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"I could probably use some help with biology and zoology," he said quickly to Nicole, even as he was being gently guided away, "so, yeah, I'm up for a trade!"

 

~Thank you,~ he thought back to Lulu. ~It's funny, I never felt like I 'fit in' with most people, but now, I could fit in most anywhere!~

 

Davyd slowly shifted out of his chameleon camouflage as they made their way to the dorms. "No, I have't been assigned a roommate yet. Or even a room. Since it's so late in the school year, I think there was still some debate on whether I should wait until next school year to fully move in, and finish out the last two months at Roosevelt High, or if I should just jump in here. Those coversations might be easier if my parents knew, but..." he trailed off, face filled with concern and not a little doubt.  

 

Which was quickly replaced by a look of confused awe at Leroy's words!  "Oh, but what about genderfluid or intersex or nonbinary students?"

Edited by Dr Archeville

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Monica didn't quite expect the greeting she got upon her return. Leroy was quite … well, maybe not cheerful but positive in a way she couldn't entirely put into words. Lightbearer, she liked that title. For now, she mainly listened in without adding much to the conversation, she didn't have much to add, really, after all.

 

Nicole was being her usual self, so when Davyd also indicated he wanted to push on Monica was eager to oblige. She didn't really have to lead anybody, a group like this moved on its own just fine, but she did make a basic attempt at showing some kind of leading the others, if only just to live up to what Leroy had asked of her.

 

"The rooms are pretty great." She turned to address the newcomer a bit more directly. "No idea what your background is, but these are way nicer than what I had before Claremont."  A bit more quietly, she added on something, probably mainly for herself. "Turns out there's some nice stuff associated with these powers, too."

 

Noticing that Davyd's reaction to what Leroy said (another end of the world? There had been one just a few months ago), she nudged him slightly. "If you need help with bio, let me know, I've gone through most things between here and graduation already."

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Listing near the back, she munched on her snacks, and Corinne just watched most of the exchange, idly following along, but stopping at Nicole.  "Composition, generally, is considered the strong suit.  Reference his quote about the ticking bomb, that illustrates his methodology for investing the audience in the actions.  There is a reason everyone, just everyone one references his stuff.  Take it for what it's worth, or not."  She shrugged and slurped at a smoothie she seemed to pull from nowhere, before she followed along the rest if the teens.

 

"There wont be a debate, you'll start here, now.  Especially if you are hiding your powers from your parents.  You wont have the control to stop yourself..."  She trailed off and frowned a little bit, before her jaw set into a serious expression for a moment.

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For whatever reason, Ashley didn't like Lulu; that much was clear. And most of the time, the redhead was okay with that. But not today. Maybe it was general feeling of tension between this particular group of students, or just the reflective way Judy's older sister snarled at her, but whatever it was, it ticked the telepath off enough that felt the need to do something about it.

 

She would not attempt any sort of mental communication; Lulu was quite sure that would send the Watchdog off the deep end, as her need to protect her little sister  bordered on the pathological. So it would be a projection, a simple sensory effect. Even as part of her knew it was a mistake, the telepath's anger flared into psychic action.

 

Approximately six inches away from her left ear, Ashley heard Lulu's voice, as clear and accented as if she'd spoken, suddenly manifest. At the same time, the telepath made eye contact and raised an eyebrow, just to be clear.

 

("Ah'm not a threat to you or your sister. Ah would never read your minds without permission. Only you can hear this, and it's strictly one way.")

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Watchdog jumped slightly, and shot Lulu a deathglare while she figured out what she was supposed to do next. This was, Ashley reflected, one of those moments when she had to wrestle with the bounds of staying in-character and the bounds of staying a viable part of Judy's peer group. It would be entirely in-character for Watchdog, the traumatized survivor of a dictatorship run by psychic vampires, to take violent exception to unauthorized mental contact. But if she even made like she was going to pull her gun out, it was going to be a cold day in Hell before anyone socialized with Judy again as long as she was in the company of her overprotective big sister. These were the sorts of scenarios she worked out in her head late at night when she'd put Judy to sleep by draining her powers, and the sounds of radio waves passing through the air of a Claremont evening were her only company.

 

Judy, who was savvier about these sorts of tensions than Ashley typically gave her credit for, interrupted with a sudden, "Ah know what it's like, Davyd. I have very...difficult powers too." People didn't like it when you told them their powers were scary or bad, even if you were just trying to commiserate with them because you'd gotten the bad luck too. "And maybe Ah, uh, don't have parents around here, but you've gotta be honest with them."

