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Jael Carver

Aberrant: 200X - Fireworks

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Jason gave the shy girl hiding behind Ein a small wave - her presence often took getting used to - then stretched out a hand to Sean and gave him a friendly grin. "Please, Jason and Danielle, Sean. Bombshell and Knockout are just names for the media - gives 'em better fodder for their headlines, eh?"

Sean could feel the impressive, restrained strength in Jason's impeccably feminine hand. Everything about Bombshell, her matchless beauty and curves, her captivating soprano, the impossible grace of her movements made it difficult to believe she was ever anything but a woman, though she readily admitted to it when asked.

"So, you're a-"

But Jason got no further before the drama arrived in the form of blue eyes and a pair of bouncing tits. Having no clue what had sparked it all, she was still deciding if she wanted to step into it or let it play when Alex showed up and explained the situation. Ah! When then, that's obvious enough now

Leaving Einherjar to the company of Sean and the spunky Chinese with the tied tongue, Jason glided after the three blonds walking in the vague direction of the games-room. The eyes of the men couldn't but drift in the direction of the taut perfection her short-clad booty.

Choking back a giggle upon hearing what had started the kerfuffle, Jason stepped up to Contessa's side and nodded in the direction of the monstrous video screen. "Mind sharin' a few matches on CoD: Elites or XWF: Smackdown, Contessa? Other than a very brief meetin' at the VCCE, all I've really heard of you is your voice - and the occasional snort - over the network when you and Alex are gamin.'" She arched a brow at Contessa, then gave Alex a teasing smirk, voice dropping into a stage-whisper. "I can show ya a few tricks to help with pawnin' Alex, that don't involve usin' your, ah, feminine wiles, if you like. He's not as good as he thinks."

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“Alright, I believe you,” Jael said, letting her suspicions go on his word. It wasn’t that easy, but she tried to make it that easy. “How about a bit of sugar before I go back to playing hostess and you go back to playing games with Tessa?” she purred, stepping a bit closer to her man.

“Always,” he vowed before giving her a short, sweet kiss.

She was still smiling as he turned away, the taste of summer on her lips but that smile faded as she watched him rejoin Tessa. It went against her very nature to casually allow him space to be himself. Her one real relationship had been built on possession, where she had been the possessed. She didn’t want that for Sunshine, but it was sometimes hard to ignore the terrible lessons she had learned from Charles. Shelly had spent hours talking with her after that, telling her what was normal so Jael knew what she shouldn’t do. It was still reflexive to want Sunshine to not even pay attention to other women, or have activities outside of the ones they shared. Shelly had explained this was normal and good, so Jael was trying.

Speaking of… Jael grinned as she pulled out her phone and dialed. “Bitch, where are you?” she said as a greeting.

“I’m getting dressed, ho,” Shelly shot back. “Someone couldn’t help me pick out a dress because she was too busy banging her summer boyfriend, so it took a while to decide. I mean… there are going to be some wickedly hot guys there.”

“Hurry up, there’s already a line around Ein,” Jael giggled. “Say, you know where Paul is?”

“On his way up. He knocked about five minutes ago and asked me if I was ready,” Shelly replied, her voice more serious. “I holed hem no.”

“Are you putting on lipstick on the phone again?” Jael asked.

“Shut up. Some of us don’t have perfect quantum lips,” Shelly retorted, but Jael could hear her grin. “Alright. I’ll be there in two shakes.”

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Originally Posted By: Sean "Loki" McCline
Sean smirked and leaned close to murmur, "Maybe you should have said yes to the date." Mixie shot him a glower, which Sean ignored as he produced a Sharpie. "How about an autograph, on the shirt?" His smile was still way too wide as he added, "Right on the front?"


Sean was rewarded with a glare capable of etching glass as Mixie hissed "Shutupyoujerk. GOD!" With admirable aplomb, the pretty Asian girl straightened up and smiled winsomely at Einherjar. "It's a black shirt, or I'd probably say yes. But it's so not-cool for you to be hassled for autographs, Einherjar." But if you're free later, you can sign other bits of me. Like my thigh. With your tong- No, bad Ming! Focus. I'm talking to Einherjar. He's still clasping my hand. What is it with novas being so... SO-ish in person, anyway?

"Call me Ein, Mixie." Einherjar said with that easy leonine charm that had him on Katya's list at least two more times. "You're Sean's friend, in addition to being a woman of obvious taste and discernment." He grinned at her blush and gently let her hand slip from his. "And this is Morri, who doesn't shake hands." he cautioned as he introduced the red-eyed girl who was torn between picking at the food on her plate curiously and gazing warily at all the people. She stared at Ming, who gave her a little wave of greeting, in that oddly-intent way she reserved for women who she wasn't sure if she liked or not. The girl didn't look much older than her, but she had that same smell other females got around Eyen who wanted him to hurt them. Kat Ya had said that it didn't hurt, but Morri wasn't fooled. Kat Ya was huddling close to Ree Yoo Say, and he was a bad man. Quite why he was a bad man Morri couldn't say, because he was prettier than Kaz Ooh-Oh and seemed nicer. But Kaz Ooh-Oh was a bad man too. Morri didn't know why Eyen liked him.

In fact, she didn't understand a lot of why Eyen did the things he did. He was nice to her, and warned others away from hurting her, and taught her things. Some of the things didn't make sense, but Eyen thought they were important so Morri tried, like with the counting and reading the little scribbly bug-things on the papers. Eyen never got angry or impatient with her, though she saw him get angry with other people, when his deep voice went cold and made her shiver inside to hear. But he dressed her, and fed her things, and took her with him nearly everywhere. And he fixed the animals, too. Or at least, made sure the animals got fixed, which was almost the same thing where Morri was concerned.

"Let's grab some food and go relax." Ein suggested to the others, casting a mock-wary look around. "I hear Mrs Carver wants to speak to me." he deadpanned, then winked. "So I'll hide out in the games lounge with the rest of you for a bit." Hiking the sword strap over his shoulder a little more, he loaded himself a plate and drifted in the direction of the room he'd seen Sean and the others come from.

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Dozer was nervous. After his action in the Congo he needed to decompress, but the doctors were leery of having Dozer interact with anyone outside of the facility where they were treating him. Especially in a non-controlled environment. However, Dozer voluntarily signed into the facility, so he wasn't a prisoner.

When he arrived at the hotel where the party was being held, he let out a deep breath. He took off his sunglasses, and straightened his black mandarin collared shirt. He entered the hotel, and looked around for the elevators. When he spotted them, he headed right for them. He got in an empty elevator and headed for the roof.

As it stopped with a shudder and a ding, Dozer chuckled to himself.

Hopefully, this will be calm and relaxing... but around Novas, who knows...

He stepped out of the elevator and looked around, spotting no one he knew, he headed for the buffet table.

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Katya shook her head ruefully watching Mixie fangirl all over Einherjar, not that she blamed her. I'm glad I erupted before I first met Ein - I think I would have been worst Mixie here, otherwise. Her sparkling emerald eyes slid over to the attractive red-haired man who had just suffered the rough-side of Alex's friend's tongue. The dimples in her cheeks deepened as her sharp hearing caught Sunshine telling Jael the reason.

These two have it bad for each other, Kat mused, able to tell even without her perceptive touch. She could see the unrelieved tension radiating out from Sean, even though he was enjoying himself at Mixie's expense. Poor boy. Maybe I should help him relieve that tension...

Lips curved slyly as she pondered that thought, Katya went to get herself a drink at the bar and a bite from the buffet table, hips swinging with her dancer's grace and brushing against Sean's leg, though he'd be damned if he could tell is she did it on purpose or not. Simple rum-and-coke in hand, she was idly filling a plate at the buffet table, her gaze lingering on Sean, when the towering new arrival showed up, looking a little lost.

"Hello, I'm Katya Skovskaya," she greeted him in her husky, accented alto, holding out hand for him to take and a smile on her lips. "You're... Dozer, yes? I remember seeing you fight Andy Vance at the VCCE. If you are looking for the hostess, Jael went that way."

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Everything would have been fine. It was just typical behavior from these two and in a bit she would calm down, bring Sean a drink and apologize for making herself look like an idiot (again), they'd laugh about it and then have a long talk. They'd catch up on old times she'd tell him she was worried about him, smother him with over protectiveness and preach that his job was too dangerous and that she worried, they'd hug and he's tell her everything will be fine, then he'd leave for another two years and she'd not see him and not have to worry about seeing the man who whom cared about way to much.

