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ABERRANT: WEIRDER STUFF SEASON TWO - EPISODE ONE - "WELCOME TO THE NEW AGE"

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Kia dutifully played along, selecting another of the toys and sort of dancing it around to show that she too was playing with it. She was constantly aware of Abel and the others though, through the link. When the presence behind the Crusher repelled Abel's attack and struck back with terrifying force, she flinched. She couldn't just...sit here and do nothing! Kyle and the Crusher didn't seem like the same person, but it felt like there had to be some kind of a link between them. And even if not, maybe she could block Kyle in here using his powers so she can Lily could go out and help! Something! Anything besides just...playing with toys!

So she danced her tiny giant robot towards the middle of the table, then pantomimed it getting shot and falling over, and then said, "Let me try a different one," and reached across the table towards another toy... Then shifted sideways a bit so the side of her hand pressed against Kyle's fingers as he played with his own toy.

A little contact was all that was needed. It felt like warmth at first, but she could tell the difference between actual temperature and this 'quantum' warmth that boiled beneath Kyle's skin. Even in that brief, informal touch of skin to skin, his cells brushed off onto her as her own cells extended tiny filaments. It made her seem a little sticky for a second, like brushing against a cobweb.

The warmth was modulated, like flashing lights, like a voice, like a heartbeat. For a second Kia could 'hear' it, and it echoed inside herself. She concentrated on that echo, firming it, solidifying it. Adding it to the symphony of warmth inside herself.

What was it doing, the power within Kyle?

An instant after the question occurred to her, she knew the answer. It was like a taste in her mouth, only in her whole body. A complex, foul stench...she could feel the code in his cells, feel what it was doing...

It was killing him.

Her eyes widened, and breath fled her lungs in a gasp. He was dying. Constantly dying. The energy of his node was sustaining him, repairing him, but it wasn't curing him. He had gifts similar to Abel too...he could create physical force from apparently nothing, move things, stop things from moving...but most of his power was just keeping him alive.

There was more. A lot more. His DNA was...a mess. Far more maladies than anyone had any right to claim. And it was mismatched somehow. There was damage here that smelled old, like the kind of thing only a withered old man should have...but the taste of the whole strand was...was...

No way.

She swallowed, completely unsure of herself. For the first time she wanted to doubt the strange senses her powers lent her. Kyle was real. He was a little boy! Kia didn't know fancy words like 'telomeres' or 'cumulative genetic drift.' All she knew was that as DNA got older, it changed somehow. She could tell how old a person was by 'tasting' that genetic information. Like counting rings on a tree.

Kyle was 2, maybe 3 months old.

Kia opened her mouth to say something, had to clear her throat, then said, "Kyle...we can help you. Lilly...she can heal people. That's one of her powers."

Over the link her mental voice was nearly a babble...she still tended to 'speak' over the link rather than just share information. It meant her communications were somewhat limited by her self-image of how fast she could talk.

<guys this is crazy he's like two months old but he's FULL OF DISEASES like bone and lung and like muscle stuff the kind of stuff only old people get and he should be dead only his quantum powers are keeping him alive and I'm FREAKING OUT! What is he?!>

 

9 successes for Quantum Imprint

 

Quantum Imprint (mega first): 10d10: 71 [10d10=9, 9, 10, 3, 5, 8, 10, 5, 4, 8]

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Proteus found himself wrapped up hard, but struggled back. With a knee slam, he jarred the robot long enough to weaken its grasp, and then swung himself free out, yanking the robot around. The war machine twisted in mid-air as Proteus slammed his feet down into its chest, driving the momentum in a much more 'straight-down' vector. He would fall too, but the force of gravity only wouldn't bother him.

Then he saw Jeane, hanging on with her sword embedded in the robot. Oh, crap.

Spoiler

Attempting a throw attack at +2 difficulty since clinched.
Throw: 6 rolled - 2 diff = 4 sux
The 'distance' the robot should be thrown is 45 meters total. Whether or not it actually goes that far, it matters for damage calcs.

Which should be pre-soak... [20] + 30d10. Yeah, the whole additional damage dice for distance thrown adds on a lot with M-Str.

QP: 25/30

 

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Kyle's Hideout

Kyle looks up at Kia's wide eyed stare a puzzeled look on his face. "Why? Whats wrong with me?"

On The Shore

Just as Jeane hit Proteus flipped the Crusher and himself. Jeans' blade skidded off the armor plating leaving another redscra then she was throw off to the side from the momentum of the flip.

Spoiler

Jeane needs to make a parkour check +2 difficulty or take a nasty spill among the rocks. if she succeeds she can do some spectacular flips roils and stuff and land upright ready to fight again.

The crusher slams into the rocks with Proteus on top of him and literally flies apart into hundreds of pieces of mismatched junk. Even the hammer comes apart and now in no way eve resembles what it looked like just a moment before.

Down atthe edge of the shore line Abel stands sweat beading his forhead as the vast intellect turns it's full focus on him. The mental spike lashes Abels defenses not once, not twice, but three times battering Abels shields like they have never benn battered before. All across the world the Irregulars feel the power of the mind attacking Sage as white hot pain drives into their brains from the feed back. Sage drops to one knee his teeth clenched so hard his gums are bleeding.

The shield holds. but while Sage's body is kneeling on the shoreline his mind is miles away...

Sage is standing in a white room it is enclosed in Thick bullet proof glass. He can see out side and sees several computer terminals and consoles there are five persons three men and two women all are lying on the floor or slumped over their keyboards. They still live but they are oblivious to the world. In the room with him is a large Cylinder made of Transparent Steel, steel that is identical to that whic was developed by his company. Floating in the cylinder is a humongous brain!

Spoiler

The brain is about the size of a human torso and it is sort of pulsing kind of like a heart. btw everyone in guild chat can see the giant brain

 

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Spoiler

Right. Parkour Time.