 

Ashley wasn't so sure about that at all, but it was definitely not her place to say that. 

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"I'm happy for all the help I can get!," he said to Monica, unable to help but warm to her.  "My background's pretty standard.  I live in an apartment, in Riverside, with my parents, and my uncle, and my babusya - ah, my grandmother.  Dad's a musician, mom's an auto mechanic.  Uncle Sasha knows about my abilities, but he's the only one."  He glanced over at Judy and Ashley, "I do want to tell them, I just don't know how.  Mom's a real 'mother bear' type, so I know she'd freak out."

 

He was quiet a moment, then swerved toward what he felt was a more upbeat topic.  "So when do I start training?  I've had some stage combat practice, for theater and such, but I know I'll need more training for when I get into an actual fight.  Not that I'm looking forward to those -- I don't want to fight, I'm not eager to do so, but I know sometimes it must be done.  And with my powers, I should have a lot of options, ways to end a fight before it even starts.  Like scaring them off."  His eyes suddenly grew a bit wider, "ooh, do you all want to see something I've been working on for that?"

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Posted (edited)

"Perhaps another time, Mr. Palahniuk! I should love to, but now is a bad time as indicated by reactions...about five minutes past." Leroy laughed heartily, patting Davyd on the shoulder. The weight was surprising, and this close to him the shapeshifter felt an almost oppressive, stifling air around the ever-smiling young man. 

 

"As for training...understanding and application of your gifts is the aim of this school, not merely fighting. I have yet to even see the ominously-named and much-rumored 'Doom Room', for example. If your interest is how to avoid and forstall violence, the instructors will respect your wishes, though how to throw and take a punch is still something they expect you to learn."

 

Stepping to a window, he glanced around the line of structures opposite the dorms, when something caught his eye. "The greenhouse! Dear friend, you must see it, a thing of beauty and life in all times of the year! Ever-changing, yet all components united by a shared essence! A place of peace and silence, nigh-on as holy as any chapel." 

 

Leroy scowled "Though I cannot seem to get the knack, everything I plant dies without Dee also caring for it. Regardless, would you like a look?"

 

"And I must give my sympathies on your father, Mr. Palahniuk, my own father has not an adventurous bone in him either. All he talks about is art and music and eugh. How he caught mother's eye remains a mystery to me. His brother, Leroy Conte, was a hero and the people of this world jailed him for it, and my father shrugs and talks about concerts and creativity." He shook his head "No wonder this world is so filled with injustice, with men like him running it!"

Edited by Ari

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Posted (edited)

Lulu wasn't sure how to interpret Ashley's response; the look she gave her wasn't super-pleasant, but the lack of a verbal response could be taken several ways. Well, at least she'd made a statement on the matter; the ball was in Ashley's court now.

 

Things continued to be going smoothly with the tour. However, Lulu frowned at Leroy's dismissive attitude towards the artistic. "Now wait just a minute there, Leroy; don't you be dissin' the arts. Heroes may fight the battles, but they'd be forgotten if the bards didn't sing their stories. A people's history is lost if there's no one to tell their tales." Yes, her D&D nerd was showing a bit.

Edited by Heritage

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And it was now that Corinne fixed Leroy with a stare, it might be considered withering, or at least annoyed. She shook her head a bit, and frowned.  After a moment she looked to Davyd.

 

  "Probably as soon as they fit you into classes, and such.  Though how effective the training is... well we're all different, so it's hard for someone to teach you how to use your powers.  Or impossible.  It's not as if they all work the same.  Or everyone has the same powers, or none at all."

 

"That said, while i am on my last term here, I know some people in theatre and dance stuff around town, if you want to do that.  I am good at stage makeup."    
 

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Posted (edited)

"Ooh, the greenhouse could be f-" he started to say, but then Leroy had to say that about his own father.  And then Lulu replied, and he was struck silent a moment.

 

Wow... so passionate and eloquent...

 

Corinne's words brought him out of his reverie.  "Oh, uh, yeah, that makes sense, yeah."  He turned to face her, "is there anyone on staff that could teach shapeshifting?  I know it's not a common ability, or one that gets a lot of good will, what with the Grue."  He remembered well the horrors of the latest "Gruevasion," the monsters terrorizing the streets.  "Or... maybe whoever is teaching you about your powers could help me?  I know it's not the same, but they're kinda the same... sorta...?"

