Tabula Rasa

This is the place to recount your superheroic deeds for all to gaze upon with astonishment and wonder.
Cosmic Scion
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Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:17 pm
Location: Pekin, IL

Tabula Rasa

Post by Michuru81 » Thu Nov 28, 2013 9:24 pm

Oubliette-731: An alternate reality where the death of one boy set off a chain of events that led to a world that eventually came to accept and embrace Neo-Sapiens. No Adonis Skraag means no Affiliation and no White War; no assassination of Senator Bedford; no Black Box; no Apocatastasis; no Neo-Sapien diaspora; no Basileus...

It's a clean slate for our heroes.

In the year 2025, a new class of students is enrolled in the New Vindicators Academy, where they learn that sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same...

The Story The PCs
  • Cyndi Brightman: Daughter of billionaire winemaker; kind of a handful; makes it dark
    John Saxon: Pop culture nerd; devil-may-care attitude; gets big
    Dirk Wolfram: Sheltered kid; doesn't own a cell phone; reaches the top shelf with ease
    Eric Vaughn: Hacker; inquisitive; team taxi
    Derryl Isaacson: Mysterious; writes numbers all over his hand; hears really well
    Matt Baker: Oblivious; doesn't like wearing shirts; token plasma generator
    Gene Stephenson: Aloof; not very charismatic; bred to kill stuff
Last edited by Michuru81 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Cosmic Scion
Cosmic Scion
Posts: 5693
Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:17 pm
Location: Pekin, IL

Re: Tabula Rasa

Post by Michuru81 » Thu Nov 28, 2013 9:27 pm

TABULA RASA #1: Joss—In 2025, a new group of students enrolls at the New Vindicators Academy of America, only to find that their school year is about to be anything but ordinary.

TABULA RASA #2: Corrode—Eric smells a conspiracy and pulls some of his classmates into the web of intrigue, while Jim and Cyndi’s double date with Matt and Aisha is interrupted by a jealous ex…

TABULA RASA #3: Teamwork—The newest students of the New Vindicators are sorted into their training squadrons: meet the Jolly Ranchers, the New Guys, the Ferocious Four, and Team Eleven.

TABULA RASA #4: Ransom—When the Pinuno, leader of a criminal organization known as Kapisanan, sets his sights on Cyndi, he hires a pair of mercenaries to infiltrate the school—and one of them has a history with Gene…

TABULA RASA #5: Mountaineering—Some people spend years preparing to climb Mount Everest. When they begin the ascent, they are outfitted with coats, rope, oxygen, tents, food—everything one would need to survive in one of the most inhospitable places on Earth. When John and Dirk wake up on one of Everest’s highest peaks, they’ll be forced to survive with nothing but their pajamas.

TABULA RASA #6: Network—Hacker and internet vigilante, the Radical Tomato, has a new target… and just when Eric thought his life couldn’t get more complicated.

TABULA RASA #7: Paternity—Enter: Eduardo Palacio, a Spanish model whose visage has graced scores of romance novels has come to town. Exit: everything one young hero thought he knew about his genealogy…

TABULA RASA #8: Twister—Cyndi’s made her share of enemies. Now, one threatens to hit her where it hurts, and destroy her family’s vineyards.

TABULA RASA #9: Vigilante—Shadow Wing is a vigilante and internet celebrity who’s doing more harm than good. When he crosses paths with several of the New Vindicators’ foes, it’ll be up to the young heroes to save him and the day.

TABULA RASA #10: Masks—Josie Loder’s Sweet Sixteen party is a murder mystery party, but while the New Vindicators try to crack the case, Jim begins to make his move…

TABULA RASA #11: Jailbreak—Over the course of their first semester, the New Vindicators have made several enemies. Now, those who have escaped justice have banded together, and are looking to recruit from those who were not so fortunate…

TABULA RASA #12: Blood—Sanguine has been cornered, and the Vindicators need Eric’s help to bring her to justice. When Derryl tags along, however, the New Guys make a shocking discovery about Missus Jenkins’ death…
Last edited by Michuru81 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Cosmic Scion
Cosmic Scion
Posts: 5693
Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:17 pm
Location: Pekin, IL

Tabula Rasa #1

Post by Michuru81 » Thu Nov 28, 2013 9:40 pm

Chapter I: Joss
Drew Jenkins had no delusions about living a normal life. Normal people woke up, showered, brushed their teeth, got dressed, ate breakfast, and went to a menial job they hated. After suffering through the work day, they suffered through the commute home where they suffered through small talk with their families. Eventually, they zoned out in front of the television, only to surrender to the need for sleep, and the promise that the process would be repeated all over again.

Normal people did not don a Kevlar bodysuit. They did not wear masks designed to protect their identities, thus ensuring the safety of their loved ones. They did not manipulate gravitational forces to propel themselves through the air. Drew Jenkins did. Drew Jenkins did many things that normal people did not do, and that was why, for the last nineteen years, Drew Jenkins—or Simulacrum, as he was more widely known—had not considered himself to be normal…

“Give it up, Deimos!” Orbit screamed. It was thanks to her that his feat of flight was at all possible: it was her Neo-Sapien power to command the forces of gravity, and Simulacrum’s power allowed him to mimic the genetic traits of those around him. “You’ve run out of places to run to!”

The Nephilim’s head turned slowly, assessing the truth of her statement: Lodestone hovered to the west while Torrent’s hydrokinesis kept Oxidane in the air in the north. On the ground below, Blitzkrieg was waiting with Prism.

“Make this easy on yourself and surrender.”

Lodestone rolled his eyes at his teammate’s choice in words. “Jeremy relishes making things difficult…”

Simulacrum cringed. He had known Deimos for nineteen years—almost half his life: he knew what effect evoking the Nephilim’s real name would have. Lodestone knew what effect it would have too—that was why he did it. Simulacrum had known Lodestone as long as he had known Deimos, and he knew the Nephilim wasn’t the only one in the sky who was a glutton for punishment.

“My name isn’t Jeremy!” the man roared. An obsidian inferno exploded from his body, baptizing his silhouette in the immolation. “I AM DEIMOS!”

Simulacrum registered the smirk on Lodestone’s face and winced. “Don’t goad him-”

“You’re an annoying little pain in the ass, is what you are,” Lodestone snapped.

Simulacrum’s arms swept through the air and grabbed a freshly made duplicate. Suddenly, his hair was colored crimson while his copy’s hair was a rich azure. The pair didn’t exchange words—words weren’t needed: one body kept the pair aloft while the other strained to use Lodestone’s own powers against him.

As an ebony comet shattered across the sky, Lodestone was suddenly jerked out of the way. “What the hell, Drew!?!” Lodestone thundered as Deimos continued to fly away. Orbit moved to follow, but Simulacrum stopped her with an outthrust arm. “We had him cornered!”

“Emphasis on ‘had’,” Simulacrum said. “Or are you forgetting what happened the last time you egged him on?” As he reabsorbed the duplicate into him, his eyes went to the prosthetic that composed Lodestone’s right arm. While it took only a fraction of the Vindicator’s focus to manipulate the fragmented appendage, it was a chink in his concentration that had allowed Simulacrum to move him out of the way.

Lodestone flew towards Simulacrum, stopping only when they were mere feet from each other. “Deimos is a killer, Drew! He’s a psychopath, and thanks to you, he just got away! Thanks to you, who knows how many people he’s going to kill!?!”

“He’s still wounded from Prism’s-”

“Precisely why you should have let me take him down!”

“I made a promise to Alicia!” Simulacrum thundered. “After what happened the last time… For God’s sake, Magnus, we didn’t know if you would make it or not! When you recovered—when you rejoined the team—she made me promise that I wouldn’t let you do something so stupid again!”

“Nothing is more stupid than letting Deimos go free!” Lodestone hissed.

“You set him off. You pushed him, Magnus. You know how his powers work! If he couldn’t keep his emotions in check—if he couldn’t hold his other side back…

“Besides, I didn’t let him escape—not completely.” Simulacrum put a hand over his ear. “Still got visual on our boy, Danny?”

“I’ve got him,” came Blitzkrieg’s response across the communicators.

Simulacrum glared at Lodestone. “He’s stubborn, but he’s not stupid: if he was going to risk it trying to take us all out, he wouldn’t have kept moving. Like I said: he’s injured; he won’t make a move until he’s healed up. Blitzkrieg will keep an eye on him; we give Deimos a little time to calm himself, and then we strike. We do this surgically, though. You try to antagonize him like that again, I’ll recommend you’re suspended from active duty.

“Is that clear?”

Lodestone glared at the other man. “I thought this was Dan’s team.”

“That’s why I said I’ll recommend it.”

The one-armed man sighed. “Sometimes, it’s hard not to hate you so damn much,” he grumbled before flashing his oldest friend a smile.

“Then it must really piss you off that you named your kid after me, huh?”

Drew Loder stood on a balcony overlooking the floor of Bedford International Airport, holding a sign that read ‘NVA’ in one hand, and his girlfriend’s hand in the other. Odds were that she would see the new arrivals long before he saw the sign: Mary Hanson was a Neo-Sapien whose ability granted her keen eye sight. With her powers, she could read fine print across a football field, and without squinting. Armed with photographs of each of the new students, she scanned the crowd, looking for any sight of their would-be underclassmen.

Five of the new students were coming in on Flight 317 from California—from Los Angeles, Merced, Sacramento, and two from San Francisco, to be precise. All five of the new students had been told to look for the sign with the school’s initials on it—that representatives from the school would be meeting them outside the gate.

“Should be any minute now,” Drew said, looking over his shoulder to the arrival board.

Mary couldn’t help but chuckle. “Getting impatient are we?” She rested her blonde head on his shoulders. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear there was somewhere else you’d rather be…”

“There is,” Drew said.

Mary lifted her head and fixed him with a look that was equal parts shock and indignation.

“The sooner we get these new kids settled in, the sooner I can take my beautiful girlfriend out for the most romantic evening of her life.” Drew checked the arrival board again. “Honestly, I’m considering just going up there and magnetically landing the plane myself.”

“Something tells me the FAA wouldn’t be too happy with you.”

