Character Name: Isabeau Yves DuChamps
Player Name: M
|Hair Color:||Strawberry Blonde|
|Eye Color:||Hazel||Height:||5' 4"|
The cloud cover at 300 meters turned the usually azure water off the beach at Saint Tropez an ashy grey broken occasionally by tufts of white foam at the tops of windblown waves. At the end of a centuries old stone pier an immaculately maintained 1942 Chris-Craft runabout bobbed in the growing chop, the highly varnished mahogany of the hull protected by rubber bumpers as two men dressing in white pants and Navy blue jackets held it in place for three. The first, a man in his early fifties with iron grey hair stepped across the gunwale of the boat into the forward cockpit. He offered a hand to a beautiful fresh-faced redhead woman perhaps in her thirties. She sat in the rear cockpit and rummaged through her handbag, coming up with a silk scarf. The last to get in did so with an air of dignity that belied her tender age, fourteen.
She was the best of her parents, the big hazel eyes and slender build of her father with the strawberry blonde hair and perfect complexion of her mother, a ‘beauté vraie’ as a Parisian society column had proclaimed. Her name was Isabeau du Champs and she was the only daughter of Henri du Champs, CEO of du Champs Energie, and Fiona du Champs, nee O’Connell. The life style given to her to that point had been one of parental indulgence that had made her somewhat spoiled. On that cold, overcast morning, at her insistence, she and her parents were heading for Greece and the warmer climate of the Aegean aboard her father’s 50 meter yacht. As usual, she was complaining.
“Pourquoi ne pouvons-nous pas apporter le yacht au quai, pappa?” the girl asked, brushing away her mother’s attempts to put the scarf over her head.
“L'eau n'est pas assez profonde ici, Isabeau, je vous ai dit,” her father replied as the boat’s pilot stepped aboard.
“In English, my darlings,” her mother chided gently, her Irish accent undiminished after more than 15 years in France.
“Mamma,” Isabeau rolled her eyes. “I just do not see why we must always take the boat out. The sea spray will ruin my hair.”
“It is a short trip, Cheri,” her father said, turning to look back at her. “And you insisted on this trip to Greece.”
Isabeau crossed her arms over her chest and stared off into the distance at nothing. Behind them, the boats engine rumbled to life and the pier attendants released the mooring lines. Slowly the runabout moved away from the pier and lined up on the yacht three hundred meters from shore. Clear of the protection offered by the quay, the incoming waves hit the boat on the starboard quarter, spraying the occupants immediately. The girl made a disgusted sound and almost snatched the scarf from her mother’s hand.
“It is all ruined now,” she muttered.
“Je suis désolé, mademoiselle,” the boat’s pilot said.
The girl glared at the back of his head.
“It is not his fault, Isabeau, you know that,” her mother said. “We are almost there.”
Minutes later the pilot spun the wheel hard to starboard and the runabout gently bumped the foot of the boarding platform. One of the yacht’s crew was there to hold it in place as the family debarked. Just as they reached the cover of the stern canopy, the rain began and in seconds drenched the boat pilot and man on the platform. Isabeau du Champs didn’t notice as she hurried into the salon. Heading forward, she disappeared into her stateroom, intent on rescuing her hair.
The rain stayed with the yacht as they turned east, and if anything the temperature dropped. In her cabin, Isabeau’s fingers flew madly over the keyboard of her high-end laptop. She was obvious to the approaching figure, as was the entire ship’s compliment.
There was no attempt to stop the yacht, no effort made to take prisoners, just an all-out attack. The first hit scored destroyed the ship’s twin diesels and killed the engineer. The second blew off five meters of the bow. Behind the bridge, in the radio room, the operator began to broadcast an S.O.S. In her stateroom, Isabeau was knocked to the deck by the first blast. She snatched up her laptop from the bed and began typing. The second blast slowed the ship further, driving the now open bow into the sea. On her computer, Isabeau reached a friend. She stood by the stateroom windows and frantically described what she was seeing.
