Interlude 31B – Avalon

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Tink, tink, tink.

The repeated sound of something tapping against glass drew Avalon’s attention from the textbook she had been studying to the corner of her dorm room, where a small pig-like animal sat next to the window. Even as she looked that way, he leaned forward to tap his nose against the glass once more.

“Choo.” Speaking the small Jekern’s name flatly, Avalon stood up, abandoning her book as she took a step that way to look down at him. “Let me guess, you want to go outside.”

Choo’s response was to hop down from the windowsill and sit on his haunches, looking hopefully up at her as he wagged his hind end back-and-forth a little. The animal was no longer as tiny as he had been, having reached the size of a small dog. But he was still nowhere near as big as he would eventually become.

He was also capable of being here in the room without setting off the Stranger alarm, thanks to Gaia. Avalon‘s adopted mother had created shields on both this room and Shiori’s, which prevented the alarm spells from noticing him. Plus, there was a second enchantment which made him invisible to anyone looking into the room from beyond (either with some kind of vision power/spell or through the window). Again, thanks to Gaia. That kind of spell was far beyond anything that Avalon or anyone else in her age group were capable of.

With all that done, they still had to carry Choo around the grounds in the extradimensional pouch that had been made for him, but at least he could wander around the rooms safely. It was a lot better than leaving him all by himself out in the jungle. Between all the other predators out there, and the Heretic students, who knew what might have happened?

He spent most of his time in this room, rather than Shiori’s, since the girl’s roommate wasn’t exactly in on things. It was too dangerous. The only time he spent over there with Shiori was when they knew that Rebecca wouldn’t be around for a while.

Nodding in response to the animal’s hopeful look, Avalon reached out to pick up what looked like a simple leather pouch that was sitting on the nearby dresser. Opening it up, she held it down in front of the animal, ordering, “Well, get in.”

Choo huffed a little bit at having to go into the bag, but obediently trotted inside. Once he was in, Avalon closed the bag, making it small enough to fit in her pocket. Choo himself was in a tiny pocket dimension that was about the same size as this room. There was grass and dirt, and a small tree in there for him. When he was bigger, they would have to upgrade his area, but right now, that was enough. He had a nest of blankets in there, along with a big bowl of food and one for water. Both of them technically hold enough for a month, but were enchanted to only release a little bit each day. He could stay in there for quite a while if he needed to. But the little guy liked being out around people too much. He loved company, and attention. Honestly, he was too damn trusting and friendly for his own good. All he wanted to do was snuggle everyone he met.

Shoving the bag into her pocket, Avalon stepped out of the room, closing the door after her as she headed for the exit. Her footsteps echoed through the hallway, and a couple girls who were standing in front of another room glanced up at her approach. Summer, a dark-skinned girl was in the Investigation track, was standing near Freya, a distractingly beautiful red-haired girl who was taller than Avalon. Both of them glanced over while Summer continued, “It’s for Christmas! Come on, it’s funny, you’ve just gotta stop being so squeamish. So the talking poo is like–”

“Please, stop,” Freya begged before looking to Avalon. “She’s trying to explain Bystander humor to me. Which is weird,” she added pointedly, “since she’s not a Bystander either. Plus, I don’t think I want to understand. And I definitely don’t want to hear any more about this North Park.”

“It’s–oh never mind.” Waving that off, Summer turned back to Avalon as well. “Did Douglas ever find you?” she asked before adding, “He was looking for you about an hour ago. Even got us to go knock on your door for him so the statues wouldn’t dropkick him for coming into the dorm.”

“We did, but you weren’t there,” Freya added. “So he wandered off again. Seemed like it might be important, though. Something about needing to find you for his answer or something.”

For his–oh, great. Apparently Douglas had asked his oracle-power a question, and its answer had been to point him to Avalon. And she had no idea what he’d asked. Sometimes her temporary new teammate’s little vague question-and-answer gift could be very… unhelpful.

Betraying none of that to the two girls, she just shrugged once while replying flatly, “Haven’t seen him.” Without another word, she started to pass them, heading for the door once more.

“Hey, wait.” Summer called, raising a hand. When Avalon looked back, the other girl started with, “Sorry about, um, Flick and the others. I hope they find them soon. And that, you know.”

