New Guard

Coming Home from the Mall on Black Friday
Weekends are supposed to be fun

“…so what exactly went on here tonight, young man…”
“…who knows what would have happened if you hadn’t…”
“…use sound judgement…”
“…I’ll walk him to his room, mom, if that’s…”
“…High five. smack Talk to you tomorrow.”

The Admin Building doors swung heavily behind the trio as Aaron, Deaglan, and Cassie stepped out into the late night. Two and one parted ways, heading to different buildings, hurrying away as all of the necessary words were spoken indoors. Aaron and Cassie got just far enough away before she playfully shoulder-checked him. “You’re awfully quiet. That’s new.”

Aaron couldn’t help but smile a bit, that same smile he’d just tried to hide from Mrs. Dugan as she was giving out not-quite-compliments. He drew his hand from his pocket, fished it inside of her jacket pocket, and took her hand. She seemed surprised, and in that instant knew the pounding in his chest wasn’t just in his head. “I just, uh, need to relax. Give me until…” he trailed off. The two walked, across campus and into the dorm. Aaron fumbled with his keys, and with help, unlocked his door. “Come in for a minute.” he said, not letting go of Cassie’s palm. “I’ve already dodged a few bullets tonight, I’m willing to take the risk that someone’s watching.”

The door closed not-quite-all-the-way and their jackets shed onto his bed, Aaron collapsed into his desk chair. Cassie…Bluebird…BB…Beebs… hiked herself up onto an uncluttered piece of desktop just big enough for her to perch. She’d not seen Aaron like this before. Resting her head on her shoulder, she said quietly, “I’m here when you’re ready.”

“It was chaos” he said after a minute or more of clearing his throat, blinking, and turning over the words in his mouth. “Our plan went to crap as soon as we got there, and it only got worse. Those people, a mob, didn’t care. They didn’t see each other, just obstacles. Even those not on iLove, still waiting in line, those just there to walk the mall; they were focused. Focused on a thing, seeing past other people to what they wanted, and nothing more.” He swallowed, hard, with saliva that wasn’t there. “It’s not the first time I’ve seen a broken bone, but the first time I’ve seen one that no one else cared about.”

Cassie’s legs swayed loosely, ankles crossed. She didn’t know how to answer. After a long pause, she didn’t have to. Aaron sat upright, shaking off some of the confusion and looking her straight in the eyes. “But Amelia is OK. We did that much. And no one died.” He patted her hand, then reeled back and spun his chair around, staring at the ceiling. “And no one died…is that how we’re going to measure success? A few dozen on the roof, those who will have to squint through injured eyes for the next few days, recovering from their enslavement, I doubt they’d think so. Hours of misery to be told ‘you did nothing wrong, you weren’t in control of yourself’. Then they see the news.”

“I saw you on the news, you know. Up on that roof. Tending to the wounded. Live. The tape at the bottom said ‘local heroes’. You and Deaglan.” She chuckled. “Sorry, you and Masquerade.” Cassie’s normally dismissive, over-it tone gave way to honest admiration. It worked. Aaron stopped spinning and leaned forward smiling, even laughing a bit at how moody he was being over what could only be described as a successful morning and afternoon. Even the vice principal, Cassie’s mom, had agreed. He stood up quickly, getting dizzy at the sudden rush of energy.

“You’re right, of course. ‘Heroes’. That’s just what we do.” He shrugged as she slid off the desk to stand facing him and stepping into a hug. A deep sigh later, he continued, “But a hero’s work is never done.” His fingers dug weakly into her back, and she squeezed back in reply. “Doc Otaku is out there. I don’t think you’ll hold it against me if I take that personally.” They pulled back to look at each other, Cassie smiling patronizingly and shaking her head.

“Good night. Get some sleep.” They bid each other a quick goodbye at the door.

click
“…my hero…”

View
Finding a Way to Trust

“Good afternoon Ms. Cruz,

We haven’t been formally introduced as of yet, but my name is Sorrel Suffolk. I know that this is a little bit out of the blue, but I was wondering if we might meet sometime soon. I need your help. I hear that you might be able to lend me sort of a special insight into some of my abilities that no one else has been able to provide thus far. I know that this is somewhat out of the blue, but I feel that you might be able to aid me in this moreso that any other.

If you would have time and would be so kind, I would ask that you meet me in the Commons this evening.

