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Marching to the Beats(IC)


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Claremont Academy,

September 28th, Friday 1.07 P.M.

Stepping out of the library with bag of books slung over his back, a deep look of concentration on his face, and putting a hat on his curly head, Subito Sondo glanced briefly around the campus for any familiar faces. It was time for a serious delving into the hidden mysteries of Caribbean politics, and he wanted someone along for the experience in case he got completely lost. He was a little more competent with the Byzantine world of politics and history than he used to be, but there were still vast gaps in his knowledge that needed filling. He glanced at the reddening leaves on the trees scattered over the Academy, tugging the denim jacket he was wearing over his regulation white t'shirt and blue jeans closer against himself as a sudden gust of cold wind blew in from the sea.

'Whoa, winter's gonna be here soon. The years go by so fast nowadays...' he looked over the Academy grounds at the passing lines of students, suddenly catching sight of a very familiar face indeed. Dashing over to the tall blond teen he had noticed moving through one of the tangles of students, he clapped John Smith on the shoulder, saying with gusto "Hey there, Mr. Smith! How have you been? You wanna study together for a bit? I need to buckle down on my Caribbean supers history, the 1800s are just crazy busy" he declared with a solemn shake of his head.

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Like any other teen at Claremont, John was happy when Friday rolled around. But unlike most teens, he wanted to get any assigned homework out of the way so he would be unimpeded over the weekend. The blonde moved easily through the throngs of students, akin to a shark scattering schools of fish as he made his way back to his dorm. He was half-lost in thought when the hand landed on his shoulder with a muffled impact due to the unzipped bomber jacket he had worn over his usual ensemble of a t-shirt and military cargo pants. John went ramrod straight for a a second and then relaxed as he identified the source.

"I am well, Mister Subito." John manged to say before he was verbally barraged by further queries. Seeing as he only had a short paper in Heroic Law and no plans other than practicing his sword skills at the dojo for the weekend, he agreed to help his underclassman. "The research is for the Legacy class, correct? I did not have to take it since I do not posses a Legacy mantle, but I would be more than happy to assist you in this undertaking."

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"That's awesome to hear! Yeah, it's for the Legacy curriculum. Focus next week is going to be on the chevals of Ogoun from 1801 to 1850, who they were and what they did. The guy rode a lot of dudes during that time." he commented admiringly, a sudden realization of what that sounded like causing him to look blank for a second and hastily add "Uh, I mean..you know what I mean!" he rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment for a second('Damnitdamnitdamnit, what is wrong with me?') before brightening up and continuing "Thanks a lot, Mr. Smith. You want to head over to the dorm to study or someplace else? Those tables would do fine for me" he gestured to one of the round concrete tables that dotted the lawn next to the paths.

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If Subitos' statement had been misconstrued or bothered John he did not show it all. "Indeed. However, I may not be the best source to assist you in this endeavor. I posses only a passing familiarity with magic and its historical practitioners, the more esoteric knowledge you seek it would probably be best to speak to Morgan or Etain."

John considered the options. "I would prefer to be inside to work on this project. The dorms would be better, since I am sure that they will be mostly vacant with the onset of the weekend." He started back to the dorm, confident that Subito could keep up. The blonde glanced over at the other teen. "Is there a reason you are wanting to complete this project early? Most would procrastinate due to the weekend."

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Nodding at John's words the stockier teen replied, walking in step "Well, the reason I asked you is mostly because you've got a lot of focus. I like Serge a whole bunch, he's a smart guy and I always end up learnin' something when we study together, but we always get sidetracked too. You don't get distracted, and something like this is really important for me to know. And there's not much in the way of actual magic here," he added with a grin "it's about who they were and what they did and why, rather than how they did it. It's supposed to tie into the wider picture of all the stuff that was going on, the years-long war in Haiti by the slaves for their liberation from bondage, for example, when the first of that legacy showed up."

Silently agreeing to the choice of venue, Subito followed along beside the taller boy, briefly thinking over John's question before answering "I want to spend time on this. The whole mystic legacy thing is something I have a personal experience with, and learning about what they did with their power is bound to be inspiring." he rubbed the back of his neck and glanced sheepishly at the other student "That and I'm not really good at doing things like this quickly, so starting early can only help."

