Tuesday, 23 August 2022 00:00

Sins of the Father (Part 1)

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Warning:

This story does have some scenes of self harm and heavily implied child abuse.
It's not graphic, but it is there.

A Whateley Academy Tale

Sins of the Father

by Domoviye

 

Part 1

 

Tulsa, Oklahoma
1992

John looked down at the sleeping woman, teeth clenched, his shoulders tight. He didn't say or do anything for a long time, just watched her sleep, longing to reach out and hold her, hating what he was about to do, struggling to hold it off for just a little longer.

He couldn't wait anymore, he had to do it now or he never would.

“Katherine, wake up, honey,” he said.

She slowly woke up, rubbing her eyes, she struggled to roll over and sit up, being nine months pregnant made it hard for her to move. She was still the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

“What's wrong John? Why are you up?”

“I have to go.”

“Go where? Are you on another job? You promised you wouldn't take any work for the rest of the year,” she said, her voice trembling.

“I just got word people are close to finding me. It's not safe for you or our child.”

Katherine got out of bed, hugging him tightly to her. “NO! We can go anywhere. We can leave the country. I need you with me. Our child needs a father.”

He didn't push her away. “I've hired a woman to help you, she's one of the best in the city. I've paid her for the next two months, she'll be coming tomorrow morning to live with you. You have all the details for the Karadonia account. The accountant has it set up to look like stocks and bonds, and a monthly allowance will be transferred to your bank account. Use it wisely and the IRS will never notice, it will keep you both living comfortably for the rest of your life. If you need more, call the number I gave you and you can have five million dollars within the hour, only do it as a last resort. I've set up a trust fund for our child, it will set him or her up for life. They can access it as soon as they manifest or turn eighteen. Remember if they manifest to send them to Whateley to learn.”

Tears began to soak his shirt. “Why do you have to go? I love you.”

“I have too many enemies. If I'm alone, I can stay ahead of them. If I'm with you, they'll come after you, they'll kill you both to get to me. Don't tell our child about me. Don't mention my real name or my codename. Let everyone think I'm an asshole who broke under the pressure and ran away. It's the only way you can be safe.”

She tried to speak, only sobs came out.

Gently removing her hands, he kissed her one last time. Walking out of the house was the hardest thing he'd ever done. He walked down the street to a used car he'd bought, using cash, from the owner earlier that day. Getting behind the wheel, John looked in the mirror one last time. With a thought his face and body shifted, his skin grew darker, his face harder and sharper, his body a little smaller.

John was officially dead. Now there was only Mille. 

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Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Dartmouth General Hospital,
March 9th, 2005

Thanks to the heavy rain, and it being a Wednesday night, it was a relatively slow night in the ER. A few people coming in for bruises from fights or falls, an older man with chest pains, and a minor car accident. Things were moving along nicely, and the staff was enjoying the lack of real emergencies.

The outside doors opened, the triage nurse looked up from her computer and was immediately on her feet rushing to the shivering, naked, young girl who was shuffling inside. The deathly pale girl was covered in bruises that looked to be a few hours old, touching her skin she felt like ice.

“What happened?” the nurse asked.

“C-c-c-cold,” the girl slurred.

“Where are your parents?”

“T-t-t-t-t-ired.”

“I need a stretcher!” the nurse yelled.

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The nameless girl, who looked to be eleven or twelve, lay in the hospital bed wrapped up in blankets, an IV was pumping a warm intravenous solution directly into her blood to help bring her body temperature up. The worst of her bruises and contusions were lightly wrapped up in bandages to help prevent swelling. She looked terrible but had mostly stopped shivering and was finally alert.

Detective Hull took a seat beside the hospital bed. She smiled at the girl hoping it would keep her calm and willing to talk. “Hi, I'm Detective Tricia Hull, and I'm here to help you. Can you answer some questions?”

“OK,” the girl said, her voice weak and shaky.

“Great,” she said, keeping her voice cheerful. “What's your name?”

The girl closed her eyes, her forehead knotted up in thought. “I don't know.”

“Do you know who your parents are?”

She shook her head.

Detective Hull struggled to keep smiling. “That's OK. How did you get hurt?”

“There was a bright light. It really hurt. I woke up on the sidewalk. No one was around so I started walking. I don't remember anything else. I'm sorry.”

Writing that little bit of information in her notebook, Hull hoped she could get something useful out of the girl.

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Philadelphia
January 2nd, 2002

The man known only as Mille casually ate his dinner, seemingly ignoring the few diners at the greasy spoon. He didn't look like much, scrawny, balding with only a fringe of short grey hair, his skin weather beaten, his nose and eyes bright red from decades of too much alcohol, his clothes were shabby, hard worn and stained, just like him. A ragged book rested beside his plate, a biography of an old time actor, Lon Chaney, the man of a thousand faces.

As he cut into his overcooked steak, a man entered the restaurant, he was slightly better dressed then Mille, but not by much. What set the newcomer apart from the rest, was the palpable aura of rage that infused the man. Where Mille would be forgotten in seconds as an old harmless working poor bum, people watched the newcomer with wary eyes, waiting for him to snap.

The angry man saw the book and took a seat. “You're Mille?”

He nodded. “You're Mr. Bradley, calling in John's marker?” He already knew who the man was and what he wanted, but things had to be done correctly, there could always be a surprise.

“Yeah. He's family, he knows how important this is.”

“What do you need?” Mille asked, casually taking a bite of his steak.

“I need Mathew Fusco dead.”

“Why?”

The man looked surprised. “What do you mean why? This is what you do isn't it?”

He nodded. “I like to know why someone deserves my services. Just because you have a marker, doesn't mean I have to accept the job.”

“He had his men rape and kill my daughter along with her husband, when they couldn't pay back his loan. Is that good enough for you?”

“Yes. You will not contact me, if something happens that you need to know about, I'll contact you. Keep an eye on the obituaries this month,” Mille said. Taking the last bite of his steak, he placed a hundred on the table, put on his coat and gloves, stuffed his book into his pocket and left. 

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Halifax, Nova Scotia
April, 2005

The girl known as Jane Fisher, looked up at her foster parents. Her caseworker had chosen the name for her when she hadn't been able to tell them her name. It was as good as any other name, and better than Jane Doe.

“Hi Jane,” Amanda, her foster mother, said.

Her foster father, Nick, smiled at her, “We're really happy to have you.”

“Thank you. I'll try not to cause any problems,” Jane said.

“I'm sure you'll be as good as gold and twice as precious,” Amanda said. “And if you need anything, anything at all, just ask. We're here to help you.”

“Come on, I'll show you your room. It's pretty basic, because we have lots of temporary foster kids come through, but if you want to put up some posters or pictures, we have sticky tack and some no damage hooks,” Nick told her, putting his hand on her shoulder.

“That's very kind of you.”  

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Halifax, Nova Scotia
Early August, 2007

“Did you do your homework, Jane?”

Jane looked up from her book, 'The Captain of Kopenick', a biography of a German criminal who had disguised himself as an army officer in 1906, took command of a group of soldiers, marched into a town, arrested the treasurer and made off with the treasury. “Yes, Alice. Would you like to look it over?” she asked.

Her foster mother shook her head. “I just wanted to make sure you got it done. I'm going to need you to set the table in twenty minutes.”

“I will,” she said.

Watching Alice leave, Jane realized she was being too formal again. She didn't have a bad reputation in the system, but she'd heard the adults talk about her, words like too creepy, too quiet, too unemotional, antisocial, and more, were commonly used. She tried her best, but she didn't know how to act her age. She couldn't even say what her real age was.

Once more she asked herself, who was Jane Fisher?

Two years after being found without any ID, family, friends, or even a name, and she still didn't know who she was. Her mind and personality didn't fit, and she didn't feel comfortable in her own skin. Her body was just wrong, it felt too small, too light, missing important bits. Maybe in a few more years it would finally feel like hers.

Going to the bathroom, she looked at herself in the mirror. Short brown hair framed her pale, chubby face, boring brown eyes, a few freckles, and her lips were a touch too thin. Her button nose was nice at least. She could politely be placed on the cute side of plain. She ran and exercised enough that she was curvy rather than fat, which a lot of the boys at school liked, much to her distaste.

Staring at herself, she went over her thrice daily ritual. “I'm Jane Fisher. I'm fourteen years old. I'm a girl. I am about to start high school. I am in the system. I am as close to ordinary as you can be,” she whispered to herself.

Why was this so hard to understand?

Forcing herself to smile, she went to the kitchen where Alice was busy making supper. “Do you need a hand with anything?” she asked.

“Could you cut up some vegetables for a salad?”

“No problem.” She went to the fridge and grabbed everything she'd need. Walking back to the counter she suddenly felt lightheaded. The room spun, the vegetables hit the floor. Grabbing the counter, she managed to keep her balance.

“Are you OK?” Alice asked.

“I feel really weird all of a sudden,” she said. Then she doubled over, fighting back the urge to vomit. Her skin grew cold, worms were wriggling under her skin, making it shift and warp. It seemed to go on for hours.

Alice screamed, jumping back in fright.

The sensation slowly faded away.

Something was tickling her face. Brushing the annoyance away, she realized she had long red hair. “Oh no,” she whispered, before racing to the bathroom.

In the mirror a beautiful girl was looking back at her. The chubbiness was gone, her cheekbones were delicate and well defined, her eyes were emerald green with long lashes, her lips full and red, her skin beautifully tanned. Her body had shifted as well, becoming toned, with hips and a butt that would fit a model, her breasts were hurting, stuck in a bra that was at least a cup too small.

Concentrating, she pictured her bust getting smaller. Gradually the pain decreased as her breasts shrank.

“Well, fuck me, I manifested,” she said, letting slip a rare swear.

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Philadelphia
January 6th, 2002

Looking over the many papers spread out on the old desk in his hotel room, Mille considered the facts.

Mr. Fusco, head of a fairly impressive criminal organization, close ties to the mob, mainly acting as a middle man for criminals at all levels. He seldom left his mansion at the edge of the city, keeping everything close to him, so he could control his little kingdom from his bed if he had to. His wife was a socialite, being the public face for him, donating money to local charities, working on committees that had her rubbing shoulders with the wives of local politicians and business leaders. Two young children, they almost never left the house, except to have play dates with other children born into wealth, they were cared for by a live in nanny and a personal tutor.

Just killing him would be annoying, but not too hard. Simply shifting to look like one of his body guards and shooting him in the back of the head would work and could be done in a day or two. Getting out would be a bit of a problem, likely requiring at least two or three more people getting killed. But that didn't feel right.

