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 Post subject: The Empowered
 Post Posted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 12:46 am 
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Fanatic Coiler
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Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:00 am
Posts: 333
Location: South Yorkshire, England
Before I start, this is a story loosely based on a few animes I've seen, but it's not a fanfic. It's basically about a group of girls in a boarding school who have been granted powers to fight monsters that have been plaguing the school. It shows how they juggle their lives around studying, fighting and their personal life. Not the most original premise I'll admit, but I think I've put a few of my own spins on it.

Time setting: The story is told in 2012 but the events happen sometime around 2009-2010.
Location: Somewhere in England.

If a character sheet is required, I'll gladly deliver one. ^_^;

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Chapter 1: Welcome to the Jungle

This is the first time I’ve ever spoke of this tale. I suppose I should start at the beginning, but where do I start? Well, I guess I should start with who I am exactly.

My name is Evan. At the time when the tale began I was sixteen years old, average height and build with spiky blonde hair. I suppose my style was otherwise that of the archetypical Goth. My usual attire consists of black jeans and boots, black t-shirt over a white top and seven silver hoop earrings all around my right ear. Not that I’m an expert on fashion cliques, mind. Most of the people I hung out with in secondary school called themselves Goths, so yeah…

The story starts a few years ago on a Friday in early September. I was stood at the end of my street in Sheffield. For those of you who are geographically impaired, that is located in England, sort of north of the middle bit. Vague, I know, but if I gave you its position in relation to Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham you’d either find it redundant or not have a clue what I’m talking about. I guess that’s why Google Earth exists. Now where was I?

Ah yes. I was stood at the end of my street in Sheffield early in September on a bitterly chilly midmorning. I was dressed in my standard casual attire and had a suitcase bulging with various clothes and more importantly, provisions. I glanced at my watch, the position of the hands clearly indicating the time at 10:16. The coach I was supposed to be catching was about six minutes behind schedule. Needless to say, I was un-amused by this fact. Still, at least it wasn’t as late as the coach I went on once before, but that is an unrelated tale. I shall first bore you with this tale before I work on the prequel. Now, off my tangent and back on with the story.

The coach arrived and I walked on board. I was slightly annoyed since the majority of the seats were either taken by pairs of people, or just empty. Sitting alone on a long coach ride is a vastly overrated experience, or so I have found. Thankfully, there was one girl there who was dressed in a similar style to my own (gothic) who invited me to sit with her. As I was looking down for an empty seat, the first thing I noticed were the socks she was wearing. They had purple and black horizontal stripes and ran from her knees down before disappearing into her combat boots. They crinkled a bit, showing that they had slipped down a bit. There was a gap between her knees and the black and red plaid miniskirt she was wearing held up with a white metal chain belt. A tiny bit of her thin midriff was on show just below the black camisole she wore which clung finely onto her breasts. Her shoulders pierced through her straight, black hair which hung loosely and helped the normal tone of her body blend into her ghostly white make-up which coated her complexion. The hair matched her eyelashes which seemed to burst from her small, round, verdant eyes. “’Ey up! Feel free to sit a while,” she said, her Hull accent clear to my ears. “Nice to meet ye, I’m Violet.”

As invited, I placed my suitcase in the overhead luggage rack and sat. “I’m Evan,” I grinned, shaking Violet’s hand. “Are you a new year 12 too?”

“Nope. Well yeah but nope really. I’m a year 12 but I’ve been going to Level of Hell since I was fourteen,” Violet explained, smiling a little at the nickname.

I was quite shocked by the nickname Violet had for the school. “Levels of Hell? I hope that’s an ironic nickname,” quipped I nervously.

Violet giggled, flicking a lock of her hair out of her face. “Well, some say it is. Some say that Michael Schumacher isn’t really The Stig as well. I guess it’s down to personal interpretation. It’s basically everyone’s pet name for the place.”

I nodded, getting the pun. “Makes sense. Levitt Hall, Levels of Hell.”

Violet rolled her eyes. “Yeeeeaaah,” she drawled. “God, at least we got that over quickly unlike that lass Manami who was in me swimming lessons last year.”

An Asian-looking girl poked her head over the gap between the seats. “Are you still going on about that? That’s just being a jerk, Violet!” the girl protested in a shrill, slightly Scottish voice (Edinburgh, I reckon). Her hair was shorter and reached just past her ears and had a fringe. Her eyes were narrow and hazel with finely trimmed eyebrows above them. I couldn’t see what she was wearing other than a blue butterfly hairclip. “Besides, dinnae forget who the fastest swimmer in the school is,” she bragged.

The girl sat next to Manami leaned on Violet’s headrest. She had feathery brown hair and a tanned complexion with a sunny smile on her face. Her beady eyes were like emeralds, not too dissimilar to Violet. “Don’t let her bragging get to yer,” she said, half-singing in an accent that reminded me of that old TV show Auf Wiedersehen Pet.

“And y’are?” I asked, noticing the strange girl.