Normal Dice 16D10E7 => 8 | 10s: 3

Mega Dice 1D10E7 => 0

Makes threshold of 3 by a tad.

Jeane had exactly two heartbeats to smirk triumphantly at her hit before Proteus and Crusher exploded in the opposite direction, sending her tumbling through the air. The blade was ditched to free up her hands. She hit the ground in a roll, rocks digging into her back before she exploded upward with shove of her hands into a somersault. The blonde daredevil landed with her knees bent to brace against the remaining momentum, straightening with a pleased snort and a sweep of her head to try and find her blade before it evaporated just in case crusher needed more crushing.

Then the vision of the monster brain-in-a-jar hit and, and Jeane had a chance to catch up with what had been tossed her way via Guild Chat.

What the fuck?!?

Crusher and Proteus weren't making noise. Hopefully that meant the fight was over on that front. That just left whatever mental fight was going on plus Kyle the maybe street kid. Which she couldn't help with. At all. Damn. Jeane sprinted back towards Sage's physical location, deciding to protect his body if he was doing that whole out of body thing from the movies... 

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Abel had no real time for anything but his battle against this new foe.  He'd never felt anything like it before, both in terms of mental  defense and attack.  A win here wouldn't come from that sort of battle.   He had to pull out all the stops and put all his power to end this now, before this brain fought its way into the minds of the other irregulars. 

Still he found his entire mind here, which he found strange, but didn't have time to question it, and a quick evaluation showed he had full access to his abilities.   He took hold of one of the smaller monitors, ripping it from its mountings and allowing his own quantum to flow through the telekinetic grasp and envelop it.    He pushed the monitor towards the brain, and when it drew near the cylinder, it shimmered, like a mirage.   Then without effort, the monitor passed through the cylinder, through the liquid and the brain itself.   It was aligned so that it would do the maximum amount of damage, and then he released it, allowing it to resolidify within the brain.   The effects were devastating and instantaneous, as the mind he'd been fighting simply vanished.   Catastrophic physical damage was the one thing that this enemy couldn't handle.  He moved to grab the cylinder and wrench it and its now gruesome contents from its moorings, This was a dangerous sample, but it had once been a person.  The least he could do was bury it properly.   Moreover, he wanted a sample of this metal, since he'd mad nowhere near what was required for this available to anyone.

Per Nina, Abel has access to all his powers, thus uses TK to grab and position the monitor, attune it, and then density decrease to put it into the brain before releasing it, essentially pulling ruthless Vision move. Then us Telekinesis to grab and remove the cylinder to leave wherever it is.

 

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Sage paused before ripping the cylinder back. He knew he could retun to his body at anytime but he could bring the cylinder with him so he left it stepped through the wall out into the control room. The persons were alive but their brains were gone, there was no hope for them what  ever the brain had done it was thorough and catastrophic for these five, In the next room He found more chilling discoveries. The room looked as if a bomb had gone off there were another half dozen people more scientists or technicians but all some military. US military, Navy to be exact.

What was worse is Sage recognized some of the equipment. This room had held Portal technology. There at least least five ring bases.

He continued on moving through the building there were another dozen people all the same when he exited the building he saw a sign which read PsyOps.

Sage knew where he was. He returned to his body with a thought.

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Proteus landed in the crumbled rock, his own completely intact. The Crusher was not. A moment of triumph made his way in before he felt the backlash of Sage's battle of the mind with... something. He turned and ran over to Sage's body joining - a separate part of his mind was relieved to see - an unscathed Jeane. <Sage? What's happening?!> Then he had images. A giant mad scientist type lab, a brain, the US military, Sage destroying the brain...

At least Sage was safe. <What the hell is all this, and who's responsible?!>

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Back in his own body, Sage took stock of his surroundings.   Seeing Jeane, he scowled.  He'd involved her, and he knew she'd seen what he had, this was all going to be a terrible blowup.   "Proteus, I need you to take Care of Jeane, I want you to take her home.  Don't say anything to anyone about anything you saw, anything you did today."

Over guild chat he added.  <I do not like sending you away, but you saw the things I did, that was our government's doing, an experiment that backfired on them horribly.   Jeane, I want you to be a part of this, but right now I need you to just lay low with Proteus.   What's probably going to happen will see all of us make some powerful enemies, and i want to protect the both of you from that as much as I can.   I'll leave the final choice to you both though.  I don't know what will happen to us, and what all exactly I'm going to find in that base, but I'm going, and I'm going to make sure it doesn't happen again.>

He said the rest to everyone over GC.  <Everyone I'm sorry for the hits, i'll find some way to strengthen our collective mental defenses, We have to proceed quickly and carefully, otherwise we will make enemies of the government.  The entity i just fought is in a secret psyops base with portal tech, right above where Chimera and Vanguard are.  

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UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK CITY

(the present)

"... and while true, you have no restricted your advances and developments to the US, it does seem the US has... "

Sean listened to the committee member with feigned attentiveness. Most had been persuaded to see things her way with smooth words and a subdued smile, but there were a few still digging in their heels, looking for anything nefarious in their intentions. But she would convince them soon enou --

Her eyes widened at the reverberations of the psychic assault on Abel. Sean hid her expression behind a sip of water as the representative from Italy droned on, his eyes more on her chest than her face, Abel's confrontation with the Quantum infused Brain playing before her mental gaze. She was preparing to cast her perceptions remotely to determine where Abel was when the conflict was ended with finality and it was revealed where it was. Naval Base. PsyOps.

<If at all possible Abel, recover anything you can from the drives, digital copies preferably, physical drives if necessary,> Sean sent over guildchat as she continued responding at the hearing.

