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Tiffany Korta

Voice of the People

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Sitting outside the Main Entrance of the school was an old oak tree that being outside a super for super kids had seen many and varied things. Despite it all it was still quite healthy, with a little TLC from various plant controllers down the years, and with it position was a popular place to meet newcomers.

 

It was also one of Blodeuwedds favorite places to go to gather her thoughts and if she wished few could find her hidden in the branches. Today however she wasn’t concealed as she had the honour of meeting a few new arrivals to the school.

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Gravel crunched underfoot. The sun shone down,  bright and cold, from a clear blue sky. The strap of Thanh's bag was cutting painfully into his shoulder. He kept his eyes downcast, his shapeless woolen hat pulled low over his ears. The day was cool, but he could feel himself sweating under his jacket. Not for the first time, he wondered what the hell he was doing here.

 

He stopped, pulled off his hat, and wiped his brow before mashing the hat back onto his head. The temptation was still there - to just turn around and disappear back into the streets. Hide. Go back where he came from.

 

His stomach twisted. Go where? he reminded himself.

 

He walked on. They had offered to drive him, but he had told them he wanted to walk. He had never been in Bayview before. He was surrounded by the kind of money that made him want to either shrink into a corner or break out the three-card monte.

 

The last bend in the driveway unfolded before him, and he saw the entrance to Claremont Academy. His new home. A young woman was standing near a large tree. Waiting for him?

 

He stopped and adjusted his book bag uncomfortably. He opened his mouth, closed it, then said, "Hey." The word came out quiet and squeaky. He coughed and raised his voice. "Uh, Thanh Nguyen? Is me?"

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Vicki smoothed out her white and pale blue summer dress as she exited the bus. She smiled cheerfully at the driver and signed that she was thankful for him getting her here. While it was unlikely that he understood her, especially given the blank look she received, it still was important to remember manners even if the people didn't realize it. This morning she had been confident, having changed schools so many times that it was nearly old hat to have a first day. She had even told her mother it was no big deal when she had offered to come down and help Vicki settle in.

That brimming confidence was shattered when she looked at the trim brick and ivy gates leading into Claremont.

Every other time some DoDEA representative had met her at the door, with a neat stack of orders and tidy schedules all laid out. Bases were orderly affairs, and the schools there usually refected that. She paused at the gates realizing that it was not going to be the case here. In fact, she realized in a near cold sweat, she had no idea where she was supposed to go at all. Not a good start at all.

Well, at least there were some people around. She thanked whatever lucky star was looking over her for that small favor. At what was a massive looking oak tree, some guy was talking with a girl who was sitting at its' base. Likely they'd know where the front office was at least. Of course getting that information out of them was always a challenge. On the other hand, she had to start somewhere and there was no time like the present.

Smoothing her dress reflexively, she walked over to the pair flashing a bright white smile. Deciding to try for luck, she signed at both hoping one of them might know ASL, 'Hello?'

Edited by bstripp

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Vox started slightly when he noticed the other girl, who smiled and gave a strange sort of salute. He waited for a moment for her to speak, then decided to try a "Hi."

 

Another moment passed in silence, then he ventured, "You a student here?"

 

He started to wonder if he should have returned her salute. Did this school have a salute?

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Well it was probably a little much to hope for that the first peson she ran into could actually sign, however, that was pretty typical no matter where she went.  Nor was it going to deter her from trying to make some meaningful contact.

 

Flashing a brilliant white smile she nodded in agreement and gave him a thumbs up.  Pausing she taped her lips, then used her hand to mimic speaking while shaking her head.

 

She hoped that it was enough, although she already had her phone ready to que up some pretty comon phrases in text to voice.  

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Oh. Suddenly he felt ridiculous. He balked for a moment, torn. This was a fresh start for him, a chance to stop being afraid of his powers. At the same time, look what happened the last time he used his abilities for every little thing.

 

Oh, screw it, he decided. I'm already here, it's not like I can exactly keep it a secret.

 

He spoke again, but not with his lips. Hello. Are you a student here?

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Vicki smiled again and tapped her lips again with a smile, he obviously didn't get that she couldn't speak.  I mean he asked the same question twice.  She was about to reach for her phone for the pre recorded message that said she can't speak but she could hear when she froze looking like a deer caught in the headlights.  His lips hadn't moved at all.  She heard his voice, but his lips hadn't moved at all.  She looked at her hands, still stilling tamely at her sides.  It hadn't been her, she was certain of that.  

