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  1. Location: Just a few wrong turns from the Downtown strip of the West End Date: 9 - 23 - 18, 9:15 PM GM Post: Claremont Kids It certainly wasn't a date-date, but a 'lets check out the game store in the West End' had turned into a quick dinner and an involved discussion of the recent tabletop game shaping up for the latest crop of Claremont kids. It should have been a few quick turns to get back to the bus stop that would take them back to the safety of Claremont's dorms but a right instead of a left (or two), and the pair were decidedly nowhere near where the bus stop should be. Instead, they'd crossed the border into a dark and poorly lit Greenbank where more buildings were abandoned than not, especially at this time of night, and the rail yard loomed in the distance. They were absolutely and certainly lost. It seemed entirely deserted, at least, at first. After a few moments. Then, the faintly audible murmur of voices talking caught their attention. Peering around the corner, there was a small knot of shadowy looking individuals apparently intently arguing in low pitched Russian. At their center was a woman dressed in all black. More disconcertingly, there were certain ominous and unmarked crates sitting out. To Lulu's mental senses, the woman at the center didn't even seem to exist but she was absolutely there plain as day. Something shady was going on! GM Post: Interceptors When Talya had gotten a bit of intel on a possible S.H.A.D.O.W. cell operating near the West End, she hadn't kept it to herself. Such growth, really! Her plan, however, to infiltrate the group and ferret out the ringleader had gone over like a sack of bricks. Min, especially, hadn't been too keen on the 'I'll just let myself get captured, then we'll have plenty of information' solution of the former spy. Relationships, after all, were all about compromise. Months of work, though, and it had finally led to tonight. If everything went well, they'd finally have the information for who thought operating on the Interceptors territory was a good idea. Dressed in all black, Bombshell stood disguised in the center of some very, very dangerous people and their even more dangerous weapons, haggling for a 'good deal' for missile launchers and cluster bombs. Somewhere, out of sight, Jack of all Blades waited. She'd dropped enough hints that S.H.A.D.O.W. agents should suspect her real identity. It was a trap. Bombshell and Jack knew it was a trap, and the intended to spring it on their own terms. Everything had been accounted for. Everything, but a pair of Claremont students. Even the best laid plans...
  2. It was a small list - the friends that Talya still had from her time among the Allies of Freedom was a small list that grew smaller yet every year. Most of them - all of them, really - had public personas just as flashy as Natalya Browning's public facade. They were also well aware that Talya's actual private life was something she had always kept decidedly so, so the understanding that discretion was expected was well understood alongside her invitation to visit the recently renovated apartments above the Espadas' School. Well, to most of them, it was likely well understood. For Ace, she made the effort to include a pointed phone call alongside sending a private town car - lest she get the damn Dangermobile hovering outside a window just because he wanted to tease. It might have been any other cheerful weekend afternoon at the rather noisy home of four very young children. That Talya was tense was only clear to those who knew her very well - and those who could compare her usual level of tidiness to the current downright sparkling level of cleanliness in an apartment with very young children. It was, frankly, unnatural to see the living room looking like something out of a magazine as the blonde Brit frowned before going to rearrange the art fully folded quilt on the couch's arm for the third time.
