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  1. 3 points
    "Well, we've been in classes together and so on since I moved to Shelly." Jason replied calmly, dextrous fingers and sharp knife making swift work of the tomatoes. "Aware of each other, without really talking." Dana nodded, setting the olive oil on the counter. Jason tilted his head to one side. "Do you have any balsamic vinegar?" he asked casually, causing Dana to think a moment before nodding and retrieving that bottle from the cupboard too as her guest started in on the onions. Dana checked the oven temperature and lightly oiled the potatoes before setting them on a tray. "But we started talking last Friday." Jason went on. "Autumn bumped her head on a door - it swung back into her face, to be exact, and one of my friends noticed the tumble. She grabbed me, because I have a certain level of medical knowledge, and we went to check on Autumn." He glanced up at her, giving a faint smile. "She was fine other than a bruise. Fine enough that she was giving me a hard stare for walking into the girls bathroom and caring more that she didn't have a concussion. I got her some ice for the bruise, then we invited her to sit down with us." The corners of his eyes crinkled slightly as he started arranging neat slices of tomato and even thinner sliced onion in the dish. "Not the best of starts. I really got the impression she thought we were oddballs and that I was up to no good." "I probably would have assumed the same thing if someone I barely knew followed me into the women's restroom," Dana replied a trifle archly, narrowly suppressing a smile. That did sound like Autumn, all right, or at least her propensity for mishaps. "So," she continued, adding a little coarse salt and pepper to the potatoes as she leaned over to examine Jason's handiwork. "You started talking on Friday, last week." With a little hm and a nod of approval at his progress, she turned back to her own preparations. "And, from the sound of it, not necessarily under ideal circumstances. Thank you for looking after her, by the way." Hazel eyes flickered once more in his direction, considering his profile as he worked. There was something unusual about Jason Bannon, though she couldn't quite put her finger on it. He seemed too... mature, really. He didn't give off the impression of being a drug-running miscreant now that she was talking to him in person, but he didn't quite seem like a teenager, either- didn't conduct himself like one, or move with that awkward semi-conscious lack of spatial awareness most of them had, didn't use the same slang terminology. "So how did you two end up getting close enough since then for her to invite you up to the creek?" He made a soft sound of amusement - a proto-chuckle of sorts. "Well, she hung out with a bunch of us at my home on Sunday, and left without her hoodie. On Monday evening she came to get it back, and then stayed to talk." Satisfied with his arrangement of the layers of tomato and onion, he inquired after a bowl and whisk and began mixing some olive oil and balsamic in the bowl, before slowly whisking them together. "I... I was having a bad day. Personal issues. Autumn was able to get me to talk about them - indeed, she was the only one who cared to talk to me about them." He paused, eyes going distant as he recalled the night - her warm hug, the conversation in the kitchen, the teasing and laughter. "I think..." he said slowly. "I think Autumn is the only person who really, really tried - and tries - to understand me." The words were matter-of-factly spoken, but seemed to come from a place of vast distance, or so it seemed to Dana. There was no self-pity there, or sorrow, but there was a sense of alienation, of a young life lived in apart-ness. He looked up from grinding some salt and pepper into the bowl, his gaze direct as he regarded Dana. "Autumn made an impact on me. I think that's when we became friends." He dropped his gaze and considered the bowl of dressing, then raised it to his face and gave it a sniff, pondering for a second before adding a touch more pepper. "And the rest is her defending me at school, then inviting me camping. And... I suddenly realised - we both did, I think - what was there." He chuckled again. "Perhaps it didn't exist until that moment, like Schrödinger's Cat. Until we opened the box and looked." He shrugged his lean shoulders. "I'm not really an expert on this sort of thing. Autumn is the first girl that ever kissed me." Leaning back against the counter, arms folded across her chest, Dana Keane listened quietly as Jason related the very brief series of events that had led, more or less, to finding the pair of them on the front porch. It was gratifying, in a sense, to hear someone- a stranger to herself- praise her daughter's character, as if in confirmation that she'd been raised well by people who loved her. And yet, that same maternal inclination, some completely mundane and yet unfathomable instinct, told her that this polite, well-spoken young man might have no idea what that felt like. The thought didn't lessen her worry for her daughter, necessarily, but his account did reinforce Autumn's insistence that they really had just been friends. ...Which, given the rapid escalation of their relationship, was more than enough to justify a measure of concern. A responsible 16 year-old was still a 16 year-old, after all, with all the dubious judgement that entailed. "Really?" she asked when he'd finished, one auburn brow raised skeptically as a smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. Her keen hazel eyes appraised his height, the faintly Mediterranean cast of his features, the pale green gaze Autumn had remarked on more than once. "I find that hard to believe. You're a nice-looking young man. Surely my daughter isn't the first one to think so." "I never claimed that." A fin of humour flashed in the depths of his eyes, echoed in another of those small but genuine smiles as he glanced back at Dana, meeting her gaze once more without any of the discomfort that should be present in a teenage boy talking about such a subject with an older woman. No blush, no self-deprecating aww-shucks shrug. It was both impressive and somewhat disturbing. "I've known there've been girls that took interest in me, at least according to sources other than my own perceptions. I've not had a lot of luck following up on that, though." Giving the dressing a final whisk, he artfully drizzled it over the dish of layered tomato and onion. "Like I said - Autumn's the first who actually kissed me. And honestly, the fact that it was her meant more than the fact it was a kiss." He picked up the dish and moved over to the refrigerator, opening the door and selected a spot on the shelf on which to place the salad. Closing the door, he turned and faced Dana from across the kitchen, the corners of his eyes crinkling in a micro-smile. "You worry for Autumn." he stated calmly, arms hanging at his sides with a relaxed poise that had nothing of the defensive or bashful about it. "It's good: seeing that love you hold, the way you care. I won't hurt her, Dana. I'm not careless with my friendship... or other feelings." "Can you really guarantee me that?" she replied, head tilted slightly in an attitude of intent curiosity. It was a largely rhetorical question, born of the older woman's objection to what she saw as his naïve optimism. Although Jason Bannon had the manner of an adult, the bearing of someone considerably more mature than his actual age would seem to indicate, he was, she reflected, still a boy, after all. "That you won't hurt her." Dana shook her head slowly as if in answer to her own question, but remained leaning comfortably against the counter. "No," she continued, not unkindly, but with the certainty of one accustomed to promises and the fickleness of both circumstance and human nature. "You can tell me that you'll try not to. You can reassure me that you won't do it intentionally." Her eyebrows drew together in a little frown, an expression of thoughtfulness her daughter unconsciously adopted when considering a problem. "But, eventually, you will. Even if you're not careless. Even if you don't mean to." She was quiet for a moment, glancing past Jason and toward the doorway where Autumn had vanished to go upstairs. "I do worry," Dana agreed, moving to gather up the utensils to be washed and glancing up at her daughter's strange new companion. "She's my child, my little girl, the hardest and the best thing that's ever happened to me. And I know that, even though she'll be my baby as long as she lives, she won't be a baby nearly that long. So, I'd rather you didn't tell me something unrealistic, like the fact that you won't hurt her. Tell me how you'll handle it when you do." He focused on the question, on her words, and his brow furrowed in concentration as he gave the matter his full attention. As Dana kept one eye on him, he paced a few short steps, hands going into the pockets of his sweat pants, then turned and paced back. Then he went motionless, as if all extraneous energy had been turned off and the actual Being of Jason Bannon was elsewhere, eyes staring unseeingly at the counter-top in front of him. He didn't even seem to breathe. And then motion and animus returned, and his head came up, eyes glancing towards Dana once more. "I think..." he said slowly, as if analysing his thoughts as they were verbalised. "That people often hurt each other. Even those close to them, though that seems to be mostly selfishness, mistake or carelessness. I can eliminate carelessness as a cause for Autumn's pain. I can do my utmost to limit selfishness as a cause. But I will make mistakes." He frowned. "You're right. It is not so much a question of whether I will hurt Autumn - probability indicates that even with the best of intentions, I could upset her." He turned to face Dana, nodding as the analysis reached its conclusion. "I think that if I hurt Autumn I would handle it by assessing how, by discussing it with her, and by not repeating the mistake." Dana stared at him for a long moment, warm hazel eyes nearly as wide as her daughter's as she struggled with the conflicting urges to simultaneously laugh and weep. Both teens had said they'd met at school, but she was half-convinced her intrepid daughter had unearthed this increasingly odd boy from a government research lab. ...Something with extraterrestrials or artificial intelligence, maybe, like the television shows the girls at the office watched. The more he spoke, the less he seemed like the slouching thug from the rumors, but that wasn't necessarily reason not to be concerned. "That is an answer," she allowed with a sigh, her expression a strange commingling of resignation and amusement. "Although at least now I know for sure you were serious about never having had a girlfriend before. Speaking of which." Reaching up into one of the cabinets overhead, the svelte redhead pulled down a coffee filter and busied herself measuring grounds from an airtight canister on the counter. "Autumn mentioned you had a few," she paused, the corner of her mouth curving into a wry half-smile. "Quirks. So what should I know about you, Jason Bannon?" "Quirks." He smiled faintly. "I suppose I do." He relaxed, leaning back against the counter on his butt and hands, a lean symmetrical form in repose. "It's always a little odd, to describe yourself to someone else, isn't it?" Dana shot him a warm smile as she heard the wry humor in his tone. "Hmm. Things you should know..." Jason mused, his eyes on his girlfriend's mom as she set the coffee machine up. "I have an acute sense of smell and taste - which is one reason I like to cook and garden - specifically flowers, but I dabble with other growing things as well, like a vegetable and herb patch I've started at home. I tend to be - as you likely noticed - analytical. A lot of nuanced human interaction goes over my head." he admitted with a shrug. "I don't lie." "Really?" Dana raised a brow as she started the coffee to drip and turned to regard him skeptically. He just nodded, a faint smile at the corners of his lips. "Really. Outright lies offend me. I'm perfectly capable of evasion, concealment, half-truths, misdirection and letting someone jump to the wrong conclusion, though." he said with a small grin. "But the thought of categorically stating an untruth revolts me." He shrugged again. "It's just the way I'm made, I suppose. If I say a thing is so, then to the best of my knowledge it is." "Huh. Good to know." Dana wasn't sure she believed it, but other than a wry amusement at how she was reacting, he didn't seem to be playing with her. "Anything else?" "I speak six languages not including English and plan to learn more, because I like languages." he stated with another of his expressive, lean shrugs. "I have perfect recall of every moment of my life, every experience, sight, sound, smell and touch - both good and bad. I've never taken a proper intelligence test, but I imagine I would score fairly high, based on my speed of information absorption and comprehension." He considered. "I think that covers things you should know." "For a narrow definition of 'should,' I suspect," his girlfriend's mother observed dryly, having missed neither the emphasis of the term by repetition nor Jason's candid assessment of truth-telling. "But for now, since this is the first time we're talking, and Autumn will probably shower as quickly as she can to limit my opportunities to either ask something embarrassing or tell you something embarrassing, I'll take it." He seemed sincere enough despite the incredible claims he was making, or at least confident enough in what he was saying that it passed for sincerity, and yet if he was telling the truth it made his involvement with her daughter seem all the more unusual. Neither their interests nor abilities seemed to intersect, she mused, removing a pair of mugs from the rack as the coffee burbled in the machine. And yet, at least one shared interest seemed patently obvious, she remembered, still feeling more than a little voyeuristic at having seen them interacting in the doorway. "I am curious, though." Glancing briefly at the lean, green-eyed youth as she passed, Dana pulled a small container of heavy cream from the refrigerator. "All of that sounds fascinating, and while I'm firmly and unwaveringly convinced that my daughter is essentially perfect... because she's mine," the pretty veterinarian added good-naturedly. "The two of you don't seem to have much in common. Where's the connection?" "I think we have more in common than some might suspect." Jason replied calmly, smiling a little at her. "As I said before, we bonded over a single long conversation, and I find her to be curious, brave and warm. She's restless rather than studious, but she seeks understanding. We both enjoy hiking, camping and outdoor activities, finding the same peace and sense of pitting ourselves against the elements in the pastime." He smiled a little wider at a memory. "Last night-" "Am I going to want to hear this?" Dana said half-seriously. Jason grinned then, actually grinned - a flash of humor that transformed his composed features for a moment, making him seem his age, before fading to a smile with the mirth still dancing in his jade gaze. "I'm not that forthcoming." he remarked somewhat impishly. "No. We were talking, and I mentioned something about quantum theory in passing, and she recalled myself and Sean talking about it on Sunday last week, so she asked what it was all about. So I explained about the current search for the Grand Unifying Theory, the gaps and holes in it, and some theories about what might fill those gaps." He shrugged. "She listened, she asked questions, she was curious. She's not narrow-minded, interested only in what her immediate experiences provide. And nor am I. There's a commonality that goes beyond mere learning." His smile softened, just a fraction of warmth touching the cool shade of his eyes. "I find her amazing." "Do you," Dana observed/inquired quietly, honey-colored eyes narrowing speculatively at the subtle shift in Jason's expression. Autumn and Jacob had grown up together, were fond of each other, had been thick as thieves before the break-up and the rift that grew between them- but the word "amazing" had never entered the conversation. Now, in the span of a few minutes, both her daughter and this strange, moderately unnerving newcomer had each used that specific term- totally independently- to describe the other. It was simultaneously sweet and unsettling, the thought that the tall, spare young man who'd put such a light in her daughter's eyes might himself possess a bit of that same spark... especially when it had flared into existence so suddenly. "How do you take your coffee?" she continued conversationally, considering the way he'd described Autumn, the tone and the phrasing he'd employed. Had he really only known her for a week? Could he actually have drawn such conclusions on the basis of… What had he called it? ...A single long conversation? Most teenage boys, she reflected ruefully, would have used rather different words to describe the athletic young woman. ...Then again, Jason Bannon was evidently not 'most teenage boys.' "In a mug, usually. If I'm really jonesing, I just snort the grounds." Jason said casually as he crouched down and fussed over Lexi, who had come up and was sat at his feet looking up imploringly for attention. Dana noticed how intent and deliberate he was, the long slender fingers gently scritching behind the pit's ears, then down the sides of her neck as Lexi panted happily even as the slender veterinarian let out a snort and a musical chuckle at Jason's comment. He glanced up from the dog and