“What are they going to do?” Drew asked playfully. “Sic the Vindicators on me? Dad, I could take; Uncle Drew could be a problem though…”

Mary couldn’t help but laugh: “I’d be more worried about your mom coming after you.”

Drew sucked air through his teeth. “Yeah, she’d tear me apart. Josie’d probably help her.”

“I can just see your sister holding you down while your mom lays into you. Your brother’d probably get in there too!”

“Jim? Jim wouldn’t hurt a fly…”

Mary smiled as she held her boyfriend and looked out across the sea of travelers. “It seems unreal that it was only three years ago that I was getting picked up here. Simone Davies picked me up—do you remember her?”

“The short girl with the annoying voice? She secreted a glue-like substance or something, right?”

“Yeah. I remember being so scared of this… I’d never been away from my family. I mean, I’d stayed over at friends’ houses, or gone to camp, but never anything like this… And now, we’re about to leave it. Just one more year…

“In three years, who do you think these kids we’re picking up today will be picking up? Do you think they’ll be thinking back, telling each other about the day they met us?”

Before Drew could answer, his cell began to ring. “It’s the school,” he said, checking the display. Raising the slim device to his face, he pressed the button to accept the call. “Hello? Yes, Ash… Miss Monroe, Mary and I are—what? How did he…? Okay. Thank you, sir. We’ll see you soon.”

“Is everything all right?” Mary asked as he slid the phone back into his pocket.

“Scratch one kid. I guess Eric Vaughn is some kind of teleporter and he’s already at the school.”

“Excuse me?” Drew and Mary turned and took in the sight of a tall, thin girl with long dark hair standing before them. Standing beside her was an Asian youth who wore an apathetic look. “You’re from the school, right? I’m Regina, and this is Ken.”

Drew grinned. “The dynasty brats!” he laughed.

Mary rolled her eyes. “Hi, I’m Mary, and this is my boyfriend, Drew.”

“Drew Loder?” Regina asked. “My parents told me about you.”

“All good, I hope,” Drew said with an uneasy laugh.

“Yeah,” offered Regina bashfully.

Something seemed to click with Drew suddenly. “Wait, ‘Ken’?” He looked at the back of the sign, to the list of names he’d been given. “I don’t have a Ken on my list. I have two boys, and I know you’re not Eric-”

“I prefer ‘Ken’,” the boy said. He continued to exude a melancholic aura. “It’s not my legal name, but it’s what I’d prefer to be called.”

Drew looked at the back of the card again. “Yeah,” he said, uneasily, “I can see why. So your dad is-”


“I didn’t think he could-”

“I’m adopted.”

Drew nodded. “Well, that’s…” He checked the arrival gate. “Well, look, the other kids were supposed to be on the same flight as you two. We’re still waiting on Cyndi Brightman and Aisha Stein.”

“Cyndi Brightman,” Regina asked, “of Brightman Vineyards & Winery?”

Mary gave the girl a look of surprise. “You know her?”

“We saw her on the plane,” Regina said, almost apologetically, “throwing a temper tantrum because she wasn’t booked on a private jet or something. Then she wouldn’t shut up because she was booked in coach with the rest of us peasants.”

“Okay, well, we just-” Drew was cut off by Mary putting a hand on his shoulder. Turning to her, he followed her outstretched hand towards the gate, and a nervous looking girl with caramel-colored skin. “Is that one of them?”

“Her boarding pass says ‘Aisha Stein’,” Mary said. Regina and Ken exchanged looks of surprise. “She’s one of them.”

Drew nodded, and motioned for the others to follow him over to the girl. “Hi,” he said, cheerily. “Aisha?” Her nod was all the permission he needed to continue. “I’m Drew, and this is Mary. We’re from the school. These are Regina and Ken—they’re new students too.”

“Hi,” Regina said, stepping forward, and offering her hand to the new girl.

“H-hi,” Aisha said, nervously.

“We’re just waiting on one other new student, and then we’ll take you-”

“EXCUSE ME!” The quintet turned and took in the sight of a young girl glaring down a middle-aged man. “You think just because we’re in New York, you can throw manners out the Goddamn window? You’ve got all this space to walk, fatass! If you need to run someone over, maybe you pick someone who can’t buy whatever fledgling company made the mistake of employing you, and then tossing you, and that hideous suit on the street!”

Drew looked worriedly to Regina and Ken. “Is that…?”

“Cyndi Brightman?” Regina asked.

Drew nodded.

“In the flesh.”

Drew sighed dejectedly, and turned to his girlfriend. “In the event that these kids are one day telling new generations of Neo-Sapiens about their first day at the New Vindicators Academy, let’s hope they omit the parts about Cyndi.

“They’re going to give those kids nightmares…”

Harold Wolfram was an accountant, currently employed by the IRS. At five-foot-six, the forty-six-year-old man only barely weighed over one-hundred pounds. Premature balding had delivered its opening salvo four years ago, and had been relentlessly gaining ground ever since. The man wore thick glasses, wrinkled suits the color of bowel movements, had not upgraded his cell phone in six years, and drove a beige Volvo.

Anzehela Wolfram, or Angel Ivanova, as she was better known, had been a supermodel fifteen years ago. Looking more like a twenty-something than a thirty-five-year-old, the Russian woman still took the occasional job and graced the pages of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

Harold thought nothing of the baffled looks they got as they climbed out of the car. He was used to his Amazonian bride drawing eyes. He often joked that Anzehela was a Neo-Sapien who had the power to open doors with a smile. The attentive gaze of the students congregated on the front lawn was nothing new to him, nor his son…

Dirk Wolfram opened the door and stepped out of the car. He had seen pictures in the brochures, but this was his first look at the school he’d spend the next four years attending.

The doors of the main entrance opened, expelling a man and a woman from them. The man was in his late-thirties and stocky, with a cap of greasy black curls topping his skull; the woman was a pretty blonde who looked to be in her early twenties. Were it not for his mother’s presence, Dirk noted, she might have turned a head or two. “Mister and Missus Wolfram,” she said, greeting the couple politely. There was a faint twang to her speech: she was obviously not from around here. “Dirk.” She gave the Freshman a warm, welcoming smile. “I’m Miss Monroe, the Headmaster’s personal assistant. This is Mister Kennedy, our custodian. If you’ll follow me, I’ll help get you oriented while Mister Kennedy sees to moving Dirk’s things into his room?”

Dirk’s father fumbled with retrieving his keys from his pocket, which gave Mister Kennedy ample time to gaze longingly at Dirk’s mother’s chest. When the man handed off the keys, the janitor seemed surprised, but quickly recovered. Whether Dirk’s parents had failed to notice the offense or whether they simply didn’t care, Dirk didn’t know. His father simply nodded to Miss Monroe, and the Wolfram family was led past the gawkers, and into the institute.

“I’m sure you know the basics,” the secretary said as she led them into the foyer. “The school first opened in 2001 as a place where Neo-Sapiens could be taught to control their powers and use them to defend themselves and their family. A lot’s changed in the last twenty-four years though: the need to protect ourselves isn’t as great, given the strides civil rights advocates like President Bedford made. Still, the New Vindicators Academy is the best environment for young people to learn about their powers.”

“You said ‘ourselves’,” Dirk’s father said. “Are you a Neo-Sapien as well, Miss Monroe?”

“Mm-hmm,” the blonde said. “I’m actually an alumni: I graduated from the New Vindicators Academy in 2023. My fondest memories are here. This is where I met my best-friends; this is where I cried over my first broken heart. I love it here, and when I left…” She breathed in deeply as she looked around the hallway. “I wanted to come back. That’s why I’m studying education at Columbia: in a few more years, I’ll hopefully be teaching here.”

“So, what’s your power?” Dirk asked.

“My ability lets me make beautiful music. You hand me an instrument, and even if I’ve never seen it, I can play it better than anyone who ever lived.”

“So, I take it you’ll be teaching music when you graduate?” asked Dirk’s father.

Miss Monroe shook her head. “There’s a fine line between being able to play anything, and knowing how to play anything. I still can’t read sheet music—I have to play entirely by ear. It’s hard to teach anyone how to do something when I have no clue how I’m doing it.”

“Then why are you not a best-selling recording artist?” Dirk’s mother asked.

The young woman blushed. “I, uh… I get nervous when I’m put in front of big groups of people.” Miss Monroe sighed. “Besides, I like it here. This school—this is what I’m truly passionate about.”

She showed the Wolfram family to the Common Room, where a handful of students were lounging around: some were watching television, while others were playing pool. Beyond there, she took them to the cafeteria, and explained when meals were served. She walked them through the classrooms and the dorms, finally stopping before Dirk’s room. “Your mom and dad have some papers to sign at the headmaster’s office,” Miss Monroe said to Dirk, “but for now, why don’t you go ahead and get settled in? In about an hour or so, there’s going to be an assembly in the lower levels—we’ll come back by to take you down.”

Dirk nodded and smiled at his parents. “I guess I’ll see you in a bit then,” he said, giving each of his parents a hug and a kiss. “I love you,” he told both of them.

It was only when they were out of eyeshot that he gave the door knob a twist. Taking a deep breath, Dirk slipped into his dorm room, and came face-to-face with his roommate…

When Dirk entered, the brown-haired boy looked up from one of several boxes of laser discs cluttering the floor. Dirk gave the boy a friendly smile, and crossed the room to offer out his hand in greeting. “Hi,” he said pleasantly. “I’m Dirk Wolfram. I guess we’re roommates?”

“Looks that way,” the other boy said, shaking the limb. “John Saxon. How ya doin’?”

“So far, so good. I only got a quick tour just now…” Spotting his luggage, Dirk made his way over to begin unpacking his things. “By any chance, do you know where the school chapel is? Or maybe where I can find the chaplain? I want to introduce myself-”

“What the hell’s a chaplain?” John asked.

Dirk gasped. “Language!” he hissed.

John raised an eyebrow at the other boy. “Huh?” he asked as he hung up a movie poster, depicting a scantily-clad woman in white face paint.

Dirk eyed the framed poster oddly. “What’s that?” he asked, horrified.