 

"Hey, wait," he turned back to Leroy, "so," he said, scratching his head, "you're named after your uncle?"

Edited by Dr Archeville

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"All glory is in the past, Ms. Beaumont, the deed must first be done. If he decides to care about his brother, that would be worthy of a song." 

 

If Leroy comprehended of the meaning behind Corinne's stare, he gave no more indication of it than any other time that exact same situation arose. He was possibly the one person she had met who seemed to get slower on the uptake the more you got to know them.

 

At Davyd's words he nodded and set them out for the greenhouse, trotting down the stairs at the head of the little party. The question about his name had brought the smile back to his face and the light back to his eyes.

 

"That I was! A long and lovely story, I will tell you about the Golden Marvel in full someday. But what Corinne says hits to the mark: this school is a starting point, and imperfect. There will be gaps that you must fill for yourself, knowledge they do not possess, experience you must have beyond its walls."

 

He paused at the door, frowning to himself "Although, now I think of it, that is advice I do not follow. Rather hypocritical. Oh well." 

 

The walk to the greenhouse was delightful, following a winding path lined with plants sprouting or flowering from fresh soil, the air fragrant from them and the rich earth. At its end stood the glass and metal enclosure of the greenhouse proper, practically stifling inside and flourishing with vegetables, fruits and plants of every description. Some of them were in enclosures of their own, and some of those looked distinctly like they weren't in Earth soil or even native to this planet.

 

"For example, Mr. Palahniuk, studying these might help if you ever end up on another planet and need to hide in some bushes!" Leroy indicated a bristling, dangerous-looking puce mass of sword-like thorns that all swiveled aggressively at the motion of his hand. "Without knowing its habits, you might make some crucial mistake and reveal yourself. Around every corner is a lesson, if you but look to see it."

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Her expression went wry when Davyd pushed a bit, and then LeRoy.

 

"Leroy, you're being an a$$."  She said it simply, as she looked steadily at him, she stopped trying to give him non-verbal chides.  "Not everyone is cut out to be, or wants to be a hero.  Whether or not you have powers, or skills, means you are ready for it, like mentally or emotionally.  PTSD is a thing.  Some people just aren't built to rush into the danger.  And that is fine.  The world doesn't run on heroism.  It runs on artists, designers, builders, literally every other role.  You, and everyone else here who is a jerk about it might as well decouple from a society built, and maintained by everyone else."  She drew in a sharp breath, her nostrils flaring as she looked levelly at him.

 

"But, of course, your Highness, from 'pon such a pedestal as thou inhabits such truths revealed to thine eyes are greater than that which we see, lacking, of course, the divine imperative and mandate that hath revealed greater verities than such is allotted to our own, lesser, and clouded with vicissitudes perceptions."  Her response was arch, as she pressed a hand to her chest, as she bowed with practiced grace, dipping lower than most due to her skill at dancing, one led sliding back into an elaborate curtsy.

 

Corinne snapped to standing tall, with immaculate posture and a regal bearing that was like second nature to her.  She was easily hateable, easy to see as Miss Perfect B####, and given how she flicked between her normal sort of bohemian to Ice Queen villainess of every high school movie, it might make one wonder.

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Judy had been quiet for a while, holding Leroy's hand, but now she was briefly torn between her friend and her boyfriend. "Ah don't think that's what Leroy was saying," she said firmly. "Ah know pretty well that Leroy doesn't see anything wrong with people who don't want to be a superhero. And I know perfectly well that he doesn't think that about music, because he told me I sang real pretty at choir practice." She couldn't actually remember the metaphor Leroy had used; sometimes she tuned him out when he got especially eloquent. She shot him a reassuring look, then said, "He's just from a place where people with powers fight all the time." Turning to Davyd, she said, "Not everyone at Claremont is growing up to be a superhero; Corinne and Ah sure aren't, and we're not the only ones. Sometimes there's some peer pressure because people think alike so much, but there are lots of different kinds of people here." She smiled at the Ukranian boy as Ashley scowled at nobody in particular. "And you're a shapeshifter, raht? You shouldn't have to worry about cliques anyway." 

