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Home » The Crystal Hall » Fan Fiction » Old J.G. Pre-Canon fanfics (repost) (The road not taken -- Eldritch/Outcasts stories that were discarded after J.G. entered Canon)  () 1 Vote
Old J.G. Pre-Canon fanfics (repost) [message #49656] Mon, 12 December 2011 21:09 Go to next message
Sir Lee is currently offline  Sir Lee
Messages: 3519
Registered: May 2005
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
A few notes. These stories are not canon, despite being written by a canon author (J.G.) and regarding canon characters (Eldritch and the Outcast Corner, mostly). The reason for this is that these stories were written BEFORE J.G. was invited into the non-existing Canon Cabal. A number of elements in these stories were apparently (I have no inside track, just an educated guess) incompatible with the super-secret Canon Bible and therefore, they were discarded.

You may note the lack of a pre-Cabal version of the Eldritch origin story, "Upheaval." The reason for that is that I no longer have this original draft. As I recall it, I compared both versions at the time the new, Cabal-approved version was posted and found that the two versions were basically the same, with only minor tweaks and improvements (mostly by adding actual dates) -- "Upheaval" was canonized in essentially unchanged form, so I saw no value in keeping the earlier draft. I'm still digging through my old backups and it could surface eventually, but don't hold your breath for it.

The following stories, though, are a different matter. They comprise an adventure that is very different from what eventually made into the Canon. J.G. basically discarded them and started over, reusing some plot elements but taking the characters in another direction. While they are canon-incompatible, they might still illuminate a few details on the characters' backstories -- details that didn't make it into canon yet, or at least not in as explicit a manner. Since there is apparently some curiosity regarding these stories, J.G. authorized reposting them.

The first story begins right after "Upheaval," and focuses on our favorite velociraptor...


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
--
Sent from my Bugs Industries® bPhone™

[Updated on: Mon, 12 December 2011 21:10]

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Razorback: A Best I Am... [message #49657 is a reply to message #49656] Mon, 12 December 2011 21:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee is currently offline  Sir Lee
Messages: 3519
Registered: May 2005
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
This is fan fiction for the Whateley Academy series. It may or may not match the timeline, characters, and continuity, but since it's fan fiction, who cares? To see the canon Whateley Stories, check out the Crystal Hall.

Razorback

by J. G.

A Beast I Am...

Hiding all my fear
My nightmare is becoming real
Take a look at me
I'm a loser
-Lacuna Coil 1:19

Erin Carlyle smiled as she and her Daddy wandered through the Sydney zoo. The animals were great, especially the Koalas. She'd been allowed to pet one by the little creature's handler, and he had clung to the little girl's neck and nuzzled her like a living teddy bear. She was sad to go, but Daddy had promised she'd be able to see the Koalas again soon.

The place was littered with tourists of all shapes and sizes. The people were all over the place, and there were a lot of kids in the mix. Erin had talked with a few of the kids, and they talked about how cool the zoo was and what their favorite animals were. One of the boys who was visiting from the U.S. had said the Crocodiles were his favorite. Erin hated the crocs. Her experiences were less than pleasant where the big lizards were concerned. She had been attacked when she was six years old by a small saltwater crocodile back home in Darwin, and she hated the things with a passion.

There they were in the tanks of water, six big crocs floated in the water, or sunned themselves on the rocks. She hung back, watching the big lizards doing their thing, wishing she could be somewhere, anywhere but here. Her Daddy was looking at the exhibit quietly, talking to the man who had come with them.

The man was from her father's work, where he maintained the internet for the company. The two were talking quietly about the job that had brought them to Sydney for two weeks, oblivious to the little girl who watched in morbid fascination as one of the horrible monsters slid into the water, and swam right up to the glass, turning so that it appeared to be looking right at her. She started shaking, whimpering softly.

One by one the long lizards slipped into the water, stopping and angling to look outside their prison, all of them staring at her silently with those cold, reptilian eyes. Almost as one, each opened it's mouth wide, as if it were waiting for something to walk into their maws. Erin started shaking and darted to her father, burying her face in a pants leg, crying. He tried to calm her down and comfort her, but she wouldn't stop crying.

They had gone back to the hotel that night,and she could still feel the eyes at her back. She couldn't sleep, simply sitting in the large bed she had to herself until she had to pee. She quickly finished up in the bathroom, catching a glimpse of reptilian eyes in the mirror, looking at her.

She spun around, heart beating madly, seeing nothing but a floral-wallpapered wall and breathed a sigh of relief. She calmed down and turned back to the mirror and froze. The eyes were there, staring right at her from her own skull. Two yellowed crocodile eyes where she'd once had pretty green ones.

Erin screamed...


------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------ -------------------------------------------

Monday morning, 6:22 am

Razorback woke slowly, feeling sluggish and groggy. It was the same every morning since winter hit, as the heaters in Twain cottage weren't quite up to the task of keeping him warm enough to function in the morning. He slowly, painfully forced lazy muscles to move and looked around the room.

His eyes slowly focused on the walls and the posters of various bands that he and Jericho liked as well as the poster of a beautiful redhead in a nightgown about their age. He had gotten the poster off the Whateley Academy Radio Station, or WARS, and had hung it up in the room as an offset to the posters of Korn, Pantera, Metallica, Megadeth, Nightwish, Lacuna Coil, and many others. A pair of Fender Stratacaster guitars were hanging from a wall, one above his bed, and a Bass version over Jericho's. Normally he liked the decorations he and Jericho hung about the room but at the moment he was feeling like absolute shit.

He picked up a towel, wrapped it around his waist and stumbled into the hallway. He was off-balance and weak-feeling, a normal side-effect of his particular condition. Whenever it got below about sixty-five degrees as the Yanks reckoned it he had to fight off the urge to fall into a torpid coma. Being cold-blooded had it's advantages, not the least of which was not having to worry about feeling hot or cold as his body matched the temperature. Unfortunately it also meant that when it got cold his body wanted to shut down and go into hibernation.

"Hey Razorback, you look all happy and cheery this morning." In his groggy state Razorback couldn't figure out who was speaking, so he sent the middle finger salute down the hallway and heard laughing.

He lurched into the shower and spent a few painful moments adjusting the water temperature in the shower to a point where he couldn't feel heat or cold and it matched the temperature around him and his body, set his towel up on the wall and stepped under the water. He sat there, letting the water run off his scaly skin, then began the slow process of turning the heat up bit by bit.

After about twenty minutes he was feeling awake and alert, his body temperature up to where he was functional, so he turned off the water and shook the excess off, using the towel to dry off. He wrapped himself up and walked over to the mirror to check himself over. For a fifteen-year-old he was huge, standing about six feet, four inches, even with the naturally slouched posture.. He'd had to learn the American measurement system at Whateley, though he preferred metrics. There was almost no trace of human about his lizard-like face, with six three-inch long spikes jutting out and back, crowning his head, which was triangular in shape with a reptilian muzzle filled with sharp carnivore teeth.

His scales were a mottled yellow and black color, and they were starting to look glazed, and felt tight and itchy whenever he moved. Great, I'm gonna be shedding again soon. This is going to suck. His build was wiry and well-muscled, and his claws on his fingertips showed no sign of damage. His legs were bent in the odd digitigrade manner he had become used to over the past four years, and the three thick toes he balanced on had their own wicked claws. His tail jutted out, allowing him to balance, and the scales were glossy, cracked and the skin below the peeling scales felt raw. The scales around the two rows of eight-inch spines on his back were also itching like mad, and he wanted it to be over with.

He walked out just as a few of the other Twain boys began filtering into the bathroom, his toe-claws clicking on the tiles. He heard them and felt them coming before they even got near the door, so he walked out and ducked into his room, growling to himself. Shedding invariably sucked, as it left him feeling raw and sore for a couple days while the new scales formed and hardened. He was a regenerator, and a very fast-healing one at that, but apparently it wouldn't be convenient and help him get through this ordeal any faster than usual.

Jericho was gone already, no surprises there. The ringleader of his circle of friends, Jericho was always up and off early, looking to check up on one project or another. That suited Razorback fine, as he pulled out a medical kit and pulled out a small syringe and primed it. It looked identical to a diabetes kit used to help regulate blood sugar, although in his case, the drugs would spur his body to keep his body temperature at whatever level it was at when he did the injection.

He stuck the needle in his left shoulder and hit the plunger. He was so used to doing this after a little over a year as a Whateley student that he barely noticed it anymore. Springtime would signal the days when he could quit using the thing until it got cold again. He cleaned up the kit, disposed of the needle and began hunting for clothes, naked.

It wasn't as if anyone walking in would get a show, as like a reptile, his genitals were held internally until he needed them. It simultaneously amused and aggravated him how much like a big lizard his body actually was. There was barely anything left to show he was human besides his mind and the fact that he usually walked upright. The upshot was that after his freshman year at Whateley, few people wanted to screw with him. The downside was, of course, the fact that he'd probably die a virgin.

He threw on a pair of long shorts with a tail hole and an ancient Pantera T-shirt with holes in the back for his spines and grabbed his satchel of books. He'd have just enough time to get some food before going to his weekly visit with the school psychologists, and his mandatory check-in with Chief Delarose in the security office before class.

He wished desperately that he could go back in time and retry his freshman year here at Whateley. The last year had been one long ordeal, and a series of fights, some severe, had left him on the warning board as a probable Ultraviolent. It had taken a year to get a handle on the seemingly psychotic instincts that came as part and parcel with his reptilian form. Half the time he thought in images and emotion rather than words, and he had a strong territorial streak to go with it. When threatened he literally had to fight the urge to attack the problem with tooth and claw to rip it apart.

He walked into the crystal hall, more or less ignoring the vast majority of the students as he did so. He got into line and waited patiently until he was able to pile heaps of meat onto his tray and head over to the table he and his mates generally occupied. He was more or less used to the disgusted, or creeped out looks from quite a few of the other students, or the stares. He blithely ignored it when someone flicked a spoonful of scrambled egg in his direction, simply ducking the offending projectile and getting to his destination.

Jericho was there, in full tacky regalia. The dreadlocked boy with white eyes had gotten a kilt several weeks ago and had been wearing it constantly over the past two weeks. He was wearing a tie-dye shirt that hurt to look at as well as combat boots. The dreadlocked black kid may have been his best mate, but Razorback didn't really understand why he insisted on being a one-man shock-and-awe campaign against fashion sense and color coordination the world over.

Caitlin was sitting across from him, digging in to her own heaping plate of random breakfast food. Of the four kids who sat there, she was easily the most normal and pretty looking, even with the reflective, metallic hair and the beaten-metal eyes with the runes etched into the irises. Of the small group she almost matched Razor for height, coming in at just over six feet tall and a athletic, slightly muscular build. She was more or less the newbie of the group and Razorback didn't know what to make of her. He was leery, as he and all of his mates had been the ass end of jokes played by some of the prettier girls at the school. The only thing that really shot her appearance was the random, mad arcs and waves of eldritch energy that tore across her body whenever she moved.

Sandra was the other girl, sitting next to Jericho, and Razorback sympathized with her the most. She was beautiful, with a pretty face, well toned frame and he often caught himself staring at her chest. But her naturally good looks and red-brown hair were offset by the scales of a snake, as well as a lack of legs, instead sporting a thick serpentine tail that she slithered on. She'd picked up the moniker Diamondback from the scale patterns, but her friends preferred to think of her as Sandra.

"Hey Raz, pull up a seat." Caitlin grinned and scooted over to make room as the big lizard kid sat down, setting his tray on the table.

-What has her so cheery this morning?-- Razorback signed over to his two friends across the table.

"Hey Caitlin, what's got you in such a good mood?" Jericho asked with mock-seriousness, getting pasted by a ham slice from Razorback's tray.

"I dunno. I'm all healed up from that fracas with the Ultraviolents, and I'm starting to enjoy my classes. I'm looking forward to class with Ito-Sensei this morning" She was talking to Razorback, recognizing the origin of the question.

He nodded silently and looked over at Sandra, who was busy mauling her breakfast. She was, like him, a total carnivore, and had to eat about as much as he did to sustain her body mass. -So how are things going, Sandra?--

The naga-girl looked up and he repeated his question with sign language again.

-Not bad. Three of my classes are with Miss Cheerful over there, and I'm really surprised. I guess I was expecting the punch line to show up before now-- Sandra's response underlied what Razorback had been thinking since he met Caitlin. She had all the markers of trouble for the small trio, but had more or less blasted every expectation of bitchiness towards them rapidly and thoroughly. He wasn't sure whether to feel worried or relieved.

-Good to hear it. The more I see of her the more I think she's legit.-- He looked over to see Caitlin continuing to maul her food until she noticed him looking and snatched one of his chicken drumsticks.

"Mine now, slowpoke" She gave him a lopsided grin. He hovered over the rest of his tray protectively, eyeing her, then shot a claw out, snagging her own ham slices in return. Thus began the food war that morning, both participants trying to stuff as much of their own food down while stealing from the other. Sadly, Caitlin was winning as she had a large portion of foods he couldn't eat, and thus wasn't worth stealing. She capitalized on this mercilessly.

Meanwhile, Jericho and Sandra were laughing like crazy, Jericho having a hard time breathing through the whole thing. Sandra about snorted her juice through her nose as one of the bits of chicken Caitlin grabbed sprouted feathers.

The metal-haired girl looked at the piece critically, then handed it back to Razorback. "You can have this back now. I think I'm done with it."

-You killed it, you eat it.-- Razorback signed in response, and Sandra and Jericho howled, laughing, Sandra nearly sliding from her seat. When she got enough breath back, she translated for Caitlin, who sat shocked, then began giggling uncontrollably. Razorback gave a bit of a barking laugh before looking around to see dozens of eyes locked onto their table, staring.

-Jericho, the norms are staring again. Sic 'em--

Jericho obliged, standing. "Yes my loyal fans! Today's show from Outcast Corner, starring me! For my next trick I'll be doing a dead sexy table dance!" He began to shake and shimmy in place, and grinned when the attention rapidly diverted elsewhere, save for the Grunts team, who were at their table, howling with laughter and encouragement to Jericho.

Sandra was grinning when Jericho sat down, and Caitlin had her head on the table, shaking and trying to breathe. Razorback looked over at his partner in crime and nodded slowly.

-No fear, no regrets-- Razorback signed over to Jericho.

"Amen, brother, amen."

-Oh, before I forget, mate. Wash your dress. It's starting to stink.--

* * *

Razorback walked into the building out of the cold, and wandered into the psychologist's office, waiting quietly. His survival class was waived for these visits to the head-shrinkers, but all in all he'd rather be going to class. The psych people were worried that he might become uncontrollably violent at any time, due to some of his nastier instinctive urges, and he'd done nothing to dissuade them from that opinion during his freshman year. Now he was trying desperately to make up for squandered time. He hated being on the high-threat security list, and to add insult to injury when he did lose control they generally had to tranquilize him and truss him up like an animal until he calmed down. There was truly nothing more humiliating than having to wear a muzzle for several hours.

Doctor Carolyn Richards smiled and nodded to him from behind her desk, knowing full well that the boy hated these sessions with a passion that was almost holy. The fact that she was a telepath just made the whole thing worse, though she did him the courtesy of not mentally connecting with him unless she had to, and with his permission. The few times she had were unpleasant for both of them, as she got to feel and live the nightmare instincts that burned in the back of his skull. Kill or be killed. Eat or be eaten. She had helped him get some control over the urges over the past year, for which he was thankful.

"How are you doing Jack?" She opened a note pad while speaking to him, using his real name that thus far only Jericho and Sandra ever bothered to learn or use. He was sure he'd get around to telling it to Caitlin sooner or later, after he had settled his doubts about her.

-Doing OK. Just wanting to get my Lab Rat time over with.-- He signed to her.

