A Whateley Universe story
Sanguine 2: From Darkness to Light
Valentina hid her face as she sat in the back seat of the car. With the sun shining through the window, threatening to burn any exposed skin. Traffic had not been favorable to the pair of women in the nondescript black sedan. Looking at the gridlock that had them pinned in, two and a half hours had been wildly optimistic for the amount of time for the drive to Albany. Hearing her new ‘sister’ Eve sigh, Val went back to her thoughts. The NYC branch of the MCO was notoriously corrupt, and would be just as likely to make her disappear as they were to test her powers and give her an MID card. Add into the mix the fact that when she was still male, and trapped in her monstrous form she had been recorded biting people. The further from the city she got, the less likely the MCO would be to connect the incident to anyone that consumed blood registering for their card.
Eve looked in the rear-view mirror as the car crept along, trying to reach the George Washington Bridge. The black sedan had been behind them for the past six blocks. Seeing an opportunity, Eve did a sharp turn, into a space that opened up to the left, and sped off down a side street. They needed to get out of the city and get some space to lose the mysterious followers. The race was on, as traffic opened up and they hit the bridge. The car was still behind them, but it was dropping further behind.
Crossing the bridge into New Jersey, Eve floored it, pushing the car well over the speed limit. If the Fort Lee, NJ Police wanted to pull her over, let them. No such luck though, as the car still followed. Pulling a dangerously fast u-turn, Eve barreled at the sedan in a game of chicken. Neither she, nor the guys in the car expected what happened next. As the rear door suddenly swung open, a figure jumped out. Shifting on the fly, Valentina assumed her Bat-like form. Landing on the hood of the car, she formed a fist with her giant hand. The glass smashed in as the clawed appendage wrapped around the chest of the passenger. Ripping his seat belt apart and throwing him free of the car, Val leapt from the hood, and snared him by the shoulders with her clawed feet. Landing by the side of the road, she stood on top of her very queasy captive.
Snarling and baring her fangs, the girl waited for Eve to arrive. Shortly after Eve had parked on the side of the freeway, the driver of the sedan pulled up. Pointing a gun at Val, he stood there shaking.
Eve shook her head. “I wouldn’t if I were you. You might annoy her, and your friend would come out of it worse off. We both can rapidly heal from a bullet wound. Can your friend say the same about bites and claw marks?”
“Youse killed da boss!” the gunman protested, still aiming at Valentina.
“The police declined to charge anyone with criminal charges, and his death was ruled an ‘accident during the perpetration of a criminal act’… Now I would advise you two to get back in your car and leave. Don’t harass us ever again. If we even suspect you two of following us or spying on us, my sister here… well, she does get a might bit thirsty, and you probably look delicious to her.”
Valentina snorted as she smelled the distinct smell of urine from the man she was standing on. Stepping off, she allowed him to get up and stagger back to the sedan. As she walked back to the car, the girl whimpered, feeling the sun on her skin. The fur of her bestial form protected her some, but she knew that she would blister and peel. After shifting back and popping the rear seat down from the inside, Val crawled into the trunk, and pulled the seat back upright. With a sigh, Eve silently cursed the two idiots. She would need to find a store and pick up a new hoodie to replace her new sister’s destroyed one.
It wasn’t long before Val spotted a small strip mall at the next off-ramp. Making the detour, they hurried into the store. Fifteen minutes later Val was back in the back seat. Grumbling about the pink hoodie and white sweatpants, she hugged her knees. Worst of all, they had not been able to find a bra at the dollar store. Making do with a tight tank top was not fun for someone of Val’s … endowments. Every little bump and pothole was felt as she jiggled uncomfortably.
Val hated her new situation. Every jiggle reminding her that she was in a new form of Hell. It seemed like forever, but eventually the pair pulled up at the Albany MCO facility. The building was your typical brick facade office building, four stories and a modest reception area. Walking to the front desk, Eve looked over the woman sitting there. She exemplified the concept of ‘I’m trying not to look like an agent, but I’m an agent’, with her black suit and white blouse.
After clearing her throat, Eve spoke. “Excuse me, I have an appointment for my sister here to undergo testing for her MID card.”
The woman looked up. “Certainly, under what name?” She asked.
Eve shook her head and rolled her eyes. “It’s under the appointment number 1132453. I’m sure you are aware that names do not need to be provided for the MID process.”
With a sheepish look, the woman handed an appointment card and parking voucher to Eve. “Go down the hall, third door on the right.”
Arriving at the testing room Val was handed a plastic bag containing a bodysuit, and ushered towards a changing room. To her considerable embarrassment, the suit clung to her body like a second skin, and left absolutely nothing to the imagination. Pulling the annoying wedgie free, she walked out into a medium-sized gymnasium.
An older man in a labcoat was holding a clipboard, and looking at her. More accurately, he was looking at her chest. With a frown and a snarl, Val got him to stop.
“Sorry, Let’s begin.” He said.
From behind an observation window, Eve pushed a button. Turning on the speaker to the testing room, she said out loud in an angry voice. “Now don’t make either of us remind you that she is a minor. You wouldn’t like the reminder that she would give you.”
The man administering the tests walked Valentina over to what looked like a high tech treadmill and weight bar. “I understand you are an exemplar. I can certainly tell that much by looking at you.”
There was a low growl from the young girl, and he backed up.
“Um, what I mean is that you um… could you please step on this and run… um… please?” the test administrator said in a clearly nervous voice.
With a sigh, Val began running, first at a slow pace, then as the treadmill sped up, she picked up her pace as well, eventually having to stop when it got to be too fast.
“Very good. Very good indeed!” the lecherous scientist said, having no doubt enjoyed watching her on the machine. “Next we will test your strength. If you come over here, we will get started.”
Looking at the machine, it appeared to be a bar that was attached to a hydraulic lift of some sort. Lifting the bar was relatively simple for her, up until the weight got to the two-ton range. Letting go, she stepped back and wiped the sweat from her forehead. Fortunately, for the tester’s sake, she hadn’t noticed that he was looking at the sweat as it ran down her rather shapely legs.
“What nex… What the hell was that?” Val yelled, confused at the sensation of something having hit her in the back of the head.
“My apologies, We test for a danger sense with racquetballs when you don’t expect it.”
Grumbling, Valentina saw the blue ball sitting a couple feet away. Picking it up, she dug her nails into it and popped it.
The man in the labcoat swallowed and took a moment to compose himself. “According to the paperwork your sister filled out, you also have a secondary form?”
Smiling at the pervert, Val snarled, baring her fangs as she assumed her monstrous form.
The man backed up against the wall, much to the amusement of both Eve and Val. “Okay um… if… if you would step back on the treadmill, we can test you in this form. Eve hopped up on the treadmill, and ran. She wasn’t as agile nor graceful running like this, but she managed to get close to her original score.
Next came the weightlifting apparatus, and though awkward with her webbed and winged hands, she bested her previous score with a lift of three tons.
Once again the racquetball was deployed against her, but this time she had been expecting them to repeat that test. Undetectable to human ears, she heard the sound waves she created bouncing back to her as they interacted with the ball. Turning, she slapped the ball back at the test administrator, hitting him in the head.
“Y...you may return to your previous form now.” He stated as he rubbed the bump that was rapidly growing on his forehead.
Val could tell he was staring at the open-back of the bodysuit, looking at her lecherously. With a low growl, she ‘encouraged’ him to pick up the pace, and lead the way to the next set of tests. She was handed an orb the size of a softball and told that if she possessed magical potential, it would glow. The orb remained black.
“Guess I can eliminate mage from your powers” the man said blandly.
A pile of junk on the counter made it quite evident that she was not a devisor, nor a gadgeteer.
Picking up a scalpel, the man approached Val, only for her to bare her fangs. “What do you think you are going to do with that?” she asked in a defiant tone.
“I… I only need to make a small cut to test your regenerative capabilities… once in your normal form, and once in your alternate form” the nervous man said quietly.
Val glared at him threateningly. “Like Hell you will!”
The test administrator, very close to wetting himself, mumbled out a frightened reply. “I… only need to observe the cuts. if...If you want your sister to perform the actual cuts, I… guess that can be allowed.”
With a nod towards the viewing room, Val took the scalpel from him. Soon Eve had joined them in the exam room, and she took the scalpel from the girl. A small cut was made on Val’s right arm, which quickly healed. After turning back into her bat form, Val’s arm was cut again, healing at the same rate.
Eve kept the scalpel, and demanded to watch as it was placed into an autoclave. “You never can be too careful” she commented casually.
With the tests completed, Val was allowed to change back into her embarrassing clothes. The two of them were escorted out to the waiting room while the tester looked over the results and conferred with his colleagues.
The hardest part of it all was deciding on a code name. “How about Carmilla?” Val asked casually.
The test administrator looked over at her with fear on his face. “That one is very, very taken. So taken it’s practically retired permanently.”
