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About This Game

Aberrant: Weirder Stuff is an Aberrant game using an original setting. In Aberrant: Weirder Stuff (henceforth AWS) you will play a young Quantum Enhanced Human who must decide how to live with your new found powers and what role you will play in the coming world upheaval. It is a modern setting/Supers/Scifi/Weird Adventure which will run in a concurrent time line to our own reality. Focus will be Character Drama, Us against them, facing the Unknown, and Action. Oh and there may be sex.

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Aberrant: Weirder Stuff this is an Aberrant game using an original setting.

In Aberrant: Weirder Stuff (henceforth AWS) you will play a Quantum Enhanced Human who must decide how to live with your new found powers and what role you will play in the coming world upheaval. It is a modern setting/Supers/Scifi/Weird Adventure which will run in a concurrent time line to our own reality. Focus will be Character Drama, Us against them, facing the Unknown, and Action. Oh and there may be sex.

The game will begin, but not be restricted to, a small town in Montana. The town is a Fictionalized version of Shelly Montana ( based on the town of Shelby  http://www.city-data.com/city/Shelby-Montana.html ). The general public are not aware of Quantum Enhanced Humans (Novas in base aberrant), although if your a nerd and google every weird thing in the world (I'm not saying it's aliens … but it's aliens) there are stories of... well weird shit happening, some of which are true.

Enhanced Humans first began manifesting about 10-15 years ago, although these early manifestations were primarily low level mega stat recipients and went undetected by even those who manifested. Over the intervening years more low level manifestations have occurred and were first discovered by the government agency responsible for creating them (unknowingly, more on that later). This discovery took place about 5 years ago . The exact cause of the manifestation of super normal abilities is not yet known but there are theories. There are few QEHs (Quantum Enhanced Humans) in existence all of which are from the united states and all who manifested in one of 3 locations and all of which are government employees. These couple of dozen or so QEHs possess powers that range from low level mega stats (1 -2 dot) to low level provable psychic abilities such as telepathy, esp, etc. The government is unaware of any massive super powered people and in fact there have been no such manifestations. Until now.

  1. What's new in this game
  2. locked until i fix this...anyone else planning to quit needs to tell me now
  3. You are dropping Starfinder? Why?
  4. I don't think you should scrap everyone's fun over two people not getting along. We resolved the issue and everything was fine. If you don't wanna do this, that's fine, you do you, but I think punishing everyone because Noir and I can't along is a bit harsh. However, that's on you and everyone else. I wasn't in the game anymore so the declaration doesn't affect me. All you're doing is punishing the others at this point.
  5. "We didn't discuss anything, we were going to, but were interrupted by Sean." She pointed out. "Charlie, you're sweet, and I see what you're trying to do, but I'm not an Irregular anymore. I can't keep doing this with people I positively hate and I blame for what happened to my brother. It's like working with the enemy, and all I ever hear is 'we'll look for him soon', or we'll get on that right after this', or 'this is more important'. If it were Lilly's dad that was missing, best bet we'd be looking for him, but no, it's just my brother and they don't don't seem to overly concerned to help me with that, so I'm done. I'll find him on my own, somehow." "It's a club full of empty promises that I simply can't be a part of." The hand on her dislocated shoulder began to spasm and she held it tightly with her still good one. "You'll never actually be one of them Charlie. You'll always be 'the help' while they play the hero. Good luck to you, though." She offered him a warm smile as she waited for Abel to summon his personal gate maker to send her home... to a house where the Irregulars had evacuated her parents to some unknown planet.
  6. Charlie pinched the brow of this nose as Tease ran her mouth off again, turning from an extremely beautiful girl with a hidden heart someone to... a bitch. This happened again and again. "So I'm guessing you don't want me along on the thing we discussed?"
  7. "See?" She looked to Sean with a smirk. "People are easy to manipulate. I'm living rent-free in her head, and she's too much of a coward to stand here and listen to anything I have to say. Always turning her back, like what she did to Laurie and Sandy when she was busy fucking my brother. But, oh, watch as she takes the moral high road with everyone else. You want me to take orders from you? From any of you?! Then be people worth taking orders from. Be leaders. You're not. You're pathetic, every fucking last one of you." She looked at Pete, quirking up an eyebrow. "Okay... maybe not the lead singer of the The Cult over here, I can't really judge him yet, considering we just met." "Summon your slave, Abel, and send me home." she waved her hand. "I'll find and help my brother on my own. I don't need any of you. Your P.A.M. suit will at my place, pick it up anytime you like."
  8. Lilly clinched her jaw at what Tease said, looked down, crouched, and picked up a large rock in each hand before rising again. She clinched her fists around each rock and closed her eyes, taking in a deep breath and slowly exhaled it. Visible heat distortions emanated from each of her fists as bits of glowing, liquid slag dripped from between her fingers, the sheer force of her grip being so great that she was heating and melting the rock in her bared hands by pressure alone. She opened her hands, letting the globs of glowing, red hot slag fall to the ground beside her, finishing her exhale. She then turned to Tease and stepped closer to her under Sean's weary gaze. They had never seen Lilly, the rock of the group.. the glue.. quite like she was today. It was to be expected to a degree, really, but with Tease's unrelenting verbal and emotional jabs at her, it was clear that she was breaking. Already she had had several totally uncharacteristic outbursts, seeming growing more and more unstable with each one. Kia, Sean and Abel all knew Lilly and where her morals and standard were, but right now, it was hard to tell just how intact they still were, though, at this very moment, she at least seemed to be composed once again. Lilly spoke to Tease in a calm tone, not a forced one, but one of seemingly true sincerity, "You have been given chance after chance, and talked to over and over again, but you do not want to get with the program, for whatever reason. All you seem to want to do is bitch, nag, insult, nay say, berate, and kick people when they are down. Even though you disregarded the plan, and walked off to do your own thing, just like Jeane who you are so pissed about for doing the exact same thing after you did it yourself, you were of some true help today, and we honestly appreciate that." she said, offering her now-cooled hand to Tease to shake, but knew full well it was a pointless gesture with her. She continued anyways though, "But thus far at least, we have not been able to depend on you in any meaningful way. You are doing far, far more harm than good. You have made that abundantly clear. So IF you do not want want to be here, be part of a team, stow your attitude, get with the program and help out, then we neither want nor need you here. We truly appreciate what assistance you did manage to provide, but we will get by without you. We did before, and I am sure we will continue to do so." she said as she turned and began to talk away, saying over her shoulder, "I am sure Abel can see to your transportation if you wish to go." Lilly stopped after a step or two, and turned back around to face Tease again, "But... IF you stay, then you stow that attitude and get with the program. PERIOD. No more bitching, nagging, insults, nay saying, berating. You work as part of a team that supports and helps each other. I imagine that is probably impossible for you to do, and that is fine, but I try to see the best in people and give them a chance to show it. That is something my father taught me." she said as she looked Tease in the eye, her gaze becomes more calm... serious.. intent... "Otherwise, go please and be thankful the next time you hug your father that you still have one to hug, because that is something your brother has robbed from me." she said with a faint, sincere smile and a single blink of her watery eyes to hold back some tears. "The choice is yours. But no more fence sitting, or half-ass committing." she said as she turned and began walking away again. "I'll follow the bear back to the point of... enhancement?... and look for anything unusual, since there may be a timer on it. I'll see if I can pick up other tracks in the area too. Any of you who want can stay here and talk to Pete, or bring him along if you want. He seems to know more about what was going on that we do. I'll leave that up to you. I am heading that way though," she said as she pointed toward the obvious trail left by the formerly gigantic bear. "If anybody needs a lift, let me know." layed out, apparently totally composed once again, or at least focusing on the task at hand to the point of mentally pushing everything else aside.
  9. "We know, Lilly," Kia said, and gave her friend a quick hug. "Everyone's just...scared and mad and it's hard to think." She knew how that felt. On seeing Pete, she gave him a bright smile and a wave. "Hii...Pete? Jeane said you helped her, so...thanks for that. None of us really knew what to do other than just try to kill it. That felt kind of wrong though."
  10. "We're abit older than that Pete, all between fifteen and eighteen." Abel said dryly. He wasn't in the mood for much more insanity, he really just wanted to go back to the abandoned base under the ice. "We aren't Super heroes, we're people like everyone else, or we were up until about a better part of a year ago in most cases. We're still dealing with changes too, and the stress of everything today has us all on edge."
  11. Pete shook his head. "Wow. I seen most of you on TV. I thought you'd be, I don't know, more superheroeish." He looks at Little Fire, "Is that a word? Superheroish?" He shakes his head again, "Anyway, your more like my little cousins, their 11 and 12."
