New Guard

Bitter Sweet Melodies
The Winter Formal

He tapped his pen along the edge of the note pad in a slow melodic beat. It was a habit he had acquired quite recently. Whenever he found himself deep in thought or pouring over notes he would start tapping. The pen in his hand following the rhythm of his index finger and thumb. It was like listening to the musings of a conductor about to bring his orchestra to life in beautiful harmony. Except the music never came. Just the slow dull sound. Tap, tap-tap. Tap, tap-tap.

Usually this habit didn’t effect his concentration but tonight there was something off about the beat. Subtle at first then louder, and louder still. He paused gazing up from his notes, pen now motionless in his hand and yet the tapping grew louder. The man was sitting in his office behind a plane mahogany desk. An organized clutter of papers, folders, and forums scattered in front of him. As he took in his surroundings, as if noticing them for the first time that evening, he realized the sound of the off beat tapping was coming from his door. He wasn’t expecting anyone tonight and that alone peeked his curiosity. “Come in.” He said with an air of confidence.

The door swung away from the threshold leaving a pale young man in it’s place. He stepped into the office unsure of him self, questioning if he should even be there. “Ah, Mr. Knowles correct?” The older man addressed his visitor warmly. “I was wondering when you’d come to see me.” Daniel stood there awkwardly only a foot from the open door. “You were?” “Well yes. It’s my job as head counselor to keep an eye out for any students that might seek my assistance.” The older man slowly began the task of putting away his notes and folders slipping them back into his desk drawer for later use. “It’s a little late, and I was just about to leave, but I’m pleased to see you. Please close the door and make your self comfortable.”

The boy looked at the open door as if contemplating his escape route. For a moment he considered just walking out and forgetting any of this happened. However the moment was fleeting. Daniel reluctantly closed the door behind him and took a seat. The older man smiled approvingly at this folding his hands in front of him. “Pleasure to finally meet you Mr. Knowles. I’m Mr. Marquez. How may I help you this evening?” The boy slouched in the chair across from the counselor’ quietly fidgeting with the hem of his sleeve. His eyes focused on the grain of the mahogany desk in an effort to avoid eye contact.

A few stray words muttered from his mouth. “I don’t know.” Marquez was not deterred by this. The warm expression on his features did not waver for even a moment. “That’s ok, you don’t have to know. At least you’re taking a first step and that’s more then most can say.” Marquez took a moment to study Daniel as he noted the time. “I can’t help but notice you’re in your casual clothes. The Winter Formal is tonight. Were you planning to attend?” The boy shook his head. His gaze still focused on the mahogany. “Hm, how are things here at school? Enjoying your classes, made any friends?”

Daniel took in a slow breath. His eyes finally shifting away from the desk. “Uh.. Kind of. I like science, but I hate math..” “Mrs. Harcourt is a great teacher. We’re lucky to have her. Are there any other classes you enjoy? I think I saw your name posted for the Theater Club.” Marquez’s questions were starting to feel more like an interrogation to Daniel. He stroked at the length of his sleeve pinching the fabric between his index and thumb. Marquez took special note of the nervous habit subtly jotting it down on a pad of sticky notes. “Kuzkin is nice…” The boy managed to force the words out in time to avoid the awkward silence.

Switching gears Marquez turned the conversation back to friends. “And what about the other students Mr. Knowles? Have you made any friends?” He thought that over for a moment because he genuinely didn’t know the answer. “Victor I guess.” “Mr. Baleful?” Daniel nodded. “Interesting how do you two know each other?” Something about this didn’t feel natural to Daniel. He didn’t like to talk about himself that often. “He’s my roommate.” The counselor’s expression turned from warm to concerned. “Any trouble with any students?” Daniels body visibly tensed at that. He found it was getting harder to form words. “Brian…” This caught the head counselor off guard. “Mr. Warner? I thought he was a very nice young man. Did something happen between you two?”

“He didn’t like the way I dress. He said I should join Elysian if I want to dress like a… A villain.” Marquez listened intently before offering some words of wisdom. “You’re both still young and you’re going through a lot at this time in your life. More then most young people are at your age. People make mistakes Mr. Knowles but they must learn from them not dwell on them. He’s not the first person to judge a book by it’s cover and he will likely not be the last. Just be patient and If that doesn’t work then ignore him and his opinions. Don’t let anyone tell you who you’re meant to be.” After hearing this the boy seemed to deflate. His body language grew more relaxed and he even stopped fidgeting. Marquez was exceedingly good at his job.