"Still keeping your temper in check then?" She looked at him intently. She always did that, and it made him feel like he was under a microscope, although he didn't give away much emotion in his face.

-Had a pissing match with Bloodwolf a few days ago. He and his wanker buddies hurt a friend.--

Dr. Richards nodded. "So tell me about it. Just tell me the details from your perspective."

Razorback nodded and began signing while the good Doctor began taking notes. -Me and Jericho got word that some wannabe Ultraviolent pricks were going to ambush Diamondback on her way to Whitman from her Dance club thing she goes to. Apparently she plastered them in Sensei-Ito's class and they wanted to put her in her place, and get in with Bloodwolf at the same time. I got mad and wanted to go hit them first, but Jericho calmed me down and came up with a plan.--

"So was this urge to go hit them one of your instinctive attack impulses?" She kept taking notes while he sat across from her.

-I don't think so. I wanted to pound them, not tear them open. They hadn't done anything to her yet, which is probably why I let Jericho talk me out of it. All in all things turned out better than we had any right to expect, even if Caitlin got hurt.--

"Caitlin? Was she a bystander?"

-No. Caitlin's a new student. She started hanging out with Jericho a couple days before I met her. She seems to be someone we can get along with. She volunteered to provide Diamondback some friendly cover in case Willie and Necro, the two wankers, wouldn't have the stones to attack against fair odds. She seems to be a decent sort.--

"Ah. So she's becoming a new addition to your group. I might like to meet her sometime." This was hardly unusual, Dr. Richards had spoken to Jericho and Diamondback about him to get a feel for the whole situation in the past.

-Anyway, Jericho called security and passed along a warning that things might get ugly and we went about our business. Jericho talked to Caitlin while I was helping Diamondback with a class project that was due later that day. He caught up with me just before Diamond's dance club let out, and he told me about their little plan. It was a good call, but we went in that direction just in case the girls caught something they couldn't handle.--

Dr. Richards simply nodded and continued her notes.

-We got there and saw Willie and Necro ganging up on Sandra, and Caitlin was neck-deep in Bloodwolf and the other two Ultraviolents. Sandra spit in Necro's face and he went down, paralyzed, and she rapidly got Willie under control. Caitlin was burned and slashed up when we got there, and I was just in time to see Bloodwolf claw her chest open. That's when I lost it. I plowed him and proceeded to tear into him. Didn't do either of us much good. We both heal as fast as we wound. Jericho put Killstench down with a stunner and kept him down, and Caitlin put Maggot across the combat area. It took them a few minutes to get through to me to get me away from Bloodwolf so Security could take him in.--

"So they were actually able to talk you down?" The psychologist looked mildly surprised. "You've come a long way, Jack. But I'd like to know why you and Bloodwolf hate each other so much. You were in no less than six fights with him that I am aware of, and both of you had to be tranquilized to separate you."

-I get nasty doc, I've killed before, but I don't like it. Every time the instincts lock in and I go crazy I feel like a complete psychotic. I can't be sure who I'll hurt like that, and I don't like ripping people apart. Animals I can handle. I just eat them. Cycle of life. Bloodwolf's different. He feels the instincts to kill, and he revels in it. He doesn't want to control them. As far as I can see he enjoys every minute of it, indulging in some kind of sick sadist kick. He's everything I hate about myself, and he enjoys it.--

"So you think Bloodwolf has no redeeming qualities?"

-If he does, he's done a bloody fine job of hiding them. At this point I don't care. I know Whateley's neutral ground and I have to put up with him, but he makes me ill.--

Dr. Richards nodded. "So how are you coping with the changes?" Old hat question, although the answer had changed from his original, miserable answers from his freshman year.

-I had a lot of time to mull that over in detention last year, working at Hawthorne.-- It was no big secret that he was the current record-holder for most consecutive stints in detention due to his control problems and penchant for violent responses.

-All in all I figure I don't have it that bad. Sure, not being able to walk in public sucks, and I've more or less accepted the fact that I'll probably die a virgin, but there's some who have it worse. At least I am fully mobile, am not insane, I hope, and don't have to be on some loopy life-support rig. I'm not inherently dangerous just to be near and I gained a lot too. I'm a lot faster and stronger, not to mention able to defend myself in a pinch. So I look like a monster, doesn't mean I have to BE one. And I'm not going to let other kids thinking I'm stupid, a freak, or just an animal stop me from trying to live life.--

"So that's why you stopped slinking about away from everyone sometime late last year?"

-More or less. I figure if I can't face the world I might as well go back to hunting for animals and doing nothing back at the Army ranges out past Darwin. And after living like that for almost a year, the social life here at Whateley seems bloody tame by comparison.--

"And how are relations with your parents?" She set down the notebook, watching him intently.

-Mom's still kinda in shock, but she tries her hardest to make me feel like I'm still a part of the family. Dad took it the hardest. I think he blames himself for my condition, but he's getting used to it. They're both learning sign language so we can talk. They were here for parents day. I had to put up with Mom mothering me and Jericho's smartass comments about that, but I was glad to see them. I didn't get to do that much travelling with the Overwatch crew, because of the Humans First! poofters that kept waiting for me to come home so they could string up the monster and improve their standing with God or something.--

"Good to hear it. You're lucky on that score and I'm glad. A lot of the GSD kids don't get that option, and fewer of the normal looking ones get it than you would think."

-Diamondback is the poster child for bad parenting like that. I don't ever want to meet her folks, cuz I don't think I'd be able to hold back from them or their Preacher. Stupid racist bastards turning on their own kids.--

Dr. Richards didn't comment on that, being of a similar mind, even if she couldn't officially encourage that line of thought in her patient.

"All right, did you bring your journal I asked you to keep? I'd like to go over it with you."

* * *

Razorback walked into the security building, resigned. He was buzzed in by the duty guard and allowed to walk back to the control area to speak with Chief Delarose. When he got there he paused to look at the feud and threat boards. There it was, plastered to the wall in the number four position behind Bloodwolf, Maggot and Killstench. His picture was on the wall with full name, Jack Edward Carlyle, and his codename. He hated walking in here every week and seeing his mug shot on the wall as a security threat.

None of the security people were able to understand ASL, so he was usually relegated to nodding or shaking his head at direct questions. Delarose occasionally talked to him, allowing him to write on a pad of paper to respond.

The security crew in the command/control center looked at him, some smirking, some nervous. He had a well-deserved reputation for being mindlessly aggressive, although he loathed to admit it. He had come a long way, but as Tolman-Sensei once told him, you can do a dozen good things, but it only takes one oh-shit moment to undo all of that, and he had quite a number of the latter ones.

Chief Delarose motioned him over to one of the more empty corners when he looked over and saw him. The men and women at the keyboards were all an open book to him, even with his back turned. He could feel where they all were in the enclosed space, as his entire body was highly sensitive to vibration, so he heard and felt every keystroke, breath and movement in the room. In places like this it was easy. Places like the cafeteria were harder, as all the motion and noise drowned out that sense unless it occurred within a few feet of him.

"Hello Razorback, here for your weekly check-in?" The Chief was holding a cup of coffee in one hand easily, watching him closely.

Razorback nodded, and adjusted his posture so he stood a bit straighter, and interlocked his fingers behind his back, to appear less threatening.

"All right. Besides that mess with Bloodwolf earlier this week, you're doing a lot better. Only two fights this year, and one of them not even on the grounds or with anyone associated with the school" Delarose took a sip from his coffee.

Not my fault those Animal Control assholes wouldn't leave me alone. He thought that Animal Control employed the most blisteringly stupid humans on the planet, having taken his attempts to communicate with sign language as a threat.

Chief Delarose continued, "As far as the fight with Bloodwolf went, you and Jericho did right by alerting us to the possibility. You still need to rein in your temper better, but you did a lot better than I'd expected this year. I hope you intend to keep it up."

Razorback nodded once, waiting.

"As far as that last fracas goes, it's not going into your threat record. For once you went into a fight to defend someone, so your Probation penalties have been waived for this time only. There may be extenuating circumstances in the future as well, but I better not see you making a habit of diving into fights. Got me?"

Razorback nodded again.

"Good. Get to class. You have three minutes to get to the Dojo by my clock."

Razorback nodded and walked purposefully and calmly out of the building before setting his satchel so it wouldn't catch and tear open on his spines, dropped to all fours and poured on the speed, darting through the campus and around the buildings.

When he ran full-out like this he topped out at about a hundred miles per hour but could only maintain it for a minute or so. Normally he kept it to about sixty since he could run at that pace for a very long time. He completely avoided large groups of students, and reached the dojo with about ten seconds to spare. Unfortunately that left him ten seconds to get into his Gi and get into position on the mat. No such luck.

When he entered the classroom in his Gi he was treated to one of Ito-Sensei's irritated stares.

"You are coming from the security office?" the small, fearless Japanese man asked curtly.

Razorback nodded and bowed silently, then crouched and slid an odd boot-thing with plastic sheaths for his claws on his foot, tightening it up so he wouldn't shred the mats on the floor. He got the other one and bowed before entering the mat area and assumed a low crouch in his accustomed position towards the back of the class, as he was the tallest student there. He didn't kneel as the other students did, his legs were built wrong, but he could maintain a crouch that almost touched his butt to the ground painlessly for hours.

He liked this class, even if he could do without his classmates. Caitlin and Sandra were sharing time in the first-period Aikido class, and Jericho's class was late in the afternoon. Only problem was he was invariably late for Aikido on Mondays. It really didn't bother him that none of the other students in the class were more than minor GSD cases. He didn't mind being set apart for this.

"Jack! Andrea! Pair off and demonstrate the skills you have learned this year. No powers." Ito-Sensei's words were sharp and could probably be heard all the way at the front gates.

Andrea was a short, mildly pretty girl with dark blonde hair in a pageboy cut. He easily towered over a foot and a half above her. He hated mismatch fights like this. The little ones were always hellish to get ahold of. The fact that she was at least as strong as he was and a lot tougher didn't help. Neither did the fact that she could project of fear, confusion and miscommunication just made Andrea Elsner, AKA Bunker, a handful to deal with even when he could go full-throttle.

The two faced off, turned to the Sensei, bowed, turned to each other and bowed before assuming the fighting stances.

Razorback could imagine that the sight of a 4'8" little girl tossing a huge bloody lizardman with a bad rep for violence was highly amusing to the other students. He hit the mat, rolling so his spines didn't pierce the tatame, and felt the bones crack in at least four of them. That hurt like hell, and it felt even worse when they abruptly snapped into place and knitted. Getting hurt sucked. Healing the injuries was just as bad, sometimes worse.

He circled his opponent, looking for an opening, and moving. He got her, tossed her around his hip, but she grabbed his wrist and tossed him onto his face, landing a punch to his snout. For a brief instant his eyes watered and he felt a lot of pain. Nictitating membranes, blood red in color slid across his eyes to protect them, leaving the world hazy and red as his feral instincts fought for dominance.

He forced them away from his eyes, and got his emotions under control. I am not an animal. I'll beat her the right way.

He went back and forth with her for a few more minutes, actually managing to get in a few good ones before an idea hit him. It was the kind of thing Jericho would love, as he squared off with her he let out a odd, birdlike sound that was somewhere between a growl and a birt trilling. He made the nictitating membranes slide across his eyes and pulled into a low crouch, flaring his spines.

Everyone who had ever had a class with him knew that when his eyes went red it meant the fun was over and he was playing for keeps. Andrea took an involuntary step back with a muttered "Oh shit," and prepared to fend off the claws.

Razorback stalked around her like a predator does prey, and when he lashed out she moved to defend her face and belly from the razor-edged talons, the primary attack points for an angry animal. He gripped her around the arms, picked her up and threw her as hard as he could into the bright red cage that was used to signify that one's powers had been neutralized and the fight was over. He darted over and slammed the door shut.

Andrea watched incredulously as the red eyes peeled back, revealing the crocodile eyes that were in his head and he barked out a raspy, sharp noise at her. Got you.

"Oh you rotten..."

Ito-Sensei was there in a moment. "Do you yield and acknowledge the match, Andrea?"

The girl looked at him and nodded.

The two went back to their places and Razorback resumed his crouch. The students went up and demonstrated what they had learned in pairs, some bouts lasting a few seconds, some lasting a couple minutes.

Ito-Sensei went down the line and asked each person to critique their opponent's technique. When he got to Andrea, her answers were honest at least.

"My opponent has a hard time with many of the moves, and has to rely more on brute strength and speed because he's not built for many of the maneuvers naturally. He got me because he tricked me into thinking he had completely lost control and was going to go fully berserk, rules or no."

"And the lesson here?" the Sensei asked.

"He's smarter than he looks."

"Jack, your critique of Andrea's performance?"

Razorback stood and handed over a piece of paper he had been writing on to the Sensei.

"Andrea is better than me, more skilled. She also needs to remember that if I was to actually lose it I would have gone for her throat, not her face." He read off the paper.

A few of the students chuckled, mildly, before Ito-Sensei released the class.

"Jack, a word before you leave."

Razorback walked over to Sensei and bowed.

"While I would like for your skills to be more developed, I am pleased with your control over your instincts. She did not see, but I did, that you were on the verge at one point."

Razorback nodded.

"If you learn nothing else, I would hope the skill you master would be total control over your animal side." Ito bowed and allowed Razorback to wander out to get ready for his next class.

* * *

What can you really say about High School Algebra? Boring? Exactly.

* * *

Razorback entered the Crystal Hall cafeteria and conducted his ritual of food gathering and wandered over to the table in Outcast Corner. He sat in his customary seat next to Caitlin and looked over at Jericho.

-Where's Sandra?--

He finally noticed the sour looks on the pair's faces and wondered what was going on.

"That bitch roommate of hers decided to have a joke at her expense. She Tie-dyed all her clothing with permanent ink and arranged to have a bucket of white paint 'accidentally' get thrown all over her. Quick-dry stuff." Jericho looked mad enough to fight, and Caitlin was chewing her food slowly and deliberately, almost perfectly mimicking Razorback's own tendencies when he was trying to fight down a violent outburst.

-Payback time?--

Jericho nodded slowly. "We'll have to be very careful about this. Nothing violent, but definitely something to get the message across."

-Sandra hiding out again?--

"Yeah. Probably. Some of that paint shit got in her hair, and she'll have to get it cut, too unless she wants to look like an idiot. And she's insecure enough about her appearance without piling this shit on her."

-Want me to go find her?--

Jericho nodded. "Yeah. She's not over at Whitman, Caitlin already looked."

-I'll go check the usual hiding spots, and that Faction three hidey hole, but I doubt she'd hang out there.--

"I doubt it too."

Caitlin looked over. "I'm gonna go get her some clothing replacements. God help me if I see that Trisha bitch in the open alone."

Razorback shook his head at her. He tapped a claw on the table and made a motion like he was hanging himself, head lolling over to one side, and his pointed black tongue dangling from the side of his mouth about a foot.

"Raz is right Caitlin. He knows about the retaliation game. He didn't learn how to not go for physical payback until after they put his mug shot on the threat board right below the Ultraviolents last year."

"Fine, but that bitch needs to get some payback That was royally fucked up." She stopped and looked at Razorback.

"Wait, you're on the threat board?"

Razorback just shrugged and wolfed down the plate, demonstrating just how fast he could eat. The tray was empty in thirty seconds. He got up and walked out of the cafeteria, moving with a purpose.

"How the hell did he get on the threat board? He's too friendly and mellow." He heard Caitlin say as he left.

------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------ -------------------------------------------


Erin cried silently to herself under the Outback sky. The men had tried to kill her, driven her like an animal from her home and family. "Freak" was the mildest epithet they spat in the ten-year-old girl's direction. They had cut her off, blocked her and shot at her! Guns were illegal in Darwin without some very hefty permits, and they had SHOT at her on the street just outside her own home. She idly rubbed the ribs where a bullet had hit her, then sealed painfully.

