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Sub-basement of Claremont Academy

Bayview, Freedom City, New Jersey

Tuesday, October 2, 2018; 4:30 PM


With the announcement of the intermural teams, the members of the newly formed Green Team had managed to get some time scheduled in the Doom Room to get some training and learning to work together.  Veronica Danger was standing in the hallway outside the entrance to the Doom Room, waiting for her fellow teammates.


The attractive teenager was not dressed all that different than normal, but she seemed even more prepared for a trek into the jungle or the mountains than normal.  She was wearing a pair of dark green cargo pants, her normal well-worn hiking boots and a long sleeved tan shirt which was mostly buttoned up over a brown T-shirt.  A pair of half-finger black leather gloves covered each hand and her long brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail.  She still wore a pair of necklaces with the dozens of small silver charms around her neck, but the chains on which they hung from were heavier than normal.


More out of the ordinary was what was on Veronica's belt, as a survival was on one hip, while a pair of climbing axes hung at the other.  She wore a small backpack as well.


As she waited for the others to arrive, the teenage Danger began leaning from side to side as she worked to limber up for whatever they would face in the Doom Room.

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Huang made his way down the hall to the Doom Room at the appointed time making the effort to ensure his footfalls would carry down the hall and that he remained in easy sight as he approached the human separated from the herd, no fellow student preparing for the days contest.  He took in her manner of dress and athletic good looks with a polite nod, "You must be the Danger."  he noted smiling a little too wide and revealing pointed canines.  "Prime native so Veronica?"  he clarified as the fifth year senior had made the choice of avoiding the traditional orientation activities this year. 


He extended a hand the black trench coat billowing slightly and for a moment a pinpoints of light like a starfield revealed in its folds before vanishing.  He was of course steeped in magical energies both dimensional and necromantic given his parentage and his own potent spellcasting capabilities of course while inactive had left their mark.  "Huang Farretti."  he introduced himself with a formality unusual in boys his apparent age.  He looked her over again eyes glowing slightly to her magical senses as he murmured a focusing spell to refine his own mage sight.  "Well mother always said if anyone is going to just experiment with artifacts they find in some tomb it might as well be a Danger."  he grinned showing too much fang again.  "This should be fun."  It was unclear if that was because of her family's adventurous ties or the chance that a missued artifact could make everything go terribly wrong. 


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Alright. Come on, you can do this. This is who you are now, so it’s time to show all those ####ers who doubted you what you can do. Time to show all of your new teammates that they won’t be carrying around a crutch with them.


Monica was sitting in one of the basement’s bathroom stalls. She hadn’t been sure about this “Doom Room” thing, and at the last minute she got anxious and ducked out. She was early anyways, so it wouldn’t matter. Was this really what she was now? She looked down at her body and her uniform, the one that Beth had commissioned for her. It had been a sort-of passing of the torch.


Come on, you’ve faced worse.


Who knew what her teammates would expected from THE Lady Liberty. That name had recognition, and people associated things with it. And none of those things were “has no real combat experience.” Monica barely knew how to handle herself in a fight, and last time that happened, it was all reflexes anyways.


#### it, they can’t expect that from you. Their fault if they get their hopes up. You’ve got the powers to back it up, that’s all you need.


There really wasn’t any way out of it now. It was safer to train now than in another one of those situations. Monica got up, opened the stall’s door, and splashed some water in her face. Moments later, she continued on her way towards the Doom Room, passing by a few more people and spotting Veronica and somebody else in front of an entrance of some sort, that probably was the right place.


Monica approached them with a look of determination on her face. She was wearing her full uniform and appeared to be both a fair bit taller and slightly broader than she usually was, although that may have just been a lighting thing, as she was also surrounded by a light, warm glow. “Didn’t expect to be the third one here, assumed the others would be eager to be here ASAP.”


Realizing she hadn’t seen the boy around before, she addressed him real quick. “Hey, I’m Monica.”

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Not far behind the rather impressive entrance of Lady Liberty came a much plainer figure. Micah Roebuck was dressed in a sleeveless variant of the Claremont uniform, sporting a pair of gloves, with some rugged-looking goggles currently resting on his forehead. He walked up to the others, flexing the fingers on his left hand a few times as he did so.


