Renata Hodges. Youngest of three children of Senator Thomas Hodges and his wife Isabella and the only girl of the pack. Loud and rambunctious as a child, she grew into a shy and reserved adolescent, feeling overshadowed by her brothers. In high school a series of painful events shattered that reserve, and she started getting into a lot of trouble. Her father, sensitive as ever to the political consequences of having a problem child, swiftly arranged for her to go to a sheltered private school...hence avoiding serious consequences for her misbehavior. It was there, at Dalton Academy, during her senior year of high school, that the demons came.
Struggling as she is with questions of identity, of truth and integrity in the face of consequences, and of changes in her relationship with her family members, Renata is often moody, temperamental and quick to take offense. But what so often comes across as stubbornness is a strength of resolve and conviction that propels her relentlessly forward no matter the cost, or the apparent odds of success.
Renata's a fairly pretty young woman with a strong jaw and chin, light skin, large blue eyes and dark hair she's taken to cutting short. She's just a smidge taller than average, and her formerly slightly stocky build now slimming to more athletic over the past year as she's taken up more exercise.
Attached NPCs -
- Thomas Hodges: For Buffy fans, think the Mayor of Sunnyvale. He's a charming guy, an astute politician...a Republican Senator of Massachusetts (Ren's from Boston, but Dalton can be anywhere in the US) who's managed to balance the demands of the conservative wing of his party with the more purple-blue of his constituents. He's got an uncanny ability to get people set on 'no' to 'yes.' Some have joked that he's made a deal with the devil for his talents.
It's not quite so funny now.
Isabella Hodges: Beautiful and elegant and every inch the entitled heiress that she is, Isabella is as devoutly high society as she is Catholic; these two things are the first things anyone notices about her. The cynical might posit that her marriage with Tom is a little too perfect to be real...they complement each other wonderfully. His position and ambition suit her craving for the finer things in life, and she brings the couple the necessary religious appeal to give him credibility with his base. She's also the consummate social artist, managing fetes and soirees with grace and a keen eye for detail. Renata and Isabella have had an especially troubled relationship...she has high hopes and aspirations for her only female offspring, and Ren seems grimly determined to thwart every...single...one of them.
Bradford Hodges: Renata's oldest brother, Brad's trying hard to out-dad their dad. Tall and blond and chiseled, he prides himself on going and getting what he wants rather than complaining about how he doesn't have it. To his credit, he really is smart and ambitious and driven to accomplish. To his detriment, he's also sanctimonious, patronizing, and something of a bully when he thinks he can get away with it.
Theo Hodges: When the three Hodges kids were younger, Theomore was the great peacemaker. He brokered legendary agreements between Brad, who didn't want his bratty little sister hanging around, and Renata who insisted resolutely on hanging around. As time went on, these crises ebbed as Renata withdrew and eventually Brad went to the first in the long line of prestigious colleges he attended. Of quieter and more intellectual demeanor than his brother, Theo loved sitting with his dad and discussing various issues and ideas. Eventually he too went off to school, and while his holiday cards are substantially more heartfelt than Brad's, he rarely comes to visit anymore.
"How do you do that..." Mari was wrestling with the controls of a video game machine as her computerized avatar lurched unsteadily around on the big LCD screen across from the two dorm beds. "...that thing where you spin sideways."
Renata laughed from where she was lying on her stomach on the bed farthest from the door, watching her roommate play avidly. Mari was a scholarship kid, and hadn't had one of the next generation consoles at home. Her wide-eyed awe of what it could do...along with the big screen TV and stuff Ren had brought...were a constant source of secret glee for her. And of course, she kind of sucked at most of the games. It wasn't that Renata felt superior or anything because she was better than Mari.
Well, okay, maybe a little. It was fair. Mari was better at all the classes.
Mari, an adorable latina girl two years Renata's junior glanced back over her shoulder to give her a quick squinchy-eyed tongue poke-out before returning her attention to the game.
"You gotta tap the stick twice fast," Renata explained, still chuckling. "The one you move with. And if you hit the X button while you do that, you can counter..." She stopped when she felt the phone in her back pocket start to vibrate, and fished it out.
"The what button?!" Mari wailed. The image on the screen shook and blood dripped down from top as 'YOU DIED' appeared. "Awww! Okay, one more time."
Meanwhile, Renata answered her phone with a sinking heart, swiveling around with the unthinking agility of youth to a sitting position. "Hey dad."
