Shanice didn't take any offers to call home. But she does ask Tamar to order a Rio de Janeiro Christ the Redeemer postcard and a stamp for her. She writes basically "Best vacation ever! Can't wait to see you at Thanksgiving!! <3 Shanchan" She's spent a lot of time and paper practicing before writing on the postcard to get it perfect. Then she gave it to the staff to mail however they do it to leave no tracebacks.
If anyone nefarious gets a glimpse of it, they're welcome to try avoiding detection while casing the Walker house at Thanksgiving only to find absolutely nothing. No Shanice, no family coming over to celebrate, no abnormal grocery shopping, nothing. There are eyes in the house looking out for suspicious things, though.
A week later, December 5th, the Walkers drive off to dinner a little earlier than usual, but hit I-4 to International Drive and head in with a groupon to Texas de Brazil (Brazilian steakhouse) and get a table for four. ER Nurse Walker has worked every Thanksgiving forever, so their traditional holidays are offset to better days with no crowds. And just after they're settled, the new skinned Shanice and a handler show up to join them. There's no dry eyes at that meeting, almost entirely from the discovery of her next new look. The Walkers didn't seem particularly stressed about her vanishing these last few weeks with no word. Well, at least not after the postcard arrived. Dad and Shanice had plenty of conversations over what to do if one of them disappears on a mission but needs to get word home without compromising status, especially after the Hallmark 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered' episode of the soldier mom stranded in the Middle East.
Shanice asked Dr. Zoe if she wanted to be the +1 and get out of the fortress for a daytrip to Orlando if she'd count as a handler. But Shanice understands if that doesn't work and is cool and friendly with whoever goes. If it's more than one handler, then there were that many !'s and that many empty seats at the table ready for them. Any guest at the Walker table is family, as much out of Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving spirit as out of comradeship over enjoying the endless carnivorathon. At $50 a person, this is a rare extravagance, but moreso because Shanice skipped it last year.
Then there's the other thing Shanice has been obsessing about for over a month now, dumping on her parents that she's taking mom with her to TOKYO!!!!!! She's done tons of preplanning for the seven-month-away trip and found $1400 roundtrip tickets and $180 a night hotel rooms for the week of the Friday Aug 7th game, so if they reserve Everything now and save $600/mnth every month, it's going to be super coupon tight, but they'll totally do it. Them not needing to cover her on their insurance anymore will totes cover a lot of that. The level of delayed fractional dawning Shanice had at seeing the tickets in the first place is flawlessly reproduced by Mom's look trying to figure out how she'll get that much time off at once hearing about it now. But there's no major holidays and it's enough months away so chances of it all working out are good. Whoever handed the tickets to stunned Shanice had gotten a huge hug. And that's the same type hug Shanice is getting from her stunned mom now.
The news that she's at a private school covered by grants is a relief. They do give the handler verbal agreement by the end of the dinner on all that, and can deal with the paperwork and medical records later easily enough. Plausible Deniability lends to practically zero information really being imparted about school above or below the table. They important part is they can see how happy and confident she is, no major red flags from the handler, and the assurance from their daughter that, seriously, if it ever gets stupid, she can literally just fly away. Dad and daughter do exchange a lot of representative, metaphorical information in terms of movie references, but mostly just solidifying how tope and dime and beast everything is rather than actual details on specifically how.
If Dr. Zoe is the handler, then the two African-American medical career women are bound to have a conversation on their own that could be in vagueries about Shanice's condition or could literally just be about how ridicules their line of work is, anywhere. If it's more of a nameless security goon, then it's more Dad's job of politely, inoffensively, interrogating, or chumming up just fine with mutual military vehicle misadventures. Mom's brief interview would be satisfying her own curiosities about the school's medical capabilities, but not digging into anything too extreme.
Both her parents pick up on how hardbody she is now, even passed the new skin that ... they'd never thought they'd ever see her entire life Before she become something even further from it. It takes a lot of convincing to not take a family picture, but even if the handler's don't step in, Shanice isn't comfortable with it herself right now. Not yet. She feels like the explanation for her new look is obvious enough. She's in with other 'special teammates' now and one of them figured out how to make her look like this, nuff said.
