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  1. 3 points
    Tawny tried to wipe away some of the blood on Devin's cheek, but she only smeared into a redish-black blob. She chuckled, as best she could, trying to find something in all the craziness that felt normal. "Sorry." "It's okay," he shook his head dismissively as he gave her a warm smile. "You went through Hell to save me," her eyes seemed to study him, seeing something in him she'd not seen before. Perhaps it was the man she always had faith was hiding under his immaturity or something else, but he seemed different, more intense and, she hated to admit it, sexy. This version of Devin was outside the boundaries of anything she'd experienced with him before, the warrior, the hero... the good guy. None of those things she'd ever really attributed to him before, she'd just known he was capable of it in the good heart of his. "In a heartbeat." Devin's tone was far more romantic than he intended it to be, but his eyes were locked on hers as she studied him, biting her lips as struggled to wrestle with her thoughts. Marissa tapped Cade and nodded in Devin and Tawny's direction as their world bled away and they only saw each other. Before they knew it the area had grown quiet and the Fellowship were looking on in anticipation. Would this be the night, after all the heroics and fighting that Devin finally wised up and just settled down with the woman who obviously loved him. Pulled by their unconscious wills their lips drew closer and closer. 'He's going to kiss me' Tawny thought as only a half an inch remained between them and the Disney ending Tawny had always dreamt of. Kiss? He's going kiss me. Jacob! She pulled away suddenly, startled by the last memory she had before waking up in that hell. "Oh my god, Jacob! Hewaswithmeanditcameoutofnowhere-" "Jacob is fine," Autumn's hand on the blonde's shoulder calmed her down. "He'll have a headache tomorrow, but he'll be fine." Tawny pressed her hands to her heart and sighed with relief. "Oh, thank God." "Whelp," Devin grunted as he struggled to stand. That moment was shot to shit, so no point in sitting there like a puckered up idiot. It would figure. About to finally get some romantic time for uber heroics and she's thinking of someone else. Par the course when it came to his luck, he supposed. "I think it's time we call the parental units to come a reclaim their misbegotten progeny." He looked to Sophia and offered her a comforting, warm smile. "And maybe get her to the medical center." Sophia wearily looked up to Devin. "Sorry I tried to kill you." She groaned. "Sokay," she shrugged. "You're not the first to want to, or try." The Fellowdivas all quickly mumbled and shown their agreement on the fact that she would also not be the last. Despite the hell she'd been through, she managed a very tight but faint smile. "Hey, mom?" Marissa, like Jason, was limping pretty bad and her. Her voice was combination of adrenaline-excited spotted by patches of extreme pain that made her wince. Her outfit was shredded, at this point it barley protected her modesty and how the spaghetti straps of her halter top were still in one piece was a small miracle to be examined at a later date. Her legs and arms seemed covered in claw marks, along with her abs and back which were also littered with puncture wounds from teeth. The diva had never looked so rough and still her unique gifts of desire made her rock the whole look like she was some Valkyrie bad-ass who'd just survived Ragnarok. Nonetheless, she was in bad shape and it was hard to tell how much of the blood she was drenched in was actually hers. "Yep, saved the town and stuff," she nodded to the mother she couldn't see. "Not doing this with you right now." She slowly tried to sit down, wincing and sucking her teeth as her knee refused to bend. She decided to stand instead of persuading any of her wounds to open further. "We need a ride, and bring a lot of towels, but only the ones you don't want anymore, like those nasty green Ralph Lauren ones that Grandma sent us for Christmas? Hmm? Oh, because we're all covered in blood." Marissa glared at her phone, then placed it back next to her ear. "Mom?" The barrage of curses and yelling that could be heard as Misti gave Marissa an earful was epic in and of itself as her crimson-coated daughter held the phone away form her ear for a moment as she vented. She sighed and tried again after the yelling abated. "Done? Yes, mom, blood. Some of it is, yes. I don't know who all else's blood it might be, they're all dead, Not-Cody didn't exactly keep detailed files of his meals. I'll explain later. No. No. Yes, he's fine... for his definition of it, anyway." Devin gave her a middle finger and a smile for which she returned the smile. "Yes, mom, I know the Sheriff has called a lock down. He's with us, he's in the know. Yes, we know Sophia is missing. Well, was missing. We have her here with us. Yes, with us." Marissa inhaled and sighed loudly. "Mom! Would you and Dad just come get us? Christ! Fine. I'm all kinds of amped up on adrenaline and excitement. If you don't come get us I'm going home with Cade and we are going to get so nasty tha-" Marissa smiled and pressed the button her phone to end the call. "They'll be here in ten." "Y-you're not looking so good, Emjay." Devin approached his sister, sliding an arm around her to assist with her balance. "Everything hurts is all, I'm okay." Her smile did little to comfort him but still she tried to relax and wait for their ride to arrive. She looked to Autumn and grinned. "I get the sarcasm now, yeah. Next hellscape, wedge heels, totally. Although I think I took something eye out though..."
  2. 2 points
    "No, it's fine, I get it," Marissa smiled. "Sorry, I'm kina coming down from whatever we lived through and I could probably talk your ear off. That's not a bad idea, though. I'd love to help you out. God, I'm pretty sure I was born in heels, so this will be a snap. Just text me and I'll come by," her face winced every time she sipped the coffee, announcing that it was offensive to her palate. "Okay, this is some gross coffee." The two laughed for a moment, "Right?" Autumn snickered. "I didn't want to say anything, it's free, I would've felt bad, but... wow." "Ugh," she waved off Autumn's attempt at politeness. "Don't worry, I'll say it if you don't. I'll be me so you don't have to," she smirked. "Besides, I need to see this dress of yours so I can select a makeup palette for you. Something light so as to not hide those beautiful freckles of yours but still make your eyes pop. Trust me, with my help, Jason's heart is going to get up to at least six, maybe seven beats per minute, easily." She smirked, poking fun at Autumn's stoic boyfriend. "I uh, guess we should head back, and... thanks." Without warning Marissa wrapped her arms around Autumn and held her tightly before finally letting her go. "Friends are nice, I like this." Marissa chuckled. The redhead at her side scoffed bemusedly. "Eh, it's new to you. The novelty will fade in a few weeks." "That's fine, just as long as you remember that I'm in charge," her bestie said in a mirthful tone. "Oh no." Autumn chuckled. "No, no, no." "Yup, totally am. I make the rules." They stepped into the hallway and made their way back to the infirmary, both hearts a little lighter than they were a moment ago.
  3. 2 points
    "That's a good reason to be happy, yeah," the redhead replied slowly, unsure if this actually, genuinely qualified as not being in bitch mode. Maybe rather than an on/off switch, bitchiness was more like a volume knob; they were just so used to Marissa being on the higher end of the scale that when she did ease up a bit, a level of awfulness that would barely be tolerated from anyone else felt like a welcome shift toward humanity with her. "Y'know, Marissa," she began, "she was probably just freaked out and worried, so maybe that wasn't really nece-" Dark brown eyes framed in long black lashes blinked back at her, uncomprehending, and Autumn sighed. Baby steps. "Never mind. Anyway, so..." 'So,' what, Autumn? Where are you planning on going with this? Are you gonna talk about her crazy mom? About her overdose? About whether or not Cody could've been saved? About whether you think she's going to end up like him? Taking a sip of day-old coffee, Autumn made a face. If dealing with Jason Bannon, she decided, was like a perpetual obstacle course that tested resolve and mental agility, interacting with Marissa was like trying to navigate a hedge maze littered with land mines, pit traps, and ninja assassins that really just tested your fortitude and sanity. No... She said she's in a good mood, so... Maybe something she enjoys? Possibly? "So, listen." The soles of her boots squeaked very softly on the gleaming floor as Autumn shifted her weight from one foot to the other. "Everything's kind of crazy right now, and I don't know what to ask or talk about first, but as far as all of-" she lifted her free hand, comparatively clean owing to the gloves she'd worn, to indicate the girls and their general surroundings- "this is concerned, everybody's probably gonna need time to process. And unless you want me to go tell your mom how old she looks, or something- which I will totally do, because it's not like your parents can ground me for telling them they suck- all I can do for you there is just, listen, I guess. Which is also fine, but this is probably not the best place for that conversation, y'know? So." She took another long drink of the bitter, caffeinated liquid and, shuddering, poured in another packet of creamer, swirling the cup around to mix it. After another experimental sip, she nodded and continued. "I was wondering if you'd be willing to help me with something. Nothing weird!" she added hastily, blue eyes widening. "Just... So, I have this dress, for Homecoming, and I really like it, and my mom bought me some shoes to go with it. And, you know, they're great and all, but, um. I-" "She bought you heels, didn't she?" the canny brunette interjected, eyeing her bestie shrewdly. It was the only logical reason someone like Autumn would've mentioned shoes, since her entire footwear collection seemed to consist of hiking boots and old Converse sneakers. Talk about a stereotype... Marissa wouldn't be the least bit surprised if she shuffled around the house in those stoner sandals, Birkenflops, or whatever they were called. "Yeah. And-" The red-haired young vitakinetic could feel the blood rushing to her cheeks- her own this time, thankfully- as her face grew warmer under Mari's scrutiny. "And you've never worn them a day in your life, have you?" "Obviously," her dark eyes seemed to say. "I mean, kind of?" Autumn hedged. "Not these specific ones, which are..." She glanced down at Marissa's ruined hiking heels. "Well, for me they're kind of on the tall side. But I don't wanna break an ankle or anything at the dance, and you wear them all day, so I thought maybe you'd help me out? Y'know, teach me your secrets, or something? And that would give us chances to talk about the other stuff, too."
  4. 2 points
    Marissa shrugged, cup already in hand as she surveyed her options for second rate coffee. One of the nurses, for some reason just couldn't keep her eyes off them as they browsed. "It is what it is," she said glumly, holding her blanket to cover herself as she decided. "And thank you. You know, for saying you're my friend. I'm horrible at it, I know, but aside from my brother I've never really had real connections with people, sooo..." "It's like, look at my mom, right? Tell me I'm not like her, you totally can't right? I know I'm horrible and changing isn't as easy as simply saying it, it's like... cardio for inner peace: you're intentions are to change, but no one ahs time for an hour on the karma bike five or more days a week, it's stressful and tiring and we all have better things to do. Full disclosure, I didn't join up with you guys to save the world or make friends, I saw Cody... or, rather what he'd become, by 'saw' I mean in the word-of-mouth sense." She filled her cup with the magic brain-zoom fluid and couldn't help but notice the nurse still staring at them, a hefty, angry looking woman that looked like she should be instructing German boot-camp not helping with the wellbeing of people. "His choices, his hate, his avarice... those made him into that thing and all I could think was: we have no idea how he got that way. Was he offered a deal and took it or was his name added to the dotted line slowly and methodically over time as he consciously allowed himself to be cruel and depraved and... Autumn, a part of me wonders how many letters of my name I'm up to on the dotted line... I don't want to end up like that." "So... I escape. Party a little bit, meet up with guys in Great Falls. Sometimes I just do it at home and once I did it too hard and now everyone knows," she sighed and chortled morosely. "Because my mom is hell bent on making sure she ruins anyone's life who is having a better time, prettier, or just plain enjoying themselves because she's fucking miserable. I still haven't told her my card got punched, of my god she is going to lose her mind." Finally she rolled her eyes and sighed and looked to old nurse and confronted her. "What?" The nurses didn't say anything and just averted her eyes for a moment, going back to some paperwork on a clipboard. Marissa whispered. "Christ, some people." She sipped her coffee, smiling at her 'bestie'. "This is nice." she laughed. "Talking. Maybe it's the endorphins and adrenaline wearing off, but-," the blood soaked teen again noticed the nurse glaring and Marissa pursed her lips and glared back. "Yes, lady, that right, take it in. We're soaked in blood and covered in bandages the same way unfulfillment and poor life decisions cling to you like a cloud of misspent youth and lifetime of regret." Cup to her lips Autumn's eyes couldn't get much wider as they darted back forth while her friend made a scene. "So go deliver your towels or bedpans or whatever they trust you to handle Kronk, and don't worry about what's going on over here." Annoyed, but defeated, the nurse simply shook her head and walked off. With a scoff, the Queen of Mean sipped her coffee again. "I swear, people are so rude. Anyway, like I was saying, maybe it's those wearing off, but it feels good to just not be in bitch mode, y'know? Despite my mom, I'm pretty relaxed right now. Happy to be alive, I guess."
  5. 2 points
    Cassandra's mom was a bit late to the party, and her manner of entry showed it. Almost running, checking each room number frantically. Even passing the spot that Marissa and Autumn were seated, she barely seemed to register them there...then stopped looked back. Recognition lit up, from the picnic. The redhead Cassie had been talking to. "You're..." Teresa paused in mid-phrase and shook her head, skipping to the important part. "Is she all right?" Autumn nodded, but before she had even started trying to put an answer to words, Marissa stepped in smoothly. "She's fine, Mrs Allen. We all are." Teresa nodded at that distractedly, then sagged a little and put a hand to her forehead. "She said that on the phone, I just...it would be just like her to play it down. I...thanks. Both of you. Not just for now but, you know. Then. Keeping her safe." This time it was Autumn that spoke first. "She kept us safe," she corrected. Her voice wasn't as loud and clear as Marissa's, but she said it firmly. "She was the one who knew what to do, and told us how to do it." Cassie's mom absorbed that, and had to blink away tears that weren't quite shed. There were so many words to say that she couldn't say anything. In the end Teresa just gestured at the door and said, "That's...I'm glad you were there for each other. I just have to..." The two girls said their goodbyes and Teresa continued down the hall until finding and letting herself into the room. Immediately there was tension in the air. Too many people, too little space. For a second Teresa just froze, unsure how to fit into this...then Cassandra leaned out and waved at her. Here was something she could understand instinctively! They stood off to one side a bit, as much as the room allowed, just hugging. When her mother started fussing at the bandage around her arm, Cassie sighed and explained it was just some kind of rash or irritation. She spared Teresa the detailed recounting, for the time being. One nightmare at a time. After a few minutes of that, Cassandra's mom turned to look at the other parents and said, "Hi everyone. I'm Teresa Allen, Cassandra's mother. I'm a librarian at the main branch. This is all...I still don't know what to make of any of it, but I think we have a lot to be proud of right now." Her arm rested around Cassandra's shoulder, and squeezed her.
  6. 2 points
    "Mmm." Autumn nodded, glancing up at the taller girl who, lacking anything else to do as they paused in the hallway, fidgeted with the ruddied blanket around her leather-clad shoulders. She'd figured that getting up and moving around might make both of them feel better, and looking for coffee gave that movement purpose; Marissa was visibly not okay, and after what her mom had said, loudly and in front of everyone, the red-haired teen wasn't surprised. Both of the girls looked like extras in some low-budget horror film, but whereas Autumn was as animated as ever, driven by some nigh-inexhaustible energy, the svelte brunette just seemed...tired. Over it. Done. It was bad enough they could've died, or worse, and even if what Mr. "Call me Carl" Jauntsen had said was true, and Misti was just upset, that was still no excuse for acting like- Well, she admitted to herself with a twinge of guilt. Like Marissa. So I guess, yeah. I do see where she gets it from. The admission didn't make Mari's own awfulness any easier to deal with, but at least she could understand a little better, which... helped. That was the idea, right? Learning to understand someone or something, so you could co-exist? And the twins could've bailed on everyone when things went from terrifying to oh-god-we're-all-gonna-die, or just have not shown up at all, but... they didn't. "So... Are they always like that?" she wondered aloud, peering up at her friend long enough to see the question register before inclining her head toward a lounge area near the nurse's station. Marissa huffed, a tiny measure of her usual hauteur resurfacing as they continued on their quest for caffeine. "Only on days that end in 'y.' It used to be a lot better, before we moved here. Mom was still impossible, but she and dad were," she offered her bestie a suggestive look. "You know, on the regular. Since we moved here they've hated each other. He drinks all the time, and she's so fucking high I'm surprised she knew which pair of her twins to address. Devin and I were pretty much left to do as we pleased... and here we are. Super powered and popular hanging out with the nerds because hell is empty and all the devils are here." "Yep," the Girl Scout agreed companionably. "All two of them. But at least one of them's my friend, so... I guess that's something?" Autumn's features scrunched up slightly in what might have been a sincere attempt at a grin, the effect of which was ruined somewhat by the flecks of dried rust-red that covered her cheeks in a grim parody of natural freckles. "Seriously, though," she added, her gaze zeroing in on a table replete with bio-degradable cups and a pair of coffee carafes. "That must've been rough. I mean, I know we talked about your parents a little bit when I came over, but..." The redhead's voice trailed off as she directed another of those earnest almost-smiles at the nurse on duty at the desk, determinedly ignoring the older woman's wide-eyed stare and expression of vague horror.
  7. 2 points
    Mr. Jauntsen nodded and offered Autumn a smirk she immediately identified as a hereditary trait. "Please, call me Carl." Marissa scoffed and wiped under her eyes, smearing her makeup even more as she got her bestie as far from her father as she could. "C'mon, coffee sounds great. I need out of here." She'd never quite heard Marissa's voice so low and devoid of its imperious tone. Even at her kindest Marissa always seemed to carry herself as the person in charge, yet now she sounded morose, shattered even, like a woman who'd retired her feelings hours ago and just stopped caring. Her hair was knotted together with sticky, dried blood and some of it had been wiped away from her face, her makeup had smeared and washed down her cheeks in blackened streaks that mingled with the patches of dried crimson and rust-brown. Combined with the shredded leather of her outfit she looked like she could be the front woman for a metal band. She certainly had some height on her bestie, especially with her heels on, echoing in the passageway as the two ladies searched for a coffee station. They warranted a few looks from others as they made their way. The hospital wasn't unfamiliar with the occasional traumatizing injury, but it wasn't everyday a wild-haired ginger girl scout covered in blood was paired in the halls with a raven-haired prostitute, also covered in blood, were seen wandering the halls on a quest for magic bean water. Finally, Marissa broke the silence between the two with a sigh. "So, you've met my family, now. See where I get it from? Ugh," she huffed and rolled her eyes. "My mom is such a bitch. My brother and I are so fucking useless in their eyes, I mean, why even have kids if you're not going to give a shit about them?" Autumn wasn't quite sure if she was address the redhead, or just speaking to hear her own thoughts.
  8. 2 points
    Autumn took a long drink from the plastic cup of water in her hand and watched the interaction between the Jauntsens and their parents, the heels of her hiking boots thudding dully against the metal base of the exam table as she swung her feet. She felt... Not tired, she decided, and not hurt. Restless, maybe? With everyone milling around, the room felt too small by half, and she found herself glancing, now and then, at the observation window in the door. What's going on out there? she wondered, finishing the last of her water. How are the girls doing? Are they gonna try to hold us for questioning, or make us come give statements, or what? It wasn't a pleasant thought, but the Project had managed to keep them all day before, so the redhead wasn't putting it past them this time. Fucking hell. She scowled, the paper cover on the table crinkling as she leaned over to drop the empty cup in the waste bin nearby. She wanted a shower to wash away the smell of death and worse, to just sit under the water and cry until it was physically impossible to cry anymore. Then she wanted a second shower, just to make sure no tangible remnant of that other place lingered on her skin. She wanted clean clothes. She wanted to be at home, wrapped up in her own blanket, in her own treehouse, smoking a well-packed pipe and pretending for a few hours that the world hadn't gone insane in the last couple of weeks and taken her along for the ride. It hadn't even bothered asking if she'd wanted to go, but the world was presumptuous that way. She watched as Misti cunted off in a telenovela huff, as Marissa shrank miserably into her brother's embrace, as Cade said nothing to his girlfriend at all and then cowered like a child in front of his stepmother, as Jason demonstrated for another incredulous adult that either their kids were crazy, or they were crazy themselves. "Okay," she sighed aloud, shifting her weight forward and shrugging the blanket from her shoulders as she slid off the edge of the examination table. "Devin, I'm borrowing your sister for a sec. C'mon, Marissa. I need to find some coffee." The elder twin regarded her wearily, warily over his sister's trembling shoulder, but after a moment Devin nodded and gently nudged the distraught brunette in her alleged bestie's direction. Autumn slid an arm around the blanket-shrouded beauty, guiding her toward the door. As they passed Carl, she paused for just a moment. You know what, fuck it. After today, I honestly don't even care. "And Mr. Jauntsen? Maybe next time apologize for what happened, instead of just saying you wished we hadn't seen it."
