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Gizmo

The Clock Strikes Twelve IC

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With the rumble of a well tuned engine, a black motorcycle pulled up to Claremont Academy's main entrance. Of a noticeably older design, the bike's surfaces still gleamed thanks to studious maintenance. As it came to a stop, its rider, dressed in dark jeans and a protective jacket, swung a long leg over to dismount. Tossing his leather gloves into a saddlebag, he removed his helmet to reveal a young man with black hair a little too long to be well kempt and angular features that emphasized the lankiness of his frame. Clipping the helmet to a strap on the bike, he swung his dusty brown knapsack from his back to retrieve a beaten fedora, which he deftly flipped onto his head before taking stock of his surroundings.

 

As it was the first day of spring break, Trevor Hunter assumed there wouldn't be too many people around, allowing him to move into his dormitory with a minimum of fanfare. The rest of his things would be arriving from his grandfather's manor later that day, but he'd decided to go on ahead to make sure all of his registration was in order and to take a look around. Although he'd been invited to attend Claremont weeks ago, it was not until now that the seventeen year old had gotten a chance to visit the campus. Hitching his pack over one shoulder, he dug a folded piece of paper out of his pocket and tried to follow the directions on it to the main office.

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"Woh..." the kid with the headphones walked up to the taller student. "You're the one with the bike, right?" The kid asked.

"I'm Eddie." he offered his hand. "Sick ride, dude."

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"Uh, yeah, thanks," the newcomer replied, shaking the offered hand. His voice a soft, mellow baritone, but his manner had the hesitancy of someone taking pains to make a good first impression. "Trevor." The lanky teen was acutely aware of his own height standing next to Eddie; thanks to an early growth spurt, Trevor had towered over his classmates since grade school.

With introductions out of the way, there was a brief lull. The fedora wearing teen had never been much of a conversationalist, tending toward introspective silence, but he was determined not to come across as aloof within his first few minutes at Claremont. "So, yeah," he continued, turning to regard his parked motorcycle. "It was my grandfather's, back in the day. Refurbished it by hand myself." His tone became more natural discussing something he took obvious pride in.

Looking back at the piece of paper in his hand, he turned it ninety degrees to match its map to the direction of the campus in real life. "I'm moving in today, so I guess I'm looking for the office or the registrar or something?"

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"Is that...is that the Midnight Cycle?" The sound of the old-fashioned engine had lured Mark over across the quad, and the sight of the familiar bike, once he was close enough to recognize it, had made him run. "The same Midnight Cycle driven by the grim avenger of evil himself in the 1940s? It is!" The tall, handsome young man with the winning smile looked thoroughly delighted at what he saw. "The one he rode while battling der Eisenfuhrer in the invasion of '43! And again when he leapt over the Grue Juggernaut at the end of the Invasion of '47, spraying it in the face with his powerful Midnight Mist and allowing the Centurion to deliver the knockout blow!?" He grinned, taking Trevor's hand and pumping it enthusiastically. "That's either the best replica I've ever seen...or you've got some powerful friends."

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Trevor gave the overexcited youth a squinting, nonplussed look as he extricated his hand from the vigorous shaking. "...yes?" he responded uncertainly, taking a half step backward. "I mean, we mostly just call it the Night Cycle, but, ah..." He wasn't entirely sure how to handle the situation. He wasn't in the habit of revealing his inherited heroic identity to strangers, but it wasn't like the other students at Claremont weren't going to be able to put the pieces together fairly quickly, given his powers, costume and codename. Fairly quickly, immediately, one of those, he mused.

"Had to replace most of the working parts," he explained to his new classmates, "but she's the real deal." One eyebrow twitched quizzically as he glanced over to the more enthusiastic of the two. "Do they teach that much history here?"

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"They don't teach nearly enough history," said Mark immediately, "but I know the Night Cycle real well." He smiled, his teeth dazzling white. "And all the great heroes of the past. Like Midnight, and the rest of the Liberty League. I was lucky enough to have a family member there as well," he hazarded in a lucky guess. "I'm Mark Lucas."

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Trevor's restrained expression made it difficult to see the brief moment of recollection and surprise that passed over his countenance. "...Jimmy Lucas?" he asked Mark simply. When Trevor first saw the animated film Aladdin as a child, he'd asked his grandfather if genies were real. He'd been regaled with a tale about the Liberty League's so-called 'mascot', whom Travis Hunter had dryly described as having access to "phenomenal cosmic powers, itty-bitty idea of how to use the blasted thing." He'd also insisted that Lucas had been one of the bravest, most steadfast allies anyone in the League had ever had. Trevor hadn't had any idea that there was a descendant of that line attending Claremont.

