A Little R&R 3 part 2

Crystal Hall, Tuesday late morning, Oct 30th, 2007
Roulette:

I was sitting at my usual table for lunch, surrounded by my regular cast of unsavory characters. However, along with Alyss and Sapphire, today, we also had Monkeywrench eating with us. Monkeywrench had come over, mostly to talk to me about a project he’d been working on, and to ask if he could get some devisor brownies from me. Since we got that talk out of the way quickly, my furry friend had joined in on our other topics of conversation.

“Come on,” Monkeywrench exclaimed, gesturing to the notebook I had open beside my tray. “You shouldn’t be bringing school work into the cafeteria. It’s sacrilege…”

I closed my notebook with a wry smile, knowing that it was pointless to keep it open at this point. I hadn’t been able to look at my class notes since everyone had arrived, and the conversation had really started.

Sapphire gave me a curious look and said, “I assume that you’re an exemplar today.”

“How did you guess?” I asked her curiously.

However, it was Alyss who answered, “Because that is the only time you try reading your class notes at lunch.”

“True,” I admitted with a shrug. “That’s when I makes the most sense to do so.”

When I was in exemplar mode, I had the mental package that came with it, which included a much improved memory. I wasn’t sure how it really worked, but it seemed that as an exemplar, my brain stored information more efficiently, so that even when I was no longer an exemplar, I could still pull up that information easily. Anything I learned or memorized as an exemplar, I could still make use of later on, so I’d been taking advantage of this to do most of my studying for class, when I was in exemplar mode. I didn’t get the same kind of benefits as a full time exemplar, but this did make it easier to get good grades.

“How’s Kaylie doing?” I abruptly asked Alyss. “Have you learned anything new about her powers?”

Alyss puffed up a little bit with pride. “She can make some kind of glowing green fog, that’s pretty hard to see through…”

“So, your cousin is a manifestor?” Sapphire asked curiously.

“It looks that way,” Alyss said, though she paused a moment before admitting, “But Min…a friend of the family, thinks that it might actually be some kind of psychic effect. Kaylie is scheduled for testing, so they should find out more then.”

“That’s good,” I said, knowing that Alyss was worried about her granddaughter, though she wouldn’t admit it aloud. Considering the fact that being a mutant had ruined her daughter’s life, it was no surprise.

Alyss gave me a knowing look and asked. “What about your friend Kara? How’d she like Whateley?”

I blushed a little at that, since Alyss knew that Kara was not only my friend, but my girlfriend. “Well,” I answered with a wry smile. “She keeps hoping she manifests so she can come here too…”

Sapphire burst out laughing. “Yes, this is an interesting school…”

“The more the merrier,” Monkeywrench added. “This school is more exciting than a barrel full of…me.” He grinned broadly while I rolled my eyes.

Once we were all finished eating, we got up and began to go our separate ways. Or at least, Monkeywrench went his separate way, since Alyss, Sapphire, and myself, all had BMA together next period, and usually went there together.

As we were starting to leave, Alyss gently elbowed me in the side, then gestured towards another table. I looked over and saw a group of students sitting together, which caused me to suddenly start scowling

Gravmax, the spoiled rich boy who’d become my own personal nemesis at Whateley, simply because I wouldn’t fall into his arms or kiss his behind, was sitting there with his friend Iron. However, it wasn’t the sight of Gravmax that surprised me, or even the fact that he and Iron were eating lunch with Exquisite. What surprised me, was that Alyss’ own nemesis, Starbright, was with them too.

I didn’t say anything until we were outside Crystal Hall, then I mused, “It seems our problems have teamed up.”

“It sure looks like it,” Alyss said with a deep scowl and a narrowing of her eyes. Most people didn’t know her well enough to see her hands clenching into fists, or to realize just how pissed off she was at that moment.

“What do you mean?” Sapphire asked.

“Starbright and Gravmax were sitting together,” I explained in an even tone. “It looks like those two have become friends…”

“Birds of a feather, and all that,” Alyss grumbled.

Sapphire just smirked, pointing out, “Some snakes eat birds…”

I looked Sapphire over and smiled faintly, knowing that whatever happened, she had our backs. Sapphire didn’t have the same kind of problem with Gravmax that I did, but she certainly didn’t like him either. He’d attacked her before, while he was coming after me, and she’d shown him her displeasure, and made it clear that she wasn’t someone he should mess with. I was confident that she’d be happy to do so again.

“The birds aren’t really the problem,” Alyss said with a deep scowl. “It’s the fact that they’re flocking together, and seem to see us as newly washed cars, just waiting to get crapped on.”

“What?” Sapphire asked, seeming confused by Alyss’ metaphor.

“Last week,” I explained, “their new friend Exquisite, jumped Alyss and took her down…” Sapphire gave a start of surprise, then looked to Alyss. “And then yesterday, she seems to have jumped me too…”

“She caused Amy’s last burnout,” Alyss growled, which was strange coming from such a cute little girl. “Pardon my French, but that little bitch could have killed her with that damn stunt…”

Now, Sapphire looked angry. “I see,” she hissed, narrowing her eyes and pulling her blue-scaled cloak more tightly around her. “If our enemies have united, then we must remain united as well.”

“They haven’t come after you yet,” Amy pointed out.

However, Sapphire merely responded, “They will. And I will not turn my back on the few friends I possess.”

I smiled at that, feeling a lot more secure since Sapphire and Alyss were both watching my back. “You know,” I mused aloud, “I’ve always wanted to say this…” When my friends both gave me curious looks, I announced, “All for one, and one for all…”

--------------------

Poe Cottage, Tuesday late afternoon, Oct 30th, 2007
Ribbon:

I was sitting on the floor of my room, with a half dozen library books scattered about around me. These were all books on clothing patterns and costume designs, which could all come in handy due to the nature of my power. However, today, I was looking these ones over for one specific reason. Halloween.

Halloween was tomorrow, and unfortunately, thanks to CeeCee, half the cottage thought that I’d volunteered to make everyone’s costume. It was annoying, and though I could have put my foot down and refused, I hated to disappoint all these kids. And admittedly, some of my best memories, were of watching my kids show off their Halloween costumes, and taking them trick-or-treating, and this brought back some of those memories.

Looking over the books, I let out a sigh. I had absolutely no idea what kind of costumes most of those kids would want, and the only thing I was able to actually manifest would be the fabric parts. Hopefully, these costume designs would help me provide for as many of those kids as I could.

“And if they’re not satisfied,” I said with a snort, “they can get bed sheets and cut holes in them for eyes, like I did when I was a kid.” The memory of how excited I’d been with such a simple and poorly done ghost costume, brought a smile to my lips, even four decades later.

Suddenly, there was a lot of noise coming from the hallway outside, yelling, screaming, and thumping. I’d raised three kids, and at one time, I would have gone running out there to see what mischief they were up to. However, I remained where I was, doing my best to ignore the ruckus, even though I was curious.

“Not my zoo,” I muttered to myself. “Not my monkeys.”

I was a student here, just like everyone else. This wasn’t my problem, and it sure as hell wasn’t my responsibility. But in spite of that, the mature and responsible parent in me still insisted that I should get off my ass and go do something. By the time the noise actually began to settle down a few minutes later, my curiosity couldn’t be denied any longer.

“Probably Wondercute, chasing Danny or that white buffalo down the hall again,” I grumbled as I got back to my feet.

When I opened the door, I froze, seeing white fluffy goo, spread all down the hallway. The floors, walls, and even ceilings were covered with the stuff. For several seconds, all I could do was stare at the mess in horror, thinking about how much of a pain it would be to clean this.

“What the hell happened?” I finally managed to demand.

There were a couple girls standing in the hallway, splattered with various amounts of the white goo. Jade was completely covered with the stuff, though she wiped her face off enough that I could see an almost manic grin on her face, right before she ran down the hallway, right through more of the white goo.

“BELTANE,” Angel screamed out, running for the stairs.

