Another story from my archives, posted as a sample of my work for potential RP partners.
Gotham Academy for the Gifted. Shortened to GAFTG in all of its publications. Abbreviated to GAG by all its students, as in, with a spoon. There’s not a day when I don’t wander these halls on my way to and from class wondering, “Someone didn’t think this one through, did they?”
It’s not a bad place as far as exclusive, private,
preparatory schools go. The uniforms don’t itch too much. The building is large
enough I can usually get through the day without running into my snot nosed and
occasionally annoying nephews. They don’t use metal detectors so I can sneak in
my costume and collapsible staff, just in case I need to skip class to go fight
Yeah. I’m one of those, a super-hero. I prefer the title, “Perky
Teen Adventurer,” but everyone teases me that it sounds too much like a
kinky personal ad on Craigslist. I’m Mercedes Agnes Thomas-Arasaka, Kid
Harrier, daughter to Silent Strike and the Harrier King. All my friends call me
Des, except for my nephew (yes, one of the two I try to avoid at school). Nick
calls me “Mercy,” the twerp. Maybe it’s a crush. Whatever it is, I
hope he grows out of it soon. I live with my ”vader” (Father in Dutch. I
speak four and a half languages. My Mandarin, sorry, ”Putonghua”, is in
development) in one of the worst neighborhoods in Gotham’s East Side. We’re
reclaiming the streets, block by block around two of the apartment buildings we
own there. My mother? That’s a whole other conversation.
The conversation I was trying to focus on at the moment
included my best friend, Veena Batchu. She leaned on the locker next to mine,
dark skin and an athlete’s body dressed in our cheerleading uniform. There’s a
beauty mark on her cheek that sinks into a dimple when she smiles. I think
she’s really pretty. I hear her father is some famous surgeon in the city.
Since that incident with the alcohol burner in the chem lab, I can’t see her
with a scalpel. There wasn’t too much damage and that whole painted eyebrow
look worked well for her as they grew back in, but give her a wicked sharp knife
and say, “cut me, cut me?” Like, no way.
“Brad will be there.”
I can admit it. I wasn’t paying my best friend much
attention. I’d been receiving the same Friday pitch for six weeks. “So and
so is having a party. Wanna come with me? The other cheerleaders are starting
to say things about you.” blah, blah, blah, blah.
“Huh?” I stopped poking through my locker and
looked over to repeat, “Huh?” Yep. That’s me. Clearly erudite and
master of my vocabulary.
Veena smiled broadly, setting the hook. A perfect eyebrow
(completely healed, seriously) lifted. “I said Brad will be there. Weren’t
you listening to me?”
“I hang on your every word, Vee. Lisa’s parents are out
of town. Big party at her house. Come at seven.”
“Wow,” she replied, eyes widening. “You’re
like an idiot savant, absorbing everything you hear, except for that it’s
Andrea’s parents, it’s a small gathering, and it starts at nine. Hmmm, maybe
I’m half right.” I thought about sticking my tongue out at her, but if the
other cheerleaders were talking… Oh godver. Like I care what the rest
of the team thought. Maybe I could punch her in the arm. Nah, that would look
I swallowed. “Are you sure?”
Her head tilted to one side as she rolled her back against
the locker. “Of course, I’m sure, Des. I have a talent for these things.”
She wasn’t kidding. Veena has this like, innate sense of the social scene. If
someone will be somewhere, she would know. It’s like she’s telepathic, or
something. Seeing what I’ve seen in Gotham, it’s a distinct possibility.
Brad. I turned back to face my locker, trying to hide the
warmth that rose to my cheeks. Brad’s a senior in my honors American Lit class.
Lacrosse team captain. Sandy hair with just a bit of a curl. Really dark, brown
eyes. Reads Thoreau. No really. He actually reads all of his assignments and
participates in class. Call me a geek, but I find that a major turn on. My knee
“Well,” I stammered. Surely Va can do
without me for one Friday night. “Will you come pick me up?”
“Really?” Vee squealed in excitement. “I
mean, really! You will have the best time! I totally promise! I never believe
anything Tricia says about you…”
I should have objected, defended myself. But at that moment
I was thinking about talking to a dark pair of eyes and what I was going to
I was sure he could see my knee shaking. It threatened to
vibrate my entire body, leaving me standing on the stairs with chattering teeth
like some hypothermia victim. I choked out a, “Hey.”
Brilliant. Witty. Fantastic first start. Please kill me now.
We were standing next to each other in the line for the
bathroom. Like, like, I know everyone goes, but I was hoping it would be a
while before Brad and I had to actually face that each of us had bodily
functions to tend to. I looked into my half full cup of water, wondering if I
could swear off drinking. Not just alcohol. Everything. I’ll get just enough
via IV fluids and never have to go pee ever again. I heard the biologist part
of my brain start explaining how that’s just not possible.
“Great party, huh?”
