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Students Get Into Trouble

Posted on Fri Mar 17th, 2023 @ 8:10 by Claire Cavendish & Oliver Bloomfield & William McAvoy & Mia Misati & Ophelia Sideris & Shauna Murphy & Catriona Reid & Hamish McClean

Chapter: Prologue: Dawn of Avalon
Location: Catacombs underneath Avalon
Timeline: Saturday, 27th of September, 1992
4173 words - 8.3 OF Standard Post Measure

It was not often in Scotland you saw a black leopard prancing in front of a group of teenagers as they wandered along a dark and drafty tunnel under the castle. Catriona purred back at the group that followed her enjoying the opportunity to be in her cat form. The group was made up of people who had been on the plane and people who wished they had been on the plane after the robot attack. The teachers had told them to not discuss it but did they really think that they were not going to at the very least discuss it among themselves.

It had started simply as them trying to remember where the plane hanger had been but they had all been so freaked out by the mess no one had really been able to remember clearly enough which had led to Catriona having been brought in on the plan to find the hanger bay by tracking the scent of Claire and following it underneath the castle. It was fresh enough that it could be followed but old enough to not be recent.

Oliver's time in the plane and in the corridors underneath the Institute had been spent in abject terror and because of that he had not been able to join in the conversation that inevitably circled back to the kick-ass futuristic jet that suddenly had appeared out of nowhere. because of that sudden appearance, it had made sense to the students that it was hidden underneath the Loch, although the logistics of it eluded all of the students in the group. That was a lot of water to keep from pouring into the plane hangar. He stuck close to the black leopard as it seemed to stalk the corridors.

Mia and Shauna bracketed the taller Hamish, almost clinging to the young Scot's arms like groupies as they followed Catriona along the tunnel.

"Aye, I'm telling ye. This place is definitely haunted," Hamish said, teasing the girls a little with the suggestion that a ghost might suddenly jump out and scare them.

"That's okay, I'm sure you'll protect us..." Mia said, glancing at Shauna with a sly expression. It wasn't competitive, but with Hamish being one of the most eligible guys on the student body it was only natural that they'd gravitate towards him.

Ophelia really wasn't speaking in this whole mess. She'd just kind of fallen into the pack when Shauna and Mia did, quietly tucking herself in against the latter's other side from Shauna and craning her head to peer ahead, waiting. She dared to amplify her senses, wondering if she could smell like Catriona or maybe hear like a dog? She tried to avoid the hearing though, lest she just end up deafened by her classmates. "What do ghosts smell like? I bet it's like... ice cream. 'cause they're both cold. Cookies and Cream..." And there went her concentration.

It was entirely in keeping with what the group had come to expect from Shauna that her tight rein on Hamish had very little to do with being scared; she didn't have time for ghost stories unless she was the one creating them. It also was of absolutely no surprise to any of them that she was starting the year with a very similar capacity to deadpan the boy-child into a staring deadlock, with the pair of them already renown for bickering over assumed authority. Naturally she behaved as if he was, at the very least, an inconvenience, far less likely than Mia to play into a desire to impress anyone. Shauna had a tendency to set her sights on older guys and, even then, seemed to favour independence more than preoccupying herself with flirtation.

It also had to be said that she'd just learned the futility of trying to vie with her pretty friend for anything. Mia had a decided advantage when it came to the swinging pendulum of other's affections.

Her grip on Hamish, indeed her willingness to be close to him at all, came from a current personal quest to extend her powers to affect other people. Shauna was convinced it ought to be possible, that the nature of her invisibility should be able to grant her the ability to render others similarly obscure just as D'Angelo was able to drag others through her phase shifts. There was no chance of affecting the entire group and, being still very much in the experimentation stage, Shauna couldn't guarantee what partial success would look like, let alone what it would feel like. Hamish could handle it. If he couldn't, then watching him lose his dinner would still be something of a victory.

"This is a disused access that hasn't seen a lot of use until recently," she reasoned, rolling her eyes at the dramatics. "Of course, it's making weird noises; we are probably underwater by now." That just gifted them a whole new concern to focus on.

Catriona glanced back at the group and stopped as she saw light from further down the corridor. It was not the bright white light she had expected from the space that had been before.

"Ophelia, is there anything up ahead we need to worry about? Actual threats," Shauna added, smirking at Hamish with a faint sneer. "Not imagined threats from children's books."

"Hammish just put on deodorant without showering after playing sports in the gym again." Ophelia stated quite matter-of-factly, entwining herself on Mia's arm as she peered up at Shauna. "No ice cream ghosts though."

"It's Calvin Klein..." Hamish began to protest, though thought better of it when he realised he was being teased.

"Well, I think you smell just great," Mia replied.

