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WEIRDER STUFF

About This Game

Weirder Stuff is a Trinity Continuum game using an re-imagined version of our AWS setting. In Weirder Stuff (henceforth WS) you will play a teenage high school student caught up in the weird happenings and mysteries in the northern Montana town of Shelly. The characters will begin play as normal humans and will have the opportunity to develop into either Talents or Psions. This is primarily a Modern setting with Thriller, Sci Fi, and Supernatural components.

Game System

Other

Status

Active

Full Description

WEIRDER STUFF: TRINITY CONTINUUM EDITION

Weirder Stuff is a Trinity Continuum game using an re-imagined version of our AWS setting. While we will be using the Trinity Continuum Rules (also called the Story Path System) we will be using none of the published setting. Any material I introduce from the published setting will be adapted to our setting and does not imply that the two universes co-exist. As far as we are concerned WS is a self contained Universe.

In Weirder Stuff (henceforth WS) you will play a teenage high school student caught up in the weird happenings and mysteries in the northern Montana town of Shelly. It is a modern setting which will run in a concurrent time line to our own reality i.e. the year is 2019, the president is Trump, Avengers End Game made a billion bucks in its first week, and so on. The game is loosely inspired by Netflix's Stranger Things, the teen dramas of the CW Network, and of course our own canceled Aberrant Weirder Stuff game.

**WARNING: While the game features teens it is an adult game with adult themes of horror, sci-fi, and high school. Consider it rated R to NC-17.**

The game is set in the small town of Shelly Montana. The town is a Fictionalized version of Shelby Montana which can be googled (  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelby,_Montana   Map https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelby,_Montana  ). If you want to know something about Shelly, and I am not available, you can look it up and see it for the most part at the Shelby website. I will note in a setting post any concrete differences and changes I make. The general public are not aware of the strange things going on in this area of the state, although if your a nerd and google every weird thing in the world there are stories of... well weird stuff happening, some of which are true.

While the characters are human, this is a game using the Trinity Continuum rules and will feature both Talents and Psions. Talents ( The Inspired from classic Adventure RPG) have always been around and there is no special classification or even understanding that they are anything more than lucky or skilled persons. For all intents and purposes Talents are just people who are good at what they do, maybe even exceptional.

Psions on the other hand are an unknown. Knowledge and understanding of Psioncs in the world of WS is just like it is in our real world, an unproven pseudo-science which is more often ridiculed than taken seriously, a staple of science fiction stories, the subject of hoaxes and charlatans running money grabbing schemes. There are those who think it is real and those who don't and then there are those who want to make it real and to use it for their own purposes. To date in the world of WS there has never been a Documented, Verified instance of actual Psionic activity.

Characters while starting off as normal human can become either Talented or eventually Psionic. Psionic characters will use a some what modified version of the Psion rules found in Trinity Continuum Aeon the modifications to those rules will be detailed later.

I wish to be clear about something, while this game is obviously an iteration of the former AWS game, it is not a continuation of that game nor is it a remake per se. It takes what I had wanted that game to be and has re imagined it into what I hope will be a better and more satisfying experience for all of us. But let me be clear, WS is not AWS. Even though there will be and are similarities with AWS, they are not the same. Internally as far as WS is concerned AWS does not exist. It is not an alternate world, it is not a story written by one of the current characters, it is not a program Sean is working on for a game. As far as WS is concerned AWS isn't a thing.

Characters based on the Original AWS Characters are welcome as are new characters. Those based on the AWS characters may have to alter some of their background to better fit into the new setting but the changes required will not be drastic.

We will be using the new Trinity Continuum Core and the Trinity Continuum: Aeon books. No other published material will be used by you the players although I as Story Teller may use some material adapted from the 1st Edition of Trinity, Aberrant, or Adventure or other non Trinity resources. In some instances I may make these additional resources available to some or all of you as the story demands.

 

