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[13th January]

The winter sun shone bravely down over the Lawrence Hunt School's extensive grounds, reflecting brightly from the snow-covered fields. Here, amidst a birchwood copse in the southeast corner, a second sun shed light and warmth over the silvery bark of the trees. The radiance emanated from a youth who was, to all appearances, sitting on air a few feet from the ground, fine-fingered hands playing over the strings of the expensive guitar in his lap. Long golden hair, usually brushed back into a ponytail or else neatly down his back, was instead draping over his shoulders and face in splendid dishevelment as he hunched over the instrument. Blue eyes the shade of a summer sky were somber, matching the expression on his heartstopping features, and his fine tenor voice was soft as he sang the words accompanying the haunting melody his fingers coaxed from the guitar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y-knmrQh2U&feature=related

Alex was miserable.

He'd thought he'd known was being miserable was. Objectively, his rational mind told him that there were people who had suffered far worse miseries than his current woe. Objectively, he told himself that he was being a little stupid.

Subjectively, he'd told his rational mind to go take a holiday. Obviously the rational mind had no idea what being miserable was, and therefore wasn't equipped to make a judgement. He finished the song, feeling wonderfully bittersweet, then began a slow, sad Spanish guitar piece as his thoughts revolved, round and round.

The romance had lasted... a week? Maybe two? Not much of a romance, as epic love stories went, but Alex's first, and therefore earth-shattering. A few kisses, a date or two, and then...

He fumbled the next note, and angrily twanged the guitar string. It would have been easy if Violet had been mean, or callous, or uncaring. He could be angry with her then, dismiss her effect on him as something temporary, something hormonal. But she'd been nice. And reasonable, explaining that she didn't want complications in her life right now, what with her studies, and the uncertainty of Mutant High's future, and a bunch of other arguments that were mature. It was obviously difficult for her to tell him face to face, but she did so, and then she'd hugged him lingeringly and whispered (and here Alex groaned as he remembered yet again) that they would always be friends!.

"Bollocks." he muttered, a little angry. At himself, mostly. Because he knew that he would get over this, and he would be able to be her friend... but he didn't want to. He wanted to be sad, and angry. Bloody Revenant spending four hours a day making out with Oneca in the dorm room, and I'm the goddamn gooseberry who got dumped.

Music. That was his solace. He could express himself, purge the feelings. He bent over the guitar again, burnished hair covering his face as the golden nimbus of solar light around him as he played, blocking the world out for a time.

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Something was wrong with Alex. He’d smelled unhappy for many days now, and Morri was distressed. As always, she kept her distance from him; it was easier to hunt him if he didn’t know to watch for her. While she didn’t intend to hurt him she didn’t want him knowing. He might tell Eileen, who would be disappointed in her and give her another lecture about social lies. Eileen had told her not to hurt the students, and if Alex didn’t know she was hunting him, he wouldn’t be hurt.

There was maybe a flaw in her logic, but she’d thought it through several times and couldn’t find one.

Maybe he was sick for home. Morri didn’t understand this, because places couldn’t miss you back so it was foolish to make yourself sick for them. Red eyes narrowed as she considered the problem. He needed something to remind him that he had friends. Something he could enjoy, that would make him feel alive again.

She had the perfect idea.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Alex was still playing when the rabbit dropped out of the tree above him and landed in the snow just in front of him. That was odd enough, but it was clear that the rabbit hadn’t gotten there alone. Someone had cut its head off before throwing it at him. His fingers stilled on the strings as he stared for a moment, shocked.

Startled, the young man jerked his eyes up. The Morrigan glared at him, pointed at the rabbit and ordered, “Eat.”

“I… pardon?” he stammered.

“Eat. Make happy. Eat.” Her finger pointed again, with more force. “Good food. Morri find. Good!

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Front of the Academy

A long black limousine pulled up in front of the Academy. Some muffled voices could be heard until a purple-haired girl wearing a heavy-looking and high-visibility all purpose coat steps out, unloading a couple large, wheeled briefcases.

"Now don't be too much trouble for Director Drumm, Sakurako."

"I won't Auntie!" Sakurako said in Japanese, before closing all the doors and making sure she got everything from the Limo.

She wouldn't have been able to stand out here let alone not wearing less than what she was wearing when she was just human. She was happy to feel the cold and not fear what it would do to her constitution.

As the limo pulls away she hopes for the best. "Mom... Dad... Just look out for me, okay?" She whispers as she starts pulling her luggage inside. Although now that she feels the weight, perhaps she packed too much!

"Oh bloody hell!" Sakurako shouted in english. "There I go again, packing more than I need."

She sits on the largest wheeled case, which looked more like a foot-locker with a handle. She had people able to get it in the Limo just fine, and she needed something large to keep her books and stuff. Her other suitcases had some random clothes, some collapsible furniture, her airbed, her desktop rig, and other things she wanted to take for creature comforts and for recreation.

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Aradia was BORED. Those that knew her well knew that boredom was a dangerous condition for the young teleporter. Aradia wasn't used to being bored, and she didn't like it. Back in the circus there had always been something interested to do, or someone awesome to hang out with. And even before the circus, she had always been kept so busy with practices and competitions that she'd never really had time for boredom. The pretty young acrobat with the glowing eyes had been guiding some of the little kids into mischief, because "Hey, you've got to train the younger generation!", when she'd been intercepted by Ms. Childs. The stern assistant director had advised her that if she had time to teach the children how to rubber-band all the spray nozzles attached to sinks in the science labs, then she had time to make herself useful. She'd sent her outside to wait for the newest arrival to LHA, Sakurako Huna, or Homi, or Hemu... something like that.