Both Eve and Val looked at each other with a puzzled expression, but thought it was perhaps best not to ask.
After being handed a tablet with a list of newly available names, Val scrolled down it. “What happened to this Sanguine person, to make the name become available?”
The tester walked over to a small laptop and punched in something. “It was given to a boy in Guatemala, he was an avatar who had the spirit of a vampire bat. The local villagers hunted him down and killed him, believing him to be some sort of demon.”
Shedding a tear, Val nodded. He likely was as scared and confused as she had been when, as Vince, she started to change into that monstrous form. “I’ll take it. To honor him.”
Fifteen minutes later, Val was huddled in the back seat of the car looking at her MID.
Mutant Identification Card
Shifter 1, Exemplar 4, Regen 3. Alt form: Exemplar 5, Regen 4
Biting, Slashing, Dropping from midair, Echo-location
Backup / Team Affiliation
The sun shone down brightly, and Val pulled her over-sized hoodie tighter around her.
The next couple days passed without incident, but Eve was still worried. Valentina seemed to be getting more and more depressed. In addition to the whole gender issue, she seemed to be increasingly upset about both the inhuman features and her susceptibility to sunburn.
Val would lounge around on the couch moping, and Eve didn’t know what to do about it. It was almost a relief when the doorbell rang. The pimply-faced courrier looked up at the tall, exotic looking Native American girl that answered the door. He fumbled for something to say, and meekly held out the manila envelope. With a smile, Eve took the offered package and handed him a tip, before turning back into the brownstone.
Entering the living room, she chuckled and sat down on the couch opposite from Valentina. The sulking teen looked up. “What’s that?” she asked in a quiet tone.
Looking through the papers, Eve mumbled to herself. Upon realizing that Val had asked a question, Eve looked up. “Dr. Wilkins sent your new birth certificate and some medical diagnoses.”
Val sighed. “doesn’t make any difference. I’m stuck. I drank your blood and turned into a freaking girl. Yeah, fine. But why don’t I look normal? Why do I burn so damn easily?”
Val slammed her fists down on the coffee table, hearing the poor table creak under the force. “I never burned when I was stuck as that monster. I was a freak, and I still am!”
Eve got up, and crossed over to Val’s couch, wrapping her arms around the crying girl. After a while, Val settled down, resting her head in Eve’s lap. Eve stroked her new sister’s hair with one hand, while at the same time paging through the papers with the other hand.
Finding an interesting portion of the doctor’s notes, she began to read out loud. “Patient exhibits new traits and characteristics not present prior to the consumption of bio-hazardous regenerator blood. In addition to incomplete regenerative cloning, the patient appears to have gained a variation of the original’s shifting abilities, allowing them to assume their semi-Chiropteran form. In regards to the patient’s female form and differentiation from the genetic donor’s appearance, it is my conclusion that their subconscious may have influenced their new form to a degree, in so far as they bear passing resemblance to various pop-culture characters that draw inspiration from vampiric or horror sources. This may also explain the patient’s unfortunate vulnerability to ultra-violet light. Further testing may be warranted.”
Val sighed and sniffled. “So, she thinks I look like how I look because my subconscious thought I should look like Elvira or Morticia Addams, or something?” After about a minute, the sniffling turned into hysteric laughter, as Valentina had to consider the preposterous fact that she had subconsciously screwed herself over. Eventually Val laughed herself to sleep. Gently extricating herself from the couch, Eve headed to her office. Looking through Guido’s contact rolodex, She found what she had been looking for.
With some trepidation, Eve picked up the phone and dialed. “Yes, I’d like to speak with Ms. Hughes. My name is Eve DuMont. I am an… associate of Guido DeRosini.”
There was silence on the other end of the line for a moment. "Tell your idiot boss that I was serious about never doing a job for him again!" the woman snapped harshly. The mere mention of Guido's name had thoroughly disgusted or angered the woman, and her vehemence left Eve wondering exactly why she hated him so much.
Eve smiled to herself. It seems she wasn’t the only person to have had issues with the slimeball. “It’s nothing like that. And I’m actually calling you to hire you myself. The ‘idiot’ as you called him is actually rather dead, though unfortunately it wasn't by my hands.
More silence followed. “I… see.” Ms. Hughes finally said “Perhaps we better meet up to discuss things. But in a public place. You are in New York, correct?”
Eve stuttered. “What? How?”
A laugh emanated from the other end of the phone. “Caller ID.”
Eve felt somewhat embarrassed. “Oh right. How about Ballfields cafe, Central park. Tomorrow at noon?”
“I’m in Arizona right now, but I can catch a red-eye and meet you at noon.”
Hanging up the phone, Eve smiled. She was determined to make things better for Val, even if all she could do at the moment were baby steps. Looking at the stacks and stacks of papers piled up around her, Eve shook her head. When she decided to audit her assets and go over all of Guido’s past actions, she had realized that it would be a task. But the enormity of decades worth of records on questionable and outright illegal acts hadn’t hit her until now. Putting down the paper she had not really been reading, Eve sighed and went out to see what Val was up to.
Finding the girl in the living room playing Castlevania. Eve had to chuckle at that. Slipping behind her new sister, She gave the girl a hug. The ‘you looked like you could use it’ sort of hug that if an exemplar it, the recipient might burst from being squeezed so tightly.
Tatiana Hughes sat at a table, watching kids playing on the fields nearby, the shouting and occasional ‘tink’ of the metal bats hitting balls adding to the ambiance. She sighed, watching parents cheering for their kids, and she couldn't help but wonder what might have been for her and for Martin.
She noticed the girl approach and was about to speak when she sat down. Looking at the teenager in front of her, she wondered what was going on. “Excuse me, but--” she began, only to be cut off by the petite Asian girl.
“Ms. Hughes, we spoke on the phone yesterday. My name is Eve DuMont, or as my MID says… Everywoman.”
Tatiana looked her up and down. “Shifter, I presume?” Her suspicion was confirmed with a nod.
The girl, Eve, looked back at her. Slowly, she began to tell a tale of blackmail and prostitution that made Tatiana glad that Guido was dead. “I handled a few small matters for him – IRS, getting a local DA off his ass, simple things like that. If I had known about your situ-”
Once more Eve cut her off. “Thank you, but what I need your expertise for is something more… personal. Through… circumstances, I’ve become the unofficial … guardian of someone who has no records. I need to get their proof of identity into circulation, and with a minimum of fuss, and no questions from outside interests, if you get my meaning.”
In her many years of working the gray areas of information, she had received one or two such requests. Something about this seemed different than the usual case of falsifying birth records for citizenship or altering dates of birth to ‘disprove’ affairs.
“First, I'm retired – mostly. Second, I’m hesitant to accept a job based on so little background information. For all I know, you murdered Guido – his loss is a net gain for humanity - but I want to know why I should do this.” Tatiana had a code of ethics she worked by, and she sensed that something was off about this request.
With a sigh, Eve told the story of the night Guido died, the circumstances behind it, and how she'd become involved with the girl.
Nodding, Tatiana understood now. Regen cloning. She chuckled silently to herself. “So, you’ve decided to take the girl in.”
Eve looked at her. “How could I not? She saved my life and she’s pretty much my little sister now. To not take her in would be cruel.”
With a smile, Tatiana offered her hand. “Indeed, it would be cruel. Okay, I'll take the job. I assume you have all the information I need?”
Handing over a small sheaf of papers, Eve looked at the blonde woman sitting before her. She had that sort of motherly look to her, despite looking to be only around twenty-five. Gentle, but willing to tear anyone apart if they crossed her.
Tatiana raised an eyebrow at how nonchalant Eve appeared and acted, despite her youthful appearance. "Aren't you curious how much this will cost?"
"I figured it'll be bit pricey," Eve said with a shrug, "but results are worth what you pay, and you've got a very good reputation." She smiled. "I figured you'd done a bit of background checking and discovered that I can afford your services. Otherwise, you wouldn't have agreed to meet."
Before getting up to leave, Tatiana turned to the woman sitting there, pretending to be much younger than she actually was. Tatiana chuckled; this girl's – woman's – frank view of things was refreshing. “I’ll have it all taken care of in a couple days. I’ll send you a message containing the info for an account to send the payment to.”
Eve nodded. “Okay. That sounds good.”
The two shook hands, concluding their business, and Eve watched the woman rise and disappear into the crowd of people in the park.
Val sighed and put down the controller, She was bored and the video games weren’t cutting it right now. With Eve off getting Val’s records handled, she was all alone in the brownstone. She wandered around for a bit, sipping some sheep blood as she did. Coming to the closed door of Eve’s office, she poked her head in and saw the mess. With all that Eve had done for her, tidying up was the least she could do. The stacks of folders on the desk stood about three feet high, and there were books strewn about on the floor, nearly completely covering it.