“Hannah,” she replied. “I overheard yer talking with Violet and Manami, don’t mind me.” She then leaned back and fell asleep in the sun. Compared to some of the rest of the passengers, Hannah wore little. She was wearing a cyan tank top and a very short white miniskirt and that was it. I looked around the floor to see if she if she had discarded her shoes from her bare feet but I couldn’t see any.

I felt a poke on my back. I looked around quickly and heard Manami clear her throat. “Something special about Hannah?” she impatiently asked.

I blushed a little at what Manami was implying. “Not really. Well, aside from one thing that I’m just wondering about,” I was slightly embarrassed and unsure as I spoke.

Manami smirked. “What’s up?”

“Does Hannah always dress like that?” I turned bright red, since in retrospect I sounded a bit like some kind of pervert.

Violet and Manami were just as embarrassed as I was by that question and got a quick giggle out of it. “Every time I’ve seen her, Hannah hasn’t worn a lot. She never seems to wear socks or tights or whatever and only puts more than one layer on when it’s extremely cold. She rarely seems to be short of energy though so I guess she doesn’t need it,” Violet told me as she regained her composure.

Manami nodded. “Yeah, I was her roommate for the last two years and we hung out a lot. She’s pretty much always barefoot when she gets the chance to be.”

“So, where are you all from?” I asked, acting as if I couldn’t guess from their accents. That’s something I’m good at – I can guess someone’s home city just from hearing their accent very accurately. I knew that the people who ran my local chippy were from Ankara despite the fact I’ve never even been to Turkey!

“Beverly, just north of Hull,” Violet answered. One-nil to me!

“I was born in Osaka but we moved to Edinburgh when I was two,” Manami added, meaning that I was still on a 100% success rate. Sort of.

“And Hannah’s a Geordie, right?” I said, feeling certain in my gift. As I said that, Hannah woke up and gave me a quick slap across the face. “What the hell was that for?!” I asked, voice raised and perplexed.

“Don’t you call me a Geordie again! I’m a Mackem!” Hannah corrected me, angrily.

I was rubbing the red mark that Hannah had left on me. “Right, Sunderland. My mistake. I’m so sorry.” The mark had pretty much disappeared, but that was more because it was blending in with my embarrassed blushing than it actually clearing.

“I get it a lot. Don’t worry,” Hannah smiled as she closed her eyes and fell asleep again.

Hours passed as Manami, Violet and I talked about each other and got to know each other. Violet had been Levitt Hall since she was fourteen, and had showed Manami around the school when she was transferred at fifteen. Manami herself was a fantastic swimmer from a young age and the best of her GCSEs included an A* in physical education. Violet was apparently a bass player for one of the school’s many bands. My parents had pushed me towards piano when I was younger rather than one of the “cool” instruments. When I was older, I had switched to keyboard due to it being more portable. I asked Violet about what style her band played and smiled broadly. Experimental. Gothic. Rock.

Our coach ride came to an end and we went our separate ways. We had been given the rest of the day to settle into our dormitories and for the newbies among us, find our ways around the school. The building looked more like a mansion than a school though, if I’m honest. The building itself was similar to The White House on the outside and was three stories above ground with another one underground. There was also another cellar underground. The whole thing was ornate and modern, beautifully furnished. I couldn’t possibly describe each area right now but it was stunning. I headed to my room after taking in the architecture of the room. My roommate wasn’t there today. Apparently he was ill. With that knowledge, I looked glanced at the clock (which read 23:34) and headed to sleep.

The next morning everyone was awoken at 7AM sharp. Everyone was dressed in their normal clothing and was in the canteen for 8 o’clock. I got some scrambled eggs on toast and met up with Violet. She was sat with another girl who was wearing a white shirt with a red t-shirt on top. She had dyed black hair with red streaks which reached her moderately-sized breasts and was eating a bowl of cornflakes. The girl put her spoon down and swallowed her food. “I’m Charlotte,” she smiled as she shook my hand. “Violet was telling me about you last night.”

I was slightly stunned by this revelation. “Well, that’s a shocker! So tell me about yourself, Charlotte.”

“I’m in Violet’s band. We call ourselves Malinconia. There’s myself on lead guitar, Violet on bass, my friend Abby on lead vocals and rhythm guitar and my cousin Jason on drums. We kinda borrow talent from the other music bands when we need it. I hear you play piano and keyboard,” Charlotte spoke warmly and in a cockney accent. “We were going to do our first band practice of the year after breakfast. Want to join us? We’ve been looking for a permanent keyboard player.”

I agreed and met up in the band practice hall after breakfast. It was a fairly spacious area and quiet, aside from the sound of Violet and Charlotte tuning up. Jason was warming up before he started playing. He looked similar to myself but with a bit more facial stubble and a more muscular build. I wasn’t surprised by that. Eventually everyone was in tune and ready to practice. “Does it matter that Abby’s not here?” I asked, slightly concerned.

“She’s usually late to practice,” Violet explained as she stood up and held her bass in place. It was shaped like a typical Stratocaster-replica. It had a black body, neck and headstock with a white pickguard and five strings. Charlotte’s guitar was a red Les Paul-style axe. My keyboard had been set to sound like a piano. Well, technically speaking it was one I’d borrowed and not my own, but that detail was irrelevant. “Shall we start with some Coil?” Violet asked, smiling.