Sincerely,
SWS"

Nina folded the note back into its perfectly creased thirds and placed it back into the small envelope that she had found under the door of her dorm room. This was certainly odd, but that wasn’t totally out of place for the new kid. She had heard of him and seen him around campus, but never really had met. He kept decent enough company, spending most of his time with Donny and Aaron when he was out and about on campus.

She had always felt a little uneasy when she was around Sorrel. Maybe that is why they had never spoken. He certainly seemed kind and sincere.

“What the heck. He seems interesting.” she thought to herself.

Realizing that he hadn’t actually specified a time, she decided to head across campus and to the Commons. It was still a little early to be considered “evening”, but there might be others around and she had finished up her work for the week. She sat up and tucked the note into her pocket, slipped her boots back on, grabbed her coat, and headed out across campus.


Sorrel sat quietly in the corner of the Commons. His eyes darted back and forth from the Biology text book to the students nearby and then back to the book. He occasionally took a moment, and sipped tea quietly, taking stock of the area nearby. This was the best place to meet, but it was hell on his mind. He had lucked out so far and not let his concentration slip too much. He could feel the energy seep from his very core and into the area. No one else could see the tendrils of web as they floated out, like dandelion tufts, but he could and he had to keep an eye out to make sure no one was affected. As more and more students piled into the Commons after class, Sorrel grew nervous.

“Maybe evening wasn’t the time of choice today. Perhaps I should have suggested something a bit nearer.” he pondered as his breath grew a touch quicker and his eyes moved more rapidly about the nearby area. He sipped his tea again and closed the book.

Sorrel never liked to be late for a meeting, but the sheer number of people was becoming a problem. They moved back and forth in a weird tide, just inside the range of the web and then back out. This wasn’t safe anymore. He slid the textbook back into his bag and stood to leave the Commons, his head beginning to ache.


As Nina approached the commons, she noticed that it was rather busy. Busier than normal.

“This won’t make for a very private conversation.” she thought “I hope this ability of his isn’t too personal of a subject.”

It was at that moment that Sorrel stepped out of the door to the Commons. He quickly turned and began walking at a somewhat hurried pace for about 40 feet before stopping, his back pressed against the wall. He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath before taking a sip of his tea. Whatever was going on, whether it be related to her or not, was troubling him. Approaching slowly, Nina raised a hand in a tentative wave, pausing before approaching.

She stepped forward. "Sorrel? Are you … "

She trailed off as a sense of unease hit her. For a moment, it felt as if something dull but firm pressed against her forehead.


Sorrel’s eyes snapped open at the sound of his name. As a look of concern began to cross Nina’s face, he snapped the tendil of web back away from her.

“I am so sorry, Nina. I didn’t mean to worry you. I wasn’t expecting you for quie a while and had just stepped out to get some fresh air. It is quite the busy day in there.” he said, his voice soothing and sincere. “It’s not too brisk out here, if the wind keeps calm. Perhaps we could walk and talk?”

He took one last long drink of tea before wiping it clean with a handkercheif and stowing it away in his bag.

As they began to walk, Sorrel was clearly nervous. No one really knew what he was capable of. He had done well to hide his powers for the most part. Aside from the thing at the science fair, only a couple of people had been present when his powers were used. At least that they knew of, anyway.

“I don’t know what is going on Sorrel, but I am going to need you to talk to me. I appreciate fresh air as much as the next person, but it’s November and it is freezing out here.” she said.

He nodded and took a deep breath.

“You will have to forgive me, Nina. I am new here and though it has been a couple of months, I am not totally comfortable just yet. I don’t mean to keep you too long out in the cold.” he said apologetically. “You see, I have a problem and I hope you might be able to help. From what I have been able to learn about you, I think we kind of have something in common. You see, my powers are somewhat … undefined in origin. I know not whether they are from this world or another or somewhere in between. I do know that there is a power within me that I have not yet reached. We all have some room for growth, I know, but one ability in particular is a little troublesome and will only become moreso as my potential is realized.”

“From nothing to all that. Don’t ease into this conversatoin or anything.” she smiled. “So what does this have to do with me.”

“Well, you see, Nina, one of my abilities is currently sort of always on. I can pull it back to keep it from affecting people, but it takes a lot of concentration and simply becomes mentally taxing depending on the number of people around.” he said. “I have tried to work on it by putting myself into situations that require me to actively control it, but that seems to not be doing the trick.” he continued. “So I had heard about you and your abilities and thought that perhaps that wasn’t the way and that it wasn’t about reaching a point where my mind could keep up with everything so much as it was about focusing the energy itself. That’s kind of what you did, right?”

