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World of Darkness: The Academy - Chapter 11: Beasty Boys and Girls

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Renata watched the byplay around Lucia and the talk of her mom, conflicted. On the one hand, it would not be a lie to say she wanted to go home, or at least back to school. Her capacity for weird shit was starting to peak. On the other hand...it was Lucia's mom. Her mom. Ren didn't have the best relationship with her mother, but that didn't mean she had no sympathy when someone's mom disappeared into another world looking for her.

And even if Lucia had gotten creepy with the whole black shadow stuff, she was still a friend.

There was another little voice in her head too...one that didn't mind the idea of exploring another door. One that nudged her with its hip and suggested that this might be a pretty cool career choice. F. Renata Hodges, interdimensional explorer. You didn't need a college degree for that.

"Alright," she said. "Guess what it boils down to is...who's going with Lucia to see this deevy, and who wants to go back to Dalton?" Renata shakes her head and adds, "And no arguing over how to get back. That's a whole separate deal."

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"I'll go with Lucia." Ray said calmly. The call to his parents had only intensified the need to know who he really was, even in the midst of an inter-dimensional war looming, and even then he supposed getting more allies would be good.

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"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold up!" Sean exclaimed roughly, dark brows lowering over his storm-coloured eyes as he folded his thickly muscled arms. "Who said anything 'bout splittlin' up, eh?"

His blue-grey eyes were understanding as he reached out and patted Lucia on the shoulder again. "Look, I know you want to go after your mom right now, Lucia, but give Ryan a chance, huh? It sounds insane, but you wear freakin' shadows, Ren here turned a bladed Frisbee into a buzzsaw, I - well, y'know - and we're surrounded my were-panthers at the moment. Who says Ryan can't get there and back in a few minutes or an hour, eh? Eh? A few hours, a day at most, and we all can be back at Dalton, resupply, then on our way to meet the Devi and lookin' for your mother."

Sean stepped back, an encouraging and determined grin on his handsome face as his gaze took in all the Daltonites. "And we might even have someone else to come with us. Someone who's traveled the Doors before. My dad."

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Lucia gave the three of them a rather wry grin. "That was rather my plan, and I have faith that we'll be hearing from Ryan soon." She shrugged, giving no reason for her belief in the school prankster, just a statement that it was there. "There is some shopping I would like to do, as well as getting a few more of my own things, before heading out to the Devi. I have a feeling that this will not be a short trip and I do not intend to run back to Dalton between each step."

She took in a slow breath and let it out as a long sigh. "In all honesty, I doubt I'll be returning to Dalton after this at all. At least as a student. Between finding my mother, discovering exactly what I am and where I come from, and finding a way to prevent or win the war with the Caramine, I just don't see much time for ice cream socials, prom, or passing any of my classes." She crossed her arms, looking pensive. "I watched a show once, where the mysterious woman that gathered everyone up always said that she was offering them a 'world of endless wonder'. I think I understand what she meant. I'm a social climber-" She held up a hand as Rosa began to angrily protest the insult that had been hurled at Lucia since her first day at the elite boarding school. "I am. I've always wanted to be more than the poor black girl with no father. But....." she trailed off, dropping her arms and finally shrugging again, looking around at her fellow students (and Snow). "What's a big house or lots of fancy parties compared to getting to explore whole new worlds? To know what's really going on in the world? And who wants to cram for a calculus test or suck up to people that despise you, compared to that?"

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Micah hurried back to his room, with Ryan following. He quickly closed the door behind Ryan, and began getting dressed. He looked over at Ryan with curiosity written all over his face, "Who needs rescuing from India? And Why? Once you answer those questions I may be able to help, and we can figure out what to do. " He smiled, then got a quizzical look on his face, "What did you mean Freak?"

Ryan rolled his eyes, "Like ev'rybuddy. Whole buncha us got weird shit goin' down, an' freaky powers comin' up."

"Anyways, them all are prolly still talkin' 'bout how ta best wait fer me ta save their bacon frum tha fire." He shrugged, "Still, I ain't Cliff, you'll hafta get a rundown from sumbody who wuz payin' more 'tention than I wuz. Alls I know is tha door is blocked on this end so I popped over ta oper 'er up again. Prolly it was Bitchard, so we's gotta lay low an' avoid trouble. Tha's where you come in, I need a distraction."

