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First Impressionisms (IC)

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Rene stumbled out of the Taxi, easel and bags in hand. It was always so damn expensive getting a cab to the Hotel. Its ghostly presence seemed to permeate into the city, and taxi drivers seemed to be reluctant to take anyone there.

Reluctant, but not unwilling, at least when Rene offered to pay treble.

He groaned as he clambered into the building, armed with his art materials. "Damnation" he muttered "I am going to paint this building today, at least then I can go directly there".

He already had a painting of his flat with him. With a stroke of his magic paintbrush, he could paint himself directly to another location, provided he had a picture of where he was going.

But today, he had also offered to paint some heroes. Crow and Etain he knew already, and he was aware a third model was attending. A lot of work.

But when work was art, work was a pleasure.

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Three figures abruptly appeared in the library of the Parkhurst Hotel, two rather rumpled young men and a rather ethereal-looking young woman. The first young man, a strangely familiar-looking fellow to some students, wearing a somewhat tweaked uniform, appeared over a sofa, falling forward and landing face-first on the cushions. The second young man, dressed in a long leather duster covered in arcane runes, landed somewhat unceremoniously on the ground, falling onto his fundament with a grunt.

"Well, at least it's my rear instead of my face this time..."

Crow turned his head, noting Changeling's more graceful landing as she appeared out of thin air, floating down onto her feet. Why could he never manage that kind of thing when he cut the wind-walking...

"You two okay? Traveling by wind can be a bit disorienting for first-timers."

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"It is no more bad than flying with Custos. Though, your way is a bit fast, you do not see the city very well."

Etain dusted off her vest and straighted her skirt before hearing the familiar and rather abrupt swinging open of the front door.

"We do need to fix that door, it keeps hitting the inside hard."

Taking a few steps she moved over to the door and caught it before it closed to see Mr. de Saens coming through with his hands full,

"Morgan, can you hurry over and help Mr. Saens, the door tends to slam, I do not wish to let it go until he is through."

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"Ah there you are, there you are"

Rene spied the threesome with his mind long before his faulty eyes had managed to get them into focus. As soon as they noticed him, he immediately hunched his back still further, stumbled, and dropped a canvas.

"Ah, my poor old bones, zey struggle so!" he lamented, as he rubbed his back. "I am just a helpless old man..."

As he winced, one clear and observant eye peeped out of the crack of his eyelid and carefully examined the audience, making sure his performance had registered.

Truth be told, his body was wearing down a little. Although he was in pretty good shape for a man over two centuries old. Whilst he could manage most tasks, he had taken the view that it was best not to wear it down any more, not whilst some youths could do the cumbersome tasks for him.

Besides which, there had to be some advantages to old age...

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Johns' inertia carried him off the couch after the abrupt landing, which he used to roll up to a low crouch. "Interesting. It is not somewhat similar to a low altitude parachute landing." John said as he got to his feet. "Usually when parachuting you can see where you are landing, however."

He proceeded to make sure the he survived intact, dusting off a bit of couch fibers that had collected on the armor he was wearing. He still had no idea why Morgan had asked him to wear it other than it was for something 'official'. John didn't have a dress uniform, much to his discomfort. It was like having to wear work clothing to a fancy dinner. Still, he did consider Morgan his friend, and went along with it.

Morgan knows some eccentric people, John thought as he looked over to the graceful woman in period clothing and then to the elderly man just outside.

When the man they called Mr. Saens had dropped the canvas, John had walked over to help pick it up. "Allow me please, Sir."

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"Merci, ah Merci" replied Rene, clapping his hands. "You have made an old man very happy. I am pleased to see that ze spirit of chivalry is not yet dead!"

He eyed Crow with a glance.

"At least amongst some of the youth of today!" he said in a rather more stern voice. Of course, the perceptive would have noted his eyes twinkling with pleasure.

He studied Mymirdon. Looked like a big strapping Aryan, a Viking King or God. He could almost imagine getting the fellow to don a horned helmet, hold a battle axe, and pose as a Norse diety for a picture. The Nazi occult (and he remembered them well) would have fawned over the man.

However, he seemed extraordinarily polite and gracious. Rene warmed to him instantly.

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Morgan rubbed his bruised rear with a wince, raising an eyebrow at Rene. He'd long been clued to the "old man" act, the guy was definitley not as helpless as he liked to appear. Still, play the game, play the game. With a charming (for Crow) smile, he walked over and offered his arm, plastering a look of concern on his sharp features.