And then she was reminded why Mixie told her never to spy on her with her co-location perception abilities. The ability to hear without with out actually standing there in the conversation most think would be a very cool power to have but as Contessa quickly realized, sometimes it's best not to hear what people say when you're not around.

Quote:
"Nooo… look… I uh, I wanted to ask if you wanted to go out sometime, like without Tessa. A date."

"Sean, Ceej is my best friend, you know as well as I do that she will go ballistic when she finds out. I have to admit, I think it'd be fun. Wait, when did you start having a thing for me anyway?"

“It’s not a thing, Mix, you’re cute and funny and I like hanging around you. It’s not a thing… but I think it could be. And yeah, so what if Contessa gets upset. She hates me. I’m sure she’d hate you dating me.

"Wow, you two are a piece of work. Blind as bats. Alright, we'll go out. As friends, because we need to talk, and I mean serious talking because boy, there are things you just don't know. Hear me out and we'll go from there, how's that? For now, ignore C.J., you know how she is, so just ignore it, and let's all please try and have ourselves a good time here, please?"

“Happy to ignore her. I was thinking about leaving, just to avoid her drama-llamas. Alright, alright… I’ll stay, I’ll ignore Contessa and the blonde kid mouthing insults at me and just talk to Sunshine and Einherjar and all the other people who don’t want to stab me in the face.

Her heart sank and a knot tightened in her stomach as she eavesdropped in a conversation she ha no business listening to anyway and she ended up wit exactly what she deserved. Karma was a bitch like that.

Now, the author Contessa's brain should point out that she was, at her very core, human. Like all humans she got angry, jealous and could quickly feel the tears set in. What was worse however, was that like when all people get angry her brain registered only the bits and pieces and fueled her anger even more. In essence, she heard only what she wanted to hear and simply didn't see the situation for what it really was. Sean was angry with her and doing his best to ignore her while she calmed down, it never occurred to her that he'd be more than will to talk with her once she approached him like a human being instead of a vitriol spewing Goddess of Wrath. Mixie certainly had her best friend in her heart when she agreed to meet with Sean, just under friendlier terms, so they could get a few things straightened out.

But that's not how Teesa heard it. Contessa still had a lot of growing up to do and it showed in how she handled things sometimes. All she heard was her best friend stealing the man she'd had a crush on for ever and the man she'd had a crush on forever proclaiming he had no interesting her and for all intents and purposes she might as well hang it up.

And she died a little bit inside.

Quote:
"Mind sharin' a few matches on CoD: Elites or XWF: Smackdown, Contessa? Other than a very brief meetin' at the VCCE, all I've really heard of you is your voice - and the occasional snort - over the network when you and Alex are gamin.' I can show ya a few tricks to help with pawnin' Alex, that don't involve usin' your, ah, feminine wiles, if you like. He's not as good as he thinks."

She was a bit surprised as Jason approached her, her concentration was elsewhere and she barely heard half of the gorgeous nova's proposal. She tried to smile but Bombshell could tell it had to of been the most forced smile in history to date. She looked over to where Jael and Alex were talking, guessing by now that Alex had told her and Jael probably hated her even more at this point. It also served as a reminder that Alex was hers and she'd never have him either.

"Yeah." She agreed. Her voice was so low and laced with a setting depression that empaths could have been brought to tears as far as China. "Sounds fun. It's probably best I just stick to what I know anyways."

Contessa sat down, picked up the controller and it was on. Contessa was, without a doubt one of the bubbliest and cheery individuals on the planet (usually). When it came to her game play it was always just for fun. She'd laugh and giggle and compliment and she'd always remain a bastion of sportsman ship, never caring if she won or loss since i was the time spent with friends that she truly valued. But today Contessa didn't seem to have any friends. It seemed all she had were people who wanted to conspire and stab her in her back.

Bombshell's intent was to sit down and get to know the girl, talk some and play a game but what she witnessed was a level of voracity and carnage the likes of which frightened her. Contessa was an animal when she was in the zone! There was nowhere she could hide, not powers she could use, no pleads for mercy in any language she could think of that could convince the digitally pixelated Totentanz to please understand that if Bombshell had to die, then to at least let her do it with some dignity! She was everywhere, killing everything with no capacity for rapport. She couldn't be bargained with. She couldn't be reasoned with. They were out there on that battlefield, and she was going to find them and she absolutely would not stop, until they were dead.

The blond was so brutal that the 32 players in the OpBox Live! match actually began to simply quit out of the match. In only a few minutes, while Alex and Jael were talking, Sean was stealing her best friend, and her best friend was stealing her 'man, the 32 player match was down to only 11 people, and Jason was pretty sure two players were idling, and one was retarded.

She just sat there with her face locked in an emotionless void, there was her, the screen, the controller, and nothing else seemed to matter at this point...

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Ryusei watched Katya work her magic, and every time Morri looked at him he couldn't help but feel her agitation. Plate of food in hand, he silently made his way out of the room, into the gameroom.

He stood watching in silent awe, Contessa was literally causing people to quit with her skillz, and even Jason couldn't match her.

"Damn, now that's impressive."

He finished off his plate and trew it into the trash, and waited to see if she'd get everyone to quit before the game was done.

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"Wow." Alex plunked down on the floor with a large bowl of chips and two cans of Coke and stopped, eyes wide as he watched Contessa viciously stab the Stone Badass several times in the face after the avatar had stopped moving, making the digital incarnation twitch a few times and racking up a 'Ferocity' bonus. He blinked and looked at Tessa's intent mask of concentration, which was totally un-Tessa-like. "Uh... Nice moves." The warmth of his aura and the summery smell that surrounded him brushed her as he popped the tab on a can and set it in front of her. "Got you a Coke."

"Thanks." Contessa said mechanically. Alex glanced at Bombshell, but the platinum-haired goddess was too busy trying to keep herself alive in the face of twin-spear stabbity death. Noticing that the match was dwindling, he set the bowl of chips on the floor so that it could be reached and sipped his own drink.

"Hope I wasn't out of line back there." he said quietly. "You okay?"

"Peachy." Contessa said as another death-scream sounded from the speakers, her eyes following the action. "So do I have time to finish this game before your sweetie comes to butcher me?"

"At least that long. It's a party. We might even be able to squeeze in another game after that." Alex said with a warm smile Contessa didn't need to see - she could hear it. One corner of her mouth twitched in a muted reflexive response. Darn him for being so tooting nice all the time. And darn Sean for being such a jerk. And double-darn Mixie for stealing Sean, which was stupid because it wasn't like he was hers to be stolen. And triple-darn Contessa Jane Danae for moping over not one but TWO boys who were totally different and equally impossible to be with, one because he was a selfish jerkface and the other because he was in love with a dangerous, confident, sexy woman who (incidentally) had claws that'd make Wolverine poop his maple-leaf shorts.

"Seriously, Jael's cool. She's not mad, okay? She just wanted to know what the fuss was about, because it's her party and she really just wants people to enjoy it."

"Uh-huh." Contessa said. "You want in on this?" Alex sighed slightly and glanced at the screen.

"I'll wait for the next one. Ouch... Nasty way to go, Jase." he commented as Contessa used Totentanz's renowned speed and stealth to rack up yet another kill in a move that looked suspiciously like he'd rammed his spear where the sun shineth not.

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Morri trotted after Einherjar, keeping close to him. It felt safer in his shadow, even if his shadow had far too many people in it for her comfort. She was slowly getting used to the idea that her protector was always surrounded by people, many of whom she didn’t like. Here at least, there was food.

The room he went to was loud; there was a com-put-tor screne showing people fighting. Morri’s eyes went huge as she saw the carnage and a whimper escaped her throat. Eyen looked down and murmured, “Move-ey.” Morrie relaxed; she knew about move-eys and how they weren’t really happening. Still, this one was particularly violent and it made her uneasy.

Absently, she popped something green into her mouth. The taste that exploded across her tongue had her gasping in delight. Always attentive, Eyen glanced down, only to smile as she stuffed another piece into her mouth. “You like kiwi?” he asked.

“Key-wee,” Morri repeated, then made the ultimate sacrifice and offered a piece to Eyen. He reached for it, only to have it crammed against his lips. “Good!” she said, which was about as ringing an endorsement as she gave.

“Good,” Ein replied diplomatically, fishing the skin out of his mouth, “but it’d be better if you took the skin off first.”

Morri gave him a look like he’d just invented sliced bread and stripped off the skin on her last piece. She popped it in her mouth and repeated, “Good!” A beat later, she said, “More!” and was gone.

Einherjar didn’t freak out. She’d displayed enough self control that he was sure she’d been fine. He hoped, anyway, and that was why he kept an ear tuned to her.