The counselor was glad to see this change in Daniel so he pressed the advantage. “I also seem to recall there was a :Love rehabilitation club formed quite recently. This club helped many students deal with their addiction to the game including Noah Garcia. Whatever mastermind came up with that club has the faculties’ gratitude.” He smiled knowingly at the student. Daniel glanced at the door feeling embarrassed by the praise. “Of course I’ve also been made aware of the efforts made to stop Otaku. It was no easy task and many student’s risked their lives. In the end the city was saved. Not by the Freedom League but by students like you. That’s something to be proud of. You should be celebrating at the winter formal.”

For the first time in a long time Daniel felt good about himself but the moment was fleeting. As soon as the counselor mentioned the winter formal his heart sunk like a rock. “Mr. Knowles why aren’t you going?” His hand moved back to his sleeve instinctively. “No one asked me.” Marquez gave a quiet sigh. “You don’t have to go with anyone, you could meet someone there.” The boy shook his head defiantly this time. “No. I’ve seen Stranger Things. I’m not going to end up like Dustin at the end of season two.” Marquez was slightly taken back by this. “I’m sorry you’ve lost me..” “Dustin got all dressed up. He was full of confidence after helping save the world. He changed his look and he went to the school dance. And he was rejected by everyone. He ended up on the bleachers alone crying his eyes out.” Again the counselor made an audible sigh. “And you think that’s what’s going to happen to you?”

Daniel kicked his feet forward causing the chair to slide back a few inches. He pushed off the arm rests with his palms and stood up. A quiet anger was growing inside of him and he knew it was time for this therapy session to end. “I know it’s not going to happen to me. Because I’m not going!” Marquez remained cool and collective with his hands folded on the desk in front of him. “I understand. You don’t have to go if you don’t want to. No one is saying you have to. But indulge my curiosity if you could Mr. Knowles. If someone did ask you to the formal would you go?” He said nothing. The anger growing inside of him was diminished, replaced by sadness. Marquez saw this and chose his next words carefully. “It’s ok you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to but it might make you feel better to talk about it.” He waited as Daniel stood awkwardly in the middle of his office slowly losing the will to storm out.

The head counselor took another deep breath and asked in as gentle a tone he could muster. “Is there someone you wanted to take?” “Yes.” the boy said quietly. “Could you tell me who?” A tiny spark of anger flickered in the corner of his eye. “It doesn’t matter. She took someone else. She barely knows that I exist.” “Well I’m sure she knows but Mr. Knowles sometimes you have to put in a little effort to be noticed.” With that Daniels fists clinched. He marched to the door and swung it open. His body paused at the threshold as if blocked by some invisible force. Looking back at the counselor he spoke bitterly. “Why aren’t YOU at the winter formal Marquez?” The counselor turned from his desk tapping at his side. For the first time Daniel saw that Mr. Marquez was sitting in a wheel chair. A plaid blanket tucked around his lap. “As you can clearly see I’m not much for dancing these days.” He replied calmly.

Daniel was immediately filled with regret. He swallowed his pride and bowed his head in shame. “I- I’m sorry I didn’t-” “It’s alright Daniel.” Marquez interrupted. It was the first time he had refereed to the student by his first name. “Like I said before we all make mistakes. That’s part of life I’m afraid. I’m sorry for upsetting you, but I’d really like to see you again. There’s more we can talk about. And maybe someday you’ll trust me enough to tell me who she is.” Daniel offered a small nod of agreement. “Good night Mr. Marquez.” “Good night Mr. Knowles.” He watched as the student closed the door behind him. Marquez turned to his desk grabbing the stack of sticky notes. He jotted down the students name and a few quick words. Self loathing, mood swings, lacks confidence, depressed. He thought for a moment rewinding the conversation in his mind. Pen tapping slowly along the edge of the sticky note. Tap, tap-tap. Finally he made one last memo, just two words. Possible trauma. The counselor put away his notes and locked up the office for the night. As he headed home he contemplated Knowles hoping he could help the young man. His finger tip settled at the arm rest of his wheel chair. As he thought on the young student his finger began a slow melodic beat. Tap tap-tap. Tap tap-tap.

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A Crack in the Facade

The lights in the hallway flickered on as Gabriel Marquez began to turn the corner from the main hallway and head down to his office. It was early, but it was also nearing the holiday season at Claremont. A lot would be happening between now and the New Year. The Winter Formal was coming up, graduating students were applying for colleges, not-graduating students were signing up for the next semester, and there was simply not enough time left in the day anymore.

As the double doors opened in front of him, his head tilted slightly and his eyes narrowed as he noticed someone standing, leaning aginst the wall next to his office door. With a brief pause, he focused his eyes on the blond boy for a moment before nodding with recognition of Mr. Suffolk. Proceeding down the hall, he smiled as the boy turned toward the noise of the doors closing behind Gabriel.