  9. 2 points
    Autumn Keane Interview, Magazine Article. (PDF format) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1f3Vg8RXEfKSEOYe6txw1V31ovPhb5xOt/view?usp=sharing
  10. 2 points
    [Intro music plays] JH: Welcome back, everyone, to the next of our E! exclusive cast interviews! I am Julia Hernandez, and this afternoon, we managed to get a hold of the latest addition to Weirder Stuff's main cast. She comes from France, she's adorable, some of the fans even started calling her the [airquote] Pocket Powerhouse [airquote]. Let me introduce you to Catherine 'Kat' Barras! KB: [from offstage] Is this when I'm supposed to go on stage and say hi- oh. OH! Mic's on... Here we go! [as she arrives on stage, dressed in skinny jeans, a pink Paul Smith shirt and a pair of black knee-high boots] Hi everyone! [looks at the cameras and raises a hand to her chest] Boy! I'm barely starting to get used to these! [giggles] Hi Julia! How are you doing? JH: [chuckles] I'm doing great, thank you! How about you? KB: [sits down and winces comically] I'm nervous. I've never done these before! Thanks for having me, by the way. I'm a big fan, I've watched the show from the start and, oh, that epic battle in the last episode, would never, ever, have seen it coming! [laughs] JH: [laughs] Right! I have been told your first appearance on screen is in Weider Stuff. Is that your first role? KB: Yes. At first, I had an internship with the team, pulled some strings back in France so I could get my free trip to the States, and one day they told me to put the coffee down, dragged me to the makeup artist and stuffed a script into my hands. Aaaaand, it worked. I didn't really see myself as an actor, but, not to throw flowers at myself or anything, [grins] I apparently do a decent job. My first scene never made it to the screen, but it is probably what convinced the producers to offer me a contract. JH: Really? What happened in that scene? KB: [zips lips and winks] Can't say, I kind of forgot everything about it. Wait for the deleted scenes to be leaked or something. JH: [smiles] Fine, I'll have to be patient then. You never really saw yourself as an actor, you say, but what exactly did you see yourself as, before [motions vaguely] Weirder Stuff happened? KB: Originally, I wanted to be a comedian. I did work on some jokes back in France, and exhibitionned myself to immense crowds of, like, fourty people? To be honest, acting for a screen really feels different. The good - or bad - part, I never know, of a live crowd, is that I get to see the people's reactions and work with them. Right now, when I'm on stage, I never know if the fans will like what I do until the episode is out and people start lighting up gasoline all over social media. It's kind of scary. [pauses] But totally worth it, don't get me wrong! It's like really wanting for some ice-cream, not knowing if you'll get some, and finally getting ice-cream. An exciting... sort of... scary. JH: An interesting comparison, to say the least. KB: [nods] I really like ice-cream. JH: [chuckles] Speaking of gasoline on social media, your character is the only openly bisexual character on show, and is starting to grow as an icon in some circles, how are you feeling about that? KB: Oh, that's one tricky question. [ponders] I've never really got into these kinds of conversation. All I can say is that the character is almost a tailor-made fit for me - I can't thank the writers enough for that, they're doing a great job - and, if you're saying I'm inspiring people through the way I act Kat, the teenage girl, well, I'm flattered. Really. And yes, I'm bisexual. [mimics crowd ovation] Go crazy, Internet. JH: Another sensitive topic about your character is ADHD. In the show, Kat suffers from undiagnosed ADHD and it's been made quite apparent on screen. How important is this part of the character to you? KB: Oh, very. My Dad has ADHD - my real Dad, not Josh, who is adorable by the way. Such a nice guy. So yeah, I grew up with one, and sort of spreading awareness about it is important to me. There's a lot of people out there with some minor Attention Deficits, who don't know they have these and don't know how to deal with it, and I know it can be real hard for some. My Dad only got diagnosed when I was thirteen. That's seven years ago! And understanding what it was, and ways to live through, or with it, actually helped him and improved his, our life! At first, Kat wasn't supposed to have ADHD, and the subject came up during a chat with the writers, and they loved the idea! JH: It really hits home to you. KB: It does! [blows kiss at the camera] Love you, Dad! JH: [nods] Alright, onto the less serious, but as important part. Kat and Courtney, Kat and Sean, Kat and Jase question mark, what's happening? The fans deserve to know! KB: [winces] I don't knoooooow what's happening either. Okay, okay, okay. We can talk about what has already happened. Uh, last first, Kat and Jase, nothing is happening so far, right? All we've seen is a strange girl in a strange town getting red-cheeked whenever she makes eye-contact with the local predator. Maybe she has a crush on him, maybe she hasn't. I'm... not... saying nothing will happen at all, they're teens, but... Gah! Nothing is written in stone for teens. Now, Kat and Sean, Kat and Courtney, well, she obviously likes both, spends a lot of time with Sean but would? like to spend some more with Courtney - and we all saw why, but Courtney and Sean sort of hate each other, so there is this sort of love-hate triangle? I don't really know how to describe that. But yeah, definitely a relationship I'm happy to explore because it is so interesting to develop. Sean and Courtney are amazing actors and I'm really glad to be there with them. JH: What about the rest of the teens? KB: Oh, everyone's been so nice to me since I arrived. Sometimes I feel like I'm the lost puppy of the crew... which would not be that far from the truth, to be fair. They always pick me up when I'm feeling down. These guys know how to relax after a few thousands of takes. I love every single one of them as equally as the others, only some more equally than others. [chuckles] Recently there's been this running joke about squirrels... JH: Does it have anything to do with Cade's little friends? KB. Yes! They're so cute! It's part of my routine now, they're the firsts I visit every morning. And every now and then, between takes, Devin or Autumn stalks up to me and yells "SQUIRREL!" [laughs] while pointing at the ceiling, and every single time, they make me look. [shakes her head] JH: [laughs] It does sound like they adopted you! Well, I believe we're running out of time, fan questions will have to wait for next round. Thank you for being here, Kat, it's been very nice to finally meet you! KB: [a wide grin full of dimples] Yes! It's been very fun, sign me up for round two! [waves to the cameras] Bye bye! JH: This was our E! exclusive cast interview for Weirder Stuff, with Catherine Barras. Thank you for watching, and see you next week! [Screen blurs, outro music plays as they both continue their conversation while heading offstage]
  11. 2 points
    [Intro music plays] Julia Hernandez: Hey there, everyone! I'm Julia Hernandez and this is another episode of Beyond Weirder Stuff. Tonight, we have one of the more experienced actors among the young and talented cast visiting us, Sean Cassidy. [gestures off stage] Sean Cassidy: [sashays on stage in a pair of Christian Louboutin platform sandals and a revealing, asymmetric Alexander Vauthier dress.] Thank you, Julia for having me on the show. [waves to the audience and blows them a kiss, before sitting down and crossing her legs] But experienced? You wound me. [holds a hand to her chest, then laughs] I'm only twenty-six. JH: And by Hollywood standards, you have aged so gracefully [both laugh]. I must say, we haven't seen Sean dressed anything like this on Weirder Stuff. You look absolutely stunning. SC: Not yet [smirks]. Thanks. It's nice to glam up after a day of shooting, especially when your wardrobe on set is usually jeans and hoodies. JH: Not yet? Are you hinting at something? SC: [winks at camera] Not a thing. I don't have Autumn's shirt. But who knows? Marissa could end up a very bad, or a certain manner of good, influence on certain members of the Fellowship. If you want to find out, stay tuned for season two. JH: With the spectacular success of season one, I don't think anyone on the show has to worry about losing any viewers to a sophomore season slump. But speaking of success, your way onto Weirder Stuff was hardly a straight line. SC: You can say that again. [sighs and rolls eyes] JH: You way onto Weirder-- [Sean laughs, Julia grins], but seriously, the character you are playing isn't who you were expecting to play, was it? How did you get involved with Weirder Stuff. SC: You can thank Eric [Kripke] for that. I had done a three episode arc on Supernatural, and in apology for killing me off in a spectacularly gory fashion – Thanks Eric, I didn't get enough of that on Living Dead Girls three-through-six [waves at camera] – when development started at on WS, he sent me a synopsis of the show and the script for the pilot. JH: And what did you think of it? SC: [purses her lips] I was... dubious at best. [shakes her head, then waves a dismissive hand] No, I thought Eric had lost his damn mind. It was preposterous. Ludicrous, even. I could handle ludicrous - I'd been in the film adaptation of Lollipop Chainsaw - but Weirder Stuff felt like it was trying to be too many things at once. They tried to make Lollipop Chainsaw into a series, but the pilot didn't get picked up - which was too bad, it was a lot of fun. But looking at WS, all I could see was it going down the same way, a pilot never seen, buried forever and forgotten. JH: [leans forward, reaching a hand towards Sean] I for one, would love to see that pilot for a Lollipop Chainsaw series. It might not have done well in theaters, it did turn into a bit of the cult classic. Unapologetic, ridiculous fun you don't see often anymore. SC: [smiles wryly] If you bring the wine, I'll see what I can do. Private viewing only. [rolls wrist] Rights and all that. JH: I'm going to hold you to that. Back to WS, clearly, you changed your mind about it. How did that go about? SC: Persistence [holds up a restraining]. Not mine, Eric's. He talked a big game, and I'll admit, his enthusiasm was infectious. Eventually. More convincing, it was going to be on HBO and the budget was... impressive. That was part of the problem with Lollipop Chainsaw, the budget, and it got smaller when Jim [James Gunn] left for Marvel. Jim gave me the part of Bereet, at least, so i stayed my hand at burning him in effigy. Eric swore he wasn't going anywhere. [shrugs a bare shoulder] He convinced me. And it was better than dying again in Living Dead Girls seven. They wanted the zombies to be the heroes this time! [shudders]. JH: Now, now, who knows, they might make it work. [Sean mock glares] Alright, probably not. Now, you agreed to audition for the show. What part did you audition for? SC: First? It was Marissa's. It went... [hesitates, chews on an underlip, waggles a hand] okay. Could have been better, but, not naming any names, the guy Joss [Whedon] and Eric paired me up with? No chemistry. Anti-chemistry. Christensen, Portman in Star Wars level of chemistry. JH: Ouch. A subject still touchy to many Star Wars fan. SC: Devin is the big Star Wars fan. As an actress, those scenes just hurt. The writing didn't help. The writing on WS, however does. Anyway, after Marissa and Devin locked down their audition, I tried out for Courtney. That went better, and Courtney and I where neck and neck for the part. Ultimately, she got it - not going to lie, I was bitter for a while. I thought the typecasting would give me the edge, but... [shrugs] Joss suggested Max, but such a bit part was a considerable let down when I thought I was going to be a regular on what might be the next HBO smash hit. JH: And then you were offered the role of the intersexed computer genius... which didn't come without controversy. SC: [snorts in exasperation] Largely contrived controversy. It wasn't like the crew didn't try to cast someone who had... more in common with the character, say. But genderfluid, intersexed, and transgendered, aren't interchangeable, and two of the three are in very short supply in the industry, and the other is still a niche category. There was one transgendered actress who tried for the part. Young and lovely, but it was her first audition for a lead role and, well, it was very evident. JH: That's too bad. Everyone has to start somewhere. SC: They do, but not in a starring role when you've practically just started. She just needs more experience, and I hope the rejection doesn't discourage her. I know exactly how she feels. You need a tough skin in this industry. Anyway, after her, then put out feelers to more established actors. Ruby Rose was a bit older than they were looking for, but she'd been in movies and was asking too much. While in negotiations, she ended up signing on to play Batwoman. Hope that goes well for her. Lachlan Watson is killing it on Sabrina. Brigette Lundy-Paine was still signed to Atypical. Bex Taylor-Klause passed for other projects they were working on. JH: So, it wasn't that they didn't try and be respectful of the LGTBQIA community - SC: - as they were getting to desperate to cast someone and get the production rolling. Eric saw a short film I was in, based of a short story called Changeling, and thought I could pull the part off. There's still pushback about a straight, cisgender woman playing the part, but my social media accounts aren't total dumpster fires anymore, and I've being given a chance with the role, if cautiously and skeptically. JH: Sean has been an unusual and unconventional delight on the show. How do you prepare for the role, and do you share anything in common with the character you are portraying? SC: For the role? I've attended a fair number of genre conventions, and I assembled quirks and mannerisms I noticed that were common among the attendees. And of course, the writers helped immensely. Also, some deep dives on certain Readit threads and spoken with individuals in the community. I've learned a lot. Especially when to shut my mouth. [mouth firms into a tight line, fingers drum on the arm of the sofa for a ten count] As for what I have in common with the character? Very little in truth. All the math and computer stuff? I memorize that and try to regurgitate it with authority. I'm handy with my phone and filters, for InstaSnap and Chirper, but that's about it. [Julia opens her mouth to object] Yes, okay, as others have mentioned on the show, I've - we've gotten into RPGs. They didn't mention how much alcohol helped at the start. And yes, I've studied the rules and have far more books than I ever expected I would. I don't want to get busted not knowing the answer to a technical question at ComiCon. I saw that episode of the Simpsons, and it totally happens. I'll admit, I might have gotten into it earlier if I'd known Joe Manganiello was a big D&D nerd when I was on True Blood. [whispers conspiratorily] Don't tell the others, but while I know the rules, I barely use them. The game has helped me a great deal with my improvisational skills, though. I prefer being prepared on set, and any improvisation to be organized improvisation. Devin, and Cassandra to a lesser extent, love ad-libbing or just trying to make their co-stars crack. [frowns with mock menace] I made a good target. And the more I protested, the better one I made. Trying to herd the others like cats during a table-top session helped immensely with making myself less of a target for their antics. JH: Less of a target? SC: Just less, yes, and better with going along with it. I still don't like it when they spring surprises on me, though [waggles a finger]. And now, more often, they'll talk with me before the scene, to warn me what they have in mind. [smiles wryly] But not always. Seriously though, it has been great on set. Mostly. There's bound to be ruffled feathers when you are around the same people for so much time each day. JH: That seems to be the general consensus with the rest of the cast. [smiles, holds up a tablet] Do you have time for some questions from Chirper and Readit? SC: If I said no, how angry do you think they would be? [Laughs, beckons with her fingers] Fire away. JH: Lemongeddon asks, 'Where we you born, and where have you lived?' SC: [arches a brow] Didn't I answer this on my AMA? Okay, while I grew up in one of the less nice suburbs of Toronto, I was actually born in Puerto Rico. Dual-Citizenship for the win. I might have been the whitest girl on the island, but I'm fluent in Spanish - my French is barely passable though. We moved when I was five. Six? When I got serious about acting, I moved to Vancouver, then LA. I'll admit, the general silence of Shelby freaked me out at first, but it's growing on me. I'm considering buying a getaway here. JH: That's a recurring sentiment among the cast, I've found. SC: Spend an extended time here, and you'll see why. Might be missing some amenities, but the views are to die for, and it hasn't been inundated by tourists and celebrities like Jackson Hole, jacking up prices and ruining the place for the locals. JH: I'll keep that in mind, next time I feel the need to get back to nature, but not too close. Next, from 80085, 'As anyone can see from your InstaSnap and SuperFans, you love fashion and dressing up. What do you miss most, dressing so differently on WS?' Oof, that's a good one. SC: [instantly, kicking up a foot] Heels, no contest. I might be envious of what Marissa and Courtney get to wear - even if half of it wouldn't work for me - but it's heels I miss. On all these cops show and doctor shows, most of the women are still wearing heels and it makes absolutely no sense, but I totally get it. Add to that, I don't know what they feed the people in Montana, but seems there isn't a short extra in sight, and even the regular cast skews taller than average. I was inordinately happy to have Kat join the cast. Yes, definitely heels are what I miss most. JH: I feel you girl. They'll have to pry my Manolo Blahnik's from my cold, dead hands. Hmm, this one could be interesting, but ugh on the name. IckySpyder asks, 'What's a talent or skill nobody would expect you have?' SC: Hmm. I'm, or at least believe I am, a pretty decent baker. Which Sean on the show shares with me, not the other way around. But I shared that on my AMA, which lead to a long tangent on r/Baking. Let me think, something less known... [sighs in apparent defeat] This isn't going to help with making not look like the old lady on set, but I love knitting and quilting. JH: Really? That... It's certainly unexpected. There's nothing on your InstaSnap about it. SC: It's a hobby I picked up early when I started acting. Sometimes, there's a lot of waiting, especially as an extra, and when you are in costume and make-up, often, you can't go anywhere, so I took it up to pass the time. Thought I'd get frustrated with it, ended up really liking it, something just for me, that I shared with at my whim. Usually made things for cast members that I like, gifting them at the wrap parties. [pauses] I may have made a mistake though. JH: How so? Dish the deets! SC: Well, Devin was being, well, Devin between takes. I threatened to stab him with one of my needles and when the stick didn't work, I offered the carrot. He wanted a hat like Jayne's. From Firefly? So I made him one. And he loved it. I promise you, you'll see it on the blooper reel. I'm pretty sure he hasn't managed to sneak it on camera- JH: [looking at her tablet] I'm being told you can see it in Devin's room in episode four. SC: [shrugs helplessly] There you have it. The problem is, now the rest of the cast are making requests, and seeing who can come up with the silliest or most outrageous one I'm willing to do. I'd tell you what Jason asked for, but there would be a lot of bleeping. Okay, maybe not, it was highly technical and descriptive, but it should be bleeped. JH: That is wickedly adorable! Can I make a request too? SC: I'm not starting an Etsy shop here! [folds her arms gruffly, but grins]. We'll talk after. JH: Oh, yes, we will! CapnScarlet is wondering, 'Are you a natural red' -hey! [turns to look off stage] Who curated these? We already had this question last week... Seriously? It got through? Well... [turns back to Sean] Do you mind...? SC: Not at all. If you've seen anything I've been in CapnScarlet, it would be a good guess I wasn't a natural redhead. I haven't been my natural hair colour in years, and last time my hair was red, I was fifteen I think, and it was candy apple red. My natural hair colour is super blond, practically white, but I've been dying it since I was twelve. I've had practically every colour of hair there is at one point or another, but I usually went with brown or black professionally, unless the part demanded otherwise. Autumn and Courtney have been wonderful with teaching me #redlife. JH: Do you know why there are so many redheads on Weirder Stuff? SC: I have theories, but who knows? I think it was just a fluke with casting at first. And then maybe an inside joke about how red hair is a mutation - see, I can remember some of the sciency stuff - and either pairing it with Sean's genetic issues, or as a subtle reference to a genetic component in determining who has Shine. Not that red hair equates to having Shine, just that there's a genetic component to it. But that's a wild guess. JH: A mystery for season two perhaps. I think we have time left for a pair of questions. This one is from FuMaKi, and ouch! 'You've died an awful lot on screen, some wonder if you're gunning for Sean Bean's record. After Charlie, are you worried you're next on the chopping block?' SC: [shakes her head in disappointment] You have got to know I'm not going to touch the latter with a ten-foot. As for the former, it's wasn't my intention, it just sort of... happened. I don't know the exact number - ask the internet. Okay, that's not true, I do know the number, I'm just making you work for it a little, but if I have to keep dying on screen to have a career as long and respected as Sean Bean's, I'd count it a fair trade. JH: Sean Bean has it in his contracts now that he doesn't die, so you have a great chance to catch up. SC: I know. He mentioned it on the set of Game of Thrones. We didn't have any scenes together, it was just in passing at the catering table - OMG, they ate well. I went for the part of Margeary, I got brothel whore - oops, can I say whore? - brothel worker number whatever, if the part had a name, I don't remember it. Two episodes and [runs a finger across her neck]. The trick he said was to get to a point where you can negotiate not getting killed into your contract. JH: And your contract... SC: Is sealed by an NDA. [smiles] JH: Just wanted to have you say it. Our last question, by way of m00nm00se99, is 'If you had the chance to do something over again, what would it be?' SC: Hmm, jokes about Chronokinesis aside, I can't say I'd change anything. Some regrets and mistakes, sure, but they are part of me, made me the person I am. If I changed them, I'd be a different person. That's a bit of a cop out, so I'll talk about a pair of the biggest turning points in my life, if that's okay? JH: Of course, Sean. We're all ears. SC: The first was marrying Bob [Ogden, prolific and prominent produce, Sean Cassidy's ex-husband]. I was too young, it was his second marriage. It was a glorious disaster. We were much better as friends, friends with benefits even, than as husband and wife. They say looks don't matter, but it's a lie. We both thought we could advance our careers as a couple... [sighs] It helped, some, but it also turned us into worse people, bound by a contract rather than a real relationship. Our divorce was acrimonious, so we couldn't even go back to being friends. [smiles sadly] I had the better lawyers though, and both of us wanted it done, so it ended quick rather than getting dragged out. Hopefully, we both learned something during out time together. He got back with his first wife, last I heard. I truly hope he's happier now. I hardly even dream of committing felonies on him anymore. The second turning point, though it came before the first, was [raises her shoulders] the boobs. Nothing against cosmetic surgery at all. I just happened to be impatient. Here's the thing - I moved to LA when I was eighteen. Think about any actor or actress you've seen and know, with just a bit of effort, you can find a prettier version on the street or in the coffee shops and restaurants of LA or Hollywood, they just didn't get the break or the talent to make it. I naively thought I had the talent, given the time and chance, to be the next Streep, or Blanchett or Weaver, Scarlett Johansson, whathaveyou. I just needed an edge to open the door. So I went with the most obvious and easiest to acquire. Joke was on me though, I was a late bloomer, so I ended up doubling up on the most common super power. Thing was, doors did open. Practically by the time I recovered from surgery, I had my first movie role. Okay, it was Pirahna 3DD, and yes, I died in it, but it opened other doors for me. Maybe not the doors I wanted, but doors all the same. JH: How did you envision your career trajectory going? Meryl Streep? SC: [laughs unabashedly] I'm not Meryl Streep. I was thinking more like Christina Hendricks - absolutely love her in Mad Men - along with the accolades and blockbusters of, say, Charlize Theron. Instead, I ended up a more genre driven version of Sophia Vergara. On the other hand, she's made bank of what feels like twenty seasons of Modern Family, doesn't look a day older than when she started, and she married Manganiello, so what do I know? But the doors I've gone through have lead me here to Weirder Stuff, and I don't regret that at all. JH: That's about all the time we have for tonight, folks. Thank you, Sean, for such a lively and forthcoming time. If I had my way, we'd go into the next time slot whenever we had someone from Weirder Stuff on the show. SC: It's been fun and refreshing. I'd love to be back after you've done the rounds of the cast. JH: You can count on it! Maybe I can talk them into a double long episode of Beyond Weirder Stuff with the entire Fellowship. But this is all for tonight. See you all next week, when we have Eric Kripke and Joss Whedon on the show. [Outro music begins to play, Sean gets her phone from her clutch and moves over beside Julia, they talk as Sean swipes through pics, then throw back their heads in laughter as the screen fades to black]
  12. 2 points
    [Intro music plays] JH: Welcome back, everyone! I’m your host, Julia Hernandez, here with another exclusive. Today we’ve managed to wrangle two more stars of “Weirder Stuff” into the studio: one of whom is famous, or perhaps infamous, for his reluctance to speak publicly, and the other for… Well, for exactly the opposite. It’s my pleasure to introduce the elusive Mr. Jason Bannon, and the effervescent Miss Autumn Keane. Welcome, welcome! Thank you both for joining me today! Autumn: Thanks, Julia. [grins as she settles into her chair and glances at her co-star.] Yeah, he’s my chaperone today, so no spoilers this time. [noticeable pause, followed by a wider grin.] Probably. Jason: [dry tone and a smile] I think the studio has too much faith in my abilities. JH: [laughs] How did they manage to twist your arm to get you into a live interview, Jason? Jason: [deadpan] There was some begging and crying. Kripke actually offered his first-born son if I would come on just to stop Autumn talking about next Season. Autumn: His first-born? Oh, that’s gonna be awkward at the holidays, isn’t it? [laughs, leaning back in her chair] I mean, after last time, he did threaten to have someone follow me around with tranquilizer darts, so this is definitely better for me. JH: Tranquilizer darts?! Autumn: I mean, I’m sure he was kidding! [waves her hands placatingly, still grinning] It’s fine. Probably fine. More than likely totally fine. I’d like to think I’ve learned my lesson after the Jauntsen reveal, anyway. That was… [grimaces slightly] When I’m really excited about something, it’s easy to just get caught up in the moment, y’know? And during the Q&A stream someone asked about my character’s relationship with Marissa, and… [hesitates for a moment] And I think I was just so psyched to talk about how I think the relationship between my character and the Twins might develop, it just didn’t occur to me that the big Blight battle hadn’t aired yet, and people wouldn’t already know they’d survived the fight. Sooo… Yeah. Team Holland strikes again. [grins sheepishly] JH: Rumor has it that Tom actually got in touch with you recently. What was that about? Autumn: Oh! [claps her hands together excitedly and leans forward] Oh, yeah, because of the joke, right? And honestly, it was perfect. So, we’ve had this sort of running joke on set about making t-shirts for the cast, different hashtags and all that, and so he sent me one that just said #TeamHolland on it. It was awesome, totally brilliant. [laughs] Now when I start to say too much on-set they’ll just tell me to go put my shirt on, like it’s a cone of shame or something. Totally deserved, of course, don’t get me wrong. It’s just really hard not to want to share all the crazy stuff we’ve been doing. JH: I can only imagine! [smiles] Now, obviously you’re not the only one who’s guilty of letting slip a spoiler or two about the show during what has turned out to be a wild first season. Has that made things difficult for the cast at all, or changed the atmosphere on-set? Autumn: Hmm. [tilts her head thoughtfully, considering] That’s a tricky one. Can I pass for a sec, and come back to that? JH: Oh absolutely. We can move right onto the big story and, let’s be frank, the reason I’m so stoked to have you both here in the hot seat. Most of us have seen that InstaSnap post… you know the one. So the big questions on everyone’s lips are “How long have you two been an item off-screen?” and “Who else in the cast and crew knew?” Was it a surprise to everyone else when social media went berserk, or was it just one of the best kept on-set secrets ever? Autumn: [laughs, shaking her head] I take it back, I take it back! I change my mind! Oh, god. [covers her face for a moment, shoulders shaking with laughter] Okay, okay. [composes herself, exhales] Right. So… To answer your last two questions first, “Yes.” At least, it was a secret, sort of, and everyone was also surprised. We just… I mean, we didn’t really talk about it, and it didn’t change much of anything at work, you know? Granted, in some cases, I think it might’ve helped the scene. [glances at Jason from the corner of her eye, grinning mischievously] But, yeah. The producers knew, but it wasn’t something we really shared with the cast. We’d talked about it, but there were concerns it might affect the group dynamic, or how the audience viewed certain interactions. The story in WS is always changing, and we didn’t want viewers to feel that a particular pairing was “locked in,” or that the outcome of an event is predetermined, if that makes sense. Jason: That was very important to both of us. [nodding] One of the marvellous aspects of Weirder Stuff as a story is the very organic nature of the script, especially when it comes to the interpersonal stuff. A lot of that is down to the actors and the writers working really closely together. For instance, the initial concept of Devin and Jason is that they would immediately be best friends with enough differences to keep the dynamic interesting. But when we were going over the lines together, Devin proposed that rather than them just naturally falling that way, they should be these two guys who were different, and worked really well together when things came down to crunch time, but had this huge gap of personal understanding between them that would take ages to bridge. Autumn and Jase becoming a “thing” in the show was very much another one of those “Hey, writers, what if we…?” moments. [grins teasingly sideways at Autumn] Which sort of ties into the “how