smiled, head tilting to one side and eyebrow raised in wry humor, and a few things clicked into place for Dana as to why Autumn was so into the youth - other than the obvious. He was intent on whatever was before him, utterly present in each moment, took emotional topics seriously rather than deflecting with jokes or embarrassment, and yet was possessed of a curious dry understated humor. His eyes were glacial and icy on first meeting, but as he opened up they took on a richer, warmer expression which was only rarely echoed in his features. When he looked at a person he really looked, and they either felt an uncomfortable sense of being stared at by a wolf... Or they felt like they were the focus of his entire universe. Whoa. "Black and plain is perfect." Jason said as Dana stared at him in that moment, causing the normally self-possessed woman to start slightly and then nod, turning away and letting out a breath. She still wasn't entirely happy with the speed at which Autumn and this young man had evidently fallen into each other - but she understood it a little - okay, a lot better. And this is when he's sixteen and on his first girlfriend. Saints preserve all good women when he 'grows up'. As she poured the coffee, she heard the sound of footfalls on the stairs as Autumn tried to walk - rather than run - back down and prevent the maternal inquisition from squeezing too many uncomfortable facts from her boyfriend. "Apparently, there was a study that said someone who drinks their coffee black is more likely to be a psychopath," Dana teased as the sound of bare feet on hardwood reached her ears, skipping down the last couple of steps to the accompaniment of clawed canine paws clicking on the bright maple floor. She was just handing Jason his mug as Autumn rounded the corner with her Shepherd escort, the young woman's damp red-gold curls loose around her shoulders and her fair skin still faintly pink from the heat of the shower. Nothing was said about the faint purplish smudge at the juncture of the girl's throat and shoulder, just visible over the neckline of her shirt; her mother merely sighed, peering sharply at her daughter's new boyfriend over the rim of her cup as she took a drink. It could be worse, she reminded herself, trying not to think of the rising teen pregnancy rate and finding precious little reassurance in the way Autumn's gaze was drawn by some unerring feminine instinct to her boyfriend's face. "We've got a little while, yet, before dinner," she stated pointedly, glancing at the timer on the oven. "You guys are welcome to watch some television in the living room, or we can play cards..." Her voice trailed off, and a gleam of mischief sparkled in the depths of her hazel eyes. "Ooorrrr, I can bring down your old photo album! You know, Jason, we've got the most adorable pictures of Autumn from when she-" "Mom, come on, not cool!" Autumn protested vehemently, sweeping past both of them to grab a mug from the rack. She'd changed into a pair of dark green running shorts and a slightly oversized t-shirt, which Dana would normally consider a perfectly modest outfit to wear around an interested teenage boy; a quick glance at Jason and the direction of his gaze, however, left her with the unsettling feeling that it might not matter what she wore. "Since you're our guest, Jason, do you have a preference?" her mother inquired, putting the cream away as Autumn finished up. He had indeed been studying Autumn's shape, barely hinted at under the t-shirt but then more clearly outlined by the running shorts and the smooth musculature of her legs as she leaned to grab the mug from the rack. As Dana spoke to him, however the heat faded from his gaze as it shifted back to the older woman, replaced with a faint smile that touched the corners of his eyes. "The photos sound intriguing-" "Ugh!" Autumn glared at him over her shoulder, the pink in her features now nothing to do with the shower. "No. No way. Not unless you bring yours to the table too." she added with a crinkle of her nose as she smiled, imagining a small, grave faced ragamuffin with too-large eyes. Then the redhead blinked, turning back to her coffee as she remembered that she had, as a matter of fact, seen a young Jason - merely ten years old and newly arrived in Shelly - trying to get his hands around a boy's throat with a coldly intent expression in his eyes... and then turn and sink his teeth bone-deep into a teacher's wrist when he'd been pulled off. Before that, he'd been the quiet, shy new kid, and even though afterwards he never so much as got into a scuffle, the memory had stayed with Autumn if only subconsciously, to be pulled up only by the innocent random thought of imagining him as a child. Perhaps it had even contributed to her dislike of him, which seemed likely. Odd, how a fleeting moment of shock and fear could only be undone years later by a seeming random tide of Fate causing the two of them to enter each other's orbits. It did make her wonder, though - had he ever truly been a child, as human beings understood the term? "That seems fair." Jason smiled a little wider at the loose collection of reddish curls as they tumbled down Autumn's back, glinting with pinpoints of golden fire in the light. He wanted to bury his face there, to inhale the scent of her: wanted it so badly it felt like the most gnawing of hungers. "I choose TV, then." Dana hmmed quietly as though in disappointment. "Ah, well. Come by sometime when she's not home and I'll show you," the older redhead smirked, patting Jase lightly on the shoulder as she passed, coffee mug in hand. Although she wasn't entirely comfortable leaving the two young paramours alone for more than a few minutes, she did at least trust her daughter enough to make good choices. ...Or, failing that, not catastrophic ones. Autumn dropped the spoon she'd used to stir her coffee into the sink, nose crinkling as she made a face at her mother's back. "Keep it up, Autumn Rae" the pretty vet called over her shoulder as she headed into the other room. "One day it'll freeze like that." Abashed, the animated young woman took a sip of her coffee, the rose of her cheeks deepening further. Then, with the petulance of a girl half her age, quickly stuck her tongue out and gave a good-humored huff. "I've never figured out how she does that," she grinned, extending her hand. "C'mon. If you don't sit with me you'll have to fight the dogs for a place. They're spoiled." ---------------------------------------------------------------------- The TV chattered and blared as the hero fought the villain, who was extruding a whip of living fire from his hand, the movements of both combatants choreographed to heighten the drama and tension and sense of mortal peril the protagonist was facing. Flips, kicks, somersaults and shouts filled the screen with noise and action. As shows went, Wu Assassins was pretty good, both teens had agreed as they’d settled in to watch some thirty minutes earlier. It was a shame, then, that currently the artistry and action on the screen was being ignored. It was Jason’s fault- at least, that was Autumn’s stance on the matter. He’d put an arm comfortably around her shoulders as they’d nestled together, and then idly toyed with the curls of her glory of red-gold hair, running his slender fingers through it gently to stroke her neck and shoulder, causing tingles of warmth to race through her nerves. So strongly did Autumn feel that it was her boyfriend’s fault that she, in fact, felt the need to tell him between kisses. “It’s your fault.” she murmured softly, her arms resting around his neck, lips grazing his ear before her teeth lightly nibbled at the lobe, gratified to feel his reaction in the sharp intake of breath as well as in another, more tangible fashion. “Nope.” his reply was likewise a murmur as he kissed the curve of Autumn’s neck where it met her shoulder. His hands were loosely tangled in her fall of red hair, the scent of which he breathed in. “You’re the one that moved. And now we’re missing the show.” Autumn grinned as she withdrew a little to look into his eyes. True enough, she had moved first, swinging a bare leg over him and straddling his thighs so she could properly give him her attention - and he could give her his. “You want to watch the show?” she asked with an arch of her brow. “Don’t put words in my mouth.” His eyes were heated, dark with passion even as he smiled slightly. “I was merely observing we were- mmph.” he finished softly as Autumn pressed her body and mouth to his, arms tightening around his neck as though to prevent even the remote possibility he would try to get away - which, to be honest, was so remote as to not be worth considering. “Oh, for heaven’s sake!” Dana wasn’t sure whether to laugh or scowl as she stepped into the lounge and saw the pair of them. At least he didn’t have his hands on her butt this time. Progress! The slender, pretty veterinarian thought wryly. Autumn made a sound that was half gasp, half giggle as she slid off her beau, trying to look contrite and failing miserably. She seemed lively, and happy, and it was good to see. Dana took a breath, counted to ten, then spoke again. “Okay. New rule, you two. None of-” she made a gesture indicating the pair of them and their misbehaviour “-that in the lounge, porch, dining room, kitchen or indeed anywhere in this house except the bedroom when I’m home. I’m not going to try and stop teenagers being teenagers, but I don’t want to walk into my own lounge and see it. Am I clear?” “Yes, mom.” Autumn nodded, somewhat soberly. Jason turned his gaze to Dana and nodded assent, or at least understanding, gravely. “Good! Now, dinner is a few minutes away, so both of you can come and help set the table.” She was unable to resist cracking a smirk, raising an eyebrow at them. “Take a moment to, ah, compose yourselves, and for God’s sake wash your hands first.”
  2. 2 points
    Lilly stood there, still holding Kyle on her hip still, as she watched things play out in her mind. Despite all of her nearly limitless strength, speed and invulnerability, she had to stand there... a silent, powerless witness to the death of her father... at the hands of somebody she called a friend. Lilly, who the other Irregulars has always known as so tough, steadfast and confident, dropped to her knees, clutching Kyle close as her face twisted into a silent mask of anguish. She shut her tight, so tight that she was not sure if she if light would ever reach them again, as if trying to block the image of the fear on her face of her father. All her life he had been there. He helped her fall in love with sports and athletics, instilled in Lilly his work ethic, patriotism and sense of duty. He coached her and taught her so much that has helped her, even now, or especially now, that she was a Key. She never doubted his deep, unconditional love for her. He was her mentor... her protector... her superhero. And now he was gone. And for Devin be the one to do it, to take his life and rob her of her father, and to do it so casually, made it hurt even worse. She knew he was hurt and angry, but this was a new level. She had thought that Devin would never do something like this that would hurt her so bad. Not Devin. Maybe it was the naivete of youth, but she thought that they had something special, at least on some level... that he cared for her. This though, this was cold and uncaring, taking the life of her father with unthinkable casualness. It just wasn't right. Lilly opened her tear-filled eyes and looked to Sean. "I know you will." she said, nodding as tears began to streak down her cheeks. "I need to see my mom, to tell he-" she said, as her voice cracked. Sean nodded. "Mckeller said you would. I can beam you to him and he'll get you to her." ""I want to go with Lilly." the little boy in her arms said. Lilly forced a smile as she wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand. She hugged him and nodded. "Don't you worry about any thing. Remember what I said? I'll make sure you safe. You'll get to meet my mommy too. She's really nice." Kyle nodded and rested his cheek on Lilly's shoulder, closing his eyes as she held him close. "I'll leave a Vanguard with you guys, or more if you need. Either way, I'll be back. Too many are in danger." she said, trying to regain her composure, even if it were just a thin facade. She then looked to Jeane. "Sorry you had to see that." she said, even now still thinking of others. "We'll make sure your family is safe too. If you want to stay with them for now, then believe me, we understand. If you want to stay with us, then you are with us." she explained.
  3. 2 points
    Television had lied to Jeane. There was something deeply odd about a voice by-passing her ears entirely with how keyed up she was with this mysterious crusher in the area. The blonde daredevil jerked straight up at the silent conversation in her head, nearly dropping her sword in the process. Then she grimaced and tried to push a 'hello' back. She didn't quite get it right. The Irregulars got a raw stream of bubbling excitement and nervous determination interposed with stuttering, broken snatches of old scuffles, jumps, and tumbles, the younger girl gearing herself up for the fight by subconsciously reviewing every trick she knew and praying that it would be enough. <...mN iT,> came back the first actual words over the link, distorted as they were by the subsiding emotional vomit straight from Jeane's head bereft of any filter. Blushing in embarrassment, she tried again, message still Dopplering with emotional feedback. <hI. i'M jEaNe. GrEAt To MeEt YOu. yOU HAve No IDEA hoW cOOl tHis IS FoR mE. mEETING YOU thAT iS. NoT the unknown moNSTer, tHAT iS.>
  4. 2 points
    Init: 1d20+4 15 GM, without a map I should ask...how many of these dead critters can I get into a 15' cone effect without roasting some PC's too? Also, can I get more if just Delgath is in the area? That'd be okay.
  5. 2 points
    Her sprint chewed through the distance, the only sounds she could hear the beat of her music and the thundering of her heartbeat, with a grunt she launched herself from one rooftop to another. Much quicker than trying to take the streets. She'd only hit the road itself once she reached her usual drop off point by her favourite stand. She wouldn't have time to stop properly today, though. Not with the call going out like it had. Usually they were left to their own devices as far as jobs went. The master only occasionally making requests of various members, and even then, it was more the S classes, so for it to be broadcast to the entire guild at once had her heart racing in anticipation. A familiar scent had her nose twitching and a wide grin stretched over her features as she came to the final edge. Launching herself over that with a whoop of delight, she hits the ground hard, rolling to bleed off the force of the fall and coming back up in a full sprint once more, momentum barely interrupted. Her hand dives into her pocket and she slams a handful of change down on the wooden counter of a stand, snagging her usual freshly baked treat from where it rested beside it. A quickly hollered thanks, a glowing smile, and a rapidly spinning coin sitting on top of a pile of it's brothers the only evidence of her passing. The stall owner barely even acknowledging the whirlwind that had just swept through his little store, raising his own hand in farewell and shaking his head, no doubt muttering imprecations on how she'd break her neck doing that someday. Coming through the guild doors at full speed, she dodges around Luci, boots almost skating over the floor as she plops onto one of the benches, her momentum sending her sliding down the bench where she comes to rest beside Brennan with a cheerfully chirped "Afternoon" addressed to the room at large before biting into her treat with obvious pleasure. One hand rising up to pull her headphones down to rest around her neck, the muted strains of her music issuing forth.
  6. 2 points
    In almost every cast, it's more efficient to buy attributes, abilities/skills, powers, etc using Nova Points rather XP, unless you are getting considerably more XP than nova points, like three times as many or more. Many of the characters I've made tended towards having good Mega-Physical Attributes along with physical-type powers, like Armor, Body Modifications (Extra Health Levels and others), Claws, and Hypermovement. I finally made a character I've been meaning to with maxed out baseline attributes, a wide spread of Mega-Attributes and a metric ton of skills and am quite enjoying it. Neat concepts I've considered but never got around to making: -Poltergeist: Density Decrease 3-5, along with Invisibility (Enhanced Effect Extra) and some other power to affect others while Intangible, like Telekinesis, Holo, Mirage, or the like. -Mindshadow: Domination (Parasitic Possession Extra) and Telepathy (Channeling Extra) - lets the character possess someone from almost anywhere on Earth, and can even Teleport after a fashion, from jumping into a targeted mind and then stepping out of it and coalescing again.l -Using The New Flesh Fan Sourcebook, making someone with a whole hell lot of Body Modifications to make a Mermaid or a Cthulhoid horror with tentacles and spines and too many teeth and limbs. -Depending on power levels and house rules used, making someone with a Permanent, Mental-Linked Clone power to make someone who is one mind in multiple bodies. Combine with the Mindshadow concept to make a Nova who is essentially a mental virus. Aberrant isn't the best or most flexible system around, but there are any number of character ideas available, sometimes you just how to consider the powers in a different light. And welcome to the site, Red Ghost.
