Sundial Ch.5 Everything Changes-

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Sundial Ch.5 Everything Changes-

Postby Horsenhero » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:40 pm

This story takes place in the World of Freedom Universe as interpreted by Tattooedman and uses characters who appear in his pbp rpg's, specifically Albright Institute. I'd like to thank Tattooedman for allowing me to play around in his 'verse and the players in his games for not killing me for mentioning their characters.

Sean Patrick O'Toole was not a particularly happy young man. It wasn't his normal frame of mind really, but an attitude brought on by the punishment he was currently enduring. At the urging of Dr. Daphne Halperstein he was doing community service at the Freedom City Museum of History. He was a handsome young man of eighteen years with stylishly cut red-gold hair, piercing green eyes and a Calvin Klein model physique. Not quite "heroin chic", but close. He was, without question, one of the more attractive young men at Claremont Academy and without competition, the most stunning looking of his fellow Terminus Radiation infectees at the Albright Institute. His good looks were barely marred by the frown etched into his features as he pulled on the coveralls and yellow safety vest of the museum janitorial staff.

He didn't understand why he had to perform community service. Curt, Rich and Keisha had also been part of the fight against the intelligent, alien insect swarm that had invaded the museum. They weren't stuck performing community service, so why should he be? Nevermind that it was a bad idea to let Richard Dunn, aka Diamond near anything that was remotely breakable. What about Curt? What about big daddy Albright's little princess? Neither of them would accidentally punch holes in battleship plate. No, Curt had his remedial english classes after regular school let out and Keisha was too easily distracted to actually work the drudge job they were offered. The potential Lightbringer made people suffering from ADHD seem like they had world class concentration. At least they hadn't forced him and Melissa Graves, the Terminus mutant codenamed Epitaph to work together. That could only result in homicide or suicide. So it was all on him.

Tossing his wallet, keys and cellphone into the locker he'd been provided he sighed heavily. Underneath the janitorial uniform, he wore one of his costumes and the ever present Sundial harness. The reminders of exactly why he was here and exactly what good deeds would earn you. He thought back to the gorgeous Dr. Daphne as she explained the situation to him. She'd done it while the Ivan's had him dunked in the green jello-like goo he had to float in while they worked on his dial harness. Submerged in the transluscent goop, with a respirator over his mouth he couldn't exactly walk away in frustration or protest. Not that he generally stormed out on Dr. Halperstein. Most times he watched every move she made. He watched her lips when she spoke and made sure to make eye contact often. He watched the way her clothing draped over her dynamite figure and the subtle ways it shifted on her body when she moved. He had the biggest crush a man his age could have on the doctor that poked, prodded and experimented on him like he was the world's biggest labrat. A labrat that could transform into a being of pure solar fire, but a labrat nonetheless. He was so enamored of his torturer, he nearly forgot to be outraged when she told him of the community service.

He sulked all through his orientation, making sure to subject the museum staff to the full force of his trademark cynicism. Not that it mattered, the old man named Mike droned on about sweeping and mopping and buffing the floor with all the enthusiasm of a zombie. It was like getting on the job training from Marvin the Paranoid Android from Hitchhiker's Guide. All he needed was for Mike to turn to him and say "I'm so depressed" and his suspicions about the man would be confirmed. Still, he didn't want to screw up and disappoint his redheaded dream girl, so he paid attention to everything Mike said. Despite the unfairness of it all, he might not have been completely surly about the idea, except somehow the other students at Claremont Academy had found out.

The two days between his orientation and the actual start of his volunteer work were a living hell. Clay Beaudrie and his gang of cronies had made certain to tease him about it relentlessly. Magni Thorsson had laughed, mentioning that Next-Gen never had to clean up after the messes they made. Clay and his troop were malicious, while Magni was simply amused and clueless, but Sean still had to fight down the urge to fry them all. Of course, had he touched the 'dial, Headmaster Summers would have had him cleaning toilets for a month as detention and god knows what Langston Albright would have cooked up. So Sean gritted his teeth and took it the 'nads.

Worse yet, he was totally bereft of the female attention he was used to getting. Jenna had dropped out of Claremont and was being tutored privately. Sean was only slightly jealous of the bazillions of dollars she had and the freedoms that money gave her. Deidre and the rest of her clique had taken to ignoring him, in favor of fawning over Graham, who wasn't even in the damn country! Except for the cute-but-geeky tech chick, who's name escaped him at the moment, but she was mooning over Curt. That was cool. Curt deserved it, he was a good guy. Of course Sean's stalker-in-chief, Ember was still in the hospital, healing from the beating she received at the hands of Rich, Keisha and Mel. He shouldn't miss her at all, but going from having the attention of three gorgeous women to none was doing bizarre things to his self-esteem. The janitors' uniform he was wearing wasn't helping.

Even depressed, he walked with a bit of a strut, he couldn't help it. Sean had swagger. It was who he was. He went to the supply closet and grabbed his cart. Not wanting to spend alot of time returning to the closet, he checked it over thoroughly to make sure he had all the supplies he was going to need for his day. Broom, mop, bucket, spray bottles full of cleaner, rags and extra trash bags for the little trashcans strategically placed around the complex. One by one he checked them off. With a last, derisive snort, he pushed his hair back away from his eyes and stepped out into the museum.

Sweep. Mop. Spray and wipe. Repeat. That was the rhythm of his afternoon. After awhile the whole process became almost zen. Cleaning as meditation. Except for the times he had to dodge a screaming horde of Elementary School kids on a field trip or when he caught the two girls from Freedom City High lighting up a blunt in a back hallway or when the beefy security guard, Julia whistled at his butt. She was as bad as the girls at school, except she could give Sloth a run for his money in the girth department. Except for those things the day was almost meditative. He so wished he had an mp3 player to help him cope with the monotony. If Melissa had shown up with her iPod and offered to loan it to him if he would kiss her feet, he would've been all over her Converse sneakers in a heartbeat. Of course what he didn't realize, but should've with his luck, was that before long boredom would seem like a heavenly state.

Rounding a corner to a display of alien artifacts he saw her. Green hair and a trenchcoat. He was tempted to grin. Diedre come to torment him, probably dressed something scandalous under the trenchcoat. Then he started noticing details. Her hair was too straight and was more of a sea green, a blue-green rather than Deidre's emerald locks. The trenchcoat was kind of ratty too, as if it had been bought at a thrift store and Deidre never did Hobo-chic. Lastly, her feet were bare. The smile died on Sean's lips as the alarm bells in his head started ringing like a five alarm fire.

Not far away...

The hunters moved stealthily through the alleys and by-ways of Freedom City. Even in this highly populated, clean business district, there were shadows to be found if you had the skill. The two hunters did. They regarded one another with disdain bordering on outright hostility, but they cooperated in this task. There mission was to bring back the runaway and that they planned to do. Their masters hadn't specified uninjured, or even necessarily alive, so that gave them latitude. Given their feelings about working together, the hunt would likely end in bloodshed, if simply as a result of their frustration.

The male hunter sniffed the ground, snuffling like a hound or hunting cat, then pointed to the impressive, glassine structure in the distance. The female hunter nodded once, a feral snarl on her lips. They headed off at a lope, violence on their minds.

The Museum...

