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Legatus

Claremont Academy Grounds, Outside the Jasmin Summers Administrative Building

19 July 2019, 12:50 PM

 

As XVIII stepped out of the building and into the sunlight, he lifted a hand to shield his eyes from the midsummer rays. This marked the third telling-off by Vice-Principal Dugan since his arrival at the school - on campus, his mind supplied - several weeks prior. At first he'd been surprised at how mild she'd been when it came to wearing Centurion's colors in public. XVIII - no, Felix, he reminded himself - hadn't really realized how much danger he'd put others in if anyone made the (obvious) connection between himself and his progenitor. 

 

The second time, she'd been more exasperated and somewhat alarmed. The fact that he'd not only gone out into public in a costume very similar to the Man of Adamant's, but had done so without express permission had seriously annoyed her - and also worried her. She had told him (again) about the Alpha-Centurion, who had done much the same thing, but it had all been a ruse, trying to steal from the Freedom League. A lot of heroes still remembered that, she had said, and many people did as well. He'd make people "rowdy" or "riotous" with his actions, she'd claimed. 

 

Well, now that uniform had been torn apart by his last encounter with a few muggers with weapons bigger than their brains, and he'd donned a new one - one wholly his own, even if it took inspiration from his predecessor's, and she'd called him in again. Not that he'd done anything specific wrong, the vice-principal had been quick to assure him after he'd returned from extinguishing a fire in the Fens. No, she was concerned that he was going to get too much exposure, and others might come to try to harm him.

 

While Felix wasn't exactly concerned about that - very few things could hurt him, other than himself - he was aware of the enormous responsibilities he had as a potential successor to the mightiest champion that Earth had ever known. Looking up at the sky, he sighed softly, before forcing himself to smile. Vice-Principal Dugan had urged him to spend more time with people his own age, so he might as well try to start that now. He began walking towards the open fields at the end of campus, wondering whether he'd see anyone there.

Edited by secondling

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Janus was so very bored. The teenage swordsmaster was waiting on their sparring partner. Frankly, Janus suspected that Kam, the Red Lynx, had another late night sneaking out to the city with his mystery girlfriend. True to their word, Janus had kept mum on the issue and provided an easy alibi but if Kam stood Janus up for morning practice, the prince of Dakana was going to be due some ribbing. 

 

Still, if nothing else, Janus could start on warm ups which is exactly what they were doing. With a practice blade in hand - blunt and heavier weighted than the one sitting over by the bench still in its sheath, Janus was going through the forms when they caught sight of a newcomer to the field. Arresting the blade mid-swing, Janus paused to squint at the new kid. They looked vaguely familiar but hell if Janus could place the face. 

 

"Hey, new kid!" Janus offered in their faintly accented English, along with the wide, friendly smile that was classic Danger. Resting the practice blade against one lean shoulder, Janus asked cheerfully, "Don't suppose that you fence? My sparring partner is running late. The name is Janus, by the way."

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"Hey people. Janus. Strange alien. I don't suppose either of you know the meaning of life once all you put faith in and held to be true collapses to the dust and ashes of failure?"

 

A very large and gloomy-looking green dragon slumped to the ground next to the two, crest drooping and wings limp. The priest from another Earth had been crushed since news came of his human counterpart's mysterious disappearance in space.

 

A slitted eye opened, taking stock of the blond student.

 

"I'm Dio, but you can call me the Dunce Dragon of Dismal Disappointment. You a dragonslayer? Could sure use one right about now."

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XVIII approached the sword brandishing youth, his head tilted slightly as he looked at the other carefully. After a moment of confusion, he realized that this person, Janus, was talking to him. "Oh, uh, hi!" He approached closer, offering Janus a charming smile. "I'm, um, Felix." He hesitated momentarily, trying to remember lessons half-learned about meeting new people, before he realized that Janus had asked him a question.

 

"Oh, I don't fence. Sorry about that." Felix's smile faded into a mildly apologetic look. "I've never actually touched a weapon in my life, so I'd probably be rather more dangerous to everyone around me than I should be in a sparring match."

 

As the giant green scaled creature - A dragon, really?! I didn't know there was one in Freedom! - collapsed nearby, Felix blinked up at it. "I've never fought any dragons. Well, actually, that's not quite true... but I'm no killer, sorry." He paused, approaching a little closer, careful to interpose himself between Dio - erm, does it really want to be called the Dunce Dragon of Dismal Disappointment? - and Janus. He was reasonably sure that the dragon wasn't hostile, but if it turned nasty, he was much more likely to be able to withstand attacks than Janus was. "Are you okay?"

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Janus watched with some amusement as the new student not-so-subtly interposed his frame between Janus and the dragon. 

