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Silberman's Books. Wednesday, March 27th, 2019. 12:35 pm

 

It started out as a bit of joke, really, until the idea began to take hold in Lynn Epstein's brain. Then the more she thought about it, the better and better it sounded. Surely there were lots of people in 'the biz' who could this kind of service. And it wasn't like they needed the money; heck, they could do it for free! No need to discriminate against struggling, up-and-coming heroes; it could really give them a leg up! So she sent a message to the one person she knew who currently fit the bill in Freedom. And who knows, maybe they could eventually add more?

 

The changeling waited in her office, sipping mint tea as she waited for guest to arrive.

Edited by Heritage

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Miss Grue

Daphne was in a good mood today and as she walked she broadcast her happy thoughts among the people she passed. Hopefully, she’d brighten some people days today. Her studies were going well but she was still looking for something else beyond just the standard superheroing.

 

She sauntered into the bookshop with a friendly wave to the person on the desk, who only scowled back. What a complicated mind she had it was like looking into a mirror.

 

“Hi there I’m here to see Lynn, I think she’s expecting me!”

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Merge was dressed as outrageously as ever, but for whatever reason she was not in the mood for perky today; maybe one of her had a headache? Instead, she indicated the office door with a nod, and made a knocking motion in the air.

 

"Come in," a pleasant voice called out in response to Daphne's rapping. The office was small and cozy, crowded with bookshelves on all four sides. A massive wooden desk dominated the space, and behind it sat a petite woman in her early thirties that the Grue instantly recognized the shopkeeper, who stood up and reached over to shake her fellow shapechanger's hand. 

 

"Hi! I think it's safe to say that we've met, but never been properly introduced. I'm Lynn Epstein, aka Grimalkin. Please, have a seat!" She motioned towards an overstuffed leather chair, then returned to her high backed one. "Can I get you anything from the bar? Coffee, tea or a pastry?"

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Miss Grue

Daphne sunk into the chair and enjoyed it for a few moments, she liked to enjoy the simple things sometimes.

 

“Daphne Celeste, aka Ms Grue, aka Ms Red I thinks that everyone! And a pasty would be fine, I’m not allowed caffeine it makes me far to hyper!” she was her normal bubbly self, it would probably be much worse if she was on caffeine

 

“Thanks for inviting me here, though you don’t have to be psychic to know this isn’t just a chance to catch up! Though I’m totally fine with that first, it’s always nice to catch up with old friends!”

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Posted (edited)

The changeling laughed out loud. "I hadn't thought of that, but that's a good point! Good one you for knowing your own limits." She picked up her phone and called out to the front. "Hi Lance. Can I have a medium virgin mocha and one of those double chocolate donuts with the sprinkles brought back here for our guest? Thanks." She waved a hand to dismiss any possible concerns. "Don't worry; 'virgin mocha' is just our way of saying 'fancy hot chocolate' around here. No caffeine."

 

The two shapechangers chatted amiably while they waited for Daphne's order to arrive, talking 'the biz' like the seasoned prows they were. In short order, tall handsome Lance the barista brought in delightful looking donut and the previously described virgin mocha, both of which smelled truly wonderful.

 

 

"Excellent, thanks Lance! Now, I'd like to move on to the semi-serious idea I wanted to float by you. I will admit that at first, my interest was purely selfish, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized this thing could possibly help the whole heroic community here in Freedom. Now, let's say hypothetically that Daphne Celeste was, I dunno, invited to the mayor's annual Christmas ball or something. Daphne Celeste, not Ms. Grue; that's very important. But then, you get a hot tip on some case you've been working on, and Ms Grue has to be at the docks to intercept a shipment of stolen weapons. What do yo do?'

