managed to tear your pelvic region up pretty badly. You have mostly recovered, though the Uterus and ovaries are still mending, and might take a few more days. You are very fortunate. If you hadn’t been found when you were, you may have bled to death. I’ll give you some time alone with your visitors, and check back later. In the mean time, I recommend that you speak to one of our mental health specialists. I can set up a meeting when I return.” The doctor left, leaving Lia and Carrie alone in the room with Rose. Lia turned her head and looked over to Carrie. “Is… is it okay if I have a few minutes with her alone?” Carrie nodded and silently left the room. Lia leaned closer to Rose, and she could see the tears on the pale girls face. "I’m I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I ran away, I was scared. When…when the doctors told me that I was supposed to turn into a boy, I panicked. And then I started to be attracted to you. But I was afraid. I sat in my room and cried many nights. I tried to get aroused thinking of boys, and what I had done with them before. It didn’t work. I no longer feel attracted to them. And that I feel things for you… I was afraid. A...Abuela… had Uncle Ricardo killed. Mami thinks I don’t know the whole story, but I do. He was killed for being gay and for being a mutant. But I’ve had time to deal with it. The kiss… I’m sorry I ran away. I surprised myself, and when you returned it, it shocked me. But I didn’t hate it. I um… sorta liked it.” Both Rose and Lia blushed deeply at this revelation, and there was a knock on the door. Soon after, Carrie popped her head in. “Is it okay to come back in?” Looking at the two girls, she saw the reddish hue spread across Rose’s face, and the blackish hue that she guessed was normal for Lia’s blushing. “The doctor says that visiting hours are over, and that he’ll be in to see you in a couple hours.” Lia looked back at Rose and waved before walking out the door. A thought briefly crossed Carrie’s mind, and then she spoke. “You know, she was here every day while you were unconscious. Just sitting and holding your hand until the doctors would chase her out at the end of visiting time.” A couple days passed, and Rose was released from the hospital, with the understanding that she take it easy. Her reproductive system was almost fully healed, though she still felt some aches and pains on occasion. As she reclined on the couch, she glanced over at Lia, who was sitting across from her on the matching love seat. “You really don’t have to stay and babysit me, you know.” Looking up from the book she was reading, Lia responded. “I’m not babysitting. Remember what happened the last time one of us thought that.” Rose nodded. “Yeah, but neither your mom nor her gun are here today.” Lia laughed. “I think we’ve moved past that.” Putting the book down, Lia stood up and moved over to the couch. She sat down on an open spot by Rose’s feet, and gently started to rub them. Rose squealed slightly and then sighed a content sigh. As Lia massaged her arches, Rose looked at her. There was something going on in Lia’s head, she could tell by the look on her face. "Soooooo… penny for your thoughts?” The bunny girl queried. With a heavy sigh, Lia swallowed hard and then spoke. “I’ve been struggling with something for a while, and I don’t know how to bring it up, so I’ll just say it. I love you. There I said it. I know I said I was confused the other day, but I’ve been thinking about it. I know that you said that you didn’t know if you were supposed to be a lesbian, or if you became bisexual because of your spirit. But I don’t care. I love you, and I hope that you love me. Please, will you be my girlfriend?” Rose frowned slightly. “Oh Sweetie, I do love you. I love you very much. You are my first ever true friend. Well, not counting a certain spirit that is snoring in my head. But you have to know that I would be a HORRIBLE girlfriend. Between my Diedrick’s and her … influence, I’m not sure… no, I know I couldn’t be faithful. I’d have a panic attack, or I’d see a hot guy or girl, and I’d have a moment of weakness. And I’d cheat. I would break your heart, and my own. Because I know that I couldn’t stop myself.” Gently, Rose sat upright and hugged Lia, wiping away a tear. “Sweetie, you are a wonderful girl, and you deserve so much better than me. I know that it’s scary and confusing for you, being attracted to a girl after being heterosexual before. But I’m too high maintenance, you need a nice uncomplicated girl that can love you, and be only with you.” "In other words, a training girlfriend? Does she come with little wheels for when I learn to ride her?” The two teens looked each other in the eye, and then broke out into a fit of hysterical laughter. "Touché, I guess I deserved that.” Rose admitted. Lia looked Rose in the eye, with those radiant turquoise eyes of hers, and spoke plainly. “Listen, I don’t care. I know you. I know you struggle. I want to be by your side. I’m not going to demand what you can’t give. I know that you probably won’t be monogamous. I can deal with that. I just want to be the one that’s special to you. The one that you love.” With a nod, Rose silently thought about it. “I suppose I can agree to that. You are special to me, and I will try to not break our hearts.” "Does that mean…?” "Yes. Liabella Navarro, I will be your girlfriend.” Rose hastily replied. “Besides, I’m used to cold things, so I don’t mind holding your hand.” And sure enough, Rose slowly moved her hand closer to Lia’s, and intertwined her fingers with her girlfriend’s. The two of them stretched out on the couch, laying lengthwise, Rose snuggling against the larger Lia. "So, what’s been going on while I was out of it?” she asked softly. Lia kissed the top of Rose’s head and replied. “Well, I had my MID testing. With the magic bands Caribou gave me, I could finally keep from chewing on the equipment. It seems I’m an exemplar 2, and a manifestor and shifter 1, because of the stretchy nature of my extra tongues. They also did a test on my saliva. It’s a mild sedative if it gets into the blood stream.” Rose sleepily nodded. “I remember feeling a little drowsy when we fought.” Lia remembered that incident, their first meeting. It was not something she was proud of. “I’m sorry for that.” Rose shushed her. “Water under the bridge.” Hesitantly, Lia continued with her recap. “There’s something else. After the physical part of the testing, I kinda threw up. The acid in the vomit kinda um… ate a hole in the floor.” Unable to help herself, Rose started giggling. The two girls just remained on the couch for the rest of the evening, enjoying each other’s company. Carrie came in after a long day of work, she looked at the two cuddling girls as they slept and smiled. Going over to the broom closet, she found a neatly folded quilt and covered the girls up. A quick call later, and Lia was spending the night. It was October Fifth, and Rose had been out of the hospital for a couple days. Fully healed, she was getting antsy. With the sun just barely rising over the horizon, she got ready to go for a run. Throwing on some spandex and a hoodie, she stretched and warmed up. She pulled the over-sized hoodie down to cover her tail. Folding her ears against her head, she added a scarf and pulled the hood up. Within only a few minutes, she was leaving the manor grounds. After a while running around the city, she decided to change up her routine, taking a new route. Rose suddenly pulled up when she reached the Catholic Diocese. Windows had been smashed, and graffiti sprayed all over the building. Looking at it, she spotted a symbol sprayed on several of the walls. It was a large image of a shepherd’s crook with a halo encircling it. Sprayed over that was a biblical reference: Leviticus 20:15. Pulling out her phone, she hit speed-dial for Transistor. He arrived in about five minutes. As the Gadgeteer investigated the scene, Rose stood back, out of the way. “I wonder what it means”, she pondered. "If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal.”, a voice said from behind the girl. Turning to look, she was surprised to see a short, round balding man standing behind her. She had not heard him approach, which was unusual. "Father Theodore Andersen”, the man said in way of introduction. Rose responded in kind. “My name is Rose.” "A pleasure to meet you, my child.” The Father responded. He looked at the wall and frowned. “It appears that someone is rather displeased.” "They call themselves the Good Shepherds” a voice familiar to Rose replied. Turning, she saw that Caribou was on scene in her traditional hero garb and mask. She glanced at Rose, with the look of ‘you had best head home’ very clear on her face. Rose looked to the heroine, and then the priest. “I should probably be on my way. Goodbye Father, it was nice meeting you. Goodbye, Miss Hero.” She waved and took off, stopping for breakfast at a small café, grabbing a caramel roll and some orange juice. Returning to the mansion, she went to her room, where she stripped down. Grabbing her robe, she headed down the hall and showered. Carrie came in a few hours later, clearly looking haggard. She sat down on the couch and Rose brought her a cup of tea. “Thanks, kiddo.” Smiling, Rose looked at the heroine as she blew on the tea. “What was going on at the diocese?” she asked. Carrie sighed. “The Shepherds are at it again, apparently. They targeted the diocese because they have allowed several mutants with notable animal-like GSD to attend services and take communion. There was a threat phoned in to several local churches of various denominations about letting those like you or I attend services.” Rose sighed. “I’ve never been really religious before now… Of course having a spirit that was considered something of a minor deity in your head kinda makes you rethink things like that.” "Hmph! Minor, indeed!” the voice in her head exclaimed. "Carrie, while I deal with an indignant spirit, can we order something to eat? I’m too tired for cooking, and you appear to be as well.” Carrie chuckled and pulled out her phone. Frowning, she noticed there were several missed calls, all from her mother. "I think the pizza will have to wait a moment.” Carrie said, before stepping into the next room for privacy. Pouting, Rose mumbled to herself. “Pizza? I was hoping for Chinese.” Carrie returned to the room some few minutes later. “Rose, there’s an emergency I need to take care of back home. I may be gone several days. I trust you to stay here alone, or you can stay at the HQ with Miguel, if you like. I’ll call you when I get to the reservation.” Rose nodded and watched as the normally calm heroine dashed off to pack. Mere moments later, she was a blur streaking down the stairs and out to her car. With a sigh, Rose flopped down on the couch. She really didn’t want to cook. Briefly, she considered wandering over to Lia’s and mooching dinner, but that seemed like too much work as well. Plus, she had no idea if Lia had mentioned that they were a couple yet to her