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"So, let me get this straight." Eddie was familiar enough with what being in the limelight did to a person. "You're the new Midnight?" At times, all of the doting fans and the screaming girls were enough to make you gag when all you really wanted was just to be left alone. "Cool." Eddie nodded simply. Trevor struck him as a guy that probably didn't want to be bothered with all that jazz.

"Yea, that bike is a hoot. I wish I was that good with my hands." Eddie shrugged, smiling at Trevor, "I'm a better singer than anything else."

Eddie leaned in closer to Trevor and poked a finger at the map he was still holding. "Registrar is here." Poke. "Office is there." Poke. "Cafeteria." Poke. "Dorms. If you're moving in, where's all your stuff? You've gotta have more than just that bike." He asked as he leaned away again.

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Definitely 'immediately', Trevor thought as Eddie explicitly made the logical leap. Outwardly he simply gave a slight shrug, agreeing, "That's the idea." He carefully noted where the headphone wearing student indicated on the map, nodding his thanks. He adjusted his knapsack when moving in was mentioned. "Couple more boxes coming later today. Wanted to get signed in first, take a look around." He pulled his fedora back a bit, loosing a few dark bangs. "Mostly just tools and books."

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"A new Midnight?" Mark put his hand over his mouth, his eyes widening, then clapped the other boy on the back. "You have no idea how long I've waited for this day!" He grinned hugely. "We could start...Liberty League! Liberty League II! Just like...the Big One!" He laughed, not looking serious. "Come on, Eddie and I will give you the Dutch tour. Between the two of us, we know all there is to know about this place."

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Mike was happy to see some his friends, he'd been a bit at loose ends since Alex had taken on a short course over spring break with no classes to tie up the time they normally spent apart. He strolled over waving genially, "Hey guys whats going on?" He asked then looked to trevor and the bike, "Sweet ride," he said with genuine enthusiasm, "Motorcycles are pretty cool, but my mom made me promise not to ride." He shrugged adding, "Too dangerous." the nigh invulnerable youth seemed to completely miss the irony of that statement. The tall youth stuck out a hand in greeting , "Hey I'm mike."

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Trevor went from being nonplussed at Mark's apparently boundless enthusiasm to being nonplussed at facing another teen who was not only taller than him but easily twice as broad. "...Trevor," he introduced himself, accepting Mike's hand and hoping it wouldn't be crushed in a vise-like grip. He murmured an agreement to the imposing teen's assessment of the motorcycle's danger, adding, "Fortunately, I'm a pretty good driver." Actually, a high speed chase or two in his short time as the new Midnight had proven that he was an exceptional driver, but he saw little need to bring it up here.

"Mark and Eddie were going to show me around," he continued, saying the other boys' names aloud to help himself remember them. In a relaxed deadpan that made it difficult to tell whether or not he was being serious, he told Mike, "You can point out the low doorways for me."

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"Ohh good idea!" Eddie looked fascinated. A big smile flashed across his face. He gave Trevor a playful slug in the side of the arm, as the kid's shoulder was just a little out of reach. "I totally would have forgotten to mention those." While Trevor's deadpan tone made his intentions difficult to guess at, Eddie's tone of voice was simply dripping with sarcasm.

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"Come with us, and I shall tell you a tale!" Mark threw his arm around Trevor's shoulders like they were boon companions. "Are you in the Kord Dorm?" he asked. "It's pretty sweet in there, that's where most of us hang out. We can go through there, see if anyone's hanging out...or we can hit the ball field, see if you've got any moves, or maybe one of the classrooms so you can see Claremont in action." He blinked, and suddenly looked more serious as a thought crossed his mind. He took his arm off Trevor's shoulders and added, "Unless, uh, you want to do things more quietly. Under the circumstances."

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Mike grinned at the deadpan teen, "Sure I think I've found just about every one of them the hard way."

As mark launched once more into his full force of personality he was glad to take a back seat and follow along. At marks question his face went blankly confused as he looked between the other three boys quickly, "Circumstances?" Clearly he had missed something crucial about the new student.

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Only Trevor's natural stoicism kept him from dropping into a defensive stance at Eddie's friendly jab and Mark's overly familiar nature. The dark haired teen just wasn't used to people being this openly friendly with him. Most people interpreted his laconic manner as standoffishness, and eventually stopped trying to engage him at all. Transferring from his old school hadn't been a terribly difficult decision to make. In the face of the Claremont student's enthusiastic welcome he renewed his resolution to be more sociable with his new classmates.