John looked from Dirk to the poster and back again. “Frankenhooker?” John asked. “Okay, Jeffrey Franken’s fiancé dies in freak lawnmower accident, and so he starts putting her back together, right? But he uses pieces from hookers, okay? So then, when he animates her, she starts going around banging dudes and killing them.

“It’s awesome.”

Dirk looked horrified. “And… this is… a film?”

John nodded enthusiastically.

“And you have a poster of it?”

John nodded, this time more slowly.

“And this poster is going to hang… in our room… where I can see it?”

“If you want, I can take it down.”

Dirk breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s just… I don’t think the school would be too happy with us hanging up-” He dropped his voice to a whisper. “-pornography.”

“It’s not pornography,” John said. “When it was released, it was given an R rating. Not X; not NC-17—R.”

“But you said that she… It has indecent moments.”

“Hell yeah, it does!”


“And it has even more indecent moments on the unrated version! It’s a good movie though! You should watch it before you just write it off-”

“I couldn’t,” Dirk said. “I’ve seen the occasional PG film, but never-”

“Bill Murray—Bill Freaking Murray—said, ‘If you see only one movie this year, it should be Frankenhooker.’ Bill. Murray.”

“I highly doubt that the voice of Garfield gave his approval to… to smut!” Dirk stammered.

“It’s not smut: it’s a cinematic masterpiece.”

“Sorry,” Dirk said, “I didn’t mean to offend you. I just tend to shy away from depictions of violence and… sex…” He again dropped his voice to a whisper. “I’m sorry if I came across as judgmental, but I’m just not interested in personally being exposed to that sort of material.”

John appeared to be at ease. “It’s all good. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. I’ve got other movies.”

“Do you have The Fox and The Hound?” Dirk asked.

“No, but I have Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS.”

“SS?” asked Dirk. “Like the Nazis?”

John nodded.

“So, it’s a historical piece?” Dirk asked.

John hesitated before shrugging. “Sure, why not?”

Dirk smiled. “I doubt we’ll have time to watch it now—there’s an assembly in an hour—but we can watch it later.”

“Sounds good!” John said, slapping Dirk on the back. “I’m gonna hold you to it!”

Hikari sat in the hallway of the boy’s dorms, idly flipping through the pictures on his phone. At the sound of a door opening, he quickly backed out of the album, and pretended to compose a text message: his thumbs would feign to hit an imaginary keypad, but in reality weren’t even hitting the screen.

It was only when Paul and Oliver were gone that he even considered opening the album again. Before he could do so, another door opened—his door. He looked up at Neige Altair scanning the hallway before slipping out into it. “Thanks, Hikari,” she whispered, pulling her blonde hair out of her shirt.

She didn’t waste any other time on small talk—not when girls were forbidden from being in this building. Instead, she slipped off, and Hikari slipped back into his room…

His roommate was still lying in bed—naked, Hikari could only presume, from his bare chest. Hardly the cleanest of students, Luke Meinstein often left his clothes lying across the floor. What he’d been wearing might have been there, or it might have been elsewhere.

Knowing that his roommate never would, Hikari bent down to pick up the condom wrapper, and dropped it in the waste basket. “What’re you doing!?!” Luke exclaimed. He threw off the covers and Hikari winced: he was naked. “Neige’s mom’s is one of the housekeepers!” He was on his feet in an instant. Snatching the wrapper up, he crumbled it up and set it down on the dresser by the door. “Do you know how bad it’d be if she sees that?”

Hikari shrugged. “Maybe she’d think it was mine.”

Luke couldn’t help but laugh. “Sorry, man… I’ve been your best-friend since we were, what, six? Seven? I don’t think I’ve ever even seen you with a girl, so why would Missus Altair assume it was yours?” Luke bent down, picked up a pair of boxer shorts, and brought them to his face. After a quick sniff, he seemed satisfied with their freshness, and stepped into them. “You think anymore about what I said about Sabrina?”

Hikari shook his head. “She just got dumped…”

“Yeah, like, three months ago. She’s had the whole summer to get over Jim.”

“We’re on the same team. If I ask her out, it’s going to make things awkward…”

“Me and Neige are on the same team.”

“Neige said ‘yes’,” Hikari said icily.

“And so will Brina, man! Don’t sell yourself short: you’re a good guy. I mean, once you get past the creepy, quiet vibe you give off. You just need to…” Luke tugged on a pair of jeans, and set about looking for a T-shirt. “I dunno, emphasize your best features.”

“And those are…?”

“You’re best-friends with me.” Luke flashed him his most winning smile. “Look, man… We’re juniors now! I’d say we’re gonna be runnin’ this place next year, but we’re gonna be runnin’ it this year! Last year was diesel! Vanguard trounced Drew Loder’s team, and who led us to victory over the golden boy?” He stabbed a finger into Hikari’s chest. “You did. I don’t get why you don’t just embrace it: you and me? We are royalty, this year.

“Hell, you could have any girl you wanted.”

Hikari couldn’t help but grin at the thought of that.

“So, you gonna make your move on Sabrina, or what?” He didn’t notice Hikari’s mood dour. “If you’re still worried she’ll turn you down, I’ll get Neige to talk to her—kinda feel things out.” Stepping into a pair of flip-flops, Luke grabbed the crumbled up wrapper. “I gotta go flush this. Mom, Neige, and I are gonna head into the city to meet my dad for dinner. You wanna come?”

“Nah,” Hikari said. “I’ve got other plans.”

Luke didn’t question that he was Hikari’s only friend, and that the likelihood of Hikari having other plans was slim to none. “All right, I’ll see you later. Have fun, man.”

Hikari said nothing as Luke left the room. For several minutes, he simply stared off, and got lost in his own thoughts. After so long, he stood up and began trying to clean, only to give up a few minutes in. Sitting down on the bottom bunk, he sighed dejectedly. He reached in his pocket and took out his phone; he opened the hidden album and smiled…

The pictures were hardly indecent. As Freshmen, Luke had tried to coerce Hikari to use his powers to render himself invisible and sneak into the girl’s locker room. His conscience, coupled with the fear of what his parents would do to him if they ever found out, had kept him from succumbing to peer pressure, but last year, he hadn’t been able to help himself… Last year, he’d started taking photographs of one girl when she thought no one else was around. He had pictures of her studying, pictures of her sleeping, pictures of her talking to friends, pictures of her practicing the guitar…

One of his favorites was of her getting out of the pool.

Laying down on the bottom bunk, Hikari unbuckled his belt. He unzipped his pants. Wiggling a ways out of his clothes, Hikari set about to abusing himself both mentally and physically.

Lying in Luke’s bed, he caught a scent from the pillow beside him. Realizing it was Neige, he closed his eyes tight. He held onto the mental image of what was on his phone and buried his face in the pillow. Neige’s scent and the imagined image of his crush getting out of the pool overcame his senses. Soon, another sensation swept over his body, and only a few seconds later, he was done.

He wiped his right hand off on Luke’s sheets and prayed the boy would simply assume that the stains would be from before. He set his phone down long enough to clothe himself again. When he was finished, he rose up to his feet, and moved to steal another glimpse at the pool picture.

A popup message was on his phone—over the picture he’d used. “Message Sent,” it said.

His eyes widened in alarm; his heart began to race. Hikari backed out of the album and went to his messages—praying he hadn’t just set that picture to Luke, or Neige, or his parents.

He had accidentally sent it to one of the Freshmen—one of the new students he had met only an hour ago. In an attempt to be helpful, Hikari gave the boy his cell phone number—told him to call if he needed anything—and the boy had reciprocated the gesture.

Hikari had sent the picture to Eric Vaughn.

“So, what do you think?”

Derryl took another sip of his milkshake. “It’s okay,” he affirmed.

“Okay?” the blonde boy asked. “Okay!?! It’s better than ‘okay’!”

Derryl stared down at the cup ringed with the In-and-Out Burger logo. “It’s no different from what you’d get anywhere else…”

“You realize that what you’re drinking, you can only acquire in five states?”

“And yet, it doesn’t taste much different from what I could get in the other forty-five,” Derryl mused. “The fries were pretty good.”

“‘The fries were…’” Eric threw his hands up in surrender. “It’s like you have no taste.”

“I dunno, maybe you’re just overselling this.” As Derryl raised the cup once more, Eric’s eyes went to the string of digits sprawled on the backs of Derryl’s hands. They didn’t look tattooed—some of them were slightly smudged—and they seemed to circle the dark-headed boy’s paw.

He was an enigma, and Eric couldn’t resist a good mystery…

“So, you were saying you’re from Vancouver?” Eric asked. Maybe if he started with a little small talk, Derryl would slip, and reveal the purpose of the numbers.

“Not originally,” Derryl said.

“So, where are you from originally?”

A mischievous grin flashed on Derryl’s face. “Far away.” Before Eric could question it, Derryl explained that his father’s job forced the family to frequently move. “I’ve lived all over,” he finally said, after listing several of the places he had called home.

“But you’ve never had In & Out?”

“No, the places I’ve lived have had good food.”

Eric rolled his eyes. “No taste,” he reiterated.

Derryl peered down the straw of his milk shake. “I thought something was missing. You’re right: it has no taste…”

The blonde boy sighed and threw up his arms in defeat.

“So,” Derryl mused, “your powers… You manipulate spatial topography, yes?”

“Yeah,” Eric said, “makes getting around a breeze.”

“Your parents must be loaded. I mean, with a power like that, they could sell their services as travel agents for people afraid of flying—business men who don’t want to suffer a sixteen hour flight to Beijing could pay for the convenience of instant transportation…”

“If only,” Eric said dejectedly. “Mom’s just a paralegal. I think the most use she gets out of her abilities is cutting her commute down to a few seconds.”

“A missed venture then,” Derryl said, uninterestedly.

“It’s not her fault,” Eric explained. “Mom doesn’t have the strength I do. Granted, I can’t jump oceans without really pushing it, but mom can’t even get out of the state without coming close to giving herself an aneurism.”

Derryl shrugged. “Back home, I had a friend who could do what you do: she barely had any limits—she could go anywhere.”

“What was her name?”


Eric’s eyes bulged. “Haley Atwell?”