“Kind of, i guess, but I need to know more about this power. Come with me. We’ll find somewhere with fewer people. And somewhere not so bitterly cold.”

With a nod, he adjusted the strap of his bag and followed.

View
Outlaws and Renegades

Bender shuffled down to the cafeteria. Poptarts and three cartons of milk sat on the tray as the room was scanned for familiar faces. Bender got lucky — there was Nina.

Quietly, Bender sat next to her. They opened the pack of poptarts and started nibbling the icing off one edge, trying to figure out what to say. “We’re still cool, right? About… stuff?”

Busy plotting her next escapade with the local civil rights activists, if she can just get past the Vice Principal’s watchdogs, it took Nina a second to realize she had a dining companion.

“Hey! Cool…oh, yeah. Of course. Although why do you want to keep your powers hidden? They were super useful in that fight…er…after-school activity we participated in the other day.”

She peeks over at the pop tarts. “Hey, what are those? Are they food?”

Looking to see if it’s ok, she breaks off a corner and tastes a bit, trying to identify the flavor. “Are you sure this is a fruit?”

The incandescent heat of Bender’s blush swelled up, even as they retreated further into the ubiquitous hoodie. The shrug was barely noticeable. “They were out of the cherry ones.”

It was far easier to talk about poptarts than powers. And neither of those were the reason Bender had sought out Nina. Not that the other topic was any easier. “You said, um.” Bender risked a glance over. “Something about conformity.”

The Mohawked gray elf perked up immediately, all her attention on the new student. Her red eyes glowed with sudden passion, mixed with something else, something difficult to parse out.

“Conformity. It’s poison. There’s less of it here than in my home world, but its influence is still everywhere. I hate it.”

She tilts her head, curious at both the subject and the body language of the asker. “Why do you ask?”

Bender shied away from that sudden attention. That always led to questions and often, to far worse. But the elf had been kind and had a reputation for standing up to injustice. “Because I don’t. I was kind of wondering… Does it get easier?” So far, the only perk to being non-binary was not having to share a room.

“I don’t know about here. But yes, in some ways. The friends I’ve made here don’t have to hide themselves as much. There’s one student, Toxin, whose skin is poisonous and who has to wear a containment suit all the time so she doesn’t kill everyone around her. She has friends who work hard to get her out of her shell in both ways. Let her know that who she is is more important than what’s different about her body. I just met Lady Liberty, one of my heroes. She was a male human who transitioned to female. She might be able to tell you more about this world and if it gets easier.

“Where I come from, to be different, to be like me…I would be imprisoned if my family didn’t get me a spot in this school.”

Nina dropped her eyes for a moment, lowered her voice.

“I miss them. But they never understood me, except my grandmother, and they were afraid. And what they were doing with their fear was killing me. I ran away this summer instead of returning home. In some ways it gets easier. But not all ways.”

Bender listened, nodding. It helped, knowing there were others who were different. “Thanks. For telling me, I mean. Makes me feel like… I kinda fit in, you know?” That many words were difficult to string together at once. Bender reached into their pocket and pulled out a paper clip sculpture. This one was formed into a small bird, simple in form but recognizable. They put it on the table next to Nina. “For you.”

Nina picked up the bird clip / clip bird and smiled. “Thanks. And I still think your powers are really cool. I can kind of levitate, but to be able to fly like a bird…that’s got to be so awesome.”

The alarm tone, both somehow soothing and annoying, signaled the end of lunchtime. Schism teleported her trash to the waste bin and gathered up her books, ready to make the jump to history class.

“Have you met Checkmate yet? He has a culture club he does every week where we watch movies and stuff and learn about this dimension. It’s a lot of fun and I can usually sneak some booze in. You should come to it tomorrow night.”

A smile spread across Bender’s face at the praise. Of the forms, the bird wasn’t so bad. They started to shake their head, but then nodded. “Sounds cool.” And it might be, learning how people from other dimensions viewed this world. This ordinary, boring world where people with differences were viewed with suspicion. “Guess you’re never late to class.” Unlike Bender who often was late enough to consider changing forms to slip in unnoticed. Considered, but never did.

Nina grinned and winked. “Only when I want to be,” she said, before blinking out.

View
Chains of Justice Vol. 2 - Rip Free My Soul

“Okay so, New Journal, stuff is, like, happening.

