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Summer 2020 

 

The first thing you have to understand is that Eira Katastroff was decidedly not bringing her boyfriend home to meet her parents. This was a real summer trip (albeit a short one) with her, Pan, Lulu, Mia, and Micah all heading across the Atlantic for a week or so to visit lovely Sweden. So what if they were going to start at her parents' house? The Natt och Dag estate was a natural place for their first arrival and convenient to much of the rest of the country. She'd asked (and not whined, definitely not that) to get hero visas for all of them and it had all worked out fine. Everything was going to go perfectly. 

 

So here they were, a couple of weeks after Claremont had dismissed its students for the summer, standing on a campus that was mostly deserted except for a few unhappy students stuck there rather than with their families, the sky overhead bright and sunny, the trees and grass a brilliant shade of green. It looked to be a good day. There was no sign of Angelic yet. 

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Pan was not unhappy, but he was impatient. Pan had been most stuck at Claremont (in theory at least). He had been going around Freedom for the most part, but he had been looking forward to seeing Eira again. ANd to visit her home for the adventure, of course. Obviously, going somewhere else was the important point, not seeing her again.

 

He was dressed in an emerald green dress shirt and slightly darker green shorts. He wore sandals, with a pair of sunglasses pushed up to his forehead. He flew around the others, obviously impatient, looking around trying to spot Eira.

 

"Eira was supposed to be here now." He looked down at his phone, to see nothing again. "Have you heard anything?"

Edited by RocketLord
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Soliton

 

Mia sat lazily on a bench nearby, wearing a pair of mom jeans, a band t-shirt for al-Namrood, sandals and a pair of oversized sunglasses. Her mother had been a little freaked out at the idea that Mia would be going off onto Sweden, but the edge had been taken off when Mia pointed out she teleported to other nations rather freely in the past year and could also hit as hard as a Howitzer. She was going to be fine.

 

Still, visiting Sweden with her rich friend was a new one. Mia never had rich friends until recently. That was pretty neat. She wondered if there would be caviar. She had never had caviar before. She had tried to synthesize it with her powers before but it came out smelling like an open manhole so that ended up going into the trash rather than her mouth. 

 

She looked languidly over at Pan.

 

"She's, as the hoi-polloi like to say, fashionably late," she said, putting on a faux-starlet voice. "Seriously though, settle down, bud. She'll get here when she gets here. It takes too long and I can teleport over and call her from her own house."

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"I reckon you never had someone explain that when the woman you're waitin' on is one you like, she's always gonna be a bit late, Pan. It's the way of women. That's what my dad always said when we were waitin' for mom."

 

Micah stood near Pan, wearing new jeans, some solid-looking hiking boots, and what looked to be a pretty heavy-duty windbreaker on over a dark blue t-shirt.. He had a battered backpack on over the coat, and a large duffel bag rested at his feet.

 

"Are you sure you don't want to at least put on some pants instead of shorts? Way I hear it, Sweden's not exactly blistering hot..."

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At that moment, the air in front of them seemed to catch fire. It was a strange sort of fire that burned in a perfect circle, though, and after a moment two figures stepped out through the seeming gateway. 

 

The first was familiar to the students. Eira Katastroff was dressed up for the occasion, her long hair cut short and pulled up in a bright blue fauxhawk, a studded leather jacket around her slim shoulders and black T-shirt emblazoned with BATHORY and sinister-looking red-eyed goat. She had a stud through one eyebrow and another in her lip, and dangling metal pentagrams hanging from her ears. "Hi Pan," she said throatily, reaching down and taking his hand. "Mia, Micah, Lulu. So you all made it.

 

As the fiery portal closed behind them, Eira's companion took off bright-red goggles and looked around. "Wow!" She was slim and athletic in a dark purple bodysuit run through with green lines, a confident smile on her freckled face, her red hair in a neat bun behind her. "The old place hasn't changed too much!" She grinned at the kids and stuck out a gloved hand. "Hey there! I'm Quickstep, I'm your ride to Sweden. Don't mind me, I'm Class of '15 myself." 

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"Maybe." Pan didn't exactly agree with Mia and Micah, but he didn't dismiss them either, while he kept looking around. He flittered about, and glanced at Mia. He seemed thoughtful, for just a moment, then grinned. "So who would be late for you?"

