“I'd like to speak wih the Dean please. Special Agent Withers.” A woman with spiky jet black hair and ivory flesh gave a light smile to the brunette receptionist who was babbling away on the phone about going to see a Criss Angel show. The agent was given a mirthless gaze by the brunette before she went back to chattering. Not one to be ignored or toyed with - especially on a mission - she walked past the desk and straight towards the Dean's office. “Wait! You can't jus-” The receptionist began to speak in protest, leaping up only to be caught in the phone cord wrapped around her. Who had corded phones anymore? But it was too late. Special Agent Withers had already walked into the Dean's office and closed the door behind her. She flashed her badge before taking a seat and pulling out a notepad. “l understand that you've had a number of tragic happenings here within the past week and l apologize deeply for the loss of your students and staff - l understand that they were good and truly gifted people with bright futures.” She retained a straight face with concerned brown eyes before pulling out a notepad and pen. “l need to get as much information on the situation as possible and since you know then best, l thought it'd be best to come to you. What can you tell me about their personal lives?” She offered a gentle smile and began to take notes as the man before her spoke in somber tones.
The group of ragtag but elite heroes have caused quite a stir in the New York City area. They made their first appearance rescuing fourteen individuals who had been missing for weeks, being returned to their homes promptly. That was two months ago. The Pack had been together for longer than that. About five months, actually. The scouting started on New Years. And then they started tapping, converging together as the three "Alphas" saw potential in them. They took a while to somewhat organize themselves, focusing a lot on training and a bit of bonding. Mostly training. And when they were ready, they struck. Some called it street justice while others called it true justice. But the fact remained that either way it was spun, it was still justice. They handled everything from crooked cops and drug cartels to kittens in trees and late night muggings. They did all they could to prove that they were there to help. Not hinder. Hell, even Jameson of The Daily Bugle preferred them over Spiderman. That might have something to do with the fact that they didn't cause as much collateral damage. Still, they had as many haters as they did admirers. Why? Eh, something to do with them being vigilantes. That hardly stopped them though. They had cleaned up twenty-eight NYPD precincts of their crooked cops and were on rather good terms with all of the police chiefs in Manhattan, sometimes getting personal requests from them. It helped that quite a few of them were mutants. Still, nobody knew who they were behind the masks. How many of them there were. Where they came from. What the extent of their power was. Or where to find them...
“Hey guys. I've got big news. I know you're wondering why you're staring at an ugly old military base.”
Astrid had long since discarded of the artificial flesh, revealing a smooth caramel complexion under the faux ivory surface, facing the camera, she removed the pixie cut wig and let nordic locks tumble down around her body. “I know that you've all been waiting for the new base for a while now. Trust me, it is well worth the wait.” She grinned and motioned towards the ramshackle military base behind her as if she were presenting them with a king's ransom in treasure. “Ah! But, before you judge the book based on its cover I should probably explain. In the ground lining the perimeter several small devices have been placed twelve feet apart from each other that project a false image from every angle, giving the appearance of nothing more than just a forgotten training camp seen from above and every other side. Camouflage to the max.”
She paused and gave a light bow before carrying on. “What's beyond that? Well, once you step past the devices you'll find an electric fence fifty feet high only twenty feet away from where l'm standing. Access beyond the gate is granted via blood recognition and you are all registered. And past that is our oasis. Our den. An underground bunker, two gyms, training areas, a library, a garage, a chemistry lab, an engineering lab, a testing lab, a medical bay, an armory, a supplies storage, a hangar, and in the very center...The hub. A nice big house. You'll all have your own rooms, we have a huge kitchen to share, washer and dryer, bathrooms, huge den, nice dining room. Even a home theater. The works. I know that you've all got your own places, but the bas is always going to be open to you just in case.” She wrote her engine and turned her bike around and walked up for some, sitting to disappear into the fence. Not even twenty feet from the projectors in the ground, as she said was another fence. This one had what looked like a keypad. She pressed her right thumb against the keypad and let it prick her flesh, taking a drop of blood from her.
The blue screen flashed her name in green in approval, causing the high gates to slide open for her. The Den - as Astrid called it - was nothing like the dilapidated base portrayed previously. It didn't even have much of a militaristic look to it. It looked like a small town. Well, a town that would take all of two minutes to drive through and ten to run through. It had all the comforts of home though; grass, trees, flowers, a nice man made little swimming hole. This place was designed for comfort and efficiency. It was a good place for them. To train. To escape the world. To bond. Somewhere they could feel safe and be who and what they were without fear. As she let the camera mounted on her motorcycle catch a glimpse of the base, she turned it back to face her and allowed her face to take a more serious countenance. “I hope...expect to see you before the night is over. We've got an investigation straight from Chief Malone's desk of the eighth precinct. It's a personal matter and he's counting on us. The location of the Den is on the disk.”
The camera cut off.
