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Claremont Academy Inbound (IC)


Semi-Autogyro

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Saturday, April 9

7:30 AM

--BZZT!--

John looked around confused. What? Where am I? A second ago he was with Mr. Daedalus, who had handed him a large rucksack and a folded piece of paper. As soon as the rucksack was slung over his shoulder and the piece of the paper was in his hand, he was here. Near as he could place, he was in an elevated walkway with what sounded like engines spinning down in the background. The door behind him was shut, and the hallway ramped downward for about fifty feet before meeting an open doorway. Noticing he still had both the rucksack and piece of paper, he opened the note.

John,

You are at Jordan International Airport. Get to the baggage claim, where a woman will pick you up. She will be holding up a card with your name on it. Follow her instructions once there.

D

The paper then started smoldering and disintegrated. Flash Paper? John idly noted, before adjusting the rucksack for easier carrying and headed down the ramp. He crossed through the doorways threshold, and ran into a lady who was about to close the door. He almost bowled over the poor woman, but he quickly steadied her before she could fall. She smiled sheepishly, a still a bit frazzled.

“Sorry Sir! I thought the plane was done disembarking!â€

He looked up behind her to see the readout: Heathrow, London to Jordan International, Freedom City – On Time.

“My apologies Miss, it was I who bumped into you.†He let go of her arm. “Could you direct me to the baggage claim?â€

“Certainly sir! It's down that away,†she pointed. “If you get lost you can always use the signs overhead to orient yourself,†she pointed again at the overhead signs which listed directions to the gates and other places.

“I see. Thank you.†John said as he started heading towards the baggage claim.

“Welcome to Freedom City, enjoy your stay!†she said with a smile from behind him, and he turned back and nodded his appreciation before continuing to the baggage claim.

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It took him ten minutes with the sparse crowds, but he finally got to the baggage claim. Looking around he saw a few people holding signs, and was scanning them for the women in question when...

“John Smith I presume?†a female spoke from behind him.

John instinctively jumped forwards and whirled around towards the voice, about to call a throwing knife into his hand when he saw the bemused woman was holding a sign with his name on it. She's really good. I didn't even sense her presence.

He straightened back up and took a deep breath to force his body to relax. “That's me, Ma'am.â€

“I'm Callie. I'm here to take you to Claremont.â€

John thought she seemed horribly familiar even though he couldn't put his finger on how. “Yes Ma'am, lead the way.â€

Her car was parked a decent distance outside and she opened the trunk for him to put the rucksack in. “Get in.†She said, gesturing to the passenger side.

Once out of the parking lot, she was all business.

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“Your ID officially is that you're a German foreign exchange student named Johann K. Smith from Berchtesgaden, Germany. You will officially be attending Claremont starting in the Fall. You're here earlier than expected since you were home schooled, so we're letting you stay on campus even though you won't have classes any time soon.†She handed him a manilla envelope containing a passport, wallet, and a set of keys with the number 222 engraved on them.

“On paper, your father Wilhelm is paying for you classes. He's a freelance professional security consultant for various private military corporations, which would explain your above average skills in certain areas. You'll get a stipend of money each month for living expenses. Any questions so far?†She glanced at him before looking back at the road.

“Why put so much truth into it?†He asked.

“The obvious lie is easier to believe, and telling the truth is better for you in the long run. Besides, this is what you'll be telling all the other students. We'd like to keep your true origins secret for both your safety and everyone else at the school.â€

John nodded. “I understand, but wouldn't I have more background information than this? About 17 years worth?â€

“What can you tell me about your mother?â€

Confusion flashed across his face. “What are you talking about? I'm a...â€an image of a blonde woman holding a rifle popped into his mind's eye â€wait...her name was Vladilena Grachev, and she was a Russian mercenary who met my father though work. They had me but she was killed protecting my father and myself in the Bosnian conflict in 1995. I was three at the time...†He paused mid-sentence and held his hand up to his temple in shock. “What? How is this possible?â€

“Implanted memories.†she replied. “Over the last month, while you were asleep. Just be sure to think a question through about yourself before answering. The memories should be pretty thorough, but anybody that has any sort of experience in them will see right away what they are. So try and not let anybody get into your head."

