New Guard

Thanks for the Memories
"This is why I don't mess with mind magic."

“A rampaging dragon. Demons, and demon hunters. Chaos, fire, wind, and rain. Another giant plant…thing. Just another day at Claremont.” These were the thoughts crossing Aaron’s mind as Master Maarten took his usual abrupt leave. Instead of a reprimand for using spells beyond what he was allowed, he was commended for bending the rules. He’d have to thank Nina next time he saw her for the inspiration. Riding an emotional high, he sat down to work on his term paper. But where were all of the books he’d checked out? “Oh, right. I panic-returned everything when I found out it was Maarten coming instead of my parents. At least what I’ve got so far is… Oh. No. No no no no no.” With no thick books to hold the loose leaf paper down, pages were everywhere, including under a spreading pool of ink. The day’s activities had been, after all, pretty volatile. A great peal of thunder, a dragon careening into the wall, anything could have jarred the desk enough to knock over the inkwell. Casting a long glance to an unlit double-ended candle held in a brass ring stand, Aaron mumbled to no one in particular “Time to start over.”

[time passes]

“What do you mean, they’re not available?”

“Please, lower your voice. This is a library, after all.” The librarian at the desk stared grimly at Aaron over tortoiseshell glasses precariously perched on the end of her nose. “You returned those volumes this morning. They have been checked out again, as every other student in your class is also working on that assignment. At least the ones who haven’t waited until the last moment to complete it, that is.”

“My work was lost. I HAD been working on it, but…” It was worthless. The subtle side-to-side shake of the librarian’s head confirmed that whining was useless. After a heavy sigh and a heartless “Thank you”, Aaron took his pen and notebook (spiral bound this time) and sat down at one of the common tables. Opening the notebook to the first page, containing only the words “The History of Freedom City”, he didn’t even bother to uncap his pen. He’d already plumbed his Mind Palace for his previous work and came up empty; it’s funny how your mind can race with ideas on one topic, storing every minute detail about a farm girl’s meeting with an alien meteor, or a parking lot rave, or phantasmal skulls in bushes, or bad voodoo in your aura, or forging your first Spectral Staff, or any number of INTERESTING things while simultaneously copying notes from a history book. Notes that were on paper, so he didn’t bother to remember them.

An hour passed. Every few minutes, a new idea was scribbled on to the inside cover, then dismissed. Halfway through, other students began to move away from Aaron. He was probably talking to himself. Probably not in English either.

[on the inside cover]
Track down the books and take them – No.
Track down the books and offer to share – No, I didn’t do it, why would anyone else?
Get something from the city library – I bet someone already has.
Rewinding time NO!
Go deeper into the Mind Pala——-

Finally, inspiration. Aaron jumped to his feet, knocking over his chair (right in the funny bone, ow), drawing every eye (and a loud “shush!” from the librarian) as he shouted.


Pridefully, he gathered his notebook and made to leave. He’d thought so far outside the box, he’d crossed into someone else’s box. He mumbled, “And since it would be a willing exchange, none of the precautions really mattered, right? That elbow shot did hurt though, so take just a second, calm yourself, the pain is more in your head than your nerves, will it away.”

The door swung open somewhat slowly. Reggie looked confused and half asleep. “Dude, what time-”

Aaron cut him off.

“I need to get inside your head.”

Dynamic Duo or Fantastic Four?
Jeff and Jason talk about adding new people to their relationship

“What about Noah?”

Jason shifted from the half-reclined position on the grass to a sitting position. “Noah? Really? But he’s so… happy.”

Jeff rolled his eyes. “Not everyone can be dark and brooding. Besides, I saw you watching him during PE.”

Jason gave a half-smile. “How can you not? He’s like a one-man circus, all three rings, plus the clowns.”

“… and fun to be around. You laugh at his awful jokes.” Jeff noted.

“Okay, fair. He’s funny in a sad sort of way.” Jason grinned to his fullest as Jeff punched him playfully in the shoulder.

“Whatever, he’s cute and you’re cuter when you laugh, so win-win.” Jeff said, counting off the positive points on his fingers.

“So I’m cuter than Noah?” Jason responded, wagging his eyebrows and leaning in far too close to Jeff.

“Not when you’re giving creeper-face.” Jeff said, scooting back and snapping a psionic wall between them.