  1. What's new in this game
  2. Marissa stood, folding her arms to rest under her chest as she approached the monitor and tilted her head, examining the shimmer/smudge. “It's Enterich.” She answered confidently, but not fully sure. “They don't use the front door, it's bolted shut. No one else was in building. Myself, Dale and Marshall, plus Enterich. Unless this invisible person was in there whole time and I just didn't notice them.” “Do have any senses that would have alerted you to a presence?” She was always ceaseless in her inquiry into what powers they all possessed, she could help it, the children were fascinating, yet today, she asked more out of hope than curiosity. “Ms. Giles, I don't possess any powers. I mean, I have this sort of preternatural sex appeal thing going, but that's not a power, its just sort of, I don't know, always there? I mean you saw how I rocked that skirt, right?” Her eyes darted upward and she sighed in admiration of herself. “I think that's my new favorite skirt, and is Marshall not hot, or what?” “Let's focus, Marissa,” Annette offered her a smile. “So 'no' on the detection, so whomever that was it may have been someone other than Enterich. Let's not rule out the possibility.” “We could have my brother check out that alleyway. If he just disappeared, there might be a portal or something, a spatial tear, perhaps?” The Æon representative smirked softly. Marissa's curious look in her direction pried a response from her thoughts. “I'm sorry, it's just how casual you said that just now. Sometimes it's hard to forget you're all just teenagers still trying to figure things out. You're all so amazingly resilient.” She stood to meet the young woman by the displays. “Do you think we could do that without your brother catching on to our activities? I know you wanted the others kept out of this, but maybe it's time to-” “No.” The Queen of Shelly shook her head, her hair dancing elegantly across her shoulders. “If the Fellowship finds out my brother and Jason will rain devastation down on Crossroads until they get Enterich for him even making the suggestion to harm one of our families. It's like you said, we're kids, still fumbling in the da-,” she paused, a part of her mind refusing to utter that word here. Her hesitation didn't go unnoticed by her host. “Still fumbling about. We're stupid, and we're impulsive.” She stared long and hard at the blur on the screen. “If this man has powers, or truly wasn't there, I might know a god who can help me figure this out.” “I-I'm sorry,” her tone certainly indicated that she was still processing what Marissa had just said. Her voice was still a bit of a chuckle as she dared to ask: “Did you just say a god?” Marissa smiled to Annette from over her shoulder. “Ms. Giles, I told you my contact list was in full-on beast mode. When are you going to start believing me?”
  3. As the elevator descended, Annette made no conversation, adding to the tense atmosphere despite the occasional glance and smile that was meant to be reassuring. The glamorous teen was far from reassured - though she sensed no deception or ill-intent from the cultured Æon representative there was a creeping sensation that the elevator was dropping into a pit of terrible revelation, and Annette was not happy about what she was about to reveal. The two lovely women, one neatly turned out, cultured and elegant, and the other regal glamour and sex appeal personified moved from the elevator and through the halls of the Project to Annette's office, passing the large glass windows of the control center and the labs along the way. "I'm getting a lot of pressure from our science people to ask some of you to volunteer for tests." Annette said, more as a distraction than because she felt it was important - at least, that was the impression Marissa gained. "Right now, I'm refusing to ask until they clear Branch 9 to release details on Site B." "Might be an idea for them to hurry." Marissa stated casually. "I know my brother, and I know the others. Sooner or later they will forget about asking nicely." Annette glanced at her, nodding slightly. "That was my impression, too." she agreed in a quiet voice, opening her door and motioning Marissa through. "Please, grab a seat." As the teen dream complied, Æon's woman-on-the-ground went around to the other side of the sleek black desk that, Marissa knew from prior experience, contained enough high-tech gadgetry to cause Sean to mess his panties. Pressing a few keys on the touch-sensitive surface caused lights to coruscate into life as the holographic projection system activated and threw up a monitor screen which rotated towards Marissa. "As you know, the Project has surveillance cameras all over Shelly, installed whilst Doctor Cook ran the show." Annette began, her dark eyes on Marissa as she tapped a few more keys. "These days, at my orders, surveillance on specific individuals is only carried out with good cause and authorisation from myself or Major Taggart. Otherwise the surveillance section of the Project is on standby. Cameras are recording, but no-one monitors or goes over the footage unless we see an adequate need." "Why do I get the impression this is a lead up to something I won't like much?" Marissa's eyes narrowed at the older woman, who sighed and pressed a final touch-key, bringing up a camera view of Marissa leaving the empty office that served as, so far as she knew, Enterich's meeting spot if not his base of operations. She was in mid-stride, Marshal Marshall watching her from the doorway as her pleated skirt swung enticingly from her hips. "I routed the feeds here covertly and kept an eye on you." Annette stated. "All I wanted to do was ensure you would enter and leave safely - there's no cameras inside the building, so intelligence on the meeting was not the objective. However... I did spot something after you left I think you need to see." She sat down, motioning to Marissa to keep watching the screen. Frowning, the radiant brunette narrowed her eyes at Annette, then went back to watching the screen. She saw herself get into the Mercedes and drive off, with Marshall watching her from the doorway in a way that was faintly gratifying. Then the handsome marshal went inside, and all was quiet for a bit. She looked expectantly at Annette Giles, but the other woman's eyes were on the screen, and so Marissa forced herself to keep watching. Finally, after perhaps ten minutes, the door opened and out stepped Dale and Marshall, speaking quietly but unhappily. Judging from their body language and gestures, Marshall was infinitely less happy about whatever they were talking about, whereas Dale seemed to radiate resigned dislike. They talked for a few minutes by the car, and then the office door opened again... Marissa stared. Someone - or something - had exited the office door. It had opened, and whoever had done so was the focus of the two rogue marshals attention. But there was no image on the camera... No, there was something. It was a smudge, roughly the size and shape of a person, little more than a distortion in the air like a heat shimmer. It put her in mind of... of... Jason's forcefield, only without a person inside it. The shimmer-smudge stood there outside the office, apparently speaking to the marshals briefly judging from their nods and reactions, then as they turned to get into their car the smudge turned and moved away along the sidewalk at a walking pace, though its movement could best be described as drifting. The camera feed followed it - though Marissa was pretty sure by now that the It was a He and the He was Enterich - until the smudge turned down an alleyway. The screen then split into two cameras, one covering each end of the alley.. but the shimmering presence did not exit the alley it had turned down. "You can see why I showed you this." Annette Giles said quietly as the recording came to an end. "I kept the cameras focused on that alley for half an hour longer, by the way. Nothing came out." Her hand trembled a little as she tapped a button, resetting the recording. "If you want to see it again, just ask. But now the question arises - who exactly, or what exactly, was that?"
  4. It was a difficult thing to want to be loved so much yet be unable to allow people close to her. She was over joyed and thrilled that Cade had asked to Homecoming and her stomach fluttered with butterflies as her teenage mind swam through the cluttered mire of all the possible things he could wear to match her dress or the dances they'd dance, or the absolute thrill that he would be showing up at her home to get her and her parents would see her leaving all dressed up with a handsome guy... it felt so, real, like her novels and television dramas. Yet, no matter how often she appeared to be there in the emotional moment, her mind simply couldn't commit to the idea that happiness was simply a trite, made up fantasy for people who were too simple or weak to know any better. Everyone in the world was out for themselves, it was just a matter of when and where, choice versus circumstance. When hungry enough, any animal would turn on others of its kind and humanity had never ceased finding new ways to be hungry. For Marissa it was control. She hungered for absolute control of her life and everything in it, be her lovers to her aspirations, to her business dealings. If she wasn't on top, she would grind and fight until she was. After all, hunger was about survival and when it came to surviving, there were no rules. The small pocket on her thigh vibrated and as she read the text on her phone and quietly cursed to herself. She grumbled and suddenly walked away from Cade. “Baby, I have to go. Can you tell everyone I said bye. And tell my brother to text me, please?” “Is everything okay?” He was concerned and the way his eyes narrowed told her that he was silently scrutinizing her sudden desire to depart. She offered him a reassuring smile but kept slowly distancing herself. “Fine,” she said calmly. “Just family business. My mom is being a pain, is all. Typical 'now that you have your license you can run all the errands' lazy parenting B.S., that's all.” “I know how that goes, I'll pass it on to Devin.” His laugh was sympathetic, after all, what teen didn't know the age old irritation of doing all the driving once their license was in their hands. It was like parents slipped into lazy mode now that the kids could do it all. “Text me later?” She spun on her heels, her chocolate hair whipping to fall over her opposite shoulder as she offered him one of seductive smiles. “Sure,” she tightened her tummy and ran her hands down until they stopped just short of her thighs in a teasing gesture he was sure she stole from a dance number. “Text me your favorite color, Lord knows you earned it today.” With a sultry wink and a 'you-know-you-want-me' smile, she spun back around and headed off to her car. Her lover still was trying the process the fact that he'd seen Marissa-freaking-Jauntsen naked today, let alone had had sex with her too. On that same note, he was still trying to process that it was certainly possible it might happen a second time. Like most guys he had a 'preferred' color, not a favorite, but he knew why she wanted it. She was going to send him a few images later of her in whatever color he sent her... now... all he had to do was decide what color he wanted to see her in so he could make that his new favorite thing, ever. Sex. Hot girl sending him lewd pics. Possibly more sex. Plus, badgers. It was so good to be Cade Allister right now. ---===[Marias Medical Center]===--- Thank God for tinted windows. It wasn't the first time she'd changed clothes in her car, but there was something about the act she just didn't care for. Still, the text seemed urgent so running home to change didn't seem viable. Within ten minutes after arriving in the parking lot of the medical center, her hiking heels, simple denim skirt and a black and white top that fell off her shoulders was once again exposing her midriff so she could she proudly brandish her navel piecing of a glittering black stone in the shape of a heart. Her hair was brushed and redone and her makeup back on fleek, as was proper for a diva of her station. Dr. Cook's old office was still completely furnished, which the young woman assumed was the doing of either Æon or Branch 9. Today, as she entered the comfortable office of the now detained sociopath, Annette Giles was waiting for her. Marissa noticed something in the atmosphere almost right away, as her keen shine immediately processing the myriad of social cues, body language, and micro-expressions that were red flagging all over Ms. Giles. A normal person would have almost certainly missed them, however Marissa's strange social cognitive perceptions allowed her to quickly read the scene with the speed and talent of a seasoned professional. “Marissa, hello.” Her smile was warm as she extended a hand in greeting which the young woman accepted with a curt smile from freshly applied glossed lips. “Is everything okay?” The diva's voice was calm but still weighed heavily on the side of concern and skepticism. Something seemed off about this scenario already. “Your text seemed urgent.” Under her normally calm exterior there was turmoil of a sort, an anxiety crawling just under the surface of her skin. “Well, it is, come with me, there is something I need to show you. There's been... a development. Please,” she extended her hand, motioning to the secret elevator that slid open as she gestured, inviting the young woman down to the secret Æon/Branch 9 facility below the medical center.
  5. "Fair enough," Devin said, processing all of that and letting it go before he just made it worse. "You let me know when we are there. Until then, you're right, plants and bugs don't fight back, so show me what you have." He stood a few steps away and tapped his chest. "Hit me with your best shot. No teleporting or blinking away or none of that."
  6. Fondler's First-Aid and Molester's Massacre. Really? That’s fucking hilarious coming from a guy whose powers are all about running away or making himself the center of the world. After those little quips Autumn was roughly two seconds from telling Devin with one finger what she thought of him, but that would defeat the whole purpose of talking to him in the first place, wouldn’t it? God, that was fucking annoying. Exhaling sharply, she pressed the palms of her hands over her eyes, staring into the faint patterns and formless waves of color that overlaid the darkness; it occurred to her after several moments of slow, measured breathing that to him, it probably actually was hilarious. …And she had sort of set the standard herself with the leg-humping comment. So- Fine. Whatever. "Spooked?" She took one more deep breath and let her hands fall back to her sides, considering what she’d seen of the teleporter himself as much as the actual words he'd used. "No. Not 'spooked.' I don't have nightmares. I don't wake up in cold sweats. I'm not afraid that I’m going to lose control and accidentally turn everybody inside out, or anything like that. What's holding me back from using them is knowing how to use them.” Squinting a little, she tugged at the end of the fiery braid draped over her shoulder, looking out at the broad sweep of open fields behind Devin as the sun glared down. “Jase gave me some really good ideas on how to practice the actual powers themselves, which will definitely make learning how they actually work and what the limits are a lot easier. Plants don’t move, though, and they don’t fight back, and everything the Dark throws at us sure as hell does. That’s why I’m talking to you, and you can either help me with that, or you can’t.” “Look, I get that you have seen some shit, and you’re trying to be less of a monster than the things out there that want to eat our faces. Awesome. I am here for it, one hundred percent.” The ocean-hued eyes that had been dark and tempestuous in the loft were calmer now, her gaze clear and direct as she levelled it at the former bully. “But this whole Broda vibe you’ve got going on right now isn’t working for me. We’re not at the point in…” She gestured vaguely with one cinnamon-speckled hand, indicating the space between them. “Whatever this is… that I’m ready to talk to you about feels. Hell, your sister and I are supposed to be best friends, and I’m not even sure we’re there yet. So, if you really want to know what I can do, all right. I’ll show you. Well,” she amended with a one-shouldered shrug. “Part of it, anyway.”
  7. The tip of her tongue stuck out ever so slightly as the lovely blonde held out her hand, palm up, floating a few long, roughly straight sticks upright in her hand. One object was easy enough, multiple even were easy of they were in rabid motion, like juggling, but fine manipulation, like Jase was capable of, was still far outside her wheelhouse. As the sticks leaned to one side, so would she walk with them, forgetting that it wasn't about her movement or gravity, it was about her mind and how well she was in control of the objects. One fell one way and she danced with it to keep up, until her movements caused another to sway a different direction and she shimmied with it to 'catch' it from falling until the inevitable cascade of them all falling in different directions as once forced her into retirement and sighed as she watched them fall. "Ah, poo." She huffed and pursed her lips in disappointment. Without letting her failure take root in her incurable sweetness and optimism, she bent down and began collecting them all again for another try. "Want some help over here?" asked one of the other lovely blondes in the Fellowship strolled over. Cassandra, finishing off her water bottle, in her t-shirt that was looking pretty grungy after being sent to the mat by Lilly and then lying on the grass with Jase. She bent over to scoop up a stray stick that had bounced farther away, then brought it over with a warm smile. Tawny looked up to see Cassie and that megawatt smile of hers just lit right up. "Sure!" It was an invitation as much as it was a greeting. "I'm, um, not really good at this. Jase and Deej have both been really nice and helped me a lot," she giggled as she admitted to getting assistance. "Do you twiddle-twaddle things with your mind too?" Her face widened in surprise as a sudden possibility occurred to her. "Can we all do it? That would be so neat." Cassie spread her hands shook her head. "As much as I'm always down for a good twaddle," she said with a chuckle, "I gotta use my old-fashioned hands for it. My main power is all about seeing and hearing things. At a distance...even back in time. I can see people's powers too, and it turns out I can even sort of mess with them. Block them sometimes." Cass shrugged. "That's new for me though, so I'm pretty bad at it. I was just practicing a bit with Jase, and now I need a breather. Guy is really intense sometimes, you know?" Tawny snorted and it was so out of place for her delicate, almost Disney Princess features. "Oh, I know. He was less practice and more throwing things at me." How she managed to make a minor complaint sound like it was a-okay was a lost art form. "But he's was great. I totally get where he's coming from. 'That's life," she chuckled, poorly mimicking a mans voice. "You the test first, then the lesson!' Is what my dad would say." She looked off. "He doesn't throw things at me though..." She cheerfully shrugged and pressed on. "Soooo, what's the plan? Hey." something seemed to distract her momentarily. "Like... what kind of sight? Because I had to tell Deej that peeping on the girls locker room was not cool. Pretty sure he's doing it anyway, but do you see things like that? Like, past walls and stuff?" "Kind of? It's more like...like a crystal ball," replied Cassandra. "If I know where I want to look, I can kind of reach out to a place, or a person even if they're really far away, and then it's just like I'm there. I don't really go there, like Devin does. I can just see and hear things there." She grinned. "So yeah, I could peek in on the locker rooms, if I wanted to. Haven't done it yet, but I could." Cass looked around, spotting Devin a little ways off chatting with Autumn. "Now you know why Devin and I must never join forces. No locker room would be safe." "I don't know," she sort of side eyed Cassie with a friendly smirk. "Seems all Deej needs to stay on the straight and narrow is a 'hot girl' to use the Deej vernacular,"Cass had to give her props for air quoting. "Holding his 'please don't be you for the next five minutes' leash." They both shared a laugh. "You guys have been awesome for him, he's changed so much." Cassie could the unspoken 'thank you' (not air quoted) in her voice. There was hint of scarlet marching to the surface of her cheeks. "So! What's the plan? How do we do this with you... and me... and sticks. But you have to tell me more, I want to know all about you. We've never really talked much at school." "I know! That's one of the reasons I came over. One thing about weird government conspiracies and aliens and..." she made a little 'explodey' gestures by her temple, "mental powers is that it brings people together, I guess. Here, lets do it this way. Instead of Jase throwing stuff at you...you can toss stuff towards me. We'll work on how strong you are." "As for me...I work on the school newspaper. When I'm not being a pest, I like bike riding, skateboarding, looking up random things online. My mom works at the county library. Dad used to work at the prison as a therapist. I..." she paused for a second, then bulled on. In for a penny... "I used to think he'd been killed in an accident, but I recently found out that was a lie, and he's just been...uh...brainwashed. Because Crossroads is literally evil incarnate." "What?" Tawny walked over to Cassie after she told him about her father and hugged her gently. Because that's what good Christian girls did, personal space just wasn't a thing when tragedy struck and a good was warranted. "Oh, I'm so sorry." "The guys are going to get him, right?" She asked, still holding Cassie semi-tightly until her captor was sure that hug therapy had helped. "I mean, that's what you guys do, right? You kick all kinds of butt and fight the darkness or whatever? I mean, if you know where he is, can't Devin just 'bloop' him back to here?" "We're going to, yeah," Cassandra promised. "We have to go after the Dark first...and...it's okay. He's safe where he is. They're not hurting him." The hug was a surprise, but once sprung it was equally surprising how comforting it was. "Thanks." She released Tawny and asked, "So what about you? All I know about you is that you're an old friend of Devin's. Tell me all about the Tawny." She smiled at Cassie. "I always have spare hugs. Hugs for days." The blonde sweetheart shrugged. "Not much to tell, honestly. Born here, probably going to stay here," the somber tone told Cassie that Tawny was not okay with that idea. "My mom and day are okay, Christian as you may have guessed," she thumbed the golden cross around her neck. "Honestly there wasn't much to tell until Marissa and Devin moved in a few years ago," she smiled. "They're really strict, so when I got these powers poppa thought it was Satan's handy work and thankfully my momma was able to make him see some reason or I would probably be locked in some convent's basement. They hate all my friends, so I never had any over, or really went out much. The twins sort of got them over that, not because they like them, but because they refused to stop coming by, or leave." She laughed. "It was so funny watching my mom and dad change colors as they'd just wait for me to be allowed to come out." "Then that Dr. Cook man came along, told them he could help me," her cheeks flushed red at the mention of Dr. Cook and Cassie quickly noticed (and felt through the surge of psi) as every tiny object seemed to shake and vibrate in place. A few sticks of the several she'd collected started to fold themselves like someone breaking a pencil with their thumb and just moving down the length. "They practically sold me to him. Didn't care what he did to us as long as he 'cured' us." The Christian lacquer that made Tawny so sweet and glow so brightly, cracked and Cassie knew that smoldering, tiny ember glowing deep in the back of her eyes: hate. "Hey." Now it was Cassandra's turn to give the hug back. "Hey. That's over. Dr. Cook's under control now. And you know, you don't have to stay here." She let go and backed up a step. "You can go literally anywhere in the world. And I don't just mean because Devin's on your address list. All this shit that's going on is scary and dangerous, but we're all going to come out of it stronger than before. All of us. Nothing's going to stand in your way." It was a moment before the hug was returned. A tense moment, until she finally returned it and Cassie stepped away. "Oh... I'm sorry!" Flustered and a bit panicky, she bounced on her tip toes and flailed her hands a bit with tense and awkward undirected energy. "I'm sorry, Cassie, I'm so sorry! I get emotional and..." she didn't seem like she wanted to share out of fear of being looked at differently. "...and, I sometimes break things. Or stuff goes all crazy or flips over or... I threw a bowl at pa once. It cut his head. With my mind." She winced, and tried again. "I mean... my mind threw the bowl and it cut his head." Her finger danced about trying to put all the words in place. "Not that I threw a bowl at him and then cut him with my mind..." She relented and sigh. "I'll shut up now. I'm weird, I know. Got no chance at a normal life now, anyhow. The Dark will find us and try to kill us no matter where we go." "We're all weird," Cassie soothed. "And we're going to kill the Dark before it can. So you go right on throwing stuff with your mind. We're going to need that." She hesitated, then asked, "Have you thought about what you want to do afterwards? I mean, we fight the Dark, we win...finish high school...what's next for you? Nevermind what you think might happen, because none of us can tell that. I just mean...what do you want to happen?" The Montana Belle shrugged honestly. "I've honestly never given it much thought." She smirked bashfully. "When I was fourteen I thought Deej and I were gonna get married and run my family's horse ranch together. Make an honest man out of him. That dream's sort of faded now... he only likes me as a 'sister'... so," she sucked her teeth behind a forced a