“Which song?” I asked, kinda nervous. This was my first time playing in a band like this, so I was scared of messing up. However, I was familiar with most of Lacuna Coil’s songs.

“Closer!” Charlotte called out. With that, I quickly changed from piano to strings. Jason counted us in and we played. Despite the lack of vocals, it was a very good rendition of one of my favourite songs. We began to play the intro to Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd as a response to the various chanters at concerts. Suddenly, Charlotte’s guitar went quiet along with my keyboard and Violet was left plucking away on her own while Jason went to see if something was wrong with the amplifiers. Everything was in order, so he couldn’t see was wrong until there was a loud crowing noise.

“What is that?!” I called out, panicking at the sight of what seemed to be a giant crow with glowing red eyes. It was huge, at least two metres. What’s more, we had no idea how it got in.

Charlotte was clearly angry and threw her guitar to the ground. “Goddamnit, they’re back! I thought they’d learned from last year!” she cursed.

“Evan, get out of here!” Violet ordered as she put her bass down.

Jason hid in the corner and I backed up to the white wall and froze in fear. What happened next I couldn’t believe was happening, and I don’t expect you to do so either.

“Zagaaya!” Charlotte shouted as she raised her arms into the air. A long spear appeared in her hands. It was gold in colour with a nasty looking head on it that seemed like it could rip chunks of flesh from anything that got skewered on it.

Violet made a cross-shape with her hands, her right hand in front of her left in a vertical position. “Wire Claw!” she called. Her middle three hands took a golden coating with her nails growing long and red. She flicked her left hand at the crow beast and thin wires extended from her rouged fingernails. She waved her hand in a circle and bound the crow with the wire as it cried in pain.

Charlotte leapt at it and called out “Flaming Joints!” as she descended. There was a brief flash and flames sprouted from her wrists which then engulfed the spear she was carrying. “I hope you like yakitori,” she muttered as she impaled the crow. The bird burst into flame as Violet released her grip. There was a flash of white light and the crow monster was gone.

“Why didn’t you run?” Violet asked as she turned back around. Her so-called Wire Claw had disappeared. Similarly, Charlotte’s spear was gone and her wrists were no longer ablaze and there was there any evidence that they were.

Charlotte smiled. “Don’t worry Violet; I think we can trust Evan to keep this a secret.” Thinking back on those words, I realise there was quite some irony behind them. I just looked at them, amazed.

“What are you?” I asked, short of breath. “And that crow thing?”

Violet was still annoyed that I had witnessed that incident, but explained. “For reasons we don’t get, monsters started attacking the school last year. I assume that crow was related to them.”

Charlotte nodded. “Some of the girls in our year were granted powers to combat them,” she added in a more compassionate and patient tone than Violet. “We are known as The Empowered.”


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 Post Posted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 12:36 am 
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Note: This chapter contains (a non-graphic depiction of) female nudity. If you are offended by such content, don't read. If you aren't, you freaking rule. ^_^

Chapter 2: Through the Fire and Flames

There I was in the band practice room, stunned at the spectacle of my two new bandmates creating weapons from thin air and killing some kind of crow monster. Charlotte and Violet had told me that they were “The Empowered,” magically-enhanced girls with abilities that allowed them to fight monsters that had been attacking their school for nearly a year. I was just as confused as you likely are (I’d say there’s a 74% chance of you being within a reasonable margin if I was to measure it numerically). “So how many of you are there?”

“There are ten of us, but we only know of three of us at the moment,” Charlotte explained. “Obviously there’s Violet and myself. There’s also my friend, Manami.”

I was stunned into silence, completely perplexed by what the girls were talking about. “That’s the Japanese girl we were talking to on the bus, remember?” Violet teased.

“I know but… Well, what does she do?” I asked, wanting to find out more.

Violet chuckled a little. “I have A*s in biology and chemistry and have poison control. She’s a renowned swimmer. You figure it out!”

“I think I get it. Water control, right?” I was guessing here. There were potentially thousands of powers but I thought I could see where Violet was heading.

“Bingo. She has a set of powers known as The Aqua. Mine are called as The Venom and Charlotte’s are The Flame,” Violet explained as she prepared to play again. A girl walked in, carrying a guitar on her back. It was as distinctive a design as you could get – a Flying V, in a bright ice white. She plugged it into her amp and smiled a quite a bit, trying to act as if nothing happened. “Abby, why were you late this time?” Violet asked, impatiently.

“Ah! Vi-vi! Well, you know how you guys came here straight after breakfast? Well, so did I but you see I had a pretty big breakfast with second portions and everything see I had five slices of toast with strawberry jam and it was delicious I mean did you notice how today it seemed to taste so much better than it did last year I mean isn’t that great I think they hired some new chefs and…” the girl rambled, stopping to catch her breath. Her accent wasn’t very distinctive so I couldn’t place it. She wasn’t very tall and had curly locks of ginger hair that trailed down her face and stopped roughly at her shoulders. She wore some rather old-looking blue jeans and white trainers, with a bland white t-shirt. “And… wait, where was I?”