"My grandfather always said, 'when in doubt, follow a Lucas's gut'," Trevor told Mark. Travis Hunter had never said any such thing, of course, but then he'd never been a man particularly prone to doubt in the first place. "Got to learn the lay of the land sooner or later. Lead on."

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Mark led Trevor on a walk around campus, taking things a little more seriously now that he'd had the disquieting thought that the first Midnight must be dead. After all, Travis Hunter had been older than Mark's grandpa Jimmy, who'd died well before Mark had even been born. He must have inherited his grandpa's legacy, poor guy. "Most of the super-stuff is underground. You've already met with Mr. Summers and the psych people, right?" he asked casually.

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Trevor actually found Mark's sudden soberness more disconcerting than the excitable teen's previous enthusiasm. Mood whiplash, he supposed. He considered the question. "...more like I got a really good referral," he replied finally, thinking of the Raven's forwarded invitation. "Is there some kind of evaluation?"

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"Nah." Eddie supplied the answer, waving the question away. "Nothing too formal at least. Usually, if the Headmaster knows your here, you're already in like Flinn. And ten bucks says he already knows you're here. He always knows." Eddie also noted Mark's strange mood swing. Only thing that really upsets him like that is when someone...Oh... Eddie glanced back up at Trevor, briefly. A subdued look crossed his face. However, it didn't remain long. "Oh yea," He pointed a finger at Trevor. "If you do have to meet with him, don't call him 'Dunc'. He doesn't like that." A huge smile played across Eddies face. He was proud of the fact that he was possibly the only one to have gotten away with that stunt.

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Trevor's right eyebrow lifted slightly as Eddie answered his question and offered advice for dealing with the headmaster. ...why would you want to call him 'Dunc'?, he wondered. Outwardly he simply inclined his head in acknowledgment. "Any other advice?" he asked the trio of students. The lanky youth still wasn't quite sure what to make of Claremont. Everything seemed normal and friendly enough, but periodically an offhand reference to the Liberty League or underground facilities would remind him that there was a lot more going on than met the eye.

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Mike laughed remembering Eddies less than stellar first impression with the headmaster, "Skip the cafeteria on leftover day?" he offered off hand. He smiled down at the new student, "Its really pretty much a normal school with some extra programs that's all, nothing all that unusual." Not that Mike really had any claim to knowledge of 'Normal' regarding school or much else but it seemed normal enough to him.

He shrugged, "Mr. Summers can come off pretty strict but he does it to keep us and everyone else safe. HE really lets us get away with alot more than you'd think." His eyes drifted upwards as his thoughts ran to Chris's nightly excursions.

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Though he suspected the broad shouldered teen's definition of 'normal' might be skewed, it was the way Mike mentioned getting away with things that raised Trevor's interest, though naturally his expression didn't do much to show it. "So, is there a curfew, or...?" he asked nonchalantly. Is there a casual way to ask if the headmaster is cool with students dressing up in costumes at night and going out to fight dangerous criminals? he wondered ruefully. He assumed that the other students had gifts and powers of their own, but so far they hadn't made any overt demonstration of them, nor inquired as to his own skill set, and so he felt oddly compelled to dance around the topic.

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Mike smiled at the question clearly having telegraphed his own thoughts. "There is a curfew." He replied. As they turned to begin the tour, "And you're not allowed in the girls dorms after dark." He added remembering one of his rare deviations from the rules and its aftermath. "But some activities the headmaster looks the other way about as long as you don't push it too far." He was somewhat nervous discussing his and his friends extra curricular activities out in the open like this even if ti was pretty common knowledge around the school.

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"Hey, Mike! Eddie!" A cheerful voice called out. A petite redhead appeared out of the knot of teens, literally glowing. A sparkly corona of energy surrounded her and she was dressed in eyeblindingly bold layered t-shirts. Her jeans were blessedly normal but they did have large colorful patches on the knees. With her braids bouncing, she bounced over to them and stuck one hand out to Trevor after giving Mike a beaming smile that lit up her whole face, "Hi, I'm Alexandra Albright but everyone calls me Alex. Or Psyche. Whichever. I like Alex though.

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"Somewhere a clock strikes midnight

And there's a full moon in the sky"

AC/DC's Night Prowler began reverberating outward from Eddie's position. At first glance, Trevor just assumed that he had turned up the volume on the headphones he was wearing, but then he became aware that the sound was actually coming from Eddie himself.

"Yea, you know. Some of us go out at night. But we make sure to use the buddy system, and observe proper standards and practices." Eddie shrugged. "Just don't get caught." Eddie smiled a mischievous smile.

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