The man was a monster. His list of murder victims was in the high double digits, and that was just what Mille's contacts could confirm. While his main source of income was being a middle man, he also had his people running protection rackets, loan sharking, leg breaking, illegal gambling, supporting the drug trade, prostitution, sweat shops, and more.

Leaning back in his chair, he felt his thoughts getting jumbled together. The stress was getting to him.

Pulling out a hunting knife, he sliced his arm. He sighed in relief, feeling the tension leave his body along with the blood. His mind slowly cleared, leaving him with an idea of what to do. Fusco's kingdom was going to burn before he died.

His skin shifted, the cut vanished, leaving only the blood behind.  

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Halifax, Nova Scotia
Early August, 2007

Jane took a seat, looking curiously at her case worker, Mrs. MacDonald, and some government official in a really nice suit. She had an idea of what was going to happen, but there could always be a surprise, so she sat quietly, attentatively waiting for them to tell her what was going to happen now that she was confirmed as being a mutant shifter. At least her power was easy to control, just picture it in her mind and push a little. She had shifted back to her normal appearance and tried to keep it, despite the daily seizures which caused her to shift spontaniously. Sure the body still felt wrong, but at least it was something she was used to, like an old sweater that happened to be itchy.

“Miss Fisher, I'm Felix Trembley from the Ministry of Supernatural Affairs, I'll be working with your case worker to help you deal with your manifestation,” the man said.

“Thank you sir. I suppose I won't be going back to Alice and Jack,” she said, glancing at her duffle bag of clothes, essentials and the few keepsakes she had built up over the last two years.

“Unfortunately that's correct,” Mrs. MacDonald said. “While the situation was overall positive, they aren't equipped to handle a mutant, especially with your new medical condition.”

She nodded in understanding. The seizures were unpleasant to go through but she could handle it. Watching worms seem to move under her skin as she shifted however, was rather freakish, even she'd had a touch of nausea watching a recording of it. Fortunately, when she purposefully shifted, it was much smoother and less disturbing.

They looked at her, hiding their worry fairly well. She knew she should be showing more concern about what was happening, manifesting so suddenly, having seizures, losing her third home in two years, but she couldn't fake it. It was bad, but it was just something else she'd have to deal with, there was no reason to freak out about it.

“Right,” Mr. Trembley finally said. “Normally in your situation we would send you to Kings Academy just outside Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island. It's suited for helping most young mutants from the Maritimes. However your seizures have us worried. So we are going to send you to a special school in New Hampshire, Whateley Academy. It's an international school that specializes in teaching and working with mutants such as yourself. They have cutting edge medical technology and researchers, who should be able to help you control your power and deal with your seizures.”

Ice replaced her blood. “Sorry, I need the bathroom,” she said, hurriedly leaving the office and jogging down the hall. She made it just in time, and let out a sigh of relief that it was empty. Grabbing the sink, she began shuddering, her body somehow became colder as her skin crawled. It wasn't as bad as the very first seizure, that had been the worst, but it wasn't something she enjoyed.

Once it passed, she looked in the mirror, discovering she was Black with dreadlocks, at least her body hadn't changed much, having her pants fall off or getting a wedgie from too small underwear sucked. Picturing her old self, she quickly got herself looking normal again.

“Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. I don't want to leave the country, and definitely not to Whateley,” she muttered. “Think! How can I get out of it? Run away? No, don't be an idiot. Too young, no ID, seizures. I'd end up dead, forced onto a street corner, or a criminal. Not doing that. Claim I'm terrified of mutants? No, they'd see right through me, and if they did believe me, I'd be on suicide watch and therapy. Fuck!”

There was a knock on the door. “Are you OK in there Jane?” Mrs. MacDonald asked.

“Yeah, just trying to fix my face. Give me another minute please.”

She listened as the footsteps faded away.

“OK, I can handle this. I can't get out of it, just smile and go along with it, I've been through worse. Just gotta not stick out and everything will be fine. Four years, get my diploma and fade into obscurity. I can do it.” Feeling a little better now that she had decided on a course of action, she went off to meet her fate.

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Philadelphia
January 10th, 2002

Richard glared at the man who was sitting on his couch with a shit eating grin. “What the hell do you want?”

The man, who was damn near pitch black and built like a brick shit house, motioned to the chair. “Sit down, we have things to talk about,” he said, in a deep raspy voice. 

“I don't have anything to say to some asshole who breaks into my house and acts like it's his.”

A large manila envelope was thrown at him. “Open it. You'll see why your ass is mine,” the man said.

His hands started to shake. He'd done a lot of bad things, if this guy had hard evidence of some of it his ass was grass. Opening the envelope he took out ten photos. Looking at them, his face turned white.

“How the FUCK did you get these?!” he shouted.

“When I heard about your little kink I just had to see if it was real. A little bit of detective work, then tailing you for a few days, and I found where you like to go play. It was easy enough getting inside and setting up some cameras. I have an hour long video of you doing some very bad things. Do you know what they do to people like you in prison?” the man asked.

Despite the cold, sweat began dripping from Richards face. If the photos and video got out, he might as well shoot himself in the head. “What- what do you want?”

“You're friends with Mathew Fusco. He's going to need a new nanny very soon. I want you to tell him about a wonderful woman named Millicent Hart, one of the best nannies in the world. I don't care what you have to do, you make him want to hire this woman. You do that, I'll forget you exist.”

“That's it?”

“That's it. Simple enough even for scum like you.”

“Deal.”

“Good.” The man placed a second envelope on the coffee table. “Here's Millicent's info. Burn it after you memorize it. And remember don't double cross me. If anything happens to Millicent, I'll still be around.”

Richard just nodded as the man walked out of his apartment. The moment he was alone, he grabbed the photos and a lighter, heading for the bathroom. He had to make sure no one would ever see the pictures.

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Whateley
Power Testing Lab,
August, 2007

“OK, Just Me, can you try to become six feet tall?” Dr. Polland asked.

“I can try, sir,” Jane replied, wishing she'd been able to come up with a better codename. It was too bad that most good names for shifters sounded sinister or were taken, so she'd been forced to go with a harmless sounding one. 

She'd been doing a fairly easy series of shifting exercises, changing her skin colour, altering her size slightly, increasing and decreasing her mass. When she just changed her proportions, hair, nail or skin, shifting was a breeze. As long as she kept things within about ten pounds of her base form, it was only a minor strain.

A big change in height and weight, that would be a challenge. Still she thought she could probably handle it.

Picturing herself going from her usual five foot one to six feet, she pushed her body to fill the image. Sweat beaded up on her face, her muscles and bones shifted, turning soft and stretching like toffee. She felt her body gain weight. She was doing it. It wasn't easy or fast, but she was doing it.

There was an explosive snap, then another.

Jane shrieked in pain, hitting the floor as her legs broke. There was a third crack when her arm hit the ground and fractured.

Dr. Polland hit a button, sending an emergency message straight to Doyle. Rushing over to Jane, he tried to keep her from moving and causing more injury, as she slowly shrank down to her baseline body.

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Philadelphia
January 20th, 2002

Mathew Fusco was a large man. Everything about him seemed larger than life, from his impressive six-foot-five height, that went well with his broad shoulders and well toned body, to his personality and presence. Just looking at him made people feel small. “So you're Millicent Hart. I've heard some good things about you from my pal Dick.”

“I should hope so. I always give one hundred percent to my work,” Millicent said, smiling sweetly.

She felt his eyes study her body, ignoring the modest blazer and trousers she was wearing, stripping her naked and clearly enjoying what he saw. She had studied his taste in women, carefully crafting her look to appeal to him. Early twenties, long blonde hair, thick pouting lips, deep blue eyes, large breasts and long legs, every part of it was meant to attract his attention. Getting the paperwork, references, and ID to back up her look wasn't that hard, she knew the right people and had the money to get her things fast tracked.

He nodded at her words, his smile just verging on a leer. “Usually I wouldn't hire someone I don't know. But my nanny just up and left, claimed she had some family business come up, so I'm in a bit of a bind.”

“Her loss is my gain, I suppose.”

The former nanny hadn't lost much. The young woman had 'inherited' fifty thousand dollars from a long lost uncle, along with a ticket to the other side of the country for the next day and a week long reservation at a luxury hotel to give her a chance to find a place to stay. They nanny had driven a hard bargain even though she'd been thinking of quitting anyways. Despite the large paycheck, she had been getting tired of being bent over a convenient desk or table whenever Mr. Fusco decided he needed some stress relief.

“Well don't get too comfy yet. I'm a cautious man, and my kids are very important to me,” he said. “You agree to work for me, and one of my men will be watching you for a little while to make sure you actually know what you're doing. But you do well, I'm very generous and no one will mess with you.”

“I can handle that, sir. I have plenty of experience working with children, and I never disappoint an employer,” she said, smiling seductively as she looked him up and down.

He broke into a grin. “I think we're going to get along perfectly.”

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Whateley
August 2007

Nervously, Jane waited for Dr. Polland's instructions. The skin tight suit felt extra tight, probably from her nerves. Three days ago Doyle had used magic to fix her legs and arm after they'd broken under her weight. The pain was long past and she could walk and even run, but her limbs were still a little stiff, and the thought of breaking them again was unpleasant to say the least.

“Just Me, try to change your sex. Lets keep it simple and focus on the most basic changes possible,” Dr. Polland said.

“OK, sir.”

Picturing herself as male was surprisingly easy, keeping the mental image from becoming too elaborate was a little more difficult. Rather than going for a single large change, it would be easier to make a lot of little changes, building up to the denouement. Starting with her hair, it shortened to something like a buzz cut. Her face shifted, the bone structure thickening, becoming more chiselled as fat turned to bone, and her nose became larger, more hawk-like.

Her neck thickened, an Adams apple appeared, causing her to smile as it tickled her throat. Her breasts disappeared while her shoulders broadened a little. The small gut she had, smoothed out, tightening, being used as muscle and to thicken her bones.

Sweat began pouring off of her. The sensation of pins and needles erupted all along her limbs and spine. Slowing down the shifting process, Jane pushed through the discomfort. Her mental image shifted, causing her hips and butt shrank, filling in her waist, the legs followed suit, becoming straighter as her pelvis shifted. It felt like someone was running a cigarette along her skin.

Gritting her teeth, she focused on her genitals. The cigarette became a welding torch, focusing on her most sensitive area. Falling to her knees, clutching herself she pushed through the agony, Dr. Polland was yelling at her to stop.

After what felt like hours, the pain began to fade away.