“You were making a rather poor excuse for being late,” I joked, glancing at my watch. 12:29 PM. I was surprised at how long we’d been in the practice studio, considering how little practice we’d actually done. Bloody crow. “In fact, it’s a very poor excuse,” I added. “You couldn’t have been having breakfast at nearly half past noon.”

“Don’t,” Violet grinned, putting her hand on my left shoulder. “You don’t want her to ramble again. Anyway, if that’s the time we should go get lunch.”

“Agreed,” Charlotte nodded. With that, we packed our instruments away and left the room. “Now, you can get lunch in the canteen again but I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, there’s a place called Unite in the back of the building,” she explained.

“Unite’s much more reasonably priced and has better food. Just one thing though: The place itself is a bit… polarising,” Abby smirked.

Violet chuckled. “You of all people should know about being polarising!”

Abby turned her nose up and scoffed at Violet. “I learned from an expert.”

Soon enough, we arrived at what seemed to be a small café which had an entrance not only in the hallway, but also one leading to the outside, where there were tables with large parasols over them. Since there was a slight drizzle, nobody was sitting at them and the inside of the café was very busy. I noticed Abby glance out of the window as the rest of us ordered our lunches. She bought a baguette and said out of the blue “The weather’s nice today, we could sit outside and away from the crowd.”

We looked outside and were quite surprised since suddenly, the weather had turned sunny and warm. “I have no idea how that happened,” Jason said, stunned with the sudden change.

Charlotte shrugged her shoulders and smiled. “Let’s just make the most of it,” she declared as we headed outside. We sat at the first table we could find. Violet and I sat next to each other, Charlotte opposite, Abby to my left and Jason to my right. Before we could tuck into our food, there was a loud crowing noise. We looked up and couldn’t believe what it was. “It’s that crow again!” Charlotte yelled, taken completely by surprise. She raised her arms into the air and called out “Zagaaya”, her spear forming in her hands.

Violet made a cross with her hands. “Wire Claw!” she shouted as her hands were coated in metal armour, her middle three fingers on each hand getting extended, claw-like fingernails.

Abby was completely in awe. “Hey Evan! Did you know about them being able to do that?!” she asked in a high-pitched squeak. I simply nodded, to which Abby whispered “Then you’ll like watching this”. She then stood up and hunched over. “Mjöllnir!” she screamed as the shaft of a mighty hammer appeared in her hand. The head formed and seemed to have a lightning bolt engraved in it. To be honest, seeing someone tiny like Abby wielding a massive hammer seemed almost farcical to me. Still, she seemed to spin it over her head effortlessly. As she raised it to the sky, the sunlight intensified and the temperature soared.

“So you’re back, I can tell from the burn wounds,” Charlotte grinned, manically. She threw her spear at it and it burst into flames as it impacted. The crow called out in pain but flapped its wings to put out the fire and send the spear back at Charlotte. It then dived at Charlotte and pinned her to the ground with its black, spiny talons. Charlotte tried to block against its pecking attacks with her spear.

“Don’t you dare!” Abby taunted as she jumped and swung her hammer horizontally at the crow’s face. It squawked deafeningly as it was hit, falling sideways and losing its grip on Charlotte. Violet quickly gave a flick of her wrists to bind the crow as she had done before. This time she tightened her grip, the thin binding starting to cut at the bird’s flesh. Abigail leapt into the fray again and delivered a fearsome strike with the hammer, straight into the crow’s head. Violet released her grip and let the bird fall to the ground.

“Is that it?” Violet asked, disappointed with the fight the crow had put up. As she did, a woman stood next to me. She was dressed in a rather unique fashion, one I wasn’t familiar with. She had a puffy black dress with no sleeves that covered her body from the top of the neck to her knees. Her skin was a pale white, or what little of it was on display. It seemed to have been heavily made up, more so than Violet. Black eyeliner and lipstick gave her a very corpse-like appearance. Her legs seemed to poke out of the dress like a pair of cocktail sticks clad in white stockings and black mules. This strangely clad woman’s hair was a deep black, the same tone as the feathers on the crow, and was done up in a beehive. She glanced at the crow and it got up, seemingly un-phased from all the beating it had taken.

“Time to get harsher on this thing!” Charlotte bellowed. “Flaming Joints!” she screamed as her wrists and ankles flashed, but unlike last time they failed to ignite. “Hey, what the hell?!”

Violet smirked. “Maybe I should infect it further,” she said as she formed a small, purple orb in her hands. It glowed, giving off a lilac light. “Noxious Gas!” she shouted, but the orb quickly faded. “What’s going on?” she quietly said as she looked at her metal-coated hands, her expression a mix of surprise, fear and helplessness.

“Something’s blocking our techniques!” Abby called out. “One thing for it – we summon.”

Violet’s surprise became more and more evident with each passing nanosecond. “Should we?!” she gasped.