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Renata shrugged. "Speaking as someone who's had the big house and has at least watched the fancy parties even if I didn't really go to them, pretty much nothing."

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For her part, Sylvia had been silent after commenting on Ryan's plan and the odds of it succeeding. But the silence wasn't wasted. She was using it to explore her new senses, to genuinely smell and see and hear what was around her. Conversation caught her attention, and she listened, the words growing louder as she stepped softly toward them, until she reached a doorway where a number of the students were talking.

She heard Lucia and Sean exchange words about the search for the former's mother, and quietly resolved to do what she could to help in the search. Then she heard the shadow-laden girl talk about abandoning school, and her lips quirked downward in a frown. She listened for a moment longer, then spoke up from the doorway.

"I can see where the academy may seem terribly mundane after all this," she said, her voice a bit softer than usual. "We've been to amazing places we scarcely imagined to exist, and you're right to question what remains relevant here.

"But I think that the academy remains relevant - even crucial - to our success in our new-found situation.

"When this all happened before, the Dalton students brought the Caramine to an impasse, something that many worlds have apparently failed to do. They didn't do it by magic, or Heartstones, or turning into giant cats. They did it with what the human race could bring to bear... and that is first and foremost our minds. We're technologically beyond almost anything else we've seen from elsewhere. We have a developed system of science. We have the diplomatic history of hundreds of squabbling nations. But if we're going to make the most of our human advantages for anything beyond a brief moment, we need to understand the underpinnings and contexts of it all. And that's what the academy provides."

She hesitated for a moment before adding, "I can't prove it, but I think Trevor Dalton had this in mind when he built the school. It's too... coincidental for a Door to be located exactly where the best and brightest students were recruited, just as it's too coincidental that we with all our uniqueness were recruited - one way or another - to the Dalton Academy. I think that he saw education as the best bulwark we have against whatever is out there."

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“Frida… whatever made you ask that?” Her mother’s voice was suddenly taut but infused with a hint of laughter. It was nervous laughter, and Frida knew the answer.

“Why didn’t you tell me, Mum?” Frida’s voice was calm, but her hand clenched the receiver tightly.

There was a sigh. “Because it didn’t matter to us. We couldn’t have a child, and there was a private adoption open to us. We accepted because we wanted children.”

“And Caravaggio?” Frida wasn’t sure if it would better or worse if her younger brother were adopted, too.

“He’s… not.” Helena sighed. “We were told we couldn’t have children. And then we had Caravaggio. I’m not sure how. But you… please don’t think that we don’t love you. You are our daughter.”

"...I know, Mum. Of course I'm your daughter, you raised me. But.. why didn't you tell me?"

"Well, we always meant to. It was just that, well, you had so many other things on your mind, dear. And you always seemed to feel so different from other children your age. We never wanted you to feel different in your own family too."

Frida had a suspicion that her feelings of alienation might have more to do with the fact that she might be related to the living dead than the fact that she was adopted... but she refrained from making that particular comment to her mother. There was silence on the line for a moment, then her mother chimed in again, her voice tinged with concern.

"Frida, darling, why don't you pop up to New York this weekend for a little visit? We could all go out for a nice dinner, and maybe have an evening at the symphony if you'd like."

"That sounds lovely, Mum, but maybe not this weekend."

"Oh but darling, we'd love to see you, and--"

"Mum, it's okay. I'm fine, I just.. have a test Monday, and I should study. It's mathematics, not my strongest subject, you know?"

"Oh darling, you do fine."

"I know, I just.. need to study a bit. Maybe in a couple weeks or something?"

"Of course, luv. You call me anytime, and we'll make it happen, okay? Your father and I miss you while you're away at that school. Maybe at end of semester, we should move you back up here to the city. There's plenty of private schools on the east coast, you'd only be a couple hours away then, and Daddy and I could visit on the weekends sometimes."

"Maybe, Mum. I don't know.. I do kind of like it here. We'll see, alright?"

"Oh.. well, alright. As long as you're happy, you know we--"

"Mum, it's fine. Go on, you've got a reservation."

"Oh, yes. Of course. I love you, darling."

"You too, Mum."

