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  1. Today
  2. Izona shook her head. "no, you'll be able to cast your magic, so will Siluca, and any other mages Lord Theo has. By maintaining the spell, and doing nothing else, I can ensure it remains that way."
  3. "Well, in that case," Marko smiled and took Colby's glass from him. He turned and poured the old werewolf a triple. "I agree with my sister, let's get to the 'filling in' part." Colby held in the chuckle but wore his own reply of a smile wide and proud under that thick mustache of his. "Lemme guess: this is the marching orders' 'get fucked' complimentary drink?" "Damn, that never gets old," Marko offered him a raised glass and a polite nod. "So, what's got everyone's panties in a knot?"
  4. Yesterday
  5. Firanis slowly straightened up from her predatory crouch, looking down at the bolt-caster in her hands in surprise. She frowned, noticing her finger on the trigger, tensed and poised to pull it. She took a deep breath and removed her finger from her bolt-caster, then swung it back over her shoulder. "Forgive me, I... I don't know what came over me," Firanis said, her tone puzzled, magenta brows furrowed in thought. "I was for looking for any sign of the silent insects, but did not find any." The tall, slender woman rolled her shoulders than ran her fingers through her vibrant hair. "There was... something, a thrum, a hum, and then the next thing I knew, Gord was calling my name and you all seemed as though you expected to be attacked." She glanced at Nyr and her bared length of blade, at Tessereah and the strange rod in her hands, then back to where she'd been standing in the tall grass. "This may have nothing to do with the thing we are investigating, or it may be a precursor effect, but in any case, I think we should stick to clear areas as much as possible and be aware of any unexpected sounds. That hum, it was... heady." A faint pinkness rose on her pale cheeks, though her violet eyes remained focused and direct.
  6. Vesper blinked, then nodded. That'd work too. Much easier from her perspective. "Okay, so we can still use our normal powers, just not the spells you taught us. Works for me." She looks at Yuuki. "You?"
  7. Ryan nodded. "Sure, we can set up several lines of traps on their main avenue of attack, and slow them down." Izona chuckled. "The Empire has perhaps five Magi stronger than the pair of you, who possess more than one affinity. Quite a few at your level but only a single affinity, mostly fire or air." Her smile was rather wicked, and she nodded. "Absolutely none at my level though." Theo thought about that. "As much as you've trained with magic, is there a way to set a Magical trap that cancels magic over a vast area? If we could take out all their spellcasters with one shot, that would remove their artillery capability, as well as some of their medical recovery ability." IT was a real ruthless strategy, and it surprised many. Izona nodded. "I can do that, but It would be all I do so long as I maintain the effect, assuming you want our allies to still be able to use their magic, and I would need a very capable defender, as i won't be able to move much while doing so." Ryan nodded. "I'll do it." He looked to the three women he came with. "This will be your fight to win then, We'll just make sure you've got a fair chance."
  8. "More magi doesn't mean better magi," points out Vesper. She then asked Izona "How strong are we, compared to them? I know you guys said we know more kinds of magic, but..." She trailed off thoughtfully. "What if they didn't have any magic at all? Would that be a good thing? I mean, we might not either. Except the stuff we brought with us."
  9. The Ship's avatar re-materialized in the engineering compartment next to Echo, or rather another avatar as the other was still in the control center conversing with Sunshine. Solanya pursed her lips and fixed the artificial life form with a glare. "I will forgive your disrespect of earlier and allow you to make amends. Are you the one responsible for the unauthorized modifications done to my space frame?" *** A soft ping alerted Sunshine to their imminant arrival atthe Drift beacon where they would emerge at their destination system. "Guys, we are there. Emergence from drift in six minutes." *** The rest of the crew, still in the lounge listening to Clevus all looked up at the holoform of the mouse-pilot. "Nice we're there," said Clevus leveraging himself out of his chair. "We should probably get to the bridge" Everyone glared at him. "You stay here," Eva said pointing back at the chair he had just vacated. With a sigh he plopped back down into it as the rest of the crew shuffled out and up to the bridge. *** Sunshine paid little attention to her crew mates crowding into the small control center as she went about her task of navigating the ship back into real space. As the found places to stand out of the way of her constantly moving pilots chair as she zipped from one console to the next the ship gave and un-felt shudder and the grey nothing of drift space gave way to stars and a distant burning sun. And there before them was a green jewel of a planet hanging beautiful and inviting in the star strewn sky. However what lay between the Solanya and the emerald sphere was decidedly un-inviting. Resting in orbit and spread beyond were some twenty capital ships of the Vesk, Flitting between the great warships and the planet as well as buzzing around the rest of the system were many many more smaller ships, shuttles and fighters. Sunshine flipped switches and took reading, There are over a hundred ships in this system guys, and they are all Vesk." "Well Shamit and Farcart! That's about ninety six more than were here when I left." Everyone turned to the door to glare at Clevus who was in the hall poking his head in the door. "What?" "Attention tiny spacecraft!" A hologram fizzled into being hovering in front of the main view port of a uniformed Vesk with an eye-thingy attached to it's scaly head. "You have entered a restricted system without authorization. Heave to and prepare to be boarded." On one of the view screens one of their small ships (not tiny which means bigger than Solanya) blasted away from the fleet on an intercept course.