smile. "Yeeaah." "I'm not like you guys," she said calmly. "I'm not super smart or have a passion for news or some kind of sports. I'm just average and just average people sort of stay at home and raise horses and marry some guy they settled and hope the one that got away at least visits once or twice after school before forgetting you ever existed. Sorry, that was a seriously depressing response... what about you? What are Cassie's after saving the world? If you say Disney World, promise me you'll take me too!" "Mmm...I still want to get into the news," Cassandra said. "It's going to be a lot of work...I'm not super smart either. And the thing with magic 'eye' powers is that I'll still have to put in the hours. Maybe I can look back in time to see who did a murder, but no one else knows that. So I still have to find the evidence, talk to the witnesses, show my work, like in math class. No free rides, and honestly? I'm glad. I don't want to lose my edge." She shrugged. "I'll probably want to head east or west...get my name out there, get writing, get some attention. There aren't a lot of big newspapers left, so working for one's pretty hard now." "You could always intern for Marissa when she's a big time CEO." She looked at Cassie with hopeful eyes. After a few moments they both broke down in a giggle. "Seriously, no, I would never allow you to do that to yourself. I think it would be nice to go out west. See the beaches, learn to surf or something. I don't know. It's kind of funny, I know a guy who could take me anywhere and I plum can't think of a single place I'd rather be than here. With all my problems and all my miseries." She fidgeted and spun about, stopping and flexing her arms behind her back in a slight stretch. "Kind of poetic, I think. To be anywhere else would feel like running away and, Lord knows, that gives your problems longer to walk and more time to get even angrier with you." She seemed to be feeling a bit better if the smile she gave Cassie was any indication. "If you make it big, will you write a piece on our ranch so I can retire filthy rich?" Cassandra smiled. "I dunno about your ranch, but I've heard there's a pretty cool girl living out there who can do amazing things with her mind. I bet an interview with her would be great for both of us." She looked away for a second, then back. "So. About Devin. I can tell there's some feelings there...for him." She crinkled her nose a bit. "Really? Noticed that did you?" Her mild sarcasm was laced with soft laughter. "Yeah. I get it though. He's nicer than he wants people to know about." She hesitated, then plowed forward. "He asked me to Homecoming, cards on the table. We're going as friends though. I don't know if I'm...in the mood for a boyfriend right now. And even if I was, I don't know if it'd be him. But...at the time, I didn't really know you. I was just thinking...I don't know. I wouldn't mind trying to help you two get together?" "It's alright, he has his Avalon issues," she looked about to see who else might be listening and when confident that they were clear she leaned in slightly. The thrill of actually gossiping seemed to excite her. "We talked about it and, I'm okay with us being where we are and letting things happen. I've no problem admitting that I'm in love with him, but you can't force something like love it's nothing more than a friendship that has caught fire. He's not really feeling the relationship thing and we both know if I push to hard, it'll just end up bad." "Please don't be all on egg shells about it, Cassie. He's a great guy, he loves big, if you just get to know him." A stick floated up into her hand and she spun it about in her fingers. It seemed to give her something to do with her hands as she spoke and thought. "I know that it's entirely possible that other guy might sweep me off my feet and, like a hobbit, off I'd go and love would start all over. I have a date for Homecoming too. We might even kiss, who knows?" She said with a devious and scandalous raise of a single eyebrow. "Go with him. Get to know him. If you feel ready, then go ahead and be with him. If I didn't honestly and truly want him to be happy, then what sort of friend would I be and what would that say about the sincerity of my love?" Cassandra nodded. "Maybe it's for the best then," she said with a smile. "He really doesn't deserve you." "No, no he doesn't," she laughed. "I read that a relationship is likely to last way longer, if each partner convinces or has convinced themselves that they do not deserve their partner, even if that is not true." She shrugged. "I don't know about that, but he finally met someone he did want to be with and he cares, and he's losing her. I can tell that he's not okay. Now isn't the time for me to worry about who he ends up with. He's my friend, I need to be there for him and there isn't a soul alive who doesn't deserve love and support when their world is out of balance." "I'm totally going to rub in his face at Homecoming though." She giggled. "You know... Cassie... you're a reporter... and I happen to know all his dirty little secrets." She waggled her eyebrows. "Pace yourself. We will have plenty of chances to go over each of them in excrutiating detail. For now though, lets say we work on your brain-arm a little? Go for distance?" She held out her hands as if to catch a thrown football. "Deal," she grinned and tossed the stick up into the air where it stayed. "More to the point, I might be able to help you get past some those horrible jokes and snarky comments he uses as walls to keep people at a distance." The stick flew to Cass who caught it and immediately tossed it back where it hovered to the side as a new one rose and was tossed at her again. Within a few moments Cass was tossing them back and taking a step back each time. "I may love the guy, but sometimes he's a down right jerk, and I still owe him some payback for a wedgie a few months ago." Cassie nodded. "I'll take you up on that. I don't know if we're going to be serious...but even as a friend, I'd like to get to know the real him better."
  8. “Yeah, some,” the teleporter replied to Kat as she and Courtney approached. He left what was there as he and Autumn collected what was trash and prepared to leave. “Could ladies excuse us for a second?” He added with a smile as he left the two girls to eat. It wasn't that he didn't want to talk, but Autumn had confided in him for something and he didn't feel right it was right to put her business out there for others to be involved in, that was her call to make, not his. Pizza boxes, napkins and paper plates were carried in as many ways as possible between the two teens as they walked towards Jase's barn where a larger city issued bin was to discard everything. He didn't say much as they walked, taking it step by step and considering her request as things between them slowly built more awkwardness with each passing step. He was certain she didn't like him, and he didn't blame her, but she had a point, if her and his sister were going to be friends that would mean they would need to find some common ground or avoid each other completely. He held up the lid of the massive blue bin so Autumn could hoist her armful of pizza boxes and discard the concern for having to do it later. Neither wanted to party at Jason's house and leave him to clean it all up. He swung up the small garbage bag filled with plates and whatnot and let the plastic lid slam closed. “So, did you mean, like now or...” he let his words hang in the air before deciding to move on. “I mean, it doesn't matter to me. We've a full gym at the house, weights and all that, plus the gymnastics gym too. I've been doing a lot of practicing in the evenings, nothing major, just like staff tricks and stuff and helping Marissa get her fight on too. We're both horrible at it, but still it helps to have a sparing partner. YouTube is a big help, also.” He stopped and she followed suit, turning to face him right as he was meeting her green flecked eyes. “I'm cool with coaching, no problem there, but, I'll be honest with you Granola, I don't even know what you can do. I know you have Fondler's First-Aid, where you touch people and heal them, but that's it. I can help unless I know what I'm helping with. So, look, no pressure but, what I can help with out of the gate, and I'm not trying to preach, is I'm not afraid. My powers are amazing and I can use them for all manner of mischief,” he grinned. “I can even teleport people into the sky and let them fall to their death.” “Comforting thought,” Autumn huffed out half of a laugh as she listened, curious of where he was going with this. “Right?” He grinned again, raising his eyebrows. “But I can go to sandy beaches, and take you, my friends, with me. See the world in ways a television screen could never do justice or just in way I never knew existed. No matter how I use my powers, I can't be afraid of them. The how is up to me. If you want to master your abilities, you have to embrace them. I realized early that my mental frame of mind played a great deal in controlling or learning to control my abilities.” He gestured up and down his body with his hands. “I sleep in the buff,” she rolled her eyes, suddenly no longer interested in where this was heading. He laughed and raised u pa hand to pause her rising desire to just walk away from him. “Hold on now, hear me out. When I woke up naked in the back yard, it was because I was having nightmares about the Land of Upside Down Thunder. Hell, I still have them. It wasn't me losing control of my power though, it was my power trying to protect me my reflexively getting me out of harm's way. Like when you lift your arms up and flinch, or wake up just before something ad happens in dream. We might think we're fine, or have accepted something, but deep down our minds know differently. If you're afraid of something you can do, it won't mature and can hold back from understanding your limits.” “It's not that easy, Devin,” she looked at him. Her thick, coppery locks bounced as she paced in the sunlight of the mid afternoon. “It's not some 'well, just get over it' sort of thing.” “Sure it is,” he shrugged. “But, I think differently than most, so I'm not going to say either of us is right or wrong. Simple math, Granola. Jason has fire, but he also has ice. Sean electricity, but also light. I'm able to bring myself to the world, but in time have learned to bring the world to me. My guess is, if you can put a body back together, you can rip one apart, can't you? That's what has you spooked, isn't it? A little Molester's Massacre to go with your Fondler's First-Aid?”
  9. Kat was sitting in the grass, not far from the barn, rewatching the movie of Jason and Devin's spar in her head. She actually had learned a lot once she had activated her super-duper Power-Vision. I probably need to come up with a better name for that... Since everyone had been so busy, she had decided to train on her own for a while, and things were going as smooth as they could be. Her field of view was darkened by the Power-Vision, but she could still see reality through the veil the hypothetic layer of subquantum was displaying under her eyes. She had disposed a wide but flat stone before her crossed legs, testing a wide variety of changes on innocent blades of grass, and analyzing her own powers by looking at her own hand. She had quickly reached the conclusion that converting energy demanded her but little effort if not none, whereas producing energy was quite tiring for her. Reshaping the stone to make it flat had helped her realize she was, or had, like a reservoir of Shine, a finite amount of energy to be spent on her powers. Reshaping objects and producing energy depleted it., converting energy did not, neither did her Power-Vision, nor her ability to know the composition of a material to a molecular level. That last one she just had discovered, while picking a stone large enough to be molded. She could hardly put names on it, but she knew what the stone she picked was made of. That stone was unique now, at least to her eyes. There were many others like it, but this one was hers. This is why the petite redhead focused solely on converting energy. She had had enough of one headache for the day, and had barely recovered from her battle of wits with the plough - thank God, at least she had had pizza! A blade of grass emitted a small column of smoke as it quickly dried, and finally took fire, while Kat turned gravity around it into heat. Funny. I have an endless reserve of gravity... She first chuckled at the thought, then literally burst out with laughter. She didn't quite know why. Was it the fact that owning gravity was a fairly stupid concept, or was it the exhilarating realization that she could do anything as long as gravity was there? She couldn't tell. "Someone's happy." Courtney sat down beside Kat, folding her legs elegantly to one side and smiling as she cocked her head at the petite girl. Her dark red hair fell almost artfully to one side as honey-brown eyes glanced around at the others, all involved in their own conversations, then back at Kat. "I've got to say, this is better than I thought it'd be. Nobody's giving me the stinkeye or even particularly thinking bad things about me. That I can tell, anyway." Crimson lips curved in a wry smirk. The French girl gave it a shrug. "Well, the way I see it, you were just part of the Project. you have as much right as Tawny has to be here. Besides, the only one you really gave hell to isn't here..." Devin's word from earlier suddenly rang through her mind. "Anyway, we're past that now." She quickly added. "Look." She grabbed a blade of grass, and dropped it on the stone. Then grabbed it again, and dropped it once more. But this time, the blade of grass was falling much slower, glowing with a faint light, until it reached the stone, drawing a genuine smile on Kat's features. "Uh." Courtney looked surprised as she watched. "You make grass glow? I mean, it's cool and stuff - pretty even - but..." Kat giggled, before explaining. "Not the point. I made it lighter! I turned the norm of the force pulling it down -it's called gravity, by the way, I read that in a book- into light! Think of the applications! I can turn it into heat, speed, sound, any kind of energy, you name it!" "I know what gravity is." Courtney smirked, laughing. "So you can affect it? That's pretty cool, alright. So can you turn sound into gravity? Or heat, then? Does it work mulitple ways?" "I... guess? I didn't try yet." She thought for a moment, then turned at her friend with an impish grin. "Try talking..." The gorgeous redhead lifted an eyebrow, and opened her mouth to speak. But instead it looked like Courtney was blowing a huge bubble of light, that flashed before disappearing. Instead, where light shone the air felt warmer, at least the way Courtney felt it on her lips. It suddenly grew colder as a loud bang resonated around them, followed by Kat's uncontrollable laughter, resonating like a trill across the fields. Courtney jumped at the sudden report, letting out a little shriek, then narrowing her eyes at the giggling little gamine. "Oh, very funny. Har de har." she huffed before laughing herself, shaking her head. "Okay, so what practical use is that trick? Scaring me out of my panties is not exactly..." she waved a hand at the place where Devin and Jason had had their epic battle. "You know?" "Well, I could produce enough decibels to kill anything that has a beating heart, if I convert enough... anything... at the same time. I could jump higher, even fly, if I do my mojo correctly." She pointed at tiny pile of ash on her stone. "I could heat something up, warm enough to make it burn. Not as spectacular as Jason's flame, but... I guess that works. I could also convert ambient heat into anything else, just to freeze something. I didn't try it yet, but I guess I could throw a rock and speed it up to the point it's as deadly as a bullet." She shrugged. "There's a ton of possibilities." "And you can also convert solid stuff, right? Like you did with the plough." Courtney's expression was thoughtful as she absently chewed on a lower lip, staring at where Lilly was practicing her free-running, eyes widening as the athletic teen went up the side of the barn like a cat up a tree. "Wow." Courtney was momentarily distracted, and both her and Kat watched the display for a moment or two. "Could you change, say, this rock into gold?" Courtney asked, returning to the topic at hand as Lilly jogged off to her pickup. Kat's lips formed a pensive pout. "I could. But I like my rock like that. Besides, converting energy doesn't ask me to even lift a finger. Repairing the plough gave me a bloody headache. Earlier I realized we have..." She squinted her eyes. "Do you play any video games? Like... World of Warcraft?" Courtney's stare was blankly uncomprehending. "Are you about to make a nerd analogy? Because it will go 'whoosh'" she motioned over her head. "Like that." The petite redhead rolled her eyes. "Fine. We have like, a reserve of Shine, and using our mojo depletes it. That's what I meant by 'not lifting a finger'. This rock didn't use to be flat. I made it flat. Now I have... less Shine? Point is, I'm pretty sure turning this stone into pure gold would take... I don't know... Are you ready to pay a whole month worth of pizza for a golden flat stone? 'Cause it's gonna make me as hungry as a marathon runner after he beat the World Record." "Kat." Courtney's tone was that of a patient adult explaining to a toddler why going potty on the lawn was not a good idea. "You turn a big enough rock into gold, and I will use it to buy you pizza for a month. With the change, I will go shopping in Milan. And maybe donate some to a worthy cause." "Okay... But I don't wanna. Last time I turned matter into something else, I didn't feel very good. Yesterday, I tried painting with my mojo. I managed to do it, but I felt like I had a bolt-on helmet afterwards." She wasn't smiling anymore. "It's like lifting a skyscraper with my own two arms. That's how difficult it feels." She stared at the stone for a while. "It's weird, isn't it? If it's energy, I can do whatever I like. But anything else, I'm almost powerless..." "Join the club." Courtney said blithely, leaning back on her hands and lifting her face to the late-summer sun. "I can read surface minds, and can link folks together, and I can read emotions and affect them a little - I mean, I can make someone less or more angry, but I can't create anger out of nothing, you know? And sometimes I can make someone do something by pushing them to obey me - but that's hard. Anything more than that and I get headaches and nosebleeds." She smiled, her eyes closed as she sunned her pale face. "I was Cookie's star pupil. His naughty schoolgirl telepath - not that he ever made use of the 'naughty schoolgirl' bit. I thought I was Queen Shit before I saw Bannon freeze a sink and the pipes in the walls, or heard that Lona could cure the sick with a touch, or Devin could teleport." The lovely redhead sighed. "I really thought I was special and better than them all, even the Jauntsens, because I had my secret power. And then Cook threw me under the bus as soon as shinier toys came along to study. And the worst part? I can't hate you guys for that. I tried. I wanted to fuck shit up for the 'Fellowship'. Even tried to get Bannon beaten up by a member of the football team once - I hoped he'd lose it and toast the guy and then everyone would tear themselves apart over it." Courtney opened her eyes, which glistened moistly as she blinked at Kat. "I'm a horrible person. And these guys? They're actually pretty cool. I'm glad they include me, even if I feel like phonier than a Chinese Louboutin." "Awww." Kat could not repress the urge to hug the pretty redhead sitting besides her, her arms sliding around Courtney's shoulders. "Don't say stuff like that. I mean... of course they're cool. But you're cool too. You're trying to change, and that's cool. I'd rather be friends with the real Courtney than with Queen Shit." Courtney sniffled, then let out a little sob as she turned in to rest her forehead on Kat's slender shoulder. "But what if the real Courtney is horrible?" she said in a tiny muffled voice. "I'm such a t-t-total bitch, all the t-time. An- an- and today I attuned to Devin and you and Cassie and people and I'm so small compared to it all." She straightened up a little, wiping her eyes and runny mascara with one hand. "I'm a senior. I always thought I'd go on to work as Cook's Girl Friday or something, but now? I don't know if I'll even live out the week." Warm brown eyes sought out Kat's. "I don't want to feel horrible, Kitty." she said, almost plaintively. "I didn't when you were with me the other day. Can we...? Can we... you know. Go somewhere out of sight and you make me feel not-horrible for a bit?" Kat's eyes widened with surprise. "Like, now?" A nervous chuckle escaped her lips, but there was softness in her eyes as she planted her gaze into Courtney's. "Listen. I'm all for fun naked stuff - hell, before Friday, it had been months since I had a good shag -" she said with a horrible grin, "but there's even better to fix your problem on the long term. I'm not gonna let you die to the hands of some weird magical murder hobo with antlers. So what, if you can only do telepathy? It's your thing, just become the best at it. Sure, maybe it's not as spectacular as teleporting or freezing water, but you heard Jason. You might be the key to us kicking that thing in the balls." She gently grabbed the pretty redhead by the shoulders and offered her a genuine smile. "You can feel emotions. If you'd just learn how to use it properly, you could be friends with anybody, just by being there for them and saying the right thing to them when they need it. Your Shine is probably the most beautiful of them all. I mean it." Courtney was speechless. She didn't say a word when the French girl grabbed her by the hand. A couple seconds later, and the flat stone was left alone with its sprinkle of burnt and not burnt grass. The two girls reappeared fifteen minutes later, the smaller one sporting a satisfied grin over pensive features. Kat turned to her friend. "You know, if you wanna... practice telepathy or... stuff, even vent a little, I'm here for you, okay?" She flashed her a brief smile and a wink, then suddenly jogged off towards Devin and Autumn, yelling: "ANY PIZZA LEFT? I'M FAMISHED!"
  10. "Hey. Leg-humper." Brushing clumps of melting snow from her hair as she eyed the ravaged pizza boxes, Autumn nudged the back of Devin’s knee with her foot. As greetings went it wasn’t exactly the friendliest, but there was a measure of esprit de corps in its delivery that wouldn’t have been present a week earlier; a week earlier, she probably wouldn’t even have bothered greeting him at all. Funny how a few near-death experiences and waking nightmares could help put things in perspective. Fate, or chance, or whatever had conspired to throw them all together, headfirst, into uncharted waters to see if they could swim. And here she was, paddling alongside them as they fought to stay afloat, to survive the oncoming tide- whatever that was. Things were definitely changing, and not always for the best, but… That’s the nature of things, to change. They have to, don’t they? “’Sup, Granola?” The still-shirtless gymnast looked up from the somewhat thankless task of condensing the remains of the pizzas they’d maimed and mangled into one box, shooting a sidelong smirk in her direction. “And, uh, last I checked you’ve got two legs.” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively, and Autumn wasn’t sure which Devin was more obnoxious: the one who’d snapped her bra and ruined her chances with Tom Winslow the year before, or the one who now flirted with every pair of XX chromosomes he met. “Both of which I will use to kick your ass,” she threatened without real conviction, cursing silently as she felt the warning signs of an angry flush warming her cheeks. Maybe his super-power wasn’t finding pizza places- maybe it was being annoying. Or both. Could it be both? The redhead snatched a slice of 5-Cheese from the box in his hands and tore off a bite with mock-ferocity. Devin’s grin only broadened as he slid up next to her, his free arm slipping easily, casually around her shoulders; with or without a boyfriend in the picture, the fast-talking teleporter was a menace to female-kind. “Ooooh.” He feigned a shiver and leaned closer, balancing the pizza in his other hand. “You know, that’s not usually my thing, but keep talkin’. Let’s see where this goes.” Fuck’s sake, Autumn. This is already a bad idea. And, obviously it was, which was part of the reason she felt compelled to do it in the first place. Shrugging the arm off as she glanced heavenward, the spirited teen finished her mouthful of cheesy, melty deliciousness and turned to face him directly. “I want you to help me with something. Have you got a minute?” There was visible tension between her eyebrows now, the residual playfulness following her ill-advised teasing of their resident phytophile fading fast. “Hey, look.” Devin slowly shook his head, spreading his hands in the iconic gesture that begged understanding. “If this is about you and Jason, I just wanna say that I totally get where you’re coming from, and I’d love to help, but my heart’s in kind of a vulnerable place right now.” He paused, biting his lip and affecting a pained expression as he gazed at her with soulful, liquid brown eyes. “I just don’t think I’m ready to be hurt again.” Just eat your pizza. Eat. Your fucking. Pizza. She did. Swallowing her pride along with her food, Autumn took two more bites as intangible flames crept up the sides of her face, painting her skin in scarlet. It was fine. Totally fine. “Devin. I’m being serious,” she finally managed. “Like, Dark-fighting serious.” He blinked at her then, owlishly, and shrugged. “You know, you could’ve just opened with that.” As she stared at him, uncomprehending, that sly, smarmy grin reappeared on the former bully’s lips, and she tossed her half-eaten crust at him in indignation. “Oh my fucking god, Devin, so help me-“ “Chill, chill,” he laughed, holding up his hands to ward off further pizza-related violence. “I’m just messin’ with you. Relax, girl. Damn. You make this way too easy, you know that?” “Uggggghhh.” The versatile subvocalization, one the red-haired vitakinetic frequently employed, was in this case a low, elongated groan of frustration at the back of her throat. Sure, there were other people who could help her, but that wasn’t the point here. “Fine. I want help learning how to do what you and Jase did.” It was Devin’s turn to frown, then, forgetting for the moment how satisfying it had always been to get a rise out of her. “I don’t know if I can teach you how to do what I do,” he hedged, “and you know if you want to hear about fire and ice and all that you should talk to Jaybee.” “No, not that!” She shook her head, bending to collect the empty pizza boxes as the wave of crimson surging beneath her skin began to gradually abate. The mindless gathering gave her something to do and, potentially, something to throw, so helping out seemed like a win-win situation. “I mean more like the actual fight. You seemed like you knew what you were doing.” “Ohhh, you mean the sparring? ‘Cause I’m not gonna lie, were were just kinda making all that up as we went.” She glanced back over her shoulder as she worked, lips pursed in obvious skepticism, but Devin just shrugged and grinned. “Hmm.” Picking up another demolished scrap of cardboard, Autumn tossed it into the growing pile. It definitely hadn’t seemed improvised at the time; at some points, she’d wondered if they were fighting for real, or for practice. For those two, it could’ve been both, maybe. “Okay, well, I mean, watching you guys… I just thought it was sorta cool. You both seem so comfortable with your powers, like they’re just a regular part of your lives, y’know? I thought you might be able to help me figure out what to do if- when something happens. Or like, when we go deal with Cody.” Guiding the last box onto the pile with the side of her foot, she peered across the jumble of grease and corrugation, watching Jason and Lilly for a moment before turning back to the pizza-bearer. “I don’t want to be in the way,” she admitted. “And I don’t want anybody else to get hurt because of me, so I need to be able to do more than just… I don’t know. Kick a football player in the knee and yell.” “So why are you asking me, instead of him?” Devin jerked his head in the direction she’d been looking, setting the one remaining box aside and bracing his hands on his hips. “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really mind either way, but you aren’t exactly a founding member of my fan club.” He paused, then added, not-quite smirking, “And I’d know if you were, ‘cause Tee would’ve told me. She’s the president.” “Mmm.” She pulled the hair-tie from her wrist, gazing off into the distance as nimble fingers wove the chaotic tangle of red-gold curls into a thick braid and secured it in place. Things did have to change. “A bunch of different reasons, I guess. I don’t like the idea of depending one person for everything, and he has things he wants to do, too. Can’t be all over him all the time.” She grinned a little at that, a new wash of pale pink warming her cheeks as she shrugged one shoulder. “Plus, he makes it, um, hard to concentrate. Also plus, if I’m gonna be hanging out with your sister, you and I should probably get used to each other.“