Morri went right back to the table and located the kiwi; grinning, she grabbed at it. “Hi,” a voice said softly and she looked to see a girl with yellow hair smiling at her. “I don’t recognize you. Who are you?”

“Morri,” she said, unconcerned about his female. She was young and smelled too soft to be a threat.

“Is that your full name?” the girl asked. Morri nodded; Morri is what everyone called her, because when they called her the Morrigan, she growled at them. “Funny, I can’t find you on the opnet. Are you on the opnet?”

“No, Morri here,” the feral said, giving her a quizzical look.

“Ah. Are you a retard, Morri?” Morri nodded; she’d heard others call her that, including Mine-er. “A retarded nova. Always something new, isn’t there?” The girl seemed to want something, but Morri wasn’t sure what. She just stared at the girl. “You’re all creepy, you know Morri?”

“Yes.” That was something else she’d hear people tell her.

“And ugly.” The girl was confusing her. She was using words Morri didn’t really know; ugly wasn’t a word that people had called Morri before. Usually it was the opposite. Just from her body language, the girl seemed to be issuing a challenge. But she wasn’t trying to hurt her.

“Dress made pretty.” Eyen had assured her of that.

“Not really. You don’t have the boobs for it.”

Morri blinked. “You lie.” Her statement was flatly given. Eyen had told her that the dress made her pretty. She was pretty.

The girl’s eyes narrowed. She opened her mouth to say something-

“Morri.” Eyen’s voice stopped the girl; she paled and backed away from those flinty eyes. After she had fled, Eyen asked, “Morri okay?”

“Morri okay. Good!” Morri said with a smile, aiming a skinned piece of key-wee at his mouth again.

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Jason settled on the couch, her incredible legs stretched out before her, and picked up the controller abandoned by Sean. Seeing that Ausrine was already selected, Jason stayed with that. If she wasn't her favourite character to use, she was certainly her favourite to look at. And she had powers similar to what Alex favoured using.

The match started and Jason started to get into the groove, her attention split between the screen and Contessa, who had an intent look on her face, her hands tight on the controller. Certainly more than cute and way into gaming and other nerditry. I'm glad I met Danielle before Danielle met her, though Dani has corrupted me with her own geekiness, at least some of it.

"So, Tessa, wha- <You're Dead! Reentering the Battle in 3... 2... 1...>" the rumbling, male voice from the game intoned after Ausrine went down with a pair of spears in her chest. "Nice! I got too low takin' down that sniper."

Her toon restored, Jason payed a little more attention to the match, this time, maneuvering Ausrine into position using flight to grab the high ground. "Anyway, Alex, he likes to- <You're Dead! Reentering the Battle in 3... 2... 1...>" She died again. "Ah, I see you've noticed that."

Jason kept her eyes purely on the screen. She sounds far more bubbly when she's playing Alex online... Ausrine respawned and, "Tessa, do you- <You're Dead! Reentering the Battle in 3... 2... 1...> Oh, c'mon! That's bull! You couldn't have known I was gonna spawn right there." She gave Contessa a suspicious glance. She's one'a those mega-brains, ain't she? Figured out the mathematical formula determinin' the spawning sequence?

"<You're Dead! Reentering the Battle in 3... 2... 1...>"

"<You're Dead! Reentering the Battle in 3... 2... 1...>"

Originally Posted By: Sunshine
"I'll wait for the next one. Ouch... Nasty way to go, Jase."

Jason felt her sphincter tighten in sympathy with Ausrine's latest death, and rolled her shoulders to relieve the tension, spectacular breasts that made many straight women and gay men question their sexuality shirting beneath her spaghetti-strap top. "Uh, ya, I think I felt that one myself. Totentanz is rough on Ausrine - she burns too much energy and his debuff that steals it doesn't help either. I'm havin' trouble keepin' all her buffs up when I need them. Bloody global cooldowns."

Jason gamely finished the match, though the tally at the end was depressing. Contessa and she finished one-two... But there was a damn large difference in the stats between one and two. She set her controller aside and grabbed a handful of chips, perfect lips curving in a nonplussed grin. If Jason wasn't as ebullient as Contessa (usually) was, she was remarkably easy-going and amiable, surprisingly down to earth for being such a mind-bogglingly gorgeous woman. Many weren't sure if her past as a guy had anything to do with that, or if it was simply her nature regardless of sex.

"I'd say 'good match,' Tessa, but it wasn't. Last time I took a drubbin' like that, it was when I had a busy week on set and this one," she gave Alex a nudge with her foot, "spent all that time practicin' then blind-sided me."

Jason gave Ein and Morri a nod as they entered the gaming room, then turned back to her fellow gamers.

Her luminous indigo eyes flicking from Contessa to Alex and back, then at the countdown on the huge screen, Jason leaned forward and pulled out another controller, giving it a little wave. "Not that I don't want some paypack," she said, a friendly, competitive edge sharpening her smile and voice, "But how 'bout we get one more player and have a Team-Match, eh?" Jason looked around the room, raising the controller in the air and giving it another wave. "Anyone want in on a Team Match?"

Jason tilted her head slightly to the side, an inquiring furrow blooming between her elegantly shaped brows as she studied Contessa for a moment. "You know, Contessa, I'm surprised you never visited Alex at home. He isn't grounded or anything, he's allowed to have friends over when he wants. Feel free to drop by any time. Your friend too." Jason's eyes went back to the ginormous screen, her smile widening. "I just bought a new place and I think I'mma gonna get me one of these. I certainly have the space for it now."

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Dozer just blinked at the approach of Katya. After a few seconds, Dozer realized the beauty was speaking to him. He took the offered hand and gently shook it.

"Yes, I am. And it's a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Skovskaya. Actually, I was looking for people I know. Jael is one of the few people I've met before that is here. What did you think of my fight, if I may ask?"

Katya smiled, "Very primal, man beating on man." Her lips curved with impish delight. "Would have been more fun if you both had been naked and oiled."

Dozer blinked again, "I don't think that would have been allowed on the broadcast. Thank you for letting me know where Jael is. I look forward to talking to you again." He bowed slightly and walked towards the Game room, looking around for Jael.

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“I think that green-eyed chick was flirting with me,” Sean whispered to Mixie as they left the buffet table.

Mixie looked. “Outta your league, Sean,” she told him with a grin.

“You’re right. She’s with that hot Asian guy anyway.” Sean realized what he’d said and his cheeks colored.

“Oh my god, Sean!” Mixie hissed. “Did you just admit you checked out another dude!?”

“I… uh, no… look… His quantum made me do it!” Sean blurted, still red as they left the food room.

Mixie giggled. “Oh, no… you don’t get off easy like that. You totally checked him out!”

“I prefer to get off hard anyway,” Sean told her, right as they stepped into the game room. As Mixie playfully slapped his arm, the young man overheard Bombshell’s offer.

“I’m in,” Sean said quickly. Taking the offered controller, the cute red-head sat on a nearby chair – about as far from Contessa as he could get. Silently, he toggled over to Pursuer and loaded up on gear. “Or do you want to go, Mixers?” he asked belatedly, realizing that he should defer to the girl he wanted to date.

“Next time,” Mixie said, her voice only a little uncertain. Sean hadn’t caught the seriously non-Contessa-like vibe coming off the normally bubbly blond, but Mixie wasn’t her best friend for nothing. She took a seat near her friend, giving her a worried look.

“Alright,” Sunshine said, also giving Contessa a look of concern, though a little more subtly, “team play. How about Kashmir?”

“Sure,” Sean said with a laugh. “That’s actually where I was when you were all were at the Crush Charity.” He glanced at Mixie. “Well, I didn’t see you were there. Did you get to go?”

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He walked in, through the wall. A few people pointed, but in a party with novas, really, was that such a big deal? A young lady passed in his way and he simply moved right through her. Her breath frosted and she caught a slight chill, but passed quickly enough. "Pardon me." He said softly in a voice barely over a raspy whisper.

Tall, attractive and unassuming he wore nothing but a U of M hoodie, relaxed fit denim and simple black work boots. His medium length hair was a bit shaggy and his stubble kinda made him look a bit grungy, but the guitar case on his back helped drive it home. What really seemed odd was that, by nova standards he was just a guy, but his eyes seemed to hold sway over every person he passed. Shimmering yellow eyes that glanced about, piercing the veil of the word that is, the world everyone will one day know. Eyes that seemed to call beyond the prison of the flesh and to the very soul that was imprisoned within.

He inhaled and exhaled. Looking about as he assessed the party.

Yep.

No one he knew.

Then again, he didn't know anyone.