Remember that party I was telling you about? Okay so sure, it was kinda cool at first—Shadow and I, uh, explored the upstairs a bit, and it was all spooky and stuff, but then stuff got WEIRD.

Everybody’s souls were getting ripped out and there were ghosts and this freaky frickin scarecrow dude (I’m like, super glad that Schism took that thing out right away!) and all sorts of crazy stuff that really seemed like a bad ripoff of the old Mario games. . .

. . . except it was all fake. Just another simulation.

Now, like, I know I talk about how nothing even matters and how we’re all just like, players in a meaningless play of sorrow set upon the stage of an uncaring world and stuff, but like, THIS was super not cool.

So it turns out that Doc Otaku and some of the preps Shadow hangs out with were setting us all up (including my freaking ROOMMATE omg that guy is impossible, but at least Dark Victory set me up with this cool genetically encoded lock for you, New Journal). I couldn’t even believe it. Like, I’ve been playing Dungeons and Delvers with that guy for almost a year now, and he just pulls that kinda stunt?! I thought Shadow was dead! Schism slapped the ever-loving crap out of him, which was like, so awesome.

Except me and Checkmate and Dark Victory eventually worked out that there was some kinda crazy mind control crap going on in that stupid game everyone was playing, Puzzle Attack Swarm: Love. There’s all sorts of weird shell companies and stuff and like, I don’t even know. We’re talking like world’s-end apocalypse levels of lame here, New Journal.

So I’ve got Shadow kinda trying to ask her parents about it, cuz they work at some big tech company in Japan and might know some of the contractors that work on the game, but so far, we haven’t heard anything back about it.

But you know what the WORST part of all this is?

I texted mom to tell her to get Alex to stop playing that stupid game (I keep getting requests from her account asking me to join back up and fill her Love-Ups; like, how can the game even do that after I uninstalled it?) cuz it was messing with people’s heads, and like, TEN MINUTES later, I get this from Devin, her stupid boyfriend:

“Hey there, bud. Thanks for the heads up about that app. I’ve been telling your mom that we should just take these cellphones away from you kids. They’re like, so bad for your chakras. You been keeping up with those stretches I showed you? They’ll really help you loosen up, champ.”

OMG I DO NOT NEED TO LOOSEN UP DEVIN MAYBE YOU NEED TO LOOSEN UP LIKE YOUR STUPID HOLD ON MY MOM YOU IMPOSSIBLE

Wait sorry class is starting gotta go."

View
Judgement Ice Cream
Schism's in a mood

“You can’t pull a stupid jerkface move like that and think some ice cream is going to make up for it! You lied to us! Made us think our friends were dead or in serious danger! You kept us all helpless, lying here, locked us in a stupid virtual cage, and made us perform, for what? Some stupid joke?! AUGH!!”

With an untranscribable sound of disgust, Schism teleported herself away from the “haunted house” tricksters, leaving a very red, hand-shaped mark on Dr. Otaku’s face and chagrined looks on Chump’s, Casanova’s, and Leapfrog’s ones. An awkward silence of a few seconds passed, and then she suddenly popped back into the room, grabbed the ice cream out of Casanova’s hand, and teleported away again.

“At least, that’s what I should’ve done,” Schism muttered to herself, ice cream-less, as she trudged along next to the maybe-but-maybe-not crazy janitor and his bedraggled cat as they made their rounds on the school campus. He was still going on about “ghosts that aren’t ghosts,” which turned out to be a pretty good description of what the students went through tonight, and the cat mournfully wailed at him in response. It maybe wasn’t the best way to calm down after that blow-up, but Schism didn’t want to be calm. She wanted to start some sh*t, get kicked out of school, and start a riot. Maybe burn down a building. She wanted to drop those JERKS into the bay from a mile up. She wanted to scream in her parent’s faces. She wanted to teleport out of her own head. She wanted some damn ice cream.

Thirty seconds later, Schism was sitting on a counter in the deserted and darkened academy kitchen, thoughtfully spooning up mint chocolate chip from the 2-gallon container she liberated from the freezer and going over the night.

