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AWS S2 EP04 - The Ordinary World

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Abel smiled, and asked, "So where would you like to eat Lunch today, Kia?"

Kia shrugged, "That salad they have here with chicken and little orange slices would be nice. I think I'll have one of those. And some lemonade."

She returned his smile and said, "You're kind of distracted, huh? Everything okay at work?"

Referring to what happened at Irregular Solutions as just 'work,' as if he was selling insurance or something, felt a little weird. But also perfectly normal. That was the world she lived in. Well, the one she used to live in.

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Abel nodded.  "Sorry about that.   There have definitely been some interesting goings-on in the last day or so, but nothing that won't keep really.  Traceuse is in New York dealing with another New Key situation, and had asked for some information.  I had Alexa get it for her, and after reporting to me, sent it on to her.  Barring any big emergency, I can safely say now you've got my sole attention."  

It still baffled him how she'd just wished away her powers seemingly, and in no small part terrified him, if that was really all it took.   He did understand the desire for normalcy, Hell after the things they'd all done, they all could understand just wanting to live a normal life.  That wasn't for him though.  He had too much he wanted to do going forward.  He didn't for a second think that the Titans were the only threat out there, and the Irregulars needed to be ready.  Part of that was certainly understanding what had happened with Kia.

He gave her that award winning smile, and continued.  "I spend so much time looking ahead or behind, I don't always see what's around me right now.  I really want to change that."  he knew the words were ironic considering his previous thoughts, but it was true.   

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Kia tilted her head slightly as she watched Abel. She wasn't a superintelligent posthuman, but she had a pretty firm grasp of who Abel was and what kind of things occupied his mind.

"This...bothers you, doesn't it?" she asked. "I mean, me. What happened to me."

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The hyper-intelligent key thought for a moment.  "I'm bothered by how it happened, yes.  That you no longer wanted to be a Key, that you wanted a normal life, I'd never fault you for that.  We did some awesome, terrifying things, and you of course, your powers were so very different from everyone else's.  I can understand you no longer wanting to feel the way you were feeling.  You're happy as you are now Kia, and that makes me happy.   I am worried about "How" you came to no longer be a Key,  because it just happened.  We're still finding changes in Key Physiology after our trip to the Quantum realm, and that's something we truly need to understand."

It was his honest answer, and he smiled.  "When I thought I was the only one, there were times when I'd wished to not be a Key, but I got past that, and honestly, I love being a Key now.   I think about how much good we've done, how much more we stand to do, just by being very intelligent, and that gives me hope."

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Kia listened intently, to what Abel said and to what he didn't say. Abel liked to...deflect conversations, she'd found. Try to form funnels of words that moved things away from what he didn't really want to talk about. This was the time to talk about those things though. Kia didn't want anything left unsaid.

"What about how it happened bothers you?" she asked.

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"Everything Kia.   The potential that it could happen to any key, even if such a possibility is small.  There's so much about it that we do not know yet, and I'm concerned by that."  His words were all true.  "I recognize that I'll never know everything, but I like to plan for as much as I can, and I want to keep everyone safe to the best of my abilities."

"Does it bother you that it bothers me?"  he asked quietly.
 

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Kia opened her mouth to deny it, then hesitated and said, "I guess it does, a little."

She leaned forward a little across the table. "It wasn't something that just happened to me. I chose it. I...wished for it, I guess. It was a choice I made. I don't think it could have been forced to happen."

"Everyone's so freaked out by it. I mean, you're all playing it really cool and all, but I know you guys. I can tell when you're upset even with the whole 'I'm a Key I don't show it on my face' thing. But to me, this is...it's almost like when we first unlocked. I feel like..." Kia paused, thinking, trying to put what she felt into words. "...like the sky's the limit again. Like I can do anything I want."

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Abel sighed.  "You're not wrong.  You can do anything you wish to do, no one will stop you, not among the Irregulars at any rate."

He looked at her and smiled.  "You chose this, and I understand that much, but just severing you connection to quantum like that, I really just don't understand how that worked, is it something everyone can do>  Was it only something you could do?   I have so many questions regarding it."   There was a tone in her voice, something that hinted she was hiding something too, avoiding a subject she didn't want to discuss yet.

"I just wish you would have actually told me you were feeling like this before you got to the point where you wanted this to happen and it did."  There it was.   "Maybe I could or couldn't have helped, but You and I, we're in this together, aren't we?"

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"I didn't really know until someone asked me," Kia answered with a shrug. "I knew I was kind of stressed out, but I figured it was other stuff. I'd never really stopped to really think about it before."

She gave Abel a smile, then pointed out something that lab tech who'd visited had mentioned, "This could be good too, you know. There could be other Keys who would want to do something like this. It might really help them to know it's possible. We don't control how or when we unlock, but...we're not trapped that way."

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Abel's eyes narrowed.  "I'll admit I hadn't thought of it that way."   He had been looking to see if he could not only unlock new keys, but "lock" them again with his power.  He'd not really thought too much about it though, that power's one use seemed to have caused a fractured reality for them all.  He wasn't all to gung-ho to risk that again.   

"it would have helped Kyle, back when his powers were killing him."

He looked at her, and it was time for another hard question.   "Have you decided what you're going to do from here?   Of course, if you want my help, you've got it, but I do understand if you want to do something on your own."   It was clear he was offering of himself, not the company.   

He smiled again, he was forcibly muting his own superhuman charm and attractiveness, like he always did with the Irregulars, "Of course the option to simply not do anything and rest and enjoy life is an option too.  I'm happy and willing to help there too."

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Shelly, Montana

[Now]

The door to the bathroom stall swung open and Sean glided out with languid grace. Her enchanting turquoise eyes were heavy with languorous delight and her deep auburn hair was disheveled. She was making a token effort to button up her shirt, but there weren't enough buttons left to completely conceal the scalloped edges of her bra and camisole.

Sara followed Sean out, gaze lingering on her girlfriend's long legs and the sweet curves of her ass and back, as she finished cinching and buckling her belt. Her eyes sparkled and a satiated smirk graced her lips.

The lady at the sinks was staring at them - the two young women hadn't exactly been discreet. Sean and Sara stared back. The lady grabbed her purse and hustled out, the 'I'm getting the manager' expression all over her face. Sara snorted in laughter and at the sound, Sean couldn't contain herself and giggled.

"So... how 'bout we take the talk about what we're looking for in a home back to the barn?" Sean suggested as they got cleaned up as best they could. "We just have to give Dad a head's up."

Sara's grin broadened and they hurried back to their table to collect their things. Sean threw down enough dollars and euros to pay for their meal twice over (including tip), then they rushed for Little Bigfoot.

[Then]

Quote

“I want a home. Not a house. Not a work place or a lab. A home were we can just live. I know your brilliant Sean, that your mind runs at a hundred miles a minute even when you r turn off. That your constantly thinking up new things to make. You were like that before we ever got powers. And I know your going to be like that forever. Before I had a hard time turning it off, It was like if I turn it off and I miss something that's on me. But I know that's not true. And you need to learn to turn it off too. all of it. I want a home where we are nothing but Sean and Sara, not Avenger and Savant.”

