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The Whitmaniacs

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A Whateley Academy Story Collection

The Whitmaniacs

collected by

Enemyoffun

 

Escape
A Whateley Short by Domoviye

Northern Ontario
January, 15th, 2016

Neala ran from the wooden shack that was her family home at the edge of the reservation, and was at the old portable which was jokingly called a school a minute later. Normally, running as fast as she could down the icy snow covered road it would have taken five minutes, especially in her winter clothes, but that was before she manifested. Now she was so fast it sometimes seemed like everything was moving in slow motion.

Taking her seat, while keeping her winter clothes on to stay warm, she ignored the stares she was getting. Her hair turning snow white had gotten some attention. Now with fur growing all over her body, and her ears turning into something like an ermine, she was the most interesting thing to happen on the reserve for decades. Like usual she took an old Nancy Drew book from her bag and started reading it, ignoring the world, hoping it would ignore her.

She didn't talk much with her classmates, who ranged from grade eight to grade twelve. There were fifty-eight of them, which for a reservation of almost six hundred people a huge number. Since her little brothers and sisters were all in the other portable for young kids, she didn't have to actually worry about talking to people unless they came to her. And since her best friend, Elizabeth, had committed suicide four months ago, Neala had no desire to get close to anyone. All she wanted to do was turn eighteen and catch the fly-in plane to anywhere else in Canada.

Class finally started, which mostly involved the teacher going over lessons from last week for some of the students, while the rest read from text books that were older than Neala. She'd already read all of hers, three times, so she kept reading her book. If she was really going to leave as soon as she was old enough, she had to know something, or she'd end up just as poor in Thunder Bay or somewhere like it.

Why couldn't she live in a reservation like Grand River. She'd visited it once, flying in a plane for the first time, and seeing an actual city. It was huge with over twelve-thousand people, and their school wasn't cold and rotting. They lived in good houses too, like the ones she saw in videos, or the Chief's house. She bit back a curse, the Chief and his friends and family always had the best houses and four wheelers and ski-doos. While her family and everyone else got garbage.

Someone knocked on the door and the Chief walked in followed by some White woman who was bundled up in a really warm looking winter coat. She had to be from the government. Neala wondered where the media was, the only time the bureaucrats or politicians showed up was to talk about how bad things were and how they'd make things better. Then nothing would happen, or they might get a few more buildings built. Not that they'd do any good, they wouldn't stay warm in winter and grow mold in the summer.

“Neala Stewart, can you come with us?” the Chief said.

Putting her book away, she took her time putting on her gloves. She didn't know what was going on, and the last time she'd been called out of class it had been to tell her Elizabeth had died. So she wasn't looking forward to what they'd tell her this time.

A big truck with chains around the tires was waiting for them. It was one of the few vehicles that could make it on the winter ice road, which was the only way to the reservation unless you took a plane or wanted to hike three hundred kilometres through bush, swamps, and lakes.

“You weren't exaggerating when you said she was a mutant,” the woman said.

“It was a little obvious,” the Chief said, sarcasm dripped from the words as he drove towards the Council building.

Neala, ducked her head and ran a furry hand over her cheek. She knew she was a mutant, and that she stuck out. Still it wasn't nice having them talk about her like she wasn't there.

“Neala is an odd name,” the woman said, finally talking to her.

Not sure what to do, she just shrugged. It was her name, what was she supposed to say?

“What exactly can you do?”

“I can run really fast. And I can turn into an ermine,” she said almost in a whisper.

The woman nodded. “Interesting.”

She waited for another question, but the pair ignored her again, preferring to talk to each other as they slowly drove for another minute until they reached their destination. Getting out of the heated cab and into the bitter cold outside, she grabbed her hood and held it up against her cheeks. Even with her fur, it was freezing. Getting inside the Council building which was warm, brightly lit, and clean, was a relief.

The Chief led them to an office where her parents were waiting. “What's all this about?” her father asked.

Smiling, the woman nodded to them. “I'm Samantha Williams, from the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, and I'm here because of your daughter.”

Her mother grabbed her hand, squeezing it hard enough to hurt. “What do you want with her?”

“Your daughter is a mutant, with rather severe GSD. And if what was reported is correct, she's fairly powerful.”

“So. What do you care?”

“Legally she needs to be tested, to find out what she is capable of and get an MID. We can do that in Thunder Bay. Another concern is having her learn how to use her powers safely. If a mutant can just make a small glowing light, or keep their electronics charged, we aren't very concerned. But according to your daughter, she can do quite a lot more than that,” Samantha said.

The next few minutes were spent with Samantha and her parents talking and arguing about how to get her tested, the cost of travelling to the city, and demanding to know why she should need an MID. Neala ignored most of it lost in her own thoughts. She really could do some wonderful things. Somehow she hadn't actually thought about them that much. Running fast wasn't something that would get her a job, neither would turning into an ermine, which was just a really small weasel.

But maybe there were things she could do with it. And if she needed to be tested, she'd be able to go to a city again. Thunder Bay wasn't as cool as Toronto had been, but it was still huge, and she might be able to look around the mall and visit some other stores.

When her parents finally and grudgingly agreed to get her tested, as long as the government paid for the trip, she was grinning from ear to ear.

WA Break Small

Thunder Bay, Ontario
MCO Regional Centre
January 19th, 2016

“Huh, that's interesting,” the doctor said.

“What?” Neala asked, trying to wipe the sweat from her fur. Running on the treadmill hadn't been very tough at first, but doing it for almost half an hour had kind of drained her. At least she recovered quickly.

“Most speedsters are able to run for several minutes before showing any signs of tiredness, even running for over an hour without any problem, is common. But you seem to be more of a sprinter,” he said, typing something into his tablet.

That didn't sound very good. She'd been hoping to be a really powerful mutant, but it didn't seem like that was going to happen. “How fast can I run?”

“A hundred-and-sixty kilometres an hour, for just over a minute. Then you slow down to about sixty-five kilometres for a few minutes, before getting another wind and going to full speed again.”

Her eyes widened, her fastest was a lot faster than a car driving on the highway, and even her slow jogging was good for a city car. “Whoa.”

“Come with me, I'd like to test something,” the doctor said, waving for her to follow him.

They left the exercise room, which would fit her whole house, and went to a small track. It had some shiny projectors coming from the roof, and Neala was a little worried that they looked like lasers. Shaking her head, she put the thought aside, they were probably just cameras, the MCO had recorded everything except her getting changed into their suit. At least she hoped they hadn't recorded that.

Thinking of the skin tight suit, she was reminded of how uncomfortable it was. At least while running she was able to slip away from it all. Scratching, she wished her fur wasn't squished and pulled the wrong way. A bra and her tight underwear was bad enough, she could at least get her fur mostly right in those with enough rubbing and pushing. The suit was too tight to let her slide a nail under it.

“All right Batoo, I want you to start running around the track. As you run holograms will appear in front of you, try not to hit them.”

It took her a second to remember her codename, which meant To Run, in Ojibwe. Nodding she started to jog, not pushing herself too much. One of the projectors lit up, making a wall appeared in front of her, and she easily skipped to the side. Another one appeared immediately after, twisting she managed to slide by, but if it had been solid, her breasts would have rubbed against it.

“Speed up please,” the doctor said.

Picking up the pace, she ran through one wall, yelping as she did thinking it was about to hurt. Then she started getting used to it, and moved from right to left with a lot more confidence. After ten laps, Neala ran as fast as she could, leaping over hurdles, skipping from left to right to avoid a series of walls, sliding under bars, and twisting like a contortionist a few times to slip through holes in the holograms.

By the time she was done, she slumped to the floor, utterly exhausted. When the doctor handed her a water bottle, she didn't have the breath to even nod in thanks.

“That was very good. We'll need to run some more tests, but you are extremely flexible. You could give experienced contortionists a run for their money,” he told her.

She nodded, still unable to talk.

“Now we need to do that again while you're in your ermine form.”

Neala looked up at him in shock, then fell over backwards, her limbs feeling like overcooked noodles.

WA Break Small

Neala dozed in the office chair. She was curled up in her ermine shape, which looked like a snow white weasel with a black tipped tail. The government agent was taking their time to arrive, and her parents were nervously talking to each other, so she was taking the opportunity to rest after the gruelling power testing.

The door opened. It just took a second to uncurl, sit up and shift back to her human form. Somehow she ended up in a proper sitting position for a human, and not kneeling with her feet on the chair like she had been as an ermine. She wasn't really sure how her power worked, just that it seemed to put her in a position she wanted to be in as long as she was trying to do something similar to it in either form.

The woman who came in didn't seem startled by the sudden change, instead she smiled and introduced herself. “Hello, I'm Ms. Perry, head of the Thunder Bay office for the Ministry of Supernatural Affairs. I'm sorry the representative from the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs couldn't make it, he was held up in traffic, don't worry though I have everything that you need to know. But first I'd like to thank for coming to see me so promptly.”

“We want to get this over with and back home as soon as possible,” her father said.

If the woman was put off by the abruptness and distrust, she didn't show it. “I understand Mr. Stewart. Quite a few parents are concerned about the ministry showing an interest in their children after manifesting. Let me assure you, I am only here to give you some options for Neala that could open many doors for her as an adult.”

Her parents didn't look happy about anything, but they didn't get up and walk away, so Neala took it as a good sign.

“Right,” Ms. Perry said. “Considering Neala's powers as an energizer and a shifter, and her change in appearance, we typically have a few programs available for her. However due to being status Indian, Neala is eligible to receiving special training either through the MSA on the use of her powers, or free education at a boarding school that is capable of helping her deal with her powers.”

The temperature of the room suddenly dropped, and Neala saw her parents frown.

The woman realized that things were suddenly going badly, and rallied. “I can promise you that these schools are for all mutants, and the ones in Canada accept students from all groups, cultures and races. In Neala's case, with her fairly high ratings, she would be a prime candidate for Whateley, a private US school. It is one of the top rated schools on the continent, every one of its students are mutants, and they have taught children of political and business leaders from across North America, Europe, and Asia.”

“No,” Neala's father said.

Both her parents stood up as if they were one, and headed for the door. Neala saw her chance at getting away from her home vanishing. If she could go to one of the boarding schools she wouldn't have to wait until she was eighteen to escape. And if her parents walked out the door, it would all vanish.

“I want to listen to the rest!” she shouted. Neala knew it made her sound emotional, but she couldn't let this chance escape.

Her parents looked at her in disbelief.

“They want to put you in a residential school. I won't let them,” her mother said.

A shocked expression came to Ms. Perry's face, as she realized what was going on. “Mr. And Mrs. Stewart, this program was developed in concert with the Assembly of First Nations. It's audited yearly, when all the students are interviewed with a First Nations representative at their side. In twenty years the only complaints we have received from students in the program is bullying, which we have dealt with through the school.”

“No,” her father said again.

Ms. Perry quickly flipped through her notes. “Pejuta went to Whateley and graduated in 2009.”

Her parents suddenly looked less hostile. They'd heard of Pejuta, even if she hadn't made as much of an impression in Canada as the US. Probably every Native in Canada had heard of her. If she'd really gone to Whateley, it couldn't be that bad.

“Please, mom, dad,” Neala said. “Just sit down and listen before making up your mind. This could be really good for me.”

Reluctantly they sat down.

With her parents actually listening, Ms. Perry handed them all brochures for Whateley and started talking again, placing special emphasis on a student group called The Nations.

WA Break Small

Whitman Cottage
September 7th, 2016

Neala looked around her dorm room. She couldn't believe there was so much space just for her and her roommate. It wasn't exactly new, but everything looked like it worked and it smelled clean. The entire school had felt the same. And she'd even gotten a phone, she'd never had one before. She couldn't wait until she got a laptop.

The girls seemed nice too. They didn't stare at her fur or ears, and some of them even looked as interesting as she did. And there were so many people. She'd heard several students complaining about how small everything was, but to her it was huge. And she loved it.

Changing out of her old clothes, she put on one of the school uniforms. The black skirt and blazer looked really good against her fur, and the shoes were specially made to survive her running, they were really comfortable too. It was all paid for by the government as part of their special program, so she didn't feel guilty about costing her parents money.

She just wished she could have come in January. But everything had taken so long to do, she'd had to wait for September. Still, she was finally at Whateley, she was free.

Someone knocked on the door.

“Come in,” she called.

A tough looking girl with brown hair and white eyes, came in carrying two large suitcases like they barely weighed anything. “Hi, I'm your roommate, Abigail Helsing. I'm guessing I'm on the right side?”

“Yeah, that's OK with you, right?” she asked, hoping to get off to a good start.