  3. Content Notice: Violence (Holographs) Talya stood in the center of the empty concrete room, incongruously dressed for her barren surroundings. Her heels echoed as she took a step towards the simple folding table in the center and the weapons laid out on it with military precision. It would be a significant amount of time before she had managed to have all the alterations made to the Interceptors Headquarters knocked off on her list, but at least they'd hollowed out the concrete cavern that would be filled with advanced technology eventually. It was sturdy enough - and sound proof enough that Talya felt comfortable moving her exercises down to the space. Picking up the familiar Browning in her manicured grip, Talya checked the chamber with the comfort of long practice before loading the clip into the holster with a soft 'click'. "Vince?" The cultured, clipped tones broke the silence. There was no need for a response from the AI, the click of the thick door was answer enough. Talya took her live-fire exercises very seriously. Solid light holograms were well and good for targets but at least to Talya's senses, they didn't feel quite right. It was akin to the difference between practicing with a wooden blade versus the real thing. There were differences, small and slight, but enough to throw off her muscle memory if it was all that she practiced with. The gun slipped into the holster hidden by her carefully tailored suit jacket, in the waist band of the skirt. She shifted once to adjust to the weight against her spine before concealing the rest of the weapons, all equally lethal, all the former tools of her trade; blades, garrote, and one exceptionally thin, wicked stiletto hidden as jeweled pin along the brim of her hat. Once every weapon had been concealed, Talya quickly closed up the folding table to store it against the far wall of the concrete room. The last thing she wanted was to bang into a real object that was obscured by the holograms as they static'd into existence. The tech was still rough, very much in the 'working the kinks out phase', much like the room itself. It would provide Talya with both necessary exercise as well as needed calibrations to fine tune the program and technology for its final installation.
  4. Gizmo

    Present Arms

    January 13, 2017 3:45 PM Even in a city that catered to as many esoteric subcultures as Freedom there were only so many places a teenager might go to improve their skills with medieval weaponry. With the faculty of Claremont Academy in something of a restructuring period - and portions of the student body's faith in the combat training there having suffered somewhat - Cathy Clouston had suggested the next best thing to her girlfriend: a privately run dojo in the city's West End that had been introduced to her by her roommate. Said roommate had continued to receiving mentoring of her own there, albeit in the form of classes not openly available to the public at large. There were certain skills painfully absent from a young lady's usual education these days: picking locks while hanging upside down, disarming an attacker while wearing heels, disarming an attacker with a pair of heels...
  5. It wasn't entirely uncommon for Raina's training sessions to be unconventional, really. After all, Talya had made her practice running in heels and picking locks. The immortal spy's idea of well rounded skills was, to say the least, unconventional. Still, there was something out of the ordinary for even her training sessions when she arrived to the dojo and was hustled in quickly by a robed Talya. "Excellent, you're here. Just enough time to get changed," she told Raina, shooing her towards the restroom and a gown hanging on the back of a stall and a pair of shoes. "High end society - old money." Talya volunteered with a nod towards the cosmetics before vanishing towards the door to get ready herself although it wouldn't take her long at all. She was well used to the art of the quick change. "And we've just under an hour to be gone before Erik gets back for his evening lessons to make our escape. Never ask permission for what you can apologize for in the morning... Honestly, that's terrible relationship advice. I'm rather lucky that they're quite so indulgent. I'll wait outside the door."
  6. Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship! December 16, 9:07 PM "Alright, we're locked up," Erik Espadas confirmed as he rounded the gap in the wall between the dojo's entryway and the training space. With the blinds drawn over the big front windows and a few more sophisticated measures in place the small group gathered were ready for their planned after-hours class. Unlike usual the mats were littered with piled weights, cardboard boxes and anything else that had been handy and looked like it might make for an inconvenient obstacle. "Remember, we're working on mobility tonight," he reminded the deceptively lanky man and the woman with short black hair in front of him, folding his bare arms across his plain white workout shirt. They could have easily been a pair of the college students who frequented his intermediary self-defence classes. "That means something a little different for you two than the rest of us so I figured it was past time you compared notes." The fencer let a lopsided grin split his businesslike demeanour as he stepped back toward far corner where Talya and Steve were watching. "That said, loser has to mop the footprints off my ceiling." In the apartments up above Ellie Espadas held her breath as she tip-toed out of the nursery, hoping against hope that her newest niece and nephew would stay asleep at least long enough to get back to the kitchen. Either one of them crying inevitably woke the other and even with three pairs of hands helping she wasn't sure how their parents were coping. Making it down the hallway and all the way to the kitchen table the med student silently raised a pair of crossed fingers as she sat down between Min and Mara. "And I thought pulling a double at Trinity took it out of you," she drawled just barely louder than a whisper. "Please tell me there's coffee or tea or something."