Sean glanced away for moment, musing over a bite of her pizza, topped with housemade sausage, flathead cherry chutney, smoked gouda, mozzarella, garlic oil and parsley. A part of her did feel a bit of guilt whenever she dormed down, as though she was wasting time that could have been put to better use working on her plans to make the world a better place.

But she was hard pressed to worry over that guilt when she was spending time with her girlfriend, her over-active mind not dwelling on a million other things, only on the one she loved. She had promised herself she wouldn't let herself or her friends become the slaves of the interests of others, not matter how worthwhile. And while she basked in the impossible competency and powers of Savant, sometimes it felt... lonely. She could see connections between people, places, ideas, and events like few others, but often, it was from a remote view point.

There was something to be said about shutting it all away for a time and interacting with things on a tighter, more intimate level.

"Do you ever wish you could turn it off forever?" Sean idly asked, her voice soft. She didn't want to, but Kia apparently had, and had found a way to do it, to all appearances.

"What?"

Sean shook her head and dismissively waved away her question. "Nothing, I'll tell you later. You're the only one I'm really willing to turn it off for." Sean finished the last bite of her pizza, then faced Sara directly once more. "I want the same thing, babe. A home. Not just a place to live." She smiled wryly. "I don't promise white picket fences or not having a small personal workshop to tinker in - that's part of home for me - but yes, no lab and work will be left at work, as much as possible."

Sean leaned over the table, pulling out her phone and making a few swipes, showing Sara some pics. "I've had a few thoughts on the idea since we, y'know 'talked' about it, and thought maybe something based on these might be compromise... " Sean showed her Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater and his inspiration on Massaro House, and explained some of his concepts, buildings set to fit the landscape. "But as a home for us, I want it made by us, all of us, Sean and Sara, Savant and Avenger. Our own hands, and all the capabilities available to us."

Sean leaned back and crossed her arms below her breasts as Sara continued flipping through pics and concept designs she had quickly put together.

"Have you thought about where you want to make our home, hon?"

Sara looked up. "Before, I would have said right here in Shelly, Sean. But Shelly is changing. That's not a bad thing, in itself, but it's not exactly what I'm pictured either." She arched inquiring brows. "I was thinking... maybe some place in Alaska, but..."

Sean chuckled, the sound as warm and rich as velvet and honey. "We have options, Sara, as many as we want. You can fly faster than a speeding bullet - way faster, in fact. I can come up with a personal aeronautical vehicle or we can set up a discreet Portal to link up with one here or at IS. What I'm saying is, we can deal with the commute from... pretty much anywhere. Alaska, a little further south in British Columbia, Canada, or almost anywhere else. I saw some nice places in Finland and Sweden when I was over there. And don't worry, most people know English there, even."

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NEW YORK

Jeane holds up a finger to silence Mike for a moment as her phone beeps several time. Crap two of the massively popular Key traking apps have caught her and Mikey both and her picture, taken by a phone down at the crime scene moments ago, are already uploaded and going viral. Mike's pics showing the flaming flyer are also spiraling onto the internet. “Well Mike your anonymity just flew out the window.”

Down below the detectives finally arrive and once filled in by Officer Donovan dispatch officers to secure the snipers nest crime scene.

Jeanes ear buzzes “Here is the data on the mugging victim,” Alexa's cool voice flows into her ears as data starts flowing on her phone. “The girl isn't a likely target. This seems just random but how can that be?'

Mike isn't sure if the amazon is really talking to him or not but with a glance down at the additional police and the sound of a helicopter drawing near coupled with what Jeane had said about his anonymity prompted him to make a strange request. “Hey I think I'll take you up on that offer if you think we could go now?” He flew into the window and landed in front of Jeane.

Jeane looked at him a second, something just wasn't adding up. “Yeah lets get out of here. Alexa, Can you beam us out of here?”

“Of course transporting now.”

At the very last second and knowing she shouldn't she reached out and the rifle was encased in red lightning, vanished and reappears in her hand as the transport beam took hold and the two Keys were whisked away.

Spoiler

Jeane and mike have been transported tot he space station

 

Tokyo

 

Cade could see the look of ...failure...on the mans face? The terrorists eyes darted left and right, up on stage the Prime minister finished his speech and the Emperor and Empress moved to the podium which housed a symbolic lever as they prepared to usher in a new era for the Japanese nation and the world.

There was that small pulse again Lilly focused on the boy and pinged again and focused as she was her quantum pulse read through the subterfuge of the dormed state and revealed to her that he was indeed a key. Instantly her clones became aware of the Key through the connection they shared through Guild Chat and they all saw what Lilly saw.

The man locked his gaze on the nearest Portal still dormant and he pulled away from Cade running into a woman knocking her down. Lilly saw this as Cade grabbed the falling woman saw the back pack, he sense became hyper alert as did her clones. They looked scanned seeing the man and so much more. The clones recognized twelve men and women each wearing a similar back pack each also wearing a hoodie or jacket each of them close to one of the dozens of Portals which in seconds would become powered and active. Saw the look on the faces the stances they held the body language could read the lips of the ones who were whispering prayers.

The Emperor pulled the lever and the Central Portal flashed into activity and the crowd applauded in the manner of the Japanese and the Portals began one by one to activate.

And the terrorists made their move.

 

 

 

 

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THE WATCHTOWER

It was probably a side effect of her own speed and teleportation abilities, but Jeane privately hated being teleported by someone else, exhaling in relief as she felt the last of her extremities come back into reality and under her control. Even a few milliseconds seemed like too long on a bad day, and today had had the makings of a very bad day. But... Here they were, back in safety aboard the Watchtower with the Key and the weapon. Jeane had done her job, and she'd let the braintrust worry about the aftershocks. She smiled at the panoramic vista through the window before her, taking in the Earth below, blue and white and precious and poised on the edge of self-destruction if humanity wasn't careful. 

The towering blonde had seen it plenty of time by now, but it still had the same impact, deep down, that it had the first time.

"Commander Sk'tay," she offered to the red-shirt clad T'Tauri on console duty with a grin and a wave at her guest, carefully pointing the barrel of the rifle away from anyone or anything important, "Mike. Mike, Commander Sk'tay. Welcome to the Watchtower."

 

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Mike was already hovering when the Watchtower beamed him up.  When he arrived he was still hovering.  His body alight with flames and glowing embers for eyes the Key looked about, incredibly freaked out.  Then the alien happened.  "What the fu-!"

He soared backwards a few feet, hands raised in front like one might aim cannons (and for Keys, that was a possibility) but then he lurched.  Something threw him off balance and he convulsed slightly with an expression the told Jeane (who was already on the defensive) he'd never experienced what was happening to him before.  From inside his body it appeared as if all of his organs had caught fire and they were making his skin turn radiant shades of yellow, orange and red.  Mike wasn't just on fire, he was becoming fire.  Jean could see his heart explode into a molten core, body fat began to burn at an alarming rate as he grew gaunt and sallow.

"Warning. Fire hazard detected."  The automated systems lowered from the ceiling, turned on Mike, and doused him with the alien equivalent of AFFF foam.  His flames hissed and Mike fell to the floor, a smoldering corpse-like creature of a man.  His skin was gone revealing only the slick cords of muscle beneath it.  His lips were gone, his eye lids left his solid white eyes exposed.  He rasped and choked for a breath.  He was alive but with no skin his nerves must have been in overload.  Shock consumed him and he crawled towards Jeane, his slick bony hands leaving smears of plasma and pinkish blood on the floor.