“Fine with me. I'm kind of new to this whole having a roommate thing, so I'm going to try to be as easy going as reasonably possible. So... what's your name?”

She facepalmed, she knew she'd forgotten something. With a rueful grin she held out her hand, “I'm Neala Stewart, you can call me Batoo if you want.”

“Nice to meet you,” Helsing said, shaking her hand. “I just drove in from Boston, how about you?”

Smiling, Neala started to get to know her roommate. It really seemed like she'd finally escaped and she couldn't be happier.

 

WA Break Big

 

Whirly Twirly Birdy
A Whateley Short by Wasamon

--Saturday, April 16, 2016

Early spring evenings in Hartford, CT, were not known for their warmth. Monica Lawrence sat on the porch swing in front of her house, bundled up in three jackets, all of which had fit her well, three weeks before. Their combined padding still hung loose on her, now. A knit cap was flopped across her head, where the hair should have been. She didn't know the right word for what was there now, if there even was a word. She didn't want to think about it, didn't want to think, didn't want to hear the echoes of a heated argument that was the only warmth to be had inside her family home.

Monica sat in the outside chill, and willingly.

Her sisters would peek out the windows at her to see if she was still there. Amanda would frown her big-sisterly disapproval and Courtney would make little-sisterly faces. Neither stepped out to ask how she was doing. She didn't really expect them to.

Oh, how she wished they'd let her grab a book before coming out.

Her right arm throbbed. The sensation had grown slowly over the past half-hour, after the initial panic and adrenaline wore off. It was still tolerable; she wouldn't complain. That would mean interrupting the discussion inside.

The eyelids drew across her pupils in a new, weird way as car lights shone up the driveway. A clouded wave blocked most of the brightness while letting her see the little car stop and a familiar person get out. It took most of the enthusiasm left in her body to wave at her Aunt Valerie, the younger sister of her mother who hadn't been by in months. Why tonight, of all nights? Monica feared she knew the reason. She feared she was the reason.

"Hey, kiddo. What're you doing out here? It's too cold still." Aunt Valerie sat on the porch swing next to her and pushed the seat back with her feet. They rocked forward and backward in silence for a moment.

She winced as another shout was felt through the door. The actual words did not matter. "It's quiet out here."

"Yeah, I guess so. Um, your mother called me over for something. You wouldn't know what...?"

Mom hadn't mentioned. Of course she hadn't. None of them wanted to. That was one huge half of an unevenly split problem, right there. With a faint sigh of resignation, Monica managed to reach up and pull her knit cap off. The porch light was not the strongest, but there was no missing the lack of hair, nor what was coming in after the follicles had all departed. She gritted her teeth and waited for the reaction.

First there was the swear word. She didn't recognize it, but she could tell it was bad by the way her aunt spat it out. The woman was angry... and it took a second for Monica to realize that she wasn't angry at her. This was the same second it took for her aunt to rocket from the rocker and launch her way through the front door, yelling "Damnit, Ronnie! I thought you called because you were leaving the idiot bastard! Oh, hello there, idiot bastard!" The response must have been from Monica's father, to judge from the shouting.

A few short minutes later, Aunt Valerie stormed back out the front door with a stuffed backpack on one arm and an old quilt on the other. Both were from Monica's room. "C'mon, kiddo. Into the car," the woman ordered.

"Um, where...?"

"Away from here."

Inertia had kept her in the porch swing all evening, but a push from her aunt, more metaphorical than actual, gave her the momentum to reach the little vehicle, get in the passenger side, and fumble left-handed with the seat belt.

"Here." Aunt Valerie pulled the straps for her, but her right arm got bumped and she let out a yelp.

"What? Are you hurt?"

"Dunno?" she said, more whimpered. "I didn't... it just hurts."

Another muttered swear filled the car as Aunt Valerie pulled out of the Lawrence family driveway. "Need to get you looked at soon. Adding it to the list."

Monica's sisters were watching from the windows. Neither of them waved to her, and she didn't feel like moving her arm that much.

WA Break Small

The drive began in silence, with neither of them speaking nor even a peep from the car's navigation system. They continued that way for several minutes, until Aunt Valerie's phone played a tune from its sconce on the dashboard: the William Tell Overture. It was one of the few classical music compositions Monica could put a name to. Her aunt tapped the screen to accept the call, but the caller's voice was directed through air-buds instead of the speakers, so the girl was treated to one half of a confused and confusing conversation.

"Yeah, been there, left again," said her aunt. "No, not for any reason we imagined. More complicated."

Monica shrank deeper into her seat and tried not to budge too obviously. A sudden pothole sent them bumping up and down, and the mystery ache made her gasp and cradle her arm.

"Hey, you okay? No, not you, Nick," said Aunt Valerie to her phone. "Got my niece with me here. The middle one, Monica. Showed you photos, remember? Yeah, that's her. Okay. You alright, Monica?"

"My arm hurts a little..."

"Damnit, what'd that idiot bastard do..." The streetlights made the woman's scowl barely visible. , the ghost of fury looking for a target. "Right, Nick? You still around? Meet me at my place. We need you to have a look at her before we figure out what's next. It's gonna be alright, Monica," her aunt assured her.

The girl didn't feel too sure at all.

She didn't know a lot of things about her aunt, not where the woman worked or where she lived or what exactly were the reasons why she didn't talk to the rest of the family. Monica wasn't even sure there was a main reason for that last. Her father and her aunt never got along, which was likely enough. The 'where' part of the mystery was soon cleared up as well. Aunt Valerie drove them up to a nice apartment complex on the other side of Hartford and carried the girl's things up to the second floor. Monica shuffled along, careful not to knock her cap loose. There was nobody around outside, but that didn't mean no one was watching. Like through the front window of the nearest apartment. She definitely saw a man at the window, peering out, and she was only a little less freaked when Aunt Valerie walked right up to that door and let herself in.

When she walked in on her aunt and the man sharing a quick kiss, that freaked her out a little more. Then she was being introduced to the man, to Nick, and all she could do was look him in the face, in the eyes, and try not to freak out completely.

She'd heard of folks being called 'four-eyes' because they wore glasses. This Nick dude actually had four eyes -- or four pupils in two eye sockets. If she'd had the energy, she would have run away screaming. Then Nick winked, and the weirdness found itself a human context. Somehow that made it better. Monica simply collapsed into the nearest chair instead. "What, um..." she managed to say.

"Mutant, obviously," said Nick. "It's just the eyes, really. Nothing cool or flshy. I did get the codename Bifocals for my MID, for what it's worth.

She laughed politely.

"So, um, Val? What's going on?"

"I couldn't get the details out of Ronnie, not with the idiot-in-law ranting. But... Monica? How long's it been?"

"Three, three weeks," she stammered. It felt hot inside, all of a sudden, too hot, sweaty hot. The layers of coat and sweaterwere intolerable, but her right arm was stiff and not wanting to cooperate. Her aunt had to help her out of most of it, and then the woman and her boyfriend could see the obvious.

In the past few weeks, she'd lost weight like it was going out of fashion, as her mom would say. Arms and legs were more like sticks, and she was actually wearing one of her little sister Courtney's hand-me-ups now, because her own shirts hung like tents. Courtney had gotten real pissy about that, and hadn't accepted any of Monica's stuff in return.

Because it was dirty. Because she was dirty. Not in any way that soap and water could fix, but maybe worse. Her family certainly thought so.

"They... the doctors thought I was sick at first. Anemia, maybe cancer. But, but the test results came in, and..."

"Mutation," said Nick. She only nodded. "Damnit, Val. Your family..."

"Is exactly as you remember them."

Monica looked back and forth at the adults in the room. "Um, so you've met...?"

"Worst. New Years party. Ever," said her aunt.

"It was Guess Who's Coming to Dinner for the new generation," Nick agreed. "And I'm no Sidney Poitier."

"Just as handsome, though."

"Thanks, Val. So, what do I need to look at?"

"Oh, yeah. Right arm. Monica, can you rest it on the cushions there?"

The pupils of Nick's eyes were the strangest things, paired black spots in a figure-eight of blue iris. As the man focused on her, she could see the eyes rotate around the mid-point between the pupils, twirling for several seconds as if he were flipping through the settings until he got the one he wanted. "Adipose tissue is remarkably thin," he commented. "Muscle tone, moderate. Bones showing signs of osteoporosis--"

"At her age?"

"Mutation is resource-intensive, depending on what you're turning into," he said. "We'll need a specialist to check further. I know a guy... ah." Nick paused as he got to her lower arm, near the wrist. "Inflammation, swelling, hairline fracture. I might just call the doctor now and see if I can't get you an appointment for first thing in the morning. The bone hasn't shifted any, so you'll need to keep it steady and try not to bump it too hard, but it's not in any immediate danger."

"If you say so, Mister Medical School Student."

"I do say so, Ms. Legal Secretary. Should I book you an examination for later as well?"

"Or I could file an amicus brief..."

Monica coughed loudly. "Um, impressionable teenage girl still here?" The yawn was well-timed, but authentic. "And, um, where am I sleeping?" One of the few constants of the past three weeks was that she had to nap hard every six hours or so, and she was long overdue. A full night spent tucked into her aunt's bed was heavenly.

WA Break Small

Morning, early, the first lights of dawn flowing through the blinds and interrupting the important business of sleep. Monica was already awake, sitting in bed with an old paperback in her left hand. It wasn't the sort of thing she usually read, but it was available. Her body napped hard, but once the nap was over, she couldn't pretend that it wasn't. The words on the page helped keep her ground and not bouncing off the walls. The page turned. The words gave the scene for her imagination to project on the back of her mind. Her ears burned red.

"Good morning!" yawned Aunt Valerie as she walked in. "What're you... oh, Lord. I thought I'd dumped all those old Harlequins..."

"No, no, it's okay," stammered Monica as she shoved the image of a ruggedly handsome bare-chested adventurer under the pillow and not at all out of her head. "It's, um, interesting and educational?"

Her aunt snorted. "I just bet it is. C'mon. We need to get you washed up. Nick set up an appointment for nine this morning for mutant power testing."

"Already?"

"Like he said: he knows a guy. How's your arm?"

She leaned on it without thinking, then grimaced. "Still in pain." The area below the wrist was redder and warmer than her ears. She accepted a hand up and a shoulder to lean on as she discovered the amenities of the apartment's miniscule washroom. The main selling point of the shower was that it was too narrow for her to fall over without really trying hard. Aunt Valerie kept watch outside the glass door, just in case.

"So, um, do you still use shampoo now, or...?"

"Or." The water felt good on her scalp as it washed around the whatevers that had replaced all her hair. She hadn't found a name for them yet, but they were vaguely pointed bumps that grew out at an angle close to the skin.

"How long, um...?"

She rubbed her scalp gingerly. "Almost from the start. I lost it in clumps over the course of the first week, but the bumps didn't show till a few days ago." she had to focus on doing all the soap left-handed, which spared her the embarrassment of continuing the conversation until after she was finished and toweled down. Soon she was dressed in whatever fit and seated in front of a piece of toast and fried egg on a plate. One was overcooked, the other not quite cooked enough.

"Sorry, Nick's usually the one who..." Aunt Valerie coughed the last words away before she could say too much. "Yeah, so... when'd you become ambidextrous?"

"What?" The fork stopped in front of her mouth, brought there with precision by her left hand without her even focusing on it. "Um, I'm not? Or I didn't know I was?"

"Another new thing to add to the list," sighed her aunt. "Gotcha."

Rather than pile on the sweaters for the morning chill, Monica was bundled in quilts and blankets before her aunt buckled her into the passenger seat. Not a baby! she wanted to cry, but the need to nap hit her after only a few minutes, and she spent the rest of the drive dozing.

WA Break Small

The car stopped. It likely wasn't as sudden as it felt, but Monica jolted from her nap like they'd had a collision. "Huh? What?"

"We're here," announced Aunt Valerie.

The question then became "Where?" The answer was a quiet little building in a nondescript office complex. There was a numberplate on the door, but no names or signs anywhere. At no spot did it look like a clinic, hospital, or doctor's office.

She must have been staring the question hard enough to burn it into the concrete, because her aunt answered without hesitation: "Nick got us an appointment with a doctor who specializes in early breakthrough cases. And can also get your arm seen to," she added. "He made sure to mention that. The place doesn't want to get too much attention, so it changes fronts regularly. So... shall we get on with the adventure?" As cheery as the tone was, Aunt Valerie couldn't quite hide the nervous undertow. Monica kept the old quilt around her shoulders like a cloak of invisibility as they got out of the car and went up to the door.

