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Angel

Teacher's Meeting

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The Headmistress had sent invitations to several of the top ciminal minds. These invitations were for them to teach the up-and-coming youths for their own nefarious puroses. Malice and Captain Kneivel would want to keep tabs on the metahuman population while they were young. Ronin would be looking for his protege, current or next. Belphegor would be looking for people to make deals with. Exile might be the only one who wants to teach.

Sitting in a war room type setting, various monitors surrounded the wall. A long table with plush chairs sat in the middle of the room. The only way in and out was through a teleporter device linked to a teleport beacon that would only work when the time came.

The Headmistress waited for her future teachers. She did not want to be kept waiting.

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And neither would she. The teleporter soon activated, and Captain Knievel materialized on the receiver.

"Greetings, Headmistress." Captain Knievel said as he stepped off of the device. His steel boots clacked when they touched the floor. He was decked out in his full combat suit. He wanted to appear in proper attire for this event, after all. "I received your invitation, and I came as soon as I saw that the beacon had been activated. I hope you have not been waiting long."

How long am I going to have to keep up all this formal crap? I'm here for my own reasons. What could she possibly want to discuss? The curriculum? It's @#$%ing gym class! He thought to himself as he took his seat at the table.

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"Good afternoon, Captain Knievel," the Headmistress said with a warm welcome in her German accented voice. She stood up from her chair and sashayed over to him, getting into his personal space before offering her hand in greeting. "I am glad you could make it. To be honest, I did not think you would be first." She winked, "You are the maverick type."

Motioning her hand towards the table, the Headmistress invited him to sit, "Pick a chair either to the right or left." She grinned seductively, "The head chair is mine."

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"Maverick I may be," Captain Knievel responded, selecting a chair midway down the right side of the table, "But If you know anything about me, then you also know that I am short tempered, impatient, and impulsive. So is it really surprising that I should be here first?

Captain Knievel sat, folded his arms, and propped his feet up on the table. And official crap officially over with! Captain Knievel's smile almost dared the head mistress to tell him to put his feet down.

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Eric Micheals stepped through the teleporter, into the meeting room. He was dressed in a normal business suit, with the right sleeve pinned up on his shoulder. He had no need for theatrics today. He owed his freedom to the Headmistress of the Academy, and he knew his place. He wasn't going to waltz in here all high and mighty, if there was anything he had learned in the past few months, it was humility. While he didn't have much love for the Academy's usual breed of students, he understood the transaction that was taking place.

In exchange for teaching the whelps, he would have his freedom again, as well as an opportunity to further his technological understanding and invent without significant interruption. He was making out like a bandit here and he really didn't want to screw this up. "Good evening Headmistress. Thank you for the opportunity."

In truth, Eric had noticed Knievel in the room first, but felt it proper to address the Headmistress first. Eric gave a curt nod to Knievel "Good to see you again Knievel. Apparently we find ourselves on the same side again."

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Before the Headmistress had a chance to go back to her chair, Malice enterned the room. Greeting him the same way she did with Captain Kneivel, she got close and offered her hand in greeting. "Malice," she smiled, "Perfect timing. Please have a seat in any chair you wish except for mine."

Malice noticed one of the monitors above Captain Kneivel's chair showed a live feed of Captain Kneivel. The Captain was ablivious to the non-existan camera monitoring him.

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"Malice!" Captain Knievel practically spat he was so surprised. "Or should I say Eric Michaels." Captain Knievel took his feet down off the table and stood. He crossed the room quickly to greet his long time friend.

Without his well known power suit, Captain Knievel towered over Eric Michaels. This was something he was not used to. Though he didn't hate it. Eying his friend's missing arm, Captain Knievel extended his left hand for Malice to shake. "It's wonderful to see you on the outside again, my friend." Captain Knievel's smile wasn't quite as broad as it usually was. Instead of his uncompromising self assuredness, he displayed and expression of relief, knowing that his best friend was no longer rotting on the inside of a prison cell.

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"I'd be delighted to Headmistress." said Eric shaking her hand. He was expecting someone older, but he certainly wasn't complaining. "However, I first have to greet an old friend." Eric clapped his old friend's hand, giving it a firm shake.

Eric looked a little different from the pictures that had been circulating over the media after his capture. Since that time nearly 6 months ago, Eric had grown a beard, which was now short and well groomed. His eyes were a little more gray than they were previously, and his hair was slightly more dull. "We have a lot of catching up to do. But business first, then pleasure." Eric gestured towards the table where Eric took his spot opposite that of Knievel.