“I don’t care!” Charlotte snapped. “Delphyne, come forth!” she cried out. A giant fireball appeared in front of her and quickly dissipated, revealing a large reptile, the size of a pony. Its scales were a deep crimson with large wings, black as charcoal. There were spikes running along its back, each one the same charcoal black as its wings and of increasing height towards the middle, some reaching half a metre high. Each leg ended in a reptilian foot with three claws, again the same shade of black. Its eyes were impassioned and glowed orange as magma. “Delphyne, our enemy is that crow. Let’s take it out!” Charlotte called out as she jumped onto its spiny back. She stood with a foot on each side, carefully balancing herself as the dragon took flight. The crow flapped its wings too, rising into the sky.

Violet sighed. “I guess we can’t do anything else. I call on Black Widow!” she shouted. A purple cloud burst open and dissipated, revealing a huge spider, at least the same size as Delphyne, if not slightly bigger. The head was fairly small; it was in fact the abdomen that contributed most to the spider’s form, bulging and black with thirteen giant spots, the same shade of yellow you’ll often see on a warning sign. The spider’s eight eyes seemed to have a slightly yellow tone as well. Its spindly legs bent and lowered the body, allowing Violet to climb onto its back.

Abby then said something which really annoyed the other two girls. “You know, to say I suggested summoning, I forgot that actually, Felis Majoris won’t be any help here,” she blushed.

“Well whatever. Let’s just take out that monster crow,” Violet sighed. She then grabbed onto her spider tightly. “Black Widow, scale the walls. Try to keep up with Delphyne,” she said, trying to keep serious without letting her annoyance at Abby drag her down. Delphyne and the crow continued to rise as Black Widow galloped up the wall, keeping its eyes locked on the crow. Soon they had reached the roof and Black Widow couldn’t go any higher. It was hard to see what was going on from where I was stood, but I could make out a load of silk webbing emanating from Black Widow’s mouth and wrapping itself around the crow’s legs and talons. It tried to pull the crow back but was struggling to do so, even with help from Violet and her Wire Claws. Instead, the two of them were being dragged closer to the edge of the roof, Black Widow digging in for dear life.

“Violet, forget it!” Charlotte shouted to her at the top of her voice. “Delphyne, cut the threads! It’s up to us to take out that bird!” On cue, Delphyne severed the silk that attached Black Widow and Violet to the crow with its claw. It then turned its head and shot out a stream of flames from its mouth with a monstrous roar. The crow dived at Delphyne, avoiding most of the stream of fire. Charlotte quickly jumped from Delphyne onto the crow’s back and impaled its brain with her spear. It began to nosedive towards the ground, but Charlotte didn’t look phased at all as she realised that she was able to do something. “Delphyne, fly below me,” she called to her dragon. She then began do glow bright white. “Now… EXPLODE!” she cried out, glowing a bright white. She disappeared into a great fireball along with the crow, which fell to the ground, its flesh burning from its body. Charlotte jumped down and landed on Delphyne’s back, avoiding being impaled on the spikes on its back.

“I have seen enough. That was relevant to my studies,” the girl in the dress said quietly before running off.

Charlotte and Violet came back down carefully, riding their summoned beasts. The girls stepped down, the beasts and weapons disappearing. When Charlotte stepped down, she was met with a bunch of laughs. “So that’s your natural hair colour!” Abby joked.

“What are you talking ab…” Charlotte started, before looking at the ground. Her face then turned a deep red when she realised that she was lacking something that she had before the fight – clothes.

Violet was on the floor in stitches. “If you want, I could have Black Widow cover you up! I think the mummy look would suit you perfectly!” she laughed, heartily. “Hey, what did you get for lunch today? It wasn’t chicken, was it? I mean, that’s what I got but this is NOT what I was asking for when I ordered breast!”

“WILL YOU SHUT UP ABOUT IT?!” Charlotte demanded. “I didn’t expect a monster attack today, so I didn’t put my fireproof clothes on!”

I was just completely stunned by the whole thing. “Uhh, Charlotte? How come you’re not covered in burn scars if your clothes have been burned off your body?”

“You mean her smoking hot body?” Violet laughed.

After an awkward few seconds of what would be silence were it not for the silly little Goth on the ground, I eventually said “No comment. But yeah, what’s up with that?”

Charlotte sighed. “My body can’t be set on fire or burned, but the same can’t be said for most of my clothes,” she explained, indignantly. “Now can we please go back inside?”

“Bad idea,” Abby declared. “You see, just because it is sunny now doesn’t mean it will be for the rest of the day.” Right on cue, the clouds returned and burst into heavy rain. “Now there will be nobody outside and so, you will probably see a lot of people who will find it hilarious to see you naked and very soggy.”

“Screw it, I don’t even care any more,” Charlotte declared, barging past.

Jason muttered something to the rest of us. “Somebody’s going to be on detention for quite a while. That’ll mess up her monster fighting plans.”


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 Post Posted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:56 pm 
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No feedback whatsoever? Sigh. =(

Chapter 3: Map of the Problematique

I didn’t see any of the girls until Monday, the day that classes started. It was the first day that I’d worn my uniform since I had bought it and I thought it looked alright on me. Black shoes with matching trousers held up by a belt with a silver-coloured square buckle, a white shirt with a crimson tie tucked into it. Very minimalist and basic, but stylish.