“Ghost Archer, we have an incident,” the computer’s voice said tonelessly in my ear. “Fifty-three kilometers west of Rome.”
“Send me to Rome, then,” I ordered and found myself in a cluttered alley.
“Mettez dessus votre perserver de la vie,” Henri du Champs ordered his daughter as he shoved the flotation device into her arms.
Already the bow of the yacht, what remained, was below the surface and the deck canted twenty-five degrees. Henri and Fiona had found their daughter still in her stateroom watching the attack through the now shattered window, blood covering her face. As Henri pulled the girl into the salon, the final attack struck ten meters forward. The yacht broke in half.
I caught sight of the HALO Combat Unit an instant after I spotted what was left of the yacht. Without hesitation, I ignored the departing attacker and dropped toward the stern of the boat, the only section that remained above water. Two people clung to a boarding platform, the man struggling to get out of his life jacket.
“Give me your hand!” I ordered the woman.
She looked up at me in surprise.
“My daughter!” she screamed. “My daughter!”
Now I understood the man’s effort to relieve himself of the life jacket. Grabbing the collar of the jacket I pulled it back into place.
“I’ll look for her!” I told them and hit the water.
Dark as the day was there was still sufficient light for me, my elvish sight working every bit as well underwater as above. Visibility for a normal would have been three or four meters but for me, I could see the forward part of the yacht as is sank, already 30 meters down, tangled in the twisted metal of the hull, a figure struggled to get free, struggles already slowing. Nosing down, I raced after it.
The explosion threw Henri and Fiona aft, off the stern, while it lifted Isabeau and tossed her into the gap between the two sections. Basically a hollow tube with the bow missing, the forward half immediately disappeared under water but not before the girl landed amidst the wreckage, her partially donned life jacket catching in the twisted structure of the hull. As she struggled to free herself, Isabeau’s thoughts strangely weren’t centered on her, but her parents. Her parents, she had been a brat to them most of her life. Would they miss her?
Darkness closed in as she sank and she stopped struggling. It would be easier just to let go, let it happen . . . vaguely she saw a shadow and for a moment she imagined a great shark swooping down out of the gloom to swallow her but the shark had a human face, a serious face and she wonder why the shark was so grim, after all, he was getting a free meal. . .
The yacht’s bow was passing 40 meters by the time I reached it. Catching the limp girl I grabbed the straps of the life preserver and pulled. The nylon resisted but whatever it was hooked on surrendered and she was free. Pulling her tightly against my side, I kicked hard from the surface, aided by the buoyancy in the girl’s life jacket. Five seconds later, her head broke the surface. In two kicks and I reached the other two survivors.
“Spock, four to medical, now!” I ordered.
Isabeau awoke and stared at the glass window six inches above her nose. She lay flat on her back and could tell she was nude. Eye darting from side to side her first instinct told her she was in a coffin. Screwing her eyes shut tightly she began to cry silently.
Henri and Fiona stood across the autodoc from me as I stepped on the floor release. The lid of the machine hissed and rose on its bottom hinge. The girl, Isabeau, lay perfectly still, the sheet up her throat, arms on top, with her eyes tightly shut. I nodded at her parents with a reassuring smile.
Fiona du Champs stroked her daughter hair and the child’s eyes popped open in surprise.
“Mamma!” she whispered. “Am I dead?”
“No, Cheri,” her father said with relief. “You are safe now.”
The last hour had been hard on the couple. Hard because they had no inkling of the capabilities the autodoc represented. No matter my reassurances, the fact their daughter was clinically dead for nearly four minutes had them in a panic. As the girl tried to sit up, I stepped out into the hallway. Raven was waiting.
“She is well?” she asked, looking up at me as if it had been one of our children.
“As I said, there will be no lasting effect, no brain damage, she is perfectly fine.” I assured her. “She is also a mutant, as I suspected.”