“Beltane hit Jade with another prank,” the halfway splattered Cindy said with an exasperated sigh. “I wish those two would stop these pranks…”

I stood there and stared at the mess, having to remind myself that if Beltane did this, then this stuff would probably fade away pretty quickly. Still…

“What is this stuff?” I asked in disgust.

“Marshmallow,” Cindy answered with a groan. “I am NEVER eating another marshmallow again…”

Peacock, also known as Lina, was standing near Cindy, and she was just as splattered with white goo. “It was the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man,” she said with a look of wide-eyed disbelief. “Right out of that movie, but…human sized.”

I blinked at that. “You’re kidding…”

“I wish she was,” Cindy said. “The damn thing came running down the hall, chasing Jade. At first, I thought Gwen was making me hallucinate or something…”

Lina nodded agreement. “Me too… That, or making one of her illusions…”

“And when Jade turned and fought back with her Kitty Compact thing,” Cindy continued, “BOOM. Marshmallow guy exploded.”

While I stood there, just processing that mental image, Mrs. Horton showed up and demanded, “What in the world is going on here now?”

Since Cindy and Lina began giving our house mother the explanation, while our RA was apparently going to chase down and strangle the culprit, I decided to make my escape. I manifested some hip waders to protect me from the marshmallow, then made my way through the sticky mess. Once I was clear, I stripped out of the waders, tossed them into the trash, and departed Poe for less chaotic pastures.

A short time later, I met up with Amy and Sapphire, and we went to Crystal Hall together for dinner. However, while going past the Quad, I saw Starbright sitting at one of the tables, along with her new friends. Starbright saw me too, and had a look of smug satisfaction on her face. If I’d had any doubts before about her part in Exquisite’s attack, they vanished in that instant.

“It looks like the brat pack might be a regular thing now,” Amy commented wryly, glancing towards the group.

“I hope not,” I responded gruffly. “I have a feeling those kids would be regular hemorrhoids if they were.” At Sapphire’s blank look, I explained, “A right pain in the A…butt.”

Thankfully, none of the kids decided to come over and harass us, though all of them, not just Starbright, watched us with expressions of smug amusement. Exquisite even made a show of ignoring us and doing her nails instead, though she didn’t bother hiding the smirk.

“Perhaps we should have a talk with them,” Sapphire said, opening her mouth wide enough to show her fangs.

“Probably not a good idea,” I grudgingly pointed out.

“For one thing,” Amy pointed out, “we’re outnumbered. For another, if we go over to them, and something happens, security might see that as us being the ones to start it.”

Sapphire growled, “I hate it when you’re reasonable, especially after what that girl did to you…”

Instead of going over to their table, the three of us just flipped them off instead, then calmly continued into Crystal Hall. We got into line, right behind Aegis, who was obviously not in a good mood. For one thing, he looked exhausted, and for another, he also looked like he’d been sucking on a lemon.

“Are you okay?” Amy asked Aegis, giving him a worried look.

Aegis spared me a wary, or at least, a half-suspicious glance. It was no secret that he didn’t really fully trust me, because school rumor said that I was the daughter of a supervillain. However, in spite of his reputation for attacking anyone he thought of as a criminal or potential criminal, he’d never come after me. Probably because I looked like a kid.

“Define okay,” Aegis responded with a deep scowl and a shake of his head. Then, he abruptly asked, “Have you ever felt like you were stuck inside some old cartoon?”

Amy, Sapphire, and I all shared a look, then simultaneously shook our heads. “Not really,” I said.

“I’m just lucky that lunatic didn’t drop an anvil on my head,” Aegis muttered. Before I could ask him what he meant, he wandered off to go sit with Voodude, who was waving for him.

“That was…odd,” Sapphire said, while I could only nod agreement.

“That guy gets weirder every day,” Amy added with a shrug. “But who am I to judge?”

“Who are any of us?” I asked. None of us was quite normal, even by Whateley standards.

A minute later, the three of us were sitting at our usual table, and talking as we ate. We started off discussing our problem children, and speculating on whether or not they’d try coming after us again, as well as how they might do so. From the smug looks I’d seen, and from what I knew of those kids, I was pretty sure that we could expect more trouble. However, before long, we turned our attention to a series of other topics, which were more amusing.

Once we were finished eating, Sapphire told Amy, “You will have to go back to the cottage without me, for now. I met a girl named Garafena a few days ago, and we were going to meet up tonight to talk about…things.”

“What kind of things?” I asked curiously.

Sapphire gave me a faint smile. “Scales, fangs, and venom. You know, the usual.”

“Well, have fun with that,” Amy told her.

“I’ve got an errand or two of my own to run too,” I said, “so I guess I’ll see you two tomorrow.” Then I paused, adding, “Unless you want me to walk back to Hawthorne with you…just in case they try something.”

Amy smiled at that. “I’m in exemplar mode today, and I have my needle gun…” She patted her belt, where the weapon was holstered. “I’ll be fine.”

“All right, then,” I responded. “Just be careful you two, and keep an eye out.”

“Will do,” Amy promised.

After this, the three of us left Crystal Hall and went our separate ways. Amy made her way back to Hawthorne by herself, Sapphire went to wherever she was going to meet this Garafena girl, and I made my way down to the tunnels, while keeping a close watch to make sure that nobody tried ambushing me again.

It didn’t take me long to reach my destination, one of the tunnel branches that had no cameras or security watching. Once I was there, I leaned back against the wall and waited. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long.

“Alyss,” a boy greeted me as he came down the tunnel branch to where I was waiting. “That sure is a nice dress you’re wearing tonight.”

“Thank you, Shine,” I responded with an amused smile. “I made it myself.”

Once the pleasantries were out of the way, I reached into a hidden pocket in my dress and pulled out an envelope, which I handed to the devisor. In return, he gave me a bag, which contained two bottles of his ‘finest sippin whiskey’.

“You make the best hooch on campus,” I told the boy with a grin, which he returned.

“And thank you,” Shine responded. “Ah always try to do my grandpappy proud.”

For a moment, I watched the young devisor, suddenly wondering what things would have been like if Rachael had focused her devisor talent on booze rather than robots and weapons. I might have had a still in my garage instead of a tank, and there might have been trouble with the ATF rather than the heroes.

With a shake of my head, I told Shine, “Always nice doing business with you.”

“Same to you,” Shine replied with a cheerful grin. “See ya next time.”

With that, I gave a brief curtsy, then hurried out of the tunnels and back toward Poe, where I hoped to end the evening with a nice glass of something strong and tasty.

--------------------

Hawthorne Cottage, Tuesday evening, Oct 30th, 2007
Roulette:

The main common area of my cottage was always lively and boisterous, full of life and energy. Admittedly, most people would call it chaotic, which would often be accurate. When you had a cottage full of people, who had problems controlling their powers, there was bound to be a little chaos at times.

At the moment though, most people wouldn’t see much difference between the Hawthorne common area and that of the other cottages, except perhaps for Melville. Those rich kids might very well have maids and butlers to take care of theirs.

Adore had claimed the TV and was watching news, though Achoo kept trying to steal the remote so he could change the channel. At least, that was what he appeared to be doing, though I wouldn’t have been surprised if he was just using that as an excuse to get closer to Adore, so he could try checking out her cleavage a bit more closely.

Jimmy T was off to the side, where he was caught up in a rather loud discussion with Olympia. She seemed like she was on the verge of going into a diedricks episode, but she was a bit high strung and always came off that way to me.

Caitlin was sitting off by herself, and though she had a couple of her class books sitting out beside her, she was ignoring them, and instead, she was sharpening a knife, with a rather intense expression on her face. Caitlin was usually a bit intense, but at the moment, she seemed even more so. Tomorrow was Halloween, and I was pretty sure that this was the cause of her current mood. Last year, the school had actually been attacked on Halloween, and I would have thought that to be the cause, if I didn’t know that Caitlin hadn’t arrived at Whateley until sometime after that.

And then there was me. Like Caitlin, I was sitting by myself, with several of my class books scattered around me, since I’d come out here to study and take advantage of the benefits of being an exemplar. But also like Caitlin, I’d become a little distracted and was working on another project.