Her first impulse was to snap at the girl, but Avalon restrained herself. Growing up in Eden’s Garden, there was a good chance that anyone who said that would have been fishing for some kind of weakness. It wasn’t that every peer there was a rival or threat. That would have made things too easy. It was that there was no way of knowing who would be a threat, and a lot of Garden students weren’t exactly discouraged from stabbing each other in the back. Especially if the other person was from a different tribe. It was a way of getting ahead, of proving yourself stronger. There were plenty of students there who would’ve jumped on the opportunity to push themselves ahead of Avalon in the only vaguely secret (in that the staff didn’t openly acknowledge them) class ranking by messing with her head or making her focus on Flick.

Crossroads was different. It had its own problems, to be sure. But at least it didn’t have that kind of environment for students. After giving herself a second to remind her impulses that they weren’t back there anymore, Avalon managed a slight, curt nod. “They will,” she replied simply before turning to walk once more. She would take Choo out to the jungle and let him out to walk and stretch his legs for a bit first, then go and see what Douglas actually wanted.

On the way, she heard Freya start to whisper something about the odds of Flick and the others being alive if they had been taken by Strangers, only for Summer to stop her with a hissed word about waiting. Waiting, obviously, for Avalon to be further away so that she didn’t overhear their theories about how Flick, Sands, Isaac, Roxa, Gordon, and Jazz were probably already dead.

At least Avalon was as certain as she could be that that much wasn’t true. Vanessa hadn’t been able to contact her father again after the first time, but she had gotten the message through. And with both him and Scout’s mother out there helping them, Avalon had to believe that they were alive. Safe might be pushing it considering where they were, but alive at the very least.

Lost in thought (some might have called it brooding), she made her way across the grounds and down to the beach. However, before the girl could go much further than that, a loud bark caught her attention. Snapping her gaze up and to the side, she saw Vulcan galloping toward her. The big metal dog was accompanied by his owner, along with the other members of her team, both temporary and permanent. Sean, Scout, Columbus, Douglas, and Rudolph were approaching.

“Avalon!” Douglas called, as if she hadn’t seen him already. “Jeez, you are one hard girl to find sometimes, you know? We must’ve hiked all over the campus.”

“I must have just missed you at the dorm,” she replied, keeping her voice even. “What do you need, Frey? Banning and Sullivan just said you wanted to talk about something.” As she spoke, Avalon opened her hand to let Vulcan nuzzle up against it and sniff a little. The cyberform canine probably wanted to play with Choo, but they would have to send Douglas and Rudolph on their way first.

“I, uh–” Douglas paused, frowning a bit as he glanced around a little expectantly.

Tensing reflexively at that, Avalon belatedly realized that the boy wasn’t waiting to set off a trap or something. His power had obviously directed him toward Avalon as a means of answering whatever question he had asked, and now he was waiting to see what actually happened.

“You’re a stunning conversationalist as always,” she informed him dryly before looking to Scout. “You still want to train in the morning?”

The other girl gave a single, small nod at first. Then she seemed to gather herself, straightening a little before softly saying, “Yes.” Another slight pause then before, “I’ll be ready.”

That was it, there was only those four words. But even that was downright talkative for Scout, who had clearly been making an effort to speak up a bit more ever since her twin had disappeared.

“Good,” Avalon replied. “I’ll wait for you then.” With that, she looked back to Douglas, hoping that whatever he was waiting for would have had time to happen by that point. “Were you all just walking around together because you were lonely, or…”

Douglas’s mouth opened, before the boy paused briefly. He seemed to consider something before finally giving a little shrug. “I’ve been asking my power how we can help find Jazz and the others every day since… since that happened, but there’s been nothing. It wouldn’t tell me anything. Then, today, I asked how we could track down the guys who took them instead. Just a little different, but that time I got an actual answer. Sort of.”

Raising an eyebrow at that, Avalon realized, “It directed you to me.”

The boy nodded, but it was Sean who replied, “He came to Columbus and me once he couldn’t find you. We looked for a bit, but couldn’t find you. Then Columbus had the bright idea to find Scout, since she’s got that magic tracking power.”