Derryl scrutinized Eric’s shocked expression. “Kipling,” he said. “Haley Kipling. Why? Who’s Haley Atwell?”

“She’s my mom.”

“Imagine that,” Derryl said, “two people with the same first name. Will wonders never cease?” He coughed. “I thought you said your last name was ‘Vaughn’?”

“It is,” Eric offered. “My parents split up forever ago, and my mom remarried about five years back. When we moved to Merced, it about killed me to not be around my dad… My dad, and the beach. I wanted to go home so badly.” He sighed. “That’s when my powers manifested.

“What about you?” Eric asked. “How’d you get yours?” He scrunched his face up in thought. “Wait—what are your powers?”

Derryl opened his mouth, only to be silenced by Eric’s cell phone buzzing. The tanned boy’s eyes bulged as he checked the screen. “What is it?” Derryl asked.

Eric answered by turning his phone around, showing Derryl the picture of an attractive blonde girl climbing out of a pool. “When I popped over here this morning, I had a little trouble finding my way around. I ran into one of the other students—nice guy; kind of weird; said his parents work here or something. We exchanged numbers—he told me to get a hold of him if I needed any more help…”

Derryl looked over his Eric’s shoulder and ogled the picture. “And that’s him?” Derryl asked, raising an eyebrow. “He looks… chesty.”

“No, he sent it to me…” The phone buzzed again, and Eric raised an eyebrow. “It’s him again. Guess he didn’t mean to send that… He’s asking me to delete it-”

“You’re not going to, are you?”

Eric flashed Derryl a confused look.

“Think about it: if that’s his girlfriend, she’s not going to appreciate him sending people that picture, in which case, he’d be willing to do almost anything to keep you from telling her about his slip. If she’s not his girlfriend? Well then, he might really be inclined to do what you ask, to keep her from knowing he has that picture.

“I’m just saying, there could be worse things than a teacher’s kid owing you a favor.”

Eric looked down at the picture—his thumb hovering between the ‘Delete’ and ‘Cancel’ buttons. With a heavy sigh, he decided whether or not to keep the picture—whether or not to seize leverage—and stuffed his cell phone back in his pocket. “So,” he said, looking to change the subject, “back to your powers…”

He looked up at her approach and registered the disgruntled look on her face. “Can I help you?” he asked.

“Are you the headmaster?” she spat.

“N-no,” he stammered. “I’m-”

She didn’t wait for any introductions. She grabbed the doorknob, gave a twist, and threw open the doors of the headmaster’s office.

The middle-aged man danced around the secretary’s desk and followed her into the cavernous room. “The headmaster’s not in,” he said.

“I can see that,” the girl railed. “Where the hell is he?”

“Is there a problem, Miss…?”

The girl was taken aback. “Don’t you know who I am?” she demanded.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I haven’t-”

“Cyndi Brightman, of the ‘We’re Going to Build a New Wing, a Library, and Maybe a Weight Room’ Brightmans.”

“Mister Cron,” the man offered, “of the…” His shoulders sagged in defeat. “I’ve got nothing.”

“I’m going to try this again,” Cyndi said, “but I’m going to talk very slowly, in the hopes you’re able to understand: Where. The. Hell. Is. The. Head. Master?”

“He’s out… doing headmaster-y things.”

Cyndi rolled her eyes. “You’re useless.” She looked down his lanky frame. “And that tie is hideous.”

Mister Cron looked down as he held his tie up gingerly. “It was a gift from my wife…” he muttered.

“Your wife has hideous taste—in both ties and men.”

“You’re not a very nice person.”

Cyndi rolled her eyes. “So, are you the headmaster’s secretary, or…?”

“No, that’s Miss Monroe. I’m a teacher here. I teach-”

“Look, unless you can fix the problem with my room, I don’t care.”

“There’s a problem with your room?”

“Yeah,” Cyndi growled, “there’s someone in it.”

Mister Cron fixed her with a confused stare. “Is it your roommate?”

“No, that’s impossible. See, I’m getting a private room.”

“No, everyone here gets a roommate. I mean, unless there’s an odd number of girls, in which case, one girl would have a private room-”

“Yeah,” Cyndi said, “and that’s me.”

“Look, I’m sorry, but I think-”

“Do you like working here?” Cyndi asked. “Do you enjoy having a job that supports your wife’s addiction to procuring hideous ties? Shove this girl off on someone else, or I’m calling my father, and getting you tossed out on your ass. Capisce?”

“Sorry, I only deal with entitled little girls on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Mister Cron growled, turning from the girl and leaving the outer office. “And only then by appointment.”

With a groan, Cyndi let herself into the headmaster’s office and sat down behind his desk, determined to stay rooted there until he agreed to the first of her many demands.

Ben Altair sighed as he watched the study body funnel into the gymnasium. “God, they make me feel old,” he grumbled.

“You feel old?” Peter Titus, the doctor who serviced the school, shot the music teacher a baleful glare. “My daughter graduates this year. God help me, my Teddy Bear’s almost an adult…”

“Do you mind?” asked Alicia Loder. “I’m trying to maintain this fantasy world where Drew’s five-years-old forever.”

“They grow up so fast,” Reon Titus said.

“Too damn fast,” Ben grumbled. “You know, we could always get that one girl from the European school—the one who could manipulate people’s ages?”

“I’m pretty sure she’s dead, Ben,” Alicia said. “Remember? The Sixth Reich?”

Ben cursed the team of Teutonic super-villains.

Peter slipped an arm around his wife. The Japanese woman laid her head on his chest. “Last night, Teddy talked to us about going on the pill,” Peter confessed. It evoked a string of whispered profanities from Ben, and a startled look from Alicia. “She’s not even dating anybody—says she just wanted to be prepared in case…”

“I know my senior year would have went a lot smoother if I’d had the gall to talk to my parents about going on the pill.” Alicia sighed mournfully as she thought back on when she was her son’s age. “Don’t get me wrong—I love Drew with all my heart, and I don’t regret having him, but… things would have been so much easier if Magnus hadn’t knocked me up while we were still in high school.

“Makes me so glad Drew and Mary are saving themselves for marriage.”

“I know,” Ben said, breathing a sigh of relief, “Neige and Luke are waiting too.”

Reon couldn’t help but chortle, winning her a look that was part-confusion, part-rage from Ben. “What?” he asked.

“Sorry,” Reon said. “I just assumed those two had already… had…”

“When they started dating, I talked to Daniel and Breanne. We sat the kids down and told them how it was going to be.”

“And you think that did it?” Alicia asked incredulously. “No offense, Ben, but those two started dating when they were freshmen. It may only have been two years ago, but they’ve done a whole lot of growing up since then. Things have changed. They have changed.”

Ben shook his head, dispelling whatever doubt the other faculty members tried to place on him. “No,” he said, “Luke’s a good kid, and he respects me too much to touch my girl.”

“Ben,” Peter said cautiously, “they’re sixteen-going-on-seventeen. They’re practically hormones in tennis shoes. They-”

“Just because your kid’s planning on jumping into bed with some guy, doesn’t mean my Neige is, okay?”

The others read the stern-set jaw and knew better than to push the issue. They simply said nothing, and let the awkwardness descend over them.

Fortunately, it wasn’t long before the headmaster joined them on the dais.

His Sketchers were on their last legs, and in desperate need of new laces: their aglets had exploded into a shower of threads. As he reached the podium, he removed his hands from the pockets of the slate jeans his black V-neck shirt was tucked into. Reaching into the pocket of the mustard-yellow jacket he wore, he produced his notes. The headmaster tapped them on the surface of the podium before running a hand through his long, graying hair.

“Good morning,” Michuru Himura intoned, smiling down at the forty-two students seated below him, “and welcome to another year at the New Vindicators Academy.”


Cosmic Scion
Cosmic Scion
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Tabula Rasa #1 [Part II]

Post by Michuru81 » Thu Nov 28, 2013 9:41 pm

Gene Stephenson’s first period class was music, with Mister Altair. Mister Altair’s experience made him the second most dangerous person in the room. From what Gene understood, his ability allowed him to generate ice. He wasn’t sure how—he had yet to see the feat performed—but what information he had pressed the other students for implied that these powers could be used both offensively and defensively. With a thought, Mister Altair could create a weapon, or give himself armor. He could lower the temperature in the room, or coat the floor in a sheet of ice, denying an assailant traction.

There was a lot that Mister Altair could do with a thought, but he still needed to think. His defenses were not reflexive; he was hardly physically imposing, and he did not carry himself like someone who knew how to fight: if need be, a swift, powerful blow could put the man down for the count.

If he was forced to bring Mister Altair down, he knew he would need to do so while the man was within five feet of Eric Vaughn: Gene estimated that once he launched an attack, Eric could respond by using his powers to escape, and possibly return with reinforcements. Based on what Gene had seen of Eric’s reflexes, he would have enough time to lunge five feet from Mister Altair to incapacitate Eric.

After felling Eric, Mickie Daniels was the next biggest threat. As Gene understood it, Mickie’s power let her transform her flesh to steel. In her armored form, it would be difficult to inflict damage. Given how she carried herself, however, he doubted she would be much of a threat. After all, she didn’t have the training he did. She may have been powerful, but if she didn’t know what to do with that power? Gene was confident he could direct her wild, powerful blows into their classmates.

Neige Altair, Paul Hernández, and Remington Eastman were the least of his worries: none of their powers made them a match for him. As he understood it, Neige’s ability to create ice was inaccessible until after she had absorbed an unknown amount of energy; Paul’s power was asepsis—a flawless fortitude—which would not protect him from injury; while Remington’s augmented agility meant that he could potentially dodge the bulk of Gene’s attacks, the other aspect of his ability—his hollow bones—meant that when Gene finally did connect, it would be devastating.

No one in Gene’s first period class would pose a threat, should the need to kill them all arise, but that wasn’t taking Derryl Isaacson into account…

With Eric down, Gene would need to counteract Derryl. Derryl was a problem simply because Gene had no clue what the boy’s powers were. It was beginning to seem as though no one knew what gift the dark-headed boy possessed…

Gene didn’t like Derryl: there were too many unknowns about him. Why did he have numbers written on his hands? Why were the contacts in his cell phone entered in some sort of unreadable symbols? The biggest question though was what were Derryl’s powers? If the time came when Gene had to take out everyone in the room, Derryl was an unknown element. Did his powers make him so dangerous that they warranted his death first, or were Derryl’s abilities as useless as Paul’s, in which case Gene could afford to let him live thirty-six seconds longer than the others?