  11. After the training with Tawny, Cade wanted a little break. He'd picked up the targets and knives, stones and balls he'd used, and smiled. They'd both pushed fairly far, and he got another bottle of water. He didn't see Marissa, even as he went to get his other bag with the trail mix. He got his phone and sent her a text. "Hey, I'd like to talk to you for abit. Mind joining me In the clearing in the woods north of the Farm. I'll have some music playing." The text went out before he could think of how it sounded, and he sighed. "I'm sure she'll have something to say to that." True to his word he brought up a playlist of older music, mostly old rock songs, since he knew Marissa wasn't a fan of country. This was the music his grandparents and Mr. Bancroft had put him onto. It was generally less angry in his opinion than modern music, though he was more fond of country, pretty much like most teenage boys in Montana. Having done that, he made his way to the clearing, took out the trailmix, and set to work. His ability to make animals trust him wasn't control. Up until now it'd helped him do minor things, squirrels were relatively inquisitive, so they were easy enough. This time he'd brought some other trailmix, and some beef jerky to see if he could get something more than squirrels. He sat for easily half an hour this time. The tempting smell of the food wafting in the breeze, his phone quietly playing "Drift Away" by Dobie Gray, one he admit he found to be incredibly relaxing. He wasn't surprised that first one, then three squirrels came up curiously taking some of the nuts, then soon he had more than half a dozen. They came right up and took it from his hands, and he was able to pet them without issue. What surprised him, were the trio of raccoons. They were normally nocturnal, and he was surprised they came, but the smell of the jerky must have gotten to them. He'd brought peanut butter trailmix this time, having read that the smell would be stronger, which he knew might draw more animals. They were inquisitive, and came up to him, only as he held out jerky. They took it from him in their hand-like paws and went off several feet to eat. They returned as he held out more jerky, and soon, they didn't even leave him. They just sat there muching away. The final animal to be drawn by the assortment of smells was perhaps the most surprising. He'd seen Badgers before, he'd hunted them with his Grandpa, but this one was large, and The Raccoons did move away behind him. The squirrels made a quick exit to the trees, as badgers ate small rodents. Badgers were onery, and they gave it a wide berth. Still after staring down a smilodon, Cade was far from afraid. He set out another piece of jerky, and it came forward, sniffing and then eating it. Seeing this, Cade got out more, and the badger came right up to him, utterly fearless, and drawn by hunger. Still he set the jerky down, and the badger ate it, and then put its paws on his legs, standing up and sniffing, essentially begging for more. Cade chuckled, as the music had been playin on, having gone through several songs. He pulled more jerky out, and fed it by hand to the adult badger, even as he risked petting it's back. This was still a wild animal, but he could foster trust quickly and easily, and seemingly with any normal creature, if given time. It wasn't control, just a little help in taking the first step of trust. He was so wrapped up in the badger moment that he didn't notice his lover-without-a-label had entered the small clearing. If not by virtue of her presence the rectangular phone slid into the thigh pocket of her leggings had told him that she'd gotten the message. "Uh," the quiver in her voice drew Cade's attention. Her opinion on wild animals was much akin to her opinion of Jason: just because one could summon or play with them, didn't one was in control of them. "Cade." Her eyes were locked on the massive, carnivorous predator at his feet. Marissa couldn't tell a death carpet (badger) from a velocirabbit (kangaroo) but natural flight or fight response froze her in place as her primal brain recognized a predator for what it was. She took a step back. "W-what the hell is that? The shaken tone of her voice remained as looked around and then finally at him before ultimately locking on the death carpet, as it posed the greatest threat to her, and asked, "Why are you surrounded by tree rats and trash pandas?" Cade looked up at Marissa, standing there looking at the badger halfway in his lap, with three raccoons trying to almost hide behind him. "Marissa, hey. I guess you could say this is me training the other thing I know I can do. I can't control animals or anything, but I seem to have a knack for getting them to trust me. This would be an American Badger. Probably one of the meanest animals in these parts." He took out some more jerky, and set it off to the side, the Badger quickly went to it, and he got up. He put some for the raccoons, since they'd stuck around and then head over to Marissa. "They're all still wild, still probably skittish around others, so now that i'm not sitting and feeding them, they'll head off back into the woods. As soon as the badger came up, the squirrels left, since they eat them. Aside from the Smilodon, the badger's the biggest thing I've had come up, and so far my "gift" seems to work with everything. I don't know if it'll be as useful as what the others can do, but you never know." As the animals all scampered off Marissa listened to her bae's words and couldn't have looked less impressed if she were actively trying. It was no fault of Cade's she just hated nature. It was dirty, smelly, noisy, and the things that lived on fringes of humanities borders were ugly and stunk like unwashed laundry. Okay," her eye widened as she smiled, displaying a false sense of interest. "Well, glad I could be a part of history. Enjoy your dirt and death carpets and fart squirrels, text me later, I'll be hungry and you can bring me food." On that note, she turned to leave, her footing unsteady as she tip toed away, now in fear of stepping on a nope rope. "Please Wait." He left where he'd been, and actually pulled some lysol wipes out of a bag in one of his pockets. He wiped his hands down thoroughly and smiled at her. "I'm pretty much done here, so if you want we can head back together. If you don't want anything here, we could go get something. " "I wanted to ask you something before you go." He kept some distance, he knew she wasn't a fan of nature at all, and while he was trying to be clean, he knew it probably wasn't enough to reach out to her. "Would you go to Homecoming with me?" It was probably comical, considering everything else, not to mention just what they'd done earlier in the day. Still it was a formality of high school, and being totally honest, he really did want to go with her to the dance. He'd need a new suit, and he already had a line on it. "I already ate here," she said. "I said later, because later I'll be hungry. I need time to primp. My hair has grass in it, and I'm all sweaty." She wasn't at all sweaty. Still they walked together a few steps until he'd asked her to Homecoming and then she stopped. Her arms slid around him and she rested her head against him. "Of course I'll go," she tip-toed up and pecked his lips. Her smile was enough to fill him with the courage to battle the Dark a hundred times if it would mean keeping her beautiful light in the world even one more day. "And thank you for asking." As quickly as the storm of her beauty had hit the rolling plains of his heart, everything became still again as she was back to old self. "It about time too. Jesus. I'll text you my ideas because we're going to need to match, I don't want you running out and getting some off-the-rack burlap sack. We'll be there together so you represent me as much yourself, oh and wah, wah, wah... wah, wah... wah... wah..." It was best to just tune her out sometimes. The sky was blue, the grass green and his friends were all having the time of his life, not to mention, he was going to Homecoming to hottest girl in school. As far as Sundays went, this one was turning out to not be so bad. (written with Marissa's player)
  12. So, of course, after dragging the entire cooler over from the barn by herself Jason felt it was certainly a good enough idea to make use of the convenience. It would figure that he was to lazy to do it on his own, but then again, why should he? He was Jason Bannon and everyone was just part of his grand experiment in becoming a real person one day. Be that as it may, Marissa had been sitting long enough. After her conversation with Lilly, which wasn't bad as far a socializing with the Nerd Herd went, she decided to it was time to at least get serious and attempt to unfuck some of the bad karma she'd levied on herself over the course of this weekend. Amazingly enough, she didn't have a scrunchie but she didn't really care at this point. With a simple shake of her head her dark brown hair she gently primped it with her nails as she approached the gangling serial killer in training. Sill, regardless of her personal feeling on the matter she didn't want to see him dead because of Enterich's thunder-wood getting so hard that he just had to kill something because 'he was the boss'. She wouldn't mind him being broken and mangled in the same way he left Liam but she sure the Fellowship would claim that it was somehow not right than some monster would treat their poor Jason that way, completely missing the point of the irony... and that was no fun. “Last stop on the apology tour?” She asked him as she approached. Ever-spectacular in her appearance, the alluring Diva really only had that as her ice breaker since already being this close to him made her skin crawl. “So, food for thought, since your the thinker and self-proclaimed genius,” she looked down the cooler he didn't consider for his guests. “Obviously.” Her hair usually appeared black, but in the brightness of the afternoon sun it's dark brown hue shimmered here and there in the sun as she continued. “Right as we get this whole Enterich name seemingly plucked from a vision and Cody's location practically handed to us for a face-off, lo and behold, the return of Lilly. Now, were this just high school drama, Jason your ashes would already scattered, your lands burned and your fields salted, but this is not high school. I've had a bad feeling for some time now, a pang in my gut. Something, and I don't know what, just doesn't feel right. I was talking about it with my brother, so, I figured it only proper to discuss it with you too.” “My point is, be careful.” Her voice was sincere and caring enough but she could fake emotion ranges the same way Cade faked being interested in what Cosmo said about his and Marissa's compatibility. “This is just a bit too convenient, at least from my perspective. We know Shades aren't always violent and we have no proof that none of us are immune to Dark influence. I mean, what Olympic try out? She's trained her whole life and no one even knows what Olympic event she was going for... and what Olympic hopeful risks injury by playing high school sports and goes to a public school? Now, all of a sudden, in our darkest hour enter the Lilly. Might be paranoia, might not. Just food for thought.” "Interesting point of view." Jason fixed her with a stare as, head tilted slightly, he considered her words, filing away the 'high school drama, ashes, burning and salting' for later review alongside Devin's earlier statement that Marissa was unhappy about him and Autumn.. also comparing with the tone of sincere care in her voice as she warned him. Another contradiction. He wasn't sure why the rancor, or why Marissa would even care who he dated: it ceased to be her business when she turned him down. But then, she was right - whatever 'logic' led her to being mad at him was less important than the Dark and its agents. "You propose Lilly was lying about the tryouts - that should be easy to determine. Competitors are registered and their events logged somewhere. Olympic hopefuls are not too low-profile for a half-decent web search." "As for Enterich being seemingly plucked from a vision..." he went on calmly. "I have no reason to disbelieve Cassandra. If she says she saw something, then until I have good logical reason to believe otherwise I shall go with that fact. Her vision might have been fooled - but to what end? To divert us from tackling Cody? We go after him tomorrow evening anyway. This Enterich, whoever he is, is secondary to that." He took another drink of water from his recently-appropriated bottle, pale green eyes on her still. "I will take your words into consideration, though." he admitted as he lowered the bottle once more. "If something does not feel right to you, then I will treat that with the same gravity as I treat Cassandra's visions." "Sure, because Sean's never faked a document in his life, go ahead, look that up, I'm sure it's legit." She rolled her eyes. "I'm not doubting Cassie, nor Lilly. I just, I don't know. My worry-dar is off the charts and right now no one seems to really want to listen to reason." She paused and sighed. "Okay, maybe I am doubting everyone... but this world we're a part of now is insane and everyday I'm just waiting for people to just peel their faces off like this whole city is one messed up Scooby-Doo episode. I just can't even, most days. I don't have powers, all I can do is worry, so I worry. A lot. Not that anyone listens, but hey, whateves." "Anyways, just stay alert," she offered in a tone that almost seemed like she cared. "Devin's going to patrol the city tonight, make sure nothing is out of the ordinary... whatever the hell that means in this town. He'll text if there's a problem, I asked him to include you in that as well since you seem to have some sort of bromance going." "Thank you." He nodded slightly. "And... for what it may be worth, I don't dismiss your intuition, Marissa. You claim to have no powers - but you do Shine. Perhaps your worry-dar is part of it. Or maybe you just have good instincts." He gave her a faint smile, the edges of his eyes crinkling slightly. "If you have a concern, I will listen to it." He paused, his smile turning a little wry and lopsided. "I might not act on it, but I will listen. And I'll stay alert." She shifted her posture slightly, a bit relieved that Jason had agreed to remain alert, but that seemed the extent of tells the her composure was willing to gift. "Well, that's it." She said tersely. "Have fun or whatever you do and enjoy the new girlfriend. If things get weird tonight you'll know." Her arms went out from her sides and fell against her scarlet sheathed hips like a girl with nothing left to say. "If you need me for anything, Devin can let me know." With that said she began walking away. For a moment, he considered asking how she and Cade were doing, perhaps trying to converse with her as the friends they had been, a week and a lifetime ago. He weighed the apparent rancor she held against the apparent sincere care she had for his life and limb - a confusing set of equations, the math not adding up. She was a study in contradictions, and he was not sure whether she liked him or disliked him. He wasn't even sure she knew. "Marissa." he called softly, watching as she looked over one finely-shaped shoulder at him. His emerald gaze was expressive for a moment, a question flashing a fin in their depths before the waters stilled once more. "Thanks again." was all he said, his manner sober.
  13. Slipped her earbuds back in and turned on her playlist again. The next song queued, starting soft at first as she shook out her limbs and did a couple of quick stretches while glancing around the farm and makeshift training area, taking in the terrain. She bobbed her head for a few moments as the track began to shift. She started at a normal jog and began to accelerate to what was easily a sprinter's pace, but for her it was a casual effort. She made a lap around the area, getting used to the speed and into the music, seeking escape in the sweat and exertion. Her conscious thinking stepped back and she began to just move and react to the terrain and improvised obstacles. She approached the barn and shifted her balance and footing, running horizontally along the wall in defiance of gravity almost to the end to change her direction before foot touched ground again. She slider under and dove, flipped, tumbled and hurdled over obstacles easily 6' tall. She almost looked like liquid, moving with such fluidity through the terrain, never stopping and barely slowing for the briefest of moments, getting more and more bold with each obstacles as her confidence in her abilities grew. Lilly used walls, trees and farm equipment to push off of to change direction, keeping her speed to around 20 mph at first, but gradually pressed on the gas, keeping it conservative out of safety for the others and respect for the farm. Finally she found herself running right at the barn again, only this time as she drew near she pushed off with a foot, her leg flexing to propel her up at an angle toward the wall, changing the direction of her inertia. Step after step came in rapid succession on the old barnwood, her toned legs pushing her farther and father up the wall until she nearly crested it. At the top Lilly slapped the roof before running back down the wall to land safely on the ground. The entire display looked almost effortless, like the young athlete was hardly even trying, and judging by the speed she had when she started up the wall, almost any onlooker could have guessed that she could have gone much higher had there been enough wall. With a smile, and even more confidence in her abilities, Lilly jogged to her truck at a normal jogging pace and grabbed the gym bag that perpetually lived there. She jogged back to the plough and dropped her bag by it, unzipping and fetching her weightlifting gloves and chalk bag from it. Casually she walked around the huge metal farming implement, slipping on her gloves and strapping them tightly as she looked for good places to place her hands. Once she completed a circuit around the plough she grabbed her chalk bag withdrew a small handful of the powder, rubbing it between her hands as the excess drifted away in a small cloud. Lilly approached one end of the plough and shook out her arms and carefully placed her hands. With a grunting of effort Lilly lifted the end of the plough, breaking it free of the dirt that had accumulated and hardened around it. Lilly shot one foot out behind her, shifting her stance, her tight rear flexing as she lifting the plough higher and higher. Shifting her grip in it in a flash, she stepped under it and lifted the end over her head, holding it there for a moment with a smile as some of her friends stared on. With some more effort, the end plough was once again on the ground. Lifting the end too some effort, but she knew she could do better. Chalking her hands again, and this time slapping them together to remove any excess in a cloud in front of her, Lilly moved to the middle of the plough. She took a few deep breaths and placed her gloved hands on the sun-warmed metal. Digging her feet into the ground, the young athlete exhaled, her amazonian physique flexing and her face contorting into a mask of exertion and her gaze intense as the teen began to life the two ton piece of farm equipment from the earth, quickly stepping under and then lifting it higher in a 'clean and jerk' weightlifting motion. She led it for a few seconds and then let out another, louder grunt of exertion as she lowered it, more or less safely, to the ground once again and then fell on her back, laying there, sports bra clad breasts and bare, washboard abdomen riding and falling quickly as she caught her breath with a huge on her face and began laughing.