John nodded blankly, but something about it felt somehow wrong to him. Quashing that thought, he understood that this way was probably for the best. “I assume there's a hard copy of my fake history somewhere?

She nodded. “Yes, you have a copy to give to Duncan Summers that's in the bag you were carrying earlier. There are also clothes and other personal items in there. Anything else that you think that you'll need you can get later. â€

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John looked out the windows at some older houses. “Am I to report in regularly or you just going to check in once in a while?â€

“Mr. Summers will have a meeting with you every month to see how you are doing. Depending on how it goes, we'll see what happens after a few months. Also, we'd like for you to talk to Dr. Victor Archeville at some point and have a full battery of tests done, just to see what you can do potentially and how exactly your powers work. We know a little, but in case..."

John finished her train of thought. “In case that I go rogue so that I can be neutralized effectively.â€

She pursed her lips and glanced over at him “Not all of us have agreed that this is the best course of action.â€

John met her gaze evenly. “Believe me Ma'am, I understand. I am an unknown quantity even to myself. Am I a programmed sleeper agent, or something potentially more insidious? All I can say is that I’m appreciative of the chance to prove myself."

The car turned off into a small street, the stately buildings of Claremont Academy coming into view beyond the trees lining the road. Ms. Summer's continued. “That's a large part of why the we have taken a wait and see stance on this issue.†They pulled into a parking spot closest to the nearby building. “Well, we're here†and she cut the engine. The trunk popped open, and she gestured to john to get out of the car.

Complying, he gathered up the rucksack and slung it over his shoulder. She rolled down her window and pointed to the building. “Go in there. Take the first door on the left. They're expecting you.â€

“Understood. Thank you for the transportation.†He started to walk to the building, and stopped as she called out to him.

“Oh, and John?†She gave him a small smile. “Good luck.â€

He gave her one back. “Thank you Ma'am. I'm probably going to need it.â€

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Saturday, April 9

2:30 PM

Well, that was informative. John idly thought to earlier in the day as he looked around his new room. It was spartan affair having only a desk, bed, and dresser. After arriving at Claremont, he had proceeded d to be given paperwork and documents pertaining to the Claremonts' Rules and regulations here by an Administration secretary that he had to read and fill out before being taken to Duncan Summers office.

There, Duncan was explained all the details and criteria for his stay here. It had taken the better part of of two hours, and for the most past John had all of his questions answered. After that he had an enjoyable lunch with Mr. Summers in the cafeteria, and then was taken by a teacher named Mr. Archer and given a tour of the facilities. That had ended with them arriving at the dormitory room 222, which he was told was his room. Since he was technically here early, he wouldn't have an roommate until fall or so.

After thinking about it for a few minutes, John proceeded to re-arrange his room which didn't take all that long due to the sparse accommodations. Unpacking the rucksack took even less time, with a few changes of clothes and some sundries. His eyebrow quirked in amusement at the finding of a framed picture of his 'family' which while entirely fabricated he decided to place it on the desk. At the bottom was his armor, which he placed in the last drawer of the dresser.

After all that the clock only read 3:09 PM, and John really had no idea what to do now. He supposed he should go out and meet some of the other students. He had seen them walking around or in the various rooms as he was shown around earlier today, with some of them giving him curious looks or just idly going about their day off. That gave him an idea however, and he changed into a set of light clothing suitable for exercise.

A jog around the school campus would be nice. I can reconnoiter the premises, exercise, and meet some of the other students, John mused as he left his room and proceeded outside.

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Morgan Crowe wasn't irritated, far from it. He wasn't angry, either. In fact, he was rather pensive. The fact that he was hanging by his ankle from the same tree as several days ago didn't even enter into the matter. Of course, the fact that he was on a lower branch could only be taken as progress. As before, his arms were crossed and his rune-covered coat hung below his shoulders, flapping like a flag in the small breeze beneath his upside-down body.

Ok, so clearly mixing a lightning rune and my rune of wind walking isn't what I'm after for a long-range jump. At least there aren't any scorch marks for Brian to complain about this time.

The teen sighed, shaking his head. At this rate, he'd never come up with a method of a steady route between here and home. For a moment, he pondered returning to the "teleporting closet" idea, before scrapping it. No way the Powers What Is at the Academy would let him try that one. Morgan finally just scratched the top of his head, the breeze ruffling his runic coat and the leaves around him as he hung there.