  7. Content Note: Disturbing Content, Gore September 2016 Freedom Hall The world survived the Terminus Invasion. But only a few people on it survived a Terminus invasion - from the other side. Neither Steve Murdock nor Tarva the Black had so much as looked at each other upon their arrival in Freedom Hall. Rather, they had taken seats on the opposite sides of the conference room's big table, each joined by their closest allies, responding to the one summon in the multiverse that could bring the two of them together under one roof. Freedom Hall and its staff seemed on edge tonight- and no wonder, with all the crises great and small that had come that summer, and with this new crisis no doubt whistling through the super community like an incoming shell. "As you know, the Freedom League occasionally dispatches remote multiversal probes to probe areas of Terminus activity, using Zero Zone technology originally gathered from the Centurion." Daedalus, who Steve knew was no mere man but an ageless immortal (at least in the realities he knew), looked fatigued today, and perhaps some shadow of his age. "That's the source of the data we send to Archetech and the DuTemps Building," he added, with a nod to Ghost Girl and Miss Americana. "Typically the data we recover is largely fluctuating levels of entropic radiation. A multiversal weather report," he added for the benefit of the non-cosmic scholars in the room. "Recently, one of our probes was activated by a significant surge of entropic radiation greater than what was observed during the invasion of 1993. This triggered its internal video function and autonomous exploration unit." - It was Liberty Park. Or had been, once. The city was transformed into abomination. A red, pitiless sky lit by a too-bright, too-blue sun lit a park whose trees had burned and stones been shattered by spiked half-spheres that gleamed with an almost organic oily wetness. The doomforges lay empty now - but there were Omegadrones perched on them, the light, quickly-made ones that could nonethless slice a normal man in half or throttle him alive, like flocks of demonic birds waiting for the kill. The forges themselves were decorated with a scattering of corpses like so many mounted butterflies, the impaled, half-decayed corpses of beings who by the bright colors of their tattered costumes had once been superheroes. Tarva had turned paler and paler as the film played, her eyes staring and hands pressed flat against the table in front of her as if she was about to bolt, while Steve was bolt-upright in his chair and watching the film with an intensity that suggested a gathering storm. "...those drones are dead," he said, his voice a low rumble. And sure enough, one of the drones, one perched at the very edge of the doomforge that must have created it, actually tilted and toppled off as the group watched, hitting the ashy ground below with a tremendous crash. "Is this actually from the Terminus," asked Tarva, her voice tight and close to tears. "Can your probe peer so far?" "No," said Daedalus, shaking his head. "The radiation levels suggest there's been cosmic compaction on a tremendous scale - but this universe has not yet, for the moment, been pulled past the entropic threshold."
  8. Content Notices: Violence, Birth Scene Location: Espadas School of Self Defense and Swordsmanship! Date: July 19, 2016 Talya was very good at suppressing the potential consequences for her actions. Leaping off buildings, after all, was much easier if one didn't think about what missing a handhold might mean. Unfortunately, ignoring the eventual ramifications of the biology of how a baby (or two. Two!) would enter the world did not actually prevent the event. The cramps and back ache had only gotten worse despite her refusal to acknowledge that it might not just be late term pregnancy aches and pains. Although, she'd not admitted (and likely never would), it was fairly clear to those closest to Talya that the ex-spy was at least unsettled by the impending birth. Perhaps even frightened. At the moment, though, she was mostly just holding up the relocation to Sanctuary as if not stepping through the portal might some how prevent the next several hours. "I've changed my mind," Talya announced mulishly, her arms crossed over her chest. "Perhaps I could just be unconscious for the entire thing, after all. They still do that, don't they? If we went to the hospital instead, could they just knock me out?" Unlikely to say the least with her magical ability to shake off most things mundane and Talya's mystical biology did not often play well with other magics. Intellectually, she knew that but at the moment, logic was not high on the spy's list. "I'd bounce right back from a c-section. Probably. Almost certainly."