 

He didn't have time to get responses before the air caught on fire. Pan should probably have fled, but he remained floating just above the ground, his face full of awe and excitement, which quickly turned to a smile as he saw Eira. 

 

"Hi Eira." He took her hand, squeezing it tightly. His light green colors clashed wonderfully with her dark clothing. "Always have to travel in style, no?" 

 

Still holding on to Eira's hand, he made a quick bow in the direction of Quickstep. "Hello, I am Pan the Forever Boy!"

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Micah turned his head and gave Pan a very flat look. 

 

"Right now? No one. My mother and cousin and the rest of my relatives are very punctual."

 

He wasn't going to give any of the east-coasters a chance to make another joke about people from non-major-urban areas and their marriage practices. He smiled as Eira walked over, and gave her a nod.

 

"Eira, I mean this in the best way possible considering what I know of you, but you look exactly like the sort of girl my mother warned me about before I started at this school."

 

He turned to Quickstep, maintaining the smile as he offered her a handshake. 

 

"Nice to meet you, Quickstep. My name's Micah."

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Soliton

 

Mia stared at Pan's question. "I dunno what you want me to say, dude," was the only answer he got out of her.

 

When Quickstep arrived, Mia quirked her mouth slightly. Felt a little rude to bring another teleporter when you had a perfectly good one available at most times, but she wasn't going to say that out loud.  She was just going to be polite about it for now.

 

"Hey," Mia said from her lounging position. "I'm Soliton. Also do the teleporting thing, but, uh, not with portals. I sorta do a... Super... Quantum... I fold spacetime."

 

She leaned up and got to her feet, extending her hand then.

 

"Oh, and Eira. Like the look."

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Eira cocked her head and smiled at Pan. "I told you I would dress up, yes?" The others got - well it wasn't a smile, but it wasn't a frown, either. "Good," she told Micah shortly, showing teeth. "My parents say they want me to be happy here. I am going to show them just how happy I am.

 

"Family can be tough," said Quickstep uneasily. "When the Curator kidnapped me into space sophomore year, my parents thought the robot double he'd left behind was the real me, and that made things awkward for...oh, most of my teenage years." Come to think of it, that particular Claremont story had been passed down to the current generation of students. "Hey you're all right," she added more easily to Soliton. "With me it's stepping through the 5th dimension. I used to have to do it blind till I got the goggles," she added, tapping them where they hung around her neck. "Speaking of which, here's this if any of you are prone to motion sickness," she added, handing out goggles to everyone besides Eira.

 

"Quickstep is a friend of a friend," said Eira with a confident smirk. "I thought this would save us the trouble of an airplane flight.

 

"Oh man, the last time I saw Eira," said Dorothy cheerfully, "she was about this big!" She held her head out several inches below Eira's current height. "I was interning with Miss Americana and we...well, that's a story for another day!" It did not look like Eira wanted this story told.

 

 

Once you stepped through a portal, passing through the Fifth Dimension turned out to vaguely resemble falling into an acid rock album cover from the early 1970s, albeit one in eerie silence. Removing the goggles revealed that the colors were vibrating even more violently than they first appeared, a bizarre symphony of visual assault that - 

 

And then they were out. While Eira shook Quickstep's hand and the latter said goodbye to the kids, the other Claremont students had time to notice exactly where they were. It was afternoon here, some six or seven hours later than in Freedom City, and the sky was an ominous shade of grey that promised a cold Nordic summer shower if they stayed outside too long. They were standing in a curved private driveway in front of a two-story manor house set amid a substantial private estate, the stony remains of an even older structure visible just above the rolling hills behind the house. The landscaping around them was impeccable and substantial, the drive leading down past rows of massive old trees to the road beyond. This wasn't just wealth - this was a long time wealth. 

 

"Welcome to Natt och Dag Manor," said Eira dryly as she led the way towards the building. "Mother and Father are expecting us but I didn't give them a time. It's funnier this way." Above them, lightning flashed. 