parents. After sitting there for what seemed like an eternity, Rose started to drag herself off the couch, when the doorbell rang. Hastily tossing on her hoodie and scarf, she went to answer the door. A boy, perhaps a few years older than herself was standing there. “I have a delivery for a Miss Lindevall.” "That’s me” Rose answered curiously. The boy handed over a large paper bag, containing what smelled like various Chinese food dishes. “How much do I owe you?” The boy, whom Rose thought to be kind of cute, replied. “It’s all been paid for, tip included.” With a “thank you”, she watched the boy walk back to his car and drive off. Hurrying in to the dining room, she opened the bag and pulled out the boxes. Sure enough, there was beef lo mein, sesame chicken, pepper steak, egg rolls, rice, and a fortune cookie. Shaking her head, Rose sighed. “Darn exemplar hearing.” Having enjoyed her dinner, Rose cracked open her cookie and read the fortune. “The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm. -Confuscious” "I knew him, rather nice guy. A bit of a conversation hog though.” Inaba chimed in. Rose had to laugh at that. Kicking around the mansion alone, she did a little exploring. When she became tired of that, she went upstairs and plopped down on her bed. It was then that the phone rang. "Hello?” she replied. "Hey kiddo, sorry for abandoning you so quickly like that. There was a tribal emergency. Someone or something has been killing Shaman throughout Canada and the northern US. With Grandma and Mom both being Shaman, the tribal council called an emergency meeting. I’m guessing you already ate. I called Miguel and ‘Bel and filled them in. The Navarros have offered to let you stay over there if you get lonely, And Miguel said it’s fine if you want to stay with him.” Rose swallowed hard. “While that’s very generous of him… I don’t think I can stay in that room. At least not right now. Things are too fresh in my memory.” Carrie mentally kicked herself, having not thought about the fact Rose had been assaulted in that room, and had harmed herself in an attempt to pleasure herself during a Diedrick’s episode. “I… understand. Stay at the mansion, or over at the Navarros, either is okay with me. I’ll talk to you later, I need to go now. Bye, kiddo.” "Bye, Miss Hero” Rose teased. Carrie hung up, and Rose turned and looked at the couch. She once more plopped herself down on it, this time falling asleep. Morning came and Rose was still antsy. After a shower and slipping into some suitable clothes, she went for a jog. Unintentionally, she turned down the narrow street to the Navarro’s house. Thoughts were racing through her head, and boredom was eating away at her. It was ironic that she felt this way, after spending such a large portion of the early year camping alone in a secluded wilderness. "Conejita!Come on in!” cried Mrs. Navarro from her front lawn. Rose turned and looked. “Oh! Mrs. Navarro! I was wrapped up in my thoughts, I didn’t even realize where I was.” Lia’s mother laughed and waved her over. “Come on in, little one. Lia will be happy to see you, and you would be happy to see her, I imagine.” Nodding, Rose walked over and entered the yard, following her girlfriend’s mother into the house. It was a modest house, decorated in Mexican and Southwestern artifacts. Stopping to look at a painting, Rose heard talking upstairs and excited squeals that could only be Lia. Sure enough, the girl tore down the stairs, leaping into Rose’s arms. Surprised, Rose managed just barely to keep from falling over. “I take it this PDA means you told your parents?” Lia didn’t say a word, instead she planted a big wet kiss on her girlfriend’s cheek. "Ahem” from behind the couple, a throat was cleared. Sheepishly, Rose put Lia down and turned with a blush to face Mrs. Navarro. “Lia, I would like to talk to Conejita alone for a moment, if that’s okay?” "Si, Mami” Lia nodded and headed out of the room, glancing back at Rose once as she did. Moving over to the couch, Mrs. Navarro nodded and motioned for the teenager to sit. "Lia told me that she asked you to be her girlfriend, and that you accepted. I am of mixed feelings about this, Conejita. On the one hand, It is good to see her smiling and happy again. But I worry about her. I know about your- what is it again?- Diedrick’s. I don’t want to see her hurt.” Rose shrunk back, if she could have hidden in the couch cushions, she likely would have. “Trust me, I don’t want to hurt her either. When she asked me, I was happy… But, I told her I’d be a terrible girlfriend. She understood. And I will do everything to keep from making her sad. I know she acts tough, but she’s fragile right now.” Isobel kissed the girl on the forehead and smiled. “I trust you. You are a good girl at heart.” Standing up, Isobel called out to her daughter. “Lia, your girlfriend needs some cuddles. Get in here!” Laughing, she left the room leaving the confused bunny girl sitting there. As Lia returned, the tongue from her left hand suggestively licking what looked like a peeled grapefruit. With a smile, she peeled off a segment of the fruit in question, and carefully fed it to her sweetie. Rose reclined and rested her head in the taller girl’s lap, sighing contently. A few minutes later, Mrs. Navarro came back in, she had changed from casual wear to a blazer and slacks. “I have to head to work now. You two stay out of trouble, and no comerse... si?” Rose watched as Lia’s face took on a slightly black tinge, a sign that she was blushing… hard. When she recovered, Lia smiled and kissed Rose’s cheek, beginning the grapefruit feeding again. Sitting up, Rose kissed Lia gently on the lips. After a slight hesitation, the Latina kissed back slowly, gradually the kiss became more vigorous and passionate. Lia gently pulled away. “Mami said not to have sex, and if we keep going I know you’ll be unable to stop. Because I certainly am having a hard time doing so.” Rose nodded. “Mmm… it will be worth the wait. I want you now, but for our first time together, I want to do this right. My first time ever was… regrettable, and I want this first to be a wonderful memory.” Lia blushed again. Smiling to herself, Rose thought about how cute it was that her girlfriend was so quick to blush. Rose looked at Lia, in her loose-fitting flannel pajamas. “While you do look adorable in your jammies, Why don’t you go get dressed, and we can go poke around town, okay?” Lia laughed and threw a couch cushion at Rose, and gave her a triple raspberry. She did get up and scurry up the stairs, however. After a few minutes, Lia returned. She had on a pair of black and purple tights, her black Chuck Taylors, and a hoodie with black and purple striped sleeves that matched her tights. What surprised Rose was that the hoodie had an exposed midriff, revealing Lia’s fit, sexy stomach. A belly-button ring resembling an ankh hung from her navel, in juuuust such a way that it drew Rose’s attention. Lia had applied her usual face make-up, but apparently also had been experimenting with body make-up as well. Rose’s heart skipped a beat as she got up and stood on her tip-toes to kiss her taller sweetheart. “You look sexy.” Lia smiled. “Oddly enough, I feel sexy. I’m starting to get used to being the ‘hija de las sombras’, as Mami jokingly calls me. The pair stretched and Lia watched as Rose stretched into positions that most gymnasts could never accomplish. She didn’t quite notice that Rose was checking her out as she warmed up, as well. “Rosie, sweetie. Remember to take it easy on me. You may be an exemplar 3, and able to outrun most Olympic runners, but I’m only a two.” Then without warning, Lia pounced Rose once again kissing the bunny girl while in her arms. Breaking free, she laughed and took off at a sprint as Rose stood there stunned. Despite taking it slow, by the time the girls reached Glensheen, Lia was noticeably winded. Hugging Lia, Rose rubbed her back. She could feel the sweat. She let go and gave Lia a kiss. Rose smiled.“Carrie is out of town, so you can use her shower. I’m sure she has some sweats and tees that will near enough fit you. Just leave your clothes outside the door, and I’ll throw them in the wash with mine.” With a nod, Lia headed upstairs. "Third door on the right.” Rose called up after her. Having started their laundry, Rose took a quick shower and got dressed. She sat downstairs, waiting for Lia. Figuring that her girlfriend’s longer hair took more time to dry, she stretched out on the couch and fell asleep. A short time later, Lia came down the stairs and sat by her little bunny. With a giggle, she extended one of her tongues and licked Rose’s cheek. When Rose twitched her whiskers, it caused Lia to laugh out loud. Groggy, Rose looked up at her. "Did you know that when you relax, you twitch your nose like a bunny?” "I do no… wait. Damn it, Inaba!” Feeling self-conscious, rose covered her face with her hands.” Lia looked at Rose and slowly leaned in for a kiss. That was when the washer-dryer chose the most inopportune moment to buzz. Blushing, Rose stood up. “I should take care of that before they get wrinkled,” the blushing teen stammered. Bringing the clothes back to Lia she fumbled in her head with where to go next. She could feel the mental itch that was her Diedrick’s at the back of her brain. She fought to push the urges down. Rose had promised it would be a special occasion, and not just jumping in bed because she was ridiculously horny. "S...so, about our date, any ideas?” Rose asked upon returning. "Mami told me that the church they attend holds a dance every other Saturday. I haven't gone to church with Mami and Papi because of … well, you know. But perhaps we can go next Saturday?” With a smile, Rose replied. “It’s a date.” The next few days went by rather uneventfully, As Lia and Rose ended up busily getting ready for the big date, long hours were spent at the sewing machines as Rose struggled to make both of them the perfect dresses. With her ability to judge sizes, she had figured out rather quickly what would fit her sexy girlfriend. Rose yawned and sat at her sewing machine, listening to the radio. It was only October ninth, but an early blizzard had developed over the East Coast, and Whateley Academy was dead center in the middle of it. If this was going to be what the weather was like there, she had her doubts about attending. Sure, she had camped in the wilderness of Northern Minnesota, but she was also starting to get used to having a roof over her head, and a mansion to explore. Meanwhile…Whateley AcademyCrystal HallOctober 9th. Ashleigh Amanda Hedgeworth was bored. It was bad enough that the stupid blizzard that sprang up had required that everyone relocate to Crystal Hall. What was worse was that she had been in class, and didn’t have any of her hold-outs with her. No sewing needles, no pocket knife, not even so much as a thumb tack. If she wanted to amuse herself, she was limited to things like biting and scratching herself. Oh, sure she could gouge an eye out, but if she did, she would only