  9. August 19, 2016. Freedom City. The Waterfront. The Abandoned Warehouse. Yes, That One. 11:00 PM. It had taken a great deal of research and effort to get to this point. Over a month of work, which was quite a bit for the supergenius heroine known as Terrifica. Still, now she knew exactly what needed to be done. She had posted a need for superheroic assistance on Capeslist, and two had bitten, filling the Thief and Grifter archetypes (phrased in a way that would decidedly not set off red flags across law enforcement and superheroic systems, of course). That wasn’t all they could do, naturally, but it was what she was looking for. Time had run out and she could wait no longer for responses to the Hitter and Hacker requests. However, she had sent a message to Miracle Girl, who would suffice for the former and Terrifica herself would quite suffice for the latter. Now it was a simply matter of time until everyone arrived. Terrifica had arranged a table and five chairs for the occasion, just in case a Hacker decided to show up at the last minute. The last batch of criminals to use this place were currently in jail. And of course, Terrifica herself waited in the shadows. She was no fool. She would only reveal herself when everyone had arrived. Any second now, someone should be arriving.
  10. This is the OOC. Feel free to ask me quite literally anything about the thread, especially if it doesn't make sense. I've likely missed something. As the proposal stated, Terrifica posted on Superhero Craigslist looking for some help. Got two, sent a message to Miracle Girl to lend a hand. No more, no less.
  11. GM post Sunday, February 28th 2016 10:30 AM Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship, Private Apartments "It is still early for a Sunday Ma'am." the personal assistant suggested quietly, the protest fell however on deaf ears. "Marjorie, If this was not time sensitive I wouldn't be bothering the poor woman." came the reply clipped but not cold, "Besides they have children and I have raised enough of those to know late mornings are likely the least of their concerns." She added a bit more warmly, "Make the call please." Thus on the crisp february morning the phone in the apartment housing the ever growing Espadas family began to ring. The number was blocked, and at a very high level though expertise such as the household AI like as not could break it in short order and reveal the call as originating from Danger Internationals sprawling Hannover Campus. When the phone was answered Marjorie spoke in a bright and clear tone, "Good morning, I'm trying to reach a Ms. Rebecka Danvers." she requested politely, "Is she available?"
  12. Alright, let's get some initiative rolls out of the way to start with. Jack of all Blades - Initiative: 1d20+9 28 Hooks -Initiative: 1d20+7 19 Katar - Initiative: 1d20 18 Kopesh - Initiative: 1d20+5 18 Butterfly - Initiative: 1d20+7 25 Shadows - Initiative: 1d20+5 19
  13. alderwitch

    Talya Portait

    From the album: Alder's Artistry

    Colors coming... sometime!
  14. Gizmo


    "Is there room for one more in that box?" Gina Espadas asked, wheeling herself backward in a tight arc with one hand and holding up a framed photo with the other. "It's one of the bigger ones." The retired police officer and single mother of two was in fully serious organizational mode partly in deference to the task at hand and partly to sidestep some of the lingering awkwardness that resulted from being left alone with the other woman in the room. Talya Browning - Gina had enough aliases to keep straight these days without worrying about whether that was the correct civilian identity for this apartment or safe house or what have you - was on the nearby couch with the last new open cardboard boxes, rearranging pictures to pack them as efficiently as possible. The renovations of the apartment Talya shared with Gina's son and daughter-in-law were close enough to completion to move most of her personal effects over but unsurprisingly there was some last minute packing left to do while Erik retrieved the borrowed truck. That left the two of them to sort things out between them in more than one sense.
