Septi sighed, checking the multiple lists that Chuck had been making in the last week while she was at school. There were two new mutants on the loose, and a third was in juvy. She carefully checked the map of the U.S. on the wall, examining their locations and the distance between them.
Setting down that particular list, she moved on to the next one in the stack. Staring at the list of expenses and the balances, she grimaced.
‘Do we need more numbers? And what about about all these expenses? But if we leave young mutants wandering about, that could prove dangerous to them, normal people and us,’ Septi thought, switching to the next list, but not really paying attention to it. ‘But more members means more expenses, and we don’t want to drain the finances faster than they already are. Besides, what’ll we do when the money runs out? Will the VI4C end?’
‘But if those young, rogue mutants expose themselves they might, by extension, expose us. If we’re exposed to the public eye, it doesn’t really matter if the VI4C has money or not. Not if C.A.M.M. gets us. What do those letters stand for again? something about Citizens Against the Mutant Menace? An innocent sounding name for a heartless organization.
‘They don’t know us, do they? Mutant menace. As if we ever did anything to them!’ Septi blinked slightly, her mind returning to the task at hand, which was going through the lists. ‘I s’poe we’ll ask those rogues to join. If they do, then that’s great. But if they don’t, I’ll remember them and if they talk…’ Suddenly she realized that someone was trying to tell her something.
“-and the sink’s flooded. Septi, did you hear a single word of that?” Mesmer asked, staring at her reproachfully.
“Not really. What about thesink?” she asked, setting down the papers and feeling like an old woman.
“Some idiot left it on, and it flooded the downstairs bathroom,” Mes said. “Ryan and Val are trying to clean it up right now, but they sent me to tell you.”
“Any idea which idiot it was?” Septi asked.
“No official idea,” Mes sai8d with a glare. “Personally, I suspect that that Chaos kid caused it.”
“Mes, just because his name means trouble does not mean that he caused the trouble,” Septi said, putting aside her personal feelings of dislike towards Chaos and defending him. “Besides, here in America you are innocent until proven guilty.”
“I still wouldn’t put it past him,” Mes grumbled.
“Mes, why don’t you tell us how you really feel?” Septi asked sarcastically. Mes grinned at her sheepishly.
“Sorry,” she apologized, blushing slightly. “Anyways, I’ve passed on the message. I’ll see you later, Septi.”
“Alright,” Septi said, absentmindedly. As she watched Mes walk away, she thought, ‘I wouldn’t be at all surprised if one of the girls was down there and forgot to turn off the water.’
It was late when Septi slipped into the kitchen to get a cup of tea that night, so it was a big surprise when she found most of the VI4C in there, playing a game.
“Well, well, if it’s isn’t Septi,” Raram said kiddingly. “Nice of you to join us.”
“I thought that most of you guys, in not all, would be asleep,” Septi confessed, putting a mug of water in the microwave and turning to face them. “So what are you playing?”
“Apples-to-Apples,” Valencia said. “Ryans’s winning.'”
“Ryan?” Septi asked, a bit surprised.
“Yeah,” Mes said, talking a little louder than usual and looking far more awake than the rest. “He’s got four cards already.”
“Can you deal me in this next round, Septi asked, taking her mug out of the microwave and putting the tea bag in to steep, then slipping into the empt seat between Val and Raram. She glanced around and added, “if you don’t want to, I can sit out.”
“I don’t see why you couldn’t join the game,” Valencia said, shuffeling her card. Ryan nodded his agreement, and the rest all shrugged.
“It was probably a very good idea to not sit beside Mes,” Raram whispered to Septi as Ferinequell dealt Septi her cards.
“Oh? And why’s that?” Septi asked her quietly.
“Because she’s had at least two Mountain Dews,” Raram said. Septi glanced at Mes worriedly. “Don’t worry, I hid the rest.”
“Gee, that’s real encouraging,” Septi whispered back. A little louder, she asked, “who’s judging?”
“I am,” Ryan said, setting down his cards and pulling a green card from the stack. “Aerodynamic.” Septi started looking through her cards, along with everyone else.