  14. After about ten minutes, Jason opened his eyes and stood up once more, giving a light stretch as he cast his gaze over everyone. Autumn was talking with Devin, Cassandra was sitting with Tawny, the two blondes drinking water and speaking in low voices with much grinning and light laughter near where Marissa sunned beside the cooler. Courtney and Kat were working together on something - probably training related, given the intense expressions of focus each wore. The young Teulu's eyes sought out the athletic figure of Lilly as she practiced speed runs to and fro across the field, her velocity great enough that she was hard for the eye to track. Water bottle in hand, he went and waited patiently by where she would come to stop. Lilly had not really had a chance to fully test her limits since she had gained her new abilities, but the farm offered her enough space and seclusion to finally do so without prying eyes, so it was nice to finally begin to open up and see what her newly empowered body could really do and it was pretty exhilarating. As she turned for her return pass she could see Jase waiting down by the end of the impromptu track she was using. She began to jog back toward him, letting the powerful cords of muscle in her legs propel her at speeds she had estimated to be around 50 mph, based off of a rough distance estimation, the stopwatch on her phone and some simple math, but her stride looked to be no more than of a jog. She let up as she reached Jase, still blowing past him as she took longer and slower strides, taking a bit of distance to slow and then turned around, jogging back to him at a normal jogging pace. As she reached him, she pulled out her earbuds and rested her hands on her hips, panting, her washboard abs flexing as she caught her breath. "Hey dude, what's up?" she asked in a bit of a pant. "You said you wanted to talk." Jase replied, his cold green gaze betraying nothing more than curiousity as he studied her. "Seeing as training seems to be largely winding down, I think it would be fine to go over now." Lilly nodded. "Yeah. Cool." she said, picking up her water bottle, twisting off the cap and taking a swig. She paced a little, shaking out her limbs and still cooling down with a sheen of sweat coating her exposed skin, and getting her breathing back, despite her absurd cardio conditioning. She also took the time to compose her thoughts a bit; what she was going to say and how to word it and what not, which she had already done to some degree over the last week. After a few moments she caught her breath again, took another swig and looked to Jase as she twisted the cap back on her bottle. "I just wanted to apologize." she finally said with a bit of a sigh. It seemed like she was a broken record today, owning up to her shit and trying to set things straight with everybody in a day. Third times the charm, right? she thought to herself. "I-" she said, pausing a moment to bite on the side of her bottom lip for a moment, one of her nervous affectations that Jase had noticed long before any of them had their powers. "I'm sorry for what I said and did. You know, saying you weren't trying and trying to change you and all that. I just... I thought I was helping... helping you even, but this last week I had a long time to think and I realized what I was trying to do was for my benefit, really." she admitted with a sigh, her brown eyes finally looking down at the ground for a moment before rising back up to meet his gaze. "I just wanted my old friend back, you know? The one who would slouch in the passenger seat in the truck, hang out and game, and get me to transport liquor to an illegal bonfire." she explained, adding the last part with her crooked half grin. "It's just- You changed. We all have really. I mean, it's impossible not to, with time, sure, but really with these abilities we now have." Lilly looked back to her bottle for a moment, taking a break from Jase's gaze before returning to it after a few moments. "You confided in me and I. well, you know." She paused. "Instead of trying to understand you, I tried to change you, and that was selfish of me. I should have accepted you for who you were, or became, or are or whatever. I'm sure that a few words now is not going to repair all the damage done, but I hope it is at least a start." she said, finally looking away as her eyes began to twinkle a little with moisture, blinking it away. His gaze had remained on her the entire time she had spoken, no flicker of emotion visible either on the angles of his features or in the icy depths of his eyes. As she apologised, however, his head tilted very slightly, the only outward sign that the heartfelt apology had any effect... though what that effect was it was hard for Lilly to say. As she'd confessed, she didn't know this 'new' Jason, who wasn't shy and seldom slouched and didn't try to make himself invisible. There was no pity in his expression as he watched her look away and blink, but there was - perhaps - a level of cognitive understanding. "Laurie had a similar issue." he said quietly. "She wanted her secondary backup big brother back. She was freaked out that she'd spent years around someone she thought was a stray pup, shy and odd but harmless, only to find out that the pup was a wolf cub when he was nearly grown." The tall, lean youth regarded Lilly calmly. "Or perhaps a lion cub would be a better analogy. Anyway-" he shrugged, dismissing that thought. "Accepting something radically different, especially when it is dangerous - or potentially dangerous - is hard. You are not the only one who struggled - and still struggles - to do so. Most present here are rife with fears and misconceptions. And why shouldn't they be?" "I don't fault you for having a hard time accepting the truth of me." Jason went on in that same inexorably logical, calm tone. "My anger was purely at the implication I do not try, minute by minute, day by day, to restrain myself. And now you have apologised, and I believe you to be sincere, I consider that quarrel closed." His lips twitched very faintly in a smile. "Next time I need some illegal liquor transporting to a party, consider yourself tagged in." Well, to be honest..." she said, taking in a deep breath, "It's like, I dunno, you were my friend. And then Devin and Mari showed up, the duo that had been terrorizing the school for years. And it's like with a 'bro' and a bat of eyelashes, you were suddenly their friend, hanging out with them, fixing cars together and all that, backing them up and scolding me. It felt like it wasn't just that my friend had changed, but that I lost him too. And regardless of the actual situation, that is how it looked and felt. And that is why I stayed away after that. You had told me you liked me and all that and then suddenly you seemed to be-." Lilly sighed. "Nevermind." "Exactly. Nevermind." Jason's features were composed once more. "Words were exchanged. Opinions shifted. Feelings cooled. Looking back over your shoulder wishing for everything to be as it was is foolish." His eyes took on a glitter of hoarfrost. "And if you think all it takes is a bat of eyelashes and some shallow camaraderie to earn my trust and friendship, then perhaps you do not truly understand me in the slightest, and the foundation for our friendship was not as solid as you thought. Perhaps you only liked my mask, the false Jase." He shrugged. "That is broadly defined as a 'you' problem, Lilly." Lilly's expression grew more serious rather quickly at Jase's response. Here he was again, the Jase as the last time she tried to have an honest, heartfelt conversation with him. It made her wonder for a moment if it was even worth it. Maybe he would never actually hear her or understand. Maybe he couldn't. Regardless, it was irritating. "Okay, clearly you missed that I said it was it seemed and looked and that I was a too caught up in other stuff to see. And if you think that I'd rationally think that is all it took to to earn your trust.. that you think that little of me.. then that's yo-" she quickly responded, a twinge of irritation in her voice. Cutting her sentence short, she shook her head. She closed her eyes, took in a deep breath and slowly exhaled. "Every time I try to talk to you about feeling or emotions this happens. I was just trying to explain where I was coming from so that you might better understand and gain some insight, bringing us together. I guess that's on me. My bad." Lilly explained, holding up her hands in a 'my bad' gesture. Lilly had been able to weather Mari's snark and jibes because she at least felt she understood her a bit and could see more of who she really was. But maybe that was an impossibility with Jase. Maybe she had to set her goal lower. Who knows? "Okay, look. I didn't come here to fight or argue, Jason. If there's shit that you have been wanting to say to me, and want to let it out now then go for it if it will help you. But I did not come here to argue to push us further apart. I wanted to bring us back together, or at least start the process. I know I will never have my friend back. Neither will you. We've all changed, but I hoped we could still be friends, at least someday. Barring that, I'd hope we could at least put out shit aside to work together, because what's going on is so much bigger than you you or I. I'd prefer the former, but I can live the latter. Whichever it is is up to you." "My curtness was because I have already explained, in the past conversations, how my friendship with Devin and Marissa came to be - in response to you bringing up the same talking point before. My impression just now was that you were trying to revisit that old discussion for some reason that I did not see the point in. As I said, I consider the quarrel closed." Jason's tone didn't shift from it's glacial calm. "Not that it would affect whether or not I could work with you against the Dark anyway. You are capable and trustworthy - a good ally. As for friends... what happens from now onwards is another matter. I'm more than content to work with you, and perhaps a truer friendship is not out of the question. I neither expect it nor rule it out. The only way to find out is to move forward and see." He inclined his head and took a sip of water before fixing her with that depthless, calculating stare. "Was that all you wished to discuss?" Maybe they would never be friends again. She was not suer if that was even possible. She has said she wanted to be friends, but now wasn't so sure. Like Jase said, only time will tell. Still, things could have gone much, much worse, she supposed. At least two out of three going better than reasonably expected wasn't bad, even if they had caused her to get her hopes up for a full hat trick. It is what it is." "You know, with that tone and demeanor and logic, you can be really, really frustrating?" Lilly chuckled with a grin as she shook her head again. "Hell, I'm probably frustraing to you, if you even can get frustrated. I dunno." she added with a shrug of her bare shoulders and another chuckle. "And yeah, there is other stuff. Some will have to wait for another time though. But for now, I wouldn't mind some help with testing or evaluating what I can do. I mean, every since this change there is obvious stuff, like all my sense got turned up and I seem to heal faster, my memory is better and stuff, but when I have been running or lifting or free running, I've known that I was only using a fraction of my potential. I know I can run faster, jump higher, life more."she explained as she shook out one toned and well muscled limb at a time, looking them over. "Running here, just now, is the most that I have put my foot on the gas yet. I feel I'm faster though. Like, that wasn't even an all out sprint. And in the weight room on time, it was after school so I locked the door and put all the weight on the bar that I could and still lifted it. But the thing is, I feel I can do more. Hell, I feel like I could literally run right up a wall, like, to the roof." Lilly explained. "Interesting. Your velocity is certainly enough to counter gravity to an extent. Practice that there, then." Jason suggested as he indicated the large barn. "Just promise you won't go crashing through the wall into my hothouse." he added with a raised brow and the ghost of a smile. "As for lifting... The tractor plough there is a fairly solid two tons of steel. Attempting to lift that might give you a better evaluation on your strength." It was slightly jarring still, the way he could smoothly shift from discussing personal conflict to working out ways for Lilly to test her potential without any hesitation. "As for your flat out speed... We might need a larger stretch of ground with fewer eyes." he considered for a moment. "Like the Utah salt flats, perhaps. Devin might be willing to act as transport. You can measure off a ten-mile straight run and see how fast you can finish it. That might need to wait for another day, though, depending on his schedule. For now, what you can do with your speed is more important than how fast you are." Lilly nodded, eyeing him for a moment as though she wanted to say something more, then nodded again and turned away. Jason did likewise, walking over to the cooler with the water bottles and extracting another, leaving his empty on the discard pile. Cooling the bottle with a thought, he unscrewed the cap and brought it to his lips, taking a deep drink, then glanced around to see how everyone was doing.
  15. Jase's impromptu winter attracted Cassandra's attention, and she laughed at the spectacle of the lopsided snowball 'fight' that ensued. It stirred a corner of her head that wondered idly about how each of the Fellowship had a unique specialty. There were talents they shared between them, but no one seemed to have a real depth of strength in the same talents. That seemed...not random, didn't it? Mulling that over, Cassie strolled over to where Jase had settled down to brood, no longer paying attention to the others for a few minutes. "Hey," she said. "Mind if I sit here for a second?" "Not at all." The lean youth said without opening his eyes, gesturing at the grass with one hand before returning it to his knee. As usual, he displayed no sign that anything had been interrupted or that she was, in some way, intruding. Instead his eyes opened as the pretty blonde settled across from him, studying her for a long moment without speaking further, his attitude one of patient expectation. "Sorry if I'm breaking into your 'you time,'" Cassandra said, studying Jaseon right back. "You have my permission to tell me to get lost, not that I think you really need it." She smiled. "Your snowball fight got me thinking a few things, and one of them is that I want some practice working with powers. Lilly's got me started learning about punching and stuff...but I'll eat my bra if the Dark doesn't have some kind of ability like we do. It's...too similar, you know? Opposite, but similar." "A corruption of ours, perhaps." Jason said calmly, his gaze attentive. "The opposite of Radiance, as Coyote called it. Or maybe both are universal cosmic constants, eternally at odds from the beginning, like matter and anti-matter." His lips twitched in a slight smile. "And if I truly wanted to be alone, I would go elsewhere. You are always free to speak to me, Cassandra." She nodded in response. "So, once you've had a chance to rest, would you help me out with powers? I figure it might be easier with you because your powers are really noticible. With Devin he'd be jumping around too much, and most of the rest of us there's not much you can see with your eyes." "Of course." Jason nodded. "I can do some basic exercises without requiring much juice." He considered for a heartbeat. "How about this - I try to telekinetically shove you off-balance, and you attempt to counter me with your own powers-" he paused for a moment. "Out of curiousity, how would you counter that?" Cassie poked the inside of her cheek out with her tongue, then said, "I can see Shine when I try. And there was a couple of times when I sort of...without really thinking about it...used my Shine to sort of push or cut someone else's. Like when Courtney tried to read my mind before. I haven't really had a chance to try to do it on purpose yet though." "Interesting." Twin pale chips of green ice narrowed fractionally at her words. "So something like Clara's ability to cancel out powers. She was able to make me lose my telekinetic grip on things in her vicinity last time we trained. Good - I was concerned that her departure would rob us of that valuable talent." He was silent for a moment longer, considering. "Then yes, TK is the way to go. At least until we get a relative measure of your strength." Cassandra felt an invisible 'hand' firmly grasp her shoulder. "I will attempt to push, and you will try to make my grip ineffective. The worst that will happen is you get pushed over. Are you ready?" She took in and let out a breath, and nodded. "Okay." Then she closed her eyes to help focus on other, subtler senses. It took a second, but she remembered the chaos at the Medical Center, and how she'd managed to see both the Shine of her friends and the swirling Dark of the other creatures, heedless of walls and obstacles. And then there was Jase...unrecognizable compared to how he looked as a creature of flesh and blood. He was a river of light, covered in twisting tributaries that together twined and wove something roughly the size and shape of a person, but only roughly. As alien as it looked, Cass could tell immediately it was Jase. The 'hand' on her shoulder was essentially just an extrusion of that shining light, stretching from him to her. WIth a frown, she pushed at it...and saw her own Shine extend out from her shoulder, between herself and his own...and the sensation of pressure vanished. "Good." Jason said as he felt the grip brushed aside as though it were cobwebs. "Now I'm going to try sudden shoves. No warning but your own senses. These don't tax me at all, so we can keep this up as long as you like. Deflect or weaken as many as you can." Cassie nodded, and for the next five minutes a silent, invisible duel played out between the two teens. Jason was strong with his gift, with focus that came from living with it and using it as an extension of himself much as Devin did. Despite that, Cassie was able to weaken many of the shoves so they merely made her sway, and others dissipated into fog much as the first had. One or two, however, got through before she could adequately focus, with enough force that if felt like Cade or Lilly was playfully shoving her over to sprawl on the grass. "Okay," Cass grunted as she picked herself up off the ground for the third time. "Okay. I am gonna need a lot more practice at this." She shook her hands out...a little pointlessly, since they weren't needed for this, but it still felt right. Despite being purely mental, Cass found it hard to untangle her powers from her sense of her body. "And," she added, "I'm kind of wondering just how far out I can push my Shine like this. What I kind of wish was that we had a little Dark to practice with though, you know? What if it's different in some really important way?" "For the second question - the only answer will be trial by fire." Jason said with glacial calm. "Until we establish your ability against the Dark, then we cannot hinge any tactics on it." His head tilted very slightly. "You will be with us anyway, to guide us across the threshold. Once there, do what you can. You cannot be asked more than that." "As to the first question..." Three water bottles rose from the growing discard pile and began circling the seated pair at a range of roughly thirty meters. "Try to block what I am doing. Protect the empty bottles, make me lose my grip on them. If they are out of range, then I shall bring them in. If they are within your range, we shall extend. Sound good?" She nodded and lowered her head in concentration. Pushing the Shine out was easy at first, but rapidly became harder the farther it went. Even so, after a few tries she managed to get the distance she could make the bottles drop at extend to a good ten feet or so. With more effort Jase could feel the extra effort he had to exert further out still... By the time Cassandra finally waved a white flag out of just being tired, she'd been able to force Jase's mental fingers from them at over a hundred feet away, or so they estimated. Cass then asked, "Could you send one of those bottles my way?" She fanned herself and wiped her forehead. "This is thirsty work. I think I'm kind of...doing it wrong. Each time I try I've been pushing out again, but I think it's easier if I just push, and hold." Jason nodded, a fresh bottle rising from the cooler and arcing through the air to hover within easy arms reach of the girl. "You're doing well. And yes, establishing a constant zone of control would likely be easier, if you can." The water in the bottle cooled, beads of condensation forming and running down the sides even as Cass reached for it. "Have a drink and a rest, then we can try that." She unscrewed the cap and eagerly guzzled a few gulps, then splashed her face with it. "Ugh, between this and Lilly's workout, I'm gonna be a wreck by the time I get home," Cassie observed with a wry chuckle. "You ever wonder, like...how many powers we can have? I can see things at a distance, and back in time. Now I can mess with other people's powers too. What's next? How can we even tell?" "Our powers seem to be outgrowths of our personalities, drives, core passions." Jase's eyes tightened a little in contemplation. "I've theorised a lot around that, based on the evidence. Autumn has powers over life, suiting her vital nature and restlessness. Devin's core drive is freedom, and so his power reflects the ultimate ability to avoid confinement. You seek answers, the truth at the heart of things, and so your powers provide you with insights into the present, past, and maybe the future, as well as into the fundamental forces we all tap into. And so on, and so on." He smiled then, an impish glint of wry humor in his gaze. "But what's really going to bake your noodle is... Does our Radiance reflect our personalities, or were our personalities shaped by the Radiance within us?" "I was going to say, that felt backwards to me," Cassandra agreed, nodding. "Starting from the conclusion, and making shit up that justifies it. I'm not saying what you came up with is wrong, but...like everyone wants freedom, you know? And what about your powers? What secret mental need do they fill?" "Does everyone want freedom?" Jason asked rhetorically. "Really? How many rules and strictures and codes of behaviour do people bind themselves in willingly? How many religious cults have there been to take the onus for moral thought? How often do you hear someone say they could not help it, or had no choice? True freedom is scary to many." "Ehhh, I dunno. I don't think it's the freedom that's scary. I think it's not trusting other people with freedom," Cassie opined. "All the rules and strictures and codes are things we sign onto partly because that's just how we grew up...but it's also because we expect everyone else to abide by them too. Like everyone agreeing to follow the rules of a game. Only, you know, higher stakes." "It doesn't mean we aren't interested in our own freedom." "I think many don't understand what freedom really is. They tend to ignore the fact it also entails responsibility." Jason shrugged. "But then, I have a unique perspective. I choose to be bound by fetters that are, to me, no more substantial than a puff of silk. I do so not because I have no choice, but because I so choose. And if I chose differently, nothing would stop me. I can be killed, but I cannot be bound indefinitely against my will. I will never accept such bonds and, like Fenrir of Norse myth, would eventually escape them... or die trying." "And that brings us to your other question. My expression of Shine - it is an outgrowth of my core as well. Fire for passion, ice for control, force for Will. These define me." "We all have a choice, dude. Granted, most of us can't just ignore what other people think because they can't hurt us," Cassie admits, "But we have choice. There's just clearly bad choices that will result in us dying alone, and clearly better choices that will result in us dying...later. And hopefully not alone." She shrugs. "But anyway. It's as good a theory as anything else at this point. I guess if we want real science done, we have to go crawling back to Aeon, and that's not really appealing for some reason." "Its a new frontier of science, so there'll be a lot of theorising." Jason nodded. "And some of it the conventional scientists of Aeon's project would be less than helpful with - we need their resources, not their brain trust... at least for the most part. It would be better for us to formulate a working theory ourselves without being talked down to. So far, the theory of the subquantum strata myself and Sean are cooking up seems to hold. So far." he added with a brief wry smile. "And yes, you're right that trusting those who funded Cook's little eugenics project is not appealing. It may, however, be necessary. At least to a degree. If they claim they want to help us, then we should allow them - cautiously - to attempt to do so. Trust can be built from there." His matter-of-fact demeanour unchanging, he went on "Do you feel up to attempting that zone of control yet?" Cassandra nodded. "Cooperation may be necessary. Trust...we'll see. Yeah though, lets get back to it." She got back to her feet and tossed her head around a bit. Then, she tried pushing her 'shine' out in all directions, as far as she could...and just holding it. Filling that area with it. "This...isn't so bad," she said after a second. "There's this push at first...but then it gets easier to hold it. See what happens when you try to float stuff." Jason nodded, and attempted to pick up the first of the empty bottles from the grass. It trembled slightly, rolling as his 'grasp' slipped and faded, but otherwise did not move. Focusing more intently, he reached out and tried again. This time the bottle rose into the air, but he could feel the grasp was tenuous, weaker. Nodding, he floated the bottle towards them. "It's harder." he said with a smile. "I have to concentrate a lot harder to do something that should be reflexively easy." Even as he said it, the distortion of Cassandra's zone of control caused his grip on the bottle to falter and the empty container fell to the grass. "Interesting. It's affecting my kinetic perceptions a little, too. Like trying to see through fog. If your power can affect the source used by the Dark in the same way, we might have a real advantage." "Especially if I can tune it in," she agreed, frowning in concentration. "So it affects the Dark, but not us. But that'll also make me a big target..." "We will have to take steps to defend you, then." Jason nodded slowly as he considered. "There's something I want to try, if you're willing? It should work, and if so will be painless." Cassandra eyed Jase warily. "Something you want to try...that's painless. Explain while I get ready to run.." That was good for a smile that reached the pale eyes, the corners crinkling a little. "I can protect myself with a forcefield that turns aside and dampens energy of all kinds, including kinetic. I can also create shapes, tools and structures out of pure force that are mobile and usable. Theoretically, I should be able to extend my personal shield to others on an individual basis." "Oh!" Cassandra thought, then said, "Try it on me, and I'll leave my shine on. Lets see if we can get them to work together." "Alright. Tune your field of control away from Shine, focus on the anti-Shine you've sensed and felt before." Jason advised, picking up his half-full bottle of water from next to him as he focused on Cassandra. As the reporter nodded in the affirmative, Jason smiled... and hurled the bottle at her chest... ...where it stopped dead on impact, all of it's momentum bled away harmlessly before it fell to the ground at the blonde's feet. "It seems to work." Jason said calmly, that gleam of mischief back in his eyes. Cassie put a hand up to her chest over her heart and rubbed her shirt there, as if verifying the lack of bruising. She grinned and shook her head. "Man, not complaining that I have magic super powers, but I gotta say, it mighta been nice if my unconscious mind gave me something a little more kickass than 'mega-voyuerism.'" She looked at her fingers as she held them up and wiggled them. "Though I guess if I can hold back powers, that's not bad. Unless the Dark starts hiring normal assassins and sending them after me." "That is what Lilly's training is for." Jason said quietly. "It's why I train with Hank, and study widely on a variety of subjects, and run to keep fit. The powers should not be a crutch, but one arrow of many in your quiver. For me, that is just an evolution of my prior attitude - to be competent in as many disciplines as I could. For others... Who can say?" He smiled a little at her. "Like it or not, we are all warriors now. Not all front-line, but our attitude has to be one of preparation." She sighs. "Yeah, but it takes years to get good at something like martial arts, you know? And between this Enterich guy, and Crossroads...we have more than just the Dark to worry about. As if it wasn't enough." "True. And Site B." Jason nodded, the faint pressure of the forcefield around Cass dropping away. "And even after that, we're not necessarily done. Who knows what fresh challenges come after?" "The other aliens," Cassandra agreed. "If Coyote was telling the truth about them. The ones who didn't want people developing powers." The teen reporter folded her arms over her stomach, unconsciously protecting her underbelly. "What do you think we should do? I mean...after the Dark, after Crossroards and Site B. Try to blend in with everyone? Go public with powers? Something in between?" "Whatever we choose will present difficulty. Go public, and people will attempt to lay claim to us, to vilify or glorify us, to make us heroes or villains... or heroes then villains, much as they do all their idols. Try to blend in, and we shackle ourselves by trying to avoid standing out. Something in between? What would that look like? Secret identities? Masks and spandex?" He gave a lopsided smile. "Whatever we choose, it will be interesting." "That's not really an answer," points out Cass. "But okay. I just can't help but think there's a lot going on that people need to know about. Things that would...totally transform our understanding of the world, and ourselves, and the universe." She shrugs. "It feels selfish to keep it to ourselves." Then Cassandra glanced at Jase again and asked, "So...okay change of subject. Autumn. How's that going?" He was silent for a moment, considering her as the lopsided smile faded and left his habitual stoic composed mien, then "Do you really want to know?" The question was quietly, but genuinely asked. Cassandra smiled. "I always want to know." "It is a series of revelations." Jason said simply, without any sign of discomfort or embarrassment. "From the moment she talked with me, expressed genuine interest in me, then hugged me last Monday, as a friend taking away pain, to the camping trip and the fun we had together, to the first kiss, to that night and so on through to today." His eyes never left Cassie's as he spoke calmly. "Her touch makes my blood warm, her kisses linger even when she is not here. I find myself laying awake thinking on her laugh, her smile, the way she feels when she puts her arms around me. It is an effort for me not to be distracted by her." He smiled then, very slightly. "You asked." She nods, not seeming put out at all. "I mean...here though." Cass stepped forward and put her hand on Jase's heart. "It wasn't that long ago you were telling everyone you're a psychopath. How do you feel about her?" "It may be possible I was wrong about the psychopathy." Jason shrugged a little. "Certainly, no psychopath should be capable of feeling as I feel. Loyalty to you as friends, love for my father, and for Autumn..." he sighed softly, glancing down at Cassie's hand on his heart, then back at her eyes. "I am young, whatever else I am. I do not wish to speak the word that comes to mind, in case it's utterance causes her to retreat from me. She is, after all, also young. Let us just say I feel very strongly towards her." Cassandra's eyes stayed glued to Jase's for a second, inhaling his expression, his posture and movements, the shifting of his eyes...then she nodded. "Okay. Good. If you want to talk...I mean, to someone other than her...you can talk to me." She took her hand back. "Thank you." he inclined his head, not smiling. "And likewise. You are her friend, and mine." "Right." Looking around again, Cassandra chewed her bottom lip for a second, then said to Jase. "Okay. I think that's enough for me, for now. I'll let you rest up. Thanks for helping me out. I feel better about going with you guys." Jason nodded, settling back down to his sitting position. "I'm glad you are our Eyes." he said simply, before closing his. Cassie nods, then heads out to see who else she can pester...
