A Little R&R 2: Alyss in Wondercute Land part 1

Saturday morning, Sept 22nd, 2007

Study Hall. Technically, I wasn’t in study hall, but the Saturday morning Power Lab class. There were only fifteen students in the class, a mixture of freshmen and sophomores, and it was less of a classroom with lectures, and more of a free period where we each did our own thing. The only requirement was that we had to practice with our powers, or at least, do something related to them.

Of course, we did have a teacher to supervise and offer some direction, but Dr. Shandy couldn’t give a lot of one on one time to fifteen kids at the same time. Fortunately, there seemed to be a couple of rotating teachers, who’d stop by on their own time, to help specific students with their powers. Today, I was lucky enough to have my own mentor.

Fubar, the Foob, or Louis Geintz, whatever you called him, was probably the top psychic teacher at Whateley. Since I’d woken up as a package deal psychic this morning, Fubar was the perfect person to help me master that ability. Of course, it did seem a little silly, walking all the way across campus for these lessons, when he lived just a couple floors below me in Hawthorne.

“Concentrate, Amy,” Fubar told me. “Feel my mental probe and resist it.”

I wasn’t a very powerful telepath, having a PDP rating of only 2, and I actually had to physically touch someone in order to read their thoughts. However, Fubar thought that it was important that I learned how to keep from accidentally reading other’s thoughts anyway, and that I should also learn to shield myself from psychic intrusion. Because of that, I’d spent the entire class performing a series of exercises and meditations.

“I’m trying,” I said.

“There is no try,” Fubar said, suddenly looking like little green muppet. “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Since Fubar was only there as a psychic projection, he could do things like that, and he often did…usually whenever I started to forget that face. “Let me guess,” I commented wryly. “Next, you want me to give you a piggy back ride while I jog around campus.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Fubar responded, once again looking like his ‘normal’ self, albeit, still wearing Jedi robes.

“Does this mean I get my own light saber?” I asked.

Fubar chuckled at that. “Of course. Once you make it yourself.”

I rolled my eyes at that, since I’d already learned that trying to make a light saber, was something of a right of passage for many of the gadgeteers and devisors on campus. As interesting as it would be to have my own light saber, I remembered how wonky my mom’s energy sword had been, and had no intention of putting myself through that. I was perfectly happy with the number of limbs I had, and had no desire to get rid of any.

Fubar and I practiced for a little longer, until class ended. Then, my tutor for the day said, “That should do it for now, but if you want to practice a little more this afternoon, you know where to find me.” And with that, Fubar faded away and vanished, or at least, his psychic projection did.

After this, I began walking back to Hawthorne, which ironically enough, was where Fubar actually was. On the way, I briefly considered stopping off at Poe to see if Alyss was there, until I remembered that she was probably at the garage, hanging out with the Gearheads and working on cars.

When I reached Hawthorne, Mrs. Cantrel was waiting for me by the door. “Amy,” she told me with a smile. “A package arrived for you.”

“Thank you,” I told her as I took the package. Almost immediately after I stepped through the door, I was swarmed with four little kids.

What did you get?” Ember demanded excited.

“I bet it’s cookies,” Miranda exclaimed with an eager grin.

Morgan rushed forward and immediately pleaded, “Can I have some?”

“I don’t know what it is,” I pointed out, fixing Revekah with a flat look before she could ask too.

My intentions were to open my package in my room, but it was obvious that ‘Team Awesome’ as they called themselves, wouldn’t leave me alone until they knew what I received, and had a share of any edible loot. So with a sigh, I went to the dayroom to open it there.

The moment I stepped into the dayroom, Achoo looked up from where he was sitting and asked, “What do you have there?”

“A gift box from home,” I answered with a roll of my eyes, wondering of the kids in Poe were this nosey about packages.

I opened the box, with five pairs of curious eyes watching me. There were indeed baked goods inside, a collection of cookies and brownies, which probably came from Mrs. Lawrence. Mom didn’t bake, and if she tried to do so, she’d probably just disassemble the kitchen appliances and make a fusion reactor out of them instead.

“Okay,” I said in resignation, handing out some of the goodies to Achoo and the kids. As soon as the kids had their sugar in hand, they ran out of the room as fast as they could, perhaps afraid that I’d change my mind and take the goodies back.

Beneath the baked goods, there was a collection of small parts that I could use for my devises. Some of them were things that I’d asked my mom to send, while others appeared to be jut random clutter from her lab, that she’d just thrown in. However, what immediately caught my eye was the grey metal sphere, about the size of a softball. With an exasperated groan, I removed it from the box.

“Look out,” Achoo exclaimed, probably grinning broadly behind the air filter mask he was wearing. “She’s holding a thermal detonator…”

“This isn’t a thermal detonator,” I responded wryly. “It’s a singularity bomb.”

“A singularity WHAT?” Caitlin asked as she stepped into the dayroom. She looked at the metal sphere in my hands and her eyes went wide.

For a moment, I just pinched the bridge of my nose, then I explained with a sigh. “A singularity bomb. It’s my mom’s idea of a care package.”

Caitlin stared at me with an odd look. “Your mom sent you a bomb…through the mail?”

“What can I say?” I responded with a shrug. “My mom has an odd idea of what’s appropriate. Back when my mom was a student here, these things were one of her signature weapons. I guess she figured that I needed one too. Not that it will do much good. In a couple weeks, it will just turn into a dud anyway… All my mom’s devises do when they’re away from her for too long.”

“What does it do?” Achoo asked, staring at me with a look of surprise.

I smiled faintly at that. “According to my mom, it creates a singularity for just a split second…and implodes.”

Caitlin’s eyes seemed to gleam at that, and then, she suddenly broke into a broad grin. “Come on,” she told me. “Grab that thing and that new rail gun you’ve been working on. We’re going to the range.”

“What?” I asked in surprise.

Caitlin gestured to the singularity bomb and explained, “We can’t let that thing just turn into a dud. That would be a total waste.”

For a brief moment, I considered protesting, but Caitlin was right. There was no point in saving the singularity bomb to use later, when it wasn’t exactly shelf-stable. Without my mom to ‘adjust’ it every couple weeks, the devise would simply revert to normal non-devisor physics, and become nothing more than a paperweight. I might as well have fun with it while I could.

A minute later, my new goodies and parts were safe in my room, while I was leaving Hawthorne with Caitlin. We arrived at one of the ranges a short time later, though I wasn’t really sure which one. This was actually the first time I’d gone to check out the Whateley ranges, though I had been meaning to do so since I arrived.

It was only after we arrived that Caitlin told me, “Since you aren’t signed off on range safety yet, I’ll need to be the one who does the hands-on testing.”

“Are you kidding?” I asked her wryly. “My mom literally has an entire armory filled with exotic devisor weapons like these, and I’ve tested almost every one of them. I’ve been firing rail guns and using singularity bombs since I was eight.”

“Since you were eight?” Caitlin repeated, looking a little surprised.

“What can I say?” I asked with a chuckle. “My mom has some odd ideas about mother son bonding time.”

Caitlin gave me an odd look. “I can see that.”

With that, I held out the singularity bomb so that Caitlin had a good look. “This devise has a triple safety lock, which is pretty unusual for my mom’s weapons. I think that may be because she designed them when she was a student here, and someone insisted…”

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Caitlin said with a knowing look.

“Push this spot in, and then you rotate the equator until these arrows meet,” I explained, showing Caitlin what I meant. “I’ve just armed the bomb, but it’s still safe. You turn this ring here, and you see, this button in the middle of it just turned green. Now, you need to use this second ring, so you can set the timer from anywhere between fifteen seconds to two minutes. Once you do that, the button will turn red. Push it in and throw it.”