"Your concerns are noted, Mr. Bianchi," she replied in fluent, melodious Italian. "But as I'm sure you are aware, we have been generous with our inventions. Indeed, in some cases, with universal healthcare programs implemented and certain assurances promised, other nations have been seeing more benefit than the US. And the Irregulars are committed to seeing world wide..."

<I'll hopefully have this hearing wrapped up shortly. Some are just protesting out of habit or sheer contrariness.>

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For a moment, she wavered, bathed in the honey sweet tide of Sage's words, the easy escape, the run away to run another day temptation. She looked down, gray hoodie and black jeans streaked with mud, hands at her sides. Then her hands clenched into fists, mouth worked into a scowl to match the senior Key's, face turned up to reveal eyes of blue fiery passion.

<nO. tHaT's StUpID. i ShOuLD sTAY iF aNyONe,> She countered, anger swimming over the link, as the faint boom of her greatsword decompressing was joined by a bolt of red lightning racing skyward from where it lay. The distortion in her GC voice abruptly cleared, anger still there, but supporting rather than opposing her message for once.

<My fault this escalated. My text that has you all in trouble now. Besides, they know I texted about a Key in the park. They know you came and kidnapped me from school. Not take too much effort to find me at home. We split up right now they, whoever they are, find your Crew weaker, and I might drag Proteus down with me when they bust through the door with rockets and sniper rifles,> Jeane continued, glancing back at the stony teen with guilt in her eyes before the righteous anger came back with her focus on Sage, <I'm sticking with you til this is fixed.>

<Also, this is squid shit, right? I know a Marine who'd answer any call from me, especially with explosions going on in my favorite running park. Could help, right?> she finished, having fished out her phone and brought up 'Dad' under contacts, one finger punch from speed dialing a man she'd be caught dead running to in a normal situation.

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<Kidnapping young girls from school?  Destruction of military property, breaking and entering, man, you guys are just spiraling down hill these days,> came a voice familiar to the Irregulars but unknown to Jeane.  <First, kid, don't let yourself get caught up in the fault game.  None of this is anyone's fault, trust me, I see time streams and this all happening exactly as it should be.  The path you're on is the path you are intended to be on.>

<Second, somehow, this gang of rag-tag of bleeding hearts and bumbling idealists have saved the world, twice.  When they're not tripping over themselves or too emotionally involved in their own agenda, they can actually get shit done... so listen to them.  Each has already signed up to sacrifice their life for the greater good, you don't quite understand what that means, yet.  You're on the adrenaline high of this situation.  You're pulled into a world you didn't think existed until a few moments ago.>  His voice over Guild Chat was calm, determined.  They were used to Devin being bubbly, chipper, sarcastic and whimsical to a fault with a bag of quips and one liners (that they never thought they'd miss), but Ronin's tone carried none of those things.  It was the voice of a man who'd resigned himself to an uncaring, unfeeling world and the job he had to do to fix it all.  <Your thoughts and actions are running on impulse, not logic.  Allow them to separate you, give them the opportunity to talk to you, train you, and teach you about all you don't understand, away from the boring research and leg work.  You're jumping into this without fully grasping what you're getting into, and Jeane... that's just stupid, we both know that.  You don't make a jump, skirt a wall, run a maneuver without fully understanding what we're doing, the danger involved, or how to prevent or treat the injury that could result, should we mess it up, as one parkour junkie to another.>

<Be smart, calm down, let them get you up to speed.  Then you can play in all the reindeer games, little Rudolph,>  There was a silent pause.  <Thanks for the brain freeze, been real, and... for what it's worth... I'm sorry.>

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UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK CITY

(the present)

Sean was listening to the French Ambassador argue with the Italian Ambassador over some quibble, when her Alert phone started buzzing insistently. It was the one given them by Guardian Shield and hadn't been used in months. Surreptitiously, Sean snuck the device from a hidden pocket and glanced at the screen and the text scrolling their.

<Sean- Need U now! Bulwark. Only U  NOW! - McKeller>

 

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Kyle's Hideout

 

Lilly looked to Kyle, very clearly blinking back tears.

"Kia can tell when people are sick. It is one of her powers. I know you might not feel that way, but you are very sick and right now, and it is only your powers that are keeping you alive." Lilly said sincerely to the boy as she held the transformer in her hand.

"I can help you though. I can heal the body, and help people who are sick." Lilly said as she held out her other hand toward Kyle, but did not touch him.

"It will not, or at least should not, hurt at all. And I promise that I am only going to try and help you get better." Lilly said with a sniffle.

"So if you trust me, then give me you hand and I promise I will do my best to make you better. Okay?" she asked, still holding her hand out as she crouched there, at his eye-level still.

"We just met and I think we can be friends, so I want to help make you better. And besides, if something happened to you, then who would I play Transformers with?" she asked with a smile breaking through her features.

Devin's comments would have to wait for now.

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"Alright then, we'll all go together.   I wouldn't call your Father, he's going to be angry enough with me already.   We can't give them much time or advanced warning that we're inbound."  With those words he let out a sigh and reached out with his telekinesis again, this time to carefully lift Jeane and Proteus.   With them in tow, he flew low, nearly skimming the water along the shoreline.   The entire trip would take at most five minutes, and enroute to join his other two teammates he spoke to them over guildchat.    <Kia, Lily, Can you meet us outside of the pipe you're in.  If you want, Leave a copy to play with him and see if he can be healed.  If we're going to break into this base, it will be best if we do it all together so we can be in and out faster.>


Within five minutes, he set down near the pipe where his teammates were, looking to the other two.  <Be on guard from here on out.>

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Kyle listened and smiled at Lilly's last question. He nodded and reached out his hand, which Lilly took and used to guide him closer, letting him sit on her thigh. 

