Non-Canon 2 - Harper as Avalon's Roommate (Heretical Edge)

“Dude! We’re totally gonna get superpowers by squishing some bugs!” With that excited announcement, Harper Hayes bounced up and down happily in front of her roommate, Avalon Sinclaire. It was the fourth day of classes there at Crossroads, and the first time the first year students were being put to the test. Not that it was that much of one. They were simply supposed to go, as pairs, into a room with a couple poodle-sized cockroaches called Peridles and kill them. The idea was that they would get the basic idea of killing Strangers, feel what absorbing their power felt like, and get a bit of regeneration so the teachers could safely be a bit rougher with them in training. All by killing something suitably unhuman-like to avoid any hesitation.

Avalon, for her part, regarded her roommate impassively. “Hayes,” she replied in a flat voice, “if you don’t calm down and focus, you won’t be killing anything. They won’t let you go in there if you don’t take it seriously.” How she had been given the unbelievably hyper Harper Hayes as a team-and-roommate, Avalon was pretty sure she would never understand.

Well, yes she would. The answer was that her other two female teammates, Sands and Scout, were twins. There was no way they wouldn’t be roommates. Which meant that unless she was paired with one of the guys on the team, Columbus or Sean, Harper was the default choice.

Also, she was pretty sure that her adopted mother, Headmistress Gaia Sinclaire, was hoping Harper’s enthusiasm and cheerfulness would rub off on her. And she did have to admit, there were worse people to be stuck with. Like Summer Banning, a girl on one of the other teams who had already made a name for herself as someone who loved to gross people out with pranks and morbid jokes. Being her roommate, the way Aylen Tamaya was, would have been hell.

Harper had slowed her bouncing down, though she hadn’t stopped entirely. “I know, I know,” she insisted, still unable to stop grinning. “But seriously, dude. Superpowers. Like Wolverine. We’ll have super-healing, just by squishing some overgrown bugs. Isn’t that--wait.” Her head tilted. “Someone said you’ve already been to that other Heretic place. What was it? Eve’s Garden?”

The question drew more stares from the people around them. Not that they hadn’t already been staring, but still. Avalon grimaced inwardly before counting to three in her head. “Eden’s,” she corrected her Bystander-Kin roommate. “Eden’s Garden. And yes.” She said that part louder, for everyone who was not-so-subtly eavesdropping to hear. “I used to go to Eden’s Garden.” She wasn’t ashamed of that, and she wouldn’t hide or deny it. Otherwise she would have had her Garden tattoo removed. That place was part of who she was. Fuck people who couldn’t deal with that.

“Well,” Harper pushed on, apparently oblivious to any of those looks, “does that mean you already have powers? I mean, someone else said those guys start a lot earlier. So can you fly? Or shoot lasers out of your eyes? Or--”

Sighing, Avalon shook her head and interrupted. “No, Hayes. I don’t do any of that. I--they train us to fight, and I’ve had a couple…” She hesitated briefly. “I’ve killed a few things that give me a couple minor… physical boosts. Nothing too big or flashy. And--”

Then she stopped. Because she did have another power, a ‘flashy’ one. The power she’d inherited from Torv when she--when he’d forced her to--when he had--

“And that’s it,” she finished pointedly. She wouldn’t use Torv’s power, so there was no point in bringing it up. And she sure as hell wasn’t going to get into where it had come from. That was none of Hayes’ business, or anyone else’s. Thinking about the events that had led to her being cast out of Garden, the best home she’d ever known, and sent here to Crossroads hurt too much. It was only a few months ago that she’d been forced to kill her best friend in self-defense after he had grown completely obsessed and attacked her.

Thankfully, before she had to dwell on that any longer (and before Harper could ask any more questions), Professor Katarin called them up to the door. It was their turn to go into the room and kill a couple Peridles, now that Flick Chambers and her own roommate, Rebecca Jameson, had finished.

Good. After the past few minutes and the direction her thoughts had gone, Avalon could use a little cathartic bug-squishing

She just wished there was more than one of the damn things.