Finally, the new girl arrived. Aradia watched from inside as she unloaded her luggage, and waited to see if anyone would get out with her. When no one did, and the limo pulled away, Ari teleported outdoors to greet the new girl, appearing right behind Sakurako with a loud noise - the sound of air being quickly forced away as the acrobat's mass replaced it.

*BAMF*

"Don't worry about it - we can find someone to carry your stuff in for you if it's too heavy."

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Sakurako surprisingly isn't phased by this, and is actually relieved. "Ah... thank you... some of this stuff is rather heavy, but it's wheeled. I just need more manpower to get some of this out of the cold. It's quite sensitive." She says in English that makes her sound like she was from England and not Japan.

She holds out her hand. "I'm Sakurako Hino. I'm pleased to meet you." She says with a smile. "And you are?"

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Ronaldo had taken the bus from town. The bus that he hadn't realized didn't go directly to the campus ... but no matter. It had been a nice walk, his duffel bag slung on top of his back pack. He had kept quiet for most of his time since flying in, getting off the plane, taking the greyhound to town, and all the while wearing his cosmetic contacts .... if they saw his mutant blue-orb eyes he'd get no service. That much he knew from experience, for the whole of his life.

This was a cold place too, just cool now but he did not look forward to the snow. Sure, he'd been skiing with his mentor but he hadn't liked that much either. Walking up to the gate, he buzzed in "Ronaldo Ramirez ... eehhrrr reporting?" ... the scanners only took a second to verify him and the voice ... which might have been automated, replied "Welcome, please come in" as the gate buzzed.

The campus was impressive. Gozalez had money, and Rondaldo was used to living well ... but this was luxury. Back home, they didn't flash their wealth around. In South America, that could get you killed ... or worse, for a mutant, that could get you outed. So, the handsome latin teen who had been traveling for thirty four hours looked the part of having "flown coach" ... which he had. Coach, with no leg room. Actually, the walk had soothed his flight-cramped legs.

He waved to the people who had been unloading a limousine, and the others in their vicinity "Hola ... Hello! This must be the Lawrence Academy?"

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Natalie exits out of a van Prof. Jensen came to pick her up in.

Her she's wearing a tan vest jacket over a black shirt with the words "Procrastinators Unite Tomorrow." on front and tan cargo pants and a pair of brown boots and a red baseball cap. it looks like the side pockets of her pants are weight down by something.

She grabs her bags and starts rolling them, taking in the sights. She looks over at the two girls talking and walks over.

"Hey. You guys new too?"

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"Wow I seem to be a magnet for attention." She says with a smile. "As I introduced to my mysterious helper, I am Sakurako Hino."

She nods to the Hispanic gentleman. "Just arrived no more than a couple minutes ago. My Aunt dropped me off. She thinks of the headmaster here highly."

She adjusts her jacket. Looks like one meant for foul weather yachting more than anything else. "So, I guess we're in no hurry unless the weather is getting to you. I love the fresh air personally." She says as she adjusts her scarf. "Quite frankly after you've been cooped up all your life you... tend to enjoy the outdoors more."

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Aradia glanced at the two new students, and if her gaze lingered for a moment on the hot new hispanic mutant, who could blame her? But confusion flickered across her features too, and she shrugged slightly, looking a bit relieved when she saw Professor Jensen.

"Not me, but these two are. I'm Aradia, I've been here for awhile now, and - oh, hey, Ms. Jensen. Ms. Childs sent me down here to meet Sakurako here, but she didn't say anything about two other new students. You want me to go grab some help to get everyone's bags inside and stuff?"

Inwardly, she was relieved. Maybe if she could find someone to unload the new people on, she could find something interesting to do with her time! She'd done her share of "Welcome to Mutant High" tours, and they got kind of boring after awhile. She much preferred to get to know people once the "Oh wow, a school full of mutants" period had run it's course. Although the hot hispanic guy was almost enough to make her think twice.

Myrna nodded at the young acrobat, and she was off again - *BAMF*- before the new people could blink an eye. She reappeared upstairs - Sonja was quite used to the sound now, and barely flinched when Aradia popped into existence - and snatched the textbook Sonja was reading out of her hands.

"C'mon, JB - we've got new people, three of them, and we need those Super-Barbie muscles of yours."

She grinned at Sonja as she said it. It was hard to get mad at Aradia.. JB was her new moniker for her roommate since the height increase, it stood for "Jolly Blonde", as in "Giant". She had a nickname like that for everyone though, and where it could have seemed to Sonja like she was getting made fun of, she knew Aradia was just as likely to make fun of herself as she was others, and that it was never meant maliciously.

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"I... guess our quantum-entangled spider of a teleporter is getting some help I wager..." She says, adjusting her glasses. "She must get tired... or massively hungry after using her powers so much."

"Since the majority of my powers are pretty much what my overclocked brain does, I sometimes need to up my blood sugar to compensate for the increased cerebral activity. Like when a Laptop is using all of it's gear, it needs to use more battery life."

She sighs. "Golly I must be boring everyone. Tell me about yourselves."