The first lesson of the day for me was English Literature, which I had arrived two minutes early for. I took a seat and waited for the rest of the students, waiting to see if there was anyone I recognised in the lesson. Manami walked in a minute after I had arrived and sat next to me. One thing about Levitt Hall that I’d noticed is that they hadn’t adopted a unisex uniform since she was wearing a very different outfit to mine, but it was similar to that of the other girls. Black slip-on shoes with socks that reached the knees, a black skirt that stopped just above the knees and a white cotton overshirt. She took a seat next to me as the other students sat down. The teacher arrived just afterwards, a short and chubby man with a receding grey hairline. He wore a suit that only just fit him. “Welcome class. For those of you who had me for your GCSE years you’ll know that I am Mr. Albinson. For those that didn’t, I am Mr. Albinson,” he grinned, a very wide and toothy grin. “Now, as you know we will be doing-“

“Sorry I’m late!” Charlotte announced as she stood at the door, gasping for breath. The rest of the class started to mutter to each other, amused at who was stood at the door. “I’ve been on janitor duty.”

Albinson looked at Charlotte, saying nothing verbally, but his expression just screamed out “You’ve only been here for a weekend and you’re already on janitor duty, you moronic little girl.” When he did open his mouth, he was completely deadpan. “You must be Charlotte Ashworth. I heard about the incident on Saturday and I think you are incredibly lucky to still be here. While Levitt Hall does encourage students to express themselves freely, we do not believe that streaking is a very suitable method of doing so. Sit.”

Charlotte shot Albinson a passing glare before taking a seat to Manami’s right. At this point, I was only half-concentrating on the lesson, taking the occasional note. About twenty minutes into the lesson, I could smell something that seemed to be burning. “Sir, I think there might be something burning in here,” I said, pointing at the waste paper bin that seemed to be giving off a thick smoke. I then made a glance at Charlotte, since I thought she might be something to do with it.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got it,” Manami said, getting a bottle of water out of her bag. She jumped up and poured it onto the bin. Very soon, the small flames that had formed were put out.

I met up with Manami and Charlotte after the lesson to talk about the incident. “Don’t you ever worry about being found out?” I asked them.

Manami shook her head once, very slightly. “There’s no need to worry, since I’m careful. Besides…”

“One could always keep them hidden,” a strange voice echoed. The three of us looked around the hallway, unsure of where the voice was coming from. A tall, thin girl with a flat chest walked up to us. Her hair was a natural red and very curly. Her voice was exceptionally quiet, making it difficult for me to determine where she was from. “You should be careful about talking about such matters when the general public can hear them, you know.”

“And why do you care so much?!” Charlotte demanded, her voice raised.

The other girl smirked. “Hypnotise,” she whispered, looking into my eyes with her own piercing diamond gaze. I felt incredibly fatigued and dropped to the ground, asleep.

When I came to, I was in the infirmary. The girl in the puffy dress was sat opposite me. Her expression was nearly completely blank, but I could tell that there was something troubling her. “You… Evan Quinn,” she said, almost as quietly as the girl who put me to sleep.

I stretched and yawned. “You know it sweet cheeks. What do they call you?”

“I am Melpomene Levitt, daughter of the headmaster. My family have run the school for many years now. As such, we know a lot about various myths and legends connected to it,” she explained, coldly and distantly. “Evan, you obviously know about The Empowered.” I was quiet and said nothing to let on how much I knew, which was surprisingly little. “My family are also scholars and know more about the myths than any other person,” Melpomene added.

“And you’re going to tell me about it?” I asked, not sure whether or not to trust Melpomene.

“You have seen six different Empowered and their effects now. I must admit, that is partly my fault. However, this puts you in great danger,” Melpomene continued. “That is more than half of them.”

“Six?” I repeated, not sure what to believe. “Violet, Charlotte, Abby, Manami and that weird chick who knocked me out, yeah. Who’s the sixth?”

Melpomene stared at the ground. “Toxic, Flame, Atmosphere, Aqua, Illusion and Suppress,” she muttered, completely deadpan. As she mentioned each, I pictured each in my head. I saw Violet binding the crow with her Wire Claw, Charlotte bursting into flame, Abby commenting on the rain as the clouds burst, Manami dousing the fire in the waste basket and the girl in the hall staring at me. Suppress was something I just couldn’t picture. “I’m sure you know who to attribute each one to, or at least can make a good guess.”

I thought about what the strange girl was trying to say. “You’re Empowered?!” I gasped. “What does Suppress do?”

“Suppress is a strange ability. Rather than use my own battle technique, I stop my targets from using their own. Only the most powerful techniques and beings can’t be stopped,” Melpomene explained as she stood up to get a glass of water. I took a quick glance at her and noticed she was wearing the same outfit as she wore yesterday. She sipped the water she had poured and continued her explanation. “Techniques like Explode or beings like Black Widow, I suppose.”

I stood up and towered over Melpomene. “So why didn’t you assist against that crow thing?!” I demanded. “I thought the Empowered were supposed to fight monsters, not help them!”

