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Sean Cassidy

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Sean Cassidy last won the day on July 24 2017

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  1. Betrayal. Failure. Solutions eluding in too many things when everything else came so easily to her. Sean could feel her heart hardening against trust and hope even as she fought against the lost with resigned determination. Apollo had shown himself to be a false god, as well as false - They had to assume Pandora has as well - and there was no else here to face him. The world seemed to slow as her thought processes sped up beyond digital capabilities. The strop of the helicopter blades was a low, deliberate thrum in the distance. Long shadows cast by sunlight and the red spear of tight, quantum lightning danced languidly across the ground. Sean could feel the tingle of Jeane's energy spear against her skin as she flowed around to flank the dark-skinned Apollo under Sage's assault. She could see every twitch and flex of tendon and muscle beneath that black, flawless flesh as Apollo stepped between or around the flaming trees Abel had thrown at him, letting some break and splinter against invulnerable hide and slapped others aside. With inhuman dexterity and strength, the alien creature redirected several of the missiles towards the tall beauty. They seemed to almost float in the air despite moving the speed of sound several times over. She didn't have Apollo's strength, but she slipped between them like an ephemeral dancer. One evading stepped landed her right in front of another tree, its velocity turning it into a giant, fire-hardened spear and in a motion too quick for the human eye to follow, Sean had her plasma-blade in her hand, like a piece of the sun itself, and cleaved the spear in half lengthwise. She was not surprised by the second giant flaming spear following the second as she leapt upon it, more graceful than a gazelle, lighter than a feather, ran down it in three flashing strides, then flew through to air to engage the feigned Sun God himself. She'd had preferred allowing him to make the first move, but the scene had been set. Instants mattered and she'd give them to her companions. Her sunblade of magnetically-constrained photons flickered as she pressed Apollo, striving to step him back, as she eluded counters with almost prescient fluidity and balletic precision, every step eye-catching and flowing into the next. It would be easy to believe she was trying to end him, but it was an illusion, each strike a test, as Savant watched and analyzed, seeking a flaw in his form, in his responses, looking for a weakness to exploit. Apollo, by his and Pandora's assertions, was hundreds of millennia old. After that much time, raw, brute force wouldn't defeat him, defeat him and Pandora and their arriving siblings, though it might weaken him. More would be needed, something other. Hypotheses and conjectures flashed around her mind faster than lightning. Jeane's great red blade shriving the quantum energy from the Bear. The pulse that had depowered Sara... There had to be a way. Infinite gears of though turned, churning away as she engaged with a being that could destroy her in a blow. "You have seen a measure of us, Apollo," Savant said with melodious, cool condemnation. "We can grow and evolve. Whereas you and Pandora, you are stagnant... You are apparently unable to grow beyond what you are, what you've always been. Too bad we've only seen the truth too late."
  2. Sean Cassidy

    Sean Cassidy

  3. Sean noticed Apollo's appearance even before Pete pointed. Her eyes glittered but her expression was smooth and calm, despite Apollo appearing like a dark skinned Dr. Manhattan. There might have been an innocuous reason for him arriving in such a way, but Sean doubted it, not naked and with the quantum roiling in his eyes. Could Ronin have suborned him as well in his plans like he had General Pryor? Initially, Sean would have doubted it, but now... "Interesting Pete," Sean murmured, her turquoise eyes almost glowing as she focused on the quantum spectrum, seeking a hint of what stirred inside Apollo or what his appearance portended, assessing him for any sense and direction of threat. "You aren't the only I've heard talking like that with the advent of Keys, and I'd like to talk more about it with you, but I think it might be best if you took the opportunity to head back home. Not sure how friendly he's going to be." Her ability to trust was rapidly falling, not that Apollo's appearance was engendering trust or security. Guildchat was down and Sean presumed Apollo had senses as near as sharp as her, if not greater, so even whispers would be a give away. She caught the eyes of her companions with a warning glance and flicked her eyes, suggesting they begin spreading apart so they would be less likely to all be caught in a single attack. She doubted she fooled Apollo, but it's what she had at hand. Sean glided fluidly forward and to one side, and arched an unassuming brow towards Apollo, while ready to explode into action, calculating potential moves and countermoves an ever escalating series ahead. "Surprised that you showed up here, Apollo, just at this time, and without even a bathing suit," Sean called out smoothly, her voice clear despite the distance between them. "To what do we owe the pleasure of this... visit, if I may ask?"