As she does this, she pulls out a plastic bag from her backpack after taking it off. Revealing a box of Choclate Pocky. She opens one of the wrapped inner packages from the box and offers them to everyone present.

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"Hello. I'm Ronaldo." the latin teen said with a smile, and then just as he got close BAMF! And one of the girls was gone ...

"Woah! Madre de Dios! Thats great! ... you mean, we can just use our powers here? In public?" ... he looked kind of shocked, and just a bit like he was looking around on an instinctive level for some sort of trap.

Yet, the situation wasn't dangerous and teleportation is really cool. "I think I am going to like it here .." ... not only for the freedom, but for the cute girls too! He left the girls part unsaid.

In response to Sakura's query "Ronaldo Ramirez ... happy to meet you all. I'm from a few places in South America, and Asia. Move around a bit ... until my Father learned of this place. I like sports, like Capuera and wrestling. Reading too, fiction and classics. I have some mind powers, and some psionic energy projection ...inside my body and outside. I like movies too, even the ones that are not all action."

"This is a very nice place ... looks fantastic on the outside. Can I carry anything for you?"

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“Eat. Make happy. Eat.” Her finger pointed again, with more force. “Good food. Morri find. Good!

Alex blinked, then swallowed as he looked from Morri to the rather pathetically limp form of the dead rabbit lying on the ground below where he was hovering. Then he looked back up at the slender feral girl, his mind switching gears to deal with this new development. No, not entirely a new development. Morri had given him food before, insisting he eat her dessert with a fierce and slightly scary protective air about her. He'd put it down (correctly) as an overture of friendship, but that had been a cupcake... and this was a raw dead rabbit with - yes, it's fur and innards still present.

"Eat." Morri said again, pointing at the dead rabbit, her red eyes narrowing at the obvious hesitation on Alex's face.

"Uh... I can't eat it like that." he protested, feeling a little green around the gills as he stared at the glassy dead eyes of the separated head. Movement caught his eye as the Morrigan flitted noiselessly from one tree perch to another like a squirrel, her stare becoming somewhat more of a glare. "It's a nice rabbit, Morri, but I need to skin it, and cook it. Or it'll make me sick." he tried to explain as a genuine smile curved his lips. "I'm not tough like you."

"Not tough." Morri echoed. "Not tough because not eat." She stabbed a finger at him accusingly. "Alex sit on sky. Play mew-sick. No eat. No social lies. Sad all time. Morri keep from dying." she finished with a faint air of exasperation. Alex was nice, and warm and pretty, but he wasn't a hunter or a fighter.

"I do eat." Alex protested.

"Not eat enough." Morri shot back. "No arr-gew. Eat."

"Alright, alright. I'll eat it. But I'll eat it properly." Alex sighed as he drifted down, legs unfolding as he landed on his feet. He pondered the rabbit, then dug some sheets of paper out of his book bag and bent down to begin wrapping it up into a parcel. Maybe they could find an outdoor grill somewhere... and a knife so that he could clean it.

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You would think being laid out for nearly a week with growing pains from a mutant version of a growth spurt would cut you some slack, but it doesn't. Sonja spent the three days since the ache in her bones, and muscles, and skin, and in pretty much everywhere - even her teeth! - playing catch up. She had just one more chapter to read before she was done and then felt justified on focusing on something far more important to her, when Ari bamfed into their room.

"C'mon, JB - we've got new people, three of them, and we need those Super-Barbie muscles of yours."

Sonja scowled, but there was no real heat in it for her grinning friend and room-mate, then sighed as she stood up - and up - to her new, seven foot height and stretched, her sweater straining to contain her fulsome contours. JB wasn't the worst nickname she had already picked up with her sudden growth - Bet 'Neca started the other ones, the cow! - but Aradia never meant her monikers to be mean.

"Fine," the Barbie-figured giant agreed, pulling her long platinum-blond tresses into a hasty pony-tail, before her bright, indigo eyes narrowed in suspicion. "But I'm not taking over welcoming duties for you, Ari," she warned, bending over to pick up a stiff piece of paper, then gesturing at herself, then their room. "Ms. Gomez gave me a day pass to go into the city, and in case it isn't obvious, I really need some new clothes. And one of those extendible, flexy showheads. I've already made calls and checked the 'net for places to look."

That much Aradia could attest to. Sonja's side of their dorm-room was cleanest it had ever been, due largely to the fact that Sonja had packed up all her clothes and sports gear that no longer fit, which was nearly all of it, and either donated it or traded it for something she could wear, which wasn't easy as even before her growth spurt, her measurements hadn't been exactly common. And what she had kept was working overtime without pay to keep her modest.

Right now, Sonja was wearing a dark grey, cable-knit turtleneck, stretched so far across her shoulders and bust that it had shrunk into something more resembling a crop-top on her huge frame. The worn jeans she had gotten from a senior and though they fit snuggly over her hips and ass, the legs only reached halfway down her calves. And the boots from Kilo were long enough, but were nearly twice as wide as her feet and looked like they had been attacked by rabid squirrels. About the only thing she had that fit right was the infamous magenta bra which had mysteriously reappeared after she had thrown it out, sized for the new her, a small blue hand on each voluminous cup.

She felt more than half a fool.