My needle gun was sitting out on the coffee table in front of me, with the clip full of needles removed and placed beside it. On the floor, I had the stone sphere which served as a battery for my essence. It was pretty heavy, since it was, after all, a bowling ball sized rock. But at the moment, I was strong enough that it was pretty easy to carry it out here so I could work.

I had been reading over some of the notes from my magic class, along with some sections of the class books, when I remembered that I needed to do a little maintenance on one of my spells. Unlike some of my classmates, I wasn’t really a natural when it came to magic, even when I was in wizard mode. I liked magic, and loved fantasy movies, but it didn’t come easy for me, so I had to work hard in order to make any real progress.

At the moment, I was an exemplar, not a mage, which meant that I wasn’t collecting any essence, though I did have some essence stored, from the last time I’d had the right power. Unfortunately, even though I did have a supply of essence available, I still couldn’t cast spells as well as I could when I was a mage. Ms. Grimes had told me that this is just psychosomatic, and that my wiz power only gave me a boost in gathering essence, not in actually casting spells, but it felt real to me. I guessed, actually being in wizard mode, gave me a bit more confidence in my spell casting abilities, which in turn, made it easier to do.

Fortunately, I wasn’t trying to cast a spell from scratch, merely recharging an existing one with more essence. So with great care, I began transferring some of the essence from my stone battery, into the spell on my needle gun. The spell, which made my needles fly further and more accurately than they would on their own, was a useful one, since it made my devise a bit more practical to use. However, as with most things, there was a downside. In this case, each shot fired used up a bit of essence, so I had to keep recharging the spell, just like I had to recharge the battery on the weapon itself.

“That should do it,” I mused. “Now I’m ready in case Gravmax tries anything again…”

“Is that punk messing with you again?” Caitlin asked, looking up from where she was sharpening her knife. Jimmy T suddenly looked to me as well.

“Not directly,” I admitted with a sigh. “He’s got someone else doing it for him now.” Then I held up my needle gun and slapped the clip in. “But that’s what I’ve got this for.” Of course, I still needed to get some fresh venom from Sapphire, but that wouldn’t be a problem.

“If you need any help, let me know,” Jimmy T offered, before turning his attention back to Olympia.

“Thanks,” I told him.

“You know,” Caitlin said, giving me an evil grin. “If you want some damn good entertainment, try getting Gravass to pull one of his stunts on Anomaly. Noms will wipe the floor with him, with five arms tied behind her back.”

“That might be worth trying,” I responded with a grin of my own.

With that, I aimed my needle gun towards the wall, but didn’t fire. I didn’t even remove the safety, since I was smart enough to not go shooting the thing inside of my cottage, especially when my RA was sitting right there. My needle gun felt good in my hand, especially as I imagined using it on Gravmax and Exquisite. Especially Exquisite, after what she did to me yesterday. Then with a sigh, I holstered my needle gun and began to gather up my belongings.

“Now,” I said as I picked up the stone sphere, “if I could make portable batteries to store my essence, the same way I do the ambient electro-magnetic energy I gather, I’d be set…”

Caitlin looked up again. “You need some essence batteries?”

“Portable ones,” I responded, nodding to the sphere. “I certainly can’t carry this thing around with me, especially when I’m not in exemplar mode…”

“Essence batteries aren’t that hard to make,” Caitlin told me, sheathing her knife as she did so. Then she flashed me a smile. “If you want, I can show you how…”

“Really?” I asked in surprise, though I immediately realized that I shouldn’t have been. Caitlin was supposed to be some kind of prodigy when it came to making magic items, so I should have realized that she’d know how to make something like this. In fact, I suddenly felt stupid, for not thinking to ask her about essence batteries before this. “That would be great.”

“Sure,” Caitlin told me. “It’s no problem… Just let me know the next time you’re in finger wiggler mode, and we can do it then.”

Thank you,” I told her with a nod and a smile, before making my way back to my room for the night.

--------------------

Tuesday evening, Oct 30th, 2007

Naomi stood back and silently watched as the blue haired girl left Whitman and started walking across campus. The girl called Sapphire was one of those freaks in Hawthorne, and was obviously trying to get back to her cottage before curfew.

“There she is,” Naomi commented, though there was no need to since the others could see that for themselves.

Gravmax, Iron, and Starbright all stood nearby, watching Sapphire with her. Earlier, they’d seen her go into Whitman, and they’d waited for her to come out, just so they could catch her alone.

Naomi didn’t have any personal issues with the blue haired thornie, any more than she’d had with Ribbon or Roulette. However, the girl would get a taste of her exquisite pain nonetheless, just as the other two girls had. After all, Sapphire was friends with both of those other girls, and what better way to hurt them, then to go after their friends?

Any one of Naomi’s new ‘friends’ could have taken out Sapphire, but beating that freak wasn’t really the point of this exercise. The real point was buy more loyalty from her new ‘friends’, to reinforce the idea that she was someone they could trust and rely on to have their backs. Soon, it would be time to call on them to help her achieve her own goals, and to help deal with those who stood in her way.

After a moment, Naomi’s eyes went to Iron, and she frowned slightly. So far, she’d been going after the girls whom Starbright and Gravmax had grudges again, but she hadn’t done any such thing for Iron. From what she knew, there were a lot of people Iron didn’t like, such as, nearly anyone with GSD. However, he didn’t seem to have any specific and personal grudges, other than against a teacher who’d humiliated him at the beginning of the school year.

There was no way that Naomi would go after a teacher, or risk bringing the entire school faculty and administration down on her head. She didn’t have nearly the power or influence needed to survive that kind of attention, and probably wouldn’t until after she graduated. She would have to find a different carrot for Iron, but there would be time for that later.

“Watch out for that one,” Gravmax warned her with a smirk. “She spits.”

“Disgusting,” Naomi responded, before she turned and began walking towards the blue haired freak.

Naomi intended to come at Sapphire from behind, where the freak wouldn’t be able to see her. She knew exactly where the nearest security camera was, and where it was pointing. Once she was in the right position, she could act, and the only thing that security would see, would be her walking near Sapphire, right before the freak tripped and fell on her face. Her powers caused pain, but no physical injuries, so there would be no real evidence of her attack. Naomi had long since learned the value of covering her actions and creating reasonable doubt against any possible accusations. This would be far from the first time that she had gotten away with something like this.

A minute later, Naomi was positioned in the perfect spot, close enough where she could use her powers effectively, and with her back to the camera, so security couldn’t see what she was doing. Crimson sparks shot between her fingers, right before she held her hand outward, firing a surge of crimson electricity at the freak’s back.

Suddenly, Sapphire leapt to the side, an instant before the pain burst would have struck her back. She snapped around, swirling her strange blue cloak, and hissing, “I don’t think so…”

Then, Sapphire opened her mouth and spat out a spray of green liquid. Naomi reacted immediately, raising her arms to protect her face. Several drops struck her arm, and almost immediately, her arm began to go numb.

“Filthy rat,” Sapphire snarled, before she turned and hurried away.

“My arm,” Naomi gasped. Half her arm was numb, as though she’d been given a shot of novacaine.

“I told you she liked to spit,” Gravmax said as he came up, smirking.

For a brief moment, Naomi was tempted to hit him with a pain blast and wipe that smirk off his face. That would teach him a lesson. However, that would undo all her efforts to buy his loyalty, and she didn’t want that, at least not until she had better leverage on him.

“I’ll stop her,” Gravmax stated, holding his hand out, though Naomi suspected that the freak was already out of his range.

“No,” she in a cold tone. “Not here. Not now.”

Sapphire had embarrassed her in front of her new ‘friends’, and that couldn’t be allowed to stand. Naomi would have to deal with Sapphire even more harshly than she’d originally intended, just to save face. Unfortunately, this was neither the time nor place for that.

Naomi had known that sooner or later, she’d have to make an example of someone, just to build her reputation as a woman who shouldn’t be crossed. It looked like the opportunity to make that example had come a little sooner than she’d expected. That was no problem though, as Naomi had always been a firm believer in seizing any opportunity that presented itself to her.

“Well, that went well,” Starbright said sarcastically.