Her smartphone buzzed. Reggie and Bobby and new guy Brian are pretty sure the jerkfaces were acting under some outside influence, maybe related to the : Love game they’ve been beta testing in Freedom City. They’re investigating any leads. “I can help with that,” Schism texted back, thinking about her friends and activist contacts in the area. Maybe she could track down Lady Liberty, too…

She wondered what MC was doing in response to this. Probably getting her playlist finally going and not looking directly at Zoe for the rest of the night. She’s pretty good at forgiving and forgetting. Schism sighed. They did just learn about the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing in history class the other day. A strange idea – in her home world everyone knew what they were doing at what time, so there was no confusion about innocence or guilt. If you did something, they knew. “Except for with me,” she thought to herself, smiling…no, grinning. Then she sighed again. Maybe the jerkfaces weren’t entirely to blame. Maybe they were victims of someone else’s control, too. That was super dangerous, though. What if we’d been attacked? What if someone else was watching the screens of the haunted house simulations, monitoring our abilities and weaknesses? She thought for a moment about Rant and Rave, but no, that wasn’t their style. Besides…Rant…he wouldn’t do something like that to me, I mean, us. But maybe they’ve heard some things.

The mystery of it all was enough to go poking around. If her “friends” were being mind-controlled, then yeah, whoever’s doing that is going to get way more than a backhand slap. Well, there was a midnight showing of some retro movie, “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark,” tomorrow. If she got caught off-campus while following some of this up, she can use that as a cover story. Plus, according to Reggie, it’s supposed to be a real classic. Shoving her spoon back in the ice cream, Schism licked her fingers and then sent a text off to a couple friends, “Anyone up for a movie run tomorrow? My treat, and nobody will know you were there ;-).”

Now, where did they keep the toppings in this…yes! Score! Man, ice cream tastes so much better with hot fudge, and without the stench of betrayal.

View
Exchanging Names

CASPERNet Transmission #e8C2

ABlake – DDickinson

+++SESSION CREATED 10/29/2017 22:17:01+++
+++ENCRYPTION ESTABLISHED+++


ABlake: Hey, so 2 things. One, it’s good to know I’m not the only one sneaking off campus. It looked like you were having a good time. Two, how did you pull that off with Miss Scorpion?

ABlake: Oh, and this is Aaron. We’ve passed each other in the hall but haven’t talked much otherwise.


+++SESSION TIMEOUT 10/29/2017 22:32:05+++
+++ENCRYPTION KEY TERMINATED+++


+++SESSION RESUMED 10/30/2017 16:40:57+++
+++ENCRYPTION ESTABLISHED+++


DDickinson: dhsjajdbhff

DDickinson: Neat!

DDickinson: Do I

DDickinson: need to download this each time?
-—-

ABlake: Right, so this is what Sorrell was talking about. Faculty doesn’t know about it. It’s safe.
-—-

DDickinson: Oh. Okay. How is this different from texting? Can they just read anything off my phone normally?

DDickinson: Right. This is technology. Not magic. It works differently. But why would they read things off our phones?

DDickinson: Also, the world wide web isn’t really a web is it? I know it’s off topic, but I keep reading things about it, and I’m not terribly fond of spiders.
-—-

ABlake: It’s not terribly different from texting, just safe from the eyes of the faculty. I’m not sure about you but I assume we’re being watched 24/7 on campus. Coach Archer at least knows my face. Mrs. Digan too, but I kinda stepped in that particular pile of my own accord. This app is on your phone now, but it doesn’t work during class time.

ABlake: Just to keep up appearances, we also shouldn’t use this full time. Someone NOT texting all the time is just as suspicious as someone never texting, right?

ABlake: And yep, totally not magic. If you want to make a magic version, I’d help if I could. I’ve done a handful of sendings, but me and my Master normally communicate with obfuscated letters. I can show you that tomorrow after class or something.

ABlake: I don’t think the web is an actual web, but I really don’t know how it works. Better browse safely just to be sure. :)

ABlake: So yeah, headless one, that was one heck of a fight. Was that your first adventure off-campus? Oh! Did you get to pick a codename? Mine’s Warlock.


+++SESSION TIMEOUT 10/30/2017 16:50:13+++
+++ENCRYPTION KEY TERMINATED+++


+++SESSION RESUMED 10/30/2017 16:50:27+++
+++ENCRYPTION ESTABLISHED+++


DDickinson: Balor’s Butt, I lost my reply! Sorry. There are a lot of buttons.

DDickinson: Anyhow, this is good to know, though I suppose I should be more suspicious of the school? When crossing from Avalon to here, I did appear on the campus grounds, which seemed odd. Principal Summers was there as well, waiting for me it seemed? Not that I can complain much, I have a place to stay now!