Sitting up Jane realized the shift had worked. Feeling her body and looking down at it, she was male. She was short and on the scrawny side, but all the parts were there. Wiping the sweat from her face, she began to laugh. For the first time in two years she felt right.

“How are you feeling?” Dr. Polland asked.

Jane jerked in surprise, not realizing the doctor was kneeling beside her. Giving his head a shake, Jane realized he'd need to change his pronouns.

“I feel like someone worked me over with a fucking baseball bat.” He took a moment to savour his deeper voice, before continuing. “But I feel better now, the pain is mostly gone.” That was a gross understatement, he felt fantastic, the itchiness was finally gone. Getting to his feet, he stretched and walked around, enjoying the shift in his balance and how he walked.

“Good, good. Let's see how you viable the changes are.”

They left the testing lab and went to the examination room next door, where Jane hopped up on the scanner. While Dr. Polland got to work activating the machine that would check his internals, Jane asked, “So how long do you think I can hold this?”

“I'm not sure. How long can you normally hold a shift?” the doctor asked.

“Never tried to hold a big shift for long, I'm used to my base look. But I've changed a few details and they'll stay until I have a seizure.”

“Then there's a good chance this extensive of a change will do the same.”

The conversation was cut off as an image appeared on the monitor. Jane stretched his neck trying to get a good look at it, without moving his body. The image didn't tell him much, mostly being multicoloured blobs. After a few minutes the wait got to be too much. “What's it look like?”

“Everything seems to be viable, your reproductive organs have completely shifted to the male sex. I'm not sure how this will affect your seizures, but you should be stable until you choose to shift or have a seizure,” he said.

“Nice,” Jane said, looking over his new body. "What next?”

“We'll do some basic physical tests to see how your male body handles the strain, and then have you shift back to your base form. I'd like to see if it's easier on your body.”

Remembering how much turning into a boy had hurt, Jane could only mutter, “Fantastic,” at the thought of turning back.

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A half hour later, Jane was running on the treadmill again. His new form was handling the strain fairly well, there was no unexpected pain, weakness, or strange feelings. It worked exactly like a body should.

“Could I skip going back to being a girl. It really hurt the first time, I don't want to go through that again.”

“I'm sorry, we need to see how your body reacts when it shifts like that,” the doctor answered, not looking up from the computer screen. “The fact you can shift your internal organs successfully, but experienced so much difficulty doing so, is worrying. The more data we have on your power, increases our chance on helping prevent the seizures.”

Sighing in resignation, he nodded. “Dammit. OK. I guess I can handle it.”

His blood turned cold. Realizing another seizure was about to start, Jane tried to jump off the treadmill. Before he could, the freezing sensation surged through his body, locking his muscles in place. The machine kept moving, sending him to the ground. Pain erupted across his body. Giant hands squeezed him, kneading his flesh, crushing his bones, molding him into a new shape. The bitter cold encapsulating his body turned blazing hot.

Jane tried to scream. Tried to beg for help. Tried to move to put out the flames that were consuming his body. He failed. His body refused to move as it shifted and twitched.

Finally it ended.

Jane looked up at the worried face of Dr. Polland and several other people dressed in scrubs. Twisting her head, which felt like it was about to explode from pain, she realized she was being wheeled down a hallway in Doyle. When and how they had gotten her there, she didn't know. She also realized that she was a girl once more.

“Fuck,” she whispered.

Utterly exhausted and feeling like she'd been hit by a car, she closed her eyes, not caring what would happen next.

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Philadelphia
January 22nd, 2002

Millicent looked up at Mathew Fusco and smiled like she'd just gotten a Christmas present. “I should go get clean before the children wake up,” she said, getting to her feet. The morning sun lit up her messy blonde hair, making it look golden as she stood before him. 

“You do that, beautiful,” her employer said, squeezing her ass as she left his office.

The smile didn't leave her face until she reached her room and went into the ensuite bathroom. The second the door closed, she grabbed her bottle of mouthwash, poured it straight into her mouth, swished it around, ensuring it got everywhere and spit it out. She did it three more times, and finally felt halfways clean.

Tapping the little radio she kept in the bathroom, supposedly for music when she showered and put on makeup, she waited until it flashed blue. The little devise inside could detect nearly any type of bug, if it had flashed red, she was being watched; yellow, she might be watched; blue, she was in the clear.

Stripping out of her housecoat and nightgown, her features blurred. Where a shapely blonde woman had been, a powerfully built, middle aged man now stood. It wasn't his real face of course. He didn't know what he looked like anymore, it didn't matter to him, he'd willingly thrown his face away along with his name, long ago.

“I'm going to destroy him,” he whispered.

Seeing himself like this in the mirror, speaking the words, he felt the stress leave his body. He blurred again and Millicent Hart, sans her hair, once more stood naked in the bathroom, smiling beautifully. She had a quick shower to clean herself off, dried herself off and took a moment to regrow her hair, making sure every strand was perfect. She got dressed in easy to clean, fashionable clothes, that were suitable for a nanny of two children, and was ready to start the day.

Going to the children's nursery, she knocked on the door and stepped inside. “Good morning, Micheal. Good morning Jason,” she said.

The two young children, four and six respectively, yawned and grumbled. While they woke up, she prepared their clothes for the day, checked Micheal's sheets to make sure he hadn't wet the bed, and reminded both of them to wash their hands and faces with washcloths after going to the bathroom. Then she stepped out to let them get dressed.

While she waited in the hallway, she saw Mr. Fusco's accountant coming her way. He was a nervous looking Indian man, single, had a dating account that had never gotten him anything, and was a genius with juggling numbers. She knew all about him from her research before coming to the house, and he was the main reason she hadn't just put a bullet in Mr. Fusco head. She caught his eye and smiled.

“Ah, Ms. Hart. Hello again,” he said.

“Hi Shivansh. Did I say your name right?” she asked, twirling her hair around her finger.

“Uh, yes, yes you did, Ms. Hart. Perfectly,” he replied, grinning like an idiot and getting a very noticeable bulge in his pants.

She grinned back at him, putting a hand on his arm, she looked straight into his eyes. “I told you to call me Millicent, you're making me feel old saying Ms. Hart all the time.”

He opened his mouth several times trying to speak, failing each time. “Right, Ms. Uh, Millicent, I'll remember that.”

Giggling, she squeezed his arm. “You do that. Maybe we can talk later.”

“Really?! You want to talk to me?”

“Why wouldn't I? We both work here all day, it's good idea to make friends with my colleagues.” She enunciated friends very carefully, letting his mind go wild.

He nodded, said his goodbyes and went on his way seemingly in a daze.

She smiled. This was going better than planned.

Her watcher, a leg breaker called Mitch, came up to her as the kids came out ready for breakfast. He didn't look happy.

“You started early. You're supposed to get the kids up at eight,” he said, pointing at his watch.

“I had an early meeting with Mr. Fusco, I didn't think it would do any harm to move things ahead a little,” she said.

“We have a schedule, keep to it.”

Looking down at her feet, she clasped her hands together behind her back, giving the impression of a scolded schoolgirl, she nodded. “All right. I'll make sure to keep to the schedule from now on, I'm sorry Mitch.”

He grunted, not so much in approval, but to make sure she would remember her place in the household.

Turning back to Mike and Jason who were impatiently watching them, she smiled and shooed them towards the stairs. “Come along boys, lets see what the cook has ready for breakfast, then we'll have playtime until your tutor comes.”

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Whateley
August, 2007

The campus was busy with students. Everyone, staff and students alike, were rushing around getting organized, meeting with advisors, getting into trouble, power testing, pushing limits, and getting the final touches finished as the school prepared for the first day of class.

Jane, having arrived early, was able to sit back and relax, her classes already chosen, the tour done, and having moved into her room in Dickinson. So having to make her way through the crowd to Doyle was a little annoying.

She sat in a comfortable examination room, reading her latest book about the early supervillain Mephisto the Mentalist, who used trickery and some mental powers to pull off his crimes, waiting for Dr. Polland to arrive.

Twenty minutes after her appointment was supposed to start, he finally arrived.

“Hello Dr. Polland. What do you need today?” Jane asked.

“I don't need anything. Today I've got some good news for you.”

She leaned forward, interested in this change of events.

“We've been able to analyze everything from the brain scans, along with your power testing. The seizure you had shifting back to your baseline, was a stroke of luck. We've been able to get a grip on your condition, and create a plan of action to limit it,” he said.

“I'd prefer getting rid of it completely, but limiting it will be nice.”

“We can't stop them, the section of your brain that signals to your cells when to shift is abnormal and there is no way to fix it. However, we believe standard anti-seizure medication will help. You'll be taking two pills a day. Initially we'll need to monitor you to fine tune the dosage, once that's all done the seizures should occur less often, and not be quite so severe.”

Smiling at the news, Jane almost gave a little cheer. The seizures were annoying to deal with, and if she could lessen them, there was a chance she could become a boy without so much pain.

“However, you should still be careful about how you shift. Drastic shifting, such as altering your sex, caused a great deal of stress on your body, leading to the grand mal seizure.”

She lost the smile, but forced herself to not look unhappy. Ultimately the less she revealed the better. “OK, that's useful to know.”

“Also you should try to avoid getting too stressed, overly tired, or too hungry or thirsty. They can all trigger a seizure.”

Avoiding stress and tiredness as a student, that would be easy to do. “I'll try.”

Dr. Polland gave her an encouraging smile. “I have to get back to power testing, a nurse will be in in a few minutes to give you the first round of medication and give you a more detailed rundown on how to control your seizures. For the next week at least, you'll have to come here to take the medication so we can ensure there aren't any dangerous side effects. Once we're sure its OK, you can start taking them in your dorm. Do you have any questions for me?”

“No, sir. I'm good.”

She ignored him as he left. Having to take medication for the rest of her life wasn't nice to hear, but she'd been in worse situations. At least this one was more of an annoyance than anything.

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Halifax, Nova Scotia
April, 2005

“Jane, are you awake?” Amanda whispered.

Rolling over in the comfortable, and surprisingly large bed, Jane shaded her eyes against the harsh light coming from the door and looked curiously at her foster mother. “I am now. Do you need anything?” she asked, wondering if something had happened.

Amanda came to the side of the bed, her pajamas rustling as she walked. “Sorry, I just wanted to make sure you were all right.”

“I'm fine, thank you.”

Her foster parent lifted the blanket and gave her a little push. “Scootch over for me.”

“What are you doing?” Jane asked, getting very uncomfortable. 

Amanda got into bed with her, placing an arm over her chest. “I've found with a lot of girls, that cuddling up like this really helps us bond.”