  4. Tease's claim about Lilly and Devin could have been just another barb to get a rise, but she had said with such desire to see Lilly taken down that Sean didn't believe she was lying. And then too, the subtle change on body language between Lilly and Devin made sense with that revelation. It would have to be addressed, but not at the moment. Still, she couldn't refrain from giving Lilly a hard look, and the faint tightness of her mouth, a tenseness about her eyes said the accusation was true. Aware of the helicopters, calculating their route and velocity, she urged the others on, directing them so they could use any cover they could from the terrain for as long as they could. Some of the helicopters would stay at the crater where the bear was dealt with, but not all. Her phone vibrated in a distinct pattern of pulses, and Sean's jaw tightened as she pulled her phone from a dedicated sleeve for it. Though with it's functions and more computing power than most top of the line gaming rigs, smartphone was a misnomer - she'd have to come up with a better term. The vibration pattern told what the alert was for and with a flick of her thumb, she brought up the feed from her home. She practically ground her teeth audibly before she forced herself to calm down. It seemed to be a particularly aggravating act, flaunting and meant to antagonize, serving no purpose beyond to annoy. Especially after realizing General Pryor's death had been faked, meant to fool her in particular. Her mouth tightened as she considered the reasons Ronin would do such a thing and why Pryor would seemingly work with him of his own apparent volition. Sean fell into step with Pete, the oversized Jeane on his other side, and gave the man a tight smile and a casually intense once-over, not willing to take anything at face value anymore. Human, Key, or something else altogether. They hadn't seen or heard from Hooli in some time. Sean pursed her lips, musing on Pete. Nor had there been evidence of entity riding or possessing Taleena. "If it was you, thank-you for... influencing Jeane to come back and whatever 'little' aid you could provide," Sean said, ignoring his jibe about their ages. She couldn't exactly say he or Tease were completely wrong. "Is there any chance you saw what was done to the bear or have some inkling on how?" Her nostrils flared in a silent snort - it still troubled her she hadn't seen or could figure out where all that energy had gone. "Or who or what did it?" Her lips quirked wryly. "We don't have much time left before we have to depart. Will you need a lift someplace? We can do that for you at least."
  5. 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."
  6. Seeing the soaring, giant Jeane, Sean calculated the resultant force of the impact and was prepared. She danced the shockwaves rocking the valley as though swanning across a dance floor and the tumbling trees and boulders her partners. When it grew still, she waved the billowing dust from her face and did another quick scan for 5, but he seemed to be well and truly gone. Through the falling dust, a solid shaft of light was seen. Soon, a shadowed shape could be discerned holding it, a feminine shape as it grew closer, then Sean was gliding towards the rest of the Irregulars from the waves of dust, awesome and terrible, crimson sheathing her chest. With a quick glance, she took in the scene. None of her friends seemed to be unduly injured and the bear had been reduced back to a typical size. Jeane, not quite so, showing a 21.21% increase in stature. Nearly as much an increase as her own metamorphosis, though Jeane had started out over half a foot taller than Sean had been as a boy. She pursed her lips, eyes narrowing. She had felt the discharge of the quantum energy infusing the bear, if not seen it, but there was no sign of what had happened to it, where it had gone. Frowning as she walked closer, she shut off her photon blade and gave Jeane a more intense glance. Jeane's quantum signature hadn't changed as far as Sean could tell, no sign in her of that had infused the bear, no alteration or hybridization of her signature that might have accounted for her increase in stature. That was odd. Few Keys showed outward physical alterations - herself one of the few exceptions - beyond physical optimization when they manifested. Using a developed power shouldn't have caused a permanent physical change like it seemed it had in Jeane. Ah, there is was. An answer and more questions. "5, the Ronin-minion douche, is gone," Sean informed Lilly and the others as she reached them. "Either he was linked into a teleportation system like the Watchtower or the T'tauri possess, of his suit had its own personal means of translocation." She shared a look with Lilly and Abel. "As far as I could tell, 5 was all Suit and no Node. It was... formidable." She noticed Lilly's glance down and grin self-deprecatingly. "He got a lucky shot in with a very sharp sword, moved just a smidge quicker than anticipated. Could have been a lot worse than it is. The boob punch only bruised a few ribs." Sean patted Jeane on the shoulder sympathetically. "Glad you came back, Jeane. But we can't go quite yet. I think we need to talk with this Pete for a bit. And I'd like to see if we can find where the bear was first... infected."