  15. Talya was really at her limit of clever ways to disguise a pregnancy and while she could probably call in a favor for an image inducer, or get extraordinarily creative, she wasn't about to go through that effort for the classes she taught. For most classes, it simply meant that she stopped with concealing wardrobe and suffered through the well meaning well wishes of the students that she worked with. There was one student, however, that warranted a little more effort than that. It had been a few weeks since Raina's last session at the studio between school and apocalypses, and that sort of thing. It was only now that Claremont had gotten back into the swing of extracurriculars. The Espadas school was familiar and it wasn't unusual for the desk to be unmanned, especially if the teachers were setting up or tearing down for classes in the dojo proper. What was unusual was a small note on the counter attached to a very small Tiffany's box sitting on the countertop. In Talya's elegant handwriting, it said simply "Keep your shoes on today." Inside the box was a sterling silver keyring, empty but for an elegant pendant in the shape of a stylized lock on one side.
  16. Okay, initiative time! That's a DC 20 Tou save for Titan, Avorez.
  17. February 2016 Late evening It was not too late for a pregnant woman to be outside with an ice monster. Or so Dimitri was sure. "<That's his apartment!>" Dimitri was declaring from inside the frosted-over windows of his Freedom League Ford Escort, pointing up at the third floor window of the small apartment block. "<He just walks around in there with Henry Griffin's face! It's awful! Goddamned Americans.>" He parked the car, carefully, mindful of America's bizarre mirror-image streets. "<I told him we're coming. I think you can get more out of him about his origins than I can - he's a trusting sort, but you know how I can be...>" - Klara had gotten the message by telephone, or rather on her cell's voice mail, - Dimitri Peshkov wanted to meet her in Kingston to discuss old times at a certain third floor apartment.
  18. Date: 2/18/16 Talya was down in the dojo, neither teaching nor working out. No, today was more of a maintenance day - ensuring that everything was in working order, taking inventory, and all the so-very-dull minutiae that kept the business running. Ostensibly, Talya was down in the dojo to help but the ex-theif was really as much hindrance as she was aid. Boredom was not something the immortal handled well and she was certainly not above trying to distract Erik into more entertaining endeavors. At the moment, though, Talya was vaguely on task as she was double checking to make sure that the rings she'd set into the ceiling months ago were still holding up after the use they'd seen in class. Since there were no classes at the moment, she'd discarded the extra layers that were doing less and less to conceal her pregnancy to scale the rope with a power drill in one hand to tighten the bolts, with the rope caught between her knees. "I shall never complain about teaching classes again," Talya commented, which was most likely entirely false. Oh, she liked teaching but every now and again, everyone had a day where the last thing they wanted to do was crawl out of bed in the morning.
  19. December 1, 2015 Riverside 5:30 PM Gina Evans wasn't driving her car - she had Emerson for that. At least until Emerson gave her the warning beep that something was happening that required her attention. They'd been stopped for several minutes now in this small Riverside sidestreet, a shortcut Gina's mapping programs had uncovered months earlier when she'd begun her psychological visits to Dr. Franklin at Freedom Hall. Today's appointment had supposed to end with coming home to a pleasant dinner with Steve, but heavy traffic and now a police barricade had obstructed her travel plans. There were three other cars on the street with her, an SUV, a taxicab, and a luxury sportscar just ahead of her. She could see the man in the sportscar, wealthy from what she could see and the vehicle itself, cursing in frustration at the police cars in front of them. There were two police cars; each one blocking one lane of traffic, both with their lights flashing. The officers were engaged in setting up a barricade with traffic cones and road flares, occasionally stopping to converse with each other, but she couldn't make out what all the fuss was about. Behind them, their little mini-traffic jam was suddenly joined by a full-sized police SWAT transport truck! The truck, coming in so fast Gina could hear the squealing of its tires, made a neat pivot as it reached their alley, swinging like a door to block them in from the rear, too. SWAT officers poured out of the SWAT truck too, fully armed and in full body armor, and began the process of setting up another barricade behind them.