  12. There wasn't a whole lot Jeane could do to support Lilly here and now, the gentle yet precise dismissal of her earlier concerns feeling quite abit like she imagined a nipped ear felt, a warning not to push and reminder that teeth could rip flesh as well as hold it still. So she offered a 'get 'er' nod to Lilly and withdrew to the edge of the group where a bemused-looking Pete waited with that air of infinite calm that made Jeane want to slug him in the face right now. Sage took one look at her face and fell back to give them some room, looking fairly unflustered himself. Not her problem, not right now. "Did you know this would happen?!" she demanded in a furious whisper, gesturing at her, well, everything and glaring down at him. The anger helped center her, a tiny pilot light in the murk of confusion and so much muchness today. "A river overflowing it's banks oft traces unexpected paths, Little Fire. You did well in jumping yours," he replied, eyes following her hands and reminding Jeane that she was in a skin tight bodyglove. A faint blush lit her checks, and she looked away. "...Well, thanks for your help. Glad the bear didn't have to die to fix at least one problem." She could freaking imagine his smile widening, even without looking at him as he spoke, "Sickness died to make way for health. Cycle restored." Yup. There it was, catching her eye as she looked back. "If my friends ask you the right questions. can you please give them a straight answer? Just one, maybe two?" "Perhaps, Little Fire. Perhaps." And Jeane couldn't help but laugh once, despite everything, the sound high and healthy and happy as she pictured the migraine Pete might bestow upon them all and not just her.
  13. This is a fiction written by both max and I, and takes place about 2 months into our 6 month break It was Abel's nature to plan ahead, usually a dozen steps or so. He limited himself to only a few for this, because of who his plans involved, and why this was so important. It was the Day before Valentine's Day, and he wanted to make this one special for both Kia and himself. To that end, he'd booked them a Private bungalow, now that money simply wasn't a concern. His abilities came in handy for that part, and looking to the future, money never really would be a problem, for any of them really, so long as they worked to move forward together. The bungalow he'd gotten was larger than any home he'd ever dreamed of living in but it offered something precious to justify the price tag, it was very private. With their ability to fly, it would be ideal. He'd already cleared his schedule, and had Kia do the same, all he'd tell her was that he had a big surprise, and that she simply needed to meet him by the lake at 2. He had already made arrangements with James, One of the Young Keys he'd scouted out personally. James had the benefit of being well traveled, being a miliary brat, and he could keep a secret, which was also valueable. The sixteen year old nova Emerged from behind the tree, and smiled, giving a little wave to Abel, who was standing there, waiting. "I want to thank you for doing this James, it's not some big world saving mission, this is just personal, for me." The younger Key looked to him and gave him an easy smile. "It's cool, you told me what you were doing, and if I can help you two out so much the better. We're friends, it's what we do for each other. You've helped me understand my powers, and helped me get better at them. I'm just returning a favor. Besides, this is a pretty easy one. I lived in Hawaii for a couple years as a kid you know." Kia arrived at the lake a little early and found a nice spot to just sit and look out over it. Abel's mysterious invitation was kind of exciting, but like most things these days she felt some conflict over it. He was a nice guy, brave and steadfast and determined, but there was always a kind of distance he held himself at. He'd say words that seemed loving, but there was always a kind of...rehearsed quality to them? It was hard to quantify. She just felt sometimes that maybe his powers and the intimacy they forced on him were causing him to build walls to compensate or something. But then again, maybe it was just her. Lately she'd just been getting...tired of this whole thing. Shelly and the military and...maybe even the Irregulars, a little. They were friends, and good ones, but...was this all there was? She could go anywhere, do just about anything. What was she ignoring to stay here? And it wasn't like the world NEEDED them anymore, mostly. The invasion was long gone. There were other Keys, and meeting them would probably be fun too, but...that wasn't exactly a full time job. A vacation, Kia thought, would be nice. Maybe a long one. What good was it to have powers if you only ever really got to explore them when you were fighting? But then, was that selfish of her? What about power and responsibility? After Sara, and then Jaunt... That thought was a real cloud over her thoughts. Devin. The worst part was that in spite of all evidence, Kia still didn't think it was real. Devin had always been a voice of reason. A loud, caustic voice sure, but he had called Sara out over and over when she'd started to go too far. And now he'd gone way past where she'd been. Out of literally nowhere. It felt off. But maybe she was just thinking wishfully. More and more Kia was starting to feel like the whole thing was just kind of bullshit. All of it. Part of her just wanted to wade out into the ocean and sink into it and live a different life entirely, putting all these troubles out of her mind. With a shake of her head, Kia roused herself from her thoughts and looked around. Abel should be here any moment, if he wasn't already. There was no concern that he wouldn't know where to meet her...he'd sense her if he was anywhere nearby. Abel saw Kia and smiled. She had a habit of arriving early, and he could always tell when she was around. Still he and James made their way to her. "Hey Kia, are you ready to go?" She looked up at him with a smile, and noticed the other Key somewhat behind him. Memories flashed, this was James Harrison, a Key Abel had recruited early on, who had the ability to open stable gates between two locations. The younger key seemed to have something on his mind, but at the same time, he had an easy smile. "Good to see you again." "Where are we going?" "That's part of the surprise. If you're ready, James would you please?" The younger Key opened a portal, one she couldn't see through, and Abel nodded, and reached out for Kia's hand. "Come with me Kia, I've got something special planned." As She took his hand, They walked together through the portal, which closed behind them. Exiting on the other side, They were in the front yard of a large bungalow with an ocean view. The aroma of the sea, of the coconut on the breeze, all of it was so familiar. Abel was obviously pleased with himself, and he looked to her. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, I wanted to do something truly special for you Kia. I know you've not been home since moving to Montana, and well, I thought it'd be nice to take you there. I know you loved it here from your memories, and for Valentine's Day, I thought it'd be nice if we could make new memories here together." "I want to experience this place you love so much first hand, and I can think of no one I'd rather have with me than you. For the next week at least, it's just you and me, in our own little slice of paradise." Kia was taken completely off guard by the revelation. She'd met the Key, but hadn't really put two and two together. Hell even when Devin had been with them she hadn't bothered him to send her to Hawaii. It was just a memory now, almost like a story someone else had told her. Seeing the beach again, smelling the scent that could only be in one place, meaning one thing, it all came rushing back to her. She turned and wrapped her arms around Abel to give him a fierce hug, unable to give the complex soup of emotions filling her up the right words. Abel's arms encircled Kia and held her tightly. He didn't say anything for a good while, content to just let her enjoy the moment. Eventually, she pulled back from him, and he smiled gesturing to the almost palatial bungalow he'd rented for them. "Why don't we go take a little tour of our home away from home, I've only ever seen pictures, and then we can see about going to town for food, and extra clothing and what not for our stay?" With a nod, Kia agreed, and hand in hand they went inside, With Abel having already arranged for the key and such. The interior was all wood paneling, from the floors to the roof,with no carpets anywhere. There was a large pool, complete with a hottub and spa, a sitting room overlooking the Ocean with a full wall bay window, A large gameroom and Den with a 70 inch television, and 4 huge bedrooms, each with a Queen or King size bed, fully appointed with big comfortable chairs pillows and the works. The Kitchen was spotless and had the essential tools and appliances needed to make nearly any dish. Buying a Condo like this would be in the multiple millions of dollars. Abel had truly spared no expense, and he was only just getting started. Still, he didn't want to really plan too far ahead. This was THEIR trip together, and beyond what he'd done, he wanted the rest to be done together. After the tour of the condo, he smiled. "So what do you think Kia? Do you like it?" "I like you," she replied, and hugged him again. In truth, the condo was really nice, but almost goofily over the top. She'd have been just as happy, maybe even happier, with a little beachside cabin or something small and intimate. Why four bedrooms when it was just the two of them? Why a pool when you were near the beach? Why have a game room when... But Kia knew that this was Abel's way of showing affection...like a cat bringing back a mouse it had killed. He was trying to tell her that she was worth all this. For a telepath, Abel still seemed to have trouble really understanding people sometimes though. The irony was kind of adorbs. Releasing Abel, Kia stepped back and said with a smile, "I have another idea. Before we go into town and do boring things, lets do what we actually came here for. I'm going to get my suit on," she jiggled her overnight bag at him, "and I'll see you on the beach?" "Indeed, on the beach." Abel nodded, having his own overnight bag, and went to change. His swim trunks were black with red stripes down the sides, and fit him well. He had a small waterproof pouch that held his keys and essentials, including a phone, though he wasn't planning on answering it. Still, he believed in being prepared. He had a white t-shirt on, with the Autobot symbol emblazoned on the front. It was favorite of his for swimming, though he went shirtless more often now. Still he knew she would be stunning, and he sighed. Here he was, waiting on Kia to come down to their own private little beach. If someone had told him his life would be like this three years ago, he'd have laughed and called them an outright liar. When Kia emerged she had on a loose, oversized white T-shirt with some slightly faded cartoon character on the front of it waving. Her bare legs gave the tantalizing impression she might not be wearing anything underneath, but Abel's sharp eyes could make out the shadowy shape of a bikini through the fabric. Somewhere in the condo she'd found a flower she'd liked; a pinwheel of pink and yellow petals, and she'd woven its stem through her hair to wear it. She didn't have Sean's exaggerated statuesque body, or even Lilly's sculpted athleticism, but she was every inch the super-cute high school cheerleader that she'd started out