"Um. Hi, Monica. Hey Veronica."


He smiled a bit.


"Heh. That rhymes. Um, anyway, sorry I don't know you, I'm Micah."


He extends his hand to shake Huang's. 

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Veronica had turned toward Huang when he had approached, noting the various mystical energies that emanated from him.  She gave a small smile as he identified her, the flash of his long canines certainly being notable.  "Oui, I am Veronica."  She replied, her slight French accent becoming more distinct as she use a French word. 


When the teenage Danger shook his offered hand, she took on the more formal manner he had used to introduce himself.  While she had not grown up in a royal court like Janus, Veronica had visited enough places in her life to learn to recognize and follow formalities.  "It is very nice to meet you Huang."


After a pause, she grinned herself as she added, "my great-uncle used to tell stories about when your mother was a young girl and would accompany your namesake to various digs around the world."  She then gave a little shrug at his comment about tampering with things found in tombs.  "Well, we Dangers are rather good at sticking our nose into places we probably shouldn’t, but we do tend to have a better chance of making it out with our noses still in place than most."


"But," she began, as she reached up to pull a heavier silver chain out from under her T-shirt, a small, somewhat worn bronze amulet attached at the end, "in fairness, I did not actually find this in a tomb.  More accurately, I would say it found me, given the odd circumstances in which I came across it."  As she spoke, Veronica focused slightly on the amulet before looking back toward Huang as other members of their team began to arrive.


"Hello Monica, Micah."  She said as two of their fellow students arrived.  "Looks like we are just waiting for two more."

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Footsteps came from down the hall, or at least they seemed like footsteps, extremely slow and deliberate ones.

Step... step... step... 

Finally a small figure rounded the corner and came into view: Danica,  wearing a Claremont uniform that was mostly obscured by her shell, her hair pulled neatly back in a half-ponytail. She was on foot for once, and every step seemed to take twice as long as a normal person. "Hi guys!" she called cheerfully. "Sorry I'm late! I picked up a rock in my wheel after lunch and had to go to the maintenance shed! It took forever! I was going to call, but I didn't have anybody's number yet. We should fix that if we're going to be working as a team, right?" By the time she finished she had almost, but not quite, reached everybody else. 

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Veronica turned toward the sound of someone approaching, thought it took a little while longer than she had anticipated for the person to appear, although after a few moments of waiting, she began to have a strong suspicion of who it was.  "Hi Danica, sorry to hear about your Segway.  I hope they got it sorted out."


The teenage Danger then nodded as Danica mentioned making sure everyone exchanged phone numbers.  "Yeah, I figure we should certainly make sure we each have everyone's number."  She replied, looking down at her watch.  "So, it looks like we are just waiting on Tom.  But I do not think we can wait too much longer before our session is supposed to begin."

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Monica seemed pretty content for once as the teens waited around. She was eager to start before she began to second-guess herself again, sure, but right now, she felt good. She looked at what she was wearing, and it felt right. It was what she’d wanted, and finally testing it out in the proper environment was something she’d actually been looking forward to whenever she saw the costume.


She turned over to face the new arrivals. She’d seen Micah around and the few had exchanged a few words, from what she could tell he was somebody that she wouldn’t have any real issues with, and having somebody not completely different from her on the team was probably a nice thing. Granted, she didn’t exactly know him yet. But that was what these exercises were for, wasn’t it? Danica, on the other hand, was somebody Monica couldn’t really get a feeling for just yet. She’d seen her before, sure, but that had been about it.


“Sounds like an idea. Might also be good in case there’s some lesson-related stuff. …Not that I’m offering any free homework or anything, just to make that clear. “


She did get a bit uneasy as the waiting continued, tapping her fingernails against her legs silently.

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Micah turned as Danica came up, offering her a gentle smile and a hand to shake.


"Hi Danica, I'm Micah. I think I've seen you around before! If you'd like, I can take a look at the wheel when we're done? Or did you get it fixed already?"


He glanced at the others at the mention of giving out a phone number, then shrugged.


"Sure, that's fine. I don't text a lot but it's good to have. Um. So, Veronica? What exactly are we doing today? Other than a 'team exercise'?"

