Jan's tale 1 - Arriving at Whateley

Jan's tale cover.jpg
Jan’s Tale 1
Arriving at Whateley

Jan is not a happy camper. As if his life didn't suck enough already, turning into a mutant was everything but an improvement. Jan didn't get real superpowers, Jan got to be girly. To make it worse his parents decided in their unimaginable wisdom that exile to America was the solution for his problems. He is not so sure though.

Copyright © 2013 Beyogi
All Rights Reserved.
Thanks to Janet Miles for editing.
Thanks to my proofreaders Drawflow, landing, DAW and last but not least Sleethr for their help.

Picture Credit to mking2008

 

Disclaimer: This is fan fiction for the Whateley Academy series. It may or may not match the timeline, characters, and continuity, but since it's fan fiction, who cares? To see the canon Whateley Stories, check out www.crystalhall.org

 
2nd. September 2007:
 
I looked tiredly out of the window. It was just after midday and I felt like going to bed already.
 
Damn Jet Lag!
 
The countryside passed in front of the window. I remembered I was in the north-east US, but I’d forgotten the state... something Hampshire. North? No, New. That was it. New Hampshire. What happened to Old Hampshire? Well it didn’t really matter.
 
While other people were crowding the compartment, I felt lonely in my seat. Nobody my age was around and even if there had been someone, I wouldn’t have known what to talk about. I knew next to nothing about American youth culture. The fact that I had blocked the seat next to me with my rolling case didn’t help either. There were free seats after all. People also tended to ignore those focused on electronics and I had my laptop out.
 
I grimaced thinking about my newest acquisition. A last present... or bribe from my parents before they got rid of me. Deported to America. Too freakish to stay at home or something. Sure their excuse had been good... “There are no schools for mutants in Germany... and Europe. And you can use this to learn some English. Combine an exchange year with learning your powers.”
 
*Sigh*
 
It wouldn’t just be a year though. I wasn’t here as an exchange student, I was enrolled as a normal student. A normal freshman student, four years of American exile! They just got rid of me. Hell, I’d never thought my parents were like that... but then I didn’t expect my sister to freak either. God, I just temporarily turned into a girl when my telekinetic armor activated and she went all ‘queer freak, I don’t know you’ on me.
 
*Sigh*
 
They’d even forced me to fill out the application sheet on alternate sexualities or something. I could only hope they didn’t give me a gay-star or something. For all I knew the Americans were even more bigoted than us... Hell, gay, homo, fag was the favourite insult in the Mittelstufe[1], while Tranny was its pinnacle. Who knew what American students did? What I knew from TV and books, it was apparently accepted if the “Jocks” beat up outsiders. As long as there were results in Football nobody cared if a few freaks died.
 
Okay, maybe I was unfair, but what kind of culture started a new war every five years? That violence had to come from somewhere! Meanwhile, I also had to admit we weren’t much better. Having invented industrialized genocide wasn’t exactly a thing to be proud of either. Conservatism and bigotry against the queer also ran rampant in German society.
 
No, nobody liked sexual deviants, or rather we - god I already identified myself as queer... - were a convenient target for everyone who wanted to try bullying as a new hobby. It was just too easy to despise those disgusting freaks. They were just different and different was only allowed if everyone did it among teenagers. So no, I wasn’t surprised about my sister’s reaction at all. Only disappointed. Well, she’d gotten her wish, my parents got rid of me. Maybe it was for the better that I went, if they really thought like that about me. God, I hoped not.
 
No, I was not a happy camper right now. Exiled to the other side of the Atlantic... Well, I was certainly out of their way. Yet brooding wouldn’t help me. Suppressing another sigh I picked up my laptop and played a bit Heroes V. There was an advantage in round based strategy game. One could also play them with nothing but a touchpad. There was no point in moping around, so I concentrated on wiping out the enemy’s army. Muahaha, nothing could stop the zombie apocalypse! Nothing!
 
***
 
“Next stop, Dunwich station!”
The driver announced over the loudspeakers. Finally we were there. While I was glad to get off the train I knew this was just another step into my American exile. I’d really prefered not to be here at all.
 
Maybe I should just ‘man up’ and deal with it. ‘Man up’ hah... I was turning into a girl for god’s sake. I crack myself up sometimes. Although... it wasn’t all wrong, I mean I could not do anything about the situation anyway. Oh well, it was finally time to get off this train to nowhere. I finished my game an hour ago and was currently reading an e-book on my laptop. Thank god I was able to recharge my batteries while waiting for the train!
Thanks to the internet, I had plenty of e-books to read. Not legally bought, of course. Who would ever spend his hard earned allowance if he could get stuff for free? I certainly wouldn’t. Anyway they could just consider offering books for affordable prices, like 50 cents or better 25. After all, as my father is fond of saying, ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’.
 
Ah well, it wasn’t entirely riskless, of course. They went after the idiots who didn’t know how to do it right and seriously, I had all that I needed. 13000 books should be enough to last me a lifetime. Hell, even if I had been caught, I did it in Germany and the fines were nothing like the crazy legalized extortion the RIAA was able to get away with in America. Considering the prices for music downloads they could have charged me for trillions of dollars or something.
Shaking my head at the thought, I closed and stowed my laptop in my Rucksack. Next, I grabbed my rolling case. I’d been awake too long and I still had a ways to go before I arrived at the school. Standing up I couldn’t suppress a yawn and slowly rubbed my eyes - It was annoying! Why did my tear ducts need to randomly activate when I was tired?
 
As I pulled my case towards the exit, I saw my reflection in a window. Gritting my teeth at the hated image, I barely managed to suppress a flinch. It... I looked so feminine, too feminine. I hadn’t exactly been the most manly of men, but I’d been large, maybe six feet and had broad shoulders. Well, I was still large, but now it looked as if my body had been compressed in some ways and extended in others.
 
It wasn’t all that bad yet. My front wasn’t all that extended, my chest... my... boobs... hadn’t really developed so far. Sure, there were small protrusions and my nipples had grown in after my first experience with my powers, but they weren’t visible under my T-shirt. Thank god for the small favours. Still, I had developed girlish lashes, something I despised, because it made me look as if I’d used makeup. I shuddered. Another thing of girlhood I really, really didn’t need to do. No, my face would stay free of warpaint.
 
After the third transformation, or ‘shell activation’ as someone from the local superteam had said, my eyebrows had shrunk. Something had also happened to my jaw bones and now my face looked like a girl’s. Well not really, not yet, but no guy would look this androgynous. And all this had to happen when I’d just grown large and strong enough that nobody would dare to make fun about me being girly, gay, or... whatever. But now...
 
“Ouch!” I grimaced, barely able to suppress a shout. Maybe I shouldn’t have hit the wall out of frustration. The only place where that left a dent was my hand anyway. Others mutants got the cool powers, but me, I got girly.
 
I hated that reflection and everything it represented. The total loss of control over my life. The exile from my family. The impending loss of my gender. Hell, I didn’t know what to do. And now my tear ducts were pressing again. It was the bloody oestrogen. The doctors had said even my hormones were changing. While I didn’t want it, I still had to live with it and the loss of control over my emotions. What had I done to deserve this?
 
A sigh escaped me as I stepped out of the train. At least I hadn’t shrunk. I was still six feet tall, like my dad, and towered over almost all the girls and many guys. While it was another small blessing of course it wasn’t enough to distract me from the fact I was turning into a girl... a bloody girl.
 
I couldn’t understand it. Becoming female of all things. I hadn’t had much contact with the feminine gender after they’d turned into aliens at the end of primary school. Kids who’d been my friends or at least playmates before suddenly turned into strangers I didn’t and couldn’t understand. They were Aliens who thought it was funnier to bully me about my peculiarities and quirks instead of playing with me.
 
Well, I’d learned to avoid them. For a long, long time my sister had been the only one who’d actually bothered to understand me, talk to me more than necessary and not shun me as a fag or something. Yet nowadays, even she didn’t want to know me anymore. If my mutation had actually made me a fag... no gay - I didn’t want to use their terminology - I could have understood, but a girl...
 
*sigh*
 
I didn’t understand them. If it wasn’t for boobs and sexual attraction there wouldn’t be any reason to interact with these strange creatures at all. Girls... Not that any one of them ever seemed to feel any attraction for me. But then I’d always been a freak or a fag... or so was the school’s consensus. Maybe it would be better at Whateley...
 
And cows fly! A cynical laugh escaped me. Not likely. I’d changed schools once already, and well, it had changed nothing at all then. The bullies changed, but my situation didn’t. The only difference now was that was becoming one of the girls, but even that would probably only change the taunts.
 
I didn’t want to. I wanted to be at home, I wanted friends, I wanted my family. I didn’t want to be one of these strange Aliens that seemed to love doing pointless crap like playing grownup and volunteering for housework. I hugged myself. How could anyone ever do that voluntarily? Even my sister had gone through that phase... and saddled me with several new housework duties in the process. Girls were insane and now I was joining them.
 
Shaking my head about my defeatist attitude, I found myself more or less alone on the far end of the platform. The train piped, ready to continue on its track. I should probably go, other teenagers did the same. Looking towards the station building I saw a girl carrying two suitcases in one hand, each looking like a small wardrobe. Next to her was a boy who somehow levitated his travelling bag. They and another group that was talking to each other on the far end  were striding towards the reception building. They were obviously mutants and probably my school mates. I decided to follow.
 
