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Location: Claremont currently, later ????
Date: 9/21/15

In addition to the school's regular curriculum of classes taught by the stable of professors, there were the occasional guest lectures that were, perhaps, more akin to a college than a traditional high school. Of course, no one had ever accused Claremont of being a traditional school ever. Typically, from what the upperclassmen said, the guest lectures were for the one-off classes that the headmistress could rope active heroes into 'giving back' to the school.

They were typically optional, although the staff wasn't above exerting pressure when they felt the topic was necessary for one of their students in particular. The blurb for this one had read:

An afternoon lecture in magic and the greater worlds beyond. Most people will never end up trapped in an entirely different dimension but it happens to super heroes far more often than one might think. 

For those who signed up, they had a pass on their typical afternoon classes to attend the guest lecture right after lunch. School gossip whispered that the elusive Eldritch might have been tapped to make a rare appearance. 

As the students headed towards it, post lunch, it was in a small classroom located far from most of the currently active classrooms. Likely, because, magic was more of an art than a science and the headmistress was hoping any incidents would be contained in a more manageable locale. Encouraging! 

The room itself was small, currently empty, with a loosely arrayed ring of desks in no particular arrangement. The lights were off when the first student arrived. 

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What with the thoroughly humiliating 'remedial' classes foisted upon her in an effort to catch her up with current events and what he classmates would have considered common knowledge, Winifred's course schedule as already a patchwork of exceptions and substitutions. As such she'd jumped at the first opportunity to sign up for an elective guest lecture, regardless of the topic. She'd been exceeding academic expectations since the day she was born and a missed century and a half or not she wasn't going to play the dullard now. Admittedly a lecture on 'magic' seemed a bit... fanciful, but she'd already seen the irrepressible Miss Sanderson break the laws of thermodynamics backward over her knee enough times to admit that there were clearly systems of energy manipulation to which she'd previously not been privy.

Arriving at the classroom a precise ten minutes ahead of the scheduled time she found the door closed and the lights still off. She straightened the lines of the long white coat the Academy had provided her with, made of morphic molecules - and hadn't that explanation been enough to make her feel like a lackwit - in deference to her 'condition'. She'd gotten some input into the cut of the coat, at least, and even if some of the other students had commented that it was a bit old fashioned she thought it looked a good sight better than the rest of the clothes she'd been given to choose from. The utility of the khaki trousers over a skirt had been a novelty largely outweighed by the uncomfortably form-fitting design of what she was assured was acceptable modern fashion and the cream coloured blouse was shapeless enough that she thought she might have been as well off wearing a sack. She didn't even know where to begin with the shoes.

Peering in the window she debated testing the door to see if it was unlocked. It was difficult to parse what might or might not be considered rude in her new surroundings; many things seemed almost wildly permissive while in other areas she'd been informed her worldviews were offensively if understandably backward. Compressing her lips into a thin line she decided to err on the side of caution and took up a place along the wall, producing a notepad from her stack of books and jotting down the day's observations with immaculate penmanship.

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Cathy always liked to be early to any event, it never even occurred to her to be late to almost anything. And this afternoon was even more special with an honest to god hero, even if she didn’t know much about the subject apart from stories she’d heard back home. Even after being in Freedom City for a couple of week the idea of being near a hero with still and exciting prospect. She was dressed as normally in her parka and chunky jumper, which today showed a wizard in his stars and moon robes pulling a rabbit from his pointy hat.

Just over five minutes from the start she entered into the classroom. She flipped on the lights expecting to be the first one here, only to be surprised by the Fred already being here.

“Oh I’m sorry Winnifred I thought I was the first one here. I didn’t startle to too much did I?”

Fred was normally a nice polite young woman, but there was a monster hiding inside her and Cathy wasn’t quite sure exactly what would bring the beast out. And it wasn’t exactly something you could bring up in polite conversation. Then again she couldn’t be considered perfect, she knew people probably wouldn’t want to sit near her as she lowered the temperature around her.

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Huang strode up to the door of the lecture with a decidedly less resentful air than he managed to pull together for most of his classes.  At least he held confidence that whatever ringing Summers brought in might spend more time on magic and less on the lessons of radical feminism as it related to modern witchcraft that he expected from Vervain.  Looking around the room absent the guest lecturer he let out a sigh and rolled his eyes as he smirked to the other students who'd arrived before him, "Great so our teacher is waiting on the grand entrance I see, sure sign of quality instruction."  he scoffed dismissively because that was his schtick thus it was uncool when others did it right?