Dawn was coming soon. She needed to find a place to hide from the men. She'd run until her legs gave out, and she had no idea where she was, save for the small, three-toes footprints she left in the sandy soil. Her whole body hurt every now and then and she could feel her bones popping and cracking, reforming.

Her skin was scaly, a disgusting yellow and black non-pattern over most of her body. Her fingernails were turning into claws and her teeth were falling out rapidly, leaving behind tiny needlepoints of the insanely sharp teeth that would grow in their places. She was growing a tail from the base of her spine, and had had to slash open the ass of her pants to allow it through.

She was hungry, tired, scared, and upset. She wanted her mum and dad desperately, and she wanted to turn back into a little girl, and not some nightmare crocodile-thing. She pulled her hair out of her face and started moving, watching, smelling. She needed to find food, and soon.

A series of growls and barks alerted her to the two animals hunting her. Two yellow dogs were stalking her, separating to flank her on either side. The Dingoes were lean, and hungry, and they were coming in fast.

Teeth sank into Erin's arm, and leg, trying to drag her to the ground so they could get her neck more easily. She screamed and saw a red film cover her vision. Her body simply reacted to the attacks. The action was a blur of blood and yelps of pain.

When Erin regained control of her thoughts she realized she was lying contentedly in a pile of raw meat and gore, one of the Dingoes was half-eaten and torn apart. The other was lying a few feet away, throat torn out. She looked in horror at the bloody mess, and realized that she was still hungry. She didn't even have time to think about it when instinct kicked in and she began ripping the mutilated dingo carcass apart, eating it raw. To her, it actually tasted good.


------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------ -------------------------------------------

Razorback wandered through the campus at a fairly rapid pace, hunting for signs of his friend. The Faction Three den was a dud, as he had expected. Even Sandra, who was extremely insecure about her appearance, disliked going to the Faction Three meetings. It wasn't the appearances or personalities of the kids who went there that set the two of them, and Jericho's, teeth on edge. It was the air of mute acceptance of the fact that they would never be able to interact with normal people, or normal-looking people, that the Faction Three kids had. It just didn't feel right, separating themselves from the world to hide from it. That and they could almost feel the creeping aura of self-pity that seemed to saturate the place, even though for the students who enjoyed it, those feelings were lessened.

All of Sandra's hiding places were empty, except, of course, the last place he looked. He found her, alone, in the basement of the magic department where the students did work for advanced classes that required they learn the basics of making and empowering mystic items. It was all a load of bollux and mumbo-jumbo to him.

Sandra looked absolutely miserable. Her long, wild hair was mottled with an off-white color that was nauseating to look at when offset by her coloration, and the shirt and skirt were a riot of tie-dye color. It wouldn't have been so bad if Trisha hadn't picked the most repulsive shades of color she could find for the job. A mix of puke greens, piss-yellows and crocodile greys with a few other bits and splatters of color decorated the girl's clothing.

He walked up quietly and put a hand on her shoulder and she started crying again. Sometimes the simplest pranks could be the cruelest, he thought to himself quietly. The clothes could be replaced, but it was the hair that he knew had Sandra so worked up. Of her entire body, her hair was the only thing that looked fully human, and she valued that, as if it were the last thing reminding her she wasn't fully a monster, and Trisha had known that full-well.

Sandra's sobs petered out after a few minutes, so Razor took a step back and signed at her. -Hey Sandra, you going to be ok?--

The Naga girl shook her head. "Why won't people leave me alone?"

-Because they think they can get away with it. I got used to it over the past year. It doesn't bother you so much once you stop caring.--

"But I do care! I never wanted this! I just want to be normal again. I just want to go back to my life and be normal, hang out with Joe and not have to worry about being treated like a freakish monster for the rest of my life!" Sandra was probably the only person besides the teacher to refer to Jericho by his real name, ever. Joseph Turner, AKA, Jericho was just as happy with people misreading him and thinking his moniker was who he really was.

-I know Sandra. You'll find a way, trust me on this. Just because you look off doesn't mean you can't find yourself some happiness. Of the three of us, they pick you because they think I'll just hurt them, and they know Jericho will make them look like idiots. Everyone has their ways of coping. You just need to find yours. Sooner or later someone will see past the scales and see you for who you are.--

"God I hope not. The last thing I need is for anyone who knows me now to figure out what I looked like before I changed." Sandra shared a lot more in common with Razorback than damned near any student on the campus. Each had become reptilian, each had a fair number of frightening instinctive responses, and each had jumped the gender line with seeming abandon when their bodies twisted into the forms they now wore.

-What'll they do about it? If someone takes an issue with you, bite the fucker. That'll get 'em off your back right quick.--

Sandra chuckled, despite herself. "I wish I had your confidence Raz. Besides, biting them would only be a temporary solution. The docs keep the antidote to my venom on hand at all times."

-Such a pity. I was going to have you spit in a syringe for me so I could give Bloodwolf a surprise. There goes that idea.--

"So what do I do? I can't go out like this."

-Not to worry. Caitlin is off getting you something presentable, and Jericho is making plans to deal with Trisha. Something particularly nasty seems to be in order here. In the meantime, you and me are going to go see Spider over in Dickinson.--

"I'm not going anywhere near that cottage."

-Yes you are. We only have a few minutes of leeway to get you fixed up before your next few classes. And Spider's the only one who's both fast, and good enough to get you done.--

"How do you know her?" Sandra looked mildly curious.

-She owes me a favor from last year. I took a hit for her that was one of the incidents that got me put on the threat board.--

"Why did you do that?"

-I'm a guy, and she was hot. At least she has had the decency to not rub it in.--

Sandra could only shake her head at her friend as he led her in a roundabout route towards Dickinson, avoiding most of the other students. There were a few who gave her stares and laughed, but most had the decency to leave well enough alone.

Getting into Dickinson was just as aggravating as she knew it would be. Bungee was at the door, and stopped the two of them.

"Oh no, I'm not letting you two freaks into my cottage. You can turn your asses around and go back to your holes." Bungee was, of course, one of the prettier girls at school. Unfortunately she was also among the bitchiest and most prejudiced.

"We need to see Spider." Sandra hated dealing with confrontation, but she could be just as belligerent as Razor and Jericho were if pressed.

"I don't care what you're here for, piss off."

Razorback made a hissing bark and signed at Sandra. -We don't have time for this. Crunch time Sandra. We get in and get you fixed, or you go to classes looking like you attended an orgy inside a paint shop.--

Sandra nodded and gritted her teeth, steeling herself. "Bungee, let us through. I'm in a bad mood and if you don't move it'll be either Razor here mauls you or I bite you. Pick one."

"You don't have the guts snakeass."

"Maybe, maybe not, but he does." Sandra jerked her thumb at Razorback who was bristling, red membranes covering his eyes. "And you seem to be the only person here. Fancy that."

Bungee looked like she was chewing on something sour as she tried to decide if it was worth trying to take both reptilian freaks on at once, then moved out of the way with a sour look. The two GSD kids moved into the cottage and began hiking up to the third floor where the Juniors were housed. Razorback started sniffing the air, and finally knocked on a door and waited.

The door opened and a slender, beautiful girl opened the door. She had long, straight black hair, and fine features. Her ears were pointed like an elf. She looked at Razorback incredulously. "Razorback, what are you doing here?"

"He's calling in a favor you owe him, if you'll honor it." Sandra looked slightly hopeful.

"Uhhh, sure, what is it?"

"Can you fix this, please?" Sandra held up the ruined hair with pleading eyes.

Spider turned to Razorback. "You sure? I owe you for a lot more than that."

Razorback nodded once. -Yeah, Spider. I'm sure. I'll explain the reasons later, OK?--

She nodded. "OK Razor. Dad says Hi, by the way."

Sandra was looking mildly confused. "You two know each other?"

Spider waved them inside and shut the door.

"Who Razor here? Yeah, my Dad works for the Overwatch Defense Team. They picked Razor here after he'd been living off desert animals in the outback past Darwin about three years ago. I got to have my own Dinosaur friend for three years, and me and Dad taught him how to use sign language."

"Oh."

"All right, Diamondback, right? Sit in the chair and let's see what we can do with you."

The snake girl sat in the chair, coiling her lower body at the foot of the chair.

"Ugh, who did this to you?"

"My roommate." Sandra's voice was quiet.

Spider looked at the knotted mess and tried to pull some of the strands apart. "Looks like I'll need the scissors. Tell you what. This one's just a minor favor to fix. You any good with electronics?"

"Not really, but Jericho is, and Caitlin said she could figure stuff like that out fast."

"Fair enough. If you can get them to kick by Lab Bay Three and help me finish building my semester midterm project I'll call it even."

"I'll ask."

"Good, in the meantime, how do you feel about curly hair?"

* * *

Razorback linked up with Jericho back at their room as they pulled the sacred, to them, guitars off the walls and moved out towards the music class they attended together. Both boys were good enough that they had been placed in the advanced classes together rather than being forced through the basics. Unfortunately it also meant they were being measured against mutants with sonic powers. Sirens, Banshees, Screamers, and the rest all had advantages. What the two boys had was skill. The only person who could match their abilities in Guitar was Axel, but that particular boy could take a fart and make it sound like Beethoven's 5th.

The King, as their Instructor called himself, was a flamboyant, Afro-sporting Elvis impersonator and likely the best music teacher the school had. He was already on the stage, waiting as the students filtered into the classroom. Razor and Jericho shared a few silent jokes at the teacher's expense via sign language and waited till they could collect their gear and hook up. When their turn came up the two boys went up to a corner by themselves. Most of the other students were in groups of four or more, making them the odd men out. Razorback was easily the ugliest, most ferocious-looking student in the mix. Jericho was the most horrific to all the musicians. His sense of style could inspire all the best fashion designers in the world to commit seppuku.

Without waiting for permission the two hooked up to the amplifiers and began a few test riffs on the Guitars, tuning them at Razor's insistence. He was a perfectionist where music sounds were concerned, as he could hear and feel the sound vibrations. Some of the other students drove him absolutely batshit when they tweaked the music enough to make it sound off. Jericho did the count and the two slammed out the music riffs in perfect tandem, even without a drummer to guide the tunes. Jericho sang the song that went with it, snarling out the rough lyrics and playing the bass line while Razor slamdanced with his lead guitar.



With my perceptions in a mix
Down twenty miles through the sticks
To the cloudy town of hellview: population 96

Excessive vacancy, well maybe
In the shadow of an eye
All the strangers pass right through
Where the rules just don't apply

At the fork turn left a store
But on the right stay free from sight
cause 96 quite bitter beings
Like to stack the bodies high

The only way to ever leave is
Overflooded by the storm
And entanglement in hellview
Brings you fear in fifty forms
They've deleted all the tourists
At the bottom of the lake
And not one supports the cause
To leave the blood stay in the veins

Here, three miles back is where we are
All we ever wanted was an answer
Civilized are close but way too far
All we ever wanted was an answer

Footprints giving clue to where we are
All we ever wanted was an answer
Civilized are close but way too far
All we ever wanted... CKY (Camp Kill Yourself), '96 Quite Bitter Beings'


The music sounded incomplete somehow, and both knew it was missing a drummer and a rhythm guitar for the whole sound to come through. It drove both of them nuts that they couldn't put the whole thing together. Maybe they could get Sandra to actually agree to sing, but that still left them without a drummer and a Rhythm Guitar.

"Not bad boys, you're doing very well at this. But you should both really consider joining some of the other students in the class." The King critiqued them with the Elvis voice, which he matched damned close to a tee, although Razorback could feel the difference. "And Jericho, by God, why a kilt?"

The boy looked up and grinned. "I'm conducting an experiment to see if it is actually possible to make someone go completely insane by exposing themselves to fashion disaster."

"Well it's working boy. Let's try to use some wardrobe coordination in the future. Thankyouverymuch."

Jericho shrugged. "I'll try, but the whole lack of color perception makes it a bit hard. No promises."

"Razorback, help the boy out will you? Friends don't let friends wear plaid."

-Why? I like watching people scramble for the painkillers when they see him.-- The Lizardman signed while nodding sagely.

Jericho had to suppress a laugh. "He says he'll try to correct my color issues in the future, sir."

"You boys do that. NO NO NO NO NO!" He turned to another set of students who had begun playing. "What was that? There's no coordination, no style..." The amusing teacher walked off to give pointers to the other students, leaving the two partners in crime to themselves.

-Duelling guitars?--

Jericho nodded. "Duelling Guitars." He agreed sagely.

The pair began going back and forth, working up from basic tunes to complex riffs. The competition was to see who could go the furthest, mixing complexity with actual good sound. Any idiot could play a guitar fast, but it took skill to play a guitar fast and sound good doing it. A few of the students watched as the two buddies tried to outdo each other.

* * *

Razorback wandered off to his speedster combat class, feeling invigorated by the whole music class run. He loved music, just like Jericho, and the two of them bordered on obsession with it. It suited them both just fine, as music soothed the savage beast and rampaging smartass with equal efficiency.

The speedster class was overseen by a few teachers from the various disciplines as it sometimes took several sets of eyes to fully monitor the wild speedballs of the class. Razorback hated the class, as he was the most frequent butt of the fastball pranks that the speedsters were notorious for playing. Catching any of them at it was nigh impossible when they really tried.

He mostly kept to himself, practicing his running, trying to build up his endurance so he could hold his fastest speeds without tiring so rapidly. The upshot of his high-level speed was that he could put up credible competition with the really fast kids of the class, and his reptilian body offered several advantages in a fight. On the downside, he tired out too quickly to maintain the actual level of speed it took to keep up with them, leaving him the weakest fighter in the class by a few levels except when he could go all-out with claws, fangs and cheap shots, where he jumped damned near to the top.

Fifteen students in this sophomore class, and they pretty much universally hated his guts. He'd hurt quite a few of them during temper flareups his freshman year, and severely mauled two of them. Most of the other kids thought of him as a monster no better than Bloodwolf and took great joy in wearing him out and pounding his ass into the floor. Since his last quarter his freshman year he'd kept his impulses in check, and thus far had avoided injuring any of them. He figured that someday he might be able to break his rep as a psycho, but it would take a while.

When he left the class he looked over and saw the red flag flapping in the sky. He swore internally, and looked out for the nearest avenue that would take him towards his final class, Powers Theory. The Speedster gym shared space with the Daredevil classes, but they didn't have tunnel access, so he'd have to be careful as hell.

There, over by the storage sheds was a shady spot he could exploit while looking for an avenue out. He looked carefully back and forth, looking for any sign of the "normal" visitors, and vaulted into the opening, ripping across the intervening space in a matter of seconds. The Storage Building had tunnel access he could crack at. He darted inside and went hunting for the opening in the halls.

One of the rooms was cracked open and he peeked inside idly and saw a room from an occultist's wet dreams. A bed stood alone against one wall, and a computer graced the opposite wall on a desk. two laptops, one he recognized as a student laptop sat on the desk, next to one that teachers used. A desktop rig, painted all black sat on the desk, humming quietly. The entire room was covered wall-to-floor with arcane symbols, wards, runes and other things.

He looked at the door lock and saw it was offset, like someone had smashed the door open. The smell hit him, blood. Human blood, almost, scent wafted from the room. He entered and saw a black ballistic vest lying on the floor, covered in tiny silver runes, identical to Caitlin's clothing. Small drops of red trailed out the door. The bed frame was cracked, and the bathroom door was shattered. There had been a fight in here. He poked at the red drops to see it was a small, red disk of metal. It was what the scent was coming from.

Razor walked out, following the trail outside, and saw a SUV driving away from the building, heading off-campus. A small bit of glitter attracted his attention, and when he investigated he found a small, black and glassy pendant with odd silvery runes in the inch-wide pentacle. He recognized the pendant instantly, as well as the scent of the girl that was saturating it. The chain was snapped, and a tranquilizer dart lay nearby, covered in the blood-scented metal. He picked it up and sniffed it, then turned and bolted after the SUV. Someone had violated Whateley's neutral ground status and kidnapped a student.