Since I’d used singularity bombs before, and Caitlin hadn’t, I handed the devise to her. I never would have done this for most people, but I’d heard that she really knew her way around weapons of nearly every sort. Caitlin didn’t surprise me by handling the bomb with both confidence and care, acting as though she’d used them before. She set the timer where I’d shown her, and threw the sphere a pretty good distance.

Fifteen seconds later, there was a loud *BOOM* and a flash of light. In the blink of an eye, there was now a small crater where the singularity bomb had gone off, about fifteen feet across. There’d been no shrapnel or debris, just an instant crater.

Caitlin stared at the crater for several seconds while a broad grin formed on her face. Finally, she announced, “Me likes.”


Saturday afternoon, Sept 22nd, 2007

I was in a damn good mood so I practically skipped across campus on my way back to Poe. Hell, who was I kidding? I actually was doing a bit of skipping. As Big Al, there was no way in Hell that I’d ever be caught doing something like that, but as Alyss, I was free to do a lot of things that I couldn’t before. It was kind of ironic, that being turned into a little girl, gave me a certain freedom that I’d never had before.

At the moment, I was on my way back to Poe, after having spent most of the day at the garage. I’d worked on a couple campus vehicles, BSed with some of the Gearheads, and generally got to be a mechanic again. For a few hours at least, I’d been able to feel like my old self again.

But as much as I enjoyed working on cars, that wasn’t really why I was here at Whateley. I hadn’t been given a second chance just so that I could become a mechanic again. Working on cars, as satisfying as that was, was only a hobby. It was something to keep me sane while I worked towards my real goal.

My thoughts turned to Rachael, who was locked up in prison and probably would be for the rest of her life. She’d killed dozens of people, and people weren’t going to forgive or forget that. It hadn’t been her fault, not really. It had been her diedricks, a mental disease that had taken control of her thoughts and emotions. In court, her lawyer was going to try for the ‘insanity’ defense, but that had a poor chance of succeeding. And even if it did, it still wouldn’t change what she’d done.

Over the last week, Rachael had been let out of prison, and had even been here at Whateley. It had been great to see her again, but our reunion was bittersweet, because I knew that it was only temporary, to help Carson with some project. That was probably the last time that Rachael would ever see any place outside of a prison or courtroom.

“At least she had a good dinner before leaving,” I told myself, thankful that at least she’d had a chance to go out to a nice dinner with Pinnacle before she had to go back to prison.

Rachael was the reason that I’d come to Whateley. I wanted to help her, and other people like her, ones who suffered from that horrible disease. I wanted…needed to do something. Of course, people weren’t like cars, where you could simply diagnose a problem and then replace the faulty part, not all the time. People were a lot more complicated, which meant that I had a great deal of work ahead of me, before I was even qualified to begin.

By the time I reached Poe, my mood had been dampened a bit. But that was what usually happened when I let myself dwell on Rachael, and what had happened to her. To improve my mood, I reminded myself that she might be in prison, but she was no longer hurting people. And oddly enough, she’d actually seemed relatively happy. That might not seem like much, but it was the happiest she’d been in years, and that meant a great deal to me.

As soon as I was back in Poe, I went straight to my room. My roommate Martina was already there, sitting at her desk, and apparently doing her homework.

“How was the garage?” Martina asked.

“Good,” I responded, holding out my hands which still had a little grease beneath the nails. “I earned my paycheck, which is always a good thing, and even had a good conversation with Ringo and Skids about some older model cars.”

Martina gave me a curious look. “Does this mean that you’re in the market?”

I shrugged at that. “I still need to find a good project car…”

“Just make sure you can reach the pedals,” she teased.

“Yeah,” I responded with a shrug. “I’m taking that into consideration.”

“Maybe platform shoes,” Martina suggested.

I responded in the mature manner of the responsible adult I really was beneath my cute girlish exterior. I flipped her off with both hands, which earned a laugh.

“Maybe a monster truck,” I said with a grin. “I’ve got to admit, I’ve got a lot to compensate for…”

“Maybe a go cart,” my roommate suggested.

I snorted at that. “Those Team Awesome kids in Hawthorne would just steal it.”

“And security would chase them all over campus,” Martina said with a grin. “Sounds like a win-win to me.”

“You’re not the one who’d have to chase them down to get the damn thing back,” I pointed out.

Martina just grinned. “Nope. I’m the one who gets to watch you chase after them, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a win for me.”

Yet again, I gave her the mature response of flipping her off. I was about to give a good comeback to go along with the gesture, but someone picked just that moment to start knocking on the door.

“We have enough encyclopedias,” Martina called out.

“I gave at the office,” I added a moment later.

A couple seconds later, I opened the door and found myself face to face with a young Asian girl, who looked only a couple years older than me, and who was wearing some kind of brightly colored sailor costume. Then, I noticed two other girls standing behind her, both of whom were also wearing similar sailor costumes.

“It isn’t Halloween yet,” I said, staring at Jade for a moment and then looking to Bunny and Molly, who stood behind her. In spite of my joke, I’d seen these costumes before, and knew that these were the official Wondercute ‘uniforms’ that they possessed. “And I don’t have any candy.”

“We aren’t here to trick or treat,” Jade said with a grin.

“I don’t have any Easter eggs either,” I said, looking to Bunny. I’d heard that the cute blonde girl had a serious obsession with Easter eggs, and since I’d seen her bring a few devises into the dayroom, which looked like pastel Easter eggs, I fully believed it.

“We aren’t here for Easter either,” Jade added. “But if you have any chocolate or other goodies…”

“Come on,” Molly told Jade, lightly elbowing her in the side.

“Oh yeah,” Jade responded, giving me an even broader grin. “As the official representative of Wondercute, I am here to tell you that you’ve been given the great honor of being considered for our club…”

“What?” I blurted out in surprise.

“They want to recruit you,” Martina gasped, right before she began laughing.

“Yeah,” Bunny said. “We want you to join Wondercute…”

“You’re so cute,” Jade exclaimed. “And with all your bows and ribbons, you’d be perfect…”

“Enemies of cute, beware,” Molly announced.

At this point, Martina was snickering. “It’s a real honor,” she told me.

The three Wondercute members nodded enthusiastically, as though they didn’t understand that Martina was being sarcastic. “The others are all waiting in the dayroom,” Bunny said cheerfully. “Come on and meet everyone…”

“And we can give you the initiation,” Molly said.

“You’ll look so KEWT in a black and pink fuku,” Jade went on excitedly. “With a cute skull with a bow on the chest, like on your hair clips…”

“Yeah,” Martina said, barely stifling another laugh. “You’d look really cute.”

In spite of my past life, I didn’t have a problem with being a cute little girl, or wearing frilly dresses. However, just from what I’d seen and heard during my short stint at Whateley, Wondercute presented a line that I wasn’t ready to cross.

“Why don’t you go down with the others,” I told Jade, Bunny and Molly. “I’ll come join you when I’m ready…”

“Okay,” Jade said. She gave me a mock salute, then she and the other two turned and hurried down the hallway.

Once they were gone, I let out a sigh. I took a moment to adjust my dress, then the ribbon that was currently tied in my hair. Once I’d done that, I was ready to leave again.

When I stepped out the door, Martina stared at me in surprise and gasped, “You’re not really going to join them, are you?”

“Hell no,” I responded with a chuckle. “I’m getting out of here while the getting is good.”

A minute later, I slipped out the front door of Poe, without being seen by the cutesy mafia. Then, I went straight towards Hawthorne, figuring that I could hide out with Amy until things have cooled off a bit.

