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Forging Bonds (IC)

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John was sure that the others had not thought of many of the potential ramifications about forming a team, so he had decided to make things easier on their end by doing a bit of legwork before they talked to Headmaster Summers in an official capacity. His current objective was to talk to one of the remaining members of Young Freedom to see about having a working relationship between the two teams. Ideally this plan would help all involved, but like most plans, had to survive first contact. John had chosen to talk with one of the two remaining members, Corbin Hughes AKA Colbat Templar. The other member, Eve Martel AKA Sage, was out of the question as he surmised that she still bore a grudge from the incident with Miss Etain.

So he had the task of tracking down the upperclassman, which was turning out to be a more difficult prospect than originally intended. Either he had vacated the locations where others had seen him, or they said that they had not seen him. One thing that he had gained from many of the people he had talked to while tracking him down, was that he was usually seen reading. After exercising all of his eyewitness leads, John decided to try the Library. If this attempt again turned out nothing, he would search again tomorrow. He was just about to leave the building when he spotted his quarry reading in a alcove. John took off his sunglasses as he walked towards him, in order to speak to him face to face.

John approached the man, "Mister Corbin Hughes? I am sorry for the interruption, but I would like to speak to you."

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Corbin had retreated to the library after there were one too many freshman and sophomores running around the grounds outside. Considering the powers and sizes of some of them, his perch in a tree wasn't really a safe quiet spot. He'd decided it would be novel to try reading not only inside, but in a building dedicated to books. So he'd found a nook in a far corner, and dug into his 3-inch-thick tome on the history of Grecian City-States from B.C. 1000 to B.C. 300. He was just hitting the chapter on the Peloponnesian War when someone came up to talk to him.

Without looking up, he conjured a hand to point at a nearby chair. He spoke without breaking his reading.

"No, yeah, that's fine. Gimme just a minute here. Got a bookmark, but it helps to hit a chapter break. Got a page and a half left."

It seemed he was reading rather rapidly, enough that it shouldn't take more than a minute or so...

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John sat in the indicated chair, giving a cursory inspection of the disembodied hand. As he waited for the other student to finish he looked at the reading material that the upperclassman was engrossed in. Craning his neck to the side to read the spine, he noted it to be a historical document of some sort. To each his own, John thought to himself. He recalled once when Morgan had asked him what he was reading, and the resulting explanation had caused his usually energetic friend to almost fall asleep standing up. John figured the battle strategies of Hideyoshi's invasions of Korea was not a riveting enough subject, and never brought it up again. He leaned back in the chair and quietly waited for Corbin to finish his chapter.

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The hand seemed to be free-floating blue fire, though there was no detectable heat or other indicators. However, if he tried to touch it, it would feel solid, though with little texture.

Corbin took perhaps a minute to finish, then placed a bookmark on the page and closed the book, setting it down. He looked at the other student, offering him an apologetic smile.

"Sorry about that. I can be a bit of a history bookworm, but what are you going to do, right? Anyways, can I...help...you..."

As he spoke, his face went from "friendly" to "confused" to "on-alert". His posture shifted, and while he didn't immediately attack, the glow of his ring indicated he was ready to do so at any time.

"Who are you, what do you want, why are you here? Considering that face, I'd like a couple answers."

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John had no noticeable reaction to the sudden change of tack of both the conversation and body language presented by Corbin. He had expected it, after all. Well, he had postulated a 58.3% chance that the members of Young Freedom had encountered either a clone and/or Kantor himself. So unlike the last time where he was put on the defensive by Eve Martel he responded seemingly unperturbed about the situation.

"John Smith. To talk to you. I am a student here." He answered. "But I surmise by your reaction that you would like more information than that. Very well." John looked around and saw no other students present in the library, so he continued.

"I am a clone of Wilhem Kantor who you know to be Overshadow. Before the normal clone indoctrination protocols were installed, I was extracted from a SHADOW facility by members of the Freedom League. From there, various decisions and plans wound up with me being placed here at Claremont Academy under the supervision of Headmaster Summers. Any more information would require further allowance from Headmaster Summers, of which I would agree to a debrief in your presence. However, due to my circumstances, I have chosen for this not to be public knowledge as it would put my friends and Claremont at risk from retaliation from SHADOW. Do you comprehend?"

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Corbin sat silently for several long, tense moments, his expression unreadable. He appeared to be mulling over the words of the student in front of him. Finally, the glow of the ring ceased, and he relaxed at least somewhat.

"Okay. I'm willing to believe you, enough so that we're not going to march to the Headmaster's office right now. I'll try to touch base with him later. Just to make sure. No offense, but the last time I saw Overshadow, it was...It was a pretty severe situation. I understand why you don't want this getting around. You and yours would be at risk from both inside and outside. Outside groups like SHADOW, and inside...well, teenagers can be cruel and petty a lot of the time. No need to add fuel to the fires."

He sits back, an inquisitive look on his face.

"So. What was it you wanted to talk to me about?"

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"As for the purpose of my visit, some of my friends and I have been receiving additional training from Headmaster Summers. This is in no small part to unsanctioned actions on our part, which he meted out the necessary punishment. However, as we trained together we have realized that we are coming together as a team and individuals. Ergo, we have decided to form a team. This is all unofficial at the moment, as we will be going to Headmaster Summers to ask for official status relatively soon. I have taken the initiative however, and have sought you out because there is something valuable that you have that would help our neophyte status immensely."