Sorrel inhaled deeply as a smile came across his face. He turned towards Mr. Marquez and bent slightly forward, offering a handshake.

Upon the initiation of the handshake, Sorrel immediately began.

“Good morning, sir. I apologize for troubling you so early this morning, but I have a matter of particular concern and I hoped to be able to speak with you before classes began today.” Sorrel said, his hand over his heart, as if to pledge his apologies.

“I appreciate your consideration, Mr. Suffolk, but it is five o’clock in the morning. Classes don’t begin until eight o’clock.” Gabriel said with a nervous smile as he released Sorrel’s hand.

“Yes, and again, I am so sorry to trouble you. I wasn’t truly expecting you here just yet, but I also did not know when I should expect your arrival. So I thought it best to show up at four o’clock in the morning, when I wouldn’t expect you to be here, and just wait patiently.” he said with another slight bow.

“Well, we are both here now. Come in and sit down and we can discuss whatever it is that brings you here.” Gabriel said as he opened the office door.

“Again, I must apologize. You see, as I did not expect anyone here I did take the liberty of brewing a pot of coffee in the Faculty Lounge. I know that students are not permitted there, but it was half-past four and I did not expect anyone to be here so soon. It would be inconsiderate to leave most of a pot unattended without leaving a note that it was made fresh this morning. It would be a waste to have it thrown out.” Sorrel said as he nervously turned across the hallway. “I will be just one solitary moment. Would you like a cup, sir?” he continued.

The young man was gone through the door before his last word finished and Gabriel shook his head as he began to get situated at his desk.

“It is my own that I brought from home, you see, so I only used the school’s water and one filter out of turn.” Sorrel said as he turned the corner back into the office, two cups of coffee in hand. “Unsure if you took sugar or cream, I brought both” he continues, removing individually packaged versions of both from his jacket pocket.

“We don’t have these in the lounge.” Gabriel began.

Sorrel immediately responded, “Yes, again, I had no intention of using any school property intended for the faculty out of turn.”

“Well, O…k… then.” Marquez said as he opened a still chilled pouch of creamer. He gave a slight shrug and shake of the head before continuing, “So, Mr. Suffolk, what is it that brings you here today. Looking forward to next semester already? From the looks of it, you are doing quite well so far this year.”

“Unfortunately, no. This is an issue of more personal significance. This is about my powers.” He trailed off at the end, growing a touch quieter as his gaze dropped to Mr. Marquez’s desk.

Mr. Marquez stared back at the young man for a moment. For the most part, the faculty was aware of students’ powers, but Mr. Suffolk was a slightly differnet case. His powers were, for a long while, unknown. Aside from the teleportation incident at the Science fair a month or so back, no one from the faculty had really witnessed Sorrel’s powers or even knew much about what his true capability was.

“Okay. Okay, so tell me a little more about what is going on. Is this a new power or is one of your others acting up?” Gabriel said, a look of concern in his eyes.

“Oh no, nothing new, and not really acting up. It’s just the same as it has always been. I just need some help.” he said nervously. “You see, I have been working with Ms. Cruz on honing one of my powers. You see, I tend to make some people uncomfortable regardless of my intention. It is simply something that is a part of me, but I want to be able to control it, to focus it, and to be able to spend a moment outside of my home without having to constantly worry about who may have just walked up behind me, or behind someone else, or on the other side of a display.”

Sorrel released his protection from Marquez for a moment and waited until the counselor bristled a bit, the hair on his arms visibly standing on end. Immediately releasing the effect from Marquez, he continued “So as you can see, it makes life a living hell and basically keeps me from being able to relax, which for a fifteen year old, is pretty terrible, as you can imagine.”

“Okay, so how are things going with Ms. Cruz?” Marques replied.

“That’s the thing. She’s hooked on the game. And that game and what it is doing scares me. It scares me to the point that I can’t bring myself to work on this with her anymore right now because I know that what we work on is going straight to Otaku.” Sorrel’s tone had grown stronger and more intense. “How am I supposed to stop him if he knows everything that I have up my sleeve, you know?” Sorrel continued. “Look, I know that you have been helping out Aaron with his poor luck around electronics and was just hoping that maybe you could help me out as well. I can go over everything that Nina and myself have been able to accomplish so far and maybe, just maybe, we can beat this son of a-. Well, you understand.”

“Okay. Okay. I’ll see what I can do. Just never do that around me again.”

“Duly noted, sir. Again, I apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you.”