as. Well, sometimes at least. "Hiiiiiiiiiiiiii!" she called as she trotted down, barefoot, and looped her arms around Abel's shoulders to give him a hug. He could sense in her mind the quick reflexive effort...an unconscious flinch that stopped her from accidentally crushing him. Was she even aware of how hard she had to work to 'stay herself?' "We should make a fire on the beach tonight and cook stuff on it and just stay there all night," Kia suggested as she took hold of Abel's hand and led him away from the condo towards the beach. Abel was completely enthralled. This was pretty much his mental image of Kia, the cute young woman, with a little mischief, and an infectious carefree smile. He allowed her to guide him along, smiling the entire way. "If that's what you want to do Kia, that's what we will do." He imagined a night alone on the beach with Kia, and his smile grew even bigger. They'd not gotten to be alone together for a good while now, and even then they still had to worry about others. This time, it was just them, and he wondered if she was thinking some of the things going through his mind. A part of him wanted to know, and another wanted to keep going as they were, with her able to surprise him. In the end, the latter won out, because to date all her surprises had been good ones. The 'home away from home', like most expensive ones, had a small area of private beach associated with it so there wasn't anyone else around when they got down to it. Kia peeled off the shirt to show her red and orange striped bikini and quite a bit of dark tan skin, and dove into the water right away. For a little while they just splashed in the water...then Kia wanted to surf for awhile, and then she called out that she was going to do some diving and suggested Abel maybe start getting lunch out. It was another half hour or so before she came back out of the water, pulling her long, straight black hair back and favoring Abel with a bright smile as she came over to lie down on her stomach on one of the blankets he'd laid out. With a contented sigh, Kia just closed her eyes for a moment and basked in the relentless beating of the tropical sun. There were things to talk about, but first she wanted to enjoy this a bit longer. "Is this the furthest you've ever been from home?" she inquired without opening her eyes. "With the exception of going into space, yes it is. I'd never left Montana before the night of the Dance." he smiled, looking at her. he had made a lunch of their favorite sandwiches, soft drinks, and water. It was simple fare, and later for Supper, he'd go with a traditional barbecue, which he'd thought was always best for that meal. "I know, I'm boring. I didn't really know life outside Montana save through the internet before all of this, and now, here we are, Able to go where ever we wish to go, and do anything we wish to do. I've been a Key for almost three years now Kia, and it still seems to run the full gamut of emotions. Joy and Terror, Exhilaration and anxiety, Hope, and Despair, I am, we all are, so much more than the powers we possess, and we have so much potential left to unlock. It's that unknown that makes it all truly exciting." He didn't mention the threat loomed over them, he didn't want to bring things down. "I will say, there's no place on earth i'd rather be than where I am now, here with you." Kia laughed gently and reached out to touch Abel's cheek with affection. "How did we get from 'have you been away from home before' to 'gamut of emotion?'," she asked, that mirth still twinkling in her deep, dark eyes. "You don't have to talk to me like someone's taking notes for your biography. Just...relax and have a regular conversation." "Like...okay, this must be your first time to the ocean then. Maybe we can go diving sometime, or...we could rent a boat and go to some of the little islands? Is there anything you want to do while we're here?" "All of the above." came his immediate answer. "I want to go to the state parks of course, and see everything there is to see. i'd even like to try surfing. I'm the total tourist here, I'd like to try it all, all the things people come to Hawaii to do." He gave her a sly smile "and anything else you can show me. Like I said I want to see this place as you do. We may not do it all in one go, but then, we really don't have to." He chuckled softly. "So long as we have fun together, that's what this whole trip is really for." He breathed in the sea air and sighed, it was hard to just relax, and he wondered when that had really become so difficult. It was true, he could be doing a hundred other things, but that all fell away to the one desire he had. "Do we really need a boat to go though? You can swim or fly there, and so can I." "That," replied Kia primly, "is missing the point. We can do some flying around later, but boating is fun too." She gave Abel a curious look. "You can't really breathe underwater, right? We'll need to get you some breathing gear. And...we have a map, right? I didn't really see where this is as we came in. And we'll need wetsuits and boards if we're going surfing..." Kia beamed and got up to her feet. "Lots of stuff to do!" Abel shrugged and chuckled "We can go by boat, I was just pointing out we had other options too. Abel nodded as he addressed the other question she'd asked. "I can breathe underwater just fine actually. My body adapts to the environment around me. I've done limited testing, but I should be fine anywhere around here. Though, I've not actually managed to fly underwater, still restricted to regular swimming there." "Still we'll need to get all kinds of stuff, and I'm prepared for that too." It was true he could simply make anything the actually needed, but at the same time he would rather benefit the local economy by actually purchasing or renting what they needed. "If you're talking about a fold out paper map, no, I don't have one of those, but we do have waterproof phones with GPS and mapping apps." "I did rent us a Jeep for driving around the Island, that we will need to go pick up, but it isn't actually all that far from here." "Huh, okay. No breathing gear then. Really? I seriously didn't know you could do that." Kia shook her head and took hold of Abel's arm to tug him...gently...towards the house. "Okay, lets go get the Jeep!" Half an hour later they were driving along one of the winding coastal roads that threaded between towering palm trees, with the black cone of a long-dormant volcano rising up to the east. Kia was absorbed completely in the environment, soaking it up through her open window with a huge grin on her face. Sometimes she poked her head out so her long dark hair would catch the wind and stream out behind her like a comet's tail. Once she stood up on the seat so she could lift her arms over her head and shout...even knowing she wouldn't be hurt by a faceplant into the asphalt didn't quite erase the concern Abel felt. Then they were at one of the hilariously overpriced local shops, getting the big paper map that Kia insisted on getting, and some camping style stuff...and then just as Abel was getting into it, she ushered him back to the Jeep and gave him directions while consulting the map. This led them inland a bit, into one of the smaller towns where Kia quickly pointed out other shops to go to. Smaller, locally-owned places, with loads of colorful clothes that Kia eagerly purchased, and different foods and ingredients that she also snapped up. From there it was to yet another beach, after another consult of the map. This one was less sandy, more rocky, with the intense green grass and trees coming up quite close to the water's edge in some places. Kia unfurled a cover made from some kind of woven plant fiber over a flattish rock and set out some food. "From here we can see the sun set better," she said, motioning Abel to a spot beside her. Abel had allowed Kia to lead him around, paying for whatever they needed, seeing some things he thought looked good and buying them too, generally he just enjoyed being with Kia. Now, with Kia beckoning him to a blanket by the ocean, he smiled and and strolled over to where she was, taking a seat beside her. What he did next he could tell surprised her, as he leaned in and kissed her, not caring if anyone actually saw them. When he finally pulled away from her his smile spoke of his own happiness, and he held her gaze. "Is that all you wanted to come out here to do, to watch our first Hawaiian sunset together?" Even surprised, it only took Kia a second to melt into the kiss, leaning against Abel until he broke away. She then snuggled up against his side. "Just the first thing," she said contentedly. "We have time." Then Kia smiled and glanced sidelong at Abel. "Why? What did you come out here to do?" Abel just smiled and held her hand as she leaned against him, cuddled up against his side. After a little while, he seemed to have gathered his nerve. "I want you Kia, I have for awhile, I just didn't really have the courage to say it." he looked down at her and held her gaze. "It was easy to ask you to the dance, we were just friends, but ever since we started dating, I've been afraid I'd screw things up, push to fast, or just mess up, Kia." He gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze, and kissed her nose. "I want to do more than just tell you that I love you Kia, I want to show you." "Awwww," Kia cooed, and grabbed Abel into a big hug that almost forced the air from his lungs. She kissed him back, then settled in alongside him. "Thanks for bringing us here," she said softly. Together they sat after that, watching the sky turn from blue to pink to orange to yellow, and the sun burned as red and huge as Krypton's before starting to slip under the waves on the horizon. They shared the picnic meal, but had to pick up their things and move back as the tide changed. Then Kia wanted to go swimming, and painted herself with streaks of bio luminescence that glimmered electric blue and green and pink, giving a distinct impression of her form and movement even when she herself was hard to see in the deepening dark. You're welcome Kia." Abel finished the packing and then followed her into the warm Hawaiian waters, their things moved safely away. That reaction hadn't been what he expected, but he hid it it expertly. "I envy you that power sometimes Kia, you can be anyone or anything you wish at a thought." his lips curled into a smile. "It's pretty awesome, just how effortless it seems to be for you." She'd easily outswim him, but it wasn't a competition. Instead he planned to do the best he could and enjoy the time together. They got dried off and back into the car under the spectacular sky full of stars. With such a late lunch Kia just set up some snacks to nibble on while they watched whatever was on Netflix. When Abel started agonizing over what to watch, Kia just laughed and suggested he pick something at random. It turned out that she never had much intention of actually watching it. -- Late nights make for late mornings, and Abel awoke to the smell of eggs and...burned bread. After a minute or two to get his bearings, the unmistakable scent of bacon frying spurred him to action. The condo's main bedroom was kind of a mess. Clothes were scattered around on the floor, and the treadmill had actually been knocked over at one point. Nothing was broken, thankfully. Even with the considerable income at his disposal, Abel wasn't eager to lose the deposit for this place. On realizing his overnight bag was still out in the living room, Abel settled on a bathrobe to leave the bedroom in. The condo's living room, dining area and kitchen were mostly open to each other, with the kitchen and dining area just a