Naomi scowled, knowing that she would have to deal with this setback soon, before her new friends lost faith in her. She would NOT lose the progress she’d already made. Not now.

“Do you know the best thing about Halloween?” Naomi asked.

“The candy,” Starbright responded immediately.

“No,” Naomi responded with an evil smirk. “The costumes.”

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Wednesday morning, Oct 31th, 2007
Ribbon:

I was sitting in my Power Theory classroom, though class was a little late in starting today. Quintain was sitting at his desk, distracted by some paperwork and reports that were spread out in front of him. Every time he began to say something to suggest that he was about to start the lecture, he’d look at the paperwork again and get distracted. Honestly, our teacher was a lot more interesting at the moment than he was when he was actually trying to teach.

Amy and Sapphire sat near me, though both of them wore grim expressions at the moment. Last night, Exquisite had tried jumping Sapphire, the same way she had Amy and myself, though this time, she’d missed. Sapphire had managed to escape, which would normally be worth cheering about.

“She wasn’t alone,” Sapphire said, keeping her voice low so we wouldn’t easily be overheard. “Starbright, Gravmax, and Iron were nearby…watching.”

“They’ve come after all three of us,” Amy pointed out in a calm tone. “Or at least Exquisite has. Why? What did we do to her?”

“She’s friends with Starbright and Gravmax,” I responded with a shrug. “They probably asked her to.”

“Then why me?” Sapphire asked with a grimace.

Amy chuckled, and pointed out, “Well, you did spit on Gravmax before, and he could be holding a grudge from that…”

Sapphire smirked at that. “And I would happily do so again.”

Suddenly, Mischief jumped up onto her chair and exclaimed, “I LOVE Halloween… It’s totally the best holiday ever…”

“What about April Fools?” Darqueheart asked in a wry tone.

Mischief’s eyes seemed to light up. “April Fools is awesome, but you can’t dress up and go trick or treating, but if you could, that would be really cool too. Maybe next April Fools, we should all do that to make it even more fun…”

Darqueheart let out an exasperated sigh, muttering, “I should have known better…”

“Halloween is definitely the best,” Monkeywrench insisted with a broad grin. “What other night can you go around knocking on people’s doors, with a mask over your face, and extorting candy from them?”

“And I have a totally awesome costume for tonight,” Mischief exclaimed, letting out a loud ‘squee’ that reminded me of my granddaughter Kimberly when she got carried away. “It’s gonna be the best… And I’m gonna wear it to go trick or treating in the village, cuz teachers have got to have the best candy…”

While Mischief and Monkeywrench continued to excitedly talk about their plans for tonight, Aegis sat there in stark contrast. He looked grim and drained of spirit. Whatever had been bothering him last night, was obviously still weighing on his mind. Considering the fact that he’d gotten his butt stomped on Monday, and was then rescued by some little girls, I imagined that he was probably still bummed about that. Hell, I know that I would have been humiliated if that had happened to me.

“Perhaps we should discuss our own Halloween plans,” Sapphire suggested, glancing over to where Mischief and Monkeywrench were still going at it.

I chuckled at the sight, deciding that this would be a much more enjoyable topic than the one we’d been using. “I’ve got a lot of plans for tonight,” I said with a sigh. “Unfortunately, they all involve making costumes for other people. I kind of got drafted by my cottage.”

“Sorry to hear that,” Amy said, though she didn’t look very sympathetic. Then, she let out a sigh, admitting, “Kara sent me a princess costume, so I’m kind of obligated to wear it…”

She rolled her eyes at that, and I could see her annoyance. However, since Kara was her girlfriend, and she’d want to keep the other girl happy, she would indeed have to wear it, at least long enough to get some pictures taken.

It was about this time that Quintain finally got himself together, and announced, “Today, we will be discussing the biological adaptations that many energizers develop as supporting aspects of their specific powers…”

I immediately yawned, more out of habit than anything else, and shifted in my seat to get comfortable. This was bound to be another boring lecture, especially since I’d already read and memorized the book that Quintain was quoting from. However, as Amy let out a yawn beside me, I smiled, thankful that at least I wasn’t suffering through this alone.

--------------------

Wednesday afternoon, Oct 31th, 2007
Roulette:

Power Lab. I was in my sixth period Power Lab class, which was probably my favorite class of the day, because regardless of which power I had, this class was still practical and relevant. Each day, I practiced with my power du jour, which could mean assembling a devise, casting a spell, or like today, playing with Legos.

I was a low level Package Deal Psychic, which meant that my telekinesis wasn’t very strong. I had a ten yard range, and I could only lift about twenty pounds. Because of those limitations, I focused on improving my fine control, so I could make better use of what I did have.

At the moment, I was building a car out of Legos. It was a pretty simple structure, though it was still a bit of a challenge to assemble, because I was doing it entirely with telekinesis. I concentrated on a small brick and moved it through the air above my desk, before finally settling it down into place and ‘pushing’ it in. Lifting the pieces was easy, but controlling them that precisely took some effort.

“Not exactly something that most devisors would be proud of building,” Alyss said, nodding to my car.

“I’m not a devisor right now,” I pointed out with a wry smile. “Besides, can most devisors build something without even touching the pieces?”

Alyss chuckled at that. “Still, you should at least try to make a car with a little more style…”

That made me roll my eyes. “Well, would it be more devisorlike if I gave it a hover conversion?” And with that, I used my telekinesis to lift the entire Lego car off my desk, and let it just hover there for a few seconds before setting it back down.

To my surprise, Alyss gave a visible shudder. “Sorry,” she explained. “That movie brings back some bad memories…”

I blinked at that. “Bad memories?”

Alyss nodded, then shook her head. “After Rachael saw that movie, she decided to build a time machine of her own, and used my project car as the base.” She let out a deep sigh, musing, “She was a beautiful, nineteen-seventy-two, Plymouth Barracuda.”

“She built a time machine?” I gasped, staring at Alyss in surprise. Even my mom had never been able to build one of those.

“She TRIED to,” Alyss admitted with a scowl. “When she testing the damn thing, it immediately overheated and melted into a puddle of slag…” Alyss shook her head and let out another sigh. “That was such a beautiful car. What a waste…”

I burst out laughing at that, then said, “Devisors.”

“You’re a devisor,” Alyss pointed out.

“Not today,” I reminded her with a smirk.

“Miss Morgan,” our teacher abruptly called out, making Alyss look up. “Miss Maguire…” I blinked and looked up as well. “Less talking and more practicing.”

Alyss turned red but nodded and hurried back to the corner where she’d been practicing with her manifestor abilities. She’d been making new clothes, trying different patterns, styles, and colors, mostly in the form of Halloween costumes. As a bonus, since it was Halloween, she’d already said that anyone who wanted a costume, was free to take it.

After watching Alyss for several seconds, I turned my attention back to my Lego car. The car itself was pretty much finished, so I began to practice taking it apart instead. That was a little easier than putting it together, since I didn’t need to be so precise, but it still kept me busy until the class ended.

When class was over, I said goodbye to Alyss and promised to meet up with her later. She still had one more class to go, while I was done for the day. Of course, I had additional Power Lab classes on most Saturdays, so I couldn’t really tease her about that. At least not much.

A short time later, I was back in Hawthorne, where I immediately rushed to my room and changed out of my school uniform, and into something a little more comfortable. Jeans and a t-shirt, with a logo for the Trailblazers. I wasn’t a big basketball fan, but it was still good to support my home town, especially when I was so far away. Of course, I wouldn’t be wearing these clothes for too long, because in just a little bit, I’d have to switch over to my costume.

“Costume later,” I announced, to nobody in particular since I was by myself. “Treats first.”

I’d already made a large batch of cookie dough ahead of time, but had refrained from baking it, since people were less likely to steal the dough than they were the cookies. I immediately began scooping the dough out onto cookie sheets, so that there’d be some treats for tonight.

The first batch of cookies had barely been put into the oven, when the air was suddenly filled with a high pitched ‘squee’ of delight.