Frida sat there for awhile after the line went dead, the cordless phone resting in her lap, her gaze lingering on the numbers as she relived the conversation, and the last few days. What a strange, strange month. It was as if her entire world had been turned on it's head, and she wasn't entirely sure she liked the feeling. Being 'outside' had been comfortable, and easy.

And lazy. How uninteresting of you.

Odd, that she would discover this part of herself at the same time she felt as if she was waking up, and becoming more a part of life. She owed that to Ravi, she suspected.. not just because of their tryst in the forest, but because of how she felt when she was around him - his liveliness, his vitality. It was so different, so unusual, and he'd reached in and touched her with it, and awoken a desire for more. More friends, more passion, more.. involvement. She was tired, all of a sudden, of sitting by and watching everything.

Maybe I'm only half-dead.

She let out an amused, slightly edgy little laugh. And as if drawn by her very thoughts, the devil himself poked his head in the doorway.

"Frida? What on earth are you doing in here?"

"Ravi. I was just..." She glanced at the phone, still in her lap, and then sat it back down on the base on his grandfather's desk. "Phoning home. How are you doing? Have they taught you everything about being a manther?"

She asked the question seriously, but her eyes sparkled playfully at him, and he laughed as he crossed the room towards her.

"Not nearly everything. There's so much to learn, so much to make up for. The others are planning to go.. Ryan has done something, he said he could go back and try to open the door. The others are making plans for what to do if he fails. But.. I'm staying here for now, Frida. I have seventeen years of catching up to do.. all the things that I don't know about what I am. There's no way I can learn it all overnight."

She stood, and tilted her head at him thoughtfully.

"Mari will miss you dreadfully."

"I have a feeling that after everything that's happened, Mari will be secretly relieved to see me stay. That, or she'll be too busy fretting over my immortal soul to actually miss me."

She stepped towards him, her gaze intense as always, and reached up to touch his face gently with her fingertips.

"I will miss you dreadfully."

"Now that, I believe."

Their gazes lingered for a moment, but this time she didn't give him the opportunity to turn her down. After all, he was staying behind, she was going back.. to Dalton, or New York, or through the doors, she didn't know yet. But if she might not ever see him again, she wasn't going to pass up her last opportunity because of some foolish morality issue she didn't care about in the slightest. Whatever Ravi might or might not feel for Mari, he was still the first person who'd ever really made her feel alive.. and if she truly was born of the living dead, that might have been more of an accomplishment than either of them had realized at the time. Maybe it was only Ravi's unique vitality that made her feel that way, and who knew if she would ever feel that about anyone ever again.

So she slipped her hand behind his neck and pulled him down, lifting herself up on tip-toes, and pressed her lips firmly to his. He let out a low, feline growl in the back of his throat and wrapped an arm around her waist in return, pulling her body against his and returning her passionate goodbye in earnest. She reveled in it, feeling that crackle of electricity race through her, feeling the warmth of his touch as it burned it's way into her blood. But she pulled away after too short a period of time, unaware that he had already strayed in his promises of loyalty to Mari back during their journey to Heartstone, unwilling to linger long enough for Ravi to come to his senses and reject her again, as he had their last night at Dalton.

"Goodbye for now, Ravi. I hope to see you again. You have my number, call me anytime. You are my best and closest friend."

And she hurried out of the room before he could say anything to ruin her goodbye, and before her tumultuous emotions got the better of her.

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Ryan rolled his eyes, "Like ev'rybuddy. Whole buncha us got weird shit goin' down, an' freaky powers comin' up."

"Anyways, them all are prolly still talkin' 'bout how ta best wait fer me ta save their bacon frum tha fire." He shrugged, "Still, I ain't Cliff, you'll hafta get a rundown from sumbody who wuz payin' more 'tention than I wuz. Alls I know is tha door is blocked on this end so I popped over ta oper 'er up again. Prolly it was Bitchard, so we's gotta lay low an' avoid trouble. Tha's where you come in, I need a distraction."

"Um.... okay. What sort of distaction? A fire alarm, a riot, a personal distraction? And it has to be against Pritchard? Hmmmm." Micah looked down at the floor, thinking. "Maybe we don't need a distraction personally against her. We may just need to make it hard for her to be seen acting 'out of character'... But how do we do that?"