Right, Scout had the ability to mark any object and find it later. She’d obviously used it on all of her teammates. Avalon gave the quiet girl a brief nod before speaking to Columbus himself. “Uh, good idea.” It felt awkward and strange to compliment someone for something that simple. But the boy had been… very out of it and down on himself since being freed from Charmiene. The things that he had been forced to do while puppeted, the… threats that the Seosten woman had made about what she would make him do, had all obviously taken its toll. According to Sean, the boy was barely sleeping. And when he did sleep, he tended to wake up with nightmares. So she was trying to be better about encouraging him, as well as the others. It was what Flick would do if she was there.

The boy didn’t respond to her words at first, continuing to stare blankly for a few long seconds before he suddenly started as the realization that he could actually control his body clearly came. “I–”  Shifting a little, he flatly intoned, “Thanks. I just didn’t want to keep wandering around aimlessly.”

It was obviously meant as a joke of sorts, but his emotionless voice and the way that his face held no particular expression made it hard to tell until he belatedly gave a weak smile.

Columbus Porter was not in the best of shape, emotionally. But he needed to be out there, needed to be shown that he could keep helping and that he was in charge of his own body now. He was seeing the school therapist every afternoon, and Klassin Roe had made it clear that he would take Porter off the team the moment that he thought it was doing more harm than good. But for the time being, it was for the best that he be treated as normally as possible.

“Well,” Avalon informed them then. “I don’t want to say that you all wasted your time. But I assure you, if I knew anything about where to find the people responsible for taking Chambers and the others, I wouldn’t be standing here.”

Shaking his head, Douglas gave a long, low sigh. “Look, I know you’re keeping stuff from us. We know that. You know stuff you don’t wanna talk about and… ehh, I don’t wanna say that’s fine, cuz it’s not. But we get it. Rudolph and me, we get it. We’re not in your top secret club. Headmistress Sinclaire might call us part of the team, but we’re just slot-fillers for the moment. Whatever. But we do want to find our friends, okay? Whatever it takes. I can’t…” He swallowed hard, looking briefly haunted before his hand absently checked to make sure his hat was still there. “I can’t just sit around doing nothing.”  

Avalon studied the boy for a moment, considering her words before finally speaking. “If I knew anything that could find them, I would be doing it. I would tell you. Anything I know, it’s not useful right now.”

Rudolph, who had been quiet up to that point, spoke up. “Maybe it’s not something that you consciously know. Maybe it’s something that’s going to happ–”

That was as far as the boy got before, as if on cue, the phone in Avalon’s pocket rang. She blinked, giving him a brief look before taking the thing out to look at the screen. The call was from the number that Asenath had been using to contact them, so she clicked it on while taking a few steps away. “Yes?”

“Avalon,” the vampire started, “You’re still at Crossroads, right?”

Pausing, Avalon looked back to the group, who were all watching expectantly, before answering with that same single word as before. “Yes.”

“Good, uh, listen.” Pausing briefly, Asenath seemed to be considering her words. “Namythiet, our little pixie friend, she was contacted by another one of her species. It’s some kind of magic connection spell or something. I’m not sure about the details. But the point is, there’s a pixie out there in the jungle, the Crossroads jungle. And she’s um… hurt.”

“Hurt?” Avalon echoed, glancing toward the trees.

“Yeah. Apparently she’s exhausted. It was all she could do to send that message. But she’s in the jungle and she’s trapped there. But here’s the thing. Whatever happened, it has something to do with the Seosten. We don’t know what, but it sounds like she escaped from them or something. She’s been running for days, trying to contact anyone who would listen and try to get her out of there. She knows something important, and they’ve been chasing her. They’ve blocked every other exit, so she’s trapped on the island, and they’ve been hunting her. She’s got nothing left.”

That was enough to make Avalon start a bit. Eyes widening slightly, she tersely asked, “Where is she?”

“Hang on,” Asenath replied, “I’m texting you the map that Namythiet made. Can you get to her? She’s… she doesn’t have long, Avalon. From what Namy said, that last message took everything she had, just getting her location out. If she doesn’t die of exhaustion, the people hunting her will finish the job. We’re talking minutes, not hours and definitely not days. Minutes.”