sort of half-level up, separated by a railing. He could see Kia puttering around up there, and the smells of breakfast...and burned bread...were a stronger here. He could hear the bacon sizzling too. Kia had an oversized pink T-shirt on...her favored 'pajama' apparel. Normally someone might want something over their legs when cooking, but she could take a bath in boiling grease if the desire took her to do so, so...maybe not so surprising. She had a pair of slippers on too...the same fluffy white that the condo-provided robe had been. So that's where they'd gotten off to. She turned around and gave Abel one of those dazzling smiles before turning back to the stove to push bacon around aimlessly. The food smelled good. Kia wasn't really much of a cook, but it didn't take a lot of skill to just scramble eggs and make basic bacon. Making toast now...well...she'd gotten it on the second try by the look of the plates she was setting up. "Go sit," Abel's girlfriend commanded, pointing at the little round table off to the side of the kitchen. "Almost ready." He did so without complaint or comment, still untangling himself from whatever dreams and memories lingered from the previous night. They were closely twined together today...it was a little hard to be sure what had been real. Abel was pretty confident in his memory up until they'd gotten to the bedroom and the lights had gone out. After that... ...well, it hadn't been bad at least. Humming happily, Kia brought the plates over. Heaped with scrambled eggs that were topped with strips of bacon, with several slabs of toast layered with different flavors of jam. A breakfast noteable not so much for its pedestrian composition as for the sheer quantity of stuff she'd used. They'd have to hit the store again at this rate. "You know," she said as she took her own seat across from Abel, "It's kind of funny. I don't think I really need to eat anymore, you know? Like, it's fun and I like to do it...but I don't really get hungry. But there's just something really, I don't know...centering about just having food together, don't you think?" Kia lifted her hand and turned it this way and that, staring at it musingly. "It's so weird how much things can change, but you still sort of convince yourself nothing really has." Abel nodded with a smile. "I don't need to eat either, but I find it comforting, same as sleep if we're being totally honest. " The previous night was amazing, and one of the few times he couldn't remember. He had taken his seat and began to eat, even as they continued to speak. He didn't like for fancy foods, but he loved all the ones she'd made for this breakfast. "You did a good job cooking all this, you know. It tastes great, and good food is always made better by good company." "Much has changed, but so much is still the same too. The human brain is remarkably adept at accepting changes, especially if they're incremental. Argueably the changes for the Irregulars weren't, but I don't think we're really the best standard to measure against. Newer Keys like James and Maria are a better benchmark. I think part of why Lily uses her ability to shut off her powers more than the rest of us is to remain grounded and remember what it is to simply be a normal human." "It's good to have something that makes you feel centered, something you can enjoy doing." he chuckled softly. "You know, I could probably build a real Gundam at this point, but I content myself with assembling model kits. it was a hobby of mine for years, and man they were hard to come by at home, but I'd get them online. Now I can buy whatever I want, do what I want, but I still just keep with my one little hobby." After a few more bites, he continued. "That all said, we're more the outliers I think than the norm. Most other Keys still need to do all the basic functions of life, especially eating. We seem to burn calories faster than most anything else." "I used to be hungry all the time," Kia said softly, still gazing at her hand. "Like, all the time. And then it just sort of faded away. And now that I think about it, there's a lot of other things too...things that just faded away, without me even realizing it. Like skin moisturizer and hair conditioner and makeup and..." She put her hand back on the table. "I wonder if eventually having just two arms will fade away. Or one head. Maybe someday I'll just change completely, every second, to do whatever I'm doing the easiest way it can be done. Without even thinking about it." "I don't even know if that would be a bad thing, you know? It'd be weird, and I can't really imagine how it'd work, but...would it be bad?" "That could depend on alot of things, really. I think so long as you maintain a human outlook on things, you likely won't eschew a human form, especially so long as you have concern for what others think." "Given that people are now seeing the sort of monsters that were fought, and all, I don't see humanity as a whole accepting a hero without a humanoid body." "That's something I actually wanted to talk about. I've seen every Alien we've fought, and while I know some of the forms you've taken borrow elements of them, Some of the forms you've taken were terrifying. In a situation where we were alongside the military, given some of your forms, I'd be surprised if soldiers didn't panic and forget you were on their side, especially if they saw you spawn your smaller minions. Where do you get the ideas for these forms?" It was a question he'd asked himself for some time. "And yes, more than once, you sorta freaked me out too." He shrugged. "I'm not saying it's bad, but I just wonder why you always take forms that look like some lovecraftian horror, and not something like a griffin, dragon, or other creature from mythology, or the natural world. The forms you take are like amalgamations of a dozen different things, and because they're so different, the common person is generally going to be terrified of you when you're in them." Kia looked a little embarrassed as Abel went on about the forms she'd taken. Once she looked like she wanted to interrupt, but she contained herself until he finished. "I don't TRY to look like that," she answered quickly. "It's not like...I don't imagine what I want to be and then turn into it. That's not how it works. It's more like, I focus on what I need. Like, I need to FLY, or I need to FIGHT, or I need to MOVE FAST. And then it kind of just happens." She sighed and rested her chin in her hand. "When it's little things, it's a bit easier to control. Like if I just want to reach across the room, I can sort of focus on if I want my arm to grow or if I want to grow something new to reach across with, or whatever. Sometimes I can focus on specific things I need, like a tail or long arms or the ability to smell really well...but mostly it's just this powerful feeling. I need to be different so I can do THIS." Kia pounded a fist very gently on the table. "And then my body just sort of...changes so I can. I think it looks weird like that because it's borrowing from a LOT of different things. I can sort of feel DNA now, and I've spent some time just...floating in my own. Just laying down and..." she trailed off uncertainly. "It's hard to describe. It's old. We're OLD. And everything's in chunks and pieces and nothing really fits together except the bits we're already using, but I can feel all the other bits too. Things we don't use anymore, like gills and claws and hair all over...it's like a jigsaw puzzle where you can build a picture of all kinds of animals with all the pieces, but then we just use a tiny bit of the pieces to only build a picture of us." "I can just go in and pull all the other pieces out. And I've added more since we started. All those alien creatures we fight?" Kia nods. "They're in me now too. It's not really DNA, but it's close enough I could sort of work it out. I use it a lot because it's, um...better? Than a lot of the other stuff? The aliens are all artificial I think, so they're designed to be really strong and tough." She shrugged and ate a piece of bacon. "I don't want to scare people, but I don't know if I can make myself look cute and harmless when I need to be super-strong and indestructible. That's not really how the pieces work." With that Kia looked back at Abel worriedly. "What should I do?" He reached over and took her hand in his reassuringly. "Kia, I wasn't saying that to upset you. From what you just told me, your power is one of the most amazing things I've seen. You can access all the traits of our supposed junk DNA, and that's amazing in its own right. We're the culmination of billions of years of evolution and you have access to every trait we have ever developed that was passed on. You can incorporate new traits, and copy them, even from non-terran species. Your biology is uniquely and supremely adaptable, more so than any other living thing I'd wager. If you want some help, well I'm more than willing to do so. You sort of pick the traits you want, but what If I tried to help you create mental templates for the forms, things that get the all the benefits, but also have a less cobbled together and more aesthetically pleasing look?" "I know you're not taking them to scare anyone, that's not the sort of person you are. You're wonderful and amazing, and I'm not just saying that because we're dating. With everything that's happened to us, all the things we've done, you're still you, you still smile, and brighten our days." He finished off his eggs and smiled, having saved a few pieces of bacon for last. Kia nodded absently, then let her hand drop back to the table and met Abel's eyes with her own. "Do you ask yourself why?" she asks. "I mean...okay not exactly why. More like...what should we do? What's this for?" She aimed her fork at Abel and waggled it at him. "Say all the aliens are defeated and Earth is safe and everything is fine. Not that that'll ever happen, but just to talk about." "What do you do then? What should we do? If it's just us, and our abilities, and the rest of our lives...what do we do?" "We live and explore all the possibilities that are now open to us." He looked at her and there was an almost hopeful certainty in his eyes. "Now, Sean and I are doing all we can to elevate humanity as a whole, providing cheap clean energy, medical advancements, advanced food production. We want to make life better for everyone. That's not all though. There are countless worlds out there, waiting to be explored. It may seem nerdy, but we have the chance to be so much more than we were before, to do things That are only the dreams of others. I want to do all that. I want to see other worlds, To see what's really out there." "There is so much here on our own planet that we don't understand, or even know, I want to keep learning, to experience it all Kia." He looked to her and his eyes softened some. "I'd prefer to do that all with you, but I can understand if that's not what you want. It's only fair to ask, what is it you want to do, when the fighting's all done and it's just us, our abilities, and our lives before us?" It was true he wanted her to go with him, and no matter what, he was ready to make some compromises to make things work. "I don't...really know yet," she admits, and looks down to poke at what's left of her eggs. "But I feel like...sometimes I feel like there's something I could do, maybe." Kia hesitated then, churning words in her head to see which ones she liked. "I was doing a report last year on biodiversity," she said at last. "And how various things were driving different kinds of plants and animals extinct. And I guess it's part of nature that that happens, but it's also really sad. All those things that'll never