“Hey, are you going to Whateley, too?” A girl called out from behind me, surprising me. Was the girl asking me or someone else?
 
I turned around and saw a rather petite girl with fire red hair. Altogether she looked really strange. She was a black person, black like someone from the deepest part of Africa, yet her facial features were decidedly Asian - no, she wasn’t just an Afro-American with slanted-eyes, but a decidedly Asian person with black skin. Her strange but beautiful looks were complemented by her small frame, she was maybe 1.50 meters tall. I’d never seen someone that looked like her before, making me wonder about her story.
 
“Ähm... Hi...” I said, trying to crumb my barely passable active English into a coherent sentence. “Yes... I am going to Whateley... Who are you?”
 
“Hi, to you, too. My name’s Lisa. You’re not from here, are you?”
 
I shook my head. “I’m from Germany. Ähm... I forgot to introduce me. I’m Jan.”
 
Lisa waved and then, with another happy giggle, motioned for me to follow or join her as she walked past me. That was strange, she was a girl and she was being nice to me. I decided to follow her, there was no point in standing around stupidly and maybe I could make a friend. She seemed nice so far, but then so did others. Suddenly Lisa tilted her head, looking curiously at me as if she wanted to ask something. Then she looked away.
 
Scratching her head for a moment, Lisa glanced at me again. “Say, what are your powers? I can do pyrokinesis.”
 
“That... sounds impressive,” I had to admit. “Mine are not so... great. I can only activate a... shell which makes me a bit stronger, a bit faster and a bit more resistant to... Krams... ähm...  I mean stuff.” Crap! It really sucked to translate stuff in one’s head while talking. While I had intensively practiced with Dad, well, after I’d surrendered to my parents plan to send me away that is, I still wasn’t all that great.
 
She nodded, thinking for a moment. “Well, mine are destructive, really destructive.” She sighed. “I have a fire armour that’s as hot as lava, I can spew fire over 150 feet and do really weird stuff to things I hold in my hands. Maybe that will be useful. I can’t wait for the power testing!”
 
I shrugged. I had no real powers, apart from the fact I was weirdly athletic in my shell form. But then it wasn’t like I really planned to become a superhero, so powers weren’t all that important. While it might have been nice to be able to shoot lasers from my eyes, I could imagine doing better stuff with my life. I certainly didn’t want to risk it battling super powered criminals. Hell this was way more trouble than it could ever be worth. What would I give to turn back to my normal male self and forget about this clusterfuck?
 
Despite the fact I’d almost lost myself in thoughts Lisa was still looking at me, so I decided to do the polite thing and reply. “Ähm... I guess this power testing doesn’t matter all that much for me.” I shrugged again. “You’re... fire resistant... right?”
 
“Yeah, thank god!” Lisa nodded her head enthusiastically. “If I wasn’t I’d burned to ashes the first time I’d activated my powers.”
 
“There are others who… don’t have such protection,” I said sombrely. After the incident when my powers activated for the first time, I’d learned Mutations were dangerous in that regard.
 
On one hand you could get awesome powers, but on the other hand these powers could also be self-destructive. These Evolution Rocks! People were fools, they forgot about the other side. Evolution always sucked for the rejects and in this case the rejects weren’t some plants or animals, but people. Dead people if they weren’t capable to resist the effects of their own powers. Looking at Lisa’s case in specific meant that having a Lava armour, while not immune against the heat would have meant a cooked Lisa... or a burned one... or a vaporised one.
 
“Hey, you two,” an older man said grumpily from the side. “You’re going to Whateley, right?”
 
He may have been in a bad mood, but I was grateful for his distractions from my morbid thoughts.
 
Not really trusting my English, I only nodded while Lisa did the talking. “Yeah, and?”
 
“Well, just go over there,” he pointed in the direction of the building where the other mutant students had gone. “There’s a special room with free drinks and stuff for you.”
 
“Thank you.” His directions had been kind of obvious, but whatever, it didn’t hurt to be polite. His grumpiness was kind of understandable. Standing at a platform to direct kids into a waiting room must suck as a job.
 
Lisa just shrugged and we continued on our way. The man was strange. People doing their jobs had been rather friendly so far - like I’d heard about americans. He was more like a German railroad worker. Those dudes used to be public officials and couldn’t be fired... well, you can guess the corporate culture. Although, better this than the other option. He could have also pulled a gun on us. What was it with Americans and their guns? Did they still want to play Cowboys and Indians after they’d wiped out the latter? Whatever, that was a question for another time because I had not seen anyone walking around with guns.
 
As soon as we were out of hearing range of the man, Lisa continued our conversation about power problems. “We can count ourselves lucky...” The redhead said with a smile, just as we entered the station building. “I’m quite happy with how my transformation turned out.”
 
I glanced over at her and I guess I could see why she might be happy. It looked like all she got out of the deal was black skin and that kind of made her look more exotic instead of a gender freak like me. "Hmm..." I absently nodded as I worked out a way to reply to her statement, but I was distracted by the happenings in the room.
 
A few other students had already arrived and made up a few groups of their own. I could only hope they’d break them up for the introduction as I’d hate to be an outsider before the school had even started. Meanwhile the ‘special’ room was like all waiting rooms, still stinking of the cleaning agents, with an old pinball machine standing in one corner and an even older payphone in the other. I doubted it would work if I actually tried. Apart from the scruffy looking seats there was also a table with magazines that seemed to be decades old. The newspaper on top had a date from eighty seven.
 
Lisa glanced around the room for a second before turning back to me. “I guess your change isn’t going that fast... Well mine didn’t really either in the beginning, but well it’s almost finished, I hope. Say, what makeup did you use?”
 
What?! Wait, what did she just say? I guess I should have paid more attention to her because she completely blindsided me with that question. “I don’t use makeup!” I said, rather confused about the sudden change in topic.
 
“Well, you should,” Lisa frowned before perking up again. “It would really make you look more feminine and highlight your best features. I’m certain if you’d use some nobody would be able to tell you were a guy once. But I can understand that you wouldn’t want to use it on a flight. I mean it would look really bad if it smeared and you couldn’t restore it.” She smiled understandingly. “How is your transformation progressing anyway? Mine is almost done. Did you ever consider…”
 
How did she know I was turning into a girl? Was it this obvious already? And why the hell would I want to show off my girlhood anyway? I didn’t want it in the first place!
 
“My transformation... is progressing too fast,” I said coolly, interrupting her rambling. How she could just assume this was what I wanted was beyond me. Her upbeat attitude made her easy to talk to, but apparently it had also rotted her brains. Annoying...
 
Obviously not listening to what I’d said, she continued: “What is your favourite nail polish?”
 
I grimaced. Great, another one that didn’t give a shit. Apparently, I was just a dummy to practice small-talk or something. Hell, she wasn’t interested in my opinion at all. God I was so sick of this. Why did I always get the assholes?
 
“I don’t care about nail polish.” I gritted my teeth in frustration. “I don’t care about makeup either!” I was getting louder, almost shouting. “And, I certainly don’t like becoming a girl! It’s progressing too fast! Thank you very much for listening.”
 
This said, I turned around and walked away. I really didn’t need this crap again. It was always the same: Girls that only talked to you, because they were bored and had about as much empathy for you as they had for a potato. Or maybe she was one of these... freaks like my old natural science teacher. That... woman had actually declared men stupid for having a penis. Thank you very much. I really didn’t need that kind of bigot for a friend. Awesome for her if she got more beautiful when she mutated, yet for me it was nothing but a bloody clusterfuck. Hell, she couldn’t even bother to listen when I told her how I felt about it. Hopefully I wouldn’t become like that. So disgustingly self-centred.
 
Well, she wasn’t the only one in the room. Looking around I saw a few other groups of students. I strolled towards a group of guys. They were talking too fast though, I only understood snippets of their conversations and really, was watching people race in circles really that interesting? Watching car-races was something my grandpa did. Well, had done. He was dead... I guess it would have been different if they’d talked about Stargate because then I could have joined in. But this? No way. In some ways it was even worse than nail polish.
 
Well, there was nothing I could do about it. Shrugging to myself I went towards a not-so-grimy looking bench in a corner of the room. I mostly wanted to be left alone anyway. As long as they didn’t bully me I didn’t care anymore. Humans were nasty creatures and I was really sick of being the target for general nastiness. Maybe I should become a hermit or something and leave the assholes behind once and for all.
 
Shooting a last glare at nail-polish-Lisa, I sat down and took out my book. My tear ducts were pressing again and the only thing I could do to spare my dignity was suppressing the urge to cry. It was the same as usual. As a boy you were either good at sports or an outsider and apparently as a girl you had to care about this makeup beauty shit. Why the hell couldn’t they just accept me as the person I was? If I knew whoever invented gender, I’d probably kill him or her. How could people expect me to care about this shit? It was bad enough as a guy, but now I had to learn a new batch of pointless crap! Or maybe not, I could just decide to do nothing about it.
 
Experience had taught me brooding wouldn’t help and it didn’t look like anyone wanted to come to me to make friends either. Wiping a few tears from my eyes, I focussed on my book. Even reading the new Harry Potter novel again would be better than moping around. It was pretty well written in my opinion, but the end was… well, I’d expected Harry to either rock more or maybe kill Voldemort in a more mundane method - Like dying from a broken neck or something. At least Harry finally used some unforgivables, his being light got really silly.  Yet once again, Rowling managed to screw up by using Ron as a plot device and not a respectable character of his own. I shook my head. Why did she always do that to my favourite character? He was smart, lazy, had annoying siblings and intrusive parents. I could really sympathize with the guy.
 