“COOKIES,” Miranda exclaimed as she ran into the kitchen. “Amy’s making cookies…”

A moment later, the other members of Team Awesome rushed in behind her. Ember, Morgan, and Revekah joined Miranda in staring at my large bowl of cookie dough, with expectant looks. They looked like they were about the same age as Alyss, around nine or ten years old, but where Alyss’ looks were deceptive, theirs were not.

“You’ll get some cookies when they’re done cooking,” I said, giving the girls a warning look. “Do you want a trick or a treat tonight? Your choice.”

There was a moment of consideration before Ember said, “Treat. We want treats.”

“Lots of them,” Morgan added excitedly.

“It’s Halloween,” I pointed out wryly. “Trust me, there will be more than enough treats to go around.” All four kids immediately began to cheer at that.

Once I was finished with the cookies, I gave a few to Team Awesome, but only after they said ‘trick or treat’, and then sent them on their way. I put the rest of the cookies out on the counter, so any residents could help themselves.

Since the treats were out of the way, I went back to my room and switched into my costume. It was a violet and purple ‘princess’ dress, with gold trim. Kara had sent it to me as a present, so I was obligated to try it on and send her pictures.

“Me in a dress,” I said wryly. “I never thought I’d see the day.”

I’d been born male, and had happily spent most of my life as a guy. But that said, being a girl wasn’t that bad. Sure, it was a bit weird at times, but there were some good things to come with it, such as Kara’s attention. She was a confirmed lesbian, so before my change, I never would have had a chance with her as anything more than a friend.

“Got to keep the girlfriend happy,” I mused as I took a selfie. “But Mom and Beth are going to tease me when they see the pictures…” There was no doubt, that Kara would share any photos I sent her.

The dress came with a coronet, but after putting it all on, I decided to add one extra touch of my own. It was something that I’d been working on as part of a Halloween costume, before Kara decided that this would be my costume instead.

I went to my work bench and picked up one of my floating spheres, which I’d modified. I’d covered the sphere with a clear plastic shell, which had been made in a very specific shape, and then stuffed with LEDs. None of those modifications required devisor tech, since they were merely cosmetic additions to my devise.

“This should do it,” I said, activating the devise, which then floated up into the air and positioned itself directly above my head. Thanks to the plastic shell and LEDs, it now looked like I had a large light bulb floating above my head, making it appear that I had a brilliant idea. “Well, I think it is a brilliant idea, even if it doesn’t exactly go with the princess theme.”

Once I was dressed and ready, I met up with Sapphire, who was dressed as a vampire. A vampire with blue hair at that, though she didn’t need any props for the fangs since she had her own. However, what did surprise me, was that she’d left off her usual scaled cloak, in exchange for a stereotypical vampire cape.

“Looking good,” I told Sapphire, who smiled back, making sure to show her fangs.

“And you look nice as well,” Sapphire told me, smirking a little since she was one of the few people outside Poe who knew that I used to be a guy. She obviously found the idea of me wearing a dress, to be amusing. I responded by sticking my tongue out at her.

“Now, I have a brilliant idea,” I announced, glancing up to my light bulb. “Let’s go to the party and have some fun.”

--------------------

Poe Cottage, Wednesday late afternoon, Oct 31th, 2007
Ribbon:

I was standing in the middle of the common room, which was packed with every single resident of the cottage. Well, that wasn’t actually true, but there were enough of them lining up for my help, that it certainly felt like everyone.

Cindy stood in front of me, my next ‘customer’ for costuming services. I looked her over, then reached out and put a hand on her shoulder. A moment later, I manifested a blue dress, right onto her body. It was immediately recognizable as Cindrella’s dress from the old Disney cartoon.

“Thank you,” Cindy exclaimed, swirling around in the dress while admiring it. I just smiled at her reaction. “This is great…”

“The only thing you’re missing,” Lina said from behind her, “are the glass slippers…”

Cindy gave her a wry look. “Really?” Then she held her hands up, and a pair of glass slippers appeared in them. “That is where MY powers come in…”

As soon as Cindy stepped aside, Lina took her place. I expected her to ask for a peacock themed dress, which would match her hair color and codename, but instead, she held up a prop lamp, and gold me what she wanted. Mere seconds later, she left, dressed as a genie.

After this, Jody, AKA Plastic Girl, and Flux lined up. “Okay,” I said with a wry smile. “What can I do for you?”

I went through a few more ‘customers’, though some of them seemed to have the wrong idea of what I can do. “I can create fabric and costumes,” I had to say, more than once. “I can’t do anything about props or makeup. You’ll have to take care of that yourself.”

“I can help with the makeup, honey,” Ricardo volunteered from the corner, where he’d set up a small table with a rather large makeup kit, and a collection of wigs and other props.

Ricardo was a Hispanic boy, who was so flamboyantly gay that he came off as a bit of a stereotype. Adding to that impression, was the fact that he wanted to become a professional makeup artist after he graduated.

Before long, I found myself face to face with Gwen, the green-haired elf girl who was rooming with Dana. I didn’t know Gwen very well, but she seemed like a pretty nice kid.

“If you don’t mind,” Gwen told me a little hesitantly, “there’s something I have in mind.”

“Sure, what is it?” I asked curiously. After she told me, I grinned. “Oh yeah, I can do that.”

With that, I reached out to touch Gwen, manifesting a costume right over her current clothes. A moment later, she was wearing a green Peter Pan outfit, which went well with those green pixies she always had flying around her.

“Thanks. This looks perfect,” Gwen told me with an appreciative smile. Then, she looked me over and asked, “Are you going to wear a costume too?”

I glanced down at myself, knowing how I looked with my gothic lolita dress and fashion. It was an unusual look, which made me come off as both cute and creepy at the same time. This was actually intentional, since it toned down how creepy I tended to come off otherwise. That was a side effect of having the mind and experience of a fifty year old man, inside the body of a ten year old girl.

“For me,” I told her wryly. “Every day is Halloween…”

After this, I only had to provide costumes for a couple more people, before I was finally done. My last customer was Electrode, who wanted an Electra Woman costume. Fortunately, she had pictures to let me know what she meant.

The second I was finished with Electrode’s costume, I hurried out of the common room, before something else could happen, like Wondercute showing up and dragging me off into whatever mischief they had in mind. Unfortunately, that kind of thing was pretty likely, ever since they’d declared me to be an honorary member.

I went back to my room, grabbed a glass and poured myself a finger of Shine’s ‘sippin’ whiskey. The stuff was pretty damn good, especially for being made by some kid, who was more than half a decade too young to drink legally.

“Now, how should I spend my Halloween?” I mused.

My thoughts turned back to Gwen and what she’d asked me, about whether I’d get a costume for myself. I hadn’t dressed up for Halloween in decades, so the idea was a bit odd to me. Then again, I dressed up every day, so this shouldn’t be any different.

“But what should I wear?” I asked myself, thinking aloud. It wasn’t like I didn’t have any options. Hell, the problem was, I had too many options to choose from.

Then, an idea suddenly came to me, and I began to grin. I’d have to find a prop or two, but I could make most of it with no problem.

“Good thing Hardwyrd and I talked about some of his favorite video games last month,” I said with an evil grin. “Or I never would have known about this one…”

Once I made my decision, it only took a few seconds to remember the pictures Hardwyrd had shown me, and to design a costume based off them. Then, it was a simple matter of manifesting the costume it around my body.

I was now wearing an Alice in Wonderland costume, or at least a version of one. I had on a dark blue dress, with a sort of white apron on the front. However, this version of Alice required a few other additions.

As soon as I had my new costume, I went to take care of the final touches. This meant going to the kitchen and grabbing a knife, and then finding Ricardo so he could splatter me with some of his fake blood. Once this was done, my costume was finished. I was now Alice, from the American McGee’s Alice, a horror video game version of the old story.

I looked over my costume and smiled in satisfaction, knowing that Kaylie would definitely approve. In fact, I might have to take some pictures, just so I could see the look on my granddaughter’s face.

Since I had my costume and everything was ready, there was no reason for me to hang around any longer. In fact, sticking around only meant that there was more chance of Wondercute grabbing me for some of their hijinx, so I left the cottage and went to the campus party.