Gene needed more information, but he knew he had to be covert about retrieving it. If he outright demanded to know what Derryl’s genetic capabilities were, suspicion might be raised.

“Well, for the first day, classes are short,” Mister Altair explained. “We’re just going to go over the syllabus. First though, I thought we could go around the room and introduce ourselves. I’ll start: I’m Mister Altair, and I started playing the saxophone about twenty-four years ago. I’m a Neo-Sapien who can generate ice, and I came to the New Vindicators Academy for my senior year. After graduating, I attended Julliard. I married my best-friend, and we are blessed to have the best daughter ever.” He smiled at Neige. “And after graduation, I was invited to come back here and teach music.

“So, maybe just… introduce yourself, tell us what instrument you play, and say something about yourself. Neige?”

The blonde girl was blushing as she sat forward. “I’m Neige. I’m a junior. I play the saxophone, and I’m learning to play guitar. Oh, and I have the sweetest boyfriend ever put on this earth.”

Mister Altair looked back to his attendance sheet. “Michelle?”

“It’s Mickie,” a dark-haired girl said. “Mickie Daniels. My mom’s been teaching me to play the guitar since I was about five. I just recently started picking up the drums and mouth harp.”

Mister Altair smiled at his newest student. “Welcome to the school, Mickie,” he said before turning to a skinny boy with high cheek bones. “Remington?”

“I’m Remington Eastman, and I’m a piano virtuoso. I also recently started a career as a model.”


Paul Hernández brushed his long, dark hair out of his face. “I’m Paul,” the deep-voiced senior said, waving to the trio of freshmen in their midst. “I play the trombone. I’m a Scorpio; I enjoy candle-lit dinners, and romantic movies.” He turned to Mickie and accompanied his most winning smile with a wink.

Mister Altair cleared his throat. “Derryl?”

“I play the piano.” He gestured to the spatial manipulator. “That is Eric. He is my roommate.”

Gene shot daggers at the boy: he seemed intent on giving up nothing personal—nothing Gene could use to disable him, should the time to act ever come.

“Okay…” Mister Altair said, apparently also put off by the youth’s brevity. “Gene?”

Gene stood up. “My name is Gene Stephenson,” he said.

The other students fought to stifle the laughs brought on by his rigidity.

“Do you play any instruments?” Mister Altair asked.

“Not as of yet,” Gene said. “I learn quickly, however.”

“Oh. Well, do you… want to tell us anything about yourself?”

“While I would ordinarily not disclose information that could be considered sensitive to mission parameters, Captain Webb has informed me that all documents regarding Project Ascension have been deemed unclassified.”

Mister Altair raised an eyebrow. “Project what?”

“Conducted at the El Cazador military installation in the Mojave Desert, the United States Army sponsored the program in an effort to create living, breathing sentries who would be charged with safeguarding humanity from Neo-Sapiens, and other super-powered beings.

“After seven failed attempts to fabricate a living being possessing the genetic augmentation to stand against a super-human target, Ascend:08 and myself came into being. After completing our field testing, we were tasked with eliminating threats to national security. When my counterpart failed to return, the project underwent scrutiny from the Secretary of Defense, who ordered the project terminated.

“I was given the name Gene Stephenson, and at the urging of one of this school’s more prestigious alumni, Doctor Jason Lamperouge, I was enrolled in this school, where Captain Webb insisted that studying music would help to further my development.”

Mister Altair simply stared at Gene in horror; the other students looked to each other in confusion.
Eric nervously raised his hand. “Uh, my name is Eric,” he said in an attempt to overcome the uncomfortable silence Gene’s introduction had brought. “I don’t play anything, and I’m from California.”

“All right, everyone,” Mister Brown said as he strode into the classroom, “I’m Mister Brown and this is Algebra 1A. Let’s go ahead and get started: I’m going to go ahead and take roll. When I call your name, let me know what you go by, okay?

“Matthew Baker?”

The boy with long, dishwater blonde hair raised his hand. “Matt,” he said.

Mister Brown made a note on his roster. “Cyndi Brightman?”

“She wasn’t feeling well,” her roommate said. “She’s still in bed.”

Mister Brown froze, looking down at the roster. “I’m sorry, I’m not sure how to-”

“I prefer ‘Ken Porter’,” said Matt’s roommate. The Chinese boy perpetually looked agitated; this moment was no different from any other.

“How do you pronounce-?”

“I prefer ‘Ken Porter’,” the boy reiterated.

“Porter?” Mister Brown asked. “But it says here that your last name is Cr-”

“I prefer ‘Ken Porter’.”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t call you-”

“Put it down in your grade book as whatever you want, but while addressing me, why don’t you just make it easier on us both, and address me as ‘Ken Porter’?”

Mister Brown stopped for a moment, looking strangely at the roster. “Oh, my God!” the girl sitting beside him exclaimed. “How do you pronounce that?”

Ken rolled his eyes. “Can we please just move on?”

Mister Brown looked to the girl, then back to Ken. “Your last name… By any chance, is your father-?”

“Yup,” Ken said apathetically. “So, moving on?”

Mister Brown cleared his throat before continuing. “Mickie Daniels?”

Without looking up, Mickie waved her hand overhead.

“Derryl Isaacson?”

“Derryl’s fine,” Derryl intoned.

“Heidi Lancaster?”

A bored-looking girl barely raised her hand.

“Sarah Manther?”


“Aisha Stein?”

The girl next to Ken raised her hand.

“Regina Sway?”

As the tall, thin girl at the back of the room raised her hand, Aisha turned and looked towards Ken. “Hi,” she whispered. He turned, and took in the sight of her flirtatious smile. “I’m Aisha.”

“Ken,” he said warily.

“You’re Japanese, or some shit, right?”

Ken raised an eyebrow. “Chinese,” he offered.

“So, you’re like, super good at math, right?”

Ken shrugged. “I guess?”

“Well, what kind of grades do you get?”

“Miss Stein! Mister… Porter!” Their rotund instructor glared at them. “Is there something you want to share with the rest of the class?”

“No, sir,” Aisha said.

Ken simply shrugged. “She was just telling me that all Asian people look the same to her.”

As several of their classmates fought back the urge to laugh, Aisha fervently denied such accusations. “I was just asking if he was good at math,” she said. “In case I needed help from time-to-time?”

Mister Brown rolled his eyes. “If you need help, you can see me at the end of the day. If you still need help, we can always see about bumping you down to Algebra 1.”

Again, some of the other students tried to contain their laughter. Aisha said nothing more: she simply quietly glared at Ken.

After the shortened class, Aisha stopped the boy in the hall. “What the hell?” she asked.

“What?” Ken asked.

“Why’d you do that?” Aisha said. “Everyone probably thinks I’m a racist or something now.”

Ken shrugged. “Who cares?” he muttered, pushing past the girl. Aisha was quick though, and planted herself in front of him soon enough.

“I care,” she warned.

“I don’t.”

Again, Ken tried to get past Aisha; again, Aisha stopped him. “What’s your problem with me?” she demanded.

Ken sighed. “How did you see my name?”

Aisha’s eyes bulged. “What?”

“In class—when Mister Brown was doing roll call: you asked how my name was pronounced. You saw it, right? How?”

“It… It’s my power. I see things…”

“Like my name?”

“It’s complicated,” Aisha said. “Like… okay, when I concentrate on a person? My senses? Sight, sound, touch, smell, taste? They get overridden with that person’s senses. It’s like we share the same body, only I never leave mine.”

Ken glared at her. “So, when you were asking me about my grades…?”

She sighed in defeat. “I was feeling out for someone to cheat off of. Please don’t tell anybody.”

“Only if you promise not to tell anyone about my name.”

“No problem!” Aisha cheerily said. “Can—can I ask how that’s pronounced though?”

Ken flashed her a disgruntled look.

“Is it ethnic, or something?”

“I don’t like my name,” Ken said, “and I like talking about it even less.”

“I can see why.”

Ken shook his head. “It’s not… It’s not my first name I have a problem with. I mean, it’s bad, sure… but it’s my surname. It’s bad enough that some of the other dynasty kids know who my dad is, but I don’t want it getting out, okay?”

Aisha raised an eyebrow. “Why? Who’s your dad?”

Ken sighed. “He’s a Vindicator.”

“Which one?”

“You know how America has two teams of Vindicators? The team that goes out and stops bad guys and gets on T.V., and the team that stays on Alcatraz—out of the spotlight—and makes sure the bad guys don’t run amok?”


“Well, there’s a reason I came in on the same plane from California that you did.”

“Oh. And you don’t want special treatment?”

“Something like that,” Ken said, stepping around her.

Aisha hustled to fall in line beside Ken. “So, which one is your dad? Salvo? Current? Coiffure?”

“Can we just drop it?”


“Because I kind of hate my dad.”

Aisha rolled her eyes. “Who doesn’t?” she asked rhetorically.

Ken stopped dead in his tracks. “You don’t understand: this isn’t like the rest of you… This isn’t… my dad didn’t buy me what I want or grounded me for staying out too late. I abhor my father. I despise him. I hate the man and all that he is, and the only ambition I have in this life is to end his existence, okay?”

Aisha was flabbergasted.

“That’s right,” Ken said, “I didn’t come to the New Vindicators Academy with the hopes of one day being recruited into the Vindicators—I came here to get strong enough to kill one of them.”

Unceremoniously scooping his text book, notebook, pen, and calculator into his backpack, John was on his feet not long after the bell rang. Slipping his arms through the straps of his bag, he spied Kim Forbes—a girl whose class schedule closely resembled his—doing the same.

Both of them impatiently looked to their friends: in John’s case, his roommate Dirk carefully returned everything to its proper place in his backpack; in Kim’s case, a shy, but fashionable, Asian girl. “Hey,” Kim said when their eyes met. “Walk us to Western Civ.?”