Knock-knock-knock-knock-knock. "Um, is this the office of Dr. Wilfred Flamel?" Aunt Valerie asked through the mail slot. "We have an appointment for nine? Um, I know we're a few minutes early..."

There was a grinding noise, then a click, and then a door opened. Not the one they were knocking on; this door was ten feet down, in what had had looked like a wall of solid concrete blocks. An arm stretched out to wave them over. Whoever owned that arm was gone by the time they walked into the clinic's waiting room. Instead, there stood a woman in a neat white on pink nurse's uniform. Her bright smile and happy eyes did nothing to hide the fact that she had twice as many canines as she needed in her mouth, or that her pupils opened into star patterns. The silvery scales up and down her everything was hard to miss, too. "Appointment for nine o'clock, yes? Good! I am Nurse Ravi, as in ravie de faire votre connaissance."

"Et nous aussi," said Aunt Valerie. Monica mostly recognized the words as French. She wasn't doing too well in that class, and she hoped the conversation would switch back to English soon.

"And this must be Monica, yes?"

"Um, bonjour?" she said.

The nurse giggled. "Nice try. So are you the parent or legal guardian?" she asked Aunt Valerie.

"I'm standing in loco parentis."

"The reason for that is?"

"Her parents are currently loco about a mutant in the family, and not in a good way."

"Yes... c'est dommage, ça. Such is the world we live in, I suppose." Nurse Ravi had a smartpad out and was swiping it along. "Let's see... Mutation check and treatment for injury. Never a good sign. Forgive me for asking, but would you like a pamphlet on Raelynn's Law?

"I spent half the night reading over that," her aunt admitted. "I did call someone about custody proceedings, but since her parents pretty much dumped her on my lap without a single farewll, it doesn't look like we'll need to go that far just yet."

"Good," said the nurse. "Now, I have some forms prepared for you on my tablet here, so please take a seat and fill them out. The doctor should be with you shortly."

There were separate forms for injury and mutation, and Monica still wasn't too keen on discussing the former, so they went over the timeline of her manifestation again. Her mom hadn't done anything like this, getting her checked out or evaluated, not since the doctor's visit where she'd checked positive for mutation. The doctor then had said to wait it out, see what changd happened or powers manifested, and come back then. That guy hadn't had anything like this place, which made her suspicious of what would have happened if she'd gone back to him. Any good practicioner of mutant medicine needed strange electric jars of goop shifting in weird blobs within an aqueous solution.

Her aunt saw what she was looking at. "Those are lava lamps, kiddo."

"What?"

"An odd decoration, for sure," said the doctor as he shuffled in. He was an older gentleman with a stooped posture and huge glasses. The man had hair like Monica did not: full and thick in ways that refused to look natural. Maybe something had crawled up there for a nap. Something pale blue. "I for one miss the 1970s. A much easier time for me to work in."

"Dr. Flamel?"

"One and the same. Now, if you would please show me the injury." The doctor laid her arm on a padded rest. His glasses crackled as a line of electricity traveled around the frames, and the lenses darkened to focus camera-like on her arm. "Yes, yes, just as young Mr. Toole described it. A very accurate young man. I am sure he will go far."

"Me, too." Aunt Valerie had a proud smirk on her face. "So it's a hairline, nothing else? We've tried to be careful, but she'd gotten bumped a few times."

"Oh, that's nothing. The bone's holding together nicely. It couldn't be better fitted if I had gone in there and... hm..." The doctor didn't need to scratch his hair in thought; it appeared to scratch itself. "What powers have you shown thus far, young lady?"

Monica fidgeted as well as she could with only one arm free. "Um, nothing really. I've just been, well, just been sick."

"How did you break your arm?"

Her aunt looked at her, and at the doctor. "I assumed your dad..."

"No, this is a stress fracture," said Dr. Flamel. "Not the sort of break that comes from being hit."

Monica wished she didn't have to say. She wished she could just leave it be. But wishes were for fishes. She let out a sigh. "Dad was... he was yelling and angry and he wouldn't let me go to my room, so I... I pushed him as hard as I could."

"And how hard was that?" asked the doctor, quietly.

She knew she had to answer. They knew she needed a moment. After the moment passed, she admitted, "Hard enough to put him to the wall. From, um, across the living room."

Her aunt whistled. "Whew, no wonder Ronnie and the idiot bastard were upset. And your arm?"

"I don't know."

The doctor was nodding. "It is as I said, a stress fracture. You exerted more force than was advisable at your stage of development. Hm... we were going to do a basic assessment anyway. So... come with me."

Down the hall from the examination room was a chamber with a reclining patient seat, a computer stand, and a machine out of the latest sci-fi medical drama, a mechanical hydra with LED-lit eyes and a strangely soothing purr. "We won't be needing most of the settings," Dr. Flamel assured them. "Only one or two of the diagnostic tools. Lie down, young lady."

The padding of the chair was as unreal as the machine standing next to her. Monica fell into nap mode immediately, and only woke up when her aunt nudged her and told her it was time to get up. "Um, what?" she mumbled.

"Examination, complete," announced the doctor. "In good time, too. My thanks to you for being such a cooperative patient. Why, the restraints weren't even necessary."

"Ah, okay..." That sounded good, at least. "So, um, what?" she asked as they returned to the basic examination room.

"As I suspected, you are evincing a PK energy field. Psychokinetic energy," he elaborated. "It is likely your primary mutant trait."

"But I can't move anything like that! Um, I tried? Once? The old push-the-pencil bit?"

The doctor didn't sigh, but he did have the look of someone who was at the start of a very familiar lecture. She'd seen the same on her teachers' faces right after one of the boys in the back row asked a really obvious question. "I fear you are thinking of tele-kinesis," he told her. "An easy mistake, promulgated by a lack of precision in the nomenclature of science-fiction novels. Why, all the times I wish I could just reach back into the past and throttle... ahem. An old pet peeve. My apologies. Yes, so what you have, young lady, is psycho-kinesis, and in the field of mutantpower study there are some important distinctions between the two. Telekinesis is outwardly focused, the proverbial pencil, et cetera. Psychokinesis is inwardly focused, reinforcing the user and allowing for select special abilities. The classic combination includes flight, invulnerability, speed, and strength."

She was acutely aware that she possessed none of those things. Her silence spoke as much to the doctor. The fact that she was there with a broken arm should have been clue enough for that.

Dr. Flamel chuckled. "Obviously, not all powers appear just like that, at full strength on the first day. In fact, that is why the MID I shall be processing for you today is labeled 'provisional.' You will need to check in regularly to monitor your development. Now, as to your powers." On a wall display, the outline of a body -- her body -- appeared. There was a strange network of lines running over it. "That is the PK energy pattern. There is no question that it is a primary trait. No evidence of flight capability, but since your hair seems to be coming back as papillae for budding pin-feathers--"

"That's what those things are?"

"Young people these days." This time, the doctor did sigh. "Never raised a falcon, or even a chicken in a coop. Yes, they are definitely feathers, or will be. Just for that, we can assume at least the potential for flight. My nurse will find the files on proper exercises for beginnerrs. If it develops, then speed will likely follow soon after. Strength... well, fathers don't just push themselves across the living room, so we have definite evidence of that."

She wished she could hide somewhere, anywhere, but her quilt was not that large, nor was it actually a cloak of invisibility, like she used to pretend.

"As for invulnerability, that's where it gets interesting." The doctor tapped the outline on the display, at a spot covered in PK squiggles. Her right arm, a little below the wrist. "The fracture is perfectly set, so much so that there's nothing I could do to improve upon it. You won't even need to have it wrapped, as long as you are careful. Your PK is holding everything in place. Given the fragility of your skeletal structure, I dare say that much of your current power is bound up in keeping you in one piece. As you mature and grow more stable in your mutation, the more PK should be freed up for its other functions. And the less risk you will have of breaking a bone when using it."

Aunt Valerie was taking notes in miniscule shorthand. "Okay... so is there any place we can go to have a physical training program or something? Because I don't think high school PE is going to be of much use here."

"There are options," the doctor admitted. "Some preferable to others. As young Mr. Toole has vouched for you -- with much enthusiasm, I might add -- I shall put out some inquiries. We may discuss them at a later date. For now," said he, nodding to Nurse Ravi as she walked in with a stack of forms, "I shall let you finish the MID paperwork. My 10:30 appointment should be in soon, yes?"

"In the safety room, doctor," the nurse confirmed. "All flammable materials have been cleared from examination room 3, and he is ready to move over. Your fireproof lab coat is ready at your desk."

"Good. See to the young lady, please." With a nod of the head and a second nod of the hair, Dr. Flamel left them to it.

The scales on the nurse's arm shimmered under the waiting room lights as she presented pages of forms with boxes of text so dense that they made Monica's eyes swim. She had her aunt to wade through the legalese, but that left her sitting there with her legs dangling off the chair with nothing to do but read the informative posters off the walls. Somehow a demonstration of proper talon and claw hygiene did not seem like anything she needed. She hoped. The thought prompted a closer examination of her fingernails, and then her toenails soon after.

"Bored?"

"Um, is it okay if I said yes?" The quilt pulled a little tighter around her, but her arm wasn't throbbing so bad. "I... they wouldn't let me back in the house to get a book..."

"Seriously," said Nurse Ravi. "I have a nice article on Raelynn's Law if you need it."

"Still not necessary, probably, but thanks." Aunt Valerie flipped through the papers they already had. "Does everyone have to read through all this?"

"Most do not," Ravi admitted. "Not much of it ever comes up in real life. And not all MID providers bother to show it." For a second, a fang drew across her silvered lip. "I don't advise you to trust anyone who won't at least offer to show it to you. What you do not know about your legal status will indeed hurt you. But let's get to the things Monica can help with. Codename?"

"Pardon?"

"It's for legal purposes," her aunt explained. "All research and notes on your condition is assigned to a serial number and codename. You know, like the heroes have? Even Nick has one."

Heroic was the last thing she felt right then, hiding in a quilt with her arm throbbing because she'd smacked her own dad too hard. In fact, it was the dead opposite of all the sobs and sniffles and tears running down her face as it dawned on her that she probably wasn't ever going back to that house or seeing any of her stuff ever again. Amanda would reclaim all of the books and supplies, Courtney might take some of the lovies, and the rest would be in the trash by... possibly tomorrow for the morning pickup, if they were quick. She wasn't crying for the lost things, but they didn't make the situation any easier.

"Hey, earth to kiddo. Come down for a hug?"

Sniffling, she saw that Aunt Valerie with her arms open and ready. With her arms up and open and ready. The sniffles were snuffed by surprise as Monica realized that the ceiling was only an inch overhead, and the seat was well below her. With a shriek, she fell into her aunt's welcome embrace, and trembled in shock.

"And that's flight confirmed on the powers list, consistent with the general PK package," said the nurse.

"What, what, what?" Oh, she sounded like a squawking chicken.

"Something to work towards," said Aunt Valerie. "Huh, how heavy are you, anyway? It's like I'm just holding the quilt, here!"

"The scales in the diagnostic machine said seventeen point seven kilograms," Nurse Ravi informed them. "Would you like me to translate that to American?"

"No need, Ms. Ravi," her aunt assured. "Vous êtes ravissante. Vraiment." Monica was set down gently and got a pat on the head. "Okay then. Okay. If it looks like a bird and flaps like a bird and is so skinny it must eat like a bird--"

"Hey!" she protested.

"Then we need a nice, birdsome codename," Aunt Valerie concluded. "Ms. Ravi, do you still have the database up?"

"Bien sûr."

"Maybe a filter for bird-related names, to see what's out there? Maybe a falcon or a hawk?"

Monica's cheeks tinted at the mere thought of a name that cool getting attached to herself. "I, I can barely fly, and I only just realized I can do that much! I'm not even one of those little whirlybirds, up on the rooftop spinning around in the wind..."

"That one's taken," the nurse informed them. "But it hasn't been active in a while. If we change the one letter in the middle... ah, good to go."

"What?"

"What you were saying just now. Whirlibird, with an i instead of a y in the middle. It's cute, and it fits you. I'd grab it up if I were you. Good codenames are hard to come by." Nurse Ravi tapped it in quickly. "Here, push the accept button if you want to make it yours, or think of something else. It's your decision."

"I..." She was tired, both in the sense that she needed yet another short nap and that she didn't want to do this particular thing anymore. With the bare minimum of a shrug, she tapped the button. "Whirlibird it is, then," she said with a low sigh.