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"Seems like you have a lot of friends all around," Pan murmured before stepping into the portal. He had declined the goggles. He wanted to see. He didn't tell the others why. Maybe it was 

 

The fifth dimension was a swirl, vibrating colors violently assaulting his senses. Everything around him. It was confusing, it was nauseating. Everything bombarded him, but he kept his eyes open, an odd smile playing over his lips despite the situation. His grip on Eira's hand tightened, and then he stumbled out of the portal, catching himself just before falling. He seemed dazed, shook his head, but still grinned. "I suppose that was a bad idea." He seemed to be a bit uneasy, even after waving at Quickstep as she left.

 

He quickly caught up with Eira, reaching out and catching her hand as she led them towards the manor, his feet touching the ground once more. "Oh, is that all? I thought you lived in a castle, not just some shabby manor." He stuck his tongue out at her, before shifting slightly to look at the manor again.

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Soliton

 

Mia looked up at the manor, her eyebrows raised. She whistled. Aside from that mansion, this had to be the nicest house she had ever seen in person. She followed along after Eira, hands in her pockets. She did squint a little at the Cyberswede's vindictiveness at her parents, but she also understood. That worrying Eira had shown Mia was a little messed up.

 

Then another thought occurred to her. She and Eira had gotten off to a rocky start, and...

 

"Hey, Eira," Mia said. "Do your parents know anything about us?" 

 

There was an implied "anything bad" but Mia wasn't uncouth enough to say it out loud. Eira could be a little bit spiteful and Mia wouldn't be surprised if there had been some negativity spread about her. And god, was there negativity to spread. Oh, are you the shoplifting daughter of the former supervillain? Haha, going to have to watch the silverware around you, peasant!

 

Mia squinted harder.

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Micah hid a sign at Eira's attitude. He didn't know her as well as Pan or Mia did; her personality and his didn't mesh the best for "hanging out", but he didn't really mind her having her own style. But Pan had wanted him to come, and his mother said it'd be "good to get some cold, fresh air". He was of the opinion she wanted him to stop being hung up on the Valentine's Day fiasco (which had caused him to fly home that weekend and spend a couple days with his family), and probably shake off his crush on Judy. 'If she was smarter than a stalled tractor she'd notice how good you are, so just forget her' had been her exact words and while he appreciated the sentiment, things were never quite so simple in the super-life.

 

So instead he focused on the trip ahead. The actual journey took a moment, and then they were standing on a...driveway? He blinked, making sure he wasn't hallucinating or anything like that. Nope, this was real. He glanced at the others, then back to the manor.

 

"I reckon y'all don't have to settle for the Dollar General brands around here much, do you?"

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"No, the castle is the shabby one," said Eira, waving towards the distant brick and stone pile with her free hand. The other gripped Pan's tightly, warming at his touch. "It doesn't even have electricity." The house seemed bigger at the front door; smaller than any Freedom City skyscraper, but looming with the weight of age. The exterior looked well-maintained - fine curtains drawn on the windows, the gold paint on the exterior fixtures fresh without being quite spotless.

 

The front door of the manor was emblazoned with what was clearly a family crest - brilliant gold over deep blue. She opened the door without knocking, after all it was her house, and said to Mia with great firmness, "I told them nothing that is secret, obviously." Micah got a distinct "Hmph.

 

Inside, the foyer of the house looked like a museum piece straight from the 18th century - elaborate Georgian wallpaper, lush carpeting underfoot, and a set of darkwood stairs heading upwards. There were open doors on either side, showing a dining room off to one side and a full-scale library behind the other. 

 

A middle-aged woman in a maid's uniform was passing as they entered, and after a moment of surprise she exchanged greetings with Eira in Swedish. Before Eira could make introductions, a figure appeared at the top of the stairs - a middle-aged gentleman in a sweatervest and cardigan, blond hair immaculately combed and short beard on his face. "Eira!" he said warmly. "So nice to see you here - and you look so lovely. Your mother is getting changed." Bernhard Katastroff Natt och Dag was was an odd reflection of his daughter; the force of personality was there, but the smile was warm as he greeted his daughter's friends. On closer inspection his tie bore the same colors as the seal on the door of the house."How was your trip?" 