  7. Savant flowed over the ground like the wind, silent and unseen, her swift, long-legged strides leaving the matted pine needles and sparse underbrush undisturbed. She pinpointed the location of the earlier radio emissions and with a quick glance, analyzed the potential routes one would take from there to the Great Bear. Several were likely and Savant circled around to come at them from the flank or behind, if Ronin's minion had been moving at a steady to accelerated pace. Nothing incongruous showed up on the infrared spectrum, but that was not too surprising - her own suit concealed her heat signature. It was surprising that Ronin had come up with such a stealth system, if it hadn't been pilfered from the Irregular Solutions Labs in the first place. She caught the scent of something synthetic, which narrowed down her search without ending it. The rank and acrid smell of the quantum-infused Bear permeated the valley. The PAM suit must have had really good sound baffles as well, because echolocation only revealed an inconsistent impression over an area. He's somewhere... there... Continuing the game of cat and mouse, Savant stopped humming her sonar pulses so as not to reveal her own location and started closing in flitting from tree to tree for cover. Considering the surprises she had already experienced, she wasn't going to assume Ronin's lackey didn't have a means to penetrate her own camouflage. Savant turned her head slightly, a hidden smirk gracing her lips as Jeane returned. Dangerous, but it seemed she had regained her nerve. The sun was casting longer shadows and Sean caught sight of disturbed pine needles, broken twigs, and the faint indentation of foot steps, the minute scuff on stone breaking through the forest floor, narrowing down her search still further. The ground shook again as the Great Bear shifted and backhanded Vanguard across the valley when something caught Savant's eye. Some dirt and pebbles shaken free from the Bear's movement and subsequent roar bounced off something unseen next to the thick trunk of an ancient Douglas Fir. Now that she knew where to look, Savant could just make the faint distortion of a man shape hiding in the lee of the big tree. The Douglas fir wouldn't off the slightest protection from something the size of the bear, but out of sight, out of mind. There you are... ~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~ 5 peered at Bearzilla and the Irregulars from around the trunk of the tree. Ronin was right, this was going to be easy. They barely functioned as a team, let alone a cohesive one. He'd skip in, slice off a sample, and be out of there without them even-- -- His mouth dropped open as one of the girls suddenly swelled up to ninety feet tall. 5 was going to reassess their competence when he decided this was just dandy. Bearzilla would be distracted by the girl who could meet it eye-to-eye. He'd just be a mosquito, unremarked and gone before being squashed as an annoyance. He wasn't quite up to see if his sun-forged suit would stand up to that kind of punishment. "Surrender and don't resist," said a voice, rich, sensual, and commanding that seemed to have a direct line to his crotch as an arm went under his shoulder and around his throat and a hand grabbed his wrist. "Oh for gods sakes?!" 5 exclaimed. The sensor systems on his suit hadn't seen anything, though they were compensating now, showing him a figure - a very female figure that matched that voice - though no further details. Seems she had her own stealth systems. "Ronin isn't getting what he wants this time," that gorgeous voice claimed firmly and with clear satisfaction, the arm tightening around his throat and the hand on his wrist. "Sorry, ... Savant isn't it? What Ronin wants, Ronin gets," 5 countered, free arm swinging back in a devastatingly strong and fast elbow and catching only air. ~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~ Savant had calculated over ten thousand responses to her restraining action, she had seen the elbow coming even before the blurry figure had moved. And while the elbow had come faster and harder than she expected, it wasn't faster than she had allowed for. The elbow passed harmless over her head and nearly felled the tree with the 189.77cm thick trunk as she ducked and lashed out with a sweep kick faster than lightning. Her leg slammed into his shins and... stopped, nearly all the kinetic energy dissipated and spread throughout the suit. She was far from the strongest, but she was still a hundred times stronger than the average athletic, she had expected at least some response. His knee came up and she backflipped away before it could connected with her face, her own foot catching him under the chin, but failing to take him off his feet, again most of the force harmlessly dispersed. "Not this time," Savant reiterated. Instant calculations of the damage done to the tree from a non-direct blow let her estimate the force her opponent could exert. He's stronger than I am. And fast, if not as fast as me. I want a look at this guy. Savant darted forward once more, cognitive processes accelerating, making the world slow down, as though she was operating on bullet time, and launched into a series of targeted kicks and punches. She threw ten strikes to his one, but where she had to parry and dodge, the bodysuited figure largely relied on his suit to protect him... and it did. If her blows largely did little damage, they at least disrupted the stealth function of her opponent's suit and she finally got her first real good look at him. "Snake Eyes?" she commented in vague disbelief, taking a pair of steps back out of immediate range. "5," he corrected. "That, is not a PAM suit," Savant said accusingly. Now that she could get a good look at her opponent, she could see what he was wearing wasn't truly a PAM, not as she knew them, though it was acting like one, dispersing her blows over the entire thing. A highly advanced version of distinctly different construction, dispersing force far more efficiently than her own did. Her eyes narrowed. There was no quantum reinforcement in the suit, in fact, she didn't detect a dynamic quantum signature at all. "Huh." She knew Ronin was super-intelligent, but he wasn't an engineer or a scientist, no had ever showed any inclination towards or expertise in those areas. She couldn't reasonably believe he could have made a combat suit with such robust capabilities, and would be baffled on how he could have, if he had made it. "Not quite, it's better than the ones you guys have, who know maybe you'll get a set some day" 5 taunted. "Look, I really don't want to hurt you. Just step aside, let me get the thing I need to get, and we can each go our own way, no harm, no foul." Savant snorted, feeling vaguely affronted that what appeared to be an unenhanced human was holding his own with her. The only thing she had encountered before that could compensate for the disparity was a T'tauri battlesuit. "Sorry, that's not happening today." They engaged once more in a balletic dance of beautiful brutality, a martial figure all in black confronting a barely discernible blur only the enhanced sensor systems of his suit let him see the shape and movements off. To any who could have watched, it looked like a scene from a modern wuxia martial film or a fighting game played at high speed. 