It was time to score some food.

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Running a party was hard work. Even though she hadn’t had much to do with the set up or cooking or anything, being a hostess was a pain in the ass. Right now, her hot boyfriend – literally – was getting to hang out and play games with the girl who had a massive crush on him while she had to talk to her mom’s church friends. They were only one step above Ruth’s church friends, who didn’t seem to have shown up. Jael was grateful. Ruth was enough of a pain when she was alone; put her in a flock and it was infinitely worse.

However, someone caught her eye, and Jael extracted herself from yet another, “if you’re serious about this young man, are there wedding bells in the future?” That was a can of worms that Jael wasn’t going to touch. Marriage? Her? Ridiculous. Girls like her didn’t get married.

“Dozer,” she sighed, catching him at the door to the game room and catching his arm. “How are you?”

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Dozer takes a deep breath, and looks down at Jael while running a large hand through his hair, "Been better. Been lots better. But I needed to relax, so here I am. How are things with you? Seems like you've been busy. " He smiles but the smile never reaches his eyes. His eyes dart back and forth, as if seeking someone or something, but never settling long in a specific place.

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"We don't talk about how I am," Jael said briskly. "Rule number one for the party." She managed a smile that didn't make it any closer to her eyes than Dozer's had. She paused then asked softly, "What's going on? You don't seem like yourself."

And who says I'm not empathetic?

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Dozer sighed again, "I did some work for Peacekeepers Inc, about a month and a half back, that caused a few issues. I'm still recovering from it. But the doctors say I'm doing well enough at this point. I guess you could say I'm a new person. I would give anything to go back to the way things were. I'm not proud of what I did, but it's not going to change anytime soon. The docs tell me accepting responsibility is a good thing. Anyway, this is a party. Let's not get morbid." Dozer took a deep breath, "I guess I should introduce myself around. Katya and I've already met... and that was an experience. Who else is here?"

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"Heh, yeah, Katya is an experience," Jale laughed, though there was no animosity in her voice. "My family, but you don't have to meet them just don't fuck with them. As far as novas, there's Katya's boyfriend Ryusei... Einherjar, some traumatized chick he brought named Morris... Bomb and KO... Sunshine, of course. Come on, it'll just be easier to show you everyone."

As they headed into the game room, Jael added, "Oh, don't try to touch that Morri girl. She flips out easily, or something. I don't know. You can ask Ein, if you wanna know. I don't think anyone's dared to ask yet."

Jael stopped when she saw the game in progress. "You'll have to wait for a lull for some people... Ryusei, come on over... Dozer wants to meet people."

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"Mmmhmm." Ein ate the piece of kiwi and smiled. "Yes it is good." Morri nodded and peeled some more. "Morri?" Ein drew her to one side and crouched before her. "I want to tell you something, and I want you to remember it, okay?" Morri nodded, kee-wee forgotten at the intent look on Ein's face. He almost looked angry, but not with her.

"Morri remember. What?"

"You aren't a retard." Eyen told her. "You've been through a lot, but you are not a retard. If someone calls you a retard, that isn't nice of them, and you don't believe them, alright?"

"Girl say ree-tard, like Miner." Morri said, confused. She knew Miner wasn't nice, and knew the girl was a liar too, because she called Morri ugly, and Eyen said she was pretty. "Ree-tard bad word?"

"It is, yes." Eyen nodded, his eyes on hers.

"Miner is bad?" Morri declared. "Girl bad too?" She growled softly, looking around the large room for the blonde head of hair.

"I will deal with Miner. She won't call you that anymore." Eyen said. "And I will deal with the girl, too. You-" he patted her shoulder as he stood. "You eat some more kiwi, and try the other food, and talk to other people who aren't mean. The people playing the games - the movies in there? They are all good people. Especially Sean and Jason and Sunshine. They won't be mean to you, okay? They might not understand you, but they won't be mean."

"Okay!" Morri said with a smile, shoving another piece of dripping kiwi at Eyen's mouth. The big man smiled and ate it, then wiped some juice from his beard and chuckled.

"I'm going to speak with Jael." he told Morri quietly. "You okay?"

"Morri okay." she nodded, peering at some of the other food on display. She turned and held her palm up towards him. Eyen smiled and pressed his hand to hers, then let his hand fall and turned to go. Morri decided to investigate the mysteries of cheese and crackers.

"Jael?" Ein's voice brought the young woman around as he approached her, smiling easily. "I was wondering if I could have a word."

"Sure. What's up?" The slender, beautiful nova asked with a smile. "Oh, and this is Dozer, by the way." Ein nodded and smiled, offering his hand to the bigger man.

"Pleasure to meet you. You're with Peacekeepers, correct?" he said, icy eyes evaluating the giant. Dozer nodded.

"Yeah. I heard you left DeVries." he answered. "Helluva story they ran on N! about that. I'll let you guys talk." he smiled politely and moved further into the game room, leaving Jael and Ein by the door.

"There's a blonde girl here, looks like a relative of yours." Ein said in a low voice. "Earlier on she mouthed 'baby killer' at Sean, which is bad enough. But I just caught her insulting Morri, like she was trying to start a fight or pull some dominance rubbish. She's playing silly buggers with live dynamite, and she's damn lucky I was keeping an ear out before she goaded Morri for real." his tone was deadly serious as he looked Jael in the eye. "You might want to deal with that."

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Rolling her eyes, Jael sighed deeply. “Goddamnit. That’s my sister. She didn’t want to be here, but Mom made her come,” she grumbled. “I’m sorry she’s being such a pain in the ass.”

“She’s picking her fights with people she thinks won’t fight back,” the Nordic nova noted. “Sean tries to ignore all those slurs, and Morri looks like a little girl.”

“Trust me, I’m pissed that my sister is picking on someone who, from what you’ve said, has already had a shitty time of it.” Einherjar nodded, his expression softening as Jael’s collected demeanor slipped and he saw, for a moment, the toll life was taking on her. “Yeah, I’ll definitely talk to her. I don’t know what’s gotten into her. Usually she saves her hatred for me and my friends, not my casual associates.”

“She dislikes you that much?” Ein asked.

Jael snorted. “Yep, always has. Always finds a reason to pass the hate on to my friends, too. I mean, who can hate Sunshine? Seriously, did you think it was possible for someone to spend any time with him and hate him? But she manages.” Jael pressed a hand to her forehead, looking tired for a moment. “Anyway, sorry again and I’ll do what I can to be sure it won’t happen again.”

“Thank you,” Einherjar replied.

“Would forcing her to apologize to Morri help or make things worse?” Jael asked.

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"An apology isn't worth the breath it takes to utter if it's not sincere." Einherjar shrugged his large shoulders. "Morri knows she's full of it, and forcing your sister to apologise isn't going to help her attitude any." He tilted his head and smiled faintly at Jael. "Pointing out to her that she very nearly got turned into chitlins might at least make her behave herself. Honest fear often serves when higher motivations fail."

"I'm not sure I like threatening my family." Jael said mildly, smiling up at the big elite. "Even my twit of a sister."

"Sometimes, with laws and social mores making people feel protected no matter what, they tend to forget why manners are a good idea at the bare bones level of society. A good rule to live by is: don't be rude to someone you're not prepared to deal with if they take offence. Sean's a nice guy at heart, and Morri is sweet under the feral instincts. But that's only a few misfiring synapses or a bad day away from taking retribution of some kind, big or small." Ein smiled down at Jael. "You might want to point that out in a big-sisterly way, and let her decide whether or not she wants to apologise for being a child. I personally will be happy if she just stops her fun and games before someone loses an eye. It's a nice party."

"And it'd be a shame to spoil it." Jael agreed with a sigh. "I don't know how to deal with her sometimes."

"You'll manage." Ein grinned encouragingly. "And now I'm going to go say hello to your mother and father. See? I'm not giving you all the hard jobs."

"Just be nice." Jael poked him in the chest playfully. "And watch that elephant-killing knife on your back."

"I always do." Einherjar said amiably as he moved off to speak to the Carvers.

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Sean and Alex made a pretty good team, but Sean wandered away a bit too far.

The first spear tore through Calamity's shoulder, pinning him to the wall. He reached for his side arm with his free hand only to find his other pinned tightly as well.

Sean pressed the 'call' button on the controller to cry for his teammates to come and assist him and pin point Contessa's location on the map but he wasn't fast enough. Tote's bowie knife slashed through his larynx, silencing him. The knife in his other hand ripped clean up the center of the nova from crotch to chin, disemboweling him in a grotesque finisher that earned Tess an 'Brutal Overkill' badge.