Sean wasn't the only one to notice the peculiar visitor, Julia for all her rent-a-cop cliche' physique, saw her as well. One hand on her taser, she lumbered over toward where the girl was standing. When the ocean tressed woman shrugged the trenchcoat off revealing a tight, green costume similar to a scuba diver's wetsuit, the guard spoke up.

"Excuse me missy..." Was all Julia could get out before the tanned, lithely muscled girl flicked one arm sideways and a whip formed of water lashed out, knocking her off her feet. "Oof!" Air exploded from the heavy set woman's lungs as she crashed to the floor. Her head lolled back as she lay stunned.

Crap! Sean cursed his luck a hundred times over. "Excuse me gorgeous." He started, holding up his palms to show he was unarmed, when she spun to face him. "Whoa now, there's no need to start breaking things...or people chica."

"I'm not your chica!" She said, holding her liquid whip at the ready.

"No problem." Sean said, keeping his voice steady. "Who exactly are you? If I'm going to talk to you, I can't call you hottie if you're gonna harsh on me for it."

"Riptide, and what makes you think we're going to talk?" She said, for some reason still not lashing out at Sean.

Maybe it was his looks, he thought. It seemed to him, alot of super-women, despite their very vocal decrying of chauvinism, adopted some fairly traditionally male ways of assessing threats. Like a guy, they didn't smack on the pretty if they could help it and Sean was pretty.

"The way I figure it is this; Julia there wouldn't have approached you without hitting the panic button first. Face it, the trenchcoat thing isn't the most clever disguise in all honesty. Anyway, that means the police, probably STAR Squad or maybe even AEGIS is already on their way. Right now we could write this all off as an unfortunate misunderstanding. You were looking for your scuba tour and you thought Julia was a large shark come to eat you. I point you toward the water and you apologize for mistaking the common species Securitus Lardus for a dangerous aquatic predator. We all laugh at our mutual embarassment and go our separate ways...after I get your phone number."

She chuckled at Sean's equivocating. Not loudly, but a little and a little was traction in negotiating. "Why don't I just grab what I came for and flee? Or, if for some reason the police surround the building I could take you hostage."

"Only if you promise to tie me up and do unspeakable things."

Now she laughed out loud. Sure, it was only one, sharp...'Ha!'...but that was one more step. Sean was feeling more confident in turning this around. Studying him, she raised one eyebrow. "Don't I know you? What's your name?"

Now it was Sean's turn to chuckle. His was a low, almost seductive sound. "I don't think we know each other. If we did we'd already be dating. Unless of course you bat for the other team. Tell me you're not into girls...at least not exclusively."

Now she laughed out loud. "You perv!"

"Guilty as charged." Sean said, a sly grin appearing on his face. "My name's Sean, but you can call me...Sean."

"What's that under your shirt Sean?" She was smiling, but her guard was still up and she could see the odd tenting of his shirt the dial harness caused.

"This?" Sean said casually tapping the harness. "It's my nuclear power source. You see, I'm a modern day Pinochio, but instead of waiting for a fairy godmother to turn me into a real boy, I'm waiting on a kiss from a lovely maiden. Do you want the job?"

"You're cute," She replied. "but unfortunately, I have to pick up something and leave. I don't have time to stick around."

Suddenly a loud CRASH! split the air and glass rained down from above. With the glass came a pair of black clad figures. On one side of the water girl landed an animalistic looking man with wicked claws on his fingertips. On the opposite side landed a muscular girl with gruesome, serrated blades strapped to her forearms.

"Oh come on," The woman purred evilly. "stick around Riptide. We wanna play."

Sean cursed his luck again. This was going to get very ugly.


To be continued....
Last edited by Horsenhero on Tue May 28, 2013 9:19 am, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: Sundial: Fire & Water Ch.1 A scent of Brimstone

Postby ClassDunce » Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:28 am

Awesome can't wait for chapter two.
"When they ask how I died, tell them: still angry." - Quellcrist Falconer

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Re: Sundial: Fire & Water Ch.1 A scent of Brimstone

Postby Shock » Thu Mar 14, 2013 10:03 am

I'd say Sean seems to have a thing for bad girls but I don't think he's that exclusive. ;}

I'm just happy to get my character name-dropped in a fun story.

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Re: Sundial: Fire & Water Ch.1 A scent of Brimstone

Postby Horsenhero » Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:00 pm

Thanks. I hope to have part 2 up in a day or two.

And Shock...if it weren't a violation of my rule against unauthorized use of other peoples' PC's, I'd do more than name drop, since I find the Albright group pretty universally kewl. However, I'm uncomfortable even co-opting a player character even so far as a line of dialogue that wasn't run past the creator first.

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Re: Sundial: Fire & Water Ch.1 A scent of Brimstone

Postby Shock » Sun Mar 17, 2013 2:06 pm

Don't hesitate to ask if you feel like it works for your story. I've got no qualms pimpin' out any of my characters ;}

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Re: Sundial: Fire & Water Ch.1 A scent of Brimstone

Postby Horsenhero » Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:43 pm

Shock wrote:Don't hesitate to ask if you feel like it works for your story. I've got no qualms pimpin' out any of my characters ;}


Good to know. I may just take you up on that.

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Re: Sundial: Fire & Water Ch.1 A scent of Brimstone

Postby Horsenhero » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:54 pm

Previously... Sean O'Toole, alias Sundial a patient at the Albright Institute and Terminus Radiation infectee was performing community service at the Freedom City Museum for damages caused by a battle between him and his classmate Richard Dunn, aka Diamond and an alien insect hive mind, when he spotted a suspicious woman lurking in front of one of the displays. He had just confronted the woman, a water controller called Riptide, when the skylight shattered and a pair of super-human assailants confronted them both.

Sean threw himself sideways as the glass rained down to avoid serious injury. Looking back, he saw the stunned form of Julia pelted with debris and he cursed himself. If he were really into this hero thing, he would've covered her, or at least as much of the porcine guard as he could, with his own body to protect her. Unfortunately, he just wasn't quite fully into the mindset of a superhero. Sure, he'd fought the Psions, Paintball and the alien bugs, but he had spent far too long thinking of his abilities as a curse to really adopt the attitude of a guardian of the people, defender of the innocent and so on and so forth. Still, watching the sharp shards slice into the helpless security guard was shocking.

He supposed he was lucky that he hadn't been touched by the cascade of razor sharp glass, but he didn't give it a thought. Instead, he turned his attention to the would be thief and her two assailants. Unlike him, the water manipulator hadn't been thrown off her game at all by the arrival of the pair. Riptide spun away from both attackers, balanced on the balls of her feet like a dancer. As she made the sinuous move, her body seemed to fluctuate, then change. Sean gaped as she transmogrified into a being of pure water. He shouldn't have been surprised, but he was. The enemy on the other hand was completely unfazed. The feline man leapt after her, his clawed hand carving right through her liquid body.

"Hey!" The exclamation was past the young mutants' lips before he could think about it. It wasn't the pithy, smart alecky type of comment he was famous for, but it did succeed in drawing the hunters' attention away from their prey.

Both turned to look at him with slitted eyes and dangerous smiles. Sean kind of expected some sort of statement from them, but the leather clad girl simply did a skip step sideways and launched a spin kick into his gut. With a pained grunt he flew back, bouncing off a display case of Atlantean artifacts, sprawling onto the floor.