 

Lynn made a dramatic sweeping gesture along the length of her body, and as the swirling vapors passed over her, she was suddenly transformed into Ms. Daphne Celeste, wearing a lovely formal gown with her hair up and a string of pearls around her graceful neck. "You ask you friend Grimalkin to cover for you for an hour or two while you round up the bad guys!" Lynn resumed her original form with a shrug. "But then what if we could take it a step even further; what if 'Captain Colossus' gets invited to the same party as his secret identity, millionaire playboy Carl Connors? It's important that both men are seen at the event to help create the illusion that they're two separate people. They don't have to both stay there whole time, just long enough to sell the idea and appear together in a few photographs."

 

It was clear the idea was very exciting to Grim, although her motivation was less clear. "This is a service that we and other shapeshifters could provide, free of charge within our community; people always think of us as being shifty or sneaky, but this could be a way we could really give back!" She finally paused to catch her breath and run her hand through her hair. "So whaddya think? Good idea, or am I just going crazy?"

Edited by Heritage

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Miss Grue

Daphne decided not to mention that sugars might be almost as bad, Grue physiology could be weird like that sometime. She listened intently as Lynn made her pitch, it sounded interesting but the sight of her own face made her think of something.

 

“You know I think I did a good job on that face,a little more mature but not to much! Cause of my unique nature I naturally default to my sixteen-year-old self, it helps with the whole secret identity thing but makes everything else much more complicated.” she smiled a little guilty

 

“I’m lucky that I can do that whilst others can’t, so if I can help I’ll do what I can. To be fair I help where I can, it’s kind of on my nature really. So what have you figured out so far?”

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Lynn looked slightly puzzled as she scratched the back of her head. "What have I figured out? Uh...this is about as far as I've gotten, to be honest. I mean, I started to compile a list of shapeshifters who are active in the Freedom area, but it's far from complete." A paper list suddenly appeared in her hand, and a pair of reading glasses manifested on her nose. "Let's see, there's me and you, Pseudo and Set...is that it? I feel like there have to more I don't know about...which makes sense, since we are talking about people who are naturally sneaky." She handed the list over to Daphne. "I mean, if you can think of any others, please let me know!"

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Miss Grue

Daphne carefully looked down the list, despite her powers she was very careful not to peer into their identities, and for shapeshifters that was even harder to tell the difference. There were one or two names she recognized obviously.

 

“Uncle Psuedo is away in space, and Uncle Meta is a villain mostly. Changeling is nice, we have coffees catch up every now and again. She’s like me but from another Earth, it's kinda neat really!”

 

She paused and looked a little thoughtful.

 

“Not much help I guess, as they’re all off doing their own thing, I guess it's built into our inherent Grueness!”

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Posted (edited)

Claremont Academy, Bayview. Monday, May 6th, 2019. 12:05 pm

 

Sitting outside the headmistress' office, Lynn couldn't help but think of the last time she'd been on campus, and she shuddered uncomfortably. She'd spent a lot of time since then wondering as to what Dr. Archeville really wanted her to find out about the two 'Terminus babies'; as far as she knew, they'd both turned out alright, so maybe he never had time to move his sinister plans forward.

 

The changeling looked like any other visiting parent, dressed for the mild spring weather in jeans, polo shirt and a light jacket, a leather briefcase by her side. She took a casual sip of her coffee as she peered at the young Grue who'd asked her to join her today.

 

"So what's so special about this 'Davyd Palahniuk' anyway?" She pronounced the Ukrainian name perfectly, a gift of her fae nature.

Edited by Heritage

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Miss Grue

Whilst she’d never been to Claremont itself she had helped out some of the students a few times but never had she had to visit the Headmistress. If she’d been to the school she might have felt the pressure that some of the students must have felt, but it wasn’t in her nature to worry about such things. Even when, she rarely, had done wrong she hadn’t worried much beyond doing better.

 

He’s a shapeshifter, obviously, I was asked to meet with him as apparently has partial Grue DNA. They’re hoping I can help him get a handle on his powers, after all he’s partially family. I though that you might want to ask him about that project of yours.she looked over as seriously as she could

 

But this is to help him first and foremost please.”