When I reached Hawthorne, I went straight to Amy’s room and knocked on the door. She opened the door, but held a finger to her lips. I saw that she was on the phone, and apparently, I’d caught her in the middle of a conversation.

“Yes, Mom,” Amy said into the phone. “I did get the care package, and thank you very much. I can really use the parts.” Then Amy paused with a look of exasperation on her face before saying, “But you really shouldn’t send singularity bombs through the mail. The post office frowns on things like that…”

I listened to the conversation for a couple more minutes, sure that there had to be an interesting story behind it, and fighting back the urge to burst out laughing. The look on Amy’s face, and her tone of voice… At that moment, she suddenly reminded me of my wife Meg, and how she’d get when dealing with our teenage devisor daughter.

When Amy finally hung up, she let out an exasperated sigh and shook her head. “Sorry,” she told me wryly. “Sometimes my mom just needs to be reminded of a few rules. I’m gonna have to call my Aunt Beth and make sure that she keeps a closer eye on my mom.”

After this, Amy explained the conversation, and how her mom had sent her a dangerous devise through the mail. I shook my head, thankful that Rachael had never tried that. Then again, she’d just let her devises run lose through the house, and through the neighborhood. I wasn’t really sure which would be worse.

“So,” Amy continued wryly. “Caitlin and I spent a couple hours at the range, setting off the singularity bomb and testing out my rail gun…”

“You finished that thing?” I asked.

After Amy had made some big breakthrough with her new EM core, she’d gone off on plans to make a weapon, so that she wouldn’t be helpless again the next time a bully attacked. I knew that she’d been working on a rail gun, but hadn’t realized that she’d actually finished it.

“I was a devisor yesterday,” Amy reminded me. “And I managed to finish it last night.”

With that, Amy went to her desk and picked up a weapon that looked like some kind of high tech laser rifle from a sci-fi movie. She looked rather proud as she held it out.

“It’s the first weapon I ever made,” Amy said, her eyes gleaming. I knew that her mom built a lot of weapons, so this was probably something that would make her mom proud. “It has three EM cores in it, in order to create a strong enough EM field to fire the four inch metal spikes…”

“How does it shoot?” I asked curiously.

“Pretty good,” Amy responded with a satisfied smile. “I need to adjust the aim a little, the next time I’m a devisor, but other than that, it works pretty well. Caitlin was satisfied with it.”

“That’s good,” I said, nodding my approval. Unlike Rachael, I thought that I could trust my former roommate to be responsible with her devises.

“Unfortunately,” Amy said with a shrug. “Caitlin said that if I wanted to keep it in Hawthorne, I’d have to remove the battery, otherwise, it would have to go into the armory.”

I saw the battery sitting on the edge of the desk, so nodded my understanding. “How fast to put it back in?”

“About half a minute,” Amy told me with a faint smile. “When I built the thing, I wasn’t counting on having to switch the battery out very often. There is a reason that I built in a safety. But, at least I can keep it on hand.”

“Yeah,” I said, nodding in understanding. Then I looked over the weapon and pointed out, “But it’s a bit too big to just carry around campus…”

Amy looked a little disappointed at that. “Yeah, I figured that bit out already. I made this so that I’d have something to protect myself, and I can’t do that if it isn’t with me. I guess the next time I turn devisor, it’s back to the drawing board.”

“Sounds like you had an interesting day,” I said with a chuckle, thinking about the recent visitors to my room. “Now, let me tell you about what happened with me…”


Hawthorne, Sunday afternoon, Sept 23rd, 2007

The Hawthorne dayroom was currently in full use. Adore sat on the couch, watching news on TV like she often did. Nobody made any attempt to change the channel, in spite of the fact that no one else wanted to watch the news.

Team Awesome was sitting on the floor in the far corner, whispering amongst themselves and occasionally giggling. I had no idea what they were up to, nor was I sure I wanted to know. If I did, I’d feel obligated to stop them, but for now, they were Caitlin and Mrs. Cantrel’s problem.

And then, Dust, Phlem, Ricou, and Derp were playing a board game. Between Phlem’s mucus and Dust’s constant aura of dirt and grime, the game board and pieces might need to be thrown out by the time they were done.

“Hey, Amy,” Dust greeted me with a friendly wave.

“Hey,” I responded with a smile, which was a little more forced than usual.

“Are you all right?” Ricou asked, giving me a worried look.

Ricou was a fish boy who had to wear a water filled breathing mask whenever he was wandering about outside of his room. What did it say about my situation, when I was pitied by the GSD kids?

It had almost been a week since my last burnout, which probably meant that I was due. However, my current discomfort had nothing to do with a burnout, and something do to with a somewhat more common problem. Or at least, it was common to women.

My period was about to start, so I was dealing with the symptoms of PMS. Or at least, I was pretty sure that this was what I was feeling. I’d never really gone through any of this before, but I’d known it was coming. This just some of the messy stuff that came with being a girl.

“I’m fine,” I assured Ricou and everyone else. “I was just about to do a little cooking…”

Suddenly, Ember jumped up and demanded, “Are you making cookies?”

“Yay, cookies,” Revekah exclaimed.

“Not today,” I quickly insisted, seeing the disappointment on Team Awesome’s faces. “Today, I’m making dinner food, not dessert food.”

“Awwww,” Miranda grumbled while Morgan sat on the floor, pouting.

“Another time,” I assured them.

With that, I went to the kitchen, where I paused to look at the jar on the counter, with the word ‘DONATIONS’ written on the side. Someone had put the donation jar in the kitchen, though I didn’t know who, and other Thornies had been contributing money into it for cooking materials.

Yesterday, Mrs. Cantrel had used nearly every bit of money in the donation jar, plus my own contributions, to buy a few things that I requested. I was delighted to find that they were still there, and that no one had gotten the midnight munchies and had eaten them all.

A few minutes later, I’d mixed up a good quick marinade for the chicken thighs, and began to get them soaking for a little. While I was doing this, Sapphire came into the kitchen and watched me.

“What are you making?” she asked, giving me a curious look.

“Baked chicken thighs, parmesan risotto, and some asparagus,” I said, looking at my recipe book, which was currently open to the page with the risotto recipe. “I wanted to practice a few recipes, and since I have a lot of Thornies eager to be taste testers for me, it seems like a win win situation.”

“That sounds good,” Sapphire said with a smile.

Sapphire was wearing the blue scale cloak that she usually had with her, and she adjusted it so she could sit down and watch. The cloak and hood were pulled back, which was a good indication of her good mood. Whenever she was self-conscious, nervous, or uncomfortable, she put up the hood and pulled the whole cloak tightly around her.

“I’ve been curious,” I said as I began working on the risotto. “Your cloak…”

“What about it?” Sapphire asked, pulling it a little more tightly around her.

“I was just wondering about it, is all,” I said. “You’re always wearing it.”

Sapphire was silent for a few seconds, then explained, “It makes me feel more like myself.”

Since she didn’t look like she was about to say anything more on the subject, I decided not to push it. “So,” I asked. “Do you like risotto?”

“It looks like rice,” she answered.

I just smiled at that. “It is rice. This is the Italian way of doing it.”

Mrs. Lawrence, my neighbor and former employer from back home, ran a catering business, and had taught me how to make risotto, along with a lot of other things. Between those lessons and the recipes she’d given me, I had a lot of dishes I could make. Of course, I’d have to practice a lot of to get as good as Mrs. Lawrence.

Sapphire and I talked as I cooked, and I showed her what I was doing each step of the way. “You have to keep stirring the risotto,” I explained. “It’s a bit more work than regular rice, but worth it…”

“I’ll reserve judgement,” Sapphire told me with a skeptical look.