"Oh, yeah, sure, JB, no problem," Aradia agreed with barely a pause. Sonja might not be the best person to schluck her duties off onto at the moment. She had been hell for the week she had been down and was still adjusting. "I wouldn't do that to you. They're at the front gate."

"Alright, let's go do this so I can get out to Manhattan and find something that doesn't look like crap in XXXXXL."

Aradia bamfed back to the front and a few moments later, the new students saw perhaps the largest woman any of them had ever seen in real life duck under door frame, with a curvaceous and athletic figure that might have been unbelievable if they weren't seeing it with their own eyes. They would have been forgiven thinking anyone so large and developed was a faculty, but if any of them were able to crane their gazes over the continental shelf that passed for her bustline, they'd notice the woman was actually a young woman - maybe a senior, but just as easily a sophomore - of surpassing loveliness.... Even dressed in ill-fitting, overburdened clothes.

"Hey guys, welcome to Lawrence Hunt. I'm Sonja Bahaar," she informed them in a low, rich alto. "Who needs help with their stuff?"

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A surprising fact about Curtis, was that he was not the average clumsy, weak nerd who couldn't lift a suitcase. No, he was just semi-weak. His agility and manual dexterity were actually quite high, an especially useful fact when working on the precision of fitting in cables, electronic parts and the like. Of course, his endurance and otherwise bodily attributes were not so effective. And for once, he intensely disliked Doctor Drumm, with every fiber in his aching body.

It was a natural part of the Academy's curriculum to challenge their student's weakness, and when it came to Curtis Shane, the super-humanly intelligent junior with practically unmatched grades in the high-school? Drastic measures were taken by now, and Ms. Childs had personally sat down with Shane and informed him that he was expected to try out for at least one athletics squad soon, and he WOULD be automatically chosen and damn well on the squad for whatever Curtis picked...

Obviously, rather than get pulverized by the brawny at football or something similar, Curtis had made the worse choice now, and gotten started on getting in actual shape for track. Forty-five minutes after he started, he was drenched in a pungent and unappealing sweat, and whatever little he'd eaten in lunch was preparing evacuation protocols anyway. And he could swear any more of this would cause his leg muscles to rip apart...

Nothing like sweet, simple calculus where integrals and derivatives were found in milliseconds of his time, or the good feeling of recreating diamonds in special ed science classes from old coal. Grunting and just having reached his limit as X approached 'to hell with this', he was wheezing and panting and about to collapse as he slumped against a tree.

Meanwhile, Morri was leading Alex to eat his food, he needed it, when she picked up the sounds. Odd sounds, but it immediately reminded her of some old zebras or other animals that she once found. Eileen had said there were none here, but Eileen was wrong. "More food." Morri suddenly told Alex, before forming the blood knives and charging after the prey...

And Curtis saw Morri leaping out with those knives... Fuck!

He let out a hoarse cry and collapsed to the group at that point. Morri stopped as she realized it was Curtis-jerk. "Well, if you're going to kill me Morri..." Curtis remarked sardonically... "Just get on with it. I'm half dead as is."

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Seeing Sonja was... intimidating. In fact she was at a loss for words. "I... I... I...Oh golly I sound so self centered... I'm Sakurako. Pleasure to meet you." She sheepishly holds up a stick of pocky while she turns to Ronaldo. "Thank you for the offer, That suitcase at the 5 O'clock position from me is the lightest, just clothing. It weighs 35.236 kilograms in total."

She turns back to Sonja. "Let me guess, You're gift revolves around being tough and strong, correct?"

"That seems so obvious, but... gotta break the ice somehow..." Sakurako thinks.

She pivots a bit to turn to Aradia, looking over her shoulder. "And my apologies, I didn't catch your name..."

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Unlke Curtis, whom she'd seen huffing and puffing around the track, Kia really was as boundlessly energetic as she seemed to be. Her body constantly regenerated even from fatigue toxins, and adapted to process oxygen in whatever quantity her exertion required from whatever environment she was in. It was all subconscious of course. All Kia really knew was that she never got out of breath, never cramped up, never 'felt the burn.' She wasn't bulletproof like some mutants, and she couldn't juggle Jeeps, but like a certain bunny she went on and on...and on.

Her 'track' was therefore a circuit of the entire campus, which she took at a brisk, comfortable running pace. She'd spotted Curtis on her last two passes, but on her third he was gone. She slowed down and jogged past the track inwards, just to see if he was still around. What she saw was something entirely different.

Alex was hunched over, fiddling with something on the ground. Kia trotted over, just about to say 'hi' when her greeting died on her tongue.

He seemed to be wrapping something in paper. Something with a furry little hindpaw that poked out of the end. Then her eyes spied something else. A rabbit's head. The head of a rabbit, sans rabbit. It was lying not far from where Alex was wrapping up...something fuzzy and cute?

"Oh my god," Kia blurted, horrified. "Alex what did you do?!"

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Sonja is ... quite a woman. A vision ... a tall vision. For a moment, Ronaldo was at a loss for words ... and she certainly took the focus off of Sakurako - though he gladly picked up her bag along with his as if it were no effort and smiled her way.

His jacket was tight, and did show quite a developed physique. With her bag, he looked to be carrying quite a load ... but he wasn't showing the slightest strain.

"Hello Sonjia, nice to meet you. I'm Ronaldo Ramirez ... its OK though, I'm good with my things but thank you - and I've got this one for Sakurako. Where do new students go?" asked the latin teen.

