The main lobby had been transformed over the course of the day into an impressive stand in for a ball room or concert hall.
There were rows of tables along the walls, illuminated by strings of red, green and white lights as well as hanging lanterns that threw out snowflake patterns. In one corner, a small stage had been set up where a local cover band, Miracle Six, was taking requests, and off to the side, an impressive spread was being catered the owner of a nearby cafe that had become a popular hangout for the LI students and staff.
Everyone’s miniature trees served as living decorations, placed as centerpieces on the tables, or on makeshift pedestals along the edges of the room. Voting slips had appeared under everyone’s doors that morning so they could vote for the best one.
Central to everything was the ‘official’ tree, the enormous white pine donated by none other than Vincent Liedecker himself. It stood in the middle of the room with plastic bins altered by Kura to look like gift boxes beneath it. Those contained dozens of ornaments and garlands, plus multiple types of tinsel, all provided so the party-goers could all have … Continue reading
Martin Han cycled lazily through preview panels for various TV shows on his computer screen. There didn’t seem to be anything new that was interesting, or anything interesting he hadn’t seen before. Even the sports channel was failing him; covering basketball, football and hockey when he was a baseball and soccer fan.
He had homework to do, but it was before dinner, so seeking entertainment took priority. He also had friends; two out of only five other male members of the Junior class. But he’d see them soon at dinner, so it felt like a waste to try and find them now.
As he passed an old episode of Live Metal, he could swear he heard sleigh bells. Sleigh bells and giggling. Momentarily, he flipped back to see if he’d skipped over a Christmas special or something. He was wondering if it was off of some commercial when someone knocked on his door.
There was no one else in the room, so he answered it himself. He’d been partly expecting his friends, dropping by to collect him for a trek out into town for dinner. Instead, he found Kura Akagi wearing an antler hat and a red nose, Tammy Kaine … Continue reading
Tammy Kaine, in the interest of concealing her heroic identity as The Irrepressible Spark and thus her connection to her brother’s status as Alloy of the Descendants, had settled on the codename Tesla after many days scouring thesauri and online encyclopedias and lamenting the lack of really cool and original names related to electricity.
Almost immediately, her best friend had co-opted it into ‘Tesla-girl’ in order to better match her own newly minted code ‘Omni-girl.’.
Her new, measurably less cool codename was the first thing she heard upon getting out of her brother’s car after Thanksgiving vacation and the only warning she had before catching one hundred and twenty-two pounds of Japanese hyperactivity full in the chest.
Kura Akagi’s favorite greeting involved getting up a good head of steam on foot and then gliding into an unsuspecting object of platonic affection like a happy freight train. She gave Tammy a huge hug as her weight added to the bags the other girl was carrying bore them both to the ground.
She landed on top and bounced up almost instantly with a smile and a hand extended to help her friend to her feet. No apology offered, none asked. Kura … Continue reading
White arcs of electricity danced across the prone man’s body. With each arc, he grew smaller and more cascades of rubble from the shipping containers he rested on came tumbling down to fill the void left by his shrinking. Smaller and smaller he became until he disappeared amid the wreckage.
His scream faded to silence by the maudlin soundtrack, a young man in his teens fought free of his mother’s grasp and ran full out into the heart of the still settling rubble. Miraculously, he found a path clear enough that he only had to stumble over fallen debris until he was at the center of the destruction.
The man, his father lay there bleeding and gasping, the green ichor of a titanic arachnid staining the left side of his body.
His son slid to a stop and knelt beside him as the music cut out and the noise of wind and sirens and flames returned. “Father! No. No. No. No. No. Don’t move, father, we’ll get help. You aren’t hurt that bad!”
“Poisoned…” The man breathed. With great effort, he reached up and patted the boy on the side of his face and up to the crown of his … Continue reading
It was Friday again, free period, and Eddie was sitting cross-legged on the stairs of the Enrichment Center, watching a flight class in progress. They were practicing maneuvering through rings supported in air by balloons.
At the moment, one of the juniors; a dark skinned girl with white, feathered wings, was having trouble negotiating the rings with her impressive wingspan. It was one of the issues with trying to train young psionics; the course was very hard for her, but all too easy for others, like Kura, who could only levitate at the speed of a slow walk.
All the same, it looked like fun to Eddie. While he appreciated his luck, he couldn’t help but feel more than a little envious of the kids that could fly. Or who could use their powers at will for that matter.
The doors at the top of the stairs opened and Eddie looked up to see his roommate, Phil Simms, emerge. Phil was a little taller than Eddie; dark skinned with long hair that he usually kept in a bushy tail. Beside him, laughing at some joke told before they came through the doors, was Joy.