He smiled to cathy and nodded a greeting, "Hey good to see you again didn't realize you went in for the more mystic end, very cool."  the attractive dhampir noted pleasantly before approaching Winnifred, "Hey,"  he greeted pleasantly if informally, "I'm Huang nice to meet you."  he welcomed flashing a quick smile of even white teeth and slightly elongated canines.

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Riley came under protest. After all, what could Phantom have to teach him? He was already dimensionally displaced - and though she was a very nice lady, she'd been able to offer nothing but sympathy in trying to track down his rogue home timeline. But on the other hand, it meant getting out of the dread developmental English with a bunch of kids who'd never been in any high school classes in their lives. It hadn't taken him long at all to realize that developmental English meant stupid English - and if there was anything he hated, it was looking stupid. Getting another chance to look over Phantom, who was a damn sexy babe, didn't hurt matters either Hatchet at his hip and bow at his back, he walked into the classroom in his usual loose-fitting plaid shirt and jeans. He cast his eyes around the room, nodding at Cathy (who he didn't know but Robin said she was okay), shooting Huang a sharp look, and taking a moment to look over the famous Winifred Wei. 

Without comment, he leaned against the wall and scanned the room for any sign of their teacher, bracing against his upper shoulders so he didn't compress his crossbow. 



Edited by Avenger Assembled
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As the kids settled in, the shadows in the center of the room flickered as between one blink and the next a figure appeared in the middle of the ring of chairs. Well, mostly in the middle of the ring. A faint noise of annoyance echoed oddly from her throat as she appeared with one leg in the middle of a desk. Sweeping back her voluminous cloak with one arm, the intangible mystic floated back until she was free of either cloak or limbs ending up inside something else before she materialized fully. 

The woman in question, for it was a female figure under that cloak once she swept the bulk of it back floated a good foot off the ground, the tattered edges of her cloak drifting down to the ground to writhe along it and largely captured in her hands to keep the fabric from billowing out and getting caught under a foot or desk. With the deep hood, only her mouth and chin were visible between that and the mask she wore below it. 

"I am Phantom. Eldritch was unfortunately otherwise detained," There might have been annoyance in the hollow echoing of her tone. She paused, sweeping her glowing white gaze of the class for a moment and it lingered on Huang for a long second. Clearing her throat, Phantom reached inside the dark shadows of her cloak and pulled out a small clipboard, "If you could all sign in and push the chairs away from the center of the room, please. We won't need them."

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Just as Phantom was getting herself situated, Raina walked in with her familiar on her arm, not looking at all in a hurry despite being most definitely tardy. She scanned the room for any sign of her nemeses, clearly anticipating that Madison might have shown up with her cronies. She smiled in satisfaction when she realized that all the attendees were of the harmless variety. With a glance towards the teacher, she shoved a desk towards the back of the room and stood in the vacated space. On her shoulder, Merlin was playing with his new iPhone, the provenance of which he had not offered and she had not asked. "Did I miss anything?" she whispered to Huang. 

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Huang stared blankly as his fricking mom appeared in the middle of the room his mouth briefly agape before fixing into a sullen sneer.  This was some twisted punishment for hte whole getting high as a kite on god blood thing he knew it.  The world was so unfair.  He slumped into his seat for a long moment leaving others to clear the desks as he grumbled about how he was fine and didn't need to be checked up on like some errant child.

As Raina entered he watched carefully to see if she put together phantom and Taylor and pleased that she did not gestured to the desks, "We're apparently playing apprentice and doing menial labour."  he complained this time more likely loud enough to be heard by the guest teacher.  Huang considered asking for an out on this lecture as it was doubtless going to be basic nonsense for the plebes but doubted his mother would be so gracious and like as not just embarrass him worse for the effort.  He silently descended to the floor and moved one of hte last remaining chairs as a nod to helping and crossed his arms to stare sullenly at Phantom.

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Winifred made a show of checking the relative size of her right hand and - finding it maintaining its correct proportions - gave the Scot a thin smile and drying replied, "I believe I'll manage Catherine, but thank you for your concern." She gave Huang an apprising once over as he introduced himself, a little too openly analytical to be polite, before replying, "And you. Winifred, though I've found my reputation has somewhat proceeded me about the Academy so far. I'm curious: your fangs are noticeably smaller than the renderings of vampyr I've studied previously. Is that a result of some infirmity on your part or were those accounts merely exaggerated...?"

The arrival of their instructor stopped her from asking any other potentially awkward questions, forcing a startled Winifred to take several calming breaths while the others began moving the desks about. Embarrassed by her obvious difficulty so soon after the assurances she'd given Cathy, she squared her shoulders imperiously and hurried to do her share of the reorganization then silently rejoined the circle of standing students. She kept one eye on Raina, assuming that the witch's existing knowledge of mysticism would offer the proper cues for expected behaviour.