long” question, doesn’t it? Autumn: It does, yeah. [cuts her eyes at him with a crooked smile] So… When Autumn and Jason went camping after he showed her the greenhouse, that whole thing was just supposed to be between friends. New friends, at that, who are just beginning to work out how to relate to each other. Maybe some teasing or banter, even a little bit of the tension from the talk they had at the Bannon farm, but nothing concrete. It was just supposed to be a bit of a bonding moment for the characters, and a chance for the audience to learn more about them by seeing how they interacted with their environment and each other. To give them a little insight. JH: Well, it certainly seems to have been, as you said, a “bonding” experience. So it wasn’t scripted? Autumn: Mmm, not at all, believe it or not! As Jason said just a moment ago, one of the most engaging and exciting parts of the show, from a professional perspective, is how dynamic and fluid the show can be. Devin’s famous for ad-libbing, for example, and loads of times it winds up working really well. So there’s a sense that we have a lot of input into how things go, a lot of creative agency and freedom within the context of the script we’re given. People get together all the time to run lines, especially since there’s not much time between being handed an episode and that episode being filmed- sometimes only a day or two. Jason and I were working on the, um. The campfire scene. JH: Oh, trust me, I know the one. How could I forget? Autumn: Right, that one. [laughs] Well, we were talking through the part where he sort of leans in, which was this really great moment of tension that was meant to be defused by a joke, and then everything would settle back into the camaraderie they were establishing. And I thought about the talk they’d had, and the little flirtations, and Autumn’s impulsiveness, so I said, “Wait. What if, instead of cracking a joke and backing down, what if she leans into that moment and just kisses him?” So… [shrugs a little, cheeks going pink as she smiles] So we gave it a shot to see how it felt in the scene. Jason: It was a convincing demonstration. [smiles a little as Autumn goes a touch more pink and elbows him] So it was sort of a realisation for us both, that moment. That the chemistry we’d developed between the characters was itself reflective of our chemistry as people. So yeah, we were definitely attracted to each other, so we kept it on the down-low after that evening because, well as we said we didn’t want to straitjacket the show’s writers. If they didn’t like the idea of Jase and Autumn, we didn’t want to make it awkward if they paired the characters up with other characters. Separating the professional from the personal is kind of important to us both in that regard. So we approached the writers with the kiss idea, and they loved it. I honestly expected they’d have it stop at a kiss then make it this awkward will-they-won’t-they for a few episodes or more, but they decided that didn’t really fit either character. The campfire scene became totally different, and they re-worked some subplot ideas to incorporate the new romance, which was more than we expected. Autumn: Mhmm. [nods enthusiastically] Even though it meant revising so much of what had been scripted, they jumped right in and ended up creating what felt like a more authentic, more dramatic story than just a friendly camping trip. It was pretty amazing. JH: And so you kept it low-key until… Jason: The selfie heard around the world. Yes. Autumn: Sooo, going back to your earlier question, about spoilers and changing things on-set. [grins wryly] Can real-life have spoilers? Is that a thing? JH: [laughs] In your case… Autumn: Right?! [laughs brightly] We’ve all got our talents, I suppose, even unconventional ones. In all seriousness, though, that selfie really was completely an accident. I mean, I didn’t take it accidentally, I just didn’t think anyone would be able to tell who was in the background. I woefully underestimated the curiosity and dedication of the show’s fans, I think, which is totally fair. If I saw a shadowy photo of what might be a really good-looking guy, with gorgeous green eyes, draped in a sheet, I might wonder who he was, too. Actually, hang on. I have seen a couple of photos like that. [grins impishly, nose crinkling slightly] There are definitely some advantages to having gotten everything out in the open, but dealing with the aftermath of that one post was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. What would the studio, and the producers, and the cast, and my family, and everyone else think? Would I be out of a job? Would the viewers resent me, or him, or both of us? Jason and I had just really started dating kind of seriously not long before that, too, and I was really worried about how he’d react. He’s a much more private person than I am, and on top of that, it might have seriously affected his career. I mean, it’s easy to laugh now, but things could’ve gone totally sideways on a number of levels. JH: Were there any negative repercussions to the revelation? Autumn: Hmm. [frowns slightly, settling back into her chair again] On my end, I would say some, yeah, but nothing out of the ordinary. Mum was pretty hurt that I hadn’t said anything to her, and kind of jokingly annoyed that I hadn’t made a pass at Cade instead. She thinks he’s just adorable. [smiles faintly] She hasn’t had a chance to meet Jason yet, so, yeah… Back to your question though. Some fans were understandably pretty upset, because it’s easy, I think, to conflate the actor with the character in a show like WS, where we all use our own names and so much attention is devoted to authenticity. Realistically, though, even if it’s not how I’d have liked people to find out, it could’ve gone a lot worse. I’m happy with the way things have worked out so far. JH: And how about for you, Jason? Jason: Well, other than Autumn’s mom being disappointed I wasn’t Cade… [he grins] No, seriously, I didn’t mind overmuch once the surprise wore off. I’m happy in my work and I’m happy in my personal life, and my mom thinks Autumn is an absolute darling. Like Autumn said, there was some pushback from fans - but honestly, we’ve had a lot more positive feedback than negative, at least so far. I understand people are talking all the time on social media and there’s whole Readit threads debating how the Autumn/Jase relationship will pan out, with factions forming around their pet theories. And some buzz about how we’ll pan out, too. JH: There is indeed. How do you see it panning out? Jason: [smiling faintly] It’s not just up to me. Suffice to say that I am right where I want to be for the foreseeable future. Autumn: [rests her fingertips briefly on his forearm, the touch lingering for a moment as she smiles] JH: Aww. Okay then, on to some other questions since we’ve embarrassed the two of you enough. These ones from Chirper and Readit. Autumn: Ohboy… JH: The Ethical Drinker - interesting handle that - wants to know: “As a fine lass from a place like Aussieland, with several years experience, do you have a drink of choice? Same for the American lad, if he’s allowed to drink yet.” Sadly, I’m not even going to attempt the Scots accent the question was delivered in. I’d just embarrass myself and offend the Scottish. Autumn? What’s your favourite drink? Autumn: “Aussieland.” [swings her feet, laughing] Oh, that’s perfect! And, good question. Hmm. Actually, I’m not really sure I have one, to be honest. It depends what we’re doing, you know? And it’s different here than back home, the whole culture around drinking is just- it’s kind of confusing. Like, Christmas is gonna be weird as because obviously it’s cold and no one’s gonna be sitting on the deck getting day drunk on white wine and soaking up the sun. So, hm. Maybe a vodka cran or something when the girls go out, or a glass of beer with dinner, but… Yeah. I wish I had a more specific answer, but I’m still finding things I like. [smiles and shrugs a little] Ask me again in a few years and I might be able to say, yes, one hundred percent a… I dunno, a Lagavulin 16 or something, but for now I’m not really that heavily invested in it. I like my liver. [smiles more broadly] What about you, Jase? Jason: “If he’s allowed to drink?” I’ve been legal for a couple of years. Well, at least I look youthful. [chuckles] It depends a lot on whether I’m working, and what the character would drink if anything. I think this is the first character I’ve played who actually drinks at all on-camera, come to think of it. Jase likes to sample tastes and smells, and by preference goes for a decent rum or good bourbon, something fragrant. As for me… hmm… similar, I suppose? I don’t drink a whole lot, but I like a nice beer with some meals, or a glass of good wine. And a good bourbon or scotch from time to time. Like the lady said - get back to me in a few years when I’ve had time to develop serious preferences. [smiles at Autumn, then the presenter] JH: Fair enough! Next question is for Autumn: FR33B1RD wants to know “What was the biggest adjustment, working in Montana, compared to Down Under?” Autumn: Oh, another good one. Well, this one’s easy. The biggest adjustment is that you’re all backwards. Or upside down. Or… both, possibly. [she squints a little, tilting her head, then breaks into a broad grin] Obviously the landscape’s massively different in the mountains of Montana than on the coast of West Oz, the climate’s different, and you’ve all got this weird accent, but I think the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make was something I mentioned earlier. The seasons are totally inverted, right? It’s kind of surreal to be talking about snow in November, and I won’t lie, it messes with my head a little. Like, I’ll ring the family back home, and we’re all making holiday plans, but those plans look completely different. That being said, there’s a lot of similarities, too. Small towns are more or less the same wherever you go, I think, and just like at home, there’s plenty of opportunity to get out and do things, enjoy the sunshine and the fresh air and challenge yourself. And while I’ll maintain that my hometown has the best, nicest people anywhere in the world, I’ve gotta admit Shelby’s giving them a run for their money. JH: I can imagine that would be disorienting, yes! How about another one? Let’s see… Oh! This one touches on something of a minor controversy about WS. CapnScarlet posted, "Are you a natural redhead? Asking for a friend." Autumn: I- [blinks, then laughs and grins at Jason] Not a word. Although you have been really talkative today, so maybe I shouldn’t discourage you...? Jason: [mimes zipping and locking his lips with a smile] Autumn: [shifts slightly in her chair, still smiling] Yeah, yeah I am. The hair and makeup folks do tweak it a bit, so it’s very slightly brighter and reads better on camera, but, yes. I am a natural redhead. It’s actually one of the things that got me jobs when I was a kid, doing ads for sunscreens and so on, since we soulless and freckly types do tend to be more sensitive to the burning light of the day-star. JH: That’s certainly been a hot topic on the Readit forums. There seems to be an… Well, let’s call it an unusually high number of redheads on the show. Do you know if that’s intentional? Autumn: You know, I think- [hesitates, glancing at Jason before sighing] Sorry, I’m not allowed to speculate in public anymore. I have the t-shirt. [grins apologetically] JH: Aha, that’s true! Well, let’s hope there will be an answer to that question in a future episode, then! Or not, as the case may be. Just one last question, then, and it’s… Well, maybe you’ll know what it means? Autumn: Ohboy. [chuckles] Let’s hear it, then. JH: A user called Jaunt asks, "When is Sir Popenloque going to get that 250 gold you owe him?" Autumn: When is…? Oh, my gosh. [laughs] All right, Devin Jauntsen, you are banned from Readit. [shakes her head, grinning] Wow. So, I think when you had Marissa on, Julia, she mentioned a Dungeons and Dragons game we played to learn some background for Sean’s campaign in the show. “Sir Popenloque'' is the name of Devin’s character in the game, and my character borrowed some money from him for totally legitimate, above-board reasons that had nothing at all to do with paying off gambling debts. Jason: And a huge bar tab. Autumn: ...And that. [grins at her co-star] JH: Speaking of Sean’s game, we haven’t seen much of it so far. Do you think it’ll make a reappearance, or have recent events and changes in casting made it obsolete? Autumn: [bounces in her seat, glancing briefly up at the lights overhead] Aaagghh, so that's- I wish I could tell you! I really do! There’s so, so much that- ugh, just… [rests her hands on her head] It’s gonna be amazing. Minds will be blown! Hearts will be broken! Secrets will be revealed! The whole cast and crew have fallen in love with this crazy ride we’re on, so keep watching, and keep conspiring and gossiping and speculating, because I promise, the writers and producers do pay attention, and we’re so grateful that our fans love this as much as we do. JH: I feel like we could just keep talking about this all day! I’ve said it before, but I’m a fan myself, so this has been absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately, as much as I would love to keep the two of you here, I think that’s all the time we have. Autumn, Jason, thank you so much for joining me today, and for giving me some of your time, and I hope you’ll come back to visit me again soon! Autumn: Absolutely! Thanks very much for having us, Julia. Jason: It’s been a pleasure. [The three continue to chat with varying degrees of animation as the outro music plays, and the shot fades to black.]
  13. 2 points
    "Devin's ability re-writes conventional understanding of spatial physics." Jason said quietly from nearby. The lean, angular genius was sitting on the edge of an examination bed, his cool green eyes on Carl as he spoke. "In fact, as far as I can tell it's also unique to him. We all tap into a theoretical sub-quantum strata of energy, but Devin is the only one that travels down into and through that layer. Or can send or retrieve objects and people through it." "Sub-quantum strata, huh?" Carl's expression was of a man who didn't quite understand the words being used, but understood their import. He glanced from Jase to Devin, who shrugged slightly. "That's our working theory." Jase nodded. "A layer of reality where time, space, and thought are as tangible and subject to manipulation as matter and energy are on our layer, connecting everything that exists together. We-" he indicated the Fellowship "-are all connected to it, and through it, and draw on it to do what we can do." He paused. "That's as far as I've gotten with the theory. I've not really had the time or the equipment to test the particulars, so it's only a hypothetical right now. But the concept is solid, and also provides the Grand Unifying Force that conventional physics is missing." "Right." Carl blinked several times, nodding slowly. Not a stupid man by any measure, his areas of expertise were finance and people rather than hard sciences, but he was a man of the world and had seen enough Discovery Channel specials to at least grasp the basics. He turned back to his progeny, smiling a little bemusedly, his expression clearly asking 'is this guy real?' "Don't engage him, dad." Marissa said from the comfort of Devin's hug. "Give him an inch and he'll ruin string cheese, cancel Christmas, and spoil all the Harry Potter books in one go." "Dumbledore dies." Jase deadpanned to the snickering of several of the other teens as Marissa affected a horrified gasp of betrayal and hurt. Smiling very faintly, the shaggy-haired youth leaned back and watched the room. People's parents were filtering into the room now that the docs were letting them, and the people-watching opportunity was too great to pass up. This was a new situation, after all. He'd never seen Misti act in any other way than the pleasant, smiling substitute teacher and part-time administrator, and to see the Twins actually cowed as she raged at them was... unusual. It didn't fit right, in his self-admittedly slight understanding of human behaviour. Misti was being completely unreasonable and domineering, though Carl's explanation that she was under stress and frightened certainly explained that. Was the Twins reaction simply one of ingrained filial duty? A result of being too tired to openly fight right now? It couldn't be genuine fear, surely: after what he had seen Devin and Marissa both endure and face down, an angry middle aged woman hardly measured up. He considered that. If Gar became angry at him, or sought to punish him for some perceived misdeed that was in fact not a misdeed, how would he react? Would he endure the punishment out of respect? Would he tolerate unfairly placed and emotionally driven restrictions on his comings and goings, or for Gar to take away his car? Probably not, he surmised. Not if he hadn't committed some genuine transgression against previously understood rules. For example, Gar was strict about smoking in the house. If Jason smoked inside and had been caught, he would accept that Gar had a place to punish him. He reflected then that his father placed very few restrictions or expectations on him, compared to the parents of his fellows. Keep clean, tidy your things away, don't smoke in the house, don't get into trouble at school. Other than that, as Misti had implied in the car, Jason had been more or less allowed to grow wild. At least some of that was Gar's sense of depression and alcoholism, but even so Jason had always been a low-maintenance child. Largely self-sufficient - show him how to do something and he would do it for himself without complaint or hesitation. It was never necessary to check he had tidied his room, or cleaned up after eating. If he'd needed anything like clothes or food in the refrigerator he would say so. He never needed comfort or reassurance or encouragement. He briefly wondered if that bothered his father at all. Autumn's dad, earlier, obviously trying to protect his daughter, had seemed desperate to be relevant, to matter in the scheme of things in a practical sense. Her mother had perhaps been quicker to accept the situation, but still had felt that urge from what Jase had observed. Did his father also need to be needed? He filed that away. He was coming to understand that the emotional needs of those he cared about were important, and his father was certainly one of those. Compare and contrast Gar to Misti, who demanded perfection in all manner of particulars, who put her children through grueling exercise and performance routines, set standards of personal appearance and comportment, for whom it seemed little was good enough. And the results... Devin, ever-defiant to a fault, who rebelled simply for the act of rebellion itself. And Marissa, outwardly strong, yet at times fragile and had suffered an overdose according to what he'd overheard. There was no judgement in Jase's thoughts regarding the Jauntsen twins. They were products of their environment, much as he was. He did understand a little more why Devin had spoken well of Gar, last Thursday at the farm. After the hectic demanding enforced perfection of the Jauntsen household, the laid-back still waters of the Bannon Farm must have seemed a sanctuary. And then, somewhere between the extremes, there were the others. Autumn's mom, Sean's family, warmly nurturing and yes, also with certain levels of rules and expectations. Involved in their children's lives to a level that Jason, used as he was to self-direction, might have found stifling, yet they seemed happy and loving even when irate with their kids. He wondered how the other's parents would behave. So he sat back and watched, his cool calm gaze assessing what was going on from his dirt and soot-smudged features.
  14. 2 points
    Marissa leaned over and bumped her brother lightly. "You look like shit," she smiled. Devin smiled back and rolled his shoulders a bit. Marissa had caught the worst of it between the two, yet she'd never tried calculating a blind dimensional warp either. His body felt like it did when I tried to teleport in the Void without his bracelet. Like his insides were shifting and moving to places under his skin they shouldn't belong. "Look at you," he directed his attention with a nod of his head. "Warrior Queen of Shelly, now." "Pfft," she rolled her eyes, straining to smile. "Queen of Mean is fine. You guys are welcome to all the heroics, it's killer on my wardrobe. So, Mom's going to loose her mind, you know that right?" Her brother nodded, his gaze locked on the floor. All he offered her was a 'yep'. "...and turn a profit off of us." Again, her brother nodded and replied the same, his gaze still locked on the tiles of the floor like he saw something in their pattern that no one else could. "I'm not doing that again, Deej. It was torture the first time and I'm living through 4AM work-outs and practices and eighteen-hour days of..." she sighed and relaxed. "I'm just not. I'm not doing it again." He felt the same way. While their mother may have meant well, the Twins' upbringing was sheltered and nothing short of regimented education and training and practices that prepared them for auditions that would hopefully lead them to child stardom. The only reason they hadn't made it, was their mother placing too many demands on the studios that were interested in hiring them. It wasn't uncommon for parents to ruin their children's careers in Hollywood before they'd ever taken flight. "Em, we'll be fine. Mom can't make us do anything. I don't have to teleport or warp a damn thing, and neither do you. If worse comes to worse, I blip her to an island to calm down." "Is that so?" Came the voice of Misti Jauntsen, their mother, from behind them. Both the twin's eye widened and glared straight ahead of them at the sound of the matronly tone her greeting carried. Sean smirked. He wasn't sitting to far away from them, but he saw her easily as the twins were lost in their conversation, assuming the opening door was just another member of the staff. "Coulda said something, Light Brite." Devin shot the intersexed boy a glare. "You're right," Sean reclined a bit. His smile didn't fade. "I could have." Seeing the Twins' honestly fearful of something not spawned from the Dark was almost cathartic. Misti stepped around the examination table to face her twin children, placing her weight on one leg as she leaned and crossed her her to glare at them both. Devin looked up at her, a mischievous grin (as always) on his face. "For the record, Mom, it woulda been like... a really nice island. Like, Miami." "Miami isn't an island, idiot." Marissa looked at her idiot brother, muster the energy to slap him in the arm. "You're thinking of Maui, ass-tart." "Both of you shut up," her voice wasn't a worried mother's panicked tone. Misti had arrived at the stage in her worry where she was now angry with her children for not only worrying her and their father, but for putting themselves in danger to begin with. "Now, I know you two think you were doing the right thing, but what you did was stupid and you should have called the Sheriff. I expect this sort of foolishness from your brother, Marissa-" "Thanks, mom," Devin nodded sarcastically, but she didn't falter in her speech. "-But you?" Her glare set on her daughter. "Now, I understand that I've seen something pretty strange today, and we're going to get into that when there is more time, but running off after that girl-" "Sophia, Mom." Marissa cut her off with a whisper. Neither of the twins were looking at their mother, which told the others that if there was someone in the world they feared, it was her, despite how much bravado they might muster to the contrary. "That girl," she mouthed off. "Has a name." "Do not test me, Marissa Beatrice, or so help me." The single digit pointed threateningly at her daughter finished the threat without anything else needing to be said. "Going after a murderer and a kidnapper? What the hell were you two thinking? You could have been hurt or killed. Look at you!" "You think we don't know that?" Devin said calmly. "What like the eight of us were just skipping through the woods eating the candy that grew on the trees and we just Hodoor'd our way into a murderer/kidnapper boss fight?" "You should have called the-" "He knew, Mom!" Marissa huffed. "He's known. Christ, if you'd listen once in awhile." Their mother just shook their head in disappointment. "And look at the two of you." She took Marissa's arm. Her daughter winced from the pain of numerous cuts and the reddening of the bandages applied all over. "Jesus, Marissa. Your personality is garbage, your grades are average... and now this? Scars? Was over dosing not enough, you just have to go and ruin your looks also? In spite of the pain Marissa yanked her arm away from her mother and promptly covered her face in embarrassment as her mother blurted out secrets she'd prefer had remained quiet. "Jesus Christ, Mom." She mumbled softly and everyone caught the 'I fucking hate you' that followed as she fought back tears. "Gee, Mom," Devin slipped in, intentionally placing himself in his mother's crosshairs like a dutiful brother should. "No pep talk for me?" "Devin," she looked to him, already bored with where any conversation with her son might take her. "If your not in prison by the time you're eighteen, it'll be a miracle. We both know that. When you two get home, there's going to be some changes. No phones. Your cars, and motorcycle, gone. No more credit cards, nothing. Your father and I have been far too lenient on you two since we came here and it's done. You two are out of control and it ends, tonight." "Hail the conquering heroes." Devin said lazily. "If we do our homework, will you ground us for it?" "Misti," Carl stepped into the room. He'd leaned in the doorway for a moment, after having gone to get some coffee, and listened to his wife destroy their children. "You're angry. They're tired and have been through a very traumatic experience. Now is not the best time for anyone to be making decisions about anyone's future." "Carl, no-" she glared at her husband, about to raise a finger in protest, when he stepped in and, heedless of the other gathered children, stopped just inched from his wife's face, his eye locked on hers. "Michelle, enough." There was obvious anger in his voice. "You want to lose your shit, you do it at home, but god damnit we will not have you going on one of your holier than thou tirades in the hospital for God's sake. Get it together." Awkward didn't begin to describe the silence that followed. The Twins kept their heads down, apparently used to their parents confronting one another like this and learned long ago that it was best to simply stay small and let the whole thing, hopefully, blow over them. Misti inhaled and tightened her jaw while Carl looked on, practically begging her to challenge him. She instead chose to excuse herself and inform her husband and children that she'd be going out for some air and would meet them at the vehicles after Carl had checked them out. He inhaled and let it our slowly as he offered an apologetic smile to the other's still in the room. "I'm sorry you had to see that." "I figured it out," Devin said softly. "Why I can do what I can do. It's so we can get away from her, from both of you." "Devin, she didn't mean those things. She's stressed and angry, and she's been anxious with worry all evening." He was trying and it was obvious, but there were only so many ways to defend a woman like Misti when she was angry and got to spewing vitriol. It was painfully obvious, however, where Marissa got it from. "I know she's difficult just, give her some time. No one is taking your toys away, don't worry." "We don't care about the toys, Dad," Marissa leaned over and held her brother, preferring the tears she couldn't keep in anymore to be hidden by him then be seen by her new friends. He wrapped his arm around her and used his blanket to not so subtly hide his sister from the others. "If we wanted toys Dad, I would have just bamfed into a bank vault by now, or better yet, just bamfed the whole the damn thing to me." "Wait," his father's posture completely changed and his head tilted curiously at an angle. "You can do that?"
  15. 2 points
    Jase was soberly regarding the ruins of his sole remaining rolled cigarette as she approached, his pale jade eyes flicking to Autumn as he gave her a slight smile before he let out a soft sigh and held up the blood-soaked, crumpled ruin. "It was in the outer pocket of my combat pants." he stated matter-of-factly, indicating the leg Autumn had recently tended to. "Ahh, well." The roll-up went up in a small puff of incineration, fragrant smoke rising for an instant in the air before being whisked away by the breeze. He turned to her, still favouring the damaged leg a little, and smiled once more. "Everyone alright?" "Mostly. I'll be happier when Sophia and Tawny get checked out. I'm not a proper doctor or anything." Autumn admitted, looking up into the green pools of his gaze. "How's Dana doing?" he asked quietly, his eyes still on her face in that intent way he had. Autumn ignored the prickling at the corners of her eyes and smiled at him. "She's fine. Said to remind you that you said you'd bring me home." she said in a tone that contained a hint of their usual playful banter. He nodded somberly. "That I did. Once we get everyone to the med center and checked out, I'll do just that." he replied, glancing at the other teens for a moment before looking back into her eyes. Autumn remembered why she'd approached him, then, shaking off the spell of his nearness. "Oh, hey. You've got a survival blanket, right? Tawny has mine, and Sophia is going to need one-" she had barely gotten the words out before a zip in the side of Jason's go-bag was opened and the slim packet containing the thermal blanket emerged, floating to hang in the air in front of her. She grabbed it, flashing him a grin that was less subdued, her freckled nose crinkling adorably. "You're awesome." Stepping closer for a moment, the redhead kissed her boyfriend's cheek and turned, hurrying back over to her recumbent patient. Jason watched her for a moment, observing her tugging the thermal blanket from it's wrapping and kneeling down to fold it around Sophia, before he turned away. His leg hurt, his head ached from power strain. The weariness of the post-adrenaline crash was on him and he slowly sank down to sit in the long grass, looking out over Shelly as he tugged his phone from another pocket of his backpack. The number was dialed. "Dad. It's me." He watched the distant lights, noting the scarcity of moving ones denoting cars as he spoke. "We won." A pause, then. "Just tired, mostly. Some scrapes, a cut on my leg that is already healing thanks to Autumn." His nose wrinkled a little. "And I stink of unmentionable stuff." There was another pause, Jase's eyes distant as he listened. "We're all fine. We kind of came out in the middle of nowhere outside town, but Carl and Misti Jauntsen are coming to pick us up and take us to the med center. No, you don't need to come down there." He pictured the chaos that would likely be taking place soon, parents and cops trying to figure out what was going on whilst medics tried to do their jobs. He shrugged off his go-bag and leaned back in the grass, looking up at the peaceful-seeming stars overhead, part of his mind cataloguing the constellations he could see. "It's going to be a circus - people yelling and getting excited. As soon as I can, I'll be home." Yet another pause, and he reflected on the question this time. "It could have gone a lot worse. We all did well. And no, the Tree isn't going to be a problem in Shelly any more. Not saying there's no Darkness left, but it's rudderless. Cleanup can wait a little." He smiled just a fraction, then. "I will, yes. I love you too. See you soon." Hanging up and letting the phone sit on his chest, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath of the still-warm evening air, folding his hands behind his head as he relaxed. It was a lovely evening, after all.
