Survival: Chapter 9 of 9


Whateley: “Survival”

[A Whately Universe FanFic]

By Zapper

***

Chapter Nine

***

Kate looked down at the new ID card, the one issued by the MCO, the Mutant Commission Office, with mixed emotions. The card read: Silver-Drake, male, DOB 998, Telepath – 1, Exemplar – 2, Regenerator – 2, Wizard – 3, Avatar – 5+, BIT - Elf. Kate, sighed he’d thought about using Dux’Primus as his code name, but Molly had thought it would be a bad idea to use a “True Name” and suggested he come up with something else. Kate had really wanted to be called Dragon, but apparently someone already had that name. Then he’d tried Drake but that had also been taken. Then his dad had suggested Silver-Drake and that had been available. However, thinking about his new code name reminded Kate of the testing required to get the card.

A few days after the fight, His dad had called a friend in the MCO office in Monterey, California, and had arranged a visit. The facility had been a single story brick building, but once Kate was inside he realized that it had several stories, they just all happened to be below ground. His dad introduced Kate to a short, stocky, bald man with a goatee that was mostly gray, as Dr. Steel. The doctor would be conducting the testing. The testing itself had been, in many ways, anticlimactic. Lifting and running were expected but then some of the mental testing had surprised Kate.

Like when he’d been asked to read a paragraph and then recite it from memory, or solving advanced equations. Taking apart and reassembling gadgets had been a total failure, as had trying to look through another’s eyes, or looking into the future.

There had been a little success when Kate had been asked to project words to another person. It turned out that he could hear thoughts, if they were directed at him, and if he was actively “listening for them. He could also send his thoughts into another person’s mind.

The magic testing had also been interesting. Kate had been handed a crystal and asked to focus on it. It had started to glow at once. Then he’d been asked to feel the ‘energy’ in the room. Kate had felt the lines of power running under the room but when asked to touch them he’d found that they were just out of reach. After several failed attempts Kate had a burst of inspiration and reached into the well of cold power inside and using that power reached out and touched a ley-line. The power from the line surged into Kate surprising him and causing him to let go.

He was then asked to once again connect to the ley-line and use that power to do a few simple tasks. Lighting a candle by focusing on it had been really hard and after almost ten seconds Kate had succeeded. Dr. Steel had grunted and started to make a note in his clipboard. Kate, in frustration, let go of the ley-line and focusing on the power inside, then with a wave of his hand had lit every candle in the room. This seemed to impress the doctor, particularly when Kate described his internal power. He babbled on about ‘new’ forms of magic. This had caused Dux’Tueor to wake up enough to snort and then go back to sleep.

When the Dr. Steel asked him to use his Avatar, Kate focused on the knot of cold power inside, sort of like tapping the power of Dux’Primus, and drew upon his dragon nature. Everything changed. Kate discovered that he was now stronger, faster, and tougher than before and the magic in the room hummed more strongly around him.

Next the doctor took Kate to a large empty room that reminded Kate of a garage. Dr. Steel asked Kate to transform into the dragon shape he’d used during the fight. Kate pretended to focused as if he was really trying. After a few minutes Kate looked at Dr. Steel and shrugged, “Sorry, I think I need to be really, really, angry to do that.”

What Kate didn’t tell his dad or Dr. Steel was that the dragon form scared him. Kate had thought about that night several times and if it hadn’t been for Dux’Tueor, he doubted that he would have remembered that he was human . . . or elven . . . or a mutant . . . or whatever. The urge to race into the night and hunt had been almost over powering. Even remembering it left Kate shaking with the desire to shift and to lose himself in his true form. He clamped down on that urge, hard! No, there was no way Kate was going to shift, at least not without a very good reason. And power testing didn’t seem like a good enough reason to Kate.

When he’d been handed his ID, Kate had been told that he’d been given the AV-5+ rating not because Dux’Primus was so strong, but because Kate had bonded two dragon spirits, according to Dr. Steel. Dux’Tueor and Dux’Primus. According to Dr. Steel he’d bonded Dux’Primus so completely that they were in effect, one person. This was very, very, rare according to the doctor and would have resulted in an AV-4 rating all by itself. But Kate had also bonded Dux’Tueor. The doctor explained that while Kate was able to draw on the attributes of Dux’Primus he was also able to draw on the wisdom and skill of Dux’Tueor. This complementary, yet different, use of two similar spirits was odd and . . . well they really didn’t know what it meant. It made Kate unique, as far as Dr. Steel knew, even among mutant Avatars and resulted in the AV-5+.

Kate put the card down and shook his head. His spirit guide was Dux’Tueor, and HE was Dux’Primus. He had been Dux’Primus from the moment he woke up, there hadn’t been anything to integrate. Then Kate shrugged, there wasn’t really any point in arguing with the doctor. The power testing and the card were only symbols of how his life had changed. Kate thought back to the night they’d arrived home.

***

The day after the fight, Trish had come over to visit Carl. She’d greeted Kate and Maria warmly and then turned to Carl.

“We need to report what happened to IESC.”

Carl nodded, “Follow me, we can work on it in my study.”