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Ryan shrugged, "I dunno." He scratched his nose, a frown of concentration spreading over his face. After a moment he sighed dramatically, "I think maybe I'ma gonna hafta do tha distraction. Bitchard prolly don't know ya got tapped fer tha game, right? Sos, I'll give ya a bit ta get over ta Lancasta House an' then I'll raise a ruckus. Tha'll let ya sneak up ta tha attic an' open tha door fer tha others."

The scraggly youth paused, scrunching his face up as he thought. "I hope," he added finally.

"Here, yer gonna need these," he said digging out the door key components from his bag. "Toss 'em through ta open tha door. Maybe you wanna grab a rock or sumthin' an' write Sean an' them a note sos they know it's safe an' all that. Don' go through unless ya hafta cause who knows if tha door'll stay open, ya know?"

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"Okay. I just hope this works." Micah grabbed a football and a sharpie and penned a short message on the football. "Do you know what'll happen if I straddle the door, like go half way in? or should I not do that? Ah, well, i'll figure it out. Let's get a move on." He picked up a small bag that held some of his sports equipment, and headed out of the room. The stuff for the door was in one pocket, and the football was under his opposite arm. He moved briskly towards Lancaster House once outside the building where his room was.

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I think that he saw education as the best bulwark we have against whatever is out there."

Sean gave Ms. Dorn an uncertain shrug, his grin quirking wry. "Maybe he did, but if'n so, I gotta say, th'geography classes are missin' some things. History too." He held up a placating hand before Ms. Dorn could retort - er, expound on her view. "I know I've - we've all - got learnin' still to do, but like Lucia said, it ain't all gonna be in the class-room no more. It can't."

He snorted in amusement, his eyes on Lucia. "I'm agreein' with you 'bout the calculus, but that don't mean we still can't learn stuff that we can use on th'other side of the Door at Dalton. As for th'others and their social games..." Sean spread his arms, gesturing at Swan, their panthery hosts, and suggesting what surrounded them. "... do you really still care what they think?"

Sean glanced at his wrist, forgetting his wasn't wearing his watch, then looked around, but didn't see a clock. He grunted in exasperation as he hefted his backpack over his shoulder. "I think we gave Ryan 'nough offa head start. Mister FitzCoventry, think I can get someone to lead me back to the Door? I'll wait there for Ryan to pull through, with anyone who wants to come along, then relay the message to anyone waiting here. But be ready to move, eh? Ryan might not be able to keep the Door open long."

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As the group began to head back toward the Door, Sylvia replied to Sean's statements regarding education.

"I have absolutely no illusions that all the matters on our plate will be resolved in a classroom. But I don't think it will be the exclusive domain of... field-work, either. There's a balance to be found, and I think we'll all have to work together to find it." She looked around at the group, and added, "I do however think that some of our classes will by necessity be exclusive to this group, and well off of any curriculum seen by the Board."

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Ray bit off a bit of a chuckle at those words. "Well, I see your points, sorta. But how are you going to pull that off, Ms. Dorn? I mean, especially if Mrs. Pritchard is involved in this, and she's on the Board."

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"Off campus education," Renata suggests as she brings up the rear. "Like when you visit a college for a day, only instead of a college, it's a gladitorial arena."

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"When last I checked, Mr. Venkman, I wasn't in the habit of informing Mrs. Pritchard of our every little plan. It's a habit I've no intention of developing, baring some very unexpected changes on her part."

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Lucia watched the dabate around her dispassionately. Life had become uncomplicated in her mind over the past few minutes. There wasn't enough time for everything, and her priorities were already completely clear and unbudging. She was going to find her mother, and until that was done everything else was incidental. The others could do as they pleased, and she meant that without rancor. Different priorities. And Mrs. Dorn could argue all that she wanted about the virtues of the Academy, but Lucia was leaving and the panther-teacher didn't have a parent left to call and complain to.

Arguing, at this point, was rather moot to her.

She did crack a grin at the were-panther's comment about their resident thorn, though.