When they finished the game at two in the morning, with Valencia as the winner, everyone began to clear out. However, Septi had maters to discuss with the other higher ups.
“Vall, Chuck, Ryan,” she said, helping Val clean up the game. “Could you please stay? I need your opinion on something.”
“Alright,” Ferinequell said, taking the box and stepping into the other room to put it away. A moment later he re-entered the kitchen, looking somewhat curious. “What is it, Septi?” he asked as the straggelers finally left the room. Val and Ryan sat still, watching Septi.
“There have been several young mutants that have been located recently. Chuck, you already know that.” Septi glanced over at him, and he nodded. “My question is, should we try to recruit them?”
“Why shouldn’t we?” Val asked, resting her folder hands on the table. “I believe that they should have the same chances we have to defnend themselves.”
“Yes, but just watching their movements, I feel that they would be very hard to recruit,” Chuck said. “Besides, the one girl is residing with a former student, who managed to cause quite a revolt in the short time he was here.”
“Exactly. If he told her about us, I can assure you that he will be less than complimentary towards the VI4C,” Septi said.
“Who is this former student, anyways?” Val asked, switching her even gaze to Ferinequell.
“His name is Ben Eastman. He attended the VI4C school for exactly half a semester the year you were a freshman.” Valencia’s eyes widened.
“Not the Ben who’s comment triggered the bombing of the training room with some kind of chemical bomb?”
“That’s the one,” Septi said, with a slight smile. “Good times, good times.”
“You didn’t like fighting practice?” Ferinequell asked, looking slightly wounded.
“Nah,” Septi said with sparkeling eyes and a mischeivous smile. “You see, there was this teacher’s assistant who was a real slave driver.” Val and Ryan were both laughing, and even Chuck started to cuckle.
“Touche,” he said. “Though where those boys got the chemical bomb, I’ll never know.” Ryan’s laughter doubled at this.
“We made it,” he managed around the laughter. “All the boys in our dorm helped at least a little bit.” The other three stared at him admiringly.
“That was home-made?” Val asked. “But the damage it caused… how is that possible?” Ryan shrugged.
“That is very impressionnant (impressive),” Septi said. “But that doesn’t answer my question. Should we recruit the young mutants? Our funds are limited, please remember.”
“Yeah,” Val agreed. “I say recruit them.”
“Chuck? Ryan?” Septi glanced at them.
“You can try, but don’t count on anything coming from it,:” Ferinequell said.
“I agree with Chuck,” was all Ryan said.
“Would anyone object to me stalling on recruiting them, or attempting to?” Septi suggested.
“Not really,” Ferinequell said, and Ryan titled his head.
“Nah,” Val said. “It’s up to you, i guess.”
“Alright,” Septi said. “I’ll recruit them when it becomes necessary.”
“Sopunds like a plan to me,” Val said, stretching and yawning. “So is that all, or can I head to bed?”
“That’s it,” Septi said, standing up and putting her mug into the sink. “See you in the morning. Val left the room wihtout a sign of acknowledgement, and Ferinequell and Ryan followed her. With that, Septi decided to move what remained of her homework down to the kitchen.
“You didn’t tell me!” Mesmer told Septi loudly. “You’re going to a school dance, with a guy, and you didn’t even think to let me know?”
“Why would I go with a girl? I am straight, after all,” Septi countered. “And I didn’t tell you for other reasons.”
“It’s a semi-formal, and you’re going to need a dress, and shoes, and makeup, and your hair done-“
“Please stop,” Septi cut Mesmer off mid-list. “You’re seriously depressing me.”
“I hadn’t even mentioned your nails,” Mes protested. “Septi, can I help you?”
“Well, you’re not going to let me rest until you get a ‘yes’ for an answer,” Septi said, resigning herself to a long couple of weeks of torture. Turning to Raram, she asked, “why’d you have to let it slip?”
“You know how persistant and focused she gets on those stupid dances,” Raram protested. “It wasn’t my fault, really.”
“Raram, you let it slip. Unless you can claim that she hypnotized the information out of you, there’s no case,” Septi said coolly, though her face and eyes were teasing. “You let it slip. Just admit it, girl.”