There was a lot of food, so I actually had two pots of risotto on at the same time, along with the several trays of chicken that I was rotating in and out of the oven. Then, towards the end, I put in the sheet trays with asparagus, that had been drizzled with olive oil and some seasonings.

Once the food was ready, I fixed up two plates, one for Sapphire and one for myself, just to make sure we could eat. Then, I stuck my door into the hallway and called out, “Dinner.”

I didn’t have to call out very loud, because a number of Thornies had come by to see what I was doing, and they were staying close. As soon as I made the announcement, they began rushing in.

“Here you go,” I said, handing Miranda and Ember each a plate, while Sapphire fed Revekah and Morgan.

“No cookies, I’m afraid,” I told the kids. “But I think I might make a cake sometime this week.”

“YAY CAKE,” Ember yelled as she ran out the door.

“Chocolate cake,” Miranda insisted before racing after Ember

Mrs. Cantrel came into the kitchen and looked over the food and the happy students who were eagerly helping themselves. She smiled but didn’t say anything at first.

“I don’t like asparagus,” one boy said, but still helped himself to some.’

Another boy said, “This rice is great. Thanks Amy.”

“Thanks Amy,” the others echoed.

“I think your dinner was a success,” Mrs. Cantrel told me with a chuckle. “And I have to say, it smells delicious…”

“Help yourself,” I told her. “There’s plenty to go around.”

“As long as Jimmy T doesn’t show up,” Dust said, keeping back from the food so that he didn’t contaminate it with his ever present dust cloud. I’d given him a plate personally, to make sure that he could still eat.

The crowd was starting to wind down, just as the food was starting to get on the low side. Then, I noticed someone else coming through the door, looking curious.

“Ayla,” I said, greeting my former cottage mate. He still lived in Poe, but kept coming over to Hawthorne to visit a few friends in this cottage.

“You’ve got to try this,” Antenna insisted as he handed a plate to Ayla. “Amy made it…”

Ayla tried the food, taking small and careful bites, and looking just a little too serious. “The flavor is nice,” he said after taking a few bites, in an almost forced polite tone.

“But?” I asked, hearing the silent ‘but’ in his tone.

“The chicken is a touch overdone,” Ayla admitted. “The asparagus wasn’t blanched after cooking, and is also a touch overdone.”

I couldn’t really argue with Ayla on those points, because the asparagus was overdone. That was to be expected though when I was cooking that much, and was having to let some of it sit while I got more ready.

“And that is why I practice,” I responded with a smile.

“The risotto is quite good though,” Ayla continued. “The crispy bits of fried prosciutto sprinkled on top really work well. Overall, this is a very good, particularly when cooking for so many.”

I nodded at that. “Thank you.”

“What about dessert?” Miranda asked, coming back into the room and holding out her empty plate.

“Yeah,” Morgan added as he came in right behind her. “We want dessert…”

“We want dessert,” Ember and Revekah echoed.

“Well, I don’t have anything made,” I pointed out, looking over the kitchen. “I suppose, I could make something for dessert, but not until this kitchen is cleaned up…” I let out an exaggerated sigh. “It will take me all night to clean this up…”

“We’ll help,” Miranda volunteered. “We’ll help clean the kitchen so you can make dessert…”

I just smiled at that. “That is a great idea. Why didn’t I think of that?”


Poe Cottage, Sunday evening, Sept 23rd, 2007

It was a nice quiet evening, and there was a bit of a chill in the air, though I’d barely noticed it. Ever since my body had changed, I seemed to be a bit more resistant to both heat and cold. I figured that would probably come in handy in a couple months, when winter hit and everything turned as cold as a witch’s titty.

At the moment, I was out behind Poe, leaning back against the wall and enjoying a cigar. Without saying a word, I handed my flask over to Hippolyta, who took a sip of the bourbon and then handed it back. The two of us often ended out here together, smoking our cigars in companionable silence, and occasionally even talking. However, tonight wasn’t one of those talking occasions. Once I was finished, I put out the butt of my cigar and took a long sip from my flask. Hippolyta finished her cigar at the same time, so we walked back around the building together.

“Later,” the large amazon told me as she began heading upstairs to her floor.

“Later,” I responded as I went in a different direction.

I went into the dayroom, which was fairly full at the moment. The TV was on, and some movie was playing. I didn’t recognize the movie, but it looked like some kind of stupid comedy. The kids who were watching, seemed to be enjoying it.

There were two kids in the dayroom, who were sitting towards the back, and whom didn’t appear to be paying any attention to the movie at all. Instead, Erin and Danny were having a conversation in hushed whispers, so that they didn’t disturb anyone else.

I wasn’t surprised to find Erin and Danny chatting with each other, since the two of them had a lot in common. Both were girly looking boys, the kind that I probably would have called ‘sissies’ or worse back when I’d been a lot younger. From what I understood, both were in the process of changing into girls, though both denied it. I certainly had no room to talk there. As it was, Danny was currently able to change back and forth, so he got a preview of what was coming.

A few seconds later, I found an open seat beside Hardwyrd. He was glaring at Breakdown, so I assumed that she must have taken apart one of his inventions again. From what I’d seen of the girl, she had a bad habit of doing that to other people’s toys. Once I found myself a project car to work on, I would definitely have to keep her well away from it.

Hardwyrd’s glares at Breakdown lasted for another minute or two, until Hank, the sophomore boy who went by the codename of Lancer, came into the room. Then, Hardwyrd began starting at him with a rather appreciative look. I couldn’t help but chuckling at that, though I did feel a little bad for Hardwyrd, because I’d heard that Hank’s interests were strictly focused on the ladies now.

Just as I was getting comfortable, Angel, the RA for my hallway, came into the dayroom and called out my name. “Alyss,” she said again, once she had my attention. “Jade and Bunny are wearing their Wondercute costumes, and they said that they’re looking for you and Danny…”

“Too bad for you,” Hardwyrd said with a snicker.

“Great,” I said with a roll of my eyes. After I’d skipped out on their little meeting yesterday, I’d hoped that they would have forgotten about me.

“Don’t worry,” Angel said. “I’ll protect you from them…”

Angel was actually petting Danny’s head, as though he was a pet. His cat ears sort of perked up, even as he looked horribly embarrassed. It was all I could do to keep from laughing. There were worse things than getting attention from a pretty girl.

Since the dayroom was an obvious place for Jade and Bunny to look for me, I got up and started for the door. Danny ran out ahead of me, going as fast as he could, and nearly running right into Monica. Monica, also known as Anomaly due to her extra arms and equipment between her legs, just gave him a curious look.

“Wondercute is on the hunt,” I told Monica.

“DANNY!” I heard Jade yell from upstairs. “ALYSS! We wanna talk with you…”

“Down here,” Danny hissed at me, as he was already running down the stairs to the basement. I hesitated a moment and then followed after him.

I had just about made it to the basement, when I heard Bunny ask, “Have you seen Danny or Alyss?” I looked back and was able to see her and Jade, standing next to Monica at the top of the stairs. I pulled back so that they wouldn’t see me.

“They went thataway,” Monica announced, with each of her six arms pointing in a different direction. I chuckled at that.

I pulled back into the basement, relieved when the two girls didn’t come down to join us. Danny let out a long sigh of relief, looking even more relieved than I felt. Of course, Wondercute had been chasing after him since before classes had even started, so he had a bit more experience with running away from them than I did.

“So, why don’t you ask your sister to protect you from them?” I asked the kid.

“Are you kidding?” Danny demanded with a snort. “Kayda would tell them where I was, every single time.”

I smiled faintly at that, remembering my own kids when they were younger. Siblings would often protect each other like no one else. But on the other hand, they’d also mess with each other like no one else.