"Hey there, champ!" enthused her father. Thomas Hodges, who insisted on being called 'Tom.' Perky and courteous and as devious and sly as anyone Renata had ever known in her short almost-eighteen years. But then, to be a Republican Senator in Massachusetts, you kinda had to be. "Happy birthday! How's my girl?"
"Not my birthday yet, dad," Renata sighed. "I'm fine."
She glanced over at Mari, who was wiggling around as if the game would somehow read her shoulders and legs and take that into account when controlling her on-screen character.
"Yeah. Mari and me are studying up a storm. So what's up?"
Tom laughed, and when he laughed there was a thing where you could sort of see his mouth wide and grinning, and his teeth all white and polished in your head. The information was transferred through his voice in a kind of subliminal advertisment sort of deal. "Studying up a storm! That's good! Oh, your mom and I have been missing you something fierce, sport. You are such a cut up."
Renata scowled. "Pretty sure mom's not missing me."
"Aw, don't be like that. She loves you! I know things have been rough, but that doesn't change anything. Hey look, okay, I have some news for you. It's good news."
"Yeah?" Renata scratched her chin uncomfortably. Her dad sometimes liked couching things he knew she wouldn't like as 'good news.' But not always. He was careful not to be too predictable. "What is it?"
He chuckled again. "What would you say about the idea of your old man angling for a promotion?"
"Uh...how would that work exactly?" she asked. "There's no such thing as a 'senior Sen...' And then she trailed off. Because there was at least one way to be 'promoted' out of the Senate. "You're kidding me."
"Well you know, nothing's official yet bunnyhunch," Tom replied jovially. "But we're looking into how to make me..." he deepened his voice for comic effect, "...the most powerful man in the free world!" Then helpless giggles overtook him, and she could imagine him wiping tears of mirth from his eyes.
Renata found her tongue almost sticky with dread, like she couldn't move it off the floor of her mouth. "What...what am I gonna have to do?" she asked.
"Nothing bad, I promise. Me and your mother will be under some scrutiny, but I expect the kids, especially you...well, you'll hardly even notice."
She shook her head. "I don't see...how is that even possible? Dad, with all the sh...the stuff that's happened. That's all going to come out. Like, on TV it's going to come out." Renata felt like the dorm room was spinning around her. Dizzy. Mari was looking back at her now, her big brown eyes wide in concern.
"Hun, it's okay! Look, I know it seems like everything's going to be different...and I suppose a lot of things will be. But you know what won't be? Family. So...look, we've got a lot to talk about. I'm going to bring you home, and we can go over everything."
"I need a little time," Renata said, fighting back the urge to throw her phone. "Not this weekend. I...I'll give you a call."
"Actually, the driver should be there any minute. This is important stuff, champ."
Renata let a curse drip from her lips and immediately hung up before her father could reprimand her. Mari was looking at her with real fear now.
There was a scream from outside Renata's window to the courtyard below. It was a girl's scream of terror, not a squeal of glee or excitement.
Mari took her eyes off of Renata and looked over at the window, "What was that?"
She stood and walked to the window and gaped. Renata joined her and looked down at the courtyard. There was a ring of fire suspended in the air a few feet from the ground. They two girls were looking down on its side from two stories up and the angle was such they could barely tell it was a ring. They did not have the angle to see through it, but there appeared to be black in the center and they could not see through the ring.
There was a pair of students that had just walked outside from the building across and were staring at the supernatural phenomena. They were only pointing at it, and not the source of the scream.
Mari was in awe, "That is so weird."
Please include the avatar picture of Renata at the beginning of every IC post. Thanks.
While Renata was dialing, Mari stared out the window. She laughed, “They are actually taking selfies now.”
The call was answered and Renata was on hold, <“Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line and we will be with you momentarily.”>
Her wait was interrupted by a scream from outside that she could hear even through the glass of the shut window.
Mari exclaimed, “Oh my god! What is that?”
Racing back to the window, Renata could see there was a red skinned creature with large bat-like wings where the two girls had been standing. One girl was trying to run away and had stumbled to fall flat on her face in the grass about 20 feet away. The other girl was still there lying underneath the red thing and Renata could see her legs sticking out.
The red-skinned creature had a humanoid body about the size of a stocky teenager, but also had a serpentine-like tail. From the back of its head protruded some horns. It was on top of it victim on all fours.
A nasally sounding voice came from Renata’s phone, <“9-1-1. What is your current location and the nature of your emergency?”>
Renata stepped back, nearly stumbled back from the window, her brain shattering into a thousand little spinning pieces.