John claimed it was serendipitous that he and his roommate had signed up for four of the same classes. When classes began the next day, they found the same two girls in their first three classes.

Though John and Dirk parted ways come fourth period, the fetching blonde persisted in walking into every class John was enrolled in.

“Absolutely,” John said. “You, uh… you finding your way around okay?”

Kim smirked at him. “Well, after a year here, I’d hope we don’t get too lost.”

“Oh,” John said sheepishly. “Sorry, I thought you were freshmen too.”

As the foursome set off, Dirk stretched his arm past his classmates to hold the door open for everyone. It was a display that brought a smile from Kim, and a surprised look from Suzette. “So, you stretch, huh?” Kim asked. “Bet the ladies love that, huh?”

John couldn’t help but guffaw as Dirk looked to a visibly alarmed Suzette for an explanation. “I said the same thing! Dirk didn’t get it. He’s… sort of sheltered.”

“You keep saying that like it’s a bad thing,” Dirk complained.

Kim ignored him. “What about you?” she asked John. “What do you do?”

“I grow. You?”

“Nothing near as useful as stretching or growing,” Kim grumbled, “but pretty damn complicated.”

“Language,” hissed Dirk.

Kim seemed not to notice. “Suzette can climb up walls,” she said, nodding towards the more timid of the girls.

Suzette blushed. “It’s not that great of a power.”

“So, where are you boys from?” Kim asked as the group ascended the stairs.

“New Jersey,” offered Dirk. “Trenton, actually.”

“St. Louis,” said John.

“Ottawa,” said Kim, “and Suzette’s from Spokane.”

Rounding the corner, John spotted a pair of boys at the top of the stairs. Though they were both in his fifth period film class, he couldn’t remember either of the boys’ names. He wouldn’t have spared them a second thought had it not been for Kim’s warning: “Just ignore them,” she growled.

“Hey, Kimmy,” one of the boys said. He had a lazy appearance to him: an apathetic stare; his shaggy, black hair was unkempt; he slouched against the wall beside the door… “What do you say we skip next hour? I can take you places you’ve never been—and I mean that figuratively and literally.”

The other boy—dressed in a Polo shirt and with his head shaved down to black stubble—chuckled at his friend’s advances. “Nah, I think Kim’d rather skip class with me, and find out if the rumors about black men are true.

“Spoiler alert: they are.”

John shook his head. “Or C: you guys go eat a dick.”


The boy with the shaggy hair grinned as John moved to climb the next step. His foot came down on nothing; John tripped and fell face first into the grass. Startled, he looked around, only to find himself now lying on the school’s front quad. “Huh,” he muttered. “Well that’s… uh…”

Standing up, John made his way back to the school, only to run into Suzette at the bottom of the stairs. “What the hell happened?” he asked.

“It’s Abe,” Suzette explained. “His power lets him… I don’t know. He teleports people. Where did you go?”

“Right outside,” John said.

“Kim was afraid they’d sent you somewhere far away. She told me to go get the headmaster.”

“We don’t need him,” John said, dashing up the stairs. As he reached the floor he’d only just been forced to leave, he found Dirk coiling his body around Kim’s, suspending her in the air, over the stairs. “What the hell is going on?” John thundered. He looked up to assess how high the ceiling was here, then grew to eight feet in height. John reached out, cupping a hand under Kim and grabbing Dirk’s waist with the other. “What did you guys do to him!?!” he roared.

A look of alarm flashed on Dirk’s face. “John? What are…?” He looked at Kim. “What am I doing?”

He began to contract his body, setting Kim back down on the stairs. John looked up to the top of the stairs, only to find the two boys were gone.

Mister Himura appeared in the stairwell then, with Suzette hot on his heels. “What happened?” he asked as the bell rang, signaling the start of the second period.

“Greg and Abe, sir,” Kim said. “Abe sent John away, and Greg took control of Dirk’s mind—made him grab me…”

“Is anyone hurt?” the headmaster asked.

Dirk’s face was twisted with shock. “He took control of my what?”

“Greg’s an Esper,” Suzette explained. “His power lets him control people’s minds.”

“I don’t remember anything,” Dirk said.

Suzette nodded. “That’s how it works.”

“I think you kids should get down to the sublevel,” the headmaster said, “let Doctor Titus look you over before heading back to class.”

“I’m fine,” John said. “All they did was put me on the front lawn.”

“I just want to make sure Miss Forbes doesn’t have any internal injuries,” Mister Himura explained. “If you all will escort her down? I’ll send messages to your teachers before I have Mister Foster and Mister Chobanian called to my office.”

John nodded in agreement, then offered a hand to Kim. The four followed the school’s administrator back down to the main level, where they parted ways with him: as he headed down the hall, towards his office, they boarded the elevator bound for the second sublevel, and the infirmary there.

“So, what was the deal with those guys?” John asked. “Are they just the school dicks?”

“Language,” warned Dirk.

Suzette hung her head in shame. “They’re friends with our exes,” she admitted. “Last year, we started going out with these two guys… It didn’t end well.”

John frowned. “I’m sorry,” he said. Dirk echoed him.

“It’s not your fault,” Suzette said as the doors opened. She kept her head down as she walked, leading Kim up towards the nurse’s station, stopping only when Dirk reached out and grabbed her hand.

She looked to his hand, then followed it up the elongated limb to the boy smiling at her. “It’s not your fault either,” he said.

Suzette smiled, and continued towards the infirmary.

“You get the feeling those guys are going to be trouble for us?” John asked Dirk.

Dirk shrugged. “I get the feeling that I could have really hurt our new friend, and I want to make sure she’s okay.”

John nodded, and motioned for Dirk to lead the way.

The bell dismissing first period roused Cyndi from her sleep. With a yawn, she pushed the blankets aside, and lumbered out of bed. Garbed in a lavender chemise, Cyndi made her way into the hall and sauntered towards the bathroom.

She was halfway through washing her face when the bell announcing the next period rang. Paying it no mind, she moved on to brushing her teeth and flossing; finishing at her leisure, she returned to her room, and sat down in front of her vanity.

Her roommate’s possessions were visible in the mirror’s reflection, evoking a heavy sigh from her. Rising up, she snatched up her cell phone, and angrily cycled through her contacts.

“Good morning, daddy,” she hissed once her father had answered.

“Good morning, sweetheart. Did you sleep well?”

“No! My roommate snores, daddy! Snores!”

“Honey, I’ve spoken with the administration-”

“It’s been two days—two Goddamn days—and she’s still here!”

“I’ve asked about purchasing a private-”

“I want her gone!” Cyndi roared. “Honestly! She… Can’t you just… call her parents or something? She’s half-black, so she’s probably from a poor family! Offer them money to pull her out of school!”

“Honey!” her father cried, a hint of alarm in his voice. “You can’t say things like-”

“I’m sick of looking at her and her gently-used clothes, and her ugly shoes, and…” She seized a picture frame from Aisha’s nightstand. “And her stupid, skuzzy boyfriend!” With a scream, Cyndi hurled the picture across the room, shattering it against the back of the door. “I want her gone. If you love me, you’ll get rid of her.”

Hanging up her phone, Cyndi collapsed back into the chair in front of her vanity. She took a few deep breaths to calm herself, then rose up and went to her closet. After changing several times, she finally settled on a black and puce shift dress with knee boots. Satisfied by her wardrobe, she made her way down to the main level, and into the cafeteria.

The sounds of the kitchen staff cleaning up after breakfast hit her ears. Cyndi found it to be a travesty that they stopped serving breakfast at nine. Yesterday, she had cornered one of the cooks—a bulbous, unattractive woman with bags under her eyes—to plead her case regarding the kitchen’s hours, as well as the miniscule vegan alternatives they offered.

Unceremoniously, the woman had pointed out that the refrigerators housed beside the counter were stocked with fruit, vegetables, and other snacks. Still, Cyndi was relentless and continued even after the woman turned and walked away. Following her into the kitchen, Cyndi continued to demand both a scheduling and menu change—demands that ceased only with the intercession of the headmaster, who ordered her to class.

Cyndi walked into the cafeteria and made her way to the glass-door coolers. Opening it up, she took a banana, a cup of soy yogurt, and a bottle of water. Sitting down at one of the tables, she started to eat at her own leisure. Movement out of the corner of her eye drew her attention towards the doors, and to the handsome young man striding into the cafeteria.

He had short, light brown hair and an athletic frame that, despite that it was late-summer outside, was stuffed into a sweater vest and a shirt that matched his sky blue eyes.

Flashing Cyndi a roguish grin, the boy headed up to the door to the kitchen and poked his head in. “Hey, Miss Evans,” he said. “My dad got hurt on the job last night, and I only just got in. I think my blood sugar’s kind of low. I know the kitchen’s closed, but is there any chance I could get some French toast before I head off to class?”

From within the kitchen, Cyndi heard the globular, obstinate woman she’d clashed with yesterday tell him to go sit down—that his order would be right out.

Uttering his thanks, the boy left the door and made his way to sit across from Cyndi. “Hi,” he said, smiling at her. “I’m Jim.”

“How did you do that?” she asked.

Jim looked around the room, as if unsure what he had done. “How did I do what?” he asked.

“Get that bitch to make you breakfast after she closed the kitchen?”

Jim’s face shone with shock. “Well, for starters, I called her ‘Miss Evans’ instead of ‘That Bitch.’” He smiled teasingly at her. “Only her closest friends get to call her ‘That Bitch’, and, frankly, I don’t know her all that well.

“So, anyway, I’m Jim.”

“That woman was horrible to me yesterday. She absolutely refused to serve me.”

Jim shrugged. “It’s all in how you ask. Manners go a long way sometimes. For instance, when someone introduces themselves? It’s customary to reciprocate by telling them your name. Here, let’s practice: I’m Jim.”

Cyndi rolled her eyes. “Cyndi.”

“Cyndi Brightman, right?”

“I already have a reputation, huh?”

Jim shrugged. “We have Earth Sciences together… which, you would know, if you ever came to class.”

“I’m not much of a morning person.”

“It’s third period,” Jim said. “It starts at eleven.”