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John nodded in affirmation. "My apologies if this is not the case for you, but it is my understanding that most incarnations of power such as yourself typically have some sort of spiritual envoy who chose and granted you the powers of the legacy. Is it possible to garner any information from them?" They arrived at the dorms, where he waited for a few students to move out of the way before entering. "Furthermore, I would be amiss to not point this out, but you might find information that may make you see your legacy under a different light. There are more than a few legacies that have tainted bearers or even misguided envoys."

Once inside he indicated the sofa in the foyer, before gesturing with his thumb at the stairs. "I need to drop off and retrieve a few items from my room, then I will meet you back here."

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"The Dama Azul? Yeah, I can speak with her at any time, but I get the feeling she wants me to be more self-reliant in stuff like this."

"Furthermore, I would be amiss to not point this out, but you might find information that may make you see your legacy under a different light. There are more than a few legacies that have tainted bearers or even misguided envoys."

"Believe me, I know that" Subito said unusually quietly with a slight wince "the splitting of America's spirit during the Civil War was one of the first lessons in the Legacy series. But even if they turned into brutes, they'll inspire by example of what to keep an eye out for."

Nodding at John's asking him to wait, he leaned against the wall, waving cheerfully to the passing grey figure of grim Hodge as he headed for the gym, getting an almost imperceptibly fast wave in reply.

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John was back about ten minutes later after dropping off his bag and changing his jacket out for a STAR squad hoodie, laptop underarm as he he made his way back to the foyer.

My apologies for the wait. Had a voicemail message I had to respond to. Unfortunately, I will have to leave at 1700, as my presence has been requested at dinner." By his phrasing it seemed like he had no choice in the matter one way or another.

John sat the laptop down on the table, flipping it open as he sat down in a nearby chair. "Two ways to go about this: by year or by individual. How would you like to proceed? " he asked Subito as he proceeded to boot up the laptop.

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It took Subito a moment to translate that time into something more familiar, but after a brow-furrowing he nodded affirmatively "Oh, 5 o'clock? 'Kay then!" he put the main book, a hefty blue tome whose dust jacket depicted the islands of the Caribbean set on a flat Earth the sea water falling down into a vaster sea beneath it that held a single island under the blaring letters 'Nations under Guinee: Caribbean Vodou History '. Cracking it open to roughly halfway through, the Puerto Rican teen quickly thumbed through the thick pages, licking his fingers to make the stiff leaves a little more pliable, until he reached the chapter he wanted. He frowned at the question, tapping his fingers on the hard table before saying "Best to go by year, I think. Some of 'em were ridden more than once, after all. Alright, 1801, the year of Andre Rigaud's brother Joshua's selection..."

Tossing his hat onto the table, he traced the beginning with his other finger, starting at the very first sentence "O.okay then. Says here Joshua was shot by his brother for trying to rescue some captives Andre wanted dead. As he was about to be shot again by the soldier his brother sent to get rid of his body Ogoun called out to him, offering him the strength to help stop the atrocities going on. He got Centurion-like powers out of it, like back in the 40's and stuff when he didn't fly, and could make iron do crazy things as well. Uh...he spent a lot of time wandering the island of Haiti, looking for evil stuff soldiers were doing to stop 'em. He ignored the wider political problems of the island and stuck to protecting towns and villages." He sat back, Looking quite surprised "I didn't think that was what people did with powers back then. I thought they were like Hercules."

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John nodded at that. "You have to take into account that the average person of that era and upbringing would not be aware of the political landscape or understand the ramifications of their actions that would cause. On the other hand, they might think the system would restrain them and they would be fighting bureaucracy instead of helping people." He typed a few lines on the laptop as he continued his observation.

"Historically most heroes tended to be small picture intensive, concerned with only their small section of the world unless otherwise motivated. Communication also played a large part, as news travels slower by word of mouth. This caused heroes to be reactionary instead of proactive, and the ones that were proactive tended to be the charismatic and ones with unshakable belief in their manifest destiny. A good example would be Oda Nobunaga and his fight for the unification of Japan in the Sengoku period."