5 had been pulling his punches - he wasn't here to fight with the Irregulars, just to get a viable sample from the Quantum Care Bear - but it took only seconds for him to realize that the woman was taking any and every advantage of his restraint. She seemed to see every attack coming before he even committed, yet he swore he could hear her teeth grinding as he would not go down. With all her many, many blows, 5 was starting to feel rattled inside his armor, while he had only managed to land one solid blow, a punch to a tit that crackled with the electrical discharge of integrated taser that made her grunt and sent her flipping back twenty yards, though she landed in a graceful cart wheel. He thought that would be his opportunity to evade her and make it to the Bear before she could stop him, but he was wrong. He'd taken only two steps for her voice rang out. "Stop." A single word, but said with such conviction and surety and penetrating command that it completely bypassed his brain and went straight to his nervous system. 5 stopped and Savant raced up behind him and her foot came up between his legs hard. This time, 5 felt it, and if his suit stopped it from being crippling, it still hurt. "That's it! I'm done being nice," 5 growled. "I don't want to fight any of you, but that was a low blow, and I'm pretty sure you were brought up better than that." His sword came out of the sheath on his back, its blade so black it seemed to suck in the light, except for a glint on the mono-molecular edge. He swung around in a tight spin, the blade arcing like a swath of night and missed Savant by a bare millimeter as she sidestep. He couldn't see her face, but her pose seemed unsurprised and relaxed, unconcerned that he had a weapon that gave him the advantage of reach. He could imagine her smirking and wanted nothing more than to wipe that imagined smirk off her face. 5 went on the attack, trying to force her back, but she continued to duck and weave, slipping between thrusts and slashes. She tried disarming him, but couldn't manage to break his grip. Giving the blade due consideration, Savant gave more focus to defense than offense, especially after seeing the blade cleave through trees in a single slice without slowing. She began using it to her advantage, but the falling trees were posing more of an impediment to her movement than it was to the Snake Eyes-looking fucker. Then she realized he still wasn't trying to hit her he was striking the trees, herding her. One tree fell and landed a glancing blow off his shoulder barely slowing him, and they wouldn't be heavy enough to pin him without the perfect negation of leverage. But it did convey just how sharp his sword was. From a hard style of martial arts, Savant flowed instantly into a soft style at 5's next strike, evading the strike in a graceful pirouette and using two fingers on the flat of the blade, redirected the black sword's trajectory. The tip of the blade penetrated 5's armored suit and sliced into the top of 5's foot. 5 howled and suddenly lashed out with a speed and ferocity that Savant couldn't quite account for. Savant glided back a step, preventing herself from being beheaded at the cost of a shallow, straight slice across her collar bones. Her PAM suit parted with a sigh, revealing the tops the most remarkable breasts and a length of enticing cleavage. The integrity of her PAM suit sundered, the thermoptic camouflage system ended and now 5 got his first good look of who was fighting. Gorgeous didn't begin to describe the tall woman, she was so beautiful it was distracting, a goddess made flesh. 5 as prepped as he had been this was to much, he was concerned he'd screw up and that wasn't an option. And she wasn't smirking now. Her expression was cool and alarmingly lethal as blood began to seep from the slash finer than any razor could equal, and trace down the curves off her breasts into the cleft between them. "And now I'm done being nice," Savant replied, her melodious voice so cold and sharp 5 flinched at the sound, as she took a metallic rod hanging from her hip. It looked suspiciously like... "I wanted you intact to answer questions, but I'll settle for mostly intact with extraneous bits removed." She pressed a button and a blade of coruscating energy extended from the top of the rod with an ominous hiss, a mix of yellows, oranges, and reds, fuchsia and magenta. Unlike the item that had clearly inspired the weapon, the blade wasn't a long tube of plasma, but a flat plane that was almost invisible edge on despite the light it gave off. Ronin might have said his armor had been tempered in the sun, but this woman who had stepped out of a goddamn comic book had a shard of the fucking dawning sun in her hand and seemed entirely too willing to use it on him. And his foot was a mass of agony. Had she cut off one or more of his toes with his own sword? "You have got to be kidding me?!" 5 groaned in defeated exasperation as he shook a hand at her in disgusted disbelief. "That's it. I'm done. you can keep the bear." "Good," Savant replied, a faint curve to her lips, despite the sting and sticky wetness on her chest. Her turquoise eyes focused on the gamma-ray band of the electromagnetic spectrum, to get a look at the face behind the mask. "Come in peacefully, we just want to ask some-" "Oh, I'm done with that too," 5 interrupted, a hand going to his wrist. "As much funas being questioned by you might be, that can't happen, I'm outta here." "No!" Savant shouted, her free hand slapping a disk on her hip a moment too late as 5 discorporated into motes of light of indeterminate colour and disappeared with a pop of in rushing air. "..." She sighed, shoulders slumping for just a moment before she straightened them. "Dammit. Only half a win." Hopefully the tracking device she had planted on him with her first touch would yield some dividends. A new design, instead of electrical or mechanical components that emitted a signal, it was a single molecule with its own precisely attuned signature that she could lock onto with remote viewing, the signature drawing her awareness. Hopefully, there was the possibility this tracking device would go unnoticed, at least long enough to be useful.