Well, maybe reading English stuff would help me learn the language better. Right now this whole affair looked like a train wreck coming. My first attempt at socialisation had failed already and it didn’t seem like change was coming. The fact I sucked speaking English didn’t help either. God, I didn’t want to know how horrible my accent must have been. Trying to forget all the crap, I moved deeper into the corner and buried my nose in the book. Hopefully the world and my troubles would just go away if I ignored them long enough.
 
Time passed. We were supposed to be picked up at four PM, but the only train I could take had arrived at 3:15pm forcing me to wait, and wait and wait. Nobody ever came to talk to me. Whatever, reading my book was fine. Meanwhile I watched other students arriving. Some came with long distance buses, others took a later train. Pretty much punctual at four o’clock an adult arrived.
 
She was a tall Asian woman, whose presence silenced the room. Arriving in the centre she raised her voice: “Alright everyone, listen up!  I am Mrs. Shugendo and I’m the Dean of Students at Whateley Academy.” She paused a moment to look at everyone. “There are two shuttles here for transport.  I’m going to call off your names alphabetically.  When I call out your name, let me know who you are, and then go out to the vans.  Now, I know that you have a lot of questions - but, unless it’s an Emergency, save it for when we get to the school.”
 
‘Yes, Ma’am, we hear and obey’. I thought. It looked like she was one of the loud teachers. One of those who were trying to play one of the drill sergeants from the movies or something. Strange thing to see in a woman though. Nonetheless, I really preferred the calm and reasonable type. Persons that actually had something like humour and didn’t always speak in commanding tone. They were easier to get along with.
 
Well, after she’d finished her short announcement we all were hurried out of the waiting room and got sorted into the shuttles. Why they did this alphabetically was a mystery to me. The inevitable happened and Chaos ensued. It would have been way faster if they’d just told us to take a place. When I finally got into my shuttle, I ended up sitting at a window, allowing me to watch the environment. Really, it was for the best. The shuttle rocked way too much for me to read. How my green haired seatmate was managing to play with his Gameboy was a mystery to me. He was busy and didn’t give me a glance. Not knowing his game I decided to ignore him.
 
I actually enjoyed the ride. The scenery was pretty fantastic, even though I’d been pretty much hardened against romantic beauty of nature and towns by my parents who had forced me and my sister to visit too many sights in my childhood. Beautiful would always mean boring old buildings for me. If I ever got a girlfriend, I’d probably need another adjective to praise her, using beautiful would feel like an insult.
 
When we left the town of Dunwich we also left civilisation, or so the driver said. It was a rather scary thought that such a sleepy place counted as civilisation here. Strange thing was they actually had a train station, considering the lack of a Walmart or one of these malls that I heard were so common in the United States.
 
Continuing our drive into the middle of nowhere I saw several entrances to campsites along the way. Other roads through the mountains also crossed our path. It began to tire me, I really only wanted to sleep. Why couldn’t they just teleport us from the station? They were a mutant academy. Certainly there had to be some super scientist, right?
 
I guess my tiredness had overwhelmed me and I dozed off for a short time. But then, the rumbling of the shuttle changed and I looked up. We were on a better road, driving straight into the mountains. Shortly afterwards an impressive stone wall appeared in my view. Our bus passed it through an equally impressive iron gate, opening the view on the campus.
 
We’d finally arrived at Whateley Academy.  Looking outside I saw several red brick buildings dotting the grounds as well as a few newer concrete buildings and a strange crystal looking geodesic glass dome. I wondered about its purpose, but only a few moments later I was ripped from my thoughts as we’d arrived at our goal. The shuttles had stopped in front of another one of these red brick buildings. It was apparently the so called colonial style... whatever that was.
                                            
After leaving the shuttle, I grabbed my rolling case and followed the other students inside of the building. A plaque over the entrance said ‘Poe Cottage’ and from the whispers of the others I could tell that the name came from a famous American author. The bust in the entrance hall apparently was said authors likeness . We left our luggage in front of it and followed Mrs. Shugendo towards a door.
 
“Everyone come in here,” she said, almost shouting as she waved us into a large common room with comfy sofas and chairs.
 
We sat down, while the Dean of Students called in some other people. Then she addressed us all: "Well!  Welcome to Whateley Academy!  Now, you’ll get the formal Welcoming speech from the Headmistress along with all the other freshmen, but this little talk is just for YOU.  Now, the reason that you were all told to come here a day ahead of the other Freshmen, and the reason that you’re being put up in this dormitory is that you all have something in common that sets you apart from the other students, even beyond your individual mutations.  You are what is currently called ‘Alternative Lifestyle’ types.”
 
Great, so we were segregated for our freakishness. She even used euphemisms. Okay, maybe I was a bit cynical, but seriously what else was I supposed to think?
 
Not caring about my silent doubts at all, Mrs. Shugendo continued her speech: “You are Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered, or so aggressively bisexual that it is an issue for you.  We don’t condemn you for this; you didn’t really have a choice in it, any more than you chose to be mutants.  We realize that it’s hard going through adolescence.  We realize that it’s even harder when you’re a mutant.  You have enough to put up with already, you don’t need the extra aggravation of being branded a quote sexual deviant unquote.”
 
Well, she had a point, but didn’t she just set us up for future troubles? If anyone found out about this everyone in this cottage would get a target painted on their back. Why couldn’t they just enforce a policy of tolerance instead of this stupid segregation?
 
“Unfortunately, homophobic bias is so deeply ingrained in the American, Canadian and British school systems, and to a lesser extent in the European schools, that letting you go around openly declaring that you’re Gay or Lesbian or Bi or Transgendered is just asking for trouble. So, we have Poe Cottage, a place where you don’t have to worry about the kids down the hall finding out, because they already know about you, and you already know about them.”
 
So because nobody can be bothered to teach those idiots tolerance we have to lie to everyone, always fearing to be found out. Great and if it should happen anyway I’d get another freak out like my sister’s or silent rejection. On the other hand, maybe the others might understand. Or not, considering Lisa. Just because I was turning into a girl I didn’t want to show off my ‘girlishness’.
 
“Now, while we are very proud of the fact that you were brave and honest enough to admit your... persuasion during on your admittance forms, I’m afraid that we’re going to have to ask you to curb that honesty. I’m afraid that it’s a matter of your continued safety. There are students here who have been victimized quite cruelly. And, unfortunately, those who have been hurt that way tend to be the cruellest of all, when they find someone that they can pass that pain on to. And in our society, homosexuals and ‘fellow travellers’ are still considered fair game for that sort of thing. Given the abilities that students at Whateley have, a ‘Gay Bashing’ could turn deadly, even Apocalyptic. It is, simply said, easier for all involved, if it simply doesn’t become an issue. If your sense of pride demands that you come out of the closet, then you have a right to. But please, have consideration for the other people here at Poe, and don’t reveal the overall status here.”
 
So we just had to live with the big secret and the Damocles sword over our heads. Awesome, really, just what I always wanted. Not! So my parents sent me to a school that catered to superpowered gay bashers and actually supported that behaviour by isolating the alternate sexuality types from the rest. On the other hand I had to admit she had a point. Humans are evil and if they have an opportunity to torture another one they’ll gladly and happily use it, especially if they can feel good about it,  because their victim is a freak who deserves it or simply get away with it. After my own experiences I’d stopped wondering why Nazism was so popular in my home country once. It was obvious. Humans are just feral beasts, waiting for a convenient target to destroy.
 
“The reason that you were brought here a day before the more... mainstream Freshmen, is twofold- to give you a day to get used to the campus before the others get here, and so that you will sort of be part of the background when they get here. This will give you a certain... credibility that should allow you to make connections more easily. Nobody out of the know will be able to intrude into your private life and find things out you don’t want to. Yes... Miss?”
 
I had raised my hand. “Edler,” I said, deciding to ignore the gender issue for now. “Jan Edler. I’ve got a question... How... How do you prevent everyone from finding out about us? I mean... someone’s got to... got to add one and two together... and find the answer.” Okay, not so great saying, but then just try to make up phrases in a foreign language.
 
The Dean of students nodded. “Yes, sooner or later someone will out themselves by accident and if such occasions always happen in Poe, they couldn’t miss it you mean?”
 
“Yes,” I agreed. “I don’t think this is very... secure.”
 
“Yeah,” a black dude next to me said, raising his voice. “I’ve been victim to gay bashing before and strength in numbers doesn’t help, they just wait to get you alone.”
 
“I can assure you that we’ve powerful magic in place to prevent people realizing Poe’s real meaning. The official story is that Poe residents are slightly insane.”
 
I could barely suppress a groan. So instead of the sexual deviants we were the drooling retards. How was that supposed to be better?
 
“You just declare us insane if we show homosexual behaviour or someone finds out we’re transgendered?” A strong looking person asked. I wasn’t sure if she was a jock going girl or a girl going superman. “Will you also put us on drugs to keep us quiet?”
 
Someone was more paranoid than I. Even Americans couldn’t be that barbaric, could they?
 
“No we don’t declare all of you insane,” Mrs. Shugendo shook her head. “It is a well-known rumour among the campus that there are ‘head cases’ amongst the Poe population. Ergo Poe is not known as a cottage where you’d want to reside, so we don’t need to fear that people would try to transfer from other cottages.”
 