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Huangs eyes glinted as he looked from the amulet to Veronica and he nodded.  "Well artifacts that pick you certainly have a much better track record than those that one simply finds."  he deadpanned before cracking a hint of a smile, "Hmm she always speaks of that almost like ancient history but time can be, uh,"  he paused to shrug, "Fluid in her line of work."  he acknowledged easily.   The dhampir welcomed each other student with a quick introduction as well as they arrived.


Danicas arrival earned a friendly wave, "Good to see you again."  he welcomed though he didn't know the younger student well he was familiar with her at least.  "They at least  gonna put spinners on that thing for you this time?"  he inquired good naturedly with a friendly smile pulling his phone for the contact information exchange and dropping it back into the shimmering void that sometimes appeared inside his coat.  


At micah's question he thumbed the button next to the door and gestured within when the door whooshed open, "Fully holographic hard light generators and, " he waved a dismissive hand, "Alot of science jargon for tactile illusion and simulacrum." he explained as if that made a great deal more sense.    "I think we can pick a scenario as the advisor chosen ones last year didn't work out great."

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"Thanks, Micah," Danica said with a smile. "It's with the maintenance guys right now, but if they can't fix it, maybe you could take a look? If I have to wait for a technician from the company, I might be walking for a week." She made a face. "In any case, I'm not going to be very mobile for whatever exercises we're doing, but you all can use me as a human shield. I'm super good at that!" It was the sort of saying that should've been sardonic or self-pitying, but was apparently completely sincere. She started heading for the open door very, very slowly. 

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Veronica finished entering contact information for the others and then closed her phone back into a waterproof, impact resistant case and dropped it back into one of the pockets of her cargo pants.  She then turned her attention to the interior of the Doom Room when Huang opened the doors.  Currently it looked rather bare and Spartan, with smooth white and grey walls and floor that had a hexagon pattern along them.


"Yeah, I have heard a lot about this place."  The teenage Danger stated and Huang gave a vague description of the room's capabilities.  "While we do get to choose a scenario, we still have a faculty member up in the control room monitoring the session for us.  Just to be sure things are going as they should."  She stated as she started forward into the large room.  "I was thinking something of a twist on 'capture the flag' against some simulacrums.  Something to put us through some paces and learn what each of us can do."

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Monica listened to the explanation with quite a bit of interest. She’d heard some rumours about the oh so ominous sounding area while listening in to what a few older students had to say during lunch break one time, but other than that, she didn’t really know anything about it. Some sort of illusion thing, then? With scenarios?


“Sooo, it’s essentially … whatever comes after advanced reality? Cool. Not that I’ve made any experiences with the other reality-but-slightly-different stuff before. “


Granted, some of that sounded a bit more ominous. How could things go wrong during one of these? Were they that real? That brought up some questions, ones which Monica would have to look into at a later date probably. Right now didn’t seem like the right time to question what she was about to do, not when she was actually feeling the power-high.


“Capture the Flag? Now there’s something I haven’t heard in a bit.” She looked at the others, perhaps sizing them up a bit. “With us that should be quite an interesting little game. “


“So, how much control do we have over what these … simulacra are?” she grinned a little, a devious grin at that. “ ’cause I’m thinking we set them up like one of the other teams for some extra competition.”


She stopped for a moment, thinking about what she’d just said and about taking it back. This wasn’t her, this was what her powers did to her. Ugh, she had to be more careful about this stuff, she clearly couldn’t handle it yet.

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Micah smiled and shrugged at Danica's thanks.


"It's nothin'."


He became contemplative for a moment at the explanation of the Room, what it could do, and how to go about using it. Then, he nodded.


"I like it. It means we have to practice not just using our powers, but taking into account other people. Though...I'm going to warn you all now, my power is basically weather control. I can...mostly...control it."

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Veronica looked over at Monica as she suggested programing any simulacra to represent members of the other teams.  "Well, I am not sure there are any plans for us to be engaging in any sparing, light contact or not with the other teams.  But I suppose we could do something like that for future sessions.  I imagine it will take at least some programing to achieve the desired effect.  Besides, to start out it likely makes a bit more sense to go a bit simpler until we get a feel for each other’s abilities and get used to working together."


