New Guard

"...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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Chains of Justice Vol. 1 - The Eldritch Incursion

“Hello again, New Journal. I am officially entitling this chapter in you Chains of Justice, because that’s just where my life is right now and I figured you’d be cool with it.

So yeah, things are going unusually well right now, which is kinda freaking me out. Shadow and I are still a thing even though her parents barely let us talk over the summer and even though she still hangs out with that stuffy d-bag Casanova. Even though a couple of my friends from last year transferred to other schools, I’m still getting to hang out with people like Schism and MC and Invisible Amy sometimes and that’s pretty cool. Also apparently there’s a bunch of new alt-kids this year, and GOD let me tell you they are trying super hard about it. One guy’s dad was totally a supervillain and he’s just so full of it over it.

But it’s cool. I can show ‘em how to mellow out eventually. I mean I’m an upperclassman now. Taking charge of the Trenchcoat Mafia’s basically my heroic responsibility. Or whatever.

Also, ever since the Escape Room thing (SO lame), Shadow keeps getting a ton of Love-Ups in Puzzle Attack Swarm: LOVE from one of her Puzzle-Buddies and I’m like 99% sure it’s Casanova and if it is I’m gonna kick his, wait, does faculty still read this stuff? Uh, what’d Deaglan say recently? Arse? That rich d-bag better not be trying to show off to her again.

But whatever. He’s a loser.

I mean, I guess I’m being a bit of a loser, too, because people keep having parties and I keep going. I’m not one of the preps though, okay? Like, I’m not dancing or anything dumb. Just, like, hanging out and talking to cool people. Even if Checkmate KEEPS coming over and making things bright and weird wherever we’re hanging out. I mean he’s okay, but honestly? Dude just needs to calm down.

OH! And I think my chain-control is getting better. Plus I swear my sick Crow jacket is kinda taking on a life of its own now, which is like, OMG. After I got to talk to Twilight Darkness this summer, I’m feeling WAY better about my powers, and best of all, NOBODY who was there at the end of the year last year has talked about what they saw. And they’d BETTER keep it that way.

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Detention
Or: how Schism started the new school year the same way she end the last one

(Recent blog post from a local Freedom City news site)

“Speculation still abounds over the Samuel “Mavericke” Jennison statue incident of Oct. 7, where a highly vocal group of protesters took matters into their own hands over the continuing presence of the controversial colonial slave trader’s memorial display. Citing the city’s ongoing frustrated attempts to supersede outdated statutes disallowing the removal of any such “heritage-based” monuments, and its demoralizing presence in a neighborhood with little reason to celebrate such a figure, approximately twenty to thirty activists managed to somehow attach multiple cables to the statue and bring it down before any municipal authorities could make it to the scene of the crime. The exact number of participants remains unknown, however, as they all disappeared “into thin air” as one bystander claimed, just as the first patrol cars arrived. Furthermore, nobody has, at the time of this dispatch, managed to explain how the half-ton statue ultimately landed upside-down in the refuse pit of an area pig farm. According to the Freedom City detectives on the case, local residents with information about “literally any of this” are encouraged to come forward to them, and soon. So far, though, nobody is talking."


(Paper turned in to on-duty teacher for detention, and subsequently Head Counselor Gabriel Marquez, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2017, by Nina Waugner)

1. I will not skip classes to assist local protesters in acts of civil disobedience and destruction of city property. I will also not use my powers in reckless and disrespectful ways for the purpose of political commentary, even though seriously? Come on!
2. I will not skip classes to assist local protesters in acts of civil disobedience and destruction of city property. I will also not use my powers in reckless and disrespectful ways for the purpose of political commentary even though you guys know it was the right thing to do.
3. I will not skip classes to assist local protesters in acts of civil disobedience and destruction of city property. I will also not use my powers in reckless and disrespectful ways for the purpose of political commentary, even though you all probably would have done it yourselves when you were my age.
4. I will not skip classes to assist local protesters in acts of civil disobedience and destruction of city property. I will also not use my powers in reckless and disrespectful ways for the purpose of political commentary even though you’re always telling us to study history so we know what we’re fighting for and when to take a stand, so why am I in trouble again?
5. I will not skip classes to assist local protesters in acts of civil disobedience and destruction of city property. I will also not use my powers in reckless and disrespectful ways for the purpose of political commentary until next time something like this comes up, because if you think I’m going to sit back and…

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Fiftieth First Days

" This new school is simply stunning. The faculty seems to be genuine and kind while the other students, though prone to the normal angst common to teenagers, are fantastically willing to work together to achieve some of the most impressive things that I have seen in my recent years.