Eddie and Joy had spent the … Continue reading
The last class period on Fridays (As well as Mondays and Wednesdays) at the Institute were geared toward teaching the students how to control and refine their powers. They could vary from week to week for some students, depending on powers; from group flight practice on the quad, to solo sessions in the reinforced ‘hard rooms’ in the basement of the enrichment center, to telepathic study halls in soundproof and psychic noise insulated meditation rooms in the dorms.
Some powers, however, still managed to defy attempts at formulating a training curriculum around. Powers, like Eddie Argent’s; which was why he had a free period during the last class of the weekend.
At first, he’d thought it was an unmitigated positive; time to either goof off or get homework out of the way early three times a week. As early October arrived though, he was finding it a blessing and a curse.
The curse came in the form of boredom. Most of the student body was in class, and no students were allowed off campus until the last classes were over. As there was only so much television he could watch, so many video games he could play and so much … Continue reading
“…discussed, the Red Scare actually refers to two separate periods in the twentieth century, both of which had serious socio-economic and cultural consequences well into this century despite neither period officially lasting more than a decade.
The second Red Scare led directly into the Cold War. Actually, I have an interesting anecdote about the Cold War involving my great grandfather…”
Mrs. Melissa Winnifred, a middle aged woman with an unusually high pitched voice and no compunctions against using it, was going into another of her stories. Standing in front of the class and trying to keep an eye on the digital projection on the wall, she didn’t notice the subtle shift in attitude among the students.
They were all familiar with Mrs. Winnifred’s tendency to distract herself with her own anecdotes. With the right questions and requests to elaborate, she could and would talk through the entirety of class, realize this too late, and assign what she should have covered in class as reading instead of actual homework.
It didn’t hurt that most of her stories were actually entertaining as well. Entertaining, that is, if one actually listened to them.
Steampunk didn’t. As per her usual, she was using the … Continue reading
The alarm on Steampunk’s nightstand brayed insistently and for the first time, succeeded in its purpose of rousing the girl. It had taken a solid week to get her to the point that an alarm clock that didn’t sound like an emergency signal awakened her, but it was a step forward.
With precision one wouldn’t associate with someone just awake, she reached out and turned the alarm off before sitting up on the edge of her bed.
She’d never needed an alarm before. The first fourteen years of her life had been strictly scheduled by the Project Lead and carried out by various uniformed and helmeted staffers at the Generations Project facility concealed inside a Woodbridge Township, NJ factory.
Waking up there was different depending on which staff members were assigned to take her through her morning routine. Uniform attire and a rigid routine was meant to keep her from differentiating them from one another, but their voices and general attitudes toward her varied enough that seeing faces was a formality.
Some mornings, she would be shouted awake and led through her morning ritual by a steely grip and barked orders. Other mornings, she would be cautiously prodded awake and … Continue reading
“See?” Kura said smugly. “This is really fun and you didn’t want to do it!”
She was poking Tammy teasingly in the ribs while the latter was hanging over the transparent railing of the skywalk above the zoo’s African savanna exhibit, watching the giraffes bent in seeming awkwardness to drink from the simulated river.
Tammy answered her with a smile and a weak attempt to bat Kura’s fingers away. “Okay, I’ll admit it; it’s been pretty fun. Right guys?” She called across the way to the trio of Phineas, Steampunk and Phil.
The two boys were arguing about whether or not it was a good idea to dis-include the savanna predators from the facsimile grassland with Phil being firmly against letting children see kill sites and Phineas insisting that it was educational. Steampunk was ignoring them to silently observe a herd of springbok.
Phil glanced up from his futile discussion to agree with her. “Yeah. I haven’t been to the zoo in years, but I’m glad I came today.”
“That’s because It know what’s fun better than anyone else.” Kura insisted, leaving the railing and jogging further down the skywalk. “Come on! I saw that they’ve got the baby rhino … Continue reading
“Rita!” Betty’s voice carried across the common area that separated the boys’ wing from the girls’ wing. She was sitting on a sofa with Hightower. “Ready to go?”
Mindful of the discussion she’d just had with Joy, Rita stood there, waffling for a moment. “Er…” She managed. “Is it just going to be the three of us?”
“Might be.” Hightower shrugged. “I’ve seen a few other kids around here that might be able to hang with us. But you can never tell.”
Betty’s laugh started somewhere genuine and ended just south of vindictive. “I know, like that guy from this morning?” She turned to Rita to explain, her hair lightening as she remembered the altercation. “This guy came up to us at breakfast and tried to trick us into thinking he had a really shiny power, but it turns out it’s nothing but a psychic carry-all.”
When Rita didn’t laugh right away at such an obviously unfortunate power, she decided to continue. “So he’s not prelate material at all, he’s just a packrat.” This time, her laugh didn’t stop at vindictive, it went right on across the border to cruelty and set up camp.
With extreme effort that was completely … Continue reading