 

Shock faded slowly as she tilted her head looking at him like he was some fascinating science experiment.  She pointed hesitantly at him her thoughts a confused swirl.

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A gentle voice, with a hint of an accent, spoke into Vicki’s ear. Neither of them had seen her move from where she’d sat to beside them.

 

“He’s a telepath, just relax and let him establish contact it will make things easier.â€

 

She tried to calm the girl down. Blodeuwedd was an expert in body language and she could see just how tense the girl was reacting to the other boy’s efforts.

 

“Can you hook me into your network as well or is it just one person at a time?â€

 

They should have let one of the school telepath’s deal with all this, maybe that strange little red alien?

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Blinking again Vicki looked at the girl, she looked at her for a long moment before a wide grin spreak over her face.  If there were other people that could communicate like her, then this was going to be the best place ever!  Or... at the very least, it just meant that there were more people to throw stones at.  Either way, it was one of the best first day suprises ever!

 

She quickly tried signing to the girl, unsure if her thoughts were going to be broadcast or not, "This is wonderful, I'm not doing it, can you hear my thoughts?"

 

As she said it, she thought the same hoping against hope that both of them heard her.  It would make school so much easier if she didn't have to hide the fact that she could communicate with people.

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Yeah, I can hear you, said Thanh mentally. But only if you want me to, and only if I'm already listening. I can't just go rooting around in your head any time I please. He considered. Well, I suppose I could, but I won't. Wouldn't. That would be wrong.

 

"And no, I can't hook you up with each other," he said aloud to the other girl (and immediately regretted his choice of words). "But I guess I could relay messages. Or something."

 

He felt suddenly uncomfortable under their scrutiny, and looked away, focusing instead on the intricately shaped gates of Claremont. Metal bars. Heh. He was going to be spending the next few years behind bars after all.

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Blodeuwedd nodded her understanding and move herself around so that both kid could she her face, she was light on her feet and unless you really concentrated you couldn’t hear her footfalls.

 

“No that fine I can manage like this as long as you’re both comfortable doing things this way, though once we get inside we’ll probably meet a few of the other students.â€

 

She gather herself togther and after a pause appeared to start again.

 

“Hello to you both and welcome to Claremont Academy. My name is Blodeuwedd, though some call me Cerys, and I’ll be you guide today to get you settled at the school.â€

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Okay, that was going to make things easier.  Well multiple things.  The fact that no one seemed to freak that telepathy was being used practically made her heart sing.  She'd be able to communicate with people without having to hide who and what she was.  This day was getting better and better and was starting to content for "best day ever".
 
She pulled out her phone and tapped into it with practised speed and ease.  Hitting play on the phone, it spoke in a pleasant if mechanical female British voice.
Thanks!  I'll communicate like this then so you both can hear it.  Do either of you know American Sign Language?  It's totally fine if you want to talk to me mentally, I have something like that, but I have to touch you to communicate.  I know, not overly useful.  Hearing you in my head was the best first day of school ever!  I can't wait to see things!

Then she pauses and nearly smacked her head realizing that she hadn't even introduced herself.  Her fingers danced across the smooth face of the phone.

Sorry!  Totally forgot, my name is Vicki, nice to meet you.

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"Thanh Nguyen," he said. He considered, then added, "Or Vox. Whichever. Doesn't matter." Blod-what? They're both "special" students too?

 

This was going to take some getting used to. On the street, one of the first rules of survival was never tell anyone anything about yourself. It made you seem vulnerable, made you look weak. People would remember you, and being remembered was bad. But here, everyone was so open about who they were and what they could do. Whole different world.

 

Of course, it wasn't like this was the first place that looked like "the one." Everywhere had a surface, and a reality. There had been plenty of group homes and shelters that seemed like heaven. Then you settled in, let your guard down, and you found out what they were really like. He'd learned that lesson already, didn't intend to learn it again.

 

He hitched up his bag again. "So, what do we do now? Do we just head to the dorms and throw down wherever? Is there...paperwork or something?" He wanted to ask about the "extracurricular" activities, but he restrained himself. Best to wait, get a feel for the landscape. See if everything was what it appeared to be. If not...it wasn't like those gates could hold him.