As expected, it took no time for a villainous caper to come to us from a group of hooligans who call themselves The Krewe. It is simply disrespectful to liken oneself to a krewe and then attempt to do such terrible things as destroy theater and the hundreds of children and fair-goers inside. It gives the good and honorable people back home a bad name, and I simply cannot stand for it. Hopefully my brothers and sister going out tonight will happen upon some more information regarding these ruffians.

I also have noticed that the faculty here are quite protective, to a point of near overprotectiveness, of the students. I appreciate that they have such commitment to our well-being, but they are kids, and must be able to grow up taking a few risks here and there with their powers, or else they will never be able to truly use them to their peak potential. At this point, I presume that our communications and activities are being constantly monitored. Perhaps Jeff, Donny, Brian, and Chump would be able to develop something to allow the kids to be kids without The Faculty’s watchfulness interfering. One of the presenters at the science fair mentioned that advances in transmission technology has resulted in numerous communications satellites falling out of use. Perhaps we can work with that. Donny mentioned he was going to play his Delvers and Demons (or something of that like) game tonight. I will have to try to catch him and Jeff soon to discuss this. I even have the perfect name for it.

I am still wondering if they even know that I am going to that school. I haven’t been assigned to a dormitory and have not been told of any roommate assignment either. Perhaps I should check the PO box to make sure that it wasn’t delayed for some reason. I’d truly hate to be the one who is failing when it comes to doing my diligence in making sure that my experience at this new school is as smooth as possible. Perhaps I will venture out tomorrow and check that. It is on the way to Wong’s, after all, and I have heard nothing but stellar reviews of their egg rolls and soup dumplings. "

Sorrel closed his journal and tied the leather binding before placing it on the shelf above to the others. With a smile and nod, he turned and exited the study onto the upper staircase, making his way down to the grand dining room where his guests waited for him.

“Please pardon my tardiness everyone.” he said as he took his seat. “Everyone relax and enjoy your dinner. I am sure the first course will be arriving very shortly.”

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Sometimes, a Wong shot pays off.
Holy crap, that worked?

It wasn’t until the door of his room closed and the lock slid home that Aaron actually breathed. He was on edge, and was either going to be awake all night with a combination of nerves and adrenaline or be out as soon as his head hit the pillow. His two big teacher interactions this week couldn’t have been more different. But first, to head off something that might even be worse than being on Coach Archer’s bad list, he pulled out his phone. He’d updated over the summer from his beloved brick-reliable phone to a new smartphone (“No one texts any more, we all use USChat”), and when it worked it was great.

“Come on, just one more minute. Calm thoughts, calm thoughts.”

Calm thoughts proved unattainable, but the phone lasted long enough for him to send an in-room selfie with the message “See, not a scratch on me, and even back before midnight. See you tomorrow” before the signal started dropping at random. At least it was Saturday tomorrow, so he didn’t have to depend on the alarm clock.

So those teacher interactions, wow. Mr. Marquez helped me at least figure out the range on my Zone of Spotty Electronics, in the hopes that I can learn to control it or get rid of it entirely. That was great, he seems really interested in this…of course, it’s his job. I tried not to take his switch from his electric wheelchair to manual personally, but it still stings, you know?

There was the thing at the clubhouse. I’m not sure how much of that I should write down, but I can boil it down to this: Wraith can take a serious shot, these new kids are insane, and Wong’s egg rolls are phenomenal.

Phenomenal enough, I hope, to keep me on Coach Archer’s good side. Otherwise, his bad side is also Mrs. Dugan’s bad side, and… I don’t even want to think about it. According to Marquez, I’m already halfway there, though he might have been just trying to get a rise out of me. Either way, it worked.

New plan: keep Coach supplied with all the egg rolls, crab rangoon, and Kung Pao chicken he can stand. Wait…

I wonder if Wong’s needs a weekend delivery guy? I need to talk to Noah. But, that’ll wait for tomorrow.

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It's Not Magic
Some things go over his head

Deaglan’s quiet self-reflection (or ‘moping’, as the people of Earth call it) in the gardens had become the norm for Deaglan’s Saturdays. However, this time he was ruminating over the cellular device he had bought days before the ‘Escape Room’, and its delinquent protector, sold to him by the man using the strange honorific. It was nothing like the golem of Mrs. Dugan, and it certainly wasn’t humanoid in shape. The small protector even had instructions for disassembly, not that it mattered for one like himself; he wasn’t a wizard of any sort, and only knew what little magic his father taught him. Even figuring out the device itself was a chore and seemed more arcane than things from the City of Silver. He at least figured out how to turn the lantern on and off, but that did little to console him, nor help him fit in.