 

"It was fine, Dad," said Eira with a faint sigh. "This is Pan, Mia, and Micah." They all got the same winning smile; though Bernhard distinctly looked down and hmmed at where Pan and Eira were still holding hands. "When Mom's done fixing her hair, we'll be in my room," she said with a look up the stairs. 

 

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Lulu sat on a large leather-bound steamer trunk near Mia, seemingly lost in thought, wearing light hiking boots, blue denim overalls, and bright yellow stripped top. She'd protected her fair skin with a wide-brimmed straw hat, big round sunglasses and what smelled like a whole bottle of sunscreen. A daypack covered in colorful patches rested on the trunk beside her

 

The normally chatty redhead had been prone to quiet spells since returning from her trip back to Alabama; seeing her family again, even as part of legal proceedings, had been very difficult. She would never be able to forget the seething storm of fury that boiled behind her father's eyes when his gaze landed on his 'traitorous' daughter. But things were getting better since she'd returned to Freedom, back to her new home and family, people who were actually happy to see her.

 

She'd been fairly quiet most of the morning, acknowledging her friends with nods and smiles, but once they'd finally arrived at Eira's ancestral manse (which is what you really had to call it), she forced her dark mood away, intrigued to finally meet her roommate's parents.

 

"Nice to see you again, Herr Natt och Dag," she said with a smile and the slightest of bows; her accent wasn't great, but it was obvious she'd put some effort into it. "And thank you for havin' us in your home. Is it okay if ah bring mah trunk in? It looks like it might rain." Her trunk floated behind her.

Edited by Heritage
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As the group started to walk in the door, Micah leaned over to Pan and spoke in a whisper that would hopefully only reach his ears.

 

"Try to start off polite and mannerly with her dad, buddy. Even if things are frosty between her and her folks, better to start off on the right foot in the air."

 

When Bernhard came down to meet them (rather than just observing from the stairs), Micah waited until Eira mentioned his name, and gave the older man a warm smile, even as he stepped forward and offered his hand.

 

"Mr. Natt och Dag, It's a pleasure to meet you sir. Thank you for being willing to host us for a time. My mother sends her thanks for your hospitality as well."

 

He had been practicing saying Eira's family name several times, specifically so he didn't embarrass his best friend in front of his girlfriend's father. His accent, lighter than Lulu's but still present for the moment, barely impacted his pronunciation. Impressive for a boy from Oklahoma.

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Pan nodded solemnly at Micah's words. Yes, yes. He should be on his best behavior. That would be the best. Parents could be scary beasts, after all. 

 

Not that he had met many, but he had heard stories.

 

<"Hello Mr. Natt och Dag."> To Mia, Micah and Lulu, he spoke English. To Eira and her father, it was perfect Swedish He paused slightly, noticing Eira's father's eyes resting on his and Eira's hands. His somewhat passive expression split into a wide grin as he fought with himself to stay grounded. <"I am Pan, its great to finally meet you!"> He sounded genuine enough, at least. But he still held on to Eira's hand.

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Eira's father was considerably more - dignified than his daughter, if that was quite the right term, shaking everyone's hand with a warm smile on his face. He gave Pan a particular _look_ that was hard to read, more of curiousity it seemed than anything else. And then her mother arrived. Magda Natt och Dag Katastroff looked more like a business executive than a matron of the aristocracy, her pantsuit smart and her gold jewelry tasteful albeit abundant around the neck, ears, and fingers. She was blonde and blue-eyed, her husband was blond and blue-eyed, Eira was blonde and blue-eyed when she didn't have her hair dyed; it was all very Swedish. 


Magda's smile didn't quite reach her eyes as she looked at Eira, who hmpfed and murmured "Hi Mom," in English before her mother said, "Oh, well, your friends must want something to eat after your trip! What would you like?" 

 

"You are just going to make Elsa do it anyway," said Eira, looking down at her fingernails. When the group had given their order, or not, Eira and her parents showed anyone who was interested around the house. The Natt och Dag manor was old, dating back to the 18th century, and looked to have mostly original furnishings and art. Eira's parents were art collectors, among other things, along with being a lawyer and accountant. There was a well-appointed antique library, an upscale dining room, even an elevator that Eira distinctly sneered at. "Do not be too impressed," Eira muttered from behind the group, "we are still living off the money ever-so-great-grandfather got from Napoleon." 