“OK.”

“Just close your eyes and go to sleep,” the woman said, giving her a kiss on the cheek.

She moved to get some space away from Amanda, only to have the woman move as well, getting so close they looked like a single person under the blanket. Closing her eyes, Jane tried to go back to sleep with Amanda's breath tickling her neck.

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Philadelphia
January 23rd, 2002

Mathew Fusco walked with a purpose through the dark hall. It was three in the morning and most of the house was asleep, only his night guards were up and moving in the household. He ran a tight ship and hated people not being where they were supposed to be, which was one reason he had so many cameras throughout his house.

He came to the security room door and knocked once. The door looked like every other door in the house, but it had a solid steel core that made it secure from most conventional means. The camera above the door shifted slightly, getting a better look at his face. The door opened and the guard stepped out of the way to let him in.

“Good morning sir, is there a problem?” the guard asked, surprised that his employer was up and about so early in the morning.

“I have a bad feeling,” Mr. Fusco said. “Do a scan of the grounds for me.”

“Yes, sir.”

The guard sat down and started going through the various cameras, looking at the screens for anything out of the ordinary. While he was busy doing that, Mathew Fusco took a needle from his pocket and jabbed it into the guards neck. The special knockout drug sent the guard to dreamland nearly instantly. When he woke up in an hour he wouldn't remember the last ten minutes and assume he'd just fallen asleep.

Mathew Fusco shoved the guard and the desk chair aside, allowing him to plug a USB stick into the computer. His fingers flew over the keys downloading the virus straight into the security system. A final check confirmed it was well hidden and working properly. Putting the sleeping guard back in place, he took his leave.

He went to the nanny's room and let himself in. Once inside, he removed his clothes and shifted back to Millicent. Taking out a heavily modified Blackberry, Millicent connected an Ethernet cable to it, and after typing in a special code, was linked into the security system thanks to her virus. From there she deleted all evidence of Mathew Fusco doing anything out of the ordinary that night, replacing it with video of empty halls.

Now she could properly begin her campaign of destruction.

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Dickenson Cottage, Whateley
August, 2007

“What happened to your hair?” Amber Ashton asked.

Jane turned to her new roommate, who was busy blow drying her glittery blue hair. She nervously ran her hand over her own bare scalp and gave a bit of a shrug. “I don't want to waste time washing and drying my hair. So I got rid of it. It comes back,” she said, giving herself a brown pixie cut.

“Neat. I wish I could shift like that.” A few of the other girls in the showers nodded in agreement.

“What if you shifted after your shower and then shifted back?”

“I-” Amber started to answer, but stopped, looking confused. “I never thought of that.” She put down her hair blower, and a second later Amber, who was already short and willowy to begin with, was even smaller. Where she had been standing was a foot tall, fairy-like girl, wearing a poofy pink dress, with shimmering dragonfly wings, and a long colourful wand capped by a golden star. Then she shifted back to her human form, still wet, still wearing a towel, and holding her hairbrush.

“I should have realized that would be too easy,” Amber said, smiling wryly as she picked up her hair blower and went back to her hair.

One of the other Dickinson girls said, “Ah you were so cute. You should go like that all day.”

“Yeah,” another one said, “you could be friends with that fairy girl in Whitman.”

Laughing, Amber said, “No thank you. My codename may be Smile, and my spirit may have delusions of being the actual tooth fairy, but Teri is way too happy-go-lucky even for me.”

Not feeling that comfortable around so many people, Jane finished drying off and headed back to her room to get dressed. Soon enough her roommate joined her.

“Why did you pick Smile as your codename?” Jane asked, keeping her eyes averted as her roommate put on her clothes.

“Because it's usually better to smile than to cry. No matter how bad things seem, if you keep moving forward trying to get better, things will eventually improve,” Amber said.

“You really believe that?”

Her roommates nodded. “Yeah, just look at me. Six months ago I was strapped down in a pool of someone elses blood thinking my parents were going to murder me, and now here I am with a funny spirit, alive and healthy, ready to face the world.”

“WHAT?!”

“Sorry, that was a bit abrupt wasn't it. My psychiatrist said I shouldn't hide what happened, as long as I'm comfortable talking about it. Anyways, I discovered my parents were serial killers when I accidentally found a secret dungeon in their laser tag and arcade place. Things kind of went sideways for a bit there.”

“Uh-huh,” Jane said. “What happened to your parents?”

“They got away, and took my little brother with them.” Amber clenched her hands into fists, before turning away to pick out her clothes. “I hope he's all right, and I hope they arrest my parents soon. But I'm doing better, I sometimes cry about it, which is healthy, and I'm talking to a psychiatrist, I need to meet my new one today, and I'm getting on with my life. So yeah, smile, because as long as you're alive it can't stay all bad.”

Jane picked at the hem of her skirt, not sure what to say for a moment. Plucking up her courage, she finally said, “Well I'm sorry about what happened. If you need anything, even just a hug, let me know.”

“Thanks, that means a lot,” Amber said, smiling at her and revealing a perfect set of teeth. “I'll probably take you up on the hug sometime.”

“So,” Jane said, trying to get the conversation onto something normal, “what are you planning for your classes.”

“I've got to take a shifter class, I'm hoping we could do that one together. Basic Martial Arts is a must. The Powers Studies stuff was mentioned several times in the book, so that seems to be important. Not sure about the rest, probably math and English. You?”

“I have shifter class just before lunch, we can help each other with homework. I'm not risking my face in Martial Arts, it’s Survival for me.”

“You want to be a lover, not a fighter?” her roommate teased.

“Neither,” Jane replied. “I'd rather be ignored.”

“Where's the fun in that?”

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Philadelphia
January 24th, 2002

Seeing that Jason and Micheal were contentedly painting new 'masterpieces' to show their parents, Millicent turned to her minder who was leaning beside the door looking bored out of his mind. “I'm just going to slip out for a bathroom break.”

He grunted, like he almost always did when she wasn't doing anything wrong. In the hallway she quickly headed for the bathroom, splashed some water around and was out a minute later. On her way back, she came to the accounting room, and quietly knocked on the door.

“Come in,” Shivansh said.

She slipped into the office, making sure he saw her sexiest smile. “Hey Shivansh. I was wondering if you were going to stay late tonight?”

He looked confused. “Why would I be staying late?”

“Well,” she said, placing her finger on her lip, “I don't really have a chance to get out and meet people, and I know you sometimes stay in one of the guestrooms. Since you're the only one here who is actually nice to me, I was thinking that maybe we could talk after everyone's asleep.”

His jaw dropped. She had him pegged as the brilliant shy guy who didn't know how to talk to women, and wouldn't risk saying something that could be taken the wrong way or embarrass him. A harmless, hopeless, dreamer. If she dangled the right bait in front of him, he'd jump at the chance, not believing his luck.

“Yeah. OK. I can come up with something. Are you sure?”

“Very sure. I need to get back to the children, I can't wait to see you tonight.” Stepping out, she walked back to the playroom, relieved to see the two children were still painting.

“Took you long enough,” her minder said.

“Sorry, it's that time of the month. I needed a little extra time,” she said, rolling her eyes.

Kneeling down between the boys, she gave them each a big smile. “Oh my, you can both paint so well! I think this deserves a treat, after supper how about we watch a movie with some icecream?”

They both cheered with delight.

For a moment, she thought of the child she had left behind years ago. The smile never left her face as she forced the thought away. There was no place in her work for emotion. If she let herself feel, she wouldn't be able to destroy the lives of the two children who were hugging her.

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Millicent tapped some instructions into her Blackberry, causing the security cameras from her room to the guest rooms to loop. She had already checked the cameras to make sure the way was clear, and if the usual pattern was kept, there wouldn't be anyone there for the next fifteen minutes.

Wearing just a robe over a sexy, lacy silk slip that hugged her body, and carrying a bottle of wine, she quietly made her way to Shivansh's room, and tapped on the door.

He opened it so quickly, she suspected he was sitting beside the door waiting for her. She stepped inside, rubbing her breasts against him. Unlike her, he was still completely dressed. “Thanks for staying up. I've missed having adult company,” she purred.

He stared at her opened mouth, before remembering he needed to breathe. “My pleasure,” he said, closing the door.

“Do you have any glasses?” she asked, raising the wine bottle.

Of course there were glasses, Mathew Fusco was many things, but he knew how to treat his guests, some luxury hotels could learn from him. The accountant had wine glasses out and the wine opened in no time.

Slipping off her robe, she took the bottle from him, “Let me do that, while you get into something more comfortable.”

She heard him stumbling around, trying to get out of his clothes so quickly he almost fell over. She poured a glass for herself, then dropped a small pill into the other cup and filled it with wine. Picking the glasses up, she gave his a small shake to help dissolve the pill, and turned around to see Shivansh standing in the middle of the room in just his boxers, looking very embarrassed.

Handing him his glass, she held her own up for a toast. “To a happy night between two friends,” she said, taking a long drink.

He followed suit.

She took a seat on his bed, giving him a come hither look. He sat down beside her, his eyes trying to take in her entire body at once. “Drink your wine,” she said, running her fingers down his chest, “and then lie down and I'll give you a massage. You must be so cramped after working on the computer all day.”

Shivansh drained the rest of the cup in one gulp and practically threw himself on the bed. Giggling, she climbed on top of him.

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The lights were off, and Shivansh was sound asleep beside her. Getting out of bed, Millicent shivered a little as the cool air hit her naked flesh. Turning on the light, she took a pad of paper and pen from the desk. She didn't like taking the risk of writing things down, but she was tired and didn't want to rely solely on her memory.

“Shivansh,” she said.

He grunted, not quite waking up.

“Shivansh, what's the account number for Mr. Fusco's main account?”

The accountant started rattling off a series of numbers, she diligently wrote it down. The special drug she had given him would make him answer everything truthfully and never remember a thing.

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Crystal Hall, Whateley
September, 2007

“Hi Amber,” Jane said, walking up to her roommates table with a freshman boy in tow. “I hope you don't mind, I invited a guy I met in Survival class to have supper with us. This is Shaun, or you can call him Incognito.”

“Pleasure to meet you,” Amber said, looking the rather plain, brown hair boy up and down. “I brought my own friend, and here she is now. Hey Aella, over here.”

A rather large blonde girl, with an enormous gut, sat down beside Smile, she had a small salad on her tray and a glass of sparkly water. “Um, hi,” she said shyly.

“She sits beside me in math, and she's actually a wizard. Isn't that cool?”

Jane nodded, she'd always wanted to do magic. “Aella, is that your name or codename?”