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Ryan sat atop the administration building, legs swinging over the edge of the rooftop wall, and lit another firecracker. He dropped then hissing object and it fell, tumbling, before popping loudly outside Bitchard's window. If this didn't garner a reaction Ryan was going to have to try really hard. He had no Earthly idea what he could do to be even more aggressive in getting Bitchard's attention while Micah rescued the others on his behalf but it might require popping directly into her office and dropping his pants or something else that even he had to admit was just plain foolish.

,,

His vaguely blank gaze swiveled out toward Lancaster as he lit another firework and let it fall. Micah had bounded up those steps a bit ago, and Ryan had lost track of him among the other students. He waited for one to break away from the others and enter the attic, then he'd start with the rockets.

,,

Ryan smiled. It was good to be home.

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Autumn fell quietly into step with Miss Dorn and the others, an unusually sombre expression clouding her sea-coloured eyes. She really hadn't meant to be antisocial, but it was so hard not to explore the grounds when there were so many interesting things to see and hear and smell. Even the air tasted different, somehow, and something about this place with its thin veneer of domestication appealed to her. One of the young lord's relations- a cousin?- had even been kind enough to indulge her questions, the same near-babbling litany of inquiries Ravi himself had experienced at the academy.

,,

Initially, they'd prompted little more than amused indolence and assessments of her credulity. When she'd started asking about the aristocratic gentleman strutting 'round the estate in sapphire silks, a plumed hat, and a shimmering emerald and gold coat, and then pointed him out to the skeptical panther-man, she thought he was going to seriously injure himself laughing.

,,

At least, until he saw her confusion was genuine, and then she was the one answering questions. Had she ever seen this man before? (No, only at the estate.) Did she see anything else strange? (You change into a great black cat. Or into a human. Or something. Define strange.) Had she ever heard things? Seen things other people didn't? (Maybe? I don't know what they see and hear.)

,,

While everyone else was busy calling their parents and discussing the merits of going back to the academy, staying here, or going somewhere else entirely, Autumn was asking questions- and being asked in turn. It wasn't only the cousin, by the end, who was involved in the exchange, and what she learned gave the redhead a great deal to consider.

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It was the guards who responded to Ryan’s show, not Pritchard. The two men clambered up from an access opening, far less at ease on the roof than Ryan. “We need you to desist and come with us.”
Ryan gave them a bemused glance. “You’re not the ones I wanna see out here.”
“How about we take you to the one you want to see?” Ryan honestly couldn’t tell if the guards were like the ones Ravi had killed or if they were just utterly humorless. “Get off the roof and stop with the firecrackers.”

Micah slipped up into the girl’s side of Lancaster, the thrill of the illicit making his heart race. But each beat of his heart felt off somehow, as if something were wrong. He’d seen the school nurse, who had told him he was anxious and to take some time to relax and not worry about school. He knew better: he was a freak, like Ryan had called everyone else. He could feel it.
The attic seemed familiar. Uneasily, he went to the cabinet at the far end and found the hidden Door. Cautiously, he slipped the items into the drawer and closed it, then opened the Door.
A black portal waited, and Micah leaned in as far as he dared without seeing anything. Shrugging, he tossed the football into the void and settled in to wait.

The Dalton students were led through the jungle again to the Door. This time the iron gate was ajar, a football lying in front of it. Through the open door, there was only darkness instead of the green jungle behind the gate. Writing was scrawled on the football.

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Sean picked up the football with the practiced motion of long familiarity, flipping it over and around with an idle and deft motion, raven-wing brows crinkling for a moment before he saw the writing on the ball. He grinned and showed the ball to the others. "'Door Open - Coast Clear.' Told ya Ryan would pull through for us."

,,

Without pausing to consider it further, Sean turned around, tossed the football through the Door with an easy underhanded toss to give Ryan warning, then followed it through, Swan on his heels. Balmy Darkness surrounded them like a velvet cloud, then dispersed as their feet sounded on wooden planks.

,,

Sean couldn't help it, a hand checking his chest, despite being reasonably sure they were going from one to another on the same world with the same magic-levels-doohickery. Still hard, muscled, and male...

,,

"Thanks, Ry - Micah?!" Sean exclaimed in surprise, which settled in a wryly welcome grin. "Thought you managed to escape the madness. Ryan drag you back in?" His grin turned into a frown and Sean took a step back and to the side, fists coming up warily, remembering his belief that Bitchard was faking some students still being at Dalton even when they weren't. Swan, picking up on Sean's concern, slid over to Micah's other side, a hand on the hilt of her short sword. "Bitchard doesn't have Ryan, does she? And how do I know you're you?"