  8. "Hmm..." More dramatic than Sean had expected with the glowing eyes, Tease's words more grandiose. And she calls us nerds! But it seemed to be working, the Great Bear lumbering towards rather than charging, hesitance instead of fury in its steps. She didn't intend to let Tease's attempt be interrupted or interfered with by Ronin's minion. "Keep covering her, I'm going to look for our guest before he makes an nuisance of himself," Sean said, her voice low and soft so as not to distract from Tease's majestic, calming tones. With Vanguard, Chimera, Sage, and Proteus, Tease should be safe enough with her absence. "But stay alert for another surprise." One minion to interfere with some of the most powerful Keys on the planet, even if he was encouraged to refrain from direct engagement? Ronin was aware of her and Sage's enhanced perceptions, was familiar with most of the capabilities of the Irregulars. This guy could easily be a distraction from a different avenue of interference. Or meant to be caught. Surprisingly unobtrusive for someone so eye-catching, Sean slipped away with Batman-like skill, slinging her rifle back over her shoulder - she could have it back in her hands in an instant. Gliding behind the boles of pine trees, her bodysuit began to take on the appearance of whatever what behind it, light itself contorting around her curves, until only the faintest hint of an outline remained. Major Motoko, eat your heart out. Savant stalked through the hills with skill beyond any human hunter's, swifter than Usain Bolt without seeming to hurry. Her senses were attuned for any sign of her prey. She could feel the swirl and eddy of the faintest air currents, her nose seeking the slightest trace of an out of place scent. Her eyes found the infrared spectrum, as she looked for conspicuous spots of heat, or cold. With her incredible voice, she hummed in a register beyond the range of human - and many animals' - hearing, emitting sonar waves and listened for the echoes. She was aware of the most minute disturbance around her. She was going to find him, stop him, and get some answers.
  9. "I need a damn coffee," Sean muttered crossly, her only sign of frustration and distress as the newest Irregular fled tactically withdrew, the energetic dispersion of her quantum weapon drawing the attention of the colossal, mutated bear, which was clearly a threat now, her hair shifting at its mighty bellow, even at this distance. It was unfair to Jeane that this was her first encounter as an Irregular in training, but little in life was fair. And there was also Ronin's... associate. Few had senses as keen as hers, and only one, maybe two, that exceeded them. For her own sanity, she had to put filters on the tremendous breadth of her perceptions, but she still registered all the stimuli she was exposed to, if only on a subconscious level. But incongruous stimuli and an intuitive sense for probabilities allowed for things to pass through her filters. Just as she caught the bare whisper of a voice from way upwind and deciphered it, Sean noticed the bloom of electromagnetic radiation of a broadcast signal almost equidistant from them and the bear and was able to interpret it into sound. She listened in on the conversation and grunted. Sounded more like boastful bullshit to her. Then again, Ronin was continually surprising them, so she wouldn't totally discount it - she knew he was smart beyond a human scale, but he hadn't displayed any particular engineering or scientific prowess before. <Company courtesy of Ronin. He wants a sample of the creature,> Sean confirmed to Abel as she unslung her rifle from her shoulder as she studied the oncoming behemoth. Its dimensions were immediately apparent to her - 82.012m at the shoulder, 159.898m long - and calculating its volume and mass took only a fraction of an instant, though she had to extrapolate and account for a difference in muscular density and the ice due to quantum enhancement and a more stocky build than the average kermode bear. <It should weigh in somewhere around 7.112 million pounds, give or take several tons.> "Fair enough, Tease, especially now that that ship has sailed," Sean agreed, her tone calm and resolute in the face of something that could crush her with ease, her eyes focused on it, looking for any particular weak points, eyes, the roof of the mouth, a way to disrupt the infusion of quantum energy, anything to slow it or bring it down. "Since we guys are so easy to manipulate, how about I give you one to deal with instead of Cuddles, here? Ronin has someone here to collect a sample from it. I'd rather he not get it - I don't want him to weaponize godzilla-mobs. He's a sneaky fucker and still a ways away that way, but when he gets closer, if I pick him out for you, think you can distract him and keep him out of our hair with your mojo?" Savant's suggestion wasn't just because Tease's quantum mojo seemed to be more directed towards people than Giant Death Animals, but also that she was Ronin's twin sister. Sean could makes guesses on how the guy was directed to respond to them if they came into conflict. She was hoping that whatever remained of Devin inside Ronin would get Tease an edge in such an encounter. Tease could hear the idea in Sean's voice and that she hadn't tried to hide it from her. The Spirit Animal of Destruction didn't make the ground tremble as it rumbled towards them, it made it shake, every step seeming to strike the bones of the earth itself, and Sean rode the waves with sublime, ineffable grace. She was completely in tune with her surroundings, everything in it and its relation to herself. Every movement was fluid and precise, as though she was operating at 200 frames per second to everyone else's 30. "I hope this thing doesn't have a Care Bear Stare."