  16. 2 points
    "I told you hiking heels weren't a thing," she teased the somehow still-gorgeous brunette. "But, hey, you looked like a total badass anyway, so it's fine." After checking first on Sophia and Tawny, then on Jason and Cassie, Autumn roamed the hillside to look after the others who'd braved the nightmare alongside her, hints of a luminous sunset reflected in the clear blue depths of her eyes as she burned through the remainder of her energies; no one, it seemed, had emerged wholly unscathed. There were scrapes and bites and weirdly barbed suction scars and deep lacerations, the occasional serious puncture wound, and infections she couldn't even begin to name because the creatures and substances inflicting them didn't (or shouldn't) even exist in their world. She moved around to each of them in turn, purging toxins and staunching bleeding, doing what she could to boost their immune response and natural healing process and alleviate the worst of the pain, leaving the rest to time and actual medical treatment. It wasn't easy, wasn't as instinctual for her as she'd heard it was for Lona, but it kept her busy. Kept her moving. Kept her from slowing down long enough for all the fear and nausea and, and, and everything to catch up. Not yet. Not yet. Not yet. It was like a mantra she'd been repeating all day until it was embedded in her subconscious. She dug her phone out of her pocket and exhaled, pausing to glance up at the broad expanse of violet overhead and drawing in a lungful of what had to be the sweetest, cleanest air she'd ever breathed- and then she was moving again, not yet reflecting on what had been, or what might have been, pacing as she pressed the little green icon and held the slim smartphone to her ear. It rang exactly once. "Hey, Mom? Listen, I- Yeah. Yeah, I'm okay. Everybody's-" She nodded, the corners of her mouth turning up as if the woman on the other end of the line could see her. "Yeah. No, no, I know, it's- Mom, it's fine. I think the Jauntsens are coming to pick everyone up, if you wanna meet us at the Medical Center." As she pivoted, making another pass behind the assembled teens, her gaze skimmed over the others again, checking for anything she might've missed, anything else that might require attention, but apart from the oddness of Marissa's metabolism and lingering concern for Sophia, things seemed oddly... fine? Like, really, actually fine. "No, nothing serious. ... Mhmm. I mean... you made me promise, right?" Her voice wavered at that, as if something as insignificant as a promise could have had any effect on events, but- "You're right. I'll ask him." The smile widened as she glanced over at the tall, lean form of Jason Effing Bannon. "He did, yeah. Is, um... How's Jay? Did- Oh, okay. Good, good. Don't wake him up, it's cool. Listen, I'll... see you at home, then? ...Yeah. Love you, too, Mom. ...Bye." Soon, her body warned her with the faint acrid burn of bile in the back of her throat as she put her phone away, the telltale salt-stinging in her eyes. Yes, she conceded silently, and roved back across the fragrant grass to get the blanket Jase had offered for Sophia. But not yet.
  17. 2 points
    Cassandra flopped onto her ass, her legs suddenly feeling too weak to carry her as the adrenaline ebbed from her system. She felt dizzy, chilled, scattered...and her arm hurt a lot where that thing had nailed her with its tongue? Tentacle? It'd looked more like a tongue, but it stung like a jellyfish. Wouldn't it be a shit custard if she turned out to be allergic? She started laughing at that, though it was a laugh that was skating on very thin ice over a dark lake of tears. Not sorrow, just...reaction. It was too much to take in, too much to handle. And there was a sick kind of humor to it too. When Autumn came over, looking very concerned, Cassie explained through sniffles and giggles, "It's just...the biggest fucking deal any of us had, bigger than anyone in the whole town's had...and if I try to write about it, it'll look like a stupid sci-fi story. All that, and no one'll ever know what happened, or how or why. Not because anyone's covering it up, but just because it's too big to believe." With a bit of help from her friend, Cassandra got back to her feet and rejoined everyone as they gathered their wits. When Marissa called home, Cass almost jumped with her haste to grab her phone and do likewise. "Hey mom it's me..." she broke off for a second, smiling and wincing at the same time. "No, I'm ok. We all are. We did it." After a pause, Cassandra just said, "What we had to do. Look, it's...a lot. Some of us are going to the Medical Cent..." another wince. "No...we're ok. We just found Sophia, and she was kind of bad shape. I want to make sure she gets there all right. She'll be okay too, mom." Then Cass had a longer moment of silence, of listening. She sniffled and wiped a hand across her eyes and nodded. "I love you too. See you soon."
  18. 2 points
    Sean was not a foot-racer... and nothing the rest of the Fellowship witnessed disabused them of that. Thanks to his physique and simple biomechanics, Sean didn't run like most teenaged boys. Sprinting for his life, hands on his chest to restrain any extraneous motion despite the high-quality, high-impact sportsbra he was wearing, most would say he ran like a 'girl'... except the girls of the Fellowship were generally an athletic lot, running and jogging regularly. Hell, Autumn has Sophia over her shoulders like a pro. Even Marissa had her yoga and gynmastics training to fallback on. Spry he might have been, no one would call Sean graceful, at least in regards to running. What he was, was motivated. And at least a little lucky. Screaming wordlessly, pale face tinged green with terror and the indignity that he could very well die like the eye-candy before the starting credits even rolled, his mind locked on the adage that the fastest way between two points was a straight line. He ran flat out for the hillock, feet swinging a bit wildly due to his new hiking shoes and inexperience, making no effort to avoid or navigate any obstacles. He splashed through puddles of steaming or coagulating blood, not a one deeper than an inch. He'd written this encounter before, the party having to escape an unending horde of Giger-esque and Cthulhoid monstrosities from the Far Realm. He never, ever, expected he - they - would be in a situation anything even remotely similar. LARPing, but for real, suuuuucked! Jase pulled further and further ahead despite Sean's best effort, a note of frustrating added to his frightened howl. Logically, Sean could understand the harsh equations that went through Jase's head. Slowing down to keep in step with Sean risked two lives instead of one, two of the Fellowship who were best equipped to slow down the horde and give Devin the time he needed to get the rest of the Fellowship out of here. Sean totally understood, agreed with the reasoning... and couldn't help feeling a bit of bitterness that Jase didn't even look back to see how he was doing, let alone hang back to help him. "Oh lawd, he comin'!" Devin said, unable - or rather, unwilling - to stop the comment while trying to focus his will to breach the barrier between this realm and theirs. Beyond nearly all expectations, especially his own, Sean made it to the hillock with the others without tripping or falling in a tangle of flailing limbs under a wave of claws, tentacles, and less terrestrial protrusions. Heaving and huffing, shuddering with the aftermath of his run, looking like he'd spent a day in a slaughterhouse that had never heard of OSHA, but alive. He'd lost all track of time since they had entered the Blight, they could have been there for seconds, minutes, or even hours as far as he could tell. "Oh, fuck! Fuckity hell shit!" Sean heaved in panic and relief, scrambling up the hillock. "I think I'm having a heart attack! This has to be what a heart attack feels like!" "Faaaat!" replied a chorus of voices. Sean glared at his friends, turquoise and jade eyes wide enough to show white all aroudn, and snorted. "I'm not fat! I'm just unathletic!" "Faaaat!" A hint of humour in the midst of horror, there were a few chuckles. "Fuck the lot of you! I'm supposed to be tech support!" Despite his hoarse, harsh rebuttal, the corners of his mouth twitched up. Sean hunched his shoulders and pulled his hands down, at though hiding under an invisible blanket, and his beads of light swirled around them, then spread out in sheets of red, blue, and green, to form a dome of burning radiance over the hillock and the Fellowship. "Get us the hell out of here!"
  19. 2 points
    Jason knew what was happening to him. Teulu did not have a flight reflex: they lacked the capacity for fear, and in it's place was a redoubled inclination to fight, to kill. Abstractly, the wryly logical portion of his mind, that dry observer that catalogued all with merciless self-awareness, informed him of all of this. But it was one thing to know what was happening, and another to feel it in a way that was immediate and near-overpowering. His veins sang, the music primal and intoxicating as the adrenaline of combat worked it's euphoric magic on his alien neurochemistry. The fire burning in his soul right now was similar to the flame kindled in the kiss of the copper-tressed girl behind him in temperature, it's edge was as savagely joyous, yet the focus and purpose of the flame was entirely different. Almost without his noting it, Jase's lips peeled back from his teeth in a soundless laugh. His enemies were in front of him. It didn't matter to him that they were hideous mockeries of twisted life. It didn't matter to him that they might overwhelm him. There was only the pure, wild amoral joy of combat. He was Flame and Destruction incarnate right now, the roar of the power he was channeling loud in his ears and mind. He was... Putting his friends at risk. He fought down the killing laughter that had been threatening to bubble up from his throat and ring across the blighted battlefield as he glanced back to reaffirm what his kinetic awareness of his surroundings already told him. Almost everyone was clustered together, Autumn looking at him, Sophia's limp form draped across her shoulders. Still wreathed in flame, he glanced over at Sean, who was wide-eyed at the approach of the horde, already taking his first steps towards the others. Time to run. He turned and ran fleet-footed, a lean wraith limned in flames seeming to skim above the grisly soil of the glade, so lightly did his feet touch down. He hurdled a small pool, wove around a larger one, and arrived at the base of the hillock upon which the throne rested. Skidding to a stop, he gave everyone a quick, searching glance before turning to watch his oldest friend's progress with something akin to concern. Sean was many fine things, but a foot-racer was not one of them.
  20. 2 points
    "Kat, I know it sucks, but I'm gonna need you to get up, now," Autumn called urgently over the din as she glanced over her shoulder at the petite powerhouse. She looked miserable, but not injured in any way the vitakinetic could readily define- not hurt, but hurting. It'd be fine. Probably. "C'mon," she urged again as the tiny French girl groaned and stirred. "We gotta go." Sophia, on the other hand, hadn't yet recovered, and wouldn't be walking out on her own. The curvy brunette's vital signs were more or less stable, and thank all the unnamed gods she actually looked human again thanks to Cassie's intervention, but none of that would matter in a few moments if they didn't get out of there now. The nightmarish masses were closing fast, and even if she couldn't see them, she could feel their wrongness, the mockery of life they represented- that this whole place represented. Despite the shimmering heat of the air all around, the grimy freckle-faced girl shivered. "Cassie, in the front pocket of my backpack there's a solar blanket folded up. Can you grab that for Tawny, please?" She needed to focus. Her companions needed her to focus. It was fine to be afraid. Totally fine. Completely normal. She just... had to keep going forward. As a trembling Autumn arranged Sophia's slack limbs on the ground, Cassandra nodded and rushed over, kneeling down to tug a rectangle of lightweight silver material free of the zippered compartment before darting over to meet Cade as he ascended the hill. At least some of the poor girl's modesty should be preserved, the redhead decided, even if the weirdly emotionless athlete didn't seem to mind, and it would help maintain her body heat until they could get somewhere safe. Not so for the girl before her, since she wasn't being carried like a catatonic bride over some horror-movie threshold. It'd be fine. Grimacing, the redhead set to work hoisting Sophia onto her shoulders. It had been a long time since she'd practiced a fireman's carry, and never in a situation where it actually mattered, never in a place where everything was burning or rotting or screaming or some godsfuckingawful combination of the three, and there was nothing graceful or elegant or smooth about it. She was limp, naked, and slippery with foulness, and although a lifetime of physical activity meant Autumn was theoretically capable of lifting her, it wasn't exactly easy. Autumn's hair was in her face, her heart in her throat, and her stomach somewhere just south of that but rising rapidly as the smell of the girl suddenly caught her full-force, mingling disgust with pity with the adrenaline that drove her heels firmly into the not-soil and the rest of her upward. With one arm hooked around Sophia's right thigh and grasping her right wrist, the blue-eyed teen stood there uncertainly for a moment, gingerly adjusting the unconscious girl's weight and testing her footing. "Sean!" she yelled, leaning forward cautiously as she pitched her voice to carry. "Jase! Let's go!"
  21. 2 points
    The heat of the storm of napalm washed over him. Like nails on chalkboard, the impulses of Sophia's madness screamed at him. Sean's vision almost blurred, trying to follow the bioelectric activity of the multiple Devin's, like trying to discern individual frames in a movie. Under his cap, Sean's hair was matted, sweat slid down his cheek. His limbs shook, almost vibrated, under the assault of sensations, fear, and burgeoning relief. Cody and Not-Cody burned, remnants sucked up into the firenado. Sean couldn't quite make out just what Autumn was doing to Sophia, but he could feel her neural activity relax, ease, become natural s unconsciousness claimed her once more. The Tree was in its death throes already, Kat having unmade the Skull, where fire and force couldn't have touched it. The pervading aura of malevolent corruption began to dissipate, some at least, Radiance and Hope rising. It wasn't enough. There was a tiny part of Sean that felt... thwarted. He wanted to destroy, to cleanse, to scour this place, to.... "Shiiiiiii-iiiiite!" Sean cursed as he spun around, gaze going beyond the trees of bone. Be careful what you wish for. The corruption of the Blight might have lessened, but Sean's nerves jangled with the feeling of encroaching, encircling, living bioelectric activity closing in from outside the clearing. Living, but twisted, tainted, monstrous. Creatures that had never been human, but were of this place, coalesced from fear and pain, hate and despair. Sean felt ill, scared, and elated. Targets. They needed to leave, get out, but they needed time, just a tiny bit of time, for Devin to pull himself together and reopen a hole between dimensions. And he'd give him that time, with a little from his friends. A nudge, a phantom tap on a mental shoulder, intent more than any direct communication, imploring Devin's and Autumn's neotic aid. Sean was great at math, amazing even. He was dubious about how much Devin understood math, but in a way, he now lived it. He might not be able to show his work, but he could produce the answer. Hell, he was the answer. Sean wasn't sure how Devin managed to be in multiple places at once. Quantum entanglement? Sub-quantum entanglement? Realizing the holographic nature of reality? Sean didn't know, he suspected Devin knew even less, but he could use it. Energy and mass could be interchangeable, and if energy equaled mass times the speed of light, then way couldn't his three pet lasers be multiplied exponentially under the right circumstances. With a nod, Sean pulled the scarlet pellet of light from where it was still orbiting around the point Not-Cody had been. The walls of emerald and sapphire light collapsed back into incandescent beads and joined they ruby brethren in its circular dance. Sean planted his feet, ignoring the spattering spray of gelatinous blood, his hands balling into fists. The circling beads of light spun faster and faster, grew brighter and brighter, red, blue, and green forming a ring of blazing white sunlight as wide across as Sean was tall. Its plane of motion shifted, tilted from horizontal to vertical, as the ring came to a stop ten feet in front of Sean, between him and the edge of the clearing. Light spiraled inward, filling the ring until it became a disk of opaque incandescence, a whining and the smell of ozone filling the area of the air became ionized. "Portal time, Devin!" Sean shouted, "Buying you what time I can!" Sean could feel the firing synapses of the incoming Abominations. Borrowing Autumn's senses, he was now aware of their neurons directly, the cells that made up nervous systems, muscles, blood, and bone. It was like doubling the resolution and precision of radar, letting Sean pinpoint their locations with incredible clarity. The whine became a thrumming roar, like the biggest lightsaber ever imagined, as a massive beam of condensed photons, a giant lance of pure sunlight in a realm of darkness, swept across an arc of the clearing, sheering through the trees of bone, atomizing blood and bone and dirt, and engulfed several of the oncoming terrors before they could fully react. Sean's legs trembled as he forced himself to stand his ground and willed the unibeam to hold together, just that bit longer, to reach one more monster, one less monster to worry about before they skedaddled. The beam of sunlight died, the clearing seeming darker for a moment from its absence, afterimage floating through everyone's sight. Particles of fine, dark ash drifted down like dingy snow. Sean's shoulders slumped, and he wavered trying to keep his feet as he coughed on a mouthful of ash. He couldn't do that much more, not without draining himself and Devin, who needed his energy to get them all out of here. "Go! Go! Go!" Sean gasped hoarsely as he waved his hands.
  22. 2 points
    One moment she was yelling taunts at Cody and right after the great beast was shot, pummeled, burned lazed and was screaming infernal curses at the crimson sky while the Tree wailed and thrashed on the horizon. She looked at the group of teens, weapons at the ready with nimbuses of power swirling about them. “Holy shit…” was all she could muster under a stuck breath. Gathering her wits, finally, she ran to meet with her brother(s), pausing to look at the Devin holding Tawny. Her finger waved between the both of them. “I-I'm not even going to ask what this is…” “You got her?” Devin-Holding-Sophia asked Autumn. When she assured him with a nod, he faded away, or rather slowed down and almost seemed to ‘vibrate’ out of existence. “Good,” Devin replied to Marissa. “Because I couldn’t even begin to explain it.” She knelt beside Tawny, wiping some blood off the young blonde’s cheek but all it really did was smear it more. While her brother was holding her so tight, the worry in his eyes, she pondered the volumes of books she could fill with the hidden dialogue behind his eyes and prayed that one day she would find that sort of love. The kind where her someone would look at her the way her brother looked at Tawny. “Mother fucker.” She heard Autumn say. The redhead’s eyes were locked on the distant horizon, where the Meadow of Malaise met the Ivory Forest of Bone. “Not good. So un-fucking-good.” Although Marissa couldn’t detect them the way Autumn or Sean could, once she knew where to look her eyes could faintly make out the charging army of unmentionables. “Ohmygod.” Her heart sank. One Not-Cody was one thing, but there was no way they could battle an army the size of what was storming across the fields. “GUYS! We need to go!” She pointed long enough to direct everyone’s attention to the charging monsters. “Devin!” she knelt again, looking at her brother intently. “You need to do the thing, with the thing and we all 'boop'. You know... the thing! You need to get us the fuck out of here,” she reached for Tawny, to take care of the blonde so Devin could work his magic. “I got her!” He snapped at her, tightening his grip. Guilt kept him from letting her go as his eyes pleaded for a thousand, wordless apologies. Shelly’s Queen tightened her lips and clasped her brother’s cheeks, turning his head to face her and letting their eyes meet. “This is not your fault Devin. She’ll be fine, but we need to go. You need to let her go and open a portal.” There was no violet shimmer behind her words, only the harsh truth. “It’s my fault. You wanted to stop, I didn’t and I pushed and pushed and maybe all of this isn’t our doing, but yeah… we helped. I helped. If I had just listened to you...” “Now help me make it right, Deej,” tears slid down her cheeks. She leaned in, pressing her forehead to her brothers. “I’ve never had friends, we’ve never had friends, we've always jsut been each other's Ride or Die,” she looked to Tawny, and pulled back, meeting her brother’s eyes again. “But she’s my friend too, so let’s get her home. Let’s get everyone home, I don’t want to lose anymore friends Devin.” She forced a smile and a laugh. “We just got them… we haven’t run them through their paces yet.” They both chuckled a bit. Shifting Tawny’s weight towards his sister, Devin stood as she cradled the unconscious blonde. “Watch after her, I’ll see what I can do.” Marissa struggled. Between the slick blood, her not being very strong to begin with and having never really trying to cradle an unconscious teen in her lap, she huffed and grunted with her loose, slick grip, trying to get Tawny to hold firmly in place but instead it looked like an awkward in scene from Weekend at Bernie's. “Ohm’god,” she grunted, trying to hold the knot of arms and torso still. “I don’t know what he sees in you… you are so fat. Come on sister, don’t do this to me…” “Cade!” she finally yelled as the uncontrollable blob that was Tawny slid through the muck and malaise while Marissa clumsily chased after her. “Baby! Get her, please!” It appeared that Death would arrive with a half-smile in its face.
  23. 2 points
    That's nothing. T'is but a drop. See? Nothing to be scared of. Just a tiny drop of blood in the crimson ocean I'm sitting in. Now that's a- "Wha-" She mentally sighed and stood back up, slowly making her way to the Throne through the surreal plains of bones, her eyes wide open. The Tree agitated itself, and the world seemed to buzz like a feverish anthill around her, her brains lighting every red alarm they could find and urging her to speed up. She frowned and followed the order. [Hey, it's Kat.] The petite French girl poked at Autumn. In truth, she couldn't go much faster, her tentative show of strength a minute ago having left her mildly exhausted. [Yup. Talking in your head. What'd you need me for? Oh, and try to think your answer.] "Ohgod! How do-?" [Ohgod! How do-? Uh, okay, this is fucking weird. Um, hi? Also, we, uh, can't damage the skull. Cassie had a vision that showed her the plow you rebuilt at the Bannon farm. I think you have to do whatever the opposite of that is, maybe? Probably.] [I got you.] Great. There she stood, staring at the grinning skull. She climbed the small hillock of bones on which the Throne was set, her Shine brushing against the grisly figure staring back at her. Goosebumps. Her head visibly recoiled, the 'stench' of the skull unmistakeable to her. The opposite of what I did to the plow, uh? Guess I'll just turn it into dust. Despite what her other senses told her, the skull was but plain old bone. Since what happened at the Bannons' farm, there was no use in wondering if she could do it. She took a deep breath and tapped once more into that reservoir of hers, sharpening her focus as the tip of a spear. At first sight, nothing happened. But the skull seemed to grow smaller, second by second, as specks of dust started coming off. Then she fell to her knees, her hands meeting the bones, and a bright flash of pain piercing her brains. Plick. Plock. Her hazed eyes watched the droplets of blood falling from her nose, their impact on the ground echoing into her ears in a strange, disconnected way. But she couldn't stop. Not now, when her friends needed her. It was working. She was turning the skull into dust. But it was too slow. It demanded too much. Suddenly, she wasn't alone anymore. A familiar, ice-cold presence stood by her the same way it had but a day ago. It wasn't there, but it was there. Her mind accepted it, leaned on that sturdy wall, and it gave her the edge she needed. Ignoring the dancing stars in front of her eyes, she closed them, and the skull decayed, falling to pieces from either side of the Throne's back, crumbling till there was nothing left but thin, pale powder. She rested her rear on her heels, face down, moaning plaintively. "Uuuuuuugh, I don't feel so good..." It felt as if her heart itself was beating inside her own skull. Not the greatest feeling of all. Somewhere, inside, a distant wailing echoed, as if vibrating through her bones - and outside, much like Kat on the ground, the branches of the Tree curled slowly, its receding tendrils thrashing around in a fit of rage.
  24. 2 points
    Jesus Fuck. There were four Devins, which- under ordinary circumstances- might've been good for a joke about providing real nightmare fuel, but in this place of death and pain and decay and- oh, look. Fire. -humor for the redhaired vitakinetic was in short supply. "Smash that damn thing." There wasn't much Autumn Keane and Devin Jauntsen could agree on, but on this point, at least, there was no argument. Turning from the massive column of flame roaring behind her, blanketing them all in its baleful heat and radiance, the redhead scrambled away from the teleporter and the unconscious Sophia toward the Throne. She sensed no life in the grotesque trophy that lay there, but somehow it did seem weirdly alive. Or sentient, at least. Or... something. It knew she was there, and as the hideous roots beyond tore free of the bones and foulness that had hidden them, that realization tightened the cold knot of fear in her belly. She gripped the crow bar and drew her arm back, but Cassie's sharp cry gave her a moment's pause, wavering at the threshold of violence. "Autumn, wait! We can't just smash it now! I see..." She paused, looking bewildered at the image her power had brought up. She stepped closer and lowered her voice. "A plow...it was broken, then rebuilt. But..." Still looking uncertain, Cassandra looked at Autumn. "There's something in that skull now that's protecting it...but it's still a skull. Can you affect it with your powers? We can't break it, but it used to be alive. Change it. Pull it apart if you can...like only you can." For a moment, the redhead stood poised there, the heavy pry bar raised aloft. Despite Cassie's insistence, a part of her wanted to try anyway, to just hammer at the awful thing until it shattered into a million pieces, but the blonde's visions had been uncannily accurate so far. With a grunt of frustration as she dropped her arm, Autumn shook her head. "I can't. I mean, I don't know how. It might have been alive once, but it was so long ago it doesn't even register. Maybe if-" She blinked, the eyes that moments ago had been wide with terror now sharper, focusing on her friend's face. "The plow. Shit! That was Kat!... KAATTTT!" she screamed, straining to be heard over the chaos. "We need you here!" Grabbing Cassie's arm, she pulled her back from the Throne, back from the questing tendrils, back toward Devin and Sophia. The girl was barely clinging to life, and for a moment something in her railed bitterly at the unfairness of it, that Cody should find any kind of peace while Charlie was gone and poor Sophia might never- But, no. It didn't matter. He was dead and she was alive, and as long as she was alive she could get better, right? Right. Fuck. "I'll try to help her. Just... It might take me a little while, okay? Don't let me get eaten, guys." With a nervous smile at the other two teens, Autumn knelt down next to the catatonic brunette, shifting the straps of her pack a little and setting the pry bar aside before stripping off her gloves. Aside from being naked, suffering from exposure, severely dehydrated, and half-starved, Sophia was... The Girl Scout blinked and shook her head, tears springing to her red-rimmed eyes. She had been hurt, and that was all Autumn could bear to think about at the moment. Laying one hand on the girl's abdomen and the other on her forehead, she closed her eyes, felt the restless ocean of energy within that surged and coiled in streams of gold and red, and then loosed it, flooding Sophia with the sunlit scarlet of her will.