"Um, Ceej, you feeling okay?" Mixie had to ask. "I mean, everything's cool now, just relax and try and enjoy things. It's a party." She reached over and plucked a few chips off the paper plate that rested in her friend's lap. "Mind? Yummy."

"I'm pretty flippin' far from okay." Contessa said in a hushed breath. "And no, I don't mind. Help yourself to whatever I have, that's what you do, right?"

Mixies eyes narrowed and her complexioned reddened at that last jibe. She took a deep breath and tried to calm herself. "I understand you're mad, so that's your free shot at me. Now, I'm not sure what pissed you off so much, but I haven't done anything to you so quit. You're going to embarrass yourself and me, and possibly Alex if you keep this up. That's a friendly warning Tess, come talk to me when you've calmed down."

Mixie got up and relocated, disguising it by going and grabbing a chilled soda. She returned and sat near Sean, relaxing on the arm of the chair he was sitting in. She sipped her soda, glancing at Tessa and really wishing the girl would snap out of it, pitying her more than anything.

"She okay?" Sean asked, showing some concern for his blond 'friend'.

"Nope, she's off the deep end. She's seriously pissed, like mega-pissed." Mixie honestly couldn't think of why. It's not like Tess and Sean hadn't gone at it like children before, this was all just old-hat at this point. She had no idea Contessa felt as if Mixie was stealing Sean from her (not that he was ever hers to begin with, but try telling her that...) "Remember the World of Warcraft Massacre of 09'? I think this might be on par with that."

Indeed Sean did remember it, he remembered it all to well. Contessa's WoW account was hacked and the fit she threw was on a scale so epic that bridezilla's everywhere would have heralded it Biblical. What followed next was seven day of her waging war on all Azeroth, slaughtering good guys and bad guys alike searching for the being responsible for taking all her stuff. Although WoW had never really been Sean's 'thing' he had to admit, it was pretty funny to watch her go ape-shit for a week. Once she calmed down, she was back to her bubbly ol' self again. "Damn." Sean muttered. "We're screwed."

"Yep." The asian beauty sipped her soda.

Tess and Bombshell wandered silenty through the abandoned building. From nowhere Alex tore through the wall and tackled Bombshell to the ground, prepping for an execution move. Tessa grinned slightly and Tote's spears were at the ready. Suddenly Calamity's palms gripped the sides of Tote's golden mask from behind and with a sudden twist Contessa's avatar was suffering a brutal broken neck.

Tess fumed and rolled her eyes as Alex and Sean high-fived and cheered for their side. "Whatever." She mumbled in a monotone.

"They just got lucky. We're still in the lead." Jace tried to console her a bit, something to bring a little mirth to Contessa's unnecessarily serious playing.

"Who's trying to win?" Contessa said with a wicked smile as she beat Alex's character to death with it's own severed leg. "This is just therapeutic."

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The kitchen in this place was huge and Warren slithered his way about the crowd like a lion blending in the tall dry grass of the savannah. People were everywhere pouring drinks, raiding the fridge, talking and leaning against anything they could find. He stopped and plucked a boneless chicken wing off a platter and tossed it into his mouth with typical nova-dexterous flair.

It passed through his face and splattered into the cabinet with a barbequey thump. Several people snickered and laughed while a few shook their head.

"Sorry." He said to everyone, yet no one in particular. He flushed slightly with embarrassment as he reached for some paper towels. "Forgot that was still on..."

He rubbed down the cabinet where the wing hit and cleaned the floor since leaving a mess at anothers home would be rude. Once finished he finally sampled the food. The wings needed more garlic salt, the deviled eggs needed less paprika...

...and the chips were too salty.

Over all it wa spretty good, but he really had wished he'd had time to prepare a few dishes for this event, these people needed, nay, deserved it.

"Do you play?" A lovely redhead asked the handsome recluse.

"Play?" He asked, confused ans with a mouthful of deviled egg.

"You have a guitar case on your back," She pointed and offered him a 'duh' smirk. "Do you play?"

Having totally forgot about it his eyes darted about in embarrassment. "Uh, no. No, it's a just a pretty bulky accessory, I tried a grand piano but it was killing my back. What do you think?" He moved his shoulder towards her so she could see it better. "It clashes with the hoodie, doesn't it? I knew it, I should have worn the cello."

Her laugh was a welcome sound, considering he usually wasn't very good with people. Warren was in a good mood though, and for the time being he resolved to try and have some fun, despite knowing it would probably end badly. "Okay," she chuckled. "Well played. Nice delivery."

"Thanks." He smiled, rather pleased with himself. "But to answer your question, yes, I do play."

So far, the party was going pretty well...

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Morri wandered around the crackers and cheese, circling the table they were on like a lion waiting for the zebra to quit kicking. Most of the baseline guests seemed to recognize that the girl was behaving unusually and unusual novas were something to be wary of.

With the suddenness of said lion, Morri made her choice. A handful of crackers ended up on her plate along with a selection of cheese. Satisfied with her choice, she glanced around the room, noting the location of Eyen. Her eyes kept traveling – and stopped at the new arrival, one who was talking to Jay-ell. He was a bad man. Not scarred like Kaz-oh-ooh or pretty like Rye-su-ai. But a bad man.

Morri twisted time, using it to hurry across the room and catch up with Eyen as he stopped to speak with some people. He glanced down at her, tracing her worried gaze back and understood. As he spoke with the two old people, Morri studied them silently. One was soft and nice, though she didn’t seem to like Eyen. That was something of a relief to Morri, for it seemed every woman Eyen was around wanted him to hurt her but Morri. It was good to see another who had the good sense to not want pain.

The man smelled hurt. Morri frowned a little, wondering if Eyen would take him back for Ford to fix. Eyen had made Ford fix a lot of people, which Ford seemed to like; he smelled happier now. He was soft and nice, too, nicer than even the woman. He spoke kindly to Eyen and to her and smiled a lot. It bothered Morri that he was hurt. Stepping forward, the feral girl suddenly held up her hand to Robert Carver, as Einherjar did to her to calm and comfort her. “Ford fix?” she asked, butting into their conversation.

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Donna Carver wasn’t happy to see him, as Einherjar had expected. But she was polite and that was enough for now. “I’m glad you could make it,” she said after their names had been exchanged. She wasn’t lying, though the ex-Elite suspected that was more because she knew his daughter wanted him here. Perhaps Robert wasn’t the only one in the family being pampered.

“Yes, it’s nice to finally meet so many of Jay’s friends,” Robert replied, only to fall silent as Morri suddenly appeared at Einherjar’s side. “Oh, well, hello there.”

“This is Morri,” Einherjar said, glancing across the room to see what she was nervous about. Another Asian had shown up; after a moment, he placed the man as Jael’s friend Paul. “Morri, these are Jael’s parents, Donna and Robert.”

Morri, typically, said nothing, merely stared with those red eyes. “Not much of a talker, are you, sweetie?” Robert asked, smiling at her. When she didn’t reply, he looked up at Ein. “Is she alright?”

“Morri’s had a rough time and has some issues, serious issues, as a result,” the big nova said softly. “She’s alright but needs special handling and shouldn’t be touched, especially by men.”

Donna blinked before he saw the comprehension flood her eyes. “Oh,” she said, looking at Morri with stricken eyes as a hand rose to cover her mouth. “That is terrible. No child-” She cut off.

“That nearly happened to our girl,” Robert said, adding, “Jael. She erupted for it, Morri.” He seemed to be determined to talk to her, even if the girl didn’t seem to be all there. “Did the same-”

“Her memories are sketchy, and probing into them seems to upset her,” Einherjar advised gently.

“Sure, no problem,” he said, nodding. “I understand.” The girl suddenly raised her hand, extending her palm toward him. Her question wasn’t that comprehensible, either. “Uh… I’m not supposed to touch you, right? What do you need, sweetie?”

“That’s our signal that everything is okay. She’s asking if you’re alright,” Einherjar said, his voice surprised. “Ford’s our doctor and he tends to the wildlife she brings home, injured. You can touch your palm to hers and tell her you’re okay.”

Hesitantly, Robert pressed his old, wrinkled hand to her young one. “I’m okay, Morri. My doctor is fixing me already. But thank you.”

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

“Hey, hot stuff.”

Jael turned with a smirk, the voice familiar to her. “Paul, you’re late,” she faux-chided. He was dressed in a simple polo and khaki outfit, his still-damp hair slicked back from his face.

“I have to look beautiful for all the ladies,” he told her, grinning. “Food’s not gone, is it?”

“Not yet,” she said, waving at the door to the food room.