  20. Date: January 25, 2016 It wasn't until after winter break that Raina could round up a small cluster of fellow students to come along to extra curricular training. On the bright side, it meant she'd had several weeks of one on one classes to be confident with both the workings of the school and the general format of the training. Always nice to be the expert in the group, after all. With a large enough group, Claremont sent the teenagers to their extra credit activity in one of the few vans for such purposes rather than letting the students make their own way. The unmarked school van pulled up to let the students unload directly in front of a well kept building in the middle of the West End. A sign proclaimed 'The Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship!' (Exclamation mark included), and through the front doors was a small lobby and receptionist desk before the dojo itself. As they had forewarning that there was going to be more than just the one student, Talya had come down early to straighten things in the lobby and keep an eye out just in case the school van had trouble finding a good drop off point. Rather than standing behind the desk, the attractive blonde was perched on top of it, seated on the surface as she sorted through papers. Lately, Talya had taken to wearing a loose cut tanktop over her formfitting practice wear and today was no different. As the students disembarked she shifted the paperwork to one side to welcome the knot of teenagers. "Come on in and pick a cubby for your shoes and anything else you want to put away," Talya invited in a clipped, British accent. She flashed Raina a smile as the young woman stepped in, "Hullo, Raina." She added before raising her voice slightly, "Erik, the students are here."
  21. Although Talya's reputation might give the impression that all her New Year's Eves were spent at fabulous parties or madcap adventure, the fact of the matter was she'd had plenty of quiet New Years as well. There were certainly enough years where time's steady march onwards had not been a matter to celebrate. Still, in all of the New Years that she had celebrated, loud or quiet, Talya had certainly never fallen asleep a good half an hour before the overly-hyped television special had even begun it's crescendo. Yet sleeping was just what the blonde was doing, rather uncomfortably in her position as human barrier. Sometime between when Min and Erik had stepped out, the former to bathe Eden and the latter to produce snacks, Talya had curled up on the floor to keep Mia from getting past her and was now serving as an even better handhold for cruising than the couch had provided. How Talya continued to sleep through the chubby - and potentially sticky - baby hands yanking on her side was anyone's best guess. Normally, the ex-thief slept relatively lightly. Today, though, Mia's hand catching in her hair earned only a sleepy snort as Talya shifted, one arm encircling Mia absently.
  22. December 1, 2015 Thrude had already had a busy day fighting some sort of horse-headed creature from beyond the dome of lopt when she detected the spell - ancient, powerful Norse words were being spoken by a caster with formidable arcane powers, words designed to summon a being of Asgard to the side of the caster! The spell was a dangerous one, a summoning without a binding, the sort that would likely get some fool killed and unleash any number of powerful creatures upon the innocent people of Midgard. Luckily the nearest creature to them was Thrude herself, and she was unlikely to smite even a mortal sorcerer so badly that he would not regret the error of his ways. She followed the 'signal' to a beach at the edge of the city proper, absolutely deserted by the cold-hating locals given the time of year - i.e., what felt like a mild autumn day to one who had taken the battle to Jotunheim itself. Standing amid a rune that spelled the letters of her own name stood a figure wrapped in the chilly mist of the coldest Scandanavian winter, a creature of death and a mockery of all that lived - a man in a blue parka and green uniform she recognized as Hel's representative on Midgard, Comrade Frost! "Hello!" he called up to her in a heavy accent like the scion of Rurik he was. "You got message, good! You want parley?" he asked, waving his hand. "I got guy who made me some mead under floor last year!" he went on, pointing to a nearby orange and white beverage cooler. "Is supposed to be pretty good!"