  25. 2 points
    The bruises from Devin's attacks were stinging fly bites, made all the more galling by the fact that Cody could. Not. SWAT. HIM. The transformed teen flailed at his tormentor with curses drooling from his lipless mouth, until a sudden presentiment - or perhaps, the yammering of the older, more experienced voice of Araun - brought him up short, eyes widening as the fire-wreathed figure nearby took another step forward. Bannon's eyes were blazing slits of green flame, his lips pulled back from his teeth in a rictus grin of pain and effort as blood oozed from his nose in twin streams. And as the air about Cody suddenly warmed, steam rising from the pool of rot he stood astride, both troubled sociopathic teen and elder consciousness finally realised they they had been played. By Devin, by Coyote, by their own hubris and pride, by treating these young shards of Radiance as prey to play with and devour rather than true threats to be neutralised. The two Devins that had distracted him both shot Jason a thumbs-up as they vanished, grim smiles on their lips. The fiery tornado formed above the cloud of swarming creatures, a swirl of destructive flame that leapt downwards, incinerating the foul mockeries of insect life before smiting down full upon Cody with punishing force, driving him into a crouch as the pool and the layers of bone and soil vaporised in the blast. Those in the glade felt the heat of it from across it's breadth, as though a furnace door had opened in their faces. Cody screamed, the wail of pain rising above the roar of the firestorm as claws of sentient flame sought him out and ripped at his body, tearing the last shreds of vitality from him. The scream cut off. Dimly, very dimly through the blaze, the spindly figure could be seen to rear up and waver before falling apart into ashes which were whisked up into the funnel of the firenado. Though only Autumn could sense the life - miserable and corrupted as it was - end, all present felt a lessening in the oppressive corruption around them. The buzzing, greasy sensation was still there, but it's avatar was no more. And the Tree felt it. The ground rumbled, the black nightmarish trunk of the thing which looked like a tree but was not writhing against the sullen red sky. Those nearest the Throne felt it first, a malevolence, centered on the skull, emanating and growing in strength. Cody was dead, but something that had possessed and empowered him was very much present, seeming to glare at them through empty sockets. Behind the Throne, root-like tendrils erupted from the ground, slowly tearing themselves free from the gory earth, and the buzz of Corruption which had faded with Cody's death began to grow once more. Cassie saw what would happen now, saw it as clearly as if it were written in stone. The spirit in the skull was unleashing the Tree against them. It would devour them all - their powers would not stand against it. And then it would break free into the 'real' world, bringing the Blight into downtown Shelly, turning Shelly into the Blight. Which would grow, unstoppable, turning everything living into monstrosities who would prey on each other, until the world was a Blight. The Tree could not be defeated. Not while the skull existed. And nothing could damage the skull. Not fire, not impact. Nothing could damage it... but it could be unmade. Unraveled. She saw a flash then, a memory of a tractor plough at the Bannon farm, old and broken, being made whole again...
  26. 2 points
    All Cassandra could think on seeing Sophia was no. It was bad enough the Dark had taken Cody. Bad enough that they'd had to learn their abilities, understand what was happening. They hadn't been able to help Cody. They couldn't let Sophia suffer the same fate. Not this time. She opened her inner eyes, and immediately regretted it. This was the seat of the Dark's power, and it was beating down on her like...no, not a drum. More like a heartbeat, as experienced by someone currently inside the heart. Muscular contractions, compression from all sides. Constantly trying to snuff them out, crush them, consume them... It was held back by waves of Radiance that pulsed out from the Fellowship, creating a sort of bulwark against it. Cass could clearly see then how the bracelets took that Radiance in and seemed to refract it, or reflect it, amplifying it and using it to connect one to another. Unlike the normal world, there was no 'ambient' Radiance here. No sparks of life in the earth or air. Sophia did have Radiance in her...the same dim light that most things had. Hers was further muted by a patchwork web of cloying Darkness though, knotting unnaturally through her body. Even as Cassandra watched, it quivered and extended a gelatinous pseudopod, extending a little further into Sophia. This process would continue, she realized. It was an infection. Cassie experimented, mentally concentrating on her Radiance. It shaped itself to her will, rising up and flaring outwards in armlike structures. Yes. This could work...but there was a problem. The Dark was already entwined with the light of Sophia, clinging tightly. If she blasted it out, ripped it from Sophia...even if she had the strength to do that, what would happen to her? Cassandra's Sight could perceive the many layers of Sophia's person, but she didn't understand it or how not to hurt it. She needed help. "Autumn," Cassandra said, and reached out a hand. Wordlessly, the redhead took it in her own, and their perceptions shivered together. With unthinking coordination, Cassie marshaled her Radiance and hurled it at Sophia. The streams of energy split and split again, becoming a billion fractal arms that could reach between molecules by the time they reached the other girl. To the naked eye, the effect was palpable. The world itself seemed to recoil from Cassandra. A sudden wind stirred, blowing away from her...sending cinders and ash up in plumes from the dry bones at her feet. The roiling black clouds in the sky bent up as if a glass dome had just been pressed into them, and flowed outward. From the center of that dish, a beam of Light speared out. It was impossible to say if it came up from the ground, or down from on high...but it was centered not on Cassandra, but on Sophia. Sophia screamed. Not the inhuman howl she'd let out before, but something far worse. It was two voices, overlaid...a warbling, almost electronic shriek with a teenage girl's agonized scream under it. She writhed in place, and seemed to try to double over, bunch her legs...perhaps spring away. Cassandra said "No!" aloud, and reached out her hand. The wind intensified, and Sophia halted in place, bent unnaturally as if pierced by an invisible stake. She clutched at herself and wailed, thrashing but unable to escape. And she was burning...a thick black smoke starting to curl off of her. "Cass what are you DOING?!" shouted Devin. "I can FIX her, Devin!" she replied in kind. A halo of visible Radiance encompassed her now, and spread down her arm to race up and around Autumn as well. Her face was focused, concentrating entirely on Sophia and the dread battle that raged within her. Devin shook his head, sickened at the tortured cries. "You're killing her!" Cassie shook her head. "It's working," she replied. "Look." A second glance told a new story. The 'smoke' wasn't smoke. Sophia wasn't on fire. The Dark was leaching out of her like a thick black dust or ash...wrenched from her body and cast back into the fetid air. Tears started trailing from the corners of Cassandra's eyes. "Just a little bit more, Sophie...just hang in there for a second longer." Radiance speared her, touching every particle of her body with fingers of fire. The pollution that had been forcibly injected...a torture of hours and hours...was now being ripped from her, all the pain compressed into a tiny fraction of the time. Only Autumn's mind, guiding Cassandra's power, saved Sophia from being physically ruptured...caught between the opposing forces that raged throughout her. Sophia's screaming turned hoarse...turned to anguished sobbing. The 'smoke' trailing from her thinned finally, and guttered out. The spear of Light, and the wind died away...the bowl in the clouds started to smooth out. And Sophia, with a final shuddering gasp, opened her eyes. For that moment the Fellowship could see that they were clear. Her teeth and fingers normal. Then Sophia collapsed onto the bones, mercifully unconscious. "Oh my god," Cassie whispered. "Oh my god, Sophie, I didn't know...I'm so sorry..." Autumn squeezed her hand and shook her head. She had some tears leaking from her eyes as well, but her face had a harder edge. "You had to do it," she told Cassandra softly. "It hurt now, but...it would have been worse." Autumn nodded at Cody then, mutely making the point. Cassie looked that way and shook her head at what she saw. "There's almost nothing of Cody left now," she said. "I...I can't do that to him. It's had him too long. It would kill him, even with your help." Autumn frowned at that, and her chin set in a subtly defiant expression. She wasn't quite as ready to give up on Cody, it seemed.
  27. 2 points
    Unlike her friends, the petite French girl didn't have much to say. No, between the ghastly spectacle the Dark had made of this place and the rancid, putrefacted corruption insidiously poking at her shield, Kat was pretty alarmed. Although it only had taken the monstrous imitation of the boy Cody once used to be, rushing at them, to shake her stupefaction off, she didn't know what to do. Rather, her brains were too busy assimilating the overload of information thrown at her. Her hands were empty. The two girls holding them had run off towards the Throne. The limp, naked shape of Sophia was in trouble, as Kat noticed. Her shield couldn't be extended any further and the girl was out of reach, corruption clawing at her minute by minute. How long has she been in there? Bright flashes of light, followed by a detonation, brought her attention back to the closest of their problems. What am I gonna do? She took a few steps towards the Throne, towards Sophia, watching as the soft outline of her Shine wrapped itself again around the five distant shapes of her friends. Good enough. She sighed, and focused her senses on Devin's mind. [Devin! Tawny and Sophia, especially Sophia, are in bad shape. We need Autumn to see what she can do. I moved to get them under my shield, but this place... the air... I don't know! Something is not doing them any good.] Understatement of the century. Good job, Kat. [Oh, by the way, it's Kat.] She was short on breath. In fact, she was short on time, and turned towards the towering, menacing monster screaming its discontent. The swiftness at which it had moved from the throne, to there, was absurd. She realized that if she could kill one thing, it would be its speed. True, Kat didn't like manipulating matter, but it would probably be the most efficient way to do it. Her Shine quickly scanned the ground on which Cody was standing. Bones. Rotten flesh. Blood. The knot in her throat tightened. Great. She took a laborious breath and began tapping into that reserve, that chest filled with wonders, hidden deep inside of her. Her field of vision narrowed, blood loud in her temples as Cody's feet began sinking into the ground, bones turned liquid mixing in with the flesh and blood. Kat fell to her knees, hardly coping with the mental strain. Holy shit. You can't stop there, girl. Bones can be used as cement, right? Heat it. Just heat it. She reached once more for her reserve of Shine and extended her hand, propelling a steady stream of blazing heat towards Cody's feet. Sunk ankle deep into a mixture of nightmare, the odd mortar turned solid around them. A victorious grin stretched the girl's lips. Speed killed. Weary, she wiped the blood off her nostrils and sniffed. Blood?
  28. 2 points
    "You know that time you had us go through a hellscape? I think your subconscious was tapping into this place Sean." Cade said, ad beholding their surroundings, and his grip on the rifle tightening. The Tree, the Throne, they were grisly and foreboding, and Cade recognized he couldn't do much about them. He would have to wait for an opening. When he saw Cody, and what this place, what the Dark had done to him, Cade felt a moment of pity. Briefly he was reminded of Gollum from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but then he saw Tawny, and the pity became anger. He didn't pretend to know Tawny like Devin did, but they had practiced together, she was like them, and she didn't deserve this, no one did. He released Marissa's hand, moving to steady the rifle, loaded with the armor piercing rounds, to take a shot. Marissa had drawn Cody's ire, then Sean had hit him with a straight of laser from his option, Jason'd bathed him in flames, searing his flesh, Devin had vanished, and all of this lined up to leave Cade completely unnoticed, armed with normal weapon, aimed right at Cody. To Cade, Cody was a rabid dog, and you only did only one thing with those. Sighting Cody's chest on through the weapon's sights, he stroked the trigger of the battle rifle, knowing that if this took his life, he would have to bear the weight of that the rest of his life. The APDS round struck Cody under his right arm, and blew through muscle, bone and soft tissue beneath, before bursting out the back with a geyser of gore. It was more than enough to draw a roar of pain from Cody, his murderous eyes filled with rage, and confusion, and now the hint of fear.
  29. 2 points
    His sister was buying him time. He knew that. As the monster that had been Cody was assaulted from all sides by the teenagers, every part of him wanted to join in the fray and vent all his anger on the creature that had killed his friend and stolen Tawny from him. Tawny. They were doing their part and Marissa had bought him the time he needed to do something that only he could do. He didn’t always have to be on the front line to be a hero. Everyone had a part to play, from Cassie and Autumn to Devin, who now needed to make sure those who were taken were safe and kept from further harm. Taggart wouldn’t have believed it. These kids whose minds were on everything from sex to video games to food and Homecoming, but never on the now, were doing it. They were working as a team. One cohesive unit to form a beacon of light in the roiling darkness of shattered hope and despair. “Keep the pressure on!” He shouted. He turned to dash towards the throne, to where Cassie and Autumn had run. In mid stride he disappeared and reappeared at Sophia’s side, where he knelt. He looked up to Tawny, being pulled in towards the giant tree by its animated limbs. “C’mon,” he mumbled to himself. “Please work… please…” he reached out his senses and felt the noetic connection between himself and Tawny. It was faint, but there, the darkness and corruption of the mangled branches working to dim his connection and ability to pull it’s prize away from it. He pulled with his mind, breeching the boundaries of space and the distances between two or more things… and the Dark was there. A part of all things and all places, even in the pockets of the in between, and it refused to relinquish it’s hold on the lovely blonde. He reached up, he didn’t need to, but the somatic gesture helped his focus. Purplish energy illuminated the veins along his arms, his hands and forearms seemed to glow from within, as he pulled with everything he had to tear his best friend from the grip of the menacing avatar. And then, she fell into his arms, appearing in an instant to collapse against him, and he swiftly clutched her tightly and breathed heavily with relief and weariness. He lay her against the side of the throne. “Tee!” He yelled, sliding blood-soaked strands of hair off of her already crimson smeared features. “Tee! C’mon, girl… c’mon… be okay… Tee! C'mon you two. Sophie, Tawny... one of you wake up for me, c'mon girls, this is not how I pictured my first threesome going.” Tawny was in his arms and his temper was already abating slightly. She was cold to the touch, but still possessed a blush in her cheeks. It scared to consider for a moment if the creature had siphoned her Shine from her, leaving her powerless against it. "Dee-j?" She managed to rasp, opening her eyes just barely. He couldn't help her, not here. Not now, but she was alive and to him that was all that mattered. Devin managed a faint smile as some measure of hope was restored in his the grim palace of his mind. "It's me, Tee. We came for you. We're all here for you. I'm here for you."
  30. 2 points
    "Yes." Jason's voice was quiet, almost unheard beneath the furor of the corrupted glade as the straight-backed youth stepped swiftly but surely to one side of Sean's laser walls. As Not-Cody snarled his pain and flinched away from the orbiting bead of stinging red light, baring it's teeth in pained menace, Jason's pale emerald stare rested on the creature that had once been Cody and once been a god, and now was neither, as he lifted his arms away from his sides almost as though about to bestow a benediction. His voice was still soft as the firefly motes of copper and gold in the depths of his gaze danced. "Burn." His words had been soft, unnoticed. What came next was neither. Brilliant gold so bright as to be almost white, the aura of his power surged into being around his lean form in a pillar of flame, casting every object in the glade into sharp relief, the shadows themselves flinching back as searing pinions of fire leapt from his arms, reaching out and forward in a sweeping crackling wave of destruction. Shallow pools of rotted blood flash-boiled into the air, the surface layers of bone were reduced to ash as the purifying, terrifying tsunami descended on the howling beast that was their target. The rags of Cody's clothing and hair disappeared into smoke and ash, his flesh charring and blackening awfully in the wake of the attack, which as it receded left the creature of the Dark thrashing at his burning arm, screaming in pain and fear and rage as he cowered from the blazing figure that was staring at him implacably. Cody's mind was chaotic. He wanted to put the fires out, he wanted to punish Cassidy and Bannon and the Jauntsens. But the rage was tinged with fear now. He had been hurt, not once but twice, and badly. A beast at bay, he snarled at them all, a note of confusion now in his defiance. This was not how it was supposed to go! They were supposed to be the afraid ones! Dimly he could hear the older, wiser voice, but it's words seemed unimportant, distant as he glared with smoldering red sunken eyes at his tormentors.
  31. 2 points
    Shit!Fuck!Shit!Fuck!Shit!Fuck! The sweet and fetid miasma of blood and decay surrounded Sean, cloying, clinging to him. He tried breathing through his mouth, and that was worse, the taste far more putrid than the smell. A hand went to his throat as he felt his gorge rose., even as terror raced up his spine at the sight of Not-Cody. He was more monstrous than Sean imagined, more something from a Monster Manual than from reality, so fast, those arms so long it seemed he could reach halfway across the clearing. And the electrical impulses flowing through him? They were chaotic, conflicting, like trying to watch a 3D movie without the glasses, making him even more nauseous. The synapses in Tawny and Sophia worried him. He'd never seen someone in a coma. Is that what it looked like, felt like, he thought, or was Sophia in the precipice of death? Was the corruption infesting Not-Cody inside the girls now, too, starting to multiply and grow? It took an instant for Sean's thoughts to come unstuck, and in even that small moment, Not-Cody had taken several swipes at Devin, Cassie and Autumn were racing for the throne and the crown surmounting it, and Marissa... Bloody Marissa who always had to be the center of attention was trying to be the center of attention even now and Not-Cody was going to tear her face off. At least she was their bitch, this time. "Whattheshit?!" Sean muttered as he shuffled to the side, trying to spread out the Fellowship so Not-Cody and whatever was inside him couldn't reach them all at once. He crossed over a scabby crust and his foot broke through, almost-black blood, thick, chunky, and warm, flowing over and then into his shoe. It was like stepping into a puddle of hot mucussy snot, and he almost stumbled as well as lost his shoe pulling his foot out it. "Watch out, guys!" Sean shouted, breathing in short gasps, as he waved his left hand, and the blue and green marbles of light zipped forward, leaving after-images in his sight. The tiny spheres of photons flew pass on either side of Marissa then exploded into a pair of vertical planes of transparent light, fifteen feet to a side, meeting at 120 degree angle just in front of the glamorous girl who came on a jaunt through the Abyss in a pair of 'hiking' heels. If Not-Cody wanted Marissa, he'd either have to burn or take a detour. "You aren't getting her today, bastard, or any of us!" He waved his other hand, two fingers pointing towards the twisted Cernunnos Cody had become, his left hand on the ground to catching him from falling over. The red marble flashed forward, elongated into a spear of fiery light, piercing the luminous green wall without resistance. Not-Cody raised a hand and the lance of scarlet incandescence went through it as easily as the wall, boring an inch wide hole straight through it, the great, taloned paw scorched black from a miniature solar flare. Not-Cody flinched back, fanged maw opening wide in something between a squeal and a snarl as he baleful gaze was shared between Sean and Marissa. The ruby beam of light contracted once more into a tight, bright marble, orbiting the great beast, threatening him with more solar pain. "Burn, motherfucker, burn!" Sean shouted. He heard some of things he had said about Laurie, even before his horrible chrysalis. Sean might have sounded more threatening if he hadn't sounded so breathless with terror.
  32. 2 points
    “No!” Marissa managed to squeal out as the giant beast launched towards her brother. Her hands cupped over her mouth as he teleported away and then a second time. He was safe, but her heart had sunk into the very pit of her stomach at the thought of her brother being harmed. She felt she needed to do something, but what? Autumn and Cassie took off for the skull, but she could see the hesitation in Not-Cody as hie eyes panned from a desire to defend the skull and it’s rage for killing Devin… Dumbest plan ever. She chastised herself, internally, but didn’t have any time to think up something better. Whether it was fear or courage that breathed life into her voice she wasn’t sure, but the Queen of Mean raised her voice at the Not-Cody-Beast. “Hey!” She shouted at Cody, trying to stand tall and unafraid against the creature. “Don’t you blame my brother for your stupidity you… shriveled little whining incel. No one ever made you do a damn thing. You were pathetic and broken loooong before my brother and I ever got near you.” She tossed in a stern point of her finger and a goose neck for added punctuation. “But oooooh, no…” she chastised. “Poor little Cody. You’re a fucking sociopath, Cody. From the things you said to the way you treated people… you wanna be mad at someone? Be mad at me!” Marissa’s thumbs declared that she should now be the center of attention as her words seemed empower her to take a few sloshing steps in the festering cysts that passed as the firmament in this bizarre place. “Do you know why Katie Shelton didn’t go out with you? Because I told her not to. I warned her you were a fucking creepster. And after she turned you down, we laughed at how you just brooded in the corner like a mewling little simp.” She scoffed at him and folded her arms while delivering the most unimpressed look anyone had seen. “Courtney told us, Cody. We all know. What? Did you think getting a bigger dick in your head would make up for the lack of personality in your pants?” The great beast’s chest heaved as his eyes left Devin and ignored the runners altogether. His rotting lips, or what remained, locked tight in a grimace as his brow furrowed, illuminated by the dull red of his soulless eyes. Like a mighty silverback he threw his arms up and slammed them into the soft ground as he bellowed with rage, splashing liquid and questionable-kibble bits. He faced the gorgeous brunette, whose perfect beauty and rumors of her promiscuity had left his imagination to wander on more than one sleepless occasion, roared loud enough to match lions on the savannahs of Africa. His claws sunk deep into the decay and malaise and his muscles tensed. Autumn and Cassie would have the time they needed, Devin was planning something, and the others too… maybe everything would be okay, she thought, until a flash in her mind spun a tale of all the horrible things she’d ever done to the others and it occurred to her that she wouldn’t blame them if they used the opening, she’d given them to go after the skull, like sensible people should. Yeah… Dumbest plan ever.
  33. 2 points
    Cassie had said not to ask questions when she told them to do something, to just do it even if it didn't make sense- although in this case it wasn't so much what the plucky blonde said that seemed crazy, but the fact that she screamed it right before running past the monstrosity that would probably eat their faces for attempting it. Although, all things considered, not actively thinking about anything right now might actually be a blessing. "Jesus fuck," Autumn shuddered and swore incredulously, her freckled features contorting in a grimace as she tore off after her friend through the rot and sludge of what once must have been living things- living things beyond comprehension, beyond imagining, but, still. Could anything even...? With a shiver, her hand tightening around the heavy pry bar, the redhead extended her awareness, a part of her mind instinctively seeking actual life in this place of primal terror and death. It only took a moment to catch up to Cassie, even with the gruesome "architecture" and gory obstacles that lay between them but instead of overtaking the young seer Autumn kept pace with her, heart thudding against the inside of her ribcage as she did her best to stay between the Boy Who Would Be Homecoming King and the girl who wanted to destroy his crown.
  34. 2 points
    Cassandra erupted into a startled shriek as Cody leapt in to attack, moving with inhuman speed and ferocity. For a heartbeat everything she'd learned and seen quivered on the edge of extinction under a tsunami of panic that would send her scrambling blindly away. But this was Devin, and these were her friends, and somehow the idea of leaving them was even worse than the idea of facing Cody in this garden of terrors. Her eyes locked on the Throne, and she remembered. "Guys, the skull on the throne! We need to destroy it!" A flicker of memory from one of the Might-Have-Beens compelled her to add, "Jase, he's tough but he's not fireproof! Burn him!" Then she lit out...running, yes, but with purpose rather than panic. Running not away, but towards the mound of bones with the Throne atop it like a leering gargoyle. The footing was bad, especially since she had to avoid Cody, but she managed to keep her feet from sinking between the bones and slowing down or tripping. Cody gave out another guttural howl but Cassie couldn't look back. She had to believe her friends would keep him busy, or else she had no chance...