"Sean!" Riptide shouted. "Are you allright?"

"Nnf. I'm fine." He groaned. "I blocked the kick with my spleen."

Strong hands flipped him over onto his back, then jerked him to a sitting position by his coveralls. "Who are you...Sean?" The hot, sour breath of the feral man washed over his face.

"He's nobody!" Riptide said, her aqueous lash once more forming in her hand. "Your fight is with me."

Yellow eyes fixed on Sean's green ones. "She likes you skinny, little man. Why?"

Sean tried hard not to grimmace from the rough treatment. Despite all his work outs in the Wreck Room at Claremont Academy and face offs with super-powered foes, he wasn't all that used to being hit. Suppressing a pained gasp, he smiled. "Can't you tell puddy tat? It's my obvious virility."

That earned him a snarl that exposed very, very sharp looking fangs. With an almost casual move, the furred felon tore the coveralls open revealing the 'dial harness. "What's this?"

"I'm not a real boy." Sean said, with as much sincerity as he could muster. "That switch shuts off my nuclear batteries."

The villain named Longclaw's eyes narrowed and he took a tentative sniff of the supine teen. "You smell real enough to me."

Looking past the catlike visage of the man holding him down, Sean could see Riptide and the female attacker circling each other warily, while trying to keep an eye on the activity between the pair of boys. Pinned in the grasp of the wild criminal like he was, Sean couldn't make a grab for the dial, so he kept up his desperate gambit. "Thank you." he smiled. "I'm an early experiment in organic-synthetic engineering AEGIS liberated from the Labyrinth. I've got limited skills and pose no physical danger, so I was given this job. It's always nice to know my construction isn't degrading though."

"Really?" The hirsute hellion grabbed the dial. "So this is your off switch is it?"

"Whoa!" Sean held his hands up opened palmed, mirroring the same action he'd taken with Riptide not five minutes prior. "There's no need to be doing anything rash. Let me go and I won't tell anyone about you."

Riptide allowed her attention to be focused on the exchange between the redhead and Longclaw for too long. She missed the knife wielding, Razorfane pluck an ornate, bronze disc from behind her back. "Peek-a-boo water witch!"

With a flick of the wrist, she launched the disc into Riptide. Arcs of electricity exploded through her liquid body and she screamed. Her fluid form lost control and lashed out uncontrollably causing both attackers to chuckle evilly at the sight. After watching for a moment, Longclaw turned back to Sean, a wicked grin still on his lips. "Well, that was fun and I'm sure you enjoyed watching as much as I did, but it's time for artifical toys to go night-night."

"No!" Sean said, his green eyes wide and his fingers grasping desperately at the clawed hand on the dial.

"Yes." Growled the villain, turning the mechanism.

Click. Click.

"Light 'em up!!" Sean shouted as his fleshly body was consumed in the inferno of his solar form.

Longclaws' scream was loud and harsh as he scrambled back. The howl and hiss from his mouth matched the sizzle and hiss of burning flesh. He stared at Sean dumbstruck.

Popping up into the air, Sean glared at the atavistic villain and sneered. "Please Br'er Bear, don't throw me into the briar patch! You really are an idiot catboy!"

Lurching to his feet, Longclaw lunged at the fiery form of the 'janitor' flailing wildly with his claws. One clawed hand plunged through Sean's blazing body, the fur igniting as it entered.

"Raaaooor!!" The villain screamed, recoiling.

"Like I said...idiot. I'm not on fire brainiac, I am fire! Now let's get down to my favorite part of the program shall we? I call this routine, bad people who make bad choices end up burned...badly!"

While he was busy with his soliloquey, his gaze flicked over to where Riptide struggled to remain standing. She'd transformed back to human form to escape the electric device the knife wielding woman had used on her, but she looked decidedly shaken. Fortunately for her, Razorfane's attention was fixed on Sundial.

The watery thief did let out a weak laugh though. "I knew I recognized you. You're that guy that fragged Paintball at the festival in the park."

"Guilty as charged." Sean didn't want to spend a whole lot of time in group therapy with this gang of thugs though. Well, Riptide maybe, but the other two struck him as decidedly homicidal. Pointing at Longclaw, he unleashed a burst of fire. The villain dodged and ripped a display case from the floor. Charging Sean he swung the faux wooden cabinet with all his might. Sean's flaming form rippled around it and the case broke on the marble tile floor, sending burning pieces everywhere.

"Missed me bitch. Maybe you need corrective lenses. Do they make kitty kat contact lenses?"

Longclaw growled, cradling his singed arm. "I'm gonna kill you so dead kid!"

"Is there any other kind of killing?" Sundial was sure Longclaw couldn't really hurt him and he didn't actually want to do too much damage in return, but the way the crook squinted when he looked at him, he figured the catman had extraordinary senses. Most probably enhanced smell and hearing and sadly for him at this moment...vision. Thrusting his palm outward, a spark flew toward the animalistic fiend, bursting like a brilliant flare inches from his face.

"Ack!" He shouted, reeling away, his hands pressed against his eyes.

Sean laughed. "Ooh, it's Bill the Cat! Come on Bill, let's go for it!" Another burst of fire streamed from his fingertips, but this time the leather clad girl tackled her ally out of the way. A whole diorama of ancient Atlantean homes went up in flames. "Well, that's something I never thought I'd see." Sean quipped.

Spinning toward where his enemies had dodged to, Sean raised both his hands. The sprinkler system picked that moment to activate. The water was no danger to him, but enough of it struck near enough that a cloud of steam plumed up, obscuring his vision, even with his ability to perceive the infrared spectrum.

"Dammit!" He flared even hotter, completely evaporating the water and disintigrating the steam. Those few moments were all the enemies had needed to make their escape. The only other super-human remaining was Riptide and she looked ready to flee herself. "Wait a second! Before you exit stage left, could you tell me what this was all about?"

She looked up at him, her sea green eyes alight with excitement and fear. "The Brimstone House."

"The whoodee-what?"

"The Brimstone House. They are an enclave of malignant sorcerers who believe they are responsible for my powers. I escaped them and they don't like losing property, so they sent those two after me."

"And why were you here?" Sundial continued the interrogation, but he heard sirens in the distance and he knew Riptide would as well.

"Just a job Sean. Just a job." Cocking her head, she listened to the approaching sirens with worry etched on her features. "So, are you going to stop me, or..." She let the sentence fade.

A real superhero would stop her. A real superhero would ignore her looks and the fact that she'd been concerned for him when the other villains attacked. Sean sighed with the sound of crackling tinder. He already knew what his decision was. "Get the heck outta dodge Riptide."

"Thanks Sean! I'd kiss you, but...y'know...fire and water." With that, she rushed toward the bathroom, Sean assumed to flee down the drain in her liquid form.

As the Freedom City Fire Department pulled up, Sean grabbed the dial and suppressed his solar fury, leaving him soaking wet, wearing his black and yellow bodysuit. Looking around at the carnage, he sighed despondently. "It's going to take me all day to get this cleaned up."

The End...for now.