  10. Cara felt a fist around her heart. Was Colby about to blow off his own head with a silver bullet now? For one, she liked him...as much as one could a man who transformed into a bloodthirsty monster, which she did have some experience with...and for another, it would absolutely ruin the foyer for a week or more. And of course, there was no way to set off Marko faster than to imply he had 'marching orders.' Which she was sure Colby well knew. Then again, this might be something else. Maybe best not to assume? "Well, lets start with the filling in then," she said, trying to cut in ahead of Marko's reaction. "I think we can all agree it's far past time for that."
  11. Sigil was not normally receptive to interpersonal cues, or empathic awareness. She was much more in tune with cosmological forces; the play of energy and matter, the dance of particles large and small. It was for that task that she was...optimized. But even unoptimized awareness was not zero. Firanis was reacting to something. She was the only one confirmed to have encountered the phenomenon before, so that reaction was relevant. She focused her senses in the direction Firanis had come from, peeling back the layers of information that defined reality in search of anomalies that were not registered in the prodigious encyclopedia she had access to. (using Scan esotery!)
  12. THE ANGELO ESTATE Colby, still smiling that annoying smile takes the glass and makes a long slow pull, savoring the rich taste of the whiskey, "Damn that never gets old." He takes a deep breath taking in the aroma of the whiskey then smiles some more and shakes his head at Cara's comments. "No darling that is not actually in question, I would be the one responsible for that little theatrical display. No i am here to fill you two in and give you your marching orders." THE MARSH DUSK Dan cut the motor draping the boat in a cloak of silence as it slid the remaining few yards into the grass lined shore. With deft movements he made his way with little rocking or upset of his passengers to the bow where he stepped off onto the soft but dry ground. it was quiet as he and his crew, Karen, Meave, and Emily left he confines of the boat with their ice chests and other things. Nearby Karen noticed other small boats tied to the wooded shore and in the distance she heard music.
  13. Tesserah's eyebrows darted up and down as she turned her gaze around the party's caravan. Firanis' movement had been quick and quiet, but she had moved like a flash. Now she stood ready as if she expected an attack. Tessereah slid the arm-length focusing array for her iotum ray from its sheath underneath her robes, and its triangular muzzle extended from her sleeve. She was aware that the pink-haired woman was more experienced and had seen stranger things than she had. It'd pay to be attentive if there was trouble.
  14. Firanis searched and could find nothing no insects of an sort, even worms in the earth eluded her investigation. But as she dug she became aware of a vibration, a hum which permeated the soil. It was hypnotic, felt more than heard, seductive. Firanis sprung to her feet grew dizzy with the sudden change in orientation. She looked back at the party tending the animals and preparing to resume their journey. First Gord became aware of her, then Nyr, followed by the Sigil and Tessareah, Grod pulled his weapon, the white haired woman hand on hilt an inch of blade showing. Both Sigil and Tessareah readied themselvs. "Firanis," Gord questioned? At the sound of his voice Firanis became aware that she was bearing arms and in a combat stance, that she had covered over half the distance from where she had glanced back at them and to where they were. She didn't remember moving or drawing her weapons. Or why.
  15. Maybe he doesn't work for the gallery, or a Senator, Maya reflected, as she listened to the brief, one-sided conversation about investigations and "surveillance footage" with growing anxiety. Just who was this guy, what was he after, and why, in the name of all the holy saints and pilgrims, was he invoking her name as someone who might be associated with whatever-it-was that she absolutely, positively, most definitely had. not. done? She was just beginning to regret having followed the Park Avenue Powerlifter (seriously, where do you find suit jackets for a back that wide?!) and sort-of-intentionally-accidentally-eavesdropping when he began to turn his head in her direction. What followed was the fastest change in demeanor Maya had ever undergone, from slightly awkward spy to immensely awkward party-goer: like a child caught sneaking down the hallway for cookies long after bedtime, the tall, willowy library assistant took a too-obvious step forward in a clumsy attempt to look as if she'd just arrived by mistake. Despite the guilt written indelibly across her face, she bravely made an effort to sound surprised at his sudden recognition. "Oh, so, hey, hi. I was, uh..." She paused for a moment, pursing her lips and briefly closing her eyes before smiling and giving it another shot, hopefully with more composure. "Sorry. I was thinking we might have gotten off on the wrong foot, and I wanted to apologize. You were right, sort of. I mean, about me." She laughed, nervously, and only after taking a sip of wine did she realize she'd just emptied the glass and now had no good excuse to pause the conversation if it took a turn. "I am. Lost, that is. A little bit. A friend invited me as a thank-you, and as you can probably tell, I don't get to do this sort of thing often." ...where "often" is defined as "never." "I'm Maya. Maya Flynn."