After an hour of stacking books on the floor and clearing space to walk, she looked over to the desk and sighed. There was an open folder with a newspaper article inside, along with some documents and miscellaneous papers. Val looked at the article, noticing that it had water spots all over it. Then she saw the headline and knew why. It read simply, “Local couple killed in car accident in New York”. The girl read the article slowly. Eve had told her about how Guido had blackmailed her threatening her parents. But they were already dead, and had been for twelve years.
Eve came home around five, setting down the groceries and some pints she had gotten at the butcher. Not really expecting the hundred and twenty-five pound missile that launched at her and surrounded her in a hug. As the momentum of the sudden embrace hit, they fell back, onto the floor.
“What th…?” Eve began, only for her face to get buried into the currently taller girl’s collarbone.
“I saw the news article. The one about your parents. You’ve been taking care of me, and burying your feelings about that for how long?”
Eve sighed, then the tears began. “I found it the day after the reading of the will. I have to take care of you, you are all I have now. We are family.”
Eve called it a night early, exhausted from the hectic day. But Val couldn’t sleep. What Eve had said made her brain focus on that one word… Family.
That was why she was hiding in a tree at one AM, looking down upon a familiar house in Queens. She knew she couldn’t go down there, couldn’t knock on the door. What could she possibly say? Still, the temptation was strong. Val turned to go, when the light in her old bedroom turned on. She could see the wallpaper had been taken down. The walls had been painted blue. “Had Mom sold the house?” She wondered. But no, a sight that shook her far deeper played out in front of the window. His… her… mother walked into view, holding something, a crying baby. Soon, another person came into sight. A Tall, blond man. A man that bent down and took the baby from her. A man that kissed her, and then the baby. Val’s mother had moved on. He wasn’t part of her world any more. A new baby had replaced him, Her mother had met someone and moved on, having a child with him. Val leapt from her vantage point, and took off into the night. All she had now was Eve.
Morning came, and Eve puttered around the house. Val was becoming more of a nocturnal person, sleeping in and being more active later in the day. Eve understood, and was sorry for the poor girl. Her issues with sunlight meant that she would miss so much in life. There were options, Eve had considered advising her to wear a burqa, but later thought better of that idea. The other concern was school. It was August Seventeenth, and something had to be done in that regard soon. Given Val’s ultraviolet sensitivity, her GSD, and her rather... mature physique, public school would be rather problematic.
When Valentina came down the stairs, Eve looked at her and smiled as she patted the couch beside her.
“I’ve been thinking, and it’s something we need to discuss. I know a lot has happened to you, and you are still trying to get a handle on everything. It has to be painful to be dealing with being able to communicate again, and live a slightly more normal life again, but… I don’t know what to do about your education. I was thinking of home-schooling, but I know you need interaction with people your own age. I just don’t know how we can do it.”
Val hugged her big sister tightly, a tear running down her face. She had no answers either. Val let go of the hug and walked to the kitchen to have her breakfast. She had to admit that sheep was much better than ox or goat. After finishing, she washed some dishes and headed back upstairs.
When Val reached the top of the stairs, she heard the doorbell. She almost turned to descend and answer the door, but she caught herself. Sighing, Val listened in from just out of sight as Eve answered.
“Hello! I have a certified letter here… Wow, Miss Cyrus! I’m a big fan! Can I have an autograph?”
Val covered her mouth to prevent herself from giggling too loudly. She pitied that poor mailman.
Obviously-not-Miley Cyrus responded, “Thank you, but I’m trying to keep a low profile… If you know what I mean.”
It took exemplar strength to keep from laughing when Eve mumbled something about “tequila, hangovers, and body shots off Robert Pattinson’s stomach”.
The mailman stuttered awkwardly and asked for Eve. The prankster in question closed the door, in order to go get...herself.
A minute later, Val could hear a rather different sounding Eve talking, as she signed for a letter. The door closed, and Eve burst out laughing.
Val walked down the staircase, unaware that she was sashaying down them gracefully, like some beauty from Hollywood eras past. If she had been in a gown and not a pair of black sweatpants and matching hoodie, she would have looked the part of some mysterious mistress of the night.
“What’s going on?” she asked.
The petite redheaded faux-teen responded. “A package arrived from Setup, the person who was working on getting your identification papers into public record.”
Opening the itemized billing, Eve noticed that there were several discounts listed, such as the ‘caring sister’ and ‘pest extermination’ or the ‘heart of gold’, reducing the fee substantially. Tilting her head curiously, there was also an information booklet and application form to a private school for mutants. A post-it stuck to the front advised that it might be a good idea to send Valentina to this Whateley Academy.
There was much discussion that night, as Val and Eve talked about the benefits and the negatives of the girl going to the boarding school. Val, of course, had a lot of reservations. How would someone like her fit in? With her GSD, her need to consume blood, and her gender change, she would surely be an outcast. As she looked in the full-length mirror, she frowned. The naked image opposite seemed to almost taunt her. She was gorgeous, she thought, save for the unnatural shades of her skin and eyes and those damned ears. Nearly punching the mirror, she stopped her fist just short of the glass and fell to the floor sobbing.
Valentina woke up to Eve standing over her. Eve was in her ‘big sister’ form, the one she had used when they visited Doctor Wilkins. “Wake up, sleepyhead” the older woman said cheerfully. Val had no idea when she had fallen asleep, and was confused that she was on the floor.
“Whuuuuuu…?” She sleepily mumbled as she stood up. She realized she was naked, but Val wasn’t concerned. It wasn’t like her big sister hadn’t seen it all before.
“Wake up, you. We have a busy day ahead.” Confused, Val got up and almost walked past the unshuttered window. Fortunately, Eve managed to stop her before she gave the neighborhood a free peek.
“Whass up?” Val groggily said, flopping into the bed.
“Oh no you don’t!” Eve said, as she pushed the girl out of bed and back onto the floor.
“Ow! What was that for?” The girl snarked.
Eve smugly grinned. “We have an appointment at the school. Hurry up. I have a car being dropped off for the trip.”
Looking over at the clock, Val saw it was six AM. Shooting a scowling glare at Eve, she stumbled off to the bathroom muttering some rather choice swear words.
Around seven-thirty Valentina was sitting in the back seat, a light-weight cotton sweatshirt hood over her head as she grumpily sipped pig’s blood through the straw of her tumbler.
Eve adjusted the mirrors, and they were on their way. To relieve some of the tension in the car, Eve turned on the radio. Not long after, a song came on and Eve started to sing along.
“I'm every woman
It's all in me
Anything you want done baby
I do it naturally
I'm every woman
It's all in me
I can read your thoughts right now
Every one from A to Z”
“Wait, that’s not Whitney’s version. Did someone remake it?” Val asked.
If not for the fact she was driving, Eve felt the urge to smack her head repeatedly into the wheel. “Kids these days….” she sighed. “Whitney Houston covered it. This is the original Chaka Khan version.”
“Who?” Val asked with a slight head tilt.
Eve grumbled. “I failed you. I failed to educate you on the best music of all time. I am a useless sister. No, I don’t even deserve that title.”
Val rolled her eyes at the over the top theatrics from Eve, and then reluctantly she giggled. “So… you took your code name from a 1970’s pop song?”
Eve shrugged. “It fits…”
The remainder of the trip consisted of Val’s indoctrination into “the finest period of musical creativity known to man.” By the time they reached the school gates, Val had learned enough of a few songs to sing along.
The first things Val noticed were the unusual stone gargoyles on either side of the gates, faceless and ominous. With a shiver, she looked away and as Eve was talking to the guard at the gate Val fought the urge to bolt from the car and flee.
After talking to the guard, the pair drove up to a large impressive building, not unusual for a new England boarding school, but that wasn’t where Val was looking. A geodesic glass dome had caught her attention. It held it to the point she missed the fact that Eve had gotten out of the car. Sheepishly, Val got up, carefully opening the door with her gloved hands. She kept her head down, trying to keep from exposing her skin to the bright summer sun. That was why she hadn’t noticed that the pair had been joined by a blonde woman in business-causal clothing.
When the woman spoke, Val jumped noticeably and silently cursed. She wondered how her enhanced sense of hearing hadn’t picked up on the woman’s approach. “I’m Elizabeth Carson, headmistress here at Whateley Academy.
Five minutes later, Eve and Val were sitting in the Headmistress’ office. Looking around nervously, the younger woman was intimidated by the plaques on the wall, the shelves of books with exotic and difficult titles, the abundance of teak and mahogany, and expensive decorations.
Val looked at the headmistress in awe. She had an air of power and authority that was beyond anything the girl had ever seen. Even in jeans and a t-shirt she portrayed the epitome of power and authority.
“We had a student lined up to show Valentina around campus, but they ended up in the infirmary with tonsillitis, I’ll see if there is someone else that can give her a campus tour” the intimidating woman said to Val, “I would like to discuss a few things in private with your… sister.”
