Chapter 11

Chapter 11:
Serious Business


Iris was by far the most excited of the four girls as Wilma pulled her small overly packed Focus into the short driveway of the girls' shared townhouse.

"Tara grab the makeup, Gretchen get the garment bags on your side, I've got these ones!"

Wilma watched as the other three girls excitedly gathered everything and dashed inside while the hispanic woman followed at a much more leisurely pace.

"I don't see what the rush is Iris, Halloween isn't until Thursday and there won't be any good parties til Friday. We've got all week." None of her roommates really seemed to note Wilma's lack of enthusiasm, as she rapidly found herself holding the bag with her costume and the matching make up set that Iris had purchased for everyone to make sure that they could accent their dress-up as much as possible. Considering the roommates had decided to do a matched theme across the four of them as simple 'sexy musketeers,' Wilma wasn't sure how much extra accentuating the costumes could possible require.

"We've got to make sure everything fits right, and that we show enough skin without showing too much!" Iris was almost talking too quickly to be understood as she hurried her roommate into her room to change. "I swear Wilma, I have not gotten a chance to have any real fun since I got here, and we are going to look awesome, and after the warm up parties we are hitting the Maze Crawl and I am going to find someone delicious to hook up with!"

Wilma still couldn't share the speedster's enthusiasm for the holiday, but she had to admit the idea of getting to take a genuine break for a weekend and really unwind sounded good.

"You realize, Iris, that if I wear anything that's designed to show as much cleavage as this thing is I probably won't need any extra help right?" The Latina cupped herself to emphasize her more than generous attributes as Iris frowned slightly.

"Then in your case the right amount of skin to show might be a little less than for the rest of us if you want to give us a fair chance. You want to give us a fair chance don't you Wilma?" Wilma found herself laughing in agreement, and laughing harder when she heard a cheer from the other two roommates.

"More for us!"




"Dammit Ben, I told you I'm not gonna tag along to hit an off-campus party with fake IDs, no matter how 'freaky' the chicks there are supposed to be," Collin felt like he'd been having the same argument with his roommate for the entire week at this point, instead of the mere day and a half since the larger man had started pushing him to 'join in the fun!' Collin could understand Ben wanting to really blow off some steam, he really did, but that didn't mean he was going to do anything that stupid.

"Seriously man, you even got a date? It's not like your plans are official, and I told you I found a guy who can get you an ID on short notice, you seriously going to leave me hanging?"

"If you ask again I'm cutting the rope and laughing while you fall. Seriously Ben, I know you're pissed about losing a couple matches, but going on an all night Halloween pub crawl with the frats? You're asking to get thrown out."

"Fine, be a stick in the mud. Can you at least help me with my costume?"

"What kind of help do you need? You said you were going to go as a gladiator, shiny metal jockstrap, boots, and a toy sword. Which part do you nee-... Ah hell no. Not happening." Ben had produced a bottle of oil and a grin. "You can rub that shit on yourself, and please don't get it all over the carpet."

Ben's laughter finally clued Collin in to the fact that the larger black man had been joking, and he had to smile a bit as he realized how close to panic he had come at the idea of oiling up his roommate. "This is why you got to relax more white boy. If you're not going to hit the real parties with me, promise me you'll at least try to find something nice to tap."

Collin rolled his eyes in response. "I promise."




Zach Snider and Rorie Samuels made an interesting pair as they headed down the elevator to the HCP lower levels. The shorter very pale Zach had gone for an easy costume, some gel to slick his short hair back and darken the already deep brown to black, his natural complexion, and some out of date evening wear and he made a perfectly acceptable vampire. The tall Samoan had taken a slightly more dedicated approach to his costuming. Full plated armor that looked genuine enough, half of it badly charred and damaged artistically to reveal extremely high quality body makeup that left most of the man's left side looking charred with massive gashes running through it. The latex mask that carefully matched his real complexion made it difficult to tell that the same horrific looking markings along his face were not in fact terrible scarring from a recent accident, and the contact in the left eye that left the entire orb a milky white with no trace of iris or pupil was just creepy.