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John had stepped outside and was in the middle of stretching his muscles a bit before the odd sight of a man dangling upside down from a tree wearing a greatcoat. What was really odd was the calm acceptance the man had, stuck there like an afterthought rocking slightly as the wind moved the tree branches. Well, might as well see if he needs help.

He walked over to him, his face almost level with the other mans'. Correction. The man looked deep in thought while he was stuck in the tree. Hanging by ones' ankle didn't seem like something one would do for fun, so he called up staff with his powers to hopefully pry apart the branches trapping the limb.

"Uh, Sir?" He asked. "Do you need some assistance in getting loose? You seem to be rather stuck." He pointed with the staff at limb in question.

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The teen in the tree held up a pausing finger, face screwed up briefly in concentration. Then, it was as if a lightbulb had gone on in his head, and he threw one hand up (or down) in a 'eureka' gesture.

"Hah! Got it this time! Lightning rune was totally the wrong direction!"

The brief sense of elation did not, however, completely distract him from a sudden snapping noise by his feet; this was subsequently followed by a short drop and sudden stop.

"Owww..."

Morgan lay splayed out on the ground, looking up at the offending branch with a rather critical eye, then turned a somewhat warmer gaze at the kid holding the...wait, staff? Out of nowhere? ...Cool! Struggling, he pulled himself to a seated position, and extended a hand in welcome.

"Heh, sorry about that."

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Puzzlement crossed Johns' face as the guy in the greatcoat had some sort of epiphany. Rune? Lightning? Maybe he had suffered some sort of cranial trauma when he wound up in the tree.

This was quickly replace by a wince as gravity took control and the man met the ground personally.

John shook his head at the man. "Not a problem." he replied as he took the offered hand and also helped him to his feet.

He nulled the staff in his hand and it dissipated into motes of quintessence. "Is that something that happens regularly? Being stuck in a tree I mean."

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Morgan looked up at the tree again, then back to the unfamiliar person and shrugged. For a moment, he considered exactly how much to tell the newcomer, but the fact that he had pulled a staff out of midair and was on the campus quad did kind of indicate "clued" status.

"Off and on. Still working the kinks out of a new wind-walk rune."

He rubbed the back of his head, with a slightly embarassed look on his face, then leaned on the tree trunk and grinned.

"Eh, I'll figure it out eventually. Morgan Crowe, pleased to meetcha."

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Victoria Knight was headed back towards her dorm, she'd had a good idea for her creative writing class and wanted to get it down on paper. However she stopped dead in her tracks seeing Morgan hanging upside down in the same tree he'd been stuck in the day she'd met her dormmate. Walking up just in time to see her friend fall out of the tree she couldn't help but let out a small laugh. "Again Morgan? Do we need to put a mattress in that tree?" she said with a knowing smirk.

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"It's a pleasure. I'm Johann Smith, but call me John. I just arrived here earlier today from Germany."

John cursed himself mentally when he realized his screw up. He had wanted to help the man, not openly display his powers like a neophyte recruit. He paused in the middle of that thought when he heard the laughter from behind he and Morgan. He looked back to see a young woman smirking at Morgan.

John gave Morgan a sympathetic smile as he turned to the woman "Oh, pardon me. I did not mean to not introduce my self to you as well Miss."

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Surprisingly, when John heard a reply from Crowe, it was from up above again. The coated teen was sitting on a branch, dusting off a sneaker that had been stuck up above and looking at it critically before sliding it back onto his foot. He let out a chuckle at Wisp's joke before he spoke, looking down and winking at the girl.

"Not a bad idea, Vick. No scorch marks on the dorm wall this time, though, so Brian'll be happy."

Clambering to his feet and balancing himself on the branch, he took a step off and abruptly vanished, reappearing beside the two of them as another breeze ruffled their clothes. With a laugh, he threw a friendly arm over John's shoulder.

"Heh, love doing that. Welcome to Claremont Academy, dude."

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"It's a pleasure. I'm Johann Smith, but call me John. I just arrived here earlier today from Germany."