Carson picked up the phone and pressed a couple buttons. After a moment Val could hear someone indistinctly through the receiver. “Amelia, I have a prospective student in my office. Are there any students around that could do a tour? I realize there aren’t a lot on campus right now, but…” The headmistress was cut off by the person on the other end of the conversation. “Are you sure she’s the only one available?” After another pause, in which Val could hear the woman on the other end talking, the Headmistress resumed speaking. “I understand. I suppose she will do. Have her report here in ten minutes, and alert Sam to implement the necessary precautions. That will be all.”
Val swallowed hard. What the hell was she getting into?
After Val left the room, Carson dropped the casual tone, and looked at Eve. “Now that we are alone, I need you to tell me why we should consider this girl. She is dangerous, and I will not put the other students in my charge in danger because of her …requirements.”
Eve sat up. “She is nothing of the sort. Yes, she is a hemovore, but she has not hunted for food since she came into my protection. She has snuck out at night a couple times, but I trust her. I know she was feeling cooped up, but if allowed to roam your school with no special restrictions, she will adhere to the rules, as long as you can provide her the nourishment she needs. She has stated that she rather likes sheep’s blood.”
Carson eyed Eve thoughtfully. “That would not be a big concern. We do have vampires and other hemovores on campus, and we do keep supplies of animal and cloned human blood on supply for them. As long as she doesn’t feel the urge to hunt, I see no problem in that regard.”
“I’m glad that you fe… wait, vampires are real?” Eve stuttered.
Carson’s stone-faced expression broke slightly as a grin edged at the corners of her mouth.
Giving Eve a moment to accept that as fact, Carson spoke again. “Reading the papers on Valentina you provided, I feel you have left something out. I suspect that I know what it is. She wasn’t always female, was she? I know that you stated in the application that she’s your biological sister… however we have some very skilled forensic data analysts in our computer sciences department that found some payments to an individual known to us in the New York underground. She is known to us as well, as the aunt of one of our students, Jobe Wilkins.”
“Erm…” Eve began, only to be cut off by Carson holding up her hand in a ‘stop’ gesture.
“Let me see if I can piece together a ‘hypothetical’ situation, if I may.” Carson said in a rather neutral tone.
“O...okay?” Eve stuttered.
With a nod, Carson continued on. “Let’s say that a … mutant with high regeneration is in a fairly secluded place late at night. Furthermore, a mutant that needs blood to survive is in the vicinity. Now this mutant happens to be a male teen with features that preclude him from living a normal life. He sees a female that he could overpower, and feed from…”
Eve shot out of the chair, standing up and blurting out her response before she had a chance to realize what she was saying. “It wasn’t like that! He saved my life, and was shot. He had no other alternative.”
Realizing what she had blurted out, Eve sat back down and sighed.
Carson’s face was impossible for Eve to read. “We thought it might be something like that. Regenerative cloning is quite rare, but not unheard of. Moreover, gender changes happen among mutants for other reasons as well. We have a support structure in place for students that might need it. But that has to be their choice. There are those that have gone through changes and preferred to keep it secret. The choice is ultimately up to the individual, although we do inform them in such cases that we are aware, that they can seek help according to their needs.”
Eve nodded. “I think that Val may not be receptive to that sort of thing, at least not yet. She isn’t so much in denial, as she is overwhelmed. She’s a lovely girl, and one I’m proud to have adopted as family, but… she is not too good at demonstrating her feelings.”
Carson smiled. “We do have a full staff of therapists and counselors, and we do insist that students talk to one when we feel it warrants it. From what I have seen from her, she does seem like a candidate for admission, granted that is purely on a superficial level. I will want to talk to her before we make a definitive choice.”
Val sat out in the waiting area while the adults talked. She glanced at the closed door with some trepidation. Sighing, she looked down at her feet and waited. When she heard someone approaching, she turned her head. A rather slight girl stood a few feet away. She was rather pretty, in a plain sort of way. Her black hair was streaked with blue, tied into long pigtails that hung limply behind her. The most noticeable things about her face were the vivid electric blue eyes. She had on what Val assumed was the school uniform- a white blouse with school crest on the left breast, and a black pleated skirt. Long white knee socks and black sneakers completed the look. Rather large round glasses perched on the end of her small button nose. Curiously her left arm appeared to be a prosthetic, made of black material of some sort. Strapped around it was a red band with markings and the letters “UV”.
“Are you Valentina? My name is Paige. I was told to come and take you on a campus tour.” Looking over her shoulder, Paige nodded towards the man standing a discreet distance away. “That’s Corporal Gearing. He’s trying very badly to be unobtrusive while monitoring me.”
“Monitoring?” Val asked uncertainly.
Tugging at the band on her arm, Paige nodded. “Normally I wouldn’t have been asked to give the tour, but there aren’t many students on campus right now that can roam around. I’m sort of on a list of the more… dangerous students. Hence my shadow.”
Val stood up, checking that her hoodie was secure. She looked at the shorter girl, and followed. “Dangerous?” She asked.
Paige sighed. “It’s a long story, but I’ll tell you my tragic origin, if you tell me yours. I can tell you have some issue. You keep fiddling with the drawstrings of your sweatshirt.”
Slowly, Val put her hands in the front pocket of the shirt. “Okay, deal.”
Looking ahead as they walked, Paige began. “When I was younger, my older brother was killed by my uncle for being a mutant, and my father was an abusive drunk. I was good with computers, and got in a sort of cyber battle with a super-villain. That resulted in my house being blown up, my parents killed, and me in the hospital after my mutant abilities manifested. I developed a dissociative identity disorder from all my traumas. That eventually landed me in a psychiatric treatment facility. I’m better now, though. But when I got out, I was injured in a fight with a powerful villain, and escaped to the reservation the school was built on. While there, I was exposed to a were-panther virus. So I’m technically contagious, and I have occasional bursts of violence.”
Val looked at her. “Wow. So besides being bitey, what are your powers?”
Paige laughed. “Well, I constantly generate an electrical field strong enough to give people a nasty jolt, and knock out certain electronics. One of the geniuses on campus built a devise into my prosthetic arm that absorbs the energy to power it. So I’m not going to fry you accidentally. Your turn, you promised.”
Val sighed. “Well… I was kind of a computer geek too. No dramatic fights with super-villains though. I just felt increasingly weak and sick. I started noticing strange changes to my body, and I developed a craving for blood. I ran away from home, to keep my mother safe from me. Eventually I made my way to the sewers and subways under New York, where my mutation continued. I… I…”
Paige cautiously gave the larger girl a hug. “It’s okay if you don’t want to continue.”
Val wiped her face on her sleeve. “Nah, it feels good to get it out. Anyway, I ended up looking like a giant bat-creature. I couldn’t speak anymore, and I lived in the tunnels, eating from rats and vermin. Pretty much the only things I can keep down are blood and water.”
Paige laughed yet again.“That’s ironic, in a way. My twin sister, Petra studied at the Vatican and has hunted actual vampires.”
Val tilted her head. “Vampires are real?”
Paige emphatically nodded. “Yep, we even have a few on campus. There is one in the languages department as a teacher. We also have a student group on campus that fancies themselves as the next generation of ‘Buffy the vampire slayers’, or some such. Mostly we mock them and call them the ‘goobers’…” Paige rolled her eyes as she mentioned them. “Anyhow, you were saying?”
“Oh, right. Well I lived down there for a while. But then things changed when I encountered a creep that I thought was trying to prostitute a little girl. I attacked him, and he accidentally ended up dead. Unfortunately, he got off several shots at me with a sawed-off. In my pain and confusion, I sought out someone to feed off. I picked the girl. But what I didn’t know was that she wasn’t a little girl. She was a shape-shifter with high regeneration. After I drank from her, she took me somewhere safe and nursed me back to health. I ended up gaining a form of shifting. I can turn into the bat form and back to this one. Because we share the same DNA now, she sort of adopted me as her sister.”
Paige looked at the vampiric-looking girl, and pondered if the thing that Paige hadn’t mentioned was another similarity between them.
While wandering around the administration building, the pair happened past the gallery. Looking at their tail, Paige gave a subtle head tilt towards their shadow, as a silent question of whether they should enter. Watching the guard put his finger to his ear then shake his head, she had the answer. Perhaps that had to wait for official enrollment.
After wandering through the computer sciences wing, Paige led Val out onto the campus grounds.
“That was Schuster Hall” Pointing at another building, Paige spoke again “Kane Hall has an observatory built in, the security office is there, that tower is where Hive, one of the Security higher-ups lives. That’s her on the roof pointing her ‘BFG’ my way.”
“BFG?” Val wondered out loud.
Paige laughed. “Big Fucking Gun.”