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"Excellent question, Ronaldo. Was about to bring that up." She says, adjusting her glasses. "Although once we get everything into the foyer and out of the elements I can handle things with multiple trips. I'm in far better shape than I was before everything turned on."

She scratches her dull purplish hair. It seemed dyed, but she took care to make it look as natural as purple hair could look. Almost as if she liked the look. "And, thank you, everyone. This would be a far more slower endeavor alone. And I get to meet everyone as well, so that is a wonderful bonus!" She says with almost childish glee. Almost as immature as she was mature a moment ago.

She seemed she was trying too hard to be likable.

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Morri suddenly dashed off while he was gathering up the rabbit, and Alex sighed again, picturing those bloody knives carving up a woodchuck or squirrel. He began wrapping another piece of paper around the sad little bundle-

"Oh my god," Kia blurted, horrified. "Alex what did you do?!"

"Huh?" Alex looked up at the cute little freshman, strands of golden hair falling over his face and his blue eyes widened in surprise. He was dressed in a dark wool coat and jeans, his guitar slung across his back to free up his hands. "Kia?" The girl had a hand to her mouth and was looking at him with a mix of horror and outrage. Alex blinked, and looked down at the paper-wrapped rabbit, and then it became clear.

"You think that I...? Oh, no!" he jumped to his feet, rabbit in hand with a foot waggling out of one end of the parcel. "Kia, it wasn't me!"

"What is wrong with you?!" she demanded, a flush of anger in her features as she stepped towards him. "I know you've been a little withdrawn, but this...?"

"Are you listening?" Alex demanded plaintively. "I said I didn't kill it. Him. Her. Whatever." He started to wave the parcel at Kia, then thought better of it. "It was Morri."

"Morri." Kia said flatly. "You're saying Morri killed it?"

"Yes." Alex nodded, smiling a little. "She thought I could do with something to eat. She came and gave this to me."

"And where is Morri now?" Kia demanded, hands going to her hips in an unmistakable 'you're in trouble mister' gesture.

"Well, she went..." Alex looked off in the direction Morri had disappeared. There was no sign of the feral girl. "Thataway." he finished lamely. He sighed again. The day was not looking up.

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Natalie blinks when she sees Sonja and is dumbstruck for a moment. This is a upperclasswoman? She then nods slowly.

"Thanks. I only have a few bags. Oh sorry didn't tell you guys my name. Name's Natalie Kenny. Nice to meet you guys."

She said scratching the back of her head.

"Question, before we head inside. How shielded are the schools computers against magnetic fields? Just out of curiosity."

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Sakurako jumps in shock. "Please, could you... not sand so close to the large footlocker then, that contains my desktop rig and I am carrying some sensitive technology personally. It... let's just say my life's work is stored on them and to lose it would be a tragedy."

"On the other hand I am sure Director Drumm has made necessary hardening a priority of the IT department."

She adjusts her glasses. "I'm sorry I was direct, Miss Kenny. I treasure my computers like my children in a way."

She extends her hand to Natalie. "Sakurako Hino, by the way. Genius and Flier."

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Natalie looks over at the foot locker in question. Good thing it was pointed out.

"I can respect that. And it's just Natalie by the way." She steps away from the footlocker and shakes Sakurako's hand.

"Nice to meet you. I guess I'm a walking electromagnet. Also I'm part of the fliers club as well."

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"Ah, cool! I don't fly as fast as most planes, but at least I'm far safer flying myself than being in some deathtrap. Wearing a parachute is always smart though..."

She suddenly casts a long stare at the ground, and she takes her free hand and holds a book-shaped pendant.

Then she snaps out of her inner monologue. "I'm sorry... I didn't mean to imply anything by calling you Miss, Natalie."

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Sonja shifted her weight from one foot to the other, giving the others a friendly, if slightly self-conscious smile. She was used to being as tall or taller than most of her peers, even liked it, but the view from a head up and more was still taking time to adjust to. Ramirez tried to be circumspect about it, the girls too for that matter, but she caught the eyes drifting to her abundant assets, which she noticed were unfortunately closer to eye level than her face was. Sigh...

"Nice to meet you, Ronaldo, Sakurako, and Natalie." Ronaldo caught her giving him a once-over, though he didn't get an interested vibe coming from her, more just noticing his physical ability. The girls got looks of something almost like envy for their well-fitting clothes. "You all are registered already, right?"

They all nodded and Ms. Jensen confirmed it before driving the van back to the parking lot. "Excellent, then this will go faster, but we still have to head to admin to get your room assignments." She gave them a wry smile and a shrug that make interesting things happen inside her tight sweater. "It would make sense to give 'em to you when register, but there's always some room shuffling going on at the start of the semester."

Sonja bent over and deftly gathered up the rest of Sakurako's suitcases and bags in her arms and over her shoulders - if she noticed their weight, she gave no sign of it, straightening easily. "If you'll follow me? Admin is this way. We'll just bring your stuff with us. You'd probably be fine leaving them in the foyer - not much stealing going on here, but..." Her deep indigo eyes cut to Aradia, lips curving into a small smirk, "... some students might leave a welcoming prank inside. Oh, hey, Ari! How's 'bout you help Natalie with her baggage?"

With that, the five students headed towards the administration department, the new students drawing their share of curiosity and the towering Sonja a plethora of titters, whispers, catcalls, and comments, which she bore with tightly reined stoicism. Sonja glanced down at Sakurako, stifling another sigh at just how far down the other girl was.

