Prologue 6

Mountain Home, Idaho.

Opaline's marriage had been falling apart steadily over the last eight years as she and Terrell gradually grew apart. She had become fascinated with the world and life of a Hero and Terrell had sunk his roots ever deeper into the mundane. Lack of understanding on both sides had led to heated discussions at first as each tried explain their reasons, thoughts and feelings to the other and when that had failed to bridge the gap of understanding they had fallen to open arguments and then they'd just stopped talking about it all together, preferring to avoid the subject. They'd tried what seemed like every marriage counseling technique on the market, even the whole series of Men Are From Mars tapes, but neither Terrell nor Opaline would budge. Opaline had wanted more than anything to make Terrell understand her fascination with the Hero world but the more she was drawn toward that life the more she became a stranger to her own family, or more accurately, to her husband.

Everything had been balanced on a pin for several years until she had gotten word that Korman's HCP had thrown it's doors wide open, accepting any and all comers so long as they could pass a standard academics test to get into the university proper. It was to good of an opportunity let go.

And it also was the breaking point of her marriage.


33 year old stay at home mom Opaline Talwar had wanted to have one last night of relative peace with her Babies (six year old Labron and eight year old Aadrika) and her husband Terrell before having to catch a plane to NY in the morning, instead she got served with divorce papers by a lawyer as her husband took her Babies to his mother's.

"Terrell, you can't do this! Not this! They're my Babies! Terrell!!" Opaline shrieked past the lawyer's blocking force of two Elmore County Sheriffs. Terrell didn't even look at her as he grabbed the two kids as they'd run by him, carrying them under his arms he moved quickly out the door and out to an old blue pickup-truck in the drive way.

Hearing the calls of "Momy!" from her Babies galvanized Opaline and, turning on her heel, she'd sprinted out the kitchen door and around the side of the house to where the garden gate stood. More that half blinded by the lack of light she hadn't even slowed as she left the lighted kitchen but instead she'd sped up, dodging patio chairs, toys, and potted plants unerringly in the dark; running full tilt she'd stepped onto a large over turned clay potter, up to the top step of the step latter used to refill the bird feeder and hurdled the five foot gate using a hand to guide her up and over. She'd hit the ground running on the other side and continued to round the house hoping to see her children before Terrell could leave with them. Abruptly she skipped off to the side into the small vegetable garden to avoid a third Sheriff who had been waiting for her. Twisting even before the Sheriff had lunged at her Opaline desperately sought any opening around this huge boulder of a man who had cut off the side walkway. Turning slightly Opaline took two running strides up the side of the wall of her house and pushed off, passing over the Sheriff's bent head and shoulders to roll off his back and land hard on the ground. Scrabbling up to her feet she tried to continue to run but she wasn't fast enough off the ground and the Sheriff caught her around the shoulders and arms as she sprang up.

Struggling in the grasp of the large Sheriff she'd screamed "Terrell! Terrell, please!" Terrell continued to ignore her as he opened the drivers-side door of the old pickup truck and drove off with Aadrika and Labron. Watching the truck drive off Opaline could no longer keep her feet and, the Sheriff letting her down gently, she'd dropped to her knees in the damp grass dry-heaving.

After a time the Sheriff picked her up in his arms and quietly spoke, "Come on, ma'am. Let's get you inside."


Opaline, left in an empty house with nothing but tears and heartache, tried to find some reason to go on. Something, Anything. She was torn, she didn't know what to do. Numb inside and out she went from one room in the house to the next trying and failing to find some hint of image or knowledge of her Babies.

Opaline had become unique in all the world now that her grandmother was gone and her daughter Aadrika had yet to show the ability to see beyond the Vale. As Opaline was the only precognitive on the planet, the only legitimate Oracle, it was in her power to See beyond the Vale Of Time, the 'Talent' as her mother was want to call had been a power of her mother's line stretching back to the days before recorded history but now it was of no help to her at all.

At last, weary and sick, she curled up on Aadrika's bed and simply hurt. As she slipped her hand under her daughter's pillow she encountered a folded piece of paper. Pulling it out Opaline unfolded it and read the four sentences hastily scrawled in colored marker.

I love you! We will miss you when you go to the HCP. Come back soon. LOVE YOU MOMMY!

Opaline broke down and wept great gasping sobs. After a time the tears subsided and she fell into a dreamless sleep. Her last thoughts before dropping off were that she had to get up early to make her flight, her Babies would be disappointed in her if she didn't. Mommy's going to be a Hero, Babies. Mommy will drive back the Monsters in the Dark so you never need be afraid again. Mommy loves you, Babies!