 

"Dio, you are worrying the lad with your dramatics. He isn't looking to actually be murdered. He is merely depressed over recent affairs," Janus said, the words not unkind. They swung the blade back down, setting it on the bench with the rest of their equipment before stepping around to reach the dragon. Janus reached out to pat the dragon's neck with one slender, calloused hand. Janus had spent the last year struggling with depression themselves but it was finally starting to ease. The prince of Fortuna had a great deal of sympathy for anyone struggling with similar issues. "It will get better, my friend, as bleak as things might seem now, but if you speak of courting death, you will get drug into another round of discussions with the school therapist. I shan't report you, you know, but someone will."

 

Janus turned their attention back to Felix, arching one rose brow high. The Danger's mouth curved in wry amusement. "And while the sentiment is appreciated, a word of friendly advice; appearances can be deceiving on both ends. We have some touchy students that will resent being seen as needing protection as well as some that will grow offended at being assumed to be 'monstrous' - reasonably enough! If it's a student here at Claremont, you can assume that they're not likely to start a rampage or faint behind the peonies at the first sign of a threat."

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Felix stepped back, looking at Janus in puzzlement, but he was happy to allow the other human take up the task of speaking to the dragon. When Janus returned their attention to him, he scratched his cheek in mild embarrassment. "I suppose you're right." Personally, XVIII did not quite grasp why people might be offended at being protected, though he did grasp why they might object to being treated as a threat. After all, he hadn't ever been offended when XVI had taken on the more mechanical tasks back home - XVI had been more qualified to handle those things than XVIII himself had been.

 

Why, then, would people feel offended if he took blows for them? Very few people were as sturdy as he was, so it was not as though he were actually sacrificing himself - or at least not risking very much. Well, whatever. He set the thought aside, to ask later. Now was not really the time to inquire. "Some habits are hard to break." He finally said, as a meagre excuse for his long, thoughtful silence, and by way of explanation.

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Dio groaned impressively, but flipped over to let Janus scritch under the heavier armor plates on his neck. With his claws dangling in the air, he resembled a brilliant emerald-colored dog.

 

"True enough, Janus, I've already been threatened with extra work just to get me out of that office. Worst comes to worst, I can just dig into the Earth's core. So, you're Felix?

 

Rolling back over, the giant reptile set his head next to the blond boy, his eye about on level with Felix's own. The creature's lips pulled back, revealing a pair of smooth bone ridges in place of teeth. This close the effect of Dio talking was especially odd, his mouth not moving in the least as his deep, booming voice went on 

 

"I'm alright, just scared for someone who doesn't deserve it. That's a good instinct, and there are worse habits than worrying about the wellbeing of other people. But, Janus is also right, here it's not really necessary. Claremont's well protected and most people need to be trusted to handle themselves.

 

"What brings you here, Felix? I'm here to learn magic, for example. So's Prince Janus, in their way." Breathing out softly, Dio transformed into a crowd of other students hanging around a bench. They all looked curiously at Felix, asking in Dio's rumble "Do you know magic?"

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Janus' chuckle was warm, pulling back their hand when the dragon transformed. 

 

"Of a sort. What I do is not exactly what I'd call magic," Janus demurred, having strong opinions about what magic was and wasn't from their time in their home dimension. No matter how many times it was pointed out that their blade was made of magic, the Danger never agreed. It was their soul blade, nothing more and nothing less. Janus dropped down onto the bench holding their blades and went to wipe off the practice blade before putting it away. "Neither Dio or I will be bothered by it overmuch but some of the students are touchy. Huang, for example, is a lovely lad but has strong feelings about the character assassination of creatures of the night. Understandably so, I suppose, but it's worth noting. What year are you in, Felix? I'm in my third year here - although I transferred in last year,  you could say. We didn't exactly 'do' high school where I came from. Not in the American sense, at least. I fought ogres and trolls, however."

 

Janus blew out a soft, wistful sigh; they clearly missed their home world.

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The youth looked at Dio with a slightly bemused expression. Why would he want to dig to the core of the planet? There's nothing interesting there except heat and pressure, I think. Shrugging the thought off, Felix nodded. "I'm Felix, yeah. It means 'lucky,' or 'fortunate.'" Speaking of which, Dio sounds like it's related to divinity. I wonder if he(?) was worshipped at one point in the past. He paused for a moment, torn with indecision as he debated whether or not to expand on that, but his attention was torn away by the oddity of the dragon speaking without opening its mouth. Huh. I wonder if that's usual here. Things are so different from what Dr. Syagrius said they would be...