"Yeah, strength, toughness, and speed. I might be one of the strongest and fastest, and pretty tough, but there are those, Kilo for example, who are quite a bit tougher than me," she told her in response to her earlier comment. "Brainiac, eh? You might get along with Curtis, then."

Sonja opened the door to Admin, letting the others through before following them in... and cursed as she forgot to duck.

"Ms. Bahaar! Language!" the receptionist admonished her. She was slender and possessed a cool, lined, agelessness that placed her somewhere between forty and a hundred, with crystalline blue eyes behind thick-rimmed librarian-style glasses and silvery-grey hair in a severe bun.

"Sorry, Mrs. Howser," Sonja apologized, giving the door frame a glare, though it had suffered worse than she did, before turning back to Mrs. Howser. "We have a couple of new students needing the room assignments. Sakurako Hino, Ronaldo Ramirez, and Natalie Kenny."

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"Oh dear..." Sakurako says, actually massaging her forehead in empathy.

When she sees Mrs. Howser she is put at ease. "I'm sure you've let a few choice words slip after you've stubbed a toe, ma'am." Sakurako says trying to lighten the mood.

Seeing Mrs. Howser's reaction though only showed she failed. Miserably. "And what to you mean by that, Miss..."

"Sakurako Hino, ma'am... I was... Just..."

"There are other ways to express frustration. And how I run my office is my business. Now, knowing your profile, I will be placing you with Curtis. He's another Intellectual mutant like you. You two should get along fine."

Sakurako nodded apologetically. "Understood, Ma'am. And sorry. That wasn't my intent."

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Sonja didn't lock her room, a fact which Oneca noted for later use. Really, you'd think at least Aradia would know better by now. Neither mutant girls were in at the moment, which was why Oneca was grunting and manhandling an oversized suitcase into the room. She managed to drag it inside, muttering to herself about how easy this would be for her sister and then remembering that she was the one with the boyfriend, the wicked moving tattoo, and the taste in clothes that nowhere included the color "bubble gum pink".

Once past the threshold, she swung the door shut and locked it herself - not that that would keep the teleporter or Barbazilla (for real now! she giggled) out, but it felt better. She unzipped the luggage and began hauling out the contents. First was a dozen pairs of shoes, all custom made and ranging from two pairs of tennis shoes to fur-lined boots to several sets of low-but-still-fashionable heels; those went in the bottom of Sonja's closet when they wouldn't fit in her shoe thing that draped over the door. She pulled that down and tossed it on the bed, then went back to the suitcase. Next out where the dresses: two formals and a half dozen casual or clubbing ones that would have gone well past Oneca's knees but would be skirting the school's dress code on her sister. Then came the nice blouses and a mix of short and long skirts; she piled all the "nice" clothes on one side of the walk-in closet and cleared out the few I-sort-of-fit the giant barbie articles Sonja has managed to clobber together from other students. Really. She'd be lost without me. And our cousins. And overnight shipping.

The next batch out were shirts and sweaters, all in pastels and all sized for LHA's newest Amazon giantess; she hung those up on the other side of the closet and dug out the slacks, jeans, and sweat pants that went with them. Not a bad haul for the blond Bahaar sister, but for once Oneca didn't care about the small fortune that had just been dumped on clothes for her sister. Oneca made most of her clothes herself, anyways, and the credit card her father had slipped her in when she was first sent to LHA (a card with a stupidly low limit and she was sure her mother knew nothing about, but still) was usually more than enough for her to buy fabric. She hated using the school's sewing machines, but you can't have everything, right? Last but certainly not least, she filled up the dresser with new super-large socks, underwear, and bras. Most of them were depressingly utilitarian, but she'd managed to wheedle buying a couple of she-might-get-a-boyfriend-someday sets out from the company several of their mother's cousins owned in Iceland.

She pulled out one last item out of the suitcase - it had actually been on top, but she'd pulled the rest of the clothes out around it. Now she pulled it out and shook the wrinkles from it, laying it delicately on the bed. It was the dreaded bubble gum pink, the leather dyed to perfection and cut to fit Sonja's new almost-impossible figure. The trim from the high collar all the way down the sides on the front, ringing the long sleeves, and even traced around the bottom that would reach almost to her sister's ankles were Nordic runes: the sleeves spelled out her name and the patterns down around the edges of the coat were carefully constructed spells of protection, luck, and favor from the gods. She'd been up for most of the past two nights getting it ready; the first night to find the spells and make sure they were legit (thank god for traditionalist relatives) and the second carefully tooling the leather so that it all looked professional and she didn't accidentally curse her sister. The inside of the coat was padded and lined with a soft velvety material the same bright pink as the leather; the belt matched as well and carried another set of delicately inscribed runes. The buttons were made from pale pink-and-white shell, just like the shells they used to collect on the shore when they visited Iceland and there were three Bahaar sisters.

She ran her fingers over the gift, and then shook herself and got back to work. She didn't know how long the two roommates would be gone and she didn't want Sonja catching her here. That would just be embarrassing. She gathered up the useless leftover clothes Sonja hadn't managed to pawn off on anyone and the dregs she'd traded them for just to be semi-decent in public and dumped them, along with the shoe thing and any other odds and ends that didn't fit anymore, and zipped up the much lighter suitcase. She checked the hallway carefully before sneaking back out and making for the charity bin on the side of the building; one empty suitcase later, she bee-lined back to her room, stowed the suitcase, and then went out in search of her boyfriend. Being nice to her sister was so much work and she needed someone to distract her from it. She grinned: Revenant was very good at distracting her.