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Lulu really didn't care for Corinne, not that it was a big deal. If you asked her why, she'd have a hard time putting a finger on it; perhaps as someone who was used to seeing people reduced to their basic motivations, the LA girl's mercurial nature rubbed her the wrong way. Or it could be about class, a poor, pale Alabama girl resenting a beautiful tanned girl who smelled like money and sunshine. It bothered her that it bothered her, but Corinne would be graduating soon, and then they'd probably be out of each other's lives forever, with neither of them having any real impact on the other.

 

But right now, Lulu f###ing loved her for calling Leroy out on his BS, and she had to hold back a maniacal cackle, a feeling she immediately regretted the minute Judy stood by her man. She had to remember she wasn't a kid anymore, and Claremont wasn't Columbia, Alabama, the town she used to think of as her personal reality show. Everything had consequences now. 

 

Lulu said nothing, merely taking a deep breath as she soldiered on with the rest of the tour.

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Davyd was slowly sussing out the personalities and relationships among his impromptu tour guides & future classmates, and was a bit weirded out.  Well, this is Freedom, weird things just happen here.

 

"Back in my parent's home country," he began, trying to diffuse the situation, "and in many parts of the former Soviet Republic, and Asia, there are people known as vovchoks.  Ah, 'Sleepers' is closest translation, but also 'doormice.'  They are people who have powers, but never used them.  Some did so because they did not want the responsibility of being a hero, nor did they have the drive to become a criminal.  But most held back out of fear, for what might happen to them and their families should certain... authorities learn of their abilities."  He looked around to see if they were paying attention to him instead of each other, a decidedly unusual experience for the stage techie.  "But I grew up here, in Freedom, where it seems like everyone who has powers either becomes a superhero or supervillain.  So I was raised with both worldviews.  And so I think that," he chewed his lower lip a bit nervously, "that if you some ability, and you can use it to help others, then you should do so.  But not necessarily as crime-fighting superhero, because not everyone can do that -- as an artist that inspires others, or as a scientist or teacher helping the next generation, or a construction worker... those are all good, too."

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Monica followed along with the others, exchanging a few words that didn't really affect anything with some of them as they walked towards the Greenhouse, doing her best to not get involved in the situation that was developing between Corinne and Leroy.

 

Dealing with expectations and all that was something Monica really didn't want to talk about right now, and she made that somewhat obvious by clearly distancing herself from the others as they were talking about this. She still hadn't figured out how she felt about all of this, and this definitely wasn't the situation in which she'd figure out all of it at once.

 

Instead, she walked over to one of the trays that had plants in them. She'd been in the Greenhouse a few times so far – while plants weren't really her main interest or focus, she still liked them. And the Greenhouse was quite a relaxing place, too.

 

She exclaimed to the rest of the group, doing her best to interrupt whatever they were talking about before the entire situation turned ugly. Maybe a simple distraction would be enough. "Speaking of, check this out." She moved her hand over the tray, a small plant that was almost completely buried in the dirt in particular, and started to channel her power into her hand, which made it grow quite brightly. Immediately, the plant shot up vines from the dirt, which quickly bridged the distance between the tray and her hand, and then began to tangle around it.

 

"Glowtrappers. They're pretty cool, I heard a rumour we may have an assignment on them soon. "

 

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The prince shrugged "If not, Mr. Skyler will have us calculating their growth rates in a hurricane on Venus when we least expect it." He'd listened closely enough to his schoolmates, and for once didn't even seem lost in some inner tangent.

 

"Well said, Corinne," Leroy watched Lady Liberty draw the glowtrapper to her hand, his own hand not around Judy clenching as if on its own. "There are still lives to be lived and work to be done, people need food and drink and something to make this planet bearable. It is still surprising, turning from one of the weakest creatures in the universe at home to merely on the lower end of the scale. I forget local realities too easily."

 

He smiled at Judy "Though, really, my family is no representative sample of Earth-2. Not everyone gains cosmos-shattering powers and trains constantly to dethrone tyrants. We have our bloodshell engineers and space-shapers, whatever fits a citizen's talent and inclination..." That gave him sudden pause, and he turned curiously to the shapeshifter.

 

"Davyd, you mentioned powered labour. What sort would you wish to provide, if there were no pressures one way or another? I have never heard of Primes taking that choice, the closest are the hyper-minds who form companies and powered mercenaries."

Edited by Ari

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