“Anyhow…” Paige continued “Just beyond that is Dunn Hall. The Science and Language departments are in there, a lot of classrooms, and the hoity-toity beautiful ones’ modeling club.”
“The what?” Val asked, incredulous.
“Venus Inc. is the modeling club here at Whateley, all the too pretty for words girls go there to stroke each other’s egos. I know a couple of the girls there. They aren’t too bad, I suppose… but there are also some rather… stuck-up girls as well.
Shivering, Val silently vowed not to join. Then she realized to herself that while she might be voluptuous, she was far from pretty.
“Across from there are the library and Kirby Hall. If you are a mage or have psychic powers, you will get to know Kirby very well.” Paige stated.
Turning around, the girls were facing the direction they had just come from. Taking a left, Paige pointed at what looked like a small luxury hotel. “Melville Cottage. Home to the rich, often snobby, and frequently annoying students. I hear you have a coin or two to rub together. You could end up here.”
While it was true that Eve had gained a small fortune from her association with Guido, Val hoped she didn’t end up there. She could picture students mocking and ridiculing her.
Walking on a little further, another building rose over the crest of a hill. “That’s Poe Cottage. The official story is that it’s the place they dump the ‘nut cases’ and ‘crazy kids’. I don’t believe that though. I know quite a few really nice kids that stayed there. My girlfriend roomed there. She vanished last year, and I miss her dearly…”
Val didn’t know quite what to say, so she carefully put an arm around the small, dangerous girl’s shoulders.
Silently the two girls passed Poe. After a while Paige looked up. “Hawthorne, my cottage.”
Val looked up at the large building, covered in scaffolding with tarps draped haphazardly over sections. Following Paige, she entered to a nice foyer, which was bracketed on either side by a sitting area. There was a door off to one side, labeled with what she assumed was the name of the house-mother. A grand stairwell was situated in the middle, between the casual sitting spaces, and a little behind that stood an elevator, which appeared under construction.
Val looked around, the building seemed normal enough, until she saw some of the kids she assumed were students wandering in. One in particular caught her eye. He was a young boy wearing only a pair of shorts. Surely he had to be in elementary school. What drew her eye was his physique. His musculature was such that even the biggest bodybuilder would be envious… or perhaps not. Despite his muscles, his feet, hands and even head seemed under-sized. He was leaning on a cane, as he shuffled around the room. With a groan and a bit of effort, he managed to sit down on one of the sofas.
Paige waved at the boy. “Hey Bubba, you behaving yourself?”
He smiled at her and gave a thumbs up. Turning to Val, Paige spoke quietly. “Bubba is one of the kids from the grade school program. He manifested his mutant powers early. He was at a circus, when he manifested as an exemplar and power mimic. Unfortunately for him, there was a mutant strong man there, and his powers synched with that man’s. Normally that wouldn’t be too much of a problem, but because he hasn’t even started puberty yet, his natural growth and the body template he took on from mimicking that strong man are at odds. His body literally is trying to tear itself apart.”
A few other kids filtered in from various side-rooms, and down the staircase. Val’s jaw dropped as a girl walked down the stairs. No, not walked...sashayed. Her scarlet hair cascaded down over her shoulders, and her seductive shape wiggled as she stepped. Each step was enough to make a priest renounce their vow of celibacy. Her ample breasts bounced in her low necked top as she reached the bottom step. Looking directly at Val, with her green slitted eyes, the beauty arched her eyebrow questioningly. Shooting a glare at Adore, Paige hissed loudly and bore her fangs. Pointing her chin smugly up in the air, the gorgeous girl sauntered away.
Val looked at the girl beside her. “What was that all about?” she asked, startled.
Paige took a deep breath and silently counted to twenty. Her partial transformation reverted, and she looked at her guest. “I’m sorry you had to see that. There is some… tension between her and I. I… I said that my girlfriend is… missing. Adore, she sort of rubs me the wrong way, because she is like my… girlfriend, in many ways.”
Paige smiled weakly and led Val on a tour of the cottage. It was an eye-opening experience for e the new girl. She met people that had it much worse than she did, from the boy that was ankle tied to a weight to keep him from drifting away, to the girl whose toxic blood was slowly killing her and eating away her organs. Val had not known just how bad a mutation could go wrong. At the end she was close to tears after meeting so many that had it so much worse than she did.
Fortunately, Paige saw she was shaken, and decided to continue the tour elsewhere. After pointing out the other cottages and the major structures, she led Valentina to the large domed building.
“This is Crystal Hall, the cafeteria and general meeting place for most students. Myself, I find it too loud and busy. I usually eat in my room. However, it’s quiet enough right now. Wanna get something to eat?”
Val pulled the hood of her sweatshirt tighter around her head. “I… I don’t eat, not like regular people.”
Paige nodded and smiled gently. “That’s okay, I don’t either, for the most part. The staff here is used to some rather… unusual dietary requirements. Some of the more reptilian students seem to prefer live mice and rodents. I tried that once, but the squeaking kind of gets to me.”
Looking at her tour guide, Val wasn’t sure if she was serious, or if it was a joke. Glancing over at Paige, she saw the girl’s pupils were narrowed, and more slitted than they had been before. More concerning was the fact that their shadow from security had moved closer.
Val took a look around at the multi-tiered seating arrangement. There was an artificial waterfall, and the sun shone in brightly through the glass structure. Drawing her arms in, Val slumped and hid from the light. Seeing this, Paige spoke up. “You don’t have to worry about the sun here. The glass has a strong UV blocking film applied to it. A full vampire could stand here and not feel even the slightest discomfort.”
With a sigh, Val threw back the hood, and Paige gasped as she saw her face more clearly. Perfect cheekbones, a beautiful pert nose, full and luscious ruby lips. Arched black brows that were perfectly shaped, a slight blush to her otherwise pale skin. Looking at the girl’s long black hair with the white highlights and those exotic ears that begged Paige to nibble on them, she thought of her love, Sara, and sighed sadly.
Paige led Valentina to a counter, where an almost stereotypical lunch lady stood. Overweight, with a hairnet and glasses from Nineteen-fifty three the woman spoke in a raspy pack-and-a-half-a-day smoker’s voice. “Haven’t seen you in here often.” Realizing that the woman was talking to Paige, Val just stood behind her silently. “Who’s your friend? Haven't seen them here before.”
Paige looked at the woman. “Potential new student. I’m giving her the tour, but I got a little hungry.”
The woman nodded. “We don’t have the usual variety since most of the students and faculty haven’t arrived. But I think I could scrounge something up for you.”
Paige stood thoughtfully for a moment. “Got any steak? Raw if possible. Oh, and she’s a hemovore, so she’ll need a glass of whatever you have.”
The lunch lady nodded and looked over at Valentina. “Fortunately one of our vampire faculty is already on campus, so we do have a limited supply available. Senior Schmidt prefers human blood, but we do have some non-sapient species on tap.”
Valentina looked at her with horror written on her face. Apparently the woman at the register picked up on it. “Oh, don’t worry. All the human blood served is guaranteed 100% cloned on site from the blood of volunteers. We are out of AB Negative, but we do have all other types available. Of course, if you don’t drink human blood, we do have some goat, sheep, cow, and elephant blood available.”
Valentina coughed as she pondered who exactly drank elephant blood, and why. “I think a large glass of sheep will suffice.”
Paige looked over at the empty tables. “Find a seat and sit, I’ll get the food and bring it over when it’s ready.” With a silent nod, Val walked over to a little secluded spot near the waterfall. While Paige was waiting, Val watched Gearing as he eyed the slender girl. He had his hand near his holster, and seemed to expect Paige to try something at any moment. When she approached the table, Val noticed that Gearing made sure to always have an uninterrupted line of sight to the were-girl.
Taking her glass of blood off the tray, once Paige sat down, she sipped politely at it. Val had to admit, it was fresher and tasted stronger than the usual stuff that Eve got from the local delis and butchers. Savoring the tang of the iron, she sighed contentedly. Looking up from her drink, Val was shocked. Paige had sprouted dark rounded panther ears, her eyes glowed blue as the vertical slits of her pupils expanded. Holding the raw steak in her now-clawed hand, she was tearing it apart with her elongated canines sunk deeply into it.
“What?” the were girl asked, looking up at Val, when she put her glass down. Shaking her head, Val sighed before she picked her glass up and resumed drinking. After the rather… interesting lunch, the two girls made their way back to administration. Paige said her goodbyes, and headed off towards parts unknown. Eve was standing in the lobby, waiting. “Interesting tour?” she asked casually.
“Yes. And I need this place, I NEED to come here.” Val stated with wide-eyes, and an almost pleading tone.
Hugging her little sister, Eve smiled. “Then you will.”
August 28th, 2007
Valentina DuMont sat in the dark room. She sighed as she sat on the bed. Eve had just left, and the two sisters had shared many hugs and tears. Unpacking had been relatively brief. She didn’t have an expansive wardrobe beyond her uniform and collection of hoodies, tights, and yoga pants.