  7. 2 points
    Sean castigated herself for the amusement she took at the affect had on the airman. It was a delicate balancing act, modulating her smiles and expressions, the tone of her naturally melodious and captivating voice, so she came across as friendly without implying or suggesting too much. Evidently, she had gone too far this time. She couldn't just consider her own qualities, but how others would react, based on their own psychologies and experiences. Even for her, it was a formidable amount of variable to take into account. When the General arrived and revealed they had been emancipated, Sean was mildly surprised, but she understood the reasons for it. First, it at least gave them the appearance of giving them a choice in how they proceeded from here. But mostly, it made it easier for them to ask the Irregulars to kill and risk their lives while absolving their consciences. It would help the Irregulars too. A good part of the structure of the military, the chain of command, was to mitigate guilt, for the soldiers and the commanders. Without that, one or the other would balk, or burn out under the burden. While General Robinson and Lilly spoke, Sean watched the General, Colonel Pryor, and the man identified as a Navy SEAL - his body language and the way he held himself had already suggested to her that he was specials forces of some sort already - noting their reactions and expressions to what was being said. She wasn't troubled by their parents - or hers at least - not being allowed to attend their meetings and briefings. While they could provide emotional support, they simply didn't have the information or experience to make worthwhile contributions in these situations. When Captain McKellar asked them if they were in or out, Sean took a moment, a considerable moment considering the speed and depth of her thought processes to decide on her answer as she held Sara's hand, giving it a squeeze. She hadn't really considered public or military service when she had been a boy, rather being driven by enlightened self-interest. She had just wanted to do well for her, her family, and friends. She had mostly dreamed of making it big in the video game or tech industry, the next Gates, Page or Brin, or Musk, or Carmack, Meier, or Morhaime, and hopefully didn't turn into an asshole with success. The closest she had come to considering future governmental service had been a scenario in which the CIA or FBI or whatever came to her to solve a problem as a White Hat Hacker, a software wunderkind. Now, as a woman, an extraordinary and superpowered one at that, Sean had new priorities. She actually had a girlfriend that she cared a great deal for for one. For another, there was a Goddamned alien invasion coming. While she wouldn't serve the US for its own sake - it needed some much needed changes, in her opinion - she would serve if it provide her and everyone there best chance at repelling the invaders. The US and its military had colossal resources and manpower at its disposal. Even still, Sean wasn't sure it would be enough. It would need to be a concerted effort with their allies, and perhaps, even those who were not. Taking the tablet Lilly handed her, Sean glanced over this D3@tTh 0Tt3R's ultimatum and the video attachment, then snorted. She may have just provided the US Government the impetus to work more closely with its allies, by forcing the existence of QEH's and the alien threat out into the open. Surprisingly, Sean didn't feel concerned or anxious about the revelation getting out, but rather, something more like a sense of relief. She would undoubtedly be talked about the most, but at least she wouldn't have to lie anymore about who she was. "It's not just our and the aliens existences that are being used for blackmail, but the secret proclivities, antics, and actions of other politicians," Sean amended, lips curving wryly. "Never discount simple self-interest." Sean tapped the iPad against her thigh. "Assuming this person is Allison Bigby, or the person assuming her identity, at least, dealing with her may not be so simple, since it seems she can teleport and appears to have an 'enhanced' facility with computers and machines that goes beyond mere hacking. Lots of cameras in New York, and lots of people, making her hard to find without forewarning her. We can probably incapacitate or eliminate her." Sean frowned at how calmly she had just mentioned killing someone, not an alien, but a human being. But she was being a thread, potentially a devastating one, and a distraction from what really concerned Sean, the aliens. She had seen their tech, they could destroy the planet, easily, and it was the only one humanity had... For the moment. There were the portals and an awfully big galaxy. Possibly a retreat or haven could be arranged as a contingency... Sean closed her eyes for a moment, took a deep, steadying breath, then continued. "It any contingencies she's made that we have to worry about. Lots of things that you can program to go off due to any number of circumstances or events and she seems devious and smart." Sean paused and tilted her head slightly. "Actually, if she was really smart, she'd just have disappeared - from what I can see, she would be able to do it without much effort. Instead, she's backed the government into a corner from which they have no other option but to respond. And even any enemies of the US won't be a haven for her. She could sell secrets, I'm sure, but after this, they wouldn't be able to but to see her as a threat to themselves as well." Sean turned her penetrating eyes on Captain McKellar and handed him the iPad. "It's to stop people like this, strewing chaos when the actual world is literally at stake, and to figure out a way to end the alien threat, that I'll agree to join up. As long as I see this as our best way to make it happen, Captain McKellar." <Backs are against the wall, and it isn't just ours. We all have to make our own choices, but I'm not walking away from this. I can't.> Sean turned entreating eyes on Sara, hoping she would understand. Her lips quirked self-deprecatingly. <Fuck, being bullied by Chet and Courtney seems like such a minor, petty thing now.>
  8. 1 point
    Intent on finding Camila, Fi didn't notice Large Gord at first, her improbably long legs carrying her swiftly and gracefully down the street. She was two steps past him and the girl by his side when he called out and her head whipped around, the expression on her exquisite, mobile features going from worried determination to one of surprise. She walked over to the two with enviable grace. Standing close, Sigil realized just how tall the young-looking woman was - Firanis stood as tall or more slightly more than Large Gord himself, though far more slender. With her expanded senses, Sigil could notice hints and remnants of layer upon layer of alterations the vivid-haired woman had experienced, so much so, she could hardly guess what she might have originally looked like. Firanis blew a lock of magenta hair from her face as she glanced back down the street before returning her gaze back to Gord and nodded, her brows furrowed in clear agitation. "Yes, I grew up in Broley and I'm surprised to find you here, Gord. Surprised, but pleased." She flashed him a quick smile - it wasn't forced, but she clearly had more on her mind. "And you as well, Sigil." Firanis returned the shorter girl's appraisal with a frank one of her own. The girl did have remarkable auric eyes. Firanis gave her head a small shake, her grin fading. "I have been well enough, just needed to get out and stretch my legs, as it were, and a supply run was just the thing after the tedium of helping Goutro with his..." Firanis trailed off with a sigh. It wasn't precisely a secret, but the fewer others knew of Goutro's ship and the less about it, the better and less dangerous it was for them. "I hadn't expected to be coming this way, but I - Sorry!" She shrugged a sleek shoulder impatiently. "I would like to speak with you more, Gord, but this is not the more serendipitous of times. You should encourage the caravan you are escorting to quickly pack up and be ready to depart." She grimaced, looking more like a pout on her young, very pretty face. "There is a.... black... ness, something like char without fire heading this way. I mean that in truth. I saw it, visibly encroaching this way after having consumed the next closest settlement. I mean to go speak with a friend of my mother's and mine who should hold some influence, to get preparations for evacuation started before I go to investigate myself to see if this... blackening can be curtailed or diverted." Firanis gave Gord a wry grin, a flash a humour in her lavender eyes despite her worry. "I'd ask if you'd like to help, Gord, but I'm short of shins at the moment and I can't say what manner of salvage there might be to make it worth your while."
  9. 1 point
    Vesper gave Yuuki a flat look. She had history, math and science on her phone? Like physically on it? She brought out her iPhone and tossed it, and its earbuds, onto the table alongside Yuuki's phone. "Ten gigs of thrash metal and a PDF copy of the Anarchist's Cookbook," she said. "Take it or leave it." Ah shit, the cat vids! Maybe she won't notice. "There's stuff we can TELL you too though," Vesper added. "Like, with actual human interaction or something."
  10. 1 point
    The world was in shades of grey where her swirling memories were saturated with colour. The soft wind was cold on her scalp and cheeks. Sean dug out one of the extra jumpsuits from her pack. Testing its stretch, she cut off one of the legs of a jumpsuit, then cut off a wide band. She pulled it over her head, and it fit well enough, covering part of her ears like a too wide headband, the extra material on top flopping over. She took it off, made a a few cuts and slits with the k-bar, and after some pulling and tying, she put her 'hat' back on. It looked stupid, like a mangled beanie, but it worked well enough. Sean took a deep breath as she watched the grey waves of lake Michigan lap against the shore with a strange flatness. The air smelled flat too, no sense of life too it, nor even the smell of exhaust or garbage, city smells. She turned back and studied the ruins of Chicago, looking for movement, lights, something to indicate life, as Lilly made her assertions and suggestions. "I don't disagree with things being... inconsistent," Sean said, even her melodious voice sounding somewhat flat out in the desolation. "The tech back in there..." She nodded back towards the doorway in the hill they had come from. "With it, with that... I wouldn't discount the Fermi reactor - or a version of it - running whatever we were part of. Lilly, the reactor wasn't just built at the University, the reactors and the University of Chicago were one of the sites for Government Research on the Manhattan Project. A government slash military run project, not mere college phd projects." The slender girl shrugged a shoulder. "If I was running things, sure, I'd give this place it's own power supply. But maybe they didn't have the funding for another reactor, or the space down there, or thought it unnecessary, or maybe even dangerous. I do know thinking of this as just another 'simulation' is a dangerous way of going about it. It would be better to just think of it as real. If we can't distinguish the difference, then for all intents and purposes, it is real. As for your big door..." Sean raised an arm and pointed at the hill to the left of the small door they had exited from, glancing from Lilly to Jeane. "It's right there, buried from the hill slumping or on purpose at some point. Unless you think those tracks that lead to the big doors drop down at a seriously steep angle right on the other side. I bet..." Without waiting to say what she bet, Sean began walking briskly away from the hill. Just a few dozen yards away, she found what she suspected, breaking though the dirt, dark with grit and disuse, but unmistakable. "Train tracks," she called out. "Leading towards the city." Sean walked back to the group at a more sedate pace. "Train tracks back to the city, to the campus even, for all we know. Could be reasons to build off site. More remote, so less eyes, curious university eyes. Or they didn't have a place secret enough situate the project, or couldn't built a place like this there without raising more questions on site. Regardless, I think we'll find more answers there than we will here playing with the phones. We certainly won't find less." Her jaw set with stubbornness. "So I'm going instead sitting here and building base camp. We apparently have waited for over a hundred and fifty years. I'm done with fucking waiting." She nodded at Lilly's pack which held one of the water condensers. "If the condensers are anything like the ones I designed, it should make perfectly clean, potable water. If something gets through the condensing process, I don't think boiling the water will deal with it any better. Everything you want to look for, we can look for on the way, Lilly." Sean got ready to set out, with or without anyone else, taking stock of what she had with her in her own pack, and glanced over at Abel. "Without continual maintenance, you'd be surprised how quickly infrastructure can decay." She gave the bleak sky a dismal look, one part slightly brighter than the rest that might have indicated the sun. "I have a few guesses on how this could have happened, but they are only guesses at this point."
  11. 1 point
    "I value the experience and opinion of all of my officers. If you feel the matter is settled, then that is good enough for me." J'Sira said with a nod. "Additionally, then purpose of the diagnostics is to ensure the safety and functionality of the ship under my watch, and was not meant as any sort of critique of the engineering staff or their abilities. With the reduced crew after the Baldur 4 incident, and with the immediate focus thereafter being on the preservation of life and construction of the stasis pods, as well as getting back to Asgard Station, I found it improbable that all of the appropriate diagnostics had been run. But, if your and the other chief's judgement is that the Destiny is 'Shipshape and Bristol fashion', then once again, that is good enough for me. I am not only further impressed, but I will also check with the XO about the possibility of shore leave on the station." J'Sira walked over to Petty Officer Harkness and offered him a handshake. "And finally, I would like to say thank you. I appreciate what you did and it only further cements my opinion that I am serving with some of the finest Starfleet has to offer." she said sincerely. "I may look mostly Vulcan, but I do have a heart." she said with a small, warm smile and them mused, "an eight chambered one, in fact." "If there is nothing else, then you are dismissed." "Oh, and in the future, Ma'am or Sir is fine." she added.
  12. 1 point
    "If we were in those things that long," said Kia as she pulled her boots on, having grabbed what she wanted from the survival kids, "Why aren't we all old and stuff? I mean...that's not normal, right? These things hooked us into a computer, but that wouldn't make us immortal." She moved to back Lilly up. She didn't take one of the guns, but she had a knife and eternal optimism, and wasn't that better than a gun anyway?
  13. 1 point
    "Is this hired from the Veskarium directly?" Gorunta asked. Clevus shrugged. "Don't know, doesn't matter." "It would, but." Gorunta started laughing heavily. Once he was finished, he answered the looks he was getting. "Herschwin's an idiot. He thinks just because I'm a vesk I can be a diplomat to other vesks? Does he think I'll punch them into agreement? Racist idiot."
  14. 1 point
    Curtis stared into his hands, then up as he saw Rick charging Fear Master. He should do... something? He tried to rise up, but suddenly found his left feet were doubled. And his right feet were the left feet, so all he managed was face planting, again and again. His nose was bleeding. Calm down, he tried to tell himself, repeat: 2+2 = ....5... fish? The closest planet to the Sun was... something. Maybe if he read a book... and they didn't have all those big words. Aware on some level this should not be the case, Curtis was still helpless to do more than roll into a ball and cry.
  15. 1 point
    Update's done and is in the sig!
  16. 1 point
    Ruin halted at the head of the caravan as Dread noticed no one seemed quite as anxious as him to leave and move on to better things, like booze, women, stories and women and booze. The chime seemed to punch him in the ear holes as he winced and stuck in a finger, wiggling it around in a vain attempt at clearing out the noise. As one may have guessed... it didn't work. "Uhh," he looked around for the disembodies mechanical voice. "I'm Dread Delgath... I just said that, like twenty seconds ago... to her." He pointed at he mounted fae on her unicorn. "I want, uhh... titties and beer. Not, like... my own tits, but like, someone with really amazing tits to bring me beer." He dismounted Ruin and walked towards the gem, wading slowly through people as he did, making room for himself to get closer as the Fae girl spewed a million questions at it. "All kinds of beer. And uhh, that last question... wow, that's a uh, doozie. I mean, why are any of us here, really? I mean, ain't we been asking ourselves that question since we could ask questions?" "Why have it explained to you?" He said to Sigil, whom he towered over. She was majestic and radiant to his primal... dimness. "If you can't understand it without an explanation, then you certainly won't understand the explanation," he said to her with all the charm and courtesy she expected from a man like him. "Sure!" He said a loud to the voice. "Set us up a Pantheon. A Genesis Seed sounds like something I could have some fun with."
