Monday, December 22, 2014

A Lesson in Bullying, Part 1

I heaved a sigh of relief as the dismissal bell rang, signaling the end of a long Monday. Eight long classes, six of which were AP, now done and out of the way of what really mattered on the first day of the week:
History Club.
I'd gotten a lot of grief for joining and running it over the years, from both my classmates and older siblings, none of whom understood just how I felt about it. The other members and I, though, we all felt that history is one of the best subjects around for being passionate about.
Our motto? Those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.
That quote is something we've tried to incorporate into our everyday lives, alongside with finding interesting events from the past we want to know more about. And somewhere along the way, the school faculty began to support us, and decided that for all the hard work we were putting into our research and discussions, the seven of us deserved some extra credit in our courses.
That's just a side bonus, really, and while we appreciated the gesture it wasn't something for us to get overly excited about. Unfortunately, though, there were others in the school who didn't feel the same way.
As I found out that Monday, walking into Mr. Cordrey's classroom, and getting the shock of my life. Because sitting at my usual desk was Chelsea O'Brian, possibly the prettiest, most popular and most cruel senior in Old Hills High School. She had an impressive stack of research notes sitting in front of her, though her current attention was the expensive iphone in her hands.
My fellow club members looked just as stunned, though decidedly more worried, and Jaelyn, sitting to the right of Chelsea, seemed ready to cry as she stared down at the floor.
"Um, hi there, Chelsea." I finally spoke, moving forward to stand beside her. "Are you actually here for the club meeting?"
Her eyes flickered up to me, then to Mr. Cordrey, and back to me before returning to her phone. "Oh, of course, I just love history." It took another moment for me to register that, still freaking out internally over this utterly intimidating girl being within three feet of me. I mean, Chelsea had probably dated and broken up with just about every athletic jerk who'd ever thrown my books in a mud puddle or pushed my friends and me around in the hallways and laughed about it.
Girls like her just didn't come to a club meeting of history buffs. But, apparently, this was a day for exceptions.
"Well, alright then... Um, you're in my seat, though." As soon as the words passed my lips, I knew they were going to cause a problem. Her eyes rose slowly this time, to send a deep glare into mine, and it was a gaze that promised pain.
Out in the world of lockers and bullies, that look would scare me. Well, it did scare, even here, but this club was my territory, and powerful or not, I wasn't about to let Chelsea think she could run it like any other school group.
I stood my ground, and lo and behold, she stood up, grabbed the papers off the table, and moved to other end. Suddenly, all of my club mates were staring at me with a mixture of awe and startled fear. I just rolled my tense shoulders and sat down, pulling out my own notebook.
The situation was just like a couple of points from the very subject we studied: small forces could easily defeat larger ones, if they fought on the correct terrain to suit their advantages, and presenting a strong face to scare off the enemy would sometimes prove enough to win without any confrontation at all.
"Okay then, we agreed to all look into Ancient Chinese civilization over the past week..."

To Be Continued

Monday, December 8, 2014


A piece written for my Creative Writing class at school, this is technically an excerpt from my Jr. Team comicbook series. It comes across a bit differently from the visual format I'll transfer it too eventually, but... the narrator's inner monologue was pretty fun to experiment with.
Not everything superheroes do is in the open - sometime Intelligence agents have pretty serious cover.

The instant I stepped into Blackren’s Eye Room, I knew something was wrong. The screens that covered every available inch of wall space were dark, almost as if they had gone from displaying information to absorbing it. Comparing them with blank stares of dispassionate people gave me an uncomfortable shiver, so I turned my attention instead to the man at the far end of the room.
He was back into his usual outfit of a pale grey suit with silver accents, hands clasped together behind his back and feet spread in what I could only call a military parade rest. As I approached, my supposed boss turned to eye me with a cool eye. Normally, he would have an expression of cheer overlaying relaxed confidence - the mask, I termed it, for it wasn’t the true face of Baatsi Ren.
This, though... This was the expression that heralded the arrival of Blackren, his inner demon, the true monster behind all the murders and atrocities I was investigating. The back of my neck prickled uncertainly, and I had to remind myself that he knew me as Miss Moffat, spymistress and assassin extraordinaire; Blackren had no reason to mistrust my cover, yet.
“I’m glad to see you are fully recovered from that unpleasant skirmish with the Jr. Team, my dear.” His voice, normally flowing like clear water in a mountain stream, sounded rough, edgy. Following the face, this was the second biggest indicator that Blackren’s nastier side was about to emerge.
“Your words are appreciated, sir.” I bowed my head respectfully, grateful that the vocal synthesizer within my mask could hide my nervousness in addition to disguising my voice.
“Though, I have been puzzled by something I hoped you could clear up for me.” His left hand rose and gestured to a screen immediately before us, which activated with a burst of color. After I’d blinked, my stomach dropped to the approximate level of my feet.
Grainy security footage, despite the camera being severely damaged, was still able to display a few moments of the battle that had taken place two days before.
Specifically, when the group of teenage superheroes-in-training known as the Jr. Team had invaded Blackren’s headquarters in an effort to shut down the central control for his robotic army wreaking havoc across the largest cities of the country. The unexpected attack led to the rather ramshackle distribution of villains in Blackren’s employ to combat the intruders. One fight, which the screen now displayed, was between myself and a ninja of the codename Phase.
His real name was Austin Brindoll, and he was my eldest son. Up until that point, he’d been ignorant of my undercover assignment, something that’d been eating away at me for the three years I’d been posing as Miss Moffat. I’d taught him to fight when he was a child, and with my own restrictions within my cover, it had been clear to me at the time that Phase could have easily defeated me, and ruined those three years of work.
So I had turned off my synthesizer to speak to him.
Fortunately, the camera that caught us wasn’t able to pick up audio feed, or I’d have been dead already. What it did pick up was Phase’s suddenly stiffened posture, and the roundhouse kick I’d used to knock him out.
Hurting my child like that, worse than anything I’d ever done when training him, had affected me enough that I moved him out of the way of any other combatants, before running off to supposedly help my fellow villains in their own fights.
I hadn’t stopped to consider that any security cameras were still functioning enough to see that.
“Sparing an enemy on the battlefield is not something I’m opposed to... But it is certainly not something to congratulate, and seems completely out of your usual line of work, Miss Moffat.” Blackren stated, tilting his head to one side as he glanced at me. The inherent question was innocent enough, I suppose, but all the previous signs I’d noticed now screamed at me to be very, very careful with how I handled this.
“My first thought is always to kill my opponents, sir, but in this case your voice of reason prevailed over my instinct.” I spoke slowly, cautiously, still thinking furiously.
“Yes... I recalled your frustration at no longer knowing the location of the Jr. Team children once they received a headquarters not contained within the Houston Center. I placed a tracking device upon my opponent, and attempted to ensure he would survive the battle and lead us to their base.”
The calculating expression of a hunter, debating whether or not something before it was prey, vanished, to be replaced with his usual look of cheerful confidence.
“And has your device sent back location coordinates?” He asked, eyes glinting. Now I bowed my head in a gesture of shame.
“No, sir; the signal vanished about a mile north of the city. I can only assume that the children’s new headquarters has state-of-the-art cloaking shields to guard against just such a tactic.” His annoyance was instant, but brief. Satisfied with my explanation, Blackren dismissed me, and turned to reactivating the screens around his Eye Room. They flickered to life as I walked out, treating me to a few brief images of my son in uniform, and the other teens of the team he was now a member of - all part of the new obsession of Blackren’s schemes.
And that scared me worse than any other dark deed the mastermind had committed.