  16. Lilly found a spot to sit a think a little, somewhat out of the way, but not really apart from the others. She enjoyed watching them, the sight bringing a smile to her face. As she sat there watching the others though, she noticed somebody doing much the same as herself; Marissa. For her part Marissa did not seem to be enjoying herself nearly as much. It dawned on Lilly that Marissa probably felt rather out off place among the rest of the Fellowship, for various reasons. With a final swig Lilly finished off her bottle of water and headed back to the cooler, discarding her empty bottle with the others before collecting two more bottles. After all, approaching with something of an olive branch would not hurt, right? With bottles in hand Lilly walked off took a wide arch around the perimeter of the makeshift training area to approach Marissa from the side, like she were some predator while on safari. The analogy was not that far off, to be sure, but still Lilly hoped she might catch her a little off guard and more real, rather than giving her extra time to develop snarky comments as she approached. "Hey Marissa." Lilly said as she drew near. "You got a minute to talk?" she asked, offering her one of the bottles of water. "If not, that's cool. We can talk whenever, if ever, you feel like it." she added, giving her the power by leaving it in her hands. "Lovely," Marissa said with a mixture of a sigh and breath of unfeeling emotional tension. She covered her eyes with her hand, her taloned acrylic nails were a matching shade to her skin tight yoga/super heroine/desperate to be noticed red workout attire and she mentally prepared herself for what was about to happen by massaging her temples for a moment. "Suppose it was only a matter time before your sparkly, righteous compass brought you in my direction," oh, the vitriol was there. Lily knew snark after two years in high school and right now Marissa's tone was at an eight, and rising. "Let me guess, realized you're going to be stuck in this ass end of nowhere town for the rest of your life now and decided it would be wise to patch things up in case your certificate from a technical college isn't enough and you need to come to me for a job when I own this dust bomb? Sorry, sister, I plan on dozing the whole place to the ground." She turned to Lily and looked her up and down. "I could use a personal assistant." She swiped away the thought with a flick of her wrist. "No. Ugh, what do you want? It's bad enough I have to deal with Tawny, the last thing I need is your 'love can save your soul' idealism." Lilly rolled her eyes and sighed with a faint grin on her lips. Well, that was about as best of a greeting as she could have reasonably hoped for. Strangely, with what Lilly had heard about Marissa being there for, and support, the rest of the Fellowship, she had a different take on her. Her snark lots much of its sting now that Lilly say her more for who she really was, so it did not bother her all that much. Twisting off the cap of her own bottle, the athletic teen took a seat near Marissa and took a sip of her water while she took a moment to think about her. Brushing aside Marissa's opening salvo, Lilly forged on "I just wanted to apologize for what I said and how I acted before. I was too caught up in the past and what you did and who you were that I could not see you for who you are now and what you were doing. That's on me. Everybody can change, but I was took caught up in my own shit to see it. I didn't give you a fair chance and for that honestly I'm sorry. You were trying to help, in your own way and with your unique and finely honed communication style." "Like, I didn't mean to cut you off the other day. I was just trying to help too. Honestly, it felt like, I dunno. They were my friends and then you came in, and though you were trying to help, all I could see was the person you had been for years, and now you were here, with my friends and..." Lilly shook her head and sighed. "No matter what had happened in the past, the important part was that you were there and trying to help, and I did not give you a chance. And for that, I'm sorry." she added and then reached up and undid her ponytail, shaking her hair out and letting her long, dark locks fall about her back and shoulders, a sight rarely seen, even by her friends. Slipping the scrunchy over her wrist she continued, "Your were trying help us, even me, and I trampled all over whatever trust or good faith you might have had for me. I'm sure that me apologizing now isn't gonna fix it either, but in all seriousness, I do hope it's not too late for us to maybe be friends one day at least. And if that off the board, then that's my bad and I would at least hope we could put our shit aside for the sake of, well, everybody else, and at least work together." "I'd rather have a friend, but I understand if that's not an option for you anymore, and I guess I'd just have to live with it if that were the case." Lilly could see the similarities in the twins, especially as Marissa's expressions and body language was nearly identical to her brother's as she listened through the apology. She could tell the teenage beauty queen was stuck on tumbling a few of the harsher things she had planned on saying and replacing them with more 'scathing retorts', which was a considerable downgrade in Lilly's favor. She adjusted uncomfortably, as sentiment and kindness were like sunlight to Tim Curry's Darkness. Her sharp nail caught some of her hair and she brushed up passed her ear on the side of her Lilly was speaking. Why a girl needed claws for finger nails, Lilly couldn't guess. As a fashion statement they had some measure of sex appeal, but they sure didn't seem practical. "Well," she adjusted uncomfortably again, search for something cruel to say. Her standards made it difficult this time, however, since Lilly had really given her nothing to be cruel about. Any attack now would make Marissa the villain, and that just wouldn't do. She resigned with a loud sigh of discontent. "Fine, look, whatever." "I suppose I can't fault you," She wasn't about to bring up that Lilly actually took a moment to realize that Marissa was trying to help the others, even if they didn't realize it. They were so wrapped up in hormones and unearthing secrets, that they didn't seem to pragmatically see the forest through the trees. Which was where Marissa assumed she could help them. "Watching these lemmings is much akin to chimps flinging their feces. It's comical at first, but after the novelty wears off you begin to wonder what it is they're actually trying to accomplish. That's not on you. In your absence they were still stumbling and bumbling about." "I've never had friends," she admitted. "Autumn is supposed to be my bestie and I don't even know what that means, we're kind of bumbling about too. My point is," she sighed again like she was bored with the conversation, but it was easy to tell it was just how she was. "Maybe not everything is your fault. So... it's... it's fine." Lilly blinked for a moment, fairly taken aback by Marissa's response. 'Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst' was advice she had tried to take to heart in this situation, but in all honestly Marissa had responded much better than she had even hoped. No insults, accusation, jibes, or snarky comments and what that actually a hint of understanding and actual forgiveness? Whoa! And then something Marissa had said fully hit her. "I've never had friends" The very thought made Lilly feel for the girl that had been such a terror on campus and, if she was telling the truth (and it certainly seemed like it), it gave Lilly a little more insight into Marissa. "Well look," Lilly began, "...if you ever want to add another friend, I know I'd be honored. And I mean that seriously. The others might have missed it, but from what I heard about last week, and what I have seen for myself, I know there is a lot more to you, Marissa Jauntsen, 'Oh Great and High Queen of Shelly High', than this 'Stunningly Beautiful, Cold-Heated Queen with impeccable fashion sense and better hair and nails' mask you wear around." Lilly said with small, warm smile. "And really nice outfit, by the way. The red look really good on you." she added, motioning up and down Marissa with her water bottle. "Everything looks good on me," she said with the assuredness of Tarantino and the taste of his coffee. She returned Lilly's once over of appraisal. "Speaking of, we have Homecoming coming up. I've taken it upon myself to make sure we Fellowdivas look amazing, because, well, the Fellowdivas are amazing. Frankly if I'm going to be a part of this collection of misfits and microbial infection modern medicine refers to as 'hormones' and 'growing up', I'm not about to let any of you embarrass me. If I can make Cassandra look like more than the cast off spit bucket of hand-me-downs one worn by the Manson women, then I'm almost positive I can do something with," her finger waggled up and down, signifying Lilly in her entirety. "This whole sweat and muscle morality Paladin who's looking to finish high school as a virgin, thing you have going on." Once again she gave her the once over, then shrugged. She lifted her loose hair up an played with it for a moment. "I mean, maybe, I don't know. At least you seem to know what a brush is... I might be able to Edna Mode the shit out of you in time for Homecoming." Several times as Mari was speaking and making her evaluations of Lilly and her hair, Lilly had opened her mouth as to say something only to close it again. Once again, this was far beyond what the reaction she had even hoped to get from Marissa. On one level, it was odd that this level of snark and jibes from her was considered 'better than expected', but then again, things are best taken in stride. "Uh, thanks?" Lilly-half said and half-asked as Mari evaluated her and toyed with her hair. "You know, I was thinking about dying it blond for Homecoming. What do you think?" she asked, combing her fingers through her hair. "I think it's your hair," she shrugged. "Lord knows we have enough 'natural' redheads around here. You'd think this place was where all the Irish fled to during the 1920s. Look, as long as you have outfits to go with it and you feel comfortable in your own skin? Don't worry about what I think. Do you. Screw what Shelly and masses think. It's what I do, and I'm the hottest girl in school, so I must at least be doing something right." "If you don't have a decent dress for Homecoming, let me know." Marissa took a drink from her water and tried not to make it look like she was being nice. "I have several and there's no point in spending money on a dress when we both know mine will look way better and maybe even get a guy to notice you." "Well, I don't yet. I was maybe gonna to go dress shopping this week, in Great Fa-" was all that Lilly got out before Marissa cut her off. "Off the rack?" the three words left Mari's lips dripping with disgust and a hint of surprise. "Oh no. You're not going to show up wearing some generic, mass produced, ill-fitting, burlap sack that some other girl might be wearing. No, no. You are a Fellowdiva. Come by and we'll have one of my dresses tailored. 'Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.' Coco Chanel said that." "Huh. I guess that makes sense." Lilly said, contemplating if that was one of Mari's 'Rules To Live By '. "You know, now that I think about it, I know that you always do look impeccably dressed and smokin' hot, but I can't say I remember too many of the outfits. It's more of just an impression of you in my head, that you are always stylin' and hot. Huh. That's kinda interesting." she said thoughtfully, idly wonder if might of it might be some gift of Marissa's, but then remembered it way baclk to years before the bonfire. "Ugh. I have so much to teach you before the dance." Marissa said with a mildly irritated or frustrated sigh. Lilly reached over placed a hand on Mari's thigh as she looked her in the eyes. "Everything aside, thank you, Marissa, for listening and understanding and for your help, not just with the dance, but with everything with all of them too." she said, motioning over to the others with a tilt of her head. Marissa almost seemed sentimental for a moment but before the veneer cracked completely she composed herself and shrugged. "Lilly, families fight. My brother and me go at it at home. Name calling, insults, trying to get the other in trouble with Mom, fighting, but matter what I know my brother loves me and he's always there for me. That's just how family is." There was an implication there she simply let hover in the air. "Now go," like her brother, she waved Lilly off. "I can only tolerate so much kindness and display so much charity before the evil enchantments begin to fade. It's tears and sorrow that keep me beautiful. Go harass people about your dice games and protein shake recipes." "Speaking of dice games... Maybe one day you'll tell me what you play, or played at least. I'm guessing Sorcerer, but who knows." Marissa blinked at Lilly in either surprise or confusion. It was hard to discern. "I mean, generally people our age don't toss around terms like 'Paladin' unless they are D&D gamers, or they are talking about self-propelled artillery. So maybe one day you'll tell me what you play and, who knows, maybe even join our table. Until then, your secret is safe with me." Lilly said with a grin and a wink as she rose to her feet. "And yeah, families fight. So what I hear you saying then is that we are sisters. Got it." Lilly added with a nod and bigger grin as she plugged her ears and stated going, "Lalalala Can't hear you! Lalala." and ran off with a laugh.
  17. *fwumph* As snowballs went it was the size of a baseball and loosely-packed, so it didn't really strike with any impact as it landed with unerring accuracy atop the fleeing girl's head, causing a shriek of surprised laughter as she felt the ice melt and run down her neck. "No fair!" she protested, turning to face him as she retreated further, laughing and red-cheeked. The Chiefest and Effingest of Calamities simply smiled, then held out his hand as another snowball began to form. "Noooo! Okay okay! Not the barn!" Autumn was giggling as she surrendered, then fixed him with a mock glare. "You are so gonna get it when winter arrives, mister." "Bring it." Jase shifted in an imitation of a movie martial art stance, beckoning her like Bruce Lee. Giggling some more, Autumn blew him a kiss then turned and headed over to the others. Jason watched her go, apparently unsmiling until one noticed the expression in his eyes, then he sat down again on the grass, folding his legs and resting his hands on his knees as he took a deep breath. He could feel his personal reserves of Shine were still a little low after the epic spar with Devin, and so took advantage of the quiet to do a little reflection and centering. He was satisfied that he had allayed Autumn's fears and worries about her power - at least if her reaction was anything to go by. She seemed happier, positively jubilant when his mentioning of plants had caused her to jump to microbes and bacteria, getting excited at the possibilities. And yes, her power was ripe with possibility. She could cure cancer, develop a cure for viral diseases, possibly even reverse the aging process in a human being much as Kat had turned back the clock on the tractor plough. He looked forward, once the conflicts ahead of them were resolved, to working on such fields, on tackling the challenges with her. Right now, though, he went Inside, wandering the halls of his mnemonic palace, reviewing the loosened bonds now permitting his more savage self to roam a little more freely, and ensuring none of them had slipped too far or too much. Devin had been right that a balance needed to be struck, and during the fight Jason believed he'd found that fulcrum point. Having found it, however, he had to acknowledge that it was not a static point, and could shift and unbalance readily without careful tending. A tightrope walk, with a rope that lengthened or thickened unpredictably. Another challenge to rise to, then.
  18. “Hmm.” Autumn’s eyebrows knit together as she turned the thought over in her head, absently reaching up with one hand to rest her bronze-flecked fingers on Jason’s. She’d really only thought of how her powers applied to ‘life’ in the context of animals and people; humans could obviously be kind of a grey area because they had things like higher logic and the free will to make decisions, but the idea of intentionally hurting a creature who couldn’t even understand why it was in pain made her stomach churn. The concept was antithetical to everything she’d ever been taught about hunting, and about being a good steward of the land and its resources. Or even, she believed, about just being a good person in general. Not everyone agreed, of course. She remembered the two very different, very traumatized cats they’d removed from Crossroads, and the girl’s thoughtful frown deepened. Plants, though? Unless by some weird twist of fate the old memes about screaming trees turned out to be true, she couldn’t think of a single argument against it. There were plenty of subjects in an impossible variety of configurations, each with unique characteristics but all following the same general pattern. They didn’t have any kind of nervous system to experience pain- or at least not beyond a really broad interpretation of the word. They were also readily available: all she had to do was walk outside. Okay, yeah. That actually does make sense. And if it turns out I really can affect them with my powers, what else could I do? “I hadn’t thought about using plants for practice. Huh. I guess it seems kind of obvious in retrospect, doesn’t it? At least for the parts that could actually hurt someone.” The contemplative furrow in her brow smoothed and she grinned broadly up at the oft-distant young man, stroking the back of his hand with her fingertips. “Thanks for that. I should probably revise my definition of living organisms in this context, then, all things considered. Expand it, even. If I can affect plants, who knows? Maybe bacteria, or microbes. Viruses. Oh!” Brightening suddenly, the energetic redhead beamed up at him , bouncing excitedly on the balls of her feet. “Oh, we should try that! At school, or something, in one of the labs. Not with a virus, or at least not until we know what we’re doing, ‘cause that could be a real fucking bad day for everybody, but other things! Just to see what happens. Like, holy shit,” she breathed, an undercurrent of mingled awe and laughter in her voice as an entire realm of possibilities opened up. “What if I could reprogram bacteria, or change what diseases plants are resistant to, or make a virus that eats cancer cells? And there’s no ethical issue with seeing if any of it works, is there? Fuck, you are a genius,” Autumn exclaimed, leaning up on her tiptoes and pressing her lips to Jason’s in a brief, but earnest kiss that sent a ripple of warmth humming through her veins. “You, Professor Bannon, are the literal best. Thank you. And thank you for suggesting the plant idea.” Taking a few steps backward, she tucked her hair behind her ears and smiled up at him, the light of fey mischief shining in her sun-bright eyes. “Speaking of… I’m gonna head back to the barn. Y’know. Maybe get some practice in. Catch up with you later?” With a wink the copper-crowned teen turned, and, laughing, fled for her life.
  19. "I listen." Jason said simply, his eyes crinkling at the edges in his version of a slight smile as he regarded the lively, expressive young woman. It wasn't a guarded look, or a wary one. It was more... intrigued. "And you know I, out of anyone, will not judge or fear you. And because you know in your soul I am your friend." "Yeah." Autumn smiled a little at that. "You believe in souls?" she suddenly asked, distracted by his turn of phrase. It seemed odd for the pragmatic, scientific Jason to reference a soul, but he nodded in response. "I do now." he shrugged. "I touch your soul when I feel your Shine. I feel my own." "Yeah... we feel each other's energy and stuff, but... soul?" Autumn's smile widened to a grin. "You getting religious?" "What do gods believe in?" he asked with a slight smile curving his lips now. Autumn blinked, frowning at the sudden tangent. "Well... I guess if gods existed then they'd believe in themselves." she half-joked, then blinked as Jason simply nodded, the gleam in his eyes both wry and serious. "Quite." He sat on the grass, patting the sward next to him. "Lets focus on you, now." And like that, he was back on topic while Autumn was still deciding whether he had dropped some profound wisdom or was merely teasing her again. Or even both at once. Damn it...she mentally grumbled as she sat down, unable to keep from studying the lines of his cheekbones as he calmly regarded her. "Your powers are similar to Lona's - not identical, but the same 'feel' - you can affect living tissue and organisms, for better or worse." "Wait, Lona could hurt people?" Autumn blinked as Jason nodded. "When Liam attacked her, she got away by causing him pain." he explained, hands resting on his knees as he folded his legs. "So yes - she could, but I never saw or heard of her rupturing bone and tissue. But she could heal more effectively, with less strain to herself, than you healed me at the complex, so..." he held out a hand palm up, then turned it palm down. "Same coin..." "...two sides." Autumn nodded thoughtfully. "Okay, that makes sense." She chewed on her lower lip, considering. "How did it feel?" Jason asked quietly, causing her to look at him again. "When you sensed the pattern of his life, and knew you could do so much more than you did to him. His life was in your hands - an enemy who had hurt you. How did it feel to you?" "How it felt," Autumn repeated, falling silent for a moment as she laced her fingers together atop her head. "Okay." Nodding, she took a deep breath and tried to put into words what had only been images, impressions at best, but never real thought. "It felt like an arrow being released. Like running up to the edge of the bluff and diving off into the river. It felt red," she continued, standing and beginning to pace a little. "Like being exactly the right amount of stoned, like singing and breathing and the best sex I've ever had, like being not, not angry but free. And like I didn't hate it, and then, after...? Like, I probably should've." "And when you healed me?" Autumn reddened a little, remembering how it had felt to feel his life, to coax and feed it's flame. Exhausting, sure, but it had been a rush too. "It felt good as well." she said slowly, forcing herself to meet his gaze. "Like, tiring but rewarding, you know? Not as emotionally charged, but.. satisfying anyway. Positive. Exhilarating." Jason nodded slowly as he absorbed this, and was silent for a moment. When he spoke, it was with slow deliberation. "Your shine is an outgrowth of your soul. You are very like me, you know." He smiled slightly. "I mean insofar that you are passionate and unafraid to be so. Passion is like your power - a coin with two sides. It can drive you to heal, or to hurt. To create, or to destroy. To kiss or to kill. Don't be afraid of either impulse, don't be repulsed by them Simply apply them as appropriate, and in the right measure... Which it sounds to me as though you did." he added with a slight tilt of the head. "It's not what you want to do. It's what you do that defines you. You stopped an attacker, in a non-lethal and non-permanent way. His knee will heal. He would not have extended you that consideration - not being driven by the Dark as he was. And you saved me as well as yourself." "As for powers that are meant to hurt..." Jason held up a hand, palm up, and a flame kindled to life on his palm, dancing and flickering. "I can warm, or I can destroy. I can shield myself and others from harm... or I can inflict it. You can heal or you can hurt. Think of your gift in it's totality, don't just hold up one facet of it and judge it alone and out of context." He stood, the flame still dancing on his hand as he gracefully got to his feet. "Fire burns. It devours. It destroys. Taken like that, my gift is terrifying - at least I imagine it is to others." "Well, yeah." Autumn nodded. "First time I saw you on fire I was scared shitless." "And yet I can also warm someone who is freezing. Cool someone with a fever. Quench a house-fire. Kinetic energy is my element, down to the atomic thermal level. Your element is life - you control it as I do heat and cold." Jase closed his hand, snuffing out the flame. "What you do with it is more important than the power itself, Autumn. And if the others freak out, or think you are somehow evil because of your gift, then to hell with them and their hypocrisy, because all of us can help or harm others with our power. Marissa could spark a mob riot. Devin could open a portal to the ocean and drown a town. Sean could crash the stock market. If the potential for harm is all it takes for someone to be considered bad, at least you can only hurt one person at a time. They could kill thousands, destroy infrastructure, cause widespread poverty and famine... You name it." "But I don't see a rational reason for them to freak out. They know you, like I know you. You're not vicious or mean or cruel. It might feel good to put an enemy down in hot blood, but you are hardly the sort of person to cold-bloodedly inflict pain and injury for no reason." Jason stepped forward, putting a hand on Autumn's shoulder as he smiled. "Yeah... I guess." Autumn smiled back, her gaze pensive as she chewed over what he'd said. "But what about training it?" "Plants." Jason said calmly as though stating the obvious. "Plants?" "Yes. They are living things. They have cells that can be harmed or healed. They don't have a consciousness, so you don't have to worry about inflicting traumatic pain on a creature. Practice on plants. Try to wilt them, or wither them leaving on a flicker of life, then restore them. Your gift should be able to extend to plant life, if I understand it correctly. You will be able to feel the effects you cause, and fine-tune your control."