15 hours ago, Abel Cross said:

<Kia, Lily, Can you meet us outside of the pipe you're in.  If you want, Leave a copy to play with him and see if he can be healed.  If we're going to break into this base, it will be best if we do it all together so we can be in and out faster.>

< Break into the base? Why the hell are you breaking into the base? Kia and I are already here on base and right below PsyOps already. After that sonic boom that sent the Crusher to you, security is probably already on alert. You guys flying in will just bring security down on us and force a confrontation that will NOT end well. Kia and I can handle things here. We will let you know if we need backup. Until then though, there is no reason to go kicking over the ant hill. So just get out of there and lay low. > Lilly thought back instantly.

She focused and started evaluating Kyle's form and health, and blinked, partially in surprised and partially to hold back tears at the information she could glean. She composed herself and looked to the boy, trying to smile as she thought of him.

"You see Kyle, what gives us our powers is this little, extra, special part of our brain, that only people like us have, called a 'node'." she said as she tapped his forehead with a finger and a smile. 

"It draws in power to let us use our abilities. Usually having one is okay, and does not hurt or anything. But because you are still young, and it grew super fast, it is making you sick. It is drawing in more power than you need, so it is making you very sick." she explained as she tried to think of an analogy.

"Kind of like the difference from drinking water from a drinking fountain, or a fire hose. The fire hose gives you water, but waaaay more than you need, and can actually hurt you because there is so much water and it is coming so fast." she said with a grin.

"So I am going to help you get rid of the bad stuff. I promise this won't hurt." she reassured him as she focused on his hand and body, triggering her node to send a surge of quantum down her arm and into Kyle, bolstering his body, his immune system to superhuman levels purge him of the myriad of diseases affecting him, causing her hand to glow as she held his hand.

"See?" she asked with a smile, "That didn't hurt, did it? In fact, I bet you feel pretty good right now." she added as she gave him a little tickle, causing the boy to laugh.

Lilly then sighed softly as she considered how to tell him the rest.

"Unfortunately, what I did will not fix things forever. The bad stuff will come back as long as your node is drawing in so much power. So I can't fix it permanently right now, but I have friends that might able able to, or we may be ale to teach you to control it. Either way, until then, I can keep helping you when the bad stuff comes back, to keep you healthy." Lilly explained  wiped a smudge from his cheek with her thumb.

"I know you like it here, but that means you will need to come with us, so we can help make you better. If you want, you can come back later. Until then though, I promise you will be safe and you'll have plenty of toys to play with, and I will play with you a lot too." she said, still holding Grimlock in her hand and standing him on Kyle's knee. "I think my other friends would like to play with you too." she added with a smile.

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Kia nodded eagerly.

"And," she added, "we have lots of food."

Over the link she said, <Abel, stop for a second. I get there's something big happening, but we need to slow down. If we try to force our way onto a base like that, we're crossing a line we can't come back from. There's more about Kyle too...there's some weird parts in him that aren't human. They almost seem more like alien pieces in his DNA.>

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Held physically helpless in the air while the Irregulars argued over the link, Jeane's expression soured a little. Resolving to find a means to never have to be hefted like this ever again, she focused internally until she was damn sure she was getting this next step right, exhaling to mute her emotions as far to the back of her mind as possible.

<Sorry to interupt... Just how bad is the blood between you and Tease's brother? He's Ronin, right? Maybe? Was he the one with ThE sCaRiLy On POInt... comments about me, just now that no ones reacting to?> the blonde daredevil privately messaged at Lilly, hope for clarification ringing between her words.     

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Lilly's mental sigh could be felt through the link with Jeane at the question, but it was not one of annoyance.

< Bad blood? There's no bad blood really. If there was bad blood what he said would have had waaay more venom. Right now he is just upset, angry and hurting. We still consider him one of us, and he needs us no more than ever, even he does not realize it. Right now he needs time and our patience. He's not a bad guy. He can be a little douchy at times, but he has a good heart and kind of grows on you over time... like a fungus. In time he will come back around, I just hope it's before he does anything brash. > Lilly replied to Jane over the private link.

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UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK CITY

(the present)

On 4/15/2018 at 10:11 AM, AWS ST said:

<Sean- Need U now! Bulwark. Only U  NOW! - McKeller>

There was a note in Devin's pause and apology that piqued Sean's concern, but then there came the urgent text message from McKellar. After what the Irregulars in Norfolk were dealing with, she didn't trust in the coincidence.

<OMW by WT in a min> Sean texted back without looking at her phone, then tucked back into the covert pocket of her purse with inhuman deftness the human couldn't catch.

"Excuse me, Ladies and Gentlemen Ambassadors, it seems there is still much you need to discuss among yourselves," Sean slipped in between the squabbling French and Italian ambassadors with sultry, demure grace. "I hope I have conveyed our intent to help all the peoples of the world rather than a select few, and I will be available to speak with you again, but for the moment, I will leave you to it."

Sean nodded her leave then turned on a smart heel before any of the ambassadors thought to object. She had already left the audience chamber, her flawless behind and eye-catching hair disappearing behind the door just as voices were being raised. She nodded at Laurie, who had been waiting outside. Though Sean's face was smooth, Laurie still caught the vibe of concern coming off her sister.

"Laurie, can you cover here, at least with the US ambassador and any Washington observers here?" Sean asked, pulling out her glassy black smartphone (or what looked like a smartphone), and tapped something out swiftly. "Something's up at Bulwark. It might be bad."

"How bad?" Laurie asked, stiffening with her own rising worry.

"That's what I'm going to find out."

Sean disappeared with a blooming blur of muted light.

THE WATCHTOWER, EARTH ORBIT

(the present)

Sean recorporated aboard the Watchtower, and gave the T'tauri technician manning the teleporter a grateful nod.

"Thanks, Oe'Brinn," Sean said in fluent T'tauri, which looked vaguely disconcerting coming from a human mouth. "Just give me a moment."