“Fine,” Raram said, acting like she was completely surrendering. “I admit, I let it slip. I didn’t meamn to though.”
“Sure,” Septi said sarcastically. “Like I believe that.” Raram rolled her eyes and Mes gently punched Septi in the shoulder.
“I’m right here,” Mes said. “Stop talking about me like I’m not.”
“Sorry, Mes,” Septi said, smiling apologetically. “So when are you going to start the torture- I mean, the dress shopping?” Raram began to laugh while Mes looked scandalized.
“It’s not that bad,” she muttered, giving Septi a reproachful look. “And that can happen whenever you want.”
“Well, the dance is in two weeks, so maybe next week? or early in the week after that?”
“Sure,” Mes said. “We can go shopping for your dress, shoes, and possible a purse and other-“
“Don’t count on it,” Septi said shortly. “I wonder if Jade would like to come alomng with us?”
“That’d be awesome,” Raram said. “Although I can completely understand if she didn’t want to under go that painful experience.”
“The more the merrier,” Septi said falsely bright. Under her breath she whispered to Raram, “and maybe Mes will behave herself if Jade comes.”
“that would be really nice,” Raram whispered back. Mesmer leaned in towards them.
“I like secrets too,” she whispered. Septi and Raram exchanged a glance.
“It’s nothing,” Septi said. “Alright you two. Would you mind leaving me in the little bit of remaining peace I’ll have?” The two younger girls glanced at eachother.
“Of course we mind,” Mes said.
“But you’ll do it anyhow,” Septi said. “Go.” She pointed to the door. Pouting, Mes stormed out of the room, followed by Raram. ‘Finally,” Septi thought. ‘Peace. And science. But more peace.’
“Ugh, Mes, I doubt that even you could make this mess look better,” Septi said, examining her sleep deprived self in the mirror. Mes gave her a wicked grin, and rubbed her hands together.
“I can. Just you wait and see,” she said gleefully. In a slightly more normal fashion, she added, “we’ll be picking Jade up in a half hour?”
“Yes,” Septi said, picking up her purse and heading out to the car. Opening the rear passneger’s door she started to stack things beside it, in a quick attemtp to clean her car out enough for four of them to fit. Mes poked at the stuff in the pile, which was mainly college books and several CD.
“And we’re gonna be calling you Renee, naturally?”
“Yes,” Septi said, crawling out of the car and staring at Mes. “And while Jade knows that I’m a mutant, she doesn’t know that both you and Raram are too. So not a word about that.”
“Oh, wow,” Mes said, leaning against the car casually. “Though I’ve done it before, it’s always really weird calling Raram ‘Felicia’.”
“What about me?” Raram walked in, looking refreshingly normal.
“I was giving Mes my ‘You must not breath a word about our mutations’ speech,” Septi explained, examining the back seat.
“Oh,” Raram said. “That.”
“Yes, that,” Septi said, crawling back out of her car. “And look at that, it’s time to go.”
“I call shotgun,” Raram said, diving for the door. Mes beat her to it, thought, and dove into the car.
“Oops, too late,” Mes said. “I’m already here.”
“Well, then, you can move.” The two girls glared at eachother for a second, then Raram shrugged and got into the back. Septi sighed over this spat, as she moved the stack of stuff into her trunk, then crawled in.
“You two,” she said, starting the car and backing out of the hide-out’s garage.
“What can I say,” Raram said. Septi nodded as she turned onto the main road. Silence fell in the car for a couple of minutes, and Septi found herself wondering how awkward this whole dress shopping thing would be.
“So you went by Licia?” Mes asked, finally breaking the silence.
“Before I came to the VI4C school, yeah,” she said. “That was, what, sixth grade?”
“Well, all three of us were brought to the school that same year,” Septi said, turning off into her old neighborhood. “Hey, Mes, you gonna give up shotgun for Jade, or will she have to ride in the back?”
“Nah,” mes said. Septi sighed. “Septi, you weren’t a student-student at the school. You were just a commuter-weapons class student.”