  16. Eric's Band of Scions were early. If they got special beads from Evelynn then the others weren't aware of it, but none were too surprised when Mercedes and her Amazonian bodyguards Porche' and Acadia were walking through the large double doors towards the music walking, talking and looking like a million bucks. Bridgette, along with Horace and Aaron were loitering by the doors waiting on her and the amazons. Bridgette seemed to be their version of Nadya and decided that a dress would just be too much the norm and decided on a pair of very short shorts, a corset, fishnets, implausible heeled boots and a top hat... because fuck it, why not? Horace looked like he just rolled out of bed and landed in a pile of own shortcomings and future failures that he cleverly disguised as disheveled hair, jeans a tee and a flannel. While Aaron didn't have Mercedes's money he looked like a walking billboard for name brands, from his shoes to the Beats on head. They all went in together but where was Eric? When the limo pulled into the parking lot it was obvious who it was. Laurie Brightman, daughter of the Sun God Apollo, waited for her chauffeur and guardian, James, to circle around and open the door for her. When she stepped out and cemented her claim as the 'loveliest' of Salem High's student body. Rachel and her group were certainly happy to know she was on their side and an evil smirk stretched across their faces as they thought the same thing when they looked at Laurie in reference to Mercedes. All that money that money the Scion of Aphrodite had and she would never be able to buy herself even one sliver of class possessed by Laurie. When the radiant blonde saw them she politely smiled at them and offered a wave of acknowledgement. When Eric stepped from the limo, who certainly cleaned up nice, by the way, the sudden sucker punch of confusion found it's way across all of their expressions. Even Yokiko completely perplexed. She took his arm and two of them walked up towards the doors. "I... have no words." Yokiko stammered in confusion. "He seems, calm. Eric is always so, how do you put it? At eleven?" "Worry about it later," Nadya pushed everyone out of her way. "We have a dance to attend people! Laurie may be a bit of a prude but she is still a woman with needs. We all know the rumors, Eric is a guy who can certainly 'bring the hammer down', so to speak," she kissed two fingers and raised them to the sky. "Reference to my boy Thor, big fan, loved you in Avengers. Now let her do her, and him do her, and let's get in there and do this dance." She took Rachel by the hand and snatched up Darci's too and while backwards pulled them gently towards her and towards the big doors. "C'moooon! Let's wake tomorrow and not have any memory of what to regret about tonight!" In ever window they passed and every side mirror they ignored as they chuckled and joked on their way to those double doors, Nadya's reflection screamed and rebelled against all reason. She pounded on the surface and punched at Niles, but no one saw her. They walked through the doors none the wiser, leaving their friend to be forgotten...
  17. Last week
  18. Salem High had won the game (no help from Rachel) so that could only mean one thing: the Homecoming Dance was going to be lit. Screaming, yelling, cheering and full on celebrating were already cranked to eleven by the time the Scions arrived. The gentleman of the school were in a variety of outfits, from nice clothes to full on suits while the ladies of the hour were in everything from short skirts to elaborate evening gowns. One thing was for sure, wit a victory under their belt, this dance was going to be one to remember. Music boomed from the large double doors of the gymnasium. Beth didn't just take a look at the sound system she improved it and everyone within several blocks of the school who didn't like loud music was currently hating life. The Scions met up in the parking lot so they could all go in together and, of course, the ladies had to take a moment to appreciate each others choice in evening attire. Rachel looked like she'd seen a ghost that was dying to be explained in a flashback in a later post, but her and Billy looked adorable (aww). Nadya and Niles met Billy and Rachel by the car and they looked like... oil and water, but Niles was living the dream and was currently an icon in the nerd comunity of what they could acquire if they just put their mind to it and went for the gold. As a result there had been an unprecedented 2,000 percent increase in nerds asking out attractive, out of their league males and females in the school. The current success rate was also an unprecedented zero percent in accepted offers from said nerds and startling increase in Hagen Das sales and adult anime purchases from Amazon. Surely they weren't related. Facts were simple though, Niles unknowingly upset a balance and that upset had to be corrected. He had taken from Fate and Fate demanded a payment in kind and until She was got that payment... no 'nerd' in Salem would be safe. Bullying was increasing, gaming servers were crashing, anime streams were failing to load, gaming books were like a magnet for ever food and beverage out there and a natural '20' hadn't been rolled (World wide) from the very moment Niles had uttered the final syllable of the incantation that had made all his desires come true. Fisher and Darci with Austin and Yokiko met up with everyone and when the entire crowd were together they looked like they were the clique' that owned Salem High.