"Why, Monsieur De Saens, it must have been exceedingly difficult for you to climb up all those steps by yourself. Clearly we must put in an escalator or levitation device of some kind, in consideration of your venerable years."

It amused the runecaster to lay it on thick sometimes, and his own eyes twinkled with an amusement that put the lie to his solicitous nature. Combine that with a wink at the elderly mage, and he took a pile of the equipment out of the fellow's arms.

"Allow me to introduce Myrmidon, he's a friend of mine from you-know-where. Giving him the grand tour of Freedom City, thought I'd introduce him to a few folks here, help him network like I did."

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Closing the door behind them, Etain glanced around quietly and let Morgan do the introductions. She already knew Rene de Saens, but John was a bit more of a mystery. He certianly didn't have any magical traits she could pick up on, there was a potiential but nothing that had been exercised. Moving ahead to the sitting room she saw the ghosts passing through and politely asked them to stay hidden while the guest was here. She didn't mind them herself, but there was a certian amount of omionance of the presence of the deceased for this world and she didn't want anyone to be uncomfortable.

Setting herself down on one of the plush chairs, she crossed her legs and waited for them to enter smiling lightly as she examined all three parties. Though more so, she focused on the portrait of an artists studio in Rene's arms which seemed to be also a portal, though a limited use one at the very least. Maybe she could ask him about that to see if they may get more portals set up at Parkhurst.

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"Why, Monsieur De Saens, it must have been exceedingly difficult for you to climb up all those steps by yourself. Clearly we must put in an escalator or levitation device of some kind, in consideration of your venerable years."

Rene's eyebrow arched and his smile curled slightly.

Cunning, charming, deceitful little swine! he cursed to himself, full of joy.

I like him!

"Oui, oui" he replied. "Monsieur le Crow is most perceptive about these matters. Most perceptive. An escalator would be formidable! of course, until ze device in installed, I will have to rely on ze virility of youth to sustain my aged body. "

"Allow me to introduce Myrmidon, he's a friend of mine from you-know-where. Giving him the grand tour of Freedom City, thought I'd introduce him to a few folks here, help him network like I did."

"Ah oui!" replied Rene, holding out his hand to Myrmidon. "Well met! this is the very picture of gay youth that I was referring to! Such a polite, honest and reliable boy!"

Rene picked up a rather bulky, heavy Canvass, and without asking, shoved it into Crow.

"Just like you, eh?" he said with a smile. "I am sure you can help a struggling venerable old man like myself..."

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John took the offered hand, and agave a firm handshake."Please, call me John, Mr. De Saens. Code names are meant for the public not in private, or so I have been told." He blinked in surprise as the cunning elder made Morgan carry some things as well. "I also see that I should keep on my toes around a man as worldly as are." He said that with a small smile.

Looking around, he noticed that he had forgotten to introduce himself to the lady when they had teleported in with. She had gone to another room during the time he was talking.

"If you'll excuse me for a moment, gentlemen." He set down the canvas so it leaned on the frame against the couch. He walked over to the sitting room taking a look around, before extending a hand in greeting to the lady on the couch. "Hello, Miss. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Please, call me John."

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Etain watched the approach of Morgan's friend quietly before he stopped in front of her with an extended hand, she met him with a bright smile and clasp both his hands with her own in the shake,

"It is very nice to meet you John, I am Etain. I think Morgan did not mention, I go to the school with him. You seem rather interesting, are you going to the school as well?"

Etain didn't know why he was interesting, but he didn't strike a normal stride. It was a confident stride of someone who fought, she recognized it from the warriors at home whom she would watch endlessly in there fights.

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Rene (and the virile youth helping him) set up shop in the main hallway, on a balcony. The Hotel was ripe with places to paint - he was, he acknowledged to himself - spoilt for choice. The place oozed character.

Damned if he would admit it, of course.

"Pfah! ze lighting is all wrong! how I must suffer for my art!" he whined. "The old house, such bad angles! the shadows are terrible? how can I work in such a place?" he questioned, full of mock indignation.

Once the easel and paints had been set up, he addressed the audience. "Now then, I have come here to paint, and paint is what the great Rene DeSaens will do!" he started, twirling his paintbrush with an authorative air.