  10. As far as I know, at Q6+, skills and attributes are still maxed at 5. We all got an an Exceptional Attribute Merit at one point that let us up one attribute to 6 and IIRC, a few people bought it a few more times. Mega-Attributes maximums at Q6+ are equal to your Quantum Rating. I doubt recall KIa having a Stamina of 7, though I knew Mega-Stamina was seven. Dunno if Nina let Kia by Exceptional Attribute for the same Attribute more than once.
  11. Sean grimaced sourly. She certainly wasn't trying to be friends with Tease, but she was trying to make her feel a part of the group. Tease didn't see as much as she thought, or rather, saw what she wanted to see. Her unrelenting bitchitude was making it very hard to give credence to the glimmers of a worthy person that randomly poked up. Sean wasn't sure how Laurie could be friends with her. "You might have a future in this world, Tease, but first we have to make sure this world has a future." Sean's face was smooth as the monstrous, quantum-infused bear, seeing the coruscating energy roiling inside it. This was not a random event and it was frustrating that she had not even found a hint to the cause yet. Hopefully this time, it would be different. Her face hardened as she noticed two distant specks in the sky, specks that were neither birds nor flying-koalas. It would be different this time. Her eyes narrowed on the withdrawing specks, picking out a man in a purple duster and a girl, a blond girl, that she recognized from a visit with Devin to California. It would be extra worrisome if Ronin had developed a way to manifest Keys himself. It was more than frustrating that he could seem to find them at will, at the most inopportune times. She could send her senses to anywhere on Earth from where she stood, but she had to know where and when to look. She felt like she was missing something obvious about that. Without looking at her smartphone, Sean typed out a text to McKellar. [Ronin and Unknown Key seen withdrawing from site. Prepare for something else coming from him]. Sean also felt something else that was unexpected. She didn't sense any immediate danger or threat from the Ursine Kaiju, despite how ferocious it seemed. Even a regular maddened animal would ping warnings, if faint ones. Why not this thing? They had beaten down the Orca-zilla - with Jaunt's distinct help, she couldn't help to note - and while it had saved Cape Town, they hadn't learned anything. Perhaps time to try a different tact. Especially after Tease's comment on its emotions and the limited effect of Kia's winged-koalas. She frowned at that, too late to take it back, but the creature was so large, perhaps the koalas had been seen as nothing more than an irritant. She studied how the beast's quantum emanations interacted with the flapping things pestering it with interest as she flowed forward, standing ahead to a bit to the side of Tease, interposing herself despite Tease's comments. She wanted to see if it would be immediately or shortly dangerous to any of them if exposed to it. "No one's dying today, Traceuse," Sean told the younger Key. "Different plan, Sage," Sean countered firmly. "I'm not sensing any immediate danger from it. Ronin was here and I can't believe he just popped in to see what was going on and not doing anything to fuck with us. Chimera, pull back the flappies and have them circle wide around the thing, to see if Ronin has dropped in any surprises for us. If they are good enough at tracking, have one backtrack the trail and see where it came from, maybe we'll find some hint of its inception. We keep approaching - same formation, but spread out - in case we still have to draw it away from the next town, but don't antagonize it." Her lips tightened for a moment, but there wasn't any recrimination in her cool, melodious voice. "Don't antagonize anymore than we already have. Yet." She glanced over her shoulder at the reticent - not that she blamed her - Tease and asked, "You say you can sense it's pain and confusion?" She pondered the dilemma, femtoseconds of time, but that was a lot for her. The gargantuan bear didn't have a node, but it was seething, overflowing with quantum energy. If she could fine some way of draining it, or releasing it - that didn't obliterate them and/or the valley they were in... She couldn't help but compare it with what she had heard about the boy Kyle and Sara's situation. If she could reconfigure one of her devices to draw out the excess quantum energy... "Are you able to do something to ease its... its suffering? Give it the idea that we are trying to help it?"