 

She pointed to a picture on the wall, a sly-looking fellow who bore a slight resemblance to her if dressed in a tight jacket, open-ruffed shirt, and pants. All the pictures on the wall bore a slight resemblance to Eira, in fact, along with her parents, with captions beneath and changing art styles that showed centuries of history pressing down. "And this is the bedroom wing," Eira's father was saying, "I thought we'd put the two girls here next to Eira's space," he said, indicating an room with a big featherbed in an antique wooden mattress, lacy curtains on the windows and its own attached bathroom. "But you boys will have to camp out down in the space by the billard room," he said with a laugh, "we don't want any, haha, shenanigans!" 


Eira made a disgusted noise. 

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Soliton

 

Mia was, for lack of a better term, stunned. For someone who had spent the entirety of her life living in tiny apartments in the Fens, the idea that a small family could live in a house like this was astounding to her. And maybe just a liiiiittle infuriating. Just a little bit though. Thankfully Eira’s family was super nice so there wasn’t too much time to focus on that.

“It’s good to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Natt och Dag…” Mia said, way later then everyone else, her jaw finally done hanging open. Then Eira said something about Napoleon. Mia squinted. Did she have any important family? Babo sometimes mentioned something about being related to some Ottoman governor of Bosnia but she wasn’t sure if that was actually true. Her dad’s side simply came from shtetls in the Black Sea region of Russia.

 

“Uh…” Mia said, trying to find words. “This place is pretty cool.” There was another pause from her. “I didn’t bring a trunk but I have like… a thing so it’s fine.”Come on, brain, work! “Another dimension sort of thing.”

 

She had a sudden look of dopey realization and then looked at Eira. “Wait I’m allowed to tell them that right?”

 

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Lulu smiled and put a hand on her friend's arm. "It's cool, Mia. Ah met them the first day Eira came to Claremont; they know about 'the life'." Three years ago, Lulu would be gawking as much as Mia, but living with the Harrows had somewhat inured her to the sight of extreme wealth. Turning to Eira's mom, she smiled sweetly. "If it's alright with you, ma'am, can we be shown to our rooms? Even when the trip only takes a few seconds, it's nice to get settled in, know what ah mean?"

Edited by Heritage
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"Eira isn't the only superhero in the family," said Bernhard warmly. "But I'm sure she's told you about her uncle already." 

 

The girls' room did indeed turn out to be quite spacious on further investigation, though it actually had things like modern plumbing, wi-fi, and a big-screen television along with the 18th century furnishings. Next door, Eira showed off her space - a largely bare room with a cot pushed off to one side, and a substantial built-in electrical and chemical engineering lab, albeit covered in a tarp. 

Madga went down below to "tell Elsa what you would like," and Bernhard took the boys downstairs to show them where they'd be bunking - a small, sparse room that was indeed near a fully-equipped billiard room, with a brightly-decorated conservatory just across the hall. It certainly was thundering and lightning outside, the flashing skies and booming noise casting light and sound throughout the house. "This used to be where the footmen slept, but of course we haven't had footmen in the house since my great-grandfather's day, ha-ha," said Bernhard, as if the idea was the height of silliness. 

 

Looking thoroughly bored, Eira leaned over and took Pan's hand to whisper in his ear. "Let me show you something after dinner.

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Micah lingered in front of the painting of the guy who was Napolean's buddy, or whatever, for several moments beyond the others. He tilted his head to the side, then realized everyone else was moving along, and quick-stepped to catch up. He followed Bernhard to the room they'd be staying in. It didn't have a lot of fancy bits but the beds looked fine. After the comment about "shenanigans" he frankly thought they were lucky. At the "footmen" comment, he blinked.

 

"Pardon the question, Mr. Natt och Dag, but, um...what are footmen? Like, I know, sorta, what butlers and maids do, but...I can't remember if I've heard of that job before."

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"Hello, nice to meet you." When Pan addressed Eira's mother, he spoke in the same perfect Swedish. At least to the fancy family's ears. He quickly followed, hand in Eira's hand, watching, listening and making the appropriately sounds when Eira's father and mother explained the house and family history. He made little reaction beyond following Micah's advice for being perfectly behaved. At least for now. On his very best behavior, of course. No need to upset anyone. Still, he looked rather crestfallen at the lack of shenanigans. Surely, there were to be some shenanigans to be had?