He couldn’t help but laugh at Jason’s smooshed features against the clear barrier. In a fit of laughter, he lost control of the effect. It gave way suddenly and Jason tumbled onto him. For several moments, they remained on the grass in quiet closeness. Jason eventually dis-entangled and returned to his half-recline. “What about Luke?” Jason offered.

Jeff sat up. “Um, wouldn’t that be like dating another you?”

“Isn’t two of me your secret fantasy?” Jason countered, giving an evil grin.

A red blush quickly rose up Jeff neck and face as he sputtered a defense. Jason laughed. “Okay, Luke for sure then.” he said.

Jeff quickly tried changing subjects. “You think Noah and Luke like each other?”

Jason shrugged. “Not sure. I don’t think they have a lot of classes together. And you’re making a big assumption that they’d both say yes.”

“Okay, true. So how do we go about this?” Jeff responded, pulling at the grass to hide his nervousness.

Jason waved away the concern, tapping at his smart-watch “Already taken care of. I added it to tomorrow announcements. Luke Dixon and Noah Garcia, Jason Drake and Jeff Mauer would like to ask the two of you out on a date.”

Jeff’s eyes widened as he dove for Jason’s wrist. Laughing, Jason used Jeff’s momentum to roll the pair and switch their places. As Jason sat on Jeff’s chest, he showed Jeff the digital display where tomorrow’s weather scrolled by harmlessly. “God, you’re such an asshole.” Jeff mumbled.

“Yes, but I’m your asshole” Jason said, leaning down for a kiss. The laugh escaped Jeff’s mouth before he could catch it. “Phrasing? Is that still a thing?”

Star-crossed Smallville
Hero stuff, right?

“No, Reggie. I am totes not going to go behind my dad’s back to get you ridiculously top secret AEGIS info on aliens.” Nina had her arms crossed and was giving Reggie a look that channeled his own mom.

“Wow…freaky. Stop that. With the look. You’re momming out on me over there.” Reggie put up his hand to block Nina’s eyes from his view.

“Jesus, Reggie. I’m serious. You know that isn’t my thing. I’ve got a good thing going here and I’m not risking it for…what the heck would you need this f…oh.” She gave him a knowing look which quickly became a judging look.

SERIOUSLY!? You want me to risk not only my reputation but also my permanent record and, quite possibly, my relationship with my dad FOR YOUR CRUSH!?” Nina’s arms were now unfolded and her hands were clenched fists. Her eyes were glowing silver.

Reggie quickly put his hands in front of himself protectively.

“Woah woah woah. No it’s not like that!”

Her glare intensified.

“Ok ok…maybe it is a bit like that. OK FINE it’s a lot like that.” Reggie let his arms drop.

Nina rolled her eyes and turned to walk away. Reggie shot out his hand quicker than she could see and grabbed her wrist.

“Wait. No. It’s not just that!”

Nina paused and looked at her wrist and then over her shoulder at him. He immediately let go.

“Listen. We have it easy, right? I mean sure you worked super hard to get a handle on and control your powers. Quite well I might add. Jeeze, it must’ ve taken you what? A few years to get those wings formed. And those blasts! Man those…”

Nina let out an exasperated “ugh” and turned to walk away again.

ANYWAY! Me, I was born this way too and I’ve had fourteen years to get a handle on all of this.” In the blink of an eye he was in front of Nina trying to stop her from walking away.

“But with her…it happened to her. Flipped her world upside down. And it’s not all cool blasts and wings or super speed. Her powers seem to only hurt people. She doesn’t want them to but they do. And that sucks. Can you even imagine how you would have turned out if your cool silver energy gave the people around you cancer? Crappy, right? All me and [Jeff are trying to do here is give her the chance to prove she is normal. Like us. That she can control this stuff. Shape it. Like we do. We just need info is all.”

Ninas eyes stopped glowing and her posture relaxed a bit.

“Yeah ok that sucks. I hear you. I get it. But I’m not going to break the law to help you, Reggie. The CW is super fun and you’re cool and all but no.”