  12. With all she had experienced, Sean may have somewhat inured to how Kia's powers expressed themselves, but she still suppressed a brief shudder at the sight of her... pets. She had never found koalas cute, with their black, dead eyes when she had been a boy, and she didn't find their winged brethren any cuter with eyes bigger, blacker, and deader now that she was a girl. There were other things about Chimera she found more disconcerting however, but it wasn't her place to bring them up now. With the others reassuring Kia, Sean glided silently up to walk a few steps back and to the side of Tease, ignoring her withering glare. "There's danger here, Tease, and we don't go it alone if we can avoid it, 'kay?" It was easy to forget that the vast majority of people hadn't seen what most of the Irregulars had seen and Kia wasn't the only one who needed reassurance, even if Tease was unlikely to admit it. The second time Tease was about to slip in the snow, a strong hand, but gentle and sure, caught her arm adroitly and steadied her. "Here, seems like you could use a drink," Sean said, offering Tease a canteen. "I like to be prepared and unlike some of the others, I still need to eat and drink at least." When Tease accepted the flattened bottle, Sean added with a wry grin. "Just water, I'm afraid." "Figures," Tease muttered crossly, but she still took the water and rinsed the last of the taste from her mouth. "Sorry about the lack of warning 'bout Kia. That wasn't fair to you," Sean said softly with a note of sincerity and commiseration in her voice as she accepted the canteen back and stuffed it back into her pack, as her eyes kept scanning their surroundings for any surprises, ears listening keenly for any out of place sound. "Even I still get creeped out by some of things she can do sometimes, but we don't really get to choose how our powers express themselves." She pursed her lips for moment. "Not consciously, at any rate." Sean glanced at Tease's legs again from the corner of her eye when she heard a crunch and squish when a foot slid a little on another step. "Not that they don't make your legs look amazing, but you might want to give up the heels for now and the let the suit provide you with some more... convenient footwear. We both know looks can matter a great deal, but I doubt the thing we're following is going to be concerned if you are wearing Louboutin's or Valentino's."
  13. Sean rolled her eyes at Tease's comments and demeanor, and sighed. She had thought after Camp Century and speaking with McKellar, Tease was on board as a team player, but it seemed it was going to be in baby steps, which, fair enough with those heels. "Trust me, Tease, we all want to find this thing as fast as possible and then get onto those other important things." Sans hood, Sean's deep, vibrant hair of reds, purples, yellows, oranges, and pinks gleamed under the sun as she shook her head and gestured. "If it stays moving in a straight line, it's going to hit another community. Valemount, twice the size of this place." As Lilly buffed the other new Irregulars, Sean frowned at the devastated main street of Tete Jaune Cache and the surrounding mountains as she swiftly and deftly assembled a high-tech looking anti-material rifle with a heavy barrel but a surprisingly small bore. She straightened up and slung the rifle over her shoulder, but she looked ready to draw it or any number of other items strapped to her in an instant. It was odd. No bodies. It almost seemed like the place could have been evacuated already, but it was more than just a lack of bodies and the way things had been left abandoned where they were. There was no signs of pets or other wildlife either. No birds, not even any mice, and there were always mice. And the vegetation in town was dead too, having grown pale or colorless and brittle to the touch. Sean rapped a tree lining the street, and along with a sheet of frost, ribbons of bark peeled off and broke into pieces. A glance showed that the trees outside of town still lived though. Her keen eyes could see a heavy residual quantum field overlaying the area, heavy but fading fast. It was so ephemeral that it barely eddied or swirled around the Irregulars with their own personal, active fields. Had they arrived a few minutes later, there likely would have been no residual quantum energy for her to see. A few minutes earlier, and they might have been exposed to the full force of it. What did it do? Dissociate organic bonds? There should be some physical residue. Kill organic cells directly, disintegrate living cells, or integrate them into itself in some matter, stripping the living energy of the plant-life in passing? Savant kept a train of thought running, hypothesizing on what could cause what had happed to Tete Jaune Cache and how. As they followed the trail of destruction, Sean nodded at one of the huge, deep tracks. "This thing might be big and strong, but I don't think that is the only thing making it dangerous." She briefly covered her notice of the complete lack of animal (including people) life in the town, and that all the plant life itself was dead. "If I see a similar quantum field rising and I tell you guys to get clear, please, for all our sakes, get clear."