"You are making me look bad man," Zach looked up at the impressive costume to see the larger man grinning back at him.

"Not my fault you were lazy little buddy. You want to look this good you have to work at it!"

The elevator arrived at a level lower than any of the freshmen had previously tread. With several weeks into the Overton HCP program most of the students had heard about Overton's infamous Maze, one of the huge tests that apparently they would become acquainted with if they survived to see their sophomore year in the program. For Halloween the faculty turned the students loose in the sprawling level and let them turn it into the ultimate dungeon theme party. A most excellent party by both men's estimations as they noted an impromptu bar had been set up in the main waiting room less than fifty feet from the elevator.

"Holy shit, they're letting us get wasted. You think this is some kinda trap?" Zach was a bit nervous as he surveyed the scene. It was awesome, but how awesome was to awesome to be true?

"It's not a trap fresh meat." The two men turned to see a stunning brunette in a sorceress costume that put Rorie's efforts to shame wave them towards the bar. "The staff know we're in college and we're gonna do some stupid shit. So they give us some stupid shit to do in a controlled environment and hope no one goes off the deep end with it. Nice costume big man."

"That is an epic costume as well m'lady," Rorie unashamedly addressed his response directly to the expanse of cleavage revealed by the somewhat impractical robe.

Zach was still marveling at how the girl's costume remained windswept with tiny lightning arcs along her arms and the ornate looking staff she held. It may have been a waste of a power, but damn if it wasn't impressive to look at.

The brunette made a point to lift Rorie's chin with the end of her staff, pushing his gaze up until it finally met her eyes. "Your costume isn't that impressive freshy." And with that the stunning girl strode away from the still staring freshmen towards another group that were presumably upperclassmen as well since neither of the two men recognized anyone.

"Well, I have a mission my friend. Hopefully I will not be seeing much of you until tomorrow!"

"She's completely out of your league Rorie."

"Entirely possible, but I'm not going to be giving up the chase that easily!"




Susan was overjoyed to finally be out with her roommates. It had taken the other girls awhile to adjust to her taking the spot vacated when Ora Brooks had dropped out of the program following the combat trials. The four girls made their way into the massive dungeon that was the Overton Maze and shared a knowing look.

"Alright ladies, here are the rules. When you bring one home you have to clean up after him and he has to be out of the house by noon." Teresa seemed to take it as a given that none of the girls would be going home alone tonight. She had definitely dressed to about the limits of modesty with a pirate costume that was more of a bikini with an eyepatch and a fake cutlass. "Also if you aren't already occupied and you see one of us in need of a winggirl, step up and help out. We're a team now ladies."

"I'm pretty sure that not all of us came here just to get laid Teresa," it was Kaori who decided to interject a bit of reality into their hispanic roommate's outlook on the evening. She and Lisa had opted to mess with a few heads by hitting up the other Asian girl's stereotype. Kaori was dressed in a 'sexy dragon lady' outfit while Lisa was in a stereotypical Japanese school sailor uniform, complete with pigtailed wig.

"Some of us are here to get some action though," Lisa was already surveying the crowd like she was shopping for something. Susan found herself giggling at the image of the 5'3" girl picking out a man of her choice and hauling him off like a package to take home and unwrap. Then again from the girl's expression, with the exception that she expected her gift to walk under its own power, that seemed to be about what the girl had in mind.

"Kaori and I will wish you two the best of luck with your one night companionship then, and we'll find our own fun for a bit." Lisa had already started off after a fit but skinny blond man who's name Susan could never remember, Teresa hung back long enough to offer a reminder.

"Remember to help out your girls if we need it."

"We will," the two chorused and the significantly underdressed pirate made her way into the crowd around the bar.

Kaori turned to the taller girl with a bit of an odd expression but didn't seem quite sure how to start whatever she was trying to say. Finally the girl seemed to get her mouth and mind on the same page. "Uh, Susan? I actually was planning on looking for some 'fun' tonight too. I just don't want to come off as..."

"Slutty as those two?"

"As long as you remember that you're the one who said it if we have to tell this story later." Both girls giggled for a moment.