Catriona shifted back to human with a leap that spoke of the agility that she processed in abundance. "It smells strange. There are several other scents down here." She said wrinkling her nose to show how it offended her.

Ophelia found herself laughing at Catriona, probably more than was warranted. "That's just a bunch of teenagers in a poorly ventilated tunnel, Cat." But then, the girl paused and sniffed at the air herself, nose wrinkling to mirror her friend's. "Smells like a garage. Oils and gas and machines, oh my..." She whispered that last part a few more times, momentarily channeling her inner Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.

Catriona looked the other girl up and down and rolled her eyes at the mean girl streak that had come out by the laughing. "Smells nothing like how I would expect a garage to be," Catriona explained as she started forward again. It seemed that no one else was going to push forward so Catriona did. She did not even shift back as she knew if there was anything there she could shift quickly enough.

“Smells… old.” Stepping through the room where there was light was not at all what she expected as it was not a garage or hanger bay for a huge aeroplane there was the smell of machinery and gas but it was stagnate and old which might explain why it felt off. "This is not where we were meant to be at all." The room was like a crypt but there was no body on the stone slab. The walls were lined with several carpets showing battles and at the far end of the room the heraldry of a noble house.

"Aye, this is older than that," Hamish noted, touching some of the markings on the walls. "I recognise some of this as old Celtic."

"Obviously whatever's tucked away under a castle is going to smell strange." Shauna, as always, remained sceptical. "And I would assume if they've stuck an entire jet under here somewhere that it's not the only thing they've hidden. Think with your smart brains, kiddos," the mutant untangled herself from everywhere and moved up front to join Catriona. "These teachers of ours took down a huge automaton, they're clearly not spending their evenings grading papers."

"I for one am glad for it." Oliver tentatively walked through the small room, the banners were clearly very old, as was the stone slab, but on one wall sat a new desk, with a desk chair to match. There was a small locked box and several wires were running from it to some sort of ski goggles. All in all it was a very weird thing to find in a crypt like this.

Ophelia found herself mostly staying away from things once they entered. Something about all of it creeped her out, made her wary. Or maybe it was just the sheer... age, the smells, the textures with sight and potentially touch. Who really knew with that one. Her nose remained wrinkled, and then... she sneezed. And again. "This dust predates the duster or the vacuum. Allergens from the dark ages..." She pouted visibly, pulling the sleeves of her wool knit sweater over her hands and holding them over her mouth and nose, eyes full of disdain for their environment.

As if knowing suddenly too many people were in the room an alarm started sounding loudly.

Oliver immediately let go of the goggles he had picked up from the desk, and they landed back on the surface with a thud. He winced, if it was delicate technology that might've not been very conducive to its function. "Sorry. Sorry."

A loud sizzling sound was heard in the corridor and suddenly the access to the crypt was filled with the diminutive form of the head mistress, she seemed on edge and the classic rapier she held in her right hand, outstretched in their direction, underlined her alarm. She immediately lowered the blade when she saw who the people were that had breached the security of the room. "Well then." She needed a moment to reassert herself as the strict head teacher of the institute. "Anyone care to explain their presence here?"

Ophelia remained frozen in her face covered stance in the middle of the room. The alarm had been bad enough, making her absolutely dizzy when she'd focused on sound at the exact wrong time for it. But now, she didn't seem surprised to see Claire, specifically. They were snooping, snoopers got caught, and who was most likely to catch them? The headmistress who lurked in the shadows was a safe bet. "We walked through the tunnels, following Cat's nose." A perfectly normal, literal answer. That'd satisfy her if she were asking anyway. Adults were seldom that simple though.

Catriona for her part in being mentioned as the leader for the most part had the grace to look embarrassed. “We… what is that?” She asked hearing metal grating on metal as if something heavy was coming down the corridor. She turned in time to see a black armour come through the door. For a moment the teenager was stunned before she gasped and instantly moved half shifted with her talons out between some of her more innocent friends and the suit of armour that was now blocking the door with a sword.

There had been a momentary instinct, one that tapped into an intrinsic sense of self and also highlighted just how much Shauna usually acted alone, that had tempted the oldest member of the group to just vanish and watch proceedings from the anonymity of the shadows. Two things had convinced her not to. Firstly, there was no way Hamish wouldn't rat her out, and she wasn't in the business of giving the insufferable jerk any reason to smirk in triumph. Secondly, and probably far more to the point, Shauna had a reasonable amount of respect for their Head Mistress, if not as an authority figure then as a fellow mutant. Their powers were different but belonged on the same spectrum and when it came to shadows, Shauna couldn't honestly rank herself up to the task of pulling the wool over Cavendish's eyes. Yet. The older woman had already demonstrated an uncanny knack for knowing when Shauna was there, something that the young redhead viewed as a challenge to overcome rather than a weakness she need keep succumbing to. As the group turned in unison to stare at the automated defense system, Shauna was the first to roll her eyes and look back at the expectant Head Mistress, arms folding across her front to mimic Cavendish's stance.