WA Break Small

There was more to do with the paperwork. She napped through that. There was more to her physical measurements. She somehow napped through that, too. Caring took too much energy. At some point it all ended and she was bundled back up in the quilt while Aunt Valerie took them through the G-Burger drivethru. "Still like cheeseburgers?" came the question.

She grunted, more or less affirmatively.

"Good. Ravi says you need more calcium, stat, so we're picking up milk and supplements later, but I figure a triple cheeseburger and vanilla milkshake would be a good start."

The food arrived before she could think to protest and then she wondered while she felt the need to protest at all. Something-something, not being a hog, watching her figure. It was her mom talking.

She couldn't talk; the entire burger almost fit in her mouth.

"Whoa, there. Don't forget to chew. What've they been feeding you?"

She gulped down the first third, leaving the equivalent of a double cheeseburger in her hands. "Not enough. Um. Mom's been on the fad diet sites again, so..."

"Damnit, Ronnie," growled her aunt. "No wonder you're half-comatose. I should've made a better breakfast for you this morning. Sorry."

"S'okay,' she said around the second third of cheeseburger. The milkshake was already depleted halfway.

"Well, you're definitely not going back there," said the woman. "I'm not about to sit by and watch them starve you to death just because my stupid sister's got a bee up her butt about the size of her butt. Um, you know what I mean."

She giggled the rest of the way back to her aunt's apartment. The place wasn't quite as they had left it.

"Surprised?" Nick's eyes twirled with delight as they opened the door to a much fuller living room. There was now an extra sofa in the empty corner, one that converted to a bed. There was a small dresser filled with clothes, and a second bookshelf that was almost half full.

"Okay, Nicky dear, what the heck?"

The man grinned from ear to ear. "You know the family. All Irish on Dad's side, Italian on Mom's -- my ancestors practically invented crowdfunding. So I put the word out last night that we had an emergency border situation, young teen, extra small sizes, and this morning I made the rounds to pick up whatever was available. My mother's expecting us over for her Sunday night leftovers buffet, by the way."

"Understood." Aunt Valerie made a mock show of annoyance. "At least we won't need to worry about feeding our little whirly-bird tonight."

"Oh? Is that a codename I hear? Fill me in, Val. How's the arm doing?"

Monica did her best to participate in the conversation, but it soon veered into legal territory for things like custody and other stuff she didn't want to think about just yet. Neither adult seemed surprised when she excused herself to sit on the new used sofa and look over the contents of the bookshelf. A lot of it looked like her current junior high reading list, with some random fantasy and historical fiction thrown in. After a moment, she got up to use the bathroom, and along the way she retrieved that cheesy romance novel from under the pillow of her aunt's bed.

Was this situation good? She thought so, but maybe others would disagree. It was better than the previous situation, at least. Finding a quiet corner, Monica settled in to read more about hunky, bare-chested adventurers. Dumb as it was, it kept her brain switched off just when she needed it most.

She could fly tomorrow. Today, she wanted only to nest up and shut the world away.

She could fly tomorrow. Today, she wanted only to nest up and shut the world away.

 

WA Break Big

 

Track Meet
A Whateley Short by Wasamon

--June 15, 2016

The ground passed swiftly beneath her feet.

Her feet.

They weren't. Not really.

Avsel Goran tried not to think about that. She tried not to think about anything. That was why she ran. Never to, never from, simply run. Deep within her soul, she felt the gentle nudge of the Karkadann. He ran as well, somwhere in the dry desert winds that rolled ahead of the setting sun. Never with reason, never with purpose, only the poetry of motion. Only the enjoyment of a lovely summer day that felt like autumn to her. America was a broad place, she had learned, and this corner of it was always cooler than her homeland.

Ms. Chibany had recommended this place, and so she trusted it. More importantly, the Karkadann trusted the woman's word on the matter. It was a school, in ways similar to her memories of childhood and yet so different. It was still in one piece, undamaged by bullets and bombs. From what she had heard, this was something of a miracle, but her arrival had been at the start of the summer period, when most students were not around. It was mostly quiet now. She had her classes in the morning, her lessons in English and the basics of other subjects. It was slow going, for the tutors did not speak Kurdish or Arabic, and her English was not swift in improving.

She did not like to be slow. She did not like to be sitting in one place for too long. How much of that was her, and much the influence of her patron in her heart, she did not know. She did not care. It was a freedom of sorts, and so she ran. ot to class, no from class, never for a specific reason or purpose; she ran.

The walking paths of this school place -- the word was campus, she had learned -- were long and curving, traveling in a broad circle around the buildings and the common areas, and they made a perfect track to follow. Every afternoon she took a pleasant stroll. Mindful of the school's polite request in regard to the safety of other students, she kept her gait to a reasonable speed, her comfort speed. According to the men with the odd cameras and the timer watches, she averaged 40 kilometers an hour at this gait, which sounded faster than it was. There other sites, some of them meant for cars, where they let her go as fast as she wanted. The happy memory sent a tingle down to her toes as they clapped the pavement.

She was not alone on this campus; other students spent part of the summer here for one reason or another. She presumed that some of them had no other place to go. Like her. No one talked about it. They had their stories and she had hers, but that did not mean they would share them.

Some of these other students had speed as she did, though not from the gift of the Karkadann. One youong man with a shaven head raced past often, never stopping to talk but often making unleasant faces in passing. That one was the sort who ran from things, she figured. He never seemed to enjoy it.

After a few leisurely laps around the school, she took one of the quad benches for a short rest. It wasn't that she felt tired, but Ms. Chibany had cautioned her to take things with care when it came to having enough water. Live fast, forget to drink up, collapse from thirst -- that seemed to be a common problem for young speedsters.

The foreign word stuck in her head. Speedster. She could probably think of a Kurdish equivalent with a little effort, or an Arabic one if she tried hard, but nothing fit in the head like the American invention. Strange words for strange times.

Water came from her saddlebag purse, with its strap across her chest and its resting place securely at the small of her back as she ran. It was a gift from her host family in Virginia, the Aouns, for whom she had caused so much trouble while avoiding other trouble, and yet they cared still. The purse had a decal sewn on it, of a blue-skinned horse with wings and a rainbow mark. It was a favorite of her younger host-sister, little Kitiana, and Avsel appreciated it even if she herself was flightless. Also in the saddlebag was her 'pedicure kit,' as Ms. Chibany called it. More foreign words for foreign things. It contained a heavy file, pliers, trimming scissors, and industrial varnish. From her host mother, she had learned that these were not normal 'pedicure' items, but neither were her feet normal. Not anymore.

When and how it happened, it was hard to say, only that it was never when she paid attention and often as she slept. Slowly, surely, she had lost toes from each foot, until now she had but two thick toes on each. The second toes had grown to match the old 'big' toes, and the nails had become thick and large until they were more properly called hooves. Some of the first classes she'd had at this school were with an expert on the care of horses, so that she could know how to properly care for her own feet. A quick examination showed nothing as wrong, so Avsel straighted the hems of her track suit, adjusted the hijab scarf around her hair and forehead, and made ready for another series of laps around the campus.

"Hey, wait up!" The words were English and, if the meaning was not immediately apparent through the other girl's accent, the tone had her stop and wait. An older student was running over at a speed too fast to be natural, and especially not in bare feet. The newcomer was also in a runner's outfit, one with a sports top and bottom so short that they would hardly qualify as undergarments back home. In between the scandalous hemlines and all over everything else was a pattern of brown-on-gold striped fur, and atop the girl's head a pair of large and tufted ears swiveled around. When she grinned, sharp teeth showed between blackened lips and gums.

The girl was half a cat, but like no furry pet Avsel had ever seen. More like the wild cats of the mountains and plains.

"Whew, glad I caught you," said the half-cat. "Not that I mind a race, but it's hard to hold a conversation in the middle of one, am I right?" There was a pause for response.

"Ah... yes?" Avsel was not sure what to say, so the default reply would have to do. "Ah, excuse me, but who...?"

"Where are my manners? Daronicca Jonson, but forget that. Everyone calls me Serval."

The basics of polite conversation clicked in. "Nice to meet you, Serval."

"And same to you, kid. That's some speed you got. Any thoughts to joining the team?"

"Ah... team?"

"Yeah! Whateley Track and Field!" The wildcat girl made her smile wide, which did not make her look any friendlier. "For speedsters who gotta speed! Strictly intramural, yanno. Can't let us show up the baselines. Might hurt their itty-bitty feewings."

"Ah... yes?" The general meaning of the words trickled through. "You want the fast, a, speedsters. Ah, there was a boy..."

Serval blew a snort out her nose. "Hmph. Him. Calls himself Swerve, cuz he sure ain't straight. Boy was scared pantsless just talking to me, like I was gonna jump him." Another snort. "As if. He's way too normie for me."

"Ah, normie?"

"Yeah, normie. Normal-looking, pass for normal, whatevs. I don't date anyone who could walk down Main Street and not get the police called on 'em. We gotta stick together, amiright?"

"Ah... yes?" Avsel blinked through her confusion. "Er, what? What do you mean?"

"Well, I got my wild feline looks and you've got those wicked hooves. Just saw you checking 'em now. Why you hiding 'em?"

"Hiding...? Ah! No, not hiding. Just my clothes. Only clothes."

"Here with the stuff on your back, huh? I feel you. Me, as soon as the fur came in, I lit out, haven't been back since. But hey! You got me to help you now. Teach you how to dress for speed!"

She was not sure what the girl was talking about, but taht did not prevent her from thinking it was a bad idea. The clothes she had, she liked. If she'd wanted different, her host family would have helped. Ms. Chibany would have helped. But she was content with her modest outfits, and they respected that.

"So yeah, first things first, gotta lose the head rag. Doing nothing for your look, and prolly hiding something awesome -- hah!" cried Serval as the girl snatched the hijab from Avsel's head to reveal a mane of course brown hair, fuzzed ears, and the sign of the Karkadann, the horn in the center of her forehead. "Knew it! You look awesome, girl! Why you hide it?"

Whatever she looked, it was not what she felt. What she felt was naked, ashamed. Angry. "Give it back," she said in measured syllables.

"Nuh-uh. Girl, you gotta let go of what they want you to be. Show your true self. Let the world know you're proud to be a mutant, and to hell with 'em all!"

"Give it back."

"Seriously? Fine! Come and get it!" With the screeching yowl of a cat in heat, Serval took off running. She had no choice but to race after.

Thanks be to Allah, that there were so few witnesses to her shame. And thanks be to the Karkadann for granting her legs the strength to run. The will of her patron came not in thoughts, but in feelings for her mind to work through:

Never run from.

Never run to.

Run.

The cat-bitch stole her hijab scarf and was trying to get away with it.

Catch the thief. Ruin her. In the back of her soul, she felt only approval from the Sunset Wind and warmth in her legs as she went from the standard gait of her gentle laps to something truly speedful.

Serval was no slow one. The wildcat girl sped across the quad fast enough to rip a straight line through the grass. That gave Avsel the perfect path to follow, and every step of her hooves as she galloped left enormous divots in the lawn, at widening intervals as her will to speed increased. The thief was fast, and so the chase took several seconds as they raced around the quad, around the cafeteria building, and back towards Whitman Cottage. Agile as she was, Serval turned left or right anytime Avsel came close to grabbing her, and so the chase continued to rip the campus grounds at the roots.

Enough, the Kurdish girl decided. With a flex and a leap, her speed translated for just a moment into flight as she passed over the surprised Serval to land on the lawn-space ahead of the thief. The landing shook the ground, turning soil and throwing stray rocks into the air. The thieving feline slowed for the barest second, and that was enough for Avsel to zip in and take back her scarf. It went back around her hair and foreheaad gladly.

"Woo-ee, I knew you were faster than you let on!" cried Serval. "What a rush! I haven't had a run that good in ages! And wow, you're a unicorn, huh? Won't Unique over in Whitman be pissed, ha ha."

She did not know what the girl was talking about. She did not wish to know. There was plenty to say, plenty to address as her heart swelled with the fires of righteous wrath and indignation, but she lacked the words to express herself. For the first time in a long while, Avsel let herself be frustrated by the other girl's continued cluelessness.

"So, Whateley Track and Field? You in? Show off that stupendous unicorn speed and run with the wind in your hair?"

Every drop of anger, frustration, and contempt found its way out in just one short phrase: "Goodbye."

Assured that her scarf was securely in place, Avsel turned and sped away. She knew Serval could not catch her, but she would have to ask her advisor about whom to apologize to for the damage to the lawns.

It was only polite.

