Asuna and Kim reached Berlin without incident and transferred to the Miskatonic Shuttle to Dunwich. Kim talked a few boys into helping her with her luggage despite Asuna frowning at them and they settled in for the last leg of their trip.
“I don’t know why you wanted those boys to help us,” Asuna said grumpily.
“Your jealousy is cute,” Kim said, “but you need to keep it in check out in public or you’ll out both of us.”
Asuna realized she was right and sighed, “I’m sorry. I’ll try to do better in the future.” She closed her eyes and did a few of the centering exercises she’d learned in the dojo. When she opened her eyes Dunwich was the next and last stop and the train car they were in was nearly empty. She looked around and most of the remaining people were about her age. “Hey Kim have you noticed?”
Kim nodded, “Yeah, while you were slaying the green eyed monster I was noticing that the cars behind us are empty and everybody left is about our age. I bet they are all going to the same place as us.”
Asuna nodded but said, “Well the ticket guys might be back so let’s keep quiet anyway.” She did take a good look around since she might soon be living with these people. There seemed to be few boys and only one seemed to notice her looking. He smiled at her then went back to his reading. There was a girl with green hair that Asuna would have have assumed was dyed back before her own transformation but now she wondered what powers went with green hair or whether it was just a random mutation.
The last stop came quickly and Asuna took a chance by throwing the strap of her duffel over one shoulder and gathering up all of Kim’s suitcases before exiting the train. Nobody said a word as they all trooped into the main part of the station.
There was an old man behind a desk reading a newspaper. He looked briefly and smiled, “Whateley?”
“Yes,” several of them chorused.
He pointed to a rather battered wooden door to his left, “Whateley students can wait in there until the Dean comes to pick you up at four.” He looked pretty calm about having almost two dozen mutants in the room with him but did raise one white eyebrow, “You all together? Usually they straggle in by ones and twos during the day.”
“We aren’t all together,” Asuna said. She put an arm around Kim’s shoulders, “I’m with her but that’s it.”
The old man nodded, “Alright. You got about an hour to wait. There are pop and candy machines in there as well.” With that he went back to reading his paper.
The teens wandered on through the indicated door. Once through a girl said, “Um I think I’m why we’re all here now. Weird coincidences tend to happen around me ever since ….” She trailed off, “Umm if we’re all going to Whateley then we’re all …” she trailed off again.
“Mutants?” Asuna said. “Yes, and since we’re all here on Sunday we should all be LGBT.” She shrugged, “Or so I was told.”
The girl smiled, “Oh good. I am probably still the weirdest freak here but at least none of you is going to try to beat me up for it right?”
“Right!” Kim said. “We’re on a government scholarship my big sis the civil servant finagled for us. I’m Kim and the jealous wench with the red hair is my girlfriend Asuna.”
Asuna sighed, “Sorry, I’ll try not to be clingy, jealous girl. Oh and you can call me Sue everyone.”
“Hi Sue,” the girl who had first spoken said. “I’m Bob, uh I guess that should be Bobbie now.”
Asuna smiled, “You too? I used to be a Japanese boy.” She didn’t give her old name and hoped Bobbie didn’t ask.
“Holy shit!” A boy said. “I thought it just me!” He took off his sunglasses and his eyes were solid bands of color like a rainbow. “I also got taller, blond, and these eyes. I seem to be something called an Avatar. I’m an odd one though so maybe I have Bobbie beat for freakiest person in the room. I can suddenly speak Old Norse too and I’ve been having the weirdest dreams you ever saw. I got tested by the official superhero team of Louisiana and they are the ones who said I’m unusual even as Avatars go and that I should get retested at Whateley. I have vision powers that I can’t control well yet and I’m stronger and tougher than normal but they weren’t sure if that was because of being an avatar or not.”
“I am glad I’m not the only one too,” another boy says. “I used to be a girl named Sara until some girls at school decided it would be fun to jump on my way back from the library. I manifested and flew away but then I started getting these horrible cramps and passed out in mid-air. I got rescued by a hero thankfully and when I woke up I was a he. She didn’t have any testing equipment but she thinks I’m what she called a mid range exemplar. My folks freaked out and are refusing to believe I’m me which sucks but I did get a scholarship and supposedly we can all get campus jobs for pocket money.”
“I wish I was done changing,” someone said. Looking over Asuna couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl. The person continued, “Every time I use my powers I change a little more towards female but it’s going freaking slow. At this point I don’t which sex I end up as long as I get there soon.” He or she sighed, “Just call me Pat for now.”
It went on from there with people telling at least their name and usually something about themselves and why they were going to be in Poe. Eventually a tall middle-aged Asian woman came in to the room and introduced herself as Mrs. Shugendo. She made a short and obviously well rehearsed speech then asked if there were any emergencies.
The blond boy with the rainbow eyes raised his hand, “I just need somebody to guide me when we go out to the buses or vans. My eyes are locked on microscopic vision so I might as well be blind. It should pass in ten or fifteen minutes if it’s like the last few times but I don’t want to hold things up.”
This did not faze the woman she just nodded and pointed to another boy, “Will you help guide him?”