Korman University, Student Housing C-2.

Opaline walked down a crowded hallway lugging an old fashioned army duffle bag thinking with a inward chuckle I suppose I always HAVE packed light.As she looked for the door with her room number on it, her solid 6'6" frame helped out a great deal in seeing over the crowds. She had been told that she would be rooming with three other woman in what amounted to a teeny tiny 4 bedroom apartment with only one small bathroom (Opaline had winced when she had heard that) and no kitchen. She had also been told that if she wanted to switch housing accommodations for any reason she would need to do so by the end of the week otherwise she was 'shit out of luck'. Dodging the chaotic crowds of college students in the midst of moving everything from TVs and gaming systems to potted plants, kitchen appliances and furniture up to their Dorms with grace was only slightly more trying than walking down an empty street for Opaline, though she did have to duck under a couch once that was being shouldered by two burly men. Opaline felt a curious sense of dislocation after she realized that for all their bulk the two men were actually boys and had the faces to prove it.

"Careful, lady! I don't want to run over no senior citizens." was called out as she strode under the couch and down the hall.

Opaline's sense of dislocation was added to by the fact that everybody's youthful faces and bodies stood out once she had noticed it once and that most everyone as far as the eye could see was 18 or 19 years old. Opaline had a good 15 years on some of these kids, It made her feel old, flabby and out of place. Not a good way to start out emotionally, but it's not like I had expected anything else. I'll just have to teach these puppies a thing or two about being a 'senior citizen'.

Spying her room number above an open door up ahead and to the right Opaline started off that way. Getting to the door she found three young women already in the common room and mostly unpacked, one was busy assembling a fancy glass TV stand while a large 60" flat screen leaned up against the wall, the other two were hanging curtains that were apparently made from the same fluttering snow-camo ambush-patchwork you sometimes see in sniper movies, a large pile of Chinese food containers sat on a nearby table sending their delicious aroma in to the air. Speaking to the room at large she addressed the three "Hi, I'm Opaline Talwar. I'm your fourth roommate."

***** 4 hours earlier *****

Veronika Fox, aka "Vee", had noticed that her two new roommates were very in to each other... like VERY very in to each other, and would most likely never sleep alone. She also noticed that the taller of the two love-birds apparently had absolutely no sense of color coordination but was rocking a killer cotton-candy-pink lipstick and green camo short shorts. Vee took a moment to think through the implications of these two living under the same roof as her and then set about tracing load bearing walls, those being thicker than others, to figure out which bedroom she would need. Turned out that the one that she would need was the one that Katranna "Call me Kat!" had claimed and so set about evicting her from the room with the simple and tactical expedience of moving all of her things into the room before Kat could and then deflecting the conversation/whining that followed. Bribery was judiciously applied to smooth over ruffled feelings and a suggestion that the couple make their home in the two adjoining rooms on the other side of the common-room was offered. Vee was being helpful  .

Izumi Ryoko, "Iz", above the protests of her roommates that it wasn't necessary, applied some form of mental Judo and/or Jedi-Mind-Trick in a move somewhat akin to fly-fishing and availed herself of the crush of male students and volunteered/commandeered/seduced three extremely fine male specimens to move the furniture into the correct placement as according to Feng Shui or some other mystical formula Vee didn't understand. It took about a hour to get everything just right and by the end Vee was inwardly salivating with a need for food.

As payment to the three Iz had apparently decided to go with tradition and after giving each a full-on kiss she released them back into the wild and jumped on Kat bearing her down to the couch for a makeout session that left at least one of the guys bug-eyed before Vee shoved them out the door, male complaints sounding all the way along with entreaties for phone numbers. As Vee was herding the last, and most reluctant, of the three out she had a sudden thought, went back and picked up the small, exceedingly lopsided and flimsy TV stand and pushed it at the poor guy; "Here, find somewhere to toss this." before turning him around and pushing him out the door with a hand to the back, ignoring his plaintive "Toss it where?".

It's a cold and unforgiving world, little Beefcake. Get used to it. She thought as she watched him struggle though the press. Now I have some shopping to do! Vee smiled as she went to get the keys to her heavily customized V-Rod Special. "Hay, Lipstick! You got a car?"

****** back to present *******

"Hi, I'm Opaline Talwar. I'm your fourth roommate...."