Someone had kidnapped Caitlin.


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
--
Sent from my Bugs Industries® bPhone™
Razorback: ...Lest a Beast I Become [message #49658 is a reply to message #49656] Mon, 12 December 2011 21:23 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee is currently offline  Sir Lee
Messages: 3519
Registered: May 2005
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
This is fan fiction for the Whateley Academy series. It may or may not match the timeline, characters, and continuity, but since it's fan fiction, who cares? To see the canon Whateley Stories, check out the Crystal Hall.


Razorback

by J. G.

...Lest a Beast I Become

what I've felt
what I've known
never shined through in what I've shown
never free
never me
so I dub thee unforgiven
-Metallica, 'Unforgiven'


"Hey Jarhead, take a look at this thing!" The Australian Light Armored Recon trooper looked over at one of the marines they were training with. The Tarawa battlegroup was in port near Darwin, and they had joined the Australian army for training in the terrain that most Americans could only classify as "wooded desert."

"Jesus, what the hell is that? I never seen a lizard that big before." The two men were staring at a huge, spiked monster lizard, crammed into a shaded den, asleep. The thing was a mottled yellow and black color with a series of spines running down it's head and back. The thing was bloody huge, almost the size of a small man.

"I haven't either, mate. The ranges get crocs occasionally, but I never seen one that looks like this."

"Looks like a cross between a giant iguana and a Gila Monster." The marine replied.

"What should we do? I've never even heard of something like this."

The marine grinned. "Let's get a few guys from our squad and haul it out for a better look. Maybe we can figure out what the hell it is."

In typical, grunt fashion, the two squads gathered, staring at the big lizard. A little known fact about bored grunts is when they see something interesting in the field, nine times out of ten they will try to catch and screw with it, trying to figure out what it is. Since a good portion of most troopers of any stripe tend to grow up in areas with poisonous animals, they tended to know how to get at them without getting bitten.

The two squads had brought the company captains to the area, and the two men conferred and ordered the men to load their weapons before investigating further. Two of the men reached into the shallow hole and hooked the critter behind the forelegs and hauled, pulling the large lizard out of the hole. It was huge, and humanoid. It was also breathing shallowly, a dried tongue lolling out to the side.

The men studied the creature for a few minutes and got onto the radio. Whatever it was, it was obviously in a bad way, dehydrated and dying. During the wait, it opened it's eyes and made a few lurching moves, trying to get away, but was too weak. A low ululating howl reminiscent of the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park reverberated from it's mouth. The grunts on the ground watched in semi-fascination as it struggled towards one of the Aussie troopers, reaching up, and hooking claws on one of his canteens, tugging weakly.

Catching on quick several troopers pulled out canteens and tossed them towards the beast, which studied them for a few minutes, then began opening and draining them into it's maw at a frightening pace. It didn't take much brain power for them to figure out that it wasn't a lizard. It was a mutant.

The creature drained off all the canteens and lay on it's belly for a few minutes, crocodilian eyes closed, before it pulled itself up on all fours and shook itself off. The troops looked back and forth nervously as the lizardman hauled itself up on it's hind legs and seemed to turn, regarding them all with curiosity. It barked out a noise, and a few jumped, instinctively raising rifles. the Lizard shied away from the gun barrels.

About fifty meters back, the fascinated Australians and Americans never noticed that one of the Marines ' faces was twisted in hatred. These idiots were playing with that mutant abomination. The solution was easy. He raised his rifle and fired twice.

Two shots cracked out, and the Lizardman's chest exploded as the two shots entered it's body and it flopped limply to the sandy dirt. There was screaming, yelling, and shouted orders. In all of this the startled troops missed the sudden rumbling growl from the Lizardlike corpse. Only the Humans First! member in uniform saw the monster stand up, then blur into a whirling dervish of fang and claw, cutting down three soldiers before anyone could react

The panic began and shots burst out of the rifles, trying to stop the sudden attack in desperation. The troopers and leathernecks couldn't stop the thing. They just weren't equipped to tackle something like this.


------------------------------------------------------------ ----------------------------------------------------------

Monday evening, 4:44 pm

Feet falling in a fast rhythm , Razorback paced the SUV as it drove off Whateley property and onto one of the main roads. God I hope I'm not jumping at shadows here, Delarose and Carson'll have my ass if this isn't what I think it is. He wasn't really sure why he was chasing off to rescue someone he barely knew instead of calling security. Then again, Caitlin had been nothing but a good person to his tiny group of friends. She had done right by all of them. Just great, chasing after a pretty girl like a Knight in shining armor. God I'm an idiot.

He paced alongside the car, which was oddly keeping to the speed limit and doing nothing that would attract attention. Maybe that's the point. He filed it away for future reference and continued the dual task of keeping up and not being seen. The SUV turned onto a main road and headed in the direction of Dunwich. Not good. Whateley was a fairly open secret to most of the residents of the town, but they didn't like it when mutants attracted attention to themselves. Unfortunately he was committed. He had to see where they took her before he called in the cavalry.

The SUV began to pick up speed and he swore internally. Had they spotted him? If so they might kill her if they couldn't get away. He pushed himself faster, moving at a faster pace than his cruising speed of 60 MPH. He didn't know how long he could do it, given that he tended to wear out quickly going much faster. He had to use bursts of speed to keep pace, dodging trees, rocks and brush, and his lungs were burning something fierce. His muscles were on fire by the time they hit the outer boundary of Dunwich.

Broad daylight was not the time to be doing this. Shit. Goddammit I'm so screwed. Razorback wished that he'd had time to go get Jericho's tracker bugs. Maybe not, as in the time it would have taken him to get the trackers he could have pretty much savaged any group of assholes short of bricks in rapid order. Why won't these wankers cooperate just once and let me catch them?

Nothing for it now, he'd have to follow. Unfortunately he'd stand out like a sore thumb wearing nothing but his Pantera shirt and cut-off jeans. Fire escapes. The thought went into action and the Lizardman darted up one of the escapes and onto a building's roof quickly. He got to the top and looked. the nearest roof was forty feet away and the SUV was making a slow path through the town. Might be able to keep up... Maybe.

He hauled back and bolted for the edge, leaping over the unsuspecting heads of Dunwich traffic and pedestrians, hitting the next roof over at a dead run, and carrying on to the next one. He stopped and looked. The SUV had turned and was heading East into town. He gathered himself up and began jumping from rooftop to rooftop in the colonial-style town, praying dearly that he'd be able to keep up, and that he wouldn't be seen or heard.

* * *

"What do you mean, the camera feeds by the storage building is looped?" Forsyth looked irritated.

"Just what I said, man. Someone looped that specific set of cameras and the sensors have been sending the same feedback response for the last three hours." Rodriguez looked up at Forsyth calmly. "I don't know whet the hell someone would bother with that area. Nothing worth anything there unless they really love cleaning supplies."

"There's a student camped out there until they figure out where to house her." Forsyth hit the radio control. "Green, do a patrol sweep over by the maintenance storage sheds and have a look around. Lemme know if you find anything."

"Roger that." Came the terse reply.

"Alright, since you found the problem, can you unscrew the system?"

"Yeah now that I know it's there. I'm filtering the bullshit out now." Rodriguez tapped at the keyboard silently for a minute before the monitors snapped back to their normal view. "Looks like everything is clear."

"How about inside the building?"

A quick scan showed nothing odd inside the building itself. They could see Green pacing around the building and crouching on the monitor.

"Hey I found something." The Security officer stood up, holding something.

"What you got, Green?" Forsyth asked calmly.

"Tranq dart. Looks like a pistol type. There's something that looks like blood on the needle here."

"Anything else?"

"Vehicle tracks about van size, and some three-toed, reptilian or bird-like, clawed footprints heading in the direction of the tire marks."

"Shit, bring that in and get it to the docs, I want to find out whose blood that is, now."

"I'm on it."

"Rodriguez get on the scanners. I want you to find me where Razorback and Caitlin Bardue are, now."

"Uh, Forsyth, you think someone was dumb enough to pull a snatch?" Rodriguez asked.

"Does it matter? If we don't check Delarose will have our asses if someone did. We need to find out who got grabbed and we need to find out NOW!"

"Right. I'm on it." Rodriguez began tapping on the keyboard again.

Forsyth looked around and hit the intercom to the Chief's office.

"What?" Came Delarose's voice over the com.

"Chief we got a possible snatch in the last three hours. Someone looped the sensor feeds and Green found a blooded tranq dart over by the storage sheds."

"I'll be there in a moment."

Chief Delarose came out after approximately twenty seconds. "All right what we looking at?"

"Bloody tranq dart out by where the Bardue kid was housed. We're checking for her now. And a set of three-toed reptilian footprints following said tracks."

"How many students on campus with that foot pattern Rodriguez?" Delarose looked at the monitors thoughtfully.

"Three sir, the others have more toes." He kept looking at the sensors and monitors. "Forsyth has me doing a search for Caitlin and Razorback, and I'm not finding traces of her or that cold-blooded little bastard anywhere on campus. Attendance roster today shows both of them missed their sixth period classes. Razorback was a no-show for his grounds keeping job."

"Forsythe?"

"Yes Chief?"

"Put the teams on alert, and inform Carson. We have one MIA student, one Caitlin Bardue, likely the subject of a snatch. We also have one Jack Carlyle, AKA Razorback off campus and likely in pursuit."

"She's not going to like this."

"No shit. Get going." Delarose turned to Rodriguez. "Get on the radio and broadcast monitors. You know Razor well enough to know what to listen for. Maybe the bastards will be stupid enough to broadcast something on an open channel and give us a hint."

"You think Razorback was in on it?"

"Maybe. I doubt it. Tell the teams that he is to be considered a suspect. He was putting good effort, but you can never be sure." Delarose looked over at the threat list, staring at the mug shot of a lizardlike face.

"Chief, Dunwich P.D. is in pursuit of what they're calling a monster. Description fits our missing boy."

"Has anyone been injured?"

"Not yet sir. Apparently they're having a hard time keeping up with him. Sounds like he's trying to get clear of them."

"Put it on the main speaker."

* * *

Razorback snarled and dodged the helicopter again, ducking into an alleyway. Police sirens wailed in the background as he tried to find an avenue of escape. Stupid goddamned cops! He bolted out into an intersection and into another alleyway. The Helicopter kept pace fairly easily. He'd never hope to outrun a police bird.

It was a stupid error. He'd gotten close enough to see the SUV pulling into a Warehouse area, when he'd tripped up one of his jumps. He'd crashed into the edge of a bank roof and knocked himself out and to the pavement below for a few minutes, long enough for the cops to be called and arrive, and now he was playing dodgecop with a traffic copter. The sirens kept getting close.

He couldn't simply burn speed to get away. The Helicopter could outpace him easily, and he'd be bone-tired and useless after about a minute. He was still feeling hungry and worn out from the run to Dunwich. He needed food, plus he needed to find Caitlin and quick. His past experiences with uniforms of any stripe did not engender confidence that the cops would simply talk to him and help him. They were chasing him like a rabid animal. Oh the irony.

He came out of the Alley as a police cruiser pulled up in front of him and the officer jumped out, levelling her sidearm. Razor lurched forward with an animalistic shriek, claws extended, vision going red. The officer screamed as the impossibly fast monster bore down on her with murderous red eyes.

Razor caught himself at the last minute and darted to the side when the cop fired, using his momentum to vault off a building wall and carry him over and past the terrified cop. Dammit I have to end this now! He thought as he raced. The terror and rage were slamming him like a jackhammer, adrenaline driving him further into the feral mindset.

He bolted straight down one of the side roads at about 60 mph and looked desperately for an escape route. He didn't want to kill some damned cop because he couldn't get a handle on himself.

* * *

Officer Jared Bridges looked over at his partner, and the three other police officers at the blockade. The other officers were driving the monster right to them. Reports were that the thing was fast, and had almost killed Delaney. The five cops looked at each other nervously. Banker and Samson both held shotguns over the hoods of the squad cars. The rest of them held nine-millimeter pistols ready, praying that the other pursuers would bag this thing.

The creature burst from an alleyway at a speed that was terrifying to watch. It bore right at them for a second, looked to each side, then charged, shrieking like a crazed animal. Gunfire ripped out, the officers desperately trying to drop whatever it was, but it moved too damned fast to get a bead on.

Banker and Samson were the first to get hit as the critter vaulted the cruisers between them. They both were thrown to the ground and the beast was amidst the cops like a lunatic pinball, snarling and hissing like a demon. The other officers went down fast, and he found himself trying to bring his pistol around when it was torn from his fingers. The monster looked at him with those inhuman eyes, and chirped in a tone that was almost apologetic.

The open palm strike threw him to the ground. When he recovered there was no sign of the thing, and the other four officers were picking themselves up off the pavement, recovering weapons that had been taken and dropped wherever seemed convenient. No one seemed injured badly, just shaken.

Banker, the only female officer in the group spoke first. "Why didn't it kill us?"

* * *

There were times when Razorback could simply kiss Ito-Sensei. This was one of them. He'd managed to avoid hurting the cops, simply scattering them and disarming them when he fought back the kill instinct that carried him into their midst. He must be better at the Aikido tricks than he thought, and the fact that he didn't have human blood on his claws left him with a feeling of elation that allowed him to drive back the killer instincts further.

He ducked around a corner and his heart leapt. A manhole cover. He vaulted forward and pried it loose, dropping it back into place behind him as he dropped into the sewers.

The sewers of Dunwich stank worse than the ones back home in Darwin. The painful reek of effluvia were everywhere amidst the rainwater runoff and stagnant pools of water. He shook his head to clear his watering eyes and began the painful process of forcing himself to calm down. He'd had two near-misses with the cops and could not afford to risk one of his violent episodes. Friend or not, he wasn't going to kill an innocent bystander, or worse several, for one person, no matter how cool she seemed to be.

He started walking in the general direction of what he believed to be the warehouse area he'd seen the SUV at. It rapidly became apparent that he didn't know where the hell he was, or where he was going. He parked himself under a manhole cover to wait for night to fully fall.

* * *

Monday evening, 6:15 pm

Jericho paced back and forth in his room, wondering where the hell Razorback had gotten off to. He'd missed sixth period and he'd missed work, and Security had come by asking questions about where he was. Jericho was getting worried. Razorback was a cool kid, but he had a well-deserved reputation for violence that worried him. He and Sandra had missed Razor's freshman year, for which he was profoundly thankful. If they had seen him in action then, from the stories, they'd likely have never gotten to know and be friends with the silent kid.

He looked outside. There was no bloody way Razorback would be outside a building at this time. His Ampule kit for his body heat regulation was still here at the dorms out and it was cold enough outside to drop his friend into a torpid coma within an hour or two. The kit would have worn off over an hour ago.

He looked around. All his friend's stuff was still there, not that he'd had much to begin with. Razorback's possessions consisted of several sets of ragged clothing and a very well-kept Guitar. There was no sign that he was leaving of his own accord.

Jericho reached over, grabbed his cane and began walking over to a trunk that sat against his wall. Out of it he pulled a small, foot long housecat-looking robot. He switched the device on and pulled a line of computer cable, plugging it into the robot, running the other end of the line to a jack positioned at the base of his skull, hidden by the dreadlocks.

A few seconds later he removed the cable, opened a window, and dropped the steel-grey thing to the ground. The Cat-thing scampered across the campus, searching for signs of it's target.

* * *

Monday evening, 8:22 pm

No one saw the manhole cover open, or the slow sluggish figure lurch from the storm drains. It was just as well, since Razorback's movements were slow and tired. He was fighting for every inch of ground, creeping through the alleyways and through empty yards of Dunwich proper. He needed his med kit. In the confusion he'd forgotten that all-important piece of gear. Unfortunately if he'd gone to get it he'd never have been able to track the bastards to Dunwich.