********

That was it. Avalon was going to turn her room upside down and figure out where someone had hidden a monkey’s paw. Because her ‘wish’ had come true. There were ‘more of the damn things.’ It turned out that the entire little exercise had become a trap, as the room was filled with the Peridle creatures, with a sign on the wall calling her an Eden’s Garden whore. Whoever it was had wanted to kill her. And had been strong enough to keep Katarin and other teachers locked out of the room for at least a little while so they could let the Peridles make the attempt.

But the attempt had failed. Avalon was still alive. And so was her roommate, thankfully. Avalon may not be sure how she felt about the overly-peppy girl, but she didn’t want her dead.

Actually, Harper had even managed to help somewhat. The gauntlets the pink-haired girl had been given just a couple days before allowed her to create various types of grenades with effects such as freezing things or burning them. Somehow, she had tripped over the idea of using sonic grenades, which had interfered with the Peridle’s low-frequency/infrasonic communication, which was what linked them and allowed the creatures to work as efficiently as they did in groups. The ones that Hayes had managed to hit with those sound-blasting grenades had stopped being nearly as dangerous and were easily picked off.

It was almost certainly pure luck that the girl had happened to, in her panic, throw those particular explosives. But Avalon wasn’t going to complain. Luck or not, Hayes had helped. She wasn’t entirely sure how things would have gone without that.

Now, after a long discussion with Gaia, Katarin, the Bow Street Runner investigator Tribald Kine, and the Stranger Truths teacher, Professor Pericles, Avalon was headed back to her room. They all wanted to know everything she knew about who had tried to kill her. So she’d told them what she could. Not that there was much to go on. Her own father would definitely try to kill her, but there was no way a vampire could sneak around this place. The best suspect would be someone working here on Eden’s Garden’s behalf.

In any case, they’d definitely try again. But Avalon would be ready. She’d--

“Wow, that was intense!” Suddenly, Harper was there, literally jumping to join her. “Pretty crazy, huh?”

“Crazy…” Avalon echoed dubiously before turning to look at the girl. “You’re okay then.” And indeed, her roommate seemed perfectly fine, as if she hadn’t just nearly been killed by an army of giant cockroaches a few hours earlier.

“Well,” Harper replied with what, for her, was a fair amount of seriousness. “it was scary. That’s what I told those guys back there. I think I almost peed myself. But I was safe, cuz you were there.” Her head bobbed up and down quickly. “I would’ve died without you.”

“You wouldn’t have been in danger without me,” Avalon corrected pointedly. “That trap was set for me, not you. If you weren’t my roommate, you wouldn’t be in danger at all.”

“But then someone else would’ve been in danger,” Harper easily replied, stretching her arms out into an exaggerated shrug. “And that would’ve been bad. Besides, everything turned out okay, right? We killed some of the things-I mean, you killed most of them. But I got a few! And now the teachers know there’s some crazy wannabe assassin running around. So they’ll find him. Or her.”

“And you still want to sleep in the same room as me?” Avalon couldn’t keep the incredulousness out of her voice. She’d expected the Bystander-raised girl to head for the hills after something like that. Maybe there was more to this Harper Hayes than she’d first thought.

“I sure hope so,” the girl herself brightly retorted, “that’s where all my stuff is!” With that, she half-doubled over, giggling at her own joke.

For a moment, Avalon just stared at her, mouth opening and shutting. Then she shook her head, turning to head for their room. “Fine,” she managed. “Let’s go then. But if you decide you want to switch rooms, I get it.”

“Don’t worry, Avalon!” Harper was right beside her, still grinning and bouncing with each step. She was practically skipping. “Whatever happens, I’ve got your back.

“After all, that’s what roommates are for!”

********

Quietly humming a silly song to herself as she hunched over one of the tables in the library the next day, ‘Harper Hayes’ appeared to be entirely engrossed in her homework. There were several books spread out around her, and the girl was chewing on the end of a pencil thoughtfully in between scribbling answers and notes into a notebook. Every once in awhile, she would either make a noise of delight as she apparently figured something out, or a groan of confusion when it seemed to be too difficult. So intent was she on this work, sitting alone in the back of the library, that the girl didn’t notice the figure moving stealthily up behind her.