  35. 1 point
    "Oookay." Carolyn Cassidy's voice cut across the somewhat awkward silence following Jason's small rant. The teens and parents looked around to see the Cassidy clan standing in the doorway to the infirmary, arms laden with hampers, bundles of clothes, towels, blankets and assorted necessaries - or at least, items which the family had determined might conceivably be needed. "I'm not sure what we walked into here, and it's nice to see Jase riled up and defending his friends - so long as he's not bitten anyone-" "Not yet. Night is still young." Jason said around a mouthful of MRE pizza. Carolyn smiled tightly, then pursed her lips and looked at the tattered, bloodied Fellowship, her gaze finally settling on her son with a mixture of relief and anger. She swept into the room, Laurie and Jack following her over to Sean's bed and setting their bundles down on convenient surfaces. "However," she went on "I have a few questions for my boy, here." She watched as a slice of plastic-wrapped pizza floated past her and landed in Sean's hands. "Starting with: what enemy? Why are you all covered in blood? Why did I find out about this from Misti Jauntsen- Hi, Carl - of all people?" She crouched down and peered at her son, trying to see past the muck to determine whether any of the blood was his as Sean squirmed slightly under the maternal scrutiny. "Yeah-" Laurie started hotly, obviously wanting to add her own ire, but Carolyn shot her a look over one shoulder and Sean's younger sister subsided, giving first her brother, then Devin, then the apparently uncaring Jason (still eating his slice of pizza) a hard glare. Her mom returned her gaze to Sean, one eyebrow raised expectantly. "Well..." Sean looked at her uncomfortably, then at his friends in mute appeal. Jason was staring at him as realisation dawned. "You didn't tell them." he stated rather than asked, his brilliant emerald gaze unwavering from his friend. "Oh man..." Devin shook his head. It was his turn to smirk now that Sean was the focus of maternal ill-will. "Dude, we agreed to tell the 'rents. You are boned." "Gentlemen, please." Carolyn said in a tone that hinted that, whilst she wasn't angry at them, she really wanted to get on with being angry at her son. Over at the entrance to the infirmary, Autumn and Marissa came back in and, immediately picking up on the atmosphere, moved over to where Jason and Devin were observing with a certain level of schadenfreude. "Sean?" Carolyn's enquiry contained a whole library of subtext. "What's going on?" Autumn murmured to Jason, smiling faintly in thanks as he passed her a slice of admittedly strange-looking pizza. She hopped up to sit beside him on the bed and tore open the package. "Sean didn't tell his folks what was going on." Jase murmured back. Marissa's eyes widened even as she accepted a floating slice of wrapped MRE. "He didn''t? Oh man. He is so boned." she commented in unconscious mimicry of her twin, who nodded, still smirking. The peanut- well, pizza gallery went back to observing. "Well, I was trying to protect you." Sean said earnestly, clasping his fingers together and trying not to fidget. "I didn't want you to worry, or freak out, or try and do something that'd get the enemy to notice you- I was going to tell you after we made it back, only it didn't work out that way..." "And you didn't think we'd worry about you after we found out you had snuck off to fight god-knows-what? You didn't think that would lead to me having a fit every time you were home late from school and calling round all your friends?" Carolyn's voice raised a couple of decibels. "And what if you didn't make it back, hmm? Who was going to tell us you had d-" She broke off then, looking down and away from her son, reaching up to squeeze the reassuring hand Jack had placed on her shoulder. After a moment, she composed herself. "Was it going to be Jason's job? Devin's? What if none of you made it back and I had to find out from one of the parents who did know?" She shook her head, disappointment, sorrow and anger in equal measure in her tear-filled eyes. "How could you, Sean?" "I did not know either." Miyako spoke up, her dark eyes glancing around the room then at her son. "Your friend says you were brave and that I am wrong to treat you like a kid, but you did not tell me what you were doing, Cade. You tried to, but..." "I messed it up." Cade admitted, nodding. "I kinda wanted to try again, but I wasn't sure how to, and then things started happening fast and-" "We will talk about it later." his mother said quietly, but there was an echo of the same hurt in her eyes as was more evident in Carolyn's, who was less easily appeased. "I asked you a question." she pressed, looking hard at Sean. "How could you keep something so important from us?" "I wanted to tell you." Sean tried not to sound like a kid caught playing hooky, he really did. But there was no disguising the gut-punch of guilt as he looked from his tearful mother to his stern father to his angry sister. "I really did. But every time I started to try... the words just wouldn't come out." He gestured expansively. "'Hey, guys, I'm off to fight a demon of death and terror in a hell-dimension mirror of our world. We have to do it, otherwise it will hunt us all down one by one like it did to Charlie.'" The effeminate teen's mouth twisted in a frown, tears in his own eyes. "I was scared shitless, mom! Of what we had to do, of telling you, of how you guys would react... Pick one." "Oh, honey..." His mother hugged him, heedless of the blood and dirt, and after a moment he hugged her back, trying not to bawl his eyes out in front of the others - especially the Jauntsens. "I'm still mad as hell at you." Carolyn murmured to her son. "Don't think you've heard the last of this. But I'm glad you're okay too." "I wondered if something was up earlier." Laurie said quietly, her anger dissipating somewhat in the face of Sean's obvious guilt as Jack reached over and ruffled his son's hair. She looked from Sean over to Devin. "You guys were being a little shifty at the picnic." "Mmmffmmfff." Devin shrugged, his mouth conveniently full so he wouldn't have answer, his smile guilelessly innocent (and utterly full of shit) as he met Laurie's stare. She switched targets to Jason, who merely shrugged in much the same way. "Wasn't our place to tell." was all the laconic genius stated, his logic utterly reasonable and irrefutable. "We told our parents. Well, most of us." "That's enough." Carolyn admonished the closest thing she had to a second son as she stood up, looking over at him. "Are you okay?" she asked then, noting the blood-stained rent in his combat pants. "I'm fine." Jase replied calmly, looking at the thermos flasks Jack was unpacking from one of the bags. "Coffee in those?" "Yes." sighed Carolyn as Jack, smiling and shaking his head slightly, watched a thermos float over to Jason's outstretched hand. There were always constants in life - Jason and coffee was one of them. "Where's Gar?" "Right here." Jason's dad said as he came in, a shopping bag containing a change of clothing in one hand. Jase looked at him askance. "What?" his father asked, coming to a stop by the bed and placing the bag on the end of it. He smiled at the redhead sitting next to Jase. "Hey Autumn." "You're here." Jason stated, a little puzzled, setting the thermos of coffee aside for the moment. "Sure am. Brought a change of clothes." "But I said you didn't need to come down-" "Shut up and c'mere." Gar pulled the sitting teen into a hug. "You might not have needed me to, but I needed to." he said to the nonplussed young man, his voice a murmur. "Glad you're okay." After a moment, the slender youth's arms went around his father's shoulders, patting once or twice. It was a curious sight, for sure, when one considered that in this case, it was the child doing the comforting to the parent.
  36. 1 point
    She turned, facing the red-haired man and narrowing her eyes at him judgmental appraisal. She didn't seem startled so much as bothered, perhaps because he'd managed to sneak up on her silently. Her lack of being startled told Mel that she knew he was there, but is she didn't hear him, how'd she know? She took a drag from her cigarette, shrugging her shoulders as her demeanor shifted to one less caring or was it bravado? Mel didn't have time either, so when she nodded off to the alleyway, he followed her cautiously. There were enough people around that he knew a gunfight, or a street brawl were not likely, but still, he was cautious. Finally, the attractive young woman completed her appraisal and spoke. "You must be Mel." "Kestrel," she nodded in greeting. "I'm in Mourne's..." she paused, catching herself. "I'm one of his People. The hell are you doing here? This can't be random." "Probably not." Mel simply said. He wasn't going to leak Jack or Seth's involvement or warnings. "Mourne, huh?" Yes, it had seemed something was going on between the art-involved businessman and Ravenna D'Sombra, but to have ties to someone like Kestrel? There was something going on beyond the 'good man' surface. Mel cocked his head. And since she recognized him, it looked like Mourne might also have eyes on him. Or was it simply because he was technically within D'Sombra's employ now? Damn, he needed to review if someone had gotten - or would try - into his apartment. "Can I ask what's his interest in her?" She kept looking over her shoulder, checking to make sure she hadn't let Maya slip away unnoticed. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you," she chuckled, taking another hit from her cigarette. "Try me," Mel replied flatly, reminding himself that a obese troll and a bipedal talking rabbit were raiding his refrigerator several days not long ago. "Wait one," she sighed, letting the smoke trail off mingled with her breath in the chilly air. Mel recognized the military reference. She sent a quick text no her phone, enjoying her nicotine while she waited the few seconds it took for her phone to 'boop' a reply. She looked down and then looked at Mel. "Mourne says you check out, okay, ready? Poofy head over there is been plagued by bad luck. Unnaturally so. The sort that leads people to be consumed with depression and... well, suicide. Our friend Ms. Flynn, aside from having an amazing set of glutes with what appears to be absolutely zero effort, has caught herself a case of goblins. It's not the sort of thing there's a Plan-B or penicillin shot for. I'm following her to see if one of the little fuckers shows itself." She folded her arms and narrowed her eyes. "Now," she cocked her head to one side. "Why are you here? I know people who bullshit coincidence like parents tricking their kids into taking medicine. This isn't chance. C'mon, spill." Mel considered what Kestrel said. It sounded like magic, the way she suggested someone could - and was in this case - imposing bad luck on people. Well, considering his willingness to listen to bipedal rabbits and trolls, he could hardly call it outlandish. Should he tell Kestrel or not? Well, the ex-ranger figured, since she was expecting literal goblins, she'd hardly think him crazy. And right now, she had more knowledge about whatever was going on than he did. Give info to get more intel, then. "I wouldn't call them goblins." Mel told her conversationally. "At least the ones I've met. They told me she's in danger." "They who?" She crossed one arm, resting her elbow evenly so she could finish her smoke. "Mel, it's okay, I'm in the know on this stuff, been doing a lot longer than you have. You got a visit huh? Horatio said the Others were making their rounds, so... you're one of them, huh? A Chosen?" She shook her head and chuckled. "Wow, what a mindfuck you must be going through. Look, no bullshit, old man, there's nothing you could tell me that I haven't already seen, except Avengers: Endgame. So, no spoilers, and trust me, you'd know a goblin if you saw one." Mel raised an eyebrow. "Jack and Seth. Now, what the hell is a Chosen?" The nightmare, the long-eared words of doom, this game that everyone involved seemed to be in on except him and the girls... The lines on Mel's face tightened. About time for some fucking answers. "Mmm," she shook her head, exhaling smoke while dropping her cigarette and taping it out with a twist of her boot. "Don't know 'em. They're not with us. Unless you mean ol' Jackie, who works out of O'Malley's, the pub in Hell's Kitchen? No?" She shrugged, looking back again to get another bead on Maya's location. "Look, I've no idea what a 'Chosen' is. I just know that Enclaves, Orders, Clans, Courts and Tribes are losing their fucking minds over you guys. The Central Park pack has a serious hard-on for you 'special kids'." She spoke like he knew what all of the things she was saying meant. She narrowed her eyes and leaned into him. "They really haven't told you anything? So, like, what are you? A warlock, shifter, a faerie? I mean," she looked up at the sky then back at him. "Obviously you're not a leech. Sorry, I know it's rude to ask, but, I feel like I'm popping a cherry here. Who's your mentor? When did you awaken?" Never mind. Back down the fucking rabbit hole, hippity hop we go. Evidently there were faeries, magicians, shapeshifters - did leech mean vampire? - in the world, apparently unknown to society. A whole variety of sides, and former Sergeant Mel Grimson was right in the crosshairs. Two options then. Tell the truth, or bullshit. Mel wasn't much of a bullshitter, but if Kestrel was running on the age old 'assumptions'... "D'Sombra. When the dream happened, she knew somehow. And she knew I had to know how she did once she said it." Mel grimaced hard while saying it. Technically all painfully true, if not quite in the way Kestrel probably would take it. Mel turned his gaze also to keep track of Maya. "D'Sombra?!" Kestrel said it louder than she intended, looked around with a touch of paranoia, and went back to speaking softly. "Fuck, you're in bed with that bitch? I mean, no judgments, but the Shadow Court isn't exactly doing many favors this city. How the hell she became a Seeker, I have no clue. It's unprecedented from what I hear." She fumed, shaking her head in disgust. "It's not fair." "Anyway, let's focus. It's nice to meet you Mel, and it looks like maybe we can help each other out. Maya Flynn is in it deep and I need to help her, that's my job. Looks like others asked you to help her, so, why don't we give this a go and I fill you in on shit at O'Malley's sometime, over a beer or six. You game?" Mel extended a hand. His instincts were telling him Kestrel seemed to be on the up and up. "Ooorah."
  37. 1 point
    "Thank you." A few gazes turned to Jase, who's eyes had now opened and were swiveling towards Mrs Allen as the slender youth sat up, swinging his legs off the side of the examination bed and perching on the edge staring at Teresa like a bright-eyed young falcon - albeit one in torn army surplus clothing covered in blood, soot and gods-knew-what else. "Seriously. Thank you, Mrs Allen." he said with an incline of his head towards Cassie's mother. "A levelheaded response, absent of hysterics, finger-wagging, disapproval or 'what is this I cannot even'." He smiled slightly under the layer of grime on his face. "It's plain to see where Cassandra gets her centered forthrightness from." He gestured at the blonde girl that the older woman still had her arm around. "You should be proud of her. Without Cassie, we wouldn't have been able to find the enemy, or how to get to it, or known how to defeat it. She saved lives - not just ours, but countless others who would have suffered if we'd failed." The green laser of his gaze swung to Devin's father. "And you and Misti should be proud, Carl. Devin and Marissa were fucking champions out there. Devin got us there and back again under the worst of conditions, and when we were in that place his first thought was to save the helpless, to rescue Sophia and Tawny, and with them secured he then pitched in to fight an enemy that could have ripped him in two with ease. He didn't fuck up, he didn't hesitate." Heedless of his wounded leg, the lean teenager stood up and limped over to his backpack, rummaging around in it as he spoke. "And Marissa? She used herself as bait, distracted the enemy so the rest of us could do what we needed to do. She fought shoulder to shoulder with us." He straightened and turned back around, a couple of MRE packs in his hands as he limped back to the bed. "Devin... Marissa... Cassie... Cade... Sean... Kat... Autumn. All of us went out and kicked ass." he said forcefully as he glared around at the adults present, zero fucks evident in the icy depths of his gaze. "We might be your offspring, but stop thinking of us as 'kids'. Because none of you, and no-one you can name, could have done what we did today, and until Mrs Allen all I've been hearing is irrelevant, incredulous and frankly ungrateful bleating." In the silence that followed he ripped open the two MRE packs, smaller packages extracting themselves and floating into the air around him in a loose orbit. He looked pointedly at his friends, his chosen family... his pride. "Who wants pizza? It's MRE pizza, but hell, it's pepperoni, cheese and carbs." He gave them a crooked smile. "I'll save a couple of pieces for Autumn and Marissa when they get back."
  38. 1 point
    My name is Eric Carson, It's a warm Montana morning as I sit in a small studio apartment with Cade Allistair, one of the main cast of Weirder Stuff. Looking around, the place is largely in line with my expectations, and across from me, my host smiles. Today Cade's made time to discuss his health routine, said to be the most extreme among the cast's, with for Men's Health journal. EC: "Good morning Cade." CA: Good morning Eric, thanks for waiting. EC: I take it you finished your morning routine already? CA: Yes, I get up early for fasted cardio, then a healthy breakfast, then an hour of weights, today was a strength day, so it went fairly fast." EC: So tell me, was it a big adjustment when you were cast?" CA: In some ways, yes. I grew up playing football, and baseball, so the role itself is pretty natural for me. I didn't look like I did back then so much though. The diet and workouts are much more targeted now. EC: So your workout is more or less intense? CA: Way more intense, in that I have to care far more about my diet, which is generally much, much healthier than anything I ate growing up. EC: Generally? CA: Gotta have cheat days, Eric. I just make sure to work harder to burn them off. EC: What is your diet like? CA: I go high protein, close to 5k calories a day, eggs in the morning, usually chicken and beef for lunches, and again for dinner, though I do like to switch up and cook some fish for variety. EC: what about protein supplements? CA: Yeah, I do at least two shakes a day, but I try to get most from what I eat, it certainly forced me to learn how to cook a larger variety of dishes. EC: You cook all your own food? where do you find the time, with the filming, and the workouts? CA: I make time, not like I've got anyone else to do it for me. I knew how to cook beforehand anyway, though I admit it wasn't the most healthy methods. Lots of fried foods, barbeque, and grilling. EC: Your cheat days? CA: Fried foods, seafood, chicken, and piles of bacon, pizza pretty much anything most find unhealthy. EC: You really take it serious both ways, don't you? CA: I work hard, and I play hard. EC: So you have a very intense workout, and you mentioned fasted cardio.... CA: Yes, I get up and run five miles before breakfast. I find that works great for really melting away any excess fat. EC: Even during filming? Do any of the others join you? CA: No, most aren't awake when I get up for it. EC: Does it bother you that they don't have to follow such a rigorous training regimen? CA: Not at all, we play different characters, and each brings their own difficulties with the role. I feel blessed in that Cade's life is very similar to how I grew up, so it's not hard to get into his mindset. EC: I see. What about all the animal scenes? CA: Well the best were actually the squirrels. They're tamed and well trained believe it or not. They've never bitten me. The ferrets however, are hell incarnate. I always end up getting bitten by them, and of all the animals, they've caused the most reshoots. EC: What about the badger? CA: That was different, but it was well behaved. EC: You've mentioned being similar to your character, do you share any of his hobbies? CA: Some, yes. I admit, I'm totally lost on the anime and Manga front, I remember watching some shows like Dragon BallZ growing up, by I'm not into it like he is. I Do love to fish and hunt, so I do share that. EC:What about your castmates? CA: well we do some things together, my favorite has been the RPGs. I wasn't really into them growing up, but the higherups thought we should all look like we know what we're doing, so they got us to play, and we still do so, even if that part of things has been more in the background in more recent episodes. EC: So you got into some of the "Nerdy" stuff too. CA: Well yeah, some of the others are way more into it than I am, and there is that whole time crunch issue, outside my rest/cheat days. EC: If someone wanted to follow your regimen, what would you say? CA: It works, but it requires commitment. Know your limits, everyone's are different. Do the best that you can. EC: That's pretty considerate of you. CA: Well in this day and age, it's not hard to find a good workout that's going to get results. This is mine, and if it helps anyone get into shape the way they want, well I think that's pretty great. EC: Thank you for your time Cade, and for allowing us to print your routine for those who are curious about the exact details. CA: You're welcome, Eric. Following the interview, a full breakdown of Cade's Diet and weekly workout plans are printed.
  39. 1 point
    Hi! D20 Modern/Future has some useful resources, but, yeah. The attribute-based character classes and clunky progression didn't endear the game to me, although I really wanted to like it, and M&M made character creation a massive chore. Unfortunately, the only resource for Aberrant d20 I know of is the core rulebook- I never saw any errata published (even as third-party content), and a quick search through my favorite online RPG book hoard didn't turn anything up. That being said, there are people on the forums who have actually used the d20 versions of the game, so hopefully they'll have some advice regarding the nuts and bolts and applicability of the system!
  40. 1 point
    Standing a little apart from the others as he was, they could still feel the flickering heat given off by Jase's flame-shrouded form as he looked up at the dying Tree with an analytic tilt to his head. "It's reacting almost like a slug exposed to salt and sunlight." he noted to Sean. And indeed, there was something of mindless reflexive agony in the way the truck coiled and uncoiled, the roots and branches flailing aimlessly as the thing just seemed to... shrivel in on itself. Given it's immensity, it was hard to tell at first, but the Tree was indeed losing 'mass'. "It's shrinking." he added. "I wonder if-" "Yeah. Fascinating. How are we doing on the exit strategy?" Sean, under other circumstances not filled with terror, death and the graveyard charnel stench of the Blight, might have shared his friend's interest in the horrid thing's ecology. Jason shot him a small smile and nodded, falling silent as he turned to regard Devin. "Workin' on it." Devin's face, illuminated by the neon glow of the laser dome fence around them, was locked in concentration as he searched for the path home. Flickers of purple energy danced in his eyes and around his hands as they probed space around the group. From the perimeter, there were flashes and screeches of pain as the faster, smaller creatures, heedless of any threat in their hunger, charged through the bright barriers and were partially or completely vaporised, some actually making it several step before falling into blackened, smoking husks. "Gonna need a bit more time..." "Fuck." Autumn swore as she backed up, Sophia over her shoulders and pry bar back in hand. "They're not stopping." Beyond the illumination of the fences, larger shapes were moving closer. "Cadums." Marissa said authoritatively, betraying none of her inner edge of panic. "I'll take a baseball bat now." Kat groaned as she forced herself to stand tall, moving to flank with her own bat in hand as Shelly's Queen Bee took the length of weighted wood and swung it experimentally. Jase moved to the front of the rise on which the Throne sat, standing between the ramp up and Devin. "Form a ring." he said calmly, eyes still simmering with green baelfires in the reflection of his own flames. "We give Devin time. Nothing touches him." Cade nodded as he shifted Tawny into a fireman's carry, leaving a hand free and hefting the rifle in his free hand. The athlete glanced at his friends, then at Devin. Surely they wouldn't be stuck like this. To have come so far, achieved so much... "Got it." Devin said as suddenly, out of nowhere, his senses latched onto the faint scar of the entrance gateway he'd forged before. Of course: that was the weak spot now. The way home! A sphere of purplish white light grew between his hands, slowly expanding. Cassie, eyes wide and breathing deeply, took up a position next to Autumn, the two friends exchanging faint smiles of reassurance. "I'm working here." Devin said through gritted teeth as he urged the sphere to widen faster. "Sean. How tapped are you?" Jase asked tersely. The electrokineticist straightened up, stepping forward to plug one of the gaps in the ring around Devin. "Good for one more quick fight." he said with a smile he didn't feel, his heart beating double-time in his ample chest. Jase's lips peeled back from his teeth in a feral grin as he nodded, channeling kinetic strength through his limbs with some of the last ergs of his own power. The first of the larger creatures to break through was a nightmare of spines and scythelike bone spurs, it's hide covered in plate of chitin that smoked and seared as it plunged through the laser wall. The size of a draft horse, its six multijointed legs propelled it up the slope. Other, smaller critters followed in it's wake, having used the bulk of the thing to come through, though none of them was unscathed. And then a large, bone-plated worm creature, with a lamprey-like mouth filled with concentric rows of slicing blades and ringed with tentacles, broke through on the left, screeching it's pain and hunger as it slithered up towards the Throne. From the right came an old friend, the 'fishasaurus' - not the exact same creature but one very much like it, long barbed tongue lashing the air as the dozen malformed grasping arms that sprouted from it's torso flailed around, blackened from the heat. What followed next was chaotic - snapshots of violence and horror and heroism as the band fought shoulder to shoulder. Cassie was yanked forward as a grasping tentacle latched onto her shoulder, it's barbed suction cups digging into her skin painfully as she fought to detach it and pull away from the maw that awaited her. With a scream of pure defiance, Autumn reached out and grabbed the horrid slimy thing, feeling the barbs cut her own hand as the scarlet surge of her power flooding into the creature's flesh and causing the worm-thing to recoil, loosing it's prize as it rolled in agony down the hillock, crushing allies under it's squirming bulks, and back into the laser fence. Pale-faced and bloodied, but otherwise fine, Cassie scrambled back into position with a gasped thanks. A gurgling roar heralded the fish-creature's charge as it crashed into the teens, sending Kat sprawling and bearing Marissa down under it's hideous stinking bulk. Kat rolled to her feet, face bleeding from a cut to her jaw, and came back in swinging, plunging the blunt end of her bat into one of the glossy black eyes. It screamed, thrashing as it's claws tore at Marissa, it's mouth turning towards Kat only for Cade to pump three rounds into the side of it's blubbery flank, blowing chunks of flesh from it. "Fuck offa me!" Marissa screamed, feeling claws ripping through her clothes and digging into her flesh, incensed by the filth and stink and fear as she brought her hiking heel-clad feet up under the thing as it struggled to eat her. With a convulsive heave, the massive bulk was thrust off and up, sailing into the air a few feet before rolling down the hill, thrashing as it went back though the laser barrier. And then she was on her feet, a dark-haired angel of terrified, grossed-out wrath as she began to lash out at the other creepies within reach. With every connection of the bat, chitin shattered and bone splintered, ichor spraying into the air and smaller creatures launched bodily down the hill as she dealt out brutal vengeance for the insult to her person as well as her ruined outfit, cursing loudly with every strike. Jase met the armor-plated horror head-on, grabbing it's head as it lunged for him, the amplified strength of his grasp enough to keep it's crushing jaws from his face as the flames of his aura began to sear through the flesh under his touch. The thing screamed and lashed out with a bony scythe blade that dug deep into his outer thigh, the protection of the psychokinetic's defenses preventing it from simply cutting his limb off but unable to turn the strike aside entirely. Jason's teeth gritted as he hung on through the pain, feeling the blade twist in the wound, trying to drive deeper. Sean gave out a yell of horror at the welling of blood from his friend's leg and lashed out, a beam of brilliant light cutting through the weaponlike limb and causing the creature to scream in renewed pain. The screech was cut off as Jase, focusing his power through his hands, flash-broiled the creature's skull. The thing's face exploded into flame and smoking gore, covering both Jason and Sean. Taking a step back as the horror collapsed, Jase tugged the tip of the bone claw out of his leg and, hissing in pain, checked the cut. It was bleeding, but no artery or vein seemed to have been nicked. Looking up, he waved a hand and sent a surge of flame down the slope, incinerating a wave of smaller creatures. But more were coming, and more large ones with them. "Devin." he said with a rare note of urgency in his tone. "I know." Devin's face was sweating. The sphere was almost covering the group. "Just a second or two more..." "Devin!" Cassie swatted down one of the rubbery creepers, watching it flail as it fell back into the throng below. More horrors were making the ascent now, venomous stingers and grinding mandibles and- "I know!" "DEVIN!" they all yelled, from the most stoic to the most excitable, as they drew back closer together. Jason extinguished his flaming aura - this close, he would be a danger to the others as well as the enemy. The horrors paused as they reached the top of the rise, then lunged. "Got it!" Devin yelled triumphantly above the screams as the slavering gnashing wave of flesh fell upon them. The world went purple and azure and white. ...and then they fell into long, soft grass on a hilltop. The sun was just set, the stars already coming out and freckling the violet sky with motes of radiance. There was the scent of wildflowers, and growing things still warm with the last of summer. Nearby a tree - an actual honest to goodness tree - swayed it's leaves gently in the evening breeze. "Where...?" "We made it!" "We did it!" Confusion gave way to a babble as the teens sat up, the babble giving way to relieved joyous laughter as they reached over and punched each other's arms, pounded each other on the back, hugged one another close, heedless of the muck and blood and smoke and ashes they were coated with as they excitedly began talking about what had just happened. "Did you see Marissa throw that thing-?" "Man that laser fence was awesome-" "...Four Devins? Ugh!" "And Kat with the skull-" "Nice work, new girl!" "That firenado was EPIC." "-hit it with a bat." "...And Cade all Dirty Harry puttin' holes in-" "Tawny and Sophia, we get them too?" There was a moment of concern as they looked around. "They're right here. I think Sophia will be fine." Autumn checked on the naked girl, who was starting to stir. "Deej?" Tawny was sitting up, looking around bewildered, smiling a little as she saw her friend. "What..?" she paused, looking around again. "Our place? Did we die? Is this heaven?" "I wish." Marissa snorted, gesturing at her ruined and torn outfit and the muck in her hair, and the scrapes and blood and... everything. "Does this look like my idea of heaven? I need a spa, and a facial, and a manicure, and-" "We made it, Tee." Devin smiled as he went and helped Tawny to her feet. She smiled a little, face still pale as she remembered. "It's cool. We took care of it, all of it." he reassured her. With a low cry and a sniffle, the blonde threw her arms around him and hugged him close. "How are you?" Jase limped over to where Autumn was watching over Sophia. She looked at him, then at his bloody leg. "Never mind me. How are you?" "Hurts. Nothing vital, though-" But the red-headed girl was already breathing some of her power into her hands, placing them over the wound and concentrating, feeling the bleeding stop and the healing begin to accelerate. It wasn't a complete mending, but it should heal swiftly and without complications. Then she straightened up and standing on tip-toe gave him a chaste but lingering kiss before wrapping her arms around him and hugging him tight. "I'm fine. Or will be fine." she murmured into his chest. "Probably." She smiled a little as she felt his arms go around her in turn. It would be nice to stay like that for awhile, but there was still business to take care of. They all felt it, all the Radiants, Tawny included. It emanated from the middle of the distant pool of lights that was Shelly, and they found themselves turning towards it, together or separately. The oppressive cloud that they had lived with their whole lives, that leering, looming shadow cast by the Tree, was gone now. It's withdrawal from reality brought with it a ripple of positivity, of life being returned to the air and soil. The Blight was still there, a dark underbelly, a wound that had yet to be cleansed. But the source of the spiritual rot was gone, sucked back to wherever such things came from. Now, at least, healing could take place.