Reggie smiled. “Then don’t break the law. Just ask for it. Tell them what you want and why you want it. You’re basically being groomed to follow in dad’s footsteps and you’ve proven time and time again that you’re super responsible and make good decisions. All that stuff the olds eat up. Nom nom nom. And that’s cool! Hell I’d kill for your discipline. Well not actually kill, but…anyway. Your dad sees his little girl trying to do some good in the world to help out a girl who just wants to feel normal. How can he say no? That’s hero stuff, Nina. Besides, a Charlene that could maybe control her powers and use them for good is someone I’d think AEGIS would rather have around.”

Nina walked forward putting her index finger on Reggie’s chest and pushing hard.

“Ok. Fine. I’ll ask. But you owe me.”

She poked him and said “Big.”

Reggie put up his hands in surrender and blinked backwards a few steps.

“Loud and clear, Nike. And thanks.”

“Don’t thank me yet, Apollo.” She cracked a smirk.

Reggie smiled and sped off to the science lab to share the news with Jeff.

Something is afoul in Elysian...
...and we put it there.

Most people think magic is all about belief and will; say a few words and wave your hands and it happens. It’s more about equations: measuring the amount of energy that you guide through proven methods to channel it to your desire. The hand-waving and words help with focus. So, I guess it’s more like physics, though the magic I was about to try WAS all about belief and will.

sharp intake of breath “It just works. It just works. It just works.”

Aaron lifts the lid on his MacBook. For the time being, his plea has been heard.

“Hey Dad,

Claremont is pretty awesome. I’m making friends, keeping up with studies, and doing the kind of things you talked about in COLLEGE, while I’m still in high school! Last night, we went over to a rival school and pulled some pranks. You always talk about liability, so I’ll just say that if business takes you near the Elysian Academy, hold your nose. ;)

I see that you and Mom are coming to visit in a couple of weeks. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to show you around, especially my SOLO ROOM. That’s right, I had a roommate for all of a day before winning my own room. It’s pretty nice…not much bigger than the regular dorm rooms, but there’s only one of me in here, so it feels a lot bigger. I’d send a pic, but now I think I’ve talked it up enough that seeing it in person is the only way to go.

the screen goes momentarily dark before relighting

Anyway, gotta run. See you in 2 weeks!


Send. Close lid. It just worked.Now, to glance over the OTHER correspondence I’m sending today…

“Master Maarten,

I hope this letter finds you well. I continue my studies at the Claremont Academy, which gives me ample reason and free rein to practice my craft. It is this practice that prompts this letter. While my training so far has been grounded, my assignments so far have presented challenges of a more vertical nature. I am well aware of the strictures imposed by the Scholars’ training regimen, and I am also aware that they can be waived in certain situations. I am hereby entering a petition for such a waiver to allow me to practice ahead of my path in the Schools of Passage, specifically apprentice-level flight and levitation. I trust that you will see my petition through to the Council.


Satisfied with the request, I weave the obfuscation spell over the sealed envelope. Anyone intercepting this letter other than Master Maarten will find a lovely advertisement for vinyl siding.

standing, Aaron straigtens his new Windrider Cloak, picks up the letter, and strides for the door

Culture Club!
"I understood that reference!"


So there’s a decent number of my fellow freshmen that haven’t seen…like anything. Kinda blows my mind how much we use pop culture references in normal conversation. And they get none of them. This…this needed to be fixed. Yesterday.

It’s been like 6 weeks now and we’ve had a meeting of the Claremont Cutlure Watchers (or The CW as Nina C. has been calling it) about every other day. I started things off with the classics. Stuff our parents watched when they were kids. The Goonies, The Breakfast Club, Labyrinth and Dark Crystal (HOLY CRAP did Violet and Alea lose their respective minds over those two). The Never Ending Story was thrown in becauseMr. Summers said it was the best thing ever to come out of the 80’s. I don’t think Nina W. was prepared for what happened in the Swamp of Saddness…

The rest of the faculty seems to have caught wind of what we are doing too. Ms. Harcourt insisted we watch Dexter’s Lab, so we did the whole retro Cartoon Network thing for a few nights. Mrs. Learner asked if we had done Harry Potter yet and Ms. Tuttle said we should do Starwars first and then went into this huuuuge monologue about what order to watch them in. I think we settled on Machete Order. She also promised to reserve a room for us and look into making this an officially sanctioned school club. Yay extra curricular activity? Even the upper classmen have started giving their two cents. I think we’ve got enough TV and movies to watch for the next 4 years for sure….