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Chop Shop

“6,402 anomalies detected.”
Brian turned from the workstation, fuming. It ate at him, that something looking for redemption could be so ill-used, turned upon itself and others. The plan in the short term was simple: free the bot, fix the bot, get the bot to help. He knew it had information that would be useful in taking down Otaku. If he could just get the blasted cpu to boot up.
“4,756 anomalies detected.”
Otaku. Every time he thought about him. Every time he thought about how he had vouched for him. Standing between him and the Freedom League, no less. It made him sick. He could barely look at the bot’s face as he soldered pieces of it back together.
“2,237 anomalies detected.”
Brian sighed, and rubbed his eyes. Some of the others thought he was crazy for trying to fix it. In a way, it was fixing his own mistakes. He should have known that the villain was still a villain. When he caught up with Otaku…. Well, he was of two minds about it. He wanted to free the innocent people trapped by Otaku’s programming, bring him in, throw him behind bars.
“48 anomalies detected.”
But the voice of his father, so quietly, whispered for him to destroy his enemy so he could not rise again.
“Reconstruction complete. Boot process enabled.”
Brian shook the thought off, consigning it to the past, and turned back to the workstation.

“Okay, Doc. Now lemme show you how real science is done.”

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Sophomores
Nina Visits the Principal's Office

Of course Schism could’ve teleported there, but she needed to burn some energy and slam some doors before she got to Principal Summers. Her gray skin flushed darker with rage as she went over the humiliations Bobby had apparently undergone with these low-life sacks of sh*t Krewe, and her stomach clenched as she recalled Casanova’s descriptions of Reggie’s wounds after he was retrieved from the bomb detonation site. She just missed seeing him in the infirmary, and Bobby was nowhere to be found in any of his usual haunts.

>>"They’re destroying us. Mind, body, and soul"<<

“What was that, Nina?”

“Nothing, Nurse Joy. Just a traditional prayer in my native language for the wellbeing of all.”

“Oh! That’s very nice of you.”


Schism nicely slammed open the door to the head office, semi-aware that she could do that only because he allowed her to.

“Hello, Nina.”

“WHERE. IS. BOBBY.”

“Nina—“

“Yeah, I KNOW. HE MESSED UP AND WAS SEEN BY THE PUBLIC. Strung up on a billboard. What an embarrassment to the school, is that it? He’s not in detention, so what did you do to him? Did you send him home? Did you expel him? Because I swear by the janitor’s cat, if you did I WILL SHOW YOU EXACTLY WHAT KIND OF SCENE—”

“NINA SIMONE WAUGHNER.”

“WHAT?!”

“He’s on a secret mission with Reggie and few others. An extremely important one that’s going to be dealing with Otaku directly. I have every faith in his abilities, and Reggie’s – before you start in about him, yes, I know he was badly injured – to accomplish this mission.”

“Oh.”

“Yes.”

“I’m uh…I’m sorry for shouting at you like that, sir.”

“You’re furious and worried. I can understand that. But if you want to ultimately lead a revolution to free your home world from control that, yes, is very similar in some ways to what we’re facing here, then you’re going to have to learn how to channel that fear and anger in productive ways.”

“Oh. You, uh, know about that. Of course you do. Why then…why wasn’t I chosen to go with them, sir?”

“Do you think you’re in a stable enough state to control yourself in the face of Otaku?”

“You think Bobby is?”

“I think he’s got reserves in him he needs to see grow and develop, and I think not having you there as a crutch to save him from failure will help him take what he’s learned and shine through on his own.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You have a different path, Nina. Would you like to channel some of that rage and help protect all your friends? Including Rave…and Rant?”

Schism flushed dark again, then thought, then nodded.

“No true leader can skip their time in the trenches. I’m not going to tell you any more than that. Dismissed, Schism.”

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Chains of Justice Vol 4. - Broken

“I can’t keep doing this, New Journal. I just can’t keep letting everyone down.

It’s so obvious now. Obvious to everyone. All my friends. The teachers. The Krewe. Even my family saw what a useless freak I am all over the news. Mom keeps texting but I’m not reading them.

I’m just not strong enough to be a hero. It was such a stupid dream, anyway. Dad worked with real heroes, not pathetic losers like me. He wouldn’t have wasted ten seconds on someone like me. Not like he ever did before"

The entry breaks off; the blank page beneath that point is covered in tiny circles of rumpled area, slightly darker than the surroundings.

On the next page, another entry, identically titled, begins.

“Nothing is going right. EVERYTHING is screwed. Shadow is pissed over I don’t even know what, and it’s the scary kind. I keep thinking I see her out of the corner of my eyes in the hallways, but when I look, she’s never there. I think she’s been missing class. I don’t know what’s up with that. She won’t talk to me.