see her victim with one eye until the other had grown back. With a sigh, she looked around. There was no sign of her favorite targets, the Richmond Twins. Daddy might have told her to pay ‘special’ attention to those two, but in reality, she didn’t need the encouragement. Besides that bitch up there in Wisconsin, or whatever fly-over state, they were her greatest enemies. It wasn’t fair. She had known them before they manifested. Tori had become hot, with an hourglass physique, those brilliant blue eyes, and that white hair that drew attention from across the room. When Ashleigh had manifested, she had gotten a slim, graceful ballerina build, but she hardly thought it was sexy, at least nobody told her that. Boys didn’t look at her like they looked at Tori. Her brother had looked at Tori with lust, and as wrong as it seemed to everyone else, she wanted him to look at her like that. Looking around the room, Pin Cushion lucked out. She finally spotted UpBeat, but the girl was too far away for her powers to affect her. Her brother, however, wasn’t. Zeroing in on Downtrodden, she grinned evilly, and stared at him, while casually dislocating the fingers on her left hand. A smile came to her lips as the tall, brooding boy cried out and looked around. Brushing the black emo-cut hair out of his eyes, the wiry boy shakily stood up and came closer. His sister was behind him, supporting him as he fought back. A wave of exhaustion hit Pin Cushion, but with some effort, she shrugged it off. She knew of his ability to create exhaustion and apathy in his targets, and braced for it. The fact she was a regenerator five aided her recovery. UpBeat looked at her coldly, while holding her brother up. “Ashleigh. Still up to your old tricks, I see.” Looking at them both with contempt, Pin cushion rolled her eyes. “Tori, James. What brings you all the way over here?” James looked up. “As if you didn’t know. I know that your Dad told you to bother us. Is he still mad that he couldn’t steal the company from us?” "James, James, James… I have absolutely no idea what you mean. I just like to pick on you because it’s fun.” Ashleigh snidely commented. This time the one to smirk was Tori, as she responded to Pin Cushion. “Oh, I see. Your Daddy couldn’t buy out Richmond Industries out from under my family, and we are supposed to believe he had nothing to do with the car accident that killed our parents… and nearly killed us?” Some telling sign must have passed over Ashleigh’s face, because James hurried to hold his sister back. The two looked at each other silently, and then she eased up. Letting go of his sister, James looked at Pin Cushion. “We have our eyes on you. If… or when... you slip up, you'll regret it. Understand?” The twins turned and walked away, ignoring the bitter fake-blonde. Ashleigh grumbled. She needed allies now that Steven was gone. But where to look? Almost as if by pure luck, she saw another of the freshman walk past. Tiffany Cobb was another annoying hot exemplar girl. With those emerald green eyes and rich chocolate colored hair, and that shapely figure the girl had the potential to be one of those Venus Inc. bimbos. There was something though that Ashleigh could use to get her on her side. The girl would make a good lackey, and the fact that she was as dumb as a post certainly helped in that regard. While being stuck in Crystal Hall was dull, Ashleigh took her opportunity and ran with it, cozying up to Tiffany. Regrettably, she had no more chances to inflict her presence on the twins, but there would surely be time later to deal with them. October 13th, 2007Glensheen ManorDuluth, MN Rose paced so rapidly that Carrie thought she would wear a hole in the rug. Carrie had received a call that morning from Charlie Lodgeman, informing her that the Shaman-killer had been dealt with. The situation handled, she had arrived home a few hours ago. The Ojibwe woman was watching her ward getting ready for her date. Carrie couldn’t help but giggle; she remembered what it was like at that age, to be young and ruled by her heart. Nostalgia had her fondly recalling her school days and teenage romances. Ah, to be young again. Looking at her young charge, she smiled. Rose had carefully applied make-up, just a hint of blush and ruby-red lipstick, and some subtle smokey eye shadow. Her hair had a slight curl to it, different than the normal straight cut it was usually in. Sparkling silver rings hung from her upper ears, and Carrie knew she would soon change into the outfit she had spent time making over the past week. Rose bounded up the stairs in a blur, racing to her room to put on the dress and accessories. Shaking her head, Carrie laughed. It was so cute, she couldn’t help it. When Rose came back down, she was wearing a scarlet dress with short sleeves trimmed in white roses shaped from satin and lace. The same design surrounded the open front and modest décolletage. The narrow white belt accented the girl’s narrow waist and curvy hips. The skirt was trimmed at the bottom in the same satin roses, and hung to the knees in the front, tapering down to a v-train in the back that came to the back of her calves. She wore white hose with roses embroidered into them, and a pair of red shoes with 2-inch heels. Carrie turned and looked at Rose. Despite her physical maturity, Rose displayed the nervous, excited energy of a teenage girl about ready to go on her fist date. With a hug that said all that needed to be said, Carrie led the teen to the car. They arrived at the Navarro residence a few minutes later. Rose and Carrie waited downstairs with Isobel as Lia honored the ages-old tradition of ‘keeping your date waiting’. Liabella descended the stairs to many gasps and stunned looks. Rose had created the gothic equivalent of the dress she had on, in black with purple floral accents. The top had built in padding to lift and accentuate Lia’s modest cleavage. She looked like a goth princess. Adding to the outfit, she wore shiny silvery bracelets with turquoise that matched her eyes nearly perfectly. Something about the jewelry caused Rose to stare at them, almost against her will. Evidently Carrie noticed them as well, as she was looking at them with intense interest. Carrie rushed over to Lia’s side. “May I see your bracelets?” Confused, the girl took them off, revealing a pair of the spell-infused leather bands underneath. “I… guess?” she said, handing them over. Carrie looked closely at the jewelry, touching the metal gently, stroking it. She closed her eyes and spoke in a whisper, the words escaping everyone, even with her enhanced hearing, Rose couldn’t make out what was said. The metal glowed briefly, and then the glow faded. Opening her eyes, Carrie turned to Lia, and her mother. “Where did you get these?” She asked in a slightly raised voice. Nervous, Lia stuttered. “Th...they were a gift f..fom my uncle Ricardo. Is… is something wrong?” Carrie shook her head. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. No, nothing is wrong. I was just startled. I hadn’t expected you to have mithril.” "Mithril? Like in those Lord of the Rings books?” Isobel asked. Carrie nodded, briefly looking over at Rose, who seemed to be lost in her thoughts, Evidently her spirit was having a private chat with her, and it was obvious about what. With a laugh, Carrie nodded. “Yes, exactly like in Lord of the Rings. It was often speculated that Tolkein ‘borrowed’ some of the stories and legends of the sidhe courts and the battles they fought in ancient times. Furthermore some scholars point at the inclusion of Beorn and his people to the court physician of the Daughter of the Burning Oak as the source of the information. At least that’s what my mentor, Charles Lodgeman, assumed.” Carrie handed the bracelets back to Lia, who nervously put them back on. “What… what does that mean, exactly?” She asked. "Well, Mithril is magically attuned, and can be used in artifacts that can either disrupt magic or hold magical spells, it can also injure certain mystical entities. Oh, and it’s also extremely rare and expensive” the Shaman stated matter of factually. Isobel looked over at her friend, and then her daughter. “How… how expensive are we talking?” Laughing, Carrie looked over at the concerned mother. “Well, I haven’t priced any recently, but I would speculate that one of those bracelets could sell for at least one hundred, maybe one hundred fifty thousand dollars.” Noticing the nervous look on the girl’s face, smiled. “Of course, I know how much those mean to you, and that you would never sell them. Take them with you when you go to Whateley. There should be someone in the Mystic Arts department that can permanently bind a sleeping spell into them, so that you can permanently solve your hungry hand issue.” Lia looked at Carrie and hugged her. “I will, I promise you! Thank you!” Rose snapped out of her vacant stare into the ether. “Sweetie, don’t cry! You’ll ruin your mascara.” The two girls hugged, and after plenty of pictures were taken, they scrambled out to Carrie’s SUV. A few minutes passed, and the SUV pulled up in front of Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary. Carrie made sure the girls promised to call for a ride home as soon as the dance let out, and then drove off Rose was nervous as she walked arm-in-arm with Lia to the side door of the Cathedral basement. She had, of course, gone out undisguised many times, but this was the first time she had done so alone and with the intention of staying in one place for any length of time. She was somewhat relieved to see Father Andersen was at the door greeting the kids as they came in. Rose nervously approached the father and extended her hand uncertainly. “Hello Father, My name is Rose, and I am glad you are throwing this dance. I was uncertain of where to take um... my friend here.” The priest looked over the bunny girl and her ‘friend’, then laughed. “Don’t worry, we here are very tolerant as far as mutants go.” Rose smiled, and Lia stepped forward to greet the priest. “ Padre, wonderful to meet you. My mami says that your sermons are very enlightening and inspiring.” "Ah, you must be Salvador and Isobel’s daughter. It’s so nice to meet you. Your mother has told me about your struggles, and I hope that the Lord will watch over you and keep you safe.” "Gracias , Padre” Lia responded, as she led her date into the dance area. The church basement was decorated in a cheesy tropical theme, with a banner that read “Fun in the sun dance”. There was an honest-to-goodness mirrored disco ball, and fancy strobe lights that reflected into a shower of little diamonds all over the dance floor. At one end stood a small stage with large speakers and an actual DJ set-up, with turntables, and everything. Nearby two nuns in full dress stood watching the floor from behind a small table. There was a sign that read ‘Snacks and refreshments.' Although the couple had been among the first to arrive, gradually more teens filtered in. Rose started to feel uncomfortable, as she definitely felt eyes on her from all