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The teleporter started up and the figure of Ronin stepped off. "Well look at what we got here," the mercenary's tone was jovial but his hands never strayed far from his weapons. "I Heard the budget to repair the area around the courthouse, gave the mayor a heart attack." Ronin's eyes flickered over to the headmistress. Strange that he hadn't noticed her before. It wasn't strange because, he had missed a beautiful woman. It was strange that he missed anything. The light in the room seemed to warp around her in and odd, way as if she were sucking it all into her. "I think that counts as an assassination attempt."

Ronin made a quick assessment of the persons in the room, he was already well acquainted with the Captain and his freakish strength, as well as his megalomania. Eric Michaels was much less intimidating outside of his suit, at least at first. It was there in the way he stood and looked, a confidence that seemed to make the small man loom large, as if he were still wearing it. A dangerous man.

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Eric's eyes widened in recognition as Ronin stepped through the teleporter. Eric nodded in response to Ronin's greeting. "Yes, quite a poor fellow. He had only just written the check for that fiasco when half of Riverside was wiped off the map." Eric was not entirely surprised to see Ronin here. He was a damn good fighter and would take on nearly any job for the right sum. What he was surprised to see was that Ronin was armed. He had expected Ronin to walk in armed to the teeth, but Eric expected him to be a little subtle about it. Then Eric reminded himself that he probably had a great number of concealed weaponry on him as well.

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"Heh," Captain Knievel chuckled at Ronin's jest. "Nice to see you again, Ronin. You're sense of humor is always a breath of fresh air. It looks like we are going to have one hell of a faculty here at the Shadow Academy."

Captain Knievel turned to the headmistress once more. What he saw surprised him. She was actually quite attractive for a woman of her age. The Captain wondered why he had not noticed that before. It's almost like she had the ability to direct attention away from herself. But those looks were not something The Captain would soon forget.

"Tell me, Headmistress, who are the others that we are expecting?" Captain Knievel asked the question as he moved to re-take his seat on the side of the table opposite the teleporter.

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"Nice to see you again, Ronin. You're sense of humor is always a breath of fresh air. It looks like we are going to have one hell of a faculty here at the Shadow Academy."

The teleporter activated again, and out of it stepped a very plain and unassuming man that none of therm had ever seen before, or if they had they'd completely forgotten him. He appeared to be in his mid-30's, and stood about 5'10"; slender but fit, with short, brown hair, a narrow face, and round glasses. He wore penny loafers, tan slacks and vest, and a tan jacket with elbow patches; he looked very much like a college professor, or possibly a stockbroker.

Fourth one here? Hrm, wonder if I'm the last.

"H-Hello," the man said, appearing quite unused to and a bit intimidated by such a gathering of powerful individuals, "are y-you all teachers, too? I- oh!" As soon as he saw the Headmistress, he immediately focused his full attention on her, "Hello, madame! Th-thank you again for the opportunity to teach here. I do so ch-cherish the idea of shaping so many young minds, of molding future generations."

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Fourth one here? Hrm, wonder if I'm the last.

As something of an answer to the man's unspoken question the teleporter fired up again and off it stepped Wilhelm von Treissen, better known as Exile. As he usually was the old man was clad basically head to toe in black, though his head and face were clearly visible apart from the wide-brimmed hat he seemed to cart around on his head everywhere.

"Ah, do please excuse me if I am late my lady, and gentlemen of course. These old bones of mine are unused to haste. I shall be a pleasure to serve none the less." The somewhat creaky old man bows slightly to the headmistress, removing his hat in the process. It was swiftly returned to its place however as Wilhelm looked over the others present, nodding at Eric and Knievel who he both recognised well enough after their dreamscape adventure. He also laid a compassionate hand on the shoulder of the notably shorter man who arrived before him. "Now then mister Terhune, a little confidence wouldn't hurt now would it? It is not like you have anything to actually fear here, is there?"

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Eric nodded in turn to the two new arrivals, who apparently knew one another. He would have done a more robust greeting Mr. Terhune's apparent apprehension caught him off guard. Looking around the room he noted the other prominent figures in the room. Is he scared of the big names here? Shouldn't he be a big shot too if he got invited? What a strange fellow... Truth be told he was curious about the both of them. He recognized neither of them, so they weren't associated with the technolgical field, so what was their area of expertise be? Perhaps they were metahumans themselves? Regardless, Eric did not want to press his advantage until he knew more about them, which meant getting this meeting underway.