  17. 1 point
    Tracing the Golden Path II: Trace Harder Time: Two weeks after the Quantum Battle of Canada Location: Shelly, Montana The sun hadn't peeked it's way over the horizon yet and she was going to be heading out alone, but that suited the newest Irregular just fine. She more than safe enough, and a good run was company enough. She bent over to make sure that her new shoes were securely laced up, tugged on her ponytail to double check it wasn't going to fall apart on her, and smiled in satisfaction at the wooded hills surrounding Irregular Solutions HQ. Shelly itself was kind of... boring if she was honest in her heart of hearts, not that she would ever say it out loud to the rest of the team or anyone who lived here. If it wasn't for James and his portals, she might go a little stir crazy eventually, and no matter how much he said he enjoyed taking her to new places, Jeane felt guilt about tying him down. But enough brooding. Shelly may have lacked a real free-running scene worth the name, but fellrunning was close enough to scratch her itch, and thanks to the infinite wisdom of Granby High School's principal, she was free of public education until the government came up with a solution it liked to educating her very select peer group. A final tug on her also brand-new hoodie as she straightened, and Jeane was off down the front steps of the HQ towards a small gate in the fence. She waved at a doo-dad that did God knows how many things as she approached and with a faint click, the gate unlocked. The shadow of trees soon engulfed the tall blonde Key as she pounded along the path, letting the night sounds envelop her. Jeane never listened to music while she ran. Sure it had it's place in a dance studio or the shower, but out here? The world and her own heartbeat had all the pop artists of the world outclassed without a fight. She thrilled to her own footfalls, the faint exhalation of her breath, and the quantum singing through her veins, long strides devouring the distance towards the turn in the trail when her run would really begin. The trail took a sharp left. Jeane kept going straight. She vaulted over a fallen log, feeling lighter and stronger than she had ever felt in her life, leaves crunching when she hit the ground again. A feral grin lit up her face as she kept up her pace, over, under, around obstacles. A mountain stream forced the canopy to open and reveal the last of the fading star, wide and deep enough to force her to deal with it as a serious threat to the cleanliness of her acutely limited wardrobe. Jeane only grinned wider and quadrupled her speed in a burst of red lighting, a 6'8 tesla coil in motion. The river may as well have been a sidewalk for all the trouble it gave her as she crossed it in one, two, three steps, sprays of sparks and splash marking each touch. She aimed for a treetrunk coming off the water, bouncing off it and off another to reorient her course south towards her destination for the morning. The quantum thunder ended, and she was merely very fast again, throwing herself at and over anything vaguely in her path. Jeane crested a rocky hill and slowed to a halt, shading her eyes against the first light of the sun, judging the miles and miles separating her from Shelly. Miles and miles of possiblites, that is, the best kind. She closed her eyes and spun in place with a laugh, arms extended, counting down from 5 loudly to herself, stopping at '1'. Blue eyes locked along her left arm, pointing, ooooh, south by south-west? Didn't matter. She'd run until she hit the highway and then make it a sprint into town paralleling the road. Jeane Hebert didn't need to hide anyway, so she wasn't going to hide anymore. It was that simple and that wonderful. A tragically short odyssey of adrenaline later, Jeane still was bathing in the afterglow of her morning run, sitting on the steps outside of the Shelby Public Library, eyes closed and leaning against a wall. She could hear the murmurs of a few inevitable gawkers, the occasional click of phone cameras. If they were up this early, this long before the library opened, she was inclined to let them be, even open her eyes and smile for a tourist or two. She didn't give a shit, glad they weren't scared of the giant Key even. Free country and all that, better than the snipers with rocket launchers she had expected two weeks ago... Chuckling to herself, Jeane almost missed the clack of footstep coming towards her, a frown contorting her lips as she cracked first one, then another eye open, taking the guy in. late 20s. Black hair, short cut. Clean-shaven. Recognized enough of what he was wearing to see the money involved, but he didn't look over dressed for 7:02 am downtown Shelby. Fit. “I don't do interviews. You want some clever sound bytes, call IS,” Jeane warned preemptively with a new smile, her 'I'm harmless, really' grin of lazy good-humor. She'd put a lot of work into that smile recently. “Oh, I'm not here for an interview, Miss Hebert. Though I do want to ask you a few questions. My card,” he countered smoothly, pulling out his wallet and producing a card which he offered to her. Jeane took it, read it, and looked back up at one Colin Wallis, Nike PR Department, tone dry, “I see. How can I help you?” “It's cliché, Miss Hebert, but it's more how we can help each other. You're a new, or newly public, Key with, shall we say... a flare for athletics. My employers sell athletic shoes and apparel. They'd be stupid not to jump at the chance to work with you.” The frown came back, blue eyes narrowing, “Why me? Basically anyone else on the team would be better at something like this. I'd like to think different but in all...” Mr. Wallis cut her off with an upheld palm and a shake of his head, “I disagree. Some of the others have good looks that would make half of Hollywood murder the other half to acquire. But you have something almost all of them lack: freshness. Fluidity. A blank canvas. Their reputations are set, their myth in the public arena already carved. I can work with you to shape that lasting, important perception, Miss Hebert. A golden opportunity to...” The frown deepened and Jeane levered herself to her feet to loom over the man, “I don't really care about that, and it sounds like you're insulting my friends, so if you could get to a point...” “They're prepared to offer you a great deal of money, Miss Hebert, in exchange for very little of your time and you basically being yourself.” The frown softened a little. Jeane was tired of having to turn around and ask the other Irregulars for money whenever she wanted to buy anything, “...Okay. How much money and how much time? I have things I need to do and people I need to be available to help.” “The last thing Nike would want to do is curtail that, Miss Hebert. I can't give you exact figures here and now, but rest assured that it will be well worth your time. In fact I have a small something to demonstrate their gratitude just for you talking to me. Something a bit old fashioned for your generation, but something that makes a point, I'd like to think.” Confusion slipped across Jeane's face as he took out his wallet again and pulled out a check inscribed with her name and handed it to her. $2,000. Just like that. Her college saving accounts fed by every birthday and holiday money gift that she received wasn't much larger than that. “So you're just... giving me this? What if I say no and don't want to deal with you anymore?” Jeane was sure there had to be a hook there, a trick, a play at her expense much as she couldn't see it... He laughed at her confusion, before stepping back and raising his hands, “The money is yours. All we want is a meeting at your convenience, Miss Hebert, to discuss further terms. You have my card. Call me when you've made a decision one way or the other.” Jeane looked away and nodded her head slowly, taking in the gradually increasing foot traffic, “...Okay, Mr. Wallis. I should go. The team starts wondering where I am about now.” “Go. I'll look forward to your call.” She didn't need anything more than that, thoughts whirling as she pocketed the check and the card and broke into a jog for the outskirts of the town. Part of her was 'Ha! Take that, Mom! I do have marketable skills!', and the other was 'Oh shit. I'm not ready for this.'. But she knew people who were much smarter than her. A name absolutely flashed in her mind. Well, two main names actually, but she had been bothering Abel too much lately. And Sean had been pretty cool in helping her get a new wardrobe together once she was sick of living in her PAM suit all the time. Jeane chuckled to herself and kicked up the pace back towards HQ. Hopefully Sean would have time this morning... Jeane jogged back into the IS building, the short, squarish woman manning the front desk giving her a tolerant smile. After a few weeks, the towering blonde was a common feature about the innovation and consulting company headquarters. "Good morning, Ms. Hebert. Have a good run, I take it?" Pam Rowland, the head office manager asked. "Um, yeah, yes, I did, P- uh, Mrs. Rowland, thanks," Jeane said awkwardly. Pam Rowland was a pleasant woman, if you didn't get on her bad side, but she was a stickler for addressing people properly when on the job and Jeane wasn't sure if she ever seen not at Irregular Solutions. "Do you know if Sean - Savant - I mean, Ms. Cassidy is in already?" Mrs. Rowland pursed her lips, faintly amused at Jeane stammering over names. "I believe Ms. Cassidy is in machine shop two, working on a personal project." Her grin widened as she craned her neck way up and caught the questioning widening of Jeane's eyes. "It's that way dear. Go straight, take a left, then..." Being new, the Irregular Solutions Campus wasn't huge yet, but it was growing and Jeane repeated the directions under her breath as she walked. The place had the sleek, high-tech polish of Abrams' Enterprise or an Apple store, but it also held an industrial, workman-like aesthetic that made the place seem more approachable and functional rather than a set production. Tasteful plant-life and wood accents softened the edges. Approaching the door to machine shop II, Jeane just making out whirring of tools under the blaring punk rock tunes of The Offspring. After a moment of hesitation about interrupting the improbably gorgeous super-genius, Jeane tentatively knocked on the door, then remembered an pressed the buzzer on the panel nearby, that flashed a light inside that could be seen when heavy tool use prevented hearing. Then she almost slapped her forehead. Of course Sean would have heard the knock. She probably heard my footsteps from halfway across the campus. She had just started knocking when the music was turned down. A moment later, the door slid open with a soft hiss, retracting into the wall. Sean was standing there and slipped out before Jeane had much of a chance to see anything over her head. Sean was dressed casually in relax-fit black jeans and a fitted olive tee with the Triforce symbol on it distorted by her dramatic curves. Her multi-colored hair tied back in a pinned up french-braid and she was cleaning her hands on a stained cloth. She made casual look really good. "I'm surprised to see you so early, Jeane," Sean remarked idly. She knew Jeane's habits, but they didn't tend to cross paths this early in the day. "Everything okay?" "Yeah..." Jeane muttered, giving the door and the door and what was behind it a sidelong glance. "What crazy, high-tech are you working on now?" Sean chuckled, the glorious sound a warm, heady thing. "Nothing like that." Her lips quirk in a musing half-grin. "Well, not entirely true. Just a little something I'm working on for myself and as a surprise for Sara, something I want to take the time to build with my own hands. Don't worry about it," she urged, not unkindly. "Maybe I'll show you when I'm about done. But come now, you didn't come to see me at this time for no reason, or just to grab breakfast. What's up, Jeane?" The idea of having breakfast had completely fled her mind after receiving the offer this morning. That bothered her, violation of a promise to remember the important things, the little anchors of the day. She was already skimping on the sleep with everything she needed to catch up on... Press on. Focus on why she was here. "I ran into someone after my run today in Shelly. Actually, he came looking for me, and had someone following twitter or whatever to see where I ended up. I *do* try to vary where I end my runs just in case," Jeane started out, crossing her arms over her chest as she rambled, "He worked for Nike, said they wanted a meeting and gave me 2,000 bucks just for talking to him. About PR and, I think, endorsement kind of stuff, lots of money, very little of my time bargain. That feels like slippery slope, deal with the devil, kind of stuff to me. Seen at least three or four friends get sucked in and drop off the free running scene that way, one favor at a time." "I need the money though. Can't ask my parents for an allowance with having sent them to another planet and all. Don't want to keep owing you guys more and more for spending money *and* the roof over my head. Not right." She fished out the business card and check, offering it to the elder Key, "I know your project in there is important, but could you help me figure if he wasn't lying to me somehow, what I should do, what not to do? I'd like to think this is honest, that this could get me things I need without taking too much from my training, but... No one's just walked up to me and given me that much money before..." Sean chuckled and waved a dismissive hand. "What I'm working on in there isn't particularly important, except to me. Just meant for a surprise and for fun. Think of it as playing with Legos." She accepted the card and nodded up at the taller girl. "I don't mind taking some time to help you figure things out with this, Jeane. Mind if we walk and talk? Most of the female Irregulars don't need to eat unless they want to, but I still do." "No, no, of course not," Jeane said quickly. "I skipped breakfast this morning, I should eat something too." Sean gave her a wry glance. They both knew it was a polite fiction. She started leading Jeane towards the parking, taking a glance at the business card, then pulling out the thin rectangular block of black glass that functioned as a smartphone and so much more. She'd have provided Jeane with the funds to support herself of course, but she understood the need and desire to earn your way. To make it on your own merits and value, than on the largess of those you knew. "First thing I'll say, people really will give you money just to be with you, to be associated with you, Jeane." She smirked wryly up at Jeane. "You're a very rare commodity. Despite what the media would have you believe, there still aren't many Keys, and even among us, you stand out in your own way, as long as you aren't at a WNBA game." Sean was one to talk. She'd stand out unmistakably in a crowd of ten million. But it was true, Jeane stood head and shoulders over most women. "You ever get a... proposal like this?" "Exactly like this? No, but similar, too many times. Some far more insistent, and crass. Marriage proposals and shocking amounts just for the night." Sean's lips tightened. It had been funny, in a shocking way, the first time. Not so much anymore, but recognizing the intent now, she could quell an offer like that with a glance. "Modeling, shoes, cosmetics, fragrances, all the stuff offered to actresses and models. Microsoft and Apple both made offers. So did a small, boutique computer company. I'd be interested, if I wasn't involved in developing quantum computers." She glanced from her phone to arch a brow at the tall blonde. "I've been considering the offer from Playboy, just for the hell of it." She nodded back at her phone. "Now glancing at his LinkedIn page, and other social media accounts, looks like Colin Wallis is on the up and up. His other clients seem to be doing well and haven't found any untoward negative comments or lawsuits filed against him." She sighed and slipped her device back into a pocket. "The slope is as slippery as you allow it, Jeane. It's a balancing act on both your parts. You want money, maybe prestige. They want you to boost their image and push sales, but they don't - or shouldn't -want to alienate you either, but slaving you to a bad contract. It won't hurt meeting with them, as long as you keep in mind that you can always walk away at that point. Consider how much time you're willing to allocate to this, and what you are willing to do. Are you fine with modeling swimsuits for beach volleyball and having the pics displayed on billboards and on the internet? Just an example, because y'know, your height. They'll probably lowball at first, since you're new and not already famous, beyond being a Key. I'd strongly suggest you insist on a short contract to start, six months or a year, to see how it suits you - and them, I suppose - and then you can renegotiate. And also insist on a clause that'll give you an out. They'll put one in on their side, in case anything you get involved in might hurt their brand." They reached Sean's car, a black, custom-made hybrid of a Jeep Cherokee and Dodge Challenger. Surprisingly, it was only a bit low for Jeane, but she had plenty of leg room. Maybe not so surprisingly, considering though seven inches taller, Sean's legs were about as long as hers. Sean started driving them towards Bunnee's. "Now, if you want my advice on whether you should do this or not, well, it's entirely up to you. But from what I can see, it looks all legit. Just don't let them push you around, read everything they want you to sign, and have someone else read it first too." She shrugged gracefully. "I'll do it, if you like, until you find a lawyer or agent for yourself." Jeane rested her chin in one hand and looked out the window as they drove, thinking and trying to commit the flood of helpful information to memory before shaking her head, "Thanks for offering, but nah. I want to do this meeting on my own now that I have an idea what to expect. Well, alone except for a good lawyer willing to work with a minor with only 2000 dollars to her name. Know any names you'd trust? The minor