“In fact,” Danny continued with a scowl. “She kept telling me to join Wondercute, saying that they’d protect me from the bullies…”

“But who will protect you from Wondercute?” I asked.

Danny nodded emphatically. “Exactly.”

“Wait,” I said, noting his choice of words. “You said ‘kept’. So…it IS true. You really are a member of Wondercute?”

Danny winced, his cheeks blushing. “Well, kind of. I don’t really deny it when they say I’m a member, and I eat with them a lot, because they do provide me a lot of protection against the bullies…”

“But?” I urged

“But,” Danny grumbled, “they’re so…so damn cute…with everything! They want me to wear a really gay uniform. And…eat with them, and hang out with them, and do sleepovers with them while watching their cute movies, and stuff like that. They’ve even put me on their official sim training roster, so I’ve had to do a couple sims with them.”

“Those girls do seem to be persistent,” I commented.

Danny snorted at that, then gave me a curious look. “Why don’t you join them? I mean, you dress like you should be a member…”

I ran a hand through my hair, and adjusted the ribbon that was tied into it. “What do you mean?” I asked with a look of mock innocence.

“Um…,” Danny started, looking unsure of what to say.

“So, this is what Meg must have felt like when she pulled that on me,” I quietly mused to myself with a faint smirk. Then I winked at Danny and asked, “So, do you want to try on one of their uniforms?”

“I think I’m good,” he quickly assured me, backing away as he did so.

With a chuckle, I pulled out my flask and took a sip of bourbon. For a moment, I thought about offering it to Danny, until I remembered that he was only a kid. Then with a sigh, I put the flask back away and settled down to wait until Jade and Bunny gave up, or at least, had left the area.


Monday, Sept 24th, 2007

BMA. Basic Martial Arts was the bane of my existence. Okay, burnouts were the bane of my existence, followed by power testing, cats, and the period that I’d just begun. However, BMA definitely came in fifth place, which was still pretty high up there.

I was currently standing in a sparring circle, wishing that I was just about anywhere else. I was facing an opponent who was a lot stronger than me, my guts churned and ached, and I was bleeding from a place that I wasn’t supposed to even have. At that very moment, I was absolutely certain that my life sucked.

My opponent was Aegis, who was an athletic kid with bleached blonde hair, that was gelled and spiked. Not only was Aegis bigger and stronger than me, and practically radiated the whole ‘jock’ attitude, he also had stronger and more reliable powers. During our first match, he’d beaten me with just his physical strength and speed alone. And now, we were using powers.

I kept a close eye on Aegis, who had a cocky grin on his face. Then again, that was pretty normal. Aegis was a jock, and something of an overzealous superhero wannabe. For the most part, he seemed like a decent guy, just a little full of himself. However, he was also a real pain in the ass to anyone whom he thought of as a ‘bad guy’, which unfortunately, included a couple of my friends.

“Your move, Roulette,” Aegis told me. “Hit me with your best shot.”

Aegis stood there, as though giving me a free shot, which I suspected Ito or Tolman might call him out on later. However, it wouldn’t do me much good to take that shot. Aegis had a PK shell, so even if I hit him as hard as I could, he wouldn’t feel a thing. Fortunately, I actually had a useful power today, and I was itching to use it. In fact, with the way I was feeling, I REALLY wanted to take it out on someone, and my cocky opponent had just volunteered.

With that, I began gathering the ambient electro-magnetic energy around me, forming it into a glowing blue ball in my hand. I charged at Aegis, and then threw the ball towards his face. He jumped back out of pure instinct, right out of the sparring circle. The ball of energy dissipated before it would have even hit him.

“Roulette wins the match,” Tolman told us.

“You got lucky,” Aegis told me in frustration.

“Take your positions,” Tolman said. As soon as Aegis and I were back in place, she called out, “Hajime,” which meant to begin.

Aegis charged straight at me, swinging his fist in what would be a nasty punch if it connected. I jumped to the side, barely avoiding the hit. I started gathering more energy, forming another ball in my hand. This time, when he punched at me, I was able to drive my ball of energy into his arm, causing a burst of light and sparks that knocked us apart.

“That hurt,” Aegis grumbled, now glowing with a golden aura.

I’d noticed that whenever he actually used his powers, or at least, whenever he pushed his PK shell, it began to glow like this. That meant my little trick was strong enough to at least get his attention. Maybe if I was able to build up a larger charge, I might even be able to get past his PK shell.

Aegis came at me again, swinging a wide punch. I dodged this one, but I wasn’t fast enough to avoid his next attack. He caught me with a backhand that sent me flying out of the sparring circle. I hit the ground hard and rolled a couple times before coming to a stop. Then, I just groaned and held my upper arm and shoulder, which hurt pretty bad. The bruising was going to be nasty, and as it was, I was lucky nothing was broken. Or at least, I assumed that nothing was broken, because it ached, but in a dull throbbing manner rather than in the sharp pain way.

“Aegis wins the match,” Tolman said, before coming over and asking, “Are you all right?”

I sat up, and with a wry smile, I told her, “I get hurt worse than that in bed…”

“It’s true,” Sapphire said from where she was seated a short distance away. “Last night, she had a burnout in the middle of the night…”

I immediately received a look of concern from Tolman, as well as looks of pity from a couple of the other students. I just let out a sigh, feeling a little annoyed at how everyone thought I was a fragile little snowflake. As it was, there had been some talk about whether or not it was safe for me to attend BMA, when I could go into a burnout at any time. Apparently, that had actually happened during one of the martial arts classes last year, and the student actually died from it.

“I’m fine,” I assured Tolman and anyone else who could hear.

Last night, I had gone into a burnout, shortly after going to bed. The biometric sensors in my bed had immediately notified the doctors in Doyle, who’d immediately sent someone to check on me. However, by the time someone had arrived, I’d fully recovered on my own. The only good thing about my burnouts, is that they were usually short, and I recovered right away. Of course, one day, that probably wouldn’t be the case.

With a grimace of pain, I got back to my feet and staggered over to my spot on the mat. Then, I settled back down with a sigh, holding my shoulder and wincing. I had a feeling that it was going to ache for the rest of the day, and wouldn’t stop until I went to bed. I changed modes when I slept, and whenever I did so, I also healed from any injuries I had. I just wished that it would also make my period disappear the same way my bruises would.

Alyss leaned over and whispered, “You didn’t tell me you had another burnout…”

“And you didn’t tell me that you’d joined Wondercute,” I teased her.

During lunch, Wondercute had intercepted us on the way to our table, and had grabbed Alyss, practically dragging her to eat with them. It had been pretty funny at the time. And in spite of the complaints and grumbling, I was pretty sure that my diminutive friend actually got a kick out of their attention.

“I did not join Wondercute,” Alyss insisted.

I was about to respond, when Sapphire beat me to it. “That isn’t what that Bunny girl said.”

Alyss facepalmed, which made Sapphire and I both laugh. But then, we both had to stifle giggles when Ito called up Alyss and another girl to spar. Considering who my friend’s opponent was, it could be very good or very bad.

Alyss was up against Starbright, pretty blonde exemplar girl, who had some sort of grudge against her. I wasn’t sure what Starbright’s problem was, but she’d been badmouthing Alyss behind her back, spreading rumors, and generally being a spiteful little bitch. However, she never seemed to do anything where she could get caught.

“I can’t fight a little girl,” Starbright exclaimed in mock worry. “I might hurt her…

“Don’t worry about hurting me,” Alyss said with a smile that didn’t meet her eyes.