"J-Jeane..." he rasped like a zombie in the horror movie, his words sounded strange, what with him having no lips and all, until his body quit and his head 'thunked' to the floor in a sloshy smear of oozes.  He lay there, still and quiet as his breathing remained.  Jeane could see, just barely, that his skin was slowly growing back in very small, very small patches...

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Apparently turning into fire and then getting extinguished half-way through really hurt. 

She was down and kneeling by his side in a smooth blur of motion, glad to see that he was still breathing. For now anyway. Jeane looked up sharply, blue eyes dancing with controlled anger with no real good outlet. The Commander was already urgently speaking into his com badge, the blonde picking up the word 'sickbay' as he worked the controls to beam them over.

"Don't bother. I have him. Just tell them to be ready to set up a transfusion or three in case he can't heal himself," she cut the T'Tauri off with a bit more edge than she intended, gently laying a finger on the skinless and goey teen to engulf him in her quantum. Red lightning crackled and the alien officer was left alone with a unique rifle and a trail of gore. On the receiving end of her jump, hurrying blue-clad aliens were startled by a matching burst of indoor thunder, Jeane rising to her feet and backing away to give them room to work. Her hoodie was melting away into a tanktop to give them better access to her veins if needed, a potential first real time test of that particular quality of her altered biology. Abel's test had said it should work, but, still...

God, all they needed was for some idiot to try and blow up the Tokyo portal hub. That would be great.

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He had to act fast.  There wasn't time to undorm  and attack, Even dormed his mind was fast enough to know that.  He had faith in the Vanguards to stop the others, but it was up to him to stop this man.   The look of failure was enough, and with the woman on her feet but shaky, the athletic young American-born Key sprung into action.   

While not possessing his Key form's increased abilities, he was still very fast and ate up the ground in quick long strides, his hands moving out, not to tackle the man, he had no idea what throwing him to the ground would do and didn't want to chance setting off whatever was in the backpack that way, so he opted for another strategy.   The look of failure in the man's eyes changed to confusion and fear as the young man who'd spoken to him so kindly raced to him, covering the distance as faster than nearly any athlete he'd seen, the youth's hands lashing out.   At first it looked like the strikes would hit him in the face and throat, so instinctively he blocked, while holding the detonator.   

The Impacts never came, as he felt fingers wrap around his hands and pull back.  The youth was incredibly strong, and as he towered over him, pulling back his hands, the last thing the man saw was the young man's head rushing towards his face at incredible speed.  

The Impact was brutal and the crowd backed away from them, as the man went limp in the teenager's grip.   Gingerly he let the man down to the ground, his hands holding the other man's carefully, keeping his fingers from the detonator, before he could pry it from his hands.  he didn't dare rip it off or out, just keeping it out of his hand for now, and pinning him down so he couldn't escape.  His own head ached after that impact, but he'd stopped him, and that was enough.

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Cade Allister's heroics intervention was lost in the moment of greater more visible things occurring even though it would have more far reaching impact after the fact. When the emperor flipped the lever nothing actually happen because of that action , however upon seeing the symbolic gesture on closed circuit television the men and women in the transportal networks control cent also pushed buttons and flipped switches which did put things into motion.

At the Central HUB dozens of Transportal flashed into existence as all across Japan as hundreds of singular portals which had been placed flashed to life and connect the nation in a way that no nation upon Earth had ever been connected.

A dozen or more bomb wielding terrorist dashed toward the opening portals while others pulled a variety of small weapons knives and clubs but also a few pistols and began attacking the crowd and security personnel. Lilly, easily sliding into her persona of Vanguard, Pulled and split her personal quantum and she began to split forming he full complement of clones in the blink of an eye. Each clone a perfect copy of the original all connected via the same telepathic mindlink Lilly shared with the Irregulars, communicated and acted almost as one.

Not knowing what sort of explosives the bombs consisted of Lilly knew from experience that she couldn't let them explode within the portals and so each Vanguard targeted a single terrorist that may have had a bomb and in a flash leaped to that person, grabbed them and leaped again this time up and away from the city. The rest of the Vanguards targeted the remaining terrorists and with little trouble shut them down but the panic had already been triggered as the bombs began exploding in the sky filling it with fire and thunder.

"Guys there is a massive terrorist attack underway in Tokyo, I think I stopped the attacks but here is a huge panic I don't know if I can get control of I need help!" The thought came across Guild Chat as Lilly cut through everyones conversations and alerted all of them with the mental images of what was going on.

TRINIDAD

The bear was gone when Devin looked to the left to make sure then he saw the Television broadcasting the ceremony from Tokyo and he saw Vanguard and the first of the explosions.

Spoiler

Those in GC have full information and may act as they see fit. Devin has the news

 

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"At first I was thinking I'd go back to school, to a university," Kia answered, glancing away as she thought it over. "Now I'm leaning towards taking a year and seeing if I can get some kind of an...internship or some kind of practical thing going first, since I'm not going to have problems with money for school."

She sighed and looked back at Abel with a smile. "So a lot of studying and work, I guess. I want to get out into the world...maybe still try to save it, but as a small part of something bigger."

And with that, it was time. Kia hadn't thought through how it would go, but she could feel that the conversation had reached the right spot.

"...and since I'll probably be away from home a lot, we should probably talk about us."

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Those words were the ones Abel had feared somewhere in his mind that he'd hear.  He could read her body language, hell everything she'd said up until now, it was leading here, and a not insignificant part railed against it.   Of course it didn't have to go this way, but that would just make him everything Tease had said he was, and there was flash of shame that he'd even have such a thought.

He was going to reply, and then Guildchat crackled to life in a way that was horribly inopportune.   Lilly was calling for help, of All people.   Abel had largely found her able to handle nearly anything alone, but feeling the full compliment of her copies become part of guildchat perfectly demonstrated how badly things had gone.  

As if to reinforce that, Gatekeeper's voice spoke up in Guildchat.   "It's hitting the news as we speak everyone.   I can gate you all there who's first?"  On a private channel Abel requested more information and James provided it showing what he'd seen on TV already.

"I have to go."   He looked at Kia, and took her hands in his.  "Not because of this Conversation, I won't run from that.   I need you to wait a little while though, until I come back."   

In her mind Kia heard his voice, as he didn't want to alarm everyone there.  There has been a Terrorist attack in Tokyo.  Lilly is on-scene, but requesting help to keep the crowd from a full-on riot.   She stopped the attack she thinks, but she's asking for us to help.   I will come back, and we'll continue this, I promise Kia   Even as he spoke he was showing her the images and memories James had shown him, and privately sighing. This was not how he'd wanted the day to go.

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Unlike Jeane, Jaunt's teleportation wasn't flashy lightning and crackles of energy.  He warped space and simple bend the fabric of the space he was in to the space he decided to relocate to, usually in a fancy 'bamf' sound as air and vacuum met as the breach of the fissure.  It was an effect all of the Irregulars knew well, like a fingerprint.  When Lilly saw the air warp and distort in a vaguely purplish hue and Devin appear from it's center, a part of her hoped against hope this wasn't his doing.