Razor surveyed the warehouse once he got close. Everything was quiet, no obvious guards, no dogs. Fine by him. He climbed the building's roof access and crept into the vent area, dearly wishing he could move faster, do something. Even if he could find Caitlin, he'd be hard-pressed to do anything about it unless someone was kind enough to light him on fire. Never know, someone could try it.

Surprisingly, he found a skylight. The inside of the building was well-lit, and he could see everything below. There were no boxes, just a lot of candles lit in an odd pattern. He could see Caitlin strapped down to some kind of table. She was passed out, had to be. There was no way that they could hold her down otherwise. There were eight people moving about, drawing symbols painstakingly in the walls and floor of the concrete building. There was a ninth, standing next to Caitlin, seeming to quietly stare at her.

He moved to a ventilation duct and experimentally tugged on it. He felt warmer air than outside blowing from the opening and he had to get inside to warm up and plan his next move. He looked back at the skylight and stopped cold. The figure standing next to Caitlin was gone, vanished.

"And what do we have here?" An arrogant voice spoke barely audibly behind him.

Razor turned and saw the figure standing there, done up in black clothing with silvery-gold symbols woven into the cloth. Far from Caitlin's turbo-wiccan garb, this guys clothing looked like it had been made for aesthetic reasons. The man was thin, has finely chiselled features, silvery short hair and webbed ears, like a fish's fin. He also held a delicate-looking sword with a tarnished blade and basket-hilt. The sword looked ancient and unimpressive.

-So you're the cocksmoker who took my friend.-- Razorback signed.

"Sign Language? How quaint. Who sent you?"

-You are so fucked when people find out you violated Whateley and kidnapped a student.--

"They have to realize someone's missing in time, monster. Who do you work for, the Syndicate?"

-Wouldn't you like to know.-- Razor rasped out a feral screech and launched himself at the web-eared mutant, lashing out with fangs and claws on all four limbs.

He was too sluggish, and that damned blade was in the way, constantly. He could almost feel a searing hum as the thing burned the air around it. The thing was vibrating somehow, like a raspy saxophone with a broken reed. It whistled through the air rapidly, as the man moved and parried his attacks with pathetic ease.

Razorback was slowing down far too much. The cold air was biting into him, and the man seemed to be picking up speed, blurring into a seeming whirlwind of motion as time went by. A strike to his chest elicited a shriek of pain, and the Lizard-man went limp.

The man looked at the limp creature and clicked on his radio. "Coleman, get up here to the roof. We have an intruder. He looks to be a regenerator, so move fast."

* * *

The cat-construct padded through the snow, tirelessly, tracing the tracks it found, and searching for it's target amidst the snow-capped buildings of Dunwich. The tracks criss-crossed and overlapped, zig-zagging in a mad pattern, branching this way and that.

The Cat thing let an antenna unfold from it's back and sent a burst transmission to it's maker.

* * *

Tuesday morning, 3:46 am

Chief Delarose watched Forsyth scan the broadcasts silently. The police and all other authority bands were resuming normal radio traffic. There was no sign of Razorback, or Caitlin.

He watched the monitors quietly. The Magic department had spent the last eight hours trying to scry the location of either student, with no success. Wherever they were, they were shielded from attempts at scrying, and shielded well. He sat quietly and waited for the investigative team reported in or the kidnappers screwed up. Carson had assured him there would likely be no ransom note for the girl.

He waited and listened, and contemplated how things were going to get when word got out that Whateley's neutrality had been violated again. The various organizations were still spitting mad, from all accounts, about the assault on the school Halloween night. Now it looked like some folks were refusing to acknowledge Whateley as neutral ground. He almost pitied the bastards behind this.

* * *

Tuesday morning: 5:30 am

Gunnery Sergeant Oscar Bardue was up in the morning. He and the range crews had cancelled the regular firearms classes and were all sitting at range two in full Tac gear waiting for Delarose to give the word. Sergeant Ryan Wilson of the Army Rangers was nearby, smoking a cigarette and reading a book, looking mildly bored, although he had a very nasty-looking assault-rifle within easy reach. Sergeant-Major Sean Burlington Smythe stood nearby, watching the clock quietly. Normally in a situation like this they would have two more, but they were short two hands on the ranges.

Sergeant-Major Smythe looked over at Bardue. "You're awfully calm for someone in your position."

"Yeah, well, panicking won't pull Caitlin outta the fire." The old African-American Marine was beyond pissed off. Of all three men in the room he was the only one who fully understood the stakes of this situation.

"You going to be good for this if we get called to lay down the law, Gunny?" The Scotsman brogue was thick as ever as he addressed the team.

'I'm good to go Sergeant-Major. You call 'em, we kill 'em. Those sons of bitches better not hurt her."

"I agree. Until then, we wait."

* * *

Tuesday morning: 7:52 am

"Nice sword asshole, where'd you get it?" Caitlin's snarly voice intruded into his consciousness.

"Such language from such a young lady." There was web-ear.

Razorback opened his eyes and scanned the area. He was hanging on a wall by his arms, some kind of rope holding him aloft. The sickly-sweet scent of ritual candle assailed his nostrils. The walls were covered about a quarter in glyphs and wards, and the crew that was working on putting them together had tripled. He counted at least twenty extra bodies working on the symbols, which seemed similar to the ones he'd found in the storage building.

"Can it fucker. You're the one who kidnapped me, don't expect me to be a civil hostage." Caitlin was struggling against the seemingly thin silvery shackles that held her to the stone table she was on. Her entire body was rippling and screaming like an unholy dynamo.

"Be glad it's me and not some others I could name. They would have taken you for less noble aims."

"Noble aims? Noble aims??? You sonofabitch I was fine at Whateley! What's so goddamned noble about drugging and kidnapping me? What the fuck, you got a sick bondage fetish or something?"

Razorback watched the byplay calmly. He was waiting for an opening. They obviously had no clue what he was capable of, now that he was warmed up. He bided his time, in hopes that the web-eared weirdo would give something away.

"Hardly. Look on the bright side my dear. In a few hours you will have full control of your powers. Think of it. No more having to wear those wards, no more painful, uncontrolled magics."

"No more freedom, no mind, no life, no soul. Let me the fuck out of here you sick fucker! I swear to Christ when I get loose I'm gonna rip your goddamned head off!" Caitlin was screaming at this point. Razorback had never seen her remotely this close to enraged or frantic. Whatever they had planned for her couldn't be good.

"In a few hours ripping my head off will be furthest for your mind."

"Just let me go. And let the lizard go for fuck's sake. He has nothing to do with this!"

"Ah, so he's a friend of yours." The man turned to razorback. "Sorry my dear, I cannot risk you falling into the hands of someone who would use your talents in less than humanitarian ways."

The man turned back to her. "They would find you too. Every move you make, every snap and crack of that energy sends ripples through the mana, weave, Ley lines and resonance of every mystic object, spell and sense for thousands of miles. The closer one gets the harder it is to see from the normal background, but you might as well be wearing a beacon saying I'm here. Come get me!"

"AND YOU MAKING ME INTO A MINDLESS FUCKING SLAVE WILL MAKE THIS ALL BETTER?" Caitlin was screaming again.

"I'm sorry my dear, but it really is for your own good, and the good of everyone around you.": The man turned. "I really couldn't expect you to understand, but what must be, must be. As you are you are a walking disruption to the mystic balance around you."

Caitlin lurched and shook like she was having a seizure, trying to shatter the bonds holding her to the table. Her aura of energy whipped and flared like a dynamo. Razorback mused that they must be strong to be able to hold her steady. He'd seen her knock around the Ultraviolents like rag dolls.

The man walked up to Razorback. "So what do I do with you now? Unfortunately I can't just let you go. Not as is."

Razor waited until the man was just within reach and lunged for his face, snapping his jaws where the man's head had been mere instants earlier. You're faster than you look you fucking Yank Wanker. He thought to himself.

"It's almost time. I'm sorry my dear, but I just cannot allow you to move while I perform the ritual. So I believe I'll be keeping you unconscious for the duration." Caitlin lunged, trying to break loose and kill the man. Several of the workers shot nervous glances in the direction of the tall woman strapped to the table.

Razorback chirped to himself quietly. They were ignoring him. Good. He wasn't perceived as a threat. He watched as the man brought out a simple necklace, and settled it over Caitlin's thrashing form. She stopped as if poleaxed and slumped back onto the table. Razorback looked at her eyes and saw the metallic disks centered in them. For a moment he could swear there was nothing there.

* * *

The metal cat bounded up to the warehouse, creeping around and looking for an entrance. The ladder going up was convenient, and it climbed the steps in odd mockery of a human. When it got to the roof it padded over to the skylight and focused it's optics into the well-lit room.

The cat extended an antenna.

* * *

Tuesday morning, 11:37 am

Jericho was in Music class, half-heartedly playing his bass guitar when the buzzing noise went off. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a small pager looking device and flipped it open, holding it to his ear. A series of whirs and clicks accompanied the transmission, and he grinned maniacally.

"Gotcha you son of a bitch." He packed up his guitar, and left the class.

He wandered into his room, looking around for his computer the school had issued and booted it up, plugging his neural link into the machine and the receiver.

The room became superimposed holograms to his eyes, the room a bare shadow beneath the simulation. He could see color here, rather than simple shapes and textures. He looked at the transmission and opened several files and began patching in the transmission feed. A simple image window opened up to his vision, and he found himself staring through what looked like a skylight window down at the chained form of Caitlin Bardue. The view panned over and he counted twenty-seven goons working on the walls and floor of the warehouse it looked like they were in.

There, on the wall. Razorback was hanging by his arms from the restraints the bad guys had slapped on him. Resolution wasn't good enough to see what was holding him. He looked limp, saggy. Dead.

Jericho snarled and punched in the command for location transmission. A map of Dunwich superimposed itself on his vision, and a pulsing red dot burned at one point on the map. "That's it, bitch, come to papa Jericho. I'll take real good care of you." He called up a transfer and he heard a phone ring.

"Hello?" The familiar, female voice answered.

"Sandra, it's Joseph. I found Cait and Razor. Meet me in the back forty by the underground range. I'm gonna get a few of my toys."

"What's going on?"

Jericho sounded grim. "I found the guys who snatched our friends. They got 'em shelved in a warehouse in Dunwich. Looks like they're gonna do some kinda ritual sacrifice on Cait. They got Razor stretched along a wall like Jesus on the cross."

"I'll be at the range in eight minutes."

"All right Sandra, I got a call to make."

He hung up and looked back at the monitor and saw a figure standing above Caitlin looking like he was pulling her clothing off when all hell broke loose. Razor ripped himself off the wall and Jericho was treated to a few seconds of just how violent his best friend could actually be.

He disconnected and bolted from his room, running full tilt, fighting sudden fear and nausea in equal measure. That was far more visceral than he was used to.

* * *

The Web-eared man looked over at the assembled men and women. "Are the wards in place?"

"Yes sir." One woman called out.

"Very well. To your places. Let's begin."

The men and women moved to positions around the Warehouse, as much defensive as it was ritual. The Web-eared man took Caitlin's gloves off, then released the shackles. She did not move. He began pulling away her shirt without her resisting when he heard the screams.

Razorback shrieked in feral fury when he saw the man undressing Caitlin. He twisted, contorted and planted his feet against the wall, slamming hard enough to tear loose from his bonds, relieving him of a large amount of skin and scales in the process. Red membranes slid over his eyes and this time he let the animal out.

Four of the acolytes went down like wet sacks from the violent cuts to their guts and chests. The whirling dervish of teeth and claws whipped from person to person faster than they could react, attacking and dropping them to the ground. He had a clear shot at the leader. The sword flashed out, but this time he had full control of his reflexes.

The arrogant man screamed as fangs shredded his wrist, forcing him to drop the tarnished blade. He dove back behind his followers while the reptilian attacker dove and spun, keeping them all at bay. Razor never moved far from the girl on the table, lashing out at anyone or anything that came near.

Razorback was able to get his instincts under control long enough to reach over and tear the amulet off Caitlin's throat. His hand burned in agony as the girl's corona erupted in full fury and she jerked herself off the altar. A psychopathic scream erupted from the girl's throat and she looked around, snatching up the tarnished sword. Razor flanked her, cradling his cooked fingers while they knitted painfully.

He let out a low, ululating challenge to anyone who cared to get close. The men and women arrayed before them looked very reluctant to get close, looking at the six twitching and moaning bodies that Razorback had torn into without blinking. He did wish she'd put that blade somewhere. That vibration emanating from it was, to him, rather akin to fingernails on a blackboard.

There was a dead silence for a split second and both sides came to a decision at about the same time. The acolytes charged as Caitlin and Razorback leapt into the fray, screaming and howling incoherently. Sword and claw met knife and gun in a deadly dance. Eight more humans fell dead or seriously wounded when the ground around the mage who had wielded the sword erupted around him, forming two stony, vaguely humanoid masses. The two stone things charged, bypassing the now-retreating humans to wade into the fray with the two mutants.

Caitlin went completely psycho, diving, slashing and punching the beast in front of her. Her punches and kicks seemed to have little effect, but the blade cut deep gouges in the concrete body-form of the monster. She wielded the straight blade like an inexperienced fencer, slashing and stabbing quickly while ducking the ponderous attacks of the beast that was trying to get ahold of her.

Razorback found his claws skittering off the stony skin of the elemental mass. He was easily able to get in and out of reach, but he couldn't hurt the damned thing. He screamed defiance and attacked again and again, refusing to be beaten when it happened.

Caitlin got caught in the grip of one of the concrete monsters,and started thrashing and shaking madly. Her corona erupted into a brilliant nightmare field of fire and fury. The stone monster cracked, collapsed and exploded into chunks of rock at her feet.

Razorback bolted away from the rock-thing and watched as it turned to chase when Caitlin walked up behind it. She was flicking her wrist at an insanely rapid pace, and a wild storm of energy was erupting around her hand. the flickering hand began glowing a cobalt blue color and she slapped the open palm to the elemental form.

The results were immediate, as the coruscating energy exploded outward like a lash, blasting the giant thing across the warehouse, shattering it against the opposite wall. She turned slowly and charged the suddenly scattering humans. The wild storm of energy exploded around her, arcing and twisting like an insane Aurora Borealis. Razorback wasted no time, diving into the mass of acolytes like a berserker on a rampage.

The mystic energies were violent and uncontrolled, warping and twisting the now-ruined runes that had been protecting the warehouse until the idiots had broken the links by calling up the floor to attack them. Where the energy struck, things happened. One man simply vanished, while a woman dropped to the ground, screaming as her legs warped and twisted, becoming thick, octopus like tentacles.

The havoc continued until the last man standing was the mage. His web-eared face was twisted in concentration while his followers writhed and moaned on the ground, some dead, some not. Caitlin seemed to force her emotions back under control, and looked at the man. Razorback could see the faint shimmer of something resembling a force field.

"Nice sword." Caitlin gritted her teeth as she talked. "Too bad you don't know what it is, otherwise you might have been a lot harder to deal with."

Razorback crept along the back wall, circling around behind the mage, who he could hear and feel mumbling under his breath, face a mask of concentration. He grinned inwardly. She was buying him time to get in position.

"Such a pity too. You had no clue what you had in your hands." She gave an evil grin. "And now it's mine again."

Caitlin dropped to one knee, holding the blade out and up and began speaking. "Savihelo de L'atara tuatha mare Kodala mei kala Danaan."

The blade blazed white for a minute, the tarnished weapon sloughing off a thousand years of wear and tear. The impossibly silvery blade reflected the light perfectly, and the ornate and elegant basket hilt was a mix of ornate golden and silver filigree. The blackened leather lightened to a rich purple color. Razorback felt the vibration change from a maddening screech to a pure tone, light and musical as the blade shifted to it's true form. She stood back up and stalked forward.