be seen again. And maybe they had really good things they could do that just weren't right for when and where they were." Again she paused. Abel could practically feel her chewing her own thoughts around, like she had the toast. Tasting them thoroughly before trying to express them. She wasn't a fast thinker, but she was methodical. "I think...I can fix that. I can't save things from going extinct, but I could save their...their traits. Their abilities, Their DNA. I could make them sort of...immortal. As long as I was alive. I feel like that would be a good thing to do. Make sure nothing really goes extinct anymore." he knew it wasn't the most appropriate time for a joke, but all the same there was one he felt almost pushed to make. "I'm all for that, except for mosquitoes and fleas, you can let those pests go the way of the dodo, should they ever decide to go that route." He smiled and finished his plate. "There's so much life on the planet we know nothing of, it's why there's been a drive for conservation, especially once they found out that plants from the rainforests could contain cures for various diseases. There are many out there who would see what you want to do as a noble endeavor. " "So where would you start on such an undertaking, any thoughts to that?" Kia shrugs and looks away, thinking. "I guess...there's places in the world where habitats are being destroyed. The Amazon, or different places in Africa. I'd have to do some research. Find out where things are going extinct the most. Or...or go to zoos or wildlife refuges. Where they keep endangered species safe. Something like that." She gave Abel a shy smile. "I haven't really thought through the details yet. It seems like we have plenty of time before this war thing is over." "We do have time, but having plans for after the war ends is a good thing. It shows the hope for the future. It keeps us going, and gives us something to fight for." He got up to put his dishes in the sink and then reached down to massage her shoulders. "i've got plenty of reasons to make sure we win the war, and that we're all still around to enjoy it. That said, I want to see that day with you." He leaned down and put his head against hers. "You're the reason I still have hope you know. Even with all the questions of what the future holds, Knowing you, having you in my life Kia, makes all the insanity bearable. Don't take that as me pinning everything on you, just understand that You're the most important person to me. I want to do everything I can to make both our hopes and dreams come true." Kia gave Abel a smile and a hug, even as she winced a little inside. She just didn't GET how Abel's mind worked sometimes. Then of course, she realized that there was no point in not mentioning it, since he could probably tell. "I don't want to be your only hope," she said. "Not because I don't want it 'pinned' on me, but because people need more hope than that in their lives. I mean, I want my dreams to come true too, but I barely even know what my dreams are yet." She stepped back then so she could see his whole face. Was this it then? Was it time? Her stomach fluttered uneasily at the thought of maybe getting into a fight. But that was just it, wasn't it? He wouldn't fight. He'd NEVER fight. Anything she said, or did, he'd just accept with that grim sort of devotion...taking in any pain or slight or disagreement and revealing nothing of himself in the process. "Just like I don't feel like I really know you," Kia said, searching his face for a reaction. "In the time we've been going out, I don't know your favorite music or color or what kind of food you like or...or what really bugs you, or..." She spread her hands. "I feel like all I know about you is that you think I'm awesome and that you're super hung up on me. And that's...that's a good start, but I don't know where to go from there." Kia sighed and looked away, playing unconsciously with a lock of her hair in her right hand as she tried to think of what to say. "It's not even what I know about you, I guess, or what I don't know. I just feel like there's something blocking us. Blocking you." his was not something he'd expected, after so much, but he saw her point. The old tried and true "You never asked" was there on the tip of his tongue, and it might be a fair cop. He did know so much more about her, because he'd had a power he couldn't turn off. He Knew everything about everyone he'd interacted with prior to the start of all this strangeness, the real trick had been acting like he didn't know for so long. "Ask me anything you want to know, Kia. I've got an unfair advantage over everyone I knew before that night at the Cabin. I know their likes and dislikes, their secrets, everything they feel pride for, everything they're ashamed of. For going on Three years, I've had to play like I didn't. That's really not as easy as it sounds. Counter to that, The only person who knows me, really knows me, is Sean. We grew up together, two nerds who stuck together through everything." He smiled. "I want that to change, as we have. I want to share myself with you. I've not read your mind at all while we're here, and I'm not doing so now. I don't want t just know, I want you to tell me, especially on stuff like this. You've heard my favorite music before, even seen one or two episodes of my favorite shows. You never really played video games like Sean and I, but you sat at the table with us for various rpgs, boardgames and the like. I'm the second smartest Human on the planet, and it might seem petty and juvenile, but I really miss all of that. Before we were Demigods with fantastic power, when we were all able to just hang out together and relax and have fun, I'd like to still do that, and I lament that we really don't." That had actually been the first time he'd given voice to that fact to anyone, even As he Alec, and Sean worked on blasters and lightsabers essentially giving in to their nerdom to make them. ""I built a fortress to protect everything I know of others, but I guess I locked myself inside it too." His smile was still there, and there was an almost mischievous glint in his eye. "Still you wait until now, after we've been together over six months, to bring all this up? That does surprise me. I waited for you to ask me, never thinking I should just show you myself, Proof that even geniuses can be boneheaded at times. Before I got my powers, I was very much on the outside of everything looking in. Sure it got better when I got my powers, but I still kept myself apart from everyone but you and the Irregulars, because of what I knew. Hell if we're being honest, you're the first actual girlfriend I've ever had Kia. I've gone on dates, but they never worked out because I could see their thoughts." Kia laughed. "I can see how that would be a problem." Still smiling, she added, "I don't want to...interview you. I just want to get to know you, naturally. Sometimes it just kind of felt like we're always on our first date, when everything is a little awkward and we're more interested in trying to make the other person interested in us than we are in being genuine." "...but then again, I guess it HAS been a kind of weird thing we have what with the alien invasion and giant monster and Army keeping an eye on us and all." She shook her hair out then gathered it up to cover her face before parting it with her hands to straighten it all out again. "So. Today I was thinking we should go low, or go high. We can climb up a mountain, or dive into the ocean. Ooorrr...we could do something else if you wanted?" ""Well I'd say either is fine, provided we go together, but my real preference Is the Ocean. This is the first time I've seen it and just get to enjoy it you know. Last time I was near an Ocean I was carrying a plane and worrying about you guys fighting a 300 ft orca monster. I'm sure we can find many ways enjoy the Ocean far more than that." He smiled and leaned down to kiss her softly. "As to "Something else"" he paused teasing almost. "Later tonight we can curl up together on the couch, watching our favorite movies, or maybe on our little private beach by a fire and see where things take us as we look at the clear skies." He chuckled. "Of course I want to see the various parks, not just on this island but the others too, but I meant it when i said I wanted to see it all the way you do. I know you love this place, and I'm liking everything I see. Having someone who knows the Island show me what makes it special lets me feel like abit less of a tourist, and shows me what makes this place so great." His steel grey eyes spoke of mischief on his mind. "You know, my parents took their Honeymoon on Oahu. When I was planning all this, I asked him and he told me about it. He also said he enjoyed the trip to this island more, as he found it more relaxing." Kia just laughed at the quip, and took Abel's arm as they went out to get started. The next couple of days were the kind of lightly weighted times that graced any number of imagur pages or old-timey slide shows. They went diving, with Kia as adroit in the water as a sea otter, and equally playful. They explored the islands, climbing one of the slopes of the volcano, then the quiet beaches tucked away out of sight of tourists, and deeper into the greenery of the interior. Kia showed Abel the little 'house' she'd made once when she was younger, though little was left of it now but a pile of mossy logs and sticks. Abel picked some places to eat, and a movie or two, and nothing by Michael Bay had ever seemed romantic before watching it in a firelit room in Hawaii with a girl snuggled against his side. Even if she was asleep well before it was over. Finally the day to return rolled around, and Abel asked Kia again about the idea of putting some kind of mental 'template' into her head to help guide her transformations. Though Kia seemed a little uneasy at the prospect, she did agree to give it a try. Thus, Abel found himself staring into his girlfriend's eyes as she did some minor shapechanges, so he could map out where in her mind that information was coming from. He wasn't prepared for what he found. Abel had never really done what might be called a 'deep dive' into Kia's mind. Even back when he had trouble controlling what he 'heard' in people, he rarely dug in past surface memories and emotions. With just a little effort he could follow lines of association to memories and predictions...and from there farther still into the foggy recesses of long-term memory, subconscious drives and motivations, and at the heart of the brain the dull thrumming of animal instincts. Kia's mind was no different. A sort of concentric set of nested 'shells' of consciousness, surrounded by a more nebulous aurora of subconscious drives. It was from that thick soupy mental 'fog' that the impulses for shapeshifting came, Abel could see. Powerful and brilliant, they arrowed out of the gloom and pierced deeply into the rest of her mind...yet they were echoes of something. He learned to distinguish the shape of what Kia sent 'inward,' the trigger for the transformations. Wordless desire, buttressed by raw emotion...she'd had to train herself to think in the 'language' of the deep mind, the subconscious. It was easy to see why finesse was hard, when she couldn't use words to get more specific. The return signal was...strange though. Vastly more 'powerful' than the triggering mental command was, it broke apart like some kind of MIRV missile and radiated throughout her body and mind, sending thousands, millions of commands across every cell that made her up. Entirely bypassing her conscious control. It was true then, she only had indirect control of her powers. It was as