We got beat, bad, last week by the Krewe. I should have gone with Noah. I was useless against those guys. They just. . . they just stomped me. And not even just them. One of their stupid guards knocked me out for ten minutes. I don’t even think it was a lucky shot. I am just that worthless.

So once again, someone else has to come to the rescue. This time it was Warlock. He’s a good dude, even if he’s all goofy for glowsticks. I hear that Lady Hulk helped out, too. Really, everyone did, including MC and Drake Knight aka. Predator. Hell, if it wasn’t for all of them, I’d probably be dead, and thanks to me, their mission got so screwed up and the whole city found out about what we were doing.

I’m all over the news. I’m probably getting expelled any minute now. Maybe this is my last entry in you, New Journal. I bet the school won’t let me keep you, now that Dark Victory added that DNA lock to you. Can’t let that kinda tech out with just some normal useless kid.

I think maybe it’s time to stop lying to myself about what I am. And probably time to stop lying to everyone else, too. They may as well get to know the real me. It’ll be even easier for everyone to laugh at.

Yeah. I think maybe I’ll get everyone together. Everyone who I guess cared. Schism. MC. Spectra. Deaglan. Checkmate. I’ll tell them all the whole thing, and then I’ll be gone and out of their lives forever. They’ll all be better off without—

Crap, I’m getting called to the principal’s office right now. I guess I don’t even get to say goodbye to everyone. This is it. The end."

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R & R?
Helloooooo Nurse!

“Good morning, Reggie! Did you…uh…were you too bored through the night?” Nurse Joy walked into the infirmary carrying Reggie’s standard breakfast. A ten stack of flap jacks, a few links of sausage, four hard boiled eggs, and a green smoothie. She was all smiles with her long red hair done up in a high ponytail that somehow made her seem even more perky this early in the morning.

“Nah. The guys from the Culture Club brought me Blu-rays. It’s been awhile since i watched the Back to the Future Trilogy.” Reggie was laid up in the inclined infirmary bed. His chest and left limbs were wrapped in gauze and bandages. The burns on his head were already healing, but his hair was going to need some work. Maybe B.B. could help with that.

“OH! Three is my favorite by far. I love a good western.” She set the tray on Reggie’s lap brushing his cheek with her ponytail as she got back up. Reggie blushed right as Charlene walked in.

“Well it’s good to see you’re so comfortable,” she said with her arms crossed in the doorway.

Nurse Joy pat Reggie on the head and turned to leave. “I’ll just go log your meal. I’ll be back in a bit for your vitals.

“Heeeeeey Charlene. What’re you doing here?” Reggie said nervously as he began eating.

“What am I doing here? Twice, Reggie. Twice you’ve almost blown yourself up this month. What the heck?” She walked over to the bed and stopped a couple feet away, awkwardly. Her containment suit rustled as she shifted her feet.

He thought to himself “Your under the control of that dang game that’s gonna to erase humanity still. Why are you even here? Is this just Doc Otaku checking up on me again? Was this an order? Feh. You’ve avoided me all year; ever since the dance last year. Why now?”

He said, “I’m fine. Well I’ll be fine. It’s mostly bruises and a few burns. Burns don’t last long with me.” He was trying not to let Charlene know he noticed her nervousness. Truth be told he was nervous too.

“Reggie…seriously, join the game. You were doing so well, and you’d be so much safer. Everything would just be, I don’t know, better.”

“And there it is,” he thought to himself. “Of course you’re only here for that.”

Just then Charlene put her hand on his and was looking him straight in the eye. “Is she crying?” he thought.

“Please, just promise me you’ll think about it. If you do, something good will happen. I can’t explain…” Her hand suddenly went to her mouth blocking the sounds. “Uh, anyway, I can’t tell you what I, uh, mean, but…” She stopped, and a look of concentration came on her face, like she was listening to something very important. It only lasted for a second, but to Reggie’s mind, the pause stretched on and on. When she looked at him again, the emotion was gone from her face and a bland smile replaced it. “I have to go. There’s a lot to do..”

“Damn you, Otaku…” He thought to himself.

Sebastian walked in then, passing Charlene in the doorway. They nodded to each other and he closed the door behind him.

“Oh great,” Reggie thought.

“Whats up, Reg?” Sebastian turned around with that smug smile he always has. “Trouble with the Missus?”

“Hurr durr, Shields. She’s just ‘following orders’ or whatever.”

“Yeah about that. We’re out of time. The more Otaku takes over, the more drone-like they become. I think that he’s about to make his move in a day or two. We need to fix this. Now. ”

“Otaku’s probably stepping up his plans. We kinda punked him pretty hard last week.”