 

Before Eira's father had a chance to respond to Micah's question, Pan chimed in. "Servants. They run next to carriages and the like. I think butlers are a more common word." He grinned to his friend. "Back home, it is a sign that you are truly fancy if someone is running after you."

 

He looked around the room, but didn't really seem to notice it, as he instead listened to Eira's whisper in his ear. "Hopefully not some shenanigans," he whispered back with a wink.

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Eira smirked at him - her pale blue eyes seeming to make a promise that her lips couldn't with her parents so close by. 

 

-

 

Dinner at the Natt och Dag household was tense - there wasn't really a better word for it. Even the dining room seemed to be the wrong fit for the occasion. The long, solid oak table where everyone sat was big enough to hold a group at least twice their size, leading to either big gaps or uncomfortable crowding depending on how the visiting young people chose to sit. Eira sat on the opposite side of the table from her parents. 

 

"I don't know if Eira has told you this," said Magda with a smile as she glanced at the Claremont kids, "but Claremont is actually the first real school she's attended. We're so glad everything has turned out well." 

 

"The first real school - except for when I graduated from university. You came to the ceremony, Mother," said Eira, a sharp smile on her face that didn't quite reach her eyes. "This is good gazpacho!" she added, raising her voice as she called towards the kitchen, to Elsa, the cook who had brought out their meals with the help of an older gentleman named Peter who seemed to be a man of all work around the household.

 

"So," said Bernhard thoughtfully, spoon halfway to his mouth, "Eira has mentioned none of you are interested in the sciences. Do you all plan to attend university when you graduate?" If his eyes lingered on Pan a bit as he asked the question, perhaps it was only natural. 


"And I do not know if I would call it _well_," Eira added, smirking. "But they haven't thrown me out yet, so that's something.

 

There were pictures on the walls of the dining room, most of them of Eira. Some were formal paintings; in a formal gown posing with her mother, standing in front of the manor house with her parents and a scowl on her face, others were photographs - Eira winning a science competition against much older students, a familiar smirk on her face, Eira at the beach with her mother and father, Eira standing next to a a man who vaguely resembled her mother but looked more like a Viking of old, posing before a super-science lab table in matching labcoats, lightning crackling behind them.

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Eira was starting to give Lulu a headache; seeing how nasty and dismissive she was towards her own parents, who seemed nothing but sweet and well-meaning, went very much against the Southern tradition of respecting your elders she herself had been raised under. And not being able to communicate with her telepathically made it even more frustrating.

 

Clearing her throat, the young telepath set down her spoon (the gazpacho really was good) and primly folded her hands in her lap before responding to Bernhard's question. "Well sir, ah have been thinkin' about majorin' in psychology, which ah suppose isn't considered to be a hard science." She shrugged. "Ah mean, ah'm a telepath; seems like if ah'm spending so much time in folks' heads, ah should at least try to learn more about the geography, know what ah mean?" She picked up her spoon and shrugged again. "Not sure what, uh, branch of psychology ah'd study yet; lots of areas of study. Y'know, clinical, abnormal, neurology..."

Edited by Heritage
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Soliton

 

"Eira said I wasn't into science?" Mia asked, confused. "I've wanted to get into chemistry for a long time now. It's like... Super important for half of my powers." She paused. "In addition to bending space time I can rearrange things at like, the atomic level to turn them into other stuff."

 

She demonstrated by creating a block of metal the size of her palm. "This is Iridium-191. It's a stable isotope of Iridium so it's entirely safe. It's also one of the rarest naturally occuring elements on Earth. At least of the ones that won't kill you if you get too close to it."

 

"I actually volunteered at a science camp thing for superkids to do demonstrations like that," Mia said. "It's happening like right after this trip." She closed her hand around the Iridium, and it dissipated into nothingness.

 

"Oh! And fun fact, Iridium's super hard to corrode normally so you basically need superpowers to destroy it if you're not looking to spend a lot of money."

 

"But yeah, I am planning on getting my major or doctorate in chemical engineering."

Edited by Shofet
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