John cursed himself mentally when he realized his screw up. He had wanted to help the man, not openly display his powers like a neophyte recruit. He paused in the middle of that thought when he hear the laughter from behind he and Morgan. He looked back to see a young woman smirking at Morgan.

John gave Morgan a sympathetic smile as he turned to the woman "Oh, pardon me. I did not mean to not introduce my self to you as well Miss."

Vicky held out her hand. "Welcome to our humble home for the abnormal. My name's Victoria but my friends call me Vicky," the ivory haired woman said, her Russian accent faint but still present in her voice. "Sorry to ignore you but sometimes, Morgan just needs a little teasing now and then.

At Morgan's comment on scorch marks in the room she nodded, "Always a plus. Janis and I have started leaving our room window open when I 'port in, otherwise the smoke would be a killer on just about everything."

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Johns' first reaction to seeing Morgan back up in the tree was a raised eyebrow. Teleportation? Interesting ability. Tactically and strategically it had an number... That train of thought ended abruptly when Morgan clamped a friendly arm over his shoulder.

Morgan could feel Johns' body go rigid as soon as his arm was around him. John mentally fought his instinctive reaction so he would not automatically try and break free of the arm, and counter what his ingrained response saw as a precursor to a sleeper hold. "Apologies Mr. Morgan. I am not used to how Miss Victoria just put it...abnormality. It is my first time being in such an institution." His body relaxed, and John shook Vickys' hand.

"It is a distinct pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Victoria." He smiled ruefully. "Though I do not possess the ability to teleport, which seems good for my continued health around here."

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Vicky smiled, "It isn't so bad. Morgan has it easy. The tree might leave him hanging by his ankle on an almost weekly basis but it is a tad more forgiving than some of the fire escapes I crashed into when I was getting the hang of my teleporting shtick. You'd be surprised how much flopping face first onto one of those can hurt and utterly destroy an otherwise perfect morning."

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"I see. Perhaps it is lucky then that I do not have that ability." John extracted himself from Morgan's arm and sat down on a nearby concrete bench. "Though I do wonder what sort of other abilities you both posses, since it sounds like your teleportation skills are different in nature though similar in execution." He leaned back in the bench."To tell the truth, I did not have many problems with my own powers. I suspect that was due to the training regimen I went through." He looked at Morgan and then Victoria.

"Maybe we could possibly train together and help improve each other. As it is now, I do not know what I am supposed to be doing until the fall semester." He shook his head. "So I have plenty of idle time, and I do not exactly have much in the way to do at the moment."

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"Well, I recover from minor injuries faster than normal and went from barely being able to lift my D&D book filled backpack to bench-pressing close to half a ton," she said, grabbing a seat on the end of the bench, all but pulling Morgan with her.

"As for practice, I'd enjoy that. We'll have to schedule some time for you, my roommate Janis, Morgan, his roommate Brian, and I to get some training time in," she said, gears obviously turning in her head.

Looking towards Morgan she asked, "You have any ideas for someplace we can cut loose? The Doom Room is off-limits for us and I haven't had much of a chance to check local gyms for a meta-human sparring policy. I haven't even checked her for anything more than a place to do basic workouts."

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Crow leaned on the tree beside the bench, rubbing his chin. Sometimes he really could let conversations get ahead of him when he was lost in thought.

"Well, we've got Gourd's Gym on the Boardwalk, they cater to the supers population roundabouts, and they've got an excellent anonymity plan. Brian and I did some sparring there a few weeks back, had to cut it after we accidentally threw a troll through the front door. Literally."

He looked up at the blank faces, then shrugged.

"Beastie took a dim view of Brian meeting his wind fae fiancee. Long story. But yeah, training'd be fun. Testing runes on my own's all well and good, but putting some of that magic into practice'll be damn helpful. Hell, maybe you can show me that trick of weapons from the ether, I'm working on a pocket for the coat that's way bigger on the inside and that'd fit right along with it."

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Half of what Morgan was talking about sounded like gibberish to John. Fae? Troll? and then statement about Magic. This is the second time he'd mentioned runes as well, John noted. Morgan didn't exactly fit his mental idea of a mage which was that of someone like Eldrich or the like.