if she was speaking to something else, which then carried out her orders. What was startling was the raw amount of information in the return signal. Genetic information for an entire body's worth of cells. Assembled and communicated in less than a second. Where was it coming from? Another lightning bolt rumbled from the obscured depths of Kia's mind, and Abel followed its path down. There had to be a way to make communication easier. The fog parted, and Abel's telepathic presence felt itself nearly blinded. Nearly blasted out of Kia's mind entirely. Nearly deafened. Nearly burned alive. For a moment, there was no sensory experience that Abel was capable of that wasn't overloaded. It was a raging star-bright maelstrom. A howling cacophony of inhuman voices. A knot of utter chaos that seemed to extend infinitely in every 'direction' before him, filling his awareness entirely. The 'surface' constantly churned, vomiting up silhouette-shapes of creatures that immediately pounced on one another, tearing each other to shreds, only to melt away and be replaced by a hundred more. It took time...he couldn't be sure how much...to understand what he was seeing. When Kia changed shape, it wasn't just muscles and nerves and skin. When she grew wings, she immediately also knew how to fly. When she grew claws, she could fight with all the skill of a creature that had been born with them. Learned experiences weren't genetic, but instincts were. Here was where they lived. All of them. Waiting to explode out and up and live in Kia for a little while when she called on them. Dimly, Abel realized that even physically this was something different. He could follow the nerves of it, and they passed not through Kia's brain but into her abdomen in a thick trunkline. They vanished into and through the 'singularity' that simmered inside her, linking her to the dimensional pocket where her biomass was tucked away. It was in there, he saw. The biomass wasn't just sitting pretty, a bunch of undifferentiated stem cells obediently waiting on her brain to call on. A human brain was entirely insufficient to the task of processing information on that scale. There was something...like an organic supercomputer curled up in her otherworldly 'body.' Like another brain, kind of...though of a much more specialized function than the one in her skull. Sort of an immensely powerful sequencing calculator, animated almost entirely by those primordial instincts that lived in the flesh. This was Kia. It hit with some force when Abel realized that if one took the sum total of all of Kia's 'brain' functions, that her human consciousness and activity would be a tiny, tiny fraction of it. Most of her 'mind' was this ocean of seething madness. The idea of trying to impose order on it seemed impossible to his eye, at least for now. More, it might actually impair her ability. More and more, it felt to Abel that this kind of formless form was necessary for Kia to be capable of growing anything, at any time, with virtually no thought or planning. How long would it take her to decide exactly how long to make her wings, how much muscle mass to include, how to thin her bones but strengthen them to reduce weight without losing durability... It was all handled here. Evolution in its brutal, unforgiving glory was constantly playing out...and when she sent that message down here, the form that currently happened to closest match what she wanted was returned. All the planning was done already, all the nuance of form and function mapped out in the endless 'wargame' that played out here. It was, like life itself, brilliant in its elegance. It was also, by any human standard, utterly insane. The Truth, was stunning, staggering, and terrifying, when he let himself admit it. The actual way her powers, her subconscious made her conscious demands of them reality was so primal, and to his highly sophisticated mind, so absurdly simplistic. Eons of evolutionary traits from countless species, all collected within her core, and she was always out for more at least subconsciously. All in all, trying to impose order on the processes without impairing her abilities would take a great deal of work, both on his part and hers. He'd need to help her truly understand how her powers worked, and in such a way as to truly master them, as opposed to relying on the strength of instinct. He was shocked at the level of mentality in her power, but at the same time, it was all done without her conscious knowledge. He returned from the mental dive to see Kia looking at him expectantly, and he just smiled, and took her hands in his. "Kia, there is so much more to you than anyone could ever imagine, You are truly amazing, and one of a kind." it was true there was some trepidation on his part, and it would take time for him to collect his thoughts fully, to begin to explain to her what he saw, what he thought it meant and how it all worked, and why a template could work but at the same time could hamper her abilities too. In his mind imposing order on chaos was tricky, and prone to a backfire, but if she wanted his help, to go that route, he'd be there every step of the way. Underneath it all he did chuckle, The Body and the Mind, working together as One, with that, they'd be an unbeatable combination.
  14. Sean's Garage, Shelly Montana... Five appeared in a plume of quantum vapor. "No go," he said immediately, not even breaking stride from his jaunt. "Savant stood in my way. She manipulated me." "Made you follow orders?" Ronin asked with a smirk. "No worries, I'll update you visor with the B.E.E.R. enhancements and the H.U.H. implant is ready for your helmet. Her words and charms won't work a second time. So, how did the suit hold up?" "Better than anticipated, although I didn't test against her laser sword." He spun his own blade around and slid it back into its sheath flawlessly. "Should have taken the hit. The unobtainium I made the MA.R.Y. S.U.I.T. from would have diffused the blade." "If this thing is so great, why don't you wear it?" Five asked. "Can't," was all he replied with. "The bear sample is largely unnecessary. Just as predicted they heard everything we said, and no doubt they think we're out doing something nefarious at this very moment, when in reality we're just chilling in the 'The Barn', drinking all of Sean's energy drinks and eating all his hot pockets. Considered even raiding Laurie's panty drawer... but I think she took all the good ones with her to D.C." "Classy," Lodestone said with a smirk. Her P.A.M. suit was woven into pant/shirt combo of black pleather and a knit top that fell off her shoulders showing off some skin. "So, what's the next move?" Ronin smiled and tipped back a Red Bull. "We keep 'em guessing. The infighting is our best weapon. We exploit it, divide them, and destroy them. If they will not come to me to learn, I will go to them and teach."
  15. Tease listened, holding her arm. Afterwards, instead of some outburst of denial all she could do was chuckle softly and shake her head. "He's going to decimate you, and you're going to deny it the whole time he's doing it. You guys have no idea how screwed we are, you really don't. Devin has always been a 'winner', he's a competitor and he's always looking to 'win'. Whatever you guys did to him," she still held true to the idea that whatever was wrong with Devin was their fault. "he's going for the win, and he'll do anything he can to get that 'gold'." She offered absolutely nothing of value, just a condescending shrug. "Good luck with that. I'm sure you super pros have it all figured out though, so no worries, right? Be sure and keep us plebs posted, yeah?"
  16. Lilly stiffened a bit she felt Kia's hand on her shoulder and took in a deep breath, sniffling a few times and wiping her eyes on the sleeves of her PAM suit. "Hey." she said back to Kia, trying to compose herself. "Do you.." Kia began to ask, prompting Lillt to shake her head quickly. "No. It's nothing. I'm fine. Thanks" Lilly said, her voice still cracking a bit. "Lilly..." Kia offered soothingly again, and once again Lilly shook her head. "It's okay Kia. Really. We got a mission. She's just ungrateful and fails to see what she did wrong, but is the first to make a big scene and point out anybody else's mistakes. It's fine though. We got stuff to do with a clock on it. She and her BS can wait. I shouln't have lost if like that either. She just... ugh... Anyways.. Thanks though." Lilly replied, her voice a good bit more steady this time. Both Kia and Lilly glanced over their shoulders as the hears Sean's approach. Lilly shook her head, causing her ponytail to swing about her shoulders, as she held her hands up and push at nothing, as if pushing away what Sean was saying. Rejecting it. "No way. No possible way. I know you Sean,. I know you are smart and pick up on details and all of that, but you either missed something, misconstrued something, or are just trying to force things to fit a result you want." she said, still shaking her head as she took a step back. "Because there is NO WAY my father would do that. He wouldn't work with 'Ronin'. He wouldn't abandon his post. He wouldn't discard his oath. He wouldn't abandon my mom and me. And he sure as hell would not put my mom and me through his 'death'. No way. No fucking way." she stated emphatically with another shake of her head. "It might have been a false starfield, and that guy might not have had a node even, but there's no way it was him. I mean, are you even listening to yourself? Devin never liked my father. He was always disrespecting at best. And my dad was not overly thrilled about us bringing Devin in either. They never got along, and now you are telling me that not only are they working together, but that they have been for some time, planned this all, set it up, and then carried it out, discarding his post, my mom, and me, and willingly and knowingly put us through his death, just to work with 'Ronin'? Do you even hear yourself?" she said, ended with a rhetorical question and tone that made her disbelief, fueled my emotion fat, far more than logic, very clear. "Lilly. I know it's a tough pi-" Sean managed to get out being being cut off by Lilly, who spoke with her eyes closed tight, as if trying to avoid more of Sean's theory. "No! Just.. no. I've known my dad all my life. He's the one that instilled so much in me that makes me.. I don't know... do this stuff.. protect others... He would NOT do this..." she said, her eyes still closed as she lifted her head and opened her eyes, tears well up inside them, and only being barely held back by her anger at Sean's suggestion. "Do you think I want to be here? Don't you think I want to curl up in my mom's lap and just cry for days? I am here to protect you. ALL of you."" she said and then looked to Tease, "You included." and looked back to Sean, "Because I do not get to throw in the towel or take a break just because shit gets's hard. That is what my dad taught me. You do your job because others are depending on you. And yes, the other Lilly is wherever, grieving with my mom while I am here doing this, no matter how insulting and ungrateful some may be for it. So you might discount what I said. But you know what? You might think of the me here and the me with my mom as 'me and her.' But it's not. It's ME. We are both me. I am here and there. We are both the same person, in two places at the same time. And you know what? If I couldn't split myself like this, then I would STILL be the here, doing my job and upholding my responsibilities, because I know my mom is safe and others are depending on me. My DAD taught me that." she said defiantly as looked at Sean while the tears fought to slip from her eyes.