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Re: Sundial: Fire & Water Ch.2 A scent of Brimstone

Postby Horsenhero » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:03 pm

Previously on Sundial...Sean O'Toole, the teen hero known as Sundial was doing community service at the Freedom City Museum of History, when he got involved in a scuffle between the villainess, Riptide and a pair of enforcers from the Brimstone House. Now, in the aftermath of that destructive confrontation, he must deal with the consequences.

Chapter 3- Wet Wiped

Sean sat slumped forward in the uncomfortable chair outside Headmaster Duncan Summers' office. His elbows were braced against his knees and the fingers on his hands interlaced. His head was hung low so his bangs obscured his face from view. He was twiddling his thumbs, trying to ignore where he was and why. It was the monday after the embarassing battle at the museum and he had thought he was going to make it through the day with minimal harassment. He was wrong. Sure, of the students at Claremont he had only told Curt and Rich about his day of community service, but somehow Clay Beaudrie and Deidre Pawlowski had also found out. It wasn't a big mystery how, the story had been all over the news. Print. Television. Internet. Everywhere, and his photo was circulating world wide. He just hadn't figured his classmates for big consumers of the news. Fashion blogs sure. Funny animal videos? You bet, but actual news? Who would've thought?

Still, thanks to choice excerpts of the security footage from the museum ending up on YouTube and KaBoomTube, his actions couldn't be cast in too humiating a light. He'd fought a good fight and thankfully the part where he just let Riptide go hadn't made it onto the internet. Still, Clay had looped the piece of footage showing the leather clad villainess kicking Sean into the display case on his phone and was playing it for anyone who would watch. Sean's side still hurt from that kick. Deidre had been worse though and all she did was walk up at the head of her little gang of thugettes and look him up and down appraisingly. Then she turned away laughing, telling the candy shelled jawbreaker; 'I guess they just needed a better class of hero.' Sean ground his teeth in frustration. Not two weeks ago the emerald tressed diva had practically been swooning over him. The only other student who had acually been around when Sean told his version of the story was Deucalion and Sean was fairly sure he wasn't going to say anything...since he had all of one friend on campus, Carrie Organa, the shapeshifter known as Changeling.

Changeling who coincidentally happened to be in another of the chairs outside the Headmasters' office. The bubbly, blonde was sitting between the surly Francoise Gravois and the cat-girl known as Feline. Sean wasn't quite certain what happened with the girls, but it seemed Changeling was sitting in one of the uncomfortable plastic and steel chairs to referee some disagreement between the two. The disagreement likely involved the other male student waiting for the headmaster. Sean didn't know him, which actually wasn't a tremendous surprise. Sean didn't have personal relationships with most of his classmates and outside of his fellow Terminus Mutants, most of those relationships were barely cordial. Still, the dark haired, swarthy complected youth had a bandage on one arm, so Sean could only guess that the cat-like Feline had been on the prowl for a mate yet again and had gotten either too enthusiastic or a touch upset with the boy. The presence of Francoise probably meant the boy was a friend of hers, maybe even her boyfriend and she had objected to Feline's notoriously less than subtle approach to romance. So they were waiting, just like him to have judgement meted out and detention assigned by Duncan Summers, Headmaster and hangin' judge of the school. Sean just prayed he wasn't the last to be called in. Last was worst and everyone knew it.

He was last, of course. The others departed silently after their meeting with Mr. Summers. Only Changeling stopped for a moment to pass on the word. "The Headmaster says he'll see you now Sean."

Trudging into the office, Sean tried to hold his head high. He'd done the best job he could. He hadn't meant to trash the museum. He hadn't even wanted to be there in the first place. Except for letting Riptide escape, nothing that happened was his fault. As soon as the door shut behind him he froze. Mr. Summers wasn't the only other person in the room.

"Good afternoon Sean. Please...sit." The school Headmaster said almost amiably.

Blindly grabbing for a chair, he managed to snag it on the third try and drag it over to himself. Sean's eyes were locked on the other person in the room. The unexpected party was a woman with white-blonde hair, porcelain white skin and the most symetrically perfect features he'd ever seen. Deidre would swallow her tongue if she saw this woman. And she was tall. Six feet if she was an inch. She was also dressed in a manner so peculiar that had Sean not been privy to the fashion disasters that pervaded the super-human community, he would have been shocked. Her outfit looked almost like that of a Napoleonic era military officer, only done in pastel teal and orange. It was an assault on everything decent and his eyes felt as though they might melt right out of his head.

"So...why did you need to see me sir?" Sean asked, knowing full well that he was headed for the proverbial gallows.

"It's about the conflict at the museum Mr. O'Toole. There are some questions that need to be answered."

Crap! Summers must've seen the footage of Sean letting Riptide escape.

"Of course Headmaster Summers," Sean said reasonably. "I'm more than happy to help, anyway I can."

"Excellent Sean. I can see why Doctor Halperstein speaks so highly of you." Summers said in that manner that was simultaneously enthusiastic and phoney as hell. "So, did you notice anything peculiar about the incident at the museum?"

"You mean besides the attempted robbery and the fight and the trio of unexpected super-human invaders? Not really so much." The smart alec retort was past his lips before he even had a chance to think. Amazingly, all the headmaster said in return was:

"Yes, besides those things."

"Honestly Headmaster I didn't.."

"What about the Thraelian Key?" The mystery woman interrupted. It seemed her manners were more in line with her fashion sense than her looks.

Sean looked at her blankly. "The...what?"

Headmaster Summers glanced at his guest with a look of forebearance. "The Thraelian Key. It's an ancient map of Atlantean origin. A piece of it was on display with the other artifacts where your...extracurricular combat training happened."

Extracurricular combat training? Is that what Mr. Summers was calling it? Okay, Sean could roll with that. It certainly sounded better than 'brawling when you should've been working' or 'trashing the museum'. "I didn't realize ancient Atlantis left behind any maps sir, but even if they did...my flames would've destroyed a paper products."

"It was not on paper." The strange woman interjected. "It was imprinted on a synthetic vellum capable of holding both written and digital information. Primitive to be certain, but durable enough to withstand most flames."

Well screw you too lady, Sean thought. What? His powers were so weak they couldn't vaporized some ancient sheet of plastic? Still, he had no idea who this broad was or why this Thraelian Key was so important, so he schooled his features into a neutral expression. "I'm sorry, I just have no idea what you're talking about."

Summers and the woman shared a disappointed look, which made Sean almost sorry he couldn't help the creepy lady out. "Thank you Sean. I'm sorry we couldn't be of greater assistance Domina Kamea."

The room fell silent as the tall, beautiful, pale woman tapped her lips thoughtfully and Mr. Summers marked something on a paper on his desk. Sean sat still for several more long, uncomfortable minutes before clearing his throat. "So, may I assume you don't need me anymore?"

"Hmm?" Summers looked back up at Sean. "Oh yes. My apologies Sean, you're dismissed. Thank you again."

Walking out of the Headmasters' office Sean just about laughed with glee. He wasn't in trouble! Fantastic! Of course there was the matter of the missing artifact from the museum, but he figured it was either accidentally destroyed in the conflict or Riptide had stolen it for some rich, greedy artifact collector. Either way not his problem. he made it halfway down the hall before a voice suddenly spoke in his ear.

"The Thraelian Key is an interesting piece of history."