thing wouldn't be a problem, would it?" She chuckled and ran her free hand through her hair, "I *do* want some recognition for what I can do, what I am, far from any kind of wall flower. Heck, before Sam ruined everything... And please don't tell the others this... I spent about two years learning ballet before the umpteenth move and the fights with Mom and the bullies and learning how to throw myself around buildings at full speed." The tall blonde didn't quite know why she told Sean this, looking away as they skirted into Shelly proper. "So most of you guys grew up here. It's really not what comes to mind when you think 'home of world saving heroes', much as there's a guy who sells t-shirts to that effect on 3rd and main street. Super tempted to buy some." Parking at Bunnee's, Sean raised her brows in surprise at Jeane's admission of learning ballet, but not for the reason she believe. "Why would you be ashamed at admitting to practicing ballet? It's harsh, intense training, but helps immensely with footwork and movement. Many professional football players - American and what the rest of the world calls football - take lessons. Own it." She climbed out of her vehicle and grinned at Jeane over the roof, as the tall blonde exited on the far side. "That'll certainly raise eyebrows, someone closer to seven feet than six practicing ballet." The two women crossed the parking lot, drawing every eye, if not to the exclusion of everything else. They were seen frequently about town, and one could grow accustomed to seeing a young woman as tall as Jeane or a woman as devastatingly attractive as Sean. Well, to some degree. "As for a lawyer for your particular situation, I don't know one off hand, but let me make a few calls, 'kay? Being a minor..." Sean suck in a breath with a musical inhalation. "Technically, you would need your guardian's signature and permission. But there are ways to accommodate that... if you are willing. We could look into your emancipation or having a guardian ad litem assigned to you, for this specific circumstance. A guardian ad litem is someone assigned to you to look after your best interests." Sean opened the door for Jeane, waving in the slightly younger woman with a mischievous grin and a slight bow, then followed her in, directing her to the Irregulars' regular booth. Sean gave Jeane some time to peruse the menu. When Bunnee came around to get their order, Sean ordered a coffee and a plate heavy with eggs, sausages, and homefries., with toast. After Jeane ordered, Sean leaned back, spreading her arms along the top of the booth and looked around the diner with a wistful smile. "Yeah, Shelly is home for most of us and it might be weird, but where would you suspect world-saving, world-changing heroes - if it's not conceited to call yourself one - come from? The Shire and the Lord of the Rings. The Two Rivers and the Wheel of Time. Hawkins, Indiana and Stranger Things. Tatooine and Star Wars. Big characters have come out of small places. Seems to me Shelly might fit in just fine." "Haven't read or watched most of those so I'll have to take your word for it," she cheerfully confessed, giving the dinner a once over as well, "James has been showing me a lot of new places, introduced me to a lot of people happy to say hi to a vistor. Most of them are less... used to Keys even if they're much bigger. Backwards from what I was expecting." "I'll mention the ballet thing at the meeting once we sort out the lawyers. I'm no prima, but it was a great precursor to freerunning in general, Parkour in particular. And I don't have to work so hard to meet other people's definition of 'cool' now, do I? I loved my old friends, but sometimes they were really exhausting. I haven't tried talking to them since the Bear or checking the messages on my old phone. Freerunning's about doing your best alone *and* in a group and... I was kind of handicapping myself for six months, afraid of being alone, of them rejecting me if they knew how easy I could find our runs when I amped up." "How did you handle it? The friends before and after?" "I was fortunate," Sean admitted as she stirred sugar and milk into her coffee with a soft clink of metal on porcelain. She took a sip and sighed. For a local diner, Bunnee's had decent coffee. "When I was unlocked as a Key, so were most of my closest friends. We had each other to talk to and share the experience with." She glanced out the window, watching the ebb and flow of Shelly as she sipped at her coffee. She waved at a few passerby who waved at her, and even struck a smile and a pose for a photo. She turned back to Jeane. "As for the rest of my friends... well, things were different then. Very few knew about Keys and Portals and what all." She pursed her lips with wry wistfulness and shrugged in a way that drew attention to her dramatic figure. "When I unlocked, I changed a great deal, physically, as I'm sure you're aware." "I, um, kinda figured that," Jeane said awkwardly, faint blush on her cheeks. "I mean, if you had looked even a fraction so good more than a year ago, you'd have already been everywhere on the 'net and magazines and whatever." Sean arched a perfect brow in mild surprise, her mouth quirking in amusement. "My changes were far more... extensive then suddenly being a hundred on a one-to-ten scale." Jeane stared wide-eyed. If anything, she thought Sean was massively understating her ranking on the one-to-ten scale, but that wasn't why she stared. She licked her lips. "I... heard rumours, but.. but..." Her large hands rose up outlining an exaggerated hourglass figure that wasn't that much of an exaggeration in Sean's case. "There's no way they could be true." Sean chuckled, a heartwarming, glorious sound. "Oh, they're true. I was boy until the day I was unlocked as a Key." The booth creaked when Jeane leaned forward, mouth agape. Aside for looking like a particularly horny teenaged boy had dreamed her up, there was nothing masculine about Sean, besides an interest in STEM studies and video games, and those were hardly solely in the purview of boy and men anymore. Everything about Sean, from her unmistakable voice to her movements and gestures and expressions screamed woman. "How? You have to be joking!" Jeane stammered. "No joke." Sean pulled out her custom smartphone and laid on the table. A long finger danced along the surface like a figure skater and a moment later, a small holographic image of Sean as she was now hovered above the phone. Then a second image joined the first. Short and slim, Jeane at first thought it was also a girl, perhaps Sean's eleven or twelve year old sister... except her youngest sister, Laurie, had just turned sixteen. But a closer look revealed the figure was in fact a boy, if undeveloped and rather effeminate. The turquoise eyes were the same, if far more lustrous and enticingly intense now. The delicate facial structure suggested they could have grown into those Sean possessed with several years maturity, if the figure had been a nascent quantum goddess instead of a boy. "How?" Jeane repeated. Sean shrugged, waving a hand over her phone and dismissing the holographic images. "I have a few hypotheses, but no definite answers. Before, I had a number of hormonal issues. Unlocking may have overcompensated in resolving those issues. Maybe in a fit of pique at being bullied and mocked for how I looked - and sounded for that matter - I wanted to rub it in their faces. Maybe a subconscious part of me thought it would be easier - better- if I was as female as I looked. Or it could have been an idle thought made real. Suffice it to say, it happened, and the metamorphosis was thorough." She finished her coffee and set the mug aside to be refilled. "I don't regret the shift. Despite all that came after the change, or maybe because of it. Admittedly, the change included knowing everything I needed to know about being a girl, as though I had grown up one, though I still had to get used to being seen and treated like one. I do regret some of what I did afterward however. Keys weren't known at large, and we couldn't exactly explain such a drastic and suddenly sex change. So we pretended I was my own cousin from out of state, that just so happened to have the same name." Sean laughed again, shaking her head. "It was ludicrous, of course, but the fiction wasn't meant to last. People accepted it because anything else was 'crazy'. I met people I already knew for the first time again, and that changed the dynamics. I wish I had insisted on my honest in the first place. How people reacted and interacted with me changed of course. When I revealed the truth, some were pissed, some understood. How your friends treat you will evolve, Jeane, it's inevitable. Some will be jealous of the personal power you now possess, some will be intimidated - or envious - of your new height. And some will be happy for circumstances, while others will barely treat you different at all." Sean fell silent as their food was delivered and set on the table. They spent a few moments arranging their plates, adding condiments and seasoning, tasting a few things to make sure everything was satisfactory. "If your are asking for my advice, I'd suggest you visit your old friends, unless you are set on cutting those ties and looking for something completely new." Sean frowned briefly, recalling accompanying another to visit old friends, which she believed had done him well. "Change isn't bad in itself, and depending on your friends, you might find out things haven't changed as much as you believe, in some cases. In others, well, you're tall and more than fit - expect people asking you to help them move and when and if you become famous, they'll start asking you for money. It'll be up to you how you respond to all that." Jeane had to laugh to herself at the thought of helping people move being one of her problems, still reeling a little at the bombshell Sean dropped in her lap. How fortunate that there was a burger in front of her to keep her from putting her foot in her mouth again today. Still Not the End.
  18. 1 point
    "Mox," Jericho looked as his daughter with fury in his eyes. His expression was one of pure irritation and a fatherly want to argue with his daughter. Penny looked at him, her lips pursed in a vain attempt to hold her ground and not look afraid of the righteous fury her father might bring down upon her for openly defying him and standing up to him. "Is that contempt I hear in your voice?" She decided to add a little snark to the mix, again in an attempt to show she wasn't afraid of him. "No," he was quick to answer. A little too quick. How could he fault her? How could he be angry at her for doing exactly what he'd taught her to do, and that was take charge of her life. To stand firm in the tempest that was her life as an Apostate and walk away stronger for it. He'd raised a leader, and she was showing it now. "It's pride. Moxie, swing us around and clamp the ship, we'll tow it out of the trade lane and take her somewhere where we'll be safe to go through her and load up her crew for returning to their families." He looked to Penny and smiled softly, his face void of any anger or irritation. "Okay, sweetheart, this is your baby," He motioned for her to head up to the bridge. "Show me what you got."
  19. 1 point
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...nuum-aeon-rpg/ Our modern world is fraught with danger, from the products of mad science and corporate greed to the perils of lost civilizations. Fortunately, as many of the Talented will tell you, danger is their middle name, and the Æon Society is here to help them put things to right. The only constant in the world is change, and that's where you come in. The Trinity Continuum Core rules are the foundation for interacting with the Trinity Continuum setting. Using the Storypath System, the Trinity Continuum Core rules provide a contemporary baseline, allowing you to explore modern scenarios in various genres. Present day scenarios involving dedicated investigators, audacious con artists, underground do-gooders, and intrepid explorers can all work within the structure provided. Trinity Continuum: Æon will be the first non-contemporary setting explored on the Trinity Continuum timeline. Set in the year 2123, Trinity Continuum: Æon depicts a future Earth, still in the process of recovery from a devastating war and starting to expand into space. Nations that avoided the brunt of the destruction have transformed into leading political forces, while other regions are either home to struggling survivors in the ruins of their former countries, or living under a fascist regime intent on restoring order at any cost. Bio-engineering technology mixes with psionic orders creating new power structures, while alien contact has been made with mixed results. The Trinity Continuum: Æon setting allows for a variety of play styles, from cyberpunk-like corporate espionage and intrigue to post-apocalyptic survival stories, to space exploration.
  20. 1 point
    Jeane's fist lashed out in a low punch, intended for Tease's gut, but the duplicate Lilly's (though Tease did not know that) hand snapped out so fast that that an un-enhanced eye could not even see the motion, catching Jeane's fist in her hand barely an inch from Tease's stomach. "That's enough." she barked as she released Jeane's hand and stepped between her and Tease. "I've had more than enough to deal with today, especially from people named Jaunsten, and do not need this heaped on top. WE do not do this." she nearly growled at both of them and then turned to Mari. "You are here to help, not berate others, so keep your shitty, little comments to yourself, and play nice, or gee tee eff oh. " she said to Tease in the most 'I have had enough of your shit' tone she had ever heard from Lilly. Her expression was stern, making it cleat that she was clearly not playing around right now. She then turned her attention to Jeane and rested a hand on her shoulder without force or intimidation. "I know she can get under your skin, it's practically her super power, but you cannot give in. Don't you think a part of me is howling for Devin's blood? Because it is. But giving into that is just letting others manipulate you, giving them control over you." she explained to Jeane. "Do you understand? WE have to be better than that." she encouraged.
  21. 1 point
    "Right now," Gorunta pointed out, "we don't have a track record. We've only done the one job for Atuz so far. It'll take two times before it starts becoming a track record." The vesk was fully armored, armed and loaded for bear though. "That said, I won't be surprised if it ends in wrecking the place. We don't have any heavy explosives on hand, do we?"
  22. 1 point
    Keep in mind that if people are looking to squeeze every possible bonus from every possible situation, you won't get that with me or my character. That's just never how I've played games. With Evie as the 'Captain', just because she can bolster doesn't mean she's going to. Starfinder doesn't leave much uniquness among skills, every class is pretty much capable of everything it all boils down to how many SP they get each level. RPGs aren't numbers games to me, so I don't wanna hear any complaints if Evie could have bolstered or some other skill feature and didn't. If you guys are looking looking to suck out every possible bonus and 'win', I'm not the person whose gonna do that for you.
  23. 1 point
    NORFOLK VIRGINIA GRANBY HIGH SCHOOL Marissa read her phone ans looked to Jeane, smiling. "Of course you're not, Jeane. There's nothing wrong with reporting a key sighting, especially one where there's the possibility of someone getting hurt. These abilities, as we know, are sometimes very scary when you first acquire them. I was completely freaked out, but with the help of other who understood my fear and... my brother," Her tone trailed as she suddenly choked on how much she missed him. She recovered quickly enough and her smiled returned like it had never left. "I was able to get a grip on them and understand them better. Sage, underneath all of his obvious social and fashion failures... is a really smart and great guy. We're here to help so whomever this key is doesn't have to feel alone, afraid, or ostracized anymore. Were here to help."
  24. 1 point
    If there seemed to be any more doubt that Charlie had gone mad, or the world itself, a giant orca-Godzilla thing reared up itself from the depths, snapping at the manta-thing before breaking off toward - oh boy - Capetown. Were this not all insane, he'd make a joke about Tokyo or something. Then the purple glow appeared, trailing a figure that moved like out of comic book superheroics, around Orcazilla. Charlie wondered if his mouth could drop any lower without falling off, although given his air-like state, maybe it could go right down to his knees. The newly formed whirlpool raged, and suddenly, Charlie found himself being yanked as if he was a rubber band, and the full snapback was starting. Had he a better understanding of what he had become, his form, more time and practice, Charlie might have been able to break free. Might - as one might with slightly less might be able to cut down the mightiest tree in the forest with a herring. Thus, with much screaming, Charlie was sucked into the funnel of the whirlpool.
  25. 1 point
    I voted yes, (big surprise I know) I play games to have fun, to generally be able to do things I cannot do. That said, I could play a normal non powered person in something with advanced tech and what not, but just a modern day game, I end up getting fairly bored quickly. The times I've played in games like that, it just wasn't that fun for me. I mean Battletech has perfectly normal people in it, for the most part and super advanced tech (and not so advanced in other ways I mean lasers with only 90m range?)
  26. 1 point
    Na'Atem gestured with her hands, weaving threads into a spell matrix. The Spellstone glowed and shimmered as the spell took form, emitting rays of light as bands of æther swirled around it. "Ƭƹȴƺƥɸґᵵᶏƫїδתּ" she said in some ancient, arcane tongue and vanished from view, reappearing beside Cosima and the others she took with her. "You are not the only one with such abilities." she commented.