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"That makes a lot of sense" Subito agreed, scanning along the page and jotting down brief notes in a notebook "But Ogoun's supposed to be a really community-focused guy. As a loa, wouldn't that wider viewpoint get passed down to them? My spirit's a little more..well, she's apparently more focused on the small-picture than a lot of the others are, really wants me to go back to Puerto Rico and stay there to try to guard it(doubt I'll do a good job). But ones like Lady Liberty and Britannia go all over the place." he shrugged "The communication thing does answer a lot of that. It must have been hard to know what was going on in the next town unless someone from there came and mentioned it, after all."

He read on for several pages "For the rest of the rebellion that was pretty much what he did, from 1801 to 1805 he would go this big circuit of Haiti keeping the peace. He always gave the weapons he got from stopping armed robbers and highwaymen to the townsfolk, and taught people he met along the way who wanted to how to work metal so they could help out others. In 1804 he was asked by one of General Louverture's aides to join the army to protect from attacks by European powers and refused, declaring that what he was already doing was just as valuable, and would "Give the soldiers a stronger place to fight from". Huh. I guess it's like when the Liberty League were kept from entering the war? Putting your own house in order before going to another's?" His pen hadn't stopped writing in the notebook all the time he was reading, and though in a few places it dipped below the lines it was tolerably legible.

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"I can actually give you an answer for the first query." John said to to Subito. "Spiritual Envoys typically represent the current 'image' of their bailiwick. This typically includes things like foreign policy, ideals, and viewpoints as well. Just as people and nations mature, so do their envoys if present. Lady Liberty and Britannia come from nations that at one point or another were global powers, so they tend to have a further reach and bigger domain than your Dama Azul. Consequently as such, Envoys with smaller domains and bailiwicks tend to be more reactive than proactive since their 'reach' is more limited."

While the other teen read, John was typing on the laptop until Subito spoke up again. "It would depend on which war you were referring to. Mostly, it is an issue that there is a certain stigma about meta-humans in wartime capacities"

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'Which war am I referring to-? Oh! Right, they weren't allowed in the Korean or Vietnam wars either. Guh, why do I have to be all ignorant and dumb in front of him like this...' "The second World War" he clarified hastily "Something went wrong on their first mission, I think, and they were kept at home partially because of what might happen if they were captured and partially because they kept the peace at home?" He glanced at the book, then looked back up abruptly

"By the way..something I've wondered. What do you mean by 'proactive' and 'reactive'? Going out and looking for people plotting to do evil and stopping crimes as they happen?"

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"Not exactly..." John rubbed his chin idly in thought as he ordered his thoughts. "It is mainly concerned about how the individual in question approaches a situation. A 'reactive' approach would be dealing with each situation as they arise. It is not unlike putting out fires where one finds them, but never doing any more than just extinguishing them as they continue to occur. The 'proactive' approach takes into account looking for the source of the problem. Continuing the example, this approach eliminates the current cause of the fires. This in turn leads to a third approach: the prevention of more fires from breaking out. I would term this as 'deterrence' wherein sources of problems are looked into and eliminated before situations arise."

He gave a dismissive laugh and brushed aside the other topic. "As for the Liberty League, there is a very distinct difference between civilian meta-humans and military meta-humans in wartime. I do not think that topic has any relevance to this project at the moment."

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"Mm. Okay then." He was pretty sure people like himself would be best kept as far away from proactive and deterrent approaches as possible.