It's hard to say goodbye, but it helps that everyone's nearly in a coma from consumption. She tells them she's 50/50 on coming back for Christmas, but that's no doubt a time-shifted holiday with offset traditions to and they accept it. All the proud-and-crying Walkers are off to their respective homes once more.
Like all championship soccergirls, she's basically insane. Coach had her running, kicking, headballing, situational awareness of her teammates. Daddy gauged her combat training by how much the Parent Teacher conferences made him smile, because he couldn't stop the bullies from verbally abusing her, but he wasn't career military to watch his kid get in physical altercations unprepared. When it came to nonlethal attacks, she is efficient, and savage. Twist the pinky till they're on the ground and Then kick them in the nuts. Then there's her ER nurse mother's encyclopedic knowledge of how human's break, and in hard to spot or prove ways. Shanice can scratch and rip hair with cheerleaders, make teen footballers squeal, and knows some really slick disarm and escape moves. Turns out, after a fashion, the bullies decided to avoid physical contact.
Caleb puts it together pretty fast. She's hasn't spent much or any time in a gi in proper martial arts kid classes, but what she's learned growing up are a handful of really solid skills, like a basic judo throw, a brazilian jiu jitsu ground escape, krav maga disarming. She's primed to go straight to the aggressive stuff. The slow part for her is transition to lethal moves, because everything she's ever done was nonlethal. But it's in her head and easy to get in her head that she's already killed two bad guys, and she'll eventually need to do it again. She'll likely spend extra time in the holoroom trying to get comfortable with acting fast and brutal And lethal.
(currently capped on fighting d6 to agility d6)
The separation of Academic Time from Body Time from Power Time makes all the sense to her, just like school from sports. As an extra cirricular, though, she actually wants pilot training. It's ... an embarrassing thing she doesn't want to voice but ... she can fly ... and ... every flying superhero ever has to save an aircraft at some point. It could happen. Also even if she's outside one and can't bubble the whole thing but can use shapes to help stabilize it somehow, she really doesn't wanna practice "3rd person FlightSimX w/Oven Mits" for the first time with live passengers on the line. Then there's driving. Yes, she might get so frustrated with parallel parking that she might look around for anyone watching and cheat with a disc hovering the car sideways into space. But she's also spent a lot of time bubble moving cars in parking lots and has a profound sense of spacial geometry with them ... just not the steering radius limiting rotation aspect. No daughter of a third generation Armored Cav. Walker puts off driving.
She's eager to get back into languages, having fallen behind during her year essentially alone. She does catch up, but that doesn't raise her to a new skillful plateau as much just get her back on track for this private school grade level. She'll tell anyone she's not that smart, but it turns out she actually is. She stopped school, but not reading. Now she has individualized tutoring, her self-confidence, self-image, and anxiety levels. There's no measure for the difference it makes when she can march around campus with that pendant on, or break a sweat with it off with a team that's on her side. She voiced her practicality issues with the "bodypaint spandex" uniforms, but after two months here, compared to teen girls, she's got Marilyn Monroe magnetic confidence and will wear anything. It helps that pimples are isolated chemical buildups and not necessarily genetic features a holo-pendant should waste any processing power recreating. She'll immediately be in the control room looking for technicians if it does.
(skillups: academics d4, piloting d4, driving d4)
She was a rock star the night they broke out. It was hard to tell what anyone else was doing. it was all happening so fast. But by the end it was her fending off multiple shooters with a double walls while Caelin was helping but in purely Hulk-Smash coventional ways. She'd done the double wall before, ... once ... on a clear, sunny day ... at 1mph ... slowly herding cows ... and the cows weren't shooting at her. She's burrowed in a bubble and she knows she can make another shape while doing it, but ... the logistics in her head give her a headache fast. That's an area she needs outside eyes and telemetry to coach her technique.
But the part that grips her mind completely is when the brains tell her she can theoretically group people into bubbles without having to focus on them individually. Sure she wants to fly faster and lift stronger, but the potential to protect multiple people in one bubble is her absolute driving goal. The first time a holo-episode includes a collateral human or pet getting injured from her actions, though ... she breaks down hard. Like days of focus training regressed from anziety attacks when innocents are too close to whatever she's doing.