“I’ll get to her,” Avalon assured her firmly. She took a moment to look at the map that came in. “I’m going now.”

She had just disconnected the call when the realization that the others were all still standing there struck her. As she looked up, Douglas demanded, “What? Who? Who were you talking to, who are you going to? Who’s hurt? What’s going on?”

For a few seconds that were entirely too long, Avalon was silent. A hundred different thoughts warred for prominence in her mind. Telling the boys was too dangerous. But they wouldn’t just leave. And every second that they wasted was another in which this mysterious pixie who had information about the Seosten might die. What could she say?

An idea started to form, but they had already been waiting too long. She couldn’t let that pixie die. Turning on her heel, Avalon started to jog while snapping, “If you want to save your friends, shut up and follow me.”

Scout was right behind her, followed immediately by Sean and Columbus, with Vulcan trotting alongside them. Further back, Rudolph and Douglas looked at one another for a moment before following suit.

As she ran, Avalon quickly sent a text to Gaia, letting her know what was going on and that she might have to erase an hour or so of the boys’ memories if this went wrong. Then she started to speak, even as they left the sand and started into the jungle itself.

“You know all those rumors about Eden’s Garden using Strangers instead of just killing them?”

“You mean the breeding experiments and that stuff?” Rudolph asked before ducking under a branch. “Yeah, my… my granddad, he said something about it.”

Avalon took another second, finding the right words. “Sometimes they use them the way that Bystander police use smaller, less important criminals.” She checked the map on her phone, considered where they were, then kept running. “You know, send them out to get information on the bigger targets. No point in expending effort on the little fish when the little fish can lead you to the big fish.”

There was another pause behind her as the boys seemed to absorb that, before Douglas asked, “We’re going after one of those little fish?”

“A little fish who knows how to get to the big fish,” Avalon confirmed. “But the big fish are trying to kill it before it can talk, so we have to get there first. Can you handle that?”

“We’re gonna have to hear a lot more about all this,” Douglas informed her, grunting as he slid down a slight incline before catching himself. “But if it can really help us find the others, then fuck it, let’s get this fish. I’m not gonna be the guy who fucks everything up because he demands to know everything when we should be moving. I’ll be that guy later.”

Right. That settled that, for the next few minutes anyway. Now the boys knew that they would be finding a Stranger, and wouldn’t immediately kill her. Eventually they’d either need to know more, or Gaia would just erase it from their memory. Either way, good enough for the moment.

Run, run. Get to the pixie. Get to that damn pixie before they lost this lead. If it meant a chance of finding Flick, Avalon would have run across the entire island a thousand times.

Finally, she stopped. Looking at the map, Avalon judged that they had run about to the right spot. She could see a couple landmarks included in the map that looked right, including a fairly massive rock in the vague shape of a dog’s head that couldn’t be mistaken for anything else. But there was no pixie.

“She’s got to be around here,” the girl muttered under her breath, turning in a circle as she looked around desperately. “Pixie, we’re looking for a pixie.”

“A pixie?” Rudolph echoed, a bit of doubt in his voice as he too started to look around. “In a place like this? We could look for hours. They’re not exactly easy to spot if they’re not right in front of your face.”

“We don’t have hours,” Avalon snapped. “We have minutes, maybe. We have to find her. You wanna find your friends, we need the pixie. We don’t find the pixie, we don’t find the others.”

Douglas put both hands up to adjust his baseball cap while his head shook. “I don’t–if I still had my question for the day, I could just ask, but I don’t. I don’t know how else we’re supposed to find this… this pixie. These are the only directions you’ve got? It’s not here, so now what?”

“There.” The word came from Columbus. The boy had his goggles on, and was pointing off in a seemingly random direction. “Fifty feet that way, right in the hollow of the tree. She’s kind of covered by a log. I think she pulled it over to block the view.”

Avalon didn’t question it. Instead, she ran that way, muttering a quick thanks to the boy before dropping to her knees in front of the tree in question. Using one hand to pull the log away, the girl stared at the tiny figure nestled within the hollowed out portion of the trunk.