Sean practically jumped out of his skin. "Jeezus Pete! Melissa, what in the name of my poor blood pressure are you squawking about?" Sean was grabbing his chest over his heart dramatically.

"The Thraelian Key. It's history is actually quite fascinating."

Sean's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "I have no idea what you're talking about Mel."

"It's Melissa, and yes you do. Headmaster Summers and the woman, who by her appearance, style of dress and name is probably one of the mythical Utopians...and you were discussing it in the Headmasters' office just now." the deathly Terminus Mutant codenamed Epitaph delivered that whole speech with minimal inflection to her voice. Even when she was excited, her vocalizations were so subtle it was easy to mistake her attitude for boredom. Sean knew her well enough to know better. Not that he particularly liked her, or she him, but they knew each other. Terminus Mutants were a small and highly distrusted minority in the super-human community. Even if you couldn't stand each other, you looked out for each other for the simple reason that no one else would.

"How do you know what we were speaking about in the Headmasters' office Mel?" Sean asked cautiously.

"It's Melissa, and I was listening from the air duct."

Sean's eyebrows rose just a little at her deadpan admission of spying on the school's chief administrator. "Creepy. Okay, so we were talking about the Thraelian Key, so what?"

A ghost of a smile pulled at the corners of the Goth girl's mouth. "So, another piece of the Key was stolen a week and a half ago in Emerald City, which leaves one piece in the hands of its' rightful owner...who just happens to live here in Freedom City."

"And I care why Mel?"

"It's Melissa and legend has it that the Thraelian Key, once assembled gives the location of the original home of the Ultimen. More importantly, it is purported to show the location of the lab where the experiment that created the Ultimen was first performed. One could deduce that if the lab were in any semblance of a recoverable state, the secret of the Ultimen's origin would be laid bare."

Sean had leaned against the wall and was fighting back the boredom as Melissa droned on. "So what Mel?"

Melissa frowned at Sean. Surely even he could not this self-absorbed and stupid. "It's Melissa, and the woman who stole the portion of the Thraelian Key from the museum is a criminal Sean. She may have stolen the map for herself or for another criminal, but do you want the secret of creating the most powerful baseline super-humans on the planet falling into the hands of criminals?"

Sean lurched upright, suddenly alarmed, despite his relief and exhaustion. "How did you find all this out?"

Melissa held up her smart phone. "Wikipedia."

Sean smiled ruefully. "The miracles of modern technology ,eh? So this guy with the last part of the map lives in town?"

"Yes he does."

Sean reached into his shirt for the 'dial. "Then I guess I better..."

"We."

"Excuse me?"

"I did the research. There is no way I'm standing aside and letting you do the thrilling part without me."

"Right." Sean said, letting go of the dial. "Well, I can't carry you when I fly and your teleport ability is actually kinda weak, so what do you suggest?"

"We have to borrow a car or something." Melissa stated the obvious.

For a moment the pair stood in the hall considering their options, when a slow smile appeared on Sean's face. "I have just the thing. How are you with motorcycles?"

To be continued...

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Re: Sundial: Fire & Water Ch.3 Wet Wiped

Postby Horsenhero » Sat May 04, 2013 11:08 pm

Chapter 4. The Key to the Kingdom-

Previously on Sundial...In the aftermath of the battle at the museum, Sean is called into Headmaster Summers' office at Claremont Academy. Inside, the headmaster and a mysterious woman question him about the encounter with Riptide and reveal the existence of something called, the Thraelian Key. The Key is an artifact of Atlantean make that is rumored to reveal the secrets behind the creation of the Ultimen. Now, accompanied by another Terminus Mutant, Melissa Graves, codenamed Epitaph he has set out to stop the final piece of the key from being stolen by the villainess.

The gleaming skyscrapers of Freedom City were fading into the background to the east of them as they rushed toward the location of the final segment of the Key. Melissa sat astride Elite's big Ducatti, maneuvering the bike through traffic with an ease that made Sean a bit jealous. Sean himself rocketed along beside her, flying in his fiery form. It wasn't exactly subtle, but his only other option was to ride "bitch" behind his classmate and while he considered himself a modern man, all for gender equality, there were limits to what his ego would allow.

Sidling up as close as was safe, considering he threw off a lot of heat and she was piloting a vehicle fueled by very flammable liquid, he said; "I thought you said this guy lives in Freedom City?"

"He does." Melissa responded, mildly surprising Sean that she could be both loud and monotone simultaneously.

"Freedom City is that way." He said, hooking a thumb back over his shoulder toward the receding metropolis.

"It's a Freedom City mailing address." She replied.

Sean snorted in disgust. "It's the freakin' 'burbs."

Melissa didn't respond verbally, she just eased the big sport bike off an exit ramp onto a northbound road. Sean took a moment to look her over yet again. Her current "costume" consisted of a crisp white shirt and string tie underneath a button down, black cardigan sweater, along with a silver and black plaid, pleated skirt. She also wore black hose that pulled up to just over the knee and black Doc Marten boots. Sean thought she looked like kind of a badass Wedsnesday Addams. Her outfit, coupled with her haunting looks and spooky demeanor amde her one part naughty schoolgirl, one part nightmare fuel. The fiery mutant couldn't help but think the mixed message was purposeful.

Leading him northward, she exited again down a nearly hidden drive, at the front of which was a sign posted that read; Private Road. Not far down the road she was forced to stop. A huge, ornate automated gate along with a guard shack blocked there path. Melissa looked up at Sean with one eyebrow cocked and pointed toward the guard post. It was empty. Sean gave his companion a thumbs up and gained altitude to see if he could see anything, while she climbed off the bike. It took Sean a couple minutes to locate the guard. He was unconscious, shackled with his own cuffs, stuffed under the hedgerows that grew in front of the wall surrounding the property.

Flying back, he told his raven haired partner what he'd found. She barely listened as she peered through the gate, looking for a good egress for her shadow teleport. Unfortunately, the sun was now to the west and the shadows it cast were all eastward, meaning on the wrong side of the gate.

"Problem?" Sundial inquired.

Epitaph shrugged. "I'm going to have to scale the wall. The day has seen fit to circumvent my less physical means of surmounting this obstacle."

"Meh. I think I can do something about that. I'm not Keisha, but I can make a shadow or two. Get ready."

Melissa nodded and a split second later Sean flared brightly, for a split second casting long shadows in the opposite direction. That split second was all Epitaph needed to slip through the shadows and appear on the other side of the gate. As soon as she reappeared, Sean flew over the barrier. After that, it was simply a matter of quickly traversing the acreage to arrive at the house itself. Sean flew high, not worrying about whether he was seen because if anyones' attention was on him, his Catholic schoolgirl, ninja partner would probably go unnoticed.

As he flew toward the house, he noticed there were armed guards in front of the doors. He didn't know Riptide well, but she didn't seem like the hordes of minions type. Maybe her employer insisted she use them...or maybe, this time it wasn't Riptide after this final segment of the key. He supposed it didn't really matter, Riptide or someone else, the theft had to be stopped. He did find it rather cliche' that he and Melissa had arrived just in time. Next thing you know, the henchmen would unload their assault rifles on full auto, in a dramatic but futile attempt to stop him.

Swooping down, he called out "Gentlemen, I highly suggest you..."