(next part about Kat is cleared up that Kat is cognoscente enough of the triggers to not go there)
As for Kat's prickliness ... Shanice is used to constipated teammates on the rag. She doesn't take it personal, especially when it's becoming apparent from the adults that it's related to her powers, and she's really a super intelligent Moriarty agitator. At that point, once she can put a name to what she's seeing, she's duely impressed watching the genius work, and more able to let the barbs slide.
When it comes to team exercises, Shanice is always ready to pull some desperate move trying to save the YOLO ferret, but honestly she does that for everyone. Shanice does get frustrated when it's team exercises falling apart, though. She will call out Kat when it's legit Kat's fault, but always strictly professional, always about the objective, never even remotely personal. And she will be just fine with Kat rebutaling as long as it's about the objective and not personal, and can also ignore personal attacks to a point if she can rationalize it as Kat having tourettes rather than actual malice.
If it turns into pranks, though ... into anything construed as a cowardly bully move to make fun of her in an unbalanced personal way ... that would break her. She really does have PTSD in terms of bullying and pranks and there's a long list of triggers. Unfortunately, that includes pranks that no one else is likely to notice till it's too late are going wrong, like if someone had chalked erasors over the door that no one realized till it was too late she was seeing it as a white blotched black skin visual gags. She would spend another day in her room socially catatonic if the pendant itself still didn't change her own teammates betraying her and making fun of her flaws.
Rob: There's no hiding Shanice has a crush on Rob. She knows it, but she'd be the last creature on earth to realize everyone else knows it, too. Or other teens might be failing that perception-of-the-obvious roll, too, like Rob himself, dunno. The first time they met was him walking in on her naked changing, and he didn't make it weird or have any negative reaction at all. And that about sealed the deal with all the answers for her. He's apparently the only cis-het male on earth. All the other males are friendly, gay robots. She probably doesn't have a chance, but ... well ... he's the only one on earth, so ...
Caelian: What's not to like about a giant fezzik teddy-hagrid? She's completely comfortable with a supportive hug or leaning against him, especially if he's having a self-image-problem day. She can see the pain in him around the funeral. She offers to go if like ... teammates going is a thing and ... dunno, um ... if he wants ... she can dig a huge grave in one move and hold all the ground up then put it back perfectly .... probably.
When Kat calls Caelian Large
, Shanice can't help but go through the ENTIRE list of Big McLargeHuge names from MST3K Space Mutiny during exercises or a chance to make them all watch the episode. Hopefully she can get Caelian to laugh or she'd be a terrible person and hide it till he's away. They really are terms of endearment and awesomeness, not meant to by bully names.
Jason: Fun to have another flyer to compete with, and even more randomness with his shapes than she can think up with her bubbles. And PUPPEH! She's legit happy for him getting his puppers back.
Samuel: Might not be often, but can really get into neat discussions with him on sci-fi or steampunk or nerdy stuff.
Kat: Can appreciate watching her 'work.' Does giggle at the stories that invariably follow every time the adults are duped into letting her out into public. Isn't avoiding, but isn't actively trying to get closer, and definitely isn't trying to get in her way. But unless something goes notably south, Shanice is amicable. As much as Shanice loves her pendant, the attention to it might be confusing or weird. But hopefully at some point it will click and Shanice will extrapolate out that Kat has been actively avoiding tender topics. That would actually spawn a kind of liking her. Like an "aww, you murdered fewer kittens today because it's ms. cleaver's birthday .. that's so sweet of you. you really do care." Shanice literally just one day is nicer to Kat and less bothered by anything she does, even when it complicates something for the team. She'd even be more likely to defend Kat now and then.
Constance: When Shanice went into shock seeing her new supernormie image, Constance was the first to give her a hug and help talk her through it. In Shanices world, hugs are a family thing. The 75yo+ church lady contingent gave hugs, too, but that's about it. So that made an impression on her that Constance was a loyal teammate and good person. She's comfortable around her, including contact.