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Electra

Going Walkabout

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Once the orientation tour was over, when the students had been cut loose for a little while, Erin decided to take a walk on her own. She liked her room and her new roommate well enough, but she knew she'd feel antsy until she had a really good idea of the layout of the place. With a notebook, pen and a map of campus in hand, she headed out and onto the broad green grounds of the academy to look around. It looked a lot different than it had the last time she'd been here, picking up a part for Dr. Atom. The lawn had been brown and dead then, and there'd been a pile of skeletons over by the front gate, people trying to get in to safety or beat their way in to get revenge on the heroes who hadn't saved them, who could say?

Erin shook off the memory and kept walking. It was a beautiful day in a beautiful world, and she wasn't going to spoil it. All the same, she was on alert as she walked, keeping an eye out in all directions for anyone approaching, and noting down possible strategic locations in her notebook. It made her feel better.

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As she walked, Erin smelled and tasted the various plants, judging which ones were edible and which ones might be poisonous. Poisonous plants didn't bother her, but it never hurt to have a good idea of what was around you. She'd done a lot of studying on plants, and while these were mostly decorative, as one might expect at a tony place like this, there were a few that were good for food, or even for medicine. Someone was taking very good care of them, too. The soil had fertilizers and moisture extenders added to it, she judged, but it was pretty good to start with. They could grow a lot of good vegetables here if they wanted to... but why would they? she reminded herself. There was no point to it, when plenty of fruits and vegetables were available just a truck ride away, or even just beyond the front gates. She pushed herself away from the foliage and started looking around some of the buildings.

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There were still kids playing out on the grassy field behind the buildings, though the game seemed to have changed to some sort of elaborate game of super-tag. She watched for a few minutes, fascinated by the elaborate and showy maneuvers, the reckless expenditures of power and energy, and the fun everyone was having. Screened by the trees, she thought for a minute about trying to join in, but couldn't quite bring herself to do it. It might not be safe. She really didn't do well with people running at her, even when she thought she was prepared for it. She would practice, she promised herself. Once she got used to being safe again, she'd be able to play too, and leave campus, and feel normal. Turning, she jogged back the way she'd came, towards the cluster of buildings.

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The first building she came to was marked on her map as staff housing, so she didn't pay too much attention to it, except for a quick jog around the perimeter to see what the entrances and exits looked like, how many windows it had, where the most likely escape points were. It was stupid, she knew it in her head. She wasn't even going to live in this building. But if she was going to be a superhero, she couldn't think only of herself! In an emergency, it was vital to have every bit of available information already at hand.

Going back to her own dormitory, she did the same outside tour, making notes on windows and doors, bushes people could fall into and survive, possible roof accesses. She had to laugh at herself. If a teacher found her now, he'd probably think she was casing the joint. He wouldn't be too far from wrong, really, but it was a breakout she was planning, not a break-in.

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In the shade of a big tree outside her dormitory, she stopped and sat down for a few minutes. Her brain was starting to go too fast, with too many plans and too many what-ifs. The last thing she needed was a big fat panic attack, right when she was trying to reassure her hindbrain that everything was okay. It was very pleasant there in the yard, quiet and peaceful, with birds even singing in the trees. She hadn't known Freedom City had songbirds. She'd always associated big cities with rats and fat pigeons, but not the sort of birds who brightened up the place. Birds were one of her favorite parts of any place, so she lay back for a few minutes and just listened. Beyond the walls she could hear the traffic of the city, but that, too, was reassuring. She rested and birds sang, but beyond the walls, life went on in all its noisy, crowded glory. After a little while, she started feeling better. She got up and resumed her tour, wondering where they went for supper.

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A quick consultation with her map brought her to the Diana Falk Cafeteria, a pretty big place just for eating and food. She decided to go inside and take a look, tucking away her notebook so she didn't look like a crazy person. A line of vending machines caught her attention, and she spent a little while perusing the offerings there. The idea of having unfettered access to chips and chocolate that weren't completely stale was appealing, but she knew she'd better save her money. Eventually someone was going to explain to her what work-study actually was, but she thought it likely she'd need to be concentrating on the study too much to get a lot of work in for awhile. The cafeteria was closed, but there were good smells coming from upstairs, so she headed up for a look. It looked like there was a restaurant up there, which was sort of confusing. She backed out before anyone told her she was somewhere she didn't belong, retreating downstairs and back out of the building. Eventually the cafeteria would need more study, because it was always important to know where the food was kept and how much, but that could wait.

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A little bit of walking brought her to the gym, a place she figured she might be spending quite a bit of time as she learned to control her powers. She was quickly disabused of that notion when she saw "No Powers!" as the first rule upon entering the gym. Where was she supposed to practice? she wondered. They had to have someplace around, but maybe they kept it off the map, so nobody got any ideas. She found a rack of basketballs sitting unattended on the court, and couldn't resist the urge to pick one up and dribble it around a little. That was fun, so she got into it a little more, doing some turns and fancy blocks. She'd been pretty good at basketball once, when she used to play with her friends at school, and her body was a lot better now. She played imaginary one-on-one for a few minutes, and scored some points that impressed even herself, before literally jumping a foot in the air as the outside doors to the gym opened up. Guilty, she dropped the ball back on the rack and scampered out the back door before anyone caught her where she might not be supposed to be. She really needed to figure out the rules for this place.

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Erin almost walked right past the chapel as she adjusted her clothes and smoothed down her hair from her basketball game, but curiosity drew her in. It seemed like a weird thing to have at a school like this. It was dark and cool in the chapel, and smelled faintly of incense, sort of the way she remembered her old church smelling. It didn't look like this place got used a lot, and she wondered if it was mostly for funerals and such. It had a very Catholic vibe to it, that was for sure. She wasn't sure what Catholocism and superhero school had to do with each other, and was a little afraid of trying to draw too many comparisons. Instead, she walked brazenly down the center aisle and stood in front of the altar, staring up at the mournful face of the crucified Christ. Time dragged on as she struggled with the urge to pray, or maybe to curse, or just to ask why. Finally, unable to muster any response at all, she turned and stalked out of the chapel, not even bothering to note any emergency exits. God would save them, right? she thought bitterly.

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From the chapel, she went to investigate the library, which was by far the best-smelling library she'd been to in a very long time. Not that it had a lot of competition for the title, given the condition of most of the libraries she'd been in, and the lack of corpses here. She spent a few minutes browsing the magazine racks, but since she didn't have a student ID or anything yet, she didn't try and check anything out. That would be nice for later, though. She would have to remember to get the special key that the tour guide had spoken of as well. The computers looked really new, and like they'd be fast. She wondered if she could get headphones and played games. She toured around a little, but couldn't go up to the third floor, because it was locked. That was good to know, in case of emergency.

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