Sean took off her heels and formed her PAM suit from a pale skirt-suit into a dark, tactical bodysuit with integrated boots, as she let herself swell back to her full height and more athletic and buxom figure. A faint frown crossed her lips as she recalled the last time she'd seen herself wearing this was on the front of the magazine, where she'd been photoshopped into near cartoonishness.

<Lilly, Kia, I understand your concern, but considering the resources they seem to have access to, if this a black or rogue operation, or worse, a more wide ranging one, we need to acquire as much information from that lab as quickly as possible before it gets completely scrubbed,> Sean sent to the Irregulars in Norfolk over guildchat. <And for that, Sage will be a great help, risk though it may be. Also, it will be easier for the Watchtower to get you all out of there if your guys are all together.>

There was a weighty pause before Sean added. <This might not be an isolated event, guys. I've been recalled immediately to Bulwark. Don't delay.>

Sean nodded at the T'tauri. "Energize, Oe'Brinn."

The T'tauri rolled all four of its eyes in sequence, fingers sliding down the console, and Sean discorporated once more into motes of light.

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Lilly mentally growled in aggravation. For her friends being so smart, they sure did not seem to think of the long lasting repercussions of their actions a lot. Neiither Able or Sean seemed to be considering just what they were suggesting.

< NO goddamnit! > Lilly uncharacteristically snapped back, her irritation, frustration and even a hint of anger evident through the link for a moment before she composed herself.

< No offense Sean, but you are not here and a bit out of the loop and do not seem to be thinking things through. >

< The base is already on alert. When they see KEYS flying onto the base, unauthorized, and break into a restricted area, they are going to shoot first and ask questions later. >

< Three people flying in WILL garner attention and a response. And what you are talking about, when Able and the others are spotted and/or caught, is quite a list of crimes, not the least of which is espionage and probably treason and countless others. Able will be trespassing onto a military base with the others in tow, to steal what is certainly classified military research will NOT go well. And I think you forget, my dad, before being head of Guardian Shield, did base security. I know how this will go and it is NOT good.>

< Kia and I are here already. We did not garner special attention, since we still look basically normal and not mega-babes, and just walked on with our IDs like we were out for a hike in the park. At  absolute worse, Able can talk us though what to grab/do. KIa and I can handle it and do so MUCH more quietly and without causing a fucking international incident and making immediate enemies of the US Military and Government. >

< So no Sean, it is NOT worth the risk. >

< You guys get away from the beach where you fought the Crusher and lay low. Kia and I got this. >

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Vanguard wasn't wrong, by a long shot in Jeane's opinion, but there was something that she and the rest of the Irregulars... might have overlooked... while discussing assaulting a Navy facility.

Glad to be on the ground again and sneaking off a little from Sage and Proteus to poke her head around a rock, the blonde daredevil saw the guard shack at the PsyOps fence, saw one booted leg in marine camo sticking out of a two-man post. One down, maybe two. She frowned. Jeane didn't like that the Corps took so much of her Dad's time from her, but they tended to be good people. They didn't deserve this. Nor did a certain, possibly not entirely human child Key. 

<I know I'm the stupid fledgling here compared to all of you, but maybe if you could get Kyle up by the pipe entrance, so that we can get him clear before you start the fireworks or the helos show up..? Right thing to do, and if you want to bundle me off with him, I've got no complaints. I know a few bolt holes in this park we can use while you hero without us holding you back.>     

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<Sounds good.> Proteus agreed, feeling more than a bit ping-ponged by the arguments raging, though he felt Lilly had the best point there. This whole mess continued to not sit well with him though, particularly about what it said about the government. You'd wish the people making major policy decisions would not create mad scientist projects that could only backfire on them. Was this why people hated politicians and bureaucrats so much? Probably.

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Abel, Jeane and Charlie stood outside the drain pipe that led to Kyle's lair, consolidating their plan mentally and purplish flicker caught their attention.  It swirled and spun and then suddenly expanded into a three meter glowing gate of pure quantum energy.  Through it stepped Ronin, carrying the glass contained over his shoulder like some kinda action hero.

They hadn't seen Ronin in months.  He'd let his hair grow out and worn it down in a sort of emover now.  From his combat boots, black cargo pants, and t-shirt that read 'Millions of my potential children died on your Honor Student's face last night' his IDGAF non-conformist streak seemed well deserved.  The purple leather duster had to go, but it matched the portal nicely, so he may have been going with a theme there.  On his back was a sword, a katana, just like those Samurai would carry, or Ronins.  It thrummed with power, and Abel instantly knew Ronin had retrofitted some sort of quantum engine and installed it into the handle of the sword, pulsing energy up the length of the blade.

The tank hit the sand with a thud.  He wasn't being careful.  A few hard drives dropped onto the glass, sliding off its convex surface onto the sand as well.

"That should help, it's all I could get.  Sage's brain freeze let me see the room like I'd lived there my whole life, thanks for that," he pointed to the tank.  "Still think these people are worth saving?  Brain in a jar, or one of you instead, they don't care.  You're nothing but a science project to them.  They're beyond redemption."

"Look, you guys don't have much time, and the government is already looking for me.  I'll take the heat for this, get the hell out of here and I'll distract them.  Better I take the fall than all of you."  He stepped away, tensing like he was about to teleport away.

"Why?"  Charlies asked, suddenly.  "Why help us?  We're not on the same side anymore.  We're obligated to bring you in."

"Kidnapping," Ronin paused and smirked.  "Not to mention the miriad of other things you guys are currently guilty of today... please.  We're in this together, guys.  Ride or die.  We may not see eye to eye, but we always got each others back.  S'way things are, 'Chuck'.  Now TK this shit out of here.  Fly.  Fly to space if you have to, I can only do so much to stall em.  Go!"