“Whatever. They’re still jacked in. The human mind can’t handle that loss of thought forever. Brian got me hooked on ethics and psychology stuff, like the jail experiment. There can be real damage if they aren’t freed soon. Next time finish the job, dude.”

Reggie rolled his eyes. “We’re trying,” he thought to himself but said nothing.

“You uhhh…you doin ok? I heard you straight up took a bomb to the face after running on water or something.”

“Empathy? Huh…” Reggie thought to himself.

“I’ll be ok. Being a human star has its perks I guess,” he said out loud.

“Show off.”

“Green isn’t your color, man.”

“Whatever. Rest up, dude. Finish what you guys started.”

“Yeah about that…can you, uh. Can you make me sleep?”

Sebastian cocked an eyebrow.

“Don’t make it weird man. I don’t…can’t sleep anymore. It has its downsides too I guess.

Sebastian got a smug look on his face and cocked a half smile. “Take a nap, Reggie.” Warmth radiated outward as he said it, like it was the most natural thing in the world to just close your eyes and go right to…

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Inferno Bear : Only Love
MC reveals the tracklist from her upcoming album!

Inferno Bear
(notes)

1 Heroes

Heroes don’t have to wear capes
What counts is when they make mistakes
They rise, shake off the bruises and scrapes
Try again, and do it better.

You make me want to be a hero too.

Lyrics are so much better ( <3 Zoe )

2) Snap Out of It

This beat is dope AF! I can’t wait for Rave to hear this.

3.) The Harrowing

We can’t escape
These harrowing experiences
They shape us, make us
For better or worse

But the chains that seek to bind us
Can link us. Forged together
So we can be strong

Still need to get Twilight’s opinion. Not sure if it’s going too far with the emo/goth vibe.

4.):Only Love

The silly games we play
all hurt us now and then
no one is keeping score
especially not your friends

they say they beat your level
but it’s only pretend
Just put your screen aside
and see the world your in

Only love
Will set us free
Only love

Different Vocalist? Tel?

“Telemacus is currently under the thrall of :Love and Doc Otaku.” said Leon, looking over her shoulder at the paper.

“Yeah, I know. It sucks. I really wanted to finish this song in time. I thought it might help, ya know, make people realize what was going on, and unistall the app.”

The room was uncomfortably quiet for a moment before DJ Kodiak chimed in. “These songs are really good. Did you think at the start of this year that you would be halfway through an album?”

“Oh yeah sure, she’s working on an album. Have both of you forgotten why we’re here?” snapped Sophia.

“To learn to become heros? I mean, we’ve kind of been doing that with the whole Doc Otaku trying to take over the world thing. It’s not been going super great, but I think we’re doing a okay job. I know that my grades aren’t the greatest, but I’m not failing so…I don’t see why you’re so cranky”

“It’s not just about being a hero. Your parents placed you at Claremont, so you can learn how to control your powers.” interjected Leon

“Yeah, so?”

“So, then what is he doing here?” Sophia pointed.

All eyes fell on the Orca whale, in a bright red tracksuit, lounging on the couch.

“Hype Whale?” he asked, sounding confused.

“What do you mean? He’s hype whale!”

“Why is he here MC?” asked Leon, sounding distressed. “We all serve a purpose. What is his purpose?”

“To…hype…things?”

“Hype Whale!” The whale got up, gave MC a high-five with his flipper, and then disappeared.

“Yup. You’ve you’re definitely progressing in getting control of your powers.” said Sophia sarcastically.

“Whatever. I like him. Zoe likes him. She thinks he’s funny.”

“Well, if Zoe likes him then I guess he’s okay.” DJ Kodiak said, with an air of finality.

“Fine, whatever, he can stay.” Sophia said, tossing her hair. “Even though he’s practically a Pokemon”.

“Look guys, I get what you’re saying. I’ll work on him once all of this Doc Otaku craziness is over. I promise.”

They all looked at her and nodded in agreement. Just then her phone vibrated, with a text from Aaron.

‘Hey, Reena has some intel on how we can stop Doc Otaku. You in?”

Everyone grinned, as she tapped out a reply. “Let’s do this”

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Krewe-el Intentions

“Yes. I know, I mean, I don’t know. They’re flying off, um…”, Aaron whipped his head around, looking skyward for towers, constellations, anything, “…north, I think.” He paused. Silence was an eternity, every time. The voice on the phone piped up. “Right. Everyone else back safe. Quiet. Got it. I’ll go to your office.” There was another interminable silence, then protest. “Look, I’d rather get this over with now than have it hang on my conscience all night. It’s not like either of us are going to sleep until Twilight’s safe. I’d rather know as soon as you do. And I’ll take whatever’s coming to me in the meantime.” Aaron nodded to no one, since it’s not like Mrs. Dugan could see him agree, then hung up. He turned to the rest of the group on the roof. “Get back to campus. Quietly. I’ll keep you posted on Twilight.”