Most of the other CWers have just started watching stuff on netflix and youtube and whatever else they can get their hands on. I’ve started torrenting as much of the list as i can and just dumping it on dropbox for folk. The connection in this school is on point. Love me some fiber, man…dat speed, doh! Man even watching things at 30x speed, it’d take forever to get through all this.

I wonder if I can talk to Ms. Harcourt about just downloading all this stuff into people’s heads. Matrix style! Dad loved the Matrix. I saw him watching it one time and said “Oh hey cool he can do that thing i do!” and we spent the rest of the day with him shooting paintballs at me and watching me bullet time dodge with the High Speed camera. Man I miss him.

Any way, thanks for sending me here mom. Things are going awesome. You’re the best. I promise I’m actually studying too. Its not all screen time and free time.

Love You,

P.S. WHO THE HECK WRITES LETTERS ANYMORE, MOM!? Ugh. This is going to take forever to get to you isn’t it? Uuuuuuuugh…snail mail…

First Day of School, Six Whole Weeks In
"Who's the new kid?"

[This appears as though typed from an old-school typewriter. Then again, how do you thread a bound journal through a typewriter?]

I am. I am the new kid. After six weeks of doing my lessons abroad, what with Dad closing a deal in London for three of them (“You HAVE to see London, you love old stuff!”) and then the Alaskan cruise (“Fall’s the best time do see the Northern Lights, school be damned!”), I have finally arrived at the Claremont Academy. And oh, what a day it has been. Let’s see, what can I remember…

8:45am – Greeted at the gate by the Vice Principal. Great, I’m already in trouble…nope, she sympathizes as she’s got a daughter here. Wait, was that sympathy or a thinly veiled jab at my parents? Either way, I’m escorted to my dorm room and excused from classes for the day. I do remember signing up for some sort of outdoor “fun” event though. Hopefully that registration is still valid, as it’s a nice day for fall.

8:50am – Greeted at my dorm room door by my new roommate, Noah. Wait, why is he in his room? When do classes start around here? Is everyone excused today? Noah is certainly interesting. Feeling like I can cut loose a bit, I unpack my wardrobe from Elsewhere, letting my hold on the un-space lapse as I throw clothes and other sundries into a closet that I assume is mine. Noah’s had a few weeks with a room to himself, so he’s stretched out his boundaries. There’s no need to make a splash, so I go along with it.

1:30pm – Lining up with nine of my compatriots, we’re paired up and sent off in search of a flying key. Also, there are killer robots. Thankfully, we’ve got gimmicked jumpsuits to protect us. They are also gimmicked to change our appearance. My partner, Junior, a true hulk of a boy, makes himself up as Frankenstein’s monster. I go with Doctor Frankenstein to make a theme. A try-hard kid further down the line sees our theme and changes his costume to something in-theme with his partner too. There’s “fitting in” and there’s “biting style”.

2:00pm – I now trust approximately four of my classmates. When the coach’s whistle blew, five of them flat out attacked each other. Junior and I went for the key; having fifteen minutes to prepare goes a long way when you work with the Arts. What I’m told is the science building exploded, other students started interfering in our game, and someone was stomping around in a mechanical bear. “Casanova” is going to feel that hit tomorrow, jumpsuit or not. I threw a swimming pool onto a burning building. Six hours in and this is way better than middle school.

4:00pm – Returning to my former room, Noah isn’t there. Probably for the best. I turn my gym bag into an Elsewhere stash again with some quick words and re-pack, ready to move into my new room, won during the …race, I guess? Not wanting to run into Noah (how do you say you’re moving out of a room you spent a few minutes in without it looking bad?), I throw my mind toward my new doorstep, and in an instant, I’m there. I hope the ritual marks from my workings fade before Noah gets back. I’d hate for him to think I just moved in, drew some arcane symbols, and left.

8:00pm – Settled in, my gym bag is now a threadbare wreck. I’ll need another one. Note to self: ritually prepare mundane objects before forcing magic through them. However, I do have a room to myself. There’s enough space in here for a bed and desk along with a small working area. I figure I’ll spend the rest of my waking hours setting up that workspace. Maybe I’ll start work on one of those enchantment scrolls I picked up in London…

[The remainder of the page is filled with geometric doodles and runic words.]

