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Arrival (Open)

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Jane Williams' arrival at Claremont wasn't exactly subtle. A Freedom League plane got her from HQ to the airport, and then a Freedom League car took her from the airport to Claremont. During the trip, her escort took the time to remind her again and again the rules of her being at Claremont, including where she was and was not allowed to go, and that she had to ask permission and send an itinerary if she planned on going off-grounds. After all that talking, Jane was happy to get to step out of the truck. She squinted a bit at the sudden sunlight, and covered her eyes for a bit.

 

The young woman was dressed as if she'd just had to throw together an outfit. A light-colored sundress, a motorcycle jacket, used sneakers, all of which managed to clash with the other pieces of the outfit. Her escort stepped out of the van long enough to hand her a piece of paper with her schedule, room location, and (once again) the rules of her stay at Claremont, then drove off with a simple reminder that she was always being watched. Jane Williams was left standing in front of the main building, taking her time to adjust and figure out where to go next.

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The one things you quickly learned about Claremont was the rather dramatic way that people would arrive and depart, and whilst this wasn't as flashy as the last arrival it was still up there on the drama stakes. Cathy who had been outside enjoying the fresh air and practising her power, not something she could do in the dorm rooms, had watched the arrival with some appreciation.

 

When the dust settled she wandered over to the new girl to introduce herself.

 

"Hello there and welcome to Claremont's I'm Cathy." her Scottish burr had softened a little from her time here but was still obvious "Lets get you settled in before the plastic's show up to have a nose around." thinking she added "Not that they're actually plastic..."

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"'Cept for Mechano but he's all right," said a new voice tipped towards the contralto, dropping down from a nearby tree in the middle of the quad. Short and wiry, Riley looked up at Jane and sighed inwardly. Another girl taller than me! He ran his hand over his shaved head, his dark skin gleaming slightly from sweat. "You see that, Cathy?" he asked her, rubbing his left arm. "Ten minutes with one arm, with a full pack!" In his green poncho and with a crossbow over his back, the boy looked ready for a hike through the woods. He grinned, looking pleased with himself, before looked up at Jane and offering her a strong, callused hand. 

 

"Riley Quinn-Smith. Welcome t'Claremont. We're s'posedta give ya the tour 'n show you the 'dmistress." His accent was odd by the the standards of Freedom City - clearly American English from the pronunciation, but with the words shoved together like the bolts in a crossbow's repeating magazine. "Where ya from?"

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The girl seemed taken aback by the appearance of the other two, for a second. Her schedule was quickly crumpled up and shoved into a jacket pocket - folding is for chumps. "Hi!" Jane spoke one word and, immediately, her accent was clear. It was the thick drawl of someone who'd spent most of their life in the southern US, with just a bit of shakiness. "Ah'm Ep-...uh, Jane. Jane Williams. Ah'm from Houston!" The girl let out a nervous laugh, and grabbed Riley's hand, squeezing. Despite her lean build, the girl was able to put out more squeeze than might be expected - something Riley was probably used to, at a superhero school. "Ya were jus'...hangin' there?" Her free hand waved at the tree.

 

Then, she pulled her hand back to her side, shoving it into her pocket to keep from fidgeting, and the nervous smile turned to Cathy. "Plastics? Lahk, from tv, the popular kids? Ya have those here?"

Edited by Rock

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"Gotta stay in shape," said Riley, tilting his head and rubbing the joint of his shoulder. "Do lotta stuff up in trees, fightin', huntin', gotta practice even when I'm not learnin' stuff. Don't have any powers ta make it easy." He gave her a challenging look for a moment, as if expecting a response to that, then relented. "Houston, that's in...Texas, right? Whatmadja come here?" 

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"Looking good Riley, any better I might try to steal you away from Robin." Cathy gave a grin, they both knew it would ever happen for various reasons.

 

She gave the new girl a slightly apologetic look.

 

"Even Claremont has it popular kids, and I'm afraid you lucked into this year's outcasts. Though I'm sure we can pretend to not know you if fall in with throws cool. Though you really should meet Raina, Robin and Winfred first. Oh and Phae you definitely want to meet her, one of a kind is Phae."

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Jane squinted at Riley. "No powers? Then why're ya here?" That was a real headscratcher, and it made her literally scratch her head, as something itched right at the base of her skull. "Ah was sent here because, well...ah got powers. An' this is the place where they educate people with powers." She nodded, as if it should have been obvious. "An', uh, yeah, Texas."

 

She blinked at Cathy. "Well, ah ain't sure that'll be necessary, but we'll see, ah guess. If y'all decide to pretend not to know me, it's up to y'all. Ah'll, uh, ah'll try to find those people, though. See if ah can meet them like ya want."