Time could have been crawling, racing, or standing still, Aaron didn’t know. The city passed under him without a second thought. Travel hypnosis must have set in, because the next thing he knew, he was walking through the Admin Building, and still in costume. A shrug and a short incantation brought his street clothes back as he slumped into a chair outside the Vice Principal’s office. When Mrs. Dugan herself arrived, he rose and followed her into the office without a word or eye contact.

Mrs. Dugan, on the phone, was listening intently on what she was being told. “Yes, That’s good news.” She said with a sigh. “A high school prank? Yeah, with everything else going on, that should be a plausible story. Yes… And thanks again detective.”

She hung up the phone, sat down, and looked intently at Aaron for sometime before finally speaking. “Mr. Blake, I at least have some good news, and a little bad news. Twili…Mr. Cooper is safe. It appears that whomever took him wanted to show him off to the world with a warning message. ‘This is what your future heroes looks like!’ He was tied to a billboard, and the news was called to the scene. If I turn on the TV I’m sure we can catch the tail end of the coverage…”

Her glare never left Aaron’s eyes. “The detective on the scene is a friend, and has managed to help spin this as a high school prank taken too far. The police are bringing Mr. Cooper here, as his injuries are minor, and the local hospitals are overrun with what’s going on in the city.”

“Words cannot describe just how angry I am at this time. So I am choosing my words very carefully…” She closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and returns her gaze to Aaron. “You are a very smart young man, who has earned the trust and admiration of my daughter. As such, I am willing to hear you out. What I want to know is what you hoped to accomplish, why would you take on the most powerful gang in Freedom City, and who set you on this course?”

Aaron breathed a heavy sigh, knowing that no amount of beating around the bush would satisfy Mrs. Dugan. Still, he had to try. “It started earlier today. I hope that you’ll humor me not betraying the trust of my friends just yet. Chances are, you know who I’m talking about without me naming names.” He shifted from reclining back in the pretty comfortable chair to sitting upright, arms leaning gingerly on the desk. She was showing him respect in asking questions, so he owed her the same in responding. “We got a tip from a student in the infirmary. Some of the students were forming a plan to stop ‘Doc Otaku’ (eyeroll) and it would take a multi-headed approach to do it. The Krewe were his muscle, overpowering their rivals and taking control of the streets thanks to Otaku providing them with advanced weapons developed from stolen technology.”

He shrugged and pulled his eyes away from her, darting around the room and ceiling while recounting the evening, avoiding eye contact for too long. “The plan was simple, really: find the Krewe’s headquarters, where they would be keeping the weapon stockpile, and de-claw them. Once they didn’t have that advantage, the other gangs would keep them busy fighting over territory. It was pretty easy to find; when you’re the only name on the street that matters, everyone knows where NOT to go. The building was isolated, abandoned, and the sentries were barely paying attention. Krewe members on the first floor were just hanging out, entertaining themselves. They went down easily enough, though it was obvious from the start that they had some really out-there guns. We were expecting more easy pickings on the third floor, but that wasn’t what we found.” Aaron’s eyes glazed over a bit, face flushed, and his gaze met Mrs. Dugan’s glare. “What was up there, I’d never seen anything like it. Waves of Krewe soldiers, a turbo-junkie, a carnival-sideshow stack of human with a giant hammer, Mister Gadget, and a smooth talker who knew we were coming, and, oh yeah, came back later in a power armor suit. The next minute or so was a blur, but I do recall that we could barely scratch them. They were toying with us. Once Twilight went down, we did as much damage as we could to the weapon crates and then got out of there. I didn’t even see how it happened, but the next thing I know Twilight was flying away from us, which is when I called Bluebird Cassie to call you. Priorities change once you see your friend knocked out and being taken from you.”

A long pause hung in the air. “So that’s pretty much it, and now I’m here.” Aaron looked up from his lap. “Now what?”

Mrs. Dugan sat there for a few moments, processing what Aaron told her, and what she was able to piece together from the police. “Mr. Blake, you have a passion that can’t be denied, but your actions could have resulted in a fellow student being kidnapped…one or more of you could have been seriously hurt or worse. You intentions, although admirable, were hastey at best. This isn’t the Aaron Blake that saved Amelia and all those civilians at the Bayview Mall…”

That last statement helped to noticeably calm her down. “I can’t turn the other way this time. These actions should result in serious disciplinary action, as it stands, you will have plenty of time to reflect on your actions for the next two months in detention.”