Joseph had at last asked the loa to leave him and choose another cheval, as the distance from his old life was slowly leading the man into a deep depression. Ogoun had agreed and found another bearer in the form of a middle-aged woman from northern Haiti. The next hour and a half was spent in the tangled minutiae of the two-year long struggle between the steeds of Ogoun and Chango over the direction the Orichas should take with their newly-liberated worshipers, with Ogoun encouraging them to consolidate the island and strengthen their holding, and Chango arguing for them to take the fight to the other slave-holding islands, neither willing to give any ground but nor was either one really eager to destroy each others' works. At last both were depowered by Olokun in 1806, who put a moratorium on the practice of riding mortals for the warlike loa. The years from 1806 to 1818 were mostly without the presence of the loa, though one odd thing was known to have occurred:

"Huh, this is weird. Apparently in 1815, just after the passing of the Royal Decree of Grace, a knight in blue armor was found washed up on the beach of Puerto Rico, mourning the death of their companion and claiming to be the steed of 'an unknown god'. When questioned by a young practitioner they refused to answer any specifics, asking repeatedly to meet the ruling spirit of the land. The spirit was pretty fragmented back then," he added by way of explanation to John "Sh' barely had a personality, much less a form until about 1890 or so, when the big push for independence was getting in gear. She could could communicate back then though, so this next part at least makes sense: the blue knight went into the hill country and was seen to vanish in a flash of gold, leaving the armor behind. He was never seen after that." he looked puzzled "She never mentioned anything like that, and I totally asked about everything she could remember from the 19th century" he shrugged it off "Anyway, back on track: in 1818, Ogoun was permitted back into the world to help stave off an incursion of the Serpent People living beneath the island, who had infiltrated the government and were trying to thwart unification..."

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John paused mid-sentence during his typing at the mention of a knight.

"That is strange. Armor ceased to be worn for protection in the late seventeenth century, barring the odd attempted revival here and there. It certainly would be odd attire for that time-frame. In addition, the phrasing of 'knight' is unusual as well since that is a rather specific designation, especially in a place far removed from European influence like the Caribbean was at that time."

Leaning back in his chair he crossed his arms. "Not to mention his disappearance and the remainder of the armor. Is there any other associated lore about the armor or the modern day location of the hill country?"

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Startled out of a dry bit of record that listed the inauspicious beginning of one of the Ogoun-bearers of 1815, Subito thought about that for a moment, answering slowly "No..no there isn't. Well, back then Europe was a lot closer to mind, especially French and Spanish stuff, so some of that might have filtered into their thinking? I mean, knights were a big cultural deal back then, and they still come up sometimes nowadays. But yeah..." he looked back at the paragraph detailing the event before flipping through the other pages about Puerto Rico's spirit, at last returning to the starting point with a baffled look "...the armor just vanishes after that. I guess whoever wore it sustained it or something? I dunno. I need to ask about this guy, he sounds pretty certainly magical. It does say that it took place on..El Yunque. Huh. That's ironic." he commented with a grin, before looking up and blushing slightly as he remembered John "Oh yeah! Sorry, 'El Yunque' is Spanish for 'The Anvil'."

Leaning back in the chair he scanned the page again "Still can't believe she wouldn't tell me about this..."

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"Speaking from personal experience, learning ones history is far more invaluable than having someone present it to you." The blonde teen noted. "When you get the time you might want to investigate for yourself. Firsthand, by being physically..." John trailed off, before he turned to his back to his computer and proceeded to enter a series of keystrokes. Quickly scanning the result, he looked back to Subito while turning the laptop to face the other teen. "Next time you are in your homeland, you might want to to investigate this locale." The laptop displayed an entry on geographical features of Puerto Rico, and highlighted was one of the names of mountains on the island: El Yunque.

"Incidentally, what would be the English approximation of your envoys' name?"

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"Oh, that's easy" came the quick answer "In English she'd be called the Blue Dame of Puerto Rico. Blue for the sea, you know" he said, looking closely at the laptop screen, nodding slowly at the geographical map in recognition. "Yeah, I've got some relatives that live around the foothills there. I could easily see them next time I'm back home. The next visit won't be for couple months though."

He looked up curiously

"'Personal experience'? You mind if I ask what you found out John?" he asked before wincing a little "Sorry, I know it's..uh, presumptuous of me. If you'd rather not tell, I won't pester you 'bout it. We've still got a lot of this chapter to get through, after all" he added lightly, glancing at the prodigious tome on the table.

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John sighed as he leaned back in his chair. "You are aware of the rumors around campus that I am a descendant of an Axis metahuman? They are indeed true in a manner of speaking. Finding out my predecessor was once a good man, before they made some unfortunate choices sits better on my mind than thinking they were morally corrupt from the outset. It still does not alleviate their wages of sin, but that they possessed humanity before their downfall means that my choices are my own."