Friday – August 12, 2011 @ 9:15pm
It was about seven hours ago when Astrid had delivered to each and every one of her teammates a disk with a message for them. She now found herself exploring the central hub of her new home. She had dipped into her father's reserve bank account for the ﬁrst time in ages and even sold her old home to help pay for the new upgrades to the base. It was amazing how much people could get done when they rarely slept and had amazing powers. She and her friend Orfelina had taken the past twelve days to disappear from society in general, putting together their knowledge, powers, and inability to slumber so that they could surprise the others of The Pack. They had to call in a few outside sources but it was well worth it in the end. They had an amazing place to convene with their friends now, no longer reduced to meeting on rooftops, in small kitchens, dying diners, and old warehouses while constantly looking over their shoulders to make sure nobody noticed them or found them to be out of the ordinary. She hardly expected everyone to simply move in and start singing Kumbaya with each other every night or swap life stories and secrets. She just wanted to make sure they all had everything they needed. They meant something to her — They were special. Each and every one of them, she considered them family. When she had first brought up her crazy idea to Harvey and Dallas...She never imagined that in such a short amount of time, they would become so close. They even pitched in for Voodoo's surgery. These people were good people. Good, smart, talented, and with that certain moxie that she liked.
The Demigoddess started waking towards the house with three books clutched to her chest, ready to study and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the others. She was pretty lonely sitting there by herself, but it provided a lot more workspace for her and had so many things readily available. She walked into the house and headed straight for the kitchen where she set out the books on the island and began to ﬂip through them. Astrid had quite a few friends at Juilliard and even more fans. But bad and strange things had begun to happen at Juilliard. Two students, a teacher, and a teacher's aide had been found dead. Joshua Beeker's cause of death was determined to be drowning, Chelsea Tate had been called as suffocation and crushing from being buried alive, Professor Marcus Arrows bled out from what appeared to be numerous animal bites and scratches, and poor Yu-Sang had a chunk missing out of her side as though a shark had taken a bite out of her. The strange thing about all of it was that every single one of them had also suffered from heart attacks the night of their deaths. And had hair as white as snow. That wasn't all, though. None of the bodies had shown any signs of having been planted anywhere. Their place of death was where they had been found. Now, Astrid was no expert on zoology but she was pretty sure that sharks weren't looking for their forever home in the suburbs of Manhattan, much less committing B&Es. The other deaths were just as...weird.
Chief Malone had a niece that went to Juilliard and he feared for her safety, personally requesting that The Pack look into it. Astrid had yet to make much of it but it really seemed like these people had been frightened to death. It wasn't a implausible scenario. Mutants and superhumans had all sorts of abilities, so it was more likely that there was a mutant or superhuman doing this. That still begged the questions of who it was and whether it was an accident or on purpose. She remembered from some studying a while back that Phobos, the Greek God of fear had the ability to stir fear through eye contact. These scenarios seemed something more like Freddy Kruegar, though. None of the victims showed any signs of struggle, their homes showed no sign of breaking and entering, and they had all been found either in their beds or on their couch in front of the television. Definitely some Freddy Kruegar shit. Their list of suspects could easily be as long as a five year's letter to Santa or as short as a teenager's text message reply. Juilliard was a competitive school and it was hard to tell who was your friend and who was your enemy sometimes. People busted their asses to get into that school, stay there, and graduate. The Performing Arts industry was just as heartless as the rest of the entertainment industry. People would just as quickly stab each other in the back for a leg up as they would bat an eye.
There was no telling how many suspects they were looking at by this point in time. Astrid sighed as she closed the books and the police reports before leaning back against the counter and eventually moving towards the fridge. She waved her hand over the air in a single motion causing a tray of light to appear. She sighed and wiped her hand down her face before inspecting the full supply of food in the refrigerator, quickly resigning her thoughts for the time being and deciding that she should focus our energy on feasting upon a most scrumptious supper for herself until the others arrived. Any meal of the day for Astrid generally meant that she was going to eat as though she were eating for a dozen people. For once however, she was going to gorge herself on junk food. Not once in her life has she ever opened a single can of soda or so much as licked a sprinkle of powder from a Dorito. She had heard that they were absolutely delicious, so why not try them? So she began to load cans and bottles of sodas, bags of chips, oatmeal pies, star crunches, cookies, and other various snacks onto her tray. She took a few extra minutes to make herself ridiculously large Frito pies, steak nachos, and a steak burrito. Food at the ready, the pajama clad woman made her way to the large den and plopped onto what she had designated as her chair. It was a large and extremely comfortable circular chair aplenty with plush pillows. Letting her food surround her, she grabbed what looks like a thin tablet and ran her fingers over it, soon playing An American in Paris on the giant flat screen TV before her, decidedly having a Gene Kelly festival all by herself as she stuffed her face with the surprisingly addictive and delicious foods.