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Huang snorted slightly at the insinuation, "Self control my dear."  he said with a wink, "I'm sure that's something you can understand yes?"  he offered with too easy a smile showing of his new found finer control of the fangs as they elongated with the wide grin before retreating back to their former more subdued format, "Terribly hard to talk around otherwise."  he explained with a wink.

As they maneuvered in toward the middle of the room once more he added quietly, "Though if you play your cards right you might get a chance at a more thorough examination."  he flirted shamelessly because when one was raised mostly by monsters who resolved domestic disputes via thrown furnature ones good sense about flirting literally with danger ended up somewhat stunted.

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Riley signed his name with a flourish, his handwriting its usual hard, erratic scrawl. "Phantom." It wasn't that he was angry at Phantom, really - she was just another superhero who hadn't been able to save the day. When the last of the chairs were in place, he found himself pacing, prowling the room like a sentry even while the others were talking. When Huang flashed his fangs, his gaze snapped over towards the other teenager with his mouth full of inhuman, predatory teeth like an eagle catching sight of prey. But of course Ferals were nothing like the too-pretty, too-smiling teen. So far. He was tense, like a coiled spring, acutely aware of the placement of everyone in the room for a long instant - but with a conscious effort, the instant passed. 

"...So," he finally said, tearing his gaze away from Huang's mouth to look at Phantom. "We gonna see a dimensional gateway that actually works today?" he asked, trying a little too hard to make it a joke. 

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Phantom's gaze had fallen on her erstwhile offspring, her brow creasing under the deep cowl although whether that was at the flirtation or casual demonstration of his vampiric fangs was hard to say. A muscle twitched in her jaw, below the line of her mask before she turned her lambent gaze to Riley at his question. 

"Quite." Phantom said, the word sharp and clipped. She threw back her cloak as she extended one arm out, her palm open and flat. Mystical power coiled from her fingertips and all the chairs that had not yet gotten shifted out of the way were moved by mystic means neatly up against the walls. Teenagers. This was worse than the time that hell had invaded. Well, no. That had been more unpleasant but this was a close second. Phantom often felt out of her league with only one sassy teenager. 

With her cloak tucked out of the way, Phantom's boots clicked across the floor. She retrieved the sign in sheet and held it out for Huang, thrusting it between him and Fred, "Stop flashing your fangs, Huang, and sign the sheet."

She turned back then spreading her hands wide, "So, today we'll be discussing the basics of inter-dimensional traveling - some simple safety precautions - and taking a jaunt to one of the near-Earths that's not populated. Questions?"

Edited by alderwitch
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Winifred seemed fascinated at the retractable nature of Huang's fangs right up until the moment he directed a bit of flirtation her way. Wrinkling her nose the time-displaced teenager shot the dhampir an annoyed look. "Ugh. Continue to play your card poorly, sir, and you'll be fortunate to only receive a slap from my more genteel form," she warned cooly, smoothing the folds of her coat again out of self-consciousness. She very deliberately made sure to keep Raina and the slight fellow who she gathered was courting her roommate between herself and Huang before turning her attention to the instructor. The to-the-point manner in which she responded to Riley certainly recommended her to Winifred, if nothing else. She actually did have several questions but kept them to herself, worried about asking something that would have been obvious to the others.

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Raina raised her hand and waited to be called on. Tardiness was one thing, but politeness to an older practitioner about to teach you something was deeply ingrained. Besides, unlike most of the adult magic users she knew of, Phantom hadn't been involved (so far as Raina knew) in attacking her family and home. A little professional courtesy was warranted. "Are we going to go to one of the charted dimensions?" she asked. "Like the ones in the theory textbooks, where everyone's genders are flipped around, or everyone is older, or the color blue is a lot more purple than here?" She assumed they wouldn't be going to the one where everyone was Nazis or where all the good people were evil on a school trip, at least not a sophomore school trip. She wouldn't really put anything totally past the administration. 

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Huang smiled to Riley, though with less teeth this time, as the other teen tensed, "The whole rugged survivalist thing is hot and all but tone it down lest you drift into tinfoil hat collecting your own urine in a jar territory."  he warned with a friendly maybe flirty laugh.  He swung his gaze back to Winifred with a shrug, "Do I so excite you?"  he asked with a grin, "The possibilities are-"  he was cut off by phantoms curt command and he petulantly signed the attendance form with a sigh, "Do we need permission slips too?"  he asked sardonically and perhaps in poor taste as only himself and Cathy had even remotely easy access to their parents and one of his was taking them.