I’d only seen two people vomit so far. I’m pretty sure I saw
a partially digested pea in Angelena Cortez’s hair. The modern meaning of “small
gathering” equated to “as many as we can cram into the place.”
When Vee and I arrived, we spent the first 15 minutes checking out the trends
of Gotham’s hip teen scene; cute, short skirts with tall boots; lace and
drooping necklaces well suited to one of my dad’s old 80’s movies. At 20
minutes, Vee and I agreed the beautiful people had started to turn ugly and a
trip to find some ice cream sounded like a great idea, right after a quick
detour to the bathroom.
Brad’s eyes looked darker up close. I took the liberty of
looking into them as we stood in the queue. He didn’t smell like vomit or
alcohol. So close to him, he smelled nice. My bangs lifted from my forehead with
a puff of air from my mouth, something people say I do when I’m nervous. “Hmm,
no,” I tried to muster a grin, but my lips felt lopsided. “This
really isn’t my scene.”
Those eyes, those beautiful eyes, widened and a smile spread
across his face. “Oh man, I was worried I was the only one.” It took
me a second to recognize the noise coming from me as a laugh. “I got
talked into coming here by a friend,” he continued. “You’re Mercedes,
right? We’re in AmLit together, aren’t we?”
I nodded, feeling the smile even out on my face. “Des,”
I blurted out. “My friends call me, Des.” He extended his hand. “Des,
I’m Brad Winterborne. It’s a pleasure to…”
It’s human nature to run from screams; from those all too
natural sounds that emanate from pain, shock, loss. It’s a behavior that I
didn’t inherit. I vaulted down the stairs, cursing in Dutch that I had left my
massive Chrome messenger bag in Vee’s car. Tracing the source of the screams
took no effort. I ran towards what everyone else was running from.
I saw the body on the kitchen floor first, blood slowly
spreading from a collapsed female figure. The screaming filled the room; Sharp,
shrill, cries echoing off cold, yellow, Mexican tile. “Demons!” My
head snapped left. I didn’t recognize the girl. Wet blood covered her all too
short dress. Violent, red cuts lined her exposed legs and arms. She had shed
her shoes sometime in the evening and stood barefoot. She held a $500, 8″,
Hinkle sushi knife in one hand, pointing the tip at me. What can I say? My
family knows cutlery.
“Demons!” She screamed again. I spared one look
behind me. Demons are an occupational hazard in the hero biz. Movement brought
my attention back to her, but not before I felt that exquisitely crafted blade
cut through my silk, violet top and bit into my skin.
“Hey, no!” I yelled. “I’m no demon!” It
didn’t take much to restrain her. It took a lot to keep her restrained. Her
body flipped and skidded beneath me, slippery with blood and filled with
unnatural strength. My side burned from the wound. I didn’t think she hit
anything vital, but I found the pain distracting. When Vee and Brad poked their
heads into the kitchen doorway, it took all my concentration to call out, “Call
Nothing clears out a party like a stabbing and a police
presence. Well, maybe gunfire. To their credit, the GCPD arrived in record
time. I took comfort in watching six peace officers try to get a pair of cuffs
on Christine after they asked me to back off. Eventually, she just passed out.
Christine. Her name was Christine Dawley. We had Calculus
together. I didn’t recognize her until the EMT’s had got her on a gurney and
wiped the blood from her face. The other girl was named Jennifer Acosta. She
had been critically injured, not expected to make it. I didn’t know her.
The police interview took about 45 minutes. They did offer
me some medical attention before starting the questions. By then, my wound had
completely healed. (Regeneration, improved dexterity and strength. All gifts
from mom. Thanks mom!) Once they figured out I hadn’t been drinking, they
didn’t even call my dad. (I inherited a bunch of stuff from Va, too!
The cops asked me a lot of questions about drugs. What I saw
at the party. It didn’t take a detective to figure out drugs figured in here,
somewhere. I was guessing Angel Dust. I have red hair, but confusing my cute,
energetic self for a demon takes a serious hallucinogen.
Veena stuck around the whole time. She got drilled too, but
not quite as long. Brad, sadly, had faded at some point. Difficult to say if my
skill at wrestling a crazed, knife wielding teenager made a good first
impression. Some boys don’t like it when girls can break them in half.
We didn’t say anything until we got to her car. The door
barely shut before I called on Veena’s power of social awareness. “Do you
know where she got the drugs?”
“Adam Farintino.” A junior. Slouches a lot. I had
seen him at the party earlier, hanging out with Christian Rickey and Max
Waguespack. I felt pretty sure I could track him down before the cops could.
“I know where he is.” I looked at Veena across the
small space between the seats of her red Volkswagen Beetle. Telepathy looked
more and more like a possibility.
“Could we talk about that later?” OooooooK. Yeah.