"I...I'm at Dalton," she replied dazedly to the phone. "Dalton Academy. There's...a fire in the air, and...something's attacking people." All the mental prepwork she'd done before calling, the rehearsing what to say so that she wouldn't sound like a panicking moron like most 911 calls she'd heard...down the drain. "I don't know what it is."
Her mind seized on the words...they PERFECTLY captured the situation. "I don't know what it is," she repeated to her cellphone. "I don't...I don't..."
Panic was a vortex. A whirlpool, like the one at the end of the Pirates of the Carribean movies. For a second Renata felt herself being dragged down it, as the mantra I don't know what it is was the only thing she could think, and each time she did it became shriller and more hysterical.
As fortune had it, she picked that moment to look back to the window, and Mari was there staring at her with dawning horror...and she couldn't let her see her like that.
Renata reached out and took hold of Mari's arm. You don't have to know what it is. You just have to know it's dangerous.
"Come on, it's not safe here."
Then, remembering she was still on the line with 911, she added, "I can't stay on the line, we have to move. There's some kind of fire at Dalton Academy, but something's attacking people too. Don't just send firemen. Send police or...I don't know, the national guard or something."
Mari put her hands over her face and was nearly sobbing, "Oh no. It... oh, god... she's... ripped apart."
"RUN!" she screamed at the window, her hands on the glass.
The creature had eviscerated the first co-ed and had leaped into the air to fly in pursuit of the other stumbling one. It had caught her and landed on her shoulders, driving the victim face first into the turf. It stayed on top, but its body and wings were obscuring the view of the girl underneath and what was happening to her.
The nasally voice of the dispatcher told Renata, <"Miss, please remain calm. Are you in immediate danger?"
"From the fire or the assailant? Is the fire spreading?"> The voice on the other end was bland and almost bored sounding.
"Yes!" Renata snapped. "The fire's spreading! We're in immediate danger! Just send people! It's a SCHOOL! There's a bunch of kids here! Are you insane?!"
She reached over and grabbed Mari's wrist to pull her away from the window. "Seriously, we have to find someplace safer."
Ren had no idea where to go, with Mari's wrist in one hand and her cellphone in her other. Down was all she had. Once other kids started seeing what was happening, started texting and calling each other, the halls were going to fill with people. The stairs were going to clog. They could get trapped, and Ren had a feeling THAT would be very, very bad.
So she headed for the staircase at the end of the hall, hoping the fire hadn't come from the building.
And that there weren't more of those red things around.
Mari was reluctant at first to tear her eyes from the scene out the window, but once she was moving along there was no more hesitation. She kept saying, "This is bad... very bad."
She went along with Renata out into the hall and by the time the pair reached the nearest stairs, most of the other dorm room doors were spilling out their occupants too. The hallway and stairs was becoming chaos as girls were either screaming in terror, sobbing in fright, or yelling hysterically as they wanted to flee faster but could not.
There was no smoke in the building, though. In fact Renata did not even smell anything burning.
The ground floor was becoming packed as there were about 15 girls crowded at the double doors to exit the middle front of the building to the courtyard where the ring of fire was. No one was prepared to open the doors and go out that way, stuck staring through the windows at the scene outside.
Farther down the central hall that ran the length of the building, the fire exit was open and a few girls ran out that way. But that way was also the same direction the girl that had been pounced on tried to flee.
From the central exit, one of the other girls in the crowd screamed, "EEEEEE! There is another one!"
"No, not that way!" Ren called out. "There's another one out there!"
She shook her head. "You know, the building's not on fire...and none of those things are in here. Maybe we're better off finding somewhere to hole up inside."
A glance was enough to convince her that this wasn't the place to make a stand. Big windows, big doors. Lots of ways in. They needed someplace they could easily barricade off. Like...
"Basement," Renata said to Mari. "Is there a basement? There's gotta be. Come on, lets find it quick!"
Probably wouldn't label it 'basement' she figured. More likely 'do not enter' or 'janitor' or something. But there had to be somewhere they kept the water heater and the other stuff buildings needed but were too noisy or ugly to have where people walked around.
"You guys, stay away from the windows!" she warned the other girls as she and Mari started their search.
Somewhere in the back of her head, she could feel herself starting to slip away. The 'reality' of the world was getting thinner and thinner. The fear was melting into a bizarre sense of absurdity that made her want to laugh out loud. They were going to run from demons through hallways? Would they need to find any colored key cards? Find guns inexplicably lying on the ground?