So that was the way they kept others out and avoided declaring all of us crazy. Interesting, we might not even end up totally isolated from the rest of the campus. Being the school-fag was bad enough. I didn’t need another four years as one of the ‘tards.
 
The Dean of Students continued her speech: “The other students expect somewhat weird behaviour, so they’re more likely to see what we want them to see instead of the truth. The fact that the last year’s class was extraordinarily wacky only helped to keep up this illusion. Though I hope you won’t turn out to be troublemakers like them.”
 
Two of her student minions were indiscreetly looking at the third. Apparently the Goth looking girl was one of the trouble makers. It looked as if she wanted to protest, yet whatever she’d planned was interrupted as the Dean of Students continued her explanation: Even though the administration knew of their alternate sexualities it was still girl/girl and boy/boy bunking. They didn’t want to scare the parents and otherwise the bunking plans would have given off ‘the secret’ anyway. Not that I understood how someone unauthorized would ever get those plans...
 
We also weren’t allowed to do sexual acts. It wasn’t like they had a snowball chance in hell to actually prevent this, but it wasn’t my problem anyway... as if someone like me had a chance to find someone... Well, they probably had to say it or they could get sued. I guess that’s America, if I remembered correctly,  microwave producers could be sued if they didn’t warn you that microwaves weren’t meant to dry pets. In Germany you’d get thrown to prison for cruelty to animals. Some independent thought could be expected.
 
Whatever. We were told that we shouldn’t use our powers outside on the campus grounds for the next two days until we were told the rules in some kind of general assembly. Then the Dean introduced the middle aged woman who stood in the corner from the beginning. She was Mrs. Horton, the housemother, and took the explanation over after the usual pleasantries. She told us about the layout of the cottage, explained that they’d added a new wing over the summer holidays to keep track with the growing number of mutants and reminded us we were responsible for our own laundry.
 
The latter scared me. I’d never washed my own laundry, being ‘responsible for laundry’ always meant to put it in a basket on the floor so mom could carry it away and wash it. I had no idea how to adjust a washing machine correctly. Why should I? Those were girl skills... parent skills. At times dad also did the laundry. Crap, I didn’t know how to do it. Mom and dad had been more worried about my english skills, than something like this. Worry, bordering on a slight panic was turning my stomach around.God, what was I supposed to do? If I ever asked, everyone would think I was a total idiot, and trying stuff alone I might very well destroy my clothes. I didn’t need T-shirts two sizes too small... This didn’t sound good at all.
 
Meanwhile the housemother talked on, forcing me to shelve my worries and listen. I learned that while there was a kitchen, meals were to be served at the campus dining room. Food left in the kitchen was more or less open game for everyone, but there were also ‘studio coolers’ in each room where we could store our personal stuff. Just when she told us about the bathrooms and the community rooms my attention slipped for a second.
 
*Yawn!* “Uaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh,” I yawned, trying to keep awake.
 
“Miss Edler, am I too boring?” The housemother asked.
 
‘I am not a MISS!!! Don’t call me that!’ I grimaced. I was a dude that had a girly problem. Not a Miss. Whatever the reason for this misunderstanding, I would make them stop. I didn’t look that girly, certainly I could still pass for a guy... Now was not the time for this though, I didn’t want to piss her off more than I already had. She might be the next best thing to a parent for the next few years.
 
“I’m tired,” I said quickly. Couldn’t she tell I wasn’t from around here? “And please don’t call me miss, I am male.”
 
The housemother shrugged. “We can talk about how to address you later...” She said and gave me a slightly suspicious look. “”Well, you’re yawning...jet lag?”
 
I nodded in response. I’d been woken up at four am, flown for thirteen hours - with stopover in Amsterdam - and now it was maybe five pm local time. Of course I was tired.
 
 “Alright,” Mrs. Horton continued. “I’m pretty much done anyway. You’ll only have to stay awake during the campus tour, although I’m certain Miss Goodkind can shorten this a bit. If you can, you should try to avoid sleeping before dinner. I fear Jet lags have to be toughed out.”
 
She was right, sleeping right now wouldn’t be a good idea. But... Goodkind?! What poor soul was struck with that name at a mutant High School? They were the richest family of the world and their antimutant stance was as well-known as criticized. Named Goodkind at a mutant high school probably was as bad as being named Hitler or Himmler at the Tel Aviv University. Or maybe not. At least the Goodkinds hadn’t started mutant death camps... as far as I knew. From the whispers around me I wasn’t the only one who thought the name strange.
 
“I guess I should introduce my other willing minions,” the housemother grinned. “They’ll do your campus tour. Here we have Ayla Goodkind,” she said, pointing at the spikey haired punk looking girl.
 
Ok, she probably wasn’t one of those Goodkinds. They would never have worn anything but Armani and Prada... no they wouldn’t, those were Brands. They’d probably just employed a top clothing designer themselves. None of them would wear punk, even that Heather showgirl wouldn’t. And naming their kid Ayla? No way in hell people like the Goodkinds would name their kid after some kind of stone age pop fiction. I just couldn’t believe that. Hell, my mother had read it...
 
“And here we have... Rip,” Mrs. Horton said, introducing her next minion by pointing at a beautiful Hispanic girl, “and Steve Rossiter.” He was a rather good looking boy.
 
She proceeded to call us by name and directed us to one of the three guides. It didn’t take long and it was my turn. “Jan Edler,” the housemother called. “Please go to Miss Goodkind.” Why did they always have to speak my name like ‘eeedler’, it was more like ‘eydlair’. Well, it was probably inevitable, considering the language difference.
 
Going over to her, I only saw one other girl with her, but I couldn’t remember her name. Regrettably, I didn’t get a convenient brain upgrade with my mutation. Looking around, I realized that most of the students got sorted to the two other guides. Either they had a real strange way to sort students, or they were segregating us once again. Maybe if I’d really been a girl, I’d made a scene, yet I knew it wouldn’t help me at all. I’d been exiled here and pissing off the administration wouldn’t help at all.
 
It didn’t take long and others joined us. The telekinetic boy I’d seen on the station was in my group as well as a few girls. Then, nail-polish-Lisa was called out and I learned her last name. Apparently, it was Wong. I tried not to glare at her - it was hard - since I knew that being a source of hostility in a new group was never a good way to make friends. Not that I expected to make any, but I didn’t want to paint a target on my back either.
 
Apart from that Ayla girl, the two other guides looked outright beautiful. Although in Ayla’s case it was mostly her clothing that gave her a rather mannish look, her body looked great. They weren’t the only ones, many of the other new students looked like they escaped from a beauty contest. There were only a few unremarkable people and no one that was outright ugly. If I remembered correctly the reason was that they were exemplars, which meant people were either beauties or turned into hideous monsters.
 
Thankfully, that was a problem I didn’t have. Growing scales on top of boobs was more than my sanity could survive, I feared. Well right now I had other things to worry about. *Yawn* Namely surviving the campus tour without falling asleep walking.
 
“Okay, everyone is here...,” Ayla said when we were eight new students in her group. “Considering that Jan is barely staying awake, I guess we should hurry a bit. We’ll start with a tour of the buildings. Please follow me.”
 
She led us out of the building to a sunny spot on the green in front of it. It was pretty warm outside and I pulled off my jacket, while Ayla turned around to face us all.
 
“Um... why did you separate us from the others?” The telekinesis boy asked. He was a rather handsome example of the white bread variant of the human species. Not a bodybuilder type, but handsome... Did I just really think that? I? A guy... handsome?!
 
I saw Lisa nod, as well as a few other girls. “Yes,” I said. “Why do you separate us again? First by alternate sexuality... and what now? Why?”
 
“Well, Rip took the lesbian girls, and Steve makes the tour for the gay boys,” Ayla explained slowly. Maybe she feared I didn’t understand her. “We are the gender challenged group, or changelings as my predecessor used to say.”
 
I snorted. Yeah, gender challenged was a nice way to put it. I certainly felt challenged with my recent changes. Hell, I got some “super” powers, with a very small “super”, grew small boobs, got exiled to America and now people actually expected me to act like a girl. Challenged was an understatement. At least I wasn’t the only one.
 
“So... alright,” Ayla said. “I guess we begin with an introduction round. Everyone can tell how they became a mutant and what happened since then. Maybe you could also tell how you feel about your transformation or the lack of it.” She paused for a moment. “Well, I should probably begin. Considering the whispers a short while ago I’m pretty certain you’re all curious about my last name. To cut it short, yes, I am one of those Goodkinds. I was born Trevor James Goodkind and used to be a scion of our main family branch. Well, no more.” She sighed. “One day I woke up and phased out of my pyjama, went down the stairs and phased through them. My parents totally freaked and delivered me to Dr. Hammond,” she grimaced, slightly baring her teeth.
 
“Hammond! Are you serious?” One of the girls exclaimed. Her name was Susan or something.
 
Ayla just nodded and sighed. “Yeah, Susan, unfortunately I am serious. He tortured me with experiments for a week. Then my family left me with my sister who’d also been disowned for being transgendered. When my sister freed me from the testing suit I got the shock of my life. I’d suddenly grown breasts and a girlish figure. That said, I’m not happy with my BIT at all. I’m a guy in my mind, but my body doesn’t care. I can’t get rid of these,” she pointed at her breasts. “I guess I have a killer body for a girl, but I’d rather have a weak, geekish guy body than this.” She or maybe he stopped for a moment to take a breath. “I guess I should tell you, I still have my penis and twice the testosterone level of a normal teenage boy, but I also have twice the oestrogen level. Nobody really understands what is going on.”
 