He sullenly leaned on a desk and glanced to Raina, "I'm guessing the dinosaur one."  he murmured, "Enough connections with the portals in the amazon, south pole, et cetera that our presence is unlikely to effect it much and surprisingly safe if you have someone along to punch any over curious Tyrannosaurs."  he explained and looked to Winifred, "Feeling up to it?"

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Cathy sat quietly trying to absorb everything people were saying about alternative dimensions. All she knew about them was from this science show she caught sometimes, and she was sure they only one season they repeated constantly. She was pretty use to the bickering by now so largely payed it no heed, though one detail from Huang caught her after.

"Is the Lost World and really place then? I thought it was just somett from those books."

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Creep, thought Riley as he turned away from Huang, making sure to keep himself between Fred (who seemed to like it that way) and the guy with all the teeth. "Yeah, Lost World's real. That was the first place they thought was from - but turns out no dice." He hmmed, considering Raina's words. A visit to a gender-flipped Earth did sound interesting, he had to admit. "Be fun," he said with quiet confidence. "Never been in a jungle with dinosaurs before." Growing up how he had, maybe he didn't have the same relationship to dinosaurs most people his age did. But he'd read all the books about them growing up, and of course Jurassic Park had been one of the movies in Raymond's video archive. I've been wanting some cool new boots. 

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"You liked dinosaurs when you were four." This time, the hollow, echoing voice was clearly exasperated. Phantom fixed that baleful gaze on Huang from beneath her cloak as she let the clipboard vanish back into her dimensional pocket. "It's a good learner dimension for you and its still a good learner dimension for you and all your classmates."

Phantom waved a hand at Riley's commentary as if to say 'See, the archer likes dinosaurs' before she turned her attention back to Raina and her questions, this time with clear approval. Shaking off her irritation with effort, Phantom found the rhythm of her lecture once more, "Quite right, Ms. Sanderson. This Earth is just scraping the tip of the dimensional ice burg, so to speak, and there are some charting efforts although none that are universally acknowledged across all of space and time. Which is good to keep in mind if you're ever stranded. Some civilizations might send you to a very different 'prime' indeed. The multiverse has many names and is near infinite in scope and depth so it is very - VERY - easy to get lost."

Phantom lifted one hand up then reaching out to touch the air in the center of the space that had been cleared among the students. The fabric of space rippled beneath her fingertips before splitting wide open. At first, the portal was black from end to end - an endless nothing broken only by flashes of eldritch lightning across the space. The Void faded after a second, replaced by a milky portal that looked out on a beachfront that wasn't quite primeval, but looked nothing like any part of this Freedom City, either, "Now, typically, a portal - if you can open one - will open in almost the same identical spot in another dimension. Research is the first and most important step into any interdimensional jaunt. I should add, that if you don't HAVE to go, it's better to not travel at all. Not that anyone ever listens to my advice, but I offer it all the same."

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Raina raised her hand again, watching the portal with open fascination and not a little envy. It was probably just as well she was so rapt, otherwise she'd have been much quicker to jump on Huang's dinosaur fascination. Merlin was paying careful attention too, still perched on Raina's shoulder, but he looked far more cautious than his human companion, almost worried. "If we do go into a portal, how do we make sure we can find our way back?" Raina asked. "Is there a marker we can leave, maybe some kind of spell, that will let us find our way back again? If we were to absolutely have to go into one and all that." 

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"Ah, family," Winifred surmised quietly from the back-and-forth between Huang and their instructor, keeping her voice low. "Poor woman." If she was still speaking loudly enough for Riley to hear her clearly, well, she could hardly be blamed for the practiced hunter's honed senses. She frowned as Raina gave a number of examples of possible alternate worlds, catching onto the premise quickly enough. Robin had explained where Riley had come from in very broad strokes and it wasn't so terribly difficult for the alchemist to wrap her head around, not when the present day seemed very much like a completely different world from her own time.

The warning against unnecessary travel and the discussion of a world ruled by massive lizards made much less sense, however. Taking her queue from Raina she raised her hand. "Surely if there are such lost worlds, primitive or otherwise dangerous to the inhabitants, then those more advanced worlds have a moral obligation to travel there and offer protection, aid in their development?" She didn't wish to single Riley out in the classroom setting but she had to assume everyone present would recognize him as the perfect example of what she was suggesting. Or Cathy, for that matter.

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Huang watched the little dance of Fred moving away and shrugged to Riley as the other guy in the room, "Something something women right?"  he joked lightly as that was what one did when ones flirtations fell on deaf ears in the movies and laughed at other boys comment, "They went right to lost world?"  he asked incredulously, "Wow."  was all he had to say on that clearly finding the idea even with his fairly limited interactions with the outdoorsy young man absurd.