“The whole situation runs deeper than you could even begin to imagine,” Melpomene sat down opposite me again. She wasn’t being particularly specific, which was irritating. No matter what I said to try and get more information, she would blank me. Eventually, she cracked a little smile. “Even if you studied as thoroughly as my family, you wouldn’t be as close to knowing as much as an actual Empowered. I suppose having both kinds of knowledge puts me at an edge.” She then turned and left.

I ran to pursue Melpomene. “Come back! You can’t just half-explain everything like this!” I called out to her. She stopped at a grey stone door which didn’t seem to have any kind of way of opening it, nor anything to make it stand out – it was completely blank. She placed her hands on the door and it rumbled, lowering itself at a very slow rate, stopping fully open with a loud clunk. Melpomene entered, a load of candles suddenly flickering alight. I followed her closely.

“You’re very persistent and eager to learn about something you physically cannot be a part of,” Melpomene mused (and I do recognise the fact that Melpomene was also the name of the Greek muse of tragedy). She walked to the end of the narrow, dark corridor and arrived at a wooden staircase. There was a large room with nearly no light whatsoever at the bottom. Melpomene and I entered the room and sat at a square, wooden table, each of us at opposite sides. “This is my family’s hidden library,” she explained. “Here, everything that chronicles the myths of Levitt Hall are kept, regardless of what it is. Even if it’s considered ‘minor’ or ‘trivial’, it’s still here.”

I was about to say something when I heard a loud thud. “I guess there’s no way out from here?” I asked, slightly unnerved.

“Not without me or another Levitt,” Melpomene answered. “People such as Charlotte, Violet and myself aren’t the first ever Empowered, you know. Every one hundred years, Empowered begin to take on their powers. Eventually, ten girls have awoken as Empowered. At the moment, two are still dormant. Come.” Melpomene was on the move again, walking between two giant bookcases before arriving at a steel door. She placed her hand on it and like the stone door before, it rumbled open, sinking into the earth. We walked in and there was a room with eleven sides, each of the sides that the door wasn’t on had a painting on it. Two of them were all in grey, but the rest were coloured in. Some of the paintings I recognised immediately – one had a pair of hands in an X shape, the middle three fingers of each coated in gold with long, red fingernails and thin lines leading from the nails. Another had a spear on it with flames surrounding it. There was also a hammer with a lightning bolt engraved on the head.

“Those are Violet, Charlotte and Abby’s weapons,” I said, pointing them out.

“This one is mine,” Melpomene pointed to an oval shield on a black background. The shield was pure white with five blue pluses on it, arranged in a cross formation. “Clipeus, the strongest shield in existence. Virtually indestructible and protects the wielder from most forms of attack. Basically, if I can’t block it with my powers, I will block it with Clipeus.”

I was quite intrigued by the fighting style Melpomene talked about in contrast with what I’d seen from the others. “Can’t you fight back in any way?”

“I only have one attack other than close-quarters combat, which means that I have to rely on my summon for that,” she explained. She then smirked a little bit. “It is none other than the most powerful creature in existence, Guardian of the Underworld, Cerberus.”

The ground began to shake and dust shot up from the ground. “Is this Cerberus?!” I called out to Melpomene. A green cobra, at least ten feet long, burst out and hissed at us. There was a red and yellow pattern on its underbelly which appeared to form a clown-like face.

“This creature is nothing to do with me,” Melpomene stated, flatly. She reached forwards, and spread her fingers, all of them pointed upwards. “Clipeus!” she called, her call resonating through the tall room we were stood in. The shield depicted in the painting appeared in her hands, only it seemed much larger. Large enough for both Melpomene and myself to hide behind. Instinctively, I dived behind Melpomene and braced myself for when the cobra attacked. The cobra launched itself into the air and prepared to strike from above, its fangs sharp and mouth wide open. Melpomene blocked its attack with her shield, making the cobra roll to the ground. Immediately, the cobra stood back up before lowering its head and going for another strike, this time closer to the ground. Melpomene blocked it, sending the snake reeling.

“Is that all you can do? Just block it?” I asked, impatiently.

Melpomene looked away from me and barked back with “If I called Cerberus here, he’d take up the entire room and crush us too.”

“Well don’t you have any form of spell thing AT ALL?!”

“Yeah,” Melpomene said, calmly. “I have one, but I don’t think that summoning a giant rock from the sky is going to help when we’re underground. I don’t fancy squashing the school right now, so this is all we’ve got.”

“All you’ve got, more like,” I smirked as I rolled around the shield. “I don’t know what kind of witchcraft or whatever is responsible for the likes of you and Violet, but I do know that I don’t need it.” With those words, I entered the fight for real. I jumped up and spun in mid-air, my right leg extended. With that spinning kick, I knocked the cobra to the ground. I jumped onto its back and gave it a mighty punch with my left arm, followed by another with my right. The serpent was stunned, so I turned to Melpomene. “We need to get out of here. As soon as this thing wakes up, he’ll be after us.”