The UV-blocking curtains she had just hung up were closed. So far her only foray out to explore the campus had consisted of a trip to the school store for the curtains and a ‘property of Whateley Academy Athletic Department’ hoodie.
Her eyes popped open upon hearing the doorknob turn and open. She knew she would have a roommate, and her anxiety was rather high. Other than Eve, Val hadn’t spent much time with other females after her change. Eve had given her lessons on ‘being a girl’, but she was still uncertain as to if people would notice her rough edges. Almost as worrisome to her was the fact that she was going to be in a room with another girl was the fact they would be someone that she would no doubt see naked, despite her best efforts not to. When Val had come to the school on her visit, she had felt… something when she had seen that succubus girl. She was confused and afraid of her own sexuality. She had not given it a whole lot of thought up until this point, the rush of trying to get her new life in order had put such things on the back burner. But now she would have to face it.
Turning towards the door, Val started to speak, “Sorry for how dark it is in h--” but stopped immediately when she saw the girl. Her new roommate was perhaps five foot five or so, with brown hair up in a ponytail. She had thin arms and legs. Her loose tee hung relatively flat, her lack of curves evident. But the things that stood out to Val the most were the black cloth tied over her eyes, and the cane she used to navigate the room.
“Sorry, I--” Val stuttered, but the other girl cut her off.
“It’s okay. Nobody expects the blind girl to come in” she stated.
“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition either” Val stated, in an attempt to break the tension. After both girls stopped for a moment and turned their heads listening, they both started to laugh. “I’m Valentina DuMont”
“I’m April” the blind girl replied.
“Just April?” Val questioned. The other girl just nodded.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door. April turned slightly and opened the door. A tall blonde woman in spandex workout clothing stood in the doorway. Val stared. She wore a midriff-revealing lycra top and matching shorts that both showed that she was very fit, and had washboard abs and well defined muscles.
“I’m Mrs. Savage, the house mother for this cottage. Miss May, your bags have arrived. There was a mix-up, and they were sent over to Melville for some strange reason. I’m having one of the students bring them over. They should be here shortly. If you or Miss DuMont need anything, feel free to come knock on my door. That’s why I’m here, after all. Anyhow, I’ll leave you two to get better acquainted. I hope to see you later at the freshman introduction meeting.” With that concluded, Trish Savage turned and left, oblivious to the issue she had inadvertently caused.
“So… April May, is it?” Val said with a slight bit of amusement in her voice.
April sighed and tilted her head down, shaking it. “Now you know why I try to keep it quiet.”
There was a knock on the door and a sandy blonde-haired girl stood there, in front of some luggage. Presumably this was April’s. Val didn’t pay much attention to the conversation between the upperclassman and her roommate. Instead, she looked at the blue-eyed blonde and noticed a more than passing resemblance to the Headmistress. The conversation was over quickly, and the upperclassman departed.
April put her belongings away, and then she slumped on the bed. “So, tell me about yourself” she asked casually.
Val let the inquiry hang in the air, unanswered for a moment. Deciding it was best not to reveal too much, she started to tell her story. “I’m originally from Queens, New York. My sister and I moved recently to Manhattan. When I manifested, I went through a lot of dramatic changes. I grew a lot taller, and developed GSD. I didn’t look anything like I used to. It was so severe that I couldn’t speak, and I looked like a giant vampire bat creature. I was injured one day in a random gunfight. After getting some blood from my sister, my powers changed. I gained a variation of her shifting powers, I can switch back and forth from my bat creature form now. The biggest change though was my body’s template somehow subconsciously changed so that I look more like one of those glamorous ‘mistress of the night’ types from movies and TV. That has it’s own headaches attached. My skin became really UV sensitive. If I’m out in the sun for at least five minutes I end up with severe sunburn. It heals pretty quickly, but I still get all blistered and peeling.”
April laughed. “Wow, I’m like your worst nightmare then. I’m not actually blind because of any damage or defect to my eyes, rather the way my powers work effectively cause me to be unable to see. If I don’t keep my eyes closed or covered, they emit intense light. Like staring into the sun. Because they emit that light, any light that would normally allow me to see is obscured. Additionally, I’m also an exemplar two... but it seems my hips, ass, and boobs haven’t gotten the notice yet.”
Val looked at April again, nervously. “I… I also have something else I have to tell you--”
April cut her off with a laugh, “let me guess, you drink blood.”
there was a moment of awkward silence. “Y...yes the only things my digestive system can handle now are blood and water. But I swear that I only drink animal blood, or… or the blood of someone that’s attacked me. I would never drink from a person otherwise.”
“I believe you.” April responded quietly.
Taking her luggage over to her dresser, April started to unpack. Trying to not pry, Val busied herself with getting her laptop out and sending a letter to Eve.
After sending it, she shut down the computer and decided to go take a shower. It was embarrassing, but Val shed her clothes and slipped on her robe. Grabbing her toiletries, She made her way to the communal bathing area.
Turning a corner into the changing area, Val was greeted by a shocking sight. A girl was standing there, if Val didn’t know better she would have sworn that she was attempting to smuggle a pair of volleyballs into the dorm. The Strawberry blonde girl looked up at her and smiled, waving hello. “I’m sorry, I know I’m supposed to use the showers upstairs, but they were so packed and I have to get some sleep soon and the other girls just stare and are mean to me, and I can’t help it that I’m like this and oh, I’m rambling again, aren’t I?”
“Um...hi?” Val said uncertainly.
“Oh wow, you are so pretty and I love your ears. They are so cute! My name is Bobbi, but everyone calls me Attributes. I think it’s because I can temporarily make powers stronger, and non-exemplars prettier. But it wears off and people get sick for like a week and I tell them that, but they still get mad at me when it happens, and it’s not my fault. I mean, I tell them. And really it’s not fair. And I hate it. Guys leer at me and girls talk behind my back and are mean and oh, rambling again… sorry.”
Awkwardly, Val mumbled her approval and blushing furiously, she turned away and started to strip down. Entering the shower, Val ignored her arousal from thinking of the hot girl. She turned the water on and took a cold shower. As she bathed, She thought about her encounter with Bobbi and the demon girl from her tour. When she had been a boy he had been very interested in girls, and had a very robust amount of porn on his computer. It made sense to her that she might be a lesbian. Eve had talked to her about sex and sexuality and her experiences.
Eve had once considered herself to be a heterosexual girl, but over time, she had found that the girls who had hired her tended to be kinder, gentler, and more loving. It had been gradual, but Eve realized that she was bi-sexual. The thought of being with men scared Val, but at the same time, there was a tiny spark of curiosity.
Slowly, her hands slid over her body, paying attention to the sensations with a new curiosity. After a while Val left the shower stall, and had an eye-opening shock. Attributes was standing there oblivious as she toweled her hair. The fact she had nothing on didn’t seem to register, nor did the fact that Val was staring. Quickly turning, the embarrassed girl threw on her robes and after grabbing her shower supplies, she ran for her room… still dripping wet.
The room was empty when Val returned. Figuring that April was probably on her way to the shower herself, or maybe down to the cottage kitchen to get some snacks, Valentina toweled off and put on some leggings and a short pleated black skirt. The sun had gone down and it was a little chilly, so over her backless halter top, she threw on a gray zip-up hoodie and went for a walk towards Crystal Hall. Passing a patrolling security staffer, She pointed out her lapel ID pin, identifying that she had permission to be out after dark.
Bloodwolf rooted around in the bushes, watching the comings and goings of the freshmen. There were some promising targets, but that could wait. He had spotted a girl, out on her own. She was hot, Damn hot. There was a vibe about her that screamed ‘supernatural babe’ to him. Her ears were pointed and long, but unlike that bitch Fey, she was clearly not one of those uptight sidhe. Her skin was pale, and something about her intrigued him. Those long legs, narrow waist, and the obviously large tits beckoned to him.
Jumping out of the bushes, he crept closer, coming up behind her. “Hey babe, you’re new here aren’t you?” he said.
The girl turned and he saw her face. She was hot as Hell, and he wanted to get to know her better. Unfortunately, if he had stopped to think, he would have realized that perhaps surprising a girl… any girl... alone at night on the Whateley Campus could turn out bad … for him.
Moving towards the girl, he smiled a creepy smile. When you are a giant werewolf flashing your fangs at a lone girl is probably one of the dumbest things you could do, but he went and did it. “How about you and I go somewhere and get to know each other more intimately?” He stupidly said, thinking that he was suave. So when she hissed at him and bared her fangs, he was taken aback somewhat. When the girl took off her hoodie and began to grow and change, Bloodwolf knew things were not going his way.
“You’d rather tangle? So be it” He snarled, darting in towards the now larger and bat-like girl.
That was the last thing he remembered until he woke up a couple hours later in Doyle.