He began fidgeting with the device, toying with the search bar, pretending he knew what he was doing. There seemed to be a stigma associated with being "out of the loop’, and he certainly wasn’t willing to ask anyone from the escape room, and certainly not Alea. The former would invite embarrassment and ridicule, and the later, well… She would be certain to lord it over him. His nose wrinkled at the thought, the expression lingering briefly before an idea sprung from his head. Alea was asking Angel about something when he chanced upon them before. Probably something Earth related, given the context of the conversation as well as Alea and himself both sharing (and initially bonding over) a lack of knowledge about what Detroit was. That was it! Perhaps he could ask Angel, avoiding the ridicule all together.

Deaglan found her not far from the church, waving and offering a smile. “Good morning! Do you have a moment?” The older girl glanced over to him, offering a smile in return.

“Sure, what’s up?”

“I need help. With a golem.”

Her smile melted into a frown, her brow lofting at his request. “A golem? Deaglan. Is this another prank like the one at the party?”

“Uh, no, not quiet. I bought a protector. For my phone? It isn’t animating, or doing anything for that matter.”

Angel stood with her arms crossed, her expression deadpanning as he continued. She held out her hand expectantly. “Give it here.”

Her expression caught him off guard, though he handed her the protector readily. Within seconds she opened it up and she held her other hand out. “And your smartphone.”

Deaglan hesitated briefly before handing his cellphone over. As she settled it into the protector, regret was already starting to set in.

“It’s a protector, Deaglan, it goes around the phone. Didn’t it have a manual? This isn’t magic, it’s technology.” She held out the newly encapsulated phone.

Deaglan meekly accepted the phone as his cheeks flushed in embarrassment. “I… right. I accidentally lost it,” he lied. “Thank you. I can use it with peace of mind, now.”

As Deaglan began hurriedly turning away, a hand on his shoulder gave him pause and he turned his head once more to Angel. “Don’t worry,” she said with a reassuring smile. “It takes everyone a little bit of time to get used to things.”

Now, even more unsure what to do, Deglan stammered out something about a class assignment being due. He wasn’t even positive the words came out in the correct order! His cheeks were so red from the rush of blood, that he feared his head might pop off!

There was no ridicule, but there was so much embarrassment! Yet, when he thought back on it later, he smiled.

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Unus Pro Omnibus, Omnes Pro Uno

Splashed across the front page of the The Daily Word, a tabloid morning daily in Freedom City, are blurry photos of Wraith, Gargoyle, and Barricade battling a street gang, clearly taken from an above fire escape. Barricade’s traditionally gleaming white armor has been changed to matte black and he carries a massive blue psi-energy shield that he’s using to cover the retreat of a number of people running away from the conflict. Each of them have a stylized triangle on their chest with a different emblem in the center. All and all, they look like any of group of established (and appropriately theme-matched) super heroes operating in Freedom City. In another photo, the three of them are flying away from the scene as police cruisers arrive, the Trine logo predominately scored into the wall of a nearby building.

NEW MASKED TRIO SPOTTED IN THE FENS
POLICE SEARCH FOR UNREGISTERED VIGILANTES

Over the past week, we’ve received numerous reports of a new group of super heroes operating in the Fens. “Trine”, as they’re calling themselves, have returned to the Fens neighborhood once frequented by dangerous vigilante “Redline” and are disrupting the vice trade of several neighborhood gangs that have filled the vacuum left by Redline’s retirement. Speculation runs rampant to their origin and motives.

Our reporters are working diligently to identify these newest members of Freedom City’s stable of super heroes. Anyone with information about the self-identified “Trine” trio are asked to contact our offices immediately for a hefty finder’s fee. The FCPD are also looking for information.

The Daily Word, December 15th, 2016

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What We Do With Our Gifts
Green on the tree, Red in the ledger

(Internal monologue in parentheses, other text in journal or otherwise written)

HOLY CRAP, IT HAPPENED!
RANT AND RAVE, MET AND DEFEATED AT THEIR OWN GAME!
EVEN WHEN THEY, AND THE REST OF ELYSIAN, TRY TO CHEAT!
I think I’ve found a new emotion to fuel my abilities!
(…and the music was awesome too…)

“Greetings!
Since I won’t see many of you over Winter Break, consider this an early holiday gift. Reciprocation is not necessary; gifts imply no obligation except to hopefully enjoy them in the spirit they were given.
—AB”

(Two more of these, then delivery. Might as well go grab my tuxedo while I’m out. What was the alarm code again? It seems so long since I’ve been home.)