around the dance floor. Sensing her girlfriend’s nerves, Lia gently hugged her and whispered to her. “Don’t worry, my sexy little bunny. They are all just awe-struck by your beauty.” Rose giggled and replied. “Flatterer.” After a few minutes, Father Andersen walked up on the stage, and tapped the microphone. “Welcome one and all to Our Lady of the Rosary. I remind you that all teenagers are welcome, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or genetic disposition. We are here to have a good time, but I remind you that there are rules to be observed. No alcohol, tobacco or narcotics are allowed, of course. Anyone caught will be escorted out and barred from future events. Anyone caught engaging in inappropriate contact – which includes kissing- will also be escorted off the property and forbidden from returning for future events. Sister Margaret, Sister Abigail, and I will be doing periodic checks of the restroom facilities. Refreshments are available for purchase at the table to my right. All proceeds go the continued operation of the Sisters of St. Lucia School for Girls in Neiva, Colombia. We have long supported this facility as it helps underprivileged girls that would not normally get a chance at a better education. And with all that said, I’ll shut up now, and let the festivities begin!” There was a round of applause and cheering, and Father Andersen stepped off the stage, and began to mingle with the crowd. The DJ started the music, and Rose gently swayed as the taller Lia assumed the lead. Slow dances alternated with faster music, and Rose felt more relaxed. Looking around, Rose noticed that a couple other obvious GSD mutants had arrived while she had been distracted. Lia emitted a squeal and pressed closer to Rose. “I love this song!” she exclaimed excitedly, as My heart will go on started to play. Leaning against her girlfriend, Rose quietly laughed. “If word of that gets out, your reputations as an edgy, dark goth or as a tough kick-ass girl will surely take fatal hits.” Lia growled cutely “Shut up.” Of course the moment of bliss couldn’t possibly last. Happiness is transient, and the explosion threw the dance into chaos. Plaster dust and pieces of ceiling rained down on the startled gathering. The entrance and the wall that had contained the door were gone, rubble strewn about, Men and women in hooded robes and tunics rushed in. Some wore black ski masks, while others had on black featureless face masks. Most carried poles or shepherd’s crooks. Rose identified the item, and it’s significance. The “Good Shepherds” were attacking the church. Was it her fault for coming? If it was, that didn’t matter right now. She would deal with that later. Looking Lia in the eye, an unspoken understanding passed between the two, and they rushed to help the injured and fight off the zealots. There were bodies all over the floor, and the two girls rushed around the room, checking pulses and pulling people to the edge of the room. Dust obscured their sight as it hung thick in the air. People could be heard coughing, and choking. A shout carried over the confusion and noise. “We were informed that the inhuman scum had violated this sanctuary of God, desecrating it and rendering it impure! You lowly beasts shall die, for the bible says that you are amoral sinners, and any human that engages with you must also be put to death!” Lia screamed out “Fuck you!” which did what she had intended, she drew their attention. Now the girl known for the reputation as ‘the terror of Taos’ waded into the confusion, kicking and punching members of the zealot group. Lashing out with her tongues, she snared legs and arms, yanking people straight into punches and kicks. One man tried to drag himself away, his leg bent at an awkward angle. That didn’t stop Lia from dragging him back to her by the neck. Some of the regular kids had also joined in the battle, but were faring less well. The zealots were capable with their weapons, and many kids were hooked with shepherd’s crooks around the leg or neck. Meanwhile Rose could hear the building shifting and structural beams groaning. “Get out everyone. The place could come down on us any minute!” she yelled over the noise. Those that were nearest her evidently heard her and scrambled out through the doors at the far end of the basement, seeking a way out. In the midst of the horrific scene, she waded through the battle, hitting a few of the aggressors, but mostly trying to reach Father Andersen and the Sisters, who were administering what first aid they were able to. "Father, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I brought this down on you.” She sadly stated, as she stood in front of them, shielding them. Father Andersen looked up at the girl whose fancy dress was ripped and covered in plaster dust. “Nonsense, my child. Nothing here is your fault. God loves all his children, and if these hate-mongers use his words and attack his house, the fault lies solely on them” he responded kindly. Rose nodded as her determination grew. He was right. This wasn’t her fault. Leaping into the fray, she landed a roundhouse kick to one woman who was wielding a crook that had some sort of heat ray built in. Making sure they were down, she worked her way over to Lia, who was surrounded by a swarm of the invaders. There were two dozen of the zealots standing, with another seven on the ground. Looking around, Rose assessed priorities, and spotted a young girl that needed help nearby. Getting Lia’s attention, she called over to her. “Li… um.. Lamprey, this girl needs a tourniquet, or she’s going to bleed out!” Lia looked where her sweetie indicated and saw the girl laying on the ground. She was petite, maybe barely 5 foot, with white hair that looked more like wool. Her ears were floppy and stuck out, giving her the appearance of some kind of lamb girl. She had a large gash on her leg that was spurting blood. Swiftly Lamprey constricted a tongue around the leg, above the cut. Dragging her over to the table where the nuns were doing triage, she waited for them to bind the leg tightly with scavenged cloth, before rushing back to aid her girlfriend. Rose meanwhile was hopping, jumping, and dodging fire from those crook weapons, some spit ray beams, others bullets, and some were flamethrowers. With her exemplar agility, she was keeping ahead of the fire, if just barely. When Lia waded back into the fray, the two silently motioned to each other, and with a silent understood nod to each other they picked their targets. Going for the ones with distance weapons, Rose managed to provide a distraction, as her girlfriend slipped in behind several and snared them with a tongue. With her saliva making contact with their skin, they began to sway uneasily, and fall down unconscious. Watching Lamprey, Rose understood where the nickname Lia had earned came from. She was a terror, biting people’s faces, ripping at them with the razor sharp teeth in her palms. She definitely didn’t fight fair, and the fallen attackers around her were rolling on the ground crying and screaming about missing eyes or fingers or noses. Listening to the building rumble and creak silently, Rose made a decision. “The place is going to come down! Get everyone out! Now!” she screamed. Grabbing a pair of the kids that the nuns had been treating, she carefully slung them over her shoulders and dashed for the gaping hole where the entrance had been. It was hard work, made more difficult by the zealots who took swings at her as she rushed past. Gently laying the kids in the grass, she turned to go back in, when she saw a welcomed sight. Caribou and Transistor had arrived and were taking action. While the gadgeteer was spraying foam on a section of the building that had caught on fire, Caribou joined the young girl in rushing into the confusion. "Status?” Carrie quickly commanded. "There are approximately two dozen or so members of the Shepherds inside, multiple injuries. Lamprey is holding her own fighting them. I heard the building settling, it sounds like it could give way soon, so I switched to evacuating people.” Rose stated quickly. Caribou nodded and went in first. She was quickly spotted by the Shepherds, and they turned their focus on her. With that opportunity, Rose signaled to her girlfriend, and they both worked to evacuate the injured and disoriented. Outside the Cathedral, Transistor’s firefighting attempts had been joined by local first responders, and the Fire was being knocked back. However, Rose could still hear the creaking and groaning of the support beams, and she knew the building was not going to last much longer. Hours seemed to pass by, but in reality it was only a couple minutes before Caribou came out, dragging the majority of the cultists out. Lia followed her, helping Father Andersen and the nuns. They looked disheveled, but otherwise no worse for wear. Mercifully, there had been no fatalities, but several of the attendees had to be hurried to the hospital. The zealots were taken to the hospital to get checked out, several had severe facial damage from Lia's attacks, and one was missing an eye. Paramedics checked out Lia and Rose, and gave them the all clear to go home. As Carrie turned and took the tired girls to her car, there was a rumble, and behind them, the church seemed to sway before imploding in on itself in a cloud of dust and smoke. The car trip back to Glensheen was silent. However, when they entered the mansion Carrie looked at Rose and frowned. "You're stronger and more agile than Lia; you could have fought the intruders and left it to Lia and the chaperones to get everyone out! Tell me, what were you thinking?" Lia shook her head and interrupted. "With all due respect, yes, she is stronger and faster than I am, Which is why she did the right thing. She can carry more people at once, and do it faster than I can. Additionally, while you may have given her some training in how to defend herself, I've had much more training on the streets... and I'm nastier, to boot!" With that Lia held up her hands, her palms red with blood, and her left hand still chewing something. Caribou sighed, and then laughed. "Sensei Ito is going to love you." Lia and Rose sat on the couch, exhausted. Carrie had taken their statements and was off to talk with local authorities, leaving the two alone. Lia held Rose, stroking her head and reassuring her. She knew her sweetie was sensitive, and despite her brave front, she was also quite fragile. It was no secret that these Shepherd assholes triggered Rose. She was a bunny girl, and that religious nonsense they spouted was toxic for anyone that was like her. Taking her gently by the hand, Lia led her girlfriend up the stairs and carefully sat her down on a chair in Rose’s room. Both of their beautiful dresses were ruined, and Rose was crying a little. "Sweetie” Lia said in a gentle voice “Let’s get you out of that dress and into the shower.” Rose nodded feebly and allowed Lia to slowly remove the ruined dress, carefully unzipping it, revealing the matching lingerie