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Nov 27, 2020 12:05 AM
summer camp!
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- aw, man, Alex is gonna be out of range this whole time. Oh well. She got by for fifteen years without a person to page every time random terrible things happened, and she can probably do it again for however many weeks the camp is. Gotta be strong in the face of potential embarrassment.

"Will do. Oh, and can you take Wishbone, if it's gonna be a few weeks? Because he'll get super lonely if he doesn't have anybody to pay attention to him."

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From his face this is a surprisingly complicated request but - 

"Yeah, yeah, of course."

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"Cool. Thank you. - if it's not a problem? I just don't want him to be sad."

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"Neither do I."

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She nods. "I'll pack."

And she does. She packs normal, sensible essentials (clothes, toiletries, hair ties, notebooks, pens, wooden rods that don't look like stakes but can be snapped into them if needed, first aid kit with scissors, St. Benedict medal), morale-building materials (prayer cards, sci fi novels, game boy), and summer camp things (swimsuit, hiking boots, flashlight).

(She practices imagining that all of her thoughts are taking place behind a waterfall that plays the tune of 'Good King Wenceslas' on repeat. She assures Azalea that she will probably not be attacked by government assassins, and that if she is she can totally probably punch them in the face or something. She imagines being someone who is exactly the correct amount of competent.)

She decides that she's about as ready for superhero summer camp as she's going to be.

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Superhero summer camp is held in the Appalachians. There are cabins and a cafeteria and a high ropes course and all of the counselors are clearly military but trying rather diligently to look like underpaid college students who got this job to get out of their parents' house. 

Her cabin contains a blind girl named Jasmine who uses a cane to get around objects but navigates people with no difficulty whatsoever, a tall girl named Callida who turns spiky when she sneezes, the invisible inhabitant of a bunk in the corner, who introduces herself as 'me', and a cheerful telekinetic named Rebecca who wears a floppy, wide-brimmed hat and warns the rest of them that sunburn will be terrible for their complexions. 

"Half-demon?" Callida asks Karen when they've all unpacked their possessions into the lockers at the foot of their bed.

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"No, uh, I'm sort of a vampire slayer person. The spiky thing is cool, though."

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"Wow," says Rebecca, "you're the Slayer? That's so cool, there's only one of those in the world, right? Did you know that once someone accused me of being a vampire? Me! - I'm not! I'll touch your cross if you want."

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She offers one. "I mean, you can if you want, but I do sort of figure that we all got here during the day, so I'm not insanely worried about this." 

She is attempting to keep up musical waterfalls all the time now. But in a paranoid way, not in a worried way.

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She pokes it. "Also one assumes that the government is competent enough to screen their summer camp for vampires, they're the government."

"How do we know that the government isn't mostly vampires?" Jasmine asks. "Because they're rich, you know, since they live forever, and if you wanted to eat people without getting in trouble you might try to be important..."

"I heard the Supreme Court justices are all vampires," Callida says. "I don't think it's true but I heard it. They just get to work early and leave late and no one asks any questions."

"Nonsense," Rebecca says firmly. "All politicians are sworn in on Bibles."

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"Technically you don't have to use a Bible. Teddy Roosevelt didn't. But everybody's always asking how much longer the supreme court justices have to live, so I think they'd have about the hardest time of anyone being secretly vampires."

She's not at all sure how much she should bet on the government's competence. She's just not going to mention the mayor of Sunnydale.

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Her cabinmates move on to debating which musicians and actors might be vampires. Callida sleeps with special fabrics because she rips through normal ones, apparently. Rebecca has an entire suitcase that's just skincare and makeup products. The invisible girl has a lot of boy band posters. "Can you see them?" she asks Jasmine.

"Uh, no."

"Oh. I thought you could see people, since you didn't need the cane -"

"I can see movement. Before it happens, actually. I can see people even if they're standing still because people can't really stand still. But not posters."

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She's been here for three seconds and she already misses people. Mostly Wishbone. And Connor and Azalea. And Alex. And Zeke. And Dennis and Mercy. She doesn't even talk to all of these people every day, so it's kind of super illogical to miss all of them, but she does.

She determinedly writes down names and powers in one of her notebooks.

"So do you guys know when they're starting, uh - if there's a schedule I haven't seen it."

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There's a schedule on the door, apparently. They have their choice of a climbing class and a survival class in the mornings and their choice of an obstacle course and a recognizing-demons class in the early afternoons and then free swimming and sports in the later afternoon.

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She'll take survival and recognizing demons for now. She can probably survive swimming. (She hates swimming. Why does Zeke get to just get stabbed in the arm and hold up under torture and wow could she be any more self-involved.)

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The survival classes take place just off the hiking trails up on the ridge; the soldier-counselors teach them how to start a fire and how to navigate at night and how to address an injury when far from medical care and how to react to various wild animals (some you hide from, some you yell at, some you fight). They're told that subsequent survival classes will also teach self-defense and self-defense against demons. The soldier-counselors are friendly; they come around to check out everyone's attempted fires and attempted injury dressings and declare "I'm a bear" or "I'm a moose" before charging. They might be a bit less friendly to Callida after she sneezes but it's not dramatic if so. 

Recognizing demons starts in the auditorium. "Most demons are animals," declares the leader, which technically has the unobjectionable meaning that there are lots of non-sapient demon species but is not the most promising of starts. They do have high-quality pictures of hundreds of species, though, and slime and excretions and footprints for the kids to look at. 

In the swimming pool kids play water polo and do flips off the diving board and hover in fascination around one boy who squirts ink out of his toes when he's frightened. Everyone wants Karen on their water polo team. 

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It seems like one of the most important things to know about the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is their stance on different kinds of demons and alien sapients. They're obviously not one hundred percent 'aliens bad, humans good', or they wouldn't be allowing Callida to take part in the summer camp, but there's a really large spectrum of opinions between 'kill or capture on sight' and Starfleet, and it's important to know where BSEE falls on it, both officially and unofficially. She takes copious notes and waits for opportunities to ask clarifying questions that aren't super suspicious.

She kind of hates water polo, because she kind of hates swimming, but she feels like she's doing a pretty good job of pretending this isn't the case.

After classes she approaches the invisible girl's bunk.

"Hi! Uh, you here right now?"

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"Are you talking to me?" she asks even though there's no one else in the room.

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"Yeah! Sorry. I just, uh, I feel like I forgot to say hi earlier. Neat posters."

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"Everyone forgets to say hi - not even because of the invisibility, I mean, it was like that before."

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"Gosh, I'm sorry. That sounds annoying."

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"It was - I wasn't even sure when I went invisible, they asked later and I was like, dunno, probably sometime in February or March but it coulda been December really.... sorry, this is way too personal for summer camp. It's no biggie! How're you?"

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"No, I mean - that sounds really hard, especially if you didn't have anyone to talk to or help you figure out what was going on. But, uh - I'm good so far, I think? I don't really know anyone yet, but, uh - working on that."

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"Rebecca's friendly."

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"Yeah. Everyone seems pretty friendly, I guess. Which is better than the alternative."

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