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Naomi wanted to introduce herself, too. It wasn’t that long ago that she was the new girl in school, and she wanted to be as friendly and welcoming as the two that greeted her were. Being voiceless, however, was as usual an obstacle. That, and the welcoming party seemed to have arrived already. She didn’t want to force her way of communicating on them. She knew from experience that people could get irritable when you were disabled, as if you were faking it. She didn’t find it hurtful, necessarily, but it was drama she did not need in her life. Screw it. She pulled her notepad out of her clutch. The pen was in the spirals. She was dressed like a true California girl today, with slight modifications due to the fact that this was December in Jersey. Said modifications being black Under Armor covering where her bare skin would normally be. Her coat remained in her dorm. It wasn’t cold enough for both…yet. So…short sleeve print T shirt and ruffled skirt. Stylish small chain link belt, and shoes that cost more than most of the students’ total net worth. Add her sterling silver necklace, and the top of the line smartphone on her hip, and she was dressed quite well today.

 

She walked up to the formed group and snapped her fingers. It was a startlingly loud sound. The sudden glances thrown her way received a smile and a wave. Then she used her pen to point at the new third page of her notebook. [Hello. My name is Naomi. What’s yours?]

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"Fightin'," said Riley laconically as Naomi introduced herself, trusting Jane could both read and carry on a conversation at the same time. He didn't know the mute girl that well, but he was full of sympathy for her condition. A disability like hers would have been very problematic on his homeworld, where clear and rapid communication was sometimes all that saved your life, and the life of everyone else. And he also knew what it meant to be trapped in a body that just wasn't right. "And huntin'. Nobody's better at it than me here." That much was certainly true, even if some people here on campus could have kicked his ass within an inch of his life without trying too hard. Well, he corrected himself mentally, not that many. 

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Jane took note of Naomi's arrival as soon as she snapped, which made Jane almost jump. Jane turned to look at Naomi, taking a second to inspect her. The writing suggested...couldn't talk? Could she hear? Jane's mouth opened to answer, but then she realized that, if Naomi couldn't hear, that would be kinda useless and make her look dumb. Instead, Jane took a knee. As she did so, her skin changed color, starting at her core and spreading slowly to her limbs, until she was entirely midnight-black. The ground under her cracked and sagged slightly, as her weight was suddenly increased twenty-five-fold.

 

Using a finger, Jane started writing in the pavement, using her strength to push through it like it was just dirt. The word she traced out was sloppy, but readable. [Jane].

 

As she traced, she spoke, her voice directed at Riley. It came out deeper, with more rumble, as the density of her vocal cords had changed. "There's stuff ta hunt around here? I wouldn' have thought so, 'cause, ya know, kinda in the city."

Edited by Rock

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Naomi was touched. Someone thought ahead for once. She vandalized the sidewalk in order to do it, but that was a minor issue. She flipped to the fourth page and wrote. [Wharton isn’t THAT far from here. I am deaf, but I have powers that help. Nice to meet you, Jane.] A few weeks at Claremont had loosened her stance on her secret identity. She flipped to the backside of the third page and showed it so that all three would see it. There were a few sentences, so she pointed to the first with her pen. [How are you today?] She was from an entirely different world from the other two. City girl from Los Angeles versus guy from another dimension and country girl from Scotland. She didn’t know either of them that well as a result. And…it was a chancy thing, trying to get to know new people. Making new friends in a new city and a new school when you’ve never left home before could be a daunting challenge for any teenager.

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“That a very nice thing to do but it’s probably best not to cause too much damage around here, we don’t want you getting into trouble on the first day. Here try using this instead...”

 

There was a sharp drop in the temperature around them for a few seconds and a thick layer of frost formed on the pavement between them. A similar frost was forming around Cathy, though it didn’t appear to be doing her any harm.


“There you go that a much less damaging way to communicate. In case you couldn’t guess I’m a cold controller, appropriately I’m called Frostbyte.”

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"Yeah, prolly not," said Riley, watching Jane work with an unreadable expression. In the back of his mind, he was seeing darkened fists crashing through concrete barriers to get at the all-too-human beings on the other side. "Better get you offta see the headmaster. So whaddya do?" he asked her as they headed towards the administration building, the campus bustling with students of all shapes and sizes - almost literally! One mechanical teenager, his silvery body looking like something from a silent movie about robots, passed them with a nod, hardly looking up from his hand-written notes. "That trick. Just make yerself stronger, or what?"  

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Ah, fantastic. The deaf/mute girl could understand what she was saying. Handy! It meant she didn't have to start working out how to not get caught. Jane stood up with exaggerated slowness, careful not to move wrong and rip her clothes. These weren't reinforced after all, and in this form she could destroy clothes like paper. Not fun when she was wearing them. Jane gave Cathy a smile. "Thanks but, it looks lahk she can understand. Don' really need that ice." Then, suddenly, the smile turned into a semi-confused look. "Ah thought ya were called 'Cathy'? Oh! Wait. D'you have an alias too?"

 

"Ah'm fahn. Ya know, a li'l nervous, but ah hear that's normal." This directed at Naomi.