  41. 1 point
    He held Tawny close, feeling a bit guilty for thinking whatever powers might be listening that what happened to Sophia didn’t happen to his best friend. Not-Cody was fanned into a state of berserk rage and fire and bullets didn’t seem to be slowing him down, just pissing him off more. Devin wasn’t powerful enough to stand up to that beast, he knew that, but Marissa needed him, and Tawny needed him, and now… Sophia needed him. So, intend was the young boy at seeking his redemption and help every keep it together that he barely noticed the way allowed himself to fall apart. Perhaps it was guilt at not being there for Charlie or blaming himself for what happened to Cody… but he felt deep down that he needed to be there for everyone, be everyone’s hero, and then, maybe then, he’d feel like he’d left his troublesome behavior behind him. Everything was happening so fast… or was it? Not by a long shot. Very few could have understood how Devin perceived the world. Everything he did was instantaneous, calculating a jump was a complex series of equations accounting for distance, mass, trajectory, velocity… and his calculated it all faster than anyone. Not because he knew how, but because it was part of his nature now. After Sophia collapsed, that’s when the thought occurred to him and the world around him slowed down to a halt… He moved faster than the eye could see. Faster than science currently had a word for and he decided where he’d be able to do the most good. He appeared and knelt beside Sophia, looking up to Cassie and Autumn. “I’ve got her, ready to move if things go poorly. You two worry about the skull. Smash that damn thing.” Autumn looked back to Tawny as Devin appeared near Sophia, and saw that Devin was still holding Tawny tightly, ready to escape with her if anything happened. Devin grinned at Devin and fist bumped as they approached Not-Cody. “Bix,” he said to his phone as he pressed his F9 earbuds, activating them. “Gimme something to dance to…” Devin looked at himself and smiled wide, nodding enthusiastically as the music started to play. “Aww, yeah.” They two broke into a sprint and simultaneously disappeared, reappearing at the same time, one Devin up high to kick Cody in the face, while the other appeared low, smashing his foot into Cody’s ‘knees’. Then they were gone again, and so it went on at what seemed like light speed, or something out of one of the Japanese cartoons where the monkey-vegetable-people would fight as super speeds. If only they knew that this was still 'slow' where Devin was concerned. Cody lashed out in anger, slicing, and flailing at the two Devins but they were simply too fast, disappearing the moment an attack was too close, and even helping the other out by pushing or pulling them away from the flailing assaults. It occurred to the others very quickly that Devin wasn’t trying to hurt Not-Cody at all… he was distracting him! He was the proverbial hornets nest being dropped on Cody’s head to lure the assaults away from the others so they would have time to keep the pressure on Cody or seek cover if they needed it. “Y’done goofed,” Devin shouted. Other-Devin smirked and kicked off Not-Cody’s leg into a back flip and disappeared, reappearing to land on his shoulders and vaulted off backwards (pushing Cody down and off balance), and disappeared again. “A-A-Ron!” “C’mon Cody,” Devin held his arms out wide, T-ing up against mighty daemon. “You said wanted a piece of this… get you some!” Back at the throne, Cassie noticed that Devin (who was holding Sophia) wasn’t blinking… all of his concentration was being used to teleport so fast that he was able to literally duplicate himself. “Devin?” “I’m okay,” he smiled. “This is just, really trippy.” "Understatement of the century," she huffed.
  42. 1 point
    He couldn't stay where he was. Glowing walls of deadly radiance blocked him from his lovely, venomous quarry. The titboy's bead of painful hot light was orbiting him, ready to strike again. Fucking Bannon's flames were devouring him like thermite though butter, and even rifle in Cade's hands (and where the fuck did Mr Baseball get the Terminator's gun?) was painful, especially on top of everything else. But this was his place. Araun's place, technically, but he was Araun, was he not? Or was he Cody with Araun's power and thoughts and memories... He didn't know for sure, but he did know he had options, here in this place. He was tied to the Tree, and to the Skull, and could draw power here even as his enemies weakened. With a shriek he ripped his feet from the hindering grasp of the reshaped ground that tried in vain to hold him, but succeeded only in slightly slowing him as he leapt with only fractionally less speed for a nearby pool of blood. As he plunged into the fetid, stinking morass foul-smelling steam heralded the extinguishing of the fires that ravaged his form. He rose from the mire, blackened curdled clots dripping heavily from his body, and as his red eyes fixed again on Marissa he leered, courage and vitality renewed somewhat by the corrupt bath. And as he leered, Shelly's Teen Queen o' Mean felt a twisting, enervating pain start in her abdomen, like a clawed hand tearing at her insides, like a coat hangar scraping at her ovaries, like acid eating at her guts... Intuitively she felt the dark, malevolent energy emanating from Cody's stare and straightened, glaring back at him with every bit of hauteur and imperious willfulness she could muster. She'd suffered worse than this, and she let him know it with a smirk as the phantom pain fell away, failing to find purchase. Cody clenched his taloned hands with a scream of pure frustration, face upturned, his throat bulging and distending moments before swarms of tiny, chittering things were endlessly vomited into the air, swirling above his antlered head with a thunderous roar like a dozen angry hives of bees, spreading out like a cloud of poison and all but blotting out the sinister red glow of the sky.
  43. 1 point
    "A-Rae?" Came the soothing voice of Marissa and all the contempt in her tone was barely concealed with her wicked grin and narrowed, razor-like glare that proclaimed her desire to hurt Jacob in some way. The twins and Jacob never got along, as one of the few individuals in the school that willfully fought back against their bullying and harassment he'd quickly earned himself a label of ire from the Disastrous Duo. "Now why didn't I think of that? What's the 'Rae' for?" She brushed away her thought, knowing she could ask Autumn later, and they both doubted she actually cared. "FYI, your boy toy just arrived. Devin is stuck with Laurie fawning all over him, so that was no fun. For what he's spending on her he better get his money's worth." She huffed with irritation at her brother. "Anyway, c'mon, let's mingle." "Run along," she waved him away like he was dismissed. "Girl talk time."
  44. 1 point
    Julia: [smiles for the camera] "Hello, everyone. The next in our cast interview series is the 'will-they/won't-they power couple of Weirder Stuff. One is an irreverent, thrillseeking teenage troublemaker...the other an intrepid reporter in-training. One of the big surprises this season was how, despite getting on each other's nerves so much, they seem to be looking to forge some kind of relationship together. I am of course speaking of Cassandra Allen, and Devin Jauntson." [turns in her chair to face to the side as the camera pans over to show the two actors sitting next to one another on a pair of canvas seats] Cassandra: [grinning excitedly] "Hi, Julia! Thanks for doing this for the show, and the viewers and...and everyone! Mwah!" [she blows a kiss to the camera] "I'm Cassandra, and I play the character of Cassandra Allen on Weirder Stuff." [looks over at Devin's actor](edited) Devin: [waves] "Heyo, everyone. Thanks for taking time Julie, these meet and greets have been awesome. I am Devin Jauntsen and I play, well, myself. [laughs, looks to Ellen] When did we become a power couple? I thought we were still in the plucky comic relief zone." Cassandra: "We can be the plucky power comic relief couple!" [holds up a finger] "Not that I'm confirming we're a couple. That would be spoiling. After the lectures Autumn gets, I am not stepping in that puddle." Devin: [Laughs] "Nope. She needs constant supervision." Julia: [nods, smiling.] "Oh, we've all heard she is a handful. So, out of curiosity, how does the couples thing work? How does the show determine who 'hooks up' with who? Writers? Producers? Do you have any say in it?" Cassandra: [shrugs] "The director and writers seem like they're open to comments, but we're not really on that team, you know? Like, mostly we can say something like, 'I think my character would say this instead of that' or that kind of thing. Not so much 'I think I should fall in love with someone else.' Because that would change the whole story." Cassandra: [laughs] "Which is just fine with me, by the way! These guys are WAY better at writing that kind of thing than I am!" Devin: [nods] "There's a lot of meetings about the story, too. We get a lot of say, but ultimately it boils down to what's best for the story. Like, the Cassy/Devin has on the fanbase's mind since that first night they held hands running for their lives... but even we shrugged and thought 'eh, these two really don't have a lot in common, there needs to be more story', so it was added as more of a writing tool and we've flirted and joked since to build that rapport. Now, the fanbase is going nuts and we're not telling." [grins as he looks to the camera] Cassandra: [nods] "Like, right from the start it was them, on that first night when everything went crazy, you know? When the monster shows up and that air force guy...they sort of dived into that swimming pool together, even more than with the others in the team." Julia: "As actors, do you have any kind of emotional investment in this fictional relationship? Independently of the fan response? Is this something you're pulling for?" Devin: "Wow. Breaking out the big guns. Um, I would say yes. I mean, we really have a lot of fun and we really get into the emotion and the ups and downs of these teenagers' lives. There are a few episodes that I was so invested in that sometimes I felt like I knew the characters more than the actors. We were just delivering the emotion, you know? So, to finally have Cass and Devin out in the spotlight it feels good. These two are the characters who really have the potential to get themselves into trouble with a lot bickering. Could be funny." Cassandra: [lifts a thumbs up] "I am a total fan of the direction this show is going right now, including and especially Cass and Dev. They are super cute." Devin: [shrugs, looking innocently] "Plus, let's face it, no woman escapes Devin. They all want him, it's just a matter of time." Julia: [lughs] "He does have that certain measure confidence, doesn't he? How alike are you to the persona you play? How much of yourself is into making the character and the show work?" Cassandra: [laughs] "Devin, you go first on this one." Devin: "What? Why me? [Laughs] Uh, I honestly am not a whole lot like Devin. I am a gymnast, but that's about it. Devin is very anti-nerd has no filters or shyness to him. Me? I'm big into a few nerdy things, like my Star Wars and MCU. I just love special effects, which is what pulled me to this project. I was actually embarrassed that scene where Cass touched Devin's chest... it tickled and her hand was really cold. I'm more mellow and reserved, like my sister. To be honest, I don't think I could put up with a guy like Devin for very long, but that's the appeal of the trope." Cassandra: [nods] "I'm very different too. I could never do the kind of things Cassandra in the show does. I freak out very easily. That whole thing where she and Autumn go into the town hall?" [shakes head] "Nope. Uh uh. I'd take, like one look at it and move right out of town. I mean, no joke, that whole scene took forever because I had to calm down between half the takes, and I knew it was just a story." Devin: "We loved filming that day, watching those two be creeped out by a scene we all knew was fake was a serious hat tip to the effects people." Julia: "That's a good segue. How does the cast of this show get along behind the scenes? You clearly know how to work together, but you're also playing a bunch of teenagers. Is there any real life teenage drama that goes on?" Cassandra: "I mean...it's not high school or anything. We're a pretty tight crew, we're all friends. Even the people you don't see every episode, we all see each other basically every day. The only real drama is what we put in front of the cameras." Devin: [nods] "True. I mean we all have our quirks, like if Jason breaks character it takes him an hour to get back in the game, which is frustrating, but then again, they all put up with my pranks and gags and Autumn and me trying to make them laugh during their scenes, so fair is fair." Julia: "Devin I spoke with your sister and she said you presented her with the project and she fell in love with it. How did the you and Cass get involved with this?" Devin: "Uh, well, I got a tip from a friend who said this project was coming up, and I had the opportunity to see a few highlights of the proposal and it seemed so... wonky. The sci-fi/horror/super heroes aspects of the show really appealed to me, and I just had to see those special effects, y'know? Originally I wanted the role of Bannon, because my sister and I are always cast as the well-off teens or popular kids, but after Mari and I got the call Eric (Kripke) was like: 'dude, we have the perfect power set for you, you're going to love it'. And I do. Cassandra: "As for me, this is my first big role." [grins eagerly] "I got into theater in high school, and decided to really push myself with it when I went to college, so I didn't just take courses...I did community theater too. One of my friends wound up being involved in the production and he gave me a tip about the auditions being planned." [shrugs] "There was a lot of luck involved, but in the end, the director and producer really liked what I did, and here I am." Julia: "Devin, you said you wanted the role of Jason Bannon. Are there any other roles in the show you might have been interested in? What about you, Cassandra?" Cassandra: [shyly] "I knew who I wanted to be from the start. Just reading like...the first cold read lines they gave us for the audition. I just sort of locked on." Devin: "Cade, actually is the role they considered for me. Jock, bit a sweetheart, big and lovable. When they merged mine and Marissa's role's into the twins, they selected me as the Devin character who was the loudmouthed opposite to Marissa's mean girl." Julia: "So, all this energy on the set and all the shenanigans. Give the viewers a couple of examples awkward blooper that have occurred, either between you two, or another cast member. My Twitter feed has been blowing up with that one." [grins] Cassandra: [buries her face] "Oh god." Devin: [laughs, looking at Cass] "This I gotta hear." Cassandra: "Okay." [looks up, very redfaced] "This is going to get me into trouble, so I hope you and everyone appreciates this." [she laughs nervously] "So, as I said I came here from community theater, and there things could be kind of...rowdy. Like, it was really common to play tricks on each other, and I didn't really get right away that those aren't always as appropriate here? Anyway, there was originally a shot in the town hall scene where Autumn has to reach into a hole in the wall because we saw something in there. She was supposed to pull out an old, wrecked teddy bear, but I swapped it with..." [somehow turns even redder] "A...different item. Between takes." Cassandra: [laughs again] "So she is expecting to see a teddy bear, and instead she pulls out this...thing for ladies? Can I say it?" [looks offscreen] Julia: [laughs] "A dildo?" Cassandra: [covers mouth again and nods] "The funniest part was that she didn't really know what it was at first, so she FREAKED OUT for real, thinking it was a snake or something. I had to go apologize to her, and then we spent another ten minutes laughing until we cried, and every time we tried to do the scene we couldn't keep a straight face. So they had to just cut the scene completely." Devin: "Cass and Autumn really do not need to be in the same room together. They're always plotting and scheming. So, when Devin takes Laurie on the trip and he is trying to coax her into swimming out to the boat, the scene sort of ends. Well it's assumed he eventually talks her into just jumping and letting go of some of her fears... but we weren't supposed to jump." Cassandra: [thumbs to Devin] "But genius here..." Devin: [laughs] "I'm getting to that. So, I though we were supposed to actually jump... so I did, and everyone just freaks the hells out. It was quite the drop, but thought I was supposed to go first... turns out I was wrong and we had the whole EMS situation happening. I was fine. No injuries, but sure scared the hell out of everyone. Also, I ad-lib, a lot." Cassandra: "By a lot, he means makes the scrip us as he goes." Devin: "I works! I think we ran the total... almost 89% of all my made up lines have made it in so far. Because I forget my lines. Also a lot." Cassandra: "Because you miss rehearsals!" [playfully shoves his arm] Devin: "I wouldn't say I miss them." [laughs] Julia: "Okay now, here's a question I know a lot of people are interested in, including myself. Devin and Cassandra, you say you're very different from your television personas. What kind of real experiences do you draw from the most to create these characters? Where do you find them inside yourselves and how do you bring them to life?" Cassandra: "For me, it's mostly just sort of...fantasy I guess? Even when I was little, I always used to, you know, play make believe and stuff about being an explorer or adventurer or whatnot. Like I was super into Raiders of the Lost Ark. Partly because my dad was, but after awhile I liked it because of this...idea it had. One person, basically on their own, trying to solve a mystery on one hand and stay alive on the other. So now, even though I have a clearer idea of how dangerous that kind of thing would be, there's still that place way down deep that remembers what I felt. That's what I draw from. On the show I can be sort of...girl Indiana Jones. I love it." Devin: "My sister and me grew up Disney, so acting is something we're used to, however, this experience has been completely different, since it is the fist non-Disney production we've done. I pull that from my people out here with me. In that scene, after the giggles and bad takes, you get the one perfect scene, I can feel that moment. Jason doesn't let you act, he comes at you in a scene and you have to be prepared. Cass is always smiling and you get a serious feel for how up beat and plucky she's trying to be while hiding pain... I can empathize and sympathize with everything my fellow stars are throwing at me. I will say that Autumn is a little more difficult because of that control she has on her accent. One second it's all WS Autumn and then the scene cuts and she yammers away in the thickest Aussie accent I've ever heard... she destroys us." Julia: [laughs] "I have to get her in one of these chairs! She seems great. So this whole thing seems to be an epic project, there's no telling where your roles will take you, but we've all seen it before in cinema, someone has to go evil at some point. Chip in the head, possessed by a demon, From Willow to Supergirl, everyone gets their time to play the villain. Who do you think it will be, and if not you, why?" Cassandra: "For Cassie, the only thing I think that might get her to turn on her friends might be her dad. We find out partway through the season that..." [air quotes] "...rumors of his death and so on, might not be all they're cracked up to be. So that's a big point of leverage over her, potentially. I think an experience like that would be literally the worst thing in the world for her though. I'm actually a little afraid just thinking about trying to act that." Devin: "See, I love that though about this show, the Fellowship are not all besties, and they all have a slew of their own problems. The alliance is flimsy, at best, and something like Cass's father could easily pull her and possibly another member two in opposite directions with the others. They're the good, guys, sure, but like Marissa would say: 'never confuse good, for nice'. I see any number of things tearing Devin off onto his own thing, but evil? Aside from mind control, I just don't see Devin as having the heart for evil. Even as a bully he just picked on people and he's carrying the guilt a long way. As for who would turn? My money is on Marissa, that girl is shiesty." Cassandra: "I'm actually kind of jealous of Marissa...the actress, I mean. This script is really sticking it to her character, but she's giving her performance so much heart that even when she's at her worst, I still love her. It's just incredible." Devin: "Season 2... the Cassandra/Marissa team up episode... sugar and spice. I'd totally write it in." Julia: [laughs] "You say you don't share much with your onscreen character, but I can definitely see some resemblance. Now Devin, you mentioned your background at Disney and I can't help but wonder...how does this experience, making a show that covers some very dark and gritty ground, compare with what you were doing for the Mouse?" Devin: "Ah, it's been a completely different experience. Marissa and me grew up doing a bit more wholesome programming, but when this opportunity hit, I mean, we're nineteen now, we can't be at Disney forever. We honestly took a risk on this show, we carried a few fans with us and others didn't want to make the journey, but if Marissa and Autumn's social media accounts are any indication, the fan base is blowing up for this show, and for that I'm glad. This is why I got into this line of work, to entertain. I'm glad that we're doing that for so many." Julia: [nodding] "The popularity of the show took a lot of people off-guard. Now I have to ask...even in just the first season we've seen that the writers aren't afraid to use a character's death to drive home the 'horror' aspect of the narrative. Do any of you know which episode on the show will be your last?" Cassandra: "Oof, I know I don't. But you know, even the cast doesn't always see the biggest twists coming way in advance. Annnnnnnnd even if they did..." [smiles] "Spoilers..." Julia: "All right all right, spoilers aside...Are there any plot twists from the current season that came out of left field and you didn't expect?" Devin: "I thought Marissa and Charlie were going to be a hook up. Nerdy drama kid with the mean girl... I was voting for that one, but it just didn't float, I guess." Cassandra: [nods] "That, and I'm still kind of shocked over what happened to Charlie and Sophia. It's kind of like...we knew the stakes were high, and the bad guys meant business...but he's one of us. The knights in shining armor aren't supposed to have that kind of thing happen to them." Julia: "I felt that way myself, and from the comments and social media reactions, so did a lot of people. As long as we're on the subject though, out of all of these scenes, what was the most difficult for you to film this season?" Devin: [laughs] "Uh, me and Avalon. That was my first intimate scene that wasn't just a kiss... so, yeah. In between takes I was all 'that okay', 'everything okay', 'do I need to change it up'? She was awesome though, we kept making jokes and keeping it light, so it made the experience easier. Still though, I mean, she's a co-worker, and even as an actor, it always feels weird kissing or faking-out with a co-worker. It's still a stranger, you know?" Cassandra [nods] "I'm still really nervous about that too. Anyway, for me? It may sound kind of trivial, but the scenes where Cass fights with her mom are really hard for me, because that is so not my relationship with my parents. I can barely imagine talking to them like that, or just...being that angry at them. It legit made me feel really uncomfortable. I mean, there's been scary scenes...and sometimes acting with the CGI is hard...but the most difficult was just lipping off with mom." [smiles] Fortunately, Teresa is super cool between takes." Julia: [smiles understandingly] "Going the other way then...what was your favorite scene to do so far?" Devin: "The Devin/Jason spar. Jason is a solid method actor, but we were having the time of our lives being hooked to the wires all day. Also, any scene where all of us are in it, like Bunees or school. Get us all together and the you can see the chemistry. We really all rock together." Cassandra: [thoughtfully] "Yeah...for me, it's down to that whole sequence at Jase's place, or the camping trip, or the town hall. And as much as I love the whole cast together, I'm going to have to go with the town hall. When we got to the room that had the big, you know, the..." [gestures upward threatningly] "...the picture? And we found all the stuff the previous victims left behind... Me and Autumn were just so inside that moment. It really kind of summed up what the character of Cassandra is to me, and kind of what this show is to me too." Julia: "Thanks, both of you, for joining me here and giving everyone a tantalizing glimpse of the people behind this phenomenon called Weirder Stuff. Do either of you have anything else you want to tell your fans before we're done?" Cassandra: [puts hands over heart] "Just that I've been completely blown away by how...just how positive the fandoms and communities growing up around the show have been, towards us, towards the writers and directors and the characters. They've all been really patient with me, social media noob, and encouraging...and that's made a huge difference for me. Thanks to everyone for making me feel welcome like that." Devin: [Gestures to Cassandra] "I mean, that. We're certainly having a lot of fun doing this but it's all the fans that make it worth while, so yeah, we love you guys and keep doing what you do so we can keep delivering what we do." Julia: "Speaking as a fan myself, we love you too and definitely keep it up. Thanks for taking this time to talk." Cassandra: "Thanks, Julia!" Devin: [waves and smiles to everyone out in DVD Extras land]
  45. 1 point
    The two teens walked side by side with hands thrust into their pockets: he in trail-tested khakis, she in the cuffed cut-off shorts that were once her favorite jeans. They had done this a half-dozen times over the years, just the two of them, and it felt easy, somehow. Normal. Almost as if the last couple of weeks hadn’t happened, and they’d never argued, and she’d never lashed out and he hadn’t pulled away. Only ‘almost,’ though. There was a measure of synchronization in their steps despite the disparity in height, an unconscious kinesthetic familiarity developed over the course of a lifetime and woven inextricably into the malleable fibres of muscle and sinew and bone- something she could actually feel now if she concentrated, the countless miniscule adjustments being made as they moved through the growing crowds near the picnic area. Once upon a time, that had seemed a special kind of magic, the unconscious physiological manifestation of some deeper bond between them. Maybe it had been, back then. If so, what was it now? Habit? Muscle memory? “Guessing you went up to the Rez this weekend.” Part question and part statement, as icebreakers went it was more hammer than pick, blunt force rather than precision or finesse, but it served the purpose. Autumn blinked up at her childhood friend as she nodded, one hand rising to shield her eyes against the sun; gone were the halcyon days when she could look down at him, before he’d stretched like a rubber band pulled taut and then filled out again. Did all guys do that? She was pretty sure Cade Allister had never physically been a child, or at least she couldn’t remember him as one, Sean Cassidy had some… developmental issues, and Jason Bannon... well. He’d physically been a child, sure, but mentally? Yeah, I kind of doubt it, she reflected soberly, blinking away the memory. For most guys, Jay included, there didn’t seem to be much in-between- one day they were ten, and short, and skinny, and then practically overnight they were six feet tall… and also skinny. Until they weren’t anymore. “Mmm. Your dad?” Her tone wasn’t quite accusatory; despite everything that had happened they were practically family, after all. It made sense that if the warden had told Autumn about Jacob when he’d visited on Wednesday, he might also have talked to Jacob about her. The broad-shouldered young man shook his head and she frowned, a question in the clear, bright eyes that regarded him: If not Nathan, then…? “Mary,” he returned, avoiding her gaze. Ahh, right. Autumn nodded again, this time in recognition rather than confirmation. Joe’s granddaughter. The pretty one that Devin had shamelessly flirted with- not that she’d ever seen any evidence the elder Jauntsen twin could actually be ashamed of anything. “Didn’t realize you were close,” she murmured tonelessly, turning her attention from his expression to the carousel, the awnings, the distant trees. Why did it bother her? Was it just that she missed hanging out with him? Was it the feeling that she’d been replaced? Or maybe that now there was so much to say, it was almost impossible to say it? Frowning, the red-haired girl continued to poke at the thought as they moved. He shrugged in mute reply, dark eyes passively skimming over the faces of the other teens also milling around as they meandered through the few stalls that had been set up, heading aimlessly in the direction of the temporary stage where local musicians had already begun to play. It occurred to her that there were probably a lot of things she didn’t realize, or just didn’t know about him anymore. Recent events had proven that things could change drastically in just a few days, and they’d been apart for… too long, possibly. “She seems-” The restless young woman’s hand twitched upward in a wave at Marissa as they passed the twins and their parents, the greeting itself yet another indication that her life had veered dramatically from its previous course, like a river shaken from its bed by tectonic shifts far below the surface of the earth. “Nice, I guess,” she allowed, finally. Jacob was quiet for a few more steps, and his head dipped briefly in a nod, breeze ruffling his dark hair. “She is, yeah.” Autumn had no ready reply for that, although privately the redhead wondered what the older Blackfoot girl was to him, or he to her. Not that it was any of her business, of course, even if she was curious. It would be weird if he hadn’t dated anyone by now, or hooked up, or… whatever. For fuck’s sake, does it even matter? Seriously. Then, cautiously, he ventured another question of his own. “What’d they say?” It was her turn to shrug, to deny him the satisfaction of a straightforward answer, but even as she did so Autumn recognized how petty a gesture it was. Nathan had taken Jacob up to the reservation already, and so he knew at least something about what was going on, and this was way more important than their personal issues. Hurt feelings and resentment paled in comparison to the scope of what they were up against. Exhaling, she drifted a little closer, lowering her voice and glancing up at her unusually laconic companion to make sure she had his attention. “I got the history lesson,” she began slowly, tugging at an errant strand of bright copper that lay coiled over her shoulder and wishing she’d kept her hoodie on, despite the warmth of the day; at least she’d have had something to fidget with while she talked. “So-” Autumn hesitated, the toe of one sneaker scuffing gracelessly at the dry grass being trampled underfoot. She knew that Jay was a lot of things, and ‘stupid’ wasn’t one of them. It’s just that pragmatism was practically embedded in both families’ DNA. He’d been up to the Rez and heard the stories from the Elders way before she had, but that didn’t necessarily mean he took any of it seriously, did it? After all, she’d seen the effects of the Dark firsthand, and a part of her still wanted to rationalize it all away. “Do you believe any of it? The stories about the, ah…” Her gaze was fixed on his features as she leaned closer, one hand gesturing in a loose circle as if to encompass a range of ideas. “You know. The Enemy, or the Dawning Light, or the whole bit about gods walking the earth, and the cycle thing.” Jacob’s eyes narrowed slightly as he peered into hers, studying the reflection of cloudless skies in their depths for a long moment before swearing under his breath and turning away. He dragged a hand back through his hair and, with an exasperated sigh, nodded. Despite the awkwardness, the tension that lingered like a chasm between them, there was something like relief in his voice, his shoulders gradually relaxing when he spoke again. “Yeah. Not all of it, maybe, but my dad showed me the journals our family’s been keeping. Generations of us might have been crazy, sure, but that’s a very specific flavor of crazy to be. And since you know now, I guess that’ll make it easier for us all to keep an eye on things. That’s all we really have to-” “But it isn’t,” Autumn interrupted quietly, freckled fingers twining together in a knot of wordless anxiety. “Not for me, anyway.” He frowned, stopped there in the middle of the throng, and stared uncomprehending down at her face, at the earnest and uncertain expression gazing back up at him. “Your dad knows. I thought he might’ve told you, but…” She shrugged again, an almost imperceptible movement that seemed more apology than dismissal. “Look, Jay, I know things aren’t-” Swallowing past the sudden tightness in her throat, the vibrant redhead exhaled slowly, counting as she did so. Today might be her last chance to say anything, and this hurt, this twisting, tangled snarl of regret and anger and loneliness, would not stop her from saying it. “They’re not great, and they haven’t been, and I’m sorry. I really, really am,” she whispered tautly, blinking rapidly as his features rippled as though underwater. “I just wanted you to know, in case something hap-” The remainder of the sentence was cut off as the tall young man who’d been her friend once pulled her off the path and into a hug. "It's fine, A-Rae. Okay? It's fine," he murmured, watching their families laughing and drinking in the shade back the way they'd come.