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"No, that makes sense," Lynn agreed with a nod; after all, she'd had a great mentor in the form of Nightrival when she was young. But wouldn't it have been great if he'd had superpowers similar to hers? All the glamour stuff she'd had to learn on her own.

 

Suddenly the door to Ms Summers' office opened, and a young man stepped out. Lynn rose to her feet and stood next to Daphne. "Hi, you must be Davyd! Nice to meet you; I'm Lynn." The ridiculously attractive (certainly to a teenage boy!) woman offered him a warm handshake.

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The incident at FCU which gave Davyd his powers happened less than three weeks ago.  In the time he'd seen many things, things unusual even for a native of Freedom.  He'd been sent back in time, met a dragon (in the present, not the past), and even fought an actual supervillain.  None of which prepared him for what he saw next.

 

... bwuh...

 

Seeing Lynn & Daphne and Davyd together would be a study in contrasts.  While Lynn & Daphne stood out, Davyd practically blended in, wearing very simple, unadorned clothing that was the same utilitarian beige as the hall they were in.  His hair was somewhere between blonde and brown, somewhere between long and short, kept in a simple style.  He was a bit stocky, though it was hard to tell if that was from fat or muscle.  His face was round and limbs were long, not unpleasant but also not terribly memorable.  He was, in short, a perfectly average looking student.

 

"... am Davyd, yes," he finally stammered out.  "Ah, I mean," he cleared his throat and extended his hand to Lynn, "yes, I am Davyd.  You... um... why?"

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Miss Grue

It didn’t take a empath to tell his reactions she knew what to expect from years of watching teen drama, and being around actually teens, even if she didn’t quite understand it all herself. With a friendly smile she stood to greet the teen

 

<”Greetings”> it wasn’t often spoken among outsiders but the Grue languages was literally coded into their DNA, it was a good test to see if he inherited that

 

 

“Hi I’m Daphne, and you could say that we’re distantly related to each other now!”

 

As benefited anyone, but especially her new kinda-sorta step-step-nephew, she gave the teen a big friendly hug.

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Posted (edited)

"Well, Daphne is here in a more official capacity," Lynn explained. "I'm kinda just tagging along." She waited for the hug to finish, because she was pretty sure Davyd was incapable of intelligent thought right now. "So, we are here because Headmistress Summers let us know that a very talented young shapeshifter is coming to Claremont. Daphne is part of the mentor program, and will be working with you to help you learn more about your powers; I'm more of a...goodwill ambassador for the community, I guess. And we are both-" 

 

Grey mist swirled around her form, transforming Lynn into the familar shape of Grimalkin.

 

"Shapeshifters! Woo-hoo! Go Team Shifty!"

Edited by Heritage

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Davyd felt more than heard the greeting Daphne sent him, though he wasn't sure what it was, and would later attribute the sensation to teenage hormones.  Either he didn't have enough Grue DNA to intercept the message, or that DNA was for whatever reason inactive.  But Davyd was not thinking about DNA at the moment.  Well, a part of him may have been thinking about reproductive materials, but in a far less clinical manner.

 

"Related?," he managed to say, deforming a bit more than should be possible under her hug.  "You are from Ukraine?"  Then he heard (distantly) Lynn's bit about Daphne being a mentor to the young shapeshifter.  "Oh, you're a Chernobyl Baby, too?," he exclaimed as she released him.  "I did not know there were any more in Freedom!  So you can shape-"

 

He stopped abruptly when he saw Lynn change into the fierce fey Grimalkin.  "Oh, wow!  I- Team Shifty?"

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Miss Grue

Daphne stepped back and gave a little smile, she always enjoyed this bit a lot.

 

 

“Not exactly, we’re more adopted family, let me show you how.”

 

Her skin began to take on the native red colouration of her people, a little darker than most, and her features became sharper though still obviously her features. Unlike most Grue she still had her long black hair. It looked a little strange that she was still in her civilian clothes, but she wasn’t being a full hero right now.