His gaze spanned across the three youths. "So... all together or one at a time? I am at your service!"

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"Yes, although I am a recent transplant. I tend to think Morgan took pity on me, as I have been getting steered around to all his friends and acquaintances." He laughed ruefully at the mention of interesting. "Thank you for that Miss Etain, that has to be the first time I have been called interesting. I believe Mr. Morgan had called me 'boring'" when he found out I have little in the way of hobbies or interests. This is his not so subtle way of expanding my horizons."

He sighed before taking a seat opposite her. "I regret that I have not met many other students. I mainly train or, well, train. I do not start at Claremont officially until the fall semester, so I have a quite bit of free time. Which has led me here today. Though to be perfectly honest I am not exactly sure as to what I am supposed to be doing." He had gestured with a shrug to that that last sentence.

And just to spite him, it seemed that the universe had a ready answer to his last question as Rene had came into the room with paintbrushes and canvas in hand.

"Oh. Well then. Question answered."

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Morgan staggered in under even more of Rene's equipment, giving a hard-done-to look at John and Etain before planting the stuff down.

"For the record, I didn't say 'boring'. Words like 'unbelievable' and 'good grief', were used, but not 'boring'. And what do you mean, I can't be subtle? I'm a wizard...well, sort of. Rune magic instead of conventional sorcery. Either way, subtle's part of the job description, besides quick to anger."

He gave a look of mock outrage, planting his hands on his hips, before dissolving into chuckles as Rene came in.

"Anyway. Thought you might like a class portrait, and a few people around here might be able to help you figure out your abilities a bit more. You cool with that?"

Crow's tone was warm and solicitous, despite the earlier joking he did seem somewhat concerned as to whether his idea had merit or not.

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"You are very loud for a subtle person Morgan."

Etain smiled with the statement before looking over at Raen,

"Is there any place you would like to set, the pool area is nice looking, and the grounds are seeming better with the residents working on them now. The reacreations room is also fully furnished and we could play on the billards table while you are to set up."

Billards was pretty fun, she would play it with her guardian and his friends sometimes, though they were much better than herself they were always nice and helpful too.

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"The grounds, you say?" queried Rene, stroking his beard, lost in thought.

"The grounds..." he repeated, his mind wandering over the splendid gardens and magnificent view of Freedom City.

"The grounds!" he pronounced in conclusion, his mind made up. "Oui, Oui! a most excellent suggestion, madam! nothing like ze outdoors for a healthy life. I am sure ze strapping young men will relish the oppurtunity!" he said, with a smile as broad as his face and his eyes twinkling with delight.

"Come on young men! look lively. And be careful with ze Easel!" he said, as he took Etains hand. "I will escort the beautiful lady to the Gardens whilst you bring the canvas and materials outdoors..."

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"Anyway. Thought you might like a class portrait, and a few people around here might be able to help you figure out your abilities a bit more. You cool with that?"

John nodded. "Of course, otherwise I'd still be in the exercise room at Claremont." He gently picked up the easel, making sure to not to scratch or hit it on anything. "There is also the added befit of multiple people here, just in case something does go wrong." He waited until Morgan had gathered up the other supplies. "Which shouldn't happen unless they go rummaging about in my head."

He angled the easel sideways as he carefully brought it outside into the gardens. It was a bit of hassle getting it through the door, and he had understood why Rene had left it to them. It took another 5 minutes getting it to a place where Rene had liked, which involved moving it around a couple more times.

When that was done he took a seat on the edge of a stone planter and waited for the instructions.

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Crow thought several rather unkind thoughts about Rene as he staggered under another mountainous pile of painting equipment.

I swear, they won't find his body in one dumpster, but in several...

Finally putting it onto a small, grassy knoll outside the house, he looked up with some satisfaction at what they had made out of Parkhurst. He really thought it felt like a home, now. And an added bonus, he had a place to crash once he graduated from Claremont. Score!

"Don't think anyone hereabouts is psychic, mate, so you should be gold. Why do you reckon something'd go wrong if they did?"

He tilted his head, curious. Myrmidon was a decent guy, but sometimes he could be real tight-lipped when he wanted to be.

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Rene set up his easel and examined the lighting. It was actually pretty good: the sun was neither to bright nor to dim. The weather had that pleasant warmth of spring with a touch of wind - something that always set his portraits and landscapes alight. Despite his pervasive Frenchness, he always had a soft spot for Turner.