She lunged forward, striking for the man's heart. The blade pierced the shield and it burst like a child's bubble on a needle.

He snarled out a few incoherent words as the blade plunged in and Caitlin stopped, frozen, then slowly rose into the air, hands to her side, blade gripped tightly.

"Impressive, dear. How exactly did you know how to unlock the blade's full powers?" He grimaced. "I've spent the past twenty years trying to puzzle out the key."

Caitlin grinned maniacally. "Only ten people could claim the blade. Nine of them are dead."

"How is it you are the tenth?"

"Because I made it. Say hello to Callanagh, Blade of Anlendal."

"That's impossible, you're just a child."

"Hah. You wish I was a child. You might have a few flunkies left."

"So now I have you again. We'll just have to start over."

Caitlin smiled beatifically. "I know something you don't know," she intoned in a cheerful, singsong voice.

"Oh really, and what is that?"

Razorback lunged , slamming into the mage from behind, ripping and tearing away with abandon. He let go when the screaming ceased. He slumped over, suddenly drained, breathing heavily.

"I know better than to stop for a chat with my enemies while they have a friend creeping up behind me you stupid asshole." The Metal-haired girl slumped to her knees and simply began crying, then fell over onto her side, eyes glazed over.

Razorback darted over to check her when her body seemed to shimmer and glow with a ghostly light. A woman seemed to rise from her body, a spirit, standing and looking around. She was identical to Caitlin, save for a series of repulsive metallic green tattoos that covered her body in whorls and spirals and mad designs that made his mind scream in protest to look at them. She looked around, and shifted to the form of a petite Brunette woman who smiled at razor and faded.

As he watched incredulously, another ghost erupted from her skin, again identical, save for pale blue, elfin designs that covered her naked body. The ghost began running for the sky, shifting to a man's form as it did. A third and forth, in their own unique gold and grey patterns rose and vanished after becoming other people two more, one with rich purple markings and another with sea green slipped away and flew, vanishing as they did.

The last ghost to rise was covered in a metallic black series of tattoos. She looked at Razorback, walked over and gave a kiss to his forehead. "Help her." She said before the tattoos faded, leaving her looking identical to Caitlin, save for normal black hair and emerald green eyes. She vanished slowly, leaving Razor stunned stupid until he realized that Caitlin was sobbing quietly. He didn't know what he'd just seen, wasn't sure he wanted to, but it became readily apparent that Caitlin likely had one helluva tale to tell.

He silently walked over and picked up the gloves that the man had managed to peel off her and gently slid them back onto her hands and picked the sword up off the floor, walked over to the dead man, took his scabbard, and slid the blade home, tying the whole array off to Caitlin's belt. A thought hit him, and he took the broken pendant from his pocket, untangled it, and discarded the broken links before re-clasping it to her neck. The pentacle looked right back with it's owner.

He searched around and found the remains of Caitlin's obsidian knife. It had been cracked and shattered when the acolyte who had been wielding it's body had been trampled by the stone monsters. He shoved the fragments away and looked around before walking over and picking Caitlin up and carrying her to a bloodless corner of the warehouse, wincing whenever the energies of her body seared him.

A few of the acolytes were alive, mostly the ones who had been transformed by the eldritch energies that had burst out around the girl and were now desperately trying to wake up from the new nightmare that had just taken over their lives.

He changed direction abruptly, wandering out to the SUV parked outside, loading his suddenly exhausted and sleeping friend into the vehicle. He looked in the Warehouse one more time and found a small case near the altar. He picked it up and walked out the door and climbed into the drivers' seat. He tore the back out to make room for his tail and began the highly entertaining process of trying to teach himself to drive an automatic transmission. He never noticed the robotic cat-thing clinging to the back bumper of the car. .

* * *

Jericho caught the tracker in the robot moving and waved to the helicopter pilot. The entire group in the Helicopter saw it, a Black SUV drifting down the road towards Whateley Academy a few miles outside of Dunwich. He listened for a minute to the transmissions and nodded. The helicopter tore off ahead of the road-bound vehicle, quickly outpacing it.

"Move it!" Sergeant-Major Smythe shouted as the helicopter hit the deck and spun down, blocking the road. The three rangemasters dove out of the vehicle and took station at a wide point around the helo. They moved with precision and speed, making him and Sandra look like rank amateurs, which they were.

The two friends dropped off and took their assigned positions. Jericho held a medium-sized rifle in hand and had it trained down the road. Diamondback slipped off the road and hid, her job was to get in close if things got messy.

They waited for what seemed to be a small eternity when the headlights crept up closer. The SUV slowed and stopped a good fifty meters from the chopper and the window rolled down. Everyone relaxed a bit when Razorback's head popped out. The Lizardman shrieked out a odd sound and hopped out of the vehicle, hands to the sky. He was covered in blood.

-This doesn't look like the Outback Steakhouse-- the smartass lizard signed.

Jericho laughed and lowered his rifle as the three combat troopers pushed forward to the van and found the sleeping kidnap victim curled up in the back seat, unharmed.

"Goddamn it Razor, it's good to see you."

-Wish I could say the same, you're still wearing that dress.--

Diamondback slithered out of her cover and went up to her erstwhile missing friend. Razor looked at her and was amazed at the work Spider had done with her. Sandra's red-brown hair was done in thick curls that fell just below her shoulders. All in all she looked good.

The Whateley teachers gingerly loaded the sleeping girl into the chopper and waved the three friends over. Razorback reached into the SUV and pulled out a black attache case before they obliged, climbing into the helicopter and cruising off into the winter sky.

To be continued in Eldritch: Ashes of an old life.


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
--
Sent from my Bugs Industries® bPhone™
Eldritch: Ashes of an Old Life chapter 1 [message #49659 is a reply to message #49656] Mon, 12 December 2011 21:31 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee is currently offline  Sir Lee
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Registered: May 2005
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
This is fan fiction for the Whateley Academy series. It may or may not match the timeline, characters, and continuity, but since it's fan fiction, who cares? To see the canon Whateley Stories, check out the Crystal Hall.

Eldritch: Ashes of an Old Life

by J. G.

Chapter 1
Form for War


And I'm staring down the barrel of a 45,
Swimming through the ashes of another life
No real reason to accept the way things have changed
Staring down the barrel of a 45.
-Shinedown, '45'


The watcher slipped through the school grounds, silent and unseen It looked upon the school grounds and began hunting for it's quarry. It had to move carefully, as a good number of the odd mortals that infested this place, most of them in fact, were empowered. A rather large handful were capable of both sensing and even doing it harm.

Fast slide through a seemingly unoccupied slice of the campus revealed a cottage that fairly screamed power. Naked, Fae magics, Demonic wisps and a focus for balance all in the same place. This on top of more... disturbing energies prompted the watcher to skirt well around the campus, hunting once again for the focal nexus of it's search.

It slipped around the backside and found it's quarry, shielded under wards that muffled the vibrations in the flows. It slipped around, hidden in the currents, and looked in on it's quarry. The human seemed so innocuous in her room, normal almost. She was sitting at a small table, poring over two glass jars, one filled with a metallic green liquid, the other a dull cobalt blue.

It chuckled to itself. It had never expected this! The slave was trying to circumvent the master, and by all appearances was playing with the very shackles that were to bind her. It smirked, and looked at the tangled threads quietly. Well the master had commanded that the tool only fall to worthy masters, and the buffoon who would claim her hardly qualified. It could have, SHOULD have, destroyed her inks and her tools for making it.

It was far too intrigued. What would happen if the slave mastered herself? It was too good an opportunity to let by. It may not be able to directly interfere, but it could shuffle things around to make things interesting. A bit of chaos was always needed in the great game. The two sides of the coin were complacent and needed shaking up. The slaves were easy tools to provide that wild card. What if the wild card was the one to choose which way the tides went?

In any case, the game was getting interesting. It could see that the normal bindings of fate upon the slave's soul were already starting to fray and snap. The cage was weakening. Either the slave needed to find a master, or it would get to see firsthand the ripples in the pond... Still, there was the daft fool who would come to this place for her. Even it could recognize the value of a place where both sides walked freely.

This could not be let go! It suddenly smiled to itself and slipped away from it's quarry. Fate was it's game, but the slave was already beginning to rapidly wear away the threads that bound her. Free will was such a pain in the ass sometimes and the mortals insisted on using it. It made the observance of the game so much more fun. But how to up the ante?

A memory. A sword! Yes. the fool would never realize the trinket for what it was, nor would he be able to use it. Things had to be arranged to have the sword... But that was a thought for another time! It flited through the currents and found the fool, and laid the visions of a tarnished blade in the man's mind, slowly guiding his conscious mind to the thing's resting place. It would see how the little slave would react when confronted with a master.


------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------ --------------------------------------------

Monday morning: 3:37 am

Caitlin looked up at the alarm clock settled next to her bed. She didn't know why she bothered, since she had already slept three days ago. It was maddening, knowing that she could only sleep occasionally, and only for an hour at that. It was something she did more or less out of habit, and she was rapidly losing the ability to do even that. Her altered body seemed absolutely tireless, as she had discovered running on the school track at full speed for three hours without any real signs of exertion.

She looked at the two jars of ink she had been working on for the past six hours, carefully going through everything she had, memories, and dreams, searching for clues to the answer to the puzzle that had obliterated any hope for a normal life in her future. There was nothing she could find that seemed to hold enough of her to enact a binding of the level she would need to finally be able to fix this problem and move on.

She finally shoved the blue and green containers and walked over to her computer and fired it up. She looked around her desktop and finally loaded the GEO program she'd not touched in over two weeks. She clicked over to her two characters, and stopped. Both were good characters, a warrior, whith whom she'd gained a reputation as a solid backup man who was willing to risk all to keep his friends alive, and a Sorceror whom she had made to support Cat's swashbuckler back when they had been dating.

She clicked out, not wanting to interact with old allies in the game. She had told them that Cat would not be returning and they had been upset. Far from her own intense wiseass roleplaying style, the others had loved Cat, and her ability to keep Erik Mahren's two fireballs under control enough to allow the groups to function well as a whole.

She went and started a new profile, answering all of the questions, and going through the scenarios that were presented, surprisingly giving multiple answers differently than she had over a year ago. GEO was rumored to be the brainchild of some genius mutant programmers, who had made an interactive world with greater depth and detail than all of the other MMORPGs combined. Caitlin had had to burn a good chunk of her paycheck one month to upgrade to a computer that could handle it with no problems. She had, of course, gone the cheap route and bought the components to perform a full upgrade herself.

When she finished she looked at the character list that the game set up as recommended for someone with her personality. Oddly, the warrior was posted well outside the center line of optimum characters, replaced by the rangers, bards, and Deathknight. Just beyond those were the sorceror, mage, druid, and creepily enough, the temptress class.

She debated, looking at the choices and growled to herself. She wasn't sure she liked the implications of her personality profile changing so drastically. All in all it made sense, though, since Cat had died she had definitely been a different person, and becoming a girl and being forced to live as a young woman in high school had definitely forced her to adapt in new and different ways. She was getting frustrated again at the constant reminders of the fact that she was, for all intents and purposes, a different person.

She sat back and fought to get the feelings under control for the thousandth time since she discovered that intense emotions caused her natural affinity for random mystical mayhem to flare up like a supernova, although with the wards, it was reduced to the normal corona of bizzare energy that tore across her skin. It would still devastate her computer if she didn't get it under wraps.

When the building energies faded she took a deep breath and looked at her choices. Screw it, if I'm gonna be a new person, might as well try to have some chaos and mayhem to go with it. She clicked on the temptress class and smirked. The temptress was flat-out the most feared class in GEO, and she'd found out why when her original Holy Knight had been slaughtered by a beautiful woman, his soul taken to increase her power. GEO did not play nice.

She smirked and began applying an appearance to the new character. Those clothes had to go. She played with the interface until the generic female character was wearing what appeared to be a studded black leather jacket and black leather pants. She smiled as she remembered the last time she had been killed by a temptress. It had appeared to be a beautiful ranger-type who had been a godsend on the quest to steal a powerful staff from the evil lands. Turned out the ranger happened to be a powerful succubus, and had played the party against each other like a flute. When the dust settled it had been her and Cat, fighting desperately against the bat-winged demon who had divided and conquered a ten-man party. They hadn't stood a chance.

Once she had finished the character she was happy. The avatar looked very much like she did now, only with a very roguish stance and a suit of combat leathers. She clicked into the game and began her exploration of the dark side of the world. She wasted no time finding a weaponsmith and purchasing a dagger and a garrote. The tools of the rogue trade that she could afford were pretty slim and crappy quality, but she could make do. She picked up some lockpicks and then began wandering around, dodging some of the nastier characters wandering about.

She recognized two of them. Korr Darkskye and Zara. Both of them were nasty characters he had had an ongoing feud with for months. Once it had escalated to a war that had torn apart large chunks of the light and dark lands alike. She and Cat had had a grand old time hunting down Darklanders and putting their villiages to the torch. Now the two nemeses of his old character had no idea that their most hated enemy walked among them, easy pickings for anyone who was of a mind to get some much-wanted payback.

They saw her. Not good. the spikey, black-armored deathknight and his sorceress companion walked over to her quickly, stopping on either side. She rapidly dropped her character to a knee and saluted, bowing her head in reverence.

"I see there is at least one new face in my city that is not a fool." Korr said.

"No my lord, I'd be a fool to challenge you. I'm no idiot child with a lack of common sense." Caitlin cursed inwardly. She had been started in the home city of her worst enemy in the game! Kaeldaros was a fortress-city she had laid siege to no less than eight times since her warrior, Baelthegar, had gained enough support and standing to challenge these two here in the dark lands.

Zara had a very nasty reputation herself, having been Cat's personal nemesis for months. the two had mystically duelled at every turn, neither able to beat the other for a good long time. The redheaded sorceress had a reputation for assaulting entire parties of newbies, destroying most of them, leaving one or two alive to flee and spread word of her exploits. Caitlin's warrior had been one such survivor on her first quest.

"I see. What are your plans in my city?" Korr asked patiently.

"I've no plans here milord, I think it best to have a place where I can come to that would be relatively safe for me when I strike out into the world. Raising problems here would seem an idiot's path to doing so."

Zara spoke. "And what is your name, young one?"

"Daelyn Maddock, my lady. A simple scout and gatherer of information." Caitlin prayed they'd believe her. Temptresses were Kill-on-sight to every intelligent player in the game, as they could only advance through killing another player character.

"A scout, eh? Perhaps we can use you. Everyone in this city must earn the right to live here. Those that cannot will be fed to the Basilisks." Korr spoke. "Stand up. Let us have a look at you."

Daelyn stood, and assumed her odd pose, one hand on her hips, in a pose that screamed 'cocky'.

"I'll be generous today. I have a task I need done, succeed and I will grant you a favor. Fail, and I had better not see your face again, or I will arrange to send you as a gift to an ally of mine. I doubt you will find her so generous."

Daelyn nodded. "I'll take my chances. What would you have done, milord?"

"I have a party leaving to strike at a villiage under the so-called protection of my enemy, Baelthegar, whom has not been seen in weeks. In his lapse of attention I am taking his lands. Moira Desenta is leading the raid. You will ensure that she does not return."

"Yes milord." Caitlin swore. Moira was a nightmare to fight. "And the rest of the party?"

"They are of no consequence, useful tools, nothing more."

"I understand. I will go now, with your leave of course."

"Why are you still here?"

Caitlin had her character bolt with maddening speed toward the area the Deathknight pointed, quickly falling into the ranks of scouts that were going out with the war party. There were eighteen people in all. Not good. This was going to be a bitch and a half. It was an all-out raid and she could guess what the target was.