  20. After finishing her impromptu lesson with Cassie, Lilly walked over to the cooler and withdrew a bottle of water. Twisting off the cap she looked around, a small smile on her face at the sight of her friends, and hopeful friends, all sparring, training, playing around and laughing. It was good to see them have this bit of levity and camaraderie. After what they had been through, especially in the last week, she was sure they needed it. There was more that was needed too though. More that was due, regardless if they were going to take the fight to the Dark or not. Some figurative wounds had been opened and festering too long, and needed to be addressed. Lilly owed some apologies, regardless if they were accepted or not. With that thought, Lilly noticed that Devin was not around joking with Jase or hitting on any of the girls or the like. Glancing around, looking for him, she spotted him laying out on the grass, shirtless, his toned, gymnast's body still covered in a sheen of sweat. Lilly paused and thought for a moment, nibbling on the side of her lower lip as she was apt to do when thinking, and took a swig from her bottle, enjoying the refreshing water for just a moment before twisting the cap back on. She began to half walk, half stroll over to Devin, making her way through the grass which easily announced somebody approaching him. She came to a stop, standing beside him and leaning forward slightly, blocking the sun with her head as she looked down at him, casting a shadow over part his chest and head. "Hey Devin. Nice moves back there. You and Jase have really been working hard to master you gifts." she complimented honestly. "Hey, uh, do you mind if we talk for a minute?" she asked somewhat pensively. "Eh," Devin smirked, squinting less now that Lily was in his sun. "Jay-Bee ain't got nothing on me. I was going easy." He chuckled. With Lily in his sun he was able to look up at the hard bodied, athletic female and appreciate both the creation of leggings because of what they did for a woman's butt, and lament that they took the place of exceedingly loose and short track shorts and that was why Lily wasn't wearing any and he couldn't see up them from his currently perfect point of view. She sounded serious, which meant he knew what this was about or he was about to accused of something he was probably guilty of and just wasn't aware he'd done it yet. He sat up with a grunt and his body complied with a series of tightening muscle groups Lily could probably name and easily tell that Devin, for a slacker, didn't miss a work out. "Yeah, sure. Claim some real estate." He reached to one side and collected his bottle of water that was covered in clippings of grass as a sweat of the bottle collected anything that would stick to it. "What's up?" Lilly crossed her ankles as she stood and lowered herself down to sit Indian style by Devin. She took a moment and nibble on the side of her bottom lip again, but for just a moment. "I just- I just wanted to say I am sorry. For how I acted before and what I did. I was caught up in what you had done that I couldn't see what you were doing. You were trying to help." she said in a somber, sincere tone before adding with a small, lopsided grin, "..at least in your own way." The grin faded and she looked to him, her gaze finding his eyes and looking into them. "Seriously though. You were trying to help, we all were, but it was like too many Indians and no chief, for one. I was- I dunno. The rest of us were friends and then you and Marissa came in and were like.. you know. They were my friends and you had always been-" Lilly stopped and sighed, a frown draping across her beautiful face. "I'm sorry I didn't believe you when you said you saw the stuff in the woods the night of the bonfire. I am sorry I said the things I did and got all pissy. All of it." she said as she looked down at the ground in front of her feet and tugged at the grass. "But most of all, I'm sorry I did not give you a fair chance. I was wrong for doing that, regardless." she said as she lifted her head and looked into the depths of his eyes again as she idly toyed with a blade of grass she was not even looking at. "I was half way across the country when you guys needed me the most, but, and I almost can't believe I am saying this," she said with a hint of a grin before her expression went somewhat more serious again, "thankfully you were still here." "I know damage was done. And I am sure that me saying a few words now won't fix it, but I hope it is not too late for us to be friends, at least in time." Lilly looked down at the blade of grass she had been toying with in her hands and sighed softly. "And if that ship has sailed, then I hope we can at least put shit aside and work together. I mean, I'd rather have a friend than just a co-worker or whatever, but I understand if I did too much damage to your trust and things are too far gone. If that's the case, then that's my band and I just have to live with it and hopefully learn from it." He listened. Nodding a few times as she listed off the accounts of the numerous times they butted heads. After she finished he pursed his lips and bobbed his head about in silent judgment. She knew some smart assed comment was coming. "Eh, not bad as far as apologies go. I have some notes, however... like it could have been delivered in a bikini..." he laughed as she groaned. He turned himself in the grass to face her, adjusting himself so he could look at her more directly. "Look, in all seriousness, I'm the last guy here who needs to be coming down on people because of their behavior. I'm the guy still dolling out apologies for making people miserable for three years, that's almost a quarter of my ever impressive life." He tapped her knee with his knuckles. "Things take time. If you're cool, then I'm cool and we can just go from there and," he paused looking out at the field for a moment before returning his attention back onto her. "Don't carry that 'wasn't here for us' stuff with you, Lily. We've been through some shit, sure, but all that matters is you're here now. You had obligations, a life's dream you had to intentionally cast aside for the greater good so you could be here and be a part of something bigger than yourself. Some of these guys don't know what it's like to dedicate themselves to anything more than goofing off, reading, or hunting and fishing." He offered her an understanding glare, from one dedicated athlete to another. "It's hard to let go of all that hard work and walk away from something like that. You don't owe me, or anyone else here an apology for that." Lilly's eyes began to twinkle a bit with moisture as Devin not only gave her a pass for last and week and told to let it go, but also acknowledged what she had done... The sacrifice she had made. Yeah sure, some, or most, of the others certainly realized that she had to have intentionally tanked her trials, and even did so be here, but few probably fully grasped what she had given up, or how it had to feel doing it. But here, Devin, of all people, not only understood, but even.. acknowledged? Appreciated? (honestly she was not sure what the right word was) what she had done and give up. It was more than she would have expected of him minutes, much less days, ago and showed how she had misjudged him. "Thanks dude." was all she said, mustering a weak smile as tears made silent, wet trails down her face. She knew she did not really even need to say anything more, as Devin understood, from one dedicated athlete to another. Her eyes were misty and moistening up from the feels, he could tell. She looked at him, forcing a smile. "If I hug you will you try and cop a feel?" "Most definitely." He grinned, offering her a reply pure Devin honestly. Her smile was accented by a roll of the eyes as she leaned over and wrapped her arms around his bare body, braving the possible objectification of the unrepentant manwhore. He returned the embrace and after a few moments they parted and he waved her off with a playful gesture. "Alright, I'm tapped out of sentiment, go play with your friends and be back before the streetlights are on, I mean it young lady." Lilly rolled her eyes with a smirk and a small laugh. "Thanks for listening, dude." she said as she rose to her feet, adding, "And understanding." Lilly turned and then paused, then turned back to Devin. "Hey, uh. Do you, by any chance, have any pointers on how to approach Marrisa? I owe her an apology too, after all." "With plate glass between you two and maybe some raw meat you can distract her with?" He shrugged. "We both know she's difficult. At home, I find it best to just to let her vent, talk all her bull shit, and feign some measure of being offended... then speak my piece. A lot has changed in a week though, Lils, for all I know, she'll take you to bed as much as try to kill you." He took a breath and stood up. While brushing off the grass he continued. "Just, don't get mad. That's how she wins. It's what she's trying to do if she starts in on you: get a rise out of you. That's how we tormented the school for years... because people let us torment them. Keep calm, party on." "Thanks dude." Lilly said with a nod and faint smile as she turned away again and brushed some of the grass from her ass that looked like it had been poured into her skintight leggings. "And don't worry. Marissa can bitch and be snarky all she wants, it doesn't change that she's been here for everybody when they needed her. That's what's important." she said, looking over her shoulder back at Devin as she walked off, taking a swig from her bottle of water.
  21. Of all the members of the Fellowship, Jase was the one person she was least worried about telling. Not because they were dating, but because he was a friend. She was also sure- okay, mostly sure- that it wouldn’t change his opinion of her much, and completely sure that he wouldn’t freak out, because freaking out wasn’t a thing Jason Bannon did. That was more a reaction he inspired in other people. Cassie would probably be horrified, and Marissa would call her a serial killer in the making or something, and neither of those responses were particularly helpful. Honest, yeah, but not helpful. Right. Start with what you want, first. Then explain. “Okay,” she began, inhaling as she planted her feet solidly in the soft, grassy earth. “So, I need help figuring out how to train. The first time I ever used my powers to heal someone was you, in that conference room. And the first time I ever used them to make someone… better, I guess? Improve them? Was Devin, when we went to the prison afterward, because helping you kind of pushed me to keep trying other things. But neither of those was the actual first time. That happened earlier, when those two guys went after you in the hall.” She paused, lower lip once more between her teeth as she worked to formulate her thoughts, to arrange sensory impressions and adrenaline-clouded memories of that day into a coherent narrative. “It’s not that I was trying to do it. I didn’t even know I could. When- what’s-his-name, Mark or whatever- when I pushed him to get him off you, and he grabbed my arm, he was going to break it. I could actually feel it happening, y’know? I was scared, and it fucking hurt, and it just sort of-“ Her voice, which had risen slightly, broke off as she took another deep breath. “So, I hurt him back. Not like an injury, just… pain, until reflexes kicked in and he jerked away.” “Curtis, too, the one who ended up in the hospital. At the time he probably felt like he’d never walk again, because that’s honestly what I wanted him to feel. He hurt my friend, he hurt me, and I wanted him to know what that was like. I wanted to make him stop. So when I ended up kicking him and dislocating his knee, I made it a lot more painful than it should’ve been, hoping he’d just stay the hell down.” God, I sound like a fucking nutcase. Jesus. Autumn frowned and reached up to drag a hand back through the remains of what was once a ponytail of some kind, sighing. And it only gets better from here, the sarcastic retort surfaced, unbidden. “It’s not just that, though,” she admitted softly, the ocean-hued eyes that gazed up at him murky with uncertainty. “I could feel how to make it worse. How to splinter and tear and sever everything so that it would always just be a- a mess of meat and bone fragments, and it would’ve been easy. All I had to do was touch him. And that was just his knee.” For a moment, the restless young woman left it at that. She held one hand out, peering at the neat, short nails, the freckles and tiny scars, and the faint greenish-blue network of dorsal veins and arteries as if she might be able to see the energy moving there just beneath the skin. And then she caught sight of Jason between her widespread fingers and smiled a little, shoulders twitching up in a shrug as she met his eyes. “I still don’t know how I feel about that, to be honest, and I’ve thought about it a lot. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I have pretty much zero guilt where those two are concerned, because they would’ve done a lot worse. But I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t freak me out a little. Like, I know that there’s no such thing as life without pain, or death, and it would be stupid to think otherwise. And I know it’s not the only thing I can do. But even if it’s not the only thing, it’s still a thing, and I don't know what to do with it. Especially with everything that’s happened, and Cody, and the Dark. That’s why I haven’t told anybody yet. And, yeah,” she acknowledged with a tilt of her head, “maybe that’s unfair, but there’s a difference in having powers that could be used to hurt people and having powers that are meant to, and I can pretty much guess how they’re going to react.” “Fuck," she swore suddenly, pressing the heels of her hands to her forehead with a laugh. "Why do I always end up talking so much when I tell you stuff?”
  22. Lilly watched Devin and Jason spar with a mixture of surprise and awe. It had been barely six weeks since the bonfire, and now some of the Fellowship seemed to have mastered their abilities or nearly so, apparently even discovering new abilities just now. It was pretty amazing. Cassandra came back over to Lilly from where she'd been razzing the boys, and Autumn, after their match. She had a big grin of the 'shit-eating' variety on her face and offered up her hands in a supplicating gesture. "Sorry about that," she said, "Some things just have to happen. Uh, so...where were...oh yeah, you were asking about Aeon and Annette." Cassie frowned and thought for a second, then shrugged. "I don't super duper trust them? Like, I think Annette believes what she was telling us. Her heart seemed like it was in the right place. Buuuuuut...I mean, look what happened. It seems to me like this Aeon outfit is at best not very competent, because when they took over, they obviously left a lot of bugs under a lot of rocks. At worst?" She shrugged again. "I don't know. It sounded like they're a scientific think tank. Maybe they just wanted to see what would happen with some deniability." "Either way, I'm not letting them off the hook. Once we know what they knew and when they knew it, we'll know if they're guilty of conspiracy or just negligence." Cassie worked her shoulders then and tilted her head slightly, gazing at Lilly thoughtfully. "So...I remember you were pretty good with like, martial arts and stuff. Think you could show me some pointers? I feel like, if I'm going to be hanging out with this crowd, I'm going to need to know at least the basics." Lilly listened intently and taking Cassandra's opinion to heart. Cass had always had pretty a pretty good gut, even before her powers, so Lilly gave her intuition a good bit of weight, nodding at her plucky friend's answers. When the talk shifted to some hand to hand pointers, Lilly looked a little surprised. "Whoa. Really? Yeah, sure." she said with a smile and nod, moving out from where they had been sitting to get some more room and motioning Cass to follow. Lilly stretched her arms a bit as she walked, pulling one and then then other behind her head with elbow up, swinging them around and in front of her and so on until she finally reached and good stop and stopped, turning to face Cassandra as she followed. "Okay, a few things. First, you should stretch and limber up so you don't hurt yourself, even if just training a bit or doing drills." Lilly explained as she began to show Cass some stretches, helping her friend as needed. "Second, third and fourth is conditioning, conditioning, conditioning. The better it is, the better off you are. I'm not saying to you need to be a workout nut like me, but start jogging, maybe some light weights, because the worst feeling is seeing that your opponent has more gas in their tank than you do. I jog every morning and you are welcome to join. Aside from that, if you every want a jogging or workout buddy, just give me a call. I got your back." she said with a grin and wink. "Fifth is practice, especially sparring, because the biggest mistake people make is losing their cool. They panic or fight out of anger and those are good ways to make mistakes and ware yourself out. It's not as easy to stay calm as many people think." Lilly said and then grinned again, adding, "I mean, barring some psionic shenanigans or something." she laughed. "You need to keep your head in a fight, and the best way to prepare for that is to simulate it as much as you can in a safe environment, hence sparring. It's not quite the same as a real fight, but it is as close as you can safely get and it will help you out." she explained. "Next is know you limits. You need to fight your fight, not theirs. We all have strengths and weaknesses. You'll learn to play to your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses." Lilly took in a deep breath and let it out in a long sigh. "Now, all that aside, let's have some fun and see if we can't make give you a few surprises to bust out on darklings or mercs or something." Lilly said with a grin. "Lesson one, defense. Make fists and hold your arms up like this..." Lilly said, showing Cass a basic boxing guard. Once she hands her hands up, Lilly threw a few slow motion punches, showing her friend proper technique and how effect the guard could be when used effectively. Lilly then dropped her guard and held up a hand. "Now keep your hands up and punch my hand. Technique first, then you can start hitting harder." she instructed, holding up her hands to be targets for Cass to practice on. As she pair began to train, Lilly glanced over at the others and said, "So Jase and Autumn, eh? That's... yeah. And then Marissa and Cade? I never would have seen that coming." she mused. "And then Lona is moving? That's gotta suck for Devin. They seemed happy together. Or at least what I saw of them." she said with a bit of a frown. "I would say we should at least throw Lona and Clara a going away party, but that might be pouring salt in the wound. I dunno." she pondered, punctuating her frown with a small shrug. "Yeah," Cassandra agreed as she threw punches at Lilly's hand, trying to imitate what she'd seen in movies and TV shows. Lilly could immediately tell that Cassie had probably never thrown an actual punch before her entire life just from how she stood 'normally' with her feet together rather than with a wider stance, and in how she was using her arms instead of her back to try to convey force. "It's kind of weird really. Everyone leaving more or less at the same time...I need to look into that. Maybe someone's trying to break the group up," she shook her head. "Devin's feeling it though. You know him...he doesn't really show it, but you can see what's hurting him in what he doesn't talk about, you know? As for Jase and Autumn, I'm like ninety percent sure it was Autumn that kicked that off, and Marissa wasn't happy about it." She glanced behind her, verifying that Marissa and Cade weren't anywhere nearby before adding, "I'm kind of wondering if Cade's a rebound...but it does seem like they're genuinely into each other too, so..." Her fist socked into Lilly's hand again and Cass winced a little and shook it out as she pulled it back. "Anyone ever tell you that your hands are really...solid?" "Thank you?" Lilly said with an expression that was a mix of confusion and a grin. "Anyways, stop trying to hit hard for now. This is about technique, not power. You got to get the foundation of technique first." she explained and then moved behind Cassandra. "First of all, your stance needs work." she pointed out as she used her own foot to move Cass' foot a bit, adjusting her stance. "Don't that feel better now?" she asked and then stood beside her friend before she even answered. "And thrown the punch like this..." she said, throwing a few slow-mo punches while standing beside Cass she could better see the technique. Once Lilly was satisfied after watching a few of Cassandra's improved punches, she moved back in front of her and held up her hands again for targets. "Technique, not power. Do not worry about hitting hard right now, just do it right. Power will come in time." she explained as she glanced at her hands and shrugged a bit. "Since I got my shine, I've noticed I am stronger. Like... much stronger. So far, I have not been able to get enough weight on the bar that I could not lift it. I mean, I have to be careful about putting that much weight on a bar so that nobody sees, but yeah. You guys' shine gave you mind powrz, and mine seemed to have internalized into my body in various ways." Lilly said with a shrug. "Anyways... So it sounds like Devin and Mari have been playing relatively nice, or at least trying to? And I guess Jase, I dunno how to put it. I guess Autumn has done him some good?" she asked, glancing over at the twins and then Jase and Autumn before returning her attention to Cass. Cassie rocked herself backwards and forwards with her feet wider apart, and shrugged, then resumed punching. Her form WAS better, but mostly in comparison to how bad it had been before. "Don't get me wrong, Devin is still basically an eleven year old, emotionally...and Marissa is still a seventeen-year bitch," she said. "But yeah. They're on board with the program. Courtney too, even though she was working for Cook before. Just...watch your brain around her. I'm pretty sure she likes to eavesdrop." She took a deep breath. "As for Jase...he's had some shaky moments, but I think Autumn is doing him good. If nothing else, she's giving him a very good, tangible reason to try to play nicer with people. Even if it's just because he doesn't want to gross her out, or scare her off." Cass paused then to push her increasingly sweaty hair up out of her eyes. "It's weird how tiring this is even though I feel like I'm barely moving," she complained lightly. "I mean, I think I'm in decent shape. I bike or skateboard practically everywhere. I go jogging sometimes. I'm in PE class. Sheesh. Okay, lets...can we mix it up a little? Teach me some wax on wax off stuff." "Well, yeah. You are using muscles in different ways than you are used to, so yeah, it's gonna get tiring quick. Just holding your fists up does it pretty quick." she spoke from experience and then glanced back over to Marissa and then Devin, biting her bottom lip slightly with a wistful sigh. "Yeah. I really need to apologize to them though. I was too caught up in what they had done that- Well. You know. They are trying and