I watched Starbright, knowing that she’d seen Alyss sparring in class before. She had to know that Alyss was a LOT stronger than she looked, which meant, she was trying to save face. If…when she lost to Alyss, she could just claim that she was holding back, so that she didn’t hurt her smaller opponent.

“You may use your powers,” Ito said. “Hajime.”

Starbright immediately fired a burst of light into Alyss’ eyes, then rushed forward to kick her while she was blinded. Ayss was stronger than Starbright, but she was also smaller and was knocked back from the kick, where she stumbled out of the sparring circle.

With a smirk, Starbright gave a mock, “Ooops. I didn’t mean to hurt you…”

Alyss rolled her eyes, and in a cutesy little girl voice, said, “You big meanie. Why don’t you pick on someone your own size…”

When the next match began, Alyss closed her eyes in time to avoid being blinded by the flash of light, and when Starbright charged, Alyss simply stepped to the side and tripped the blonde girl. Starbright fell flat on her face, landing partly outside the sparring circle. If my arm and shoulder didn’t hurt, I probably would have clapped.

During the third match, Alyss made the first move, leaping at Starbright before the blonde girl could blind her. Alyss was a high level exemplar and could really move when she wanted to. In the blink of an eye, ribbons began to form in her hands, seconds later, Starbright was on the floor, all tied up. The large bow was a nice touch too.

“Good job with Rainbow Bright,” I told Alyss as she returned to her seat.

Alyss chuckled at that. “I’m surprised you know who Rainbow Bright is.”

“I have a classical education,” I responded proudly. Then I admitted, “And my best friend growing up, went through a phase where she was a big fan…”

“Beating her wasn’t too hard,” Alyss admitted with a shrug. “The hard part is to do it without hurting her.”

I nodded in understanding. I’d seen Alyss fight in a number of these matches, and she almost never used her strength, at least, no more than she had to. More often than not, she’d beat her opponents by tying them up in ribbons, rather than by actually punching or hitting them. When I’d asked her about this before, she’d simply told me that she didn’t like hitting kids.

Class ended a couple minutes later, and everyone rushed to the locker room to change. However, when we got there, Alyss opened her locker, then immediately muttered, “Crap.”

“What?” I asked.

“Pardon my French,” Alyss apologized for her language, which was one of her weird quirks. She never apologized for swearing in front of guys, only girls and kids.

I glanced into Alyss’ locker and said, “Crap. Or at least, I hope there isn’t any…”

While we’d been in class, someone broke into Alyss’ locker and filled it with diapers. We didn’t have to look far for the culprit, as Starbright and a couple of her friends were snickering.

“I knew you were just a baby,” Starbright said with a smirk, “but I would have thought that you’d at least be potty trained.

Then the girls laughed as they hurried away, leaving Alyss and I fuming. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time that Starbright and her friends had done this kind of thing to Alyss, and it wouldn’t be the last. But as annoying as these practical jokes were, what was worse, were the rumors that she liked to spread, like the one I’d heard last week, about Alyss pissing her pants in class. Of course, it wasn’t true, but I’d seen a number of odd looks and snickers because of it.

Alyss just stood there with a pissed look on her face, while clenching her fists tightly. Finally, she snapped, “Damn,” and punched the locker. It was only a light punch by her standards, but it still left a nice little dent.

“I shouldn’t let the kid get on my nerves,” Alyss admitted. “But this shit is getting old.”

“Yeah,” I agreed. I wasn’t the target of the pranks and rumors, but I was getting tired of these ‘mean girl’ bullies too.

“Unfortunately,” Alyss said, “I can’t just kick her ass. She might deserve it, but that’s off the table…”

I nodded at that, while Sapphire said, “It is hard to fight back against rumors and jokes like this with a fist.”

“Too true,” I agreed.

Alyss shook her head, then scowled as she went about getting washed and changed. We didn’t talk about the prank again, but it was obvious that she was still thinking about it. Looking like a kid had to be rough enough, but to have someone rub it in like that…

A short time later, Alyss, Sapphire and I said goodbye to each other, and left BMA to go to the next class in our schedules. My next class was Magic Theory with Ms. Grimes, which I was kind of dreading today.

I arrived in class and took my usual seat, right between Voodude and Cauldron. Voodude, of course, worked with voodoo dolls, thaumaturgy, and apparently, he was good with amulets. Cauldron on the other hand, seemed to be mostly interested in potions. Unfortunately, compared to either of them, I was completely useless.

Ms. Grimes slowly walked around the classroom, pausing in front of my desk. “Ms. Maguire,” she said with a somewhat dismissive tone. “You wouldn’t happen to have any essence available today, would you?”

“No, ma’am,” I answered self-consciously.

It was difficult to learn magic, when I almost never had any essence available to work with. I only had my wiz trait one or two days a week, and unfortunately, I couldn’t just build up essence then and then save it for later. As I’d learned, whenever I went through one of my mode shifts, any essence that I’d managed to gather, was lost in the process. So far, I hadn’t figured out how to keep the essence.

With a sigh, I pulled out my class materials and prepared to take notes on the upcoming lecture. At the same time, I tried not to think about the fact that without any essence to work with, I was being left behind.


Tuesday, Sept 25th, 2007

Costume Shop was the kind of strange and unique class which could only be found at a school like Whateley. Not only did it teach the usual sewing stuff that was in just about every home-ec class, but it also covered various fabrics and what their properties were in regards to armor and protection. I couldn’t imagine any other sewing class, where the teacher talked about how bullet resistant or fireproof a specific type of material might be.

Of course, the thing that made this class the most unique, was that it put a great deal of focus on designing and making your own costume. This was ideal for students who planned to become a hero or villain after graduation, but since I had no intentions of going into either career, I had no real need of a costume. However, making one was not only one of the class requirements, but also a large part of the grade.

My motivations for taking this class were a little different than those of most of the students. Mrs. Ryan, the teacher for the class, was also my faculty advisor. She’d strongly recommended the class for me, because she thought that it could help me master my powers. After only a couple weeks in class, I had to admit, I’d already learned a few things which could be applied to my powers, and the clothing that I manifested.

Today, everyone had out some basic sketches, for a costume idea, that they’d come up with over the weekend as homework. We were sharing our costume ideas and critiquing them, so we could develop a better idea of what might work and what wouldn’t. The idea was to refine our costume designs, before we actually got to the point where we’d make them.

“Do you have a practical reason for the cape?” Mrs. Ryan asked Aegis, who was proudly showing off his costume design. “Or is it purely aesthetic?”

“All the best heroes have capes,” Aegis announced proudly. I thought I saw a faint twitching on Mrs. Ryan’s face at the answer.

“Aesthetic then,” Mrs. Ryan said evenly. “You will need to balance your desire to…look cool…with the downsides…”

Aegis blinked at that. “Downsides?”

Mrs. Ryan smiled faintly, then asked the class, “What are the downsides of wearing a cape?”

“People can grab you by it,” someone else pointed out.

“And it can get caught in things,” another boy added.

“And get in the way,” a third contributed.

Then, a girl raised her hand, but before waiting to be called on, she said, “And they can look really tacky.”

Mrs. Ryan nodded agreement. “These are the dangers and downsides of wearing a cape, though there are ways to mitigate them. There are also ways to turn a cape into an asset, but we will cover this in more detail later.”

Once Mrs. Ryan moved on to the next student, Aegis sat there with a disappointed look on his face. Then, he slowly looked around the classroom, pausing to give me the stink eye for a moment before moving on. Aegis was a bit of a punk, so I didn’t mind him any. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one to have that kind of reaction towards me.

A couple weeks ago, a girl with daddy issues and a big mouth, told everyone that I was the daughter of Lady Havoc, the notorious supervillain. That wasn’t exactly true, but rumors aren’t concerned with truth, only about whether they were interesting. Admittedly, if they knew that Lady Havoc was actually my daughter, and not my mother, then I doubted the reactions would be much better.