Students filled the area, most of whom were wearing costumes. There were even a few teachers mixed in among them, though they were a little less extreme with their costumes. In fact, most of them were making sure that they were still at least somewhat recognizable, so they could keep their authority and properly chaperone things.

An entertainment stage was set up, and at the moment, the Outcasts were playing. I knew Monica because she lived in Poe, and Caitlin because I ran into her a lot of the time when I went to visit Amy in Hawthorne, but I was less familiar with the others. However, they played pretty well. They weren’t Lynyrd Skynyrd or Led Zeppelin, but who was?

For the next fifteen minutes, I just wandered around, trying to see if I could recognize the costumes around me, the people wearing them, or spot any of my friends. There were a wide variety of costumes, and some of them were pretty impressive, making me try even harder to figure out who was wearing them.

Monkeywrench was easy to spot, because his costume only consisted of a red t-shirt and a red baseball cap. He looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t figure out what he was supposed to be dressed as, and he was too far away for me to easily ask.

Rapier was dressed as Zorro, so he could actually use one of his rapiers as part of his costume. It was actually a pretty good idea and suited the kid, who seemed to have something of a fixation on swashbucklers.

I got a quick look at Aegis, who was dressed up like a cowboy, with a white hat of course. I just hoped the kid didn’t go challenging anyone to a gunfight, or any other kind of duel. That boy meant well, but while his heart seemed to be in the right place, his head rarely was.

Then, I saw a group of kids who were all wearing some pretty hefty costumes, which made it impossible to identify who they really were. That only made me more curious, about whether they were people I knew or not.

One of them was wearing a medieval knight outfit, which included a full helmet. He seemed to be looking right at me, but it was hard to be sure. He reached out and gently touched another student next to him, who was wearing the black costume and white mask from the villain of the Scream movies.

Though I was vaguely curious, I didn’t really care enough about those students to give them a closer look. However, as I went to walk past them, a girl in a feathered dress, with a bird mask and feathered headdress, raised her hand. Suddenly, there was a burst of brilliant light, right in my eyes, leaving me completely blind.

I cried out in surprise and pain, grabbing for my eyes. However, someone shoved me, and they were obviously strong, because I was flung back with ease and slammed into the ground. A moment later, I suddenly felt heavy. Extremely heavy.

“Shit,” I snarled, recognizing Gravmax’s power. That meant the blinding light must have come from Starbright.

Before I could do anything else, even let out some good profanities, my entire body exploded into pain. I hadn’t even been able to pull myself off the ground before this hit, but if I had, I would have collapsed back down anyway.

“You should have learned your place,” the girl in the bird costume…Starbright hissed.

A girl in a white dress and cloak, with a golden metallic mask over her face, stepped forward and held out her hand. There was a burst of red electricity, and suddenly, my entire body exploded into agony again.

--------------------

Wednesday evening, Oct 31th, 2007
Roulette:

The campus party was in full swing. Live music was playing, and everywhere I looked, there were people with interesting costumes. And since this was a school full of mutants, some of those costumes could be quite impressive. With devisors, magic users, and shapeshifters in play, nearly anything was possible.

Sapphire and I walked through the crowd, taking in all the sights and admiring she diversity of costumes. Some of the costumes left me with absolutely no clue as to who was wearing them.

“How are you doing that?” someone asked, pointing up at the ‘light bulb’ that floated over my head.

“Trade secret,” I responded. Then, I couldn’t resist exclaiming, “I’ve got a great idea…”

“Me too,” Sapphire said. “Let’s go find something to eat…”

“Don’t you mean someONE?” I asked, looking over her vampire costume.

Sapphire just grinned at that, making sure to flash her fangs. She absently reached to her vampire cape as if to pull it around herself like she often did her scaled cloak, then paused when she remembered that she wasn’t wearing her normal cloak.

“That’s an interesting costume,” Sapphire commented, indicating a girl who was wearing some kind of bird costume, which was much nicer and more tastefully done than most.

There was a boy next to the ‘bird’, who was dressed as a knight. I assumed he was a boy because of his shape, but it could very well have been a girl in that armor costume, though I was almost certain it wasn’t.

A couple seconds later, the ‘knight’ stepped forward and held out his hand. Suddenly, I felt incredibly heavy and collapsed to the ground, barely able to move. Sapphire dropped down to her knee with a grunt, but didn’t go all the way down. As an exemplar, she was a lot stronger than I was, especially at the moment.

“Gravmax,” I gasped, immediately recognizing the power.

Gravmax was hitting Sapphire and I both with his powers, though he was obviously holding back a little. If he’d been hitting us as hard as he could, Sapphire would be pressed against the ground as firmly as I was, while I’d be crushed to death.

Just as I was about to cry out for help, another costumed figure stepped forward, a woman in a white cloak with a gold metal mask. She snapped her hand out and red lightning shot out from her fingers, hitting me and Sapphire, sending a burst of searing agony through my entire body.

This wasn’t the first time that Exquisite had zapped me with her pain attack, so I immediately recognized how it felt. Fortunately, this time, I didn’t go into a burnout, at least not yet.

Once the pain receded enough, I looked up and glared at my attackers. There were four of them, all dressed in costumes, which included masks that covered their entire faces. However, I knew who they were now, masks or no masks.

“You will learn to respect your betters,” Gravmax said in a low voice, which wouldn’t carry too far.

We were at the outer edge of the party, but there were still a lot of students around, though none of them made any move to interfere. In fact, most of them didn’t seem to even realize that anything was wrong. As far as they knew, Sapphire and I had just tripped and fallen. As for the flash of red electricity from Exquisite’s attacks, those were largely hidden from view of the spectators, by the way she and her friends had positioned their bodies.

“Vermin,” Sapphire spat out from beside me, snarling furiously. “You cowardly vermin…”

“No,” Exquisite responded in an arrogant term. “It is YOU who are the vermin… Now, wiggle on the ground like the worm you are…”

She fired another pain blast, this time targeting Sapphire alone. Sapphire screamed again while I struggled against the heavy gravity, desperately trying to get free. Unfortunately, it did no good at the moment, as I simply wasn’t strong enough to fight Gravmax’s power. If I couldn’t be stronger, than I’d have to be smarter.

With a grimace of anger and determination, I focused on using my telekinesis, and grabbing the helmet that Gravmax was wearing. I took a deep breath, then simultaneously twisted the helmet and shoved it away, while Gravmax was still wearing it. The distraction worked, because Gravmax dropped his power.

Sapphire had recovered from her second bout of pain even faster than I would have expected, and leapt right at Exquisite, spraying some of her neurotoxic venom in the process. Exquisite held up her cloak, letting it take most of the spray. Between that and her mask, I doubted that a single drop had gotten onto her skin. And before Sapphire could actually reach the white clad girl, Starburst fired a dazzling burst of light, right into Sapphire’s face, blinding her long enough for Exquisite to kick her in the side and send her flying back.

I frantically grabbed for my needle gun, which was currently stored in a pouch at my waist. I couldn’t pull it out as quickly as I could from my normal holster, but at least I had it on me, and a few seconds later, I had it out and opened fire. I shot at Exquisite, though a boy in a black Scream costume jumped between us and took all the needles. They bounced off him without doing a thing.

“Iron,” I muttered, knowing that he had a PK shell, which would protect him from my needles. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything stronger at the moment.

Since Iron was protecting Exquisite, and I couldn’t do anything against him, I swung and opened fire on Gravmax and Starburst, who were a little further away. But suddenly, my needles all hit an invisible wall and fell to the ground, several feet short of them. It took me a moment to realize what had happened. Gravmax had created one of his heavy gravity fields in front of him, and as soon as the needles hit it, they were pulled straight to the ground with some heavy Gs.

Sapphire was already back on her feet and was going straight for Gravmax, forcing the boy to snap around and deal with her. A moment later, she dropped to the ground again, grunting in pain at the intense gravity. Starbright joined in, blasting Sapphire with a dazzling burst of light to keep her blinded, and at the same time, making it difficult for any of the onlookers to get a good look at what was going on. I was about to try shooting at Gravmax and Starbright again, to help Sapphire, when a crackle of red electricity struck me, causing me to collapse in screaming agony.