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Captain Knievel's eyes narrowed as the smaller man spoke. He's hiding something, the Captain thought. But he didn't know what exactly. Why would he feign weakness in a place like this? Who is this man? I had better be wary of him until I know what he is capable of. I have gotten myself into too many problems by underestimating people. Despite his thoughts, Captain Knievel remained silent.

Then there was another new arrival. With all of these distractions the headmistress wouldn't have to answer his question. Wait a second, I know this man. I met him in that strange dreamworld, months ago. But that doesn't mean I know what he's capable of. That was a dream after all. Still, we were friends once... Captain Knievel returned the old man's nod. Hmm... These two seem to know each other. This gets more interesting all the time.

He looked to the Headmistress once again, for either an answer or a cue as to what to do next. Was everyone here? Were they to take their seats and start the meeting? Hopefully he wouldn't have to wait long. Captain Knievel was beginning to grow impatient.

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Ronin disagreed with he old man. Fear was healthy in this circumstance, especially if the man was as ordinary as his appearance. Which seemed unlikely considering his present company. Ronin eyed the two newcomers openly. There were times for subtlety and then there wasn't.

"I don't know if he doesn't have anything to fear," Ronin said. "This isn't a gathering of saints. New faces make some of us nervous. How about some introductions to calm the rest of us down."

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The monitors showed the live feed of each of them as they sat down. Those sitting on the left side could see the right sides monitors if the looked over their head and could see their own if they looked above them.

"Good afternoon, Ronin," the Headmistress greeted him with a wicked grin after the 'assassination attempt' comment, "I'm sure you'll find there will be no one killing you. Though you may have to watch yourself for other reasons," she winked and motioned him to the table.

"We are expecting two more visitors, Captain Knievel," she looked over at the table where he was sitting. "Frankly," she said with a longing sigh, "I expected these two men to be first."

When Jos stepped through the teleport, she was a bit miffed that Belphegor wasn't there. Never the less, after his introduction, she greeted him with the same warmth as the others. She leaned in and whispered coaxingly into his ear. "You want to drop the act. It's cute, maybe I'll need cute one day, but I need you at your best right now." Pulling her head back to where their eyes met, she smiled warmly, "Now why don't you have a seat over there," she motioned to the table.

Sashaying over to Exile, she greeted him with awith closeness and a hand, "Glad you could make it, Exile. Saving the best for last, were you?" She grinned and winked. She turned toward the table and put her hand on his back, as if to lead him to the table with a nod towards it.

Walking to the table with that same slow hip shaking walk. "I'm glad you all could join us here today. For we are here for one reason with several subreasons. The main agenda is to teach our future." She nodded to Terhune with a smile. Slinking back into her chair, she steepled her fingers as he put her elbows on the table. "But you all know well we're more than just in the teaching business," she grinned wickedly. "My first question is to question how loyal you wish to be in your teaching. Will you act as a front teacher, subjgating the masses into keeping our cover." Her face turned deadly serious, "Or will you help us really train tomorrow's youth?"

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Captain Knievel grunted at the last of the Headmistress' words. This drew the collective attention to himself. "Alright, look. I've never been that secretive with my motives. You all pretty much know what I'm about. I hate mutants. Can't stand them, one bit. They drive me nuts!" At this point Captain Knievel leaned forward and placed his elbows on the table, folding his hands in front of him. "But I want to make one thing clear, right here and right now, with the rest of you as my witnesses."

His eyes were on the two people he didn't know. Malice and Ronin he knew he could trust. After all they were the ones that were responsible for his freedom. Even though he didn't know the other two, he trusted the Headmistress of the Shadow Academy implicitly enough to be frank with them. They wouldn't be here if they weren't allies. "I @#$%ing hate those damn super heroes more!" He slammed a fist into the table. "Far as I'm concerned, they are the first to go. And I realized something, when I was hiding out by myself for a few months. You want something bad enough, you have to be prepared to sacrifice something for it. Well, gentleman," he turned and looked pointedly at the headmistress, "and lady, I believe I have found the appropriate sacrifice."