,,

It might have been a silly question, but Sean didn't look silly and his muscular arms and hard fists looked serious. Nor did the slender woman with the eyes of solid black.

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"Really? I dunno if she has Ryan. He was the one causing the diversion so I could open the door." Micah shrugged his shoulders and looked Sean in the eyes. "You really going to deck me a second time? And the first time wasn't the most sane response I've seen. Nice looking sword, by the way, lady." He closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable outburst from Sean.

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Ryan glanced at the security guards, their shoes, the less than confident looks they had on their faces. He sighed and shook his head. "If'n I wuz you, I'd stay put. This 'ere coppa roofin' ken get pretty slipp'ry if ya don' got tha right type a shoe." He lit another firecracker, and flung it over his shoulder at their feet. He smirked as the two men shied away from the little pop.

,,

His senses found what they were looking for, a single figure has ascended to the attic of Lancaster house and opened the door. The opened passageway to Mantherland was like a flaw in a pane of glass twisting his sense of spatial perception as a glass dimple would twist the light. One by one people popped out of that twist in space. It's about time.

,,

"Know whut, neveh mind, I'm gettin' bored here anyways." Ryan climbed to his feet, tottering at the edge of the thirty foot drop to the group. He lit the main fuse on the pack he had just opened, and dropped it over the edge. A few seconds later the staccato of small explosions rang out in front of Pritchard's window. Ryan pivoted on his heel and waved a nonchalant goodbye to the guards, "Tell Bitchard I said 'Hi,' m'kay? Thanks."

,,

Shoving his hands into his pockets he walked the narrow edge of the roof away from the guards until he got to the corner of the building. "Bye now!" he called as he stepped off the building's roof and dropped from sight. I really hope this works! Ryan thought as he folded space around him and slid out of the world and then slid back in three hundred yards away inside Lancaster's attic.

,,

Ryan landed with a thud behind some boxes. His fall had been less than six feet and he easily rolled with it. I should really figure out if I can change my movement when I do that, he though as he stood up. "Hey guys, let's not dawdle 'kay? Dunno how long we got, Bitchard didn' take tha bait all personal like. She sent ah couple ah toadies afta me instead. C'mon!"

,,
Rolls
Spatial Sense:
[jameson] 12:20 pm: Wits 3 + Composure 2 + Apotheosis 3 = 8 dice
jameson *rolls* 8d10: 3+1+8+3+10+6+9+5: 45
[jameson] 12:20 pm: pop 10
jameson *rolls* 1d10: 10: 10
jameson *rolls* 1d10: 8: 8
[Moira Morley] 12:20 pm: there is a way to roll WoD die
[jameson] 12:20 pm: nice! 6 sux ,,

Teleport:

,,
[jameson] 12:22 pm: Resolve 3 + Apotheosis 3 + Teleport 3 = 9 dice
jameson *rolls* 9d10: 9+1+5+5+3+5+10+7+8: 53
jameson *rolls* 1d10: 7: 7
[jameson] 12:23 pm: 3 sux
good enough for:
Intimate / 1 success
Known / 2 successes
Acquainted / 3 successes
-1 point of juice (no clue what my total is ATM)

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Renata came up behind Sean and said, "Dude...chill. If Pritchard had sent him, he wouldn't be alone."

,,

And then Ryan showed up and the question was resolved anyway. She glanced back at the door, making sure Mari was through and then ushering everyone else through too, pausing a moment for Lucia.

,,

Goddamn, but she was hot. If it hadn't been for Mari...

,,

A little awkwardly, she asked the class president, "...you going to be okay?"

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Sylvia was next through the door, looking at the scene and swiftly stepping in and to the side so as not to cause more of a traffic jam than already existed.

,,

"Well done, Mr. Jackson... and Mr. Kamparos, from the look of it," she said, one eyebrow rising slightly. "What is our situation here? Any immediate threat to Lancaster?" A certain protectiveness colored her words; back home once more, the Den-Warder felt the urge to ensure the safety of that home.