That was as far as he got before the duo swung their assault rifles up and opened fire on full auto. A hail of bullets tore through his blazing body, causing his form to ripple where they hit. Sean really wanted to tell them their efforts were futile, but there was no way they were going to hear him over the deafening noise of the guns.

"It's really too bad I'm not well known enough for them to shout, it's Sundial! Get 'im!" He muttered.

Then Melissa was darting out from behind the white columns typical of this sort of greco-roman architecture, her hands glowing blackly. At a touch both gunmen dropped. Looking up at Sundial she frowned. "Subtle."

The solar hero just shrugged. "I'm made of fire, what about that seems the least bit subtle to you?"

With that, he unleashed a powerful; blast of solar fire at the mammoth front doors, bursting them to flaming fragments. Flying down into the foyer, he found more gunmen arrayed against him. "It's Sundial!" A swarthy looking thug yelled. "Get 'im!"

Sean was inexplicably happy they knew who he was.

Watching from behind, Melissa rolled her eyes. "The only way this could get worse is if one of these dolts screams we're no match for him! We're doomed!"

As their bullets melted on impact with the fiery apparition before them, a heavy, balding man bellowed. "The guns don't hurt him! We're doomed!"

Melissa grunted in disgust. "Close enough."

Once again Epitaph slid through the shadows to circumvent the confrontation with the gunmen. They weren't important. They were nothing but a distraction to give the real opponent time to complete their work. Melissa wasn't about to be distracted. Flitting from shadow to shadow, she searched the mansion for her target, only to find them just a couple rooms removed from the firefight at the door.

In a room that looked very much like a library, the mutant who believed herself an agent of destiny found the owner of the home bound to a chair, while a green haired woman in a wetsuit was opening a glass display case.

"Stop right there." Melissa said, her voice sounding ghostly and somewhat bored.

The woman with the sea-green tresses looked up and frowned. "Stay out of this and it will be over in moment. No one needs to get hurt." Looking over at the slightly roughed up collector, she amended. "No one needs to get hurt worse than they have been."

"I'm afraid that isn't..."

Sundial exploded through the door. "STOP RIGHT THERE!"

Melissa pinched the bridge of her nose to quell the incipient headache. "I've done that part Sundial."

Riptide smiled for a moment. "Sean! I'm glad to see you're okay."

The Goth heroine looked toward Sean, her eyebrow cocked again.

"What?" Sundial exclaimed somewhat defensively.

"Was there something about your confrontation with this criminal you left out of your report Sean?"

"No! Well...maybe a little, but it isn't anything you need to know...and you're not the boss of me anyway!"

Riptide took advantage of the distraction to quickly snap a picture of the item in the display case with the smartphone integrated into her costumes' wristband. The action was quick, but it caught Epitaph's attention. "Oh no you don't"

The distaff spectral hero launched herself at her aqueous prey only to crash into a bookshelf as the woman slithered out of the way. Riptide lunged for the object she was hired to procure. Sundial fired a dazzling flare across her field of vision causing her to reel back.

"Sorry cute thing, but I can't keep letting you swipe peoples' stuff. First, it doesn't belong to you and second...actually, first covers all the important bases."

Riptide didn't repond, she simply lashed out at Sean with the same watery whips she'd used at the museum. In a flash of steam, they evaporated when they struck Sundials' flaming form. Then she felt her legs fly out from under her.

Epitaph had recovered from her impact with the wooden shelf and swept her ankles with a graceful spin kick. Sundial couldn't restrain himself. "You know Melissa, maybe you should wear britches for stuff like this. I can totally see your little spanky pants when you get all acrobatic in the skirt."

"Duely noted." Melissa said in a tone that meant shut up. "Now do you think you could lend a hand here?"

Riptide in the meantime had rolled away from Melissa's follow up strike and hopping up to her feet blasted away with a pressurized stream of water like a fire hose. Epitaph cartwheeled out of the way, leaving a display cabinet to be shattered instead.

Sundial sighed, as much as he would like to see the catfight in all its' glory, this bit of rough housing could easily get out of hand. As he watched the two super-powered women trade blows, he moved into position and blasted Riptide full power.

"AAAAHH!!" She screamed and erupted into a cloud of steam.

"Henh. Well that wasn't so hard." He said, looking around.

Melissa glared at him, rubbing her sore ribs. "I hate you Sean. I hope you know that. Now power down before you set this nice gentleman's home ablaze."

"Right. Love you too." Landing, Sean twisted the glowing Sundial on his chest.

*ClicK*

*Click*

And his fire remained. "Oh...that's not good." He said fiddling with the dial. Finally, his flame began to sputter and flicker and with great protest, went out.

It was then he heard the owner howl; "Look what you heathens have done to my home!"

Sean and Melissa looked around at the, soaked, scorched and shattered cases in the room. Sundial scowled at the mess.

Yeah. There was more detention in his future.

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Re: Sundial: Fire & Water Ch.4 The key to the Kingdom-

Postby Tattooedman » Sun May 05, 2013 1:26 am

Totally enjoying this story HH, and looking forward to seeing what else you have planned.

Also like Richards and Susan's stories, I've posted links to Sean's in my Story Hour for those who like to keep track of such things.

Keep up the good work!
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Re: Sundial: Fire & Water Ch.4 The key to the Kingdom-

Postby Horsenhero » Sun May 05, 2013 6:04 am

Well, by necessity this chapter 4 was a little truncated, still it sets up the next phase in Sean's adventures outside the rpg. Of course, between chapter 4 and chapter 5, there's the interlude in the game thread that I need to write, since that will change Sean's world somewhat dramatically.

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Re: Sundial: Fire & Water Ch.4 The key to the Kingdom-

Postby kirinke » Sun May 05, 2013 6:52 am

Snarky, sarcastic and totally Sean. I like it.

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Re: Sundial Ch.5 Everything Changes-

Postby Horsenhero » Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:26 pm

Chapter 5: Everything Changes-

Previously on Sundial...Sean O'Toole accompanied by Melissa Graves, his classmate, the heroine known as Epitaph work together to prevent the theft of the final part of the Thraelian Key. Successfully defeating the villainess for hire, Riptide, the pair feel they've succeeded. Unfortunately, once again Sundial's efforts cause property damage, resulting in detention. What happens next changes the path of Sean's life.

*Note: This story first appears as an interlude fiction in Tattooedman's "Albright Institute" pbp game.


Dr. Daphne Halperstein leaned over Earl's shoulder to look at the read outs on the monitor. She bit her lip and her brow furrowed in concern. On almost any other occasion, with almost any other man, the proximity to her lush figure and super-model looks would have been distracting. Several times there had been lab accidents and near disasters because either Kumiko or Earl had been watching their boss instead of concentrating on the task at hand. Today, despite the potentially mesmerizing presence of the red headed scientist, nobody was the least bit distracted.

"Are you certain about these readings Earl?"

"You betcha boss. Even with all the hubbub caused by Mr. Mist and Foxbat, Kumiko and I got a real good diagnostic in."

Daphne rubbed at her eyes and sighed. "Damn. I'd hoped things wouldn't go this route, but the evidence has been pointing this way for a long time. How bad is it?"