underneath. He girlfriend was hot, and Lia felt a little envious of the pale-skinned voluptuous beauty. With Herculean amounts of restraint, she succeeded in undressing the shell-shocked girl. Taking Rose’s hand, she led her to the bathroom, and after stripping out of her own clothes, she joined her girlfriend in the shower, gently washing the soot and debris out of Rose’s hair and fur. She was aroused certainly, but her girl needed her to be supportive. Washing her own hair and lathering up the soap, she noticed that Rose was watching, and blushing slightly. With a kiss on Rose’s cute nose, she promised that the night would still be special. Wrapping towels around themselves, the girls moved back into Rose’s room, where Lia carefully dried and styled Rose’s hair. Curiosity got the better of her and she stroked and puffed the bunny girl’s tail. Hearing some poorly muffled squeaks from Rose, Lia smiled. “Feel good?” With a blush and a head nod, Rose leaned back and closed her eyes, resting her head against Lia’s chest. Having dried off the two girls moved over to the bed, Lia holding her little bunny tightly. October 14th, 2007Glensheen ManorDuluth, MN Rose squirmed feeling something cold pressed against her back. The two girls were currently snuggled together. Lia was spooned up against her, and the cold sensation of the taller girl’s lower body temperature reassured her of her being safe. Inaba was still sleeping, as she had been since after the fire. Wiggling her tail, Rose heard a groggy moan behind her. "Good morning, lover.” she said in a sexy tone. Lia moaned again as the fluffy tail tickled her in rather private places. "N...no fair” she whimpered. Rose had found out her secret. She was very ticklish in certain places, and between the tail and her girlfriend’s whiskers, she had nearly passed out from the sensation. With a smile, Rose turned so the girls were face to face. “Just getting you back for what you did with your tongues.” Turning her head slightly she kissed her lover. The same timeSt. Luke’s HospitalDuluth, MN Caribou was worried. Not about her young charge, nor about Lia, rather she was concerned about the people that had been brought in after the fire at the Cathedral. Several were in critical condition from smoke inhalation and injuries from burns and falling objects. Particularly worrisome was the condition of a teen girl that the zealots had particularly singled out. She was sitting in the girl’s room, looking at her. The petite girl was maybe four foot ten at most, with a slight build. She would be considered cute but unremarkable, if not for the floppy ears and woolen hair. She had thick nails on her hands and feet. The hospital gown covered the small tail. The sheep girl was on a ventilator, and not conscious. There were burns on her arms and some of her fleecy hair had singe spots. When Doctor Stevens came in, he had a worried look on his face. “Ah, Carrie. Any luck reaching the parents?” Shaking her head, Caribou sighed. “Sadly no, they were out of the country on a sort of second honeymoon, and have not been reachable. I tracked down an uncle, who will be flying up from Rochester, but that will be a few hours.” With a sigh, she hung her head. “Honestly Paul, I just don’t know. These Shepherds are dangerous, but trying to track them is the proverbial needle in the haystack.” Her longtime friend nodded. “How is your young ward doing? Her regen should have shrugged off her minor injuries pretty quickly, but I worry about her. She seems the sort that is too gentle for their own good.” Carrie had to agree, Rose was a gentle girl, unless pushed, but last night might have been too much. “I’m giving her some space for now, though Liabella likely stayed the night. She might be better for her right now than I could be. And lest we forget she does have an ancient spirit that seems to have her best interests in mind.” Back at Glensheen Manor Rose sat on the edge of the bed, having washed up again and put on her bra and panties. She rocked back and forth, still dazed and in tears. Images of the fire and the violence and brutality flooded her brain. Suddenly, she realized she was in the dream space. It was spring, and the woods were recovering from the storm brought on by her self-inflicted harm. Inaba sat in the tent, on her little pillow. “I am sorry to drag you here. You are suffering, and it’s not your fault. These people are evil. Don’t let them get to you. You are a gentle, kind soul that has a lot to give. Don’t let them tear you down because you don’t fit their narrow, bigoted ideal of ‘perfection’, you are beautiful inside and out, and don’t let anyone say otherwise.” Rose’s eyes snapped open and she looked around. Her head was in Lia’s lap, and her girlfriend was stroking her hair gently. “How you doing, lover?” the older girl inquired. Rose sat up slowly. “I’ll be fine.” Lia smiled and kept stroking the luxurious red hair. “I’m glad you feel better, but I’m worried about you being 'fine'. You're a wonderful, sensitive girl, but I think you need to toughen up. When we first met, you kicked my ass. But you're kind of … meek? Like a flight response.” Rose nodded. “Like a rabbit.” In her hallow, Inaba winced. "Sorry… I didn’t think that the influence would be that extensive.” "Tell you what, you go change into some workout gear, and I’ll meet you out back in ten minutes” Lia said. When Rose arrived, Lia had also changed into combat boots, black lycra leggings, a tank top that didn't completely hide her black sports bra, and leather jacket. Her cheeks blushing slightly blackish gray, Lia looked at Rose, whose curves were accented by burgundy tights with white stripes down the sides. Her matching sports bra showed her ample cleavage and flat, fit stomach. Swallowing hard, Lia composed herself, and with one hand behind her back mimicked the famous Bruce Lee “come at me” gesture. Over the next hour and a half, Lia threw every dirty trick, sneak attack and underhanded tactic she knew at the stronger girl. After a very enjoyable shower together, the two sat on the couch together and talked. After a little kissing and cuddling, Rose lay with her head in Lia’s lap. Brushing her girl’s hair, Lia spoke softly to her lover. “Sweetie, you did good today. I know Caribou has taught you fighting, but I also know that you're hesitant to do it. I love your gentleness and kindness, but you need to get past your fear and instinct to run. I’ll come over and work out with you every day, and we’ll toughen you up.” Lia gave her sweetie a little peck on the cheek, and the two fell asleep in each other's arms on the couch. Days passed and the girls would meet every day at the manor. A game of hide and seek formed between them, chasing each other over the grounds, and the adjacent parkland. Slowly, Rose gained self-confidence. She was stronger and she was learning to depend on herself. In the meantime, the girls also approached both the Archdiocese and the Superiors about a fundraiser for the church. And so it came to pass that a fundraiser at the site of the collapsed cathedral was hastily arranged. October 26th, 2007Site of the former Our Lady of the Rosary CathedralDuluth, MN Isobel walked around the event, enjoying a caramel apple. She was so proud of her daughter and of her daughter’s girlfriend. They had quickly put together this charity event, and so far, it looked like a success. People and businesses from all over the city had donated money, time, effort, and services. The Coast Guard had brought some of their helicopters down for people to look at, and they offered rides for donations. Off-duty police officers were providing security, free of charge. She waved at Carrie Running Elk, who was standing off to the side of the main stage. A local band was on stage, playing a passable version of The Beatles ‘Let it Be’, and the small crowd was swaying back and forth to the beat. Carrie smiled and walked over to talk to her friend. “So glad you could take the day off ‘Bel. The girls really outdid themselves!” "Si , I am so very proud. I almost didn’t see you. Magic to hide the antlers?” Isobel queried. With a hearty laugh Carrie responded. “No, I shed them yesterday.” Carrie lowered her head to show her friend her scalp. There were two small bumps forming, mostly hidden under her long, luxurious hair. “They grow back relatively quickly though, I’ll have maybe a day or two before they are noticeable.” The two friends turned from the stage and walked among the booths and displays, where artisans were selling their crafts, with a percentage to be donated to the church. Carrie stopped and admired a pair of earrings, and then sighed. With a frown Carrie explained. “I seldom wear earrings because with my regeneration, the holes heal too quickly, and I have to re-pierce them every time I want to wear them. I just gave up. Those are rather pretty though. You should get them.” With a laugh, Isobel bought the elegant silver earrings, and then put them in. Looking in the mirror at the stand, she had to agree that they did look good. The sheer number of uniformed Coast Guard and Police Officers kept any troublemakers away, and not a peep was heard from the Shepherds. The day passed into evening, and then night came. Rose walked out on stage, followed by Lia. They stepped to the microphones and bowed to the crowd that was rapidly gathering around the main stage. Rose took the microphone from the stand, and paced the stage a couple times, looking out. “Welcome everyone. Thank you for coming! We are gathered here for a reason. A few weeks ago, a group of terrorists demonstrated their narrow, bigoted view of humanity. They thought that only those like them were truly people, and that those like myself were to be considered less than human, to be considered animals. Sadly, this isn't the first time that people that bigoted would act on their warped worldview. Minorities of all sorts have had to deal with being marginalized, dehumanized, vilified.” Rose looked at Carrie and smiled before continuing. “When European settlers came to America, they used such opinions to marginalize and justify the horrible treatment of the indigenous people. Other racial groups considered Blacks to be ‘animals of limited intelligence’, and would often enslave them. Many were stolen from their homelands, shipped to America, and sold as slaves.” Lia stepped forward and took Rose’s hand in one hand while taking the microphone in the other. “Minorities of all kinds are still marginalized today, and we must join together to stop it. Hate and fear of those that are different take all sorts of forms. Not just ethnicity and color, but now religion, mutant status, and sexual identity. As a Mutant, as a girl, as a Latina, and as a Lesbian, I am an open target for all the hatred and fear. But I won’t let it rule my life, I will preach tolerance, and I will try to teach others to do the same.” After she was finished, Lia turned and gave Rose a soft, gentle kiss on the lips. Breaking the kiss, Rose turned to the mostly-applauding crowd. “Don’t cheer just