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The campus was alive and bustling with young adults, as it usually was around noontime. Laughter and chatter echoed throughout the college courtyard, and one young lady could not help but smile. Her name was Evey Larkspur. She was an average girl with medium-brown hair that nearly matched the color of her eyes. She had just transferred to this lively, well-known university a few days ago. And already she had become friends with two intelligent individuals who seemed to share her zest for life.
Their names were Damien Edwards and Isis Venicelli. Damien was of an average build, with neatly trimmed black hair, green eyes, and a bright smile. He wore glasses, whose lenses were stylishly thin rectangles that changed in the light, and were enclosed in a smooth black frame. Isis was fair in her own right, with her reddish-brown natural curls and gray-blue eyes that seemed to change color with her clothing choice. She also bore a smile to rival Damien’s.
When Evey had first met the pair, they had come off as members of a popular clique. But her opinion swiftly changed when she learned that they, like herself, were bookworms. Every time she turned around, one of them had their nose in a book, usually a book full of some trivial knowledge that had nothing to do with their coursework. Of course, Evey felt right at home with that fact.
Upon her transfer to the college, Evey had also been approached by two other young adults, who had been typified by society as “ne’er-do-wells” because of their choice of appearance. Both were girls who tended to dress in a punk-goth style, though it was reasonably toned down to fit in with the other university students. They had introduced themselves as Rena Bell and Julia DeFiore, giving their nicknames of Rebel and Defiance in the process. Evey had rather liked their introductions, and befriended them.
One evening, Evey logged into her instant messaging system, as her computer automatically did when she turned it on. She was getting on to do homework that the Chemistry professor had assigned earlier that day when a message popped up from ‘Illuminata34’,
“Hey Larky.” While online, ‘Larky’ was Evey’s nickname. Evey smiled and typed back,
“Evening, Illuminata. How’s it been?”
“It’s been alright. Chemistry looks fun,” Illuminata replied. Then, another message popped up, this time from ‘DarkDervish’,
“Chem looks like another late-nighter.”
“No kidding, DD,” Evey typed. “The professor sure was thorough today.”
“I guess he really wants us to know these things, huh?” Dervish replied, adding a laughing emote. “Hey, is Illuminata on?”
“Yeah, come join our convo,” Evey said, turning back to Illuminata to mention DD. They invited Dervish into their conversation window, then chatted for a while before another combo-conversation popped up in Evey’s screen, only coming from ‘N3verm0re’ and ‘Pyromanic’ this time.
“Hi,” the two sent simultaneously.
“Hey guys. Doing alright?” Evey queried.
“I’m good,” N3verm0re typed, adding a smile emote.
“Same here,” Pyromanic agreed.
They, like in the earlier conversation with Illuminata and DarkDervish, would chat for a while before Evey asked to join the conversations into one single window, allowing all five of them to chat at once. It was done, and fifteen minutes later, Evey sent a bit of an interrupter message.
“Guys, I should get started on my Chemistry homework. The professor put quite a workload on the class today.” The group would acknowledge this, and she would set her status to ‘appear offline,’ as she routinely did when she preferred not to be disturbed by chat windows. However, this meant that the window would remain on her computer taskbar, and the chat would still be recorded in her chat history, as she had not left the conversation.
The semester would continue normally, and Evey’s chat history would fill up for the group. But lately, Larkspur had been noticing some changes in her online friends. Illuminata had been getting moody, as had Pyromanic, which troubled both DarkDervish and N3verm0re. It bothered the latter two so much that they often left the conversations early on the pretext of doing their work.
Evey, on the other hand, had not been paying much attention to the recent content of the chats. What with all her homework, she had no time. There was soon to be more leisure time for the students, though. Coursework was being lightened somewhat, in preparation for the imminent holiday break. Christmas Break was two weeks away, and midterms were in the process of being administered, in the middle of testing, or already completed.
In Evey’s case, she had already finished the midterms for the classes she had today. Snow was coming down outside, and building up on the sidewalks, already nearly two inches thick. Some students were getting rowdy and starting a few snowball fights, disappearing at the first sign of a professor or teacher’s aide. Larkspur was heading back to her dorm in these chilly conditions when Damien ran up to her, his normally sleek hair tousled and his glasses about to slide off his nose. He looked panicked.
“Evey! I finally found you…” he panted, pausing to catch his breath.
“Damien? What’s wrong?”
“It’s Isis. She’s been uncharacteristically… odd, for lack of a better word,” he explained, pushing his glasses back up. He thought for a moment, then added, “Actually, ‘malicious’ would be a better term.” Evey was thunderstruck.
“Isis? Malicious? That’s so unlike her.”