The Initials "LC"
Ghost Writer

The Initials “L.C.”
Nina always had a purposeful walk. Whether it was for appearance’s sake or a near boundless number of important things that need her attention was anyone’s guess. At the moment her purpose led her to the school’s chapel. She greeted Charlene, offering her a hello and a supportive smile masking the concern she had for the younger girl before sitting down in the dark corner of the Chapel.

“Mr. Cooper,” she said before remembering, “sorry, Twilight, you wanted to see me.”

Twilight stood for a long moment, staring out the window, then turned and reached into one of his pockets and retrieved the wreckage of what appeared to have once been a fancy watch. It wasn’t until he offered the damaged timepiece that she recognized its similarities to her father’s old A.E.G.I.S, watch. She examined the watch and realized why Twilight had asked her to meet in such a private location. “Rob…sorry, Twilight, I’m not sure where you got this watch, but this isn’t my father’s." Nina considering what to say next. “Your father, his name was Lawrence Cooper.” Twilight’s face was more of an impassive mask than usual.

Nina scrutinized the watch as the silence dragged on before she finally broke it with a sigh. “I should ask where you got this from, but I won’t. I think that this watch belongs to you.”

She gave the watch back to the freshman and sat silently with the younger man, a comforting arm around the smaller students shoulders, which were shaking—ever so slightly.

Build Me Up Buttercup
From the diary of Laura Silver

the following is handwritten in a red leather bound notebook in flawless cursive

Dear Diary,

Mr. Hawke suggested I keep a diary. He feels it will help me to have a place where I can be completely honest about my feelings. Also it’s a good way to record all of the new things I am learning about this time period. I’ve never kept a diary before but it would be nice to have somewhere to be able to express what’s going on in my head.

Let me start with the most shocking thing I learned this week…Dick Clark is dead! I know it makes sense because it’s been almost 40 years since I last saw him on American Bandstand, but that show was such a big part of my life I can’t believe he’s gone. What’s surprised me most about adjusting to 2016 is how the most random thing can affect me so deeply. Mr. Hawke says it’s all part of the trauma I’ve experienced. My mom and I used to watch American Bandstand every day after school. We’d sing along with the guest stars and dance in our living room. I think maybe that’s why hearing about Dick Clark has made me so sad.

On the bright side, at least I can mourn his loss in a bedroom that has all four of its walls. The administration decided to have me move in with Madison. I will miss MC and her special friends but its been really hard to study with the draft. My papers kept scattering everywhere and I’ve had a scratch throat from sleeping in the open air every night. This is not good for my voice! I hope MC understands that it was for my health and sanity and not an issue with her. Madison has been so kind to me! She’s really helping me make friends and one kid, Twilight, even told me I was one of the cool kids! I really like this school!

I met a cute boy! His name is Telemachus. He’s the Prince of the Sea. He’s very exotic looking and he loves singing and the arts as much as I do. He wrote a song for our end of the year history project and I immediately memorized it. Madison said that I shouldn’t put that much effort into impressing him. She says boys like you better when you play hard to get. I just couldn’t help myself I got so excited. It’s the first time I’ve felt anything for boy since…Edison. Ugh! Now the guilt is back. I really hope he made it out of the dance okay that night. I hope he’s happily married somewhere with adorable children and a nice house. I can’t bear to think of the alternative. I wish I could have brought him with me.

Well, I have to go. Madison is taking me shopping for more clothes. I’m so lucky to have such a good friend like her!

Play Cancelation

This year’s play has been postpone indefinitely due to the incidents that occurred last week during audition tryouts. As a reminder to students, our campus offers support and anger management counseling services to students. Students are urged to please report any incidents of bullying, we assure you that your identity will remain anonymous.

At Least Now I Can Calculate the Infinity of My Sorrows
From the VERY PRIVATE Journal of Twilight

OCTOBER 15, 2016
Noah, I SWEAR if you are reading this, I will Harrow you so hard you’ll forget what happiness ever even felt like.


Yesterday was pretty weird. I mean, it’s always weird around here, but I mean, like, particularly weird.