“Both really,” the blonde said, picking at her salad. “My real name has a few memories I don't want to think about.”

She took a bite of her sandwich to think about what to say next. Being surrounded by people her own age was helping her open up, mostly by copying how they acted, but she still felt like a fake.

Shaun picked up the slack. “So you're a wizard, that's amazing. I'm just a gadgeteer three, I specialize in disguises.” He took a spray bottle out of his pocket and sprayed it on his hair, making it go from brown to black. “This is my first gadget, a type of hair dye that reacts to a special chemical to change colour.”

“Oh, can I try that sometime?” Amber asked.

“Sure in a few weeks,” he said. “They want to run some tests to make sure it's completely safe, and lots of new kids have their own devises and gadgets that need to be tested, so the waiting list is really long. What can you do?” 

“I've got a spirit that thinks she's the tooth fairy, that makes me an Avatar two, shifter five, and energizer two. Perfect teeth, I can shift into a fairy girl, and can make people go numb. And no I'm not going to show what I look like while a certain tiny fairy is around. But it made me smaller, everywhere,” Amber said, glancing very unhappily at her virtually non-existent chest.

It seemed like it was her turn, Jane was just about to talk about her power when she felt cold. She silently cursed, she'd gone three days without a seizure and now this happened. She put down her sandwich and gripped the edge of the table, letting her body do it's thing. The seizure was over in a few seconds, just enough time to freak out everyone at the table. Looking at her hands and her waist length, jet black hair, she was pretty sure she was Southeast Asian, and her clothes, including her bra and panties were too small. Sighing in frustration, she shifted back to her base form, and as casually as possible, adjusted her underwear.

“What happened?” Amber asked, looking concerned.

“Sorry, a problem with my powers. I get seizures sometimes and do a full body shift at random. Not dangerous, just annoying,” she said. “And yeah, Shifter five, I can shift to look like other women as long as they're close to my size. If you like codenames, it's Just Me.”

Shaun kept watching her for a minute, the concern clearly written on his face. Shaking himself, he turned to Aella. “Do you have any powers other than being a wizard?”

She shrugged. “I'm an exemplar, just a two, wizard two, and manifestor three, I can blow out hot air.”

Jane and Shaun looked at her oddly.

“My body makes a lot of hot air. That's why I look so fat, it's stored in me until I blow it out. I hate my power.”

“What if you blow it all out?” Jane asked.

“Then I can knock over a wooden wall, and my belly would deflate leaving a lot of saggy skin for a bit until I fill up again. I can fill it up a lot more quickly by taking a deep breath, but it feels cold and strange. So I can be fat or carry around a couple pounds of saggy extra skin,” Aella said, stabbing her salad.

As GSD went, the girl didn't have it too bad, she still looked human, but Jane could understand being upset. Having run out of things to say, she focused on eating, letting the conversation move on without her, as she memorized how they talked and acted. Eventually it reached a point where she would be expected to join in.

“I'm from Tulsa, Oklahoma,” Shaun said, “but I've travelled a lot. My Mom has an obsession with Paris.”

“I've always wanted to go to Paris,” Amber said, getting a faraway look in her eyes. “I'm from London. Not London, England, London, Ontario, in Canada. You would not believe how many people have asked why I don't sound British in the last few days.”

Aella gave the girl a sympathetic smile. “I'm from Springfield, Massachusetts, I know exactly what you mean. And I have never gone to school with Lisa, and there isn't a nuclear power plant.”

All eyes fell on Jane. Time to talk again. “Halifax, Canada. Not much to say about it.”

“What did your parents say when you manifested?” Aella asked.

“My foster mom screamed and called 911,” Jane said with a shrug. “Can't blame her, I had a seizure when I manifested, worse then you just saw. A week later I was back with the government and getting sent here. So yeah, not the best outcome, but I can't complain.”

“What about your real parents?” Shaun asked. A second later he started rubbing his neck and looking really awkward as he realized it was probably a bad question.

“No idea. Don't remember anything from before I walked into a hospital with hypothermia two years ago.” She tried to make it sound unimportant.

Everyone looked at her, causing her cheeks to turn red.

Amber noticed and blurted out, “My parents tried to kill me.”

Shaun and Aella turned their attention to her.

“Because you're a mutant?” Shaun asked.

“No. I didn't manifest until they had me strapped down and left to deal with some things, while I thought things over. I found out they were serial killers and tried to call the police, they didn't want me to do that, obviously. Fortunately I manifested and was able to get away.”

Aella shook her head, eyes wide. “Damn, I thought I had it bad when my parents handed me over to my uncle and gave him money to look after me.”

Smiling, Amber said, “I survived, so it's not too bad. And if I see them again, I can actually fight back now. So, anyways, who has the best teacher so far?”

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Halifax, Nova Scotia
June, 2005

“Jane.”

Spinning around, Jane started to raise her hand which held a sharpened pencil. Seeing the teacher, she grabbed her wrist and pressed her arms tight to her stomach. “Yes, Mr. Stewart?” she asked.

“Are you OK? You seemed to have trouble focusing today,” the math teacher said.

“I'm fine, sir. Just didn't sleep very well last night, shouldn't have watched a horror movie with my foster parents,” she said.

He studied her face for a moment. “All right. But if you need to talk about anything you can go to the school counsellor, or any of the teachers, including me.”

She gave him a small smile. “Thank you, sir, but everything is fine. I'm already talking to a therapist, and things are going OK.”

“OK, I”m glad to hear that, just remember my offer.”

“I will. Can I go now, I need to get to my ride?”

The teacher nodded, and waved her on her way. She got her things from her locker and headed outside. As expected, her foster father was waiting for her. Climbing into the car, she forced herself to smile. “Hi, Nick.”

“Hey Jane,” he said, putting his hand on her thigh.

Hiding her shudder, she eyed his throat, stomach and wrist, gripping the pencil like a knife. She slowly put the pencil away, she couldn't cause problems.

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Philadelphia
January 28th, 2002
Afternoon

Millicent was in the bathroom washing a bit of grease from her hands, her jacket hung on the door, it had some gravel and dust on it, which would need to be wiped off. The children were being tutored, so she had had a two hour window of free time allowing her to prepare her resignation, and when Mr. Fusco found it, things were going to be explosive.

A gunshot rang out.

It was followed by the sounds of a man screaming in sheer agony.

“If you don't tell me where my money is I'll shoot your other knee!” Mathew Fusco screamed, his voice loud enough to be heard from his office.

“He found my first surprise earlier than I thought,” she said, grinning at her reflection. “Poor Shivansh, you shouldn't work with psychos.”

Over the last three days, she'd used the codes and account numbers she'd gotten from Shivansh to play around with Mr. Fusco's finances. Tens of millions of dollars had been transferred into dozens of different accounts, which had been broken up even further as they'd been sent to even more accounts all over the world. It had taken a bit of work ensuring the emails, alerts and phonecalls had gone to her instead of Shivansh, but she had experience in that kind of work. At the moment several black hat accountants were laundering the money, sending half of it to various charities, placing a quarter of it into Mille's many bank accounts, and breaking up the rest to some of the more recent victims of Mr. Fusco, after taking a percentage for themselves.

Mr. Fusco wasn't broke, he still had all his physical assets, she couldn't drain all of his accounts, and several of her actions could eventually be reversed, but he was going to be stuck in financial hell for the next few months. He'd probably need to sell some of his fancy artwork as well to cover his immediate bills and hire a whole team of forensic accountants. Well he would if he was going to survive the hour. 

Leaving the bathroom, she went to her closet and put on a suit jacket. It was a bit thicker than normal, and much heavier, thanks to the steel plates sewn into the kevlar liner. From a secret compartment in her suitcase, she took out several knives, two pistols, and a few goodies. She holstered the two guns on her waist, and placed the knives in various pockets sewn into the jacket for concealment and easy access. With her tools of the trade ready, she closed her eyes and shifted most of the fat in her body into muscle and bone. Her shape stayed largely the same, and there was nothing inhuman about her physique, but she was now at the upper end of strength and durability for a woman.

There was a loud knock on the door. “Ms. Hart, Mr. Fusco wants to see you immediately,” a husky voice said.

“I'll be right there,” she said.

The anger that had been building up for the month, first at what Mathew Fusco did to people who got on his bad side or ended up in one of his brothels or sweatshops, and then having to pleasure him to earn his trust, came to the fore. Drawing a knife, she went to the door, grinning at the thought of letting loose.

Opening the door, she was confronted by two of Mr. Fusco's guards, they weren't holding any weapons, their size alone would be enough to intimidate a normal person. Unfortunately for them, they weren't dealing with a normal person.

Lashing out, Millicent's knife tore through the first guards throat. She lunged past the startled and dying man, hitting the second guard with her shoulder, which was slightly more effective than hitting a brick wall. But it did startle him, he had been reaching for his gun, then he started to grab for her. The second of confusion allowed her to plunge the knife into his inner thigh and slice straight through his artery.

He fell, screaming in pain, struggling to control the gush of blood.

With the element of surprise gone, she drew her pistol and shot him in the head.

Pistol at the ready, she made her way towards Mr. Fusco's office. A door opened behind her. Spinning around, she saw the tutor run into the hallway, pushing Jason and Micheal in front of him.

“Get-” she started to warn them to get back inside the room and stay there, when a hammer hit her in the back.

Grunting in pain, she twisted around and shot the man who had just shot her, twice in the chest. Looking back, the tutor was gone. Shaking her head in frustration, she put them out of her mind, they weren't part of her mission, hopefully they wouldn't get shot by a trigger happy guard.

Grunting in pain from the bruise on her back, she took a moment to shift slightly, moving the bruised and damaged flesh around her torso. It wasn't healed, instead it spread out the pain, making it less intense in one particular area, becoming a dull ache that was easier to deal with.

There was shouting from the bottom floor of the house, but no one seemed to be coming up. The place was a house, not a military base, most of the guards were outside, ensuring no one got inside. She'd taken out three of the inside guards, the rest would likely be with Mr. Fusco. Easy enough to deal with.

Quickly and cautiously she made her way to the closed door of Mr. Fusco's office. Pulling a small brick of plastic explosives from her pocket, she put it on the door, attached a remote detonator and ducked into a nearby room. Activating the explosives, she was out in the hallway racing for the office before the echoes faded away.

She fired at the three people in the office, not bothering to confirm who they were, if they were in the office, they needed to die. When everyone was down, Millicent took the time to see who they were. Shivansh had taken two bullets to the chest, looking him over, he had already been shot in the knee, and his face was badly bruised. Two guards were lying in pools of blood by the desk.