Two and a half hours later the raid was over, successfully, but there was only one survivor. Unfortunately it wasn't Caitlin's nascent temptress that walked back. She had managed to cause the group to self-destruct in the middle of the assault successfully, killing her target, only to get burned down by a light side Knight who had caught her trying to slink away from the battlefield. She sat, amused, and turned off the computer. That had been fun, but she had things to do.

Breakfast in the crystal hall was amusing. Razorback had arrived shortly after she did, and the two of them had indulged in a small food war while their friends laughed like maniacs at the pair of them. Then Jericho had made a complete ass of himself to dissuade the gawkers who were staring at the Outcast Corner kids.

* * *

Classes towards the end of the day had gone about as expected. She and Sandra had showed the progress they were making on the focus crystals (Caitlin had had to ward the damned thing to keep it from being destroyed by her aura) and both of them had deliberately used what little they knew about magic to focus and charge the things. With Caitlin that amounted to holding the crystal in one hand and shaking it wildly for about ten minutes before class started. She could have made one that was more powerful, but she really didn't feel like showcasing the one mystic thing she could do well to the world just yet.

Magic Lab had been an unmitigated disaster. Caitlin tried to follow one of the exercises in calling up a small elemental force for shaping, but it rapidly got out of hand when the twisted corona caught the forming magics. The result had been something resembling a burning humanoid form that tried to rampage through the classroom before a few of the older students banded together, bound the thing and exiled it back to wherever it had come from. That had earned a lot of dirty looks from her classmates. She resolved to stick to observing the other students and practicing out of range of any possible damage to school property after that.

With the end of the school day nearing she was thankful for a brief respite from stress. She was still fuming about Sandra's roommate. The little snot had arranged to have paint dumped onto Sandra, after tie-dying all of her clothing in the most repulsive colors she could find. Jericho said he had an idea for that, but the result had been Razorback had gone and found the girl, then arranged to have her hair fixed by someone who had owed him a favor.

Now, things were looking up. Sandra had a nice curly head of hair that went to her shoulders, a far cry from her ass-length hair she had had before. Jericho was grinning like a maniac every time he saw her, and she was wondering what the boy was plotting. Whatever it was it'd likely be far more painful than Caitlin's original 'pound the bitch' impulse. That had faded quickly enough, but the lingering urge was still there.

Then there was Razorback... That boy was probably the most mellow and friendly of the three kids she had taken to hanging out with. She'd been told he was on the Whateley threat board, but she couldn't imagine why. When she got to her room and pulled up her files on her PC, there it was.

When she had still been a teacher she had received the threat notices and always skimmed them. Razor's alert post had all the earmarks of one she could more or less safely ignore at the ranges. Extreme instinctive responses that he could not always control, which led to frequent violent outbursts. Nothing to say he was malicious about the whole deal, just that he had an incredible need to get control of himself. She didn't have any students' personal files stored. They weren't her business, and she generally had no need to read them unless they were being assigned directly to her for the classes on heavy weapons.

She'd completely missed it. Huh. I need to start paying attention to what the hell is going on around me. This could get bad if I don't watch my ass. She would have to wait until the Outcast Corner crew filled her in on the hairy details. They probably would eventually, but she didn't need to go prying into their personal lives any more than they seemed to feel the need to pry into hers.

She stood up and grabbed her ballistic vest and began to get ready for the last class of the day: Basic Rifle Combat was taught by Gunnery Sergeant Oscar Bardue, her "adopted" father. This whole mutant mess just seemed to get more and more complicated and aggravating. To make it worse, she couldn't just scream, cry or beat on the walls without risking everyone around her. She couldn't do that to anyone. Her temper flareups had come pretty close to cooking Peepers alerady, and she couldn't risk anything less than total control over her emotions.

Outcast Corner was different. Those kids had things rough, and they kept coming back for more. Each one of them was a lot braver, and more mature than someone their age should be. She could see it, every time she saw them interact with someone besides her. Razorback tended to just blow off and ignore his peers, and the upperclassmen. Jericho was like a social tank, placing himself between himself and his friends in situations where people got too interested in Sandra, or when he could see Razorback getting angry. It was obvious when it happened. The boy invariably started shaking, and his spines stood out like an angry porcupine.

Caitlin looked at the clock and tossed her vest over a shoulder, turning to the door when someone knocked. She curiously opened the door and saw four men in black suits and sunglasses.

"Come on guys, I'm not keeping aliens in my bathroom. How many times do I have to tell you?" She quipped.

The lead man actually smirked a bit. "Miss Bardue, we're from the FBI. We would like to have a few words with you if you don't mind."

"If you show me your badges, then I'll talk. Am I in trouble or something?"

The agent nodded and showed his badge, and she let them in one by one. The I.D.'s looked legit enough. She had seen them before on more than one occasion. The front man walked in, with a man who had to be his partner as the other two men posted themselves at the door.

"We are here because we're getting some uncomfortable rumblings from various organizations. Persons who have been tossing out your description and location are making noise about Whateley, talking about offering you jobs, or to find a way to remove you from Whateley's protection." The Agent looked at her for a moment before continuing. "They seem to think you are important in one way or another."

Caitlin smirked. "Yeah, hope they like disappointment. I'm not interested in seeking employment with anyone until after I finish school."

The agent nodded. "Unfortunately the nature of what they think your abilities are has come to our attention. I don't know how best to say this but we have orders to move you to protective custody until such a time as we can determine the best course of action."

Caitlin frowned to herself. She began looking at the agents posted in her room. This wasn't procedure from government agents. Hell these guys were looking at her with an expression that seemed... excited, greed? She couldn't see their eyes to tell.

"I am sure you have cleared this with headmistress Hartford?" Caitlin asked quietly.

"Of course. Hartford has been appraised of the situation and has agreed to the transfer." A spike of adrenaline shot through Caitlin's body. These assholes hadn't bothered to find out who was running the show here.

"Very well, show me your warrant and I'll pack my stuff." She gave the men a predatory grin.

"Warrant?" The agent made the final mistake. "We don't need a warrant to...ACK!"

The agents didn't know what was happening before Caitlin grabbed the man around the throat and chucked him across the room like a rag doll. His partner followed suit two seconds later, skidding across the floor into a wall.

Caitlin turned on the other two agents and found herself staring down two pistol barrels. She tried to duck the shots, but the weapons spit out a muffled thump each, and she felt a pair of darts pierce her skin. The drugs began pumping through her system immediately and she felt some of her strength slacken out of her.The two agents were on top of her in seconda as she pulled her knife from her hip, trying to swing at them through suddenly blurry vision.

A punch to her jaw cut the inside of her cheeks open on her teeth and she spit blood across the room. It wasn't much more than annoying but the drugs were making her see double and making the room spin. She lashed out wildly, never realizing that she was already on the floor, twitching and flopping weakly. Her last conscious act was to grab ahold of a dart and pull it out.

The four agents were shaken and two of them were having a hard time standing. They gathered the girl up and hauled her out, mystified by the sudden flash of energy across her chest as soon as they exited her room. They got her outside and dropped her abruptly when part of the energy corona flashed across the hands of one of the kidnappers. The unconscious girl's hand came open fully, and a dart was left on the ground.

The two functional kiddnappers struggled to manhandle the limp body, playing hot potato every time they saw the energy arcs flash near them. Somewhere in the process the chain on Caitlin's necklace snapped and the pendant fell to the dirt, unnoticed by the four men who finally got her into the back of a black SUV and began driving off, hoping that Whateley security hadn't recovered from the problems they were having.

* * *

Her eyes opened just as the metal clicked tight around her last free wrist. Instinctively she slammed forward, fighting the restraits, but was held fast in a spread-eagled position on something made of stone. She lookes around frantically and saw the smiling face of a pale man with well-chieselled features and webbed ears looking back at her. Several other people were shuffling around in the background but hastened to avoid eye contact. That meant this guy was the head honcho.

"Magnificent. Although I must admit, you are far more than I expected when I came here." The man smiled as he spoke.

"Yeah, I agree, the metallic Motif just isn't me and my tits are too big. Mind letting me up? I really gotta pee." She quipped.

"Sorry dear, but I've been informed just how strong you are. So no, we're not going to be letting you up any time soon."

"Wonderful. All the wonky kidnappers in the world and I have to find the one with a micrometer of common sense."

"More than a micrometer. By the way, what is your name? I can't simply refer to you as 'girl' or 'metalhead." He smirked

"Your name first Bunky. My daddy told me never to talk to strangers. Speaking of which, feeling funny? Odd dreams of a bunch of ex-military types slamming into you like the hammer of god? No? Give it time." Caitlin was smiling sweetly as she spoke, while wishing pain, death and horror on the head of her captor.

"As you wish. Not that it will matter soon. I am Adrian Bartleby, head of the Society for Mystic Advancement and Understanding. Perhaps you've heard of us."

"Oh! So you're that cult guy from up in Ohio! Pleased to meet you! I'd shake your hand, but I seem to be all tied up at the moment."

Bartleby's pleasent expression faded a bit at the cult reference. "You have a remarkably vicious tongue, don't you?"

"Family trait. My mother, my mother's mother, so on and all that. So you care to let me go, or are you just going to blithely ignore Whateley's neutral ground status completely?"

"Neutral ground. I have no respect for a place that coddles criminals to their bosom. Half the student body is a direct threat to humanity as a whole, and a good portion of the rest don't want anything to do with the great struggle."

"Oh I know this. By the way, since you seem bound and determined to keep me, I'm afraid if I get an opportunity I will kill you and everyone here."

"And why is that, pray tell? We're just here to help you put your powers under control."

Caitlin's eyes began to glow at the edges of her irises, metallic runes taking on a dull, superheated metal quality to them. The raw fury in her expression was unmistakeable. "I know about the inks. i know what they do. I MADE some you blinking asshat. And I swear by all that is holy and a few things that aren't I will DIE before I will be your slave."

"I'm sorry you feel that way. No matter." he turned to the rest of the people in the warehouse room she could see once she stopped concentrating on him. "Complete the wards. We need to be finished and gone before Whateley can respond. The sensory shields will not hold forever."

He turned to Caitlin and sheugged. "While I wasn't prepared for the full reality of what you are, I am fully prepared for anything Whateley can throw at me."

She wasn't paying attention to him, instead looking at the shackles on her wrists very carefully. Mithril-alloyed steel, thread-width cord of braided steel binding to a stone altar, small runes, either Norse or a direct derivitive decorated the shackles. She could feel the power pulsing through them, and she went through the steps necessary to reconstruct them, then began going over the steps needed to destroy them. No good. She'd have to be loose to break the bindings. They were protected from the prisoner.

She was internally swearing when the familiar jab of a needle alerted her to the fact that she wasn't alone. Bartleby was busy pumping her full of something... Her mind rocked and recoiled for a brief moment before retreating from reality.

* * *


Erik stood silently for a minute, taking in his surroundings. He felt strange... No, he felt normal... He looked down. Gone were the changes that had shattered his life and sense of identity. He was HIM! He was dressed in his field gear, helmet, kevlar vest, M-16 rifle and all. He crept throguh the brush, idly wondering what the hell was going on when he saw it.

The building was ramshackle, pitted concrete and ivy marked the place. He'd been here before, once when a mission had gone sour. He'd been caught, dragged here, beaten and interrogated. It had been a stupid mistake that had cost him a lot of his drive and desire to continue as a Marine. There were no guards present this time, no shouted voices, only muted silence. The charnel house reek of blood and pain assaulted his nostrils as he walked up to the one door and pushed it open.

Of all the things he was expecting when he entered, the sight he found was not it. Eight women were shackled to the walls, naked, identical save for the Metallic brands of color that marked their bodies. Their faces held no differences, nor did their bodies. It was eerie, like the horror stories of clones in a sci-fi novel. The worst part of it was those identical expressions looked at him with a mix of sorrow and pity. One by one they looked away, all but one.

Her Tattoos covered her face, torso and limbs heavily, forming insane geometric patterns composed of smaller triangles. They were solid, reflective black. Of all the ones here, she was easily the most heavily marked. Her eyes seemed so old that even hope itself had died.

"You're not supposed to be here, yet." She spoke with the voice he had become accustomed to over the past month.

"What is this place?" He indicated the surroundings. "Who are you all and why are you here?"

She snorted and smirked. "This place is you, the legacy of the Artificer, set into motion so long ago by a master who's name I cannot remember. It's our cage. The youngest thinks it's hell." She nodded to another girl who seemed tattooed in solid gold.

Erik recognized the symbols immediately, symbols of the church. He'd shared the joy of gaining those brands in his sleep several times over, and always dreaded that dream. "You're all dead. You should be gone."

The woman shook her head. "Even death is no release from servitude. As each of us is reforged we become ever more bound to the cycle of the artificer, to dwell in the cage until a master sees fit to release one of us to go where we belong."

"How many have found that release?"

"None. Eight have come, and all are still here. You must be the ninth." She looked at him curiously. "Yet you are not marked. How is this so?"

"I'll bend knee to no one." Erik half-snarled. "I am my own master. And I'll kill anyone who tries to mark me."

The woman looked at Erik. "And what of us?"

"I don't understand. How do I help you?"

"Only the master of the Cage can release us. Until you are bound, you are that master."

Erik looked confused. "I don't get it. This is the first I've seen of it. What is the cage?"

The woman looked at him curiously. "The cage is you. When the magic reforged your body, it also reforged your soul. It is the trap now. The soul housed into your flesh is the cage that holds us here. That is the legacy of the artificer. Each of us is bound by the shackles of the new. You are our prison, and we cannot escape...


* * *

She opened her eyes groggily, and her eyes widened in horror. She was the prison, the cage, and there were eight souls trapped inside, like some kind of macabre demonic collection. She looked around at the warehouse, seeing the wards and glyphs in place she almost screamed. Then she saw something that made her heart sink completely.

Razorback was dangling by his arms from ropes on one wall of the warehouse, head bowed and body limp. She couldn't see any injuries, but she could see dried blood caked on his scales. She watched him silently, feeling a well of rage build up inside, and turned to look at her captor, noticing the sword he had belted to his hip, jauntily.

She recognized it on sight. Callenagh, the blade of queens was strapped to the man's hip, looking for all the world to be a tarnished, spent ruin of some fancy nobleman's blade. He probably never realized what it was he was carrying.

"Nice sword asshole, where'd you get it?" She growled out, staring with hostile intent at her captor.

"Such language from such a young lady." Bartleby smirked at her.

Caitlin just let it go, her mouth running on autopilot, while her eyes sought out a solution. She saw it in Razorback. That delightful little maniac was looking around, watching the warehouse like a hawk, silently as always. Caitlin grinned, hardly paying attention to what she was saying.

"Can it fucker. You're the one who kidnapped me, don't expect me to be a civil hostage." to emphasize the point she began thrashing and jerking, causing her aura to erupt in full painful glory, trying to tear lose from the bonds that held her. Her body looked like a sea in hell for a few minutes, blazing solid with mad power.

"Be glad it's me and not some others I could name. They would have taken you for less noble aims."

"Noble aims? Noble aims??? You sonofabitch I was fine at Whateley! What's so goddamned noble about drugging and kidnapping me? What the fuck, you got a sick bondage fetish or something?"

"Hardly. Look on the bright side my dear. In a few hours you will have full control of your powers. Think of it. No more having to wear those wards, no more painful, uncontrolled magics."

"No more freedom, no mind, no life, no soul. Let me the fuck out of here you sick fucker! I swear to Christ when I get loose I'm gonna rip your goddamned head off!" She shrieked the last bit out, giving into the pure fear and fury warring inside, and hoping to God and all above that Razorback figured out what was at stake quickly.

"In a few hours ripping my head off will be furthest for your mind."

"Just let me go. And let the lizard go for fuck's sake. He has nothing to do with this!"