He approached the growing Vangaurd, casual as could be, like he'd never left.  Like he didn't sleep with her, fail to mention he was kinda dating someone else, oh and then become a global terrorist.  "Ladies," he nodded.  "Vanguard, I need you to get in touch with the Watch Tower.  We need eyes in the sky to see how far this goes so we can contain it.  Tell Sean to shut down the portal network.  Abel's forcefields will be needed to contain these blasts and reduce casualties, get him here."  Classic Devin.  He always showed up with a plan and never hesitate to execute it, especially when people's lives were at stake.  If they were going to have words, now wasn't the time.  He then pointed at some random Japanese teenager still trying to figure out what was going on.  "And somebody get the man a shield!"

The man just pointed to himself, even more confused.  "I'm just kidding, man.  Seriosly, I've just been wanting to say that since Infinity War hit theaters, bro."

He shot a wink at the Vanguard.  "And this."  He crossed his arms over his chest.  "Wakanda forever!"  Like a purple streak he was down in the fray without another word.

A man brought a collapsible baton down in a heavy arc towards people who were trying to get away from the madness.  His wrist felt the iron grip of Jaunt as he caught the man in mid swing.  "Bro, not cool."  With a quick punch the gut, the attacker fell over, holding his gut.  Jaunt looked to the people.  "Go.  Go!  I don't speak Japanese... so please understand me..."  As they fled he smiled.  "Woo!  I am a freaking hero!  Go, me.  Go, me.  Get busy... it's my birfday..."  He danced a few awkward steps and sped on...

All about the place there were purple blurs and 'bamfs' as Jaunt tried to handle what he could.  He was quick, sure, but he couldn't be everywhere at once.  For now, he did what he could to keep it contained until others could arrive.

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Kia nodded at Abel and nodded. "Okay," she said. "Be careful."

She didn't say that this was pretty much exactly the reason why breaking up was for the best. They'd always lived in somewhat different worlds...now the gap between them was much wider.

Once upon a time, she'd have gone with him, and been eager to do so. Now she felt instead a kind of serenity settle over her. The Irregulars were forces of nature. They had this.

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There was a part of him that hated this.   Always subsuming his desires for the greater good.   He didn't have to read her mind to know this was just reinforcing her decision, that This was his life, and no longer hers.   As he rose to leave, she could see the sadness in his smile, and then the emotion drained away, much like the smile itself, his face a neutral mask as he shunt away his emotions.  The crisis would demand cold rational thought, not his pain and sorrow.

He left the diner and true to his word, Gatekeeper had a portal there straight to Tokyo.  Walking through the portal which closed behind him, he immediately took stock of the situation.  The Crowd was about to riot, that much was clear.  With limited options, Abel moved to erect A barrier field around the entire plaza, keeping everyone there within  and the riot from spreading further.  Even as he did so he saw the  telltale flashes of Jaunt's presence, but he wasn't concerned.  He knew if Devin was the problem, she'd have said so, so he was likely here on his own.   

The crowd is contained, we need to find a way to calm them all down quickly.  He sent into  guildchat.  Keep in mind this is all still being televised.

He counted at least four film crews still recording, and sighed.  Even as he spoke in guildchat, he put a contingency plan into action.   He reached out to the only normal mind there who knew of his powers.  Suddenly General Pryor heard his voice speaking directly into his mind.   I'm sorry for the unsolicited intrusion General Pryor, But this was the easiest way to aprise you of things, and run my idea by you..  Vanguard has stopped the bombs, Jaunt is handling the small arms attackers.  I have used my barriers to keep the crowd from rioting throughout the city.   We need someone to calm them down, Do you think you can get the Emperor or someone to whom the crowd might listen to,  to Speak again?  I'll leave what's said to you and whoever speaks, but we need to hurry before they panic at being forced to remain here by my barrier.

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'I'm no Sean but if you need someone to focus their attention for whoever speaks next... I can handle that pretty easy and can be there soon as the Commander powers up the teleport pad.'

Jeane's mental voice slipped into the link, concerned willingness flitting behind her words, having gotten fragmentary updates over the link and through her comm. Mike was stable, if unconscious and slowly healing, and the situation seemed on the verge of control, but if the team needed her help pushing it over the edge... She waited through the eternal heartbeats for a reply, PAM suit already in it's red-and-white bodyglove configuration, looking out the panoramic window on the Watchtower, not sure whether she should hope to be given a shot or be stifled by one of her more powerful, more experienced teammates using her idea or shooting it down as stupid.

The blood on the floor next to her  showed her the price of screwing up. She would not see it paid many times over. 

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THE WATCHTOWER

'Do it. I'll make sure the Emperor is ready to speak once it's safe,' the general answered with a steady mental tone that betrayed both a prior experience with something like Abel's link and decades of military discipline far from Jeane's occasionally erratic issues with her mental filters when stressed.

She checked that her com bead and microphone were in place before nodding and letting the teleport platform bear her away in a shimmer of dematerialization.

 JAPAN

The abandoned stage at the center of the portal hub suddenly was host to nearly seven feet of blonde Amazonian Key, her athletic frame clad in a red-and-white bodyglove, hair in a loose ponytail. Blue eyes took in everything around her in a heartbeat, the flicker of Abel's TK barriers, the people panicking and on the verge of panic, the quantum flicker of the Vanguards (and Ronin, too. Good to see he was better.) soothing the worst trouble spots, the lack of dead bodies so far. God, she better be ready for this. If she fucked this up...

She spun off three more streams of worried thought as she fought off the urge to fiddle with the scarf around her neck, endless heartbeats as the closest news crews shifted from covering the riot to her, the screens above the each portal and on each wall snapping to show a young woman who felt so much less mature than her quantum-touched looks conveyed. Fighting gods and monsters were one thing, but people were something else entirely in a crisis. Jeane shifted on her feet and offered her very best, number one practiced in the mirror, reassuring smile, reaching up to brush a rogue strand of hair out of her face. 

"Hello? Can I have your attention, please? My name is Jeane Hebert, and I'm an Irregular. Everything is going to okay. We've got this," she opened, wrapping her voice in layers of quantum charm and persuasion, the light catching the black stylized 'I' emblazoned on the back of her PAM suit, "But we need you to calm down so that anyone who needs help can get help, and this can stop, and everyone can go home safe and sound."

She paused, watching the first of ripples of calm begin to spread out from the area around the stage, the increasing number ping of attention on her, smiling inside her head in bemused reassurance at more people understanding English than she hoped. She kicked it up a final notch, wrapping her looks in a shimmering veil of seduction as a final gentle spur, "No one else needs to get hurt today. Today can be a good day, for all of us, if you trust us to handle this. And I think the Emperor would like to talk some more once it is handled, so if you'd kindly..."

Jeane chuckled aloud then, the honey sweet sound flowing out and over the crowd, reinforcing the words as she remained at center stage in the plaza, perfectly poised and calm and heartbeat steady while her thoughts tumbled like rapids below the surface.

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Abel immediately understood what Jeane was doing and silently cursed his own inner fear that had kept him from using his own powers to it's fullest. Using his Telepathy he boosted Jeans own message and reached beyond the throng within the shield to those outside who were also in full mob panic and beyond that to the whole of Japan. His mind touched every sentient being in the nation, he didn't need to control didn't need to pry just touch. As the emperor began to speak Abel snet those words into every mind he touch it was as if the Emperor spoke to each and evey one of his people directly, individually.