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Whatever reply Abel was about to make to Lily was silenced by Ronin's appearance with the equipment from the lab and the "sample" as it was.  A look of resignation passed over his face, and he nodded.  "Proteus,  Jeane, let's go.   I have an idea for the samples."   He looked to Ronin and gave him a respectful nod.   "Thanks."  He didn't think anything more was needed, and was somewhat certain Ronin hadn't even expected that much.   He pulled out a not quite normal smartphone, and sent a text message to the T'tauri on duty,  to teleport the sample and hard drives to the station in a secure sterile environment.    At least there no one else could get it, and he and Sean could head up to see what they could recover when it was possible.   Within moments, the samples vanished, as the T'tauri complied with his request, and he nodded, and looked back to Proteus and Jeane.   "We're going to head back to the rental the same way we came, and from there, I'll have you call your Father Jeane,  I want to talk to him, and try to explain what i did, and why I did it, and hopefully, You get to stick to the choice you've made."

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Things were happening so fast! Kia was just wrapping her head around Lilly and Abel fighting, when suddenly Devin appeared and now Abel was leaving again but they was forgetting...

<Kyle! Abel, we have to take Kyle away from here too!>

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"Yeah. Okay. Sure." 

Jeane sounded distracted as she stared at Ronin. She looked distracted, eyes wide and cheeks flushed. The inside of her head was a combination of 'Buuuuuuh' and 'No one can be that effortless cool' and 'Who was this? She had to know!'. But mostly a background noise of 'Buuuuh' as her pulse raced, and she eventually processed that the Irregulars had a god damn Star Wars teleporter and that she had been staring distinctly uncoolly while thinking about all this and...

"I mean, yeah! Going! Right now. Thanks for the save," the blonde daredevil rallied with as much confidence and poise as she could manage on short notice. She waved good bye to Ronin and took off at a sprint for the car.

<yOu HAvE a TelEPoRtEr NO oNe Told Me ABOuT! usE ThAT to GeT HIm oUT oF NorFOlK?> she added over the link as she ran, emotional distortion reminiscent of pink bubbles and misty lens flare. 

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Kyle's Lair

Kyle steps forward and puts his little arms around Lilly and hugs her tight. "Don't be angry or sad. Everything will be alright."

On the Shore

and

Kyle's Lair

<Your plans will have to wait> Sean's thoughts cut through Guild Chat <Everyone needs to get to the Watchtower now. Bring the boy and the girl they aren't safe there.>

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<Well there you go.   We should all head to the Watchtower, at least for the time being.  I'd like to handle some other things, but you all know Sean's not one to give that sort of warning idly.>   

he was already preparing the message to the T'tauri to teleport them up, waiting  to send it simply to see if anyone would say no to this course of action.  

He looked over to Jeane and sighed inwardly.  <We have many things others don't, if you want to see them come along.>

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Kia comes in to give Kyle and Lilly both a one-armed hug.

"Kyle, we're going to show you our place now, okay? We think it's pretty cool. Especially how we get there."

She grinned.

<Okay. I'm ready.>

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Lilly stood and picked up Kyle, rested him on her left hip and held him effortlessly with one arm.

"Okay. Pick a few of your favorites to bring with us, and I promise we will get more soon." she told him, letting him pick out a few of his toys, which the other Lilly collected for him.

"Now, some of our friends are waiting for us outside, but where we are going after that there are some kind of strange looking people." she said as she began walking down the pipe again. "They are very nice and friends too, so you will need to be nice to them. Where we are going you will be safe and everybody there will be nice and we are going to work to make you better." she continued explaining as they rounded the bend in the drain pipe and could see light up ahead, as well as some familiar silhouettes.

"See? There they are." she said as they began to come into the light that was spilling in from outside. "That is Abel, and over there is Charlie." she said, point them out to Kyle as they exited the pipe, along with Kia and another Lilly who was cradling an armful of toys. 

"And this must be Jeane." she said as she turned to the young blonde. "See? She's okay." she said to Kyle.

Lilly then held her hand out to Jeane.

"I'm Lilly and this is Kia." she said, introducing herself and her BFF as she stepped aside to give Jeane a better view of Kia. "Or I guess you would know us better as Vanguard and Chimera. Nice to meet you face to face finally." she said with a warm smile.

Lilly was wearing a pair of running shoes, black yoga pants, and a gray hoodie. Her hair was long and dark, held back by a broad headband. She was in her late teens and rather attractive. Though the hoodie concealed much, it was clear by what could be seen of her shape and legs that she was very fit, and yet still retained somewhat more feminine curves than would be normal.

Beside her the other, totally identical Lilly stepped up and smiled, waving with her free hand. "I'm her too." she chuckled, offering her free hand for a shake as well..

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The third thing that Jeane really liked about her powers was that she couldn't really fall while running anymore long as she didn't try something obviously impossible for her abilities. That was the only thing that kept her from faceplanting when Sean issued her decree and Sage his agreement, thunder struck by the many, many implications. What? The Watchtower? Her tumble of thoughts couldn't *quite* connect the name to a thing, but if it had anything to with the teleporter and the good aliens... The grin didn't leave her face, gratefully masking her inner turmoil with practiced ease. She kept an eye out for the guy who, now that she thought about it, might have been Ronin in the entirely-way-too-cool flesh. But combined with what the others had said about him versus what he was doing... Arrrgh.

Spotting someone coming out of the pipe out of the corner of one eye, the blonde daredevil turned to see several someones emerge into the light of day. First Lilly. Then the street kid. Then Kia. And then... *another* Lilly. Okay. So that mental echo hadn't been an echo. Not the weirdest thing by far today. Move on. 

"Hey," she greeted with a nod and returning the first handshake with her own, "Nice shoes. Do you mind if I just do you the one shake? Got someone very important to greet."

"Hey, Kyle. We good? Today's been a h... a heck of a day, huh? About to get even better, too, if I'm any judge," Jeane directed at the boy, extending one fist for him to bump knuckles with, eyes dancing with mirth and anticipation.