“Cool,” the Japanese-American said, starting for the buffet. At the door, he paused. “Everything going ok?”

“Yeah, except my sister trying to pick fights with novas,” Jael sighed.

“Ruth seems smarter than that,” Paul replied, choosing his words with care.

“You’d think. But apparently, not,” Jael grumbled. “Oh, and the red-eyed girl with Ein shouldn’t be touched. She’s jumpy or something.”

“A little young for him, isn’t she?” Paul asked carefully.

“I don’t think it’s like that,” Jael said, her frown shifting into a smirk. “But go ask him.”

“So he’s found some black kid to adopt?” Paul shook his head. “Bradgelina are rubbing off on everyone, aren’t they?”

Jael snorted. “Oh, and Bomb, KO and Kat are here.” She grinned as Paul colored. He’d happened to get drunk again one night and spent about three hours talking about how hot the three women were. Thirty of those minutes had been spent talking about their three-way of epic awesomeness. He’d actually used the words ‘super-epic-awesome’ when describing Bomb’s breasts. It had been perfect fodder for his less-drunk friends. “See if you can get that three-way going. I need to dig up Ruth and slap some sense into her.”

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Alex didn't miss the exchange between Jase and Tessa, and he frowned slightly as he glanced at Mixie, who shrugged slightly at him and shook her head. He didn't even bat an eyelid as Contessa used his momentary distraction to notch up another Brutality on his character, instead settling imperturbably into his own 'zone'.

He started playing a tight, solid defence with Sean, using the tank-like Stone Badass to fly wingman to the more fragile, but harder-hitting Calamity. Though he didn't have Tessa's intellect and flawless memory of the maps or Bombshell's physical genius, he did have the advantage of light for neurons rather than electricity, his speed of thought the fastest at the table. He started anticipating the ambushes, dropping Mox-squitoe canisters into an area to slow Totentanz down before hosing Ausrine with the BFG to force Jason to take evasive action or risk DU air conditioning. Tessa's anger-fuelled tactics were clouding her judgement just enough to take the edge off her brilliance, and the scoreboard gradually started to level out as the game drew near to a close.

The Stone Badass dropped the BFG, loudly proclaiming that he was 'out of ammo, and that's a damn fact!' Jason popped Ausrine up from behind the riddled cover as Totentanz shimmered into view like a sci-fi monster dropping cloak. The twin spears ripped into Lance Stryker, who managed to shrug off the worst of the hit as Ausrine swooped in to add a heavy-hitting finisher that would pancake the less-powerful Badass.

Sean grinned and hit the 'special' key, charging up the 'Calamity' supermove, a blast of heat that melted everything in the area. As the Mox-squitoe proximity mine went off and filled the area with power-dampening nanocritters that attacked anything not a friendly, the AoE heat blast effectively cooked both Ausrine and Totentanz, the wounded Stryker having quantum-jumped clear at the last moment.

"Wipeout!" proclaimed the game, tagging Sean with a bonus for getting both enemies in one blast. The teamwork bonus racked up a few more points, tipping blue team's score over the finish line.

"Nice game." Alex said as he got to his feet and set the controller down, giving Sean the customary high-five and nodding to Tess and Jason. "I think I've had my fill for now, though." he said soberly as he picked up his drink and wandered from the room. "Controller is anyone's."

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Yeah!” Sean crowed as the game ended in his team’s favor. He wasn’t normally this competitive about a video game, but that one had his blood pumping. After getting Sunshine’s high-five, he sobered up, seeing how down Alex was. Silently, he watched his teammate leave the room before he looked at Contessa. The young man’s eyes said it for him: If you’re mad at me, don’t take it out on others.

“Mixie?” he started to ask, but that hot Asian guy was already taking it. Mixie was looking at Sean and he offered her the controller. “You can sit on my lap and play,” he said, giving Mixie a roguish grin. “It might help your concentration.”

Mixie rolled her eyes. “Get up and give me the chair, Sean,” she ordered with a smile. “That’s the polite thing.”

He chuckled and gave her a look that always had women flushing around him. It was a slight come-hither looked he’d learned from Einherjar; not quite a smolder but a definite invitation. He wasn’t going to make her refusal easy. “Polite? I’m an Elite, ma’am. We don’t do polite.” It was a quote from a cheesy Elite Bollywood movie that the three of them had giggled over right before he’d left. It was one of the few good times he’d shared with Contessa; the three of them getting silly on sugar and caffeine and mocking that movie. Unconsciously, his eyes flickered to Contessa, for just a second, before he returned the full force of his hazel eyes to Mixie.

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Ryusei had been so enthralled by the game he hadn't quite noticed when Jael called to him, then he turned his head, and the words finally caught up to him.

"Ahh, my apologies. Watching the ownage like this is something somoene from my home has to pay for."

He nodded to Dozer, an old friend he'd seen little of since Cleveland. With Alex leaving and the commotion with Sean, someone he didn't know he looked to Jason, and Contessa. He knew one and not the other, though he figured it would be alright.

Dozer, I'm sure you remember Jason from the Charity event, and this is Contessa."

He smiled. "Ladies, this an old friend of mine, Dozer."

He nodded to the others. "Come on in and watch the spectacle."

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“You can sit on my lap and play,” he said, giving Mixie a roguish grin. “It might help your concentration.”


With a roll of the eyes Contessa stood up. "I'm done." She strolled past Sean and Mixie, heading to the exit. "He's all yours."

While angry, she wasn't completely heartless. Irritated and angry she did what came natural to her, she found an occupied area of the party and took up residence away from the people she obviously didn't connect with and far from listening distance of Sean's and Mixie's conversations. She'd just wait for Mixie and Sean to be done, and she'd just chauffeur her back home and never speak to her again. He did it. Sean had won. For all the pot-shots and jibes they had shared over the years Contessa never wished any real harm upon him, but it was obvious to her now that he was simply waiting for the right time to strike. Taking Mixie from her, the only friend Contessa had, was the decisive and final blow.

With out Mixie, there really was no point to her being here. Jael was psychotic and ready to kill her at anymoment. Sunshine's constant fauning over her only made Tess more jealous and depressed because she'd never find a guy like him, ever. She didn't belong here. She wasn't meant for this sort of thing. She belonged at home, in her cave, playing her games where didn't have to deal with things like emotions and drama.

So there she stood, watching everyone else, waiting for Mixie.

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Jael turned to the party with a sigh. Her eyes swept the room, seeking her sister, only to stop when she saw someone she didn’t know. You are no baseline, sir, and I don’t know you. Grinning a little, happily took the excuse to avoid the confrontation her sister for a little longer and sauntered up to him. “Hello,” she said, offering her hand to the man carrying the guitar case. “I’m Jael. I don’t think we’ve had the pleasure of meeting.” At the same time she spoke, her eyes raked up and down him in a frank appraisal of his person.

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He'd lurked on the Opnet enough to know this was Jael's party (how else did he know there was going to be one, and where it'd be?), and he also knew he wasn't technically invited. He needed this though, spending time around people and absorbing the bleed from their emotions generated the pathos he needed to fuel his own powers. Okay, that was a lie, he was pretty good on pathos right now, he'd just decided to crash the party.

But he wasn't here for any trouble, and he hoped Jael was the understanding sort, after all, she seemed stable enough. He took her hand gently, as a gentleman should and managed a nervous smile. "The pleasure's all mine." He said with a measure of cliched charm.

"I'm, uh," He paused, not quite sure how to introduce himself. He'd not actually told someone his name in years. "Uh, people call me Revenant." His eerie yellow eyes were hypnotic, they seemed to shimmer and gleam below their surface in a way that just caused people to be lured into getting lost in them. "I, um, hope you don't me stopping by. I was in Detroit watching the game, and it dawned on me that I was out of chips and I heard you might heave some, so I thought I'd stop by and get some."

He couldn't stop looking at her, she was beautiful and he really didn't get out much. Then his brain caught up with his mouth. "Chips, I mean."

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Jael had someone she was serious about, but that didn't mean she didn't recognize when a guy thought she was smokin', or that she didn't enjoy the attention. Her grin became a little sultry as she met the guy's weird yellow eyes. Most women would be turned off by that but Jael just found them interesting. "Well, Revenant, welcome to the party, enjoy the food. I'm glad someone new dropped by - I like meeting new people.

"Anyway, you know the rules, right?" she went on. "No mention of certain events, don't mess with my family or friends and don't feed or touch Einherjar's ward."

"Hey!" Another girl came up and stepped into the conversation, grinning at Jael. She was baseline-cute, with a winning smile and brunette hair. Her outfit was a sleeveless green shirt and a cute denim skirt that stopped just above her knees. Open-toed sandals showed off her green toenails, which matched her fingernails.