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Well, as Ray followed, he found himself stepping through. Back in Dalton. But honestly, something in him had not remained convinced about Ms. Dorn's words. Staying back in Dalton, no matter what plans she might propose, did not set right with him. Things had changed. He'd found something more comforting in the world of the Chiderans, and he couldn't imagine going back to his dorm, a year older.

,,

Common teenage complaints seemed paltry compared to hunting for one's survival, and calculus wasn't going to fend off a Camarine raid.

,,

And besides, Lucia shouldn't go out there alone.

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Lucia gave Renata a half-hearted smile. "I don't know," she admitted quietly and then stepped through back to Dalton. Her smile for Ryan on the other side was a bit more enthusiastic, if not really any brighter. "Thank you for getting us home, Ryan."

,,

She gave the 'outsider' student a nod, acknowledging him but not really paying much attention. "Well, I have some sorting and packing to do. I'm sure you'll get caught up, if you've been pulled into this....Micah, right?" She stepped past him, obviously intent on leaving the quickly filling attic and heading back to her room. "Not to be rude, but I'm a little tired of the recap and the longer I'm here the longer my mother is...wherever she is."

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"I'll be waiting here." Ray assured her with a slight smile. "Nothing to honestly pack, since I just got here..." He gave a firm glance to the others. "I'm going too. I really do need to know who my parents really are, and I'll help Lucia as well. Plus see what allies and info we can get."

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"You stabbed yourself in the fuckin' chest with a sword! I think I was entitled, dude," Sean grumped with a wry twist to his mouth, then shot Ryan a grin as he chucked him in the arm. "Knew you'd pull through, Ryan."

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Sean gave Ray a nod, then rolled his shoulders, settling his pack on his back. "I hear ya, bud. But if we all are goin' out and gatherin' our stuff before headin' out again - maybe after Ms. Dorn wrangles up an excuse fer us, so there's less questions asked - maybe you should come with, eh? Just so Pritchard don't got no chance as gettin' one of us while he's alone."

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Sean's stormy grey-blue eyes landed on Lucia, his good-natured smile turning fierce and determined. "I have every intention of helpin' you find your mother too, Lucia. But I gotta drive down to Denver to meet up with my dad. He said he'd help us, but he needed to get some stuff first too." His gaze took them all in. "Ray - any of you, can come with me, if you like. Micah, you too - I can try an' give ya the recap. Drive's just a little over an hour each way. If you have to pick anything up along the way, I'm sure we can find it in Denver."

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Recap
Yeah, I really don't want to type out everything they did. Dozer/Micah, just read the previous threads and assume Sean tells you basically what happened - though he doesn't mention what he actually did at the HeartStone, nor does he mention his gender-bender ways until someone else does.

Don't worry, it shouldn't be long. ;)

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“Uh, I think we’re all fine,” Micah told Ms. Dorn. “Now that Ryan’s back.” He paused. “Hey, where’s Ravi?”
“He’s with his family now.” Swan’s slightly odd way of speaking was a little jarring.
“That sounds ominous.” Micah murmured.
Sean shook his head. “Ravi choose to stay with them.”
As Micah nodded, Ahvia moved to stand behind her friend. “I will be with Lucia.” Ahvia’s reply was unsurprising, as was Rosa’s soft echo, “Me, too. I’m with Lucia on this.”
“And I will go with Sean.” Swan smiled at her mate, counting herself the luckiest woman ever. The one who could give her children and give her pleasure were the same. Who else had ever been granted such a gift?
“Are we splitting up then?” Rosa asked, nervously.
“We should go somewhere else to talk about this,” Ms. Dorn interjected. “Somewhere the boys won’t be in trouble if we’re found.”

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Ryan seemed almost taken aback by the gratitude he received from Lucia, and perhaps even more so when Ms. Dorn echoed that sentiment. For a moment he bore an expression that the teacher recognized from classes when she had called on him to answer a question.

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Ryan blinked several times and then quipped, "Umm, Ah'm thinkin' that me an' trouble already made our greetin's. Soon as Bitchard finds me tha jig iz gonna be up, if ya know whut I mean." He shrugged and offered his best "I swear I'm innocent" smile. "Lucia, 'less you don' want me ta come with, Ah think Ah'm best off stayin' away from Dalton. Which iz ta say I'd like ta go with ... 'less ya object."