  19. Locking the thread so I can catch up with the various threads... if you have something you must absolutely post pm me and i will unlock it for you
  20. Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland Warm sunlight flooded through the high windows of the auditorium of the Otaniemi Campus of Aalto University. Sean had spoken first at the conference on the social and economic impacts of the introduction rapidly advancing technology and what was and could be done to reduce those impacts and make the introductions more smooth. A German scientist was speaking at the moment. With strong social safety nets, the Scandinavian nations were adapting better than most, members of the EU to lesser extent. South America was in flux, as was Africa, the vast majority of the populous receiving benefits while dictators and corrupt leaders finding their strangleholds weakening. A similar situation was affecting North American, the lower and middle-class being lifted up while overly wealthy tech CEO, Executives, Venture Capitalists, and shareholders finding their power and share of the economy falling. Surprisingly, the economy wasn't collapsing, the shrinking hoards of the uber-rich being replaced by more spending capital from the lower and middle class. Sean listened with only a fraction of her attention, enough to follow the speeches and conversations and track the positions of everyone with her other senses as she let her vision roam far afield. Her sight flowed over the vast forests of Finland, then over Norway and Sweden, then picturesque fjords along the coasts. It wasn't as cold in Helsinki as most would think, as were the southern parts of Sweden and Norway. If anything, it was more mild than Montana was at this time. She wondered if Sara would like it here. They had ended an existential threat to the Earth and the human race - and Sean could still regret destroying entities that had existed since the beginning of the universe without begrudging the necessity - yet Sean couldn't avoid an argument with Sara. And over something that seemed so... minor in the grand scheme of things, just what they each had in mind for a house they would live in, and just where they would live, and even what kind of dinnerware they preferred. Part of it was a reluctance on her part to leave the only home she had known. It was a tie to her old life, one she had grown far beyond. Enticing lips curved in a rueful grin. Sara wanted something simple, classic, almost something with a white picket fence. Sean wanted something more grandiose, futuristic. She had started looking at the works of various architects, including Aalto, for which the Finnish University was named, and believed she found inspiration that was a compromise of both her and Sara's preferences in Frank Lloyd Wright, specifically Fallingwater and Massaro House, homes built with the local topography in mind, actually incorporating it into the design. With her and Sara's abilities, they could build it together, any modern - okay, hyper modern - conveniences could be incorporated in a more subtle fashion. She would speak with Sara about it when she made it make to Shelly. Or maybe when she went on vacation. Sean had already started making preparations for some time off, days or weeks, to let IS and her other concerns to function smoothly in her absence. She needed some time off saving and changing the world. There was a mystery she wanted to investigate, a mystery that had caught her interest back when she'd been a boy, and she believed it might interest Sara too. And it would give them time to away to talk and just be with themselves. <Let me know when you want to do it, Jeane, and if I can make it, I'll show up,> Sean replied idly, her awareness - or lease her extraordinary vision - swooping south and south from Scandinavian lands to sweep high over the Sahara Desert and then low. ~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~ The conference had ended for the day and Sean was sitting on the coping of the terrace of her hotel room, legs crossed. The snow was gone, but night had fallen and the air was brisk, the cold making itself known with the tight protuberances seen clearly beneath her thin shirt. She'd called Sara earlier, who had sounded tired after a long day working her with her dad while dormed. Sean had almost - almost - apologized for the argument, and was still considering ditching the rest of the conference to head back to Shelly and Sara. She took a sip of coffee, then pursed her lips in thought. She was making good progress at the conference, laying groundwork to make her ideas and suggestions more palatable and easier to implement, tailored for specific nations and socio-economic strata. Change wouldn't happen without turmoil - even a good deal of turmoil - but it could be managed, or at the very least, there could be something beneficial in place or waiting to be put in place when the turmoil subsided. She was somewhat concerned about the Russian delegate, Alexei Mendeelev, a noted material engineer and chemist. Definitely human, Sean had seen an energetic quantum imprint overlaying him. She had seen something somewhat similar when she had encountered Death Otter, but this didn't seem like one overwhelming the other, but rather the two working in concert, a symbiotic relationship, rather than parasitic. Other than the quantum imprint