“I bet that creepy little girl has a supervillain costume,” someone whispered. I couldn’t tell who spoke, but several pairs of eyes were looking directly at me.

“Didn’t you know,” Starbright said with a sneer. “Her mom is the supervillain, Lady Havoc…”

“No, she isn’t,” I said, but no one seemed to be listening to me. I wasn’t surprised. Rumor was far more interesting than fact.

“Lady Havoc was on campus last week,” someone pointed out.

“I heard that Lady Havoc got caught,” Starbright continued, talking to several of the girls around her. “The poor little baby is probably all broken up over that…” She was practically snickering with glee. “I bet she’s going to cry…”

“First off,” I pointed out, “Lady Havoc is NOT my mother. Secondly, she turned herself in…”

“As if,” one of Starbright’s friends responded dismissively.

I shrugged at that, deciding not to bother correcting them anymore. They obviously weren’t listening. And unfortunately, I was pretty sure that Starbright would just continue to spread more rumors, and probably make up a few new ones as well. She’d already done that before, telling people that she’d seen me wearing diapers in the locker room, or that she caught me sucking my thumb. Someone really needed to take a paddle to that brat, but unfortunately, it wouldn’t be me.

When class ended, everyone rushed for the door, though I took my time. Still, in spite of that, I got caught in the middle of the bottleneck and still had to wait for everyone else to make their way out. It was at times like this, that I really missed my old garage. It wasn’t crowded, and I could make my own hours when I felt like it. Sadly, those days were gone for good.

I stepped into the hallway, just in time to hear someone exclaim, “I think someone filled their diaper…” It was one of Starbright’s friends, and as expected, it was directed at me. It took every ounce of my self-control to keep from responding to the comment or the laughter that followed.

“This shit is getting old,” I quietly told myself. “Real fast.”

My next class was Algebra, which was ridiculously easy now that I had an exemplar brain, and had read the class textbook. This was ironic, because back when I’d been going to school the first time, math had been one of my hardest subjects. But now, I was seriously considering testing out of it, just so I could get transferred to a more advanced class and not be bored.

I took my usual seat, right between Voodude and Sapphire. “Morning,” I said to be polite.

“Good morning,” Sapphire responded with a faint nod. She adjusted her cloak and pulled the hood back to reveal her face.

“Hey,” Voodude said with a grin. He nodded to me, then looked past me to Sapphire, and his grin deepened. “Another great day at Whateley.”

“If you say so,” Sapphire said with a faint smile.

Just then, the girl sitting behind me cried out, “Oh gross… Someone needs to change her diaper…”

I turned to glare at Drama, or as a lot of people had begun calling her, Drama Queen. It wasn’t meant to be a compliment.

Bethany Farrow was a mousey brunette girl, who wasn’t much at all to look at. But in spite of that, she acted as though she was the prettiest and most popular girl in school, and since she was an empath, and could manipulate people’s emotions, she sometimes got other people to go along with this delusion. I was pretty sure there were rules against doing that kind of thing at school, but whether anyone had reported her or not, I had no idea.

Drama stared back at me with a smirk, and I suddenly felt ashamed at myself. If I hadn’t known about Drama’s power, I might have given in to the urge to apologize and try earning her approval. As it was, I clenched my fists together and forced myself to meet her gaze.

“You have something on your back,” Sapphire said, and I turned around just as she pulled a piece of paper from my back and held it up. “Someone taped this to you…”

The sheet of paper said, ‘I AM WEARING A DIRTY DIAPER’.

“Cute,” I said deadpan.

“Talk about a cliché,” Voodude said, glaring at Drama, though I doubted that she’d been behind this. More likely, it had been Starbright or one of her friends, while I’d been leaving Costume Shop.

“It seems rather…childish,” Sapphire added, giving me a sympathetic look.

I scowled and turned back around, while Drama just snickered behind me. I still felt a vague desire to be nice to her, but my anger overrode that. I just wished that I could simply kick someone’s ass and get it done and over with.


Hawthorne, Tuesday evening, Sept 25th, 2007

It had been a long and rough day, so I was thankful that it was nearly over. Between my bloody and uncomfortable period, and several nasty bruises I’d received today in BMA, I was nearly ready to just crawl into bed and let it end. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite time for bed yet, and I just wasn’t tired enough to sleep, no matter how much I would have liked to.

At the moment, I was sitting in the dayroom with my laptop open on the coffee table in front of me. I’d spent the last hour playing GEO, Good and Evil Online, with my girlfriend Kara and her guild. Altaholics Anonymous. We’d gone on a small bandit raid, but hadn’t gotten involved in anything too in depth or time consuming. Kara and I both had school in the morning and couldn’t afford to spend half the night playing. Of course, that never really stopped Kara.

Kara and I had been best friends for a long time, and it had only been recently that our relationship had moved into the romantic area. Kara was a lesbian, so hadn’t been interested me ‘in that way’ until I manifested as a mutant and turned into a girl myself. And then, almost as soon as we’d become romantic, I got shipped off to Whateley.

“Long distance relationships suck,” I quietly mused to myself, thinking that I’d much rather be making out with Kara than playing with her online. Still, at least this way we could do something together, even if it was only in a video game.

“I’ve got to get going for dinner,” Kara said, right before logging off. “See you later, cutey.”

“Later, hot stuff,” I responded before logging off as well. Since Kara was offline, there was no reason for me to keep playing at the moment.

With that, I closed my laptop and looked at my notebook, which was sitting on the coffee table in front of me. I’d originally bought the notebook to write down ideas for devises, and lists of parts that I might need, but I’d begun using it to make notes on all of my powers and how I might be able to use them better.

Today, I was a magic user, which had been great for my Magic Theory class. And then, during Magic Lab, I’d spent the entire period practicing the few spells that I’d managed to learn. Because of my limited supply of essence, I didn’t get many opportunities to practice my spells, so I’d taken advantage of this chance while I had it. I’d used up almost all of my essence practicing, but had already built a small amount back up. Unfortunately, what little I had would be lost the moment I shifted modes again.

“If only I had a way to save my essence when I shift,” I mused to myself. That problem was one that I’d been dwelling on over the last couple days, and the answer kept tickling the back of my mind, though it refused to come to the surface. “Maybe some kind of essence battery…”

With that, I looked around the dayroom, to see if there were any experienced magic users who might be able to answer some questions. However, the only magic user who was currently present was Caitlin. I’d heard that Caitlin had problems using magic, so I doubted that she’d know anything about how to make some kind of essence battery. Maybe Witchling…

“That’s it,” I exclaimed, which suddenly got the attention of nearly everyone present.

I looked around the dayroom, where Sapphire sat a short distance away, taking care of her homework. Adore was watching some news program on TV, as she often did. Paige was typing away on a laptop, though I had absolutely no idea what she was up to. And then there was Caitlin, who was calmly sharpening a knife, almost as though it was some kind of meditation exercise.

Everyone except for Paige glanced at me, and after I shrugged self-consciously, they went back to what they were doing. However, I smiled and wrote a quick note in my notebook, a reminder to talk to Witchling. Now I remembered what had been tugging on the back of my mind. When Witchling had tested my magical abilities, and had given me a few lessons, she’d been using some strange artifacts. Now that I thought about it, I suspected that those might have been essence batteries of some type. That meant, she would definitely be the one to ask about this.

I felt rather pleased with myself, since I might not have solved my problem yet, but I at least knew the next step. All I had to do was talk to Witchling, and hopefully, she’d either be able to help me herself, or would know who else I could talk to. However, since she was a busy superhero, I knew that I shouldn’t expect anything fast.