But she knew if she started laughing she wouldn't be able to stop. And the laughing would turn into crying...and she'd still be there, curled up, laughing and crying, when one of those things scooped her up and bit her in half.
The girls running out the other exit did not stop or listen to the warning. The rest were starting leave from the central doors, maybe heeding the warning. Or perhaps realizing that sooner or later whatever was in the courtyard might decide to come see who was looking at them.
Underneath the stairs coming down from the second floor was door for the basement that was atop a set stairs leading down. Renata and Mari had never been there before, but the janitor for the dorms often went down there. Besides the water heater and furnace, the junction boxes for utilities and the fuses were there too.
Mari tried the door leading downstairs. "It's locked."
Most students had no access to the basement, but the Dorm’s RAs had keys for the door. There was a storage room down there with supplies for the common room. Renata had noticed that the girl running out the far door was actually the first floor's RA.
There was girl's blood curdling scream from outside. It was soon followed by more screaming from those that witnessed what happened through the windows.
Renata looked back the way they'd come, but whatever had happened, happened outside. Belatedly she realized her phone was still on, and she hung it up. If all that hadn't been enough for the 911 dispatcher, then nothing would be. Alright. Key. Jesus.
"Sit tight here for a sec," she heard herself saying. "I'm gonna see if I can't find a key for this."
And no, I have no idea what I'm doing. Please don't ask.
With that, Renata turned and headed back up the hallway, clenching her fists as she went. She was trying hard to beat her fear into submission with anger...but it was tough this time. It was really damn tough.
It didn't sound like she got far. Just peek out...see if it's moved on, grab the key...try not to look too hard. Sure. It'll be fine.
The urge to just hunker down in the common room was strong. Or head back upstairs to the dorm. But sooner or later those things would run out of people to attack in the courtyard, and then she thought they'd start looking for more. And had she seen some with wings before their hurried trip downstairs?
She thought she had. Being high wasn't going to cut it. They had to get down. And for that they needed a key. The service door was thick and heavy and lined with metal. Not to mention it would COMPLETELY defeat the purpose of digging in if they wrecked the door to do it. She could search for a janitor, or another RA, but not only would that take precious time, it was also pure chance if one happened to be in the building.
Still repeating to herself that this was the only way, as if it was some kind of protective spell she could cast to ward off gibbering panic, Renata reached the door the other unfortunate girl had fled out through and very carefully turned the knob...then just cracked it open a hair to peek outside and see two things.
Where was she? And what was there with her?
(OOC - looks like the copy/paste thing doesn't work. I think I do have to upload it each time. I'll come back and do it later, cuz I be tired right now. )
Mari stayed behind and called out as Renata went down the hall. "She left her door open, maybe the key is in there"
She entered the RA's dorm room to look for it.
The chaos of girls was scattering them all over. Some followed after Renata, a few tried to take refuse in the corners away from the windows or back in the dorm rooms... maybe to hide under their beds with pillows over their heads.
Renata looked outside.
There was one of the red-skinned creatures with wings she had seen from the window. It was atop the RA... that poor girl was dead. Her neck was at an odd angle. The creature looked up and away from the dorm's door.
Following its gaze, Renata saw a black limousine with two men getting out from the front seats on either side. She recognized the car as belonging to her father. The two men were Secret Service and they were pulling out their side arms.
Renata stared goggle-eyed at the car...in the confusion she'd managed to completely put out of her head that her dad had said he was sending a car for her. But here was a chance! Open the windows, get Mari over here, then make a run for the car while the MiBs filled it with bullets!
It was a good plan...she liked the idea of being able to avoid these things in a car more than sitting in a basement and just praying they didn't bother to look down there. It DID hinge on the MiBs being able to bring it down though. She tensed, watching and waiting to see if she needed to call Mari over...or keep looking for that key.
The creature leaped into the air, beating its wings to gain altitude. It left a smoking contrail behind it as it flew towards the pair of Secret Service Agents.
The two men cleared their weapons from their holsters and took aim with both hands, arms outstretched. On called out for the creature to, "Halt!" The other agent yelled back over his shoulder, "Agent Falcone!"
The flying creature was snarling something guttural, perhaps a language as it continued.
The agents opened fire. The multiple shots were like fireworks going off. A few bullets tore into the creature, small holes appears in its wings. The erratic flight caused a number of shots to miss too. But about 10 feet shy of the first agent, the creature crashed to the grassy turf.
One agent exclaimed , "Jesus! What is this?" The other stepped in and double tapped the twitching thing in the head without bothering to answer the rhetorical question.