however, Sean hadn't found evidence of the Key with a cursory search. Something else to keep an eye on, if the Russian government had Keys working directly for them. Keys that could boost or enhance their locked agents and delegates. Sean arched a brow in surprise as she read the text from Kia. The text didn't convey a sense of desperation or danger, but nonetheless, Sean spun around on the coping and glided into her hotel room to pack up and leave. She considered checking out, but she might be back. She texted Kia to say she'll get back as soon as she could, then texted several others at the conference to say she'd be absent the next day, and possibly for the rest of the conference, mentioning a few other key points she'd like presented and that she'd keep an eye on the conference, time and circumstances permitting. Sean sighed in slight exasperation. It was never one thing, but a dozen. <I'll stop by there to take a quick look before we go see Kia, if you like,> Sean replied. <But Kia is concerning me more at the moment, especially with your... doppelganger gone currently. Be there in a moment.> Sean manipulated a device on her wrist that superficially resembled a watch, but obviously wasn't when a blue ray projected from it and opened into a portal. She hadn't be able to manage a true, maneuverable teleportation system comparable to the one on the Watchtower - yet- but had managed a more restricted recall device that could contact a specific portal in the growing Trans-Earth Portal System. This one was connected to the Portal at IS HQ. Sean stepped through the Portal and strode towards the nearest elevator with access to sublevel 8. Pentagon, Arlington County, Virginia Laurie Cassidy let her arm drop as the purple cloud of quantum energy dissipated, her shoulders slumping with the weariness and pain of fractured relationships. Of growing up. This was harder, hurt more, than being a bare sixteen years old and being thrust into the upper echelons of governmental politics as an alien liaison. She let the tears slip down her cheeks without wiping them away. "No matter how many times you say it, you're still Devin Jauntsen." Irregular Solutions HQ, Shelly, Montana "This is Irregular Solutions, yes," the voice on the other end of the phone replied, her tone professional, perky, and not a little sexy. Mikey decided she probably had killer dimples. "I'm Alexa - named before Amazon came up with it - and yes, we try to help any Key in need..." Alexa trailed off and after a moment, Mikey realized she was leading him towards providing a name. "Call me Mi - er Gerry Dorsey." "Gerry then." She sounded like she was taking the name at face value, but Mikey thought he heard a smile in the way she said 'Gerry'. "Gerry, this is a serious matter, one the FBI will definitely need to be apprised of. But we know circumstances can be difficult for newly unlocked Keys. I've escalated this and someone from IS will get on site as soon as possible, and that will be soon indeed, trust me. We can contact the FBI on yourself behalf, if that is preferable to you and leave you out of this as much as possible. If - and only if - you feel comfortable, can you stay on site until someone arrives? If not, that is okay, I totally understand, Gerry. No one should have to see a dead body, let alone three, let alone seeing them become dead. Get somewhere you feel safe, but please stay on the line with me, share with me all the details you can. If it's possible - don't put or leave yourself in danger, take any pics you can." Alexa gave Mikey a number he could text them to as well as an email address, both she assured him were secure and couldn't be traced back to him. Well, they probably could, but the few people who could manage it would be dangerous to Mikey in other ways and there was no need to give the boy something else to worry about. "And while we don't have an official statement on finder's fees, I'll see what I can do, especially if you are in need. You deserve something for getting something dangerous off the streets."
  21. Fi expressed interest in some day visiting Nyr's village, if the opportunity ever arose, if only to see a place with such history. And in turn, Firanis offered to teach the white-haired warrior what she knew of the Cosmologist movement, having practiced it since she was a child, taught by Camila Boyett herself. Firanis was stretching her exceedingly long legs during their peaksun break when she noted the eerie silence. "It's too quiet," Firanis mentioned to her companions, her voice pitched to just carry over the sound of rustling grass. "There should be the drone of digiflies and chiggs and other insects. It could be they sense the threat of some other dangerous beast in proximity, or..." Firanis glanced around, mainly to the north, looking to see if she could notice more subtle hints of the encroaching Darkening. Then she crept into the tall grass, crouching low as she brushed the grass aside, looking for any insects at all, alive or not alive.
  22. "Let me guess," Cara said, closing the door behind Colby and watching Marko and the old wolf quizzically. "The witches of New Orleans aren't too keen on helping you figure out who who's behind this whole 'evil magic ritual' that nearly had us all snapping at each other's throats. They said something along the lines of 'don't worry, we'll handle it,' and left you dangling."