The boy nodded, “Sure.”
She nodded, “Good, then please gather all your belongings and follow me outside.” Once outside she stopped by the first bus and produced a clipboard, “As I call your name please come forward and board the bus. If the first bus is full we’ll move to the second otherwise it will follow us.” She started in and soon everyone was on board.
Asuna ended up next to the guy who was slowly changing, “I agree that it sucks for the change to be slow but once we are there you can start using your powers more often and change faster. I’ll help if I can. I’ve looked like this for two months now and had my first period a few days ago.”
The boy looked a little green at that last but held out his hand, “Thanks, I’m John by the way.”
“Nice to meet you John,” Asuna said. “So how do you think they’ll do the rooms? I mean boy/boy and girl/girl would be taking chances if you know what I mean?”
He nodded, “Yeah, but they can’t do it the other way without spilling the secret so I bet that’s how it’ll go.”
“Can I ask what your powers are?” Asuna said. “Mine are making swords and bells as well as being fast, strong, and tough.”
John shrugged, “Sure. I create darkness but don’t freak out, it’s not like evil darkness or anything. I can make a shell of it around me so I become stronger and tougher and I can make it just, you know, dark.”
“Cool, can you see in the dark too?” Asuna asked.
He nodded, “Yeah, that part is sweet. No more fumbling about looking for a switch and I don’t need glasses anymore either which I love.”
Soon they were parked at Whateley and again they were called by last name and checked off on the clipboard. They were led up to a recently renovated building and given another well rehearsed speech about keeping the secret of the house even if you decide to come out personally, being tolerant of other students in the house, and about what the flag color codes mean. She ended up by saying, “The ancient seeming facade of the building is just that, a false seeming. A student who wishes to remain anonymous has paid for various renovations and upgrades to the cottage over the summer. Whereas at this time last year it was the case that all the other dorms had been more recently renovated Poe Cottage is now the most recently renovated of all the dorms. We are trying to keep that quiet however so please help us by not mentioning the upgrades. Consider it part of the secret of Poe. If people think it has the best or most recently upgraded accommodations they will either complain or try to transfer in and that will endanger the real secret so just pretend it is old with bad plumbing and ancient furnishings okay?”
Everyone agreed and she lead them into a surprisingly beautiful lobby with three older teens lined up at one end with clipboards, “These three students will each lead a group of you on a tour. Please step forward when you hear your name called and once again, welcome to Whateley.”
Asuna briefly hoped to go on the tour with Kim but then she saw that the girl who was lovely, black-haired, and presumably a senior had called only women to her line and her male counterpart had called only men and looked around for the third person. She found a girl who had John trailing behind her just as the girl found her, “I guess I’m on your list?”
She got a quick smile for her deduction, “Correct. Beltane used to do this but she is all wrapped up in her senior projects and so I managed to persuade administration to let me do the orientation.” She gathered them all to her and checked them off her list without shouting their names out and lead them towards the door, “We’ll go somewhere private to chat and come back here later to choose rooms then hit the crystal hall for its generally adequate food.”
She led them out on the grass and under a large oak, “First let me activate this thing I got from my teammate Nikki. It will keep anyone from hearing us or accidentally walking into our group for the next hour.” She produced what looked like a lavender gemstone and tapped it three times. It set out a pulse of colored light that briefly became a pale purple globe enclosing them all.
The girl nodded once and put it away, “Alright, as at least one of you has figured out everyone here has shifted gender or is shifting gender. I myself only look female due to a rather twisted B.I.T. or body image template. Where it counts I’m a guy and prefer to be referred to as he. We transgendered are a minority within a minority and traditionally we all band together to help each other out. At lunch I’ll introduce you to my teammates who are all TG too. If you need help or you are at your wit’s end and really need to talk to somebody who has been through it we’ll help.”
He smiled, “Naturally we hope you all become friends and make enough other friends to help you through things, but if you need somebody we’re here. Zenith is what they call the “dorm fixer” which is a bad name in my opinion but traditional. She helps smooth over rough patches and always knows which staff member to contact for any problem. She is one of us but she does her thing for the whole cottage so while she’s always willing to help she’s pretty busy. I’ll introduce you to her later so you know what she looks like. We should all introduce ourselves and tell something of ourselves. Don’t share anything you feel you need to keep hidden but remember we are all in the same boat here.”
He took a deep breath, “I’ll start. I’m Ayla Goodkind. I was one of those Goodkinds until they disowned me for becoming a mutant. I now own AJG Inc. and I’m a major stockholder in Marvel so those of you who were also disowned and/or kicked out take heart. You can use the experience to reinvent yourself stronger and better than before. I am an Exemplar, and a density warper. You’ll learn exactly what those classifications are in classes but basically being a density warper means I can make myself heavier and lighter and when I’m heavy I’m stronger and harder to hurt and when I’m all the way light I can walk through solid objects. My being an Exemplar aside from meaning I have a B.I.T. to cause my body woes means I’ve gotten stronger, tougher, faster, and my memory is better.”
She pointed to the boy on the far right, “Why don’t you go next?”
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