  17. Sean's eyes flicked back and forth in thought, fitting new pieces to the puzzle that had taken up residence in her mind as she let the recriminations and bickering among the group wash over her. Her back turned to the others, she absently wiped the blood from her chest with the last of her water and at first Jeane thought she hadn't even heard her. She opened her mouth to repeat herself when Sean glanced up at her. "I didn't say Tease was wrong. You did fuck up. I said I was glad you came back - otherwise, you'd still be running, if not from this, than from something else, from yourself," Sean explained. Her voice wasn't harsh with condemnation, but it was firm. "I just didn't believe this was the time or place to dress you down, not on your first foray." Sean glanced down, making sure she'd gotten all the blood and just able to see the puckered wound across her collar bones, a livid pink-red, though the bleeding had stopped. She straightened her shoulders and nodded, making a decision. There were too many secrets, even among themselves. "And we'll go in a bit. I believe Abel may be speaking with this Pete of yours, and I'm not expecting a lab, just a hint or a residue where the bear was... infected." Sean gave the younger girl a wry smile, but her turquoise eyes revealed nothing. "You are not the only one feeling insecure, nor are Lilly and Tease the only ones hurting. There's something we all need to hear, but them especially. And it might end up hurting them more. C'mon." As she turned to go, she saw Abel along with the self-identified Pete. She pointed a finger at him in passing, giving him a scrutinizing glance. "I have some questions for you, Pete," Sean said with a bite. "But they'll have to come after. I have something more pressing this instant." She nodded at Abel. "You'll want to hear this too, Abel." Sean headed towards Lilly, being the closer of the two. Her mouth tightened at Lilly's tears and Kia's warning look, but Sean's expression was resolute. "Despite what was said," Sean said without preamble, "I need to speak with you and Tease, well, everyone, but you two in particular." Sean's tone suggested this wasn't to make up, but was something far more serious. "Could you please join me to speak with Tease? I'm not up for saying this twice. Once will be hard enough." Giving Lilly time to collect herself, Sean walked over to Tease, giving the bear rumbling under her touch due consideration. She wasn't afraid of it - apex predator it may have been, but it was hard to feel the danger when you've face giant, organic war machines - but didn't want to arise its ire and disrupt the conversation. It would have been nice if she had mentioned she could take to animals when I asked her if she could use her emotion sensing mojo to pacify it. Sean ignored Tease's haughty, frosty glare as she approached, frowning for a moment at her dislocated arm. If Tease was going to ignore it to spite them all, Sean would let her. "Before you leave us to our purported incompetence, Tease, can you stomach Lilly's presence a bit more? There's something you both need to know." Sean's voice was cool but her brow furrowed in something that almost might have pleading. "Please?" Sean gave Tease several moments to make her decision, walking to a spot between her and Lilly, giving neither of them the advantage of the one going to the other, and siding with neither after their last verbal exchange. When they -and the others - joined her, Sean took a deep breath and... hesitated. God! She hated being wrong, and she hated even more getting played. She couldn't wait for Tease's next round of insults and disparagements. "So... I think... General Pryor isn't dead and I'm pretty sure he was who I just fought off from getting a sample from the bear," Sean said, haltingly at first and finishing in a rush. Lilly and Marissa had nearly identical expressions of shock, disbelief, hope, and fear on their faces. They opened their mouths at the same time and Sean held up a hand in a halting gesture to still the oncoming flood of questions. "Let me explain my conclusions first, then I'll answer what questions I can," she told them, firm but not unkindly. "It may not be much, I have more questions myself." Sean laced her fingers against her stomach and took a breath, head nodding slightly, as though running through what she was going to say. "I've been puzzling over Ronin's attack against Bulwark and General Pryor ever since it happened. And reflecting on the fight I just had with the person known as 5, certain pieces have fallen into place. 5's fighting style was distinctly military. More, he must have seen me training, knows me to at least some fashion. I fight with a manner than integrates several styles together, but 5 was able to respond to and anticipate my anticipate my attacks to a significantly higher degree than probability would dictate. I spoke with him as well. The cadence and inflections of his voice were familiar, and adding them to his word choice and sentence structure, it made his voice more distinctive, despite the artificial modulation. Pruning away the modulation, I'm almost definite the voice belongs to General Pryor. I can give you exact probabilities, if you want. Now, back the Bulwark attack. Pryor only shot Ronin in the arm, though he was willing to risk you, Lilly, to deliver a nuke, that likely could have overcome your considerable damage threshold, never mind about the clones. He didn't even try for a kill shot, despite the threat posed by a Key as extreme and dangerous as Ronin, even if he knew him, had known him. Pryor was the only one 'killed' in the attack, though Ronin has shown little concern for human life. That was in large part due to soldiers on base wearing the latest versions of personal armor developed to date. With no emergency or call for deployment, there was no reason for them to be wearing it. But General Pryor could have ordered it, as an exercise or extra training. Finally, there is the star field, that bloody, be damned star field. I couldn't identify it, despite a flawless memory, my own direct observations, and access to nearly every star chart gathered the world over. In wanting to find your father, a detail eluded me. It was meant to. The star field had no depth. Taking that into account and looking at it again, I could determine conclusively what part of the sky it was, but that's not the point. The point is what I saw during the incident - the field behind the General was two dimensional. It was an image, not real." Sean folded her arms under her full breasts, hands balled into fists, and her jaw was tight. "It was a scene deliberately staged to deceive me and it could only have worked with General Pryor collaborating with Ronin." She gave Lilly and Tease a sympathetic glance, but it was brief and sharp. "I believe Ronin is innocent of General Pryor's death, but that doesn't make him less dangerous, but more, with his power and access to what Pryor knows of us and Guardian Shield... and Pryor's apparently willing participation."
  18. Pete shrugged again "Maybe what was the bear you saw is dead and the bear that's left is another bear, maybe the real bear. But then who really knows whats real and whats not." He stopped suddenly and faced. "We might not even be real." he shrugged and turned back and started walking again. In a few moments they arrived where everyone else was. "Seems the bear has a friend now," then his gaze fell on a much taller Jeane, "hmm, Little Fire is not so little anymore." He gave a wave to everyone "Hi I'm Pete"
  19. Sometimes seeing someone who seemed to have their shit together crumple had an acute way of helping you get your own shit back together. At least long enough to jump on the pile and get a finger grip on the ledge above you. This *was* a free-running street crew, just one using quantum cancer-granted super powers instead of parkour techniques. Jeane had been co-leading her little crew down in Norfolk for months now since their old leader had moved away last Christmas. She wasn't ready. Didn't feel ready. But maybe babysteps before she jumped again? "Sean? Tease was right. I fucked up, freaked out, and left you hanging because I felt useless, and you could have all been hurt because of that," she said as calmly as she could manage down at the older teen, "I'm dumb. You're smart. But Canada would send *something* to look at a nuclear crater, right? So it would be a good idea to not be here now?" The towering, red-and-white clad teen gestured at the devastation they had wrought, "So maybe we can gather everyone not fit for further action and send them home? Leave just two or three of us behind to find the lab? I don't know. I'm overtired, undertrained, and feeling insecure, but Lilly is hurting worse. And maybe Tease is, too." Her lips quirked at how painful that last admission was.
  20. Expecting both barrels of an insult gun pointed directly at him, Charlie's waited for the worst to come out of her mouth. "Did you hear her? Seriously? And she knows she can get to me so she taunted the bear... are you fucking kidding? It's a fucking bear, it doen't know any better. How retarded do you have to be to pick a fight with a fucking bear when you know it can't hurt you. And that's the only reason she does it. She knows no one can hurt her so she dares everyone to try. So easy to be the bad ass when you know you'll always win." Surprisingly all her venom was directed at Lilly. Charlie breathed a slight sigh of relief. "Charlie, there is no way to explain anything to these guys, they're morons. I give up. I'm so done trying to be a part of this circus. I'm just going to sit back and watch this freak show unfold and I guaran-damn-tee you that my brother is going to decimate them. And they're gonna deserve it." She looked at Beartholomew and smiled. It was genuine and Charlie could actually remember ever seeing her smile. It was like she was honestly and truly never happy. "I don't know about really like. I don't know... I've never seen a real bear, let alone pet one... it's just..." she shrugged and for a moment her expression said 'I'm just a regular eighteen year old'. "I don't know... kinda cool. He's not too hurt though, I don't think. He seems to be alright." With the mention of Apollo Tease's face turned more terse. She stood up, wincing painfully as her dislocated arm shifted. Her pride was legendary it seemed, more than willing to sit there in pain then have any of the others come near her, let alone touch her. "Wait, yeah. And Apollo is a god. So if he can do it, then it stands to reason that only another god could... maybe using the power on mammals has a different effect than on insects. Charlie, mammals have higher brain functions that insects and fish don't, that might be why they're going all haywire." Her face grew sullen and she winched with grief. "Ugh, shit." "What?" He asked. "If we tell them," she motioned to the Irregulars. "They're going to find some way to fuck it up. Maybe we should follow this lead on our own." She knew some of the others had super hearing, she just didn't care.