It was definitely the missing pixie. And she didn’t look good. Avalon had no idea what had happened to her or what she had been through, but the little thing was clearly utterly exhausted. She barely reacted to the log being moved, opening her eyes briefly before letting out a weak whimper of protest as they closed once more. Her wings were limp rather than vibrant. From all appearances, she was about an inch from death anyway.

And yet, Douglas still caught Avalon by the shoulder, pulling her back a bit. “Don’t get too close,” he warned her. “It could be faking.”

Turning that way, she almost snapped at him, almost bit his head off. But she caught herself at the last instant, instead retorting, “We need her alive. I don’t care how you feel about Strangers or their uses. If this one dies, we might never see Chambers or the others again. Do you understand? This one survives if you want to see your friends. It’s our only lead. Our only lead. You get it?”

Rudolph spoke up then. “We get it. The pixie lives. But what do we do with her?”

Sean had stepped up to join them. “Vulcan’s storage space for his ammo,” he announced. “We can put her in there until we get out of this jungle and back somewhere a little safer. After that… we’ll see what we can do.”

“Pixies heal themselves.” That was Scout, actually speaking up. When they all looked at her, the brunette shrugged. “Magic. She… she should be… healing herself. But she’s weak. Maybe if we… feed her magic, she’ll heal.”

“Right,” Avalon announced. “But we do it closer to the beach. Right now we need to get out of here, before–”

“Stay away from the school, they said,” a voice spoke up from the shadows of the trees that surrounded them. “Don’t even think about going there, they said. Don’t go near her, she’s surrounded and protected.”

A figure stepped into view, even as Avalon quickly stood up and turned that way. He was, at first glance, a fairly ordinary looking man, if somewhat tall at a few inches over six feet. Most of his head was bald, save for the back and along both sides, where a bit of brown hair could be found. He wore a simple flannel shirt and jeans, neither of which were anywhere near new. Though not exactly ‘fat’, he was somewhat hefty, particularly for his height. He looked like a man who would be most often be seen watching a football game with a beer in one hand and the remote in another, after getting home from his job in a factory or as some kind of middle management. Not particularly handsome, but not hideous. Not in the best of shape, but not obese. Average in almost every way, save possibly for the slightly unnatural paleness of his skin.

And when she saw him, Avalon took a reflexive step back, even as her Stranger sense alerted her to the entirely unnecessary revelation of his non-human status.

“But you know,” the man continued, “all I was doing was following orders. Find the pixie, they told me. Deal with it. That’s what I was doing. So I don’t see how they can blame me when, well, you sorta walk right into my lap, can you?”

The others started to speak, but Avalon didn’t hear them. Their words all blended together and fell away. Her attention was centered on the man, on the vampire in front of them. Her voice was soft, flat and emotionless.  

“Hello… Dad.”

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39 comments

  1. Well! You guys might have noticed that, uh, this storyline didn’t exactly end so much as it… paused. Yeah, about that… After this subject was decided on, I determined that it was too much for a single chapter. I wanted to show a bit of Avalon with Choo, let her interact with the other girls at the dorm, show the new team interacting a little bit, and adequately explain *how* they end up out in the jungle for Avalon’s father to show up without that completely coming out of nowhere. But at the same time, I didn’t want to completely skim over the actual encounter itself. Basically, I wanted to show a little downtime without Flick around and also show the scene with her father, and to do both would have required a much, much longer chapter.

    So it was decided by the donators to split this whole thing into two parts. The set-up was this chapter. On Friday, we will have the payoff. Then, we will start the new arc on Monday. Consider this a brief intermission from the bombshell about saving Sariel.

    In any case, thank you all very much for reading, and I will see you soon! Tags for this chapter are: Asenath, Avalon Sinclaire, Choo, Columbus Porter, Douglas Frey, Meanwhile‚ Poor Choo Is Still Waiting To Be Let Out For A Walk., Reggie Owens, Rudolph Parsons, Scout, Sean Gerardo, This Entire Set-Up Would Be Worth It If Avalon Defeats Her Father By Throwing Choo’s Container‚ Pokemon Ball-Style‚ At His Face., Vulcan

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This Entire Set-Up Would Be Worth It If Avalon Defeats Her Father By Throwing Choo’s Container‚ Pokemon Ball-Style‚ At His Face.