Earl looked over his shoulder at his superior with his always serious expression. "I'd tell you to alert both Mr. Albright and the school, but that's unneccessary. Kumiko is gearing up the Mark V containment unit as we speak."

Daphne Halperstein spent a couple minutes studying the test results, absently tapping her index finger against her lips. "His condition is rapidly changing. The Mark III unit won't contain him long and at this rate of...evolution," Daphne carefully avoided the word mutation and all the negative images it conjured up. "he'll leapfrog the Mark IV's limits within hours. Tell Kumiko she did the right thing."

Standing up, Dr. Halperstein smoothed her labcoat with one delicate hand. "Well, I guess I have some phone calls to make. Do we know where he is today?"

From behind the high density, carbon alloy barrier that shielded the workshop from the rest of the lab, Kumiko's voice piped up. "Detention. Where else? There was that thing about convincing Melissa to steal a motorcycle, then burning up some rich dudes' house."

A slight smile tugged at the corners of Daphne's mouth. "Oh yes, I'd forgotten."

At the door to the lab, she hesitated. "Kumiko, does the Mark V still have your...special touch?"

"It looks totally heroic 'n' stuff...so, yeah."

The lead scientist shook her head and groaned. "He's going to love that."

*************************************************************

Sean looked at himself and snorted in disgust. Once again, in less than a month, he found himself wearing a flourescent yellow safety vest. At least this time he got to wear his normal clothing instead of some dumpy coveralls. Detention again. He really didn't get it. Melissa returned Elite's bike without so much as a scratch and the mini-mansion had been a total accident. Yet somehow, Epitaph avoided detention and he was saddled with the blame. Rich never got detention for accidentally smashing stuff and Keisha was the worst offender of the student body, not to mention Student Body, yet she never got detention. It was patently unfair.

Worse still, he was stuck in detention with William Polzysky and Eric McGuit. Tag and Sloth had finally been spotted taunting poor Deucalion by Ms. Harcourt. Somehow Clay Beaudrie had managed to not get caught, but as far as Sean was concerned that was just as well. Now, the three of them were out at the Groundskeeper's shack, getting kitted up to police the grounds, which was just a fancy way of saying pick up trash. Working with the pair of deficients was going to be challenging enough without having to deal with the ringmaster of their little bully sideshow. Sean figured he had a fifty-fifty chance of getting through the day without earning more detention by frying their useless butts.

"Choo lookin' at somethin' fire boy?" The diminutive Eric suddenly and aggressively asked.

Sean simply shook his head to the negative and declined to reply.

"Good." Sloth said, backing up his partner in delinquency. Smacking one fist into a meaty palm, he snarled, his little piggy eyes gleaming menacingly. "Cuz I'd hate t' hafta mess up that girly grill o' yers...umm...fire boy!"

Sean almost smiled. Sloth could be scary as heck, but his intimidation always ran out of steam when his imagination failed him. Still, Sean was well aware either of the young men with him could hurt him pretty badly while he was human. Egging them on wouldn't be the best of ideas. they both knew he had to turn the Sundial to release his powers and Sloth could easily restrain him while Eric, little pansy that he was, beat the holy crap out of him. With that in mind, Sean just kept quiet, grabbed his trash bag and ambled out onto the grounds. The other two came out a short time later, William looking just a tad ridiculous, since the largest safety vest available was comically small on his huge frame.

In the distance Sean caught sight of three of his classmates, Susanna Challenger, Liz Alexander and Nate Collins playing what looked to be a really athletic game of tag. As usual, Susanna was being pursued and her classmates were the pursuers. Despite not having any 'super-powers' whatsoever, the jungle girl was avoiding her fellow students ably. All three were laughing and yelling at each other, having a grand old time. Sean looked at his yellow vest and snorted in frustration at the injustice of it all.

************************************************************

The van from the Albright Institute pulled up in front of the school to find Mr. Ross waiting. Dr. Halperstein stepped out of the passenger side, while Earl put it in park and turned to Kumiko who was riding in the back, babysitting the Mark V containment unit.

"Dr. Halperstein, " The big man said, stepping up. "it's always a pleasure to see you. Your call sounded somewhat urgent. What can we do for you?"

Daphne shook Mr. Ross's hand in a distracted manner. "Where's Sean O'Toole? It's imperative we reach him soon."

"Sean is serving out his latest round of detention. I swear we ought to make that an accredited course for him. Anyway, what's so important?"

Looking around, Dr. Halperstein noticed their arrival had caught the attention of more of the students than she was comfortable with. "Perhaps we should discuss this in private Mr. Ross."

Following her gaze, the guru of the Doom Room nodded. He was aware of the stigma being a Terminus Mutant carried, even here among other super-powered youths. More than one of their students had a relative or family friend who'd died or been crippled or driven mad during Omega's invasion of earth. An emergency involving an infectee could justify that stigma in the minds of some.

"Let's go to Headmaster Summers' office shall we?" He rumbled as nonchalantly as he could.

"Excellent idea. Kumiko, Earl grab the gear and let's go." As she turned to follow Mr. Ross, her assistants carried a large crate on a hand truck behind her. Not far away, Betsy Barclay watched with a malicious gleam in her eyes. As soon as the adults were inside, she spun on her heels and sprinted toward the grounds.

Shortly, Dr. Daphne Halperstein, Kumiko and Earl found themselves inside the relative privacy of the Headmaster's office speaking with Mr. Summers and Mr. Ross. Daphne launched into a quick explanation, which resulted in puzzled expressions on both men's faces.

"I don't understand, I thought Sean was a fire powered kid?" Mr. Ross said, rubbing his chin.

"Solar powered." Dr. Halperstein corrected.

"Right." Duncan Summers said. "The difference being what, exactly?"

Daphne ran a hand through her auburn locks as she considered how to best answer the Heamaster. Before she had the chance Kumiko spoke up. "Simple teach. Sean is powered like the sun, not a furnace or a flamethrower."

Mister Ross was obviously still confused and held up a finger to draw the technician's attention to him. "I'm sorry, but doesn't the sun produce heat and flame like O'Toole does?"

Daphne shook her head, an action that despite her obvious anxiety, still distracted both men. "Not precisely Mr. Ross. A sun...any star really, is a self-sustaining, cosmic nuclear reactor. The most noticeable effect is intense particle ionization which results in light and heat, but there is much more involved."

The headmaster was no longer distracted. "Sean is nuclear?"

"Yes, and his mutation is progressing. Initially, he simply threw off light and heat, but now his fission-fusion-fission reaction cycle has accelerated to the point he's producing radiation."

"Doesn't the harness he wears stop that?" Mr. Summers asked, forcing himself to remain calm, analytical.

"The Mark III Sundial harness isn't designed to cope with a full nuclear cycle. When Sean's mutation was simply hydrogen ignition the harness was sufficient, but once he reached the point of actual fission, the efficacy of the harness began to suffer. We've already seen him struggle to regain his corporeal form after the incident with Mr. Mist and Melissa and Sean both reported a malfunction of the harness in the aftermath of the battle with Riptide. It isn't the harness malfunctioning though, it is simply that the mechanism isn't designed to cope with what Sean is becoming."

Kumiko added in cheerfully. "Never fear though, for we are awesome and have a solution."

Mr. Ross frowned. "If his current harness fails before we get to him, how bad could it be?"