"Right then" he said, as he licked his brush and organised his paints. "All together I think? would that suit you all? BUt of course it would!"

He shuffled over to the threesome and started prodding them, manipulating their bodies so they would suit his picture best. He must have rearranged them four times. The final pose seemed suspiciously like the first one - which he had declared "Impossible! Ze composition would be ze artistic equivilent to murder!" in a tone of total conviction.

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Standing perfectly still was one of the things that John was good at. Though he questioned the pose he was in, his right foot on one of brick planter his and his left hand holding onto a trellis. Morgan had said looked 'captainy'. More like ridiculous, he thought to himself as he stood stock still, maintaining the position.

"Don't think anyone hereabouts is psychic, mate, so you should be gold. Why do you reckon something'd go wrong if they did?"

He tilted his head, curious. Myrmidon was a decent guy, but sometimes he could be real tight-lipped when he wanted to be.

While Rene was fussing over Miss Etain, he had responded to Morgan. "The state of mind I have when i use my powers is important. Bad things tend to happen when a psioniscist loses control. I've read studies where someone with similar powers had a sociopathic duplicate." So you can understand why I'm extremely wary of avoiding that." It was true, that one of the clones had gone catatonic and started making berserker duplicates in one of the testing phases SHADOW had put them through. He was sure that it wouldn't happen now, as it was more along the lines to keep his origins secret as per the agreement he had with both the League and Summers.

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Etain set herself as the shortest member set between the two boys giggling slightly at the different positions before Rene himself decided the first was best. He was such an amusing old man, and very energetic. Still she looked over at John quietly as he mentioned the poor affinity to mental status,

"Well, if you think someone might try to change you mentally, just find me and I will fix it. Though there are some who are too strong, I can block out most if I concentrate. Though I trust you might be able to handle things more than you think, Mr. Summers is a smart man, he would not let you to the school if you were truly dangerous."

In fact he didn't let her on the school grounds for classes until she herself was binded from using her own powers full scale, but that didn't need mentioning.

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Rene started sketching the three heroes, using pencil first - although he could not resist dabbing paint when needed.

"Excellent! Formidable!" he said with encouragement. "Dear lady, your beauty and elegance cannot help but shine through... I doubt there is a canvas that can contain it" he added, smiling at Etain.

He paid only slight attention to the talk of psionic powers and things going awry. "Oui oui" he mumbled "what is all this talk of things getting out of control? strange powers? all this nonsense!" he rambled, lost in his painting.

As he sized up the background and foreground, he was distracted from the painting for a moment. The observant may have noticed the slightest flicker of movement in the three figures.

A painting? moving???

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Crow perched like his namesake on the top of the bench beside the two, hood pulled up and bandanna on his face. An easy grin was below the face as he enjoyed the sunny afternoon and the new portrait he'd been sitting for. It was a shame he couldn't find Vicky beforehand, she'd have loved this.

It took a moment for him to note De Saens' expression, and he tilted his head to the side.

"Another positioning problem?"

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John had started into a nice quiet doze while still being somewhat aware and maintaining his pose, since he really didn't know how long this was going to take. Morgan and Miss Etain seemed to be having fun, and he was wondering what the finished picture would look like. Maybe he could learn to paint or something similar. he hadn't ever tried before...

Morgan registered Rene's slight pause and he shook it off, but snapped fully awake when Morgan chimed in. After all, Morgan was a bit more sensitive to the mystical stuff. For all John knew about magic was that it tended to be rather flashy and rather sudden. Plus he had been feeling like he was being watched ever since he set foot in this place.

Better safe than sorry, he mused while keeping an eye on both Morgan and Rene.

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The air filled with an uneasy chill, quite out of keeping with the pleasant clime of the day so far. Perhaps most would have passed it off, but the Mystical heroes were wiser.

The atmosphere was subtly charged. Everywhere one looked, things seemed to be either clearer, or murkier, or both at the same time. It was nothing tangible, but there was something that whispered to the sixth sense of all present.

The painting moved, quite clearly this time. Quite how it happened would be impossible to describe in purely visual terms - the effect was like that of a dream. One could say the three figures crawled out of the painting, and that would be the best approximation. But the way it happened was that simply one moment the figures were in the painting, and the next, they were outside, gazing at their surroundings...

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