  23. "None as powerful as the ones here," Marko said quietly to his sister. "I'm not fond of Originals coming here either, considering they all hate me one minute and love me the next. I'm gonna get changed, I think I have brain on my shirt. We'll talk about this later, definitely. ***** "Colby, you son of a bitch!" Marko skipped down the stairs, pulling a fresh shirt over his head. He passes Cheyenne and gave her a look. "Put some clothes on, you look like a whore." He kept walking barely acknowledging she existed and missing the double birds she gave him as he walked passed. Marko's hand smacked firmly into Colby's with a greeting he wasn't quite prepared for. He gave the ancient vampire an incredulous look. "You okay, son? You seem to be..." "Feeling?" Marko laughed. "Yeah, something new I'm trying. Long story." "Curse, I heard." Colby nodded his head. "Bad business, that. Whole of New Orleans knows at this point. You think it was wise to alert everyone to your, condition?" Marko shrugged with a sarcastic smirk. "All the thing does is make me a nice guy. I can still defend myself and others if need be so all it'll do is encourage the stupid ones to cross the line and we all benefit from it when I thin the herd. Bourbon?" Colby laughed and shook his head. Marko's head for strategy left a bit to be desired. "I would love some." "So," the vampire poured out three glasses of very old, very expensive bourbon for them. "What's up? What's so ominous that has you creeping around our door?"
  24. The office space was dark and quiet with but a single desk lamp to keep her eyes from straining from the monitors. She had three on her desk, the left one displays a nearly endless stream of updating emails, the right one displayed a 'Secret' logo on the desktop wallpaper where she performed her duties as the 'Alien Ambassador', sending emails and compiling briefs and documentation for those who made a lot more than her but did half as much work. To say that there were many who didn't appreciate her and the work she did was an understatement, she wasn't even a legal adult but was forced to be read into some of the nation's secrets simply because the aliens refused to work worth anyone but her. Politics was a brutal environment and Laurie Cassidy was surrounded on all sides by an innumerable amount of high society, next generation ivy league graduates that wanted nothing more than to take her place and prove that a fifteen year old girl had no place in a government office. They didn't know Laurie very well. The harder they pushed her, the harder the fiery little redhead pushed back. Her sister and her best friends were the very first keys and they'd saved the world, no, the universe, twice. She didn't know what mediocrity looked like and she'd be damned if she'd let anyone in the Capitol tell her she was just some stupid country girl. So, for weeks, long after the rest of the office had gone home she'd pour over documents, gather intel and work on compiling the future proposals for human and alien kind. That's where her middle monitor came in. Currently she was on page eleven of what seemed like an unending proposal that she needed to present to the NSA in two weeks. She read over the last paragraph she typed up, nibbling on the end of her pen as the words reflected in the lenses of her glasses. Softly she read a few of the phrases aloud, trying to make sure they made as much sense aloud as they did in her head. “Hey, Red,” came a soft, familiar voice from behind her. Her pen hit the desk with a rattle as the shock of hearing that voice along with the small fact that someone had sneaked up on her while she was working all hit her at once. She stood and turned to face her guest. Just as she thought she wasn't just hearing things out of fatigue and weariness. Devin stood there looking nervous and just touch shy for the right words. She crossed her arms and scowled at him. “Look, I know I'm probably the last guy you wanna see, but-” he staggered back several steps holding his face after her fist caught him mid-sentence. He sucked his teeth as he spun about, trying to shake off the pain of what was one hell of a left hook. She winced and shook her hand, as hitting any Key was tantamount to hitting a wall. “Ow! What the shit, Laurie.” I-,” Devin pinched his nose tilted his head back, looking at her at an awkward angle, his voice was nasally. “I think you broke my nose.” “Yeah? Well,” she pushed him even further away, causing him to stagger and almost loose footing. “You broke my heart, so fuck you Jauntsen. What was your plan? Say some more mean things to me and leave me hanging? Hmm? Maybe pop in here, say a few smooth words, make me giggle like a school girl and we'd be back to being “it's romantically complicated”? Maybe we'd make out a couple of times and be remain as vaguely noncommittal as possible so that way when the opportunity comes along you can, oh, I don't know... sleep with one of my other friends again?” He pinched his nose while trying not to give away darting eyes that noted he was already searching for an escape route in the off chance ginger rage went critical. “Okay, first of all, we weren't exclusive!” Like that excuse ever worked. Her glare could have melted a hole through him like laser beams. “If I wasn't wearing a skirt right now, I swear to god I would kick you in the junk. Who the hell do you think you are, Devin? You tell me off, in front of everyone no less, sleep with one of best friends, and then pop in like you wanna get a slice of pizza and I'm supposed to be