Melpomene nodded and opened the door out of the vault. We ran out as quickly as we could but no more than a few metres out, Melpomene tripped and fell to the floor helplessly. “Sorry Evan. I’m so helpless,” she whined.

“That and impractically dressed,” I muttered. The door sealed closed and the ground shook again, before stopping.

“It’s back,” Melpomene whispered.

I whispered back to her. “So, we need to move quietly.”

“But where to? If I try and open a door, it will hear us,” Melpomene added as she stood back up. “Whichever way we look at it, we’re trapped. Kung-fu will only get us so far.”

“Well, we get to the door at the other end and trap the cobra in it,” I decided. “We’ll need to move carefully and quietly. If you start tripping and crashing on your shield, we’ll be heard for sure.”

“Ri… Right,” Melpomene said as she made a quick movement with her arms. As she did that, the shield disappeared. She then bent down and started fiddling with the buckle on her left shoe. “You said it yourself; I’m not dressed that well for the conditions. I can’t really fight in stilettos.” She removed the shoe, followed by the second. “I don’t want to ruin my best stockings either,” she added as she sat down and began to roll her left one down. I looked around to see if the cobra had poked out of the ground yet. It hadn’t seemed to, but I knew that there was more to these creatures than there seemed to be. It was probably planning to strike in an unexpected way. “Evan, the floor’s so cold,” Melpomene whispered, pathetically.

“Hold out for a few minutes!” I snapped back, quietly. Melpomene led on with hesitant, barefoot steps. Even in the dim light of the underground library we were in, I could see the contrast between the ghastly white of her face with her natural skin tone which seemed a lot fuller, despite being starved of sunlight. Suddenly, she let out a short yelp and fell onto her backside. There was a small smear of blood on the side of her right foot. What’s more, the ground was shaking again and mere centimetres away from where Melpomene was standing, the cobra burst out of the ground again.

A voice echoed through the room. “Melpomene Levitt, you owe me big time,” it sang. Melpomene, the cobra and I looked around completely confused before hearing a whooshing noise. In a split second, the cobra’s body had been cut into tiny segments. The head landed on the ground just in front of Melpomene. A person appeared, with a sword stuck into the beast’s brain. It was the girl who hypnotised me earlier. “This is a fascinating room, Levitt,” she smirked. “You used me for your gain, so I figured I’d use you for mine. By that I mean I tagged along. That’s fair, right?”

“I… I guess so?” Melpomene was pretty scared of this girl. “Look, I hurt my foot so I need to…”

“What a shame!” the girl grinned, half-singing. “Maybe I should kiss it better!” She kneeled down and grabbed Melpomene’s ankle, holding the foot up to her mouth before placing a loving kiss on the wound. Melpomene jerked and kicked the other girl in the cheek.

“What are you doing, you freak?!” Melpomene squealed. “That’s disgusting!”

“My dear little Mel, your kick and your words hurt me so!” the girl giggled. “It’s such a shame that someone shy like you doesn’t get to work your beauty. Still, you owe me a lot and I will get it paid back, soon. Not now though. Byeeeeeee!” With a shrill shriek, the girl disappeared. Literally.

“What the hell was with her?!” I asked, completely stunned by what happened, not to mention seriously creeped out and even a little disgusted.

Melpomene stood up and looked at me before speaking with a very cautionary tone. “Isabel Ward. She used to be a very quiet girl and a little bit of a bully magnet until roughly a year ago. If you thought that me using my powers for researching what exactly the Empowered are capable of was misuse, you should find out what she’s done!”

“Oh I get it,” I smiled, somewhat nastily. Considering that Melpomene was trying to warn me, I suppose that was inappropriate. “You’re trying to justify your actions by saying that there are worse people than you!”

“Not the point!” Melpomene snapped. “When she became an Empowered, she realised the potential of her abilities immediately. One thing that she can do is make people see things not as they truly are. The amount of relationships she has broken up using her powers is staggering. She’s imitated people’s boyfriends, imitated their girlfriends, had people unknowingly do the same do the same, all sorts, just to get back at the people she deems as deserving it.”

“A bit of a slippery slope, isn’t it?” I pondered.

Melpomene continued with the cautionary tone. “She is one dangerous young lady, as are all eight of us. There’s one manuscript I found in here that says that if a male is exposed to all ten effects, a great tragedy will befall them. You’re only on your fourth day here and have been exposed to six effects. If you see a monster, run for your life. Furthermore, do not seek out other Empowered.”

“How did you know I’d seen Manami’s powers?” I asked, suddenly remembering that since Melpomene wasn’t a student, she couldn’t have been in Albinson’s lesson.

Melpomene frowned. “From Manami,” she said, teeth gritted.

“Just because you could prevent Isabel’s deceptions doesn’t mean you’re any good at creating your own,” I smirked.

Melpomene turned away from me. “Just get out of here and stay out of Empowered affairs. Seriously, run along. The door opens automatically from within when humans approach.”

Chuckling a little bit, I turned to leave Melpomene in the library. What she had said was enlightening, but I wondered how much I could trust her. My free period was over, as was morning break so I headed to my next class, for what was hopefully going to be a normal day, or what was left of it.


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