    …totally want to see this now

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Well Reggie must be supremely confidant or stupid to act this close to the school considering all the tracking spells on Avalon. I bet he’s used to the Seosten watching his back during these confrontations. Which they may or may not be doing right now. I guess we’ll have to wait for Friday. I hope Avalon throws the fact that he’s been working for the people who actually killed Avalon’s mom for almost seven years now.

    I mean, almost seven years of immortality and winning a bowling trophy is still the greatest accomplishment of his life.

    Is it night right now? I think I missed a moment talking about the time of day. I’m also super curipus about what Doug’s question was.

    Poor Columbus. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a little trick to Reggie that he’s used to help him close the power gap in a lot of ways. It’ll be detailed more next time, but he’s kind of an ‘enhanced vampire’, you might say. Enhanced in the sense that he gains power by drinking the blood of other creatures in a similar (though weaker) way that Heretics gain power from those they kill.

      How did this happen, you ask? Simple, he just–oh look at the time.

      And it’s daytime, it just happens to be a Saturday at this point.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. So… is the jungle canopy preventing him from dying in the sunlight, or does this enhancement eliminate that weakness?

        I can’t help but notice that his description doesn’t mention pale skin.

        Like

      2. Jungle canopy is protecting him from the sunlight, yup. As for pale skin, eh, I can add it in. I was just focused on specific description and figured making the vampire bit clear in the next sentence would cover it. But yeah, of course there’s a paleness there.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. And I thought I was being so clever for a second there. Darn.

        Now I’m wondering if whatever enhanced him was capable of making him immune to sunlight, but intentionally didn’t so as to have that extra bit of leverage over him.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. And here I thought that Reggie was surviving in daylight for a different reason: He’s not under sunlight. Crossroads is a pocket dimension in a painting… So who’s to say that the “sunlight” there has the right properties to pwn vampires?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. @Isa Lumitus

        Well, the island is designed to be defended from Strangers (with the exception of Seosten), so I bet the people who first set it up specifically made sure it would kill vampires.

        Like

  4. >Choo huffed a little bit at having to go into the bag, but obediently trotted inside. Once he was in, Avalon closed the bag, making it small enough to fit in her pocket.

    It’s good to know that Choo and Avalon are getting along well.

    >Columbus Porter was not in the best of shape, emotionally. But he needed to be out there, needed to be shown that he could keep helping and that he was in charge of his own body now. He was seeing the school therapist every afternoon, and Klassin Roe had made it clear that he would take Porter off the team the moment that he thought it was doing more harm than good. But for the time being, it was for the best that he be treated as normally as possible.

    Charmeine’s sadism is likely to leave lingering emotional/mental scars that will unlikely ever fade away completely, unfortunately. That Columbus is even trying though is a good sign that he’ll get better at some point.

    >“Hang on,” Asenath replied, “I’m texting you the map that Namythiet made. Can you get to her? She’s… she doesn’t have long, Avalon. From what Namy said, that last message took everything she had, just getting her location out. If she doesn’t die of exhaustion, the people hunting her will finish the job. We’re talking minutes, not hours and definitely not days. Minutes.”

    Hm. If they’ve been hunting that pixie for days now, she must of found out something rather sensitive. As for minutes, yikes. No time for small talk, excuses will best be made later imo.

    >“But you know,” the man continued, “all I was doing was following orders. Find the pixie, they told me. Deal with it. That’s what I was doing. So I don’t see how they can blame me when, well, you sorta walk right into my lap, can you?”
    The others started to speak, but Avalon didn’t hear them. Their words all blended together and fell away. Her attention was centered on the man, on the vampire in front of them. Her voice was soft, flat and emotionless.
    “Hello… Dad.”

    Oh boy oh boy, an unpleasant family reunion it seems. And he was actively waiting for a chance to encounter his errant daughter. This is very likely to turn messy one way or the other.

    Nice update Cerulean.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s good to know that Choo and Avalon are getting along well.

      She’s opening up a bit.