In an instant the nation on the brink of social disaster calmed.

Vanguard and Jaunt finished mopping up, the clones which had jumped the bombs into the sky returned to earth singed from the blasts but unharmed. None of the bombs had detonated near any of the portals and no civilians were harmed by them. There were some injuries among the people from the panic and from a few of the diversionary attacker. One bomber had been subdued by what appeared to be a civilian, Vanguard however knew better, the young man was a dormed sown Key. The incident had taken only moments and  the battle ended with Jaunt standing by Vanguard, Lilly, the real one, watching her. Everything else was suddenly secondary.

As fast as they were Sean and Sara arrived when all was done. Sara immediately flew off to make a reconnaissance of the other portals among the cities and towns of the islands while Sean made her way to where two clones held the bomber immobilized still wearing the bomb and a third was watching over the young man, and younger girl who was clinging to him, who had tackled the bomber and started to examine the bomb.

Police had secured the area around the bomber for about twenty yard of all but the irregulars and the boy and his sister. Able had dropped the larger shield as peace and calm had returned and had erected a new filed around the bomber. Jean was told to stay with he emperor and his party to provide security for them.

Spoiler

sean get with me abou tthe bomb when you are ready

 

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Jaunt was furious and his glare was so sharp that Vanguard feared it may be powerful enough to pierce even her invulnerable hide.  He had no quips, no witty repartee to offer.

In a plume of distorted quantum vapors Jaunt was gone from Vangard's side only to appear directly in front of Abel, his expression still displaying his anger.

He punched Abel in the jaw.

"That's how you guys handle things?"  He stood over Abel, who was knocked back and leaning against a car.  The punch was a surprise, and there were none faster than Jaunt when it came to landing blows.  Abel could feel a trickle of blood at the corner of his mouth.  "You just subjugate entire cities into feeling whatever you want them to?!  Jesus Christ, what the hell is wrong with you," he looked around to all the irregulars he could see.  "How long Abel, huh?  How long before all of this just to boring for you and Sean and you just say 'to hell with it' and just take the shortcut to peace by keeping everyone docile, hmm?"

He leaned in, challenging a conflict with the mentalist.  "You're no worse than villains yourselves."

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He'd been about to congratulate everyone on a job well done, Even Jaunt.  He'd protected people, and that had made the Psychic Key smile.  Then Jaunt decked him, harder than he'd been hit in some time, without his normal defenses up.  As he rose from the ground, his face became a neutral mask.  "You have no idea what you're talking about Jaunt.   All I did was make it so Tracuese and  the Emperor could speak to them all.  They calmed them down, all I did was provide the medium, and some translation on Tracuese's part."

"I was actually happy to see you, helping the crowd, protecting people, Jaunt.  It made me glad that I saved you from falling into the Void, that I kept you shielded while still trying to engage Pandora.  I still am, but now's not the time or place to have such discussions.  We've saved the people, thwarted the terrorists, and maybe, for one moment, brought the whole nation just a little closer.  Those are things we should celebrate, After we question the surviving Terrorist."  

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"Emperor?  What the hell is Emperor?"  Jaunt asked, suddenly fearful that Abel and Sean had created a machine capable of reaching the minds of people on a global scale.  He couldn't imagine the Irregulars with something powerful like Cerebro.  They were immature, foolish and always prone to taking the easy way out.  Not to mention the fact that the geniuses decided to call it 'Emperor'... because that sounded all kinds of trustworthy in the hands of the world's most powerful mentalist.

He gritted his teeth, still fuming with mistrust.  "Fine," he hissed.  "We'll settle this later."

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It was chaotic with a group of people so big in such a panic. As Jaunt teleported around, Lilly seemed to be  everywhere he went, trying to calm or herd people. shielding other with her own body, taking down the terrorists, leaping away with the bombs and so forth, doing everything she could to protect life. It did not take long for Jaunt to realize that the size of the Vanguard had grown considerably, now numbering in the dozens.

Unlike the other Irregulars (when they finally arrived) all of the Lillys where wear the same, mundane, semi-formal dress which, in some cases, was a little worse for wear, revealing the PAM suit underneath, it's current design clearly inspired by the suits worn by Captain American and Captain marvel in the movies, though her was sleeveless at the moment and only extended down her legs to above the knee, keeping it mostly concealed beneath the dress. 

Lilly did not wear her PAM suit all the time like most, if not all, of the other Irregulars. preferring to wear regular clothing as much as possible and generally only donning the PAM suit when preparing for battle. It was just another thing she did to remain 'human'. More recently though Abel had managed to convince her to keep it close, since they never knew when she would need it, so as a compromise, Lilly had relented and told Abel that she would, at the very least. change the PAM suit into just a single part of her outfit while wear mostly mundane clothing, thereby keeping it on-hand if needed while still keeping the experience of mundane clothing, a compromise she was thankful for at the moment.

 

When things had calmed the Irregulars had mostly come together, though Jaunt's striking of Abel and his little tirade caught Lilly off guard. In a flash a Lilly was helping up Abel and make sure he was okay while Lilly herself moved between Abel and Jaunt and gave the latter a 'brainduster' slap to the back of the head.

"The Emperor of Japan, dumbass." Lilly said. "Like the Queen of England, Japan still has a figurehead monarch." she reminded him with arms crossed beneath her breasts.

Lilly then dropped her arms and lunged forward, causing Jaunt to tense for just a split second, preparing to teleport away as she wrapped her arms around him, giving Devin a tight hug.

"I'm so glad you are okay." she said, hugging him tighter and resting her head on his shoulder.

"We were so worried..." she nearly whispered, her voice trailing off, pushing away her fears of Devin's possible fate now that he was here, seemingly alive and well, back to his old, joking self, even if a little ticked off at Abel at the moment, which, to be honest, was also pretty normal for him.

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Engaged in studying and disarming the explosive vest, Sean didn't intrude in the exchange between Devin and Abel, though she listened to it with a minute fraction of her attention. She certainly didn't agree with all of Jaunt's actions and beliefs, but when finding him on the scene when she and Sara finally arrived, she'd given him a nod and brief, tight grin.

Her luscious lip did tighten at being accused of being veritable Justice Lords in the making, no better then those they resisted and worked against. Especially when he didn't seem to understand what was going on. She could understand Devin still hurting that the Irregulars - or most of them - had thought the worse of him, even if that had been his intention. But it was getting tiresome, insulting, and just a bit hurtful that Devin seemed to look at any action they took in the most negative and nefarious light.

The pair of Fauxguards held the apparent terrorist completely immobile using just an iota of their immense strength, but Sean used her melodious voice and winsome words to help put him at ease. Sean's eyes focused on the explosives, precisely analyzing its dimensions and mass, focusing on the flow and reservoirs of power, peering beyond the surface to looking at its internal mechanisms and the molecular composition of the explosive compound. The silvery rings on her left hand seemed to melt and flow, shifting into probes and clippers, finer than the human eye could perceive.