Wow... and I was bitter about mobbing in school. How could she smile like this after her family had betrayed her like that? Well, not really everyone. She still had her sister. Mine just decided a freak like me wasn’t family. Even mom and dad just got rid of me. Supreme education... pha. There had to be a school that wasn’t on the other side of the globe.
 
“Is there something you can do about it?” I asked curiously, maybe she knew something that could help me.
 
She shook her head. “Not really, I have a really fucked up BIT... Actually, it’s multiple BITs which are interfering with each other and that makes it even more problematic. My last try to change it with devisor power was sabotaged by an asshole... and no magician who isn’t totally ruthless will ever try transforming someone with a BIT.” She shuddered. “The last time someone tried they apparently invited some kind of demon into their target or at least drove the poor woman insane.”
 
Crap, I could only hope I didn’t have such a BIT-thing. Those that had them were apparently stuck. “Crap,” I said.
 
“Yes,” Ayla agreed, “crap indeed.”
 
“Um...” John, the telekinetic guy, began. “So the richest family in the world left you penniless with your sister?”
 
“They tried,” Ayla grimaced. “Until my uncle realized it was rather awkward to have a disowned mutant daughter of the family running around who could tell every media outlet in the world her story. Instead of the billions I should have inherited at my eighteenth birthday they forced me to accept 300 million as a settlement. They’ve pretty much disowned me.”
 
While that was complaining on a very high level, I could somewhat understand her. It would be like if my parents kicked me out with 1000€ on my bank account. At least mine didn’t wash their hands of me. “So they gave you money... for the promise... that you wouldn’t tell anyone important about it?” I asked.
 
Ayla nodded. “That’s pretty much it. Enough about me, Jan, how would you like to begin telling your story.”
 
“My story?” I echoed shocked. I had been too fascinated by her story to consider telling my own. “Ähm... Okay... I think... Well, I was born as Jan Edler and am still known as Jan.”
 
“Isn’t Jan a girl’s name?” A small, green haired girl asked, her name was Ashley, if I recalled correctly. “Didn’t you say you were a guy?”
 
Oops... I shot a look towards Lisa. I’d introduced myself as Jan, so maybe that was the reason she assumed I wanted to be a girl. She also looked a bit uncomfortable with herself. Well, that’s what you got for assuming things.
 
“Jan is a boy’s name in Germany,” I explained. “I don’t want to be a girl.”
 
“Okay,” Hunter shrugged. “So how comes you’re turning into a girl?”
 
“I don’t really know either,” I had to admit. “Well, the evening before my mutation... powers happened for the first time, I watched Kim Possible and dreamed about her in the night. Then, the next day... it was actually the second last day of school... some bullies called me queer... a fag... and an insufferable geek.. I think... and looked like they were going to attack me or something. Well... Ähm... I readied myself to defend myself... when they suddenly jumped back in shock. Apparently, I’d activated some kind of... telekinetic manifestor shell... thing... or so the superheroes that... who were called in afterwards said.” I scratched my head thinking, until I found the right words. “The secretary totally freaked about my transformation... but thankfully the headmaster kept a cool head... She wanted to call the MCO... I don’t understand why they would want to be bothered with something like that.”
 
“Sure...” Ayla said slowly.
 
“What?” I asked confused. Did she have an issue with the MCO? I thought the Goodkinds were their greatest sponsors? “What would they want with me? I thought they exist to stop criminal supers.”
 
“They are quite... broad defining what criminal is concerning mutants. They mostly police mutant supers,” Ayla explained. “So yes, they might have very well bothered with something like that.”
 
That didn’t sound well at all, but I wasn’t quite sure what she meant. “So... you mean if those bullies... had said I’d hit them... they’d put me into prison?”
 
“In the best case,” our guide grimaced as if remembering something unpleasant. “In the worst case they’d just disappear you.” She shook her head. “I can’t believe I used to fund them.”
 
“Ouch,” Lisa said. “Have some experiences of your own?”
 
“Yes,” Ayla said. “But I can talk about it later, now it’s Jan’s turn.”
 
“Well... where was I?”
 
“The secretary freaked while the headmaster kept a cool head,” Ayla prompted.
 
“Ähm... Well... then, in the headmaster’s office... I’d already realized I’d somehow grown boobs under my t-shirt... but when... someone gave me a mirror... I saw that I looked like Kim Possible.”
 
“Seriously? Kim Possible?” another girl asked, I didn’t exactly remember her name. No, it was Felicia.
 
“Yeah, apparently it had somehow... what’s the word... imprinted on my mutation. But that’s not the worst thing..., I couldn’t turn it off.”
 
“Now it’s obviously off, though,” Susan stated. “You don’t look like KP.”
 
I nodded. “Yes, it is. ... It didn’t turn off for the day though... only when I slept it turned off. My sister... my sister decided to disown me before.” I grimaced, balling my fists. “When I’d finally gotten home... my sister declared a freak like me... was no... broth... sibling of hers.”
 
“That sucks, I’m sorry,” said Ayla politely.
 
“Well, my parents didn’t seem too happy with her..., but they also sent me here... maybe they just wanted to get rid of me.”
 
“I don’t want to intrude, but maybe you want to tell us,” Ayla said, “You’re obviously not happy about the girl transformation, but what is problem?”
 
“Well, apart from the fact... that every time I somehow activate the shell I can’t deactivate it... well until I fall asleep, that is. It also changes my body... every time it activates I look more like a girl afterwards... It just sucks!” Moisture had snuck out of my tear ducts again. Fuck the oestrogen!
 
“So you have MATD?” Ayla asked and elaborated, seeing my confused look: “Manifestation Augmented Tissue Deformity. It means your shell changes your skin and body to fit its own version of you.”
 
“Ah,” I said. “No that’s not it... The Doctor said it was like my body slowly turned into a girl ...whenever the shell is... on... One time my boobs grew... the next... the next time my... I got egg... ovaries that produced oestrogen.... He said that wouldn’t happen with this... manifestor syndrome thing.”
 
“MATD,” Ayla corrected. “Well, MATD works faster with some people than others. Belle, an upperclassgirl of mine was already a full girl when she arrived at Whateley, but then Marty still looks like a shrimpy boy under her shell. Although I’ve heard there has been some progress in her case. You should be able to find out about it at Power Testing.” She took a breath. “Alright, I guess you can’t change that for now and they’ve enrolled you as a girl since that seems the direction where your transformation is heading.”
 
“Um... if you don’t want to be a girl and are growing ovaries,” yet another girl, Sam, said, tilting her head curiously. “Why didn’t you just have them surgically removed?
 
“I tried...” I admitted, “but the Doctor wouldn’t do it! … Didn’t want to... neuter... castrate me... he said... I was emotionally troubled.” God, speaking English all the time was hard. Remembering the right words and remember using English grammar... My head hurt from needing to concentrate all the time.
 
“Might not work anyway,” Ayla shrugged. “If you have a BIT or regen they would most likely just regrow. I know the problem. Hell, I share it,” she sighed and gave me a serious look. “You don’t like becoming a girl, but were enrolled as one. We need to talk about the rules pertaining to that later.”
 
Pertaining? What did that mean again? Regarding... relating to something. How...
 
“Do you want to tell us something else?” she asked.
 
Shaking my head I said: “Not really... I don’t know anything about being a girl... and I don’t want to know.” That should have been what they cared for. Well, there was also the fact I that I spent my summer holidays playing games on my PC, but that wasn’t really interesting. My parents had finally bought a flat-rate internet connection so I could surf without worrying about the costs. A nice change for once.
 
“Alright,” Ayla said giving me a last sympathizing look. Then she focussed on my neighbour. “Susan, what happened to you?”
 
“Well, I knew that I was a girl since I was a little kid,” the beautiful blonde began.  My parents named me Toby though,” she smiled at us. “Well I think first they just indulged me, but when they realized I was serious about being a girl they went to a doctor. It became more and more obvious that I was a transsexual and I even attended school as a girl. My mutation came as a total surprise, a very happy surprise when I woke up and realized my nipples were swollen. I’d only been on puberty blockers until then. Well, I continued to attend my normal school, even if I had to hide my abilities at sports, so nobody would find out I was a mutant.” She sighed. “Do you know how hard it is to play weak damsel in distress, when you can beat every guy in arm-wrestling?”
 
Giggles and chuckles came from the audience. Even I could see the challenge in playing weak beauty when you could really kick their ass.
 
“Yeah... no professional sports for mutants,” a rather small, unimpressive looking girl said. Her name was Ashley or something. “Not that I would have qualified anyway.”
 
Susan nodded and continued her story: “So, I still used to go to my own school. Some of my friends knew about my transgendered status, but many didn’t. I didn’t exactly advertise it. Well, I couldn’t really continue, when I discovered my real talent,” she grinned at us. “Apart from turning into a knockout of course. I can make things work that shouldn’t. Well according to scientific theories at least. For me it makes perfect sense. They said I was a devisor.”
 
Ayla nodded, but the rest of us was just looking confused.  Seeing that Ayla explained: “A devisor is a mutant that can somehow influence the rules of the universe to make stuff work that normally wouldn’t. Like time machines or a perpetual motion machine.”
 