 

 

“I’m Ms Grue, pleased to meet you again!”

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Davyd practically leaped back, eyes widening in terror as she shifted.  "You're a Grue!" 

 

Memories of the last Gruevasion were still fresh in his mind.  The terrified student's skin smoothly shifted to a dark green chitinous carapace, talons sprang from his hands and feet, and a thick alligator-like tail lashed out behind him.  He continued moving back, climbing backwards up the wall like an insect, as his head shifted into an arachnid horror with too many eyes and fangs.  Grue.  Grue!  GRUE!!!  GR- wait, wait, think it through.  Not attacking.  And with Grimalkin, a known hero.  Wait -- what was that she said!  Oh!  Oh, of course!

 

His hissing subsided, "Miss Grue?  Miss Grue!  Oh, right, yes!"  His form did not change, but he slowly crawled down from the wall and looked back and forth between the two.  "And you are going to help me with my powers!  Wow!"  He cocked his head abruptly, "wait, so you're... adopting me?  I... what?"

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Grim recoiled slightly as her nose wrinkled in distaste. "What? Oh, God no! No, you've got parents and a life and all that good stuff! Stick with that." It seemed like young Davyd had no idea about the possible source of his powers, and Lynn wasn't sure if she should tell him. If anything maybe Daphne should.

 

"Look, speaking for myself, I got my powers when I was not much older than you, but I had no one to talk to about it. And because of that, I got into a little trouble. I just want to make sure you don't make the same mistakes I did, because-" She shifted into the form of Kendall Jenner, hands on her hips. "It can be very tempting to get up to some serious mischief, and that can be a slippery slope." Then she made everything but her skeleton fade to invisibility, a truly impressive (and disturbing!) feat. "Now don't get me wrong, no one's saying to not have any fun; pranks and games are one of the best ways you learn." She raised her hands up and wiggled her bony fingers around. "Oooh, spooky!" And finally the mist swirled around her and she was back to original Lynn. "It's just that we believe, as does Ms. Summers, that mentoring with heroes who understand the tempations of your unique set of powers might be helpful."

Edited by Heritage

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Miss Grue

Daphne was us to a little reaction to her true nature, but this was a little more extreme than normal. Still he showed good defenses something that they could very much build upon.

 

“The Grue are subsumed into a single consciousness, something that I luckily avoided by being born in deep space.” she paused to let it all sink it

“So if you want to consider me family that’d be great, but I’m also fine with you considering me just a mentor. And please be honest I’m a empath so I’ll know if your trying to make me feel better.”

 

He didn’t need to know just yet that she was also a telepath, not that she was going to peek into his brain just yet.

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Davyd grinned at Grimalkin's show, which was somewhat disturbing given the current configuration of his face.  "That makes senses, yes," he said, nodding, then help up his hands defensively, "though I would never dream of getting into that sort of mischief!  I would only use my abilities to confuse bad guys, or to sneak into villain lairs."  He seemed genuine and sincere in this, or at least he was trying his best to be so.  He lowered his hands, then extended one claw to each of the ladies before him, then realized what he was and smoothly shifted back so they could shake his human hands.  "I am always happy to learn, though, especially from two superheroes - ah, superheroines - such as yourselves!"

 

He gave Miss Grue a double-take, why is she telling me that?, then shrugged and flashed a fang-filled smile her way.  "I, uh, think 'mentor' would keep things simplest, yes.  Oh, that's right, Grue are mind-readers, too, not just shapeshifters.  Hunh," he muttered, "maybe that's why they were so terrifying, they were reading people's fears..."  He shook his head and looked back at Miss Grue, "well, my parents and babusya raised me to be honest, so you won't need to worry about that!"

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Posted (edited)

Aww, he was a sweet kid! His folks raised him well.