"Are you going to feed us to the dragons next?" The absolute silence behind her assured Shauna that she was on her own with this particular battle she was picking. "We came looking for answers nobody else wanted to give us. Nobody can tell us why robots are appearing to pluck us off the streets, you're not even willing to tell us why you have an entire jet hidden under the loch. Ignorance breeds victims and none of us intend to hide under our desks until the threat passes." Just as had been the case with every stand-off involving the headstrong mutant in the past, Shauna's gaze had met Claire's directly, unflinching and unrepentant in her willingness to evoke the others in what was really her own statement of intent. As ridiculously paradoxical as it was, Shauna wasn't one to avoid danger. Hide from it, yes, as a means of circumventing it, but always in forward momentum towards whatever had to be done.

The suit of armour that was in the door inclined its head reading the situation and shifted in a black glow to reveal William stood there looking the teenagers up and down. This was the first time any of them had seen him in his armour let along revealed that he was like them.

“He has abilities.” Catriona gasped looking back and forth.

“I do not believe we have a dragon here.” He commented dryly.

Claire couldn't fault the girl for asking the questions, for being frustrated and afraid of all the things happening. Truth was she didn't know half the answers that Shauna was looking for, and while that wasn't a good look for a Head Mistress she also felt that she should remain honest and as transparent as she could. "The faculty, and the jet for that matter, is here so that we do not need to hide under our desks. We are safe within the walls of Avalon." It was the first thing she wanted to address, to make sure the students that were gathered at least could feel a bit of security in the place they were calling their home for most part of the year. "These are uncertain times, and the Sentinel is part of that. People are scared, and scared people tend to not make the most level headed decisions." Her stern look softened somewhat, "Like sneaking into a restricted area and ignoring multiple signs indicating that there's visible and unseen security." She walked over to where Oliver had been handling the visor and put her hand on top of it to discourage any others from coming to inspect it. "The worst thing we can do is sow distrust and discord amongst ourselves. This is a time we should stand united." Claire looked around the group of students and took in a measured breath. "So to promote trust, ask me anything you'd like. I'll try to answer to the best of my ability."

Ophelia's hand shot up from her face, revulsion by smells or the like completely annihilated by enthusiasm for Claire's open offer. She waved her hand in the air a few times, but didn't wait to be called on, instead just asking, taking that bold risk at talking out of turn as if she were in class. "Can we have ice cream? I want mint chocolate chip."

"Oh, for pity's sake, Ophelia!"

For once, under the weight of so many eyes glaring at her, Shauna had the decency to look somewhat chagrin. At the very least, she curbed her frustration and chose her next words far more carefully. "If you want to waste time with frivolous things, go fill up the Suggestion Box." There would be an apology owing to the younger student eventually and Ophelia was just the one most likely to get it, but for now, the self-appointed team leader was full steam ahead with her own agenda. "There's only one question any of us want you to answer, Ma'am. And that' do we help?" It might have been news to some of them, who were being covertly voluntold to step up to the line, but Shauna at the very least was absolutely serious. Information would come later, after the so-called adults came to their senses and realised they had a bunch of willing allies under the same roof.

“No I have at least three questions including that one.” Catriona spoke up as her hand shifted back to normal and she stood down from her defensive position. No one was going to fight there and then. “How do we help? What is this place? And since when does Mister McAvoy have abilities like us?” It was all simple questions but they we’re burning either way for her.

Claire had expected this question from some of the more independent and mature students, they had probably felt powerless being sent to their dorms when everything went south. "The best thing you can do to help is to stay safe. There's already parents I need to reassure that everyone here is safe and that we have things under control. I'm sure it's less believable if I have students running around with masks on fighting bad guys." Some of the kids there were definitely stronger and more useful in a fight than people like herself, but she wasn't training soldiers. She wasn't training fighters. She was educating the generation of the tomorrow, for a better tomorrow. "We will be changing some of the P.E. exercises to make sure you can defend yourselves in case that ever becomes necessary, but our first priority remains your education."

She knew this wasn't what the kids wanted to hear. "As for this place." She turned around a bit and looked at all the heraldry on the walls before walking over to the device Oliver had been handling before she popped up. "This is GWENN." She picked up the goggles and showed them to the group. "It's a device we can use to track people. Mutants mostly. It helps us find people that need our help." She wouldn't go into the details of the device, the fact that it needed genetic input, or indeed that it was running with the help of an Arthurian artefact. She then turned to William in relation to the last question Catriona had asked. "William?"