risking their lives, just like the rest of us. I mean, yeah, it's probably just gonna be ignored or whatever, but that's not the point. I owe them an apology." Lilly said somewhat thoughtfully as she considered the twins for a moment and then brought her attention back to the task at hand with a small shrug. "Anyways.. Okay, for now one of the better things you can do is trips. It sounds kinda cheap, but a kevlar vest or chitinous hide or whatever doesn't do jack to help you stay on your feet, and it is hard to shoot or fight from your back." Lilly explained as she lowered her hands and moved closer to Cass. "Probably the easiest way is to just step in and push, using their own weight against them." Lilly pointed out as she stepped closer to her friend, repositioning her foot behind Cass' with just a flick of her ankle and then pushed slowly while holding onto her friend's arms, letting her feel the trip. At no time though did Cass have any fear of Lilly dropping her after feeling her taller friend's steady grip and her arms barely flexing, easily controlling Cass' weight. With a causal exertion, Lilly pulled Cass back to her feet and said, "Now you try. And go ahead and knock me down. Don't worry about it. I get worse on the football field." she instructed. As the pair got closer while practicing, Lilly asked, "What about Tawny and the new girl, Kat, you said?" After the momentary shock of the 'trip' demonstration, Cassandra managed to grin for a second, absorbing the irony that she, of all people, was now some kind of gossip-engine. But hey, maybe that wasn't all bad. Gossip was kind of like news? For teens? And she had already given Lilly the rundown on all the important stuff, why not do the human interest stuff too? "As far as I can gather, Tawny's been a friend of Devin's since they were kids, and she's got a massive crush on him," she says. "Kat's pretty new to the gang, and I don't have a read on her yet. She's French, I think. Or maybe Canadian? I'm fuzzy on that." She took a stab at trying to duplicate Lilly's move, but after a few tries it became abundantly obvious that Lilly was still helping her a great deal by letting herself be tripped. She hadn't quite gotten it down from a single demonstration, and Lilly was just so much stronger that it was like trying to wrestle a statue. Frustrated, Cassandra backed off a few steps, then said, "What about blocking a punch or something? Or...or what about kicks? I wanna do that thing where you spin-kick so fast you sort of helicopter fly." "Well, that guard is really the most effective block. Most of the stuff you see in the movies is not all that actual effective in a real, true fight." Lilly said as she mulled over what Cassandra had shared with her for a moment and then shrugged. She would introduce herself and get a read on Kat on her own anyways. "As far as flying helicopter kicks and stuff? Yeah. No. Without some psychokinetic fuckery, those aren't happening. I mean, I don't even bother with turning kicks most of the time. They tend to be telegraphed." she explained as she took a step back and took a stance. "If you want to kick, you need to remember that you kick with other to top of your foot or the heel, depending on the kick and NOT you toes. That a good way to break them. I mean, yeah, granted, you will probably have shoes, but still, you are generally not going to get the kinetic energy transfer with your toes." Lilly instructed as she demonstrated a few kick slowly,, showing which part of the foot made contact with each. "Unless you have good flexibility, your kicks are going to striking the waist down, and since this is self defense crash course, and I hate to say it, but probably the most effective kick for you will be to straight up kick a guy in his junk. Yeah, kinda of a bitch move, but if your life is on the line, then you'll learn to live with some dirty fighting." Lilly laughed, demonstrating a basic groin kick. "Aside from that, kicks have more power, yeah, but if it gets caught, then you're pretty well screwed. A low kick might be able to trip or unbalance and opponent though, especially if it unexpected." Lilly pointed out as she lightly demonstrated a low kick to Cass' calf, letting her just feel a bit how much even a fairly weak kick could affect her balance and reached out to grasp her friend's hand when she stumbled a little, catching her easily. "Seriously though, at this very moment, you are probably best off getting up your guard and going for a trip or groin shot. It could legitimately save your life." Lilly pulled Cass back to her feet casually and gave her a pat on her upper arm. "Now, let's see if you can get any combinations going. Just try at like twenty or thirty percent power. Technique and repetition is your friend. If you want to keep training after this, I do a weekly lesson on the weekend, or just give me a call and we can train." Lilly offered as she moved very slowly, putting up only minimal resistance to let Cass practice on her. "So, how open do you think the twins and Jase would be to me talking to them, and you know, an apology? I mean, Jase seems at least somewhat willing, but those took seem to be avoiding me, which is about a good as could expected, I guess." taking the time to talk a little more, seeing if Cassandra could keep her head and focus on her striking while also answering questions. Cassandra pursed her lips as she considered that question. "Jase would be fine with it," she decided. "I think as long as you're clear about saying what your mistake was, and sincere about being sorry for it, he'd go with it unless he decides you can't be trusted. Devin and Marissa..." Cass frowns, "...I think they'd test you. Like, they'd let you apologize, and then they'd try to provoke you or piss you off or something. And then if you get pissed off, it's sort of confirmation that the apology isn't sincere." She shook her head. "And if you don't...they might still not accept it. Maybe Devin would. Here's the thing though...I think you should still do it. For one, it'll make you feel better. You know? Clear the conscience. For another, I think they need to see people being sincere towards them. I get the feeling they haven't had a lot of that." Cassie shrugged. "Okay. Combination. So like..." She threw a couple of punches, then tried to trip Lilly, then started to try to kick but realized she was a bit too close after the trip and broke it off. "Ugh. Give it to me straight Kung Fu Doctor. This is going to take me, like...fifty years isn't it?" Lilly could not help but laugh Cass' question. She had tried to stifle it, but failed and shook her head, giving her blonde friend a pat on the shoulder. "How long it takes depends on how much time and effort you put into it. We can train whenever you like. I'd suggest at least once a week and maybe step up your cardio. Lighting some light weights would not hurt either. But honestly, it comes down to technique and repetition, repetition, repetition. Just work on the few things I showed and we can go from there." Lilly suggested. "It's like dancing or sports. It looks easy enough until you get out and try to do it yourself. It's all the time and hard work that makes it look easy though. You did good though, for your first time. Honestly. High five." she says with a smile, holding her hand up for Cassie. Lilly's smile faded slowly and she let out a faint sight as her thoughts turned to the twins and Jase. "Well, I decided I was going to apologize days ago, so that it happening. Them accepting it or not is kinda moot. it is something I should do regardless. I owe them that." "I had a lot of time to think as I sat there, watching the other heats at the Olympic trials between throwing my own. Think about myself, all of us, the situation we are in. All of it. I was.. I mean, they still did what they did, for years, but I was too caught up that to see that they were making and effort... or at least their version of it. And that's my bad. I think I was just looking for a chance to show that they were not really on board, just like they probably look for proof that nobody is really their friends. So it was like irresistible force meeting unmovable object. And because of that, we all suffered in various ways. We did not work together as well as we could have. Friendships were stressed or never got to form and on and on. I own my part in it, and I'm sorry." she said to Cassandra sincerely. "Right, well...if you're looking for an editor, I give it a thumbs up," Cassandra said, lowering her fists and smiling. "Go tell them." Lilly motioned at Cassie to put her hands back up. "You're not done yet. Try another combo." The high school journalist sighed and pushed her hair back. "It's just...one of the things I want to do is not just learn how to use my fists...I want to use my powers too. No amount of preschool remedial Bruce Lee moves will impress a giant Evil Tree, or Cody when he's all hopped up on Darkballs. I need to figure out how to use what I can do to help me." She put her hands on her hips and looked away. "The only way I can think of to do that is take it less safe." "Then we could always do the Inspector Clouseau thing." Lilly offered. "Say what now?" Cassie asked. "Inspector Clouseau, in those old Pink Panther movie. He walks around and has this guy randomly ambush him, never knowing when or where he might strike! It will force you to use your powers. Every door, cupboard, box or hamper could contain a parcel from paaaaaain... and the postage is duuuue!" Lilly explained with a grin, hoarse, mockingly evil voice, and clearly fake karate chop. Cass couldn't hold it together and the pair fell out laughing for a moment as Lilly's silly, over exaggerated theatrics, taking a few moment to compose themselves until they were finally laying in grass, chuckling occasionally as they caught their breath. "Seriously though, we can train sometime and I can come at you hard, or at least harder, and we can see if that helps inspire you to use your powers in new and inventive ways. They say that necessity is the mother of invention." she offered to her plucky friend as they sat up in the grass and calmed down further. "Just think about it and give me a call later. We can work something out if you. Until then..." she said as she rose to her feet, "I'm gonna get some water. Want one?" "Nah. I'm good. And yeah, I'll think about it."
  23. Cade had known Tawny a fair number of years, and he sighed inwardly at the change in her demeanor. He didn't really want to think that Marissa'd said something, but he admit this was fairly likely. He didn't miss Marissa's grin as Tawny bumped into her, but put it away. There was damn little he could do for Tawny in her quest to date Devin. So it was easy enough to describe what he wanted Tawny to do, and he kept his expectations lower than he would have had Jason been there, not out of disrespect, but simply because Tawny was new to this, so they'd try simpler things. It wasn't like he actually understood her powers beyond the most basic means. "Thanks for helping me, Tawny." he prefaced it with, and then gave her a general idea of how to move the targets. "Marissa, you'll want to stand back some." "Oh, worried you'll miss a target?" He could hear the snark in her voice. "Yes, actually. Because for this to be done right, No area around me can be a dead zone, somewhere I can't throw at. The Targets are all numbered, once we get going, if you'll call them out, I'll hit them." "Why ask me? why not have your partner in this exercise do that? What if I have something to do?" He could hear the acid in her tone, and he just smiled. "Do you? If not then why not help me out?" He came back quietly, and with a smile, Marissa nodded. "Fine." The single word made him wince inwardly, but he looked to Tawny, "Let's get started." He stood in the center of the targets, which Tawny worked to raise, and then moved, slowly at first, and Cade closed his eyes, knives in his hands and a selection of stones at the ready. "One." Cade opened his eyes and found the target numbered 1 to his left, and there was a whisper of sound as his arm came up, and there was a loud "thwack" as the blade imbed itself into the direct center of the target painted on the board. "Two." It was to his right, and he hit that one with a bullseye as well. Things went on like this, until he'd run out of things to throw, and nodded to Tawny. They were never moving fast, but she did change how they moved, and Marissa called in a random order, even if it seemed like she was bored to tears. "you can let them down. I gotta go pick everything up." He smiled as she let them down and he went to gather up the stones. Marissa ducked out as they took a break, and Tawny watched Cade. "You didn't miss at all." "I tend not to, but it can happen. It's easier to be prepared, than not. That's also why I use the stones more, not quite as lethal as a knife." The blonde looked at him, "Honestly, I think you'd hurt pretty much anyone with how hard you can throw. I could feel each of the impacts as you hit the targets, and that was pretty hard." Cade smiled back at her. "That's actually pretty cool. I'd wondered what would happen, if you could feel the impacts, and be able to keep the targets up." Fact was when he'd switched to the stones, he couldn't tell if he hit the center, but he hit them all, as Tawny had been able to let the targets move within her grasp. They'd spun or flipped end over end when struck. He was ready to go again, Though now it was just Tawny and Cade there. His powers weren't showy, but this was one of the better ways he knew to train. "Thanks again Tawny, for doing this." She offered him a faint smile. "Jason probably could have done better." "He's got his own training to do. I'm just glad you were able to help. I can set them up on trees and branches and run through the forest again like before, but it really isn't a challenge to manage after a few runs. Having you help I feel like I'm making some actual progress. I just hope this is also helping you." "Well it's definitely testing the limits of what I can currently manage, and it is kinda fun." Tawny replied softly. "Are you going to go after Marissa?" Cade shook his head. "She was understandably bored watching us. She probably went to see what the others were getting up to." Tawny just stared at him. "It's fine. She knows how I am, and I know how she is. Things will work out." It might have seemed like he didn't care, but he did. He also knew better than to crowd Marissa. "Do you "like" Marissa?" The question slipped out even as the targets rose again. It was a good thing his back was to her, so he couldn't see her blush from embarrassment. Cade nodded. "Of course I do." His response seemed almost automatic, though it was easy to hear the sincerity. "She's been terrible to your friends, even to you at times, both her and Devin... And yet still..." Cade put a knife in a target before turning to face her. "When the shit hit the fan, They're there. They've got our backs. The torment and bullshit is just that, and seems so much less important now. For some of us at least. Devin is changing, and I've seen a different side of Marissa than I ever have before." "Gross." Tawny quickly cut him off. "Not that, quit thinkin' like Devin." He smirked. "It may be easier because they never did anything to me directly, but some of us are having a harder time." "And being her boytoy doesn't influence your bias?" more targets hit, as Tawny kept on, too deep now. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't somewhat influenced. I like to think almost everyone can be better, if given a chance. Even the Jauntsens, even Courtney. It's my plan to give them that chance. So far, My faith's rewarded. They're here, aren't they? We're all working together, training, planning, preparing. We have a big fight ahead, and likely more to face afterwards, but we'll face that together too." "And she says I'm the PBS special." Tawny just stared at Cade, before laughing. "Yeah, yeah I know corny hero speech, doesn't make it any less true." Cade said with a self-deprecating tone. "Ready to get back to Round two of the training? Let's try for abit more speed this time." Tawny smiled again, as Cade readied himself, and the targets began to move again, faster, and she began to call out Targets.
  24. "So, what are we doing exactly?" Tawny asked while Cade set his bag of targets and practicing gear down with a low rattle. Jason's farm was huge and they had acres on which to sprawl out and be typically average teenagers. Like all teens they did the usual stuff like fly, open warp gate into the school's swimming pool, oh, and practice their knife throwing on target that were held aloft by the power telekinesis. Yup. Average. "You hold up the target, like so," he held one of the thick wooden planks to his chest. "And then I throw knives at you." "What?! No!" She protested, looking at him like he was a lunatic and wanted nothing to do with his idea. Cade was laughing and stacking the planks up to set them aside when Marissa stepped to her lover and later her nails gently scratch his back to notify him she was there. "He's screwing with you, Ms. Christian Summer Camp." The dark haired vixen rolled her eyes at Tawny's never ending supply of gullibility. She always took people at their word was too sweet to assume someone might be toying with her, except Devin and Marissa, whom she'd grown accustomed to. "I think he intends for you to make the targets move about with your mind and he's going to throw his junk at them." She gently kicked his bag of stuff. "Phrasing," Cade smirked. "Mmm," his girl smiled and moaned slightly. "Look at you, coming out of your shell." As he stood she wrapped her arms around him and looked up into his Caribbean hued eyes. Seductively she smiled and held him tighter. "Kiss me and tell me I'm pretty." Cade smiled and kissed her softly. "You are gorgeous," he said softly as he broke their embrace. "And distracting. As into this as I am, I need to throw some knives... now, come on seductress, let me focus." Marissa resigned to share her bae's with... well, himself, and released him so he could finish getting things prepared. As he rummaged around in his equipment bag Marissa collected all the targets and brought them to Tawny who was under the impression Jason would be helpeing her and she'd not be doing this alone. It took a few moments but Marissa had calmed her down and she agreed that she could, at the very least, try it solo. After all, Marissa would be here to help her relax. One of the targets was spinning slowly in her hand as she concentrated on it. Cade ran back off to his jeep to get something he'd forgotten, leaving the ladies alone. Marissa tapped the spinning target trying to get it to turn counter, but it just slowed and kept spinning in the same direction as she commented on how weird it was. "It's nice seeing you in love." Tawny said with her infectiously cheerful voice. "Woah there, sister," Marissa laughed and gave the perky sweet blonde a crazy look. "I am not in love. My family has money, I can make do without love." "You can't buy love," Tawny said in a tone that practically scolded Marissa for being silly enough to think love had a price tag. "No, but you can pay heavily for it." She shot back with a quick rebuttal of her own and picked up a couple more targets, one in each hand, if only to give her something to while tolerating Tawny's insufferably kind spirit. "Men are pigs. Look at my bother for example and you're practically stalking him. He's a player. He'd sleep everyone of those women over there, right now, knowing how you feel about him, while you watch. They're only as loyal as their options and all that crap you see on TV is just that, Tawny, crap." She recited a quote from her her many and varied interests in literature. "Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. That's Dostoyevsky." "He that weird guy that hangs out near the public library who looks like he has pepperoni nipples?" Tawny asked. "Seriously weird dude, and he needs to put a shirt on." "No, Princess Sparkle Magic Dumbass, he was a Russian journalist and philosopher." She shook her head and fumed, wondering how one person could be so dumb until she was reminded that she had a brother. "Yeah? Well, so you know what humans would be without love, Marissa?" The target spun her hand as little tiny sparks of fire began to dance and orbit the wooden square. Marissa rolled her eyes and huffed. "What? Happier?" The little dancing flames exploded into the shape of hearts that spun as they orbited the target. "Rare. That's Terry Pratchett." Marissa looked to Tawny and then over to her brother then, back to Tawny. An evil grin purchased real estate upon her perfect lips and she asked the blonde a simple question. "How's that working out for you so far?" The hearts flickered out as Tawny's vibrant and joyous smile cracked and shattered to pieces leaving only a sorrowful expression of want and desire for what she could not have. Her work done, Marissa turned to face her returning lover, never for a moment letting the victorious evil grin leave her features. "Sorry!" Cade ran up. "I'd forget my head if it wasn't attached." He dropped a few more throwing implements near the bag. "No worries," Marissa said, her voice full of mirth and good cheer. "Tee and I were just girl talking, ain't that right?" "Yeah," Tawny said softly like a puppy who'd just been kicked. She passed Marissa, knocking shoulders with her to intentionally display her displeasure with her adopted sister but Marissa's twisted grin only grew wider as she jerked from the impact. Without another word Tawny set about helping Cade set up his throwing practice.
  25. It took him a moment to discern her meaning and why she was flustered, then an impish gleam entered his eyes and slow smile curved his lips... and Mama Keane's girl knew she was in trouble. "Like this?" he asked in a calm, curious tone that was completely at odds with his smile and the look in his eyes as he plucked at the wet white cotton, pulling it away from his soaked skin before letting it fall back to mold itself to him once more. "You mean wet?" "...yes." Autumn managed, trying not to look - or drool - and not daring to take her hands out of her pockets, because they would want to reach out and touch- No. No. Bad. "I should get out of these wet things, then?" Jase's tone was devoid of innuendo, but his gaze was alive with wicked humor. Chewing on her lower lip and looking off to the side, Autumn was refusing to be baited as she nodded vociferously, even as inner Autumn was jumping up and down and yelling something incoherent about how she wasn't getting a good enough look. "Want to come and help me?" "Noooooo..." Autumn moaned rather than said. Nearby, Cassie was alternating between snickering and not at all ogling her friend's crazy-dangerous-alluring BF. "I want to talk to you about serious stuff. And if I come and help you get out of wet things then... yeah. That won't happen." Jason gave a low chuckle and stepped back a little. "In that case..." Gold motes danced in his eyes and there was a sudden cloud of vapour as steam erupted from his clothes and body, obscuring him in a momentary fog cloud which dissipated as he stepped forward again out of it, almost completely dry, hiking up his sweatpants a little so as to minimise distraction. "Better?" he asked, holding his hands out a little to the sides as if presenting for inspection. "Much." Autumn said, both meaning and not meaning it. The topic of soaking wet Jason would have to be revisited again... some other time. "Good." The Effing One smiled and gestured to her to follow him as they moved a little apart from the bustle and chatter of the others. "So... what did you want to talk to me about?"
  26. Grinning as she childishly stuck her tongue out at the pretty blonde, Autumn turned and reached up to push Jase's hair back from his forehead, running her fingers admiringly through the wet strands. She could feel the water seeping through her t-shirt and the denim on her thighs as she lingered there, but, really: So what? She still hadn’t completely dried off from the water fight with Cassie earlier, anyway. In lieu of a kiss, the lively young woman smiled back up into those luminous green eyes and mouthed a single word: Amazing, before sinking back down onto her heels. And it was. And he was, or so every atom of her being seemed to sing when he was nearby, like… ‘like billions of tiny stars in the dark.’ It wasn’t until she took a half-step back, reluctantly complying with Cass’s simultaneously totally reasonable and also completely stupid and unfair prohibition, that she really, truly realized that more than just Jase’s shirt was drenched. And water could be heavy. And… something, something science. Probably. “Um,” she managed eloquently, as every bit of the sun’s thermal output suddenly seemed focused on her face, heating her skin until she wondered if her fiery hair might literally ignite this time. It wasn’t just that he’d gotten wet during his unplanned trip to the pool- it was the way the water droplets clung to his lips, the way the sheen of it glistened on his skin and adhered the translucent white cotton of his shirt to the lean form beneath, the way tiny rivulets of it trailed down his exposed hipbones as the waistband of his sweatpants dipped perilously, thrillingly, distractingly low. It probably wouldn’t take much at all to- Focus, Autumn. Oh. Oh, I am. I really, really- Not on THAT! She blinked, inhaling suddenly as her lungs protested the lack of oxygen. Suddenly, Marissa’s insistence that he was going to kill her one day made sense, because Autumn was pretty sure he’d already done it half a dozen times in the last week alone. “So that’s, um,” she tried again, waving a hand in the general direction of Jason’s stomach as she struggled to look anywhere else but at him. “Really distracting. And we’re supposed to be focusing on Fellowship stuff. And I will definitely not be able to concentrate if you’re walking around like that for the rest of the afternoon. And neither will anyone else with a pulse. And… I swear there was something I needed to talk to you about, training-related, but I don’t think I can have a conversation with you right now. Like that.” Blushing furiously, the animated redhead tucked her hands into her pockets and wished that Devin would likewise drop her into a pool of cold water somewhere.
  27.  

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