  21. Charlie stood like the eye of the storm while everyone blew over. The awkward thing was, from his position, he could see everyone's points. Jeane had not reacted well on the one hand, breaking the plan and leaving Tease exposed. On the other hand, she had been directed and influenced by this Pete guy, assuming her sudden power boost was his work. Lilly was trying to keep the fractious elements of the Irregulars together, and the fact that Ronin had left people watching was not a good reminder on top of him murdering her dad. And Tease? Well, it seemed she had actually forged some kind of connection with the bear, and obviously was really pissed as hell about the turn to violence. We need a group therapy session, stat. But how am I going to drag everyone into one? Meanwhile, he joined Tease. "I get it. You really like this big guy, and hate that he got hurt. But everyone's gone through a hell of a roller-coaster." Finally his red energy fizzled out and he returned to normal flesh and blood. "You need to find a way to explain your side of things at a lower setting than 'C4.'" A pause, then he observed: "Remember what Apollo did in training? With the insects?"
  22. Kia trotted up to a scene composed of tragedy and triumph, and immediately felt awful that she'd let her own insecurities drive her to hesitate before. Maybe in this fight nothing she could have done would have saved the day, but she could have at least been here for her friends instead of stressing out over what to do and what not to do. And now Marissa was off by herself, angry at everyone...and Lilly was off crying...and it felt like everything was just falling apart, even though they'd won. She wanted to help everyone, all at once. There wasn't a superpower to do that though, not really. This was the kind of hurt that would need patience and good faith to heal. A mending of trust that couldn't be forced. Kia went to Lilly and hunkered down beside her, reaching out to put a hand on her friend's shoulder. "Hey," she said soothingly.
  23. Lilly's eyes narrowed at the comment from Tease to the bear hit her ears. Her hands clinched into fists containing enough power within them to casually demolish tanks and her nostrils flared once as she took in a deep breath in an attempt to calm herself. She could tolerate many things, even a lack of gratitude, but not to the point of insults and disrespect. She tried to make a point Tease twice now, and apparently she had not gotten the message. "Don't you ever say that again." Lilly called out at Tease in an uncharacteristic tone. She walked up to Tease and the bear snuggling, her footfalls echoing through the felled trees around them, causing them to shake, almost like tuning forks, amplifying the sound. The bear's demeanor instantly shifted as it looked to Lilly and began to rear up again, taking in a deep breath, but Lilly reached out and grabbed it's snout with enough force to hold it's mouth closed but not hurt it, the action surprising and confusing to bear for a moment. "Look. We tried not to hurt you, and we are not going to start now, but you need to settle down." she said to the bear releasing it's snout, causing it to blink in confusion. She then looked to Tease. "Did you hear me you stuck up, little brat? Don't you fucking EVER say that again." she growled, her voice dripping with anger as she got right in Tease's face, causing her to take a step back, caught off guard by the uncharacteristic outburst from Lilly. The bear composted itself and reared back up, the motion of which Lilly caught out of the corner of her eye, causing her to pick up a huge, felled tree with one hand and hold it out, parallel to the ground as a barricade, keeping the bear at bay without really even looking at him. The sight was so outlandish as to be almost comical, aside from the sternness in Lilly's voice and tone. Still, the causal display of such strength was not an east thing for most minds to wrap around. "YOU got out of the car and YOU refused the offer of a list elsewhere. YOU refused my enhancement, and YOU refused my healing. So any harm that has come to you has been by YOUR own pride and bitchy attitude and I am fucking sick of it!" Tease was truly setting a record. None of the Irregulars has ever seen Lilly this angry, and here Tease has managed to do so within a few hours. Sh tried not to be so reactionary, and had even told Jeane not to be so, but she has just had enough for one day. "We've ALWAYS had your back, and DESPITE what you have said and how you treated us. And we STILL fucking do! We evacuated you to protect you, we gave you a PAM suit to protect you, I offered to enhance you to protect you, and we have been here protecting you the entire fucking time and even before it. I was and am ready to fucking DIE to protect you, and any one of them, and that means the other Lilly is too. We do it because you are Devin's sister and one of us." she snarled. "My father DIED at the hands of YOUR brother, trying to protect us, all of us, YOU included, from him. So don't you EVER say, suggest, or even so much as fucking THINK that we do not have your back, because we have it even when you do not have ours and I am fucking DONE with your shit!" Lilly said, her tone, narrowed eyes and heard breathing leaving no doubt as to the veracity of her words. "So if you TRULY want to help, then drop the attitude, grow the fuck up, and get with the fucking TEAM. Because this shit," she said as she pointed down all around Tease, "..this shit ends now." Lilly dropped the tree with just as little effort as she had picked it up with and turned to the bear. "I am NOT your enemy, but if it will make you feel better, than take a few swings." she said to the bear who did not seem to need to the invitation. Still, just as unusual to see as her lifting the tree was Lilly standing there, letting a bear try to maul her for a few moments, even though it's efforts were totally ineffectual. She then turned and walked away, leaving to bear to rear up again and roar at her as she walked away, casually kicking a felled tree to splinters (away from the others) as she departed. A few dozen feet away from Tease, the bear, and the others, Lilly found a stump, sat down with her back to the others. Overcome with emotions, Lilly rested her face in her hands and began to cry...
  24. "While I appreciate the offer," she said to Lilly, with about as much venom as a single phrase could hold. Lilly was astonished she managed to cram that much 'go fuck yourself' into so few words with just tone and inflection. "But this gaggle of fools is about as incompetent as they come. I'll be damned if I'll let any of you anywhere near me. It's probably best if a medical professional tends to it, considering you fools got it this way to begin with." The bear rolled up and shocked them all, roaring and standing (as best it could) in defense of its 'Queen'. "Woah, woah, big guy," Tease shirked back a bit, scared as hell as the awakened bear rolled back up and began roaring in her defense. "No, no... they aren't harming me." Tease didn't like bears. Or nature. Mostly because nature generally meant no wifi or zero bars on her phone, but it was also because nature was dirty. There was mud and dirt, and bugs and... well, anyway, nature sucked. Tease didn't like people either. Mostly for all the reasons standing around her. The more they spoke the more she was convinced that her brother was going to absolutely obliterate them. At this point, she almost considered it a mercy to the world. She had resigned herself that there was no point arguing with these people, they were either insane, crazy, ignorant, not in the reality as her or... possibly a little bit of everything. Despite her train of thought, and he absolute disdain for anything 'nature', there was something about the bear that made her not discount it out it out of hand. Animals weren't really her thing, and when there is a 1,200lb bear not a few inches by you hollering up a storm, most people would have crapped themselves and started running (well, not the Irregulars... they were so cool that they didn't consider how majestic and dangerous mundane creatures were any more), but Tease... she just couldn't help but look at it and simply not be afraid. If she'd ever considered connecting with nature before, starting with an angry, confused, and probably hungry, grizzly bear was no where near the top of her list. Yet she reached out to it anyway. Her hand touched the soft fur atop its snout and it, in a friendly gesture pushed its head closer toward her. Her eyes reflected a warmth and tenderness none of them thought possible from the ice queen that was Tease. Reflected in her eyes was a the awe and majesty one might find in a child's eyes when they meet Micky Mouse or sit on Santa's lap for the first time. Here, under her hand, was one of natures most powerful wardens, and it was soft. It was kind. It was almost magical the way such a strong, powerful beast could be so gentle, kind and nurturing. She was going to grind Lilly's ass to dust, but forgot what scathing insult she was going to fling her way. Jeane was a lost cause, and Sean was cracking jokes about almost being cut in half... she found it best to left the children play in their own ignorance for awhile. It hurt her to see such smart people be so foolish. "C'mon, big guy," she walked away from them, the magic having left her eyes to replaced with something that honestly and sorrowful. "At least someone here has my back." "So," she asked the bear. Still not believing she was actually talking to a fricking bear. "Are you... y'know... okay? I mean, do you even understand anything that's going on? I know I'm asking a lot of questions and I'm sorry, but so far, you're the smartest guy I've talked to all day. Plus, you're really soft, so that's pretty cool... I haven't known any bears before... is there, like... stuff you guys do for fun or... what?" There was a long pause then finally she touched the side of her head. "Did I really have long ears? Be honest, did they look tacky?"
  25. "Well, the Bear isn't dead, it's back to what would be it's normal size and shape, and I think it's trying to menace the others." perhaps they had a different interpretation of "Put down" "I do believe she wants to speak with you, as do several of my other friends." He spoke quietly as they walked together, and wondered just what the normal man could see. "How did you know that about her, about the bear?" He was having flashbacks to Taleena, Alec's girlfriend, and wondered if Pete would say the same things she had.