what? Thrilled to see you? Spin about and leap into your arms in slow motion like one of your anime girls and we live happily ever after? I don't care how many times you save the world Devin and I don't care how many apologies you vomit in my direction. I loved you. I fell so hard for you and you tore my heart out. There's nothing you can say, Devin. Nothing. Don't you get it? There are no witty quips or one liners or immature jokes that are going to fix what you did to me. So please, just go. I don't want to see you.” The key lowered his head and inhaled deeply. It was never easy, no matter who you were, to hear people spout the unfiltered truth loudly into your ear holes and Jaunt, wittiest of keys, Captain One-Liner, was no exception to the rule. He pinched his nose a few times, he could boast that it would heal in a few minutes, but the simple truth was that the pain was real and it was happening now, on both a physical and emotional level and it was very real. Jaunt's immaturity was nearly as legendary as his feats, so dealing with the fall out of his own actions was certainly not easy for him. “You're right,” he said. “Laurie, I didn't come here to ask forgiveness. Those things I said, what I did, I own them and they hurt you. I needed people to believe I went rogue and I was so wrapped up in being some undercover super hero I didn't think about who might hurt getting there.” “And Lily?” She asked sternly. Devin chuckled. “I'm not apologizing for that. Look, I'm sorry that you were hurt as a result of mine and hers actions, but Laurie, we we not together. I was asking you, and asking you over and over if we were a thing. Over and over you played it off coyly and never gave me a straight a answer. What happened between Lily and I was not something we planned, it just happened and hate me of you want, but I don't regret it. My biggest problem in that whole mess was that I fell in love with both of you. I wanted my cake and wanted to eat it too, and that makes me a colossal douche'.” He took a step forward unafraid of a fist that might find it's way to his face. Laurie took a step back as she started to cry. She tried to cover her face but that never worked, instead she just let the tears flow while she covered her mouth to partially conceal her crying face. “I came to tell you that I am sorry for all the hurt I caused you and that frankly you deserve better,” he paused and sighed with self-realization. “You both do, and I hope you find someone who treats you with the kindness and respect that I didn't. That's alI came to say, but... should you need me, Red, I'll always be-” “Just, go, Devin.” She pointed to the door. “Go.” He took a step back from her and she could feel and see the spatial distortion forming around him in preparation for one of his famous teleportations. “It's Jaunt,” was all he offered as a farewell before disappearing in a purplish 'bamf' of quantum energy.
  25. *Cleveland, Ohio, Day of the Transportal Expo* If Lilly was perceived as the 'public face' of the Irregulars, Jeane had become their friendly Bigfoot since their escape from Pandora's Box, the towering blonde flashing through a different city or three every day with a smile, a laugh, and two simple questions before she blurred over and between the architecture of her hosts, sampling the local food, and running loops seeing and being seen in vibrant shades of red and white and blue, a bit of summer in a loosening winter. Generally seeing and being seen. Her questions, the ones that had a certain section of the population with a certain skill set buzzing? "How would you get there from here without breaking something? Mind showing me?" She had asked her question of the first crew of freerunners she had encountered once popping out of James' warp, crackling into existence atop a near-by wall with a wave just after they finished stretching, and happily volunteered to take tail duty. The first caveat had become a regretful necessity after some of what she still considered her peers despite how much more she'd become had tried... impressing her by being stupid. That was *not* her brand of Parkour, and if anyone kept it up after a warning… Crackle and she was gone. Thankfully this was not one of those runs, and she followed, restricting herself to the pace and possibilities of their slowest member, blue eyes drinking in the route they showed her. She'd be back. Later. Push herself without cheating her way via teleporting. Shave seconds off her time with each and every attempt. Be better. Oh, yeah this was a cool group so... Her phone vibrated in her pocket, the one with only a dozen very important contacts on it, bringing her pleasant musing to a halt even as her body kept up her ascent and pulled herself onto the latest roof. "Hold up a sec, guys. Gotta take this," she called, bringing her hosts to a stop as she popped out the offending device, frowning as she recognized the very very important message on a phone that had as much to do with a commercially-available model as a chariot to an APC. Shit. Okay. This wasn't bad. Not yet. "Something wrong?" volunteered the leader of the crew, a guy who looked like he was really pushing his confidence interrupting her silence. The blonde forced a smile and a chuckle, rubbing the back of her hair, "Nah. Just Key stuff. Someone else needs to take tail, okay? Gotta go." And without another word, she was gone, chasing an eerily familiar story about a young Key who stumbled over a secret and determined to see what else the others picked up by the time she got back to HQ.