 

WA Break Big

 

Into The Void
A Whateley Short by Enemyoffun

September 2016---Near Buffalo NY

“Samantha, sweetie”

I groaned, rolling away from the annoyance trying to destroy my sleep. A few seconds later, I could hear her on the stairs. She was a small woman but the way she pounded up those steps, you’d think she was auditioning for River Dance. I didn’t even get a chance to roll over before she was rapidly knocking on the door. Then no less than a second later, she opened the door.

“Samantha, you need to…”

“Get up” I grunted, finishing for her.

I opened my eyes and rolled over to face her, a frown already plastered on her face. I loved my mother but she was super overprotective. More so now than ever. I knew she meant well in her own way but it could be a bit smothering at times. She was a single parent, raised me all by herself after my dead-beat Dad bailed before I was even born. Her parents kicked her to the curb too. Mom has never once referred to me as an accident but no teenager plans to get married. Unless you’re in some kind of weird cult or something. My grandparents didn’t think that though. I’m pretty certain most parents don’t want to see their sixteen-year-olds having babies, they were still babies themselves.

Thankfully Mom didn’t end up on the streets. She had a Great Aunt here who took her in, helped her raise me. Mom was able to finish out high school and after a few years, she went to a community college even. She was a manager of a bank now and had worked her ass off to get there. She once told me she always wanted the best for me and did her very best to provide it. I never faulted her that. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, she decided she knew what was best regardless of my input. It started small but as I got older, it got worse. It hit full time nuclear crazy when I hit my teens. She would never openly admit it, but I think she was afraid I would make the same mistakes as her.

She didn’t know anything.

I was invisible.

 Not that I hated being invisible, it just meant no one noticed me. Mom had been popular. The perky cute cheerleader, I’d seen the photos. Dad was on the basketball team or something, they were the perfect couple. She once told me everyone thought they’d grow up one day, get married and have a bunch of babies. I guess they decided to start that early. There was some talk about abortion but when my mother refused, he decided they were done. That was it. I never faulted my mother for her choices, but I decided long ago that I would try my hardest not to make the same ones. So I chose to be invisible. I dressed down whenever I could, wore baggy clothes and an oversized hoodie. I kept my head down, hoping that if I tried hard enough people would forget I existed. It worked too. If someone mentioned my name, there were a lot of “Sam Who” and I loved it.

It was pure bliss.

Then It happened.

“You need to get in the shower, I have to be at work in forty minutes.”

Mom didn’t wait for me to respond before turning and walking out of the room. Pushing my way slowly out of bed, I somehow managed to make it down the hall to the bathroom. I wasn’t really a morning person. Which annoyed my mother a lot. Like most typical teens my age, I just didn’t want to get out of bed. It was even worse now because it felt like I was going to be the new girl all over again. I might as well have been. Walking up to the sink and looking into the mirror, I barely recognized the person staring back at me.

This girl with the pale pink hair and very distinctive crystal blue eyes.

She was a stranger.

And yet, she was me too.

I sighed, still trying to process it all.

I was a mutant.

It happened last month, about a week after I turned fourteen. There wasn’t this massive fanfare or anything like that. I wasn’t out in public for the whole world to see either. I was glad for that one. I’d read a lot of stories about kids manifesting in malls and other crazy places. One minute you’re walking about, you double over in sharp pain and the next you’re blue or something. Ok, so maybe not quite like that. It wasn’t like that for me anyway. I was at home, alone because Mom was working late, and it happened. At first, I thought it was the stomach bug that was going around, until the pain spread throughout my body. I rushed to the bathroom, got lightheaded and must have passed out because the next thing I knew I was waking up in a hospital bed.

And that’s where she came from.

That girl that barely looked like me.

The one who definitely didn’t look like my mother.

I sighed, splashed water in my face before undressing.

The shower was soothing but quick. We were in a rush after all. The last couple of days my mother had been running around like a chicken with her head cut off. She was doing everything she possibly could to get me ready for my fancy new school. I never even heard about Whateley Academy until after “The Incident” as my mother called it. It was all a set of escalating circumstances. Shortly after I manifested, I kept my head down. Unfortunately, I still had to go to school. It was pretty hard to hide my new pink hair, but most people thought it was just some new fashion statement, well except for Brody and his friends. I’m not sure how they figured it out but when they did, that’s when the bullying started. It was mostly name calling and crap like that, stuff I was used too even before I became a mutant.

Stuff I could handle.

Then they attacked me.

I remember going to the local pro-mutant rally. I remember being really nervous because as much as I wanted to march with the others, I was scared too. I was in the crowd toward the back, mustering up my nerve when they grabbed me. Bits and pieces of it were still raw and others were completely forgotten. What I can remember most is when she stopped it. Riley, Brody’s girlfriend. Well ex-girlfriend now I suppose. It happened so fast. Brody and the other boys had me on the ground and were kicking me. I only saw the first punch, but I completely blacked out for the rest of it. For the second time in so many months, I found myself back in the hospital.

It would be a while before the rest of my memories returned.

I shook away the dark memories and left the shower. Wrapped a towel around myself, I rushed back to my room. Mom was waiting in the hallway with a scowl, but I ignored her. I tried to dry myself off as quick as possible, getting dressed just as fast. Thankfully it didn’t hurt anymore. The bandages came off last week, but I was still pretty tender. They broke two ribs, my wrist and my nose. I’m told it would have been a lot worse if not for Riley’s interference. She saved my life. As far as I was concerned, she was my hero. I just wish my mother saw it that way.

“Honey, you don’t have time to dry your hair”

Mom was in the doorway, looking agitated.

We had to get to the airport soon.

I quickly tried my best, but Mom’s pestering ended my attempt. Instead, I slipped on a pair of sneakers and followed her out to the car. It was still fairly early in the morning, the sun trying its best to wake up. Thankfully, I packed last night or else I would have definitely missed my flight. My bags were already packed and I was ready to go...literally stepping into a Bob Denver song. Wow. Getting into the car, I did my best to tune out the noise. For most kids my age, that would mean putting on headphones or something. For me though, I closed my eyes and focused. Over the last couple of months, I’d practiced. I was getting a lot better at it too. I didn’t know the exact technical name of it but I liked to call it a noise canceling field. When I was tested last month, they called it a void. The name stuck. As such, I could focus it down to a small area around my body, almost like a force-field.

My own personal mute button.

All sound disappeared completely.

The ride to the airport was in complete silence. I spent the time staring out the window. There was nothing but grass, trees and the occasional cow. Lots of cows actually. Eventually even those faded away. When we turned onto the thru-way, Mom looked like wanted to talk but I didn’t really want to listen. Things were still a little tense with us. After The Incident, Mom wanted to punish everyone involved, including Riley. I heard after the fact that the boys had all been arrested for the assault, but she got by pretty unscathed. Riley’s family had connections; her grandfather was pretty well known around these parts. I’m not sure if he pulled some strings or what but I was happy to hear she didn’t get in trouble.

I heard she did try to come see me while I was still unconscious. One of the nurses told me but Mom turned her away. Mom blamed all of them for what happened to me. I think deep down she blamed herself most of all though. She had to work that day and wasn’t able to go with me to the rally. I wasn’t really mad at her anymore for the way she acted but I just didn’t agree with it.

There was something else too.

Something I didn’t tell Mom.

Riley manifested to save my life.

I could never forget that.

I was so lost in thought that I didn’t even know we had arrived or that the car had actually stopped moving. Mom finally tapped me on my shoulder. It broke my concentration and shattered the noise field. I was still trying to get the hang of it and a slight disturbance like that was enough for me to lose it. I was hoping it was something the school could help me with.

“Sweetie, were you doing it again?”

“I have to practice Mom.”

She gave me a look. It was the one she usually gave me when she was about to lecture me about something. Instead, though, she pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed.

“I don’t want anything to happen to…”

I reached out and gently touched her arm, stopping her before she could finish.

“Mom, I’m fine. They said this Whateley place was safe, right?”

She turned her head and nodded.

Mom never liked to cry in front of people, but I always knew the signs.

We sat there a couple of minutes, neither of us saying a thing. Mom tried to hide wiping away her tears and I pretended not to notice. We didn’t have time for it anyway, after all we still needed to go through security. After 9/11, things were a lot different. I remember it taking nearly two hours to go through security when we went to Hawaii last year. Of course, that was back before I had my nice new ID. According to the office where I got power tested, I could use it to streamline some of the security. It was still going to be a hassle but not nearly as much as before.

With that in mind, Mom and I meandered our way inside.

We could have driven the distance to the school, but Mom wanted to make sure I got there with enough time to get settled. The flight would be quick. Then I’d have to take a bus the rest of the way. This would be the first time I traveled alone, and I was a bit nervous, but I tried my best not to let it show. If I did Mom might really start to cry and then she’d be embarrassed to do so in public. Keeping that in mind, I quelled the butterflies and tried to convince myself not to puke.

“We’re this way, I think.”

Mom took charge, pushing her way through the busy Labor Day vacation crowd. Most of them families returning home from trips abroad, their children less than eager because school was starting soon. I wasn’t sure what to make of it all at first. After the attack and my hospital stay, we were approached by an agent from the DPA, Department of Paranormal Affairs. He introduced himself as Special Agent Shepard and wished to speak to us about a scholarship opportunity to a special school in New Hampshire. A school for mutants. The idea did intrigue me a great deal but of course Mom was skeptical. I don’t think she wanted to let me out of her sight. Agent Shepard did a good job of selling the whole thing to her though.

The scholarship incentive was enough to tip the scales.

We weren’t hurting as far as money went. After the divorce and alimony from my dad’s affair, we were pretty good financially. Mom was an RN too, but she’s been saving for my college fund and if not for the scholarship, a private school was something that would drain our budget. First and foremost though, I think she wanted me to be safe. After she was reassured that Whateley Academy was one of the safest places in the world, she couldn’t argue against it.

“I think that’s us” she said, pointing to a security station off to the side from the rest of them.

There were maybe a dozen or so people in line, the agent at the counter looked disinterested.

When it was our turn, he asked for my MID.

“Void?” he asked with more annoyance than care.

“Yes sir” I said, hoping to sound polite.

“Right”

He typed away at the computer for a few minutes then, seemingly satisfied, handed the card back. He then asked me to put my bag through his scanner and step through the other one. I hesitated for a moment and turned to Mom. This was the point of No Return for her. She was struggling again to not cry and then pulled me into a tight hug. She held me for longer than I expected and when she pulled away, I saw the tears.

“You’re going to be fine, right?”

“Yes Mom”

She pulled me into another hug.

The security officer cleared his throat.

Fuck him.

Eventually we pulled away and I stepped through his scanner.

No beeps. All gone.

I waved to Mom as I grabbed my bag and continued on, trying not to cry myself.

There was another security checkpoint before I reached the plane. This one was a bit more thorough, but I got through it fine. My plane was only half full because it was only an hour flight. I managed to bring a book to pass the time. Take off was easy and before I even knew it, we were already landing. I think I zoned out most of it while reading. At the airport terminal, I was able to get a taxi to the local bus terminal. We got the tickets in advance and Mom had gone over it enough times with me that it was drilled into my head. Unfortunately, I was going to have to wait as soon as we pulled into the bus terminal. The school had their own shuttle bus, but it was set to pick me up at the next terminal stop.

I found a little eatery at the station. I had about an hour to wait for my next ride, so I decided to get a bit to eat. I bought a burger and some fries from the counter and found a little table away from things in the corner. At least I thought it was away from things. I didn’t notice the guy until I sat down. He looked a few years older and had been staring at me the whole time. I thought I was imagining it at first but as soon as I sat down, I could feel his eyes crawling all over me.

I was hoping he’d leave me alone until he stood up and started over.

Shit.

“Hey babe, traveling alone.”

God, did he bath in that cologne.

“None of your business”

“C’mon don’t be like that” he said, running his hand through his hair.

“I want to be left alone.”

I saw it in his eyes at that moment. He was tall, reasonably built and would have been handsome if he wasn’t so slimy. He had that look though. The one that said he didn’t like to take no for an answer. Not gonna lie, I started to panic a little bit. He was a guy twice my size and the only one around was the diner employee. The guy was too far to notice what was going on. I could feel those butterflies start to flutter. I could feel something else too, an itch from my abilities. I knew if I used them though, I could get in serious trouble. Besides what’s a bit of noise cancellation gonna do against someone like him.

I needed…

“Hey pedejo” said a stern voice as a hand landed on the guy’s shoulder.

Where the hell did she come from?

There was no one else here and suddenly there was a girl. She was my age I think but tall, really tall. She looked really strong too. She was wearing a short sleeve shirt, and I could see the bulge of her muscles. The guy snapped around, looking pissed. He was tall and fit, no question. He had to be at least six foot something but when he turned to face her, his face was below her breasts. That’s how tall this girl was.