Even with the spectacular outcome of Friday, not everyone had the best night. Coincidentally, they headed off together afterward, hopefully to share their disappointment — and not much else. Reggie’s going to be…well, I’m not sure what he’s going to be, but I’m willing to bet it won’t be subtle. Part of me says I’ve done enough, especially during the show, but the other part says I still owe each of them something. Hopefully they’ll take these as gifts and not insults. The third one…I’m absolutely SURE she’ll love it.


Hood up to Pass Unseen, Aaron delivers a loosely wrapped parcel with the generic message above on a tag at three of his classmates’ doors. Each one also has a personalized message inside.

GMs: If any of this is un-kosher, consider it un-done.

To MC: An empty LP sleeve. On the front is a photorealistic drawing of the Rave to End All Raves. The colors practically jump off of the cover, and you could swear the figures onstage move slightly. Inside the sleeve is a folded card reading “MC…Whenever you release your first album, and I know you will, I can’t think of anything better for the album art.”

To Casanova: A lump of pale yellowish metal, about palm size sits in a soft polishing cloth. Something luminous appears to be embedded in the metal, barely visible at one of the thinner edges. “Casanova: It might not look like much, but give it some attention often and it’ll turn into something great. No shortcuts, no cut corners, just time and effort.” (This is a simple Artifact with a delayed Transform on it: Casanova’s Claremont Class Ring)

To Charlene: A notebook sized Native American dreamcatcher. The horsehair is so fine that when struck by light at just the right angle, its shadow is subtly prismatic. “Charlene, Sadly, I learned the hard way why mind magic is taught later. I think I’ll keep my out-of-body experiences to this plane of existence, but couldn’t leave you hanging. Shamans put these over their beds to give good dreams, and this one has some special mojo: it captures rainbows. Hopefully it can help you capture yours.”

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Between Light and Dark
There is Only. . . Shadow

First of all, to be completely clear to anyone from, say, a disciplinary committee reading this, if Noah gets his hand chopped off inside of a locked cabinet trying to read this journal, he was warned.

Hi, New Journal. I had to buy you because my old Journal was destroyed in the incident last week. Oops. The upperclassman I bought you from said you’d temporarily de-power anyone who touched you, so that should be pretty decent security, I think. NOAH.

Anyway, this week has been pretty okay. Which, I mean, compared to the weekend, shouldn’t have been too hard. I figured Parent-Teacher Conferences were gonna blow, but sheez. . . getting thrown around by a giant hose in front of the whole school, having mom just being my mom out there in front of everyone. I swear, if Schism hadn’t zapped me out of there, I’d probably have just died. DIED.

But, since then. . . I dunno. I figured everyone would be making fun of me, but they were mostly talking about Kismet’s performance, and of course, I mean, all the other crazy stuff that went on that day.

Including Shadow’s parents being creepy golems. That was kinda sick. Actually, no, it just sucked. Shadow really hated that. It made her feel awful, and really scared.

Which. . . which I guess I know. Because for whatever reason, I guess we’re talking now? She always used to sit with the cool kids at lunch, but a few days ago, she came by my table while Offspring was off getting another jug of milk, and said thanks for helping her out back there, and being so cool about it.

Which was. . . huh. I don’t think a girl’s actually ever called me cool before. Which is stupid, right? Recluse says I’m cool as hell, which has to be true, because he’s cool as hell. So, I mean, I guess Shadow’s gotta be pretty cool, too, to recognize that.

And I mean, she is. We were in the library the other day, working on some stuff for that stupid video project I got pulled into (I guess you don’t know about that, New Journal), and she totally knew about DIR EN GREY when they came up super organically. How awesome is that?

Plus, she’s been helping me with the Twilight Darkness. After I really hurt that guy at the party a few weeks ago, I’ve been super freaked about letting it out all the way anymore. But I had to do it at the conference day to save Sha—to stop the golems, I mean, and since then, I’ve been doing what the counselor said, and practicing with it. And she helps me stay grounded; says she knows a little bit about inner darkness. That’s pretty sick.

Actually, yesterday night, when we were hanging out in the gym after class, she told me about some of the crazy stuff she used to get up to in the Yakuza. I mean, she was obviously really ashamed about it, and hated that her shadow made her do all that stuff. That’s pretty crazy, New Journal. I hope she’s gonna be okay. She smiled a little when she said goodnight, though. That was. . . I dunno man.

Anyway, I’ve really got to get back to this stupid history video. Apparently I’d basically flunk out of I didn’t finish it. And I really wanted to see Shadow again after dinner. Me and Offspring were gonna hang out in the chapel, but I mean, he can probably loom by himself, I think. He’s gotten really good at it.

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