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Kyle hugged Lilly tighter and shook his head at what Jeane said. "No, it's not."

Jeane felt a strange tingling and her senses seemed to go wonky as the Transporter beam took hold of the Irregulars and the world faded.

 

Spoiler

Thread is locked, Important story Posts to follow. Thank you.

 

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THE WATCHTOWER

IN ORBIT

(the present)

The Irregulars, along with their guests materialized in the T'Tauri Transporter chamber, that tingling sensation fading away as they solidified. Almost immediately the members of the team knew something was wrong. None of the normal T'Tauri technicians were in sight instead Sean stood at the control panel a deadpan look on her face betraying no emotion.

She wasted no time with pleasantries. “Irregulars cut Guild Chat off immediately it's compromised. Abel, can you link with telepathy to all of us without using GC?” She spoke quickly again her voice giving no sign or emotion. Lilly however notices that Sean is watching her and her alone.

I think so, as long as we are all together. What's going on Sean?” Abel responded.

Sean waited until she was sure everyone had cut guild chat before shutting hers down as well. “Does Ronin know about those two?” She indicated Jeane and Kyle.

It was Lilly's turn to answer, “Yes he does. Now what is this all about?”

Sean looked at Lilly Again at her face softened and Lilly saw grief in her eyes. “I'm so sorry Lilly.”

Kyle tightened his grip on Lilly's neck as he hugged her tighter and buried his face into her shoulder.

I'm so so sorry. Lilly your father, General Pryor is dead. He was murdered...by Ronin.”


 

Spoiler

you may post reactions but keep them short like we are in social combat rounds. y'all may want to let Lilly respond first

 

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Lilly's face contorted in confusion as she tried to make sure she hears Sean correctly. She held Kyle close, comforting him, as she shook her head at Sean.

"No. You are mistaken or this is some kind of trick or something. It must not be my dad. Devin would do something like that, and not to one of us... to me. You got bad intel or something." she countered Sean in disbelief.

"He wouldn't... not my dad." she babbled, shaking her head still.

"It's some fake body or something. He's just messing with us, or trying to get us to do something, or some sort of set up or something. There's no way Devin would do that. Not to me."

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Seeing Vanguard, no, Lilly, fold in on herself, Jeane failed to process the wonders of the chamber around her. Ronin, no, Devin, no... Whatever... He had been just there! Talking about all for one and one for all and seeming to know so much about how she thought.  

"...When did this happen? He *WAS* just there looking so cool and being so..," she croaked out, voice seizing up as it her brain helped by providing a few more damning facts to help unsettle her further.

The car with her backpack inside. Even if he hadn't known before, if he wanted to, he could know now, and if he wanted to... Some of his remembered words chilled Jeane to the bone, a shadow of a doubt enough to scramble her phone out of her pocket. Zero bars. She glared at it, the ONE DAMN TIME she wanted it to..!  

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Abel quickly brought down his portion of guild chat,  and set about bringing up a new version using is telepathic abilities, which comprised only those currently there.    Even as he did this, he did do a quick scan for General Pryor, and got back nothing, not a defense, not interference, absolutely nothing, which in his mind, confirmed that the General was truly gone.

"Everyone, maybe we should move to one of the briefing rooms here, that way we can all take a seat, and let Sean explain what happened, and why we had to come here with such urgency."

<Sean, please tell me the samples from the psyops are safe in storage, and that you have a handle on just what is going on..>  he sent privately to Sean.

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"No everyone stay right here. Captain Mckeller is moving our families to someplace safe," Interjected Sean and held up her hand to forestall any more talking. "Don't ask I don't know where. I'm sorry Lilly this all happened about twenty minutes ago while all of you were involved with Jeane and Kyle. I...I wasn't there for the attack but i was afterward within minutes. Abel I know none of you want to believe this I'm going to show you exactly what I saw. and I want you to relay directly to each of them."

Sean took Able's hand and looked into his eyes and opened her mind to his and thru his link each person present saw what Sean had seen.

FORT BULWARK, MONTANA

(moments ago)

Sean rematerialized inside the Portal Room at Fort Bulwark, standard for any translocation abilities to prevent people from bumping into suddenly appearing travelers. She could tell immediately that something had gone wrong, seriously wrong. The background murmur of voices she could hear through the walls had a different quality and she could hear an alarm. There was the smell of concrete dust in the air and the tang of blood.

The base was on lock down.

"Sean, you're here, good," McKellar said, noting that the tall woman was wearing subtle cosmetics and her hair fell in a smooth tail to the small of her back. "This way please, I need you to do your thing."

"My thing?" Sean asked curiously as she fell into step with McKellar as they walked through the halls.

She pursed her lips, noting the all the medical personnel, various cracks on the walls and ceilings here and there, and downed soldiers, some silent, others groaning or on stretchers.

"General Pryor is missing. I want to see if you can tell what happened."

McKellar led her to the General's Office, opened the door and gestured inside. Sean took in the disrupted display with a glance, then gave McKellar a level, slighty narrow-eyed look. There were of a height.

"My thing," Sean murmured blandly. He knew, and he knew she knew that he knew.

"I'll explain later, I promise, but time is of the essence," McKellar said, forcing himself not to take a step back. There had been a dangerous tone in Sean's melodious voice.

"I would like that," Sean replied coolly, then she stepped into the office.

She opened her awareness to its fullest as she analyzed every single thing in the office, it's position, how it lay, and where it likely had been before, down to the microscopic level. She frowned at the cracks in the wall, and the spatters of blood.

There was a holistic interconnectedness to the Universe, each part abutting every other part, that Sean could perceive with effort. In many ways, distance was an illusion. The holographic nature of the universe allowed Keys to teleport from here to there and sense distant events. Sean could send her perceptions anywhere on earth and further besides.