Kate had moved into her bedroom, which happened to be next to Carl’s study, and focused on listening. Just like before it was like her hearing just zoomed in and it was like Kate was standing in the room.

Apparently, after Allura detected her, she’d given Trish a kind of psychic slap. That’s what had knocked Trish out. When she came to she saw that Kate was missing and after checking the SUV and clearing, she went looking for Kate in her astral form. Trish had seen Carl take down Ripple and Flurry and then return to his human form. Kate knew that his dad had killed the mutants, but hearing it described in such cold blooded, professional, terms left Kate wondering if he really knew his dad.

After finishing the report Trish had checked in with IESC and had informed Carl and Maria that she had already been given another assignment. She gave Maria and Carl each a hug before turning to look at Kate.

“I know this is hard for you, but things will get better. If you need someone to talk to give me a call.” Then Trish had given Kate a hug and left her with a business card.

Carl, as the team lead, had turned in the official report to IESC later that afternoon. This had led to the MCO being informed and showing up the next day. The black sedan and equally black suited male and female agents had knocked on their door, instantly making Kate nervous. Before Maria could open the door a second sedan pulled into the drive way. A large guy in a rumpled suit jumped out of this car and rushed up to the house. As it turned out Mr. Burton Kincaid was an attorney for IESC and was there to observe the interview. Both agents seemed to resent Mr. Kincaid’s presence but they had refrained from making any comments and asked a set of standard questions. Then the MCO agents had asked them to sign statements. After the agents left Mr. Kincaid offered Carl his card and told him to call if he had any questions, or if there were any problems.

Kate’s mom had then offered to take Kate shopping. He didn’t have any clothes that fit, and borrowing from his dad, was only a short term solution since Carl was still an inch taller, and much thicker in the chest and shoulders. That was something that took adjusting too. Kate had always looked up to his dad, he’d been daddy’s little girl, but now he could almost look his dad in the eye.

Then there were the odd look he kept getting from his dad. It was a look he hadn’t known existed when he’d been a girl. The look one male gave another, when sizing up a possible rival. Carl had seen Kate transform and had seen what Kate could do. Then there was the image in Kate’s mind of Carl drenched in blood. All of this added up to both Kate and his dad being extra cautious around each other.

That evening they’d visited Devon in the hospital but he was sleeping so they’d left a get-well card. Visiting Devon became a daily ritual until he’d been released, which had taken a week. He was still healing but Kate was amazed that the doctors had been able to reattach his hand.

“They tell me I’ll have 85% normal use.” Devon said brightly and then laughed. “How in the hell do they come up with 85%? Why not 82.5%?” Then he sobered up a little, “I’m heading back east. I’ve got a house in Jersey and a bunch of physical therapy to do.”

Carl had reached out and traded grips with Devon’s good hand, “Thank you, my friend, I owe you.”

Devon shrugged, “I didn’t do anything you wouldn’t have done for me. Remember Columbia?” When Carl nodded Devon said, “Consider us even.”

As much as Kate wanted to ask his dad about what he did for IESC he got the impression that it was still an off limits subject.

Once Devon left they settled into an awkward routine as they tried to adjust and to help Kate with his situation. Maria, like always, was the bedrock of the family. To Kate she seemed unfazed by the fact that her daughter was now her son. She made it clear to Kate, starting the morning after the fight that she loved Kate and it didn’t matter, boy or girl, dragon or human, Kate was her child. This unshakable support made Kate realize how lucky he was.

It was the day after Devon left that Maria brought up the subject of school. Kate cringed. He’d gotten texts and emails from both Reggie and Doug. They’d wanted to get together and wanted to know what had happened. Why Kate had missed Peter’s funeral. Kate didn’t know what to say and had avoided them. Now, however, with school looming, the idea of his junior year made Kate feel trapped.

“What if you didn’t have to go back to your old high school?” Maria asked.

“Mom, the next closest school is too far to drive every day.” Kate replied, feeling depressed.

“Yes, but what if there was another option?”

“Like what, home schooling?”

“No, your dad and I have talked about it, and we think Whateley might be an option.”

“Whateley? What’s that?”

“A boarding school for mutants.” Maria answered handing Kate a set of brochures. “Just take a look and think about it. We’ll discuss it tonight after dinner.”

“But it would mean leaving home, and besides, it looks really expensive!” Kate protested, looking at the brochure.

“Don’t worry about the cost, just read through those and keep an open mind.”

Then later that afternoon the doorbell had rung and Carl called out, “Kate, you’ve got a visitor.”

Kate stepped into the entryway feeling nervous. “Dad, I thought we agreed that I’m not seeing anyone.”

“It’s okay, besides, I don’t think she gets out much.” Carl said stepping to one side so that Kate was able to spot Molly.

“Molly,” Kate rushed forward to give the woman a hug and then caught himself at the last second and awkwardly offered a hand. Molly ignored it and embraced him.

“I told you I’d come by to visit.”

“Come in, would you like a cup of tea?” Maria said, joining them.

“Tea would be lovely.” Molly agreed.