When Micah explained his abilities, the teenage Danger looked over and gave him a reassuring smile.  "Well, mostly in control is considerably better than many other alternatives.  In any event, I would imagine sessions like this will only help refine that control."

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Just as the group was discussing what they might face, a voice sounded out over the comm. system in the Doom Room, as the plexiglass windows of the control room were lit a couple dozen feet up above the floor of the room.  "Good evening Green Squad."  Came the voice of one of the schools teachers.  "I do not believe we can continue to wait for Mr. Rhodes, as you only have a limited time scheduled for the room.  So, shall we get started?"


Clearly the question was a rhetorical one, as a moment later the room around the five teens began to shimmer and then suddenly instead of a large empty room, they were standing on a large rocky island floating in a wide canyon.  A number of other rocky islands floated in the air around them, some about the same altitude, while others were higher or lower.  Several thick chains a little under a foot wide stretched among some of the floating islands, two of the chains extending from the island the members of Green Squad stood on, one leading to an island about twenty feet lower than theirs, the other to an island about the same level.


Further up the canyon, nearly three hundred feet ahead, was a large cave in the side of one of the canyon walls.  Two of the large chains lead from floating islands up ahead and over to the entrance of the cave.

"Okay, the objective is rather straight forward."  Echoed voice of the teacher down the canyon, the windows of the control room were no longer visible.  "You need to get the flags and take them to the entrance of the cave."  As that was explained, four bright orange flags appeared on four of the other floating islands around the one the teens were on, two just on islands to either side of theirs, the other two on islands further up ahead.


"Just one catch though."  The teacher quickly added.  "You need to collect all four flags at the same time.  And, there will be hazards trying to stop you from getting them."


"So, let's see how quickly you can do this in the first run.  Go!:"

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Danica drooped visibly upon seeing the playing field and hearing the assignment. "Sorry, guys," she murmured, literally shrinking a bit with embarrassment as she pulled down partway into her shell. "I was hoping we'd have a flag to guard or something, but it looks like I'm just gonna slow you down." She looked over at the nearest chain, which extended to a flag island. "Maybe if somebody can help me get to one of the flags, I can just pick it up when it's time?" 

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Seeing the blank room become what felt like a scene ripped straight of a videogame was quite impressive, so this was what the Academy had been talking about when they’d mentioned advanced technology way back when Monica first learned of them. She took in the view, visually exploring the landscape and taking a peek downwards. She wasn’t too fond of heights, sure, but curiosity was quite a powerful motivator.


She listened to the teacher’s explanation. Seemed simple enough, judging by the non-chalance about the situation, falling probably wouldn’t be too bad. And then came the catch…


She turned her head over to look at Danica, who reacted just about how Monica had expected it. Ugh, so this was what the academy was pulling. This was how they’d do their “team-building.” Force on person out and make them rely on the others. She could see through that, and it did not amuse her in the slightest. And the group apparently didn’t even get time to think.


“Come on now, that’s exactly what they want to happen.” The faint glow that was surrounding Monica grew stronger as she began to talk. “They’ll need more than some antagonistic design to slow us down. Now, which one of us thinks they can move the fastest?”


Before she’d even gotten a response she turned to face Micah, a tiny smile on her face. “You said you control weather, right? Does that include wind, and if so, how strong can you go? ‘cause I have an idea…”

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"I can, uh, make about a thousand miles an hour. If I push myself a bit."


Micah blushed as he almost-bragged on himself. He frowned in thought at Monica's question.


"I mean...normally, right now, I can push around stuff like a really windy day. Strong thunderstorm level. But not hurricane or tornado force. At least, not that I can guarantee safe control. I could probably whip up some visual cover easily. Or, like..."


He paused, then continued.


"I could shoot lightning at whatever was coming at us."

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Huang looked at the layout and then back to the group for a moment considering their options.  Of course with almost no fliers and one student specifically ill suited for such a timed challenge that's what they would go for.  He let out a small sigh, "The more things change..."  he murmured under his breath and glared in the direction of where maybe the control room lay.  "Right four flags and five of us."  he offered using those advanced years of repeated math to full advantage.   