She lifted him an inch or two off the ground by his shoulder alone.

“The lady said fuck off, you gonna do that right?”

This large Hispanic was terrifying, and he knew it.

He rigorously nodded his head, so she let him go. He fell to the floor in a heap. He quickly scrambled to his feet and then ran off. I watched him go, scared out of his mind. Then I turned to this girl. She started laughing and then shrunk. The muscles started to fade away along with her height until she was eventually shorter than the guy she scared away.

Wait, what?

“You ok” she asked, dropping into the seat across from me.

I didn’t even offer it to her.

“I’m good” I said, floored at what I just saw.

“I’m Amaya by the way.”

“Sam”

“Whateley, right?”

I dumbly nodded. Not sure what else to do.

“Good. I think you and I should stick together until then. Lots of scumbags like him around but they won’t fuck with you when you got me.”

I was still a little flabbergasted. I just met this girl and yet, somehow, I knew what she was saying was actually genuine.

“So, what’s your thing?” she asked, snatching one of my fries happily.

“Well, I’m Void and…”

Yeah, I think I was going to be ok.

 

WA Break Big

 

New Shoes
A Whateley Short by Domoviye

Whateley Stables
September, September 7, 2016 – Morning

Dawn-Renae, or Toison if you prefer using codenames, was not very happy. She did her best to be happy, things could be a lot worse for her than getting goat legs, hooves and horns. At least she'd gotten magic out of the deal, healing people with her spells was really nice, so she could tell herself the trade off was worth it. And she wasn't as badly off as some of the other girls, who had acidic spit, or looked like a cat. So she was usually able to smile about things.

But today, at least for the moment, she was not happy. She'd even say she was angry. She'd hurt her foot on a stone, chipping part of her hoof, and after Doyle had healed her bruise, they told her to go to the stable to get her hoof checked out. It was like she wasn't even a human because of her feet, and she had to go get help with the livestock.

She could smell the horses as she came up to the large stable. It looked like a house was attached to the building, and there was an over size door with 'Foot Care Centre” written on a sign above it. She rang the doorbell and stepped inside, dreading what she'd find.

It didn't look anything like she'd thought it would. Instead of being a dirty stable, or even a clean one, it looked like an oversized dental office with an odd dentist chair in the middle. Clean tools, like a sander, big pliers, files and other things lined the wall, a TV was mounted on the wall where someone in the chair could see, and there was a stack of magazines on a table. For some reason there was plenty of space between everything. A horse could move comfortably in the place. 

A boy who looked to be maybe twelve years old came in. He had horse ears sticking out of his mop of chestnut brown hair, digitigrade legs legs like hers and horse hooves. “Hi, your Toison right?” he asked, almost getting her codename right.

“Yeah, yeah I am. I was told to come here to get my feet checked.”

He nodded, smiling cheerfully. “Doyle called saying you'd be coming. Mom will be here in a few minutes. She's taking the new student workers on a ride, but they're doing OK, so she's on her way back.”

“Thanks. Your mom is in charge of the stables?” she asked.

“Yep. She's Stable Master, or Ms. Peters. I'm Elliot.”

“Hi Elliot. You can call me Dawn.”

“OK, Dawn. I've got some stuff to do, so just take a seat and relax, there's some juice in the fridge if you want. It was nice meeting you,” the boy said.

She found herself smiling again. “Thanks Elliot, it was nice meeting you to.”

Sitting down, she didn't feel quite so bad about things anymore. She'd still prefer being at Doyle, but there was nothing embarrassing here. Taking an apple juice she played on her phone as she waited for the mysterious Stable Master.

It was almost fifteen minutes later when there was a knock on the door, and the largest woman Dawn had ever seen came into the room. It was suddenly very clear why the room and doors were so big, Stable Master was a centaur, wearing a long dress to cover her body. She could see the resemblance between her and Elliot, especially in the hair and ears.

“Hi, you must be Toison, or would you prefer being called Dawn?” Stable Master asked.

“I like Dawn, I'm more used to it. And you're Stable Master?”

“That I am. So you're having problems with your hooves. Can you hop up on the chair and I'll give them a look.”

She sat down as directed and found that her feet hung over the end of the seat. Then she was rising up into the air, far higher than she was used to, until Stable Master could look at her feet without having to crouch down.

“How long have you had your hooves?” Stable Master asked, leaning in to poke her feet.

“They finished coming in a few months ago.”

“And do you always run around without shoes?”

“Yeah, finding shoes that fit was really hard, and I don't usually hurt my feet. So it seemed easiest,” she said with a shrug.

The centaur smiled at her. “It's actually a good decisions. Some people with hooves wear shoes all the time, and it causes the horn of the hoof, the hard part, to build up until it becomes too large and unwieldy. Walking around like you do wears down the old horn, which is healthier and helps make caring for them easier. So keep running around barefoot unless you're going on ice.”

“What do I do on ice?”

“Wear properly fitted shoes, with good grips. I can order you a pair at a discount, or if your a full scholarship student the school will supply one pair a year alongside your uniform. Now let's tidy up your hooves for you.”

The next hour was an interesting lesson on hoof care. Cutting away a little bit of the old horn around the edge of her foot, filing and sanding it down, followed by a good polishing. By the time it was all done, her feet looked shinier, neater and healthier than ever. And it wasn't much different than what Dawn thought a pedicure would be like.

“All done,” Stable Master said. “Come back in a few months for a checkup, it will be faster next time since I won't be explaining everything. Or if you get a chip, crack or pain I'll look it over for you. Just send me a message so we can make sure you aren't waiting too long.”

“Thank you,” Dawn said. Hopping off the chair, she could tell there was a difference already, like going from shoes that were a bit too big to ones that fit perfectly.

Stable Master handed her a small box. “And here you go, on the house. A proper file, brush, polishing cloth and trimmer. This is just to smooth things out and deal with little things getting stuck in your hoof,  don't start digging or carving into your hooves trying to make them smaller or look cool. Someone tries to do that every year and they end up cutting themselves or breaking their hoof entirely.”

“OK, I promise not to do anything stupid with them.”

The woman smiled and patted her shoulder. “I'm sure you'll be fine. You seem to have a good head on your shoulders.”

Saying goodbye Dawn-Renae headed back for Whitman. She wouldn't show them off, but she hoped her friends would notice her new shoes.

 

WA Break Big

 

Carebear Cares
A Whateley Short by Null0trooper

Early Saturday morning, October 15,
Whitman Cottage.

Esencia de Santiago had booked her clinic work-study for this Saturday morning. She'd also penciled herself in for the Saturday four weeks out while it was still open. The shift tended to be the second worst for dealing with whiners trying to get out of their classes. That could bring out the Grumpy Bear in her, but that wasn't half as bad as later in the weekend, when the Workshop accidents were brought in. What made her choice extra worthwhile this week was that healers got served the good anti-cramp meds first. With patient comfort on the line, no one wanted to risk Aunt Flo's visit to make things sketchy. As to the malingerers, even the guy doctors liked when Grumpy Bear shooed them on their way.

It wasn't all selfishness! Leslie and Stella had said the clinic was due for extra business from Whitman girls who'd rather deal with a friendly face. Esencia didn't like to think too much on what life was like for girls who had enhanced senses like that. Instead, she worked extra hard to get ready for the day without waking up her roommate. Martine hadn't done anything too weird yet, but energizers often developed issues.

One of the girls from the end of the hall, Tabbie, had got in ahead of her in the showers. Did that girl ever sleep?

"That time for you too?" Tabbie asked.

Esencia almost missed the question.

"... Yeah."

"Thought so. You're usually more of a Perky Bear in the mornings. Me, I just couldn't sleep. Try some of the special shower settings on low. A touch warmer should do the trick."

"I'm not in the mood for that!"

"Neither am I, but I bet you're even less in the mood for cramps."

Chalk up one more prayer answered by the fabled plumbing goddess Hydroflux. Even the sad little packets of stuff the Doyle canteen passed off as cocoa almost felt like cocoa.

WA Break Small

Doyle Medical Clinic.

Morning intake was a good time for practicing Friend Bear vibes. Tenderheart was too easily taken in by a sob story. Funshine wasn't much fun to be around when you're hurting. That had been a tough lesson to learn!

Dr. Tenent popped in between patients to ask if she was doing okay.

"So far, so good. That is, unless the dispensary runs low on the extra-strength painkillers and muscle relaxants."

"It's a full moon weekend. I'll put in a call."

"Care-bear?" the latest accident victim read from Esencia's nameplate, as if he wasn't mentally undressing her. "Any chance of you caring and sharing some Get Lucky Bear action?"

"What was the problem you said you were having?" And why should she care?

"I cut myself on some broken glassware. But, you know what? Since meeting you, I'm feeling a lot better. Really, it's just a scratch."

"It's a good thing you came in! There's always a chance of infection with any laceration. You wouldn't want me healing any pathogens already at work on you! So first, we're going to need to clean your inury," Esencia said as she retrieved an antiseptic. With come-on lines that bad, the boy would be watching her backside, not her hands. His mistake. "Just checking the records here... Mm mm mm," she tsked. "Looks like I'll need one of the nurses."

"W-what?"

"Nothing a big, strong guy like you would worry about. Back in a sec!"

Minutes later, Esencia returned with one of the staff. While the newcomer busied herself with something, she distracted the boy by wiping blood from his injured hand. A quick swabbing with idiot-strength iodine riveted his full attention. No chance of him passing out as her healing power forced out some embedded glass slivers before closing the wound. He was still staring at the newly-knit flesh as the nurse rolled up his sleeve and injected the tetanus vaccine.

"OW!"

The nurse shook her head, "Now, now. That wasn't so bad, was it?"

"N-no? I was just surprised, that's all."

"Great! Let's be more careful around glassware, so we won't have to go through this again. You might not get so lucky next time."

"Sure thing! Bye!"

After the hapless Workshopper scrambled out, Nurse Tanuyan asked Esencia, "Was he really awful enough to pull the lost shot records trick?"

Esencia sighed.

"'Get Lucky Bear'?"

"Okay. And?"

"And, my bra itches. And, he really was overdue. And, he looked like a fainter."

"On that note, good call."

 

WA Break Big

 

Image
A Whateley Short by Domoviye

Wednesday Morning, December 14, 2016,
Underclassmen Combat Finals, Arena 77, Whateley Academy.

Penny Dreadful and Shisa. Ladies, you have fifteen minutes to present yourselves at the Arena entrance. Do not be late,” the announcer said.

Penny Dreadful rolled her eyes as her name was called. She was excited and nervous about the Combat Final, who wouldn't be? But she had to keep her image of finding it all a waste of time. Image was important, and she'd carefully crafted hers.

Too bad she had to fight the annoying cat, the arena was already laughing at the stupidity of it all. What could Shisa do except run away and catch mice? Looking at Jonathon her current manifested zombie, there wasn't even a need to buff him up, a good swift kick would send the other Whitmaniac flying.

Then the laughing stopped. Looking up, she saw the MID's on the overhead stadium screen, and her bored facade cracked.

 

(SUPERVILLAIN: Parole)
Treat With Extreme Caution

Codename: Shisa

Powers: PDP 5 (Special)

Techniques: Ranged Slash, Ranged Crush; TK Push/Pull; TK Shield; Mind Over Matter (Enhanced Leap, Enhanced Speed, Enhanced Strength); Healing (Self), Enhanced Hearing/Smell; Hiding; Ambush; Silent Stalking; Climbing

Weak VS: Extreme GSD: Limited Use Of Hands, Difficulty Talking; Physically Fragile; Must Concentrate To Use Powers; Can Only Use One Offensive, Defensive or Healing Power At A Time; Sonics; Strong Chemical Scents.

Backup/Team Affiliation: N/A

 

That couldn't be right. Sure the cat was fast, and could slash up a wall or give you a shove, but a supervillain? That couldn't be Shisa. What was she? A cat burglar. But it said to treat her with extreme caution, and those techniques weren't something a simple thief would use.

Penny realized she'd been standing there with her mouth open for a while. Instantly she put on a smirk, and her usual 'I don't give a shit' look, while buffing up Jonathon as much as she could.

WA Break Small

“Ladies, you're job is to go to this address, pick up the waiting package and reach the drop off point. There is only one package,” Sensei Tolman said, handing both Penny and Shisa a piece of paper.