yet. To end the festivities, we will have a big fireworks display, courtesy of the Duluth Superiors and the City of Duluth. But first, you all will have to put up with the two of us a little longer.” Lia stepped forward and nodded to someone backstage. Miguel Santino came out from backstage, holding a guitar. There was silence for a bout a half a minute before he started to play. After a few seconds Lia began singing, her mezzo-soprano voice. Now I've been happy lately, thinking about the good things to come And I believe it could be, something good has begun Oh I've been smiling lately, dreaming about the world as one And I believe it could be, some day it's going to come Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again Now I've been smiling lately, thinking about the good things to come And I believe it could be, something good has begun Oh peace train sounding louder Glide on the peace train Come on now peace train Yes, peace train holy roller Everyone jump upon the peace train Come on now peace train… When she finished the song, there was a standing ovation. Bowing, Lia smiled. “Thank you. But hold your applause. If you liked that, you will LOVE this next song.” Rose stepped forward and Lia retreated slightly behind her. Sitting at the edge of the stage with her feet dangling off, she nodded slowly to Miguel, who started a slower, quieter song. In a quiet soprano voice she started singing softly, and when the crowd heard, they were stunned into complete silence and rapt attention. Imagine there's no heaven It's easy if you try No hell below us Above us only sky Imagine all the people Living for today (ah ah ah) Imagine there's no countries It isn't hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion, too Imagine all the people Living life in peace You may say that I'm a dreamer But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us And the world will be as one When Rose finished there was thunderous applause and cries of “Encore!” Looking at each other the girls shrugged and launched into another song, together this time. Mother, mother There's too many of you crying Brother, brother, brother There's far too many of you dying You know we've got to find a way To bring some lovin' here today-Ya Father, father We don't need to escalate You see, war is not the answer For only love can conquer hate You know we've got to find a way To bring some lovin' here today Picket lines and picket signs Don't punish me with brutality Talk to me, so you can see Oh, what's going on What's going on Yeah, what's going on Ah, what's going on In the mean time Right on, baby Right on Right on Mother, mother, everybody thinks we're wrong Oh, but who are they to judge us Simply because our hair is long Oh, you know we've got to find a way To bring some understanding here today Rose and Lia took a bow together, holding hands. “Thank you all!” the Bunny girl said with a smile that could light the entire stage. Lia chimed in. "Thank you, and thank you all for your kind donations! Not just money, but time and work and support. It was a tragedy that such hateful, bigoted people would incite violence at a Holy place that was supporting the community and providing teens a place to enjoy themselves and be safe. They may have destroyed the building, but buildings are just bricks and mortar. Those can be repaired or replaced. The spirit of the people and their beliefs are what are important. And you all have shown that those that preach hate and fear will not win in the face of love and tolerance! The fireworks will start in a few minutes. Enjoy and go in peace and love!” After the cheering and applause died down, the two girls continued to hold hands as they left the stage. Carrie and Isobel rushed over and gave the girls hugs. “We are so proud of you two!” Carrie gushed. Lia could see the pride in her mother’s eyes and in her smile, and she wept openly. "My little girl, you are so brave to out yourself like that.” Isobel said as she hugged her daughter tightly, before letting go. "Thank you Mami, Rose and I talked about it, and there was no reason to hide who and what we are. I’m still struggling a little. The change in my sexual orientation scares me still on occasion… but if I had stayed straight, I would have still probably been out there slutting around.” As she finished speaking, Lia cast her gaze towards the ground. Her mother hugged her again, and rubbed her back gently. After the fireworks concluded, Lia and Rose said their goodbyes with a little kissing – less than either would have preferred – and then Lia and her mother headed home. Rose was too wired, and barely heard Carrie’s directions to head to the car. She snapped out of it when the exemplar picked her up and carried her. After more than slight protestation, Carrie put Rose down and they walked to the SUV and drove home. An hour passed, and Rose was no more tired. She sighed and grabbed a large blanket off the bed and headed outside. The late-October air was cold, but she was accustomed to it. Someone would say in a song that “the cold never bothered me anyway”, and that was true for her. Even before manifesting, she had been able to handle cold temperatures a lot easier than hot ones. Walking to a remote corner of the property, Rose spread out the blanket before stripping off her nightgown. Looking up at the full Moon she sighed and lay there naked, basking in the moonlight. The next morning came and Rose stirred gently. It was chilly, and there was frost on the grass, and the dew that had collected on her body had frozen, but she didn’t feel cold. After standing up and stretching, Rose gathered the blanket around her like a robe, and headed for the main house. She passed the stables and the servant quarters, looking with interest at them, before entering the mansion. Carrie was sitting in the kitchen, concentrating on her morning coffee. “Heya Kiddo.” she said looking at her ward “What’s with the blanket, and why are you naked?” Rose blushed and wrapped the blanker tighter around herself. “Last night Inaba wanted to moonbathe, and It was so quiet and peaceful, I guess I fell asleep out there.” Carrie nodded in understanding. Rose’s spirit had a connection to the Moon, and last night it was at its fullest. So that made sense. "Got it. I hope you picked a secluded spot, The mansion isn’t currently open for tours, but you never know who might want to sneak onto the grounds. There have been some that try as a dare, While others come to investigate the rumors that the ghosts of those murdered here roam the grounds.” Rose shudded and then went upstairs to take a shower, in anticipation of Lia coming over later to spar. Wile toweling off, Rose thought about her life, and the unusual twists and turns that it had taken. She was lucky to be alive, and for that she was grateful. Still, sometimes it was difficult to reconcile this self with her past self. Never was it more apparent as when she slipped into her workout clothes, the lycra bottoms hugging her shapely figure, and the top accentuating her breasts. With a sigh, she put on her sneakers and headed down to have a quick bite before Lia arrived. Grabbing a grapefruit and some carrot juice, she sat on the back patio, wistfully looking at the trees of the wooded parkland that backed up to the property. With her superb hearing, Rose heard Lia coming from quite a distance but she pretended she didn’t, as she looked sadly at the trees. "Penny for your thoughts” Lia asked, as she came upon her sweetheart. "I miss red” Rose said, in a melancholy voice. Looking at the bunny girl, Lia pondered the statement.“You’ll have to explain that to me, I’m afraid” With a sigh, Rose responded. “I look out at the trees, and I can imagine the colors, the reds, the yellows, the oranges… but with the way my eyes are now, all I can see are browns and beiges.” Frowning, Lia rubbed her girlfriend’s back softly. Rose’s ears perked up, and she smiled. “Of course, since I see blues more vividly, the color of your eyes is radiant.” She turned and kissed Lia’s cheek softly. “I suppose we should start training.” Lia stated, trying to stop her blushing. As the two girls sparred, Rose concentrated on her lessons with Carrie, trying to use her agility and speed to her advantage, dodging Lia’s attempts to grab her ankles and wrists with the palm tongues. She was doing a pretty good job, until Lia surprised her with a feint, using one tongue as a decoy, while she grabbed with the other. Rose landed in the grass, and was covered in fallen leaves. Seeing her like that, Lia offered her a hand up, only for the sneaky bunny to pull her down on top of her. Giggling, Rose snuck a kiss, which was enthusiastically returned. Lia rolled off Rose, and they both lay back in the leaves, looking up at the sky. “When I was back in New Mexico, I would have never imagined that things would turn out this way” Lia absent-mindedly commented. Rose smiled. “Neither did I, I didn’t think I’d be alive right now.” Hugging her sweetie, Lia showed her just how lucky they both were, before speaking.“You know, Halloween is just a few days away, I want to see your progress on the costumes.” Rose got up first, picking grass and leaves out of her hair and fur, and generally brushing herself off. She offered Lia a hand this time and though she tried, Lia wasn’t quite strong enough to pay her back for the earlier move. The girls entered the mansion, and went to Rose’s room. As per the rules of the house, Rose made sure to keep the door open while Lia was there. "I did manage to get my costume finished, yours is nearly done. Just need to make a few adjustments here and there” Rose commented. Lia opened her eyes as wide as she could, trying to do something akin to ‘cute puppy eyes’. “Can I see your costume? Please?” she begged. With a grin, Rose pulled a garment bag out of her wardrobe and went over to the bathroom to change. After a couple minutes she came back out, and Lia was stunned. Looking her sweetie over, she couldn’t believe how sexy she was in the anime bunny-girl outfit. The little white collar with the bowtie, the white buttoned cuffs on her bare wrists. The black bodysuit with black fishnet stockings and high heels completing the outfit made Lia swallow hard, fighting her lusty desires. "You know, if Carrie weren’t downstairs, I would take you right here and now. You are such a sexy playboy bunny” Lia exclaimed in a husky voice. Rose laughed before calling out in a loud voice. “Carrie! Lia wants to pounce me and steal my virtue!” From downstairs the pair heard a loud laugh, followed by the reply. “What virtue? Lia’s mom and I aren’t stupid, you know…” Both girls blushed and gulped uneasily, both fighting the temptation of the implied permission of Carrie's statement. Rose quickly scampered back into the bathroom to change back into her prior outfit. Later that day, At Whateley Academy Pin Cushion sat at her desk, fuming. She had made inroads into duping that idiot, Tiffany Cobb, into believing that she was her friend, several meaningless gifts and favors had