There was no sign of Mr. Fusco.

Going over the house plans in her mind, she hadn't seen anything about an escape route. But since Mr. Fusco wasn't in the room, and she knew he hadn't left via the door, it was clear her intel was wrong. Going directly outside would be possible, but unlikely, a sniper would easily take him out. The garage was on this side of the house, going there made the most sense, they could get him into a car and out of the area.

And that was why she'd left a surprise in the garage.

Still she wasn't about to rely on that. She had to make sure he was dead to complete her contract.

Jogging downstairs a few servants ran away from her screaming in terror, ignoring them Millicent went to the garage door and cautiously opened it a little. It looked empty except for several cars and some off road vehicles. Then she saw the tutor in the driver seat of a mini-van, Micheal's tiny face was pressed against the tinted window looking at her.

She ran towards the van, shouting, “NO! DO-”

The mini-vans engine roared to life. The bomb she'd planted on the vehicle exploded, the blast knocked her flat. Coughing, she clutched her ribs and struggled to her feet. Dazed, she looked around and saw a bunch of keys lying on the ground. The tutor must have grabbed all the keys for the vehicles and tried each of them until he found the right one.

Going to the outside door, she saw a black sports car roaring away. Several guards were running for the house, weapons drawn.

“FUCK!” she screamed.

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Whateley
September, 2007

Shaun beat his head against the table. “I'm a total screw up.”

“You didn't do that bad, The Imp even said you probably would have gotten away if you hadn't tripped,” Jane said. “You were trying to run away from a probability warper, something was bound to screw up.”

He shrugged, still upset about what had happened in Survival class. They hadn't expected The Imp to be subbing that day, or that they'd be playing tag. Shaun hadn't exactly enjoyed the experience. She'd done pretty well, until her partners had gotten their act together and forced her into a trap.

“Where did you get so good at running?” he asked.

“I like to jog,” she said. “It helps clear my mind. If you want, you can join me in the morning or evening.”

“You run twice a day?”

She nodded. “Like I said, it helps clear my mind. Gets me set for the start of the day, and then it helps me get ready to go to sleep. If I don't run, I'll spend half the night tossing and turning. So would you like to join me?”

“Sure, but only in the evening. I wake up with devisor coffee, nothing else.”

Jane shuddered and made a face. “I've smelled that stuff you call coffee, it should be listed as a chemical weapon. So what are you working on at night that forces you to drink that stuff?”

“I'm trying to make an improved mask. The ones they have now are pretty good, but they're expensive, take a while to make, and if you sweat too much, have oily or really dry skin, too many whiskers, or GSD like scales, they don't work that well. I've figured out how to make them mold to a persons face more securely, but there's room for improvement, and I think I can use some different chemicals to make production cheaper and faster.”

“That would be really good for some students. That fairy who keeps trying to get Amber to play with her, she has a roommate who has pretty odd skin. She usually covers herself in makeup, which can't be cheap or good for the skin.”

Nodding, he looked away from her. “Would you like to help me?”

“Me, help?” She blushed. “Let's try that again without the cavegirl speech. You want me to help? I'm not up to date with the latest gadgets.”

Shaun chuckled at her embarrassment. “I need people with different types of skin to see if the mask will hold. Since you're a shifter you can do almost everything I need.”

“So you'll only need one guinea pig, instead of a dozen or two?”

“Um, yeah.”

Smiling, she nodded. “OK, I'll be your guinea pig. But just to be perfectly clear, if you say we need to play doctor to test the masks, you're losing your hand.”  

Now it was his turn to blush. “Hadn't even crossed my mind.”

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Philadelphia
January 30th, 2002

Mille once more sat in a diner, he held a coffee in shaking hands. He looked like an old man, probably in his seventies with a foot in the grave. Once again a Lon Chaney biography sat beside him. Mr. Bradley sat across from him, the man who had been so angry a month ago, just looked tired now.

“You didn't kill him,” Mr. Bradley said.

“No, he had a secret exit that wasn't in the plans. I have a lead on his location, but it will take a bit more time,” Mille said.

“Don't bother.”

He looked at the man questioningly.

“You got rid of his kids, now he knows what it feels like. And from what I've heard he's lost almost all his money.” The man gave a wane smile. “Thanks for the hundred thousand. I didn't know I had a long lost cousin in Europe.”

“I wanted to make him hurt. It seemed appropriate for all that he's done.”

“Well he's definitely feeling the pain.”

“If,” Mille said, stressing the word, “he learns you called me in, he'll kill you slowly.”

The man waved his hand, as if he were shooing a fly away. “I'm a widower with no close family left. I'm going to take my money, fly to Florida, rent a nice boat, get some drinks, and go fishing one last time. That bastard can come after me if he wants to, I'll save him a seat.”

“Very well, our business is done then. Enjoy your fishing trip,” he said, extending his hand.

Mr. Bradley shook his hand. “Thank you, for everything,” he said and left.

Looking around the diner, Mille saw that no one was watching him. Taking a fork, he rammed it into his hand.

“Now you're a child murderer. Katherine would be so proud of you,” he muttered.

He twisted the fork, trying to let out the rage and self-loathing that filled him.

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Workshop, Whateley
October, 2007

The small group of friends sat around Shaun's workstation. Jane, Amber and Aella on one side, and Shaun and his roommate Cooper on the other.

“OK, who knows what they want for Halloween? The shop is open,” Shaun said.

Amber elbowed Aella. The large girl looked at her hands, and said almost in a whisper, “Ursula from Little Mermaid.”

“Good choice, fun, flamboyant and cool looking,” Shaun said, writing it down. “How realistic do you want the tentacles? I'm pretty sure I can get them moving realistically.”

“If they could move a little it would be cool, and make them look slimy without actually being slimy,” Aella said.

“No problem,” he replied, jotting it down. “Amber, you're up.”

“I was thinking of going as a magical girl, but I REALLY don't want to deal with Wondercute,” Amber said, making a face. “So keeping with the Little Mermaid theme, how about Ariel? I know the tail could be a problem, but if it's a split skirt so I can walk with it while still looking like one piece, with the actual fin coming out behind me it should work.”

“OK, fish scale tail, that can be walked in, seashell bikini with extra padding, long red hair. Easy enough.”

Scowling, Amber turned into her tiny fairy form and pointed her wand at Shaun's face. A moment later his jaw was hanging open.

“Wha' 'id I 'o?” he asked, slapping his numbed jaw.

Turning back to her human form, Amber glared at him. “Didn't your mom ever tell you not to make rude comments about a girls figure?”

“I 'idn'!”

Jane leaned over to him. “Seashell bikini with extra padding. Yeah, you deserved that.”

Aella nodded, while Cooper wisely stepped away from his friend and stayed out of the line of fire.

“Now that he's learned his lesson, Cooper, what about you?” Amber asked.

“Since everyone seems to want to go Disney, how about I go as Prince Eric?” he asked, looking straight at Amber.

Jane had to admire his attempt, from her roommates shy smile and the way her sparkling blue eyes became even more sparkly, Amber liked it too.

“I think that could work,” Amber said, then tried to hide behind her curly blue hair.

“'ane?” Shaun asked, still trying to make his mouth shut properly.

Shifting her body and face, Jane made herself look like a slightly shorter Kirsten Dunst. She smiled and spun in a circle to show off, even though it made the itchy feeling she constantly lived with even worse. “Just need a dress that matches the red and blue one she wore in the first Champion movie.”

“'ould I 'o-” Shaun tried to speak, then gave up in disgust. Writing on his notepad, he held it up for her.

Jane read it outloud. “Should I go as Champion?” 

All eyes fell on her.

“No, you don't have the body for it. Sorry,” she said without any hesitation. Seeing the hopeful look crumble and die, hurt, but she wasn't about to even pretend there was a chance between them. Still she didn't want to be cruel. “How about you go as Dr. Amazing, he's cool and more your style.”

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Later Jane and Shaun stayed behind while the others headed off to their dorms for the evening. She'd been helping him fairly regularly with his projects, and knew where he kept most of his tools, so she was helping him tidy up.

“Shaun,” she said, “I want to nip something in the bud. I'm friend zoning you.”

“Yeah, I kind of noticed that,” he said. It wasn't angry but there was a bit of pain in his voice. “Thanks for letting me know early before I made a fool of myself.”

“Welcome. But you should know why I'm doing it.”

“You don't have to if you don't want to. I'll keep being your friend, I'll just go look for another cute girl to pine after.”

She looked away and said, “Well maybe we can look at cute girls together.”

He dropped a complicated looking syringe type tool, and looked at her wide eyed. “You're gay?”

“Well lesbian, but yeah,” she said, still not able to look him in the eye. “I'm not going to make a big secret of it or anything, but if you could avoid telling everyone and their brother, at least until I actively start looking for a date, I'd appreciate it.”

“I won't tell anyone.” He pretended to zip his lips shut, then a thoughtful look came to his face. “Have you met Upbeat?”

Jane shook her head, wondering where he was going.

“She's a girl in Melville, I think. I've got her in a few classes. I think she's like you. Maybe you could talk to her?”

“Are you trying to set me up on a date?” she asked, giggling.

“No! I just meant, that it may, you know, be nice to know someone else, that ya know, has got the same tastes you do.”

Laughing, she shoved his arm. “Joking. Thanks for being cool about things. Let's get the rest of this stuff put away, it's getting late.”

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Seattle
November, 2004

Mille wandered aimlessly through South Park, Seattle.

It was not a nice neighbourhood, and his current appearance, a weedy guy wearing a nice coat and designer jeans, expensive shoes and a watch that cost what an average person earned in a month, looked like a perfect victim. But no one came near him. He knew why, he might look like a victim waiting to happen, but his stance, his eyes, and his walk were predatory. They knew he wanted a fight, so they avoided him, unsure what trick he had up his sleeve or if he was just some crazy person.

He looked at one group of thuggish looking young men, and was tempted to just walk over to them and start punching. It would help make the rage go away, at least for a little while. By the time it came back maybe he'd have a job where he could cut loose.

Instead he made his nails long and sharp, digging them into his palm, making himself bleed.

“Pull it together, you're supposed to be a professional,” he told himself.

He hadn't had a job come up in months. A few contacts had told him he was getting sloppy, not focusing on the job, going for the kill count, taking unnecessary risks. He told them they were wrong of course. He could justify everything he did. But in the end they were right.

“Mille, what the fuck are you doing?”