"Kaori I fully intend not to leave a party this epic unescorted. The difference between you and I, and our two roommates, is that we do not intend to bring strange men back to our own rooms. That's more of a second date thing for me."

Kaori laughed aloud at that, and the last two roommates headed in to join the groups wandering into the Maze to see what kind of spectacles the upperclassmen had unleashed this year.




Tasha Johnson was more than a bit surprised to find herself lounging in a private corner with one of the top ranked students in their class. She had mostly come out because she needed to get the hell out of her dorm before she went quite messily insane, and Catalina had insisted that the HCP student party would probably be the most fun on campus. Her conversation partner, Collin Gauge, was even managing to mostly look the much taller girl in the eye even though with his shorter height he had several perfectly valid excuses to make a closer visual inspection of her costume, a set of standard looking army fatigues save that they were three or four sizes too small, and did amazing things to the girl's figure as a result.

"Honestly Collin I kinda expected you to be a huge dick, no offense but you come off that way a bit, and you know I hang out with Ames and Erin sometimes right?" Tasha continued to surprise Collin by not slurring a single word each time she spoke, in spite of having had at least three times as many drinks as the shorter man.

"Yea, I kinda earned that reputation in high school. I was a dick, and not many people could call me on it, so I kept being a dick for awhile. Then I found out how close I was to fucking over my chance to get into the HCP and managed to turn my shit around just enough to make it with some weird probation requirements, and found out I have a lot nicer people to hang out with when I'm not being a dick than I did back in the ol' days."

"You know most guys are intimidated by my size," the muscular black woman pulled herself to her full height to really loom over Collin for a moment. "You seem to be handling it better than most."

"You know when you do that I get the best view in the room right?"

Tasha was surprised to find herself blushing as she realized she had just nearly jammed her boobs straight into Collin's face with her actions. She also realized that she really didn't mind the idea as much as she'd thought she would earlier. "What the hell is your costume supposed to be anyways?"

Collin had died his hair brown for the occasion and spiked it up a bit, and was wearing a navy blue suit that was slightly out of date with a nice tie, a pair of fake glasses, and converse sneakers that seemed completely out of place with the rest of the costume as well as a ridiculously oversized silver pen or something sticking out of the vest pocket of the suit, large enough that it was apparently part of the costume.

Collin actually blushed and looked away, and Tasha found herself giggling uncontrollably at the idea that the confident fighter had apparently worn a costume he was embarrassed by in public. He did manage to look back at her and maintain enough of a glare that she stopped her giggling, although he still remained a bit flushed.

"Seriously Collin, you're wearing the outfit in public, and even if it is from something so far out there that no one will get it by looking at you, there's at least one telepath down here because Cat came with me, and I will get her to tell me who you're dressed as if you won't."

"I'm the tenth doctor," Collin's mumbled response was barely audible over the drifting sounds of the party around the two, and Tasha found herself asking the inevitable question before she caught the gag.

"The tenth doctor who?"

"Exactly!" and Collin managed to maintain a confident smile this time even through his embarrassed blushing as Tasha found herself almost doubled over with laughter.

"Oh my god... The musclehead is a closet geek..." Tasha was having trouble getting the words out between continued fits of giggling. She found herself able to get under control as Collin was now looking past her and out of the corner they occupied, an expression of dawning horror on her face. Turning Tasha saw what had caught Collin's attention, and for a long puzzled moment could not figure out what the obviously very detailed and labor intensive costume could be, aside from being able to recognize a unicorn head on the tall athletic frame as the man strode through the room.

"At least I didn't turn out to be a Brony."

Both doubled over with laughter as the passing Pony fan heard them and cheerfully flipped both of them off as he continued on.

"Nothing against Bronies mind you, but some of those guys are crazy serious about that shit and you can't convince them that you really aren't into it too." Collin recovered faster, although he was having a harder time with his balance as he could feel the alcohol hitting him from what had already been a pretty long night.

"There's another advantage to the Doctor over being a Brony." Tasha had leaned in close to Collin again and lowered her voice to almost a whisper. The muscular man perked up as he thought he might be about to steal a kiss from the attractive woman. He leaned in as well to hear whatever else she was going to say. "If you were in a pony costume I would not be taking you home with me."