Or so it seemed.

The quiet figure moved right behind the humming, murmuring student. Just as ‘Harper’ lifted her head, making a sound of confusion while starting to turn, two hands caught hold of her head. And in the next moment, the stealthy figure vanished, possessing her abruptly.

Okay, little girl, Charmeine declared immediately inside her head, time to take a little nap.

But I’m not tired, came the flat, impassive response. It was the voice of someone who was not the least bit surprised by the situation, let alone intimidated or afraid. It was the voice, in fact, of someone who had been entirely prepared for this.

In fact, the same voice continued just as casually, I think you’re the one who’s tired. So why don’t you take a nap?

What-- That single word was as far as Charmeine managed to get, before she felt the walls start to close in. In a sudden panic, she tried to call for help through the constant connection she was supposed to have with Manakel. But there was nothing. She was cut off, somehow. It was impossible, but it had happened.

And then it wasn’t just her connection to Manakel that went dark, but the whole world.

******

With a gasp, Charmeine jolted awake. She was back in her own body, somehow, suddenly sitting up in a metal chair that had been bolted to the floor. Her arms and legs were bound to it by magically-reinforced chains that rattled a bit as she moved. Instantly, the Seosten woman triggered her boost, trying to rip the chair out of the floor and/or herself out of the chains. But they held firm, keeping her trapped there even as she spat out a Seosten curse and looked around frantically. Not that here was much to see. The room she was in was dark, save for a pool of light around her. The floor appeared to be made of stone, and she couldn’t see the walls.

“Now, now,” a voice scolded, “is that really the kind of language you should be using?” The words were accompanied by a figure who stepped out of the shadows to stand in front of her.

It was the girl, Harper. Except not. Even as Charmeine stared in confusion, the ‘girl’ grew several inches. Her hair grew out from pigtails into a couple tight braids, turning more blonde than pink. Other bits of her face shifted, revealing a form instantly recognizable to the trapped Seosten.

“Guinevere!”

“Hey there, Seosten,” the former queen of Camelot replied, her voice deceptively light. “How ya doing?”

Charmeine’s mind was racing. If the supposedly clueless roommate of Avalon Sinclaire was actually Arthur’s wife, then--then… what did that mean? She snarled, jerking again at her bonds. “If you think these can hold me for long, or save you when the others track us down… Which they’ll be doing after you cut off my connection to them, like some kind of--”

“Cut it off?” Gwen echoed before giving a light, airy chuckle. “I didn’t cut it off. I just transferred it. The second you possessed me, I shifted the link to your partners from you to me. I mean, the spell I was writing on that notebook did. Shifted the link to myself, but they think I’m you. And it lets me send them whatever thoughts or images I want. Right now, they think we’re walking through the hall. Manakel’s really anxious for you to get busy though. Something about Harper’s roommate? Yeah, I can’t really press him for details without giving away the game. But that’s okay. Now that you’re awake, I can ask you all the questions I want.”

Another series of curses burst from the dark-skinned Seosten woman. “If you think I’m about to answer anything of you, Widow Queen, I’ve got some bad news for you. I wouldn’t even tell--”

Someone else in the room cleared their throat. As Charmeine’s gaze snapped that way, the pool of light she was in expanded to reveal a man sitting in a nearby chair. He’d been there the whole time, shrouded in darkness.

He, like Guinevere, was instantly recognizable. Even more so, for the Seosten.

He, unlike Guinevere, instantly terrified her.

“M-Michael,” Charmeine managed, voice cracking as the name escaped her. Because, capable and confident as she might have been, the woman harbored no illusions when it came to her chances against a member of the Dyeusai, what the Bystanders knew as archangels. The Dyeus traitor could erase her from existence with a single flick of the wings he hadn’t yet bothered to manifest. He was a level far beyond her, far beyond almost anything on this planet.