  23. Bombshell - These 'police officers' look exactly like Wilhelm Kantor. Fortitude save vs 15: (I don't think it's unreasonable to have Gina have an Equipment Taser, especially since she could just stunt something much more effective in combat!) http://orokos.com/roll/349106 = 20! He makes the Fort save, ooh noo! Okay, initiative time http://orokos.com/roll/349107 = 25 for Harrier http://orokos.com/roll/349108 = the baddies! CharacterUmbral GuardsCampaignNationality or ReligionDescriptionInitResults1d20+2: 12 [1d20=10]1d20+2: 4 [1d20=2]1d20+2: 13 [1d20=11]1d20+2: 18 [1d20=16]1d20+2: 15 [1d20=13]1d20+2: 5 [1d20=3]
  24. Talya had never really thought she'd miss English weather but the unseasonably warm December really had begun to cut into the Christmas mood, in her opinion. Still, that hadn't deterred her from enjoying the season, especially with the Espadas children to shop for. Although, to be fair, it wasn't like the ex-spy needed an excuse to shop but the season was more magical when there were children to spoil and Eden was right at the right age for that. So, it wasn't unusual for Talya to try and coax Min or Erik on a holiday shopping trip once Thanksgiving had passed. Nor was it unusual for Talya to turn up in the dojo when she wasn't scheduled to teach and knew Erik's classes were light, but she wasn't dressed to spar and her expression lacked the coaxing smile that usually accompanied Talya's suggestions to play hooky. Still, things couldn't be all that terrible as she waited for things to finish up before twining her arms around his waist and offering him an affectionate kiss. "And good morning to you, handsome. I don't suppose you have time in your busy schedule for a quick errand?"
  25. Raina was in a terrible mood. She had plenty of reasons to be, good reasons. She'd hardly slept at all last night, and trying to wake up with her alarm had been torture, especially when certain nameless parties had apparently spent all night dreaming peacefully of Antarctica and the dorm room windows were frosted from the inside. And Merlin was bothering her. He'd been clinging to her shoulder all morning, and even when she'd forcibly removed him to shower, he hung from the shower curtain rod and glared ever-so-balefully at her for her treachery. She was doing a foolish thing, he'd reminded her a number of times, and potentially putting them both at risk. It would be very unpleasant, probably painful, certainly scary. Modern technology obviated the need for any of this, and why couldn't she just show some sense for once and do things the easy way? She'd ignored him, but the constant haranguing settled in as a throb behind her temples that just made her more irritated. The best reason to be in a terrible mood, though, was that it let her ignore how utterly, completely, piss-your-pants scared she was. It was so much easier to be angry and annoyed with the world than to consider even for five minutes what she was about to let happen to her. Unconsciously Raina rubbed her wrists with her fingertips, remembering how cold the manacles had been when she'd been arrested the first time, remembering how it had hurt, how lost she'd been. Merlin wrapped his tail around her neck and rubbed her cheek with his own, commiserating with her in the poorly suppressed terror department. "It'll be okay," she told him. "We're gonna be fine. It's not permanent. I'll be back before dinnertime. You just... you just stay in here, okay? I've put away your computer already, so it's totally safe. Just wear the diaper and watch TV, and there's plenty of food if you get hungry. It'll be all right, I promise." She kissed his furry forehead. Merlin accepted the affection, but felt compelled to grouse a little more about the indignity of having to wear the diaper. "Nobody's gonna see you," she reminded him. "Cathy's not even going to be here, the place is all yours. And I won't say a word about it afterwards, really." He implied that she had damn well better not, as this was her fault entirely, and also he had plenty of blackmail material of his own to break out if necessary! "I know," Raina assured him. "I remember. I'll see you later. I love you." Merlin replied, only a little reluctantly, that he loved her too, and be careful, and listen to Talya. Raina managed an insouciant grin at that. "Much as I ever do, right?" As Merlin scrambled off her shoulder and over to the bed, she gave herself one last look in the mirror, grimacing at the shapeless, style-free gray coverall she'd been sent to wear. Ugly, ugly, ugly. With more than a little reluctance, she removed her earrings, the rings from her fingers, and finally the pendants around her neck, setting them with great care into a little bowl on her dresser. The pendant glowed slightly from the touch of her fingers, dimming when it left her hand. Feeling entirely naked and extremely vulnerable, Raina picked up her bag of gifts and headed out of the dorm, walking to the large circular driveway in front of the school's administration building. She could feel eyes on her, curious eyes, judging eyes, but she straightened her back and ignored them. Shapeless gray coveralls and rubber-sole sneakers were totally in this year, and they should all feel sorry that they didn't have any to wear.
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