With that the massively muscled black woman actually scooped up the smaller but also heavily built white man who's expression now held a comical mix between shock and excitement.

I'm taking mine back to the room Cat. Try not to eavesdrop on my fun! Tasha had no idea if her roommate could hear her in a crowd this big, but it was fair warning as far as she was concerned. Collin was also wearing a tie, so she had something to leave on the doorknob as well.




Catalina Blake suddenly burst out laughing as she lounged around a table with Erin, Amelia, and Alexandra watching as Scott and Ty fought a valiant but doomed effort against the vastly superior (and likely using powers more than a little bit) pair of Michael and Zach. Everyone turned to look to the suddenly blushing and giggling girl, who took a moment to compose herself before responding to the unasked question.

"Message from Tasha, it appears I'm supposed to be finding a suitable place to crash other than my room unless I want to be serenaded by passionate lovemaking sounds until the dawn."

This drew some laughter from the other girls around the table, and the four boys returned to the rather lopsided game. Michael's telekinesis and a minute version of the force whip that was Zach's ability meant that while Scott and Ty were actually very good at this game, their opponents simply didn't miss. The fact that this was the second round was probably also not helping the losing side any.

Finally Zach sank his shot in the final cup and Ty finished it for the round. Strangely the much smaller Scott seemed to be holding up much better than his large friend as he helped him back to the table where their roommates awaited.

"C'mon guys, lets go for three!" Michael was apparently just deep enough in to be at the extremely obnoxious phase of inebriation as he tried to convince the two to come back for another round.

"Find someone else Mike, Ty's already way too much of a lightweight for two rounds to have been a good idea. I can't imagine you'll have too much trouble."

"Mmm na' a lightweigh'," Ty's voice was pretty badly slurred already, and Scott sighed again as his friend almost fell off the chair he was sitting on.

"Dammit Ty, am I going to have to carry your ass back to the room already?"

"Don't sweat it Scott, I think it's my turn to deal with Drunky here," Scott was extremely surprised to see Erin volunteering to take care of their mutual friend. Normally she didn't want to leave a party until she'd proven she had the stamina to go all night. Even stranger was he could swear he caught Catalina giving a wink to Erin as she helped the heavy black youth to his feet to stagger away from the party.

"Aww, Ty's crushing the fairie wings," Amelia's comment drew some giggles from Catalina and Alexandra as Scott simply shrugged in response. Taking Ty drinking usually meant getting some clothing ruined at some point during the night.

"He made the costume for her so I think it's okay if he messes it up," Catalina was a bit surprised at how sober Scott was managing to sound, and think for that matter, after the amount of alcohol he had consumed. From her experience scanning the party absently while hanging out with her friends drunk minds were slightly easier to scan, but the output was all kinds of messy compared to sober people.

"How about the ladies step up for a round?" It was Zach this time issuing the challenge as the somewhat obnoxious drunken duo was apparently not having much luck from the crowd at large.

"How about it Alex?" Alexandra was surprised that Amelia was apparently accepting the challenge, and more surprised that the tall girl wanted her to help apparently. "You can cheat at least as good as Mike can, right?"

Alexandra smiled as she caught on to Amelia's plan. "Probably better since he's about six drinks deeper in than I am."

Catalina and Scott observed the game with occasional bouts of laughter as the seemingly unbeatable pair found their current state of inebriation coupled with playing against a team that could use their own tricks a little more than they could handle. It probably was also a bit of a factor that Amelia apparently could not get drunk, though she'd made a solid effort to try tonight.

Catalina found herself and Scott wandering away from the group as the two losing boys started trying to bicker and plead their way out of what was rapidly becoming more alcohol than they were prepared to handle. That Amelia would win the argument was a forgone conclusion anyways, but listening to the whining wasn't something that either found themselves interested in.

"Where is your accent from anyways Scott? You have the weirdest mixture of proper English and Southern US drawl that I've ever heard." It seemed like a good topic to start with as the tall girl dressed in a sexier version of a jester's outfit strolled with the shorter boy dressed as a literal knight in shining armor.