Earl stared at him with a look of condescenscion. "An uncontained nuclear fire? I thought you lived at a school?"

***********************************************************

For the most part the day had gone smoothly. Sean avoided Sloth and Tag and they seemed content to just gossip with one another. Right up until Betsy Barcal showed up.

"Hey firebug," She said, her voice dripping with sarcasmand loathing. "your mommy from the institute for the terminally lame showed up at school."

"What?" Sean was normally far more ready with a comeback, but he'd been lost in his own little zen moment and thus unprepared for the verbal assault.

"Yeah, apparently as a Terminus Mutie you're about to become a danger to all mankind or something. I saw 'em offload a coffin to stick you in."

Sloth and Tag stopped their gossiping and chimed in. "I knew it!" The big teen crowed. "Yer a freakin' villain! They's gonna throw you in a hole so deep yer cornhole will look well lit by comparison!"

Eric grinned. "A coffin huh?" Figures. That's about right for dead weight."

Sean rolled his eyes and turned away. Even if Betsy was right about someone from the institute coming here, she was full of crap about the reason.

Sloth's ham-sized fist closed around Sean's arm suddenly. "Dontchoo turn away dweeb. That's no nice t'ignore a lady! Mebbe i'ma hafta learn you sum manners."

"Or maybe you is gonna hafta learn you sum english. Let go of my arm Billy-boy, before you regret it."

Betsy lunged forward and grabbed Sean's other wrist before he could make a grab for the dial. "Now what're ya gonna do punk?"

Anger welled up in Sean. He knew he was helpless and that impotent rage exploded within him. Then he just exploded.

His trio of tormentors screamed. Moments later he joined them.

***************************************************************

Headmaster Summers was reaching for the intercom button on his desk to have the secretary summon Sean to the office wheb it crackled to life. "Mr. Summers...we have a problem."

The scientist and her assistants looked at one another, a sudden feeling of foreboding gripping them.

"There has been an explosion out by the Groundskeeper's Shed." The secretary reported. "Students were seen in the area."

Daphne wasted no time. "Kumiko, Earl, grab the dampers and the Mark V. Mr. Ross, we need to locate Richard Dunn. He's one of the few people present who could get close to Sean right now."

*************************************************************

Sean was a ball of fire and he raged uncontrollably. Despite his rage at Sloth, Tag and Jawbreaker, he rocketed to a tree, consuming it in his flames. His body was gone. He was only the fireball. In moments the tree was consumed and he roared on to the next one. Betsy, her hardcandy flesh charred by the raging flames, still had enough presence of mind to try to drag Tag and Sloth away, just in case the giant fireball turned back toward them. Her maliciousness burned away by the unexpected eruption, she felt nothing except fear and adrenaline. Even the rush of adrenaline wasn't enough to completely stave off her injuries and she fell to one knee.

"I've got you Betsy." A determined, feminine voice said as strong arms wrapped around her. She looked back to see Susanna Challenger. Liz Alexander hoisted both William and Eric, pulling them away from her weakening grip as Susanna cradled her.

Looking at the massive, destructive fireball Sean had become, Liz spoke grimly. "We've got to get these three out of here."

With that, they retreated toward the main building. Meanwhile Nate Collins wreathed himself in fire of his own and dove toward the out of control mutant. "Hang on Sean! I've got you!"

It wasn't meant to be though. Even sheathed in fire, the energy Sundial was throwing off seared the young hero called Firepower. "Aaargh! Dammit!"

Nate retreated and watched. He was repelled by Sean's power, but not defeated. There had to be a weakness or advantage he could exploit. He just had to figure out what it was.

"I've got it!" He exclained after watching the fireball envelope another tree.

"Got what?" It was Susanna Challenger, alias Zarana, returned.

"He's out of control. He just goes from flammable object to flammable object. He's become a living wildfire!"

"Allright. I know how to keep him out of trouble then. I saw some instructors with some science-types, so maybe they've got a plan to stop him. Until then, I've got this." That said, she ran into the Groundskeeper's Shed and grabbed a 5 gallon gas can.

Dashing out in front of the fireball, the jungle heroine whistled. "Come on boy! Here's some nice, yummy gasoline! All you gotta do is catch me!"

The ball of fire surged toward the young hero, but she flipped out of the way acrobatically, landing a short distance from where the huge sphere scorched the earth. Laughing, she bolted toward the open ball fields. The fireball was hot on her tail.

The game of cat and mouse went on for several minutes, Susanna's training and atheticism barely keeping her out of the way of the RV sized sphere. She was tiring though and knew soon, she'd have to sacrifice her bait to her pursuer or be consumed in the blaze along with the fuel.

Then, out of the sky, Shimmer and Diamond dove into the raging orb, each carrying what looked like a basket full of steel wool. Flares shot from the sphere of fire and it flickered from white to blue to orange to red, then with a whoomph like a propane stove being shut off, it vanished. On the ground, slightly scorched from their ordeal, pressing to halves of a latticework globe, filled with some sort of fibers together, were Diamond and Shimmer. The two teens looked at each other, coughed once and shared a weak high five.

Richard Dunn, the heroic youth codenamed Diamond groaned. "Yeah...we should've expected that. It's very Albright."

Liz patted the glowing, latticework containment/capture orb. "That's too bad. I only talked to your friend a couple times, but he seemed like an allright guy. Kinda cute too."

********************************************************

Sean regained consciousness in Dr. Halpersteins' lab. "Ugh. I feel like death warmed over."

Not far off, the auburn haired beauty turned toward him. "Don't move yet Sean. We have a couple tests to complete first."

"Of course you do. Hey, how come my voice sounds so funky?"

"I'll explain in a minute. Please lie still. Everything is just fine." Which Sean knew from experience meant it wasn't.

After a few minutes at her instrument panel, Dr. Daphne tucked one errant lock of hair back behind her ear and walked over to Sean. "Okay, before I open up your restraints, we have some things we need to discuss. For now...just listen."

And he did. he listened with growing horror as Dr. Daphne explained his continuing mutation, his rampage at the school, his new containment unit. He listened as she explained he wasn't human anymore, except in the remotest sense of the word and things were only going to get worse. He looked at his new hands, the hands of the Mark V containment unit, which was a complete, humanoid mannequin his energy form powered. He walked to a mirror to look at himself, all gleaming red and gold. No face. Just a glassine faceplate in a golden helmet.

Oddly enough, the Sundial was still in the middle of his chest, but now, instead of turning his powers on and off, it acted like a power meter, allowing his allies to make sure his powers were at manageable levels. Staring at himself all he could say was; "I have a fin on my head."

Kumiko piped up from behind her workshop wall. "I designed your body to be striking, in a super-badass-dude way."

"I have a fin on my head."

"No, you have a badass fin on your head."

"And I have yellow pants."

"Actually dude, you have gleaming, golden legs. You don't need pants as such." Kumiko sounded way too chipper. Sean on the other hand was finding himself feeling very synpatico with Richard. "Your containment unit...your body...is a special polymer and alloy construct on the outside, with vents and emitters built in to allow you to use your powers. The Sundial mannequin will allow you to control your powers and thus, your...you."

Sean stared at the alien being reflected in the mirror. Everything would be different now.


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