Mrs. Dugan’s phone chimes, she picks it up and looks at the message. “There seems to be more good news Mr. Blake. The police have raided the Krewe’s hideout and confiscated what can only be explained as an arsenal. They also arrested several Krewe members and some guy named Torch.”

“Everyone is safe…this time. Go…get some rest”

Aaron nodded, and much to her surprise, smiled as he stood up to leave. “Thank you, Mrs. Dugan. I said I’d take what was coming to me, and I will.” He turned and opened her office door, but paused, looking back. “Someone has to step up when no one else will, right?”

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The Harrowing

Drums set a beat, occasionally switching to a different meter, but only for a moment, before resuming their previous cadence. They crescendo, and at the apex the melody starts. It’s bright, but still in a minor key. The drums underneath are beating a triple rhythm, creating a juxtaposition with the flowing melody.

We can’t escape
These harrowing experiences
They shape us, make us
For better or worse

But the chains that seek to bind us
Can link us. Forged together
So we can be strong

MC looks at Twilight through the gloom of the chapel. She bites her lip nervously. “So what do you think? I know you’ve had a rough few weeks, and I thought I’d write something…”

She yelps as someone brushes against her. It’s Shadow, standing way too close, a dark expression on her face. “So, um, yeah. I hope you like it. I’m going now…to see Zoe…my girlfriend. I have a girlfriend, and I’m not interested in…just in case you were wondering.” Shadow continued to stare at her and MC started backing away, her hands up in a gesture of peace. “Yeah, okay so, I was never here.” She vanishes, leaving Twilight holding her phone.

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Doc Otaku's Genesis Timeline

Genesis Project

2015 July 13
Rei has acquired the remnants of a prototype android. It’s a blending of flesh and robotics that even manages to put some of the work of me, the great DOC OTAKU, to shame. She was cagey on how she got it, which tells me that someone is trying to use me as a cat’s paw. It doesn’t matter. I will take their gifts, and improve upon it. Like a neanderthal offering a gift of fire to homo sapien, they have sealed their doom.

2015 December 3
I managed to capture Cerebrus Rex after his battle with the Freedom League. He was too weak to properly put up a fight, and was easy prey for my minions. Some of his technology is fascinating, especially worlds within worlds.

2016 March 15
Going deeper into the technology, an idea has come to mind. I’ve used my pawns to acquire the creative company of Puzzle Attack Swarm. Adults say that games rot the mind. The fools don’t know how right I’ll make them!

2016 June 6
I’ve built an Otakubot. The parts requires are prohibitively expensive. I’ll only be able to build one more without seriously affecting my cash flow. However, this thing is human to any but the deepest scan, and believes its programming as though they were its own thoughts. Ready player one.

2016 November 30
My assault on Claremont failed to acquire the virtual reality technology I need. The students are more dangerous than I expected. CURSE YOU, NEXT GEN. However, due to how the events unfolded, I have managed to get a mole on the inside. Now, I need to think on my next few steps. This is a game of chess, and one side doesn’t even know they’re playing it.

2017 January 5
Jewel and the Holograms managed to drive off my assault. I managed to get a partial download though. I’m tired of salvaging pyrrhic victories from the jaws of defeat.

2017 July 17
Puzzle Attack Swarm :Love has launched in Freedom City as a beta test. Those fools don’t know what they’re really beta testing for me. BWA HA HA HA HAAAAA

2017 October 16
The Krewe failed to acquire Jennifer Hal’s technology. She’s not even a super. Blundering FOOLS! That being said, :Love is going well, and I’ve managed to get some field testing of the iLove. They’re providing me quite a few pieces that I’ve been missing. Soon, I’ll be able to create an army!

2017 November 3
Managed to acquire the VR technology I needed from Claremont, and, test some of their power levels so I don’t lose to them again. Elysian has gotten wise to :Love’s threat and has banned it. It doesn’t matter though, the addictive qualities are already too deeply buried. Even better, I rescued a time travelling AI and have “befriended it.” Apparently, it’s looking for its partner, so that they can merge and become what they were meant to be. I’ve installed some mods to prevent that.

2017 November 12
I managed to get a few more fragments of Jewel’s technology. It isn’t quite what I needed, however, I’ll have to make due. With everything else, Otakuland is a go. Further, I acquired some of Jennifer Hal’s technology. This should allow me to lower the cost on building more Otakubots. My will will infiltrate all.

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