Distance could be an illusion and so could time. Events in the moment sent ripples forward and backward in time. Attuning herself to them and collating them with what she knew and could witness in the presence allowed Sean to determine the probabilities of what had happened or what would happen.

As Sean investigated, faint simulations of the recent past began to flow in her mind, overlapping and growing more defined as the most likely probability became more distinct.

Sean picked up a box, a picture of Lilly at Homecoming on top, the glass of the frame cracked, and saw: General Pryor packing a box with his personal belongs. He handles a picture of Lilly with care before placing it in the box. He is moving, being reassigned. The handling of Keys is being shifted from the Military to a Civilian program.

Sean stepped around the desk and forward several paces, then looked at the floor. Someone appears in the room. Not stepping into the room, but suddenly is there. Dozens of images flicked in Sean's mind, different people, different versions of the same people, until the image solidified into Devin wearing black cargo pants. The writing on his shirt keeps changing.

A susurration of voices filled her head as General Pryor  and Devin spoke, all the variations of what they could have said, until the gist of what they saying came through. General Pryor mentions that Devin had a lot to answer for, that they can't hide what Devin had been doing from the Irregulars and other for much longer, that they can help him. Devin is righteous and condescending, condemning humanity for what they were, what they are.

General Pryor pushes the alert under the edge of his desk and the image in Sean's mind crystallized, the action a focal point that made the following sequence of events far more clear.

Armed guards bust open the door. Devin punches one into the other, the force of the blow knocking them both into the wall opposite the office. A gun fires, a bullet rips through the meat of Devin's shoulder. General Pryor has shot him, his aiming purposeful. Devin is surprised, but only for an instant. The second shot misses, Devin blinking in and out.

General Pryor tries to reason with Devin, invokes Lilly's name, and her hope that Devin's actions are due to a sickness, a condition of intense channeling of quantum energy. But he has a dual purpose for suggesting bringing Devin to Lilly and Devin knows it. Lilly might be able to subdue him and it isn't a risk he will take.

Sean moved back around the desk, crouching low, running slim, graceful fingers along the floor and up the wall. She noticed several speckles of blood then focused her eyes on another spectrum and spotted residual radiation indicative of a Portal.

Before General Pryor can shoot again, Devin blinks again, and now he has him by the throat and gun arm. Devin says he can tolerate different points of view, but an attempt on his life is a line too far. A purple irised portal opens to the side, revealing the empty darkness of space broken only by distant points of light from the stars.

Sean's lips tightened grimly as she saw that field of stars as the probable path of the past marched inexorably forward.

An airman rushes Devin, tries to save the General, and is slapped contemptuous aside by Devin. His gun hand free, Pryor fires again, hits Devin in the side and the leg, but the rogue Key barely flinches, only grunts at the pain.

Devin punches General Pryor in the stomach, his eyes bulging with pain and the force of the impact, then Devin throws him through the portal into the cold vacuum of space. Fear paints the General's face as he drifts out of sight and the iris snaps shut with a flare of purple light.

The fear on General Pryor's face was marked indelibly in Sean's mind, as is the field of stars he was thrown into. A part of her mind calculated the force he was thrown with, the position and rotation of the planet, and how long ago this has happened. Eight minutes, forty-nine seconds. Her jaw was so tight, she almost expected to her teeth crack. Like everything else, it was a scene she wouldn't, couldn't, ever forget, in the smallest detail.

Ronin only shrugs at the terrible death he has inflicted on Lilly's father, then grins as more airmen enter the room. He beats the majority of them down, amusement on his face, before he vanishes in a flash of purple light.

It could have been someone else. There were shapeshifters and Keys who could copy the powers of others - Kia herself was both. But the person she had seen had looked like Devin, moved like Devin, displayed the powers and capabilities of Devin. And it had sounded like Devin, not just in voice, but in the cadence and inflections of his words - the expressions and mannerisms had been his. It had been Devin.

It had been Ronin.

"It was Ronin, McKellar," Sean growled tightly, turning turquoise eyes harder than diamonds on McKellar. "He was here and he threw General Pryor through a portal into outer space. Get me astronomical charts from any agency that has them. It might be too late, but at least we'll bring him home."

WATCHTOWER

(the present)

"I promise you Lilly I will find your dad and bring him home. But right now we have to evacuate the Watchtower. Ronin knows this is our base. It isn't safe here, not for anyone."

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Abel's face showed no emotion, which would normally be odd, but it was so he didn't give in to all the dark thoughts he was having.   Like Sean, he would never forget that scene, as one of them crossed a line  Irrevocably.    He shoved away the guilt he felt over this, that he'd somehow allowed this to happen, knowing what Ronin could logically do, and then not putting a stop to it, because they were friends.  

He'd dutifully showed it to everyone, except for Kyle, even as he held Kia.  

<Alright so where do we go Sean?   Unless you've got a secret underground lab, There's not many places we can go we cannot be found.  We could go to Hawaii,  I have a condo there  We could all be comfortable there for however long it takes to sort this out.   Also, where are Alchemy and GateKeeper?>

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Features pale after the mental playback of the murder, Jeane felt the itch in her palm amplify to a burn, a fear dancing in her eyes and demanding she have something on hand to defend herself *right now*.

The second-most junior Key in the room stashed her useless phone and waved to get the attention of the group, clearing her throat, "Everyone's familes includes mine, right? Sage mentioned applications and parental permission and other things, so I'm not official by any means, just right place at the wrong time or wrong place at the right time or whatever. Ronin pretty clearly lumps me in with you guys, so send me back now please if the answer's no. I don't like my family very much honestly, but they're mine. Definitely not good enough to stop him, but maybe he'd be satisfied making his point on me."

"I want to stay though and learn how to stop Keys and monsters like him though. At least point me in the direction of another teacher if you can't or won't," she finished, bereft of all bravado.

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