"I was born in London, and Mom's from there, but we moved to the states with my Dad when I was about five. Lived in Georgia since then. I guess I've picked up a bit of an eclectic collection of speaking habits from the two extremes."

The two continued to wander casually through the maze, giggling frequently as Catalina's ability ruined some of the scary surprises the older students had planned for the trip, making small talk about their families and the HCP.

It turned out to be quite a long walk, but Catalina was definitely glad she'd convinced Tasha to go out with her tonight so that she'd had enough confidence to make it to the party in the first place. She was a little less excited about her prospects for finding alternate lodgings or returning to try and block out the tireless healer and whomever she had dragged home with her. Though the night was still young. It was entirely possible that Tasha's conquest and seizure of their room would turn out to be an opportunity in disguise for the telepath.




Amelia found herself wandering the upper levels of the HCP fitness area as the party wound down. The ridiculously endurant girl wasn't feeling particularly tired as yet and she was fairly certain that if she headed back now she'd end up interrupting at least one roommate's attempt at a hookup. So the skinny tall girl in her makeshift mummy costume found her way to the workout rooms and again tried to practice the open and rapid styles of movement that seemed to come so naturally to everyone else.

"Ah, I did not think anyone else would be here so late. Good morning Amelia!" The young woman turned from her workout to see the tall muscular form of Ramón in his rather dashing matador costume entering the room.

"Call me Ames Ramón, I'm sure you've heard."

"Ah, but I didn't want to presume that I was included in those that could call you familiarly my friend. What brings you to the gymnasiums so late?"


"I was perhaps hoping you could be more specific? It is possible that Ramón can help!" Amelia smiled in response but paused for a long moment before answering.

"I can't move the way everyone else does Ramón. I never learned how when I was a kid. I'm so used to staying bunched up and being careful everytime I extend in any direction. The only way I can even sort of move freely is to go all crazy feral girl like I did fighting Erin."

"The crazy feral girl moves did defeat Erin did they not? Perhaps there is something there." Amelia laughed at that suggestion.

"Erin lost because she didn't know I could brace with one foot and stomp the floor hard enough to completely crater the area she was standing on. When she fell I just fell on top of her and managed to come up with an ankle. Once I had a grip, it was over. I know she says she doesn't want a rematch until something changes, but I've seen her move. Now that she knows what to watch for she'd probably beat me if we had our rematch now."

"You are still quite durable, perhaps you could wear her down instead?"

"Not quite that durable Ramón. It might take her an hour to do it, but I can tell you with what I can do now, I'd never touch her. It's not the idea of losing to my friend that bothers me though. I feel like I haven't improved since I got here at all." Ramón seemed to consider this carefully before trying a different approach.

"You have mostly been training with Erin, and now Alexandra yes?" When the tall girl nodded in confirmation he continued. "You have difficulty with moving freely, but the two people training with you the most are a woman with literally inhuman flexibility, and another who was in training to be an Olympic Gymnast before she decided to enter the HCP instead."

Amelia boggled a bit at that piece of information, and apparently the expression on her face asked the question before she could get her mouth working properly because Ramón continued before she could speak. "I managed to convince the lovely Beulah to take a chance on a single date with Ramón. It turns out we have not nearly enough in common to be very interesting to each other, and we ended up talking about our roommates for half the time in the restaurant."

Amelia nodded in understanding of that point, but still felt confused as to where Ramón was going with the rest of his point. "Wouldn't training with two girls that are likely the most flexible pair in the class be a good thing for me to learn to loosen up and move right?"

"Over time, definitely. But you are looking to improve quickly, and honestly I do not think that any of us could ever really learn Erin's style. Her body is quite literally put together differently than ours. So I would like to propose you learn something in the interim to improve your combat skills while you learn to become more flexible."

"And what do you propose then?"

With a smile, Ramón unslung the small bag he was carrying and threw a pair of heavy gloves at Amelia, who barely managed to catch them as the bounced off her torso. Also from the bag Ramón produced a pair of very heavy looking but worn target mitts, which he put on himself. "I propose that Ramón teaches you how to box."