Nothing else seemed to be forthcoming, shrugging, Penny memorized the address then shoved it into her pants pocket. She was wearing sensible, cool clothes, stretchy, black jeans for running, a comfortable black shirt, and a faux leather jacket that was really made out of kevra. There was no way she'd wear one of the tacky, multi-coloured fiasco's that other people wore.

Looking down at Shisa, she considered what she was going to say. “So do you want to work together for this stupid thing?” Please say you want to work together, she thought.

Shisa grinned. It was at that moment that Penny decided cats should never, ever grin. Especially supervillain cats with techniques like slash and crush. It wasn't natural.

“No,” Shisa replied, slowly and clearly.

“All right, your funeral.” Fuck!

Penny was still silently cursing to herself as she went to the gate. Putting on the black lace mask and veil, she summoned another hulking zombie. The two were her limit, hopefully it would be enough. The gate opened, it was showtime. Strolling out into the bad side of a city, she smirked at the reaction the crowd was giving her zombies.

Walking down the sidewalk she wondered where the pickup place was.

WA Break Small

Above the arena the crowd watched the pair in the monitors. Penny and her zombies were busy looking for the pick up point, going down the street acting like everything was normal. For the situation it was a pretty good strategy.

Shisa took a different route. She came out of her gate with a black Zorro like mask and took a leap from the ground to a third floor balcony, then began to climb. Once she reached the top of the building, the cat girl looked down at the people below. In an alley a pair of punks were standing around trying to look casual. From their nervous looks, they were waiting for someone. Shisa reached out and seemed to push the air with her hand.

The two would be ambushers went flying through the air and back into the alley, where they hit the cement and bounced. Their limp bodies flew through the air again, hitting a wall just above a dumpster and landed in the garbage. Five seconds had passed and the only sign they'd been there were four blood splatters that would be easy to miss.

Jumping across the street Shisa continued on her way.

WA Break Small

Going past an alley, Penny saw the figure lunging at her just in time to jump away. Some smelly, old man went to grab her again, his filthy face had a disgusting leer, revealing blackened and dirty teeth. Before he could grab her, Jonathon was there, grabbing the attackers arm with his big rotting hand. Leroy was right behind, punching the man in the face.


It took two more punches before the attacker was down, unconscious or dead. “Good job, you two,” she said, patting their rotten flesh. They didn't need the praise, but it made her feel a little less nervous acting like they were protecting her out of free will.

Off in the distance she heard a car crash and sirens.

WA Break Small

The students and some teachers of Whateley, watched the monitor following Shisa in stunned silence. There was loud honking and the screeching of tires. A car carrying four armed gunmen crashed into a bus, with two of it's tires slashed. A minute earlier a potential ambusher had been thrown up thirty feet up into the air, thrown again, and again, and again until he was high enough to hit the forcefield at high speed and fall back to the ground.

Police sirens wailed heading for the scene of the accident. Shisa leapt away, jumping over roof tops at speeds that would leave some examplars eating her dust.

It looked like she was laughing as she ran.

WA Break Small

Penny looked up along with most of the people around her, a superhero, at least she thought he was a superhero from his boringly generic and cheerful yellow and blue outfit, flew overhead. Not many other Combat Finals had had supers involved.

“What the hell is Shisa doing?” she asked, while people screamed in the distance.

WA Break Small

At that moment near the middle of the arena, chaos reigned. Several members of a gang were shooting almost at random, trying to find the person who had sliced through half of their members while barely being seen.

The leader raised his plasma gun when he saw a grey furry face peer out from behind a potted plant on an open windowsill. Before he could aim, his head flew off, perfectly sliced away from his neck. The invisible blade that had killed him continued for a few feet, removing the arm of another gang member.

Then a hero flew out of the sky straight at Shisa, firing a beam of energy from his hand. It looked like he had managed to catch her by surprise, as light exploded around the small student.

Shisa jumped away a moment later, apparently unharmed. She landed on one of the men trying to kill her knocking him down and it looked like she broke his neck with her weight, then she was leaping again, jumping through a second story apartment window. The glass shattered a split second before she hit it. Disappearing into the apartment, the hero flew after her.

WA Break Small

Penny ran out of the apartment building with the package in her hands. The formerly quiet arena was a cacophony of sirens, gun shots, and screams. Several superheroes were flying overhead, half of them looked like they were in a grid watching the ground and shouting directions. The others were flying in a mad pattern of sudden twists and turns.

Then she saw Shisa jumping across the street above her. Police cars came roaring towards her, only to come to a screeching halt as the lead car hit an invisible wall. Looking back up the cat was gone, and the supers were in hot pursuit.

Seeing the chaos, Penny realized she did not want to be anywhere near Shisa. Her two zombies melted away into green slime. Then she raised a large pony with a saddle. Hopping on the diseased zombie animal, she kicked it in the sides and galloped towards the drop off.

WA Break Small

Penny saw the drop off point ahead of her. Urging her undead steed on, she let out a cheer, image be damned. The sirens and heroes were off in the distance chasing the crazy cat, so all she had to do was drop it off to get an A.

Her cheer turned into a scream as the head of her horse went flying off to the side, spattering her in gore. As her manifested steed faded away, she went flying forwards. She tried to go limp so she wouldn't break anything when she hit the ground.

Then she was being held in a big, invisible hand. It slowed her down and painfully dropped her on her back. Penny manifested a zombie as fast as she could, not bothering with her usual theatrics. It went flying, exploding against a building.

“Drop... box,” Shisa said. The girl was hiding under a car, watching her with a hand raised.

“OK. Don't kill me. Here you go,” Penny said, taking the package from her coat and dropping it.

Shisa didn't say anything, just flicked her hand.

She wanted to scream. A scream would be very appropriate for anyone flying up into the sky as if they'd been launched from a catapult. But her lungs refused to work. She was going to die, and she couldn't even scream. Looking down, she saw the ground thirty feet below her. The scream finally came.

Then she slowed down, another invisible hand was holding her. And once more she was flung into the sky. Arcing through the air, she flailed for anything to stop her fall. The roof of a building was coming up far too quickly. She was going to die.

And she hit a slide. Still yelling in terror, she found herself sliding onto the roof. Hitting the cement, she rolled painfully to a stop. Lying on her back, gasping for air, she heard the buzzer go off. Shisa had won.

“Fuck,” she said. Then she realized her pants were soaked in a warm liquid. “FUCK!” she shouted.

WA Break Small

Sitting in the debriefing room after a quick shower, wearing a donated pair of sweatpants, Penny Dreadful glared at Shisa. The cat was sitting on the table, looking very pleased with herself. And pretty beat up. Shisa was missing half the fur on one side of her body, and the skin had the bright pink of a recently healed burn. Her tail was bent as if broken in the middle. And she was holding her right paw... hand... paw-hand up like it was really sensitive.

Sensei Tolman looked furious. “What exactly were you thinking out there, Shisa?”

The cat girl put on her clip to speak. “I couldn't carry the package, so I let Penny do it.”

“You murdered over a dozen people, caused tens of thousands in property damage and had the entire police force and every available hero chasing you.”

“Yes, it was fun. They were only ANTS, I decided to let off some stress. I made sure Penny was OK. Except for her pants.”

Penny wanted to swear at Shisa, but she wasn't sure if that would be safe.

“For wanton destruction and murder, you get an F. If it was possible I'd give you an even lower mark and detention,” Tolman said.

“I checked, I still barely pass Survival. As long as I pass, no one can complain,” Shisa replied.

Tolman somehow looked even angrier. Turning to Penny, the teacher said. “You did everything you were supposed too, reacting appropriately for the immediate situation. And when you faced this violent offender, you acted appropriately to keep yourself alive. You get an A minus. Now go get cleaned up while I talk to Shisa some more about what is expected of a student at Whateley.”

It seemed safest to leave, extremely quickly, before the Martial Arts teacher and the psycho continued their discussion. Penny got out of her chair and practically ran from the room. Out in the hallway she breathed a sigh of relief. She'd gotten an A minus, she hadn't died, and no one would know she'd pissed herself thanks to her black pants. Those were all wins she could be happy with.

Summoning a new zombie, Edward this time, she headed back to Whitman, getting out of the track pants was her number one priority at the moment. She put on her trademark 'I don't care' look, even now image was very important.

 

WA Break Big

 

Playing with Fire
A Whateley Short by Amethyst

Friday January 13th, 2017
5:54 P.M.
Whitman Cottage - Attic - Room 411

Becky Wheeler, or Fairyfire as it said on her MID, looked down at the paper in her hands and frowned as she scanned the list of names. The list included all of the new freshmen for the winter term, ripe for the picking by whatever club managed to snatch them up first. Many of those names were crossed out.

Most people just weren’t interested in the Elemental Dance Club. It was too bad that Venus Inc. had already scooped up Gwen Carter and Lily Pond. The girl with the glowing hair and freckles and her long-haired friend had both been in the news a lot over the past months and could have brought a lot of attention to the club. Damn, that sounded so mercenary. She hated having to think that way, but she needed members if they were going to become a real school club and not the joke that everyone seemed to think they were.

At least Sprite had finally agreed to join before Christmas, as a favor for a friend. The little fairy was reluctant at first, claiming that she didn’t know how to dance. The club wasn’t just dance though, it was about entertaining people, and the spectacle. She was sure that Vanessa could bring a lot more to the club than she believed, and she needed to make friends other than her magic tutor.

She had managed to recruit a few more potential members this week, when she cornered some of those brand new freshmen at Crystal Hall. She recruited another possible member yesterday as well. She had stumbled across Plumeria, a manifestor of some sort, when she had been bringing her bags into the cottage. Plumeria, or Oriana, had some trouble with her visa and so had arrived at Whateley a few days late. Becky had been hoping to recruit the girl’s roommate, Scamper, as well, but she seemed to be the shy sort and wasn’t interested in performing in front of others.

Dazzle Girl in Melville had been a lucky find too. She might not be a dancer, but her powers could be really helpful for stage lighting and she seemed eager to help. Now Becky was seriously considering finding more people for back stage positions to meet the quota of members needed to become an official school club.

She was still short of the mandatory number to become an official club, but now she was so close that she could taste it. A couple more members and maybe a few more after that to pad the numbers a bit. There were a few more froshes that she hadn’t been able to talk to yet though, and two in particular that she was very interested in.

The first girl was Dracaina, or Thulia, who arrived late last term and hung out with M3, the freshman group that was becoming known for getting into trouble. She was a fellow fire mage, though the form that she had taken during her combat final indicated that she was probably much more than just that. She hoped that the girl was okay after that. That bastard, Gouyasse, had stabbed her in the back, literally, with a deadly weapon and deserved what she did to him in response; word was that he was still healing in Doyle.

She had gone to check on Thulia immediately after the final was aborted, but they had a healer attending her at the time so she hadn’t had the chance to see if she was okay. That wound had been serious, it could have killed or paralyzed her. Becky had talked to her about joining the club before that combat final, and she had seemed eager back then. She still gave her time over the Christmas break to think it over, but now she was afraid that she might not be able to after such a serious injury.

She hadn’t seen her around since returning to school after Christmas, but that could just be because they were both busy. They both had classes, of course, and Becky was running around campus all week trying to recruit new members for the club and tutoring Vanessa in magic. She had heard that Thulia was a gadgeteer as well as a mage so she could have been in the labs, learning some new spells, or doing her job as a TA.

The other possibility, that she was still recovering or in serious condition, gnawed at the back of her mind and she resolved herself to look for her again and see how she was doing after dinner. If she didn’t see her in Crystal Hall, maybe she could ask her friends or girlfriend how she was doing. She felt that they had a lot in common and wanted to get to know her better, even if Thulia couldn’t join her little dance troupe. Despite how selfish it might sound, she really hoped Thulia was healed and still interested. The mere thought of the fire-dancing displays that the two of them could put on together made her practically shake with excitement every time she thought about it.

The second girl’s name was Clover Rozic, and her very fitting codename was Weed. She had seen her once in passing and she was really hoping that the girl would be interested. She was very pretty, even with the plantlike GSD that she had been saddled with, and the rumors were that she could grow plants incredibly fast.

Those rumors came after an altercation that Clover had earlier in the week with the Dawg Pound. People who saw the fight also said that she could make those vines growing from her back longer and seem to control them as well as her limbs. There were so many ideas running through her head on the possible ways that Clover could make their performances more interesting.

There were two problems with recruiting Clover though. First, she had only seen the girl once and while she had heard that she was a Whitman legacy and living in the same cottage as she was, she hadn’t been able to find her anywhere on the freshman floor. The other issue was that most people seemed to have the impression that the Elemental Dance Club was anti-GSD or something.