“It’s time for you and your friends to learn what happens to those who cross us,” Exquisite said in an excited tone, as though she was enjoying this.

Exquisite blasted me again, and fire burned through my entire nervous system at the same time. I would have screamed, but my throat had frozen from the agony. Then, I felt a twisting and churning inside of my body, and a moment later, the pain abruptly stopped. I remained on the ground, feeling weak and wobbly, but the pain was gone.

“What’s going on here?” someone demanded.

I looked up and saw a cowboy, with a white hat, standing there as though he was about to reach for his six-shooters. I blinked and suddenly realized that this was Aegis, in his Halloween costume. And at the moment, he was trying to face down my attackers. I felt a surge of relief, since someone had finally decided to get involved and help, though that was followed a moment later with a sense of dread, since it was Aegis, and he had a less than stellar record when it came to fights.

“Mind your own business,” Iron said, right as he punched Aegis and knocked him back. Before Aegis could do anything, he received a burst of light in his eyes, followed by blast of red electricity.

I could see a familiar glow through the air, and especially around Exquisite and Starbright. At that sight, I instantly knew that I’d somehow changed powers. I was in energizer node now. With a faint smile, I got back to my feet.

Exquisite saw me getting up and snapped around, commanding, “SIT,” as though I was a dog.

My response was to start immediately pulling ambient electromagnetic energy to me, concentrating it into a glowing blue sphere between my hands. Exquisite fired another of her pain blasts at me, but the energy in her red electricity was caught within my power and drawn into the sphere I was forming. I smiled at that, wishing I could actually see the look on her face.

Iron immediately came at me, and I tensed, knowing that he was a lot stronger and tougher than I was. However, Ito and Tolman had been pushing me like crazy in BMA, and for once, it seemed to pay off. I snapped around, avoiding his punch entirely, and then countering with one of my own. However, it wasn’t my fist I drove into his side, but the ball of energy. It exploded as it hit Iron, knocking him back with a shower of sparks.

Starbright was still giving a dazzling light show, which kept the onlookers distracted by the ‘fireworks’ while also blinding them to most of our fight. However, Gravmax turned his attention away from Sapphire and focused on me. I still couldn’t do anything against his powers, and my needle gun was on the ground, several feet away.

“I don’t think so,” a new voice exclaimed, right before Gravmax’s feet were yanked out from under him and he fell flat onto his face.

Alyss stepped forward, her hands still holding a pair of ribbons, with the other ends tied around Gravmax’s ankles. She was wearing some kind of Alice in Wonderland costume, but she was completely splattered in blood, though I didn’t know how much of it was real, and how much might be part of her costume. However, she was also pissed, which made her into a particularly terrifying sight at the moment.

“It’s bad enough you snot-nosed punks jumped me,” Alyss snarled. “But then you had to go after my friends too… Someone needs a damn good ass whoopin…”

With those words, Alyss moved forward and grabbed one of Gravmax’s legs. From her dark expression, I was suddenly afraid of what she might do to Gravmax. Alyss was a lot stronger than anyone seemed to realize, and she could literally rip Gravmax’s limbs off one by one of she wanted. I didn’t care much about that jerk, but I had no doubt that if she did hurt him like that, then she’d never forgive herself.

“Alyss,” I called out. “Don’t…”

My tiny friend glared at me for a moment, and I could see her fighting with herself. Then, she reluctantly nodded, though she still looked pretty pissed. Without saying a thing, she picked Gravmax up, and casually tossed him at Iron, just as Iron was getting back to his own feet. This caused both boys to fall over.

Exquisite raised a hand towards Alyss, obviously intending to blast her, but Sapphire was suddenly there, grabbing Exquisite’s arm. My blue-haired friend hissed at Exquisite, flashing her fangs, and looking like the vampire she was dressed as.

“Get her,” I called out to Sapphire.

Sapphire and Exquisite began punching and kicking at each other, and they seemed to be evenly matched. Sapphire was an exemplar four, and it looked like her sadistic opponent was about the same level. But then, red sparks began to form around Exquisite’s hand, just as she was about to punch Sapphire again.

“Look out,” I cried in warning.

Sapphire seemed to see the glowing fist, because she lunged forward and bit Exquisite’s arm, right in the bicep. Exquisite let out a yelp of pain before pulling back, with her arm dropping to her side, almost lifeless. A second later, Exquisite’s legs collapsed beneath her, and she fell into the ground, not moving.

“You KILLED her,” Starbright accused Sapphire, who merely smirked and made a show of licking her lips. Then, she suddenly spat out a spray of venom at Starbright, though it was a light spray compared to what she’d given earlier, because she’d likely used up most of her venom already. I knew that Starbright’s costume would protect her, but the brat still screamed and backed away.

With Alyss having shown up, and with Exquisite now being down, our opponents seemed to have realized that they’d lost the advantage. Iron grabbed Exquisite and flung her over his shoulder, then hurried off into the crowd. Gravmax followed right behind, while Starbright, let out an even more dazzlingly bright burst of light than before, and ran off as well.

“What the hell was that all about?” Aegis asked, staggering towards us with a dark and somewhat hopeless look on his face.

“Thank you for helping,” I said. Aegis hadn’t done much, besides providing a distraction, but I appreciated the fact that he’d at least tried.

Aegis stared in the direction our attackers had run off in, and he looked as though he was about to cry, and was barely holding it in. “Not again,” he muttered, seeming to be talking to himself rather than any of us. Then, he took a deep breath, and his expression became one of grim determination. “I’m going to get stronger, even if I have to make a deal with the devil…”

“What are you talking about?” Sapphire asked, though Aegis was already wandering away.

“Come on,” I said to my friends, looking around at the confused and still somewhat blinded onlookers. “Let’s go…”

--------------------

Wednesday evening, Oct 31th, 2007
Ribbon:

I was standing outside, just a short distance in front of Hawthorne. My fists were clenched tightly, and I REALLY wanted to hit something. After I was ambushed, and then damn near tortured, I’d been so furious that I came damn close to doing something unforgivable. If it hadn’t been for Amy…

“Those little bastards jumped me,” I said with snarl.

“The same thing happened with us,” Amy responded with a scowl of her own. “As you saw.”

With a nod, I wiped the blood from my lip. I had plenty of fake blood splattered on me as part of my costume, but this was the real stuff. This was my blood. While Gravmax and Exquisite worked together to keep me helpless, Iron had given me a few swift kicks. If he’d kicked any normal kid that way, he would have killed them. Fortunately for me, my head was pretty damn hard, and I healed like crazy.

Normally, Iron wasn’t the kind to get physical when he messed with people. From what I knew of the kid, he was a rich snob, who really looked down on kids with GSD. However, he normally only insulted people, and avoided using his fists. I didn’t know if he’d gotten physical today because he was trying to prove something to his friends, or if he’d just gotten caught up in the moment. What I did know, was that he’d made a big mistake tonight. All four of those punks did.

“We knew they were going to be a problem,” Amy stated in a grim tone. “We just didn’t know how bad they’d get.”

“Or how ballsy,” I added. “They jumped us right out in the open…”

“We need to go to security,” Sapphire announced. “We need to report them…”

Amy shook her head, then stared down at the floating sphere, which she held in her hand. I knew that she’d used it as part of her costume, but it had been pretty badly damaged during the fight. After a few seconds, she let out a sigh, then looked up and met my eyes, before looking into Sapphire’s.

“They knew what they were doing,” Amy said with a deep scowl and a thoughtful look. “They all wore full face masks, and costumes that hid their body types. Even if security saw what happened, they wouldn’t be able to identify the people who jumped us.”

“But we know who they are,” Sapphire protested.

“Yeah,” I agreed, seeing where Amy was going with this. “But we can’t prove it. It’s just our word against theirs, and they can claim that they were off somewhere else, playing cards or something…” I scowled at that, remembering a time, a very long time ago, when some of my friends in Humanity First had done the same thing. “Hell, they’ve probably got people lined up to vouch for them.”