  27. 1 point
    Echo leaned back in her chair and looked up at the ceiling (there were MULTIPLE hairline STRESS FRACTURES at the corners of the load bearing supports) idly as she went over in her memory what a long, thoroughly fucked-up day it had been. And Hands! Good old Hands. Always quick to apologize on behalf of his species once the shitshow was over, but never putting his neck out when it counted. Free dinner though. That was one free dinner more than she'd expected to have, so profit was profit, even if it was petty profit. She closed her eyes to stop her exocortex from compulsively building an itemized list of all the maintenance the building needed, and just listened to the music. She couldn't tell if she liked it or not. Would she pay to hear it? Mmmm...no. But it was nice to be sitting here, not having to care about what other people were thinking. They were staring, a lot of them. Fuck'em. Didn't matter for once, and that was a soothing ointment over the raw soreness of her bruised ego. Soon, Echo knew, she'd have to go back to trawling postings for ships seeking skilled hands. Then would come meetings and interviews, and the countdown would begin again. But for now she could let go of all that and just drift atop obnoxiously bright colored lighting and music by people who seemed to confuse volume for talent, and the smell of smoke and booze and sweat and other less identifiable things...and it was wonderful. Someone cleared their throat behind her, and Echo's eyes popped open as she let her chair fall forward to sit up straight again. "I have a chip," she proclaimed, opening her palm and showing the waitress. "I'm here to...cash it in, or...use it to do the thing..." The waitresses' impatient expression (her ordering tablet's low-battery light was starting to glimmer) abruptly struck Echo as amusing, and she broke into a helpless titter as she shook her head, "No, no...nothing. I just...is there a menu? Complimentary snacks? Whatchu got here? Lemme get the whole 'Beyond the Farthest experience.' Rock my world. I didn't even wear socks; consider them pre-emptively knocked off."
  28. 1 point
    It might seem bizarre that the ones who looked halfway respectable were the ones expected to cause trouble, sitting in the midst of all the pirates and n'er do wells, but there was sound reasoning when you knew 8-Pieces. The station was the epitome of a neutral zone, and the same ethos of cracking down on violence and conflict in local space applied much the same to on-station interactions. The council would come down hard on gunfights or knife-fights no less than dogfights, and even those who acted in self-defense could suffer just as much penalty. Drunk and disorderly conduct, however, was acknowledged as a different and inevitable thing, which was why Gorunta had a job here. Well, it wasn't the most pleasing of jobs, but it suited his talents, and even with past years of mercenary companies, this was a truly free environment to be able to air his voice. That was what made those three a potential problem, outsiders who didn't know the rules, the customs and codes, could trigger something even without knowing what they did. At least he could be here, keeping an eye on them while being in the best place to hear Evana. Her music was phenomenal to be honest. And someone who could take this place in stride. When she name-dropped him and dedicated a song for him, Gorunta couldn't help but smile - a teeth-filled grin, but genuine, and flash her a thumbs up. Now as long as the android, elf and Lashunta were sensible, this might just be a good night.
  29. 1 point
    Evana had managed to stir the crowd of the immediate vicinity of the stage. While nearly the entire club could watch her perform from the various holo projectors all around the place, those closest had to admit she was more heavenly to look at in person. Her 'fans', the local pirates she'd managed to utterly woo in he couple of weeks she'd been here, cheered and roared her on song after song she played. They were regulars, and well into their cups but, hey, they left tips like you wouldn't believe, a drunk and their money made for greats profits. Her heel tapped the stage as the band ran through a few chords for the next song of her set. This place was a like a sauna, which she'd learned the hard way her first night performing here when she completely over dressed in clothing that didn't breathe. She looked great, but damn did she sweat her ass off. After a few nights she knew what sort of crowd she was dealing with and had them pegged. Tonight's color was black. Her halter held in enough to keep the dream of seeing what was under it fresh in their minds while her skirt was short enough to keep them leaning in towards the stage every time she stepped too close to the edge only to see nothing but workout booty shorts with a winky face emoji underneath. She was caked in sweat, her neon blue hair was a sweaty mass that dripped like melting icicles. Say what you want about pirates, these guys were a blast to hang out with. They were loud, fun, and always ready to stand for their own when the drek hit the oscillator. Despite being thieves and criminals, they held more honor than most lawmen she'd met in her day. Sure, some were down right terrible, but the brighter the light, the deeper the shadow. "Wow," she kept tapping her foot to the thunder bass drum. Her voice, despite being a bit raspy from the first couple of songs "And here I thought you guys would be boring tonight." They cheered and held up their cups and bottles, roaring for her next song and shouting a hundred or more obscenities directed at what they'd love to do if they had just ten minutes alone with her. She laughed and corrected them that she needed far more than a ten minutes man. "You're all so filthy, I'm blushing. Really, I'm pure as the driven snow, I assure you..." "Bullshit!" Those closest to the stage all shouted in unison. And everyone shared a laugh. "This one's for Gorunta, that massive pair of walking luggage you may or may not have seen wadding though the crowd keeping you degenerates in line. He's been a doll these last couple weeks, so buy the guy a drink, Besmara knows he deserves it." Name dropping the goddess of pirates always helped when singing in a club full of them. She rolled into the song, losing herself to the music.
  30. 1 point
    Erzsébet's dark blue eyes narrowed on the woman singing on the small stage. She was not any image of a werewolf she was familiar with. The beasts of haunting the Carpathians were ravening savages barely glimpsed between the trees and under the shadows, their howls shivering the air. Very rarely seen, their threat was a nebulous presence hanging over the uncivilized regions of the area. The dusky skinned woman singing on stage conveyed none of that. Erzsébet would have thought this nothing more than one of Olaf's teasingly irritating follies, except the Burgomeister seemed too amused by the revelation. The small woman sniffed condescendingly. The 'lone wolf' was a product of modern storytelling. Wolves were a danger due to acting as a pact - in truth, a single wolf was far less dangerous. If the songstress turned out to be a rabid dog, she would be put down like a rabid dog. Erzsébet could not countenance that more than one lupine could have infiltrated as bastion of the Kine. Her gaze narrowed in interest as the predatory Italian noblewoman made her entrance, stylishly attired if disconcertingly tall compared to one of her modest height. Erzsébet politely nodded and waved when Artus excused himself to speak with the newcomer. Her eyes went to her ghoul sister Lillian, crimson lips curving with fondness as she danced with a tall man, well muscled with large hands able to completely encircle her waist who seemed to be likely entertainment for an evening. She rolled her eyes with exasperation when Artus returned with the woman and Olaf began his crass flirtations, but her lips tightened at Ravenna's condescension for their appetizers, her clear spite in enjoying any discomfort it may cause later. In response to Ravenna's disgust, Erzsébet helped her to a strawberry liberally dipped in rich cream, savoring it before standing up and slipping out of the booth. "Bella Ravenna, for some of us, death lays lightly upon us," Erzsébet murmured in a husky contralto at odds with her diminutive stature, "And we can still find pleasure in the trivialities of the Kine. Be it in gastronomic delight or the heated sensation of coupling with Kine or Kindred, what matter where we find it? There must be more to our damnation than merely cursed existence and blood and blood and blood." She gave the Italian a once-over, lips quirking. "There is nothing sad in not descending into a base beast, nor blasphemously believing one to be a god - for there is but One God. It is in fact, too often lamentably commendable for our kind. I do hope you can find your ease in Berlin, Ravenna. As for myself, I believe I am in the mood for some dancing." So saying, Erzsébet sashayed onto the dance floor to join Lillian. Petite and baroquely glamorous, the supposed Countess conveyed a sense of danger despite her delicate, curvaceous appearance. She moved like an enticing predator, graceful in her stiletto heeled boots, with a subtle strength out of proportion with her slim, short figure, her presence dominating the dance floor.
  31. 1 point
    Rin looks at Satorii, see the lashes of his eyes the fine veins of his closed lids. She is Mirumoto Rin and she is bold and brash. "You are that man my prince." She places her hand on top of his gently, a soft caress. "Your actions Satorii, " his eyes flash open at the intimate use of his name and find her deep brown eyes staring back at him boldly, "your actions speak louder than any command you could voice and all will praise your name at the telling of the tale, and more, I will be in awe, for I know that the glory and honor were not why you fought but because you are a leader. You are that man, my prince, and I hope that I can be worthy for you."
  32. 1 point
    Sean and Lilly said their piece. Jaunt approached the table with a lame-sized white styrofoam cup filled with hot chocolate. Sean quirked an eyebrow at him. "What? I heard her, half that speech was in my head, I do teleport and multitask y'know. Saves all kinds of time." They all looked at him as he took a sip, waiting expectantly. "Okay, fine, I got pissed. I just abandoned my wife of forty three years up on an alien space ship. I'm having a bit of a hard time processing, okay? Real talk, I'm not sure what's live or Memorex anymore." "I was dick, Lills, and I'm sssor-... that word," He looked at her across the table. A pang of remembrance twisted his gut as he remembered the picture of his family aboard the vessel where he met future Laurie. Three children, two daughters and a son. His mind wrapped around memories that weren't his, flashes of events that hadn't happened yet. People who'd been in and out o his life. His son, he knew, wasn't with Laurie. His son came from a different mother, and she was at the table with him now. He swallowed it back and let the topic in his mind rest. No one needed to know, not right now anyway. "We've all seen some shit, no denying that, I'm just... just not cool with the clone army thing... don't ask me why... it's like onions, I don't know why, I just don't like em'." He sighed, still trying to get it together. Whatever he'd seen in the future had whammied the hell out of him. "Look the truth is, when all your clones are in play, I can't lock on to you to pull you out. They act like... I dunno white noise for the real you... same with Kia, it blocks my blinking you out of danger. I don't want you anywhere or doing anything where I can't protect you." There is was, that charm he seemed to have from time to time. It shown through with his last few words and they saw in his his genuine concern for Lill-...all of them. "I'm not sorry for the last bit though, seriously, break stuff. Break lots of their stuff." He managed a smirk and shot her a wink that fell short of distracting them away from his display of concern.
  33. 1 point
    "Done? Done?! I wasn't even aware we'd started! Y-y'know what... can all you excuse us for a second?" He points to a dark corner that looked like it might the typical CW drama spot for 'talks'. He took her by the arm and lead her off to the side. "Laurie, you can't come. I'm sorry, but you are a civilian and I'm not shooting you up into space. You don't have some super suit to protect you from spinal injuries and telekinetic explosions this time around. It's too dangerous." "Yes it is," She replied taking his hands in hers, "and its just as dangerous for you and everyone else. When we didn't go to China I went there. If there was any purpose for anyof this, then there had to be a purpose for that too. And I am not letting you go alone." She steps close to him pressing her body against his. "We don't have time to waste for this we need to go right now and get the help we need before it's too late." Devin sighed, squeezing her hands in a display of affection unaccustomed to him. "Laurie.... what you're asking me to do. Were something to happen to you, I'd have to come back here and look Sean in the eyes and tell him that I lost his sister. I'm not super dense like Lilly or strong. I don't have Kia's mutability, although I'm totally hotter than your sister and I'm not quite sure what Abel does... my point is, without that suit the last time, you would have been dead ten times over. I can't protect you," Admitting one's weaknesses had never been an easy task and Devin was certainly learning now the humility in it all. "Were something to happen to you Red... I...," He gently swept away the rogue strand of red that had fallen from her styled hair, just like it did the first time they went to the Winter Ball. After it was safely tucked behind he ear he let his hand slide along the soft curves of her cheek. "I couldn't live with myself." Laurie leaned into his caress her heart pounding. "Devin you don't have time. I have to go because you have to come back here and get everyone to China. I'll get the bomb Ill get it to you in China." She pulled back and looked Devin square in the eye "Now quit arguing with me Jaunt, and teleport . Now!" He closed his eyes. More to keep back the rush of emotion he was feeling and how awkward this new sensation was. She was right, and he hated it. He used it as a moment of solace to build up the energy he would need. He pictured the observation deck, he called for the memory and after a few moments they were there... Laurie stepped away from him and looked around. The scenery was no less amazing the second time around. "Jaunt, thank you." His back was already to her so she couldn't see how he looked: irritated, mad, scared. "You better come home. You owe me a bomb." His form broke down and Jaunt shifted into pure quantum and was gone.
  34. 1 point
    After Sean's words Laurie took a step closer to Devin, a bit closer then she'd gotten before and took his hand in hers. He looked down, then looked at her. "Don't look at me like that, we're on a date. I'm keeping up appearances. Don't get any ideas." She'd never quite figured out if it was a crush or some jacked up version Stockholm Syndrome where she found herself strangely attracted to the guy who used to remind he that she was a freckled ginger who would die alone because guys liked women with bewbs. The more she got to know him though the less and less afraid of him she was, he stopped being the miserable ogre of her self-esteem nightmares and began just being a regular guy... with issues, like she had issues, and Sean had issues... everyone of the Irregulars had a story, not all of them good. Besides, she had bewbs now, so screw you Jauntsen! <Punching your date? Oh, this is a must...> Devin chimed up with his thoughts. <Shame, I kinda like the guy. I thought not everyone was genetically predisposed towards enhancing? I mean, Laurie hasn't enhanced either, unless crazy is her superpower.> Her thumbnail dug deeply into his palm and he winced. "I. Can. Hear. You." She said through tightly pursed lips. "Ow, ow, ow..." He tried to let go, but she refused to relinquish her new torture tool: his hand. "Sean... stop relaying stuff, dude... Guild Chat is supposed to be our time... our special time... away from Crazy Cat Lady..." He winced as the pain shot through his hand again. He was more laughing than in pain though. "Ow, ow..."
  35. 1 point
    "Fo-forty-three? Wow... that's exact... some people... like, round down or something after awhile." He exhaled, there wasn't a single thought in his mind that wasn't filled with mental clutter. He could barely speak words, let alone attempt to piece together 43 years of an unknown past. Yet still, here she was. Just yesterday-ish, she'd called him her boyfriend and they'd not even had a chance to talk about that and now here he was, with her, with obviously 43 years of happiness under their belts. Aside from the pranks, mean jokes and insults, he really didn't even know Laurie... and here he was her husband. Husband? He'd just gotten promoted to boyfriend! Still one look at those firmly buoyant... eyes of whatever color... and she was his panacea for all this weirdness. He could see his reflection in her eyes, the two of them looked nearly the same, just... more mature, like they'd grown up. She still looked and smelled and felt like everything that was right in all this messed up wrongness. If this was another story, he wasn't sure he would be able to move on to the next chapter. He was done. He got the girl. He won. "The girls?" He managed, trying to wrangle a though into motion to engage her in this moment before he woke up and it was gone. "What's a Thom? And...," He couldn't do it. Whatever this was, as lost as might had been in everything that was his perfect victory... it wasn't his life. "I... I'm sorry, Red... I, can't... I can't do this..." He let go of her hands and walked away from her, already he felt more alone and she was but a few paces away. "I'm Devin Jauntsen... but not your Devin. I'm Jaunt from the year 2017, we were battling the Asheen and... I think I may have teleported us through a quantum distortion or something. My consciousness is inhabiting this Devin's body, I think, because less than a minute ago I was sitting in Bunnie's Burgers in a different Devin, trying to fix his life after he spilled ink all over your dress at the Winter Ball... which you and I were abducted from about six hours ago and escaped a ship racing past Jupiter... three Devins... six hours..." "I would love for this to be true, I would," He sighed. "But to be honest with you Red, I've been in love with you since last summer, when you were at my sister's pool party for the cheer squad, and I finally caught a glimpse of how great your boobs were in that ugly blue and white stripped bikini you were wearing... since then all I've wanted to do was tell you how amazing you are, how beautiful, how... how... how there aren't enough words or I don't know the right ones to truly do all that you are in my eyes any justice. I want to be that 43 years, Laurie, I do... but I'm not him. I don't remember you, or the girls, or Thom, or even what rank I am in this alternate world." "There are countless stars and countless realities, Babe, and I will love you in all of them, but I have to get home to you in my reality... the Laurie there doesn't know how I feel because I'm too much of a coward to tell her. And that, the Dude can not abide." He took in a breath and exhaled. He placed his hands on his hips and nodded to himself, more assured now that he'd put his foot firmly down and said his piece. "There, I said it. Oh, and... if we had sex recently, aside from it probably being amazing... I wasn't here for that, I was in another reality where women don't seem to want to have sex with me... I've no idea why. So, don't worry... you didn't cheat on your husband with me... or anything... or... is that even cheating?"