DDickinson: And yes, it was quite exciting! The purple one was rather dramatic! I didn’t get anything, but the others did. We ended up helping Noah get one of the last prizes, since we inadvertently foiled some of his previous attempts at the puzzels.

DDickinson: Were the others there that started fighting with us always so aggressive? I did appreciate the girl with the funny hat and Miss Scorpion. They have fine taste in choice of arms. She struck Bender though, so I had to say her name.

DDickinson: And I’m still thinking of a code name. Does everyone have one?
-—-

ABlake: Anyone who’s serious about breaking curfew had better have a way to hide their identity.

ABlake: Wait, did you say Avalon?
-—-

DDickinson: I should not have said that. Yeah. Though I suppose it’s obvious I am not from around here.
-—-

ABlake: Can you not go back? I’m asking for research purposes, of course. Dimensional travel is my new pet project.
-—-

DDickinson: No? My father showed me the way out. Apparently it’s very difficult to establish one by oneself, but others occur naturally between our worlds. He told me I would either be on some northern isles, or possibly even one of the colonies, which is how we got back originally, or so I was told. I’m still trying to understand your maps. They are much different from the one I have.
-—-

ABlake: I can dig it. Dimensional alignment seems to shift on a whim from what I’ve studied of it so far. You REALLY need to know where you want to go. It’s not a discipline for guesswork.

ABlake: So, Avalon. I suppose that’s where your powers come from as well?
-—-

DDickinson: I suppose? I think my powers are more a part of who I am. Or rather, what I could be. Perhaps it could be something we discuss in the future?

DDickinson: I have to study for a math test, and I fear I am ill prepared!


+++SESSION TIMEOUT 10/30/2017 17:12:52+++
+++ENCRYPTION KEY TERMINATED+++


View
Finding Common Ground

CASPERnet Transmission #uB4o
ABlake-SSuffolk

2017-10-29-20:39:17

ABlake: Hey man, trying this out. Looks pretty nice so far. Can I ask you something about Friday’s…events?
-
SSuffolk: Hey. Yeah, I am pretty happy with it. Donny did a great job.
SSuffolk: Sure. That was super crazy. Spider-piloted Bears and Monkeys with rocket launchers.
-
ABlake: Yeah man, Donny is THE man to know. Everyone else goes for the popular kids, but Donny really knows what is going on around here.
ABlake: Right, the monkey with the rocket launcher. What exactly did you do there? I just saw you step out from behind a workbench, touch its ear, and BAM! Bad things happened to it, I presume.
-
SSuffolk: I mean, I don’t know how to describe exactly HOW it works.
SSuffolk: You know how you can throw beams of water or whatever from your scepter? Think that, but less… elemental?
SSuffolk: Touching its ear was actually to put the earpiece into its ear. Channel the energy through that.
SSuffolk: I wasn’t sure if it would even work. I was a little surprised at how quickly he bugged out, too. Maybe Jeff’s energy pulse thing did more than it looked like or something?
-
ABlake: Maybe. Jeff’s abilities are kinda lost on me. I try to stay away from anyone with too many circuits that close to their head.
ABlake: What gets me is that I wasn’t able to affect it, not in the way I thought I should be able to. The Disintegration evocation doesn’t work on living things, but that seemed pretty clearly a machine. Same with the bear. I wish I’d gotten a shot at the tank, but, well, BEAR.
-
SSuffolk: Well my damage only works if the target is alive. And has a psyche. So maybe some type of robot with an AI?
SSuffolk: Maybe you should have just walked up and hugged him instead. ;)
SSuffolk: My other power appears to affect it too, which means it was more than just a program.
-
ABlake: Hugged Barricade, or the bear? I think either would have had similar outcomes.
ABlake: Popping sounds, cursing, and me being hit in the face.
ABlake: Where do your abilities come from, if you don’t mind. I know that’s personal as all heck and we just met, so I can respect if you’d rather not say.
-
SSuffolk: Nah, it’s ok. I mean, with everyone here having weird powers, you gotta ask at some point.
SSuffolk: I am not 100% sure where it comes from. I was just kind of born with them and they have gotten stronger over time.
SSuffolk: How about you. Disintegration beams and water bolts and astral projection? Where does that come from?
-
ABlake: Me? I’m easy. I’ve got an “awakened” soul that can touch, channel, and command the fundamental forces of the universe, and a few from outside this universe.
ABlake: Thanks to the work of ancient sorcerors from a sunken city, I’ve got a library of how-to books on how to do new things.
ABlake: The bad news is that there are a ton of rules about using magic, down to the how and when, and a serious group of enforcers who are WAY better at it than I am.
ABlake: I’ve got one of those somewhat in charge of my tutelage in the mystic arts. During the school year, it’s Claremont though.
ABlake: Not to mention the nasty side effects that only I seem to have trouble with.
-
SSuffolk: Oh… so “Warlock” is actually pretty accurate. Fancy that.
SSuffolk: You know that that would all sound fantastically ridiculous if it weren’t totally reasonable in this world we live in now. Way back when, it was just the gods that could unmake thinks. Now we have teenagers with supersuits and Monkeys with rocket launchers.
SSuffolk: I’ve not had such luck with training outside of school. Luckily, mine kicked in rather early, so I’ve had plenty of time to experiment with what I can and cannot do.
SSuffolk: Now if I could just control them all.
-
ABlake: Right? It used to be easy to spot the supers. They’d be on the front page of the paper, names in lights. Now we have to hide? It’s not like “kid sidekick” hasn’t been a thing since…ever. Not like I want to be a sidekick. I’m not even sure if I’m cut out for “hero”, but until the stuffed bears stay stuffed, I can’t stand by and watch.
ABlake: I’ve carved out a little space for myself if you need somewhere to practice. It’s cozy, but it works, and it’s off the radar as far as the faculty go. Though for you, I think targets are the problem. It doesn’t sound like setting up Monster cans on the railing is quite going to work.
ABlake: Are yours out of control like me and electronics, or something different? You come across as mostly on top of things.
-
SSuffolk: Oh, well I can control everything for the most part. It is just more that I have to reactively do so. Some things just happen unless I tell them not to. So sleeping is a sonofabitch.
SSuffolk: I also have a little slice of home carved out that I can retreat to when things get a little intense. Speaking of which, it may be time for another dinner soiree.
-
ABlake: Oh snap! I definitely want to compare “notes” then. Once we’re off campus, anything goes. Who else should we invite?
-