This settled the four headed to the kitchen table where they spent the next several minutes exchanging news. Molly had spent several unsuccessful days, and even more spells trying to track down Allura. She’d also gotten in touch with others in the magic user community and informed them about Allura’s activities. She looked at Kate for a moment before focusing on Carl.

“Two years ago, Aleric, Allura’s master in magic, was found dead. Allura told everyone that it was a magical experiment gone wrong. There was no reason not to believe her, because even though Allura had survived, she had aged. The healer I talked to said it was as though years of her vitality, her life force, had been drained. I think that she must have made a deal with a “Power” and in exchange for her life force she was granted far more power than she ought to have.”

Carl nodded and motioned for Allura to continue. “Do you know what it was Allura was after?” At this Carl looked down thinking. “Carl, she said something about a cave. It would be really helpful if I knew why she was so interested in it.”

“Look, I’d like to tell you everything, but I can’t. There are things that I’m contracted to do that require confidentiality. Breaking that confidentiality would be worse, particularly in this case, than keeping silent.”

“I’m not asking you to tell me where the cave is, I just need to know why Allura wants it so badly.” Molly said.

“I don’t know. I’m not a wizard. I can tell you that the cave is very dangerous and that the wizard we’d been hired to protect died in the cave. I still have nightmares about it.” With that Carl got up and went to the refrigerator and grabbed a beer.

After a minute Molly let the subject drop and turned to Kate. “So what’s next for you?”

Kate looked over at his mom and then back at Molly. “Well, high school starts in a couple of weeks. But I can’t go back like this,” Kate gestured down. “Everyone would know I’m a mutant and they all know I used to be a girl. I don’t think I could handle it.”

“We’re looking into Whateley.” Maria said.

“Hmmm, . . . Whateley. That might be just the place.” Molly said.

“But it’s all the way on the other coast!” Kate said. “I . . . I wouldn’t be able to see any of you except during summer and winter breaks.”

“Maybe not.” At Kate’s confused look Molly continued, “As it happens I have a rune in my gate set to Dunwich, New Hampshire.” When Kate didn’t respond Molly laughed, it was a light silvery sound. “The train station in Dunwich has a room set aside for those who don’t travel by conventional methods.” Then seeing that Kate still looked confused she continued, “Dunwich is the closest town to Whateley. I have, on occasion, found it handy to have a place on the east coast I could travel to quickly.”

Kate looked at Molly in surprise, “You’d let me use your gate?”

“Of course, but I have an ulterior motive. I’ve not had an apprentice for a few years and I think I’m losing touch with the outside world. I would like you to consider becoming my apprentice. Besides, you need to start learning how to control your gift, or you might accidently hurt someone. There’s a lot that Whateley can teach you, but you’ve got a lot of ground, academically speaking, to make up.”

For a second Kate thought about refusing, he already had a mentor. Dux’Tueor coached him every night in his dreams and dragon magic appeared to be a little different than other forms. Kate opened his mouth to politely refuse when he felt a stirring in the back of his mind.

*Accept Mistress Lanethial’s offer, young one. There is much she can teach you.*

Kate coughed into his hand to cover his hesitation. “I’d be honored.”

Molly beamed at Kate, her smile made Kate’s heart skip a beat, “Fantastic! I’ll be by next Friday to pick you up. Plan on spending the weekend at my place. After that we’ll work out a schedule.” Kate looked at his parents who nodded in approval. “Now onto this Whateley business. I know Headmistress Carson, I’ll make a call and see if they’re willing to take a transfer student getting ready to start his junior year.”

Both Carl and Maria thanked Molly and the rest of the visit consisted with the three of them asking Molly questions about Whateley. As it turned out Molly had had other apprentices attend Whateley and was able to give them quite a bit of information.

***

The next day found Kate sitting at the kitchen table filling out admission forms. When he got to the name block he turned to Maria.

“Mom, what should I put down for my name?”

Maria looked at Kate in surprise. “I mean, I can’t use Kathrine Henderson. It just doesn’t fit anymore.”

“Oh, well, before you were born your dad and I picked out names for a girl and a boy. Obviously it was Kathrine for a girl.” Maria said pausing to look at her son.

“And if I’d been a boy?”

“Michael . . . Michael Christopher Henderson.” Then Maria rushed over to give Kate a hug, tears running down her cheeks.

After a second Kate pushed Maria back, “Michael Henderson” he said trying out the name. “Mike . . . Michael . . . Mikey.”

Maria laughed, “I like Mike for daily use.”

Mike nodded and wrote the name on the form. As he did Carl came in from the backyard and spotting Maria’s tear streaked faced and looked over at Kate and then back again. “Did I miss something? What’s all the commotion?”

“Dear, I’d like to introduce your son, Michael Henderson.”

“Oh,” Carl said, hesitating, then he walked over to Kate and gave him a hug. “I love you. No matter what! Daughter or son.”

At this Mike felt himself tear up but rather than cry he returned the hug. “Thanks, Dad.”

Mike looked at his mom and dad and knew, whatever this new school was like, at least he could always come home to parents who loved and accepted him.

THE END

PS – If you enjoyed this story please take a moment to leave a comment.

Cheers

Zapper



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