She frowned. Disarming the bomb was a trivial exercise when you can see the insides and can follow the current. She had the explosive vest disarmed and removed from the terrorist in mere moments. The explosive compound itself was something else. Her eyes narrowed as she focused even more intently. The molecular structure of the compound appeared somewhat familiar to bis-oxadiazole, but was far more dense.

More, some of the elements she couldn't readily identify by sight or scent. From the descriptions the Vanguards provided, the trace elements she could pick out of the air, calculating for wind and dispersal, the overclocked processes of her mind considering and analyzing probabilities and possibilities, Sean could discern the likely power of the explosives. The vest she held contained 10.136 kilograms of chemical explosive, yet the yield had been the equivalent of 247.984 to 255.559 kilograms of trinitrotoluene, better known as TNT. It also seemed to be astonishingly stable.

"Guys, we have more trouble than an organized terrorist action, the--" Sean interrupted herself, her head wiping around at Devin's comment about the 'Emperor.' Her brow furrowed deeply in sheer disbelief that he could be ignorant, but Lilly took care of it before Sean make her own rebuttal.

Sean strode away from the de-vested suicide bomber, joining Abel, Devin, and Lilly. Dressed in the same jeans, low-heeled ankle boots, and blouse with missing buttons she'd been wearing after dinner with Sara, Sean would have looked out of place with the other Keys, save Lilly, if her nature wasn't clear in every fiber of her being.

"There's still reason to be worried. This explosive, it isn't like anything I've seen before, let alone designed." She gave Devin a hooded glance when he seemed to about to make a comment while sharing what she'd learned with Sara and Jeane over guildchat. "To be more specific, rather, the chemical explosive is unlike anything I've seen before - the detonator is on the basic side, actually. I'm going to have to bring it to the lab to identify all the components, but I can say whatever it is, it has roughly 25 times the explosive yield of an equivalent mass of TNT. I'll have to do tests to determine any other properties."

Brushing back a lock of multicoloured hair with an elegant finger, Sean looked back towards the man secured between a pair of Vanguards. "And we'll have to find out if this person, and the rest, acted on their own recognizance, or were induced by natural or quantum-enhanced means. See if he can tell us anything about whoever provided them with the vests."

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Devin held Lilly tight and far longer than a simple bond of friendship would hint.  Each of the Irregulars specialized in something, Abel was smart, Sean was pretty, Lilly strong... for Devin, his perceptive abilities were unmatched.

Through smoke and dust and debris he could still smell Lilly's shampoo and the hint of every product every woman used to make herself smell as pretty as she looked.  He could hear her heart, the way it slowed and calmed as she held him.  The difference in her breathing and slight whimper in her throat as the joy washed over her at the sight of her 'friend'.  Scientifically, it was exactly what love smelled, looked, and sounded like.

"Lilly," he held her tight.  He inhaled and fought back a rush of his own emotions rising to the surface.  "Oh, god... I missed you, girl," he smiled at her, using a finger to brush a few hairs from her eyes.  "That Emperor... oh... well, Abel can apologize for misleading me later... I accept PayPal."

Abel's glare offered a thousand insults telepathy could never have conveyed properly.

When Sean approached they loosened their hold on each other and listened.  "Cognizance," he corrected.  "C'mon big brain, if I gotta make you write it on the wet board a  thousand times, I will."

He took a few steps away from Lilly, though it was obvious he didn't want to.  "Well, you guys have work to do, get to it,"  he sighed and offered his hand to Abel.  "Sorry I hit, bro.  Sincerely, I'm sorry.  I'm on edge, I over reacted and frankly you and Sean scare the shit out of me sometimes.  Still, it doesn't excuse my hitting you."

Abel waited for it.

"Won't lie, it did feel pretty good." Jaunt added with a laugh.  "Almost arousing... but that coulda been Lilly's new padding in front," he clicked his tongue and winked at her chest.  "Didn't think we'd notice, but we did.  Hello, ladies."

"There it is..." Abel knew Jaunt couldn't offer a serious apology, whether he meant it or not.

"What?  C'mon, I'm serious.  I am sorry."  He offered his hand again.

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Jeane mingled with the crowd somewhere in the vicinity of the Emperor's bubble of dark-clad bodyguards, a big red-clad icebreaker dispensing smiles and giving quick, reassuring answers to questions asked in a dozen and one different accents. They looked like they knew what they were doing, and the last thing they needed was her as a distraction looming over them. So she worked the crowd, a little blunt, a little unpolished, but sincere and trying to not let that get in the way of what needed doing. In her case, dispense a little distracting happy nonviolent normalcy. Now that everyone had stopped panicking, the people seemed just as cool as the people stateside. She was definitely going to take a hop over here when she had a free day to devote to the trip.

Sean's little telepathic reveal gave her pause in the middle of posing for a picture, a frown flickering across her face, captured in the snap of the cellphones. Crap. "Sorry. I just remembered that I might have left the stove on," Jeane offered, in the lamest of possible deflecting jokes and resisting the urge to hit the crowd with extra quantum charm again, "How about we try that again?"

'Uh, guys? This might not be the best place to discuss super TnT. I need to go over how things went down with Mike and the shooter. Definitely a Rashoud type thing,' the towering blond telepathically commented even as she kept doing what she was doing, the scientist's name bundled with a half-dozen emotional subtexts, none of them good, 'Watchtower?'   

 

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Despite the face that there were several dozen Vanguards in the crowd, any normal human would have hard pressed to realize that there were even half that number among the chaos and when things began to calm down, roughly half of them surreptitiously made their way back to Lilly to integrate with her, or simply slipped away with a great leap or the like so as to hide the true number of Vanguard that had been present.  It might have been overly cautious on Lilly's part, and the Vanguard were a welcome sight during the panic, but she did not want to frighten people with her abilities, especially this one, when they began to count.

One of the Vanguard that remained walked over to the 'civilian' that had subdued a bomber, and the younger girl that clung to his side. 

"Are you okay? she asked as she approached, to which he just shook his head.

"I'm good. Just a bit.." he replied, wrapping an arm around the girl and holding her closer to comfort her.

"I'm Lilly, Lilly Pryor." she said, introducing herself with her name, since using her codename always felt more than a little pretentious,  "..and these are the Irregulars. You probably already knew that, but I was always taught to introduce yourself." she said with a smile, bowing and offering a handshake. 

"Cade Allister." he replied and nodded to the girl at his side. "And this is my sister, Haruka."

Lilly caught a glimpse of the autograph book clutched in the girl's hand. Her eyes widened and she made a small gasp.

"Is.. Did you bring that for my autograph?" she asked, to which the girl, still a bit rattled, nodded.

"I;m.. I'm your biggest fan. I made Cade bring me, hoping to see you." the girl explained.

"Well, I tell you what, I am a big fan of your brother. What he did was a very brave. And it just goes to show that it does not take powers to be a hero." she told the girl as she took the offered autograph book. 

"You know, I am soooo flattered that people want to see me and get my autograph. I mean, I guess I know how people toss around terms like "hero" and so on, but I like to think that I did nothing that other good people in the same circumstances wouldn't have themselves." she said as took the book and signed it, before handing it back with a smile.

"Do you want selfie or anything?" she offered, which Haruka to strongly. 

Lilly smiled and put her arms around the pair as another Lilly took the phones one by one and snapped pictures. Lilly even flexed a bicep and let Haruka sit seemingly weightlessly on her arm for a photo before they finished and the phones were handed back.