ingratiated herself to the girl, but it was not enough. Her defeat at the hands or talons or whatever of that dumb bird-bitch had made her look like a fool. It was bad enough that daddy wanted her to torment those twins, but now they had a new ally. Something had to be done, and fast. She could hire some thugs, but that never worked out well, since money could always be trumped with more money, and she knew those twin twits weren’t exactly poor. She would need to form her own clique, or team… and she needed to outnumber her enemies. Standing up, she stormed out the door, and down to the main entry. She would find someone, somehow. She was not happy. Ordinarily she would turn to her big brother for advice on this sort of thing, but thanks to that whore rabbit girl, that was no longer an option. If she ever got a hold of that girl, she would make her regret framing him. Nobody was around when she reached the door to the cottage. It was past curfew for the day students. That struck a thought in her head. Rumor had it that some of the nastier kids were enrolled in the overnight classes, maybe that bore looking into… October 31st, 2007Glensheen Manor.Duluth, MN Lia looked in the mirror, amazed at what Rose had done with her make-up. Instead of the concealment of her gray translucent skin, She had done the opposite, emphasizing it. Some heavy duty black thread and spirit gum, with a little liquid latex, and convincing stitches were added to make her look like goth Frankenstein-ed doll girl. With the raggedy Gothic dress that Rose had sewn. When the breathtaking bunny girl returned, she was wearing the outfit that had set Lia’s hormones racing the other day. Hand-in-hand, the pair waked down the stairs to the front hallway. The mansion had been decked out for a charity ‘haunted house’ event. Some of the school trustees initially had balked over that, considering the history of the mansion, but it was eventually agreed that it was for a worthy cause, and the university signed off on it Carrie smiled and handed Rose a VERY large bowl full of candy. “You girls take care of the trick or treaters, I have hostess duties.” She said. Lia giggled as she looked at the heroine. Carrie was wearing a reindeer suit and glowing red clown nose. Her small antlers were visible, although at about 6 inches, and covered in soft velvet, they were far smaller than normal. Around 8PM, the candy was gone, and Rose and Lia were given the okay to leave. "I thought that we would never get to go” Lia sighed as she held her sweetie’s hand. Although she was reformed, she still knew some fun places that she knew Carrie and her mother would probably not approve of. Unfortunately, before they could depart Carrie pulled them aside. "I’m sorry I have to do this, but there are reports of a large explosion at the lift-bridge. I need you two to stay here and watch over the guests.” Carrie said, before running upstairs to get her heroic attire on. With a sigh, the girls nodded and took over. Rose walked to the ballroom, where the guests had gathered. “Hello everyone, I need to get your attention. There has been an explosion at the lift bridge, so Caribou had to leave. I would suggest that you all depart in a calm, orderly manner.” It took about ten minutes to get everyone out and to their cars, some consultation of NoodleMaps was required to route some people away from the bridge for their return home, but Rose managed that quickly and efficiently. Sitting down on the bed in Rose’s room, the two cuddled as Rose turned on the TV. “… to you live from Bayfront Park, As you can see behind me, the rescue attempts continue at the site of the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge. Approximately an hour ago, a series of explosions rocked the structure. The resulting instability caused the lift bridge section to collapse, taking an as yet unknown number of vehicles with it down into the harbor. The Duluth Superiors and rapid responders from the Duluth Fire, Medical and Police departments are on scene. I’m told that the governor has authorized the National Guard to deploy, and that the Thunder Bay Voyageurs are flying down to provide assistance. As the reporter was speaking, the support columns of the bridge started to sway and rock, before they suddenly gave way and tumbled into Lake Superior. "Oh my God! There it goes!” the stunned reported said. Rose hugged Lia tightly, as Lia whispered calmly reassuring her that Carrie and Miguel likely weren’t on the structure. Lia left her little bunny to go down to fix some cocoa for them both. As she did, she felt a tremor and the cups and plates in the kitchen rattled in their cabinets. Sensing there was something wrong, Lia turned off the kettle and bolted back towards the main stairwell. Rose was already dashing down the stairs, having changed into a black Kevra bodysuit, and sneakers. "Someone is out on the lawn, I saw them moving closer as I looked out the window. There are some spare suits in the hall closet. Meet me out front” She rapidly exclaimed to Lia as she continued to prepare to go out to investigate. Having rushed out the door, Rose stood with her back facing the mansion. Inaba was alert and trying to keep Rose calm. "There is someone out here, I can feel it. Listen to the sound of the wind, feel the air currents. They are trying to sneak up on us.” Rose did as instructed, shutting out all distractions. She could hear off to her left, something was faintly rustling in the bushes. She smelled a faint smell. One that was familiar… too familiar. Steven. It was Steven. She was afraid, cold sweat ran down her back. She nearly jumped out of her skin when Lia came up behind her and placed her hand on Rose’s shoulder. He was floating just off the ground, a swirl of leaves and debris forming little tiny whirlwinds below him as he posed menacingly. Lia whispered “who’s that?” To which Rose quietly responded. “That’s...him.” "you mean?” "Yes” Rose said while fighting back tears. Floating there, he looked at the girls. “So the bitch has a friend. You destroyed my life! You did this to me. You caused me to be disowned by my family. I lost it all! My money, my future, all of it!” he snarled, his voice sounding maniacally angry and unhinged. Clenching her fists tight enough that her nails drew blood, Rose screamed back at him. “You used telepathy to trick me into sleeping with you!” Steven glared. “I thought you were an adult, you little whore! Pretending to be a grown-up.” Lia stepped in front of Rose, her arm holding her lover back. “Even if she had been an adult, mental coercion is still rape! You puta madre!” Setting down gently on the ground, the disgraced boy charged his targets, grabbing the impudent bitch that was interfering with his revenge. Lia desperately grabbed at his hands, trying to pull them from her neck. Rose jumped forward, punching Steven in the jaw, doing little to him. He shrugged it off and slowly increased his grip, watching as the pale girl struggled futilely. Suddenly though she grabbed his arm and he felt a painful tearing sensation. Letting go, Steven saw that a large circular patch of flesh had been torn off. As the wound healed, he turned his attention to the unknown girl, and saw that blood was trickling from her palms, from something that he thought were stigmata. He stepped back carefully, the zombie-like girl was clearly a mutant, and not just a normal girl in Halloween make-up. As he was distracted, Rose picked that moment to strike. Preforming a forward vault, she landed with her legs wrapped around his neck, her pelvis in his face. Striking him quickly in the ears, she threw her weight back, using her momentum to put her in position to perform a hurricanrana. The lighter girl’s momentum pulled Steven off his feet and flipped him over, landing him hard on the ground. Steven got up shaking his head, having left a dent in the cement of the front stairs. He looked around, but neither girl was in sight. Having planned all this, he wouldn’t be discouraged. It had taken a lot of effort to cause the damage to the bridge. With Caribou out of the way, he knew the bitch would be vulnerable. This mystery girl was an unexpected variable, but she didn’t seem very strong. The whore had punctured his eardrums with the blows to the sides of his head, but his regeneration would take care of that easily. Now he was madder than ever, and wherever those two sluts had run, he would find them. The words his father had often repeated to him now came to mind. "Never reveal everything you have, always keep assets hidden to surprise your opponent” Now his father had been talking about business, but he had always kept that saying in mind. All his time at that damned school, he bided his time. He could have easily been the strongest person on campus, but it had been more prudent to underplay the scope of his powers. Now these two couldn’t possibly cause him any trouble, but it still annoyed him that they had eluded him. Lifting off into the air, he scanned the vicinity. Rose made for the woods, of the park, having looped around the perimeter of the estate. With Lia in close behind her, they dove for the foliage, just in time to avoid a large slab of concrete. In the denser wooded area, they could save the mansion and prevent damage to the historical site. At least, that’s what Rose hoped. Deep in the deciduous maze, the pair crept. If it were August or September, they would be in a better position, but at the end of October the leaves were mostly fallen, and their cover was a lot more patchy. Steven saw them, rocketing down as they reached a bridge over Tischer Creek. With little effort, Steven plowed through the stone bridge, knocking the bunny slut into the water. The other girl was dangling from some twisted metal by some sort of pink appendage. Putting it together, he realized it was a tongue, and that earlier she had somehow bitten him with some sort of displaced teeth. Not too far away, minutes later… Rose stumbled out of the water. There was blood stinging her right eye, where her glasses had broken and driven shards into it. Her arm on that side was hanging limply, badly dislocated. She clenched her teeth hard, and threw her shoulder against a large maple, attempting to pop the shoulder back into place. Limping away, Rose knew that she would be no good to Lia in that condition. She needed time to heal. The eye would take days, but whatever else was wrong with her would be good as new in an hour or so, provided she could survive that long. The best bet was to get to the Elementary school, or a nearby house. Those were close enough to the borders of the park’s property that she had a chance. If she could hide in a building, she could recover. But it tore at Rose, because Lia had been left behind. If anything happened to her, Rose would find a way to make Steven regret it. Lia looked down at the creek below, as she dangled from a twisted piece of railing. Rose had survived the fall, and stumbled away, down the creek shore. Lia had seen Rose’s face, her glasses smashed, and blood