Catriona narrowed her eyes at the device and then looked to William. She had not realised his name was William…. William McAvoy sounded familiar but she could not place it at all.

“This is where I was held in suspended animation to heal from 1400. I am like you a mutant. I believe you call my abilities armour skin but I look like a knight.” William said simply. It was the most simplistic way of explaining his journey as he shifted to a knight.

"Super high tech location machine, 500 year old knight, in the same room?" Oliver frowned, it was a huge anachronism, and it didn't make sense to the young man in the slightest.

Claire gently put GWENN back down on the table and then gave a bit of a shrug. "It was a convenient, out of the way location. GWENN wasn't here when Mister McAvoy was awoken from his.. slumber." She looked around the group again. "Has all of this satiated your curiosity for today, or is there anything else on your minds?" She fold her hands behind her back seeing if there was anything else the students would want to know.

“For today.” Catriona said simply looking back at everyone else. She knew when curiosity killed the cat was true. They would not get anything else tonight.

Ophelia had spent the better part of the early conversation staring and frowning at Shauna over her admonishment, but anyone who knew the girl knew she was listening, absorbing, and (probably) understanding all of this. No matter how scatter-brained she appeared, very little escaped her attention or went over her head when pressed. She approached William instead, reaching out a curious finger to poke the armored skin of his stomach with wide eyes. "Were you at the round table with King Arthur, Mr. McAvoy?"

“It is just legends Ophelia.” The deep Scottish voice said from underneath the helmet as it glanced down at his stomach being picked.

"Oh... I knew that." Did she know that? Ophelia's frown said otherwise, but she nodded and returned to the other students then. Like gravity wells, figures of authority tended to attract the girl wherever she went, drawing her in, anchoring her for however long they were around. They were her source of objective reality, after all, so she found it unwise to ignore her tendency to just follow them around or heed their directions.

Whilst the conversation had unfolded, Shauna had remained silent and thoughtful. Whilst this may have seemed unusual to the uninitiated, it was worth pointing out that the girl spent a decent amount of time obscuring herself to avoid interference from the outside world. In this capacity, she spent just as much time alone with her thoughts as she did talking over the top of other's. Her most palpable reaction had been to the unveiling of GWENN, the mutant's keen love of all things technical drawing her to the device as a moth to the flame. Even then, she kept her questions to herself. A quiet resolve to get her hands on the thing one day, to properly analyse it and potentially unlock ways to reverse engineer it, wasn't going to be aided by an overabundance of curiosity now.

Instead, she found the Head Mistress watching her and focused her gaze on staring back without flinching.

"And the jet is just for picking up mutants off the street then, is it?"

Cavendish didn't fool her. The whole your education is our priority line was neat and pretty but it didn't account for what the faculty were preparing for down here. Shauna had grown up around mutants, had been out and proud and a member of the community since birth, having two parents already prominent and vocal. She knew the amount of time and effort and focus that went into controlling powers well enough to do anything useful with them. An entire group of adults from the Institute had coordinated a fight that had successfully neutralised a massive threat and if Cavendish thought for a moment that Shauna believed that had happened without prior training, the woman was a fool.

Slipping back beside Shauna, Ophelia took the older girl's hand and placed herself strategically beside and a bit behind her in order to hide from some of the others. Claire was the actual authority in the room, but Shauna was the scarier one at that specific moment, especially after calling her out on her request for ice cream. So there she was, anchored to the biggest authority, trusting Shauna's guidance until someone gave her a reason not to. "Is it true Mr. Johnston flies the jet? I wonder if it's faster for him to fly or to run..."

“Not now.” Catriona whispered almost gagging on the tension in the room. She glanced at the two boys and shrugged at them. She glanced to William who was just stood there looking thoughtful about it all. He had a lot of comments but there there and there was not the place to comment.

"Si vis pacem, para pactum." Claire stated solemnly. She didn't like falling back on latin to lend her some gravitas, but sometimes the dead language was perfect for describing a situation that they found themselves in. "I'm a strong proponent of peaceful resolutions, Miss Murphy. However the current state of the world requires us to be prepared for those instances that peace requires protecting. Since the knights of this country are just actors, writers and other such artists, present company excluded, this means that sometimes we'll have to don armour." She knew that Shauna was going to take this as an invite to get her own armour, "but we're doing so in order to create a country, nay world, where the next generation won't have to."

It was a fine speech but Shauna had been raised in an overtly practical environment. She recognised the subtle undertones of Cavendish's response, however, and opted to hold her tongue. It was difficult to be incriminated for thoughts you didn't voice, after all, at least as long as the telepaths minded their own business, and the redhead was very definitely a proponent of the idea that it was better to seek forgiveness than permission. There was a lot to think about.


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