He said nothing in response to the stammered name. Made no acknowledgment and no threat. At least, no explicit one. Instead, the man simply sat back a bit in his chair, crossing one ankle over another as he watched silently. Content, for the moment, with the revelation of his presence.

“Now,” Gwen continued as if they hadn’t been interrupted. “Like I said, I have some questions. First, what exactly are you all doing here? Why are you trying to kill Avalon Sinclaire? What do you want from her? And lest I have to play twenty questions, do try to be specific. After all, no one likes a story without enough details.”

Faced with little choice, Charmeine gave one last glance toward the dangerous man sitting patiently (but not too patiently) nearby before heaving a sigh as she started to explain. She told them the truth, because she knew Michael would check and find out if she lied or held things back. Loyal as she was to her people, Charmeine had no interest in dying anytime soon. A thought that was reinforced every time she started to hesitate, only to notice the archangel shift slightly in that chair. He never spoke, instead simply moving enough to draw her attention so she would push on quickly.

Finally, once the Seosten woman had finished and fallen silent, Gwen turned away from her to look at Michael. “Descendant of Bosch? You think there’s anything to that spell they’re looking for?”

“I would count on it,” the man murmured before finally rising from his seat. “You had another question for her.”

“Yeah.” Gwen turned back to Charmeine. “I know the Empire has someone looking for Arthur’s bones. You’re going to tell me who it is, and how to find them.”

“I don’t--” Charmeine started, before hesitating. “Look, I don’t know exactly what that whole situation is, okay?” Her eyes flicked to the man behind Gwen before moving back to the woman herself. “They keep us separated into cells. That’s not part of my thing. But I heard--I’m pretty sure Mercury has something to do with all that. You want to find out anything, talk to him.”

“Who’s he possessing now?” Gwen demanded with a glare. “I mean, who is he enslaving?”

“I don’t know.” The response was emphatic. “Manakel might--probably does.”

“Good.” Michael chose that moment to speak up, his attention on Gwen. “Then we’ll just have our new friend here play this out. Act like she’s getting close to this Sinclaire girl to buy time, and use that to probe Manakel for what he knows about Mercury. Shouldn’t be hard to come up with a reason to draw him into this, if the Empire is that worried about the spell in that vault.”

“And what,” Charmeine couldn’t help but demand, “makes you think that I’m going to go along with this plan of yours and not let Manakel know what’s going on the second I talk to him?”

Michael turned slightly, a small smile appearing on his face. In the next instant, one of his wings appeared, lashing downward to narrowly avoid slicing Charmeine’s head in half. The destructive energy hummed dangerously next to her face, while the man spoke with deliberate casualness. “Simple, because--” Abruptly, his hand snapped down with a gold coin, pressing it against her forehead while he spoke the complicated, seven syllable word to activate its enchantment. “You’ll die if you don’t.”

Charmeine felt a cold wave of power flood her body, jerking a bit in the chair as she blurted, “Wha-what did you do?!”

He answered the woman, eyes intensely meeting hers. “You’re going to go back into my girl here and sit quietly while she pretends she’s you. Every time you need to pop out and be yourself, she’ll give you very specific instructions about what you can and can’t do or say. If you don’t follow those instructions, that spell I just used will transfer a bit of my energy directly into the middle of your head. Your brain will vaporize instantly. Do you understand?”

The rage boiled up in the Seosten who had been known as Nemesis back in the old days of Earth. But she clamped down on it, glaring while giving a very short, measured nod. “This isn’t over,” she vowed.

“You’re right,” Gwen agreed. “It’s definitely not over.

“I’d say it’s just getting started.”

JOKE TAGS

Hey Charmeine, If You Think This Was Humiliating, You Should See How The Canon You Got Taken Out. 

Can You Imagine Gaia's Reaction To Finding Out Who She Partnered Her Adopted Daughter With? 


Cerulean released this post 1 day early for patrons. Become a patron

Become a patron to

609
Unlock 609 exclusive posts
Be part of the community
Connect via private message