Ok, that sounded like an awesome power in my opinion. If could literally bend the rules of the universe, something like fast-than-light travel shouldn’t be a problem at all.
 
“Yeah... something like that. Mom and Dad got kind of panicked when I almost blew up my room. We also couldn’t hide that I was a mutant anymore, so they enrolled me here. I guess it can’t hurt to learn more about my powers. That was it, I think. No, I got four siblings.”
 
*Yawn*
 
“Sorry,” I quickly said, holding a hand in front of my mouth. “I’m just... tired.”
 
“It’s alright,” Ayla said. “Susan, you’re done, right? We should just hurry a bit. Lisa, can you tell your story next?”
 
“Sure,” the girl I’d thought a bimbo said. “To start in the same vein as the others, I was born Lucas Wong. In case you wondered, both of my parents were of Asian descent, my pigmentation change was the first sign I was a mutant. My eyes had only slightly changed pigmentation. Nothing really noticeable. I hadn’t realized it myself before. Well, we were living in the conservative south... and well, H1 had one of the largest member percentages in the nation. My parents fled as soon as they could, we couldn’t risk living there anymore.”
 
Ouch... driven from their home. Why exactly did I need to be such an ass?
 
“Mom and dad home-schooled me from then on, but somehow someone realized I was a mutant and told one of the H1 fuckers.” She clenched her fists. “One night they came and raided our home.” She sniffed. “They shot... shot mom and dad... and I kind of snapped. I don’t know what happened afterwards. The next time I woke up was in a hospital and my home was burned to the ground. The MCO tried to arrest me for the murder of my parents of course, but I got help.”
 
Of course? Shit was the MCO really that bad? Like some anti-mutant Gestapo or Stasi? God, how had my world changed... I really hadn’t expected that. Sure, they arrested evil mutants, but that was their job. Not hunting children who’d manifested for the first time. It sounded like they were infested by H1 members. I could only hope that it was only the American MCO. Hopefully it wasn’t the same way at home. Well, Germany should have learned from the Nazis.
 
Everyone looked shocked, and eerie silence reigned. Then Susan hugged her. “I’m sorry.”
 
An expression of surprise played over Lisa’s face, but then she hugged Susan back. “You don’t need to,” she said. “It’s not your fault... Mom and dad always used to say that I should always try my best and never let myself down. I’ll follow their last wish.”
 
Oh crap. I’d been high and mighty about her stupid assumption and here I was thinking she was an asshole solely based on a few superficial observations.
 
“What are your powers and how do you feel about your gender?” Ayla asked calmly.
 
Lisa shrugged. “Well, I love being a girl. I never liked being a boy much and all my friends were girls… I guess I was transgendered, but I didn’t realize it before I was a teen. I wanted to talk to my parents about my feelings, but then my mutation happened.”
 
Great, I probably made an enemy out of her thanks to a stupid misunderstanding. How could she possibly be so happy, so nice with everything that happened to her? In her place, I’d be scowling at everybody. Looking to the ground, I could barely suppress another yawn. Here, in this case, it wouldn’t have helped at all.
 
Seeing Ayla’s inquisitive look she continued: “Well, powers, I don’t know what powers I had in the beginning, but after the attack on our home…” she sniffed again, “and the subsequent burnout I have powerful fire telekinesis. Should I demonstrate?”
 
She shot me a nasty look, which made me fear for my ass. Ouch, she looked really miffed at me. I just glared back, but I probably deserved it.
 
“No, please not,” Ayla said, quickly shaking her head. “Thanks for explaining, but we need to get finished before Jan here collapses. Okay…”
 
The others introduced themselves, John was born as a girl and used to live with his radical feminist single mother. When she began to turn into a boy the mother totally freaked and kicked him out.
 
“Kicked you out?” Susan asked shocked. “Why the heck?”
 
“Apparently, I was a traitor to my gender and should have been aborted as a foetus - like my brothers,” John said bitterly. “When she went for her guns, I just ran.”
 
“That’s just evil!” Susan exclaimed and quickly embraced him. She seemed to be the toucy-feely type and a real nice girl, but so did others...
 
After Susan let him go, John continued his story. Apparently he knew a mutant superhero from when he was a kid. The guy had retired, but he was willing to help John and also referred him to Whateley. John’s powers weren’t just telekinesis, he was a genuine package deal psychic and could manifest a PK shell as well as read thoughts if he wanted to.
 
The next one was a rather impressive looking girl, who’d said nothing so far. After identifying herself as Alana or Alan, she instantly demonstrated her powers by shifting into a weak looking guy. Hell, even I had looked more impressive when I was fifteen. While he was a real shifter and could easily shift back, he was like me in that he could only use his powers in girl form. Whenever they activated, he changed into a girl, which was why the administration had forced him to be a girl outside of the dorms. Poor dude, I could certainly sympathize. Well, at least he wasn’t going to be stuck as a girl. For him it was only temporary. His powers also used some strange Telekinesis, but I was too tired to understand how it worked. And too jealous for her shapeshifting.
 
A Hispanic girl named Felicia followed. She’d been a somewhat macho dude as she’d explained grinning, but when she’d somehow snatched the spirit of Diva with her avatar power in New York that had changed. Apparently, the spirit was more powerful than her avatar trait and was thus able to overpower her personality. It sounded really creepy and more like possession. Ayla said something like that could happen sometimes. While Felicia didn’t have troubles with her gender change at all, I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes. It was creepy enough that I preferred my perpetual gender troubles.
 
Ashley was the next to tell her story. She was a small, except for her green hair pretty much unremarkable looking girl. Not ugly, but she was one of those girls that sat in the back of the class, never said a word and only ever attract attention when the teacher asks them a question. Her origin was really weird, she’d been abducted by a sexual predator super villain evil scientist who somehow gave her shifter genitalia.
 
“I don’t want to know what’s wrong in that guys mind,” John exclaimed.
 
“Yeah that sounds really sick,” Lisa agreed.
 
An unexpectedly nasty smirk played over Ashley’s face: “Was. Was wrong in that guys mind. When I thought he’d... well, my powers manifested and I zapped him good.”
 
Shooting lightning in the ground, she demonstrated, leaving some burned grass. “Well he is no more.”
 
She’d been born as a girl, but if she wanted she could grow herself a dick and shrink or grow her boobs. Apart from her lightning powers she was also a speedster. According to her speedster and electricity where her real powers and the genital shifting was just a remnant from the supervillain’s experiments.
 
***
 
“Jan, Jan, wake up!” I heard Susan say, as something was poking into my side.
 
Wiping my eyes I looked at her. “I am awake, did I miss something?”
 
“That doesn’t look very awake,” John laughed.
 
“I think you fell asleep,” Susan grinned. “Saaay... What is Hunters nationality?”
 
Crap... did I really drift off like that? “Are you sure it was his” Hunter flinched, “ähm... her turn already?”
 
The nods from the group said the rest. Maybe I really nodded off a bit. And of course I had to miss the introduction of the only person in this group who could possibly understand my situation - considering her reaction to my pronoun usage.
 
“Ähm... sorry,” I said, forcefully shaking my head to get awake. “I guess I’m a little tired.”
 
“Understatement of the century,” Ayla remarked as she stepped back on the path, motioning us to follow. “No need to apologize. If anyone is to blame it’s me. We should have gone to the cafeteria and got you some Coffee. Well, I guess that’s what we should do now anyway. It’ll be easier to stay awake for you when you’re moving.”
 
On the way to the cafeteria Susan filled me in on Hunter who was talking with Alana. I’d totally missed his explanation, since I fell asleep just after Ashley’s story. Apparently I’d continued to stand for a while, until I suddenly collapsed to everyone’s surprise. Susan had caught me with her improved reflexes. Maybe the little nap had helped, or it was the movement, but I felt more awake for now.
 
“... and her powers are mostly her body and a small magic ability. She can use it for distractions,” Susan concluded, just as we entered the building with the glass dome. Somewhere along the way Ayla had mentioned it was called Crystal hall.
 
Hunter hadn’t been transgendered before, she’d also been a normal girl. When her eyes changed colour to purple, her body began to grow muscles. According to Susan she looked like a bodybuilder under her clothes. Well, she thanks to her androgynous looks she was going to pose as a dude. Especially since her masculinization was still progressing. She was a Brit and apparently her clitoris had grown into a penis. She’d been shocked, but now she’d learned to live with it. Apparently she still retained her vagina.
 
“Alright boys and girls,” Ayla said, as we entered the cafeteria. “Now let’s get Jan a good black coffee to keep her awake. Do the rest of you also want some? I think I can convince the cooks to make some for the whole group.”
 
Ugh... coffee... I wasn’t the big fan of coffee at all. But well, if I wanted to survive the introduction I probably needed some kind of stimulant. Better coffee than something else. No need to try speed. God, I was so tired that I started to find lame rhymes funny.
 
“Um... where are you from, everyone?” Hunter suddenly asked. “I mean I said I’m from Britain and Jan has a very distinctive German accent, but where’s the rest of you from?”
 
Crap, I’d hoped my accent wasn’t that bad. Well, hopefully practice really made perfect.
 
“New York, New York,” Felicia said grinning.
 
“Bremen, Germany,” I found myself saying.
 
“Well,” Lisa began. “I was originally from Kansas, but lately I lived in Los Angeles.”
 