A brick or regenerator could get away with the crap he'd been pulling. A shifter like him, who relied on slipping into place and removing the problem, couldn't take chances. He was a scalpel, not a chainsaw or a sledgehammer.

Maybe if he shifted to a teenager, a lost little rich girl, someone would come after him. He could take his time with them, it would practically be a community service.

He grinned at the thought. A group of teens who were coming his way suddenly crossed the street, casting nervous looks his way. He started laughing at their obvious fear.

Going after scum did have a certain appeal. He didn't need money, he had a few bank accounts that were in the multi-millions, a dozen more with anywhere from ten-thousand to five-hundred-thousand. He could retire and spend his time going after people who deserved to die. The really bad criminals, corrupt politicians, supervillains and the worst businessmen.

The ones just like him.

“Or maybe I should just shoot myself. Put me out of everyone’s misery.”

His nihilistic thoughts faded slightly as a white van came to a stop ahead of him. A sixth sense developed over the decades began shrieking at him.

As the van doors opened revealing a small team of heavily armed and armoured gunmen, wearing something that looked like night vision goggles, Mille was jumping through a door into a store. Bullets hit the door close enough to feel the wind from them.

The gunmen fired through the windows, not caring about the customers and workers in the store. Ducking low, he ignored the screams and cries of the wounded and dying, heading for the back. As soon as he was out of sight, he ripped off his jacket, flipped it around and put it on, now it looked old, beat up, and was a different colour.

Shifting, he got older, grew a ragged beard that was a yellowish brown around his mouth as if he'd been smoking for decades, open sores pockmarked his face. Still running, he took a bag out of his pocket and opened it, letting the brown powder fall onto his legs and shoes, making them look dirty. By the time he got to the backdoor he was an entirely different person.

He ran down the alley, and turned at the first opportunity, putting a bit more space between himself and his attackers,       

They started yelling orders, splitting up to find him. He found a dumpster and fighting the urge to vomit at the smell, started digging through it, doing his best to look like a homeless bum in search of food or something he could sell. A small pistol slipped from his sleeve and into his hand. He'd rather not use it, the noise would attract everyone to his location, but if he needed it, he would need it immediately.

Two gunmen came to the corner, they were still looking around with the weird goggles. Watching them from the corner of his eye, he saw them study him for a few seconds, then they raised their guns. His hand whipped up and he fired several shots in their general direction, forcing them to get behind cover. Then he was running again, shifting his body to have longer legs, more muscle and less mass.

How were they following him? His shifting was flawless.

He needed to get a set of those goggles.

Coming to a sidewalk, he cursed at the lack of a crowd. There weren't nearly enough people to hide himself. Looking around, he tried to find a car he could carjack.

There was a crack and his left shoulder went numb. His chest became damp.

Running again, he risked looking at his wound. The injury didn't look too bad, but it hurt, and his arm felt weak. Shifting, the wound covered itself. Internally a mass of flesh filled the hole, blocking the bleeding. If he survived, the healing process would be longer and a lot more painful, for now though it would keep him from bleeding out.

Another shot nearly took his ear off.

Turning into an alley, he almost fell sliding to a stop. Kneeling down as close to the wall as humanly possible he pulled out his pistol. His attacker came around the corner, giving his location on the radio. The man wasn't expecting him to be right there, he tried to stop and bring his gun to bear, but was too slow and off balance. Mille shot him in the armpit and put a second bullet in his head.

Not seeing any attacker about to shoot him, he drew a knife and sliced the goggles from the dead mans face. Shoving them into his coat, he grabbed the radio and ran, just as more attackers appeared on the street.

With the radio, he was able to listen in as they gave instructions to each other. A bit of sprinting and he found an out of the way dumpster where he joined the rats under the garbage. Trying to control his breathing, he wondered which of his enemies had found a way to track him.

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Halifax, Nova Scotia
June, 2005

“Can you set the table,” Amanda asked.

“Yes,” Jane said, struggling to keep her voice calm in front of her foster mother. She opened the silverware drawer, focusing solely on the task at hand. 

“After supper, we can watch a movie together. You can pick anyone you want, and we can cuddle up on the couch together. It will be a nice family activity.”

She grabbed a steak knife hard enough to make her knuckles turn white. Shifting slightly, she watched the woman preparing supper, eying her throat. Amanda wasn't paying attention, it would be easy to stab her in the kidney. Nick would be getting home from work in five minutes, she could wait by the door, slice his achilles tendon, then stab him in the back until he stopped moving.

Picturing her movements was child’s play.

She'd be doing the world a favour.

“Jane, is something wrong?”

Her hands started to shake. If Amanda touched her, the woman would die.

“Jane?”

She forced herself to grab the rest of the silverware. “Sorry, Amanda, I zoned out for a minute. I'm fine,” she said.

Giving her head a shake, Jane went to set the table. There had been too much sacrifice and pain to throw it all away now. She was not a murderer, no matter how much the woman deserved it.

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Whateley,
October 31st, 2007

Sitting back, sipping some punch, listening to bad music, Jane had to admit she was having fun. Amber and Cooper were dancing together for the tenth time that night. Aella's Ursula costume was a hit and the girl was currently off talking to some of her Melville friends. And Shaun, who looked great in his Dr. Amazing costume, which had realistic muscles thanks to his gadgets, was splitting his time between his workshop peers and her.

“You aren't doing much,” Shaun said, taking a seat beside her.

“Never really went to parties,” she admitted, “I'm happy people watching.”

“Well a lot of people are watching you too.”

She looked at some of her admirers, all boys as far as she could tell, which made her skin crawl. Maybe coming to the dance as a Kirsten Dunst hadn't been such a good idea. She grinned, “I like the attention. As long as they look and don't touch. Why aren't you out there dancing?” she asked.

He got an embarrassed grin. “I don't know how.”

“You don't know how to dance? Seriously?”

“No, it's not something they teach in class,” he said.

Biting her lip, Jane thought about what to say to that. Then a slow song started, that decided things, she needed to help him. “OK, come with me,” she said, grabbing his hand and dragging him to the dance floor.

“Wait, you're going to dance with me?”

“I'm going to teach you how to dance, as a friend. Keep your hands where I put them, and follow along.” Placing his hand on the small of her back, she took his other hand in hers and got in close. “Don't crowd a girl on the first dance, but you don't want to be too far away either. Arms length is bad, a little bit of space between you is fine, if she gets closer than that, you're doing great. Now move a few steps back, and then move forwards.”

They did that a few times, letting him learn where to put his feet.

“OK, now start moving your body a little bit,” she told him, demonstrating how.

They both grinned as they got a rhythm going. They kept dancing into the next song, where she taught him how to turn her and do a dip. It was very basic stuff and he caught on quick. At the end of the second song, she slipped out of his arms. “OK, you can now dance without embarrassing yourself. For homework, I want you to find a girl and dance with her at least once tonight.”

“Yes, teacher,” he said.

Going back to her little spot, still grinning, she began to bob in time with the music. This was definitely going to be one of her good memories.

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Paris, France
December, 2004

Mille sat in a cluttered workspace, trying to look patient and unconcerned. It wasn't easy, people were effectively tracking him down, a situation he wasn't used to. Every instinct was telling him to get out there and start hunting them down, the now ever present rage told him to make an example of each and everyone of them. He forced it all down, that way was suicide. He needed to wait for the gadgeteer to do his thing, and tell him how he was being tracked.

The gadgeteer in question, who went by the name Geppetto, was looking over the goggles Mille's attacker had been wearing. He'd wanted to have them checked out sooner, but between fixing his shoulder, getting out of the country, and getting a completely new identity, it had had to wait.

The gadgeteer finished tinkering with the goggles, put them on and turned to look at him. “You have a serious problem, my friend,” Geppetto said in French.

“I figured that when I got a big gaping hole in my shoulder. How are they tracking me?” Mille asked in the same language, practically growling.

“Your aura. These lenses are kirlian cameras, they can detect light that is released by the electrified air surrounding an object. Usually you need to electrify an object or person to create the aura affect, but these are top of the line and can detect even minute amounts of light caused by electricity. And you my friend, produce far more electricity than a baseline.”

“So when they look at me with that, I'm lit up like a candle?”

“Yes. The only people who would be brighter than you would likely be mutants with actual electrical powers.”

His fist hit the metal table, making him wince in pain, he hadn't broken any knuckles, but he had come close. “Can I change it?”

Geppetto shook his head. “Maybe through magic or a devise, but that's the only way I can think of.”

“Thanks, Geppetto.” 

Leaving a roll of cash on the table, he took his leave. Coming out of a maintenance door in the Paris subway, he made his way to the street, wondering if one of his enemies would be waiting with those damn goggles, ready to take his head off.

“I want to die,” he said, “but I'm going to do it on my terms.”

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Whateley
Early afternoon,
Saturday, November 10th, 2007

Shaun and Jane, along with a few other students, waited by the gate for their ride to Berlin. Their minder, Pristine, came by a few minutes before the ride did.

“Hey everyone, it looks like we're missing two people, are they still coming?” Pristine asked.

“Our friends Smile and Aella couldn't make it, they've got detention,” Shaun said. It wasn't fair that they'd gotten detention just for defending themselves from a bully, but he wasn't in charge of punishments, if he was, things would be very different.

Their minder marked something on her paper. “OK, thanks for letting me know. All right everyone, you know the rules for going to Berlin, let’s not have any fights please. If something looks out of the ordinary, let me know as soon as possible and try to avoid it. When we get to Berlin, stick to the main shopping area, you don't need to follow me or constantly be in my line of sight, but don't get so far away that we won't be able to hear a call for help if something goes wrong.”

As she finished telling them the rules, the mini-bus pulled up and they got onboard. 

“So what do you want to do in Berlin?” he asked, once he and Jane got seated.

“Just need to stretch my legs. Being in Whateley all the time was making me go a bit stir crazy,” she said. “You?”

“I was mostly just going because Amber asked for some company. I'm happy hiding in the tunnels,” he admitted. He really didn't need to go to Berlin for everything, his Mom had made sure he had everything he needed, he still joked that she had packed up his entire room. Anything else he needed, he could make, or buy in the Whateley store.

“So want to get a coffee? They'll have some drinkable stuff in Berlin, not the sludge you call coffee.”

“Hey, devisor coffee is the best. Everything else is just flavoured water.”

Laughing they kept teasing each other all the way to Berlin.

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Boston
Midnight,

February, 2005

Mille ducked down, trying to get as much cover as possible from the three shooters.

A hit squad had been chasing him all across the US and Europe since November, everytime he thought he'd lost them, they managed to find him. While only one of his enemies was activily hunting him, and he didn't even know exactly who it was, plenty of others were throwing their support behind the efforts, passing on any hint or rumour of his location to the hitmen.