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Lucia returned the smile, though hers was a fair bit more genuine on the innocence. She hadn't expected anyone but maybe Ahvia and Rosa to come with and it was incredibly heartrending to find the some of the group were willing, even wanting, to help her. "You're more than welcome to come along, Ryan. I have a feeling we're going to need as much help as we can give and get out there."

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She glanced around the group, thinking. "Okay, how about everyone meet back here in five hours? That gives Sean time to go talk to his dad and do what he needs to there and everyone to get packed, or take a nap if they don't have to pack. I don't want to take too long, with Pritchard running around. That will hopefully also give us a little bit of time with the Devi before we start getting tired." It had been a day so far: starting off with leaving the Chideran world, having a meal and all the drama in India, and now back at Dalton. They were kids (mostly), so they could run for a while before getting totally worn down, but eventually they would have to find somewhere and some time to sleep.

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"Well, the offer of Vanessa's - my... mother's place, I guess I should say is open, Ms. Dorn," Sean said in response to the teacher's suggestion. "It's a ways off campus, so Pritchard probably won't have eyes on it. And if there's stuff people have to get that they don't have in their rooms, they can probably get it in Denver."

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Sean nodded at Lucia, taking a deep breath that made the air hiss over his teeth. "I think I can make it in five hours - if my Dad already got a flight back from Vienna - he was on his honeymoon. I know you want to go after you mom right away, Lucia, but this has been a long day for all of us. Dont'cha think maybe we should all get a night's - day's - whatever, six or eight hours of sleep first, then head out fresh? Even with Pritchard out there, we're still better off restin' in a place we're familiar with, then out there on th'other side of the Door, in yet another world we don't know."

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The burly jock held a pair of placating hands. "It's just a suggestion. This is family stuff, so the decision's yours, Lucia, and I'll back whatever you choose. Just want the team to start out fresh, rather than startin' out rough. Your mom already has a big lead on us - sprintin' now ain't gonna help us catch up in the long run."

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Sean put an arm around Swan's shoulders as the group began heading out of the store room on their way to put their plans in action. Those plans were hardly written in concrete, but they were still teenagers, making them up as they went along. Hopefully that flexibility would help rather than hinder in achieving their goals.

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"I definitely second the nap idea," Autumn chimed in. She remembered her first real meeting with Lucia, in the forest, and her curiosity hadn't waned in the slightest. Of course she wanted to help the girl find her mother, but something had changed in the redhead since coming here- something beyond seeing spirits. Part of her wondered if it had something to do with the "spell" she'd done (oh, but it was embarrassing to think of how naive she'd been), and part assumed it was just something to do with hormones. Truthfully, she was sort of enjoying the thrill of discovery, of seeing these other worlds (and other parts of her own that were so exotic, they might well be part of the former category); it was the distortions in time created by their excursions that gave her a headache.

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If we were going to go with Lucia, why did we come back to Dalton then? Renata wondered to herself. And it wasn't that she didn't want to help Lucia...she did, but...it seemed like there was unfinished business back on Earth too. In fact, she felt like Lucia might be rushing into this a bit, even for herself. She wouldn't do her mom any good if she got killed searching, right?

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But she wasn't going to be left behind at school to face her folks and Pritchard alone either.

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"So what's our first step?" Renata asked. "Do we have any leads? Because it seems to me, if we're looking for someone who disappeared, we ought to start with the spot they disappeared from. Maybe she told someone where she was going, or left a journal or...some kind of clue or something, to point us in the right direction."

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"Five hours is too short a time to make this work, I'm afraid," said Sylvia. "And I think Mr. Cassidy's counterproposal is appropriate. Rest, reprovision, and then those who are willing can set off in support of Ms. Blake tomorrow. Is that agreeable?"

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After some back and forth between the students and Ms. Dorn, it was decided that they would stay one more night. However, they were all nervous about Pritchard, so they devised a plan: one of the staff bungalows was currently empty. They'd have to walk around the edge of campus, and it'd be 'cozy', but it could be done. Sean could bring food on his return from Denver.

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The plans were laid and set. It was time to enact them.

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