 

She shot Riley a look. "Ah increased mah density. Kinda like going from a person to a big walkin', talkin' rock. Makes meh stronger, an' tougher." Jane smiled a big, toothy smile. "Ah can punch through steel when ah'm lahk that! An' it don' even hurt!"

Edited by Rock

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The immediate area around the group was suddenly utterly silent. No birds. No traffic. Absolutely no sound whatsoever. Naomi quickly took the lead of the group, turned around, and held up a fresh page. [I do sound and vibrations.] The sound returned in a rush. She wrote more. [Please, for the love of God, no jokes. I’ve heard them all now.] No thanks to Spectacle. Sometimes she wanted to kill him. She swore, the next person who made a dirty joke about her powers was getting vibro-blasted. And then nauseated until he or she threw up everything in their guts. No exceptions.

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"That's great," said Riley, his dark face unreadable. "Cmon, lesgetcha upstairs." 

 

Riley and Cathy walked Jane over to the administration building, an imposing, old-fashioned structure that Riley commented, "looks defensible, but has tunnels out the wazoo. Might as well have a whole pack innit." Rather than explain that rather cryptic remark, he walked Jane all the way to the headmaster's door. "Cathy and I'll chill out here. Get it?" he asked Frostbyte with a grin. "Meetcha when yer done." 

 

Inside the office, Jane found waiting for her a tall, athletic-looking Eurasian woman who looked to be somewhere in her early fifties. Her handshake was firm and quick. "Jane, come in, come in. We'll just be a moment." She sat down on the side of the desk that faced the window. "How was your trip here?" 

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Jane nodded at Naomi in understanding, trying not to look like she had her feathers ruffled by the sudden disappearance and reappearance of sound. The darkness drained out of her, until she looked like an ordinary girl again. Then, she got to coming up with a joke, since Naomi had clearly asked for one. Nothing sprang to mind, though, so she set it aside for later.

 

The Houstoner followed the others quietly to the Headmistress' office, trying to keep the butterflies in her stomach from getting out. Riley's comment about the defensibility of the building earned a confused frown, but no actual words. She nodded mutely when they reached the office, and entered.

 

She shook the woman's hand and took a seat on the opposite side of the desk, trying not to fidget. "Uh, quiet, ah guess? Weren't much happenin'."

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"I'm glad to hear that," said Callie Summers warmly, folding her hands on her desk as she studied her newest student. "I'm sorry you had to come here with such little preparation. Megastar was doing the school a favor by bringing you here on such short notice, but we wanted to make sure you were in a safe place as soon as possible. How do you feel about being here?" she inquired, giving the Houstonian a searching look.

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Jane dropped self-consciously into a chair, placing her hands in her lap where they wouldn't start playing with things. "Uh, yeah, ah guess. Nice of him." She shrugged, eyes drifting around the room. "Ah feel, uh...weird? Ah dunno, ah ain't never been away from mah parents this long before. An', when ah did, they weren't never more than an earcomm away."

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"Yes, I can understand that's a very difficult situation," said Summers gently. "We'll do everything we can to make this transition as smooth as possible for you. Our goal here is to help you, and every other student here, settle into a life where they can learn and develop as sentient beings and as superbeings. Do you have any questions about where you can find your rooms, or what you'll be doing at the school?" 

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Jane nodded along as Summers talked, keeping her hands still and her eyes fixed on the other woman. "Uh, yeah, ah have questions. Ah guess, mah first one is, well, where am ah gonna be stayin'? Y'all have dorms, right? Are they, uh, gender-exclusive, or are they co-ed? And, uh, also, are all the classes gonna be in the same buildings?"

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Summers gave Jane a full rundown of life at the school, which now that she thought about it had at least been discussed in her presence on the way here. She'd be living in a co-ed floor of all girls in one of the building's two mixed dorm buildings, across the hall from two students named Cathy and Raina (the former of whom she'd already met). Classes would be scattered across the campus, with some in the classroom buildings, some in the gym, others outdoors "depending on your special circumstances," said the headmistress. "Now tell me," she asked, "What do you want to get out of your education?" She smiled thinly. "Any answer to that is all right, by the way. You don't have to please me." 

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"Uhm." Jane squirmed a little more. What did she want? She wasn't sure. She wasn't even there because she wanted to be there, other people just told her it was her best option, and she trusted them. They seemed like they had her best interests at heart. "I want to...learn things?" Pf. Cop-out answer. The headmistress would want something more.

 

"I want to, uh...be able to be fine by myself. To learn enough where I don't have to depend on other people." That was true, at least, if simplistic.

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When the headmaster was finished with Jane, she sent the girl out with directions to her room, bringing her back into the custody of Riley and Cathy. "So you wanna see your room?" offered Riley, his voice briefly rising into the contralto. "We can do that, go get some food?" It had become a surprisingly warm, comfortable afternoon for that time of year, a touch of El Nino creeping up onto the shores of New Jersey. "They gotsome good grub here," he commented, idly twirling the hatchet Jane had seen him wear on his belt. 

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