Val sat in the security office, clutching a glass of water, as she trembled nervously. When that werewolf had challenged her and attacked her, she defended herself, but the fight had apparently attracted the attention of security. Her hoodie was drawn around her shoulders as she sat there trembling. A woman stood at her side, reassuring her that she wasn’t in trouble. The blonde was dressed in loose-fitting camouflage khakis, with army boots and a bomber jacket.
The woman was a member of the campus security team, though she looked like she was young enough to be a senior at the school.
“I’ll say it one more time, since you clearly seem afraid. You are not in trouble. Bloodwolf is one of the campus bullies, and an ultra-violent. I know that Cyberkitty told you about them when you had your tour.”
Turning to look at the officer, Val had a questioning look on her face. One the officer certainly read clearly. “When you visited, I was part of the security detail keeping an eye on Paige. You might have seen me up on the roof with my sniper rifle.”
The gears started to click in Val’s brain, and she nodded. “Hive. Yes, I remember.”
“You can call me Admiral Everheart, or Sam.” The woman said with a warm smile. “From what we recorded on the cameras, it seems as though it was his fault. Honestly, approaching a girl from behind like that. I’ll log this as an unfortunate mistake. You aren’t in any trouble. I’ll have Corporal Gearing escort you to Crystal Hall, I’m sure you are quite famished after all the excitement.”
“Th...thank you. That would be great.” Val stuttered.
Everheart left the room, returning with Gearing. Looking at the tall broad-shouldered man, Val felt her heartbeat jump. He was lantern-jawed with closely cropped black hair and eyes that seemed to penetrate her soul. Val paused, wondering where that had come from. She sighed and followed the muscular man out, unaware that her gaze was affixed to his rear end.
A few minutes later she was sitting alone at a table, sipping some blue whale blood, and wondering who had requested some of these more… exotic... bloods.
Looking up, Val noticed there was a girl standing in front of her, one that hadn’t been there before. She was skilled, to sneak up on Val without her hearing detecting her. The blonde had on a black leather jacket, with a high collar that was buttoned to cover her neck. There was a bandoleer with pouches slung around her chest, and a sword with an elaborately decorated handle was slung behind her back. She had on a tight black body suit that showed off her fit physique, and back army boots. A belt full of pouches circled her waist. Hanging back there were several other students across the cafeteria, waiting for her to do something. This led Val to deduce that she was their leader. One seemed to be a seven-foot-tall tree, a werewolf girl crouched beside him, and a couple boys were standing behind the tree-guy.
“News travels fast around here, you know?” She said, as Val looked at her, questioningly. “We heard that some vampire girl put Bloodwolf in Doyle.”
“I’m sorry if he was your friend, or something. He scared me and I defended myself. Security knows all this. But I’m not a vam-”
“Friend?” The girl said derisively. “He’s a pain in the ass. But I have sworn we won’t go after him. You, on the other hand are a dangerous vampire that clearly has no regard for human life.”
“I’m not a v-”
The girl reached into her jacket and pulled out a crucifix, and held it out at Val. “What do you think of this?”
“Um, I’m agnostic. I guess it’s rather ornate, with all that silver and stuff. But it really doesn’t mean much to me.” Val stated plainly.
The girl fumed and reached into her jacket again and pulled out a clear bottle. She opened it and threw the contents at Val.
Val shot to her feet and began to scream at the girl about the water that had been thrown in her face. “What the hell? What the fucking hell?”
The girl reached for her sword, as Val snarled and glared at her. “Shit, the holy water had no effect!”
“Holy wa.. wait, are you guys the Goobers?” Val asked, confused.
The tree-guy and werewolf had approached, the others hanging back waiting for orders. Their leader seemed irritated. “Where did you hear that name?”
Suddenly, a voice familiar to Val spoke from behind the group. “I may have mentioned it when I gave my very much not-a-vampire friend here a tour of campus a week ago.”
The group turned and looked at Paige Donner, who smiled and waved politely. Behind her Corporal Gearing stood, watching the situation.
“So, what happened here?” Paige asked Val politely.
“I was just sitting, minding my business, when this nutjob came up and started spouting accusations. She asked me what I thought of some cross she had, and then she threw water in my face.”
Paige sighed and took off her glasses, rubbing the bridge of her nose. “As you deduced, this doorknob is Nightbane, leader of the Goobers…”
Nightbane looked at Paige and frowned before interrupting. “That’s the Paranormal investi-”
Paige looked at her, bored. “Is it? Is it really? You know I have some skill with computers, and that the Assistant Headmistress is my faculty advisor. If I wanted your group to be named ‘The Goobers’, then that’s what they would be called.”
Nightbane glared at Paige, who ignored it completely.
Paige continued. “Bloodwolf is a high-level regenerator, as you and certainly Silvermoon over there would know. In fact, he is already out of Doyle and back in his dorm.”
At the mention of her name, the werewolf put her head down and began to whimper.
“I will say this again. Sanguine here is my friend, and if you guys harass her, I think that Ms. Hartford might have a little chat with Reverend Englund about your group charter. Also I will reiterate this, so that even your thick heads can understand. She might be a hemovore, and she might have bat-related GSD and shifter abilities, but she is NOT a vampire. Corporal Gearing, could you be so kind as to ask security to send some officers to escort these idiots back to their cottages?” Paige said rather loudly, clearly getting her message across. After the goobers left, Paige noticed an item laying on the floor. Carefully, she walked over and tapped it with her fingernail. Val heard a sizzling sound, and smelled a slight whiff of smoke. Picking up the item with her cybernetic hand, she examined it.
"Huh. Mithril... what the? A throwing… Star of David? Okay I have to give this to Rabbi Moskowicz in the Theology department, if for no other reason than to have him chew out Reverend Englund on cultural insensitivity and appropriation."
Gearing nodded, and Paige noticed that Val’s eyes wandered his way. Paige smiled, and a fang poked out from under her upper lip as she did. Once security had escorted the irate group away, the two girls sat and chatted, with Gearing not far away.
Eventually, Paige and Gearing escorted Val back to her dorm. Val slipped in to her room quietly. April was asleep, wearing an expensive looking sleep mask and hugging a plush frog. Booting up her laptop, Val smiled when she saw the e-mail from Eve. After reading it, she checked a few web sites, and was prepared to log off, when an instant message popped up.
Moon_cat667@Secure: “Would you like to play a game?”
Nightblood3141592@Compunet: “No thermonuclear weapons involved?”
Nightblood3141592@Compunet:"and you aren't?"
Nightblood3141592@Compunet: “Cat got your tongue?”
Nightblood3141592@Compunet: “Bring it on!”
Suddenly, several documents appeared on Val’s desktop. After running extensive scans on them to make sure they were safe, she opened them and started examining the code. Paige was testing her skills. Finding the ‘bugs’ in the code (more likely intentional mistakes),Val attached them to a message to ‘Moon_cat667’, and poked around the school network some more.
Various hidden goodies were there to be found, most notably a lot of videos of something called “sim training”. Loading one of the files up, She found it to be a video of a group in anime magical girl garb going against another team, one dressed in what appeared to be sentai hero garb. Of particular note was a fight between the sailors’ devisor and a girl in a purple bird-themed helmet. Val couldn’t help but watch the bird-girl, While not quite in Attributes league, she was not that far off. And the way she was poured into that suit… wow.
Suddenly feeling very thirsty, she paused the video and got a bottle of cold water from the mini-fridge in the corner of the room. After watching several videos, Val yawned and shut off the computer. It was around six AM, and people were starting to stir in the cottage. Heading to the lavatory, Val navigated the crowd of girls in various states of undress- totally not looking- and settled to a sink in the corner to brush her teeth. After a few seconds, she noticed that things had gotten quiet. Looking up, she saw that everyone was looking at her. She looked to check if her pajamas had fallen down, or open, or whatever.
“What?” she asked “Never seen someone brush their teeth before?”
A short girl with black hair and round glasses stepped closer. She was slight of build and looked as if she was possibly younger than everyone else. “It’s because your teeth are so AWESOME! I know there are vampires on campus but I never thought I’d meet one! Wait til I tell Pally and Clover! Oh, they will be so jealous!”
“But I’m not-”
“I mean wow! Um, you won’t try to drink anyone’s blood or turn them into vampires, will you?” The girl continued to ramble, before another girl came up behind her and covered her mouth and dragged her off.
Val sighed and finished brushing, before heading off to her room. April was up, going through her dresser. Val pondered this, Knowing that April must have some sort of system for knowing colors and matching items. Paige had mentioned in passing another blind student, one who apparently had a wardrobe was an affront to all sanity and all people that could see.
Val crawled into bed, and was soon fast asleep.