"Oh yea, it's great."  Huang agreed, "Five stars."  he nodded and shrugged he supposed it was a bit much to expect dimensional gallivants that were not old hat to one with his background.  Yet another Sim to lay at the foot of this school and it's lackluster mystic studies.  "In other words look before you leap."  he pointed out more simply with an innocent smile aimed at his mother.

He turned more serious at Rainas  question however, "Well best not to jump through an unstable portal at all.  If you know it's stable you should be able to go back the way you came."  he offered plainly and with less hubris than usual, "There are spells to breach the veil between worlds,"  he added quickly, "But you have to know where you want to go, either have a good grounding in the cosmology of prime here or have some kind of anchor to trace back the dimensional signature."  he looked to Riley almost apologetically, "Unfortunately that only works if the destination is very distinct." He didn't bother discussing however the dangers of the transitive dimensions, after all he wasn't teaching the class.

Huang looked from Winifred to Riley then Raina and Cathy before finally settling on his mother in the hopes someone could explain to the Victorian that paternalism was bad.  He was straight out of non-offensive ways to express the concept.

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"Some people might want to, Fred," Raina commented, looking from the portal to her time-displaced classmate, "but it would be pretty useless and stupid to try. There's basically an infinite number of multiverses spinning off each other all the time, so for every one you went and fooled around with, you'd probably end up spinning off another one that you didn't mess with, plus you've got the infinite number of other universes you don't even have time to explore. And that's even before you get into the fact that in most of those universes, there's nothing you can do that would even be helpful, or wouldn't make things worse. Sometimes you can go to another universe and give them like humanitarian aid, like you might after a big natural disaster, but you can't just try and fix their problems for them." 

Merlin nodded in agreement and chittered, his expression suggesting that it would certainly be disastrous if anyone were to attempt such an outside "fix" on Earth Prime, especially without detailed cultural context and understanding of all the problems the world has, and that the same principle holds true for other universes, no matter how obvious the solutions might seem from outside. 

"Yeah, exactly," Raina agreed. "But we can go and visit, look around and stuff." Her enthusiasm for that part of it seemed undimmed, despite the danger. "So can you show us how to make an anchor?" she asked Phantom. 

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"Some worlds are too damn dangerous for people from Earth-Prime, even people with fancy superpowers" added Riley, shooting Fred a sharp look. "If superpeople just wandered into my Freedom City without knowing where they were or how to protect themselves, they'd be dead'r'worse, in 24 hours." There'd been a lot of speculation about other dimensions, Riley knew, but that had never accomplished anything - maybe rescue parties _had_ come through from the worlds familiar to his own, and simply been torn apart or transformed. "And I've heard there are worse. People here jus' dunno enough about dimensions'n'stuff to go screwin' around with the multiverse whenever they get bored."  

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Phantom remained quiet as the students volunteered answers although she offered both Huang and Raina approving looks at their responses. "This is true. Each dimension has its own issues and dangers. Traversing the cosmic coil isn't something even trained mystics do lightly - or easily. Whenever possible, it's best to know what you're leaping into. But more than that..."

Phantom gestured with one gloved hand towards the portal she held open. "Every time travel happens, the barrier between words weakens just a little more. This dimension sees more travel than many - it also has the attention of the Terminus more often than others. These are not unrelated. Weakening the barriers can have disastrous consequences. World ending. Universe ending."

Maaaybe, Phantom might have toned down her dire lecture on the consequence of travel but she was used to dealing with adult super heroes. STUBBORN adult super heroes. "As to creating tethers, we shall see about working on spells to discern your dimensional signature from your own body and trace it through the coil after the field trip. This, obviously, will be a more difficult task for the non-natives to Prime, like Riley and like my son. Now, who would like to go first."

Through the very dangerous and possibly world ending portal! As the children crossed over, there was a distinct chill not unlike breaking through a lake's surface but they would step out into a grassy scrub land with a clear view of the sea. The birds overhead were unlike anything in this particular universe as their evolutionary path had been a very different one. 

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Cathy had spent all of conversation making copious notes of all the information that was being given out, her only knowledge about other worlds being conversations in the pub about the myths of there Norse ancestors. She winced a little at Fred's attitude but she was still catching up to 21st century, it was a conversation due soon though. When a volunteer was asked for her hand shots straight up, even if she didn't have a magic bone in her body. Unless the stories about the Ice Maidens ancestors were true.

"I'd like to try please Miss."

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