 

Should also figure out what algebra was.

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Ralf could certainly be considered 'new', but one wouldn't really know it from watching the young man walk around. He seemed to have acclimated to Claremont fairly well, and, so far, no one even seemed to catch wind of what he really was. It wasn't a question he could readily answer anyway, and it wasn't as if he was hiding it; after all, he knew for a fact that he wasn't the only non-human to grace Claremont's halls. It just didn't matter. The convenience of that was, all things considered, pretty amazing. Even though he'd only been at Claremont a short time, he was already starting to notice new faces popping up every now and again--and he wasn't at all shy about speaking to each and every person he came across.

So when his aimless path brought him across three more faces he didn't immediately recognize, his gregarious nature almost required him to stop.

"Oh, hey!" Ralf was careful as he spoke, modulating his voice a bit as he did. His natural tone sounded more like a person speaking underwater--not that he minded, but he'd been told that it was a little weird. He sauntered up to the lot of them with barely contained curiosity and an impossibly wide grin. "You guys are new here too, right?"

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Vicki has started to type into her phone before looking up at Vox again, how would she actually spell his name?  Vox was straight forward enough to do, but Thanh?  Had she heard that right?  Well perhaps if she listened to others for a while, she'd pick up on his name if that what it was.  Although, perhaps cooler was the mental communication.  She was definately going to have to corner him sometime and ask him about that.  He didn't seem to need to touch someone to communicate with them, which would be totally helpful.  Maybe he could teach her how to do it.

She was punching a reply into her phone as someone else came up.  Vicki looked up at the newcommer and smiled brightly before waving a hello and looking back down at her phone and furriously typing a response.  When he gave it a final push, the phone dutifly spoke.

Oh!  Hello there.  I am at least.  Nice to meet you.  Blood When is going to give us a tour.

Sighing at the butchery of Blodeuwedd she looked over at their guide and gave her a rueful smile.

Edited by Hestina

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Thanh tried not to stare at the newcomer's huge smile. "Yeah, we're new. At least," he glanced at Vicki, "the two of us are. I'm Thanh Nguyen. Vox. Just got here." The number of people he didn't know was already making him antsy. They all have powers? Before, on the street, he could at least rely on his abilities to grant him a unique advantage. Now, he had no idea how his array of mindtricks would serve him if he needed them. He hoped he wouldn't need them.

The temptation arose in him, unbidden, to just give their minds a little poke to see if it worked. They would never know, probably. He squashed it angrily. No. Never again.

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Eileen had been at Claremont Academy for a grand total of a day and a half, and had thus as of yet avoided falling into the trap of thinking that she knew what was what with the goings on of the school.  It was hard to forget, after all, when one got lost on average of about every forty minutes or so.

She had been told, however, that her roommate was scheduled to arrive today, and so she had been popping by the front gates whenever she had a spare moment, hoping to run across her fellow newcomer on her way in.  And....

Hey, was that her?

Slipping out through the gates, the curvy blonde gave everyone assembled a little wave.

"Hey, everybody," she said, flashing a quick smile but keeping the majority of her attention upon the new girl.  "Sorry, but -- are you Vickie?" she asked enthusiastically.

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Vicki looked over at yet another person coming up!  She'd have to remember this tree as it seemed quite the spot to meet and greet her fellow students.  She was about to scoot aside to make room when the smiling girl not only knew her name, but was looking right at her.  She did a double take, and concluded that she didn't know this girl from anywhere before.  It wouldn't have been the first time that she bumped into an old friend from a prior base.

She quickly saluted, the sign for hello followed with a deliberate head nod to agree.  She only paused a second before realizing that she also was not a practitioner of ASL and looked to her phone, punching into it furiously.

Yes I am.  Do I know you?

Letting the vaguely british voice from the phone speak, she looked up and flashed the girl a bright smile.

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Eileen clapped a hand to her mouth, her eyes wide.

"Oh, I'm so sorry!" she exclaimed, speaking loudly and slowly.  "I didn't know you were deaf!"  Why would they give her a deaf roommate?  She would have to learn sign language immediately!

Giving a bit of a flustered look to the others, she forged on gamely.