"Hey, I would like to thank you for your help and invite you, even your whole family, to come visit our headquarters in Montana. It doesn't have to be today, of course, but it could be if you had permission and everything. What you did was very brave and a big help to us. I can arrange a flight and stuff, or when or if you decide to take me up on the offer, I am sure we can arrange much faster transport if you like." she said as she motioned over her shoulder with a thumb at the other Irregulars while her node sent out another 'ping', letting Cade know that she new what he was, but was clearly not going to 'out' him.

Haruka's eyes lit up at the offer.

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Abel didn't say no to Lilly helping him up, It was probably fairly surprising to see anyone actually hit Abel, and without his personal shield up no less.  After Devin and Lilly had their little reunion, and Jaunt's apology, Abel looked at Jaunt's hand, and then took it in his own and shook it.  "Apology accepted."   He smiled again and it was the same smile he'd had before he became a Key.  "Seriously, I'm glad you're back and that you're alright too.   When we head back, are you going to come along, or do you have somewhere else to be?"

The invitation was there.   He did want to have a conversation with Jaunt, alone, and likely everyone else wanted to talk to him, but this wasn't the time or place, especially with the double whammy revelation from Sean and Jeane.

"We need to get permission from the police to do the testing, of course we'll have to share the results,  and I know they'll want to take him for questioning.   We should have General Pryor offer our services to help with that as well, as Japan is a national ally."   He wasn't prepared to play on their celebrity, let alone what had just happened to simply take the would be terrorist and his payload.

"I think due to the potential yield, they'll let us have it to dispose of properly.  Either way, we can get the wheels in motion, and make it happen so we don't have this happen again."

"I'm going to go and offer our expertise in helping with this Investigation.   Once they say yes or no, we'll proceed form there.   We can regroup at home, and play this by ear after that.  With that he released Jaunt's hand and turned to head towards where the security detail was.  admittedly he used his telepathy to find the Chief of Police, and walked over to him.  Bowing respectfully, Abel nodded.   "Chief  Hirota Watani, I am Sage of the Irregulars.   We wish to offer our assistance in the Investigation of this heinous incident.  While it was averted, there are some most distressing facts that have come to light.  My colleagues and I have discovered some things that are best discussed privately.  Perhaps, we could talk privately, and then if you're amenable, we can work together to ensure this does not happen again."

Abel's Japanese was absolutely perfect, spoken as one who'd known it from birth.  In Guild Chat, Abel sent to Lilly  I want one of your duplicates to remain with him at all times.  If something happens I know you can shield him, or heal him as needed.  I don't trust that they won't try to silence him before we can talk.

They knew he didn't need to talk that he could just take the information from his mind, but this was Abel trying not to be the Monster Devin thought he could be.  In Guildchat proper, he spoke.  I agree with Jeane, we do need to regroup, decide where, and I'll join you once I get done here with Chief Watani.

 

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God I am so screwed.   That thought replayed through Cade's mind as he locked eyes with Lilly.  Here he was the center of attention and he really saw no good way out, and then she surprised him.  She didn't out him, and showed herself to be exactly as he'd expected.   She was a normal young woman gifted with amazing powers, but she clung to her own normalcy just as he did.  

As Lilly made this a day that his sister Haruka would never forget,  he couldn't help but smiled.  She got way more than she bargained for.  Then she made that offer, and he had to admit, it took every iota of his will to not jump at it.  Visiting their headquarters?  The literal pinnacle of Keytech research, and home to the most powerful Keys alive?    That was just so much awesomeness.

Haruka was practically begging him, and he smiled.  "Alright, you win.  I'll call Dad, you call Mom, we need to at least let them know we're alright, and if they say we can go, we'll go."

He'd never seen his sister's hands move so fast.   She was calling their mother and speaking so fast he knew she'd have to repeat herself.   He called his Father, explained what happened, accepted that a lecture would ensue when he got home, and nodded.   "Dad said we could go."  "So did Mom." was her immediate reply.

He looked back to Lilly, and nodded.  "Well there you have it, we're good to go.  Plus I Really don't want to deal with the media circus that is about to be my life the second you guys leave."  His Father said he'd actually seen him disable and disarm the terrorist on TV, and it was playing nationally.  One of the crews had caught it live.  Even now, he was being hailed as a hero, and at least one crew had cameras on him, due to Lilly's presence.

His life was never going to be the same, and Cade knew it.  

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"I have a great idea... why don't you let the Japanese handle Japanese problems?"  Jaunt did his name sake, jaunting about instead of actually taking steps.  He appeared next to Lilly, who was still by Cade.  He was leaning against her like she was a pillar and her immovable strength denied him any give no matter what angle he leaned at.  "Why are you guys always in everyone's business, Vanny Pants?"

Jaunt narrowed his eyes at Cade.  "Dude's heart rate is all fluttering, micro expressions are are all over the place..."  Jaunt chuckled and rested his head on Lilly's shoulder.  "Aww, Vans, I think he's got a crush on you."

He pushed off from Vanguard, who moved as much a tree might have, and expressed his thoughts.  "Guys, these people attacked Japan, and that sucks, but humans need to handle human problems.  Key's are already literally doing everything for humanity and humanity is doing all of nothing for itself.  At what point are you guys going to stop letting them take advantage of us and our abilities?  Let them handle this, it's what they have their own experts for."

With a sudden pause in his thought, Jaunt looked about.  "Hey, Van, where's Kia'thulu?"

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1 hour ago, Abel Cross said:

Abel's Japanese was absolutely perfect, spoken as one who'd known it from birth.  In Guild Chat, Abel sent to Lilly  I want one of your duplicates to remain with him at all times.  If something happens I know you can shield him, or heal him as needed.  I don't trust that they won't try to silence him before we can talk.

<< Two things... One. You can can be polite and ask for or suggest things, dude. We are not your employees, so "I want..." does not come off great or get very far. You are my friend, not my boss. >> Lilly thought back to him in an instant.

<< And Two. Who is "him" anyways? The bomber we nabbed? Police chief? Emperor? That dude over there? "Him" is really, really vague. >> she added.

 

1 hour ago, Cade said:

He looked back to Lilly, and nodded.  "Well there you have it, we're good to go.  Plus I Really don't want to deal with the media circus that is about to be my life the second you guys leave."  His Father said he'd actually seen him disable and disarm the terrorist on TV, and it was playing nationally.  One of the crews had caught it live.  Even now, he was being hailed as a hero, and at least one crew had cameras on him, due to Lilly's presence.

His life was never going to be the same, and Cade knew it.  

"Tell me about it. I don't think I will ever get used to the cameras." she said with a sigh, though she hid it with a smile.

"Even my small town is not really going to be a 'small town' for much longer, I think." she added with a nod.

"Okay then. Have either of you used a transportal yet? Because this will be kinda like that.

Then Jaunt appeared beside her in a purple flash.

Lilly was indeed immovable and un-phased physically by Jaunt's leaning against here. She may as well have been a lamppost, tree, or freeway overpass support column for all she moved. She did miss Devin, his jokes and demeanor (at least most of the time) and a part of her just wanted to walk off with him right now, but duty called.