“They could claim that they’re being framed,” Amy added. “And we can’t prove it…”

Sapphire scowled at that, and she pulled her torn vampire cape closer around her, the way she usually did her scaled cloak. When she seemed to realize that she wasn’t wearing her usual cloak, she released the cape, and seemed more awkward and uncomfortable.

“But they used their powers,” Sapphire protested. “We heard their voices…”

“And all that can be faked,” Amy pointed out. “I know at least three people in the labs, who have voice modulators of one sort or another. There are a ton of bricks around campus, and everything else could easily be mimicked with magic, devises, or some other power. I mean, any strong telekinetic could make it look like they had Gravmax’s power.”

Sapphire let out a sigh, seeming to deflate. “So going to security would be useless…”

“Worse than useless,” I admitted in realization. “We’d probably end up getting detention for brawling on campus, even if they couldn’t prove who our opponents were.”

“Those jerks picked the perfect night to pull this,” Amy said with a scowl. “They can walk around campus in costume, and no one thinks twice about it…”

The three of us stood there for nearly a minute in complete silence, fuming at what had happened. We’d been jumped for no good reason, and they’d hurt us all bad. Exquisite’s power was nasty, making me shudder at the very memory of being hit. For some reason, she’d picked a fight with us, and until the end, she and her friends had actually been kicking our asses.

“So, what do we do now?” Sapphire asked.

“We can take the fight to them,” I said, clenching my fists again. I might have to hold back against those kids so that I didn’t hurt them, but I could still teach them a lesson or two.

Amy gave a pained smile. “And have them claim that we jumped them for no reason? If we go picking a fight, security would probably be all over us. They picked the one night, where they could pull this off without getting caught. We won’t have that advantage.”

“Damn,” I spat out in frustration. I really wanted to hit something. HARD. “Excuse my language, but we can’t let them get away with this shit. Trust me, if they know that they can get away with it, it will only encourage them to do it again, and probably more.”

Amy and Sapphire both nodded agreement, though we were still stuck on the fact that we didn’t know how we could retaliate, without coming off as the bad guys and getting in trouble. I took several deep breaths, trying to calm down. I had a tendency to lose my temper and do stupid things, though I’d been working hard on controlling that, ever since I’d manifested. Over the last couple months, I’d been doing a damn good job too. However, this was pushing me to the breaking point.

“We know that they’re after us,” Amy said grimly. “We know that they’ll probably come after us again, especially after we hurt them. But now, we’re onto them, so we watch our backs…and each other’s…even more closely. The next time they try something, we’ll be ready.”

“The next time they try something,” I promised, “I’m gonna kick their little asses good.” I paused at that, looking back and forth at my friends before giving an apologetic smile. “Pardon my French, again.”

Sapphire gave me an amused look. “I think that for tonight, speaking French is perfectly appropriate.”

“Ditto,” Amy agreed, giving me a wry smile. “At least one good thing came out of tonight.”

“And what’s that?” I asked, unable to see any good coming out of this, other than that we knew how serious our enemies had become. They’d escalated our conflict to a whole different level, and there was no way any of us were going to forget that, or forgive. And the thing that confused me the most, was that I still didn’t have any reason why they’d go so far.

“I switched powers,” Amy announced, as though this was a big thing. “I shifted from psi to energizer mode.”

“That bitch pushed you into another burnout,” Sapphire hissed.

However, to my surprise, Amy shook her head. “No, she didn’t. I switched powers, without going to sleep or through a burnout. This is the first time that has EVER happened to me…”

I stared at Amy, realizing how big a deal that was to her. Ever since she’d manifested, she’d only switched powers while sleeping or going through a burnout. She’d never had any luck whatsoever in actually controlling her power shifts.

Amy began to grin with excitement, in spite of everything that had happened tonight. “This means, that there’s another way to change my powers. If I can figure out how it happened this time, then I might be able to actually control when and how I shift modes.”

“At least something came out of this,” I said, feeling happy for Amy. It was about time she had some good news about her powers.

“Yeah,” Amy nodded, though her smile turned back into a scowl. “But we also have some serious enemies now, and we’ll need to figure out how to deal with them.”

“I can bite them,” Sapphire said with a smirk. I couldn’t tell if she was joking or not. Then again, considering the way she’d dealt with Exquisite, there was a pretty good chance she was serious.

“Probably not the best solution,” I reluctantly told her. “They probably taste horrible.”

Amy nodded at that. “If there’s one thing I learned from my mom, it’s that when you have a problem, sometimes the best solution is straight out overkill.”

I chuckled at that, since that was Rachael’s philosophy as well. “Did you have something in mind?”

“Not yet,” Amy admitted. “But we’ll figure something out.” Her eyes narrowed and she smiled a faint but cold smile. “I don’t know why those four decided to gang up on us, but whatever the reason, they’re going to learn that they made a big mistake.”

--------------------

Wednesday evening, Oct 31th, 2007

Naomi wiggled her fingers experimentally, relieved that she could do so again. She’d spent the better part of the last hour paralyzed, unable to move her body at all. It had finally worn off, though her fingers and toes still had a residual pins and needles sensation.

“Are you okay? Starbright asked from beside her, actually looking concerned.

“Yes,” Naomi answered with a forced smile. “It’s worn off, so I can move again.”

“I can’t believe she bit you,” Starbright said. “That’s just disgusting…”

“What else would you expect from one of those thornie freaks?” Gravmax asked from a short distance away.

Iron nodded agreement. “There are too many freaks in this school.”

Naomi scowled as she remembered Sapphire, the freak who’d previously spat on her, and had then bitten her an hour ago. A sneer formed on her lips, and she imagined how she was going to hurt the girl, who dared to do those things to her. Nobody got away with humiliating her like that. Nobody. Especially not some thornie freak.

At first, Naomi hadn’t felt any personal enmity towards those three girls. Everything she’d done, had simply been to buy the loyalty of her new ‘friends’. However, that had changed, and she now wanted to see all three of them hurt and humiliated, for her own satisfaction.

Her eyes swept over the other members of her group, considering how each of them had fared tonight. She’d been paralyzed and humiliated, though Gravmax hadn’t fared much better. He had bruises over much of his body, or at least, he’d complained about that. It was his own fault though, for letting that little brat sneak up on him like she had. Her eyes narrowed, and she admitted that she may have made a mistake in judgment herself. After they’d dealt with Ribbon, they should have left her tied up somewhere, so she wouldn’t have been able to interfere.

“A lesson for the next time,” Naomi mused to herself. “I thought we’d scared her away, but it seems that she’s a lot more stubborn than expected.”

Tonight was supposed to have been a key moment for her, and for establishing her future position at Whateley. This was intended to cement the loyalty of her new ‘friends’, as well as create an example of what happened to those who crossed her. Unfortunately, tonight’s results were definitely mixed.

Naomi and her ‘friends’ had succeeded in hurting those girls, and in demonstrating how dangerous she was to cross. However, they hadn’t made either of those points quite firm enough. They’d hurt those girls, but not enough to break them. Not enough to turn them into useful examples. That would definitely need to be corrected, and after tonight, Naomi would enjoy doing so.

However, there was one aspect of her plans that had worked out, though not quite the way she’d intended. Naomi had planned to consolidate her group, while solidifying her position within it, and she’d done just that. They’d fought together, and that common experience would help to bind them to her. They all had a common group of enemies, which would continue to bind and give them direction.

“Sapphire. Ribbon. Roulette,” Naomi said aloud, getting all three of the others to look at her expectantly. “We hurt them tonight. We hurt and humiliated them, showing them that we are not to be trifled with.”

“We didn’t hurt them enough,” Gravmax stated while a look of hatred passed through his eyes.

“Obviously not,” Naomi agreed. “That just means we will have to finish the job another time.” She smiled, a faint and cruel smile. “For now, we focus on making some new friends and becoming more powerful. When the time comes, we’ll crush them…and anyone else who gets in our way.”

The End



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