Touching his side, his hand came back slick with blood, it smelled foul. “Shit, they got the intestine,” he muttered. He'd sealed it off, but if he survived this, healing was going to hurt like hell, and he'd need a lot of antibacterial medication to deal with the likely infection.

Reaching into his pocket he pulled out what looked like a grenade. Throwing it a few feet away, he closed his eyes and took off running as it exploded, flooding the street with light. While the shooters were blinded, he made it around the corner and kept going, heading for the waterfront.

Where was a superhero when he needed one?

He made it to the water safely, but his killers were on his tail, he saw the lights of their cars and motorcycles coming fast. They had him in a box, the only way to get away now would be to jump in the ocean and start swimming. With his injuries and the freezing water, that was a death sentence.  

Fortunately for everyone, he didn't plan on running anymore.

Hiding behind a bench, he watched the men move in. They did it professionally, if he moved to shoot one of them, at least five others would be able to take his head off. Out of curiousity he counted his killers as they came towards him.

He grinned, there were at least thirty of them. He had confirmed kills on six of their friends over the last few months, injured and probably killed a bunch more. Not too bad considering the odds. But all good things had to come to an end sometime.

Pulling a detonator out of his pocket, he peeked out, it looked like everyone was in the kill zone. Bullets started hitting the ground and bench, they clearly knew he was there.

“Goodbye Katherine. I'm glad you didn't see what I've become,” he said.

Pressing the button, twenty bombs he'd paid to have planted earlier in the day exploded, destroying the area and killing everyone.

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Berlin
Mid-afternoon,
November 10th, 2007

Sipping his coffee-flavoured water, Shaun leaned back in his seat and smiled. Visiting Berlin had been a good idea. It was relaxing getting away from the school, and the homemade apple pie they'd both tried had been delicious. He hadn't thought things could possibly get this good when he'd been told he was going to a school for mutants.

When he'd first come to Whateley, he'd been worried that it would be horrible. His Mom had always been a little overprotective, not that he'd complained too much, she took him all over the world and made sure he joined up in any group that interested him. But she had always been close, keeping an eye out for him and anything out of the ordinary. Sometimes it seemed like she was jumping at shadows, other times it was as if she was searching for someone. Going so far away by himself, it was scary.

But here he was, with his best friend, enjoying life, with a bunch of friends back at school. He had a great workshop, he was getting good grades, and he'd started talking to girls. He couldn't wait to call his Mom and tell her how happy he was.

“Would you like to come home with me for Christmas?” he asked.

“What?!” Jane said, choking on her coffee.

“You don't really have anywhere to go during the holiday, why don't you come to my place? We have plenty of room, and I asked my Mom if she'd mind, she said it's a great idea.”

Jane got a strange look in her eyes. “I don't think so. I wouldn't know what to do or say. What if she hates me?”

He laughed. “We're not dating, so it doesn't matter that much if she likes you or not. And as long as you don't insult her or trash the place, she'll at least tolerate you.”

“I-I'll think about it,” she said, nervously playing with her pie plate and silverware. “But Amber would probably be the better one to ask. She doesn't exactly have a family to go to anymore, and she remembers what that's like, unlike me. Christmas is just another day of the year as far as I'm concerned.”

“You know, that's a good point. How about you both come?”

“I'll think about it,” she said, more firmly.

The door to the cafe opened, Jane's eyes went wide. Turning to look, he saw two large men had entered and were looking straight at them. “What's the problem?” he asked.

“We've gotta go now,” she said, getting to her feet.

“What? Why?”

The cafe, which wasn't very busy for a Saturday, suddenly became very quiet, and several of the customers, all of them serious looking, stood up and started moving towards them. Shaun got up as well, he had no idea what was happening or why, but it was very clear something bad was about to occur.

“RUN!” Jane shouted. Throwing her pie plate like a frisbee, it smashed into the face of a customer who was reaching for him, the man yelled in pain, clutching his eyes. Then she was heading straight at the two men standing in front of the door.

He followed her, wondering what the hell was going on.

She slammed straight into the first man, causing him to bend over cursing and growling. She spun around the man and Shaun saw she was holding a bloody butter knife.

Before she could stab the other man, a fist crashed into her face, knocking her to the ground. Her body began to shake and she shifted to a bulky girl who looked to be entirely muscle. Not that it did her any good, she was moaning, cradling her head as blood pooled on the floor.

“Get away from her!” he shouted.

Lights flashed as someone hit him in the back of the head. He fell to the floor, moaning in pain. He vaguely heard people screaming.

The man who had knocked Jane to the ground, picked him up by the neck. “We know who your father is. We know he's still alive. Tell Mille we want to meet him at the graves of the children. If we have to give you this message again, we will kill you.”

“I don't know who you're talking about,” he said, grabbing the hand and struggling to breathe.

“Sucks to be you then,” the man said.

The last thing Shaun saw was the table rushing up to meet his face.

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Halifax, Nova Scotia,
July, 2005

Limping down to the basement, Jane held the screwdriver like a knife. Rage filled her.

Wiping away the tears that were still running down her face, she stoked the rage into an inferno. She had played by the rules. She had done what she was supposed to. She had been a good girl. And they had spit in her face, abused her, and expected her to enjoy it.

A part of her shrieked to get the knives and make them suffer.

Taking the screwdriver she slowly and carefully worked away at the fittings, making it look like regular wear and tear. It was long, tedious work, but it had to look natural.

Two hours later, sweating from tension and exertion, her aching body crying for sleep, she finished her task. Limping back upstairs she went to the bathroom to have a long, hot shower.

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The paramedics arrived late the next morning.

Jane, dazed and half conscious, had phoned 911 when her foster parents hadn't woken up in the morning. As soon as the paramedics saw her symptoms they knew what had killed her foster parents, carbon monoxide. She'd been lucky to survive thanks to her window being open a little to get some fresh air.

It was written off as a tragic accident caused by a poorly maintained water heater. Now they needed to worry about the only survivor, the young girl already traumatized from whatever ordeal had affected her memory. They'd need to find her a new foster family and get her even more therapy.

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Doyle, Whateley
Late Evening,
November 10th, 2007

Jane crept into Shaun's room. She was grateful they'd put her room across the hall from him as they both recovered from their beatings, even with the magical healing she was still unsteady on her feet thanks to a serious concussion.

Answering the questions from not only security but Headmistress Carson, while dealing with a migraine had not been fun. But she hadn't slipped up in her answers. At least not badly enough to be called out.

Tears filled her eyes at the sight of Shaun. They'd healed him with magic, but his face was a swollen mass of cuts and bruises, there was a handprint around his throat, and each of his limbs had been broken in two places. She couldn't see his torso, but she'd heard the staff talk about internal bleeding and broken ribs. If he'd been in a normal hospital, he would take months to recover and even more months in therapy to get back to something close to normal. With the magic, which had already healed the broken bones in his face, it would be at least a week of bedrest in Doyle, and another week of light activities.

He'd woken up long enough to pass on the message about Mille to Carson. He told them he didn't know who Mille was, or why they thought Mille was his father. His father had vanished like a coward a month before he'd been born. After they had the information they'd sedated him again, keeping him awake with the amount of pain he was in, would have been cruel.

Taking his hand in hers, Jane kissed it. “I'm sorry Shaun,” she whispered, “the sins of the father shouldn't pass onto the son. I'll make sure they can't hurt you again.”

Turning away from him, she slowly made her way back to her bed, the old rage that had driven so much of her former life came roaring back with a vengeance. 

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Halifax, Canada
March, 2005

Mille opened his eyes and saw he was in a very plain room, an IV bag hung from a coat hook on the wall. He groaned in pain as every part of him ached.

“Next time you teleport into my lab, Mille, don't blow yourself up first. You officially died for ten minutes even with my nanites rebuilding your body,” a woman said.

“Sorry, Eir. Teleporter was a bit slower than I planned. And really it's only fair, they wanted me dead that badly, I should give them some satisfaction,” he said. He tried to chuckle, but only groaned in agony.

“Well, now that you know what it's like, are you sure you still want to go through your plan?” Eir asked. “I'm a mad scientist and I think you're insane.”

He turned to look at her. “You have no idea how many things I've done that I regret. At this point I have two choices, destroy everything that I am and restart, or kill myself. I deserve to die, but I'm too much of a coward to actually go through with it.”

“You'll be healthy enough to possibly commit suicide in a week. That'll at least give me a bit of time to fine tune my devise, so you might survive. I'll bring you some food, you can get up to go to the bathroom, but other than that I want you in bed. You can read or watch TV, if you try anything else, I'll drug you until you're healthy.”

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Halifax, Nova Scotia,
March 9th, 2005

Mille looked at the devise, he had somehow expected more. The devise was a mess of wires, going from one hastily patched together box to another, powered by something that looked like the bastardized engine of a monster truck, cables and wires wound their way from those to a small pedestal with handle bars.

“This is what I've paid twenty million dollars for?” he asked in disbelief.

“Yes it is. If I'd had a few more months, it would be better, but I had a choice of making it work or making it look pretty. I'm pretty sure it works,” Eir said.

“Alright. If this does work it will do what I want?”

She nodded. “You'll have a burnout that should ride the very edge of survivability, burning out your powers, locking you into whatever body you're currently in, and almost certainly changing your biosigns. Depending on the results I may be able to offer this as a way to help mutants with powers that are killing them.”

“Good.”

Stripping out of his clothes, Mille pictured a new body. He wanted to erase every part of himself that he had come to hate, as well as making himself as inconspicuous as possible, leaving almost no chance for his enemies to find him. A picture of a rather plain girl in the early stages of puberty, formed in his mind. That was the smallest body he could shift to. He'd already lived life as a man, maybe he'd have more success as a woman.

Growing up, he could avoid the mistakes he had made, get a legal job, live somewhere out of the way, maybe start a family. And most importantly forget that Mille had ever existed.

Shifting to his new and final body, Mille stepped onto the platform. He paused to look at the girls tiny, clean hands, would they stay clean or become as bloody as his were? He hoped they’d never be stained, but there was only one way to find out.

Grabbing the handle bars, he pushed his fear aside. It was time for Mille to die, hopefully the girl who came out the other side would be a better person who could live a real life.

“Do it.” 

 

To Be Continued

Read 1240 times Last modified on Tuesday, 23 August 2022 19:13
Dan Formerly Domoviye

Find out what I'm working on in and out of Whately, by checking me out on Twitter.

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