“I’m from Bristol,” Hunter clarified.
 
“Houston Texas,” John added.
 
“Me?” Susan said. “I’m from Kanada, Montreal... My mother tongue is English though.”
 
English? ...ah Montreal was in Quèbec.
 
“Pocatello, Idaho,” Ashley interjected meekly.
 
“I’m the odd Australian,” Hunter laughed.
 
“Hey gals and guys,” Ayla shouted from the counter, interrupting this further introduction. “Can someone please come and help me carry this?”
 
“Okay,” Hunter said and went over to her. Meanwhile John joined him. The two of them seemed to have befriended each other already. Well, they were both f2m transgenders, so it was probably to be expected.
 
The coffee was as black as I’d feared and stored in paper cups. I quickly grabbed one from John’s tablet and took a sip. Ugh... god was that Coffee strong, and hot! A shudder went through my body.
 
“Sorry,” Ayla said. “Coffee like this is supposed to be enjoyed slowly, but we need to hurry, it’s really a shame it has to be like this.”
 
Yeah, she definitely was a Goodkind - Maybe she’d chosen her name herself... Apologizing for the lacking quality of a coffee to go... what kind of coffee beans had she made the cooks use anyway? Probably the most expensive of the most expensive. Not that I’d know which sorts existed, really. The good thing was that I really felt more awake and it actually tasted drinkable, a novelty for coffee in my opinion.
 
“Alright everyone, listen please,” she said after we’d all taken our cups. “I guess I should continue our tour. Well, this is the Crystal Hall. Everyone takes their meals here... Well we did, there also are a few other spots where you can eat, but this is generally the best place. You can find your main meal times on your timetables. Um... In case that there is one of you who has special nutritional needs over there is a counter where you can get your food.”
 
“Ähm...,” I said, tentatively raising my hand. “Do we need to pay for the food?”
 
Ayla shook her head. “No, the food is provided for free. I thought that in the Whateley Brochure? Anyway, just ask, you don’t need to ask for permission to speak.”
 
Maybe it was in the brochure, but it wasn’t like I actually read that thing. Mom and dad had decided I went here... forced me into exile. I didn’t care for the particulars, hell, I tried to stop them until the end! Well, pretty much until yesterday.
 
I shrugged. “Only death is for free and... and it costs your life.”
 
“Whatever,” Ayla sighed. “Well, you’ll get your meals here.”
 
The cafeteria was split into two parts, a lower part directly with access to the kitchen and an upper part where people could look down on others. I could guess where the self-declared student elite sat. To my amazement Ayla led us up there and pointed towards a table.
 
“My team and I usually sit here,” she explained. “You can come to us and ask questions if you need help. Or just talk to one of us in the cottage. Most Poesies are really nice, but of course there are always exceptions.”
 
Strange, a transgender team among the elite... I’d never expected something like that.
 
“That’s good to know,” Felicia said. “But where next?”
 
“Well, there are the weapon ranges and the combat arenas...”
 
“What. The. Fuck?!?!” Hunter said, barely below shouting volume. “I may look like a bloody body builder, but girl, you can’t be serious. I didn’t come here to learn how to beat people up.”
 
“I’m a guy,” Ayla said and sighed. “But yes I am serious, and I pretty much thought the same when this was mentioned on my campus tour a year ago. My guide, Belle, she’s still here at Whateley by the way, explained it that way: The very best education is utterly useless if you die a week after you’ve graduated because you can’t defend yourself. This is not a paramilitary camp though. If you want to, or your powers are too weak, you can opt out of the fighting courses and take the survival ones.”
 
That was what I’d probably do. Hell, as far as I knew my power was to turn into a lookalike of Kim Possible, which really wasn’t all that impressive compared to usual superhero standards. To make it worse I didn’t even have the muscle memory of the cartoon-original. Just thinking back of the time, I actually tried that handstand-salto thing made me shudder... my back had hurt so much afterwards... No Kim Possible stunts for me.
 
“That’s a very good point, but I haven’t really experienced any threats so far,” Susan interjected, obviously not very happy about the perspective to have to fight.
 
“Well,” Ayla grinned, shaking her head. “We got into a fight our first night here, then we got into a fight with the self-styled campus alpha’s... then we had a super fight with an A- list supervillain and another fight with him. Last year Halloween a supervillain attacked the campus, but thankfully no students died. Then I had a fight with a major demon over the winter holidays and another fight with the Necromancer on my birthday. And I always thought my life would be rather boring.”
 
“Yes... that would explain how they happened to be top dogs on the campus. If you won... no survived so many fights you had to be hot shit.
 
“Interesting,” John laughed. “In the very worst Chinese way.”
 
“Ähm... John... what do you mean?” I asked confused. “I don’t know that saying.”
 
“Um... there is supposed to be a Chinese saying, that if a Chinese wishes you an interesting life, they really curse you,” the newly minted guy explained.
 
“Oh... okay, I guess that makes sense,” I admitted. Then, looking at Ayla, I said. “Please tell me... it’s not like that for everyone.”
 
“No, apparently our team was extremely unlucky. The security chief says we’re trouble magnets. Anyway, I guess I should show you the ranges and the combat arenas and the way to the power-testing labs,” Ayla said and turned around, to lead us away.
 
And that was what she did. Thankfully the Coffee kept me awake enough, that I could remember the ways to the different locations reasonably well. She also explained some stuff about the different subjects taught at school and tried to convince us to take basic martial arts. While it sounded interesting and I’d always wanted to learn some cool Karate stuff, I gathered they would force me to use my girl-form - which killed any ideas to actually take it.
 
Apparently the school had its good guys and bad guys... and bullies... and underdogs, which apparently was the underpowered group, which had extra surveillance for protection from the bullies or something like that. Ayla recommended that we’d try to stick together among us transgendered students and otherwise keep out of group conflicts. According to her trying to solve things via the administration was usually smarter.
 
“Doing things yourself is really more trouble than it’s worth,” she sighed.
 
Well, I certainly didn’t plan on any bully busting, or fights with the self-declared campus elite. As long as the resident assholes left me alone, I’d leave them alone. Although... that had always been my policy and didn’t really help me at the normal schools either. Maybe it would here, I could only hope.
 
After the campus tour and the subsequent visit to the local mad science reactor, we followed Ayla to some kind of Gallery. Apparently, it was possible for the school’s sponsors to immortalize themselves there.  There was a cape from Champion reminding everyone of the academy’s importance, a painting of that Wallachian tyrant where he posed with a bust of Dracula and a ton of gold from a Mexican tycoon.
 
I wasn’t sure how I felt about major supervillains sponsoring the school, but I guess it was better than attacking it. Whateley was supposed to be neutral in the fights between the good and the bad guys. It was probably for the better. Ayla also told us that there was a strict policy, enforced from both sides of the law that declared families of students off limits. Nobody was allowed to attack a student's family to extort them. The last one’s that tried... well, there wasn’t much left of the ‘Tong of the Black Madonna’, after the Whateley association was done with them.
 
Meanwhile that Tycoon...I wasn’t quite sure what to think about her. Apparently, one either understood the meaning of her gift, or one didn’t. She was of the opinion that those who didn’t understand couldn’t understand. Rather arrogant in my opinion, but then she probably had reason for her arrogance. I wasn’t sure if I was right, but it probably meant, that even the poorest mutant could afford to throw away that much gold. That everyone of us could achieve something like that. I hoped she meant that, since that would have actually given the thing a meaning apart from “I am a rich asshole and can afford it”. Well, better used that way than in stupid, useless jewellery. Why useless stuff like that made some people feel more beautiful, I couldn’t understand.
 
Afterwards, we returned to the crystal hall to have dinner. I was rather grateful as I wasn’t quite certain which was louder. The growling of my stomach, or my yawning. Twenty two hours awake was too long to stay awake and actually be able to focus on something. Standing up at four am in Germany, then the flight to Amsterdam and from Amsterdam to Boston... well, I was already tired when I arrived at Boston airport, then I needed to get to the railway station, plus the train ride to Dunwich, the drive to the Academy and now the campus tour. God, I was so tired. Why couldn’t I have travelled yesterday and stayed for a night in Boston?
 
The meal was pretty good even if I didn’t really listen to what the others were talking about. I was having a hard enough time just putting food in my mouth. It was impossible to understand them, it was hard enough to avoid dozing off. And a Texan talking while eating? The pure Horror, I can tell you. It already sounds like they have something in their mouths normally, but when they’re eating... No comment. It wasn’t really interesting anyway. It was mostly the transsexual girls talking about makeup, while John was curious how Hunter had grown his muscles.
 
For the food, well, I’d certainly eaten way worse cafeteria food in kindergarten. This wasn’t warmed up, but recently cooked and as far as I could tell made from fresh ingredients and not just stuff from the can. It was still cafeteria food, but it was palatable. Ayla had something different, it certainly looked better, but that was only to be expected considering her pedigree. I wasn’t a millionaire able to pay the cooks like her.
 
After dinner, Ayla led us back to our cottage. This time though, she showed us the way through the underground tunnels. Apparently, the connection was recent, built last year in November by the sponsor of another Poe resident. According to our guide, there were rules for the use of powers. We weren’t allowed to show our powers at all on red flag days and GSD students had to stay underground. This seemed really unfair to me, yet it was the way the school worked.
 