“I know. Hey, who’s that coming this way?” Damien asked, standing up straight and pointing at a leather-clad individual coming towards them at a breakneck speed. Evey turned and squinted.
“It’s Rebs. I wonder what’s up,” she mused, using Rena’s shortened nickname. Rena skidded to a stop, literally running into Damien, as Evey had stepped out of the way.
“Larky, Defiance has been acting weird! She doesn’t hang out with me as much as she used to,” the goth exclaimed.
“Define ‘weird’,” Damien interjected concernedly. Rena looked back at the fellow who had kept her from falling face-first onto the concrete.
“‘Weird’ as in downright rude,” she worriedly explained. Evey was confused by her friends’ sudden change in demeanor.
“Both Isis and Julia are acting strangely?” Evey thought aloud. “I guess I’ll talk to both of them, guys. I’ll go do that now,” she said, looking at her two troubled friends. Their faces had taken a slightly uneasy turn.
“Isis is taking a midterm,” Damien argued, and Rena nodded her agreement.
“So is Defiance,” she added. Larkspur sighed, her breath turning into a small cloud and quickly disappearing.
“Well… I guess I’ll wait for them out at my dorm,” she conceded, her brown eyes expressing curiosity. Once again, Rena nodded.
“We’ll walk ya,” Damien stated with a bright, if anxious, smile, leaving no room for argument. Evey smiled a bit, though she was still quite concerned for her other two friends.
Once they had seen Evey back to her dorm, Rebel and Damien both took off for theirs. The brown-haired girl then turned to her computer, pushing the ‘on’ button and waiting for it to boot and load. Soon, she was able to access her chat history, and she opened one that had been saved about a week ago. She started reading it from the top, noticing when she and the other two had dropped out of the conversation. What she read afterwards, she found terribly disturbing.
Illuminata and Pyromanic had been exchanging plans and tossing ideas back and forth. Under any other circumstances, this was not a big deal. But these were hardly ‘any other’ circumstances. Evey hurriedly printed off pages of the chat and picked up her cell phone, which she always placed beside her keyboard. She dialed a number, then waited for the other end to pick up.
“Chief Inspector Hart speaking; who is this?”
“Inspector Hart, it’s Larkspur.”
“Ah, Detective Larkspur. Good to hear from you. What’s the business and nature of your call?”
“I’ve got some undeniable evidence of a hatching conspiracy. I’ll e-mail it to you right now.”
Later on, Evey contacted Damien and Rena as soon as they came online. She asked them where Isis and Julia were, to which they gave the reply that the girls were still in the Chem Labs. Chemistry Labs…? Oh dear Lord…The undercover detective then hurried off to the labs, her cell phone clutched tightly in her hand and the printed pages in her coat pocket.
Twenty minutes later, her cheeks red and rosy from the cold, Evey entered the building which housed the laboratories, searching for the chemistry room. She found one of the doors slightly open for ventilation, and peeked through the door window. There, at one of the many tables, sat Isis and Julia. Strewn over the tabletop was a myriad of chemicals and materials, some of which could be used to craft makeshift bombs.
Evey listened for any whisperings, waiting for proper backup to arrive. She nearly gasped when she heard the words ‘napalm’ and ‘nitroglycerin’.
“This’ll rock the school for ages to come,” one of the girls hissed maliciously. Evey took a breath as she heard rapid footsteps just down the hall.
“Isis Venicelli and Julia DeFiore, you are under arrest for conspiracy with the intent of mass murder,” Evey called out, stepping bravely into the room. Isis turned, locking Evey in that gray-blue gaze.
“Little Larky, how nice of you to intrude upon our work,” she spat, her face twisted into a mask of depraved rage. Detective Larkspur’s heart skipped a beat, but she stood her ground, hiding the fear that pulsed through her veins.
“Going to screen-name terms, are we?” Evey inquired rhetorically. Giving neither Isis nor Julia the time to respond, she continued. “Fine, Illuminata34.” She then turned to Julia, also known as Defiance. “Et tu, Pyromanic? I don’t know what made you two think you could craft a way to kill hundreds of students, but I’ll let my boss find that out,” she said, as she heard an unknown officer’s voice barking orders just down the hall. If looks could kill, both of Evey’s former friends would have obliterated her with their glares.
Soon, Evey was joined by a small SWAT force, as well as some local officers and Chief Inspector Hart. Venicelli and DeFiore were swiftly taken into custody, and the Inspector approached his subordinate.
“Well done, Larkspur. Looks like transferring here from the Academy wasn’t such a bad idea after all,” he chuckled. But the brown-haired, slightly frazzled young lady by his side just looked on.
“Who would’ve ever thought that my friendship with them might have ended up being double-crossed…” she muttered.