 

But then, a whole lot seemed different from what Dr. Syagrius had believed. XVIII - no, Felix. He reminded himself - was beginning to suspect that Syagrius hadn't actually lived that much since his idol's death in 1993. Shaking off the thought, he returned his attention to the present. "Thanks, Dio. I guess I'm not really used to living here yet, is all." He said after a moment's recollection of what the dragon had said.

 

"To answer your question, I'm, uh..." He trailed off, staring blankly at the sudden crowd of students sitting on the bench. Okay, magic. I know that he dealt with magic before. Maybe I'll have to do so myself sometime. Forcing himself to continue, he chose one of the students at random to look in the eyes as he spoke. "I'm here to learn how to be... well, normal, I guess. I'm also learning about how to be a better hero, but I'm pretty sure that the main reason I'm here is to learn how to be normal." His sessions with Vice-Principal Dugan had given him that impression, at the very least. "Most of what I know of magic comes from old stories about Centurion and the Liberty League." XVIII added wryly. 

 

Looking to Janus, XVIII Felix wondered who Huang was, but put the question aside for the moment. "It's my first year here, I guess... uh... ogres and trolls? Where do you come from, Janus?" Even as he asked the question, he realized that technically, he was of an age with second-year students at Claremont, but this was still his first year.

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"The League Designation is Earth-O-Eldritch-2, but everyone calls it Fortuna. It's a sister dimension to Prime. Don't worry, the monsters we fought weren't sentient and were entirely malevolent. Fortuna can sound a little horrifying - a land of faerie tales - but the morality of good versus evil is very much what it looks like on the tin. Prime is much more shades of murky grey," Janus said, their accent thickening just a little as they spoke about their lost world. Janus gaze didn't waver and their voice was steady but there was no masking the brief flash of pain in their eyes before Janus forced their voice to lighten with determination. "But I've spent plenty of summers here with the Danger half of my family so I wasn't totally lost in a tech-heavy world. My cousin, Veronica, is in Claremont right now too. We're of an age and have always got along well. She's much more the student of magic than I."

 

Janus smiled then, a charming smile that crinkled the corners of the starbust mark around their eye. "We're all here learning to blend in to some degree though my family doesn't 'do' secret identities. Some of the students are here to learn to control their abilities and have a 'normal' life but.... well, sounds dreadfully dull to me. Wouldn't you concur, Dio? What even is 'normal'? Overrated."

 

Janus might as well have quoted a 'Danger Family Motto'.

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"Wait, so you're from an... alternate Earth, then?" Felix paused, blinking, before shaking his head with a wry smile. How am I supposed to learn to act normal when I'm surrounded by people who aren't? "I've never met someone from another Earth before." He glanced upwards for a moment, adding thoughtfully. "Of course, that's not saying much, but..." He shrugged.

 

Looking again at Janus, Felix frowned slightly. "I... I've heard myself that things are shades of grey out here. It's hard to remember, sometimes, but I do my best with what I know." At the mention of the Danger family, his brow furrowed in thought. I think I've heard of them before, but I don't really recall why, precisely. "Secret identities are for the protection of those close to you." He recited, before breaking into a grin. "At least, that's what Vice-Principal Dugan and the rest of the teachers tell me. I don't really have one of those, so it's a bit confusing for me."

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Kam finally arrived fashionably late, quite out of character as he was rarely either.  The tall Dakanan also looked tired which he never was, his shoudlers slightly slumped and eyes ever so slightly squinting against the sun.  A sure sign his extracuriculars had run later than usual.  "Janus, ah got caught up with somthing, sorry."  he appologized and nodded to his roomates not pet dragon, "Dio."  He was dressed in loose athletic wear in greyscale for sparing with Janus though it was clear even through the loose clothing he was exceptionally fit and toned for a youth his aparent age.

 

The secret prince glanced to the new student and falshed a welcoming smile, "Welcome to Claremont academy."  Kam greeted warmly extending a hand, "Kameron Kingdom, I usually go by Kam."  he introduced himself as he sized up the new student with a studious eye.  "Secret Identities serve many purposes really, protection among them certainly."  and sometimes it was to keep from starting an international incident on accident.

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Felix offered Kam a smile, albeit one that was moderately surprised. "I'm, well, Felix. Felix Century. I'm just relatively new to this whole 'secret identity' thing, among others. Nice to meet you, Kam." He shook the young man's hand, his grip firm but not tight. Blue eyes twinkled as he met the other youth's gaze. Releasing Kam's hand, he stepped back. But I guess I am keeping some secrets. Not because anyone told me to, but because it's really no one's business but mine to remember my siblings. 

 

A flash of sadness brushed across XVIII's face, his expression falling briefly. XX, I miss you so much. You always knew the right way to do things. Shaking his head, he returned to the moment at hand. "Anyways. I try my best to help people out, but I've still got lots to learn."

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