Yellow Flag days meant there were people on campus who thought they were cool with mutants, but that meant for us we were only allowed to show stuff that was also seen on television and wouldn’t scare the visitors. Green Flag days meant we were allowed to do everything that didn’t violate campus or other laws. Considering my lack of powers it shouldn’t be too hard to comply with those rules. Well, as long as I didn’t grew wings overnight... I didn’t want to jinx it, so I said nothing.
 
There were training/fitness rooms in the basement, as well as a very... alien looking corner that Ayla called Lovecraft room. I’d never read anything from that author, but even I knew he was one for the really weird horror stories. Considering how the door looked, or not looked, how the shades indicated openings, rooms, places that just didn’t exist, it was a room I’d try to avoid. I’d never seen something this alien before.
 
Leaving the creepy room behind, we went through the boring training rooms and up the stairs. Ayla led up into the first floor and declared it was to be ours since it was closest to the house mother. Mrs. Horton’s room really wasn’t far away.
 
“You can always go to her whenever you need help,” Ayla said, as she pointed at the door. “Better talk to her than try to live through your problems at all or attempt radical solutions. That will usually get you into more trouble than you had in the first place.”
 
“Speaking from experience?” John asked grinning.
 
“Yeah, I told you about my fights when we started the tour right?”
 
We nodded and Ayla continued: “Well, I guess we could have avoided maybe half of them if we’d talked to Mrs. Horton or someone else in the administration.” She laughed. “Now we have a worse reputation than the cape squad for heroing.”
 
“Ouch,” I said. Hopefully something like that wouldn’t happen to me. “Ähm... can we get to the rooms please... I’m almost sleeping... starting to sleep?”
 
“Okay, okay, I’ll hurry,” Ayla said. “You’ve seen the stuff down here already, right? The common room, the kitchen and everything?”
 
I nodded again and the other girls and guys also agreed. “I’d love to see our rooms,” Susan said.
 
“Sure, just follow me up the stairs,” our guide said.
 
When we arrived on the second floor, Ayla turned around to face us again. “Alright, now the more serious stuff. Every one of you will use the bathrooms and facilities of the gender they’re enrolled with. If you’re officially a girl you go to the girl rooms and if you’re officially a boy you use the boy toilets. I hope I don’t really need to say this, but if someone has a little extra down below you won’t remark on it, okay? We have it hard enough as a minority, we really don’t need to start bullying each other. Whatever you may think about it, the other person is most likely suffering even worse than you are.”
 
“What about the lesbians... or maybe the gay-boys?” John asked, quickly glancing at the girls... and me. “I guess my mother was a... special case, but I can see some of them being not so supportive with us.”
 
“Yess...” Ayla sighed. “That might happen. Try to ignore them and tell Mrs. Horton or one of your gender bendered upperclassmen. We’ll try to resolve it without resorting to violence. I really hope we don’t have another Sharisha incident.” Seeing our confused looks she elaborated: “Sorry, trip down the memory lane. Tempest really pissed off my roommate with transphobic comments and Chou went berserk on her. I hope that something like that won’t happen in your year, but... well, people are people. Just stick together and you’ll overcome them all.”
 
“Tempest, do you mean that Sharisha... thing, person?” Hunter asked, rubbing his forehead.
 
Ayla nodded. “Yeah, Tempest is Sharisha’s codename. Really fits with her temper... she wouldn’t appreciate being called a thing, though. Forget about it, I shouldn’t have mentioned it anyway. It reminds me though. You all will have to choose Codenames and you’ll have to do that carefully. Codenames are a bitch to change.”
 
“Wait,” Felicia interjected. “What about those of us who don’t plan to become a hero... or villain?”
 
“You also need to choose one,” Ayla explained. “They collect your power testing results under your Codename to make it harder to identify you. Everything that involves your mutant powers and you don’t want to have tied to your real name will be done under your Codename. Hell, I know many students here only by codename.”
 
“So it’s a campus fashion of a sort?” Susan asked.
 
“Sort of,” Ayla said. “Everyone has one and everyone needs one, but most people still go by their real names with their friends. My friends don’t call me Phase, they call me Ayla. Others only call me Phase, though. That’s why you need to be really careful choosing your names, or you might end up with something really ambiguous or embarrassing. Most people go with something referring to their powers, but there are other possibilities. If you need help, you can always ask me for advice.”
 
Ugh... a codename? What would work for me? KP? Force-shift? Nah... I didn’t like that. It was too much like Star Wars. Not a good name in my opinion. Girl-power? Like Hell! Now way. Maybe I should wait until I was rested before thinking about it, right now I could only think up crap.
 
“So what now?” Lisa asked. “What should we do next?”
 
“You’re going to choose your rooms,” Ayla said. “The transgendered students are always the first to pick, so I’d recommend that you stick together. Just to be close if someone needs help. I need to talk with you Lisa,” she looked at the black redhead, “and you Jan,” now I was subject to her stare, “the rest of you can go. Just remember there are no single rooms and we expect you to bunk together. Try to find pairings that go well with each other.”
 
When the others had gone, Ayla addressed us again. “Okay, you two come with me into the sunroom over there. We need to talk.”
 
What the hell was that about? I wanted a room and a bed, not a serious talk. Especially not with Lisa. That would be too awkward. While I grumbled, I still went. Even though I was dead tired, I wasn’t stupid enough to protest. It wouldn’t help and pissing off Ayla was a bad idea. Even though she was a Goodkind, it was obvious she knew people and had some power on campus. Not one of the obvious alpha types, but one of those who pulled the strings in the background and made things happen. I really wasn’t the smartest person socially... no, that was euphemistic. I was bloody stupid socially, but even I realized Ayla was a good person to have for a friend.
 
Closing the door behind us, Ayla motioned towards some armchairs, while she jumped onto the couch in the corner. When both Lisa and I had taken place, Ayla began: “Alright, I’ve waited long enough, but now I want to know. What the hell is wrong with you two? I saw angry glances, I saw ashamed looks, I saw that you were feeling guilty and I also saw that you did nothing about it. What’s up?”
 
I shot a look at Lisa, but she didn’t look like she wanted to answer.
 
“A misunderstanding, I guess,” I shrugged.
 
“Lisa?” Ayla asked, raising her eyebrows.
 
“Well, Jan totally freaked out on me, when I wanted to talk to her about stuff?”
 
“Stuff...” I snorted. “I told you I didn’t like transforming into a girl... but then you go and continue to ask me about makeup and nail polish. Sorry that I assumed you were making fun of me.” Tears started to well from my eyes - stupid hormones - as continued whispering bitterly. “You certainly wouldn’t have been the first one.”
 
It was always the same. Either people were asses to me, or I pissed off the nice ones. Why did I always fuck up my life? God, I could tear my hairs out. Hopelessly angry at myself, angry with the situation and somewhat desperate I balled my fists when it happened. Something welled up from inside me, consuming anger and filling despair. My balance changed and I suddenly felt something hanging on my chest, pressing against the T-shirt.
 
“Crap,” I said. “The day had started so well and now at the last minute I still transformed. Fuck!
 
Lisa had looked to the ground after my declaration. “You... You said... I thought your transformation was too slow... I... I’m sorry, I just assumed,” Lisa sniffed. “You even had a girl-name... even if it was not... I was so happy being a girl. It just felt so right. I never thought...” She looked up. “Oh...”
 
“I’m sorry too,” I said, trying to rub the tears from my eyes. “I shouldn’t have just assumed the worst. You just wanted to be nice...even with all the crap that happened to you... and I... I was a total ass.” The tears didn’t want to stop flowing. I really felt bad about this incident. Fucking hormones. But I had really screwed it up. Just because people had treated me like crap that didn’t mean everyone would. “I’m such an ass I deserve to be turned into a girl!”
 
“You weren’t an ass, I was,” Lisa protested. “You told me... and I just prattled on. I guess that’s your girl-form right?”
 
I sniffed and nodded. Yeah, that was my girl form, a distorted, stretched Kim Possible.
 
She tilted her head curiously. “Um... why did you activate it?”
 
“I’d also like to know that myself,” Ayla said. “I thought you’d jump her.”
 
“Did I say something like ‘by the power of Girlsskull, I smite you evil foe’!” I snarked. “It just activates when I feel like crap or super angry, or ready to defend myself.”
 
“I don’t think the phrase really went like that,”Lisa said, grinning at me with still tear filled eyes.
 
“So it really was just a misunderstanding,” Ayla resumed our problem. “I’m glad. You girls... guys think you’ll get along with each other now?”
 
Lisa nodded and so did I, still wiping my tired, teary eyes. Suddenly, within the time of a blink, or so it seemed to me, I found myself in a hug. Her boobs pressing against my manifested ones, sending tickling feelings down my spine. To my own surprise I reciprocated, hugging her back and pressing her against me.
 
“I’m sorry, I was an ass,” Lisa whispered, still sniffing a bit.
 
“Me too,” I said. And a moment later: “Want to be friends?”
 
“Yeah.”
 
“Phew,” Ayla sighed. “That’s great!” She continued to mumble, more to herself than talking to us: “and it seems like Mrs. Potter was wrong for once,” she shook her head and focussed at us. An amused smile played over her face: “Well, now that you’ve guys have reconciled you get to be roomies.”
 
#tbc
 

[1] German sort of equivalent of Junior High
 
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AN: Like most authors I'm greateful for feedback. Comments are welcome, just try to keep your critic constructive. Anyway, thank you for reading this story, I hope you enjoyed it.


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