  14. With her peripheral vision, Sean watched the poly-adaptive fabric crawl down Tease's legs with interest and when Tease caught her, she gave her an unabashed shrug and a small grin. The only time she got to look at a woman as attractive as Tease, especially in an outfit straight out of a comic book, was when she looked in the mirror. Oh, or that... that trollop - an old fashioned word, but it really fit - Courtney on another magazine cover or on a tabloid show. Sean nodded her agreement. "He strikes me as someone who has read the Art of War and The Prince, even if he would deny it." "Good to hear you're still good to go," Sean said to Lilly2, her heartrate returning to normal after a momentary spike of concern. If Lilly Prime had been in real danger, it would mean Sara likely was too, and the rest of her family. "Give us a heads up if you feel it happen again. Could be indicative of another issue." She gave Jeane a smile, mildly amused by the constantly shifting colour of her PAM suit. "Yeah, feels too coincidental with the surprise at Tete Jaune Cache so soon after Norfolk. I guess we'll find out." They didn't have live images yet and wouldn't until they were already on site, but Sean did look over the old satellite images they had pulled up of the area. Looking at the topographical details and considering the little that had been overheard on the local communications, Sean choose a location that would land them close without - hopefully - putting them in the middle of the potential - okay, almost inevitable - danger. "Here, set us down here, James," Sean asked GateKeeper, rattling off the precise coordinates as well as the distance between there and Fort Bulwark. She opened some of the filters on her perceptions, particularly on the quantum spectrum. Last time they had investigated a quantum event on this level, Sara had been hit by.... something. She didn't intend the Irregulars to be surprised, let alone become a victim, by its like again. She brushed an assortment of weapons and devices strapped to her person, but didn't draw any yet, the situation still unknown. A drawn weapon at their first appearance might only exacerbate the situation. "Stay sharp, guys, and like Tease said, if in regards to Ronin, be ready for anything. After several species of aliens, Orca-zilla, a dragon--" "A dragon?! You're shitting me, right?" Jeane exclaimed in something between disbelief and wonder. "Yeah, in the Black Forest, Germany - more flying, napalm breathing lizard than magical being. He called himself a dragon, anyway. I'll tell you about it when we have more time. But back to what I was saying, anything can mean literally almost anything now. Isn't the physical expression of Quantum Theory fun?"
  15. Sean wasn't precisely surprised by Tease's enthusiasm, but her eyes did widen as she reassessed her. "Excellent!" Sean replied. "Let's get the others and check it out. And I'll totally hook you up with a PAM suit - it stands for - never mind, not important now." As Abel and three girls started moving through the halls with renewed purpose, Sean gave Kia a wry grin. "Even if he does twittergrambook, he teleports - he can be anywhere in the world when he takes a selfie or makes an update before blipping back to his lair." They found Lilly and Jeane and updated them on the situation, the little they knew of it so far, then met up with James in the Control. "Okay, James, we need to get to Fort Bulwark, but we're making a pit stop first. Do your thing." James opened his own portal - different, but similar, to those Ronin could form, definitely less sinister after what she had witnessed - and the Irregulars stepped into a room in the Irregular Solutions Labs designated for the purpose. Sean frowned for a moment at how quiet and empty the place was on lockdown with the lights dim full security measures up. "I'll be right back." Sean strode away with graceful swiftness, surprisingly fast despite not seeming to hurry as she disappeared into the bowels of Irregular Solutions. Soon she returned with something tucked under her arm. "You get a PAM suit!" she exclaimed in an eerily accurate impression of the Queen of Daytime Television as she tossed a mesh sack towards Tease, who caught the underhand throw easily. "And you get a PAM suit!" A sack went Jeane's way, another Charlie's. "Everyone. Gets. A. PAM suuuuit!" Sean snorted, then gestured to a pair of doors to one side of the room. "The unofficial welcome to the Irregulars. If you want, you can change in there - It'll attune itself to you automatically after you give it a nudge with you own quantum energy - but be quick.. McKellar is waiting and whatever is going on in Canada probably isn't." Reaching into the mesh bags, the newest Irregulars found a silky, silvery grey fabric that flowed between their fingers almost like water. After giving them the time to change into the form-fitting and surprisingly supportive suits as well as briefly testing out their capabilities and shifting their appearances to their preferences, Sean nodded at the teleporter. "On to Bulwark, James." In a single step instead of the several thousand between Irregular Solutions and Fort Bulwark, the Irregulars were at the growing Air Force base, standing before McKellar. "The Irregulars are here, McKellar. What's the sitrep?"