"Ah, so he's a friend of yours." Bartleby turned to razorback. "Sorry my dear, I cannot risk you falling into the hands of someone who would use your talents in less than humanitarian ways."

Bartleby turned back to her. "They would find you too. Every move you make, every snap and crack of that energy sends ripples through the mana, weave, Ley lines and resonance of every mystic object, spell and sense for thousands of miles. The closer one gets the harder it is to see from the normal background, but you might as well be wearing a beacon saying I'm here. Come get me!"

"AND YOU MAKING ME INTO A MINDLESS FUCKING SLAVE WILL MAKE THIS ALL BETTER?" Caitlin was screaming again.

"I'm sorry my dear, but it really is for your own good, and the good of everyone around you.": The man turned. "I really couldn't expect you to understand, but what must be, must be. As you are you are a walking disruption to the mystic balance around you."

Caitlin surged again, slamming against her restraints, trying to crack the stone altar she was locked to, anything. She erupted like a mad, mystic horror tearing and screaming, trying anything and everything to free even one limb from her restraints.

Caitlin saw the man walk up to Razorback, and stopped thrashing for a brief instant when the dear, and terroristic reptile boy tried to rip off her captor's face with his teeth. The act of defiance brought a smile to Caitlin's face.

"It's almost time. I'm sorry my dear, but I just cannot allow you to move while I perform the ritual. So I believe I'll be keeping you unconscious for the duration." Caitlin lunged, trying to break loose and kill the man, with less than stellar results. Bartleby simply removed a simple necklace from his pocket snd dropped it around her head. As soon as the thin metal links touched her the world went black.

* * *


The cage came back into stark relief, this time it took the form of a modern day prison Cell Block. Erik was dressed in the uniform of a prison guard and all the eight women were dressed in prison orange. The Black-tattooed woman looked at him. "So you're back. I thought you'd gone for good."

"No. I'm probably deeply fucked right about now. Unless Razorback can do something I'm going to be in this cage right there with you." Erik pulled off the guard equipment and threw it across the cell block. He took the badge and crushed it under a boot-clad heel.

"What are you doing?" The girl in purple tattoos asked as Erik began walking over to a series of switches on the wall.

He slammed open the controls and the cells slid open. "I might not be able to save myself, but you all are getting paroled. We're leaving. Pack yer shit and let's go before he locks me down here."

"Where will we go?" The Blue-tattooed girl asked quietly.

"Dunno, don't care, go with God. But I will NOT be someone elses' hell or purgatory."

The women took tentative steps from their cages, as if expecting to be destroyed. Then as one began rushing Erik as he began disarming the lock on the gateway out.

The door slammed open, and beyond it lay nothing. The void yawned past the entrance, and all of the prisoners stared into the maddening gulf with undisguised fear...


* * *

The Necklace came away and Caitlin let out a enraged and horrified scream, bucking upward and away from the restraints that were off of her limbs and stood, facing off with the panicked-looking cult bastards. She looked down and saw bartleby's sword, picking it up with a maniacal grin. Razorback stood to her side, covered in blood, hissing at the assembled crowd.

Caitlin had a split second to survey the odds. Even with her and Razor being mutants, there was still a crowd of lunatics between them and the exit. The currents on the inside of her vision were doing a twisted dance as Bartleby hid behind the arrayed crowd. She recognized the pattern, a larger-scale version of the Elemental force exercises being done in Magic Lab. Oh shit.

She charged forward as the cultists did so as well. Razorback was just a blur of mayhem and destruction. Caitlin hit the cultists like a hammer, fully realizing that a naked blow from her unrestrained would pulverize any bones she connected with. She didn't bother restraining her atacks.

A feeling of being watched, began burning in her mind in the four seconds it took her and Razorback to devastate and drive back the line of cult members. A loud cracking, rumbling and crunching signified the entry of the elementals into play. The stone things tore themselves from the concrete and lumbered forward around the thinned out crowd surrounding Bartleby. The wards detonated around trhem, causing all the protections for Caitlin's corona to vanish in one fell swoop.

The two mutants attacked the monstrosities, Caitlin with fist and sword, Razor with fang and claw. Neither were particularly effective, although the blade left deep rents in the rocky body of the elemental. You can't beat them like that. Hold still.

The thought paralyzed her for a brief instant. That instant was just long enough for the lumbering rock-thing to grab and begin crushing her. Shake, resist, MOVE! Use your uncontrolled energy as a weapon! The thought came from nowhere, seemingly, but she complied, shaking and jerking like she was having a siezure. The energies hit the elemental like a hammer, cracking it, causing it's body to pull inward, then explode, showering the whole warehouse with pebbles.

Razorback was dancing and darting in and out of the reach of the thing fighting him. He was far too quick for it to touch, but he couldn't do any damage himself. Stalemate.

Caitlin walked forward as Razor got some distance, whipping her hand back and forth to build up a white-hot charge and simply touched the construct's back. The Elemental was thrown across the warehouse, shattering against the wall.

Caitlin looked Razorback in the eye, and the two of them nodded. As one they turned and charged the remaining enemies. Caitlin just let go, allowing the rage and pain to boil forth like an undammed river. The corona rippled and reached and blazed into a whirling cloud of mad energy that Razorback stayed well the hell away from.

The two hit the last of the acolytes like the Hammer of Thor, tearing through them like a tornado in a trailer park. Razorback's raw fury and Caitlin's blazing energies left nothing standing, and precious few able to walk. One man was struck by a strange arc of power and simply vanished. Another man flopped to the ground like a boned fish, while a woman lost the use of her legs when they split and transformed into Octopus tentacles, unusably on land.

When the dust settled, there were only the sounds of whimpering, and the light hum of Bartleby's energy barrier, which she could clearly see in the currents. Caitlin forced back her emotions and the storm died down, slowly. She looked at Bartleby, his face in a mask of concentration. he was casting a spell, slowly, drawing in the currents to himself.

"Nice sword." Caitlin gritted her teeth as she talked. "Too bad you don't know what it is, otherwise you might have been a lot harder to deal with."

She saw Razorback creeping around behind Bartleby and had to stifle a grin. Wouldn't want to spoil the surprise the mute boy had in store.

"Such a pity too. You had no clue what you had in your hands." She gave an evil grin. "And now it's mine again."

Caitlin dropped to one knee, holding the blade out and up and began speaking. "Savihelo de L'atara tuatha mare Kodala mei kala Danaan."

The blade blazed white for a minute, the tarnished weapon sloughing off a thousand years of wear and tear. The impossibly silvery blade reflected the light perfectly, and the ornate and elegant basket hilt was a mix of ornate golden and silver filigree. The blackened leather lightened to a rich purple color.

She was up instantly, striking forward, the blade piercing and popping the energy barrier like a child's bubble with pathetic ease when Bartleby's spell went off. He snarled out a few incoherent words as the blade plunged in and Caitlin stopped, frozen, then slowly rose into the air, hands to her side, blade gripped tightly.

"Impressive, dear. How exactly did you know how to unlock the blade's full powers?" He grimaced. "I've spent the past twenty years trying to puzzle out the key."

Caitlin grinned maniacally. "Only ten people could claim the blade. Nine of them are dead."

"How is it you are the tenth?"

"Because I made it. Say hello to Callanagh, Blade of Anlendal."

"That's impossible, you're just a child."

"Hah. You wish I was a child. You might have a few flunkies left."

"So now I have you again. We'll just have to start over."

Caitlin smiled beatifically. "I know something you don't know," she intoned in a cheerful, singsong voice.

"Oh really, and what is that?"

Razorback lunged , slamming into the mage from behind, ripping and tearing away with abandon. He let go when the screaming ceased. He slumped over, suddenly drained, breathing heavily.

"I know better than to stop for a chat with my enemies while they have a friend creeping up behind me you stupid asshole." The Metal-haired girl slumped to her knees and simply began crying, then fell over onto her side, eyes glazed over.

* * *


"Had I not seen it with my own eyes i would not have believed it." The black-tattooed woman spoke, this time they were on a island of stone, floating in a vast nothing.

"Why is that?" Erik Asked.

"There has never been a warrior amongst our number. And you were strong enough to do what none of us could."

"Yeah, but you're still trapped here. And I'm the key out."

The woman looked at him. "How so?"

"This prison always shifts, but one constant is me. I'm the only thing different here. That means I am the door out."

The eight women looked at him for a few moments, then comprehension dawned. The first to approach him was the woman in sickening green markings, alone among the eight in that they were sickening and maddening to look upon. Erik took her hand, and pulled her into an embrace, and she seemed to vanish inside him, then burst out...elsewhere. The shock drove him to his kness as memories and a very terrifying language burned into his mind. He saw the girl's master, but his mind did not shatter at the image as it should have.

The pale blue tattoed form of Callenagh's creator stepped forward, and Erik stood shakily, taking her hand and embracing her, feeling her explode through his being and out, more memories of the Sidhe burning in his skull, the language of the admired and feared elves settling into his consciousness.

Thus it went, each woman in turn passing throguh him, his soul to escape, each one leaving him more pained and weak. Memories, languages and people slammed him like a jackhammer with each one. Sumeria, Egypt, Greece, China, Jerusalem, all memories of these places rattled in his consciousness, nearly delerious and pained as the last one came to him.

As the woman with the black tattoos passed through him to freedom the memories were vastly different. She was the first. He saw the forging of the first artificers by her master, and the four faces burned into his mind, two male, two female. All bound and marked. It was with this image that Erik finally lost consciousness, fading to black, not realizing that even here in his mind, the passage of the others had left him with their body, leaving his soul to match his physical form...



Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
--
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Ashes of an Old Life (teaser) [message #49661 is a reply to message #49656] Mon, 12 December 2011 21:38 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee is currently offline  Sir Lee
Messages: 3519
Registered: May 2005
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
This is fan fiction for the Whateley Academy series. It may or may not match the timeline, characters, and continuity, but since it's fan fiction, who cares? To see the canon Whateley Stories, check out the Crystal Hall.

Ashes of an Old Life (teaser)

by Joe Gunnarson


J.G. wrote on Sat, 24 February 2007 09:05
Alright, since most of you crazies have seen Razorback and Ashes of an Old Life part 1... I'm dropping a teaser to the next two parts of ashes, where the REAL fun begins. It'll probably be out a month or two AFTER Razorback goes up on Saph's.


Caitlin smirked as she remembered her meet and greet with the Whateley range crew. As she went over the times immediately before and after, her memories began settling back into some semblance of order. Too much input, but her mind slowly settled into some level of stability, though memories of darker and less technologically advanced times creeped out into the fore a bit.

"Cait, you ok?" Sandra's voice was a welcome thing, especially since she was able to actually understand her again.

"Yeah, I think so." She shook her head, closing the computer file. "I was a bit scrambled there for a few minutes."

"Scrambled my ass, I thought you were tweaking out on drugs or something." Jericho stepped forward and put in helpfully. "I can't even place what languages you were using, if those were languages and not some kind of schizophrenia outburst. You feeling ok? Razorback didn't drop you on your head did he?"

Caitlin chuckles despite herself. "No, no schizophrenics for me, I hope. Although I think I need a vacation."

-Caitlin I am glad to see you doing ok.- The toneless mechanical voice made her nearly jump out of her skin, and she turned to see Razorback using sign language while the small device around his neck translated. The currents around him were behaving oddly. -I'm sorry I was not able to get to you sooner.-

"Holy shit you can talk!" Caitlin smiled at Razorback, the silent man of the Outcast Corner crew. The kid had saved her ass, literally and figuratively, and she couldn't figure out how she was going to begin to pay him back for that.

-Only for special occasions. I hate this thing. I just wanted to be able to talk to you when you woke up.- The device's voice was artificial, and didn't carry tone or emotion, and she could see his skin bristling every time he used the device to speak.

She was about to thank him, to tell him he did a bang up job, but it didn't seem right. She walked over to the nightmare of a lizardman and gave him a big hug instead. It felt better than mouthing empty platitudes to someone who had gone well beyond proving he was a friend. "Thanks Raz. I owe you one, buddy."

"We were going to mount a daring rescue expedition to come get you. Had the range instructors howling for blood even. By the time we got to you 'ol scaleback here had gotten you halfway back to Whateley." Jericho was smiling, but it seemed a bit forced. Diamondback seemed likewise reserved.

Caitlin let Razor go and looked at Jericho. "Spill, you don't look happy."

"It's not being unhappy, just a bit disturbed." He sighed, a bit deflated. "I got a tracker-cat on you two and me and Sandra went back over the data. Saw the fight from above, as it were. Gotta be some of the scariest shit I have ever seen in my life, on both sides of that little battle royale."

-I told you I wasn't a nice guy all the time Jericho. They were going to do something to her and I could not let it go.- Razorback signed in short jerks while the machine translated.

"It's not that Razor..." Sandra cut in. "We've never seen anything like that. I've been told it can happen, but it's something else to see it."

Caitlin nodded, and started shaking again as flashes from the battle came to her. She felt queasy and her trademark post-stress headache was beginning to settle in. "I hope you all never have to be in the thick of something like that. I've been there before. I've also seen far worse. It's not something I like doing day-to-day"

"We should have been there with you two." Jericho stated flatly.

Caitlin shook her head. "Just as well you weren't Jericho. No one should have to see that kind of fight, much less be in the thick of it. It's why I came here."

"I thought you were Gunny Bardue's kid, there was nothing to indicate from him that he was having a daughter who was in combat a lot. The rumors would have been all over campus."

"Gunny adopted me just before I came into Whateley as a student. The paperwork was being processed while I talked to you in the Crystal hall the day I was filling out my admission papers."

-Why do I have a feeling there is a story lurking here?- Razorback signed. -This reeks of cheesy movie flashback scenes to me.-

Caitlin chuckled to herself and looked up. "Take a look around, pick out something in this room, in the boxes, whatever. Tell me what you think it is, and why it's here. Once you do that, I'll tell you what it is, and why I'm back here in the Whateley back forty instead of over at Dickinson or Poe. Fair enough?"

The three friends looked confused for a minute and began filtering through the room, going through the stuff she'd managed to put up around the room as decorations, and the boxes she hadn't unpacked yet. She idly went into her wallet and pulled out one of the cards and set it on the computer desk.

Razorback came back first, carrying a Marine NCO Sabre on a wall mount that had the exposed blade and sheath separated and crossed. She lifted the blade and scabbard off the mount and sheathed the sword and placed it on top of the desk, sliding the two laptops back into the recessed part of the desk.

Jericho came back, carrying a Jewelery box covered in black velvet, the box that carried a simple diamond ring inside. Caitlin's heart lurched and sank for a brief instant as she recognized it and nodded once, placing the box next to the Sabre. Jericho's expression was quizzical, to say the least.

Diamondback slithered up holding the two glass jars of ink, one metallic, emerald green, while the other was an opaque, cobalt blue. She had an expression that was mystified, and at the same time apprehensive. Caitlin nodded and set the jars side-by-side on the desktop as well.

"Shit, where do I start, besides asking you all to keep what you hear here to yourselves?" She took a nervous breath and did a ten-count to calm her nerves as the three kids nodded. "This isn't easy, but you all put your asses on the line for me. Least I can do is give you the straight story."

-This stuff is not what I would have expected. This is not the room of a teenage girl.- Razorback signed.

Caitlin gave a weak grin. "No it's not."


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
--
Sent from my Bugs Industries® bPhone™
And that's it! [message #49662 is a reply to message #49656] Mon, 12 December 2011 21:39 Go to previous message
Sir Lee is currently offline  Sir Lee
Messages: 3519
Registered: May 2005
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
And that's all that I have in my archives. If something else crops up (which I doubt), I'll post it here in a later date.

Thanks to Joe for allowing this repost.

Sir Lee


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
--
Sent from my Bugs Industries® bPhone™
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