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Sakurako smiled as she organized her belongings for transport. "Ah, there is his room on the directory, shouldn't be too hard to find."

Sakurako is given the key to Curtis' room. "Good luck."

Taking what she could under arm or making a makeshift tether to help pull things along with a sturdy power cord. "Okay guys after I get stuff dropped off, I'll be back down at the foyer... since you guys were so nice to have helped me I'm up for anything. New student day out perhaps?"

She adjusts her glasses "I'm sure tomorrow we won't have time for such things."

She bows in the traditional Japanese style. "Thank you, everyone."

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Something in Alex's woebegone expression softened Kia's righteous rage...or maybe it was because he was hot. Or maybe rage was just something that couldnt live for long in Kia. Whatever the reason, she unfolded her arms and rubbed her forehead as she had to acknowledge that the circumstances Alex had outlined made a certain amount of sense. Giving someone a dead animal to comfort them DID seem like something Morri might do, despite all of Sonja's efforts to help the girl.

"Are you really going to eat it?" she asked, anger replaced by a sort of morbid fascination. "What if it has rabies or something? It could be a rabid...rabbit."

The mental image of a psychotic, frothing bunny was silly enough that she couldn't keep a straight face and had to cover her mouth to giggle.

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"Well Morri said it was good." Alex shrugged, imitating Morri's emphasis on the word. "I trust her not to give me a diseased snack."

"You are going to eat it!" Kia's brown eyes widened and she half-giggled, half-gasped in disbelief. Alex winked at her and finished wrapping up the parcel.

"I'm not going to leave it laying around, that's for sure." he corrected. He stared dubiously down at it in his hand. "I was thinking maybe I could clean it properly, then cook it on a grill." he said, deadpan, though his eyes glimmered with humor as they looked back up at Kia.

"Gross!" Kia was in full giggle-mode now. The shining boy shrugged, smiling himself now as he picked up his book bag and slung it onto one shoulder.

"It won't be that bad." he said philosophically, though it sounded suspiciously like he was trying to convince himself as much as Kia. "Roast rabbit's quite good. But I'd better be quick, before Morri brings back more wildlife. Rabbit is one thing, woodchucks and squirrels are another." He looked in the direction the Morrigan had disappeared, plainly weighing his options, then smiled at Kia. "I'd better stop her before that happens. Want to come along?" He waggled the paper parcel at her. "I'll share." he offered with a radiant teasing grin.

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Kia's grin turned coy and she looked briefly off after Morri...or at least in the direction Alex looked...before turning a sidelong glance back to Alex. "Okay," she said, "I could use something to eat I guess. Just a second though."

She went over to the rabbit's head, and for a moment rubbed her right hand with her left as if massaging it. Abruptly her right hand beaded with some kind of goo that thickened and hardened and turned grey when hit the air. In just a moment the hand was covered with a kind of segmented carapace, and each finger ended in a wicked looking sharp point. Just before Alex could ask or quip about what she planned to do with the dangerous-looking appendage, Kia, with a grunt of effort, plunged her augmented hand into the ground fingers first. Then Alex realized...the change hadn't been to make a weapon, but to make a shovel.

Kia uprooted a handful of dirt and gingerly pushed the rabbit head in with the back of the armored hand. Then the dirt was replaced...grass still intact on top...to bury it. It made a little lump, which she winced as she pushed down on...clearly hoping the soil was compressing, rather than the rabbit head crushing.

Then she shook her hand vigorously, and the shell broke off and fell away in pieces, leaving it normal again.

"Okay, you saw where she went, lead the way," she said, her smile returning now that the work was done.

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Morri was not intellectually smart. She was, however, cunning and she did know the difference between a running human and a running animal. She also had been downwind and knew that the running human had been Curtis. She’d been sure he was coming after Alex, which meant she was going to have to kill him. And since she had to kill him anyway, they might as well use the meat. He seemed healthy enough to be an excellent source of food.

When he collapsed to the ground, trembling in a puddle of his own sweat, Morri realized that he was in no shape to bad-touch Alex again. Her nose wrinkled at the aura of overly-pungent Curtis that assaulted her senses. It wasn’t that he smelled bad to her; he just smelled of a lot of it. At his remark, Morri considered fulfilling his request. Curtis probably wouldn’t have said anything had he known how likely the feral was to actually kill him.

Why was he out here running? Maybe he was in the Tracking Field team? Eileen had tried to explain that to her, with limited success. First, even Morri knew you didn’t track fields. That was stupid. Second, when she’d watched them, all they’d done was run in big circles or jump over poles they could have easily walked under. The entire setup seemed dumb.

It wasn’t her concern. Her concern was the mutant before her. Red eyes narrowed at him – and Curtis noticed she still hadn’t dropped those knives. “You go!” she ordered, one of her blades pointing back at the school rather than in the direction she’d come from. Alex was that way, and Morri didn’t want Curtis to find him and bad-touch him again.

Curtis was a jerk. “Go now!” she hissed, her knife waving with more emphasis.