      Charmeine’s sadism is likely to leave lingering emotional/mental scars that will unlikely ever fade away completely, unfortunately. That Columbus is even trying though is a good sign that he’ll get better at some point.

      Yeah… it’s a good sign, but it’ll take awhile.

      Hm. If they’ve been hunting that pixie for days now, she must of found out something rather sensitive. As for minutes, yikes. No time for small talk, excuses will best be made later imo.

      Yup, had to establish a tight timeframe to explain the lack of any other option.

      Oh boy oh boy, an unpleasant family reunion it seems. And he was actively waiting for a chance to encounter his errant daughter. This is very likely to turn messy one way or the other.

      That’s for sure.

      Like

    2. > Charmeine’s sadism is likely to leave lingering emotional/mental scars that will unlikely ever fade away completely, unfortunately. That Columbus is even trying though is a good sign that he’ll get better at some point.

      Unfortunately, given that Columbus has been hijacked by the other Seosten, he’s unlikely to ever heal at this point…

      And maybe he hasn’t been hijacked again. Maybe.

      Like

  5. So… “Pika-Choo, I choose you!”? Dammit, Cerulean, have you been saving up that pun since the day Shiori named him?!? 🙂

    Although, jokes aside, I rather doubt Choo has anywhere near the wherewithal to take on Reggie. Or be more than a speed bump.

    Although Reggie may find he’s bitten off more than he can… choo. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wait, what?

    Doesn’t Avalon have a bunch of alert and monitoring spells on her, via Gaia and Wyatt? So shouldn’t Wyatt and Gaia (or at least Dare) be already on their way over to her?

    Even if this guy is confident he can take on Avalon and her whole team by himself (which seems really bizarre, considering that he’s not a Reaper-Heretic, and thus only has the abilities of a typical vampire, and Heretics are all about quality over quantity when it comes to matching up against Strangers), surely he isn’t confident that one of them doesn’t have a way to immediately call for help from some really big fish that are literally nearby? Hell, his superiors even told him to not engage anyone, that it’s way too dangerous because there are all kinds of big fish around.

    And damn, it sucks that Flick isn’t here so that she can tell him exactly what kind of piece of shit she thinks he is.

    Oh yeah, and on an unrelated note: so the Committee shares its power between all of its members, while the Victors take a small tax on all of the power gains by all EG Heretics. And it makes them roughly equal. But what would happen if both methods were combined? Would the resulting power level be over 9000?

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    1. Yes, she does have a bunch of monitoring spells on her. And yes, the adults are almost certainly monitoring the situation. Whether they’ll intervene depends on if it’s necessary. If Avalon has the sitch in hand Gaia and Wyatt probably won’t butt in.

      Also, read the comments before posting so you don’t ask a question already answered: Reggie has been enhanced to power up faster, and hence is quite a bit stronger than a young vamp would normally be.

      And he only needs any enhancement because he’s young. HE vamps can speedblitz, remember? Reggie’s probably not fast enough for that vs this team, but if he was fighting six normal first years rather than 2/3s of Flick’s team and 2 normal first years he could do it.

      Remember that we saw a high end vamp kill three werewolf commandos (IE, brute forcing the regen) without taking a single hit, seemingly barehanded. Vampires aren’t jokes. They’ve got one trick but it’s a really good trick.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Why WOULDN’T they intervene? The chance to take out one of Avalon’s personal enemies, an enemy agent of the Seosten, and someone who ruined Avalon’s childhood? Without any other dangers? Why pass that up?

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      2. Because short-duration precog is a thing Gaia almost certainly has. Gaia can check the likely outcomes of letting Avalon and co fight without support, and if they win decisively without the assist there’s no reason to step in and deny them the combat experience.

        THAT is a good reason why Gaia or Wyatt or Dare might not jump in.

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      3. Okay, but why wouldn’t Reggie expect to lose, either because Gaia showed up and kicked his ass or Gaia didn’t need to because she was so sure Avalon would beat him?
        I would be unsurprised if the next chapter answers this, but for now it’s an open question.

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  7. Heretics really have it too easy you know. Just a little portal magic, and whenever you fight vampire you can bathe them in sunlight from either of the Poles no matter the local time. Hmmm, then again, how about just a death beam created using a portal placed on the surface of the sun. Nevermind vampires, burn anyone and anything.