  36. 1 point
    Sean stared, dumbfounded at what he found between his legs, his field of view no longer obscured by a pair of very prominent, very feminine attributes that had grown to feel more natural to him than the cock he had mysteriously regained. He had missed it, but not much considering everything else he had gained in the exchange. Was there a word for something right feeling wrong? That regaining something felt like you have lost more? The Germans probably had one, but he didn't know it. An moment of idle reflection revealed he couldn't even speak German fluently anymore, nor any other language besides English. Everything before wasn't a dream, he was sure of that, but if so, than what the hell had happened? Devin's Jaunt interact with the quantrinos spilling from the Asheen Origin Portal, shunting them to a parallel universe? Hooli or its rival interceding in some way, trapping them in a mindscape. Guildchat was gone, so was his personal channels to Sara and Laurie. "What the fuck is going on?" he exclaimed and winced at hearing his girlish voice, instead of the much richer, slightly deeper, womanly tones he had grown used to. Sean shuddered as he got up from the pile of pillows and blankets that served him as a bed in the loft of the barn and climbed down the ladder. His balance was off and he couldn't believe how tiny he felt. It wasn't that he had forgotten what being short was, he just never expected that he would experience it again, going from 6'1'' back to 4'11'', the difference seemed even more exaggerated. He felt slower, so much weaker, simply... less than he had been. He hated it. His room had reverted back to what it was before he had changed, before his relationship with Sara. The fridge was only a mini-fridge instead of the full-sized model he had replaced it with. The bed he had shared with Sara felt conspicuous in its absence. Absently, still bewildered, he got got dressed in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt with the Triforce on the chest, both loose on his slight, undersized frame. It felt weird not putting on a bra. With rising trepidation, Sean picked up his cellphone charging by his computer while his eyes skittered away from the dark navy suit discarded haphazardly on the futon in front of the TV. His anxiety rose even higher when he looked at his contacts list and the call log on his phone. Sara wasn't on it. Clare was - her number blocked. Laurie's sarcastic comment about his 'girlfriend' calling four times held new meaning for him. He didn't think she meant Sara. I need to talk with the Irregulars, need to see if we are all here, all experiencing this... this Flash Sideways where the Asheen hadn't come and we didn't get superpowers. Hell, we need to contact Fort Bulwark and find out if Stepping Stone or Guardian Shield is a thing. See if we can recreate the event that changed us if we can't make it back to our reality where things are...right? Where things are what they are, what they should be! Sean slipped on his boots, stamped his feet to settle them, then slipped on an oversized coat. He was about to dash to the house when his smartphone rang. "Hello? Abel? Did it happen to you too?" Abel heard the old voice of one of his oldest friends, sounding very young and very girlish.
  37. 1 point
    "GOOD!" Devin yelled back, sending one of her shoes back at her. "Bitches be cray... especially that one! Gingers are all flat chested, freckle faced, soulless... GINGERS! " He sat there breathing heavily, mad but not sure why. Something was off, something was... Mari easily evaded the shoe and saw her opponent was stunned, taking advantage she moved in for the kill. "You are such an asshole," She kicked him, but he pillow absorbed most of it. "Dee Jay, I can't believe I actually trusted you, UGH, I am so stupid. Laurie is only a Freshman, dude, you embarrassed her, ruined her dress... probably her whole High School career!" Grogginess was giving way to memories... memories that were his, but not... he stood up swiftly. "Wait... wait..." Mari kicked and pummeled him the whole time he was getting to his feet, they were siblings and this whole routine was old hat, so he wasn't in any real danger. "Knock it off!" The assault continued and he blocked as best he could, she him tackled back on to his bed and continued to punch and slap at any exposed parts that weren't covered by Devin's arms or his feeble attempts to curl into the fetal position. "Seriously..." Mari's assault was relentless and they were more amused by the moment now than enraged. Finally he glared at her menacingly. "Seriously, if you don't quit I'm telling mom where your vibrator is, I'm not even playing..." She relented, granting him the quarter he'd been begging for. "For the record, if we weren't twins, I would have buried you under he porch by now and begged mom and dad for a puppy." She stood there looking at him as he dashed up and out of bed, tearing through piles of clothing looking for his... pants! The ones from last night were in his hands and he rummaged through their pockets. He thumbed through his retrieved phone and looked at his sent messages. "What are you doing? You don't have friends, who would you call?" Empty. He remembered sending Mari texts, told her he loved her, Mom and Dad too... where were they? "Yeah, yeah... you're pissed, I get it. But something just occurred to me, Em Jay... and you're not going to believe me, but..." He thought about it for a second, telling her everything that had happened... everything he could remember, anyway. Nah, something was rotten in Denmark. He decided to take the hit. "You know what, never mind. Look, you're my sister, I love you. Whatever I did I'm sorry, and that's the best I got. I don't even remember last night." His thumbs went to work. Guild chat wasn't working, but he still had his... what... the... hell...? Where were their number? The Irregulars, the Air Force people, Laurie's... Laurie's number was gone too. He wasn't sure why but something about that made him, sad, confused? Like he's lost something important. "You love me?" Mari looked at him, puzzled. Devin hadn't shown a member of his family anything but contempt for the last three years. He got along with Mari, they were twins, but he'd not opened up and been honest with her for... well, awhile. She was honestly stunned. "And you don't remember last night? Dee Jay, are you on something, take something at the dance maybe?" "I can't explain, look, uh, get dressed... we gotta find the others." He began tearing into his clothes piles. Mari still stood there, confused. "Go! Come on! Seriously if you wanna know what's going on, move!" She dashed out with an evil smirk on her face. "Oh, this I gotta see..."
  38. 1 point
    Kia just nodded mutely at her mother and stayed under the covers until the bedroom door closed again. THE bedroom door, not HER bedroom! She sat up then and looked around. It was her STUFF in there, but it wasn't her room! The closet door should be over there, and that wasn't her dresser and there wasn't the big mirror or... She yelped and jumped when her phone's ringtone came on. Seeing who it was, Kia picked up immediately! "Lilly! I'm at home but it's not MY house and it's like nothing happened but I'm pretty sure it did! Something went WRONG!" Abruptly she paused and added, "...uh, is everything okay where you are? Please tell me you know what I'm talking about and I'm not the only one stuck in a weird JJ Abrams show."
  39. 1 point
    "Wha..? How'd I.." <Guys? Kia? Hell. I will even settle for Devin at this point. Anybody?> she sent into Guild Chant reflexively, or so she thought. Instead, she was just thinking to herself. She collected her phone from the nightstand and called Kia as she got out of bed. As she listened to the ringing she walked over to her dress, touching it with a brush of her hand as if to see it is real, and then strolled over to the window, peeking out at what should be a residential street of base housing, with her beat up Chevy pickup parked on the street and the simple structures of the base beyond. <Pick up Kia.> she thought to herself anxiously.
  40. 1 point
    Lilly's eyes went wide, unable to hide her shock, and even fear, at what Sean relayed through the Guild Chat. <They what?!?! DC'ed from Guild Chat and then artificially teleported away?> she recounted in Guild Chat, more for her own benefit than anybody else's. <Oh no... That means they're here. They aliens are already here... > she continued, sending out a wave of palpable dread. <Some sort of advanced scout or vanguard force or something at least, and it looks like they are coming after us.> Lilly suspected through the Guild Chat. The dance, along with so many other concerns fell away as she thought about the ramifications. She, and likely the military planners in the program, had thought something like this would happen, but this was well ahead of timeline estimates. Some sort of advanced scout could reach Earth and, at the very least, gather intel, and at worst, they would begin to 'soften up' the target. If the aliens knew about the Irregulars, then they would likely been seen as the major roadblock to their conquest, and therefore need to be eliminated to pave the way for their victory. <They probably detected the big spike from Claire's enhancement. If the wrist watch detected it, then I am sure advanced alien scanners could. Just being here and around these students, we could be putting them in danger...> she added as she looked around at the other students enjoying the dance, making the best of the evening. <We need to find Devin, Laurie and Claire and get them back ASAFP.>
  41. 1 point
    "Naw, you wouldn't find pics of Laurie on my phone, relax," he finished the Twinkie and took a few steps from the kitchen area before disappearing and reappearing not far from Sean. "I'd totally move them to a jump drive so you couldn't find em..." His grin went wide as Sean's perfect lips pursed, she lashed out and punched him in the arm. She connected and he laughed. By the very virtue he didn't teleport away from her proved that he playing around. "Chill, I'm just joking. Any pics she sends me will be willing donations to my spank bank, and no, I'm not going to say 'no' to them. If she wants to send em' that's on her. Seriously, I'm a grade A d-bag, not a mouth breathing rapist." "Yet." Sara added with a glare, but she was still carried a slight expression of being playful with him. Some might think the two hated one another, but the truth was they shared a decent joke once in while. Devin and Sara were a lot alike, thought they'd never admit it. They were both, until recently, running from something. Whether from their lives, their choices or their problems, they both had found outlets in their own ways. In Sara's case, Sean had provided her some stability, someone she could confide in and share some of her burdens. Devin however, was still running with not even so much a destination in mind. "Well, I applied for the seminar tickets online but you know how all these liberal college campuses are," he shook his head and mocked an exasperated sigh with his arms thrown up high. "What's a guy to do?" He faded away and was gone for a few seconds only to reappear next to Sara, lying on the bed beside her with a large, thin rectangular box wrapped nicely in an ice blue ribbon with sparkled silver edging. "Hi, Sara, I feel like we're drifting apart." She slammed her arm into the bed, coming down in a sideways arc that caught nothing but the bed sheets. Devin was already gone, knowing her tendency to choke him out first and giggle at his jokes later. He solidified into view next to Sean, startling her slightly, his way of silently moving about and being almost everywhere at once was an incredibly difficult trait for anyone to get used to. He thumbed back to the bed, cradling the fancy box in one arm. "Sara tried to kill me again. I feel like I'm losing her, like there may be someone else... do you think it was something I said, or did?" A guitar pick hit him in the back with the force of a snapped towel. He arched his back and tried to rub the stinging spot but it was just out of thumbs reach. Sean tried to cover her laugh with her hand, but it was obvious. "That's a safe bet, yeah," she slipped the box from under his arm before he dropped it. "Careful, what do you have, anyway?" "Take a look," he said. The stinging was dying down swiftly. His new super body did a good job brushing off most minor injuries so the antics of the team tossing high speed small objects at each other (which was more common that one might think) didn't bother him for too long. "Laurie was pestering me about dresses. She likes hers but she loved this one she saw on some website." "Devin, you didn't." Sean narrowed her eyes, partially surprised that she was assuming he did something selfless. She moved swiftly to the table and set the box upon it. She lifted the lid and took a peek inside. "Since the military is asking us to help them out, I decided to remind them that they have several under aged workers performing top secret military missions into combat zones... and not paying us, well, me. It may not be Captain McKeller's department, but I gotta hand it to him, he came through and pulled some strings." For once both the ladies could see a hind of red in Devin's cheeks. Apparently being a decent guy was a new experience for him. "I was, uh, hoping maybe you could give it to her."
  42. 1 point
    SATURDAY IN ABEL'S JEEP, ON THE WAY TO THE GAME Sean spent part of the trip designing a personal vehicle in her head. She couldn't keep borrowing her mother's car, and if she was going to get her own, it should be a super car - she was a super woman, after all. She had already tuned-up her mom's car, so it was running better than new. With the right parts and some time, she could make a car - or maybe a motorcycle, that would be badass - that would make a Bugatti weep in inadequacy and have James Bond talking with Q. Sitting in the back seat with an arm around Sara, her head on her shoulder, Sean, smiled in remembrance, knowing what Sara was thinking about it. It must be stifling to Sara, compared to the freedom of flying so fast and so far. I need to make a spacesuit... But there were things she could do to ease Sara's discomfort. She unbuckled their seatbelts and with effortless ease, she pulled Sara onto her lap and angled herself to the side somewhat, giving her long legs some extra space. "Here, I've got some extra padding to share, hon," Sean murmured with a grin, looping her arms around Sara's waist and holding her close. Sara could feel Sean's full breasts against her back with each breath she took. "Lean back and relax, it's not that much longer. Abel, put the music back on." Her drastic transformation had eased or eliminated some of her anxieties. She wasn't self-conscious about her looks anymore, far from it, and was more demonstrative and okay with public displays of affection now. But one of things she enjoyed the most was no longer being concerned about sounding like a girl. She had actually liked singing before, but had stopped when her voice started sounding more feminine than masculine. Now, she sang along with the radio far more frequently and wasn't as concerned if there were people around to hear. She had always had a great voice, though few had known it. Now, as she sang along with the music, the others realized it was beyond compare, and Sean exulted in her voice rather than being ashamed of it. WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON THE CASSIDY RESIDENCE Sean hummed along with the radio as she sashayed about the kitchen cooking dinner for her family and Sara. Sara couldn't help but smile at the dichotomy of a woman that looked like Sean wearing an apron and doing something so domestic as cooking dinner, but Sean also looked very natural doing so as well. Cooking and baking was one of the few things that Sean had always enjoyed doing that many would consider a feminine activity. In this, Sara could clearly see the Sean she had first met. Her vision had increased the most, but all of Sean's senses had increased beyond human levels and seemed to be incrementally expanding even more at a constant rate. She found herself spending extra effort when she cooked now, far more aware of the interactions of tastes and flavours. It gave her a greater appreciation for the creations of top chefs and she was finding enjoyment in making her own, even if it just was homemade pasta and spaghetti sauce. True, learning that Sara didn't need to eat anymore had something to do with it too. If she didn't need food, Sean at least wanted to make her something she could enjoy. She had a surprise for her after dinner to celebrate the revelation Sara had made last night. Sean had spoken with her parents yesterday about the meeting with the General and the situation the Irregulars found themselves in and they respected what Sean and Sara could talk about. Laurelei was not so circumspect, eagerly pestering both of the enhanced girls about what they could do. If she seemed a bit jealous about their superhuman abilities and her former brother's superhuman looks, she was also genuinely happy they had found each other and their relationship had endured their transformations. She still wasn't ever going to go bra shopping with Sean again though, or allow any boyfriend she had come anywhere near her new sister. After dinner, they cleaned up, Sara helping with the dishes, then Sean led her to her room/workshop in the barn. This was one of the few others that seemed little different from the old Sean, except for even more monitors hooked up to her PC set-up. One corner of the barn now held a bed, Sean having moved down from the pile of pillows in the loft after hitting her head on the low, sloping roof more than once. "I got a small surprise for you, Sara," Sean said in a playful, lusty tone. "It's not everyday a girl makes it as an astronaut. I'll be right back." Sean dashed back out of the barn. Sara spent a few moments looking around. One computer seemed to be a video game, either one Sean was playing or programming, she wasn't sure. Most of the others were too technical for her make out, and set on a font she found uncomfortably small. The last one drew her interest - it looked like a blueprint for an ambitious expansion to the barn, turning it into a full-fledged bungalow with a loft. Sean returned carrying a dome-covered tray and a pair of plates in her hands. She slid the door close with a deft motion of her foot then swayed over to the cleared gaming table and set down her surprise and beckoned Sara over with a finger. She had always been proud of her baking and was especially pleased with how this creation turned out. She hoped Sara would like it. She sat Sara down then stood behind her, her hands kneading her shoulders as she leaned over. "You have no idea how good it felt to feel the sheer wonder you felt last night, flying beyond the bounds of Earth," Sean admitted in heartfelt empathy, giving Sara a kiss on top of the head. "Here's just a little something to celebrate the achievement. An achievement more impressive and worthy of acknowledgment than a mere birthday." Sara lifted the dome and revealed a gorgeous cake, decorated like a galaxy that was now within reach of her will.