“True,” Septi said, pulling into Jade’s drive way. “Not another word, you two, about any of that stuff. Got it?”
“Yes, Septi,” Mes said with sigh, rolling her eyes. “We’ve only been over this, what, five times today.”
“This is only the third time i’ve said it,” Septi said, getting out and shutting the car door behind her. As she walked up to the house, Jade came running out, giving Septi a quick hug.
“Hey,” Jade said. “Guess what.”
“What?” Septi asked, trying to mentally get herself used to being called Renee.
“Guess,” Jades said, leaning back into the house to get her purse and to shut the door.
“I don’t know,” Septi said, waiting for her friend to finish readying herself.
“I got a tattoo!” Jade said, smiling widely.
“Really? What is it, and where?” Septi stared at Jade, surprised.
“Don’t look so shocked,” Jade said, still smiling. “It’s my name in elvish, and it’s right here,” she placed her left hand on her right shoulderblade. “It’s still a little sore, but it looks really sweet!”
“I can imagine,” Septi said. “You’re gonna have to show-” she hesitated for a moment, almost calling them by the wrong names “-Jassy and Licia. They’re the biggest ‘Ringers’ ever.”
“Really?” Jade asked. “Well, if we’re going clothes shopping, half the fun is trying the things on.”
“Yeah it is,” Septi said, smiling back. Mes opened the car door and leaned out.
“Renee, c’mon!” she called over to them. Septi and Jade exchanged looks.
“I guess we’d better go,” Jade said mildly. Septi nodded her agreement. “I’d also guess that I don’t get shotgun?” Septi grimaced and nodded again.
“Yeah. Jassy and Licia had a little fight over that before we left,” septi said. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Jade said, walking up to the car and sliding in. “Alright, I’ve met you two before, but I never know which one of you is Jassy and which is Licia.”
“I’m Jassy, and she’s Licia,” Mes said, glancing back at Jade and looking away horrified, when she saw Jade’s dyed hair.
“I love your hair,” Raram said enthusiastically, reminding Septi of how different thost two girls were. “It’s such an aweseom shade of purple!”
“Thanks,” Jade said, smiling warmly at Raram. “I was actually just debating about whether I should keep the purple, or if I should try red or some other color.”
“Stick with the purple,” Raram said. “It looks so awesome!” Septi had a feeling that the two of them would manage to keep Mes from overdoing the girliness, and was very thankful that she chose to bring Jade with them.
“You’ve got some nice hair yourself, Licia. Why don’t you do anything to it?” Jade asked as Septi turned out onto the street.
“I’ve considered it,” Raram said. “But never actually goeetn around to doing anything.”
“Well, with that shade of red, all kinds of colors will show up vividly,” Jade said, digging through her purse for a pack of gum. Pulling it out she offered it to Raram and Mes. “‘Nee, if you want some, let me know when we get to the mall, okay?”
“Sure, thanks,” Septi said, switching lanes. Jade sat her purse down and sighed.
“So, Jade, how much are hair dyes?” Raram asked, chewing her stick of gum thoughtfully.
“It depends on the brand, but the do-it-yourself tend to range from just under ten bucks to twenty bucks a bottle.”
“Alright,” Raram said. Silence fell in the car for a couple of minutes, and Septi turned into the mall parking lot. “How long does the dye stay in?”
“Well, the brand I use stays in for thee or four weeks,” Jade answered, tugging at a loose lock of hair. “But it’s the cheep stuff.” Raram nodded, taking it all in. Septi exhaled sharply, having just missed a good parking spot, and Mes, who was looking extremely bored perked up.
“It’ time for dress shopping,” she said cheerfully, as Septi pulled into a decent spot. Raram and Jade each rolled their eyes, cringing at the thought of frills that came to mind. Mesmer took no notice to their reluctance, however, and was beaming.
“Jassy, no pink, no frills, no strapless, and not tiny straps,” Septi said as she got out. “And nothing too showy or uncomfortable.”
“You’re no fun,” Mes grumbles teasingly as they made their way to the mall’s entrance.
“Get used to it,” Septi said. “Let’s get it over with,” she added as she opened the door.