Lilly looked at Devin and sighed, "Please not now dude." at his comments about who should handle the investigation and his apparent opinion that Keys were no longer human and ignoring his comment about Cade's possible crush on her.

"And for the record, we are not in everyone's business. Every throws their business on us. I was just on a holiday with my parents, not even here in an official capacity and..." she makes a sweeping gesture to the calming chaos around them, "..THIS happens. I just wanted to see temples and castles and samurai armor and Kabuki theater and stuff. Maybe visit some manage stores. THIS mess was not on my itinerary, but I am not going to stand by and let people be murdered. You couldn't either." she said giving Devin a small, friendly backhanded hit to his upper arm that was no harder than if would have been before she was Unlocked, displaying her remarkable control of her immense strength.

"And freely and willingly offering help is not 'being taken advantage of', dude. If so, then I took advantage of you because you showed up to help, all on your own." she added with a smile.

"As far as Kia... Well, Kia is... taking some personal time." she answered as best she could. 

"I think we are heading back though. You coming?" she asked before continuing, "You know, 'cause if not, I can stay here while them and the rest of me go, 'cause I think we need to talk."

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'I'll take a watch. First time I've been on this side of the Pacific, and don't mind hanging around.'

Jeane offered easily, comfortably slipping into the role of support as she disengaged from the crowd with an apologetic smile and wave, head and shoulders taller than most of it and dancer graceful despite her size. She'd have loved to take the new guy her way and played 20 questions in the foggy space between heartbeats, but that might have been a little much. Oh well. She'd get her time with him eventually...

'If you're heading up the station, you miiiight want to watch out for the blood stain on the floor if they haven't cleaned that up yet. Don't worry. Mike's fine, just asleep in the infirmary after mixing a fire form with fire extinguishers. Sometimes powers *do* make sense.' she continued nonverbally, transmitting an image of the teleport room as she last left it, counting off points on her fingers and closing the gap with Abel's position, 'Annnd that's it for immediately important stuff.'

 

 

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Jaunt sighed, he knew he and Lilly would never agree on the humanity portion of the argument on Keys, but in the end neither was wrong, but neither was really right either.  It was hard to argue about something that didn't really have, or need an answer.  It was what it was.  "Eww, 'the talk'... yeah.  Well, at least you want to talk to me, Red wants my testicles on a tennis bracelet."

He knew it couldn't be avoided.  He had a lot to answer for and already in he last twenty minutes he'd managed to pop in, hit on his old one night stand, punch Abel in the face, accuse the Irregulars of being villains and wink and Vanguard's breasts... okay, it wasn't really a new record for him, but he was definitely not batting a thousand at the moment.  "Yeah, prolly not a bad idea though, I guess I can only avoid you nerds for so long.  Caveat," he pointed at her.  "I can't tell all of you apart, and I know you say you're all the same... but c'mon, do me the favor of the original, hon.  I'm old fashioned like that, what I have to say is meant for you.  You, you."

"Since Japan has been bombed, yet again, why don't you text me when you have everything straightened out here."  He waved a finger about all of the damage and anarchy.  "I'm not really ready to be dashing into the hero market saving the lives of a species that can't think of anything better to do with its time except blow itself up, you're right, I can't sit by and let them die, but I'm not gonna hang out and rebuild their cities for them.  They have people who actually get paid for that sort of stuff.  I'm gonna head to someplace a little more scenic, I'll bring you to me."

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INFERNO

THE WATCHTOWER

Mike blinked his eyes open the light was soft and blue, the room was a pristine off white and looked like it was made of molded plastic. The bed was comfortable and it fit his body like a glove above and behind his head was a screen that looked like it came right out of a Star Trek episode... one from the 1960s not from the new one on pay TV which he would never pay for and it sucked anyway. Standing at the foot of the bed was an attractive woman with short dark hair and a tan uniform that consisted of tunic and trousers with a belt with some sort of electric device where the belt buckle should have been.

“Ah your awake.” She smiled a disarming smile and beamed at him with sparkling eyes. Her voice was familiar. “Don't be alarmed you are perfectly fine. There was a slight mishap with your powers when you arrived on the station, but while unpleasant was not life threatening. And in fact your own natural Quantum Enhanced healing properties took care of things all we did was administer a mild pain killer and run some test.” She stepped around from the foot to the side and came to the head of the bed where she was close and smiled again reassuringly.”Can I get you anything?”

 

TOKYO

Confusion faded the Japanese asserted themselves and their inherent reserve over came their earlier panic and the crowd followed the security police instruction to return home that the celebration would be postponed. Within the circle of the Portal Hub the civilians (except for Cade and his sister) were removed and the technicians came in and began inspecting the network for damage. The surviving terrorist where taken away, including the bomber. The emperor and his retinue were likewise whisked away to safety. The security chief who had witnessed the interplay between the member sof the Irregulars and the one known as Jaunt. He addressed them mostly talking to Abel though.

“I am most appreciative for what you have done here. Your efforts, Especially those of Vanguard-san and Jaunt-san,” he gives each a deep bow, “have saved many Japanese lives and maybe more. I am sure the government and the emperor will show his thanks as well. But this young man is correct this is an internal affair and while we would appreciate any help you care to give us in the future, at this moment it may be best to allow us to take charge of things.”

 

UNKNOWN LOCATION

UNKNOWN PERSONS.

 

The two men both in their mid to late forties, Japanese, had watched the broadcast of the attack from multiple sources both public and clandestine and while neither had expected complete success this day they had not expected total failure either. Both scowled. “The superhuman was not supposed to be there this was a Nipponese event why was this gajin woman there and more importantly why was it not announced?” One of the men barked in Japanese.

”She is related to the American General, we should have considered the possibility that she would accompany him.” said the other but before either could say anything else someone else spoke.

“She is not the one to worry about.” This voice came from the back of the room and silenced the other two. It was melodious and from it's timbre gave no clue to the sex of it's originator. Both men swiveled their chairs to look back at the slender youth sitting in the lotus position upon the floor a brilliant red kimono flowing around the form like placid water. “Sage....Sa-geh...Say-ag... so misleading.” The youth stands in one fluid motion, a boy with androgynous features. “The name is supposed to mean a learned man of wisdom, but it is a lie.”

He walks passed the other two men to the large screen, the view shifts and focuses on the Key known as Sage. The boy raises a hand and touches the screen caressing the image, the hand begins to glow, the screen begins to melt and suddenly bursts into flame. “He is a lie.”

 

AREA 51

EARTH-2378

“Are you even listening to me Dr. Cross?” the sniper asked again frustration straining his voice “It was a flying man who was on fire. He was fucking flying!”

“And I have told you again and again, men don't fly. At least not on this world.” Doctor Abel Cross teenage genius inventor of the Trans-Precient Cyclic Interceptor and The Interphasal Transpostion Ray among many other things adjusted the apparatus before him switch several switches and watched several dials spin until they settled. Then he stared scribbling down the readings with a pencil.

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

“It means that since the police in New York have received no calls about three hoods getting iced by a sniper in the last thirty minutes that you didn't go to New York, at least our New York. And since you carelessly left your weapon behind which as it turns out may have been a stroke of luck, I am trying to find where you did go.” Abel turns and looks at the Assassin. ”Devin, my friend,  you may have just proven that alternate universes do exist.”

 

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