John looked at the ground sheepishly when Morgan had indeed seen him fabricate the staff. "I do not think my powers are like yours intrinsically, Mr, Morgan. I believe they classified me as a psionicist more than a mage, as I expect that you are." He smirked at Morgan, as he called a sword in hand. "This actually is pretty recent. Happened over the last few months or so. I suspect that I can eventually make more complicated ones." He demonstrated by shifting it between a couple other forms such as a silenced hold out pistol, a blowgun, and then a throwing knife before dissipating it.

"As for the training, I'd be glad to participate with anyone who wants to. " Myr smiled as he made a duplicate lean on the tree next to Morgan. The duplicate spoke the next line "As you can see, I usually train by myself. A third duplicate appeared behind Victoria then, his hands on the back of the park bench. "Indeed."

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Vicky nodded, "That's a pretty neat trick. Must make chores a breeze, sending a bunch of yourselves to get everything done at once. Not sure how useful it is to train like that though, it's kinda like playing chess against yourself isn't it?" She was about to change the subject when an idea crossed her mind, leaving her with a smile. "Say, can you put on an orange track suit and yell 'Believe it!'?"

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Crow facepalmed, and he gave Vicky a Look.

"Naruto? Seriously? Though, if the principle remains the same, whatever a clone experiences, he would too. So it would be an effective way of training, not to mention a one-man SWAT team if he had to..."

He stroked his chin, looking at John with a curious mean, then he grinned and gave a thumbs-up.

"Still, that's pretty damn impressive there, mate. How'd you wind up being able to do that? Family powers? Magic? Science experiment gone horribly, horribly wrong?"

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"Say, can you put on an orange track suit and yell 'Believe it!'?"

Blatant confusion washed across Johns' face as the duplicates popped backed into non-existence. "Orange? Is there some reason I need to be highly visible?" He had only half-heard Morgans' response to Victoria while wondering exactly that had to do with anything. He surmised it must be some sort of cultural thing.

"Still, that's pretty damn impressive there, mate. How'd you wind up being able to do that? Family powers? Magic? Science experiment gone horribly, horribly wrong?"

John, happy to have something that he understood and could answer, replied. "I usually turn off the mental link between my myself and the duplicates. That way i can not 'read' their movements beforehand." He paused for a bit, knowing that Morgan's question was one that he had a cover element in place for while he searched his memories. "I was born in Pripyat, Ukraine inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone." He looked between the two of them. "I am sorry however that I do not have many answers the question as to what my parents were doing there." He continued. "The doctors who examined me when I stated showing my abilities think that my exposure to something there is the cause." He glanced to both of them "What about yourselves?"

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In response to Morgan's Look Vicky shrugged, "You're dating an anime nerd, did you expect anything less? I should have said dattebayo but I figured 'believe it!' being the English dub might have been more recognizable." To John, she added, "It's from a Japanese animated series, I'll have to run a few episodes on Netflix for you so you can see how terribad the English dub is."

When John mentioned Pripyat she let out a low whistle, "Ballsy. I wouldn't go anywhere near there, with my luck I'd come out looking like Hiroshima Shadow."

"Oh, my powers are hereditary. My mother's super-strong, bullet proof, the usual Centurion-like powers while my dad had the teleportation shtick. He doesn't have my range limitation though. When I moved in here, I didn't need to take a bus, plane, or train in from Chicago. Just a few stops with my bags along the way and we were here."

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Crow smiled at Vicky when she commented on her otaku status, appearing by her side and giving her a kiss on the cheek with an impish chuckle. Looking at Myrmidon again, he stroked his chin, looking at the various clones with a pondering eye. It took a few minutes, but then he started talking, but his voice was tinged with a combination of pride and bitterness.

"Me, it's...kinda funny. My dad's a descendant of the Irish hero, Cuchulainn. Went around before I was born as a big-name hero known as Red Hand. Funny thing is, when I was born, I didn't inherit any of his powers. No super-strength, no superhuman endurance or anything like that. So...well, I bootstrapped myself up. Rune magic and good old-fashioned Irish boxing."

He made a fist in front of himself, grinning, and pounded one into an open palm.

"Gotta tell you, there's nothin' like a fistful o' loitnin' and a kick to the shins to take the air out of some Fomorian's speech, yeh? You know any styles?"

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