"Shell!" Jael said with a grin. She gave the girl a one-armed hug, then turned back to Revenant. "This is my friend Shelly. Shelly, this is Revenant."

"Uh, hi. Hmm, those are interesting eyes." Shelly's smile was a little forced but she was getting used to novas, slowly. "So do you play or is that a piece to impress the ladies?"

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"Thank you for having me then." He said. His shyness was obvious and his speaking voice was terrible; low and numbly and barely more than a loud whisper. "Your rules seem simple enough for me. I do not know who this 'ward' is, but I'll just not feed anyone to be on the safe side. I've just met you, so I've no idea who your friends and family are, but didn't come here to cause problems, so again, not 'messing' with anyone seems simple enough."

His eyes twinkled slightly as he made his final observation. "And, respectfully, I'm not aware of any 'events', so to speak. I don't keep up with the news much. But fear not, adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are."

When Shelly approached Revenant offered Jael nothing else but a confident grin, as to assure her that everything would be fine and he was, of course not here to be a problem. He managed a smile as Jael introduced him.

"Yeah, I uh, get that a lot." He said bashfully. Looking away for the first time now that attention had been brought to them. He scratched his eyebrow, a bit to give himself something to do. "But thanks you, 'interesting' was a friendly way to put it. Yes, I do play the guitar. Impressing the ladies? Not so much. Women these days want a man with a job, a future, a car. Having a guitar kinda makes them think I'm in a band, which is synonymous with not having any of the a fore mentioned things."

The lovely ladies shared a laugh despite Revenant not trying to be comedic in the least. He managed a chuckle, although Jael could tell he was a trying to play catch up.

"I'm just in the habit of carrying it wherever I go," He looked to Jael. "Um, if you don't mind, I could play something. I just wouldn't want to disturb people or their conversations.

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"I do not mind, so long as people don't mind," Jael said. Her eyebrow quirked as she added, "You should find Sunshine... Or catch him as he comes into the room..." She waved as her boyfriend walked in. Her smile slipped a bit as she saw how sober he looked but that passed when their eyes met and he gave her that smile. It was the one she'd go to Hell and back for, gladly. "And play with him. He's got his guitar in our room."

Sunshine joined them, putting a casual arm around Jael's waist. "Hey," she said, leaning into him a little.

"Hey," he murmured, giving her a kiss on the cheek. His greeting done, those blue eyes turned to Revenant. "Hi, I'm Sunshine."

"He plays too," Jael said to Revenant, "in fact, he loves playing and it'd be fun to have some live music here."

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Originally Posted By: Jael Carver
Hesitantly, Robert pressed his old, wrinkled hand to her young one. “I’m okay, Morri. My doctor is fixing me already. But thank you.”


"Ford fix better" Morri declared, but Robert's statement that he was 'okay' seemed to satisfy her somewhat. She looked at Donn-ah, noting how she stood by Robb-urt and how both were looking at Morri with a strange expression in their blue eyes. It was kind of like the expression Eyen had had when he first met her, but more so. These people were probably nice like Eyen, then. She offered Donn-ah some keewee. "Good!"

"Ah..." Donna glanced at Ein but rallied with a smile and leaned forward, letting Morri feed her. "Mmmf, yes it is good." Morri nodded seriously, because keewee was serious business, and fed Robb-urt a piece too, prompting a chuckle from the older man. Donna looked at Einherjar, her eyes full of wonder. "She's so sweet. And you've adopted her?"

"It's mutual." Ein said with a little smile as he watched Morri. "And yes, she's very sweet." He declined to mention how 'sweet' Morri had dealt with the men responsible for her state when he found her. Vyse's death was bad, but Hatchins had gone out hard - deservedly so in Ein's opinion, but then he wasn't exactly the poster-boy for lawful reciprocity.

"The men who..." Robert began, unable to resist the natural inclination to ask. Donna, too, looked keenly at the large elite.

"Won't be doing it anymore." Ein said calmly, then smiled at Morri as she practically force-fed him some cheese with the assertation that it was 'Good!'

"She should be with Utopia." Donna said, but couldn't help smiling at the sight of the slip of a girl shoving Wisconsin cheddar into Einherjar's mouth. Robert made a 'hmmph' noise.

"You ask me, she's happy where she is." he stated bluntly. "The less meddling, the better."

"But what about her family? Does she have one?" Donna pressed, ignoring the cautionary hand her husband laid over hers. Morri looked at them both warily, aware that the subtext was changing.

"Maybe. But we're taking it slowly." Einherjar told them both with an easy smile. "Letting her get rehabilitated at her own speed."

"Which is for the best." Robert Carver declared. "Can't have the poor girl yanked around and prodded by doctors trying to fix what'll fix itself." He looked shrewdly at Einherjar. "Jael mentioned that your guest could be a little volatile. I'm guessing there were teething troubles?"

"If only it were so easy." Einherjar gave a rumbling chuckle. "The slipups tended to be painful."

"Morri hurt Eyen." the red-eyed girl said with a downcast expression. She'd been following the conversation enough that she knew they were talking about her, and about Eyen looking after her. "Eyen okay now." she stated earnestly, looking up at him.

"Yes. I'm okay now." Einherjar smiled. Morri took heart from this and slipped away, heading back to try some more of the cheez. Einherjar watched her go, noting Ruth Carver chatting with what looked to be a few friends nowhere near Morri, then turned back to Donna and Robert Carver. "I won't monopolise your time." he rumbled politely, shaking hands with them both. "It's been a pleasure to meet you. Once you're feeling up to some travel, we'll have to get you both out to Africa for a vacation, as my guests. Jael's a good friend, and it'd be an honor to play host once I'm situated."

"Well." Donna said as the large blond man walked away. "He was nicer than I expected, and that sweet child dotes on him."

"Never pegged him for a father-figure." Robert mused with a smile. "Looks like he's had a change of heart after saving all those refugees. It's never too late for a man to straighten out, you know. I wonder what he's doing for a job these days since he got fired?"

"Given he's still carrying around that awful sword, I don't think construction is his vocation, sweetie." Donna Carver laughed as she kissed her husband on the cheek.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-


He moved through the mostly-baseline crowd, gently shaking hands where offered and exchanging pleasantries with the Carver's friends and extended family. He was enjoying himself, relaxing in a party atmosphere that was more family-friendly than his usual R&R hotspots. There were children here, and adults of all ages, and the warrior felt the family atmosphere keenly as he moved amongst them. It reminded him of happier times, of attending the gatherings of his and his wife's extended family, who he had refused to see since his incarceration 13 years ago. That old him was dead, that life was gone. He'd written to them at the time he'd become Einherjar, saying that they should put him out of their lives and mourn the man he'd been, rather than look to who and what he was now. He'd refused to read any responses, and eventually they'd stopped coming. Cruel? Maybe. Cold, definitely. He did it because he believed it to be for the best all round, himself especially. As powerful as he'd become, he couldn't afford reminders of that shattering grief, or the accompanying regret or sorrow, anymore.

This gathering rekindled some of those memories, like a phantom itch where the amputated life that had been Peter Nord had been. It wasn't unpleasant though, simply unexpected. So Einherjar elected to enjoy it without the expectation that he would seek out his previous life's family.

Then he saw a familiar face and set of sullen blue eyes over a neutral pout that threatened the vows of monastic orders the world over, and Ein smiled faintly. Loki's little game had seriously backfired, it seemed. Contessa was propped against the wall, arms folded under her (perfect, but he wasn't looking at that, honest!) bosom and with an attitude of waiting for the torture to end.

"Penny for your thoughts?" the Nordic nova said in an easy, calm tone as he came to rest against the wall beside Contessa, unhitching his sword and leaning it against the wall between them. He opened one large hand and frowned at the currency within. "Okay, so Central African francs are all I've got in this pocket. One of those for your thoughts, then." he said with a faint, charming smile.

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"Alex always does that - grabs a win then takes off before I can get payback," Jason gibed as Sunshine left, though she didn't push it. She could tell the tension between his friend and his friend's friend was affecting him.

Jason twisted lithely around, watching Contessa leave with a faint frown on her luscious lips... and incidentally providing everyone with a fantastic view of her even more fantastic profile. That didn't go nearly as well as I hoped. If Jason had been another typed of woman, she might have went after Contessa, to see if she was alright, engage in some girl-talk or whatever, but she clearly didn't want the company and Jason didn't intend to intrude. She herself preferred working out personal issues on her own, if she could.