  43. 1 point
    < Excuse me? > Lilly though back through the guildchat at Sara's remark with a flash of anger as the threat or ultimatum. < Just because you are frustrated or pissed off does not mean you can take it out on everybody else. Hell, weren't you the one that didn't like ultimatums or being back in a corner? Gee.. hypocrite much? You have your own relationship to deal with. You have no right to go messing with mine, or threatening to. Hell, I am not even sure how Sandy would handle it. I tell you what though, while we are all unconscious, HE was trying to protect us and fight off those bugs and he got stung for his troubles. so frankly, if I can keep the stress of knowing an alien invasion is coming off of his shoulders, then I am going to and it is NOT your place to go messing with that. > Lilly stood and went to put on her satchel, which Sandy promptly took and slung over his shoulder with a smile, prompting one from Lilly. Shortly thereafter, they made their exit along with the others. < You know, ever since you got enhanced you have been so pissed off. I don't know what it's from exactly. An issue with the change in Sean or your relationship dynamic or stress or whatever, I dunno, I'll help you deal with it if I can, but that DOES NOT give you a right to go messing with my relationship with Sandy. SO DON'T. > she added in no uncertain terms. < And Dude. Chill out. We are not being 'summoned' and there is no 'or else'. We were informed that there was a meeting tonight and where it was and and that it was important. We we still have the rest of the day and most of the night to do whatever. And even then, there is no threat. You gotta get a grip on this anger, man, because it is not doing you or any of us any favors. >
  44. 1 point
    Sara hadn't really gave the helicopters much thought it was hard for her to pay attention to anything when she was so close to Sean, it was like the rest of the world simply fell away and it was just the two of them. She joined in the small talk as she picked at her salad, but she was almost constantly and surreptitiously sneaking glances at the woman who was filling her with such desire. Then the phones buzzed. As Sean was passing it off as her other self calling everyone, a lie that came so naturally and quickly out of Sean's mouth that it jarred Sara's reverie. She stifled the thought and the feelings it brought to the surface and instead allowed her anger at the government and their predicament takeover. Into guild chat full of indignant anger her thought flashed. <This is exactly what I was afraid of, not even a day and we are being 'summoned' like pets. Not a hey something is up can you come no care for what we have going on and before any of you say anything about an emergency just don't because if it were they would have said now not tonight. But no what we get is a perfunctory show up or else. This is bullshit> She pushes her plate away in disgust. But in her head what she was thinking was *She just lied to Sandy no hesitation, no pause just out and out bald face lie to the guy, right to the face of a friend” Sara's world seemed to be spinning like a tilt-a-wheel with no end in sight.
  45. 1 point
    <Sure Sean, that'd be fun!> is Kia's response to Sean's 'ping.' She's already been thinking about lunch...it was easier to eat off campus, since she tended to visit two or even three fast food places. Eating as much as she did in one place was too embarrassing. She wasn't sure everyone else had the same appetite, though vaguely remembered them eating a lot too after getting their powers. It was harder to really focus in class today. She kept thinking about herself, her friends, and the changes they were going through. Abel's powers set him apart, but he'd had more practice fitting in. Sara and Alec and herself had new abilities, but hadn't really changed a lot aside from that. They were still basically the same people, with a little extra. Lilly was like that too. Of all of them, the one who'd changed the most was Sean. She'd been trying to keep her nose out, but she could tell Sara was worried. Worried, but having a really tough time dealing with it because she melted into a puddle of estrogen whenever Sean smiled at her. The only time Sara could ever even try to speak her mind with Sean was when she was too mad to get tongue-tied...but that also made her too mad to really talk. Kia could understand. Sean was gorgeous now...but Kia found herself thinking of her almost more as a really amazing robot or statue of a woman than an actual person, when she wasn't careful. Beautiful, but...not real somehow? There was something perfunctory about her, and it had taken her an entire class period thinking about it to nail it down. She looks like she was designed by a guy to be the perfect woman. And that kind of summed Sean up in a nutshell, didn't it? <Where do you want to meet?>
  46. 1 point
    Abel saw the grand spectacle of Sara's display, and smiled, until she fell from the sky. Had he not been trying to keep track of the drones, keep the shield up to protect the soldiers from any last minute failsafe, and several other thoughts within his own mind, he'd have been faster, and managed to grab her before the impact. When the soldiers had turned their guns on Kia, reluctantly, it seemed. He was quick to tell them it wasn't needed, and he began moving towards her. Then the drones died, and plummeted where they were. <something to ask about later, regarding the drones. They all went offline at the same time and just crashed. That's pretty much unheard of in regards to military grade drones.> He looked up to Kia and smiled. <I got a jacket for you when you come down to normal size, It should be enough to preserve your modesty considering the differences in size.> He sent over their private link so as to not call attention to it in front of everyone. I don't really think they're gonna let you on base looking like that, given current circumstances. You might want to change back before the military and all get here.> To guildchat on the whole, he sent <If we want, I can hold Sara steady in such a way that she doesn't move and isn't jarred around in transport. While your healing likely took care of the worst trauma, there's no reason to risk further injury in moving her.>
  47. 1 point
    Kia was having a lot of feelings at that moment. The trip over had been like every roller coaster ride she'd ever been on, rolled into one and then shoved down her throat. All the panic from the speed and the not being in control. All the reckless exhilaration from...well, from the speed and the not being in control. She was left catching her breath as everyone leapt into action. Sheer adrenaline tore through her system, drowning out the emotional noise of fear with the urgent need to ACT. She didn't even hear Lilly's admonition about her clothes, really. She was too busy feeling a need to be something else. Not being in a position to think carefully about what specifically she wanted, Kia's body and instincts chose for her. She needed to be as big as possible to dominate the situation. As strong as possible. She needed to kill all of these things. Fueled by infinite energy, her cells burned themselves up to replace themselves with a new generation. The transformation Kia underwent was startling in its speed and violence compared to last time...and that was considering that last time she wrecked half a cabin doing it. Even her enhanced body couldn't contain the heat generated by the sudden and rapid metabolic changes, and steam gushed out from her as she expanded, forming a thick cloud that something could be seen moving inside. Something big. The creature that came lurching out of the fog cloud was nothing that had ever walked the Earth, though it had clearly used real things as inspirations. Its body was low-slung, like an alligator, and covered with thick, jagged sheets of armor like massive shark scales. Its wedge-shaped head and toothy maw were also very reminiscent of an alligator, despite the multiple eyes...but the resemblance dwindled from there. Four legs were stubby and muscular, but another set of limbs set farther forward terminated in a set of crablike claws. The monster's body was far more flexible than an alligator, moving with almost sinuous grace despite its ludicrous size. This was necessary to let its tail...sporting a giant spike on the end like a scorpion's...arch over its back threateningly. Steam still vented from between its scales as it stomped towards the monsters, and the trailing edges of those scales were glowing dully with fading heat. The thing's entire body, almost forty feet long and probably weighing dozens of tons, was a blaze of quantum radiation...there was no way anything like that could ever be real without generous revisions to physical laws. It nearly hurt the eyes to look at. Kia opened her mouth, big enough to ride a horse into, and roared at the aliens...challenging them to either put up or shut up.
  48. 1 point
    Abel smiled as his feet touched the ground, and he looked to Kia, who was standing there with him. "Let's Kick their asses." <Sean, can you to use your esp to spy out that damn displacer beast. We can't let it get away. I'm going to try and keep these soldiers safe behind my shield. Worst comes to it, I can get one of the missile pods from the downed helicopter and throw it at the things, and Alec, at that point I'd want you to blast it. Should be a rather impressive explosion. Of course we'd wait for any of us to clear out before it comes to that.> None of them had any idea what exactly these things were aside from a threat, and he was passively scanning for the same sort of alien mental dissonance as at the cabin, when he'd felt the things before. He knew where three were, but the 4th was really what he was looking for.
  49. 1 point
    Sighing at the scene, Kaze shakes his head. "Even were I not duty bound to prevent such a thing, I would not turn my back to let the city die. Not and still call myself Samurai afterwards. Now, I hope you will excuse my brevity, this is hardly the time for digressions, I know of the Oni the Maho Tsukai has unleased into the City, as well as the risks should it win in the contest of wills, or should it's summoner be slain or disturbed. I need you to tell me what you mean by the city being gone by morning? Is it just the prospect of the Oni Lord, or something else? “Something else? There may be a new Oni Lord at dawn. What else do you need?" Takage asks before continuing. "I was here when he cast that circle. Just after the three men came to visit him this afternoon.” Takage shrugs, "What matters is that he gave his name to it. Do you know what that does to you?” After a pause, Takage continues. "A few days ago... three, maybe four... some of our men attacked a caravan leaving the lands of the Lion. What they brought back was rich. Money, silks, and some crates of things for the festival. Costumes mostly, and masks. Really expensive masks. So my boss, Hinata,” he indicates the man chanting in the circle, “sold the things to three of his best buyers: a pair of Cranes, a Unicorn, and a peasant merchant.” “Then, today, some men came to visit Hinata. Said they knew about the caravan. They wanted the masks. Just one box. One specific box. Out of ten boxes of porcelain masks, they just wanted one. Nothing else. I don’t know why, but they were serious about it. When we didn’t have them, they shut themselves in here with Hinata and stayed a long time. They looked like normal guys. One of them was really big, not muscular, just heavy.” He spits on the ground, and continues, "Then I saw their wrists. One of them had a big, black moon, branded right here.” Takage lifts his arm and points at his inner wrist. “Moon Cultists... worshipers of Lord Moon. You don’t mess with their kind. Things get ugly real fast, when you’re dealing with the kind of people who want to put out the Sun herself.” Takage looks around uneasily, “Hinata said they were going to kill him. He had to get the masks back, and soon. But there was no way we could do it. Not in one night. That was when he used the spell...” Takage sighs, "He summoned that thing to find that crate for them. That's how badly those moon cultists scared him." "I don't know much about magic, but I know the spell will end at dawn. If the oni is still alive, then it gains Hinata's name permanently. And if he does, then this city will burn in flames, and all the people inside Ryoko Owari will be nothing more than food for the Shadowlands. One oni can’t do that, no, but one Oni with a name,” Takage shudders. “an Oni Lord, loose in Ryoko Owari. Then you will hear thousands screams, and some of them ... will be your own.” He turns to you, and his face is pale and hopeless. “Kill it. Kill it now, while you still can. Kill it, or we all die.” "This... is not good." Kageko said as she walked around the kneeling man, inspecting him and his magic. "I am no maho-tsukai, but in my training as a shugenja of the Jade Magistrates I have learned about maho. And this here... "she says as she points to the scroll unrolled before the kneeling Hinata, "To it simply, that is a third-rate, bastardized form of a proper Oni summoning ritual. This is bad. Very, very bad..." she explained. Kaze grunted in acknowledgement, mind racing. The spell ended at Dawn.... that was new. And an unpleasant surprise. It put an even tighter schedule on the magistrates than they had thought. Caster is killed, Oni lord. Caster loses his concentration, Oni Lord. Caster loses his battle, Oni lord and Oni is alive at Dawn, Oni lord. Nodding to the Scorpion, he adresses Kageko. "Kitsu-san. You and the other Shugenja suggested that there might be a banishing scroll here. Do you see anything of the sort? Anything at all that we might be able to use? And Takage-san. It has come to our attention that there may be a sword in the city that can kill the thrice cursed thing, are you aware of such a thing? The Merchant you sold some of the masks to seems to be staking his life on it." Kageko looks about, but shakes her head. "I do not see it, and even if there were, it's effectiveness would be doubtful if it is from the same shoddy source as that summoning spell, not to mention, it would be casting maho." Kageko replied. "We had heard some stories of a possible magical blade. The fact it was in the Crane hatamoto's house lent a bit more validity to the stories. I think he told the oni to check the Crane hatamoto's house for it, but finding the crate was still priority. Hopefully if it found the crate, the blade could be used to kill the thing before dawn. It returned, but did not have the sword, so I do not know what happened." Takage replied. "You seem to have magic though, hopefully you can kill it or banish it or some-such." "That is the intent, certainly." He gave the man a deadpan look. "After all. It's what we've been trying to do all night." He turns an joins Kageko, standing off to one side. "The others need to know of our new deadline. We're going to have to change our plan and try to meet up with the others on Teardrop. If you would, could you and the others watch over the Scorpion here to make sure they don't do anything untowards while we are fighting the Oni? And that they don't try to escape should it be defeated."
  50. 1 point
    I think creative tactic situations (can't just go guns-out or throw a Q-Imprint baddie in there that can return any attack thrown at them back at maximum power) are a good option for this, as is moving off-planet into "galatic scale" conflicts where your novas are facing off against other rediculously powered beings or things like battle cruisers and whatnot. In my experience, exploiting any social/mental weakness in a character that takes away player agency tends to lead to bad feelings and the dissolution of the game as players hate when another PC or GM dictates their character's actions. Also, Aberrant has shit for social/mental combat rules, or defenses.
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