Conversation needed. My eyes flitted to my messenger bag in the back seat. “Yes,
Des,” Veena told me. “I know.” Make that, long conversation
needed. I bit my lip and tried not to think.
“Yes. I’ll drive. You’re flexible. You can change on
the way.” The whole not thinking thing apparently doesn’t work too well
for me. As she put the car in gear, I crawled into the back seat and started
pulling my costume out of the bag.
I’m not terribly intimidating. I stand about 168 cm (oh
sorry, 5’6″) and I’m not really bulky. Still, you think that the costume,
the mask, and the staff; and the fact that I had just trashed the two of his
friends who had attacked me would have shifted Adam’s attitude a little.
“I didn’t do nothing!” he challenged. “She
asked me! I didn’t even charge her for it!” He fished a small packet from
the pocket of his jeans and threw it at me. I plucked it from the air. A pair
of long legs and flowers adorned the small envelope; Vanilla Sky bath salts.
“Bath salts?” I asked. I had heard about this
craze. Snorted or ingested, certain substances marketed as bath salts, acted
like cocaine or PCP.
“Completely legal!” Emboldened, Adam took a step
forward. “I didn’t do anything wrong! The cops were already here and
didn’t find nuth’n! Now, get out of here, Harrier, before I call them back to
arrest you for assault!”
I didn’t let my jaw drop. I like to think I kept a stern
expression on my face while I worked through options. Technically, his buddies
could charge me with battery. Self-defense wouldn’t work. The two of them
really weren’t a threat and I could have gotten away too easily. These weren’t
street punks. These were three kids from GAG, children of some of Gotham’s
wealthiest; the city’s most likely to sue.
I stepped forward. Adam retreated a bit as I brought the tip
of my staff to rest on his breastbone. “You didn’t do anything illegal,
Adam. There are two of your classmates in the hospital. One of them might die.
You did something wrong. Stop.”
I turned and left, trying not to trip over the tail between
“Well, this just sucks.” Veena plopped down on the
curb next to me. I had slipped back into my jeans and cut up top as we hunted
for supplies. My friend rummaged through the 7-11 bag for a moment before
handing over a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Karamel Sutra. I could get used
to hanging out with a mindreader.
I started rolling the container in my hands before replying.
“Total, major suckage. That great wooshing sound? That is the sound of
suck.” Veena pulled open her ice cream and started in with a spoon. Some
people just don’t care about the proper temperature at which to consume the
holy dessert. “Does it usually end like this?” she asked.
I shook my head, squeezing the ice cream, checking if it had
reached the right consistency. “It usually ends in arrests and a few
bruises, maybe a pat on the back from a local cop or saved citizen, and then a
bunch of questions from a DA”
“Do you ever have to testify?”
I peeled off the lid of the cup and dipped my spoon into the
cold, creamy goodness. “Sometimes,” I answered, mouth full. “Most
DA’s don’t want to get a mask with a secret ID in the courtroom. Too easy to
“What are you going to do now?”
The ice cream rolled across my tongue as I thought about an
answer. “Talk to my dad about it.” I knew that wouldn’t sound too
geeky to Veena. Who tries to hide anything from a telepath, anyway?” I
scooped up another spoonful as I pondered about things a bit more. “I’ll
definitely keep an eye on Adam. I’ve heard that he deals in harder stuff. If he
does, I want to bust him.”
My train of thought took me to a station I didn’t want to
visit. “If Jennifer dies, Christine will likely face a manslaughter
charge. Maybe then the DA can hit Adam with something like ‘willful
negligence.'” I shook my head, dropping it between my knees. “Chris
is looking at assault with a deadly weapon, at least. When you boil it down,
she’s really the problem.”
“What do you mean?”
“If we believe Adam, she asked him for the salts.
Nobody forced her. I don’t think seeing demons is what she expected, but…”
I shrugged. “If everyone stopped using drugs, we’d stop having drug
“Making them legal would stop drug related crime, too.”
“Maybe,” I said, shoveling out some more. “Vanilla
Sky is legal and that didn’t stop a stabbing, tonight.”
Veena nodded, her spoon poking around in a cup of Chunky
Monkey. “That’s true.”
“”Va” knows a few drug counselors, really good
people. I might point one of them in Christine’s direction. I will pay for it.”
I rolled my eyes. “Not like she needs the money.”
“Whether something like this happens to Chris again,
will really depend on her.” We sat there in silence a few moments,
finishing off our ice cream. A good thing about superpowers? They burn a ton of
Veena turned her head towards me, her dark eyes settling on
mine. “Do you like it? The hero thing?”
“Usually,” I answered, puffing the bangs from my
forehead. “My family and I, my mother, my father, my sister, my…” I
couldn’t get it out without a short snort, “nephews, and I have helped a
lot of people, made a lot of people’s lives better.” I stopped, thinking
about two classmates in the hospital and a drug ‘dealer’ I couldn’t touch. “Do
I like it, tonight? Not so much.”