Still, that didn't stop her from giving Sean an exasperated look that clearly said she thought he was an idiot, conveyed far more feminine disapproval than she was aware of. Catching the wandering eyes of the men, Jason smiled wryly then stood up smoothly and offered her place on the couch to Mixie.

"I'm not an Elite, and am Canadian besides," Jason claimed with a winning grin, holding out Contessa's controller with a graceful flourish. She added a mild drawl to her melodious tones. "Polite is what we do, ma'am."

Mixie snorted then gave Sean an arch look and nodded in Jason's direction. "Look'it that, Sean. Bombshell is almost too much woman to be a real woman, and she's still three times the gentleman you are." Mixie took the proffered seat and controller with a grin of thanks then ostentatiously settled down on the couch in response to Sean's nonplussed regard. "Thanks, Bombshell!"

"Jase, please, and think nothing of it," Jason said, fluidly sitting down on the carpeted floor with her long, incredible legs crossed and tossing her silver hair over her shoulder. She glanced around the room, seeing who still had controllers: Sean, Ryusei, Mixie, and her. "How 'bout one more match, guys? Say... guys versus girls?"

Selecting the just vacated Totentanz - one of her favourites, she preferred the quick characters - while the others decided, Jason leaned back on one hand and gave Dozer a small wave. "Hey, Dozer! That was a good fight you had with Andy. How you've been since the VCCE, big guy?"

It was perhaps unfortunate for the chances of the guy team, since from her position on the floor, they were provided an easy, and far too enticing, view of her breasts in her spaghetti-strap top and her cargo shorts were riding up her thighs, displaying even more of her equally captivating legs.

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St. Petersburg, Russia

5:15 a.m.

Kara turned back and forth before the mirror, examining her appearance. The blue dress clung to her curves but it was far more sedate than her usual fare. It came to her knees and the neckline was above her bra – or where her bra would be, were she wearing one. “Well?” she asked, turning to the other person in the room.

John McCormick studied his girlfriend of eight years with a cool, appraising gaze. Kara watched him, her eyes traveling over the lines of his face. He was dressed in his elegant way – buttoned shirt open at the collar, with a jacket and pants. His sunglasses sat atop his salt and pepper hair, revealing those sharp, wickedly intelligent eyes. That had been the first thing that Kara had noticed about him, when they’d met so many years ago: his discerning, enticing eyes. Those brown orbs had held her interest, even with the scars, the “Glasgow Grin”, that marred his face.

“Raise the neckline an inch o’ so,” Jack advised after a moment in his Scottish brogue. “They’ll be baselines, normals there. Otherwise, superlative as always.”

Kara smiled at him and sauntered over to sit in his lap. “Thank you, darlin’,” she purred, giving him a light kiss.

“Now get on with ye,” he ordered, patting her ass with the familiarity of years. “We donna know how long he’ll be there.” He didn’t sound happy.

Kara hid a sigh. He wasn’t happy; he didn’t want her going alone. It wasn’t a matter of her safety; he fretted about her offering overtures to a new client. She was a woman and while Jack didn’t doubt her abilities, he remembered the old days when women weren’t part of the business, beyond being eye candy or whores. It had taken hours of persuasion to convince him to see her side. He was the only man she really had to fight with anymore and it was both aggravating and comforting.

“Alright,” she said with a smile, giving him another kiss. When she rose, he stood as well, his head on a level with hers as they walked into the next room together. A single man, lean and Slavic in features with dark hair and eyes, was waiting, legs crossed at the ankle as he lounged on the couch. Sergei rose as their entrance, fastidiously buttoning his jacket around his slim frame as he stood. Kara wasn’t sure why, but all of Jack’s inner circle dressed like they were in a fashion magazine when not in the field. “I’m ready.”

Sergei nodded but said nothing. He didn’t talk much; a lisp as a baseline had given him an aversion to speaking save when he had to, and he hadn’t broken the habit as a nova. He was careful not to glance at Kara; many of Jack’s men couldn’t control the looks they gave her so they refused to even gaze at her, at least in Jack’s presence. Before her and Jack, the air shimmered as if with a heat mirage before a hole tore in space. For a second, it was massive; large enough to accommodate an eighteen-wheeler, then the hole shrank to a more reasonable size. “Thank you, Sergei,” she purred at him, unable to resist playing with the man a little. He didn’t look at her, but she saw his shoulders hunch in reaction to her tone.

“Save it for Einherjar, woman,” Jack said irritably. “O’ for me.”

“Yes, darlin’,” she said with faux-demureness. She was unrepentant in expression as she danced away from Jack and through the warpgate. The nova grinned widely as she turned long enough to blow a kiss at Jack; then she was alone in the dry Phoenix air in front of the hotel. People were staring; Kara’s golden eyes glittered with amusement as she waved and started for the door.

Her walk to the desk drew more eyes; Kara couldn’t walk without a certain sway to her generous hips. “Hi,” she said to the desk clerk, who was staring at her. After a moment of no response, Kara consciously ‘dialed it back’ and said, “Let’s try this ag’in, sugar. Hi.”

“Uh, hi!” he chirped, his gray eyes huge. He couldn’t have been more than twenty-one.

“Can you help me?” she asked, putting a bit of the ‘lost little girl’ act into her question.

“I can help you!” He was all but exploding with excitement.

Kara smiled a little more deeply; he was just too cute in his enthusiasm. “The Carver party? How do I get there?”

“Just take the elevators to the top!” he told her, his voice as excited as if he were watching his favorite team winning the big game.

“Thanks, sugar,” the golden-eyed nova purred, giving him a wink. As he all but had a stroke from sheer delight, she turned and followed his directions. A short ride later, she exited the elevators and headed for the sounds of revelry. It was a sedate party by her standards; the number of people older than Jack outnumbered the people her age. Usually it was the other way; not many men approaching fifty could keep up with their twenty-six year-old girlfriends in the parties of Ibiza and Moscow.

She poked her head into one room and stopped, her eyebrows rising. That was Bombshell, playing a video. Maybe I’ll have to make time for some pleasure after my business, she thought. Kara didn’t know if Bombshell and Knockout had an open relationship, but it was worth asking. Of course, Jack had to decide if Bombshell and Knockout were women or men, and if the latter, whether he’d be alright with her sleeping with one or both. Another problem for later, though.

The other room held the food and her quarry. Kara entered like she owned the place, which was how she always proceeded, in all fairness. Jael Carver was her first stop, but the woman was occupied with others. As she waited to make her introductions to the hostess, Kara picked up a plate and started to cruise the buffet line. Though she was selecting food, the woman was also scanning the room, noting the novas. In particular, she caught Einherjar’s position, talking to a young girl who might be the one he’d mentioned in the thread. She didn’t look wild, but with novas, one could never tell. I’ll keep an eye on her, which won’t be hard. She’s a cute little thing.

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Ryusei took up the vacated controller, and Rolling the selector over to Pursuer. He was made to be extremely well balanced, with an edge in versatility compared to most. More than that, he was really underrated. He burned through his power fast, but he had a pair of hidden technical combos that so far Ryusei'd managed to use with great effect, managing more than once to take down some of the stronger characters. He knew Pursuer had some key weaknesses, especially against Totentanz, but He'd taken down his share of Totes players.

He nodded to Sean. "Keeping the same, or are you going to choose a different one?"

He spared a look at Jason and wished he hadn't. Nonwithstanding his relationship with Katya, the list and all, he knew Jason was a woman he'd never be able to have. He shrugged, and then flexed his fingers, knowing Pursuer to be an extremely technical character.

"This is going to be fun, and damn difficult."

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Sean was confused, but where Contessa was concerned, that wasn’t really a surprise. He just rolled his eyes, getting a little fed up with all girls for a moment. Guys weren’t this complicated; what was complicated was keeping his reputation if he chose to have some fun with a guy. And what the hell was Bombshell giving him the stink eye for? Mixie and Contessa were the ones acting weird on him.

“Well, Ausrine is available,” he said, grinning at Ryusei and wondering if he was interested in playing with guys. “And I do love to play her.”

“Gross,” Mixie said.

“Seriously, her gravity field is awesome, a bit tricky, but sweet,” Sean said, managing to look like the picture of innocence for a second. And her tits are just as sweet. “And she’ll work well with Pursuer.”

He was quiet a moment, then said, “I just realized – someday, I might be a character in this game. Wouldn’t that be weird?”

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"That would be a little weird." He left the obvious joke alone, knowing the others were likely thinking it too.

"They work well together." He knew if they weren't careful Totentanz would take them both apart. He started devising his strategy, and hoped Sean would pick up on it fast.

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