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Alex had emerged from the woods walking beside Kia. The cheery freshman had restored some of Alex's sunny demeanour, but the smile faded as soon as he saw the Morrigan looming over Curtis, who was sitting on the ground with a wide-eyed look on his face. The girl's blood knives were waving menacingly in the air, and it seemed to Alex that she was about to attack. As it happened, he was more or less right.

"Oh shit. Morri, wait!" Motes of light flared in Alex's aura as he soared into the air, arcing to land between Curtis and Morri. He had the rabbit she'd given him in one hand, the other was up in a warding-off gesture. "Come on, Morri. There's no need for that."

"Curtis jerk." Morri growled, her red eyes showing a mix of anger and confusion. Alex tried to keep calm, though he smelled nervous to the feral's keen senses as he eyed her knives.

"He might be a jerk, but you can't hurt him for that." he said gently, keeping his voice calm. He lowered his hand slowly.

"He come to find you. Rub you again." Morri insisted. Alex blinked, then shook his head, trying not to laugh at the way this misundertanding had snowballed.

"No, Morri. He won't touch me like that." he glanced over his shoulder at Curtis. "You're not planning to touch me, are you?" he asked, straightfaced.

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Curtis was mixed and caught between trepidation, bewilderment, and feeling in very bad a state that he couldn't win a salad fight. Thank god for Alex... he slowly pulled himself up. Yeah, he was going to be feeling this for a long time. "Never have, and thanks for keeping Morri from turning me into jerk chicken. And for the record, I was out here because Dr. Drumm and Childs said I had to try out for the stupid Track and Field Team."

For a moment, that would have been all he said, but- it did exist- what little of a social conciousness Curtis had forced him to turn his gaze and meet eyes with Morri, her angry red gaze nearly dissuading him, but he didn't. "By the way... if it means anything, Morri, I'm sorry. About the Vyse comments and all. It was very very wrong." He might have wavered, but he did not break from saying those words... considering his behavior lately, and how it was landing back on him...

So I am a jerk. Apparently---- those two left me more jaded and bitter than I care to admit.

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Sakurako stops, seeing the room assignments and sees Natalie's room is currently without a roommate.

"Umm, Miss?" Sakurako says, placing Curtis' key back on the desk. "You know, if Natilie doesn't have a assigned roommate, I think I would be of better use if I was transferred to her room. Having two geniuses in the same place might not be academically beneficial. Also it would be improper to have a freshman in the same room as a more established student..."

Mrs. Howser at this point is looking flustered. "Fine..." She plops the keys down for Natalie and Sakurako. "now please take your stuff to your room, you're blocking the other students."

Sakurako looks more embarrassed by the moment. "Umm... okay."

She smiles when she turns back to Natalie. "Ok... I think we'll get along much better."

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Natalie nods. "Thanks Saku! Glad to have you as a roommie."

She grabs her key and thanks Mrs. Howser before turning to face Sakurako again.

"We better drag our bags up to the room." She said grabbing her bags again and then zipping one of the pockets to pull out a can of pizza flavored Pringles.

"Want some? She said holding the can towards Saku

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Sakurako re-situates her large backpack and tosses a unopened pack of pocky over. "Sure. Just remind me to go jogging. Now that I have my health I wanna keep it." She says smiling.

"Okay we're not gonna move by standing around."

Sakurako picks up both her suitcases with a grunt after tying the cord around her waist she set up on her footlocker and setting her last bag on top. "Thank god our room is on the ground level." She says munching on the offered pringles she was given.

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Ronaldo looked at the key on the desk ... and thought 'That doesn't sound very good. Not good at all.' Of course, he had no idea that Sakurako was just trying to be nice to Natalie ... but just in case he had better avoid rooming with this Curtis fellow. Ronaldo knew that he himself could get moody sometimes, and if this super genius was really high on himself it might not go well. Not that he knew anything for sure, but better not risk it. As a newcomer, he had to try to fit in as best he could.

Seeing as how he had offered to help carry Sakurako's bags and the super tall, incredible, amazing blonde girl seemed like she was headed somewhere ... Ronaldo set his two bags down in the corner and began picking up everything Sakurako had yet to carry. Then he realized the locker was wheeled, and set it back down ... he must have been distracted by Sonja. Pushing the big foot locker was like nothing to him. It was much more obvious now, his super-human strength ... but to balance everything he brought out his shadow tendril as a third arm.

Ronaldo said to the girls with a gentlemanly smile "Just lead the way. I am happy to carry everything for you in case of stairs." and then turned to the secretary saying "I will return shortly. I promised to help with the bags earlier."

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"Well I would like to see the library personally, but if I did you guys might lose me so that won't be so fun."

She nods to Ronaldo. "You know what guys? Lunch on me between us three. School cafeteria or that little restaurant I spotted down the road. Although I would probably have to either ask permission and/or get a chaperone for that."

She adjusts her glasses. "You know, I would just love to see the gymnastic and swimming facilities here. I am sort of interested in getting stronger. Seems after I was healed by my mutation I do feel an obligation to become as sound in body as I am in mind."

Smiling she adjusts her backpack. "And... personally... a swim sounds wonderful. I could use the practice and it's the funnest exercise method."

"That and if we ever plan on doing any rescues we would need to know how to deal with things like water rescues."

She realizes something. "Wait... do any of you know first aid? Things like CPR and what-not?"

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