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    1. Have you read the Necroscope series? That basically happens at one point.

      If not, you might enjoy it. It gets a bit… strange at times, though.

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      1. That just means you need to enchant an item to do it. Think of the portal in Flick’s staff that Jac and Gus use, except with one end inside the orbit of Mercury. It could double as a solar-powered flashlight.

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  8. Interesting little look into how things are going with Avalon back at Crossroads- a cute moment with Choo, a potential lead into what the Seosten are up to at Crossroads, and finally, she gets an opportunity to settle things with her ‘father.’

    Plus, I don’t think I want to understand. And I definitely don’t want to hear any more about this North Park.”

    Actually Freya, it’s ‘South Park,’ but other than that, your’re right- you don’t want to know any more about that show. And looks like Summer, besides talking out of her rear where it comes to Bystander culture and getting on Avalon’s nerves, also has some seriously questionable taste.

    According to Sean, the boy was barely sleeping. And when he did sleep, he tended to wake up with nightmares.

    Poor Columbus- Charmeine really did a number on him, didn’t she? And if he’s this much of a wreck after a few months of possession (admittedly by a particularly nasty bitch,) imagine just how much of a wreck those poor chumps that got kidnapped & enslaved by the Seosten to serve as their warsuits must be….

    But here’s the thing. Whatever happened, it has something to do with the Seosten.

    Oh, interesting- is this the pixie who saw whom the other Seosten infiltrator at Crossroads (excluding Jophiel) is possessing, which is presumably why someone’s trying to kill them.

    Avalon took another second, finding the right words. “Sometimes they use them the way that Bystander police use smaller, less important criminals.” She checked the map on her phone, considered where they were, then kept running. “You know, send them out to get information on the bigger targets. No point in expending effort on the little fish when the little fish can lead you to the big fish.”

    Interesting way for Avalon to convince those students who aren’t aware of the distinctions among Strangers that mean that not all of them are monsters who need to be put down and that they should help & spare this particular pixie by pointing out that one of the ways the Garden uses them is to let the small fry go in order to act as informants on the really dangerous ones in the same way that the police do, and this pixie is their best chance of finding out how to help retrieve Flick and company. Bit unorthodox, but if it gets those not in the know as it were to not immediately go into kill mode….

    “Stay away from the school, they said,” a voice spoke up from the shadows of the trees that surrounded them. “Don’t even think about going there, they said. Don’t go near her, she’s surrounded and protected.”

    Should have listened to them Reggie- it would have prolonged your useless existence for a while longer.

    Her voice was soft, flat and emotionless.

    “Hello… Dad.”

    And what a note to end things on, leaving us hanging just as a long-awaited confrontation is about to get going…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually Freya, it’s ‘South Park,’ but other than that, your’re right- you don’t want to know any more about that show. And looks like Summer, besides talking out of her rear where it comes to Bystander culture and getting on Avalon’s nerves, also has some seriously questionable taste.

      You take that back, South Park can be quite fantastic. 😉

      Poor Columbus- Charmeine really did a number on him, didn’t she? And if he’s this much of a wreck after a few months of possession (admittedly by a particularly nasty bitch,) imagine just how much of a wreck those poor chumps that got kidnapped & enslaved by the Seosten to serve as their warsuits must be….

      To be fair, some Seosten are worse than others, like with anything else. That said… yeah… not a super nice position to be in, generally speaking.

      Interesting way for Avalon to convince those students who aren’t aware of the distinctions among Strangers that mean that not all of them are monsters who need to be put down and that they should help & spare this particular pixie by pointing out that one of the ways the Garden uses them is to let the small fry go in order to act as informants on the really dangerous ones in the same way that the police do, and this pixie is their best chance of finding out how to help retrieve Flick and company. Bit unorthodox, but if it gets those not in the know as it were to not immediately go into kill mode….

      Yeah, kind of creative, if, as you said, unorthodox. But hey, if it works…

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      1. Personaly, I tuned out of South park when I realised that the Man-Bear-Pig episode was about denying climate change as AL Gore being paranoid…

        Liked by 1 person

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