 

"There's another reason we came to you, or at least did," Lynn continued. "I'm working on a list of all the shapeshifters in Freedom, to create a sort of...partnership, I guess. The idea is that we can help each other out, and offer our services to someone in need. For instance-" And here she took on Davyd's form, her accent a perfect match to his Ukranian-inflected English. "If Davyd Palahniuk and your other identity, if you choose to have one, need to be someplace at the same time." Then she shifted into popular teen actress Millie Bobby Brown, dressed for the red carpet. "Or a celebrity has received a death threat, but still wants to make an appearance to draw out their tormentors." And then back to herself again. "Now, you're pretty young, and I have no interest in putting you in harm's way, but I just wanted to plant the seed, and also let you know we're here if you need us."

Edited by Heritage

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Miss Grue

If Daphne was disappointed that he wasn’t going to be family, at least for now, she didn’t show it. But then again telepaths and empaths were always the best at hiding their emotions, and Daphne was always hopeful in all her endeavors anyhow.

 

“The idea is we can offer our help in controlling your power as much or little as you like. I’ll give you my number and you can call anytime you need help, I need to sleep so you might get Mother Unit be she has an extensive database on such things. We can also arrange practice sessions as often as you need.”

 

She thought about what Lynn displayed and thought what else she could add before adding.

 

“Appearance are a useful ability but with a little practice a shapeshifter can do so much more, for instance…”

 

She grew in size until she was a least a good deal taller than then, but with enough head space so not to hit the ceiling. Her clothes being of Grue designed adjusted with her to increased size.

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"Oh, that is a good idea!" he exclaimed, "I had never considered using my abilities like that, but yeah," he smoothly morphed to match Lynn's earlier civilian appearance, his Claremont-provided outfit shifting with him, "that makes total sense!"

 

Ironically, if not for the accident that merged Grue genetic material with him, his own mutant powers would have been the ability to imitate people, but that would have been the extent of his shapeshifting.  The scientists who had helped him stabilize after the accident figured that out, but never told him, just as they'd never told him about the nature of the biomaterials that were infused into him.

 

He stood next to Grimalkin, posing as if Miss Grue were a photographer.  "Oh, yeah, I've done that, too!" he exclaimed when he saw her grow.  "Um, well," his tone shifted down suddenly, "I mean... kinda... look, I'll show you."  "Lynn" began to swell up, like she was puffing up her chest, but then her whole body began ballooning up, first like a desert rain frog, then more like the gum-chewing girl from that movies about the kids in the candy factory.

 

Craaaaap

 

In moments "Lynn" was an eight-foot-diameter sphere of stretched flesh, with pudgy hands and her head just barely poking out.  "Uhh... that didn't go as I'd hoped."

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At first, Lynn seemed utterly unfazed by Davyd's impersonation; she'd one far worse and far weirder for years, so seeing her double wasn't upsetting. In fact, he was very proud of the young student. "Nice work, kid! You've got a great eye for detail, and your fabric textures are spot-on!" But when he attempted to grow, her expression became more troubled. "Ohhhh dear," said Lynn softly to herself. "Now we have to roll Violet to the juicing room..." Taking a few steps back, she looked at Daphne and motioned towards her swollen doppelganger.

 

"This might be a job for a more versatile shifter than me. I just do shapes, not stuff like mass or volume."

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Miss Grue

Daphne had only a few moments ahead of the “real” Lynn, picking up on Davyd’s panic just ahead of the expansion. She chose to go insubstantial, something that she was sure she was the only Grue able to do such things. She floated above the mass of expanded student, telepathically speaking into his mind so he wouldn’t miss things in his panic. She allowed Lynn into the telepathic call so she’d know what was going on.

 

 

Don’t worry most shapeshifters have a few teething problems when they start, for the longest time I couldn’t manage humans faces at all!

 

Shrinking down she stood on his shoulder, like his own Jiminy Cricket.

 

Okay try to imagine in your mind's eye the shape you want you body to take, then imagine yourself shifting into that shape until they’re the same. I know you’re more than capable of such a task, just takes a little practice is all.

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