I was hanging out in the Chapel, trying to keep the Darkness at bay thanks to all the hallowed ground in there. I was watching those insipid sheep frolic in the lawn, when someone else burst in and totally ruined the mood. It was Toxin—uh, Charlene, I think?—moping about being lonely. As IF she even knows the first thing about loneliness. Well, I mean, with the skin thing, I GUESS she might have an inkling. Anyway, we talked. It was pretty cool. I mean, SHE’S not cool, duh.

Uh, so anyway, later on, I had to go to Math. Math here is so weird. They just mash together all the different subjects and just assume we’ll figure it all out. I thought this place was supposed to be a top-notch school, and they can’t even afford more than one math teacher? Jeeze, I’m glad mom’s not paying for this place. . .

. . . well, so, then old Skyler decides to put us into this whole ridiculous VR thing. I mean, talk about lame. He probably saw some goofy old-school newspaper story about the Oculus and figured he’d be cool and bring one in, except it wasn’t even, like, a regular VR setup? Some janky custom job he probably brewed up by himself one night.

So there we are, in the middle of one of those stupid train problems, but instead of just having to do the math, we had to endure this whole ridiculous THING where we had to save the people on the trains. I mean, has a hero even had to stop two trains running into each other in, like, 50 years? That stuff’s all computerized now, anyway.

So, a bunch of the Preps—“Casanova” and his gang of douchebags, basically—start talking about how they’re gonna tank the whole assignment to curve out a 100. Too cool to even do your work, huh, jackass? Typical. I don’t even know what people see in him. Probably why he just brain wipes everyone into liking him, huh?

Anyway, this other kid, Jeff—he seems kinda cool, I guess—stands up to them, and woohoo, then we all have to get to work. Which apparently included taking down a bunch of rando military dudes. Great job, Skyler—just teach us all how to kill the US Army, why don’t ya?!—but whatever. I scared a bunch of them off, cuz, I mean, yeah. It was a little scary to let the Darkness out so much, but it’s cool. I can take it. I think Breakdown was kinda diggin’ it, but whatever. She’s excited about everything.

I was stuck with that weird shrinking chick, too. Styx, or something? Like, how’s shrinking going to even stop a moving train? God that assignment was stupid. Anyway, I eventually flew up and basically ripped one of the helicopters out of the sky, and I guess Jeff or somebody knocked the other one down using his powers, and then we went back into the train. By this time, I’m not gonna lie, the Darkness was just SCREAMING inside of me, so I had to kinda hunker down just to hold it in. I think some of the others might have thought I got hurt fighting the helicopter? Sheeze, don’t those guys realize? The Twilight Darkness would NEVER let me die, not until its dark work is finally finished. . .

So there was some kind of whole thing with an avalanche, and eventually some of the others managed to jump train tracks to save us all, or whatever. MC was playing some goofy old song, cuz NOBODY here listens to any good music, but I guess it was alright. Shrinking-Sticks flying around, Breakdown’s popping heads. . . I mean, if it weren’t just some math problem, I guess it’d be kinda tight seeing everyone work together like that.

Anyway, I don’t think I learned a single thing about math, and I still think Casanova’s a douche, but hey, any day that i don’t just totally flip out and let the Darkness rip a bunch of people to shreds is good enough, I guess. YOU READ THAT, LEAPFROG, YOU LITTLE TWERP?! STAY OUTTA MY STUFF.

Anyway, later on, MC invites everyone up to her dorm room. I went cuz like, whatever. I mean, it was pretty stupid, right? Just a bunch of people standing around in the dark, listening to poser pop music and making out or whatever. Psh. But the noise was good—it helped drown out the Darkness, ya know? Yeah, that was sweet, I guess.

Anyway, then some goon teacher stormed in and broke the whole thing up. Heh, until I totally drained the lights outta that place so everyone could get out. Jeff got a bunch of kids out on one of his platform things, but I totally flew outta there on my own. Pretty sure it wasn’t too dark for everyone to see that. Not like it matters, but it was pretty amazing. And I hear MC and the shrinking girl got caught, too. Why do the teachers here have to be so lame? It’s not like we were doing anything crazy in there. I mean, okay, that bear was kinda crazy.

Anyway, now I gotta make it out to the dining hall. I guess I’m meeting a couple of people from class? Maybe I won’t show. It’ll be stupid, anyway.


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