covering half her face. One arm had hung unnaturally as the smaller girl had staggered off. Rose had survived and would bring help. But how? With the bridge catastrophe, there would be no heroes to bring, and what could police do to a boy that could fly, not to mention shrug off any gunfire the police could muster. She decided there that she would have to make a stand. She wouldn’t allow this ass to kill her little bunny. If it took sacrificing herself to save Rose, Lia was prepared to do it. Lowering her head, Lia hung limp, tying a loose knot around the metal suspending her. She swung slightly, making it look like she was unconscious. Waiting, peeking through half-lidded eyes, Lia waited. Closer… closer… her unconscious act appeared to be fooling him. She kept her breath slow, calm, steady. She had to focus. If he was a high level exemplar, surely he had senses that would be keen enough to tell if she was faking it. Steven moved in uncertainly, it appeared that the mystery girl was out cold… her body was limp, hanging from one arm, or rather one tongue. That had to be excruciating. Deciding she had to be out cold, he came close. Lia took her chance. She began to swing harder, and let go of the metal. Momentum launched the goth girl at Steven, grabbing him, she maneuvered around to his back, wrapping her arms and legs around him for dear life. A Hand grabbed at his face, teeth raking at it, tearing flesh. Desperate, he slammed himself repeatedly against the bridge support columns. Finally the girl was truly unconscious, and she plummeted from his back, into the small creek below. Rose limped from the treeline of Cogdon Park. Steven had not given chase. Desperate, she dragged herself forward. It was too late for the elementary school to be open, but if she triggered an alarm whatever police officers were not at the bridge collapse might find her. But Rose didn’t make it that far. Stumbling and falling, she fell to the pavement. From her good eye, she could see someone approach. Attempting to get up, Rose collapsed and drifted in and out of consciousness. After some time had passed, Rose managed to open her eye. She did not know how long she had been out, only that she had been. There was a man standing in front of her, wearing work boots and denim pants. Steven was floating several yards away, holding Lia by the arm, like a goth ragdoll. Crawling towards her would-be protector, she managed to whisper the word “run”. But it seemed the mysterious new person had no intention of doing so. Managing to get up onto her knees, Rose steadily got up, the man was still in front of her, blocking Steven from targeting her. With a contemptuous glare, The evil boy threw Lia. With a powerful leap, Rose caught her and then rolled out of the way, as some sort of small thrown projectile whizzed past her head. With some effort, She got up, carrying her unconscious girlfriend back behind the mystery man. Looking at the man, Rose got a better look at him. He had on a flannel shirt, and with the black bushy beard and eyebrows, he looked every bit a burly lumberjack. "Mister, be careful. He’s a high powered exemplar and has psychic powers.” Rose called out. The burly man laughed. “I’ve taken on strong people all my life, I’m used to young upstarts that think they are God’s gift.” Watching, Rose gasped in shock as the newcomer began to grow. Soon he was close to fifty foot tall. "Boy, picking on young lasses like these is unforgivable. Didn’t your elders ever teach you to treat women with respect?” Steven looked at the man and anger dripped from his voice as he responded. “Respect? For that slut?” Rose peered from behind her giant protector. “I may be a slut, but you used your telepathy to push me into having sex with you. That makes you a rapist.” The tall man glared and licked his lips. "Boy, you just lost the right to have me go easy on you!" Placing his fingers to his lips, the man gave a loud whistle. The ground immediately started rumbling, as a sound louder than a tornado roared from somewhere. The thundering continued as something approached at an incredible speed. Lia looked around, in a daze. “I must have a head injury. I’m hallucinating that Paul Bunyan and his blue ox are fighting that asshole.” Rose stroked her lover’s hair gently. “You aren’t hallucinating... if you are, I’m hallucinating the same thing.” Lia sagged back into Rose’s lap, exhausted and in pain. With her one good eye, Rose watched as the new mystery man and his ox traded blows with Steven. It went back and forth as rocks and slabs of the sidewalk were thrown back and forth. From her vantage point, she could see that Steven was getting the worst of the match-up, having to back away. The giant backhanded Steven, and he impacted with the ground, causing a large crater. Dirt and grass flew into the air, and the giant man strode over, picking up the teen. "If you surrender, I’ll be lenient” the large man said. In defiance, Steven strained with all his might, breaking free from the grasp that had restrained him. Flying in the classic “Superman double first punch” style, Steven landed a blow to the enormous man, staggering him, and sending him toppling. Rose had to sling the once again unconscious Lia over her shoulder and leap out of the way. Taking the opportunity of his momentarily downed opponent, Steven floated over and hovered menacingly in front of the girl that he blamed for all his misery. “At last, I get to take care of you. Once and for all. All that you put me through, my future wasted. Father will never give me the company I deserve. Nobody will respect me ever again. And it’s all your fault!” he screamed, his tone and words making it clear that whatever tenuous grasp he'd had on reality had come undone. Rose looked up at the boy who violated and saw how things were. She smirked at him and laughed. “That’s a lot of bull!” "You dare? You dare deny the truth?” The mad man screamed. "No, I meant that’s a lot of bull behind you.” Rose snickered. Steven turned around, albeit too late. He did indeed see a lot of bull… or rather blue ox. He raised his hands to try to futilely shield himself, but it was too late. The giant ox was charging at him too fast, and the horn tore through him with an explosion of blood and gore, ripping Steven Hedgeworth cleanly in half. Rose tried to stand up and turn to face the large man that had come to their rescue, but her knees buckled and she collapsed, falling into unconsciousness. It was dark, and Rose could hear people talking around her, but it was muffled and she could not make out words. Opening her good eye, she saw the blur of indistinct figures. Something covered her other eye, blocking it, and preventing her from opening it. She slowly began to remember the fight, and the pain of the lens of her glasses breaking and filling her eye with shards. "She’s awake.” Rose moaned, casting a look towards The blur that had to be Carrie. “yeah… is… is… Lia…” "Shhh. You rest, Lia will be alright. Just worry about yourself.” Carrie stated gently. Miguel was the next one to speak. “It seems as though the bridge disaster was a diversion, Twenty six people died so that that bastard could attack. It makes me sick to my stomach.” With a painful nod, Rose's mind absorbed the enormity of the bastard's actions. As tears streamed from her eye, she softly stammered, “I...I’m so s...sorry.” With a painful nod, Rose took in the enormity of the bastard’s actions. Tears streamed from her eye. Tears that Carrie quickly wiped away. “You have nothing to feel sorry for. That asshole was a rapist and a murderer, and fate seems to have chosen karmic justice for him.” Miguel spoke softly. “Rose, what happened? When the Police arrived, they found you and Lia unconscious, with Hedgeworth torn in half. How did you stop him?” Rose sobbed. “We… we didn’t. He was going to kill us b...both. Then this stranger showed up. He stepped in and fought him.” With a nod, Miguel continued. “Do you remember anything else? Did this stranger give his name?” With a sigh, Rose shook her head carefully. “He didn’t say his name, or anything. But I remember him clearly. He was wearing a flannel shirt and lumberjack garb, he had bushy eyebrows and a beard. He was some kind of warper, because her grew in size until he towered over everything. The strangest thing though was that he had a bull with him, it was almost as large as he was when he grew… and it was a dark blue color. W… was it Paul Bunyan? Really?” Silently, Carrie glanced over at Miguel and mouthed “it can’t be him.” Carrie bent over and kissed the young girl on the forehead. “You rest now, you just got out of the operating room. They removed the lens shards from your eye. It should be back to normal in a few days. But for now, you need to rest and let your regenerative ability do it’s thing. I’ll be out in the hall for a while yet.” The door closed behind the two, but from the sound of them talking, Rose could tell that Miguel and Carrie were still outside in the hall. She could hear them talking, but only heard snippets of the conversation, before passing out. November 1st, 2007Hedgeworth ManorPawtucket, Rhode Island Steven Hedgeworth Senior sat in his office, watching the news. His face showed no emotion as he listened to the reports of his oldest child’s death. He didn’t look up when the door opened and his wife entered. "It seems that Junior just couldn’t keep well enough alone.” she said in a deep, melodious voice. With a nod, Steven Senior looked at her. She was as beautiful as the day they met. Blonde hair cascading down to her shoulders, covering her left eye. The right eye was blue, the sort of blue that reminded you of a cold mountain lake. Her sensuous lips and pert nose reminded him of her exemplar nature, and her body could make the most voluptuous supermodel look like an emaciated waif. Steven sighed as his wife sat down beside him. She turned and kissed his cheek, her hair briefly exposing her hidden eye, with its solid black sclera and red pentagram pattern. "He was a rather big disappointment. I had planned on him being my successor after I retired. Ashleigh is too… unstable, we will have to groom one of the twins to take on the responsibility.” "What about the girl? The one that caused Steven to… stray from the path?” Mrs. Hedgeworth asked, purring in her husband’s ear. "Oh, don’t worry Genevieve. A little bird told me that her guardian has enrolled her at Whateley, to begin the new year. If our daughter learns of this, I highly doubt she’ll escape the school unscathed.” That same day,Whateley AcademyMellville Cottage Ashleigh Hedgeworth sat in her room, screaming. She screamed until her throat was raw. For a high level regenerator that was a difficult thing to do, as she kept healing. Digging into her dresser, she pulled out her knitting needles and tore the flesh from her arms and legs over and over. Finally, she wore herself out, and lay down in the blood-soaked blankets and sheets of her bed. Sobbing, she vowed that the “Rabbit whore would die” over and over before falling asleep.