Their attention was drawn to the courtyard and they spotted something else that Renata was not able to see. Most likely they could see the ring of fire.
While the firefight was going on, a female agent that Renata recognized had exited the back of the limo and already had her own pistol drawn with a mobile phone in her other hand. She was likely the detail lead. Whenever her dad sent them to protect her, Agent Alexi Falcone was often one of the agents assigned. She was the only female agent part of the Senator's detail.
She told them, "Go make sure she is not that way. A call has already been made to the LEOs."
The two men jogged towards the front of the dorm building, likely straight towards the second of the creatures.
Lexi, of course. She always gave Renata the creeps. Some agents she'd met were okay guys...just folks doing their job. Falcone didn't seem that way to her. Always formal, always polite, always in charge, and never seemed to feel anything. But maybe that was a good thing now?
Renata yanked the door open the rest of the way and called, "Over here! Don't go around there, there's more! Hold on!"
She looked back up the hall and called, "Mari! Come on over here!"
It was with some surprise that she realized there were a few other girls tagging along behind her too...most likely hoping she'd had some idea what to do now.
Well. It was a big car. Hopefully big enough.
With that, Renata poked her head back out the door and waved at Lexi and the two MiB's, hoping they'd see her and come over.
Agent Falcone spoke into her mic that communicated with the other two agents via their ear pieces. She called out, "Miss Hodges, stay there for a second while we secure the area."
One stopped at the corner of the dorm, facing towards the front of the building and getting a good look at the ring of fire suspended in the air. The second agent left him there and moved quickly to the dorm's side door and stepped past it, covering the other direction.
Mari had come out of the RA's room and ran to catch up. Now there were 5 girls with Renata bunched at the exit, desperately hoping that safety lay beyond. Upon seeing the dead thing and their fellow student lying yards away, one sobbed and a few stiffed squeaks of terror. With most of the girls being rather slender, the limousine would barely be able to cram them all into the two bench seats in the back.
The agent near the door said, "Okay ma'am. Head to the vehicle."
The the other agent at the corner yelled a warning as he looked up. He started firing his pistol.
The other red, flying demon had dropped down upon the agent. It appeared to ignore the few shots the man got off before it was on top of his victim and sharp claws were ripping into the man's flesh of his face and neck.
Renata winced at the gruesome scene, but worse than the gore was the sinking realization that their one chance at getting away was dissolving. Once that thing was done with the agent, it would cut them off from the car. Could they hold the door? Could the other agents finish it off? They really only had this one shot.
And she had a feeling that if a bunch of girls started running across its field of view, it would be attracted to that, like a dog to anything that looked like it was fleeing. Out of instinct, it would pounce.
Unless it had a distraction.
"Mari," she heard herself say...her voice sounded distant in her own ears... "Run for the car. All of you, run for it. I'll follow you across and make sure we make it."
Red. She'd seen red. Yeah, just inside the door. One of the fire extinguishers. Getting it out would set off the alarms...well, couldn't have that. Yeah, actually, no...it was fine. She broke the glass with the little mallet and yanked the CO2 foam canister out. The droning whooping of the fire alarm started up, and Renata looked at Mari directly.
"Don't stop for anything," she instructed grimly. "Just make for the car and get inside. If the agents give you any trouble, just IGNORE THEM and get in anyway. I'll be right behind you."
Renata then stepped out the door, and made sure the extinguisher was ready to 'fire.' Hell, these things looked like they were on fire, right? Maybe it'd hurt them. And even if not, it'd damn sure get their attention.
Mari and the other four girls followed Renata's instructions, "Come on!" They started to make a break for it dashing out across the lawn to the limousine. Alexi Falcone was urging the girls to hustle and quickly climb inside the back.
Mari stopped and looked back to see her friend not immediately coming. "Hurry, Renata! HURRY!"
The agent by the door said, "Stop messing around, ma'am!" But he could not worry about that as he left the door to try helping the wounded agent at the corner. He was not able to shoot at first, not having a clear shot without risking a hit on his partner.
The creature ripped out the throat of the already mangled agent and let him fall with arterial spray shooting blood spurts into the air. The other agent opened fire and managed to hit the fiery creature a few times, but it still leaped at him. Even wounded it crashed into the agent and bore him to the ground.
When Renata stepped outside she found the pair locked into a grapple where the agent could not put the muzzle of his pistol against demon flesh, but he also had a forearm under the creature's chin to prevent the sharp teeth from reaching him.