Captain Knievel paused briefly for dramatic effect. When he started speaking again, his gaze swept across the collective assembly. "I used to think that ALL mutants were the scum of the earth. I used to think that they ALL needed to be eradicated. I used to think I had to do it one at a time, by myself." He was smiling when he said this. The thought of it obviously gave him great satisfaction. "But now I see things a little differently. I can see that there are some, even amongst mutants, that would love to see my primary goal come to fruition. They'd love to see the Freedom League, and the Knights, and every do-gooder in this city brought to their knees. And frankly, that suits me just fine. I say, let 'em have the chance. They can be of use to us. Because lord knows I can't accomplish that goal by myself. I've tried."

Now he turned and fixed his gaze solely on the Headmistress. "I'll teach these kids, alright. I'll teach them whether they be human, aliens, mutants...freaks...I'll teach them all just the same. So long as its as you say: 'For the future'." Captain Knievel finished with one elbow leaning on his face and the most confident smile the Headmistress had ever seen spread wide across his face. There was no showboating. There were no fake pleasantries. For the first time in his life, Captain Knievel was deadly serious.

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This was where Eric Micheals shined. It was if a switched was suddenly flipped in his head. To him this was just another business meeting. His presence seemed to lessen itself, it was as if a giant were smiling at you. He had a way of articulating his statements ever so nicely and made his points logically and simply, without dumbing it down. "While the media certainly has had a swell time of describing me as a psychotic monster bent on destabilizing society at it's very core, I am a rational man. I am quite capable of making deals, bargains and even carrying on a civil conversation, but that image still remains. It is for that reason, that I will unable to assist you as a front teacher. It would simply draw far too much unwanted attention, at least for the foreseeable future.

But, as you saw fit to aid in my release from Blackstone, if for no other reason than the sake of politeness, I would be remiss if I did not instruct your pupils to the best of my ability. If however, I was given the opprotunity to further my study of the sciences in your facilities, and use the Academy for lodging before I can erect a more suitable domicile for myself that is suitably off the grid, well then, my loyalty would be unwavering.

I may not have the greatest of feelings towards your usual selection of students, but I have learned to quiet my personal feelings when it comes to matters of business. I am not so prideful as to turn down an offer simply because of who offers it, but rather to judge the offer on its own merits. All that is left is your opinion on whether or not my terms are agreeable. I await your decision."

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Ronin blinked, somewhat surprised by the seeming emotion in both men's speech, particularly the Captain. Was he just grandstanding again? Train the next generation? For what? Ronin frowned. He already had a disciple. Though there was the possibility of another, someone with similar potential.

"Heros, Villains" Ronin said with a shrug. "I don't care a bout any of that. And I don't care a whit about the future generation." He gave his chair a small spin, until he turned back to face the others. "I just wanna get paid. I'll train your little brats all you want, so long as you can afford me. I never go back on a contract so you don't have to worry about my loyalty."His voice dropped, low and cold. "As long as I don't have to worry about yours." If his sources were right he had an idea who was the real master of this school, a being who breathed treachery.

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Exile's here? Hunh, didn't expect that... though, in hindsight, it does make perfect sense.

At the Headmistresses word, the man took a seat next to Malice.

"I am here primarily to interact with the students," the man said, his voice more sure but his appearance still as milquetoast, "passing on what skills I can to the next generation. I have two reasons for this. One, to make sure that future generations of 'supervillains' are able to handle themselves, and not be stumbling, bumbling fools beaten by meddling do-gooders, as well as passing on skills that are not as appreciated as they could be. From what I was told in my recruitment meeting, Headmistress, you have several promising students, and it is always a shame to let talent go undirected and untested."

"Secondly... I want the leverage. The idea that, in four or five years, several supervillains will owe me for what I've taught them, is quite appealing. Hell, just knowing them and setting up a rapport, a history, is useful."

"If required, of course, I can also be useful on the battlefield..."

The man turned his chair so he was sitting in it sideways, then suddenly grew about half a foot in height and put on about 100 lbs. of additional muscle; his clothing did not shred but rather dissolved into smoke. His skin turned a dark red and then hardened into scales as his face elongated into a fanged muzzle and short, curving horns sprouted over his orange eyes. The nails on his hands became talons, and bone spurs burst out from his elbows; Malice could see spurs on his knees as well. A long, heavy tail lashed out behind him, and great batlike wings grew from his back.

"... or in making sure discipline and order are maintained," he said in a growling but resonant bass voice.

"Nice suit," he said to Malice, with a big, fanged grin.

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