"We don't know each other.  But I was told my roommate, Vickie, was arriving today," she explained loudly.  "I'm just new here too -- my name is Eileen," she introduced herself, gesturing emphatically to indicate that 'Eileen' meant herself.

Yes, she would definitely have to learn sign language....

 

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Vicki gave a silent laugh, smiling in a friendly manner to let her know she wasn't upset.  Most people assumed she was deaf as being mute was far less common.  On the off chance she was wrong she quickly signed a pinching movement with her fingers, then pointed to her ear shaking her head followed with her index finger moving up and down in front of her mouth nodding her head.  However, she was reasonable sure, given what Eileen had said that she didn't know ASL.  Regardless, Vicki didn't like to make assumptions, too often when she did her thoughts were proven otherwise.

Still, the phone would let the others in on the conversation, even though there were days that she really wanted to find whoever did the voice work on it and strangle them.

Hi Eileen, that's great!  My platapus said I would be assigned one.  I'm mute, not deaf.  I can hear you fine.

Looking up at Eileen, giving her a warn smile, she didn't even catch the auto corrected word slipping through.

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If possible. Eileen's eyes grew wider, and she clapped a hand to her mouth again.

"Ohmygod, I'm sooo sorry!" she exclaimed, mortified.  Even worse than not knowing her roommate was deaf -- but finding out she wasn't after all, after treating her like she was?  She lowered her hand, looking sheepish, and her voice returned to a more normal conversational level.

"I feel like such an--" she broke off, frowning.

"Did you just say 'platypus'?" the blonde girl asked, genuinely confused.  It wasn't really likely, as far as she knew -- but then again, they were talking about people with superpowers.  It was entirely possible that she was referring to a hero known as The Platypus, or that she had the power to speak with platypuses, or that she had a magical platypus that could talk to her that was a mentor figure, or any of a number of other things.

There had been stranger things out there, after all.

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Platapus?  Where did that come from, Vicki wondered as she looked down at her phone, then read the last message and groaned.  Shaking her head and silently chuckling, she quickly tapped in another message.

Auto correct.  Bane of my existence.  My PROGRAM that was sent to me said I'd have one... and really don't worry about, I'm kind of used to it.  People assume I can't hear, it's pretty common.  I don't get bothered.  As long as you can wait for me to text things and let the polite British lady speak for me.

Then she paused, looking over her room mate with a smile before she typed one more thing quickly.  She held up the phone and let it speak for her.

Walk with us?  You can show me the room afterwards?

 

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Eileen darted a look at the others still standing about -- she certainly hadn't meant to monopolize the conversation!

"Oh, of course!" she exclaimed, smiling brightly.  "Don't let me hold you guys up," she assured them.  She glanced at the shorter, dark-haired boy with the bag over one shoulder, and made the logical leap that perhaps he might not be a long-standing student here.

"Uh, hey," she addressed him, flashing a quick smile while tucking an errant piece of windblown hair back behind one ear.  "You just getting here too? I'm Eileen, if you didn't catch that before," she told him with a little laugh.

Hopefully he wasn't deaf or anything, or she was going to feel like a right idiot....

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"Thanh. New here." He felt that something else was expected of him, so he added, "Nice to meet you." There so many new people here all of a sudden...he had been secretly hoping to slip in quietly, do whatever he needed to do to get settled, and just show up in class like he'd been there every day of his life. As it was, it looked like he was going to meet the entire student body face-to-face before the day was over. So much for keeping a low profile. He resigned himself to the fact that he was probably going to have to talk to people. That he didn't know.

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"Nice to meet you too," Eileen hesitated a fraction.  "Tawn," she concluded -- she was pretty sure that was what he had said his name was.  "I'm new here too, just, like, thirty six hours less so," she admitted ruefully.  She glanced at the other dark-haired boy, this one with charming green eyes, and the slender ponytailed girl -- these two she thought she'd seen around the school the previous day, and although she had no idea who they were, she was fairly confident they were more established students.

She was used to being one of the taller girls in a group, but not so much when it came to boys now that they were all approaching their later teens.  Feeling a little oversized, not in the least because her boots had three inch heels on them that put her at an even six feet, she hoped that she'd be able to track down a taller boy in the event of a school dance or something.

"So, uh, we heading to check you guys in?" she asked, not exactly sure what she'd interrupted with her questions regarding roommates.

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