“It starts before noon?” asked Cyndi. “Then it’s morning.”

“So, what? You’re just never going to show up? Aren’t you worried about demerits?”

“What’s the worst that can happen? I get a warning, then a detention or two that I’m not likely to show up for…”

“The headmaster could expel you,” offered Jim. “Some kids got expelled late last year. I mean, sure there’s a wide chasm between habitually skipping class and putting a teacher in a coma, but still…”

Cyndi shook her head. “Yeah, they’re not going to expel me. See, they’ll talk about it. They might even use it as a bargaining chip. They’ll call my daddy, tell him that I’m about to be expelled, and then he’ll offer to build them a tennis court or a library or new computers or something, and they’ll magically forget all of my sins.”

“All the perks of privilege, huh?”

“You have no idea.”

“Oh, I have a pretty good idea,” Jim said. “You ever hear of Lodestone?”

“Yeah, he’s one of the Vindicators. Everyone knows him.”

“My old man. The first Lodestone? He’s my great-great-grandpa. Ever hear of Captain Canada?”

Cyndi nodded.

“Yeah, that’s my mom’s side of the family. Sure, we can’t really afford to build a wing onto the school, or anything… but here?” Jim spread his arms out wide. “I’m royalty.”

“And that’s why you get French toast.”

“Well, that and I’m polite, and treat the cooks like they’re real people… but mostly it’s the royalty thing, yeah.”

“Must be nice,” Cyndi grumbled. “This school is run by assholes: I can’t get breakfast after a certain time; my private room has someone squatting in it…”

“You have a roommate?” Jim asked facetiously. “What’s it like?”

Cyndi narrowed her eyes. “You have a private room?”


The door to the kitchen opened, and Miss Evans came out, carrying a tray for Jim. “I’m finding it hard not to hate you,” Cyndi told him.

Jim paid her no mind. Instead, he smiled sweetly and rose up to accept his breakfast. “Thanks, Miss Evans. You’re the best.”

The cook smiled sweetly at the boy, but wasted no time with words: she took one look at the disgruntled expression on Cyndi’s face and made a hasty retreat before the freshman could launch her next salvo.

“So,” Jim said as he began cutting into his French toast, “what are you doing Friday night?”

Cyndi tried to read his face. “Why?” she asked.

Jim shrugged. “Because I think you’re pretty, and I want to spend more time with you, and if someone hasn’t already beaten me to asking you out, I’d like to take you out. Show you the city.”

“I’ve been to New York before.”

“With your parents?” Jim asked. “No offense, but I was born and raised here. This is my city, Cyndi. I can show you so much more.”

“Why wait for Friday?” Cyndi asked. “What’s keeping us from going right now?”

“Well, for starters…” Jim popped a forkful of French toast into his mouth. “This is really good,” he said as he chewed. He swallowed the bite and smiled at the girl. “Plus, I really can’t skip third period.”

“What? Afraid they’ll call home and tell mommy and daddy you skipped?”

“They won’t have to,” Jim said. “My mom teaches Earth Sciences.”

Eric fancied himself a connoisseur of greasy spoons, and for his money, there was no better greasy spoon than South Street Diner, in Boston. He was a fan of their Cuban sandwich, in particular, but found Lydia, a redheaded waitress whose rear end Eric had been ogling for half his meal, to be the real reason he frequented this spot.

Dragging the last of his fries through the ketchup, Eric had cleaned his plate. He wiped his mouth with his napkin, and glanced at his watch. He had synched it up with the bells at school, so that he knew how much time he had, no matter the time zone he was currently in.

He left enough to cover his check and a generous gratuity for Lydia. He held the door open for a man who looked so much like Joseph Gordon-Levitt that he had to look twice. Shaking it off, Eric made his way down Kneeland Street and across his room at the New Vindicators Academy, to grab his bag. He turned and made his way towards the door, only to appear at the back of Missus Belcher’s classroom.

The woman gave a scream when he appeared. “That’s the second time today,” the woman said, holding her chest. “You have to stop doing that, Eric.”

“Sorry,” Eric said as he slipped into his seat. He looked up as the door opened, revealing Abe Chobanian.

As far as Eric knew, the two boys were not related. According to Abe, he had inherited his powers from his mother, who was born in Egypt. To the best of Eric’s knowledge, he had no family outside of the United States. It was merely a fluke that their powers were so similar.

The only difference, Eric had learned, was in their range. Eric was the stronger of the two—able to effortlessly jump across the country. Abe, meanwhile, seemed to have a limit of two miles, and that was a feat he achieved only by exerting himself.

The other students funneled into the room: Sarah Manther was a freshman from somewhere in the south, based on her accent; Marlon Winters was practically salivating as he held the door for Aisha Stein—behavior that won him a playful punch in the shoulder from his best-friend, Miles Lancaster.

When the bell rang, Missus Belcher, a skinny woman in her mid-thirties whose dark brown hair seemed perpetually pulled into a ponytail, glanced down at the class roster, then expectantly towards the door. “Well, Miss Brightman can just catch herself up when she gets here,” she said, launching into a lecture on the basics of physical and human geography.

It wasn’t long before the bell rang again, and Eric shoveled his things back into his bag. Standing up, Eric began to walk towards the back wall, only to reappear two floors above, in the back of his fifth and favorite class of the day…

Eric’s day began in the basement, for Music with Mister Altair. His second period found him in Missus Belcher’s room for his Area Studies class. Missus Reagan hosted him for Physics third hour, with a return to Missus Belcher’s room after lunch for Geography.

From two-to-two-fifty-two each day, Eric was in Missus Jenkins’ classroom, for Computer Sciences.

While they were only reviewing software and hardware basics—nothing Eric wasn’t already intimately familiar with—the syllabus promised that they would be digging into algorithms, Java syntax, Boolean expressions, and iterative statements. On the first day of school, he had stayed late to talk to Missus Jenkins, who revealed that in the second semester, they would dive into class hierarchies and interfaces.

Eric was having a hard time containing his excitement.

Eric liked computers. His parents had when he was seven. When he was nine, his mother remarried, and the family moved to Merced. His life was in flux. His family was in flux. Computers, though… Even through software updates and upgrades in hardware, computers were a constant in his life.

“Good afternoon, Missus Jenkins.”

The handsome woman looked up from her monitor to smile at him. “Good afternoon, Eric. How’s your day going?”

“I can’t complain.” Eric took a seat in the front. “Yours?”

“Just catching up on the news,” she said. “The Vindicators had a run in with Sanguine last night. She almost took Lodestone down before getting away…”

“Ah,” Eric said, feigning interest. He knew why his teacher was so engrossed in the story: though she hadn’t said anything, rumor had it that she was married to one of the Vindicators.

He’d heard that a few other teachers were the spouses of Vindicators. It was no secret that one of the other students in his Physics class—Luke Meinstein—was the son of Blitzkrieg and Missus Meinstein, the dance instructor. On Monday and Wednesday, Eric was in Fencing with Jim Loder, the son of Lodestone and the Earth Sciences teacher.

From there, it was just a matter of process of elimination. While it was possible that the woman was married to Orbit or Prism, he’d heard others say implicitly that it was Missus Jenkins’ husband who was one of the Vindicators. That left Oxidane, Simulacrum, and Torrent.

While to some, Oxidane’s inability to transform out of his liquid form would be the death knell for the theory that he was the woman’s husband, Eric could see it: during their orientation, Missus Jenkins revealed to her students that she was an alumni of the school. Back then, she was simply Addison Truman, a girl incapable of shifting back from her anthropomorphic bird form. Still, the world knew that Oxidane was Doctor Kenneth Bradley, the man who had led the Vindicators IV throughout most of the 1970’s: the surnames didn’t fit, forcing Eric to look to the only other possibilities…

Both the hydrokinetic Torrent, and the power-mimicking Simulacrum wore masks. Both men looked to be close to his teacher’s age. It was possible that either man had been her classmate, and that Missus Jenkins had met her husband here, at the New Vindicators Academy.

“Does it say if Lodestone is okay?” he asked.

Missus Jenkins smiled. “He’s fine. He’ll probably be on active duty by the end of the week.”

Eric fought to hold back a grin: he could see his opportunity… “There’s this kid in my sixth hour—Jim Loder? I heard he’s Lodestone’s son?”

Missus Jenkins sighed. “It’s not really something I can comment on. Every year, the headmaster gives us this speech on how we need to respect the privacy of the families of the Vindicators… He’s concerned with their enemies finding out that their loved ones are students or teachers here. He doesn’t want the school to become a target.”

“Has that ever happened?” Eric asked. “Has someone attacked the school to get at someone close to the Vindicators?”

“No,” Missus Jenkins said, “and I hope it never comes to that. Not every Neo-Sapien can claim nerves of steel as part of their set of powers. I get nervous enough worrying about my husband…” Her eyes showed that she realized her slip. Before she could back pedal, the door opened, and Natasha Kohlhagen entered the room. “Good afternoon, Natasha.”

“Hi,” the shy, bespectacled girl said. She looked to Eric, started to blush, and hurried into the nearest seat.

With the realization that he wasn’t going to gain any more ground on the identity of Missus Jenkins’ husband, Eric sighed and resigned himself to simply waiting for class to start.

Matt woke up and smiled. He had woken up in a warm bed, and a roof over his head: that sensation alone meant that nothing could dampen his day.

Once he had paused to drink in the fresh scent his blankets still had, he climbed out of bed, and put on a T-shirt. To say that summer in New York was blistering was an understatement, and Matt had survived it by wearing as little as humanly possible. He’d grown comfortable with not wearing a shirt, and on his first day, had been reprimanded by one of the teachers for sojourning down to the cafeteria for breakfast in nothing but his shorts.

This time of morning, few of his fellow students were awake. He had his run of the halls, and elected to use this opportunity to take a shower while there was still plenty of hot water. It was a sensation that he did not take for granted. For several minutes he stood in the stall, head bent and hands braced against the wall, letting the scalding water cascade over his back and down his body.

Matt ran a hand through his long, dirty-blonde hair when he had finished. Rather than use a towel to dry off, Matt took the hair dryer and brushed his body with jets of warm air.