John paused for a moment to make sure the other teen was still following. "You are already on a team. A team that has battled with my genetic precursor and came out alive. Therefore, you have something that is extremely valuable to us. Experience. What I am proposing is a sort of liaison contact between each of the teams. I know that you have some new people and have to get them up to speed, but we can offer assistance as well with training or other things of that nature that you might need help with. Similarly, with two active teams at Claremont we would have the capability to back each other up if situations warrant. You can accept or decline the offer, but I thought it would be best to ask earlier rather than later."

John looked at Corbin and awaited his response.

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Corbin couldn't help the smirk that crossed his face.

'Buddy, Overshadow's small fry to Young Freedom these days. If only you know just who and what we'd faced...'

But they still weren't allowed to spread that information around (though Corbin couldn't really help but tell his parents and girlfriend what had happened), so he stayed silent on that matter. Instead, he sat there, his gaze seeming to pin John in place for a couple of minutes as he seemed to think over the situation. Finally, he gave a slow nod.

"First of all, I have to admire that you and your friends have come together like that. Really, forming a team like this is no small thing; if it was really easy, the whole school would be nothing but teams."

'Though, I suppose it's about half-composed of teams...'

Shaking off that thought, he pressed on.

"I'd be more than happy to serve as a liaison to your group, and once we get over the initial...speedbump...of your origin, I think you'd be a good liaison from your group to Young Freedom. I'm flattered that you guys want to have us as your backup, and it seems like an entirely reasonable way to do things. I can't really speak of many specifics right off the top of my head, but maybe sometime soon we can try a joint training session. Pit the teams against each other, so we can all get a better feel for fighting as units. Having new people means we need to work out the "kinks" in our dynamic. This sounds like it'll give us a good chance to do that."

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John seemed unconcerned by the amount of the time the other hero needed to ruminate on his thoughts before responding. "Excellent. I hope our future cooperation will be to the benefit of both the teams and the members."

John paused before continuing, apparently choosing his next words very carefully. "As to my origins, I would appreciate you to keep them undisclosed to all but Headmaster Summers until this is all rendered official. I still not have told my teammates, but I have decided that for this team to work complete transparency is necessary on my behalf." John glanced to his clasped hands and then back to Corbin. "I need to know if I am worthy to be even be considered their friend, even if I had the best of intentions in obscuring the truth to them." Corbin could sense the remorse from him, even through the veneer of stoicism. It disappeared quickly as John focused his concentration back to the current objective. "Miss Martel knows of my secret as well if you feel the need to corroborate with a peer."

He produced a flash-drive from one of his pockets and set it on the table between the two. "These are my notes and observations of the training we have under Headmaster Summers. As of the moment the team consists of Victoria Knight, Morgan Crowe, Brian Harris and myself. We are also considering Etain Maher, if she would accept the offer. Do you have any further questions or queries?"

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Corbin nodded as John spoke.

"I've met Victoria, Brian, and Morgan. Good kids, though Morgan could use more sense in his skull on occasion. And don't worry. I'll keep your origins a secret. I'll touch base with Eve, but I trust you. If we're going to be working on team coordination and cooperation, trust is an important first step."

He reached out and took the drive, tucking it away in his pocked.

"Should be handy information. I'll see if I can send you something similar in the near future. We're still...ironing out kinks."

He shrugged.

"I can't think of anything off the top of my head, except...Hm. We've got a lot of new students. You think there's odds of another group ending up kicking around?"

He sounded genuinely curious.

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John arched an eyebrow at the mention of Morgan. What did you do, Morgan? crossed his mind.

He leaned back in his chair at the mention of another group on campus, ruminating on it. "I would say no at this point and time. I have not met any students with the mindset, drive, or want to be on a team. There are people who are potential possibilities, but I think a wait and see approach would be the viable plan in this situation. It is hard enough to form teamwork and camaraderie, and throwing a new variable into the mix can hurt both parties. I do not wish to see either the Irregulars or Young Freedom to suffer that in their current states."

John glanced at his wristwatch.

"If that is all of your questions, I would like to invite you to the Mess Hall at around 1900. You can meet the others and pose questions to them as well. If you have other plans, we do understand."

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Corbin nodded.

"Fair enough. To be honest, I haven't been around them all quite enough yet to get a sense of it. I mean, there was the greenhouse project a few days ago, but beyond that..."

He shrugs and gives an odd smile.

"My girlfriend and I have been trying to make what use we can of the last bit of summer before classes hit full-swing.

But yeah, that seems like a fair assessment. We may just see one or both teams get some "part-time" members, really.

As for the Mess Hall, sounds good to me. I didn't have any big plans tonight."

'Mostly because my girlfriend is off visiting her family for a couple days, mom and dad are busy with work stuff, and the rest of my team's off doing one thing or another. Not that many of them eat very often...'

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John was happy that the proceedings had gone as well that they did. Corbin seemed to have a reasonable head on his shoulders, and John was interested in the other teens powers.

"Yes, I did heard about the greenhouse project. I wish I could have assisted in its construction, but I was unfortunately unavailable that day."

When Corbin had accepted the offer of dinner John nodded.

"Excellent. I will inform the others." John stood, and slid his sunglasses back on. He then extended a friendly hand to Corbin. "I look forward to working with you and your team, Mister Corbin. I will see you again at 1900."

After Corbin had shook on it, John left the library and Corbin to his thoughts.

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