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ST Post to Players - Bridging Sessions 2 and 3

Principal Summers had just settled into the chair behind his desk and started booting up his computer, “Martha, what’s the status from the last few nights?” Martha Dugan, the Vice Principal, stood a moment, as usual, before finally picking the same chair she always picked. A crinkle of a smile crossed the lines on Summers’ face touching the gray in his temples at this familiar routine.

“Well to put it bluntly Mister Summers many of the students got sloppy this time,” smoothing her dress before she started queuing up videos and files to send to Duncan. “We of course had that large fight caught at multiple angles at the Rath and Stromberg. And, the other one between Next-Gen and Elysium at Lantern Hill. Let alone the property damage, though minimal, at both locations. Both makes the whole vigilante thing against the Krewe a few weeks ago look like nothing. The covert group did better, but of course there was the one detail.”

Summers looked up from his computer interrupting her, “Tell me Archer got to the tape at Fun Time before the FCPD got there. We didn’t have much time after they called in the bomb squad.”

“We weren’t sure, until we reviewed the tapes he brought back. It’s taken care of.”

“That was also sloppy, not as public as the R and S, but covert should be covert,” he said tapping the desk in thought. “Get more surveillance technology related materials put into the electronics classes. Subtly.”

Scribbling a note into her tablet, “Already working on that. Glad we’re in agreement.”

Looking up smiling Dugan added, “However, the exposure and recent forays has given us a lot of data to go over as far as their performance profiles. They are really letting go in ways they don’t on campus. For obvious reasons.”

“We’ve got to move faster Martha, most of the Next-Gen are Seniors. If we want an official action response team we’re going to need to recruit soon. I’ve been reviewing some of the data from last year, and what we’ve already collected this year; there are some real possibilities. Have Cassie’s opinions changed?” on Summers’ screen was a massive, nearly 5 story tall purple ape with sparkles, smashing Apex into the ground.

Martha sighed, “Can we not Duncan. I’m pretty sure her powers are growing, but she’s not going to join Next-Gen.” Leaning forward she jumped topics, “What do we do about punishments this time?”

Summers gave a half-interested shrug, “The typical. They shouldn’t have been caught on film, or left evidence. Give detention to the ones that can be identified at the R and S fiasco. I’ve already seen, based on powers and my eyes: Bender, Deaglan and Aramat. Whoever is responsible for leaving the tape at Fun Time, find a reason to stick them in detention too.”