"If we get Danica to the far platform."  he gestured in the general direction, "She should be able to hold it while three of  fan out to the other flags."  he offered looking if anyone else had a better plan, "I mean we'll have to get through there to get to the cave seems like the best place to put our strong point."  the dhampir shrugged, "Then one of use maybe mr mobility here" he nodded to Micah, "Can swing in where needed and help all of us get to regroup on danica's island for the final push."


Glancing to micah he nodded, "Well if you can lift us that would be one way."  he shrugged slightly, "I might have a spell but sometimes the wards in here interact oddly..."  he shrugged as if pitching his cohorts through a possibly unstable dimensional rift was no big thing.

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Veronica glanced around the changed environment as she heard the teacher explain the exercise.  She looked over at Danica as the other girl apologized about slowing them down and others quickly discussing ideas on how to overcome any issue that might cause.  "Yeah, we are in this as a group, we will figure out how to do it as a group."


Looking over to the others, she continued, "I doubt I am the fastest, but I am pretty quick on my feet, I should be able to move to one of the near ones and be ready for when we collect them all together and then move to catch up at the furthest."  She then gave a nod as Huang suggested putting Danica out to the furthest to hold it while the rest of them moved to be ready to get the other flags and hold that point on their path to the cave.  "That sounds like a good plan, anyone have a good means of getting Danica over here?"

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Danica brightened a little as a new thought occurred to her. "Oh, I can make it easier," she offered. "I can go into my shell, and then it's like I'm not even there anymore. You'll just have to carry the shell to where I need to go, and then I'll pop back out of it. The shell only weighs about twenty pounds when I'm not in it." Her shell, for anyone who'd been paying attention, was not always the exact same size from day to day, but today it was in one of its medium configurations, around four feet in diameter and three feet deep at its most convex. "And it's okay if you drop me, you won't hurt me," she added almost cheerfully as she started to retreat into the shell. 

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“Hm, good to know. I was thinking we could use the wind to transport the flags, would leave our hands free. Not sure about the sort of resistance we’ll be facing though. “


It was said resistance that made Monica feel uncertain about this all. Just what did Claremont consider appropriate? If it was anything like the way this entire … thing was set up, it’d probably something really unfair and annoying.


She turned to face towards the isle that had already been assigned to Danica. “Yeah, should be able to make that jump if I push my powers. Not sure I trust it though. I get this feeling like the second I’m in the air, something’s gonna show up to try and throw me off my path. Call it a hunch. “


She turned back to face the others. “Micah, can you watch my back and use some wind to make sure I don’t fall short or overshoot? Actually, all of us. Don’t know about you, but I don’t really wanna know what happens when you fall down that nothingness…”

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"Look, I get that my power is cool, but did you guys actually listen to what I said?"


Micah seems frustrated.


"I feel sort-of-confident I could make wind both strong enough and controlled enough to basically 'boost' someone to an island. I've never done it before, but I feel like it has a decent shot. But I don't feel confident saying I could just...just pluck all the flags up! I get it, we don't want to all go to the islands, but I feel like you all aren't actually hearing what I said about what I've practiced and what I feel safe doing!"


He ran a hand through his hair.


"Look, if you want me to boost people to islands, fine, I can do that, but I'm going to put my food down and say one at a time. I've never done it before and I'm not trying some fancy maneuver where I toss all of you different directions at once. I can carry Danica in her shell, I may not be a power-lifter but I can manage twenty pounds. But if I'm flying I don't want to risk trying to move someone with wind. You need to pick one. I can also provide overwatch or guard duty, but again, not while concentrating on lifting a human being with low-hurricane-force winds."

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The voice of the faculty member up in the control booth came over the intercom once more.  "While trying to use Micah's wind is not a bad plan, I am afraid I might not have been as clear as I should have.  To secure the flags, you need to have four different members of your group capture them at more or less the same time.  Over the years there have been all sorts of powered individuals here, telekinetics, speedsters, and more that could all have captured all the flags on their own at once.  Not a very good scenario if it is that easy to overcome, so we programed around that solution long ago."


The instructor paused a moment, then added, "but in any event, time is starting to tick away, so I would suggest not delaying too much longer."

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