Since I was still on the topic of magic, I closed my eyes and began practicing some of the essence control exercises that I’d been taught by Witchling and Ms. Grimes. Unfortunately, my sore shoulder and twisting guts distracted me a little too much to focus properly. I grimaced at that and silently cursed my new female plumbing. Most of the time, being a girl wasn’t so bad, but at that moment, I was really hating the whole bloody, disgusting, and awkward situation.

Though I tried focusing on magic, my attention kept going back to my period, and I grew increasingly miserable about it. At that moment, I really wished that I was back at Poe, with people who understood what I was going through. All the girls here, they’d grown up female, and had always known that this kind of thing was coming. None of these girls had any idea of what it was like to suddenly change genders, and then get hit with the whole period thing without warning.

“Quit whining,” I quietly told myself.

I looked around the room, with my eyes settling on Caitlin, Adore, Paige, and Sapphire. All four of them had to deal with these same plumbing issues, and I didn’t remember any of them crying over it. With a sigh, I slowly stood up and began collecting my laptop and notebook. I was through feeling sorry for myself in public. However, in private might be a different situation.

Just as I was leaving the dayroom, Sapphire called out, “Amy…”

“Yeah?” I asked.

Sapphire gave me a faint smile and came over. “You are having your monthly visitor, are you not?”

I turned bright red and squeaked out, “How did you know?”

“You move very…uncomfortably,” Sapphire said sympathetically. “And not just with your injured arm.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, thinking that the word ‘uncomfortable’ was definitely accurate. Of course, there were other words that would fit too, such as awkward, embarrassing, disgusting…

Sapphire nodded in understanding, then admitted, “There is a medication that I take when I have an especially rude visitor. Perhaps you would like to try some…”

I blinked in surprise at her offering me medication. “That sounds nice,” I started, trying to think about how I could politely turn her down, or if I even should.

Before I could finish, Sapphire took my arm and said, “Come…” She had a strong grip on me, so I had no choice but to follow her to her room.

When I stepped into Sapphire’s room, I noted that it was laid out very much like my own. Her bed was even on the same side, and in an equivalent spot. But where my bed had built in biometric sensors to keep track of my vitals, in case of a burnout in the middle of the night, her bed actually looked normal. However, she had plastic curtains, much like ones for a shower, hanging all the way around her bed, from floor to ceiling.

“I have a plastic mattress cover because I drool in my sleep,” Sapphire admitted self-consciously when she saw where I was looking. “And I sometimes release a venom mist into the air…”

I nodded in sympathy and understanding. “On the plus side,” I reminded her. “You get a room to yourself.”

“There is that,” Sapphire responded with a smile. “I have three younger sisters back home, so a room to myself is a novelty.”

“Three?” I repeated. “Wow. I’m an only child…as far as I know.” At Sapphire’s curious look, I explained, “I was raised by my single mom. My so called dad has always been out of the picture.”

“I see,” Sapphire said with a faint nod. “I did promise you medication.” She went to her dresser drawer and added, “These always work well for me…” And with that, she pulled out a box of expensive looking chocolates.

“Medicine?” I asked with an amused smile.

Sapphire grinned at me. “Yes. Take two of these and call me in the morning…”

I accepted a couple chocolates and took a bit of one. It was absolutely fantastic, some of the best chocolates I’ve ever had in my life. And with that cream filling… I smiled as I savored the flavor, deciding that I just might have to look into getting some chocolatier training.

While I was enjoying the chocolate, I slowly looked around Sapphire’s room. My eyes were drawn to a picture frame which was sitting on top of her dresser, though when I actually got a good look at the photo, I couldn’t help but staring.

There were two people in the photo, and both of them looked like they had severe GSD. On the right, there a snake woman, who seemed human shaped from the waist up, but had a long serpentine tail from the waist down. Her entire body, including the upper half, was covered with black scales, and even her ‘hair’ appeared to actually be a lot of long thin scales, that were layered on top of each other. She stared at the camera with a pair of yellow eyes, that were slitted and snakelike, and her smile revealed sharp looking fangs.

The snake woman…snake girl on the left, was almost identical to the one on the right, except that she was smaller and much younger. And of course, instead of black scales, hers were all a brilliant blue color.

“My mother,” Sapphire said, picking up the picture frame and pointing to the black scaled snake woman. She had a sad smile as she added, “Mama’s name is Ebon Scale.”

“Your mother?” I repeated in surprise. I stared at the picture of the snake woman again, then gestured to the girl. “And is this one of your sisters?”

“No,” Sapphire answered quietly, looking even sadder. “That…that’s me… The real me.”

I blinked at that. “I…don’t understand.”

Sapphire was silent for several long seconds, and just as I was starting to suspect that she wouldn’t explain, she did. “When I hatched from my egg,” she said quietly, not taking her eyes off the photo. “I looked just like Mama, except that I had blue scales instead of black.” She looked up at me and smiled faintly. “That was why she named me Sapphire. Sapphire Scale.”

“So, Sapphire isn’t just your codename,” I said in understanding, though I was still a bit confused. “It’s your real name…”

“Yes,” Sapphire agreed. “I had such beautiful scales… They were so strong and hard…” Her voice cracked a little as she spoke. “Then, I manifested as a mutant. I became an exemplar, just like Mama… But…” She paused at that to take a deep breath. “I turned into a pretty…” The word ‘pretty’, was spat out, almost like it was a profanity.

“Reverse GSD,” I whispered. Somehow, Sapphire had inherited her mom’s form and GSD, probably due to the nature of her mom’s mutation. Then, when Sapphire had manifested as a mutant, her own BIT took over determination of her form, and it obviously wasn’t the same as her mom’s.

“I lost my beautiful scales,” Sapphire cried, pulling her cloak tightly around her, though she didn’t bother to pull the hood up. “I lost my claws…and my tail. Now I’m soft, and squishy, and have to move around on these stupid clumsy sticks…” She glared down at her own legs.

I wrapped my arms around Sapphire and gave her a hug. We’d come to her room so that she could try comforting me, but now, she needed it every bit as much as I did…if not more.

While I was hugging the blue-haired girl, I noticed the scales that her cloak was made of and suddenly realized where they must have come from. “Your cloak…”

“Mama made it for me,” Sapphire said with a faint smile. “She made it with all my old scales, that fell out. It makes me feel like…me again.”

“I think I can understand,” I said quietly.

Sapphire gave me a skeptical look. “I don’t think you can. How can you possibly understand? How can anyone?”

For a moment, I just stood there, my heart aching for Sapphire and what she was going through. Almost without realizing it, I said, “I changed too… Until two months ago, my name was Austin…and I was a boy.”

“What?” Sapphire gasped, looking at me in surprise. “You aren’t a boy…”

“Not anymore,” I responded with a sigh. I gestured down at myself, thinking about the gross and nasty parts of being a girl. “I’m all girl now…as my monthly visitor proves. I know what it’s like, to change so much that you can’t feel like your old self.”

“That’s why you were put in Poe,” Sapphire gasped in understanding. “So you could get therapy…”

“Yeah,” I agreed with a weak chuckle. “Something like that. But please don’t tell anyone.”

Sapphire nodded emphatically. “I won’t.” Then she threw her arms around me in a firm hug, whispering, “You do understand…”

For the next minute or two, Sapphire and I just stood there, holding onto each other for our mutual comfort. It felt good to share this with someone, and to know that even outside of Poe, there were people who might be able to understand, at least a little.

Finally, I pulled away from Sapphire and said, “You know, there’s a great medication to help with times like this…”

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