‘Venus Inc. with dancing’ someone had called them when they had tried to recruit last term, and others had said that it was a club for pretties. That couldn’t be further from the truth. “Okay, sure,” Becky thought bitterly, “I’m pretty with this whole Sidhe thing, but it’s not like I asked for it.”

Becky had come up with idea for the club last year with her friend Lilith, who had GSD that made her look more than a little demonic. The two shared a passion for performing; Lilith liked her throwing knives while Becky’s passion was fire dancing, with a little help from her magic. Fire magic came so naturally to her and she loved having people watching her, entranced as she danced and manipulated the fire in mesmerizing displays.

She honestly wished that Lilith was still around, she missed her friend and working on their acts together. At the same time though, she was glad that she wasn’t there since she had vowed to make their club official this year and make at least one amazing spectacle before she graduated, a promise she was failing to keep. Lilith graduated last year, and the last time Becky heard from her she was living in Austin, Texas, and was living the dream as a performer for the Last Freak Show. The name didn’t sound appealing, but she had heard some amazing things about their acts from Lilith.

She wanted the same thing for herself, to strike it big as an entertainer after she graduated this year. Lilith had proven that it was possible but she needed to get her club some exposure so she could start showing that she had what it takes to create a jaw-dropping spectacle. People like Vanessa, Thulia, and this Clover girl could help her to do that. Maybe Vanessa could help her to convince some of those who thought they were just a club for pretties otherwise, and convince people like Clover to join.

Thinking of Vanessa brought her eyes to her watch; it was almost six o’clock and time for her to head over to Crystal Hall to meet her for dinner before heading over to her room in Hawthorne for a couple of hours of magic tutoring. She quickly snatched up her backpack and rushed out of her room, only to nearly collide with someone. “Oh, sorry, I didn’t see you coming out the door,” a girl’s voice quickly apologized.

“It’s my fault, I was in a rush,” Becky quickly countered, only to see one of the very girls that she had been hoping to recruit.

Clover Rozic certainly stood out, and not just in appearance as she exuded a pleasant minty floral scent. She was roughly five foot three with long slender legs, wide hips, a slim waist, a trim tummy, and an average bust, and looked very toned and fit without being overly muscular. She had a pretty face framed by what looked like thorny vines in place of hair with clover-like flowers growing from them. Her mint green skin stood out starkly against the jeans and white sleeveless halter-top that she was wearing to leave her back and shoulders bare. She probably needed to keep those bare all the time with the mint-like leaves and flowers growing from her upper arms and shoulders and the six thick vines that emerged from her back and swayed nervously behind her.

“No, it’s… umm… my fault,” Clover insisted, glancing down the hall toward the room beside Becky’s. “I was sunbathing in my room, so I’m a little hyper right now and wasn’t looking where I was going.”

Becky nodded thoughtfully. With that green skin, and those flowers growing from her, she probably had to get a lot of sunlight for photosynthesis. Maybe she had sunlamps in her room? Then it hit her that she said she was leaving her room, but if that was the case, why was she up here in the attic? “Aren’t you a freshman?”

“Y-yeah. I’m a… umm… legacy though and they let me have my mom’s old room up here so I’d have a skylight to let the sunlight in when possible. They… uh… set up some special sunlamps like I have at home too, which were what I was just using, but natural sunlight is better for me when I can get it,” the girl babbled nervously.

“You’re Clover, right?” Becky asked, smiling to not make the girl any more nervous than she already seemed to be. When Clover nodded in reply, she quickly added, “I’m Becky, or Fairyfire when I’m performing, and I guess we’re neighbors. I’ve actually been hoping to talk to you and I was heading to Crystal Hall to meet a friend, she’s a freshman like you. Would you like to join us?”

The girl’s eyes went wide and she began wringing her hands as her vines shifted behind her sporadically. “W-why would you want to talk to me?”

Was she shy or just nervous around people for some reason? It was possible that she was worried about how people might react to her GSD. In that case, making friends with similar issues was probably a good idea. Maybe introducing her and Sprite would help them both come out of their shells a little bit. Becky smiled at the thought of possibly helping this girl and her small friend, and possibly securing another club member as well, if she played her cards right.

“I wanted to ask you about joining my club,” she told Clover honestly. “I’ve been looking for new members and from what I’ve heard; you have the potential to put on an interesting show if you’re trained up right.”

Clover let slip a barely perceptible sigh as if she had been worried about something that hadn’t come to pass. Was she used to being bullied because of her GSD or something? Becky filed that thought away for later as the green-skinned girl’s relief turned to confusion. “Club? Show?”

“I’m the president of the Elemental Dance Club,” Becky explained. “Well, we’re not an official club yet, but we will be soon if I can get a few more members. We are going to put on performances, grand spectacles to awe audiences. I’m a fire dancer, and having a knack for fire magic really helps me with that. I really want to expand into more though, so I’m looking for members that can bring something new and interesting to the table, to put on amazing spectacles like no other. I’ve heard what you can do with plants and those vines of yours, and I would love to see what you could do in a performance.”

Clover seemed hesitant as the pair made it to the stairs and started to descend. “Me? A dancer? I’ve never danced a day in my life… and in front of people?”

“I can teach you to dance and creativity and personal expression is a big part of it, you don’t need to be a prima ballerina. If you’re worried about your GSD, don’t be, we have a couple of others with GSD in the club and you’re quite pretty, exotic even. My best friend has major GSD and she’s a professional entertainer now. If you play to your strengths, you can do anything that you set your mind to,” Becky assured the younger Whitmaniac.

“It wouldn’t be just you performing either,” she quickly added. “We’re a troupe, a team, and we all put in the work, we all get stage time if we want it, and reap the benefits together. If my club members need anything, I have their backs too.”

Clover looked pensive and the pair were on the main floor and heading toward the exit before she spoke again. “I guess I could give it a try, my parents keep telling me that I need to get out and make friends. Could I maybe join on a trial basis? Y’know, to see if I like it and to make sure I’m not gonna embarrass both of us on a stage.”

“Yes!” Becky thought, grinning gleefully. She had been watching the younger girl as they descended the stairs and had high hopes for her. She seemed to have a good sense of balance and was fairly graceful in the way that she moved. Plans for future shows were already racing through her mind now that Clover had accepted her offer, at least provisionally. “Sure thing, Clover, welcome to the troupe. I’ll introduce you to Vanessa once we get to Crystal Hall.”

As Becky reached for the door, Clover hesitantly inquired. “I… don’t suppose we could take the tunnels there? I don’t do well in the cold, and I kinda destroyed my winter coat earlier this week and need to buy a new one. Finding one that wouldn’t bother my foliage or be awkward with my vines was hard enough the first time.”

“Sure, I know the tunnels like the back of my hand,” Becky agreed before adding thoughtfully, “Heat and fire spells are my specialty, so maybe I can enchant something to keep you warm and save you the coat issues. I’ll look into it for you, Clover.”

“Do you mean it?!” Clover asked excitedly, both her eyes and her smile wide at the offer.

“Yep, I take care of my little troupe,” Fairyfire replied seriously as she led the way to the tunnels.

WA Break Small

“Whoa! I thought that Becky was kidding when she said we were going to be meeting a fairy here,” Clover said as she looked at Sprite with wide eyes. “How haven’t I noticed you at school the past week?”

“Different classes, and there’s too much else that you’re trying to get used to,” Becky explained. “It probably helps that Vanessa is a shut-in, despite my efforts to try to get her to go out and make friends other than me.”

“I have friends other than you,” the tiny fairy protested as they entered the lineup to get their meals. “I hang out with Shannon when he’s not being all mopey or stuck in a book and there’s…” After a long pause she muttered, “And there’s the rat girl who won’t leave me alone… oh yeah, Polly.” Her small voice didn’t sound certain though, especially about the last one.

“My parents keep telling me to make friends too. Since we’re both freshmen and going to be in the club together, we should hang out sometimes, Vanessa.”

“If you’re hoping I’ll pollinate you, good luck with that,” Sprite snarked. A stern look from Becky caused her to sigh and apologize. “Sorry, snark is kinda my default since I… manifested. As you can see, I’m not great friend material.”

“We won’t know until we try,” Clover said far too cheerfully. It sounded like she was forcing it, but there was concern in her eyes as she looked at the tiny girl fluttering along with them.

“Good, maybe she’ll be able to help Vanessa where I can’t. She seems willing,” Becky thought with a smile as she watched the pair. Clover attempted to make conversation until the trio were finally able to claim their meals. Becky got a chicken Caesar salad, light on the chicken, and an apple juice while Vanessa got something similar, only in much smaller portions that she could carry easily at her small size.  Clover, on the other hand, surprised them both by getting a bacon double cheeseburger and a large serving of fries.

“I would kill for a bacon cheeseburger,” Vanessa said with a tiny sigh. “I didn’t expect the plant-girl among us to be eating one.”

“I’m only part plant,” Clover explained. I can get a lot of my energy from sunlight, but I still need certain proteins, vitamins, and minerals. I don’t have roots so I need to get them from normal foods.”

“I’m a sidhe, so I can’t eat much red meat, and Vanessa…” Becky started to explain as they wove through tables to find an unoccupied one.

“I’m a fucking science project,” the blue-haired fairy girl added bitterly before she could finish her sentence. “Whatever I am seems to be leaning that way too. I could still eat meat for a while after manifesting, but that’s been slowly changing over the past few months, along with a few other things.”

Becky sighed. Vanessa could be exhausting when she was in one of her bitter and self-loathing moods and she hoped that it wouldn’t turn Clover away. Vanessa needed more supportive friends than just her, she needed to let down her armor and allow herself that. Even knowing the girl’s secret, she felt that she was being far too hard on herself. As the girl’s mentor, she had promised herself that she would help to change that.

Remembering another promise that she had made to herself, she guided the pair to where M3 was known to usually eat, hoping to get some news about Thulia and find an unoccupied table nearby. To her surprise and relief, Thulia was sitting there with a few members of the group. She was right beside her girlfriend and it was still a bit eerie to Becky just how much alike she and her girlfriend were in appearance. “Just a minute, girls, I need to go talk to someone real quick.”

The two freshmen girls followed her without protest and as soon as she was close enough to be heard over the noise of Crystal Hall, she asked, “Thulia? How are you feeling?” She watched for the other fire mage’s reaction in concern, looking for any signs that she might still be recovering from her ordeal. I just wanted to check up on you and see if you’re still going to be up for auditioning for my little troupe after what happened during your combat final. I’d love to see you there, but if you’re still recovering, I’ll understand if you’re no longer interested or don’t think that you can.”

“Do not worry,” Thulia replied with a smile. “Pastel healed most of the damage and I was able to take care of the rest. I have been looking forward to dancing again and I brought my costume from home.”

Becky breathed a sigh of relief. “Great! I’m glad to hear that you’ve recovered. I’ll shoot you the details for tryouts and the general club meetings tonight. Oh, this is Vanessa and Clover. Vanessa joined the troupe late last term and Clover here just agreed to try out as well.” She quickly added the introductions as she gestured to the Fairy and the plant girl. “Girls, this is Thulia, her girlfriend, Morgana, and their friends.”

“It is nice to meet you both, I look forward to joining you and dancing again,” Thulia offered politely.

“Great, I guess we’ll see you later then…” Becky replied with her best smile. Then, just as she was turning to leave and find a place to sit with Vanessa and Clover, she decided to roll the dice. “Oh… I don’t suppose any of your friends might be interested in joining too? They wouldn’t have to dance… we’re also looking for people to help with the technical backstage stuff for our performances, and maybe help put out the occasional fire.”

“Well, I don’t have a lot of spare time, but I’d be willing to help out with technical aspects when I can. I‘ll get to watch my girlfriend dance too,” Morgana ventured after a moment of deep thought.

“Watching pretty girls dance? Count me in,” one of the boys said with a smile. “I’m Vic, I can probably help with putting out fires if you need it.”

None of the others seemed to have the time or inclination, but if she counted backstage people, then she would probably have enough people to become an official school club, provided that no more than one or two of those trying out as entertainers completely bombed during the tryouts. Becky was smiling like a Cheshire cat as she guided Clover and Vanessa to an empty table. Finally, her efforts were starting to light a spark, and she would fan that spark into a flame. She already had visions of an epic year-end show running through her head.

Read 2175 times Last modified on Wednesday, 06 March 2024 22:49

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EnemyOfFun
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EnemyOfFun
1 month ago
Thanks everyone for reading. This was a labor of love all of us have been developing for a very long time. Here's hoping we can do more anthologies like this in the future :-)
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