  26. --==[The Dance Loft - Miami, Florida]==-- Maria staggered into the restroom a the dance studio, holding her head and wincing in pain. The headache was excruciating, sending Maria to the cold tile on her knees. She had been having headaches lately, and they seemed to be getting worse, but she had had chalked it up to a too much caffeine or too many energy drinks to fuel the long nights out, but this was different. Her mind jumped to thoughts of blood clot in the brain or a stroke or something even worse that just did know about. That was for the few seconds that she could still think at least, before everything went black. The grimace on her face slowly faded as she returned to consciousness, the tension caused by the pain receding as her eyes blinked open. She lay there, on the tiled floor of the restroom and sneezed as the scent of the time released air freshener hit her like a punch in the nose. She never remembered it being that strong, and for that matter, she remembered the walls being better insulated, and yet she could hear the music of class she had just left better than she ever could before from in the restroom, and several more classes as well. On top of that she could feel somebody staring at her through the gap between the wall and the door of the bathroom stall as she vanished. Maria was, in fact, still standing there, though even hyper-perceptive Keys would be hard pressed to tell. Maria held up her hand and looked closely her palm and the back of her hand for a moment before noticing that there was no reflection of her in the mirror anymore. She stuck out a finger and pressed it to the mirror, passing right through it. "Wha-?" the girl in stall stammered in surprised by Maria's vanishing act, followed quickly by a flush. The pain in her head was gone, but somehow was replaced with a sudden clarity. She somehow just knew that she has become a... "Key" was the term she had heard, and she instinctively knew what she was capable of now. She felt... awake, strong, energetic... She had won the genetic lottery and become like those super people she saw on tv! The implications of were just beginning to race through her mind when Julia, a fellow aspiring dancer and student in the same dance calls as Maria, exited the stall. She looked all around cautiously and then raced out of the restroom and back to the studio. Maria followed, reflexively walking to the doorway, and then right through the closed door. "Uhh.. some girl in the restroom just vanished." Julia announced to the class. Maria sighed, though nobody could hear it. She had been taking the same dance class with Julia, three nights a week, for two years now, and she did not know her name or even recognize her as being in the same class. Unfortunately, this was nothing new for Maria. She had been looked past and forgotten all her life, no matter how well she danced, how hard she tried to look her best or a plethora of other things. She was not ignored, because that would take actual effort. Instead, she was utterly and remarkably average in appearance and charisma, just another face in the crowd, rarely getting any sort of recognition, and it had chipped away at her self-image and confidence for years now. "Yeah. It was me," Maria said as she became visible again, causing the class to gasp. "Where did you come from?" "How'd you do that?" "You.. You're one of those "Key" people?" The questions came rapid fire and, for the first time in her life, outside of family events, she was the center of attention. She displayed her newfound abilities like they were parlor tricks as the other fawned over her, or more accurately, the spectacle of a Key first hand, for some time, until the end of class came and the other students had to get going, making room for the next class. With a smile on her face, Maria vanished and walked around, listening to the girls talk as they left. "Who was that girl?" "I dunno. She must have just wandered in off the street." "Didn't you get a selfie with her?" "Yeah I did.. Huh... it's just me in the selfie..." Maria silently sighed again as she came to better understand that her abilities where really just an extension of her regular self, even to the point of causing people to forget her, what she looked like, and obfuscating her from cameras. It would be hard to get any degree of fame or fortune when nobody could film or even remember you... Maria picked up her bag, causing it to vanish from view as well, and began to walk home with tears welling up in her eyes, utterly unnoticed by every pedestrian and motorist...
  27. "She what?!" Fisher and Darci were in Fisher's basement again, as they often did when hanging out. This time, Fisher was telling her stories of the Band's past exploits. "Spear-Finger broke my neck." Fisher patiently repeated, only to be surprised (or was it his plan all along) by Darci frantically massaging his neck the same way she did at Evelyn's shop. "I'm fine. It just hurt a lot. And those bruises you saw that evening were all that was left over." Darci withdrew her hands, making a small noise in acknowledgement. It was beginning to sink into her head now about what Fisher had said earlier about the reality of what he did and how dangerous it was. Totally non-Disney nastiness. There was a brief silence. Fisher knew both of them had their beads with prom accoutrements within. His revelation wasn't going to stop them from going, but... as what? Maybe they could figure it out later. "We need to leave soon." Darci observed, speaking for them both. "All right." Fisher got up and offered her his hand. "Shall we?" She took it. Maybe there was some hope.
  28. --==[Manhattan, New York]==-- "Okay....," Mikey stepped away from the gun and looked at the vacant hallway where mystery dude just upped and poofed. "Think, Mikey. Think. Is this shit really so strange? I mean... you were just on fire... so, there's that. The hell though?" He walked around looking at... well, he had no idea what he was looking for. Dude was here, now he's not, but he left a gun. The gun. His thumb slid across the screen of his smartphone, his fingers tapping in a few keys for a Google search. He tapped the number Google provided and waited for someone to pick up while he paced around. The police would be there soon, but they never negotiated stairs very well so he figured he had some time. "Uh, yeah," he began as a receptionist answered. "Uh, hi, look uh, some dude was just on a roof top sniping people and then teleported away when I confronted him. You guys have people that handle this sorta thing, or is it like an F.B.I. thing? This is Irregular Solutions, right? The mutant group that helps other mutants? Cuz, seriously lady... I have no idea who to call right now, three people are dead and if this dude it teleporting, there's no way regular police are gonna find him. He left a gun behind, weird kinda tech on it... is there a finders fee?"
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