“Have you explained to her parents?” Raven slipped into my arms and rested her cheek against my chest.
“There will be time,” I replied.
Isabeau, suitably attired in jeans, blouse and sandals provided by Christie, sat between her parents on one of my library couches. I sat in an arm chair to their left, Raven perched on the arm.
“I have no idea how your ‘mutation’ will manifest, Isabeau, but it will,” I said.
Henri du Champs was everything I wished the father of a mutant to be, loving, supportive and concerned about his daughter’s future and his immediate grasp of my offer was gratifying.
“We will be able to visit her anytime wish?” Fiona du Champs asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
Henri half turned to his daughter.
“What do you think, Cheri?” he said.
“There will be none of those horrid giant men?” she asked me.
“There will be more,” I replied. “But not until you are properly trained and then you will always have backup, someone with you and the option to beam out with Spock.”
“You say my parents will be in danger if I stay with them?” I could hear the worry and concern in her voice.
“They found you once,” I said. “They will find you again . . . if you are where they can find you.”
Isabeau considered the man across from them. Her eyes strayed to the petite woman with the dragon tattoos and widened as she smiled. She had read of them, especially the man, on the internet. This was the American Ghost Archer and the one they called the Seeker. Both seemed larger than life, even if the woman were several inches shorter than Isabeau. Glancing at her parents she made up her mind.
“I wish to stay,” she said firmly.
Kyle Longstreet tried not to grin at the girl’s attire when Archer introduced them. It wasn’t that she was a typical teen dressing in jeans and a concert tee shirt or some other costume indicative of a particular sub-culture it was quite the opposite. She was dressed like a girl from an earlier era in a frilly summer dress the color of the sky complete with white gloves, matching clutch, low heeled patent leather shoes over white lace ankle high stocking. Kyle, in his usual brown tweed, felt perfectly dressed for the first time since he’d arrived at the Valley.
Bending at waist he brushed his lips across the back of her hand as he’d seen countless men do in the movies. Somehow it seems not only proper but correct.
“Mademoiselle du Champs,” he said, straightening.
She curtsied. “Monsieur Longstreet.”
Everith rolled her eyes and pushed off the doorjamb where she’d been leaning since she’d arrive the moment before.
“I will remember that, Monsieur Longstreet,” she gave him a slightly wicked look.
Kyle recovered, something he was becoming adept at since he had been lucky enough to meet the angelic Everith. He pushed his glasses back up his nose and gestured for her to approach.
“Mlle Isabeau du Champs may I present Mlle Everith Angeles, your music and dance instructor.”
Again the curtsy from Isabeau which made Everith nod slightly.
“At last, someone with style,” she said. “I think I shall like this one.”
Everith gave her a heavenly smile.
“I am so very pleased to meet you, Mlle. Angeles,” the girl stammered.
“We shall have to dispense with the ‘mademoiselle’ and ‘monsieur’ if conversations are to avoid becoming tediously formal. You may call me Eve,” Everith said. “I shall call you Isabeau.”
“And I am Kyle,” Kyle added.
Isabeau gave a little nod. “Yes, very well,” she said.
To Everith Kyle said “Archer has asked me to introduce Isabeau around. Care to join us?”
“I fear Tiger has requested some concerted scratch time and I promised him,” Eve replied. “I shall look for you in a bit.”
“Tiger?” Isabeau cocked her head.
“Large, feline, orange with black stripes, white face, whiskers. . . “ Everith described..
“A real tiger?” the girl said, her mouth open.
“Oui, but he rarely eats students,” Eve assured her with a little wave.
Beside her, Kyle shook his head with a rueful smile. As with everything she did, Everith kept his attention glue to her until she pushed open the door to their shared tower. Isabeau looked up at the young man inquiringly.
“It is not a REAL tiger . . . “ she said.
“Oh, yes, he is very real, and he has fish breath,” Kyle replied. “Let’s go find the rest of your classmates.”
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