Once his hair had been combed, Matt returned to his room. He whistled as he made his way back to the hall, only to stop outside his door, out of respect for his roommate. Ken was stirring as Matt opened the door, evoking a broad grin from the boy. “Good morning, Ken!” he said cheerily.

“Is it?” Ken asked, deadpan.

“Sleep well?” Matt opened their closet and picked out some clean clothes to change into.

Ken slid out of bed and glared at his roommate. “Is there any hot water left?” he asked.

“Should be,” Matt said. “I’m pretty sure I beat everyone else up.”

Grabbing his kit, Ken stumbled out of their room, and left Matt to finish dressing.

In minutes, Matt was making his way down to the cafeteria, where he greeted Miss Evans cheerfully. “Can I get some scrambled eggs?” he asked. “I had some yesterday, and they were, like, the most delicious things I ever had.”

The woman grinned as she loaded a plate with a double serving of eggs and bacon, which Matt fervently devoured. By the time the rest of the student body funneled into the room, Matt was on his second plate.

Once he had polished off a few cartons of milk, Matt made his way up to the first floor, where Doctor Himura’s classroom was. He was the first one into the room—beating even the headmaster’s wife to class. He took the opportunity to peruse his notes, looking up only when the door opened.

Doctor Himura held the door open for one of Matt’s classmates. It had taken Matt some time to get used to Doctor Himura’s appearance: her albinism was fairly unsettling, but today, he barely noticed. Today, his focus was on Aisha Stein.

Aisha was pretty. She had light brown skin and large, green eyes. Her long, light brown hair had a faint curl to it.

Matt’s eyes locked onto the strap of her bra, exposed by the over-sized shirt she wore off-the-shoulder. He was as oblivious to whatever the pair was talking about as they were to his ogling.

Between the beds, hot showers, full bellies, and pretty girls, Matt Baker found himself wondering where the catch was: the New Vindicators Academy seemed too good to be true…

The bathroom down the hall was probably packed. The locker room on the sublevel would be vacant—it had been last night, after all. If only the sublevel itself were as devoid of life, she might have considered it a viable option. As she dreaded another run in with Abe Chobanian and Greg Foster, fresh from a session in the weight room, Natasha Kohlhagen was left with only two options: change in her room, or sleep in her clothes again.

It wasn’t that she thought Heidi would be cruel—just that she was too embarrassed to strip in front of the freshman. She was afraid to reveal her pale, freckled body; her wiry frame; her flat chest…

Things had been so easy last year: when Natasha enrolled, there had been an odd number of girls, and she’d been given a private room. It was only at Natasha’s teammate’s urging that she had agreed to share her room with his little sister.

She couldn’t deny Miles anything.

“So, you’re almost done with your first week here,” she said, making an attempt at idle chit-chat. “What do you think of the school so far?”

“It was all right,” Heidi said. She cracked a smile. “There are some cute guys here. There’s this guy in my first hour class? Matt… So hot. Or in my film class, there’s this guy—Remington? Gorgeous!”

Natasha’s expression soured. “Remington’s on the same training squad as your brother and I.”

Heidi’s eyes bulged. “Oh. My. God. You could totally introduce us! Is he seeing anyone? Doy, Heidi! He’s got to be seeing someone…”

“I don’t think he is,” Natasha tepidly admitted. “He was going with this girl in our class last year, but I think she dumped him-”

“What!?!” Halfway through taking off her shirt, her exclamation was muffled by the blue striped shirt. “No way has a guy who looks like that ever been dumped.” Tossing her shirt on the floor, she reached back and unhooked her bra.

Natasha did not need help being reminded that this girl—a year her junior—boasted a bigger bust than she did: she was doing a fairly good job of that all by herself.

Dubious over Remington’s dating history, she didn’t notice her roommate’s face turning red. “It’s impossible.”

Natasha’s gaze was on the floor as Heidi pulled a baby doll tee on. Once she’d peeled off her jeans, she moved to the light switch. “You staying up?” she asked.

Natasha looked up and feverishly shook her head.

The room was bathed in darkness. Aided only by the moonlight slithering through their window, Heidi crossed the room and crawled into bed. “So, you’ll introduce us, right?”

With a sigh, Natasha simply pulled back her covers and climbed into bed, still garbed in the blouse and jeans she’d hastily put on this morning after Heidi headed for the bathroom.

She went to sleep dreading what tomorrow would bring: every Friday, sixth period was taken up by a school-wide training exercise in the Wreck Room. Even if she could avoid changing in front of all of the other girls, she still had to wear her form-fitting uniform in front of everyone.

She never dreamed there were worse things waiting for her…

The sun was only barely peeking out over the horizon when there was a soft knock at their door. Natasha’s hand fumbled across the nightstand for her glasses. She looked across the room; Heidi had pulled the covers over her head. A groan rose up from the younger girl when the knocking continued.

Natasha slipped out of bed and stumbled to the door. She opened it, only to be greeted by the headmaster’s wife. “Doctor Himura?” she asked.

“Can you come down to the Common Room with me, Natasha?” The albino woman’s voice was low, and dripping with sorrow.

“Did something happen?” Her mind raced over the possibilities. “Is my family all right?”

“They’re fine. If you’ll come with me?”

Natasha said nothing. Instead, she followed the woman down the hall to the living area where the students could relax outside their rooms. “Please,” Doctor Himura said, gesturing towards one of the sofas, “sit down.”

Natasha sat down, and waited patiently to find out what reason brought them together tonight. “Tonight, Missus Jenkins’ husband arrived home, and found her lying in bed. At first, he just assumed she had gone to sleep, but then he saw the blood on her pillow. There’s nothing official, but at the moment, it looks like an aneurysm burst in her brain.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but Missus Jenkins is dead.”
To Be Continued... wrote:Enter: Ebb
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tabula Rasa

Post by Horsenhero » Thu Nov 28, 2013 10:42 pm

Nice start. I'm looking forward to seeing how this one develops...and of course wondering how long it will take me to become completely lost when it comes to the cast of thousands. :wink:

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Re: Tabula Rasa

Post by Arthur Eld » Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:42 am

Yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

Also, anything that references Frankenhooker is extra awesome. +100 points to John.

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Re: Tabula Rasa

Post by Arkrite » Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:53 am

Does this count as an alternate timeline?
If so does that mean that at least one of H&H's characters has to die, one of Elds has to be evil, and one of mine has to go crazy? ;~)
Seems to be how it works on those time travel stories.

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Re: Tabula Rasa

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Dec 04, 2013 10:33 am

Arkrite wrote:Does this count as an alternate timeline?
If so does that mean that at least one of H&H's characters has to die, one of Elds has to be evil, and one of mine has to go crazy? ;~)
Seems to be how it works on those time travel stories.
It's an alternate timeline based on the premise of two NPCs meeting their deaths early in life, setting off a chain of events where things work out for the better, rather than... well, what has occurred in the core universe.

In building the world, I considered that without Black Box, Jay and Lex would never have had a reason to leave America. Gene touched on Jay's presence in this world, but future chapters will dig more into Jay's activities in this world...

From the campaign bible:
In 2011, Jason Lamperouge graduated from the New Vindicators Academy of America and immediately put his Neo-Sapien power of hyper-intellect to work. Within months, he unveiled a renewable, clean air alternative to fossil fuels. Decreasing the country’s dependency on foreign oil and helping the environment, Eldritch Technologies was born.

Less than a year later, Jason had married his classmate, Eve Robbins, and together co-founded the Arthurian Foundation, a philanthropic branch of Eldritch Technologies.

In the years since, Eldritch Technologies has come to employ several Neo-Sapiens whose gifts lend themselves to advancing mankind: Blaine Papagos, Fiore Caspian, Gage Morris, Gale Weathers, Gaspar Zorrilla e Higueras, Jessica Hague, Jesus Manuel, Melynda Halcyon, Randy O'Shae, Will Loder...
Despite my proclivity for making Jay the bad guy, in this world, he is slowly transforming the world into a much better place.

Lex, meanwhile, is a rock star.

Kas is the leader of one of the many teams of Vindicators stationed around the globe. He leads the Nairobi branch, which consists of Caritas, Haboob, Manticore, Mutt, Niloticus, the Rhino, and Warder.

In addition, there are branches in London, Paris, Vienna, Moscow, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro... Essentially, if something happens somewhere, there's a team of Vindicators nearby, ready to move.

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Re: Tabula Rasa

Post by Michael Silverbane » Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:33 pm

Good stuff.

Just a quick note. You've called Dr. Natalie Styles - Himura both Missus Himura and Doctor Styles in the narrative, though different characters did so, so it might have been on purpose.

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Re: Tabula Rasa

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:49 pm

Michael Silverbane wrote:Just a quick note. You've called Dr. Natalie Styles - Himura both Missus Himura and Doctor Styles in the narrative, though different characters did so, so it might have been on purpose.
Thank you for catching that. I wish I could say it was intentional, but... alas, I'm just not used to writing her name that way.

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Re: Tabula Rasa

Post by Desero » Tue Dec 10, 2013 7:54 pm

Gene wishes he was that cool.
Overall not bad. I see you toned Cyndi down quite a bit. Keep up the goodness.
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Apparently, they are immune to Maze.

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Re: Tabula Rasa

Post by Shock » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:10 am

That's toned down quite a bit? Yikes.

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Re: Tabula Rasa

Post by Michuru81 » Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:48 pm

Shock wrote:That's toned down quite a bit? Yikes.
Cyndi is... difficult...

By this point in the game, she has indirectly caused the expulsion of two students, created a villain, caused a death or two, destroyed a marriage...

She's really good at riddles, though! Like, you have no idea how good.

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Re: Tabula Rasa

Post by McGuffin » Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:14 pm

She's never, ever coming to Vienna, right? Promise? Because right now she scares me more than the Alphabet-guy.
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Why crawl when you can walk? Why walk when you can run? Why run when you can fly?

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Re: Tabula Rasa

Post by Horsenhero » Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:18 pm

So true. You know it's funny, even our villainous player characters aren't that bad. I mean the Vienna group nearly imploded after a little threatened throat slashing and actual eye gouging. I don't think we could survive a pc like Cyndi.