April “Sunshine” May dressed quietly and headed out for breakfast. Classes wouldn’t start for several days, but she knew she had best learn the lay of the land for future reference. Finding her way to Crystal Hall, she picked up some breakfast. Nothing fancy, just some grape-nuts cereal, a couple oranges, bacon, hashed browns, scrambled eggs, a cinnamon roll, and some apple juice. If she could see, she would be aware of people looking incredulously at her tray, but she was an energizer, and though her power sucked, in her opinion, she had to eat a lot. Plus, she was hoping that as a side-effect, she might start developing.
With her cane in one hand, and her tray in the other, April walked around for a bit, before finding a table off towards the side of the cafeteria. Quietly sitting there, she listened to the gossip from nearby tables, most of which was about people she didn’t know. One thing did pique her interest though. There was some discussion about some “hot vampire babe” beating up one of the biggest bullies on campus. April snickered, figuring out right away who that one was about. So much for keeping a low profile, She was rooming with a potential disaster magnet, it seemed.
While she was eating the roll, April heard someone approach and knew they were standing somewhere in front of her. She received confirmation when the person spoke. “Hey, I heard your roommate trashed my boy Bloodwolf last night. You know that can’t stand unpunished, right?”
Sighing, April took a sip of her juice and just continued to mind her own business.
“Hey bitch, I’m talking to you”, the boy continued. Suddenly, she felt her blindfold get torn off. Opening her eyes the ever-present blackness was there, but she knew her powers were releasing light the intensity of the sun. Her attacker screamed and as she closed her eyes, his cries of “I can’t see! I can’t see!” filled the lower deck of the cafeteria. April frowned. She didn’t want to lose her blindfold, but if she got down on her hands and knees to feel for it, She would have to let her cereal get soggy while she made the trip to find a lavatory.
Several people in boots approached, April could hear the clicking of the soles on the smooth surface. Someone was helping her assailant to his feet. An authoritative voice full of confidence and perhaps a little bit of amusement spoke next. “Firecat, you and Stonebear take Necro to Doyle, the two of us will stay here and find out what’s going on.”
A girl spoke up next. “I’m Mindbird, my team and I are members of the Security Auxiliaries here at Whateley. I believe this is yours?” The girl pressed something into April’s hand. It was her blindfold. Giving the blindfold a good shake to remove any dirt, she then put it on.
The boy spoke up next. “Excuse me, but what happened just now?”
A bit flummoxed, April tried to organize her thoughts. “I… I was sitting here when that boy, you said his name was Necro? When Necro came over and launched into a tirade about my roommate beating up one of his friends. Which wasn’t her fault. She told me that this scary wolfboy jumped her last night. And they had a big fight and she cleaned his clock and-”
Mindbird interrupted. “Yes, we are aware of the situation, please go on.”
“Of...of course, sorry. Anyhow, Necro was mad about it, and I think he thought that picking on me would get him some sort of revenge? He threatened me and tore my blindfold off. I was scared, so I opened my eyes. I constantly radiate light from my eyes. From what I’ve been told it’s like looking into the sun. He should be okay though, At most it was a few seconds. He might see spots for a while though.”
Hearing a chuckle from Mindbird, April smiled.
“Stormwolf, I don’t think we need to stay, things seem in hand and we can verify from the camera feed if her statement is true” Mindbird said in a tone that hinted that she know more than she was letting on.
After listening to the two walk away, April muttered under her breath. “So much for that quiet, laid-back school life.”
After finishing her breakfast, April returned to her dorm. The soft breathing of her roommate confirmed that Valentina was fast asleep. picking up her tablet, April put her earbuds in, and picked an audiobook to while away the time.
Valentina woke up around Three, feeling refreshed. She looked over at April, who seemed engrossed in listening to something, then headed for the bathroom. On her way, she received more stares, and oddly a few thumbs up. After finishing up, she returned to the room, to find April sitting up, earpods out, and a frown on her face.
“If you are going to go and beat up on the local thugs, can you please leave me out of it? One of them came after me at breakfast. Got himself an eyeful of why it’s not smart to pick on the little blind girl.”
Val sat down, and sighed. “I apologize, I didn’t mean to start some sort of vendetta. It was dark, and The Wolfboy scared me. He was aggressive and kinda creepy, what with how he kept staring at my boobs and all.”
“Are they big?” April asked sheepishly.
“Um… I wear a 36DD bra?” Val said, confused.
“I hate you” April said laughing “I forgive you. Boys can be stupid, I guess?”
“I’m pretty sure there are just as many lesbians on campus, I’ve noticed a few girls looking at them too.” Val teased.
April was still laughing. “I really hate you now.”
Val looked over and a wicked thought occurred to her. “Don’t worry, I’m sure the Booby Fairy will visit you before too much longer. Actually, I might have seen her. There was a perky little fairy flying around earlier this morning.”
April snorted. “Riiiiiiight tell me another.”
Val looked over to her roomie. “I’m serious! She’s about seven or eight inches tall. Has wings like a purple butterfly. Seems kinda hyper and overly-stimulated.”
Looking over at the smaller girl, Val fought to keep from laughing. Succeeding for the most part. She did chuckle a couple times, but thankfully April appeared too lost in thought to notice.
“Oh, April. I just remembered something. There’s a group of supernatural and paranormal investigators on campus. You may want to avoid them. If they learn about your powers, they may try to recruit you. And from my encounter with them, you definitely don’t want to be associated with those losers.”
“Right, thanks for the heads up.”
“If they do approach you, be sure to drop my name, or mention ‘Cyberkitty’, they will know who you mean.” Val added.
Speaking of the devil, When Val booted up her computer there were some new code files waiting for her, along with a message:
Moon_cat667@Secure:“Not bad work. You do know your stuff. Anytime you want to hang out and do some geek stuff, hit me up. I might introduce you to some of the other members of the Geek Collective. -P”
thinking for a second, Valentina typed in her reply.
Nightblood3141592@Compunet: “Resistance is futile.”
Moon_cat667@Secure: “You are such a Dork, but at least you are a sexy dork.”
It was about that moment when the program Valentina_DuMont.Exe stopped working.
“Sexy? Me?” thought Val. Sure Eve had mentioned it many times, and there had been all the leers and looks, and even the awkwardly scary passes by that Bloodwolf creep, but the awkward gangly nerd and the horrifying monster inside her could neither wrap their collective brain around that.
From an intellectual standpoint, she knew this. But from an emotional and psychological standpoint, she couldn’t wrap her head around it. Why would someone be interested in her? She was a geek, a dork, a nobody. And below the surface, she was a monster.
Laying on her bed, she wept silently, April was unaware that she was crying, and the smaller girl had put her earbuds back in and continued her book.
Eventually Val ran out of tears, and as her stomach growled, she got up, off the bed. Throwing on the baggiest, plainest sweatsuit she had, she headed for Crystal Hall.
Sitting in her seat to the side, Val watched the comings and goings. Sipping on her glass of giraffe blood, she watched the various other students milling around. In the corner of the room, there was a couple sitting and looking at each other with lovey-dovey eyes. What she noticed about them was that he was an exemplar maybe six and a half feet tall, blonde, with the hunky muscles and good looks. She was maybe five seven or eight, with severe GSD. Where her lower legs should be, there was a mass of writhing tentacles. Her skin was sickly green, and she had dark green hair that looked like it was moving. She had a modest figure. And yet, with the vast difference in their appearances, they were having fun. She laughed at something he said, and dipped a french fry in her ketchup, offering it to him for a bite.
Having seen that, it made Val think. Perhaps it doesn’t matter at all? If I’m a good person, maybe that is all I need. She thought about her roommate, and realized something. April would likely never see the person she falls in love with. Maybe she was sexy, by some people’s perception. But she wouldn’t let that change the important thing, who she was inside. If anything, because she knew that she could be terrible. She knew she could give in and be a monster, that she had once been so very, very close to losing her humanity. If not for Eve, she may well have.
Finishing her meal, Val got up and headed back to her dorm. Going to her room, she sat and thought about everything that had happened in the past few days, and she had been right, she did need to be here, though maybe not for reasons she had initially understood. She would become a new person here. One no longer afraid of the beast, no longer afraid of herself. She would live her life, she would love whomever she wished, male or female. And it would all be okay. Her old self and her new self would co-exist. She could be a woman, and still love computers and science fiction, she could remake herself in the perfect image of who Valentina DuMont is, not be what others expected of her, nor what she thought others thought. No, she was free. Free to be whomever. The expectations on her from when she was Vince no longer mattered, yet she could keep the best parts of him, and forge something special and unique.
Silently moving from the bed to her desk, she quietly booted up her computer, popped in her earbuds, and cued up a playlist of anime songs. Opening up a new file, she began working on something entirely for herself. Eventually, she would show Paige this new program, but for now it was all about the process. Building something up from nothing, making it work. Something from nothing, creating anew. Long into the night, she steadily tapped on the keys, inspired in just being who she was.