John gestured towards the book, brushing off any further introspection in his part. "I only asked the translation because I wondered if that was her appellation before the knight came, or if it was changed after he disappeared. She might not know about it, because she might have not there at the time. Envoys can be fragmented or even suppressed as you mentioned with the American Civil War."

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"I'd heard some things, but I never thought it was really true. I mean, I thought everyone was just saying that because you were so blond and had such blue eyes." Subito admitted. With his hearing it was almost impossible for him not to have heard the rumors flying around the Academy. The news, while unsettling to him, was at least heartening, and he sounded quite hopeful "Glad to know you're okay with what you found out. Not a lot of family secrets I know of do such good."

"I dunno if she ever had a different name" he confessed "it's what my parents called her, what she called herself when we first met, so I just assumed that's what her name was. I do know she used to fight for the people who lived on the island before the Europeans arrived. She kind of fell into a serious funk when she failed to save 'em. That might explain the memory lapse" he added glumly.

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The response elicited a raised eyebrow from the teen. "If I am interpreting the facts correctly that have been given thus far, it seems that there were times that your Blue Dame could not account for her presence. For example, she was aware of the indigenous people of the island but had or withheld knowledge of the Knight. Regardless of which it is, I would suggest asking her about it. Otherwise, it sounds like there was another envoy present and/or active during the time-frames she cannot account for."

Johns' brow furrow in further contemplation. "I do know that the volksgeist of Germany was aware of its use during each officeholders tenure, even going as for back as the Holy Roman Empire. So it strikes me as very unusual that your envoy has redacted aspects present in her history."

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"Yeah. I didn't think much of it first because I thought it was just her reaction to a period of transition and change, the land being ruled by a wholly different people with a vastly different spirit" Subito admitted, not a little sheepishly given what he had just learned "Not to mention..well, the loads of people who died while she was around. She might be a little touchy about that. I'll still ask, of course." he leaned slightly further back, frowning as he considered John's other points. At length he said carefully

"Dunno about another envoy being in action. I couldn't find much in the way of ANY records about people who bore her power, or who contacted or met her at all. She was pretty quiet for the last few hundred years." he looked at the other student curiously "Wait, Germany's can remember all the way back then? Whoa. What are they called?"

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John was apparently not expecting that question as he had half taken a drink from a water bottle he had in his hoodie, and by the time he had cleared his throat from he looked rather guilty about something. "Ahem. Well. The Shieldmaiden handles things a bit differently than most. She does not have a designated officeholder, instead choosing to empower the closest suitable person to an incident who is known as the Zeitgeist. She has chosen this approach ever since the end of the Second World War."

Knowing that probably wasn't going to be good enough for the other teen. "There was an unfortunate case of mistaken identity, which she apologized for later. Luckily it will not happen again whenever I revisit the fatherland."

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"Well, that'll keep things going for sure. Real fluid too" Subito commented, sounding quite admiring, though he winced at the mention of an 'unfortunate case of mistaken identity' "Ugh. I can guess what you mean. Good to know that got settled amicably, it'd be a shame to have an enemy like that." He glanced back at the book, suddenly starting when a passage caught his eye. "Hey, John, listen to this: uh...blahblahblah...assistance given to Simon Bolivar...blahblahblah..lemme find it, I know I..aha! 'Or particular interest to scholars of political science is the fact that each of the chevals of the loa Ogoun, as found by diaries, letters and public statements to have possessed similar political leanings, consistently supporting movements and leaders that their predecessors aided in their time.' It goes on for" he flipped through the pages "about ten more pages. Anyway, do you think that might apply to national spirit-bearers too? That way, I could find out if the, well if the envoy changed any." he looked slightly abashed as he went on, leaning on the table with elbows to support himself "I know, they do change over time, but in a real' consistent way! Lady Liberty, for example, is always about Freedom. That Freedom can get...weird and twisted sometimes but that's always her thing, you know? Anyway, what do you think about that?" he asked eagerly.

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