After waiting a beat Martha asked, “That’s it? That fight down town and at Lantern Hill was major.”

“Lantern Hill was mostly Next-Gen, we’re not going to Detention them. They go in the training room double time. Besides Martha,” Duncan said as he loaded up the source code on one screen and his personal version of :Love on the other, “we have much bigger puzzles to be putting our minds to.”

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"...and that's when the bear showed up."
Claremont Academy: Spectral Division

“Wait, so let me get this straight. You broke curfew to leave campus, broke into a toy store in the middle of downtown, had a superhero showdown with a bunch of evil toys, including the BEAR MOUNTAIN bear, damaged a lot of property, and then, of course, the villains escaped? And you did all of this because you thought FunTime was releasing haunted toys?”

Aaron shuffled nervously in his seat. “A few things: first, we left before curfew, so we technically only broke curfew coming back. Second, we did it because D…Central Command had valid intelligence confirming the haunted toys were FunTime, and finally, you forgot about bringing back this fine feast from Wong’s!” He put on his best game-show-host grin and gestured to the pile of egg rolls rapidly disappearing from the carryout bag.

BB eyed him, unspoken accusations and disapproval hanging nervously in the air. “At least these are good egg rolls. Not sure they’re worth the rest of the trouble though.” She crunched into one. Her eyes rolled back, but not because of the egg roll.

“I dunno, it sounds like fun to me.” said an unknown girl, probably a freshman. She didn’t even look up from her phone, immersed in a :Love session, and it’s a good thing too. Aaron didn’t need super senses to see the look that BB shot her was hot with anger.

“Hey, that reminds me,” Aaron BS’d, “those Claremont buttons that we had for the Big Game last year, were those made in-house? I’d like to get my hands on that machine for a few minutes this weekend.”

“Yeah, I think mom has that thing somewhere.” BB said. The accusatory look was back. “What are you going to do with it?”

Think fast, Aaron. If you start lying to her now, you’ll never stop. “Um…something for Donny.”

BB’s face lit up. “Oh! Awesome!” Donny, the great disarmer. “I’ll see if I can grab it tomorrow then.”

Two days later, a small box appeared outside of Donny’s door. Almost simultaneously, a text arrived on his phone: “Debriefing on the SD mission soon? Something at your door to be a little more official than your shirt. -AB” Inside the box was a note lying on a handful of buttons bearing the Claremont Academy logo. The note read “Light ’em up, MC-style.” Donny passed his ghost-hunting UV flashlight over the box and smiled as each button came to flourescent life, now reading “SPECTRAL DIVISION” in collegiate print around the glowing Claremont logo.

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***WELCOME TO CASPERnet***

+ BEGIN TRANSMISSION+++
+++CONTROLLED TRANSMISSION+++
+++DO NOT VIEW THE SUBSEQUENT MESSAGE IN THE PRESENCE OF FACULTY OR OTHER AUTHORITIES+++
+++SEROIUSLY, THOUGH, WAIT UNTIL AFTER CLASS TO READ THIS+++
+++LIKE, IT WON’T ACTUALLY OPEN DURING CLASS HOURS+++
+++END TRANSMISSION+++

A short time later…

+++BEING TRANSMISSION+++
+++Welcome to the Claremont Academy Students’ Protected Exchange Router+++
+++Please visit the following link to download the CASPERnet Application.+
+++A7xb182B4mvRAtm4NB3ebCB4+++
+++END TRANSMISSION+++

After a short moment, the app finished downloading and pops up a very clean, simple login page with your first initial and last name pre-loaded. It is requesting a 16-character passcode. A moment later, another transmission comes through with the code.

Upon entering your code, the screen pops up another message.

“Welcome to the Claremont Academy Students’ Protected Exchange Router. This will serve as a communication network between Claremont Students, allowing secure and unmonitored communication between all of us without oversight from the faculty or any other outside influence. This network is not anonymous in any way, however. Your user name is your First initial and Last name. This cannot be changed. Please be kind.”

A prompt appears.

“Please create a new, unique passcode for your account. This account it your responsibility to be kept safe and, should it become compromised, we will have no choice but to delete the account immediately.”

After creating your passcode, a message board loads with the popup message:

“Would you like to make a post? Ask a question! Connect with friends! Catalogue your adventures! Organize a meetup!”

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