  46. 1 point
    "Sean will be watching us." Jason said, turning towards Cass, holding out a hand. "May I?" She hesitated, then divined his intent and offered the plastic envelope to him. Jase reached out, then paused, his lips curving in a slight smile before he walked over and gently took the protected photograph from her fingers. It took a second before she realised what had happened, but by then he'd already turned away and was heading over to Sean. "Jase... the power generator for this place? It's atomic, advanced - way smaller than a normal reactor. Hell, it could probably power most of Shelly. It reminds me of the trailer- What's this?" Sean asked, looking up from where he was busy pulling up schematics as Jason held the photograph in front of his face. "Cassandra's father. You've got eyes in the complex and it's a high tech place - check and see if his face is in their security logs, and then if he's in the building at all." "Sure." Sean nodded, studying the picture and then, with a touch of his Shine, digitising a reproduction of it on the screen before him, then adding some three-dimensionality. "Might take me a few." "You've got a few." Jason turned and walked the photo back over to Cassie, offering it to her in an almost courteous manner. The pretty blonde smiled despite herself, shaking her head as she tucked the photo away. "You know I meant no using your powers on people, or against people." she said, looking up at the impassive features and the gleaming jade eyes. His lips twitched a little, that wry, ageless reptilian amusement back in his expression. It was hard to remember that he was only sixteen years old, looking into that gaze. That gaze was ancient. "What is perceived to have been said, what is actually said, and true intent are often not the same things, even for me. Regardless, I gave my word, and I keep it to the letter." he said with just a hint of pointedness that was not so much addressed to her as it was to the room in general. Cassie regarded him, blue eyes full of wary curiosity. She opened her mouth to say, or ask something when Sean spoke up. "Found him." He pointed at the holo-display and a security file image appeared. "Says here he's part of some experiment - no name, just a serial number, and no details what it's about." "I bet Etienne is probably undergoing it right now." Devin said darkly. "Some MK-Ultra mind-jacking shit. Ms Giles said Kline was involved with that stuff." "Logs say he's currently offsite at somewhere called 'Site B'. Checked out a day ago with a bunch of others." Sean said, looking at Cass. "We can always go back for him once we figure out more." "Site B?" Taggart asked sharply, looking at Giles. "That's our other project site." Annette nodded, standing. "While our brave friends here attempt a rescue, I'm going to go and seek permission to discuss Site B. I think it's best done sooner rather than later." So saying, she made to leave the room, stopping at the door. "Major, have your men place Dr Cook under arrest, please. Don't harm him unduly." She left, and a few moments later Doctor Cook was escorted from the room by two Airmen. Taggart looked at the three other adults in the room, nodding once, then at the unlikely-looking strike team. Or perhaps not so unlikely looking, he mused. The Charlie kid seemed mild as milk, but had carried himself pretty well in the fighting upstairs, the Jauntsen boy was mouthy and annoying as hell, but damned if he couldn't get a herd of cats moving in one general direction, and the Bannon kid - Okay, the Bannon kid was chilling to the point of terrifying, and yet had acquiesced readily to a promise not to use his powers in this room or to kill any opponents on the raid without quibbling or raising objections. That was just plain weird. One thing did not match up to the other thing. Taggart cleared his throat to get their attention. "Time to go." said Devin, giving Marissa a hug then walking over to the door. "Chuckles, snargle her garthog later. Cade, Jase... Granola - I mean," he corrected as Autumn scowled. "Autumn. You in?" Autumn nodded before she even really thought about it. Jason had said she'd be of use, and while she still held some doubts, she had healed him up. Besides, it just wasn't in the restless redhead's nature to sit on the sidelines while friends went into danger, even if said friends were best described as walking hell waiting to be unleashed. "Yeah, I'm coming." she said, tugging once at the drawstrings of her hoodie before thrusting her hands in the pockets and moving over to the group by the door. She threw a considering glance at the pair on the couch as she passed them: the new girl, Kat, seemed to be a little unglued and, of all people, it seemed Courtney was offering aid. Personally, knowing the girl was a telepath with megalomania and narcissism was not reassuring, but there was nothing to be done about it right now. Behind her, Charlie gave Sophia one more kiss and practically swaggered to the door like he was ready to take on Tyson in the ring and win. Cade stood up, hugged his dad, then turned to Marissa who threw her arms around his neck and gave him a fleeting kiss before pushing him mock-playfully in the direction of the waiting group. And Jase... Was standing right next to them, having moved over to where Taggart was waiting in a neat, unobtrusive and almost silent fashion. He radiated none of the tension or excitement felt by the others, even the phlegmatic Cade - a harmonic like the faint whisper of a lightly-struck tuning fork passing between them, each member of the team picking up a little of the others' excitement - except for Jason, who seemed impervious to it, a calm pool of ice cold water whose mere presence muted the tension just a little, like a finger pressed to the vibrating metal. "You're going to miss me, I know you are." Devin said to Cassandra with his best devil-may-care smirk. Cassie rolled her eyes. "Not near as much as Lona will. So be careful." she shot back, ignoring the kiss he blew as they left the room. Taggart led the five of them down the corridor, past the control room and into a large, open space that was currently uninhabited. There was a roll-down door at one end large enough for a van or truck, and the room was plainly meant as a loading bay. He turned to them, looking at Devin as he backed up some. "This is it." he said. "I''ll keep it free for your return and have an EMT team standing by. How far back do I need to be?" Devin glanced around, then shrugged. "Hell if I know, dude. Best be outside the doors, in case. This is breaking new ground, feel me?" Taggart nodded. "Good luck." he said, then turned and hustled from the room, leaving the five of them looking at each other.
  47. 1 point
    Tuesday Afternoon - Marias Medical Center Directory, directory... Okay, seriously? she grumbled inwardly, pressing the ice pack to her bruised jaw and grimacing as two of the facilities staff rolled past with a cart of cleaning supplies, chatting about the previous night’s episode of “Mindseeker.” It was more or less the same tone the orderlies and deputies had used when talking about the “Bannon kid”- I have no personal investment in this subject, and don’t really care what happens, because it doesn’t affect my life in any real way. It stung, a little, that until recently she’d thought of Jase that way herself, and the realization was enough to quench the nascent flare of indignation on his behalf. Maybe she’d get a chance to check on him before she left, say hi to his dad or something… Jason was in pretty rough shape, and based on their talk at the farm, Gar might not handle it all that well. Autumn mulled that over as they walked, her sneakers quiet on the polished floor. The two girls had been wandering the hallways for several minutes without running into either a reception desk or someone they recognized, and while that meant no one had stopped or questioned them yet, it also meant there was no clearly-designated person to ask directions. It seemed a little odd that, despite the number of people in uniforms busily milling about, no one had offered to help them thus far, or done more than give the teens a cursory glance. Were clueless-looking teenagers such a common occurrence at the medical center that no one noticed them anymore? Maybe everyone was just crazy busy, or just super uncomfortable interrupting someone who was on the phone; for all Autumn knew based on the rumors she'd been told, they were being monitored from a closet stuffed full of computer equipment somewhere, so nobody who worked there cared about underage trespassers. Under the circumstances, it's not that she particularly wanted special attention, but the pointed lack of it seemed either rude, creepy, or both. "Oh, for crying out loud, did they design this place to be confusing, or what?" Autumn muttered under her breath, restlessly scanning the signs and pinboards that occasionally interrupted the otherwise sterile, featureless walls. The whole place was immaculate, clean and contemporary, and if she'd never heard anything about Dr. Cook or the sinister-sounding "Project," she probably would have been impressed with the setup. "Deeefinitely a possibility," the pretty young journalist next to her replied airily, rolling her eyes for dramatic effect and miming a talking mouth with her free hand. The redhead grinned at that, in spite of the twinge of pain it caused, and returned her attention back to scanning the hallway for anything that might help them navigate the maze of white corridors. There was something compelling about Cass's improvised performance, a certain degree of confidence, as well as the aforementioned "pluck;" even if the inquisitive blonde wasn't sure what she was going to find, exactly, she still needed to look, and that was a sentiment Autumn could definitely appreciate. As they approached another intersection, a large, glass-covered rectangle caught her attention and she paused, tapping Cassandra on the shoulder. "Hey, ask if three o'clock is okay," she suggested, meeting the other girl's gaze before darting a glance in that direction: just around the corner was a directory of the ground floor and quick reference of the other areas of the medical center. Holding the ice against her cheek, Autumn took a deep breath and walked over to examine the names and numbers listed there, feeling a tiny knot of anticipation coiling eagerly around itself in her stomach. She was nervous, sure, but it was like the feeling just before getting on a brand new roller coaster, or leaning out to rappel down a ledge- once you started, you were committed, regardless of what happened. And, there it was, near the top of the list, in crisp white plastic letters on a grey background: Dr. J. Cook. Diagnostic Medicine. East Wing. And, conveniently enough, a little further down, Vending. “Think he’s in there?” she asked, slate-colored eyes scanning the board for other useful points of reference as Cass appeared next to her and covertly snapped another pic. “One way to find out,” the intrepid reporter grinned, and the two girls wasted no time heading further into the complex.
  48. 1 point
    As the orderlies and doctors fussed about with Jason, Cassandra took advantage of the relative calm near Autumn to sidle over to her. Under the guise of commiserating with a friend, gently touching the ice pack and looking sympathetic, she murmured to the redhead, "Hey...how's this doing? Getting low yet?" Before Autumn could reply, Cass shook her head and said even more quietly, "So, I'm thinking as long as we're in here...want to snoop around some? I figure a couple of teenage girls could look for an ice machine just about anywhere in a big confusing place like this."
  49. 1 point
    "Why is it I always get hit in the head when you guys are around?" Between the clamor of the assembled crowd and the incoherent moans of Curtis Denicott, all the sound in the hallway had merged into a featureless wave of noise, rising and falling in patterns that seemed completely meaningless to the shaken redhead; if her gaze hadn't been drawn to Bannon as he moved, laboriously, to retrieve the lunch he hadn't gotten to eat, Autumn probably wouldn't have realized he'd spoken at all. She stared at him for a moment, some of the choleric tension in her expression easing into concern, and turned wide eyes on Cassie as if to say, "Is he serious?" It was an absurd question in ridiculous circumstances, and despite the grimness of the situation (or perhaps because of it), she found herself laughing somewhat dazedly in response as she pushed carefully off the lockers and took a few tentative steps toward him. "Are you okay?" she asked, smiling faintly, then blinked down at the tall, well-thrashed young man seated on the floor, and blinked again, eyes stinging as she processed how very not okay he looked. What kind of fucked-up question is that? He just got his ass kicked by two guys a hell of a lot bigger than he is. He's pretty fucking far from okay, Autumn. Jesus. "No," she amended, cautiously sinking to her knees on the blessedly cool floor in front of her friend, settling so that her face was roughly level with his. "That was a stupid thing to ask, wasn't it? Can I-" Gingerly she reached out, still trembling from the adrenaline rush, and rested her palm on the back of his hand in what she hoped was a reassuring gesture, concentrating on steadying her voice as well as her nerves. "I'm just gonna check you real quick, is that okay?" The reserved youth nodded once, very slightly, pale green eyes- brighter, sharper somehow in contrast to his bloodied features- considering her in the same focused, eerily attentive way he had at the farm the day before. Even with all the other distractions, she could still feel her cheeks growing hot under the intense scrutiny, and silently prayed to any gods listening that nobody would notice in all the chaos. Reaching up with both hands, his new friend brushed the hair from his face, lightly running her fingertips over the brow bone and resolutely ignoring both the audience and the proximity of the sharp, glacial eyes she was studying. She couldn't feel anything unusual there, or across the top of his cheekbones, although his left pupil was slightly larger than the right, which she was pretty sure they'd told her in first aid could be a sign of concussion... With a sigh, Autumn remembered what they'd worked out on Sunday, focusing for a few moments on the faint, icy thrumming of Jason's energy beneath his skin, beneath her fingers, and allowing it to resonate with her own- and grimaced, suddenly, as she became acutely aware of all the injuries he'd sustained. Bruising around his ribs, but nothing broken, lacerations, and oh goddamnit a mild concussion- "You got hit." The redhead blinked, startled at the sound of Jase's voice. It wasn't quite accusatory, she thought, but maybe something similar, and not quite a question, though there was a hint of that in the tone, as well. It was almost... childish. Maybe he was having trouble concentrating? "Yeah, I know, so did- Hey," she protested as he reached out, carefully nudging Autumn's chin to one side to regard the angry red and faint purple that had slowly begun to obscure the freckles on the side of her face. "So did you. A lot," she added, gently tugging his arm back down and away, glancing briefly over at Cass to confirm she was making- or, hopefully, had already made- the necessary calls. "So try to stay focused for me, okay? We can't both do this at the same time. If you wanna look me over later, O Impenetrable One, fine, but let's concentrate on you for now."
  50. 1 point
    What the actual fuck?! Before Autumn had even managed to cross the few meters between them, before she'd had time to register movement or shout a warning, Jase disappeared behind a wall of man-shaped muscle and rage, and for a moment it felt like all the oxygen had been sucked out of the air. The sound of his body hitting the metal lockers, the shouting, the impact of knuckles and elbows on flesh, the frenetic thudding of her heartbeat in her chest- it was all a dull, strangely distant roar, as if she were hearing it underwater. Stop. STOP IT! She couldn't get the words out, couldn't force them past the almost painful tightness in her throat. It was like a nightmare, trying desperately to scream when she could only manage a whisper that was quickly swept away by the tumult and chaos, the vicious currents of violent geometry. He can't fight them both off, not at the same time! ...And yet, the memory of what he could do- what he had done at the trailer, what he had, by all accounts, done to Liam- blazed into life at the forefront of the terrified redhead's mind as her friend, her friend hit the floor. She had the vague sense of something moving, a torrent surging not behind her this time, but through her, and realized she was running. "Knock it the fuck off!" The lively young woman's voice, choked and angry, was almost unrecognizable in her own ears, and as Mark glanced up, the heels of her hands struck him solidly in the chest, sending him staggering back a couple of steps. The surprise in his eyes at having been hit, having been moved at all, lasted only an instant, being quickly replaced with an unrelenting malice that seemed utterly alien within the structure of a human face. Autumn had just enough time to process that, shock registering on her own freckled features, before he grabbed her wrist in a meaty hand and twisted. A jagged lance of pain shot up her arm and arrowed down into her fingers as she gasped, instinctively moving to alleviate the pressure, but the older boy just grinned and turned it farther, until she was almost on her toes, a sudden wash of tears brightening her eyes. "Mind your own fucking business," he ground out through clenched teeth, and the redhead whimpered, clutching his arm with her other hand as if she could somehow stop him from snapping her wrist through sheer force of will. With her newfound awareness, she could actually feel the strain on the delicate bones and ligaments as they approached the breaking point, the sensation drawing a tortured cry from her lips; just when she thought they would snap, a sudden rush of crimson bloomed in her mind, deep and intoxicating as any wine she'd ever tasted. It sang through her veins as it spread, hot and eager, racing furiously, gloriously, through her fingertips and into the thick forearm of the brute holding her. The sound was quiet at first, lost in the chatter and whooping of onlookers, but gradually grew louder, more intense until it was all she could hear: a quiet, almost girlish moan transmuted into a guttural howl of anguished rage as the nerves in Mark Belcher's arm shrieked in protest and failed, his primitive brain temporarily overwhelmed by its own capacity to experience pain. Flinging Autumn aside, he stumbled, nearly losing his balance as he shuffled, disoriented, across the blood-spattered floor. Dizzy and disbelieving, the redhead regained her footing and blinked down at her hands: apart from some redness that might turn into bruising, there was no perceptible difference, but she could sense it, whatever it was, just beneath the surface of her skin. She glanced in Jason's direction to confirm he was all right, when a flicker of movement out of the corner of her eye reminded her with sickening clarity that there had been two aggressors. An explosion of blinding white agony filled her consciousness, obliterating any sense of coherence or equilibrium the freckled teen possessed as Curtis cold-cocked her solidly in the jaw, his fist nearly large enough to cover the entire side of the young woman's face. She hit the ground, hard, sliding backward on the waxed tiles as the brief moment of silence resolved into a chaotic chorus of distant voices. Her hands scrabbled dazedly for purchase on the cold floor, every survival instinct in her brain warring with the almost total loss of spatial awareness. Get up! it hissed/screamed in some primal, wordless demand, but her vision was all swimming light and dark and smudges of color, and there was no "up" to get to. There was no conscious thought, no plan or consideration when his shadow loomed over her- only impulse, bright and sharp as the taste of blood on her tongue. The lumbering darkness in front of her deepened in warning, and, desperately blinking away the tears clouding her eyes, Autumn planted her palms on the tile and kicked. The first time her foot met with his shin, she was rewarded with a grunt of pain, but little else. Vague shadows resolved themselves into the shape of a face, an arm, a fist- Gritting her teeth, the redhead screamed in defiance and kicked again, her vision washed in scarlet as the sole of her shoe connected with something that shifted unnaturally under her heel. In that split-second, Autumn knew, intimately, the fragility of ligament and bone, felt the upwelling of crimson exhilaration humming through her, and- I want you to know how proud I am of you, the wasted, parchment-skinned figure whispered urgently up at her from his hospice bed, a terrifying whistle beneath his words. Don't ever forget that. Curtis shrieked, a haunting, agonized wail echoing through the crowded hall as he crumpled to the floor not far from his intended victim. As he writhed, howling in helpless anguish and clutching feebly at what he knew were the shattered remnants of his knee, the dishevelled teen's freckled features tightened in grief and anger. Choking back the sob that clawed at her throat, Autumn slid backwards, bracing herself against the lockers as she slowly worked her way back up to her feet.
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